His name is Bryan Cho (aka “Yong Hee Cho”) and he was the recipient of a 10-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 26, charged with possession of a fake foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, making false statements during a background check, and wire fraud in connection with the purchase of a co-op apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
As set forth in the indictment, Cho has been employed as a Special Agent with Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation since 2008. During the course of his employment, Cho worked on an investigation through which he obtained identifying information for an individual described in the indictment as “John Doe.” The investigation was eventually closed, but Cho retained items he obtained during the investigation and used John Doe’s identifying information to create false identification documents and open a corporate entity overseas in John Doe’s name. The fraudulent documents included purported identification cards for the Philippines and the Republic of Marshall Islands in the name of John Doe, but bearing photos of the defendant, and a purported passport in the name of John Doe for the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
Cho later made false statements during a background investigation, including denying that he possessed any foreign identification documents. Cho also denied any contacts with foreign officials even though law enforcement from the Republic of South Korea had communications with him regarding allegations that South Korean government personnel had paid bribes to the defendant in exchange for information about ongoing U.S. criminal investigations. Cho also submitted multiple false documents in connection with the purchase of a co-op apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, including forged tax returns and bank statements that inflated his income and assets to secure the co-op board’s approval for the purchase, and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign bank account associated with an entity the defendant created using John Doe’s identity to fund the purchase.
If convicted of the top count, wire fraud, Cho faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment. The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to WNBC in New York, Cho pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to the charges against him and was ordered detained.