Cyber Criminal Pleads Guilty To Involvement In Long-Running Fraud Scheme Using Overseas Call Centers
Earlier today, Hani Kabbara pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The plea was entered before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
The guilty plea was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
“In this 21st century version of an age-old scam, Kabbara conned unwitting victims, many of them elderly, into sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to himself and his co-conspirators,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “This Office is committed to protecting innocent victims targeted by predators like Kabbara who operate in cyberspace.”
“Kabbara preyed on well-intentioned victims, many who were in the U.S. and elderly, when he used a telephone scheme to extort them under the guise a loved one had been arrested and the victim needed to send money in order for the grandchild to be released from jail,” stated FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “He masterminded his schemes from what he thought was the safety of his home in Canada, hiding behind encrypted chats and online monikers. Facing up to 20 years in prison puts an end to his calculating, criminal ways. This case again showcases the commitment of the FBI’s Cyber Task Force to investigate those involved in cybercrime and bring them to justice, no matter where in the world they may reside.”
Between February 2014 and August 2016, Kabbara, also known as “The Mayor,” ran a sophisticated scheme that used overseas call centers to extort money from unsuspecting victims, many of them elderly, in the United States. Kabbara and his co-conspirators used various threats and deceit, for example telling the victim that a grandchild had been arrested and the victim needed to send money in order for the grandchild to be released from jail. Kabbara and the co-conspirators demanded payment from his victims in the form of MoneyPaks, which are vouchers that can be loaded with cash and then used to fund prepaid debit cards. The defendant sold the MoneyPaks in online criminal forums or, with his co-conspirators, transferred the funds onto prepaid debit cards that had been obtained using stolen identities. The defendant and his co-conspirators, who communicated with each other anonymously in cyberspace through dark web forums and encrypted chat applications, then used a crew of workers in and around the New York area to withdraw funds from the debit cards, consolidate the cash and send it back to the defendant in Canada.
When he is sentenced by United States District Judge Margo K. Brodie on July 6, 2017, Kabbara faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as criminal forfeiture and fines.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorney Una A. Dean is in charge of the prosecution.
Manchester Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Firearm Offenses
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROBERT V. GENTILE, 80, of Manchester, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to federal firearm offenses, and also admitted that he violated the conditions of his supervised release from a prior federal conviction.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on February 10, 2012, GENTILE was arrested after a federal investigation had revealed that he was involved in the illegal distribution of prescription narcotics. Subsequent court-authorized searches of GENTILE’s Manchester residence resulted in the seizure of 200 Percocet tablets packaged for distribution, two .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers, a .22 caliber North American Arms revolver, a .22 caliber derringer, a 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun, numerous rounds of ammunition, boxes of 12-gauge shotgun shells, five handgun silencers, other items and approximately $22,000 in cash. GENTILE pleaded guilty to federal drug and firearm offenses and, on May 9, 2013, was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.
On March 2, 2015, while on supervised release, GENTILE sold a .38 Colt Cobra revolver, which was loaded with five rounds of Smith & Wesson .38 Special ammunition, for $1,000 to an individual he knew to be a convicted felon. The sale occurred at GENTILE’s residence, where the revolver had been hidden in a couch cushion.
GENTILE was arrested on a criminal complaint on April 17, 2015, and was ordered detained. On April 28, 2015, a grand jury returned an indictment charging him with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and sale of a firearm to a convicted felon.
On May 2, 2016, FBI special agents executed an unrelated federal search warrant at GENTILE’s Manchester residence and seized a .22 caliber Browning semi-automatic pistol, a 9mm Walther semi-automatic pistol, a .380 caliber RPB Industries, M11-Al semi-automatic pistol, and an unregistered silencer. On May 24, 2016, a grand jury returned an indictment charging GENTILE with one count of possession of firearms by a previously convicted felon, and one count of possession of an unregistered silencer.
Today, GENTILE pleaded guilty to one count of possession of ammunition by a previously convicted felon, which is contained in the April 2015 indictment. He also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of firearms by a previously convicted felon and one count of possession of an unregistered silencer, both of which are contained in the May 2016 indictment. GENTILE also admitted that he violated the terms and conditions of his supervised release.
GENTILE is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny on August 25, 2017, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment 10 years on each count, and additional penalties for violating his supervised release.
GENTILE has been detained since his arrest on April 17, 2015.
This matter has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John H. Durham.
Tri-City Bombers Gang Members and Associates Indicted on Federal Racketeering, Drug Distribution, and Money Laundering Charges
HOUSTON – A grand jury sitting in Houston returned a 27-count superseding indictment against 25 Tri-City Bombers (TCB) gang members and associates in a conspiracy involving racketeering, drug distribution, money laundering, robbery and discharge of a firearm resulting in death.
Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office and Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of IRS – Criminal Investigation (CI) – Houston Field Office made the announcement.
A 27-count superseding indictment was returned by a grand jury on March 30, 2017, and unsealed in its entirety today in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas.
According to court documents, the TCB is a national gang active in multiple states that was formed in the early 1980s in the Pharr, San Juan and Alamo areas of South Texas. TCB has an organized decision-making hierarchy, including a person in charge of each city, and leaders within the organization who determined whether its members violated the gang’s rule and deserved punishment. To instill loyalty, including participation in gang’s criminal activities and adherence to its strict rule structure, TCB leaders determined and ordered the severe beating of members and associates for acts of disobedience or non-observance of the TCB’s rules.
The scope of the TCB’s crimes is wide-ranging and consistent in its nationwide operation. The RICO conspiracy charged here includes murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, firearms crimes, money laundering and other crimes in furtherance of the organization’s enterprise. In Texas, for example, the TCB brought money into the gang through drug trafficking, home invasion robberies and money laundering.
The indictment alleges that from January 2009 and continuing through March 2017, TCB members and associates engaged in a variety of racketeering activities, including murder, attempted murder, robbery and drug trafficking. TCB members and associates allegedly coordinated the transportation and sale of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin from South Texas to Atlanta, Georgia, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, St. Louis, Missouri, and other cities nationwide. The indictment also alleges that TCB members committed a home invasion robbery for the purpose of stealing controlled substances, during which the home owner was shot to death.
The 19 defendants charged for their alleged roles in the RICO conspiracy are Mike Bueno, aka Mocho, 45, of Edinburg/Alamo; Eduardo Hernandez, aka Lepo, 36, Joseph Alberto Lopez, 33, and Joshua Omar Santillan, 35, all of Donna; Arturo Ramirez Jr., aka China, 41, of Weslaco/San Juan; Jose Rolando Gonzalez, aka Rollie, 38, of Alton; Ernesto Alonzo Ruiz, aka Gallito, 38, of Raymondville; Hipolito Gonzalez, aka Pollie, 34, of Mission; Luis Antonio Saldivar, aka Flaco, 25, of Mission; Israel Gonzalez, aka Rayo, 34, of Pharr; Rolando Cruz, aka Party, 45, of Edinburg/Mission; Jesus Silva, aka Bola, 42, of San Juan; Carlos de la Rosa, aka Charlie, 40, of San Juan; Octavio Muniz, aka Tavo, 40, of Pharr/Edinburg; Margil Reyna, Jr., aka Mikeo, 32, formerly of Alamo, now of Toledo, Ohio; Roberto Cortez, aka Robe, 35, of Pharr/San Juan; Rene Vela, aka Gordo, 47, of Edinburg/McAllen; Ernesto Saenz, aka Tuerto, 26, of McAllen; and Luis Alberto Tello, aka Wicho, 36, of Mercedes.
The superseding indictment also charges conspiracies to distribute cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, money laundering conspiracy, robbery, discharge of a firearm in the course of a violent crime resulting in death and multiple instances of possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute. Multiple racketeering conspiracy defendants are charged with each of these offenses. In addition, Daniel Saenz, 32, of Donna, is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. De la Rosa, Ricardo Ortega, 34, of Edinburg, and Veronica Chavez, 38, of Mesquite/Brownsville, are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Ivan Rodriguez, 33, of McAllen, and Ciro Moya, 39, of Olivia, Minnesota, are charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Roberto Reyes, aka Pelon, 31, of Pharr, is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The FBI and IRS-CI are investigating the case along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, Weslaco and Pharr, Texas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Casey N. MacDonald of the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.
Middlesex County, New Jersey, Man Charged With Theft Of Trade Secret Materials From Dupont
NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man has been charged with stealing computer files containing trade secrets from a DuPont manufacturing facility in Parlin, New Jersey, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced today.
Anchi Hou, 61, East Brunswick, New Jersey, was arrested this morning and charged by complaint with one count of theft of trade secrets. Hou is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In the summer and fall 2016, Hou allegedly copied and removed thousands of files containing DuPont’s proprietary information, including formulas, data, and customer information related to flexographic printing plate technology. He also allegedly took photographs in restricted areas of plant equipment and layouts used to manufacture DuPont’s products.
After allegedly stealing DuPont’s trade secrets, Hou announced his intention to retire from the company by the end of 2016. At some point in 2016, he formed a consulting business intended to provide consulting services to the manufacturing industry. Hou admitted to DuPont officials he secretly copied the files from his DuPont work computer and then uploaded those files onto a personal computer at his residence in order to assist him with his consulting business.
A forensic review of Hou’s personal computer revealed that it contained more than 20,000 stolen DuPont files related to the company’s flexographic printing plate technology. Some of the stolen files include information that DuPont considers trade secrets developed by its employees over the course of the past 40 years and which are critical to its technical, economic, and business operations.
The theft of trade secrets charge carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation leading to the arrest. He also thanked security officials in the DuPont corporation for their cooperation in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James M. Donnelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit and L. Judson Welle, coordinator of the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit, in Newark.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Fugitive Sought in $1.5 Million Quincy Real Estate Scheme Arrested in Florida
BOSTON – A man accused of a fraudulent $1.5 million real estate investment scheme in Quincy, Mass., and who had been a fugitive for 20 years in connection with an unrelated New York grand theft and larceny indictment, was arrested today in Delray Beach, Fla., on federal charges in connection with the Quincy scheme.
Scott J. Wolas, 67, who, according to court documents, also used the names Eugene J. Grathwohl, Allen L. Hengst, Drew Prescott, Frank Amolsch, Endicott Asquith, and Cameron Sturge, was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with the proposed development of the former Beachcomber Bar property and the adjoining lot in Quincy. He appeared in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach Division) at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017, for his initial appearance. Wolas is expected to return to Massachusetts at a later date to appear in federal court in Boston.
According to court documents, from at least 2009 through 2016, Wolas, using the name Eugene Grathwohl, operated a real estate business known as Increasing Fortune, Inc. and worked as a licensed real estate agent for Century 21 in Quincy. From 2014 through 2016, he solicited investments for the development of the Beachcomber Bar property located at 797 Quincy Shore Drive and for the construction of a single-family home on the adjacent property. He collected more than $1.5 million from at least 19 investors and promised each of them a significant return on their investments. He allegedly promised to pay out at least 125% of the profits related to the single-family home construction.
Wolas was scheduled to close on the Beachcomber property on Sept. 15, 2016. A week before, however, he left Quincy and ceased all contact with his then-girlfriend, his co-workers, and his investors. Law enforcement then discovered that Grathwohl was actually Wolas, a former lawyer who had been a fugitive since 1997 after being charged with fraud and grand larceny in New York. The real Eugene Grathwohl resides in Florida and is a friend of Wolas’ ex-wife.
The court documents also indicate that the bank account into which Wolas deposited investor funds has been drained, and that Wolas used the money mostly for his personal expenses unrelated to development of the real estate projects.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Aggravated identity theft carries a minimum term of two years’ imprisonment, which must be served consecutively to any term for the wire fraud, one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston; and Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra S. Bower of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.
Two Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Children
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cleveland Division, Toledo Resident Agency, and the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio, announce the arrest of Cordell Jenkins, age 46, and Anthony Haynes, age 37, pursuant to a federal complaint and arrest warrant for sex trafficking of children.
Agents placed Jenkins and Haynes into custody early this morning at their residences in Toledo without incident. Additional law enforcement activity occurred April 7, 2017 in regards to this ongoing investigation.
Jenkins and Haynes are accused of knowingly recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person(s) that the defendants knew was less than eighteen years old to engage in commercial sex acts. In addition to the above, Haynes is also being charged with Obstruction of Justice and Jenkins is being charged with Sexual Exploitation of Children. Both men will have their initial appearance in U.S. District Court later today, April 7, 2017.
