The former chief financial officer of a Lake Success real estate firm embezzled more than $3.5 million from the company and used the stolen funds to purchase two homes, a Manhattan apartment and other luxury goods, according to federal prosecutors.
Kwesi Bovell, 35, of Valley Stream, was arrested Thursday and charged with wire fraud, prosecutors said. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Central Islip and remained in custody Thursday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said. A detention hearing was scheduled for Sept. 14.
"Bovell abused his authority as a CFO, using the company like an ATM machine to fund a lavish lifestyle," said Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Prosecutors Thursday submitted documentation asking the court to detain Bovell, arguing he is a flight risk and a danger to the community. They noted that Bovell has significant resources, contacts in Guyana, where he was born, and an incentive to flee. Bovell faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
"It is clear that, if released, Bovell will flee the United States and take his stolen millions of dollars with him," prosecutors wrote.
Elizabeth Kase, an attorney for Bovell, did not respond to a request for comment.
Investigators said Bovell had signature authority over multiple bank accounts at The Mulholland Group LLC, a national real estate company. From December 2015 through June of this year Bovell transferred or wired more than $3.5 million from those accounts to Southgate Holding LLC, his own corporate entity, authorities said.
As part of the cover-up, prosecutors said, Bovell created fake bank statements to mislead the company about the amount of cash remaining in the accounts.
The investigation was prompted, prosecutors said, by complaints from Mulholland executives that Bovell spent about $145,000 on unauthorized personal expenditures using the company's Platinum American Express Card.
A message left with Mulholland Thursday was not returned.
"We all want to win the lottery and live lavish lifestyles," William Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, said in a statement. "However Mr. Bovell allegedly decided he would rather take millions of dollars that wasn't his, and buy the lifestyle he wanted."