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Bergen authorities charge Manhattan man with scamming philanthropy out of $325,000

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Manhattan private equity manager posing as a consultant scammed the philanthropic Tavern on the Green International out of $325,000 that he spent on himself, Bergen County authorities have charged.

Alexi S. Harding, a 35-year-old former insurance salesman who lives on the Upper East Side, was being held in New York City pending extradition to New Jersey, where authorities have charged him with theft by deception, following his arrest yesterday.

Tavern on the Green International — a licensing company that bought its name from the defunct Central Park restaurant — franchises restaurants throughout the world and sells a variety of healthy foods and products online and in gourmet stores. It donates a percentage of all profits to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The NJ-based company hired Harding who “fraudulently represented himself as a principal in a consulting company, Maenna,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said tonight.

Harding “was employed as an independent contractor for Maenna, but was never a principal in the company,” the prosecutor said, adding that he was hired “to raise funds for a specific investment.”

One of the objectives was to prepare and submit a request for proposal, “for which Harding collected fees from the client and failed to forward to the numerous professionals engaged in the preparation of the RFP,” Molinelli said.

Harding, who is single and unemployed, “provided false invoices to the client in an effort to conceal the fact the he used the money for personal use,” the prosecutor said.

He also “failed to pay professional services and persuaded them to invest money in a shell company he controlled under the guise of making them partners in the RFP,” he said.

The arrest followed an investigation by members of Molinelli’s White Collar Crimes Unit.

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