The Brookline Tab has reported that former Brookline resident Carolyn Kravetz has been indicted in federal court for acts of mail fraud and tax fraud. Her co-defendant, Boris Levitin, hailing from Brighton, merely faces charges of mail fraud.
Federal prosecutors claim that a Ms. Kravetz, a communications director for Dunkin’ Brands from May 2004 to October 2005, steered hundreds of thousands of dollars of work from a Canton-based company to a contractor in return for a 50 percent kickback. The two attended Boston University in the 1980’s (the “greed is good” era) where they gained an education as well as each other’s friendship. The two were apparently very close in 2004 when prosecutors claim that they agreed that Ms. Kravetz agreed to steer Dunkin’ Brands contract work to Mr. Levitin’s graphic design and technical publishing firm, Luminophore Inc. In return, prosecutors said, Mr. Levitin agreed to kick back to Ms. Kravetz one-half of his gross revenues from Dunkin’ Brands. After depositing a check from Dunkin’ Brands, Mr. Levitin would send a check equal to half of the amount to Ms. Kravetz, according to the indictment filed last week in federal court in Boston.
From September, 2004, through November, 2005, Ms. Kravetz allegedly deposited checks from Luminophore into her personal account that totaled nearly $200,000. Mr. Levitin allegedly received nearly $400,000 spread among six checks over a 15-month period, including full payments for many projects that he hadn’t even started. According to the indictment, Mr. Levitin completed one project and performed some work on two others (of the 15 invoiced projects) , but never submitted any work to Dunkin’ Brands on the remaining 12 projects.
According to Mr. Levitin’s lawyer, his client has already paid Dunkin’ Brands back for all the money that Ms. Kravetz accepted, as well as all the money that was paid to him for work he hadn’t completed. He said, “Our position is that every drop of work that Levitin billed for, he had either been starting to work on or was expecting to complete, and every last dollar from Dunkin’ Brands has been paid back…Anyone who knows Boris Levitin knows he’s incapable of a crime, let alone even any dishonesty. He himself is a victim of Carol Kravetz’s fraud, and we look forward to his total vindication at trial.”
Dunkin’ Brands, the parent company of the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains, issued a brief statement when asked about the case that confirmed her time of employment at the company. “In regard to Ms. Kravetz’s recent indictment, we have been working with the appropriate authorities,” Stephen Caldeira, the company’s chief communications officer, said in a statement. “Given that this is a pending legal matter, we will not make any further comment.”
While I identify with Mr. Levitin’s attorney’s plight, as someone who has been deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system for more than 20 years (myself graduating Boston University School of Law, by the way), I have not yet met the human being who is incapable of any crime or dishonesty. But, maybe I do not get around much. In any event, there are a few elements that are instructive to the general public which are commonplace in the criminal justice system, especially when it involves the federal court.
First, the reason this is being prosecuted as a mail fraud case is that the somehow the mail was used in the carrying out of this scheme…probably in relation to the invoices sent. While the article is silent as to the tax fraud, one would imagine that these “kickbacks” were not reported to the IRS. The prosecutors will likely argue that this is evidence that Ms. Kravitz knew they were ill-gotten gains.
Second, Mr. Levitin has obviously traded in his friendship with his fellow B.U. alum to point the finger at her and brand himself a “victim”. In federal court, many prosecutions actually depend upon the “turning” of one defendant against another. It would not be surprising if Mr. Levitin is now working with the federal prosecutors and is now actually one of their “informants” against their real target, Ms. Kravetz. In fact, since Mr. Levitin is said to have already paid back the money, and since the indictment just came down, it would appear that he made payment prior to the indictment even being unsealed. I suspect that this was part of the deal made with prosecutors months earlier and that, while himself presently a defendant, Mr. Levitin will be joining the good folks at Dunkin’ on the prosecutor’s witness list. After all, even the best of friendships, wonderful as they are, are seldom chosen over potential jail time.
The final, and most important, lesson the state of mind of the two co-conspirators. We actually do not know who is guilty of what or what the background intent was in this case. Further, we do not know, assuming the charges are true, whether the two former school chums were even aware that there was anything wrong with their arrangement. And that is the flare that I really want to shoot up here. Many business practices border on the criminal because they are on the other side of the legal line society has drawn. Ignorance of such laws is not a legal defense. There are many executives who do not see anything wrong with “kickbacks”. Therefore, if such an opportunity arises, it is usually a good idea to consult a criminal attorney to be sure that the arrangement is legal. Further, if you have reason to suspect that an investigation into something even potentially involving you is going on, it is wise to consult an attorney at the earliest time. As indicated above, there are not many people who incapable of lying…especially when the cost of not pointing a finger is having that finger in a cell.
Of course, the other piece to this is the matter of extent. It is doubtful that anybody truly believes that it is ok to charge money for work never done. If the charges in this case are true, the lesson is that greed, at least in this circumstance, is actually not good.
Have a good and law abiding weekend.
The full article of this story can be found at