jail bars

A serial fraudster who impersonated investment industry executives to dupe companies out of US$1 million to fund non-existent investigations into alleged ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein has been sentenced to prison for the scheme.

Earlier this year, Jonathan Ghertler, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. Today, he was sentenced to six years in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution of US$1,065,000 and to forfeit the same amount.

According to U.S. authorities, Ghertler posed as the general counsel of a global private equity firm, extracting US$200,000 from some of its portfolio companies, purportedly to finance a fictional internal investigation into links between the firm’s senior executives and Epstein.

He also posed as the founder of another investment firm, and convinced the CEO of one of its investee companies to pay over US$865,000 to fund another fictional investigation into his relationship with Epstein.

Ghertler also later impersonated a partner in a global law firm when dealing with federal agents investigating his scheme.

In one of those conversations, he reportedly told federal agents, “Our position is that, uh, the law states that, umm, you know, if the money was paid back prior to, uh, the crime being, uh, discovered, uh, it’s not a crime.”

In a release, Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said despite Ghertler “brazen” schemes, he did not get away with it.

“As today’s sentence demonstrates, serial fraudsters like Ghertler will be caught and held to account for their crimes,” he said.