NEWARK, N.J. – The former chief financial officer (CFO) of a Sussex County retail construction company was indicted today on five additional tax charges stemming from his failure to collect, account for, and pay over hundreds of thousands in federal payroll taxes, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Jonathan Baker, 39, of Green Township, New Jersey, was originally charged by indictment in December 2019 with five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering for orchestrating a scheme to defraud his former employer and several lenders, including by embezzling millions of dollars for his own personal benefit.
Baker is currently out on bail and will be arraigned at a later date before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini.
According to the superseding indictment:
Baker held the title of CFO of Victim-Company 1, a small, privately held retail construction company located in Sparta, New Jersey. The company acted as a construction manager and a general contractor for construction projects, such as new business offices, retail spaces, and restaurants. Baker also held the title of manager of Victim-Company 2, which held 100 percent of the voting and equitable interest in Victim-Company 1.
From 2015 through 2018, Baker defrauded both companies and several commercial lenders, embezzling millions of dollars from the companies and fraudulently inducing commercial lenders into providing funds to Baker and his associated entities through fraudulent use of Victim-Company 1’s name, bank statements, balance sheet, and bank accounts.
Baker misappropriated millions of dollars from the Victim-Companies’ bank accounts and used the funds for his personal expenses, including mortgage payments on Baker’s residence, the purchase of a BMW, and the purchase of six donkeys.
Baker concealed the fraud by making false statements to members of the Victim-Companies after they confronted him with evidence of the fraud. He falsely claimed that a commercial lender had made a mistake in filing a lien against Victim-Company 1 and repeatedly misrepresented that the commercial lender would be issuing a retraction and apology. Baker then refused to meet or join conference calls with the members of the companies to discuss the liens against Victim-Company 1, refused to produce the Companies’ bank statements, changed the locks on the Companies’ offices, and attempted to disable the Companies’ email and phone system.
From Jan. 31, 2017, to Jan. 31, 2018, Baker withheld tax payments from the pay checks of the employees of Victim-Company 1 but failed to pay over hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes that were withheld and due to the IRS. Baker also failed to prepare and file quarterly federal tax returns on behalf of Victim-Company 1.
The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The tax counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and special agents of the IRS, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez, with the investigation leading to the superseding indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.
The charges and allegations contained in the superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.