By Jonathan Stempel


NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to forging signatures of New York Mets baseball officials, including Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Wilpon, in an office leasing equipment scam was sentenced on Wednesday to four years in prison.


Michael Conway, 41, of Verona, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, New York, 11 months after pleading guilty to wire fraud for a scheme that according to prosecutors ran from March 2014 to August 2015.


The prison term is within the 41- to 51-month range that prosecutors sought, and in line with recommended federal guidelines.


Kuntz also ordered Conway to pay $3.56 million of restitution to hedge fund investor David Rich and $1.2 million to DLL Financial Solutions of Wayne, Pennsylvania, which according to court papers unwittingly financed Conway's fraud.


Sean Haran, a lawyer for Conway, declined to comment.

The identity of Rich was revealed in court papers this week. Rich not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors said Conway forged and inflated terms of leasing agreements for his company Choice Office Solutions LLC, which bought equipment such as copiers and scanners and leased them to clients, to attract financing.

Conway fraudulently claimed to have leases with about 58 companies including hospitals, hotels, law firms and universities, and pocketed much of the money he raised from Rich, prosecutors said.

While Conway did business with the Mets, prosecutors said he once sent a letter that appeared to be from Wilpon and authorized a Mets vice president to enter up to $1 million of contracts, but misspelled Wilpon's first name as "Jeffery."

The case is U.S. v. Conway, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 16-cr-00052.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Frances Kerry)