Allan Hilly, the one-time CEO of Leading Edge Holding Company, a financial firm based at 100 Overlook, who faced 231 federal charges of fraud amounting to more than $10 million, was found dead in his Newark jail cell on September 22, an apparent suicide on the day his trial was set to begin.

Hilly was accused in 2007 of making numerous illegal wire transfers, shuffling investors’ money into a privately controlled account. It was not, however, his firm’s first brush with accusations of financial wrongdoing. In 2005 Leading Edge Insurance was ordered to pay $1.3 million to Florida-based human resource outsourcing firm Professional Employer Plans Inc., which had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on breach of contract, civil theft, and fraud over a worker’s compensation matter. After mediation the companies agreed to a settlement of $230,000.

However, in a bizarre twist, the FBI and IRS arrested Hilly and charged him with money laundering in December, 2006. The FBI claimed that Hilly actually owned Professional Employer Plans Inc. as well as Leading Edge. An article in the June 1, 2005, edition of U.S. 1 told how PEP claimed it had made payments on a contract for workers compensation coverage with Leading Edge but that it had never received a copy of the policy or proof of the insurance. PEP claimed it had to find alternate coverage and ended up losing 40 clients.

But the FBI said that Hilly owned both Leading Edge and PEP companies, and that on March 27, 2006, he told an employee to stop paying taxes and transfer the money to his bank account. According to an FBI press release at the time, in a phone call recorded by a witness cooperating with the government, Hilly said he would seek to pay back the IRS “when the time comes.”

Hilly also had served as the board chairman of Impraxxa, a career search company also known as Career Moves that became a centerpoint in a lawsuit over the right to post derogatory statements about companies online. Impraxxa, also based at 100 Overlook, had sued Arizona-based RipoffReport.com, a website that posts consumer complaints about companies.

RipOffReport.com won the case, as it has several others, and postings about Impraxxa remain, though the company no longer exists.

According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s office, Hilly was set to begin trial on September 22. He was left alone in his cell for a short time during which he hung himself from an air duct with his bedsheet .

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