NEWARK – A federal grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday charging an Edison lawyer with conspiring to extort four victims, including two police officers, in an attempt to defraud the victims out of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The seven-count indictment charges attorney Thomas G. Frey, 52, with one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, one count of attempted extortion, four counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Frey was previously charged by complaint on April 8, along with Millstone mortgage broker Robert G. Cusic Jr., with one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of wire fraud. Charges in the complaint involving Cusic remain pending.
According to the indictment and other documents filed in Newark federal court: Frey, Cusic, and an individual identified in court documents as “CC-1 ” allegedly schemed to defraud the victims by falsely claiming the victims were the subjects of an IRS criminal investigation. Cusic allegedly told the victims that he encountered IRS agents while at a property one of the victims had owned. He allegedly said the agents questioned him extensively about the victims. Frey allegedly showed the victims IRS agents’ business cards that he had been given during his representation of a defendant in a tax case years earlier, claiming he received them during the questioning.
Frey also allegedly lied to the victims, claiming he had ongoing communications with one of the IRS agents in the fabricated investigation. Frey is accused of claiming that he had a special relationship with that IRS agent, and that if the victims each paid a $10,000 retainer fee, he would call the agent and have the investigation converted from a criminal tax investigation to an IRS “desk audit,” a civil matter. CC-1 and Frey allegedly claimed that after the matter was converted to a “desk audit,” Frey’s family member, who was an IRS employee, would assist Frey in obtaining a favorable outcome of the matter.
On March 30, Frey obtained $10,000 from one of the victims during a meeting at his office. The meeting was recorded by the victims at the direction of law enforcement.
Communications with the IRS revealed that there was no criminal investigation of the victims, and that the identified agents had not approached Cusic or contacted Frey as they claimed, prosecutors said.
Each of the seven counts of the indictment carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $10,000, representing legal fees paid to Frey by one of the victims.
Fishman credited special agents of the Department of Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, under the direction of Spcecial Agent in Charge Robert Geary, Washington Field Division, for the investigation leading to the indictment.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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