A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of members of the FBI, Toledo Police Department, Perrysburg Township Police Department, Lima Police Department, Oregon Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Lucas County Sheriff’s Office.
Logansport man pleads guilty to selling methamphetamine, kidnapping conspiracy
SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a Logansport man pleaded guilty Thursday to distributing methamphetamine in Many, La., and kidnapping a victim in east Texas.
Christopher L. Douglas, 36, of Logansport, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote to one count of distribution of methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. According to the guilty pleas, law enforcement agents recorded Douglas selling 2 ounces of methamphetamine on April 26, 2016 for $2,000 in Many. In addition, he pleaded guilty to a kidnapping conspiracy charge from the Eastern District of Texas, in which he participated with others to kidnap the victim, demand ransom, and ultimately attempted to kill the victim, all arising out of related drug trafficking.
Douglas faces five to 40 years in prison for the drug charge and up to life in prison for the kidnapping charge. He also faces not less than four years of supervised release and up to a $5 million fine. The court set a sentencing date of August 25, 2017.
The FBI, ATF-Tyler Texas, Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office, DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s Office, Carthage Police Department and Longview Police Department conducted the investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Cowles Jr. is prosecuting the case for the Western District of Louisiana, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Hable is prosecuting the case for the Eastern District of Texas.
Mercer County, New Jersey, Man Admits Enticing Minor To Engage In Sexually Explicit Conduct
NEWARK, N.J. – A Lawrenceville, New Jersey, man today admitted paying a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and stream it online, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Curtis E. Thompson, 32, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of production of child pornography. Thompson was charged by complaint on Nov. 10, 2015, and has been in custody since that date.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Thompson admitted that from May 2015 through September 2015, he used Facebook Messenger and FaceTime on his iPhone to communicate with an individual referred to in the information as “Victim 1” and Victim 1’s friends. Thompson also admitted that based on those communications, he learned that Victim 1 was less than 18 years old.
Thompson admitted using Facebook Messenger and FaceTime to encourage Victim 1 and Victim 1’s friends to engage in sexually explicit activity and either record the conduct or stream it online. Thompson also admitted that he offered and made payments to the victim for recording and streaming the sexually explicit conduct.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement – which has been accepted by the court – Thompson will be sentenced to 240 months in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Sentencing is set for April 13, 2017.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited Special Agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Svetlana M. Eisenberg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: David A. Holman, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Tacoma Murder Suspect Extradited from Mexico
Returned to the United States to Face Charges in Pierce County
A fugitive was returned to the United States yesterday evening, April 4, 2017, after six years on the run. Agents from the FBI’s Seattle Field Office escorted Juan Ortiz, 24, formerly of Tacoma, Washington, back from Mexico. Ortiz will face state charges of Murder in the First Degree, Assault in the First Degree, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the First Degree, filed by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office (PCPO). The Superior Court of Washington for Pierce County issued a warrant for Ortiz’s arrest after the May 11, 2010, murder of Juan Zuniga and shooting of another victim in Tacoma, Washington.
Ortiz was taken into custody without incident in August 2016, in Mexico City, Mexico, by the Policía Federal Ministerial, in close coordination with the FBI Legal Attaché office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Mexican authorities repatriated Ortiz yesterday morning, April 4, 2017, transferring him to FBI custody in Mexico City. FBI agents then transported Ortiz to Washington State, where he was booked in to the Pierce County jail.
Tacoma Police Department (TPD) conducted the investigation of Zuniga’s death and the related shooting that left a victim paralyzed. In the course of pursuing a separate FBI investigation, the FBI’s Tacoma Resident Agency—a part of the Seattle Field Office—developed information on Ortiz’s location. The FBI, TPD, and the PCPO routinely collaborate on cases like this one through the South Sound Cold Case Working Group.
Investigators extend particular appreciation to authorities in Mexico for their partnership. Their role was critical in ensuring Ortiz will face justice for his alleged actions.
Developer Pleads Guilty To Embezzling From A Bankruptcy Estate
Tampa, FL – Acting United States W. Stephen Muldrow announces that Clark D. East (59, Sugarland, TX) has pleaded guilty to embezzlement from a bankruptcy estate. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
According to the plea agreement, East obtained a loan from Stearns Bank, a member bank of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Minneapolis, to develop a property located at 3700 Ulmerton Road Plaza in Clearwater. East subsequently defaulted on the loan and Stearns Bank obtained approval to sell the property at foreclosure on March 27, 2012. The day before the scheduled foreclosure sale, East filed for bankruptcy protection with the United States Bankruptcy Court for through his company, 3700 Ulmerton Road, LLC. During the bankruptcy proceedings, East was ordered to sell the property and to remit $1.2 million in sales proceeds to Stearns Bank. Rather than repaying Stearns Bank, East embezzled approximately $800,000 of proceeds that were part of the bankruptcy estate and due to Stearns Bank.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. The Office of the United States Trustee for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division also provided substantial assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Chris Poor and Assistant United States Attorney Jay G. Trezevant.
Honesdale Man Pleads Guilty to Distributing Child Pornography
PITTSBURGH – A resident of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of distribution of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
Ramon Coca, 27, of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Coca distributed videos containing material depicting the sexual exploitation of minors, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, some of whom had not yet attained 12 years of age.
Judge Fischer scheduled sentencing for July 5, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Shaun E. Sweeney is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Coca.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Three Pittsburgh Residents Charged in Forged Prescription Ring
PITTSBURGH – Three residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges including conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, possession with intent to distribute and distribute Oxycodone, obtaining a controlled substance through fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute Oxycodone and aggravated identity theft, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
The seven-count indictment named Barry Lee Dorsey, II, 26, Tyesha Renee Dorsey, 25, and Zachary Edward Rathke, 26, as defendants.
According to the indictment, the defendants operated a forged prescription ring. Prescriptions were forged with the names, DEA numbers, medical license numbers, and signatures of real medical doctors. The prescriptions, most of which were forged for Oxycodone and Percocet, were filled at a large number of Western Pennsylvania pharmacies and primarily paid for with Medicaid funds. The fraudulently obtained prescription pills were then sold on the street for substantial profit.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 61 years in prison, a fine of $3,000,000 or both for the charges pending against Barry Lee Dorsey, II. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 25 years in prison, a fine of $1,250,000 or both for the charges pending against Tyesha Renee Dorsey and Zachary Edward Rathke. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Brentwood Police Department, Mt. Pleasant Police Department and Bellevue Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Bergen County Doctor Convicted Of Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With New Jersey Clinical Lab
NEWARK, N.J. – A family doctor practicing in Bergen County, New Jersey, was convicted today of all 10 counts of an indictment charging him with accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Bernard Greenspan, 79, of River Edge, New Jersey, was convicted of one count of conspiring to commit violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Federal Travel Act and wire fraud; three substantive violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute; three substantive violations of the Federal Travel Act; and three substantive violations of wire fraud. Greenspan was convicted following a 11-day trial before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated just over four hours before returning the guilty verdict.
“We rightfully expect doctors to make their medical decisions based solely on what’s in the best interest of a patient,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Whether they are dealing with a routine procedure or grappling with a potentially serious condition, patients should never have to worry that a doctor has violated that trust for personal greed. As we showed at trial – and the jury agreed – Greenspan abused his position and broke a wide range of federal laws when he accepted cash bribes and other illicit services in return for blood test referrals to BLS.”
“Patients have every right to insist that their physician is making medical referrals based on what is best for the patient—not what’s best for the doctor’s bank account,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the Newark FBI Field Office. “Bernard Greenspan decided to accept bribes in exchange for referrals and deprived patients of their right to honest services. These types of kickback arrangements cripple the healthcare industry and severely impact patient care. The FBI remains committed to investing its resources to combat these types of schemes.”
According to the indictment and testimony at trial, between March 2006 and April 2013, Greenspan received bribes totaling approximately $200,000 from BLS employees and associates. Greenspan periodically solicited and received monthly bribe payments in the form of sham rental, service agreement, and consultant payments.
In addition, Greenspan solicited and received other bribes, including payment for holiday parties for Greenspan and his office staff and additional cash bribes for ordering specific blood tests. In addition, BLS hired – at Greenspan’s specific request –a patient of Greenspan’s with whom he was having a sexual relationship. Greenspan’s referrals generated approximately $3 million in lab business for BLS.
The investigation has thus far resulted in 43 convictions – 29 of them of doctors – in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies. It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a bribery case.
“This verdict should serve as a warning to any health care provider that dares to put personal profit ahead of proper patient care,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “HHS-OIG, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to undermine the federally funded health care programs intended for our most vulnerable Americans.”
“Dr. Greenspan violated the Hippocratic Oath taken by medical professionals when he pledged to ‘come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice,” said Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn of U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Newark Division. “The culture of kickbacks and bribery have no place in our healthcare system, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was proud to do our part, working with our law enforcement partners to ensure justice was served today. Congratulations on the successful outcome to the agents and prosecutors who untiringly worked on investigating this case and preparing for trial.”
The investigation has recovered more than $12 million through forfeiture. On June 28, 2016, BLS, which is no longer operational, pleaded guilty and was required to forfeit all of its assets.
The conspiracy, Anti-Kickback, and Federal Travel Act counts are each punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The wire fraud charges are punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison per count. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Greenspan’s sentencing is scheduled for June 20, 2017.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gallagher; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Buthorn; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Lampert with the ongoing investigation.
The government was represented at trial by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and Danielle Alfonzo Walsman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $1.32 billion in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.
Defense counsel: Damian Conforti Esq. and Eric Kanefsky Esq., Newark, NJ
Sports Memorabilia Executive Pleads Guilty to $9.5 Million Fraud Scheme
CHICAGO — The owner of a sports memorabilia company admitted in federal court today that he conducted a fraud scheme using forged documents and phony sports memorabilia, including a doctored Heisman Trophy and fake baseball cards that he used as collateral on loans.
JOHN ROGERS, 44, of North Little Rock, Ark., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin scheduled a sentencing hearing for Sept. 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Rogers admitted in a plea agreement that he carried out a fraud scheme between 2009 and 2014 through his two Arkansas-based businesses, Sports Card Plus and Rogers Photo Archive LLC, resulting in losses of more than $9.5 million to investors, customers and financial institutions.
In order to obtain money from investors, Rogers falsely represented that he had secured contracts to purchase certain collections of sports memorabilia and newspaper photograph archives his company would sell at a profit, according to the plea agreement. Rogers showed the investors contracts for collections and archives even though he knew the deals never actually existed because the contracts were forgeries that Rogers created to deceive them.
Rogers also admitted in the plea agreement that he sold various sports memorabilia that he knew was not authentic because he had either created the item himself or altered it to make it appear legitimate. For example, in February 2012 Rogers paired an altered Heisman Trophy with phony certifications to secure a $100,000 loan from an investor, according to the plea agreement.
Rogers also used other fraudulent contracts and fake sports memorabilia to secure more than $4 million in loans from multiple financial institutions in Arkansas, the plea agreement states. Rogers admitted in the plea agreement that he used fraud proceeds he received from investors and financial institutions to repay customers who detected his sale of fraudulent sports memorabilia. Rogers provided customers with fraudulent certificates of authenticity, as well as fraudulent hologram stickers from a major auction house, the plea agreement states.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Derek Owens.
Bank Employee Charged With Interstate Transportation Of Stolen Property
WILLIAMSPORT – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Jolene M. Edwards, age 38, of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, was charged on February 21, 2017, in a criminal information with interstate transportation of stolen property.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the information alleges that while she worked as a customer service representative and assistant branch manager at Jersey Shore State Bank (JSSB), Edwards embezzled and fraudulently converted $52,222 in funds from a customer’s certificate of deposit account. According to the information, instead of transferring the funds to a new certificate of deposit account at M&T bank, Edwards used the funds to pay her credit card bills, repay personal loans, and to make purchases for family members. The scheme to embezzle and fraudulently convert the customer’s funds started in June 2012 and continued through March 2015.
The government also filed a plea agreement, which is subject to the approval of the court.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel is prosecuting the case.
Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law is 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
Two Buffalo Men Indicted For Cocaine Trafficking
BUFFALO, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a 10-count indictment charging John Nelson, 41, and Lawrence Russell, 39, both of Buffalo, NY, with conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine, and maintaining drug-involved premises. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, and a $5,000,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, Nelson and Russell sold cocaine and crack cocaine over a two-year period from 2013 to 2015. At times, the defendants used a house on 14th Street on the West Side of Buffalo for their drug activities.
Nelson was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy and is being held pending a detention hearing on February 24, 2017. Russell is currently in jail pending a state parole violation proceeding and will be arraigned in federal court on February 24, 2017.
The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Quakertown Man Sentenced to 36 Months For Defrauding Lehigh University Fraternities And Sororities
Today, a federal judge sentenced Albert Fisher, 78 of Quakertown to 36 Months in prison for his role in conspiring to defraud fraternities, sororities and fraternity alumni associations at Lehigh University, announced Acting United States Attorney Louis L. Lappen. In addition, the Honorable Joseph F. Leeson Jr., United States District Judge, ordered the defendant to serve 3 years of supervised release upon release from prison, $2,470,247.52 restitution to victims, $205,000 restitution to Internal Revenue Service, as well as a $700 special assessment.
Fisher and Person #1 operated Fraternity Management Association (“FMA”), located in Bethlehem, PA, and created a fictitious consulting company, “Fisher and Associates,” which had FMA as its sole client. During the period charged, Person #1 was the Executive Director of FMA while Fisher was employed by FMA as both a full-time employee and as an independent contractor for Fisher and Associates. According to the indictment, between 2009 and 2013, Fisher and FMA’s Executive Director conspired to take money, as payment for future services, that was intended to pay for the operations and upkeep of the fraternities and sororities which included food services and the financial management of expenses. Instead of paying for future services, Fisher and the Executive Director misappropriated at least $1,461,777.96 in funds from FMA and the victim fraternities which he and the Executive Director used for their own personal purposes, including purchases of goods and services, vacation expenses, home furnishings, and designer clothing. Fisher allegedly lied to the victims about the money that was entrusted to FMA. When FMA ceased operations during the Spring of 2014, Fisher and the Executive Director caused an additional $990,157.41 in expenses for the fraternities, sororities and other victims, including Lehigh University, when the victims had to pay for operations and upkeep of the fraternities.
Fisher filed tax returns for tax years 2009 to 2013 which failed to report $614,398 in income, which included the defendant’s personal expenses that were paid by FMA and consulting fees authorized by the Executive Director and paid on behalf of FMA.
The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, FBI Allentown Resident Agency and the Bethlehem Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Gallagher.
Edwardsville Man Charged In O’Fallon, Illinois Bank Robbery
Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on February 16, 2017, Marcus J. Thornton, a thirty-six-year-old man from Edwardsville, Illinois, was charged by complaint in United States District Court, in East St. Louis, with Bank Robbery. Thornton, who on February 21, 2017, made his first appearance in United States District Court, faces up to 20 years’ in prison, a fine of up to $250, 000, and not more than 3 years supervised release after his term of imprisonment, if convicted.
In court proceedings, and through charging documents, prosecutors alleged that on February 9, 2017, at approximately 1:11p.m., Thornton wearing a white construction dust mask, entered the U.S. Bank located at 400 South Lincoln Avenue O’Fallon, Illinois, brandished a silver and black semi-automatic handgun and demanded money from the bank tellers. Bank tellers gave the U.S. currency to Thornton, who then put the U.S. currency into a white plastic bag. Before leaving the bank, Thornton inserted what appeared to be a telescopic magnet into the white plastic bag, presumably to detect a tracking device. Thornton was witnessed driving off in a dark blue Sport Utility Vehicle. Law enforcement officers later reviewed U.S. Bank surveillance video and were able to locate and arrest Thornton.
A complaint is a formal charge against a defendant that is comprised of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent
of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Daniel T. Kapsak for prosecution.
South Bend Man Sentenced to 636 Months Imprisonment
SOUTH BEND – United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, David Capp, announced that Derek Fields, 30, of South Bend, Indiana was sentenced before South Bend District Court Judge Robert Miller, Jr.
Fields was sentenced to 636 months imprisonment following his trial and subsequent guilty verdict on November 16, 2016 of kidnapping, extortion, felon in possession and using a firearm in a crime of violence. Fields was also ordered to pay restitution of $196,512.10 for lost wages of the victim and medical expenses.
According to documents filed in this case, Fields and his codefendants unlawfully confined or kidnapped an individual against his will and demanded a ransom for that individual from his family. A firearm was discharged, hitting the victim, and caused permanent injuries to the victim. Two co-defendants, Lindani Mzembe and Ivan Brazier were also convicted in separate trials of similar offenses, and were sentenced to 524 months and 444 months respectively.
This case was prosecuted as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Federal Bureau of Investigation; South Bend Police Department and the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John M. Maciejczyk and Joel Gabrielse.
FBI Impersonator Sentenced To Federal Prison
Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Anthony Tyrone Jones (36, Jacksonville) to five years and six months in federal prison for impersonating an FBI agent, wire fraud, and failure to appear. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $21,700 to a victim of his offenses.
Jones pleaded guilty on February 29, 2016.
According to court documents, Jones falsely represented himself to be an investment advisors claiming that he had helped another individual become a millionaire. In February 2011, at Jones’s direction, one victim provided him with $21,700 to invest in the stock market. Instead of investing the funds, Jones cashed the victim’s checks and used the money for his own personal enjoyment.
Jones defrauded another individual by posing as an FBI agent to induce a woman to have sex with him at no charge after he had previously promised to pay her for sex. Jones was arrested on January 9, 2013, and released on bond subject to electronic monitoring. On April 23, 2013, he removed his monitoring bracelet and absconded. He remained a fugitive until his capture on August 13, 2015, by the U.S. Marshals Service in Jacksonville.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase.
Montana Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity
***In order to protect the privacy of the child victim in this case, the United States Attorney’s Office is requesting that the media not disclose the victim’s name or display an image of the victim when reporting this story. We are aware that her identity and images were released to the public in the course of the Amber Alert. This is simply a request, and we understand that the decision is ultimately left to your discretion. Please do not hesitate to contact our Public Information Officer below with any questions.***
MISSOULA – Rodney Lee Zahn, 60, formerly of Sheridan, Montana, pleaded guilty today in Missoula federal court to transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years to life, up to $250,000 dollars in fines, and not less than 5 years of supervised release. He also agreed to forfeit the Ford pick-up truck and camper used to transport the child across state lines. U.S. District Court Magistrate Jeremiah C. Lynch presided over the change of plea hearing and set sentencing for May 18, 2017, in Missoula.
In court documents, federal prosecutor Cyndee Peterson stated that if called upon to prove its case at trial, the United States was prepared to demonstrate that in July of 2016, Zahn befriended a family in Sheridan, Montana, including a 16-year old girl. On August 2, 2016, Zahn and the child covertly left Sheridan. When the family discovered the child was missing, an Amber Alert was issued for the child. Zahn and the child were located in Casper, Wyoming. Zahn admitted he had sexual intercourse with the child twice and stated he knew she was 16 years old. FBI Laboratory analysis of biological kits taken from Zahn and the child were consistent with Zahn’s admissions regarding sexual contact.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and the Casper Wyoming Police Department.
Wichita Man Pleads Guilty In Jewelry Store Robbery and Bank Robbery
WICHITA, KAN. B A Wichita man who held a jewelry store owner at gunpoint pleaded guilty Monday in that incident and a separate bank robbery, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
Terence L. Thomas, 25, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of brandishing a firearm during the jewelry store incident and one count of bank robbery.
In the jewelry store incident, Thomas admitted he had a knife when he approached the owner of Kim Chee Jewelry at 2038 N. Broadway as the owner and his wife arrived for work. The owner drew a handgun in self-defense. The two men wrestled and shots were fired before Thomas got the gun. He forced the owner to open the door to the business. When Thomas tried to drag the owner’s wife into the business, she fell to the ground, feigning a heart attack. Thomas fled the scene after the owner locked him out of the business. A witness took photos of Thomas’ car as he fled, which helped police to identify Thomas and arrest him.
In a separate incident a month earlier, Thomas robbed the Fidelity Bank at 3525 E. Harry. He told the teller, “This is a robbery,” and counted down from twenty while the teller put cash in his bag. He fled the bank with the money.
Sentencing is set for April 19. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the bank robbery count, and a penalty of not less than seven years (consecutive) and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of brandishing a firearm during a robbery. Beall commended the Wichita Police Department, FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hart for their work on the case.
Phenix City Doctor Pleads Guilty to Participating in a Drug Distribution Conspiracy and Money Laundering
Montgomery, Ala. – On Monday, January 30, 2017, Dr. Robert M. Ritchea, 54, of LaGrange, Georgia, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to unlawfully distribute a controlled substance through the operation of a “pill mill” and money laundering, announced United States Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. A “pill mill” is a medical clinic created to dispense controlled substances inappropriately, unlawfully, and for non-medical reasons.
According to court documents, Dr. Ritchea operated a family medical practice in Phenix City, Alabama. At that practice, Dr. Ritchea wrote prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and hydromorphone, knowing that his patients did not actually need the drugs prescribed. Dr. Ritchea laundered the proceeds of his unlawful drug dealing by purchasing Schedule II pain medications—specifically, hydromorphone and hydrocodone—directly from a drug manufacturer. Dr. Ritchea then distributed the pills directly out of his medical practice. This was necessary to keep his “pill mill” operational since many pharmacists in and around Phenix City refused to fill the illegitimate and unlawful prescriptions Dr. Ritchea wrote.
In the coming months, Chief United States District Judge W. Keith Watkins will sentence Dr. Ritchea. At sentencing, Dr. Ritchea faces maximum sentences of 20 years in prison on each count, as well as substantial monetary penalties.
“Prescription drug abuse is a scourge on communities across this district, this state, and this country,” stated United States Attorney Beck. “The unnecessary use of prescription drugs is often the first step towards opiate-dependency, the loss of work, the severing of relationships, and, in all too many cases, death. Rather than curing illness, Dr. Ritchea was at the forefront of promoting this epidemic. I am proud that my office is holding him accountable for the harm he has caused and the trust he has betrayed.”
“Dr. Ritchea abandoned his professional liability and moral compass when he decided to promote substance abuse,” stated Special Agent in Charge Veronica F. Hyman-Pillot of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division. “Today’s guilty plea ensures that he will be held fully responsible for his contribution to the ongoing drug epidemic sweeping through communities.”
“The abuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem in our communities’ said Drug Enforcement Administration Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bret Hamilton. “All too often, this abuse leads to addiction, shattered lives, and even death. For the health and safety of our citizens, the Drug Enforcement Administration and our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners will continue to target those who illegally distribute these dangerous drugs. We hope that this case will serve as a reminder to those in the medical profession who choose to illegally divert pharmaceuticals, that they will be held accountable for the harm they cause.”
This case was investigated by the following agencies: DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad; the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division; the FBI; the Opelika Police Department; the Chambers County Drug Task Force; the Auburn Police Department; the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA); the Russell County Sheriff’s Office; the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office; the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners; and the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and R. Rand Neeley are prosecuting the case.
Albion Man Arrested On Child Pornography Charges
BUFFALO, N.Y.—Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Christopher Ridder, 45, of Albion, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession of child pornography. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie O. Lamarque and Aaron J. Mango, who are handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on September 3, 2016, two Medina, NY, residents found a Samsung Centura smart phone in the trash in front of 726 South Main Street, the former residence of the defendant. The following day, one of the individuals who found the phone charged it, began searching through it, and opened the Facebook application which automatically connected to Facebook account of the Ridder. The phone also had pictures on it of individuals that the person knew as well as 75 images of young boys in various states of dress (bathing suits, underwear, etc.). Some pictures contained naked images of different boys. The individuals who found the phone turned the phone into the Village of Medina Police Department.
Further review of the phone and its contents by law enforcement officers uncovered a Facebook Messenger conversation that took place between Ridder and another individual. During the conversation the defendant wrote “I seen a few boys already at bout 10-12 with nice 1il butts and bulge in shorts mmmmm.” The conversation spanned a period of several days during which the two continued to discuss prepubescent boys.
