Update Friday 10:50 a.m.: An attorney representing Emmanuel "Kojo" Bentil has made a statement denying Bentil's involvement in anything illegal, essentially placing the blame on Derrick "Suits" Robinson.
"Emmanuel 'Kojo' Bentil adamantly denies accusations that he knowingly participated in the fraud and forgery committed by Derrick Robinson," read a statement from Steven Lynch, on behalf of Bentil.
Lynch's statement claims that Bentil paid back the $150,000 when he found out that Robsinson had misrepresented his relationship with pop star Taylor Swift.
We have not heard any statement from Robinson at this point.
After presenting themselves as affiliates of pop star Taylor Swift, two White Plains men tricked an investor out of approximately $225,000 paid for a fictitious concert, said Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
The alleged scheme dates back to November 2009, when Derrick "Suits" Robinson, 29, and Emmanuel "Kojo" Bentil, 47, contacted a Los Angeles, CA, investor claiming they were associates of Swift's agents, according to a release from the DA's office. Over the next three months, Bentil and Robinson convinced Kachik Mouradian, the investor, to front $375,00 for a fake Taylor Swift concert to be held in March 2010 in Phoenix, AZ, the release said.
The DA also believes the two men presented Mouradian with two forged documents during that time supposedly signed by Michael Schweiger, CEO of Central Entertainment Group, (CEG Talent) of New York City.
Those documents included an "artist offer letter" received on Dec. 7, 2009, stating that as an authorized representative of Swift, Schweiger authorized the agreement for the performance, the DA announced. The DA believes Bentil forged Schweiger's signature on the document.
A month later, on Jan. 11, 2010, the DA believes Bentil created a "performance agreement" letter—also with Schweiger's forged signature—stating an agreement for Swift to perform on March 9, 2010, for $500,000 and other considerations.
According to the DA, the men did not have permission or consent from Schweiger to place his signature on the documents.
When Mouradian confronted Bentil about the possible deception, the DA believes Bentil returned $150,000 of the original investment, but, along with Robinson, kept the remaining $225,000.
Bentil and Robinson have been charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, felonies.
Robinson, of 60 Gibson Avenue, White Plains, is due back in court April 2; his bail has been set at $5,000. Bentil, of 10 Drake Lane, White Plains, is due in court April 11; his bail was set at $100,000.
Both men face a maximum of five to 15 years in state prison.
As an attorney, Bentil could also face disbarment if convicted of a felony.