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September 23, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Orange County check-cashing businessman accused of embezzlement

Two money transfer companies are accusing an Orange County businessman of embezzling fees he owed from his check cashing business.

Western Union Financial Services claims that Miguel A. Mota, of Highland Mills, owes $277,000, and Moneygram International says he owes more than $41,000, for using their networks. The companies filed adversarial lawsuits in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Poughkeepsie, where Mota had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January.

Though Mota filed for personal bankruptcy, many of his debts are related to his defunct business, Metropolitan Checks Cashing Corp. A telephone number listed in his name is no longer in service, and his bankruptcy attorney, Brian C. Fetzko did not reply to email and phone messages requesting comment.

Mota, a postal worker, founded Metropolitan in 1995, and operated from a storefront in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. The business was dissolved in 2016. The bankruptcy petition declares assets of nearly $1.1 million and liabilities of $2.2 million.

Mota lists unsecured claims of nearly $1 million, including the Western Union and Moneygram debts. He owes $622,716 on mortgages for a rental property he co-owns in Pelham Gardens, Bronx, and nearly $600,000 on his house in Highland Mills.

Western Union says it authorized Metropolitan in 2013 to use its network for accepting money transfers and money order payments. Mota and his sister, Selene, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, personally guaranteed the contract.

Metropolitan failed to remit $211,375 to Western Union that year. Instead, the complaint alleges, Mota kept the money for himself and his business. Western Union previously sued Mota in federal court, Manhattan, and won a default judgment last year for $277,000.

Now Western Union is seeking to enforce that judgment in bankruptcy court, accusing Mota of embezzlement, conversion of funds, breach of fiduciary and making false representations.

Moneygram says it authorized Metropolitan in 2010 to use its network for wire transfers of money. Mota personally guaranteed his company’s obligations, the complaint says, and Metropolitan breached its agreement by not remitting $39,365.

Moneygram won a judgment against Metropolitan in 2014 in Bronx Supreme Court. It is seeking to enforce that judgement in bankruptcy court, accusing Mota of embezzlement and larceny.