Former Fred Leighton Head Pleads Guilty

Former Fred Leighton head Ralph Esmerian pleaded guilty April 15 to three charges of wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and concealment of assets, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.The statement says Esmerian financed his 2006 purchase of Fred Leighton with $200 million in loans, secured by Fred Leighton inventory. However, unbeknownst to his lenders, he also sold $5 million of his pledged collateral to a third party and double-pledged more than $6 million in collateral to secure additional loans, the U.S. Attorney said.The 70-year-old gem dealer was also charged with selling collateral in violation of a January 2008 court restraining order and lying to a federal bankruptcy court following the company’s 2008 Chapter 11 filing. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and must pay restitution to the victims of his offense. He will

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