NEW YORK: Andrew Garson was arrested Wednesday on wire fraud charges in connection with a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud two PR firms at which he worked: MWWPR and WME-IMG, now known as Endeavor.
Garson has been indicted by the Southern District of New York. He faces two counts of wire fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.
"As alleged, Mr. Garson’s arrogance and disrespect for his employers and the rule of law was on full display in this case. He allegedly lied and stole from his employers to feed his greed and fund his personal endeavors," said U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Philip Bartlett. "Mr. Garson may have plenty of time to utilize his keen public relations skills if convicted of the charges."
In January 2018, Garson joined MWW as EVP and co-lead of the firm’s sports and entertainment practice from Catalyst, a PR firm that was acquired by IMG in 2013. WME bought IMG in 2014, creating WME-IMG, which eventually rebranded to Endeavor.
While at MWW, he was allegedly working to defraud his new employer for expenses he incurred at WME-IMG, according to a Southern District of New York statement.
Garson effectively made MWW foot the bill for campaigns he conducted on behalf of WME-IMG clients, according to a statement. He allegedly lied to vendors involved in WME-IMG campaigns, telling them MWW "agreed to cover expenses still owed to those vendors," although MWW did not authorize payment.
Garson created "fraudulent invoices" stating that MWW owed the vendors money for MWW projects totaling more than $2.5 million.
MWW fired Garson around November 2018 after it discovered aspects of his fraud scheme, according to the statement from Southern District.
At WME-IMG, where Garson was SVP of entertainment marketing, he allegedly used his corporate credit card to buy a luxury watch that cost $14,000 by claiming it as an expense from event production for a client marketing event. He also allegedly sold the watch to a New Jersey jewelry store around December 2018 for about $4,000 and deposited that amount into his personal bank account, according to the statement.
Garson made another unauthorized purchase with his corporate credit card at MWW, claiming the same expense for reimbursement on more than one occasion, which prompted the firm to reimburse him twice for the same expense, according to the Southern District.
After he was fired from MWW, Garson also allegedly committed fraud while applying for New York State unemployment insurance programs and receiving more than $5,000 in benefits to which he wasn’t entitled.
The Southern District also said Garson "engaged in and caused others to engage in interstate wire communications" by logging on to New York State’s Labor Department website, which is hosted in New York, from New Jersey.
The Office of Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is handling the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. DiMase is in charge of the prosecution.
"As a public relations executive, Andrew Garson’s expertise in garnering positive attention for his clients is well known, even earning him a spot on [PRWeek's] 40 Under 40," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in a statement. "But behind the scenes, Garson allegedly schemed to steal from his employers, eventually costing them over $2 million in losses. Andrew Garson has likely generated his own (negative) publicity, and now faces the possibility of serious time in federal prison."
An MWW representative declined to comment. An Endeavor representative could not be reached for comment on the matter. Garson could not be reached for comment.