A federal jury in Columbus, Ohio has convicted Kevin R. Foster, 42, of Montclair, NJ, of 16 charges related to a fraud scheme. He was found guilty of wire fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion and filing a false tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division.
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This case stems from the prior prosecution of Thomas E. Jackson and Preston J. Harrison, who, according to court documents, collected approximately $9 million from investors under false pretenses to start and market the sports beverage OXYwater through their company, Imperial Integrative Health Research and Development (Imperial). The two were convicted by a federal jury in March 2015 of multiple wire fraud, money laundering and tax fraud charges.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Foster, as the principal of his management/accounting firm, Foster & Firm, Inc., and as business manager for Shaffer Smith, a/k/a Ne-Yo, induced Smith to invest $2 million into OXYwater under false representations. Unbeknownst to Smith, Foster invested an additional $1.5 million of Smith’s money into the product without his consent and fraudulently took out $1.4 million in lines of credit under Smith’s name by forging his signature.
Foster also defrauded a second celebrity client, Brian McKnight, as a way to secure money to help keep Imperial solvent.
Foster also stole millions of dollars from Smith and McKnight’s bank accounts in order to fund the operations of OXYwater as well as his own lavish lifestyle, including multiple luxury vehicles, a personal driver, designer watches, and season tickets to the New York Giants and New York Knicks.
Smith and McKnight agreed to invest in the company, not knowing that Foster was receiving a substantial commission based on their investments, that he served as an officer/controller of Imperial and that he controlled an Imperial bank account.
In addition, Foster failed to report on his 2012 and 2013 tax returns the millions of dollars that he stole from Smith and McKnight. He also claimed millions of dollars in bogus deductions in order to further reduce his tax liability.
Foster was charged in an original, seven-count indictment in July 2016. A superseding indictment containing 10 counts was returned in November 2017. The final, second superseding indictment added six more charges in May 2018.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the IRS Criminal Investigation and FBI, and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica H. Kim and Department of Justice Tax Division Trial Attorney Jason M. Scheff, who are prosecuting the case.