Man Sentenced To 4 Years In Credit Scam

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Henderson man was sentenced to four years in
federal prison for scamming credit card companies and Citibank out of nearly $4 million.

Andrew Michael, 40, who was previously convicted of operating a
medical office without a license, pleaded guilty in January to making false statements on credit applications.

He was ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution, the amount federal authorities say he illegally obtained from the financial institutions.

Between December 2005 and July 2006, Michael used false financial information, bogus bank references and fake audit reports to apply for an $8.5 million commercial line of credit with Citibank, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Federal authorities say Michael was aided by his wife, Bernadette Pagan, 38, and his mother, Phyllis Ries, 77. Citibank issued three Diners Club corporate cards to the trio.

Authorities said Michael charged $2 million worth of merchandise for personal use. Some of those assets, including $24,000 in cash, 170 troy ounces of silver, 479 tubes of gold flakes, a Rolex watch and several funds in investment accounts, were recovered in his home.

A Citibank investigator became aware of the fraud and notified the U.S. Secret Service.

During the time the fraud occurred, Michael was on probation after being convicted of practicing medicine without a license in 2005. He operated the Henderson medical facility, where he oversaw medical procedures and offered advice, according to court records.

Ries entered a pretrial diversion agreement for 18 months in connection to the credit scam. Pagan pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the false statement in the credit application and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-04-19-08 1621EDT


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