Young and brash, Eric Skys portrayed himself as a German raised computer genius worth $388 million.
He enjoyed a life of mystery and intrigue, a seemingly wealthy black businessman riding around small town Rockwood in his charcoal BMW, escorted by two armed bodyguards.
Once a high profile fixture at high school sporting events,wholesale nfl jerseys the 27 year old Skys would go to the gym beneath his modest office at Rockwood Mill Shoppes with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.
He bragged about enjoying semiautomatic weapons, flying, skydiving, extreme sports and video game technology.
It was all an elaborate ruse, prosecutors now say. District Court in Johnstown Friday morning for a detention hearing on FBI charges that he tried to scam banks out of money through an elaborate stock forgery scheme.
They said his wife didn’t even know his real name: Eric Ashley Lemon. Magistrate Judge Keith Pesto concluded after reviewing a pretrial report.
Skys remains in the custody of federal marshals, awaiting a yet unscheduled psychological examination or a preliminary hearing.
“He is good at what he does that’s conning,” said Dominic Cannizzaro, CEO of Pitt Bull Secure Technologies Inc. in Richland Township.
“And the level it was being taken to, he never stopped.”
In charges filed with federal court in New York, FBI Special Agent Brian Harkins said Skys described himself as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser Himmel Inc., a multinational computer and information technology company based in Rockwood.
Specifically, Skys allegedly proposed pledging an interest in the stocks to the banks in exchange for the money.
The FBI said he created and sent fabricated documents to the banks: Contracts signed with the forged signatures of Sprint executives, altered e mails and false securities account statements.
Skys is charged with securities fraud, bank fraud and wire fraud.
“I think he’s very computer literate, but he’s as bogus as he can be from the financial side,” said Joe Cross, a partner at Sterling Capital Group of Melbourne, Fla., who said his company lined up $225,000 in investments for Skys but has received only $10,000 in repayments.
In late August, the FBI said a financial adviser for the Georgia office of a large, worldwide financial institution began discussing a transaction with Skys and an undisclosed man who said he was Kaiser Himmel’s chief financial officer.
They allegedly told the bank that Kaiser Himmel could not sell the 13.4 million in Sprint shares until this October and was looking for a way to turn the shares into money.
Sprint stock was selling for $9.17 a share Friday afternoon, making the shares Skys said he owned worth about $123 million.
Because of the complex nature of the transaction, the bank called in a specialist to help structure the deal.
On Sept. 24, Kaiser Himmel’s CFO allegedly sent the specialist an account statement purportedly from Banc of America Investment Services, showing that Kaiser Himmel had unspecified securities valued at nearly $294 million.
A Banc of America representative told the FBI that, while Skys opened the account over the Internet, the account never had any money.
Around the same time, the bank specialist was shown a “stock award agreement” between Sprint and Kaiser Himmel dated July 6, 2007.
But the FBI said a Sprint executive has indicated the company has no record of the agreement, never awarded millions of shares to Kaiser Himmel, and the electronic signature of the former Sprint CEO is a forgery. The executive added that Sprint does not execute those types of deals with electronic signatures.
Similar documents were sent to a financial adviser in the Florida office of an international bank, seeking $59 million in financing in exchange for a pledge of 5.1 million Sprint shares, the FBI said. Skys also allegedly tried to do deals with two more banks.
Cross said he was introduced to Skys about two years ago and helped Skys obtain $225,000 in investments based on contracts Kaiser Himmel had at the time.