Officers also discovered another Facebook Messenger conversation between the defendant and second individual. During that conversation, Ridder wrote, “I see boys all the time wishing I could love one (guy tht is) lol…I c very cute lil boys all the time at walmart.”
On October 18, 2016, an undercover officer logged into a Facebook account and contacted the defendant through Messenger. During the conversation, the defendant advised that he lived in Albion, NY and stated, when describing himself to the officer, wrote, “im very down to earth… very open minded…biggest fantasy is to be with a bf laying on a blanket nude in the woods.” The officer replied, “sounds like boy scout retreat.” The defendant wrote back, “I been a boy scout… and yes… had a friend in it tht we messed around in our tent.. .I was 13 he was 12.” The officerE replied, “that’s wild, you ever still think about that now.” Ridder then wrote, “Ya… I wish I can have tht chance again with a bf.” As the conversation continued, the defendant told the officer, “Im a ped just like you. I know exactly how u get or feel…These laws… I hate them.”
The defendant made an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer. Ridder is being held pending a detention hearing on February 1, 2017 at 11:30 a.m.
The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen and the Medina Police Department, under the direction of Chief Chad Kenward.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Columbus, Ohio woman sentenced for her role in a smash and grab scheme
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Jolisha McDonald, 25, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced today to 30 months incarceration for transporting stolen goods across state lines. Acting United States Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen made the announcement.
McDonald conspired to steal smart phones, tablets, head phones, game stations, and computers from Walmart, Target, and Meijer stores in eight different states, including West Virginia and Ohio. The value of the stolen goods are estimated to be in excess of $500,000. She pled guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to Transport Stolen Goods in Interstate Commerce” in November 2016.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams, Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Columbus Police Department investigated.
Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. presided.
Utica Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Distributing, Receiving and Possessing Child Pornography
Search of Business Led to Discovery of Hundreds of Child Pornography Videos
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – – Daniel Beal, 56, of Utica, New York, was sentenced today to serve seven (7) years in federal prison for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Andrew W. Vale, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
As part of his guilty plea, Beal admitted that he distributed and received images of child pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. A search of Beal’s business, Dacobe Enterprises, LLC, in July of 2015 led to the discovery of hundreds of videos depicting child pornography, including images and videos depicting the sexual assault of children as young as two years of age.
United States District Judge Brenda K. Sannes also imposed a fifteen (15) year term of supervised release, which will begin after Beal is released from prison. As a result of his conviction, Beal will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from incarceration.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Geoffrey J. L. Brown.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
Fmr. Providence Plan Finance Director to Plead Guilty to Fraud
PROVIDENCE – According to signed documents filed in U.S. District Court in Providence, Charles F. Denno, 66, of East Providence, a former finance director for the Providence Plan, has agreed to plead guilty to devising and executing a scheme in which he fraudulently converted more than $500,000 of Providence Plan funds for his own use.
Providence Plan is a non-profit educational entity which receives federal, state and private grant funds, including funds from the United States Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. These grant funds are to be used to support educational and other programs for adults and children in Rhode Island. Annually, the federal grant funds awarded to the Providence Plan totaled in excess of four million dollars.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; Brian Hickey, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division announced the filing today of an Information charging Denno with wire fraud.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “The Providence Plan receives a tremendous amount of federal, state and private funds each year for a laudable purpose: to provide educational and other programs to children and adults who would otherwise not have access to them. Every dollar the defendant stole – and he stole an outlandish amount – could have served someone who really needed it. It is precisely this type of conduct that gives rise to unwarranted public cynicism regarding such worthy programs. I want to thank the Providence Plan for their assistance and cooperation in this matter, once the defendant’s criminal conduct was discovered.”
According to court documents, from 2012 through July 2016, Denno used his authority to cause the U.S. Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family foundation to deposit funds into Providence Plan bank accounts and fraudulently converted those funds to his own personal use. The total amount of funds fraudulently converted from the Providence Plan to Denno’s personal use was more than $500,000.
In addition, according to court documents, Denno fraudulently prepared and issued Providence Plan checks made payable to CMG Enterprises, an entity he owned. The payments issued to CMG and deposited into a CMG bank account were not authorized and contained a forgery of the authorized check signing official at the Providence Plan. Denno subsequently made multiple withdrawals from the CMG bank account in various forms, including credit card payments, check payments and ATM cash withdrawals at Twin River Casino.
An information is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Wire fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment; 3 years supervised; and a fine of up to $250,000.
The matter, being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams, was investigated by the Rhode Island State Police Gaming Enforcement Unit, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General and the FBI.
New York Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing More Than $700K in Fraud Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROSEMARIE COLLAZO, 51, of Yonkers, N.Y., waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to one count of wire fraud stemming from her theft of more than $700,000 from her employer.
According to court documents and statements made in court, COLLAZO was employed by Abbey National Treasury Services, PLC, in Stamford. As part of her job, COLLAZO assisted in arranging for payments to vendors and others. COLLAZO collected invoices as they came into the company and presented the collected invoices to her supervisor to approve payment. Her supervisor then reviewed the items and signed off on the payments. COLLAZO then entered the payment information into the company’s accounts payable program, which generated payment checks. Next, COLLAZO created packets that included the invoice, an authorization form and the payment check related to the specific invoice. After the packets had been reviewed and the appropriate signatures obtained from her supervisors, COLLAZO mailed the checks to vendors.
Between 2010 and 2016, COLLAZO prepared 144 fraudulent duplicate invoice packages and submitted an equivalent number of checks for authorizing signatures for payments that she knew had already been processed and paid. She then deposited the checks into her personal bank account.
In addition, on at least three other occasions, COLLAZO misappropriated a vendor refund check that had been sent the company, and endorsed the check for deposit into her personal bank account.
In total, COLLAZO stole $772,242 during the course of this scheme.
Judge Underhill scheduled sentencing for April 14, 2017, at which time COLLAZO faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Greenwich Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser.
Former School Teacher Pleads Guilty To Child Pornography Charge
ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Steven Choi, 41, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Marangola, who is handling the case, stated that the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force identified the defendant accessing child pornography online. A forensic examination of that computer recovered sexually explicit photographs of prepubescent girls. Choi is no longer an English teacher with the Holley Central School District.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by Special Agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in- Charge Adam S. Cohen. The task force includes the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the Rochester Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, and the Greece Police Department.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 15, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. before Judge Wolford.
UPMC Claims Manager Admits Paying $846K to Two Ghost Employees
PITTSBURGH – A resident of Georgetown, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of embezzlement in connection with health care, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
Ronald Larry Locy, 48, pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge David Stewart Cercone.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Locy was the Senior Director of claims for the UPMC Health Plan Claims Department. According to the government, Locy caused UPMC to pay two “ghost employees” of UPMC Health Plan, for work and bonuses to which those ghost employees were not entitled. The loss to UPMC Health Plan was approximately $846,819.
Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for May 24, 2016, at 11 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Locy.
Physician Sentenced for Illegally Distributing Oxycodone
PITTSBURGH – A resident of Pittsburgh, has been sentenced in federal court to 5 years of probation, to include eightmonths of home detention, 250 hours community service and fined $50,000 on his conviction of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
Chief United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti imposed the sentence yesterday on Dr. Alan Barnett, 69, of Pittsburgh.
According to information presented to the court, Dr. Barnett, a medical doctor, illegally distributed Oxycodone, a controlled substance. On December 1, 2015, Dr. Barnett was interviewed by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation and surrendered his Drug Enforcement Administration License.
Assistant United States AttorneyRobert S. Cessar prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
Acting United States Attorney Song commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Barnett.
Beloit Man Sentenced to 8 Years for Distributing Crack Cocaine
Madison, Wis. – John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Darnell Isabell, 32, Beloit, Wis., was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge James Peterson to eight years in federal prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, for distributing crack cocaine. Isabell pleaded guilty to this charge on September 19, 2016.
Isabell admitted to distributing crack cocaine on March 16, 2016. At the time of his arrest on this federal charge, Isabell was under state supervision for a prior drug offense. Due to Isabell’s multiple prior felony convictions, including three felony drug convictions, he was sentenced as a career offender.
The charges against Isabell were the result of an investigation by G-ROC, a task force formed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Violent Crime Initiative, to address gang and drug-related violence in Rock County through the coordination of investigations among local and federal law enforcement agencies. Its members include the FBI; Rock County Sheriff’s Office; Rock County District Attorney’s Office; Beloit Police Department; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger.
Detroit Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Officer’s Funeral
A Detroit man pleaded guilty based on threatening Facebook posts he made during a livestream of a slain Detroit Police Officer’s funeral, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
Joining McQuade in the announcement was Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division, and Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department.
Judge Sean F. Cox accepted the guilty plea of DeShawn Maurice Lanton, 22, of Detroit. Lanton’s plea agreement calls for a sentence of 15-21 months.
On September 23, 2016, a funeral was held for Detroit Police Sergeant Kenneth Steil, who was murdered in the line of duty. Several media outlets covered the funeral, including Channel 7 Action News in Detroit, which provided a livestream of the funeral via Facebook Live. While watching the funeral on Facebook Live, Lanton, using the Facebook moniker “Kane Pnotes,” wrote threatening messages on the Facebook Live thread accompanying the livestream. Specifically, as the Facebook Live feed showed hundreds of law enforcement personnel enter the church to pay respects to Sargent Steil, Lanton posted the following:
“maybe I should drop a bomb on tha building to get rid of the rest of y’all”
Several other Facebook users observed Lanton’s comments, viewed them as a threat to the funeral, and contacted law enforcement.
“We are committed to prosecuting any threat that rises to the level of a ‘true threat’ under the law,” McQuade said. “While criticism of government and law enforcement is generally protected by the First Amendment, specific threats to harm police officers cross the legal line.”
Three Former Traders for Major Banks Indicted in Foreign Currency Exchange Antitrust Conspiracy
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against three former traders of major banks for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the foreign currency exchange (FX) spot market, the Justice Department announced today.
The one-count indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges Richard Usher (former Head of G11 FX Trading-UK at an affiliate of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, as well as former Managing Director at an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Rohan Ramchandani (former Managing Director and head of G10 FX spot trading at an affiliate of Citicorp) and Christopher Ashton (former Head of Spot FX at an affiliate of Barclays PLC) with conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the FX spot market.
“Whether a crime is committed on the street corner or in the corner office, no one gets a free pass simply because they were working for a corporation when they broke the law,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates. “Today’s indictment reiterates our commitment to holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct.”
“The charged conspiracy involved competitors manipulating the exchange rate for the hundreds of billions of dollars traded on foreign exchange markets for their benefit and to the detriment of their customers,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer. “We previously secured criminal convictions of the financial institutions involved in the misconduct. Today we seek to hold accountable the individuals who conspired on their behalf.”
“These former bank traders are alleged to have gained an unfair advantage on their counterparts by committing corporate fraud involving the manipulation of the foreign currency exchange,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Their actions affected worldwide trading positions in the global marketplace. Today’s announcement reinforces the FBI’s commitment to investigate and prosecute individuals responsible for criminally interfering with the global financial markets.”
The indictment follows the May 20, 2015 agreements of Barclays PLC, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and The Royal Bank of Scotland plc to plead guilty to conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the FX spot market, and to pay criminal fines totaling more than $2.5 billion. On Jan. 5, 2017, the federal district court in Connecticut accepted those plea agreements and sentenced the banks accordingly.
The charge in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by victims if either amount is greater than $1 million.
According to the indictment, from at least December 2007 through at least January 2013, Usher, Ramchandani and Ashton (along with unnamed co-conspirators) conspired to fix prices and rig bids for the euro – U.S. dollar currency pair. Called “the Cartel” or “the Mafia,” this group of traders participated in telephone calls and electronic messages, including near-daily conversations in a private electronic chat room, to carry out their conspiracy. Their anticompetitive behavior included colluding around the time of certain benchmark rates known as fixes, such as coordinating their orders and trading to manipulate the price of the currency pair by the time of the fix. In another example of collusion, the conspirators coordinated their orders and trading to manipulate the price of the currency pair, such as by refraining from entering orders or trading at certain times.
The charge in the indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The Department of Justice has now charged six individuals in the FX investigation. On July 20, 2016, fraud charges were brought by the Justice Department’s Criminal Division against two FX executives for conspiring to defraud a client of their bank through a front running scheme. On Jan. 4, 2017, an antitrust charge and plea agreement were announced for a trader in connection with a conspiracy to manipulate emerging market FX rates.
This investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. This prosecution is being handled by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office. The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section also provided substantial assistance in this matter.
The charge in this case was brought in connection with the President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The president established the task force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.
Stevenson Police Chief Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting and Failing to Protect Arrestee
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced former Stevenson, Ala., Police Chief Daniel Winters, 56, to more than two years in prison for beating an arrestee and for standing by while Winters’ friend beat the arrestee, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala sentenced Winters to 27 months in prison and ordered him to pay restitution of $12,970 on two counts of violating an individual’s civil rights. A federal jury convicted Winters on those charges in July 2016. Winters must report to prison March 7.
According to evidence presented at trial, on March 22, 2015, Winters and a civilian friend went to a residence to investigate suspicions that property had been stolen from the friend’s business and was located at the residence. Upon arrival, Winters and his friend entered the residence without a search warrant and encountered the victim, identified as D.F. Winters and his friend then began to beat D.F. The beating moved outside where Winters and his friend continued to strike and kick the victim in front of the residence. Over the course of approximately five minutes, Winters not only participated in the beating, but stood by watching his friend beat D.F. and did nothing to stop it. A passing motorist called 911 to report the beating. D.F. was left bloody with wounds to his face, chest and back, and was taken to the jail at the Stevenson Police Department. While at the jail, D.F. began to spit up blood. A jailor requested Winters’ permission to call an ambulance, but Winters refused the request. Eventually, the jailor received permission from another supervisor and D.F. was transported to a hospital where he received medical attention.
“Our society entrusts law enforcement leaders with the profound responsibility of protecting people from harm,” Gupta said. “When law enforcement officials abuse the individuals they swore an oath to protect, they threaten the reputation of their colleagues in the profession who do their jobs honorably and with integrity. This sentencing makes clear that no one, not even a police chief, is above the law.”
“Police department leadership must set the example and uphold the integrity of their departments and meet the rightful expectation of every citizen that law enforcement officers will act in accordance with the laws they have sworn to uphold,” Vance said. “In this case, a police chief criminally abused his badge in order to benefit a friend and inflict violence on an individual in violation of the Constitution. Our society cannot allow that kind of abuse of power and authority to go unpunished.”
The FBI and Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. U.S. Attorney’s Office Deputy Chief Laura Hodge and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.
Former Founder And President Of Tampa Start-Up Company Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Timothy Roberts (46, Missouri) has pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to court documents, Roberts was the founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of the now-defunct Savtira Corporation, Inc., a technology company that was headquartered in Ybor City. As CEO and Chairman of the Board, Roberts solicited investors for Savtira, had control over the company’s funds, and was responsible for overseeing the sale of its products to potential customers.
Starting in or around November 2010, Roberts and Terrance F. Taylor, Savtira’s CFO, devised and carried out a scheme to defraud and obtain money and property by making false promises and representations. In particular, they distributed and caused to be distributed to investors a draft valuation of the company that indicated Savtira was worth between $450 million and $540 million when, in fact, the company had little, if any, revenues. Roberts also failed to disclose to all investors that he had entered into a prior judgment with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violating the securities laws of the United States. Roberts and Taylor also made false statements to investors about the use of investor funds, some of which were diverted by the defendants for personal use.
Roberts and Taylor were previously indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. Taylor is currently set for trial in April 2017.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has violated one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
Ohio man responsible for Huntington overdoses pleads guilty to federal heroin crime
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Ohio man who was responsible for numerous overdoses in Huntington in August 2016 pleaded guilty today, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Bruce Lamar Griggs, also known as “Ben” and “Benz,” 22, of Akron, entered his guilty plea to distribution of heroin.
On the afternoon of August 15, 2016, Griggs went to the area of 914 Marcum Terrace in Huntington and sold heroin to a number of individuals. Several of those individuals provided information to the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force indicating that they bought what they believed to be heroin from someone they knew as “Benz” or “Ben.” Ultimately, those individuals identified Griggs as “Benz” or “Ben.” Approximately 26 individuals who bought heroin from Griggs that afternoon suffered overdoses very shortly after using the drug. Many of the overdose victims required medical attention, which involved taking blood and urine samples. Laboratory tests on those samples indicated the presence of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil. Carfentanil is an opioid that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and is used as an elephant tranquilizer. Griggs admitted that he was responsible for the overdoses and, in his plea agreement, further stipulated to a sentencing enhancement as a result.
Griggs faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 10, 2017.
The Huntington FBI Drug Task Force led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney R. Gregory McVey is in charge of the prosecution. Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the plea hearing.
This case is being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers and heroin in communities across the Southern District.
Huntington man and woman sentenced to federal prison for roles in multistate drug ring
Investigation leads to seizure of large quantities of drugs, over $120,000 in cash, and over 40 firearms
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man and woman who participated a multistate drug ring were sentenced to federal prison today, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Corey Bruce Toney, 27, was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison for distributing heroin. Tanisha Lynette Wooding, 37, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for possession with intent to distribute crack.
On September 29, 2015, a confidential informant working with the Drug Enforcement Administration contacted Toney to arrange a heroin deal. Toney agreed to meet the informant, who was accompanied by undercover agents. Toney subsequently distributed 10 grams of heroin to the informant in exchange for $1,250. Agents were able to make numerous additional controlled purchases of heroin from Toney and others during the course of the investigation.
Toney also admitted that from the summer of 2014 to May of 2016, he conspired with others to distribute large quantities of drugs in the Huntington and Charleston areas, including heroin, crack, cocaine, marijuana, and Xanax. Toney admitted that he was supplied large quantities of heroin and cocaine for distribution by codefendant Atari Seantay Brown after the drugs were transported to the Huntington area from Detroit. Toney further admitted that he maintained a leadership role in the conspiracy, and that he possessed a number of firearms during the conspiracy.
On May 18, 2016, after a federal grand jury returned an indictment in this case, agents executed arrest warrants and search warrants at eight residences in Detroit, Proctorville, Ohio, and Huntington, including Wooding’s residence located on the 1800 block of 9th Avenue in Huntington. During the searches, agents seized large quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana, $120,531 in cash, and a total of 41 firearms.
Wooding was arrested on May 18, 2016, and admitted that she was in possession of crack when agents executed the search warrant at her residence. During the search, agents seized approximately two ounces of crack stored in the residence. Wooding admitted to conspiring with Brown and others to distribute crack in Huntington for approximately one year. During this period, Brown regularly supplied Wooding with crack. After Wooding sold the crack, she returned the proceeds to Brown and received additional quantities of crack. Wooding also admitted that she was responsible for the distribution of up to 840 grams of crack during the conspiracy.
Brown previously pleaded guilty to distributing heroin and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 6, 2017. In addition to Toney, Wooding, and Brown, seven additional defendants have been convicted for their roles in this drug ring. Sean Lee Braggs, Samuel E. Nelson, III, Deandra Sheen Jones, and Roy Bills have all pleaded guilty to federal drug charges and are awaiting sentencing. Arthur James Canada was sentenced to three years and 10 months in federal prison, Matthew Michael Meadows was sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison, and Parker Wyatt Mays was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for their respective roles in the conspiracy.
These prosecutions arose out of a long-term investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the West Virginia State Police, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, the Huntington Police Department, the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force, the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Assistant United States Attorney Joseph F. Adams is in charge of the prosecutions. Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentences and is presiding over these cases.
These cases are being prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of illegal drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of illegal drugs in communities across the Southern District.
Sole Remaining Defendant In Local 17 Prosecution Sentenced
BUFFALO, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Gerald H. Franz, Jr., 54, of Eden, New York, who was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, was sentenced to time served by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. He was further ordered to pay, jointly and severally with his codefendants, restitution in the amount of over $890,000.00.
Franz was the eighth and final defendant, of the twelve members of International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 17, AFL-CIO (Local 17) charged in a 2008 Superseding Indictment, to be convicted and sentenced. Four Local 17 members charged in the Superseding Indictment were found not guilty following a jury trial.
The Local 17 members charged were alleged to have acted, between January 1997 and December 2007, as a criminal enterprise by extorting and attempting to extort construction contractors doing business in Western New York. Among those Franz and others extorted or attempted to extort were Zoldaz Construction, in connection with that company’s efforts to demolish certain homes in Buffalo and to perform work at the Dunkirk Landfill in Pomfret, New York, and the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company, in connection with that company’s golf course construction efforts in Orchard Park and Cheektowaga, New York. The acts of extortion and attempted extortion committed by Franz and Local 17 members included damaging the heavy equipment of one of the companies by pouring sand into the oil box of such equipment, and making various threats to employees and representatives of such companies.
Earlier this year in August, Local 17’s former president and business manager, Mark Kirsch, was sentenced principally to three years in prison by Judge Skretny. At that time, Skretny noted how the Local 17’s activities had far-reaching consequences on the region. “I think it set back the development of the Western New York business community for decades,” Skretny said. “It slowed good job opportunities instead of creating good job opportunities.”
The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the United States Department of Labor, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Cheryl Garcia; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam Cohen; and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Steven Nigrelli.
Former Opa Locka City Commissioner Charged in Corruption Scheme
Former City of Opa Locka Commissioner Luis Santiago has been charged for his participation in a two-year long bribery and extortion under color of official right conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 666(a)(1)(B), and 1951(a).
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Santiago is charged by Information with conspiring with former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton, former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris, and others to use their official positions and authority with the City of Opa Locka to solicit, demand, and obtain thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from businesses and individuals in exchange for taking official actions to assist and benefit those businesses and individuals in their dealings with the City of Opa Locka. The case against Santiago is assigned to United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams (Case No. 16-20971-CR). Santiago had his initial appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes.
As alleged in the Information, in exchange for the illegal payments, Santiago would direct Chiverton, Harris, and other City of Opa Locka employees to assist the paying businesses and individuals by issuing occupational licenses; waiving, removing, and settling code enforcement matters and liens; initiating, restoring and continuing water service; and assisting with zoning issues. Santiago would pay Chiverton, and also would tell the businesses and individuals to pay Chiverton directly in exchange for these official actions.
Chiverton and Harris previously pled guilty. Chiverton was sentenced to 38 months in prison by United States District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, while Harris is awaiting sentencing before United States District Judge Beth Bloom.
If convicted, Santiago faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Edward Stamm.
An Information is merely an allegation and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Rochester Man Convcted Of Armed Cocaine Trafficking Sentenced To 20 Years And 8 Months In Federal Prison
ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Kenya Brown, 41, of Rochester, New York, who was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack” cocaine), and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, was sentenced to 20 years and 8 months in prison and 5 years supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. He was further required to forfeit any interest in $303,355.00 in drug trafficking proceeds, along with 12 shotguns, 8 rifles, and 472 rounds of ammunition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Marangola, who handled the case, stated that between 2006 and March 2012, Kenya along with his brother, Shawnta Brown, obtained kilogram quantities of cocaine, manufactured cocaine base from cocaine, broke down and packaged smaller quantities of cocaine and cocaine base for resale, distributed cocaine and cocaine base directly to others, operated drug houses where they directed and supervised lower-level members of the conspiracy who sold cocaine and cocaine base to others. The Brown brothers were arrested March 9, 2012, when officers raided 2294 Clifford Avenue, 138 Strong Street, 29 Aberdeen Street and other locations in Rochester utilized by the brothers in their drug trafficking operation. At these locations, officers seized more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, a quantity of cocaine base, firearms with ammunition, paraphernalia for the packaging, processing and weighing of narcotics, and receipts for gold and silver bars. A few days later, officers raided a residence in the Town of Red Creek, Cayuga County, seizing more firearms, dozens of rounds of ammunition, $303,355 in U.S. currency, and over $23,000 in gold and silver bars and coins. The investigation continued, and resulted in the arrest of Eric Contreras, 29, the California kilogram supplier on May 15, 2012, in Whittier, California. On April 9, 2013, Contreras was sentenced upon his conviction in the Western District of New York for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine to 188 months imprisonment. Shawnta Brown, who was also convicted on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine and “crack” cocaine was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli and Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration under the direction of Acting Resident Agent-in-Charge, William Reichard, with assistance provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Resident Agent-in-Charge, James Burroughs, and the United States Marshal Service, under the direction of United States Marshal Charles Salina.
