fbpx Former de Blasio Official Charged in $10 Million Federal Fraud Case - Documented

Former de Blasio Official Charged in $10 Million Federal Fraud Case

Tommy Lin, and several others, allegedly used immigrants' identities to open bank accounts and fraudulently reported unauthorized transfers to receive credited funds. Chinese community leaders expressed being "shocked" by the news. The NYC political insider may face up to 30 years in prison.

A former director in the Mayor’s Office and the current Queens Community Coordinator at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly participating in a scheme to defraud financial institutions of over $10 million, according to the Southern District of New York and the FBI.

Tommy Lin was apprehended early Thursday and appeared before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron. 

A spokesperson for the DEP said in a statement in an email to Documented, “DEP’s work is vital to the well-being of millions of New Yorkers. While at this time we have no indication that the investigation involves DEP, Mr. Lin will be placed on leave pending an internal review.”

The news of his arrest has sent shockwaves through New York’s Chinese community, where many have known Lin for years.

Lin, 41, faces charges alongside Zhong Shi Gao, also known as “George,” and Fei Jiang, also known as “Jeffrey” or “Brother Fei,” who were arrested in November 2023, according to SDNY.

Lin previously served as the Director of Constituent Services in the Community Affairs Unit for the New York City Mayor’s Office from around 2014 to around 2019 under Bill de Blasio’s administration. He also served as a Senior Advisor to the New York City Police Department’s Asian Advisory Council as part of his responsibilities in the Mayor’s Office.

Chinese community leaders and a former City Hall colleague who have known him for years expressed their shock upon hearing the news. Lin, who immigrated from Taiwan when he was young, began his political career as the Constituent Service and Organizing Associate for then Public Advocate and later Mayor Bill de Blasio. Lin mentions on his Facebook that he graduated from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His current title on LinkedIn is Queens Community Coordinator at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

A former city employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said Lin was handling Asian community outreach for Bill de Blasio during de Blasio’s tenure as the New York City Public Advocate and often represented de Blasio at Asian community events. 

“He is a very smart person and understands political maneuvering,” said the former city employee, who met Lin in 2012. “There weren’t many Chinese faces in de Blasio’s office at the time, so he left a strong impression on me. Later, he rose to a relatively high position after de Blasio was elected mayor. It’s unfortunate to see he is involved in such a case now.”

Kenneth Chiu, who is running for election to the New York State Assembly to represent District 25, has been a friend of Lin for over 10 years. He expressed surprise at Lin’s arrest. “It’s news to me. Everybody’s experience is different. For me, he is a great guy. He has always been supportive personally and professionally.”

Jerry Lo, a longtime community activist in the Chinese community, also felt “shocked” by the news, he said. He mentioned that as the former Asian community representative for de Blasio, Lin frequently visited the Chinese community and showed his support at important occasions such as the protest for Peter Liang, a former Chinese American NYPD officer who was sentenced to probation for the shooting death of an unarmed Black man in 2014. Lo said Lin also played a major role in helping to fundraise for de Blasio’s reelection campaign for mayor, and successfully raised thousands of dollars with other Chinese community members while elevating his status in the de Blasio administration.

According to court documents, Lin, Gao, and Jiang defrauded banks of millions of dollars. They transferred funds between accounts they controlled and then falsely claimed to the financial institutions that these transfers were unauthorized, leading the institutions to refund the amounts. This scheme allowed them to extract over $10 million dollars.

Additionally, they frequently used the identities of temporary immigrants from China or Taiwan residing in the United States to open these bank accounts for their scams. When an account holder became dissatisfied with the scheme, Lin allegedly accepted a $20,000 bribe in cash to “arrange for a Deportation Officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest the disgruntled individual,” according to the documents. 

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Court documents revealed that after having the immigrants open accounts at various bank branches in the New York metropolitan area and elsewhere, Gao, Jiang, and other participants in the scheme controlled these accounts. They deposited and transferred money between the accounts and would then falsely claim to the banks that these transfers were unauthorized. Upon receiving the credited funds from the banks, they quickly withdrew the money in cash or converted it to cryptocurrency before the fraud was detected. Approximately a dozen banks and financial institutions suffered losses totaling over $10 million dollars.

Prosecutors stated that Lin provided names and birth dates for potential account holders. He allegedly conducted background checks on scheme members to ensure they were not under law enforcement investigation. 

Lin is being charged with one count of bank fraud conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.

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