State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service ("USPIS") announced that Gregory Bayard pled guilty to wire fraud today in White Plains federal court. The charge arose out of Bayard's embezzlement of approximately $1.4 million from a decedent's estate for which he served as a court-appointed administrator.
"Administrators should protect an estate and serve its heirs, not steal from them," DiNapoli said. "This is the second individual charged in trying to allegedly exploit this estate identified as part of our joint investigation. I thank both U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their collaboration on this case."
"As a fiduciary of an estate, Gregory Bayard's duty was to protect the assets of the decedent and ensure that the rightful beneficiaries receive their inheritance," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. "Instead, Bayard violated his obligation and used the estate for his own use, spending nearly more than $1 million of the estate's money on home renovations, college tuition, and other personal expenses. Bayard now faces significant prison time for his crimes."
"Instead of being satisfied with the fees the law prescribed as an estate administrator, Gregory Bayard decided to steal from the fund he was hired to manage to bankroll his lavish lifestyle," said USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett. "This case highlights the need for proper checks and balances to mitigate the risk of theft. Inspectors caught this entrusted administrator with his hand in the cookie jar."
According to the allegations contained in the information:
Bayard was appointed administrator of the estate of a former resident of Mt. Vernon by the Surrogate's Court in 2008. His duties as administrator included collecting the assets of the estate. As an administrator, Bayard had a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the decedent's son, the sole beneficiary of his father's will. New York law provides, for a fee, estate administrators like Bayard based on a percentage of the value of the estate's assets.
In 2009, the decedent's son retained an attorney and filed a motion in the Surrogate's Court to remove Bayard as the administrator of his father's estate. While the motion was pending, Bayard embezzled more than $1.4 million from the estate's bank account. From June 2011 to June 2012, Bayard wrote approximately 14 checks totaling more than $435,000 from the estate's account to himself. From December 2012 to May 2016, Bayard caused more than 70 electronic wire transfers of a total of more than $1 million from the estate's account to his personal account. Bayard spent the money on home renovations, college tuition, and other personal expenses and transferred some of the money to family members.
Bayard, 58, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentence will be determined by the court.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Postal Inspection Service and the New York State Comptroller.
This case is being handled by the White Plains Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York. Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.