Two scam artists were arrested after they allegedly posed as Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) officials to bilk an Oklahoma Bank out of more than $1 million to pay for what they said were new ambulances and EMS equipment, Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced this week.
The story was first reported by Our Time Press
Chaim “Charlie” Gottlieb, 43, of 144 Ross Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and David Faria, 43, of 63 Seminole Drive, in Lakewood, New Jersey were arraigned earlier this month on a 41-count indictment relating to the alleged scam and now face 25 years in jail if convicted.
“These defendants allegedly defrauded a bank for $1 million by pretending to finance volunteer ambulance companies like the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corp., which has saved countless lives here in Brooklyn,” said Thompson.
According to the indictment, Gottlieb and Faria conspired in a scheme from December 2011 to November 2012, where they used entities that were or appeared to be non-profit emergency responders to apply for and secure bank financing that was intended for the purpose of purchasing emergency vehicles and equipment for these entities.
This included going to the Oklahoma State Bank for financing while posing as individuals acting on behalf of these not-for-profit entities and using fraudulent documents such as tax forms and invoices for emergency vehicles and equipment.
Thompson said, according to the indictment, Gottlieb and Faria used the names of real and fictitious entities to apply for funding, including: Aviation Volunteer Fire Department, New York State Search and Rescue, Bedford- Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corp., and Kings County Volunteer Ambulance Corp., among others. They also allegedly created false invoices from a fictitious company they called Boro Auto Sales, to which the Oklahoma bank wired more than $1 million into an account controlled by Gottlieb.
The BSVAC was founded in 1988 as the nation’s first minority-run volunteer ambulance corps. It was created in response to the crisis in emergency medical service that afflicts New York’s minority communities, according to the organization’s website. They currently have about 100 volunteers and 50 cadets – all of whom are taken through the local community.
BSVAC Chief and Co-founder James “Rocky” Robinson, who retired after 40 years and a FDNY EMS captain, he didn’t know about the arrests, but did recall Gottlieb.
“He volunteered off and on for us for some time,” recalled Robinson, adding he said he knew someone whose father was a big shot in New Jersey and he could get the corps an ambulance. “He wound up defrauding a bank of $1 million and gave us a junkyard utility van.”
Robinson said Gottlieb and others were very good on the computer and were often on it, and even changed his password so he couldn’t get on it for awhile.
Gottlieb and others also used the BSVAC name to collect money, Robinson said.
Gottlieb was ordered held on $1 million bond or $300,000 cash bail and Faria was ordered held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash bail. Both were ordered to return to court on January 7, 2015, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.