Former Ballard County Treasurer Guilty Of Bank And Wire Fraud
Admitted to obtaining $450,000 in unauthorized loans for the county and then concealing the proceeds from the Fiscal Court; also personally received at least $27,000 in fraudulent medical reimbursement payments.
PADUCAH, Ky. – United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr., announced today a guilty plea by the former Treasurer of Ballard County, Kentucky, for participating in a scheme that involved obtaining approximately $450,000 in bank loans using a $500,000 Ballard County Certificate of Deposit as collateral, all without authorization from the Ballard County Fiscal Court; guilty pleas were also entered due to her theft of at least $27,000 in fraudulent medical reimbursement payments while employed as the County’s treasurer.
Belinda Janean Foster, 50, pled guilty today in United States District Court, before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, to all five of her charges stemming from a November 15, 2016, grand jury indictment that included a single count of bank fraud and four counts of wire fraud.
According to the plea agreement, Foster admitted that she intended to deceive the Ballard County Fiscal Court about the loans by intentionally not making it aware of the loans and concealing the proceeds of the loans.
Beginning sometime in April of 2014, Foster, then employed as Ballard County Treasurer, told her supervisor, Ballard County Judge Executive Vickie Viniard, that Ballard County needed funds in the county operating account in order to cover expenses and payroll. According to Foster, Viniard stated that she would obtain a loan until the county road funds were received.
In April 2014, Viniard subsequently secured a $300,000 loan from First Community Bank in Wickliffe, Kentucky, using a Ballard County Certificate of Deposit valued at approximately $500,000 as collateral. In June 2014, Viniard and Foster obtained another loan, as co-signers, again from First Community Bank in the amount of $150,000 and again used the same CD as collateral.
After receiving the funds from the two loans, Foster was required, by Kentucky Statute, to account for this income on the Ballard County financial and accounting records and report these loans to the Kentucky Department for Local Government. However, Foster, in order to conceal the loans, and at the direction of Viniard, never reported these loans to the state government and intentionally labeled $350,000 from the loans as “payroll tax” instead of accounting for the income as loan proceeds while wiring the remaining $100,000 across interstate lines from First Community Bank in Wickliffe, Kentucky to Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio – not accounting for that amount at all.
Prior to obtaining the two loans, neither Viniard or Foster ever made the Ballard County Fiscal Court aware of these loans nor did Viniard or Foster make the Ballard County Fiscal Court aware that a $500,000 CD was pledged as collateral for the loans. Furthermore, neither Viniard or Foster informed First Community Bank that Viniard had not requested or obtained authority from the Ballard County Fiscal Court to apply for the loans.
In addition to the fraudulent loans listed above, Foster admitted to regularly writing herself checks for fraudulent medical reimbursement payments to which she knew she was not entitled. These fraudulent medical reimbursement payments totaled at least $27,000.
If convicted at trial, Foster could have been sentenced to a combined maximum prison term of 110 years, ordered to pay a fine of $2,000,000 and serve a five-year term of supervised release. Foster is scheduled for sentencing before Senior Judge Russell in Paducah, on April 21, 2017.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nute Bonner and is being investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
New York City Resident Pleads Guilty to Participating in Sophisticated International Cellphone Fraud Scheme
A New York City resident pleaded guilty today in connection with a sophisticated global cellphone fraud scheme that involved compromising cellphone customers’ accounts and “cloning” their phones to make fraudulent international calls.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Farintong Calderon, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; access device fraud; the use, production or possession of modified telecommunications instruments; and the use or possession of hardware or software configured to obtain telecommunications services. Sentencing was set for Feb. 21, 2017, before Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley of the Southern District of Florida.
According to the plea agreement, Calderon and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to steal access to and fraudulently open new cellphone accounts using the personal information of individuals around the United States. Calderon formerly worked for Verizon Wireless installing cellphone towers and equipment and, after leaving his employer, moved to New York City and became involved in the fraud scheme as a “line” supplier. Specifically, Calderon provided his co-conspirators with telecommunications identifying information associated with the accounts of customers of Verizon and other wireless companies. His co-conspirators used that data—as well as other software and hardware—to reprogram cellphones that they controlled. Calderon’s co-conspirators would then transmit thousands of international calls over the Internet through the re-programmed cellphones to Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other countries with high calling rates. The calls were billed to the customers’ compromised accounts.
In addition, Calderon admitted that, from approximately 2010 to 2013, he sent or received emails to co-conspirators with at least 1,408 combinations of telecommunication identifying information for specific cellphone devices or accounts belonging to persons around the United States, and was personally responsible for at least $250,000 in loss resulting from the scheme.
Calderon is the third defendant to plead guilty in the case. Edwin Fana and Jose Santana previously pleaded guilty to similar charges in this matter. Fana is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 22, 2016, and Santana is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2017.
The FBI investigated the case, dubbed Operation Toll Free, which is part of the bureau’s ongoing effort to combat large-scale telecommunications fraud. Senior Counsel Matthew A. Lamberti of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared M. Strauss of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.
Columbus, Ohio woman guilty of transporting stolen items across state lines
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Marilyn Whatley, 38, of Columbus, Ohio, pled guilty in federal court today to transporting stolen goods across state lines, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
Whatley admitted to conspiring to steal smart phones, tablets, head phones, game stations, and computers from Walmart, Target, and Meijer stores in eight different states, including West Virginia and Ohio. She faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams, Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Columbus Police Department investigated.
Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. presided.
Former Division of Highways employee admits guilt in pay-to-play scheme
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Bruce E. Kenney, III, 60, of Norfolk, Virginia, pled guilty in federal court today to wire and tax fraud charges, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
Kenney admitted today that he used his position in the Traffic Engineering Division of the West Virginia Division of Highways to bypass normal state procedures and funnel structure inspection work to the Dennis Corporation in exchange for covert payments totaling approximately $200,000. He entered a guilty plea to one count of “Honest Services Wire Fraud Conspiracy,” and also to one count of “Conspiracy to Impede the Internal Revenue Service.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Sarah W. Montoro prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The case was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the West Virginia State Police.
Citizens with information regarding public corruption in their community are encouraged to call the West Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at 855-WVA-FEDS (855-982-3337), or to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
.Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. presided.
Former Congressman Chaka Fattah Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Participating in Racketeering Conspiracy
Former Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr., 60, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving several schemes intended to further his political and financial interests by misappropriating federal, charitable and campaign funds, among other things.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.
Fattah was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who also ordered Fattah to pay $600,000 in restitution and to forfeit $14,500. On June 21, 2016, Fattah was convicted of participating in racketeering, bribery, wire fraud, honest services fraud and money laundering conspiracies, and for bribery, mail fraud and money laundering.
“Chaka Fattah was a long-serving and powerful member of the U.S. House of Representatives who was entrusted by his constituents with serving their best interests,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Instead, he perverted that trust and turned his office into a criminal organization designed to support his own political and financial interests.”
“As a former congressman, Fattah conspired with his co-defendants in a series of schemes to use his position for personal gain at the expense of the public good,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger. “We are pleased with today’s outcome while also recognizing the tragedy of this defendant’s fall from grace. We hope that the lengthy prison sentence imposed today deters those public officials who might be tempted to engage in corruption, as our office remains committed to investigating and prosecuting public corruption at all levels of government.”
“Chaka Fattah represented his district in Congress for over 20 years,” said Special Agent in Charge Harpster. “And, if not for his sheer greed and venality, probably could have kept his seat for 20 more. He’s repeatedly deemed this case a ‘witch hunt’ against him by the government. But in truth, Mr. “Today’s sentence sends a clear message that the laws of the land apply to everyone, regardless of position or power,” said Chief Weber. “Public officials who fail to faithfully discharge the duties of their office will be investigated, prosecuted and subjected to the full punishment of the law for their actions.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, Fattah and certain associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter for his failed 2007 campaign for mayor of Philadelphia, and disguised the funds as a loan to a consulting company. After he lost the election, Fattah returned $400,000 of unused campaign funds to the donor and arranged for Educational Advancement Alliance (EAA), a non-profit entity founded and controlled by Fattah, to repay the remaining $600,000 using charitable and federal grant funds that passed through two other companies, including one run by co-defendant Robert Brand. To conceal the contribution and repayment scheme, Fattah, his co-conspirators, and others created sham contracts and made false entries in accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements.
Following his election defeat, Fattah also sought to extinguish approximately $130,000 in campaign debt owed to a political consultant by agreeing to arrange for the award of federal grant funds to the consultant. Fattah directed the consultant to apply for a $15 million grant (which ultimately he did not receive) on behalf of a then-non-existent non-profit entity. In exchange for Fattah’s efforts to arrange the award, the consultant agreed to forgive the campaign debt.
In addition, Fattah misappropriated funds from his mayoral and congressional campaigns to repay his son’s student loan debt. To execute the scheme, Fattah arranged for his campaigns to make payments to a political consulting company, which the company used to make 34 successful loan payments on behalf of Fattah’s son, totaling approximately $23,000, between 2007 and 2011.
Beginning in 2008, Fattah communicated with individuals in the legislative and executive branches in an effort to secure for co-defendant Herbert Vederman an ambassadorship or an appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission. In exchange, Vederman provided money and other items of value to Fattah. As part of this scheme, the defendants sought to conceal an $18,000 bribe payment from Vederman to Fattah by disguising it as a payment for a sham car sale.
Fattah’s four co-defendants Vederman, Brand, Karen Nicholas and Bonnie Bowser were convicted alongside Fattah for charges in connection with the schemes on June 21, 2016. Judge Bartle also sentenced Vederman today to 24 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $50,000 fine. Sentencing is set for Dec. 13, 2016 for Brand and Nicholas and Dec. 14, 2016 for Bowser.
The FBI and IRS-CI investigated the case with assistance from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, the NASA Office of Inspector General and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General. Trial Attorneys Eric L. Gibson and Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Gray of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.
Owner of Saga Restaurants Charged with Harboring and Transporting Illegal Aliens
PITTSBURGH – A local restaurateur has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of harboring and transporting illegal aliens, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
The two-count indictment, returned on Dec. 6, and unsealed today, named Xing Zheng Lin, aka Steve Lin, age 44, of McKees Rocks, Pa., as the sole defendant.
According to the indictment presented to the Court, from in and around 2009, until on or about Jan. 10, 2014, Lin harbored and transported illegal aliens who were employed at Saga Restaurant in Monroeville, Robinson, and Bethel Park, all of which were owned by Lin.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence at each count of not more than 10 years in prison for each alien, a fine of $250,000 for each alien or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Shardul S. Desai is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Rushville Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Former Employer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Sentencing has been scheduled in March 2017 for a Rushville woman, Amy Ward, 30, who pled guilty yesterday to embezzling $486,510 from her former employer, a Beardstown farmer. Ward, waived indictment and pled guilty to one count of bank fraud as charged in the information filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. Ward appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins. Ward was released on bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled on Mar. 27, 2017.
According to court documents, Ward began working as a bookkeeper for Marty Turner Farms in September 2010. Only Turner and his wife, co-owners of Marty Turner Farms, were authorized to sign the business’s checking accounts. When the Turners anticipated being away from the business for any extended period, they had the practice of leaving pre-signed checks with Ward so that Ward could fill in the necessary information and issue checks to vendors in their absence.
Ward admitted that beginning in late March 2011, and continuing to May 2015, she wrote pre-signed checks to herself or to her husband, which she then endorsed and deposited into the account she shared with her husband. Ward created fraudulent entries in the business’s accounting software program to reflect that the checks issued to herself and her husband were issued to legitimate vendors. The practice continued until May 2015, when Ward was confronted by her employer. In total, Ward issued 107 fraudulent checks for a total amount of $486,510.
The statutory maximum penalty for bank fraud is up to 30 years in prison as prescribed by Congress and provided here for informational purposes, as sentencing is determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor B. Yanz is prosecuting the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.
Former Property Management Company to Pay $1.6 Million for Defrauding Military Housing Projects
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – American Management Services LLC, based in Seattle, agreed to pay approximately than $1.6 million pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve criminal charges that the company defrauded the U.S. Army and Virginia-based Clark Realty Capital LLC (Clark) while performing property management services for military housing at Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Irwin, California; and the Presidio at Monterey, California.
