Man who fled during trial sentenced to 17 years in prison

Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. File photo

From U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Thomas Qualls, the president of International Foreign Currency, Inc., was sentenced 17.5 years of imprisonment following his convictions for mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

During the fourth week of his trial, Qualls failed to appear in court on the day that closing arguments were scheduled to begin. After determining that Qualls had fled, the court resumed the trial in the defendant’s absence, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts.

Approximately six months later, Canadian authorities apprehended Qualls, and he remained in Canadian custody until he was extradited to the United States.

“This case shows, once again, that you can run, but you cannot hide – we will continue to safeguard the markets by zealously prosecuting fund managers who betray the trust of investors,” United States Attorney General for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

Qualls operated a fraudulent investment firm known as International Foreign Currency, Inc. (“IFC”) in Garden City, N..Y. Qualls and his co-conspirators purported to invest funds in foreign currency. Instead, Qualls stole investors’ funds and spent them on business and personal expenses, including a Caribbean cruise, expenses for his pets and payments on a Jaguar automobile.

At the trial, multiple former IFC employees testified that the defendant was the head of the company, controlled all the trading and all the company’s funds, and instructed them to provide false and misleading information to prospective investors. The defendant also created falsified account statements to conceal the fraud from investors.

Ultimately, investors lost approximately $1 million as a result of the defendant’s scheme. The evidence at trial also established that Qualls participated in multiple prior fraudulent schemes.

“The defendant bilked his clients by stealing their hard-earned money, and when faced with the overwhelming evidence of his misdeeds presented to a jury of his peers, he fled the country,” Lynch stated.

The proceeding was held before the Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Dora L. Irizarry. Irizarry also imposed restitution of approximately $817,000.

March 11, 2014 - 3:30pm



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