NEW YORK (AP) – A convicted con man arrested on charges he impersonated his successful father in a failed bid to buy Maxim magazine was ordered held on $1 million bail Thursday.
Calvin Darden Jr., 39, was arrested Wednesday on wire fraud charges that carry a potential prison term of up to 40 years. Nearly a decade ago, he pleaded guilty in a scam that cost investors millions of dollars and was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $6 million.
This time, federal prosecutors said the Staten Island man fooled two lenders into providing more than $8 million in financing for the potential acquisition of Maxim magazine and tried to defraud another victim of about $20 million in the quest. They said he also caused a Taiwan-based company to pay him $500,000 by falsely claiming that he needed a down payment for a New York Knicks exhibition game he was arranging to be played in Taiwan.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck set bail at $1 million and ordered electronic monitoring after Assistant U.S. Attorney James Pastore Jr. sought detention, saying Darden forced authorities to chase him before his surrender. He said Darden claimed he was on Long Island when he was actually at a Teaneck, N.J., hotel, where he left his car before finding another way into Manhattan.
Pastore also said documents found in Darden’s home indicate he might have been perpetrating other frauds and other victims might emerge.
Darden’s attorney, Xavier Donaldson, declined to comment outside court, but he told the magistrate judge that Darden had never failed to show up for a court appearance.
Donaldson also protested when prosecutors tried to insist that Darden’s father sign the bail package, which requires $300,000 in cash or property be posted as collateral. Donaldson said it would be inappropriate, though he added that Darden’s family was prepared to do what was necessary to ensure Darden was released.
Darden was not immediately freed because Peck said electronic monitoring equipment must be installed before his release.
Secret Service Agent Paul Deal said in court papers that the NBA commissioner, among others, had no recollection of meeting with Darden or his father, who lives in Atlanta and sits on the board of several publicly traded companies.
A prosecutor said Darden used false documents and “spoofed” emails in the alleged scams, posing as his father in emails and on the telephone to convince investors that the Maxim purchase was viable and that the NBA game was going to happen.
“Calvin Darden Jr. sought to mislead and deceive his victims at virtually every opportunity, and he used the full spectrum of fraudulent devices, including false documents, `spoofed’ emails and outright impersonation,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a release.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said Darden “was up to the same worn-out tricks in an elaborate scheme of fake emails, fictitious bank accounts and fabricated statements all to rip off unwitting investors.”
In 2005, Darden admitted stealing from securities firms and investors who included NBA star Latrell Sprewell. Prosecutors said he used the money to buy a $2.85 million home on Long Island, complete with a 20-foot aquarium and movie theater.
Darden’s father is a retired United Parcel Service Co. executive who now sits on the boards of Coca-Cola Co., Target Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc.
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