In connection with today’s resolution, American Management Services (also known as AMS or Pinnacle) admitted that from 2004 to 2011, it fraudulently obtained approximately $1 million by skimming and concealing undisclosed fees from insurance premiums paid by entities that oversaw privatized housing at the four bases.
According to factual stipulations agreed to by AMS, beginning in or about 2003, the U.S. Army entered into a series of agreements with AMS and Clark to implement the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, which was established to improve housing conditions for members of the armed forces. At each base, a Clark-affiliated entity was given responsibility for developing new housing and general oversight, and an AMS-affiliated entity was given responsible for routine property management services, including obtaining property and general liability insurance.
Also according to the factual stipulation, AMS was paid a fee pursuant to the agreement at each base for its services, which was the sole compensation AMS was permitted to receive. Any excess funds not spent under the agreements were obligated to be used, at least in part, to renovate and construct new military housing. Among the services it provided, AMS arranged for property and general liability insurance for each military base through an insurance broker that would invoice the premiums to Clark and the Army. Unbeknownst to the Army or Clark, however, that broker kicked back to AMS a “risk management fee” taken from the premiums paid by Clark, the Army and various joint AMS-Clark entities, which AMS concealed in invoices to the Army and Clark.
Under the terms of the agreement entered into between AMS and the United States, the United States agreed to defer prosecution of AMS for a period of three years on a pending criminal information, which charges AMS with major government fraud. In exchange, AMS admitted its criminal conduct, agreed to pay a fine of $1,625,124.80 and agreed to be subject to other terms and conditions for the period of the agreement. The United States may seek to prosecute AMS for the scheme if the company violates the terms of the agreement or commits other criminal conduct as outlined in the agreement.
Two individuals previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced as part of the government’s investigation: Eddie T. Hudspeth III, a former AMS maintenance director at Fort Belvoir, was sentenced in May 2015 to two years in prison and fined $15,000 for soliciting and accepting more than $27,000 in kickbacks from a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning company based in Lorton, Virginia, from December 2008 through February 2011; and Philip Robrahn, a partial owner of that company, was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for his role in the kickback scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia; Director Frank Robey of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID); Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office; Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Director Anita Bales of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton entered an order approving the agreement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan S. Faulconer and Trial Attorney Jennifer Ballantyne are prosecuting the case.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency assisted in the investigation.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of theDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 1:16-cr-249, 1:15-cr-45, and 1:15-cr-46.
Burke Woman Sentenced for Role in Multiple Armed Robberies
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Ariel Monet-Viola Long, 22, of Burke, was sentenced today to 138 months in prison for robbery and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
Long pleaded guilty on July 19. According to court documents, from Dec. 24, 2015 to May 9, 2016, Long’s boyfriend, Larry Pyos, Jr., used a handgun to rob at least six commercial establishments in northern Virginia: Good Fortune Supermarket, Shri Krishna Grocery, Dollar Power Store, Ding How Carry-Out, Hong Kong Palace, and Subway, in addition to robbing a man on the street outside of the Laze Café in Falls Church. Long lived with Pyos, was aware he was committing armed robberies, and purchased the handguns Pyos used to commit each crime. On multiple occasions Long acted as Pyos’ getaway driver.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Rich and Tyler McGaughey prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of theDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-150.
Former Army Explosives Expert Pleads Guilty To Unlawful Possession of Explosive Devices
KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A former Army explosive ordinance disposal technician pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to unlawful possession of explosive devices, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.
John A. Panchalk, 42, Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty to possessing two M-67 fragmentation grenades that were not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
The investigation began in May when police were called to the Parkville Self Storage Facility in Parkville, Mo. They found several trailers and vehicles had been vandalized. In and around one trailer, they found ammunition canisters, rocket fins, blasting caps, C-4 explosive and military grenade simulators. They determined Panchalk was the owner of the trailer.
When investigators contacted Panchalk at home in Overland Park, he was evasive when they asked him about the contents of the trailer. When they executed a search warrant at Panchalk’s home, they found 38 pounds of C-4 explosive, detonation cord, blasting caps, grenade simulators, incendiary devices and the two M-67 fragmentation grenades.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. The government has agreed to recommend a sentence of probation.
Beall commended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the Parkville, Mo., Police Department, the Overland Park Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead for their work on the case.
Reno Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Provide Material Support To Terrorists
RENO, Nev. – Balwinder Singh, 42, of Reno, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists knowing and intending that such support would be used to commit terrorist attacks overseas.
The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI’s Las Vegas Division.
“Singh attempted to provide material support and resources to terrorists to create violence and disruption abroad,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Identifying, thwarting and holding accountable individuals who pursue international terrorism is a top priority of the Department of Justice.”
“Today’s plea is the result of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working proactively to disrupt terrorist attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “National security is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to locate, identify, and prosecute those who conspire and attempt to provide material support to terrorists and terrorist activities.”
“This is a strong indicator of the law enforcement community’s commitment to combating terrorism and keeping our nation safe,” said Special Agent in Charge Rouse.
Singh, aka Jhaji, aka Happy, aka Possi, aka Baljit Singh, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. He has been detained since his arrest on Dec. 17, 2013. He was charged on Dec. 18, 2013. Singh is a citizen of India and permanent U.S. resident.
According to court filed documents and admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, between September 2013 and Dec. 17, 2013, Singh conspired with others to support terrorist attacks in India as part of a movement to create an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region of India.
Singh communicated with co-conspirators by telephone to discuss these plans and agreed to provide material support by facilitating a co-conspirator’s travel to and within South Asia and providing funding and materials necessary to carry out an overseas attack.
In October 2013, Singh and co-conspirators agreed that one co-conspirator would travel to South Asia in the fall of 2013. Upon arrival, the co-conspirator would travel to India and commit a terror attack – likely an assassination or maiming of an Indian governmental official. The final target would be determined after the co-conspirator arrived in South Asia.
In November 2013, Singh purchased two sets of night vision goggles. In December 2013, he provided the night vision goggles to a co-conspirator who was going to carry out the planned attack. On Dec. 9, 2013, the co-conspirator attempted to board a flight from the San Francisco International Airport to Bangkok, Thailand in order to carry out the terror attack with the night vision goggles provided to him by Singh. U.S. law enforcement prevented the co-conspirator from boarding that flight. As a result, the planned terror attack never occurred. After these events, Singh and his co-conspirators continued to discuss and plan the terror attack in India until Singh’s arrest.
At the time of sentencing, under the plea agreement, Singh faces the statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 27, 2017.
The case is being investigated by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in northern Nevada. The northern Nevada JTTF is comprised of the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Nevada Department of Investigation. In addition, ATF, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance in the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sue Fahami, Brian L. Sullivan, Carla Higginbotham, and Trial Attorney Mara M. Kohn of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.
St. Francis Man Charged with Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child
United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that a St. Francis, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child.
Jason Poorman, age 40, was indicted on November 9, 2016. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno on November 22, 2016, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child is up to life in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, any term of years, up to life of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution also may be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that between March 19, 2004, and May 6, 2005, in Parmalee, South Dakota, Poorman did knowingly engage in a sexual act with a child who had not attained the age of 12 years.
The charges are merely an accusation and Poorman is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie G. Sanderson is prosecuting the case.
Poorman was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.
Kyle Man Charged With Second Degree Murder
United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that a Kyle, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Second Degree Murder.
Marlin Iron Crow, age 43, was indicted on November 16, 2016. Iron Crow appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on November 22, 2016, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, 5 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The charge relates to Iron Crow killing another man by assaulting him in the head on November 11, 2016, at Porcupine.
The charge is merely an accusation and Iron Crow is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Poppen is prosecuting the case.
Iron Crow was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.
Summit County man indicted for firearms, nearly 80 pounds of cocaine
A five-count indictment was filed in federal court charging a Summit County man for illegally possessing firearms and nearly 80 pounds of cocaine, law enforcement officials said
Jerry J. Davis, Jr., 35, of New Franklin, was indicted on two counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and one count of being felon in possession of a firearm.
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and officers from Akron Police Department executed a traffic stop of Davis in Akron on Nov. 1. Davis initially stopped but then drove away, leading the officers on a high-speed chase. Davis crashed his car into a light pole and then ran from officers. He was arrested after he jumped from a bridge, falling 30 feet to the ground, according to court documents.
Officers recovered nearly 11 kilograms of cocaine and a loaded Glock .40-caliber handgun from Davis’s vehicle, according to court documents.
Later that day, investigators from the Summit County Drug Unit, Akron Police Department, DEA and FBI executed a search warrant on Davis, Jr.’s house in New Franklin. They recovered approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine, a Glock .40 model 30 handgun, a Springfield .45-caliber handgun, ammunition and approximately $67,658 in cash, according to court documents.
Davis is forbidden by law from having a firearm because of numerous felony convictions, including for sexual battery, heroin possession and other crimes, according to court documents.
“This investigation is a great example of law enforcement working together to get drugs and guns off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon.
“Our working relationships with our state, local and federal partners continue to benefit the City of Akron in successes such as this,” said Akron Police Chief James Nice.
“The seizure of 36 kilograms is significant and is an indication that cocaine abuse continues to plague society,” said Timothy Plancon, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Detroit Office, which oversees Ohio. “Halting the activities of a large-scale, gun-toting, cocaine trafficker is a victory for the citizens of Akron and the surrounding communities, and was achieved thanks to the significant communication and cooperation of all of the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies involved.”
This investigation was conducted by the Akron Police Department Narcotics Unit and the DEA, along with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron P. Howell.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove each defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal record, if any, the defendants’ roles in the offense and the characteristics of the violations.
Accountant Pleads Guilty to Embezzling more than $1 Million
DAYTON – Deborah Yosick, 60, currently of Davenport, Florida, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling more than $1 million. She pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and income tax evasion.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS), and Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati Field Division, announced the plea entered into yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington.
According to court documents, Yosick embezzled money from her employer, Donald C. WrightInvestments, LLC and its sister company Don Wright Realty, LLC. Don Wright’s businesses are family-owned and are based in Centerville, Ohio. Don Wright provided various commercial, industrial, and residential services in the Dayton, Ohio-area.
Between approximately 1985 and October 2015, Yosick was Don Wright’s accountant and wasprincipally responsible for handing its accounts payables and accounts receivables, including making journal entries relating to receivables, crediting tenant accounts as rents were received and preparing deposit slips and making deposits on behalf of Don Wright. Yosick was personallyresponsible for depositing rental receipts (whether they were cash or check) into the appropriateDon Wright bank account.
Between 2010 and approximately October 2015, Yosick devised a scheme to defraud and embezzle money from Don Wright by using rental payments to pay her personal American Express bill, byinitiating ACH transfers from a Don Wright bank account. She used a portion of the cash sheembezzled to purchase money orders from supermarkets, Wal-Mart and post offices and use themoney orders to pay her personal American Express credit card bills.
Also, between March 2013 and approximately October 2015, Yosick embezzled funds from DonWright by causing approximately 70 electronic transfers (ACH payments) from a company bank account to American Express in order to pay her personal credit card bill.
In total, between 2010 and approximately October 2015, Yosick embezzled $1,098,778.23 fromDon Wright.
Additionally, Yosick committed income tax evasion by filing a false income tax return for the 2014 income tax year by underreporting her taxable income by approximately $303,808, which resultedin tax due and owing of approximately $94,601, which represented the embezzled funds from Don Wright.
In total, Yosick attempted to evade paying $255,571 in federal income taxes to the IRS for the 2010,2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 income tax years.
Yosick agreed to pay restitution to Don Wright Realty LLC in the amount of $1,098,778.23 and to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $255,571.
Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment, and income tax evasion is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
“Tax evasion and embezzlement schemes of this magnitude and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserves to be punished,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The IRS, FBI, and U.S. Attorney’s Office remain determined and vigilant in ferreting out such schemes to cheat the honest taxpayers.”
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative law enforcement investigation, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Alex R. Sistla, who is prosecuting the case.
Former Pike County Man Sentenced For False Bankruptcy Declarations
SCRANTON – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Daniel Wise, age 55, formerly of Tafton, Pennsylvania, currently residing in New York, NY, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge James M. Munley in Scranton, to 2 years’ probation and 100 hours’ community service, for making false declarations in bankruptcy proceedings. Judge Munley also ordered Wise to pay a $30,000 fine.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Wise filed three Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions in the Middle District of Pennsylvania between August 14 and November 21, 2012. An indictment returned on October 14, 2015, alleged that Wise intentionally failed to reveal his ownership of a $2.4 million promissory note and that he was actively engaged in litigation over the note in New York. Under bankruptcy law, he was required to make those disclosures in his bankruptcy petitions.
