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A New York lawyer was convicted of fraud yesterday for his role in a scheme to buy Maxim, the men's magazine. No, not the October issue, the whole company.
Harvey Newkirk, formerly of the large law firm Bryan Cave, was convicted of one count of wire fraud connected to the scheme. Newkirk worked with convicted felon Calvin Darden Jr. as he tried, and failed, to put together $31 million to buy up the world's leading publisher of celebrity bikini photos and basic masculinity tips.
Darden may have been a convicted felon, but he was a well-bred one. Calvin Darden Sr., his father, was a former senior V.P. at UPS and sat on the board of Coca-Cola and Target. As the younger Darden, who once worked as a stock broker, had previously served time for stealing almost $6 million from investors and three Wall Street firms.
When it came to buying Maxim, Darden Sr.'s name played a major role. Prosecutors argued that Newkirk helped the younger Darden provide fake bank account statements and forge documents to claim that the elder Darden would provide collateral for the deal.
That lead to a very embarrassing announcement by Maxim's then-owner that it was selling the magazine to a venture backed by Darden Sr. But Darden junior could never come up with the cash and his father never had any intention of being part of the deal.
Newkirk and Darden's scam was uncovered when they used a fake email to transfer an investor's escrow money to Maxim's owner, without the investor's approval or permission. That led to an investigation and soon Darden Jr. pleaded guilty to impersonating his father and swindling investors. Newkirk was arrested immediately after. At the time of his arrest, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:
As alleged, Harvey Newkirk shirked his ethical responsibilities as a lawyer when he participated in a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme, in which deception and misrepresentations were legion, in order to obtain the funds to purchase a national magazine.
The trial wasn't a total loss for Newkirk, however. While he was convicted of wire fraud, jurors acquitted him on charges of conspiracy and identity theft.
And fans of female objectification and articles on fast cars made it out alright in the end. Although the Darden deal fell through, Maxim quickly found a new buyer to take over the magazine.
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