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New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said today that he has indicted Paul J. Newman on charges of defrauding construction companies and business owners in Upstate New York after conducting “Operation Vandelay Industries.” That title’s a reference to the classic fake company George Costanza came up with in Seinfeld. The icing on the cake is that Newman shares the same last name as Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis.
According to Schneiderman, Newman allegedly created drafts of architectural renderings for over 100 properties in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties. Newman claimed that his plans were all certified and stamped with a New York State Registered Architect Stamp or a Professional Engineer Stamp. The only problem was that the stamps were all forged, according to the attorney general.
Here’s a look at the investigation and what’s so Sienfeld-ian about it.
1. Scheiderman Alleges That Newman Made Almost $200,000 From His Fake Architecture Design Business
According to a statement from the New York attorney general’s office, Schneiderman alleges that Newman made nearly $200,000 by defrauding municipalities in the Capital Region by claiming to be an architect. He allegedly began the scheme in 2010, using social media to advertise his services.
When he heard about the New York State Education Department receiving a complaint that he was practicing architecture without a license, Newman started replacing references to “architecture” with “design” on his social media ads. In May 2016, the issue was taken over by the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.
“As we allege, for over seven years the defendant has pretended to be a Registered Architect, deceiving hundreds of New Yorkers – including families and senior citizens — with the sole goal of enriching himself,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “By allegedly falsifying building plans, code compliance inspections, and field reports, the defendant jeopardized the safety of those who resided in and frequented the buildings he was contracted to work on. Deceptive actions like these erode public trust — and my office will not tolerate them.”
According to the attorney general, the biggest single project Newman took on was a multi-story senior living community in Albany. He allegedly claimed to be working on it from 20012 to 2014, earning over $40,000. Two other projects in Saratoga earned him $35,000 each.
2. Newman Could Face Up to 15 Years in Prison
If he’s convicted of the highest count charged, Newman could face between five and 15 years in prison.
According to the statement, Newman has been indicted on 31 counts in Saratoga County, 21 counts in Rensselaer County and six counts in Albany.
Newman faces multiple felonies in all three counties, including 13 counts of forgery in the second degree in Saratoga County; one count of grand larceny in the third degree in Saratoga County; and one count of grand larceny in the second degree in Rensselaer County. He also faces counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession in all three counties.
“The State Education Department’s Office of the Professions investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct in more than 50 licensed professions to help protect New Yorkers,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement. “We are grateful for our continuing partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman and his team of professionals as we work together to ensure the safety of the public is protected against the dangers of unlicensed practice.”
3. Newman Was the Only Employee of Cohesion Studios Inc.
The attorney general said in the statement that Newman was the only employee of Cohesion Studios.
The 49-year-old Newman does have a LinkedIn account, which lists him as the “Artist Owner” of Cohesion Studios. The only project he links to on his page is one in Malta, New York, a town in Satatoga County. According to Schneiderman, Newman received over $35,000 as the Project Architect for the Lofts Project, a multifamily apartment community, in Malta.
Newman’s LinkedIn page does not list his education and does not list him as an architect. However, he does have “Developer – Caribbean Island Resorts, Inc.” on his page. Here’s the description he has of Cohesion on his LinkedIn page:
Cohesion Studios, Inc. a national company specializing in unparalleled 3D visualization solutions. Cohesion Studios focuses primarily in the land development & building construction industry providing its clients with superior sales and marketing imagery to achieve their project approvals and development financing goals. Detailed, thoughtful and sophisticated state-of-the-art presentations give your project the chance it deserves to succeed in today’s creative & competitive world.
4. George Costanza Claimed He Had an Interview With Vandelay Industries in Season 3 of ‘Seinfeld’
“Vandelay Industries” has been part of the pop culture lexicon since it was introduced in the season three episode of Seinfeld called “The Boyfriend – Part 1.” In the episode, George Costanza (Jason Alexander) claimed he had an interview with the fictional company to become a latex salesman.
There was also a long-running gag on the show about how George wanted to be an architect. This first showed up in “The Stake Out,” which was thee second episode of the series.
5. Newman Also Shares a Name With Jerry Seinfeld’s Nemesis, Played by Wayne Knight
Another connection “Operation Vandelay Industries” shares with Seinfeld is the name Newman. Newman has the sane mane as Wayne Knight’s character on the show. “Maybe he’s an enigma, a mystery wrapped in a riddle,” Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) once said of Newman, who worked as a mailman for the U.S. Postal Service.
In an interview with The AV Club, Wayne Knight said he came in for one audition and got the part, which was initially supposed to be only in one episode. But the character stayed around.
is entertainment and news contributor to Heavy, and former editor at TheCelebrityCafe.com. Graduate of Hofstra University, plus classic movie and Star Wars geek. Follow him on Twitter at @dsl89 and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 20, 2017 11:55 am