A fake architect named Paul J. Newman has pleaded guilty to fraud charges in New York after an investigation dubbed “Operation Vandelay Industries” uncovered the man was pretending to be a licensed and registered architect.
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Wednesday Newman pleaded guilty to defrauding construction companies and businesses in three counties.
“Operation Vandelay Industries” resulted in Newman facing “58 felonies related to his unauthorized practice of architecture, forgery, and submission of documents to various municipalities.”
“Throughout the course of his fraudulent career, the defendant repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for the public safety of New Yorkers and a determination to cheat the system,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The state law is clear – no license, no architectural work for you. No one is above that standard.”
Since 2010, Newman had presented himself as an architect to several communities and had advertised on social media his architectural services, according to the attorney general’s office. Apparently once Newman became aware of a complaint filed to the New York State Education Department Office, Newman dropped all references to “architecture” in his promotional material, swapping it for “design.”
“It is imperative, as a critical matter of public safety, that professional services in New York be provided by licensed and competent professionals,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said in a statement. “We are pleased with our continuing work with Attorney General Schneiderman and his team of professionals in this prosecution, which helps our mission of protecting the public against unlicensed and incompetent practice.”
Newman is expected to be sentenced to anywhere from two and third to seven years in prison and ordered to pay more than $115,000 in restitution.
Fans of the ‘90s television sitcom Seinfeld may be familiar with the name Newman and Vandelay Industries. Newman lived down the hall from Jerry Seinfeld and became Seinfeld’s apparent nemesis. Vandelay Industries was the name of a company George Costanza made up and said he had interviewed at when he applied for an extension for unemployment services. Costanza claimed he interviewed for a latex salesman.