NEW YORK (AP) — A notorious fraudster convicted a decade ago for cheating online eyeglass customers and harassing some of them with grisly threats was arrested Friday for a third time after resuming internet-based criminal behavior soon after getting out of prison nearly two years ago, a prosecutor said.
Vitaly Borker, 45, of Brooklyn was charged with two counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
At an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court, he was ordered held without bail as a danger to continue defrauding people if he is free while awaiting trial. Defense attorney Dominic Amorosa said in an email that Borker will plead not guilty if he is indicted on the charges.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams noted in a statement that one of his predecessors, Geoffrey S. Berman, posed the rhetorical question after Borker’s second conviction of whether more time in prison would cause Borker to retreat from crime.
“Apparently, it has not. As alleged, just after his release from federal prison, serial fraudster Vitaly Borker reverted back to his illegal conduct connected to online eyewear businesses,” Williams said.
Darnell D. Edwards, acting head of the New York office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said Borker was “up to his old tricks of bilking those looking for online eyewear.”
“Make no mistake, each time Mr. Borker breaks the law, Postal inspectors have no problem with bringing him to justice for his continued criminal activity,” Edwards said.
The latest charges against Borker accuse him of continuing fraudulent tactics in selling eyeglasses to online customers. Some claims were similar to charges in the previous two cases against him, alleging he advertised discounted designer sunglasses and eyeglasses but often delivered shoddy, used or counterfeit products.
A criminal complaint said he began defrauding customers after he was moved from a prison to a residential reentry center in June 2020 after completing most of a two-year prison sentence he received in April 2019.
At that sentencing, Judge Paul Gardephe said that in over two decades as a judge and prosecutor he had never seen someone return “so quickly to exactly the same crime after doing four years, a harsh sentence.”
Gardephe said there was a “great risk” Borker would commit fraud again.
Prior to the sentencing, Borker wrote to the judge, saying: “Something is just not right inside my brain.”
The Ukrainian immigrant violated terms of his release by resuming fraud after serving a four-year prison sentence for harassing customers from 2007 to 2015.
After Borker’s first arrest in 2010, Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who now sits on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said victims who testified that Borker had threatened them with rape and murder were “highly credible.”
Each of two counts of wire fraud carry the maximum potential of 20-year prison terms while a conviction for aggravated identity theft would require Borker to serve a mandatory two-year prison sentence in addition to any sentence on other charges.