SAN DIEGO– The owner of a Glendale-based ride-sharing business was sentenced in federal court today to more than eight years in prison in two separate fraud cases, including one involving the sale of more than 30,000 Apple iPhones fraudulently obtained from Verizon Wireless at substantially discounted prices.
Karen “Kevin” Galstian, 38, of Chatsworth, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz to 100 months in the scheme against Verizon Wireless that generated illegal profits of more than $13 million, and 87 months for defrauding Bank of America out of almost $700,000. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Judge Moskowitz also ordered Galstain to pay $17 million in restitution to Verizon and more than $200,000 in restitution to Bank of America.
Galstian pleaded guilty in November in San Diego to one count of wire fraud, admitting that he committed the offense while on pre-trial release in the case involving Bank of America. In that case, Galstian pleaded guilty in January 2014 to bank fraud.
“This defendant persisted in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme even while preparing to go to prison,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Today's significant sentence and forfeiting the proceeds of his scheme may be the only meaningful deterrents to this defendant's criminal conduct.”
As part of the scheme involving the iPhones, Galstian admitted that he used his company, Toro Ride, Inc., to induce Verizon Wireless to provide the business with more than 30,000 iPhones at a substantial discount. He purchased most of the mobile phones – which usually sell for more than $500 – for only 99 cents each in connection with a two-year contract.
Galstian claimed that the phones would be used by drivers for Toro Ride's ride-sharing service and that Toro Ride, which had only been operating in the Los Angeles area, was poised to expand nationwide. Galstian falsely told Verizon that Toro Ride had received $20 million from investors. When he brokered the deal with Verizon last year, Galstian failed to disclose the he was awaiting sentencing in the bank fraud case and thus would be incarcerated and unavailable to lead the company in the expansion.
As Verizon provided the iPhones that supposedly would be used by Toro Ride's drivers, Galstian sold the vast majority of the devices to companies engaged in the international re-sale of consumer electronics. Thousands of the iPhones that Verizon shipped to Toro Ride were never used on its network and instead were activated in countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, China and Saudi Arabia.
Galstian fraudulently convinced Verizon to provide him with iPhones worth more than $19.4 million. In less than six months, Galstian generated illegal proceeds of more than $13 million by re-selling the iPhones.
Toro Ride used some of the illicit proceeds derived from iPhone sales to make required monthly payments to Verizon, which enabled Galstian to continue to order thousands of additional iPhones.
In the bank fraud scheme, Galstian orchestrated a conspiracy to defraud Bank of America out of approximately $689,000. As part of the scheme, members of the conspiracy opened over 90 accounts at Bank of America and engaged in a series of transactions that allowed them withdraw funds before Bank of America learned that there were not sufficient funds in the target accounts to cover the withdrawals.
In yet another scheme, Galstain admitted to cashing checks drawn on accounts in which fraudulently-obtained tax returns had been deposited.
Galstian used approximately $2.5 million of the proceeds from the Verizon fraud to purchase several properties, including a penthouse condominium in the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and a Mercedes S550. The court ordered the forfeiture of various assets obtained by Galstian through the fraud scheme, including real properties in Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Tujunga and Las Vegas, as well as more than $200,000 seized from bank accounts and a number of vehicles.
The investigation into Galstian's wire fraud scheme against Verizon was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Topic: Financial Fraud Updated March 22, 2016
Central District of California DOJ / 16-054 / March 22, 2016