“Seinfeld” fans are obviously familiar with the terms “Newman” and “Vandelay Industries.” On the iconic show, Newman was the pudgy neighbor and Jerry’s sworn enemy. “Vandelay Industries” was a phony corporation that the bumbling George Costanza invented in order to scam his way into an unemployment check.
But it seems that the classic sitcom has come to life, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday that he was indicting “alleged fake architect Paul Newman on 58 counts as a result of our ‘Operation Vandelay Industries.'” In another strange twist that echoes “Seinfeld,” George Costanza consistently lied that he was an architect–and the real-life Newman may now face prison time for that lie.
According to a press release published by Schneiderman’s office, Paul Newman collected “$200,000 for rendering fraudulent architecture and design services since 2010.”
Newman “defrauded construction companies, business owners, and municipalities…by pretending to be a licensed and registered architect.”
New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia explained, “The State Education Department’s Office of the Professions investigates and prosecutes professional misconduct in more than 50 licensed professions to help protect New Yorkers.”
Unlike the fictional Newman (who was based in Manhattan), Paul Newman the fake architect operated out of central New York; forging projects in Saratoga and Albany. The press release states that Newman “allegedly took the license number of a registered architect that he found on the internet and created a fictitious Registered Architect Stamp using that number and his own name.”
The 49-year-old has been indicted on 31 counts including 13 counts of forgery, which is a class D felony. And while the fictional Newman managed to weasel his way out of all his shady undertakings, Paul Newman might have a tougher time.