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Plainview exec charged in mail fraud

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A Plainview marketing executive is out on bail after his arrest last week by U.S. Postal Inspectors on a mail fraud charge.

The executive, Gilbert Solnin, took $400,000 from clients during the past four years while falsely promising he could steer beverage company accounts to the clients — ad and marketing companies — across the U.S., federal court filings allege.

He then cut off contact with the clients, saying he'd had a "bad car accident in Denver," lost his cell phone, was having dizzy spells and had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, court records say.

Solnin, in an interview Monday, responded to the charges saying they resulted from mistakes made by some of his clients who failed to adhere to proper business standards.

"This really has been a malicious attempt to destroy my business," he said.

Solnin said he his attorney will provide a detailed response to the charges, and he expects the charges to be dropped within the next 60 days.

Federal court documents show that Solnin is charged with mail fraud that took place from Dec. 1, 2007 until Feb. 11.

Postal inspectors arrested Solnin Wednesday and the file was unsealed Thursday, on a warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Wall, in Central Islip. He was arraigned, with bail set at $250,000 secured bond, with his Lillian Lane, Plainview, home as collateral.

Court records say Solnin's victims are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, San Diego, Seattle; and in smaller communities in South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and New Jersey.

He "did knowingly and intentionally devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses”, the Postal Service said.

Solnin works from his Plainview home and falsely "holds himself out to be a manager or operator for various company ventures seeking advertising and marketing assistance,” Postal Inspector Eric Oram said in the complaint.

"The scheme generally involves the defendant Gilbert Solnin contacting a representative of a marketing or advertising agency by e-mail, indicating he has a 'unique opportunity' whereby a new venture is being formed," the postal inspector’s complaint said. "In fact, Solnin has no agreements or contracts with the companies he claims to represent and/or work with."

Solnin solicits a retainer from victims, typically $3,500 to $8,000 per month — then "either ceases further communications and/or explains that accidents and/or illnesses have befallen him. The promised venture never in fact comes to pass,” the charges say.

In one 2008 case Solnin got an out-of-state company to send him $24,000 in three $8,000 monthly payments and did nothing for the money, records say. Then he lied, telling the victim company in January 2009 that he'd had an accident, lost his phone, and had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, according to records.

Solnin threatened his victims in e-mails after they realized they'd been duped, the postal inspector said.

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