On July 13, 2016, Wise pleaded guilty in a proceeding before Judge Munley. He admitted that he made false declarations in connection with the bankruptcy petition filed on November 21, 2012. He further admitted to making false sworn declarations during a January 14, 2013, creditors’ meeting. Wise’s bankruptcy petitions were eventually dismissed on March 13, 2013.
The case was investigated by the Scranton Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel.
Brooklyn Man Arrested For Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIL
Defendant Traveled to Yemen in an Attempt to Join Foreign Terrorist Organization
A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Mohamed Rafik Naji with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign terrorist organization. Naji was arrested earlier today at his home in Brooklyn, New York, and his initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
As set forth in court documents, Naji is a 37-year-old legal permanent resident of the United States. Beginning in December 2014, through social media posts, Naji expressed his support of ISIL by, among other posts, sharing a video of an ISIL leader advocating violence against civilian targets. According to the complaint, in March 2015, Naji travelled from New York to Yemen in an effort to join ISIL’s ranks. While in Yemen, Naji persistently tried to travel to areas controlled by ISIL. In emails to an associate in the United States, Naji explained that he was on his fifth try to reach ISIL controlled territory. He also sent his associate media files with sounds of gunfire and claimed to have been almost killed by the “army.” Following these email exchanges, Naji instructed his associate to “erase all ur messages,” “even from your trash.”
While in Yemen, Naji engaged in online conversations with a confidential source. During those conversations, Naji instructed the confidential source that in order to join “dawlat islam” he should travel to Hadramout, an area in southern Yemen. In one of the online conversations with the confidential source Naji proclaimed his allegiance to ISIL stating, “I belong to Islamic state only,” according to the complaint.
Naji returned to the United States in September 2015. Since his return, he has continued to express his support for ISIL and violent jihad. Following the deadly attack in Nice, France in July 2016, Naji expressed support for a similar attack in Times Square.
“As alleged, the defendant was persistent in his efforts to join ISIL and support its terrorist objectives,” stated U.S. Attorney Capers. “We will continue to identify and prosecute individuals like Naji who seek to empower our nation’s enemies and endanger our citizens and partners around the world.” Mr. Capers extended his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises a number of federal, state and local agencies from the region.
“As we alleged in our complaint today, Naji has shown continued support to ISIL, beginning in 2014 with social media posts and ultimately traveling to Yemen in March 2015 where he claimed his allegiance to ISIL stating, ‘I belong to Islamic state only.’ He continued to express support for ISIL and violent jihad upon his return in the US months later. Terrorism threats, like Naji, are only mitigated through the joint efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.
“As alleged, the defendant expressed a devotion to join ISIL through both conversation and social media, traveling to Yemen in an effort to join their ranks,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill. “Detectives and agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Force uncovered the alleged terrorist objectives of the defendant. I want to commend their work in continually protecting New York City, and our nation, from those who seek to harm us.”
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melody Wells and Ian Richardson of the National Security & Cybercrime Section of the U.S Attorney’s Office, with assistance from Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
MOHAMED RAFIK NAJI
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-M-1049
Clinton Man Sentenced to Almost Six Years for Pharmacy Robbery
Bangor, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that James J. Senior, 40, of Clinton, Maine was sentenced today in U.S. District Court by Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. to 71 months in prison and three years of supervised release for pharmacy robbery. He was also ordered to pay restitution. Senior pleaded guilty on June 11, 2015.
Court records show that on March 31, 2015, Senior entered the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Newport, Maine, approached the pharmacy counter, presented a note that demanded oxycodone and threatened that employees would be harmed if they did not comply. While Senior waited, he told the employees to “hurry up” and “get moving.” He absconded with three bottles of oxycodone and hydrocodone-ibuprofen pills.
Law enforcement officers released a video of the robbery. After receiving a tip, they confirmed that Senior was the robber by comparing the video footage to a known photograph of Senior. Officers also recovered the three pill bottles that Senior had discarded a short distance from the pharmacy. The next day, Senior surrendered to the Waterville Police Department and admitted that he was the robber.
In imposing sentencing, Judge Woodcock noted the defendant’s “horrendous” criminal history involving 17 convictions — including felony drug trafficking and felony assault and battery convictions — and the “chilling” nature of the robbery.
The investigation was conducted by the Newport Police Department, the Maine State Police, the Waterville Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Federal charges filed in W.Va. Division of Highways pay-to-play scheme
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Four individuals and a corporation are facing federal charges for conspiring to steer West Virginia Division of Highways projects to a South Carolina business in exchange for bribes and kickbacks, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
Bruce E. Kenney, III, Andrew P. Nichols, James Travis Miller, and Mark R. Whitt have been charged in a scheme which caused $1.5 million worth of highway work to be routed to the Dennis Corporation, a Columbia, South Carolina engineering consulting firm. Bayliss and Ramey, Inc., a Putnam County highway electrical contractor, has also been charged.
Kenney, age 60, of Norfolk, Virginia, is alleged to have used his position in the Traffic Engineering Division of the Division of Highways to bypass normal state procedures and funnel structure inspection work to the Dennis Corporation in exchange for covert payments totaling nearly $200,000. Kenney was charged by Information today with honest services wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to impede the Internal Revenue Service.
Nichols, age 38, of Lesage, West Virginia, formerly served as the manager of the West Virginia Division of the Dennis Corporation while also working as an engineering professor. He is alleged to have managed the financial relationships of his co-conspirators, to have ensured that payments were made, and to have lied to federal agents about his involvement in the scheme. Nichols was indicted earlier this month on charges of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and money laundering, along with obstructing justice and making false statements. The indictment was unsealed this morning.
Miller, age 40, of Hurricane, West Virginia, also worked for the Division of Highways before leaving to work for the Dennis Corporation. He is alleged to have delivered covert payments to Kenney in exchange for official actions that were done in favor of Dennis Corporation. Miller was charged by Information today with money laundering conspiracy.
Whitt, 52, of Winfield, West Virginia, was the president and owner of Bayliss and Ramey, Inc., which was awarded the statewide signal maintenance contract in 2009. Whitt allegedly used the
contract to funnel construction work to Dennis Corporation. He benefitted financially for helping to conceal the illegal flow of funds from the Division of Highways to Dennis Corporation. Whitt was charged by Information today with wire fraud conspiracy.
Bayliss and Ramey, Inc. submitted invoices with a twenty percent mark-up to ensure that it would be compensated for its role in the scheme. This mark-up by Bayliss and Ramey caused the State of West Virginia to pay a higher price than it should have for engineering services. The corporation was charged by Information today with wire fraud conspiracy.
The criminal conduct in this matter occurred from 2008 until 2014. The investigation began in September 2015 when information about the scheme was provided to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Each individual defendant faces the possibility of incarceration. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of each defendant. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jarod J. Douglas and Sarah W. Montoro are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia Commission on Special Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the West Virginia State Police. The investigation is ongoing.
Ihlenfeld commended the efforts of all of the investigators, and encouraged citizens with information regarding public corruption in their community to call the West Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at 855-WVA-FEDS (855-982-3337), or to send an email to email@example.com
Retired Wichita Police Lt. Sentenced For Embezzlement, Mail Fraud
WICHITA, KAN. – A retired Wichita police lieutenant Wednesday was sentenced to two years on probation for filing false documents so he would be paid for providing armed engagement training for law enforcement officers, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said. He also was ordered to pay $56,400 in restitution.
Kevin P. Vaughn, 52, Wichita, Kan., who retired in March 2015 after 28 years with the Wichita Police Department, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of public funds and one count of mail fraud.
In his plea, Vaughn admitted he falsified reports to make it appear his company, Red Mist Tactical, had completed all of 15 eight-hour classes as the company’s contract required. The money for the training came from a grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS/FEMA) to the Kansas Highway Patrol and the North Central Regional Planning Commission.
Vaughn admitted he:
- Falsely reported conducting training in McPherson, Kan., on May 27 and May 28, 2015. In fact, the training sessions took place on June 3 and 4, 2015, after the deadline in the contract for the training to be completed. He forged officers’ signatures on sign-up sheets.
- Falsely reported conducting eight hours of training on May 22, 2015, during the Wichita Police Department Ladies Range Day. In fact, the training lasted four hours and it was not approved by the police department.
- Falsely reported offering training in Sumner County on April 27 and May 1, 2015. In fact, there was no training on those days.
- Falsely reported offering training in Sumner County on April 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24, 2015. In fact, there was no training on those days.
Beall commended the FBI, the Wichita Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett for their work on the case.
Fourth Defendant Convicted in Scheme that Defrauded Software Company of More Than $16 Million Worth of Virtual Currency
FORT WORTH, Texas – A Whittier, California, man was convicted today of wire fraud in connection with his involvement in a scheme to defraud a software company of more than $16 million, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas and Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Leslie R. Caldwell.
Anthony Clark, 24, was convicted, following a three-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor, on an indictment charging one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 27, 2017.
Evidence presented at trial showed that Clark and three co-conspirators defrauded software company Electronic Arts (EA). EA is the publisher of a video game called FIFA Football, in which players can earn “FIFA coins,” a virtual in-game currency generally earned based on the time users spend playing FIFA Football. Due to the popularity of FIFA Football, a secondary market has developed whereby FIFA coins can be exchanged for U.S. currency. Clark and his co-conspirators circumvented multiple security mechanisms created by EA in order to fraudulently obtain FIFA coins worth over $16 million. Specifically, Clark and his co-conspirators created software that fraudulently logged thousands of FIFA Football matches within a matter of seconds, and as a result, EA computers credited Clark and his co-conspirators with improperly earned FIFA coins. Clark and his co-conspirators subsequently exchanged their FIFA coins on the secondary market for over $16 million.
Co-conspirators Nick Castellucci, 24, of, New Jersey; Ricky Miller, 24, of Arlington, Texas; and Eaton Zveare, 24, of Lancaster, Virginia, previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
The FBI and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Poe and C. Heath of the Northern District of Texas and Senior Counsel Ryan Dickey of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are in charge of the prosecution.
Derek Fields Found Guilty By Jury Trial
SOUTH BEND – United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, David Capp, announced that Derek Fields, 30, of South Bend, Indiana was found guilty, after a 3-day jury trial, of kidnapping, transmitting a ransom demand, discharging a weapon during a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm. He is the last of three co-defendants to be tried in this matter. Ivan Brazier was convicted on July 13, 2016 of kidnapping and extortion and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14, 2016. Lindani Mzembe was convicted on August 24, 2016 of kidnapping, extortion, felon in possession, and use of a firearm in a crime of violence, and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2016.
According to documents filed in this case, Fields and his codefendants possessed firearms as felons to unlawfully confine or kidnap an individual against their will and demanded a ransom for that individual. A firearm was discharged, hitting the victim, during the kidnapping.
This case was prosecuted as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Federal Bureau of Investigation; South Bend Police Department and the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John M. Maciejczyk and Joel Gabrielse.
Springfield Man Sentenced for Child Porn
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Springfield, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.
David D. Lerssen, Jr., 34, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to eight years in federal prison without parole.
On June 28, 2016, Lerssen pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography. Lerssen was arrested following an investigation into the use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to distribute child pornography. Lerssen’s computer was identified as distributing child pornography and law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at his residence.
According to court documents, Lerssen had more than 876 files containing child pornography, with victims ranging in age from toddlers to 17 years old, including prepubescent children engaged in bondage or sadistic conduct. Lerssen had a large amount of child pornography on multiple devices. He used multiple mediums and Web sites to not only view child pornography, but to receive and distribute it. Lerssen admitted to viewing child pornography for the past five years.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller. It was investigated by the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI.
Dallas County Man Who Fired Numerous Shots at Officer with Ennis Police Department During a High Speed Pursuit Pleads Guilty
Javier Martinez Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping, Cocaine and Heroin Distribution, and Firearms Offenses
DALLAS — A Lancaster, Texas, Man, Javier Martinez, 24, appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan and pleaded guilty to several felony offenses related to his involvement in an attempted kidnapping and then subsequently firing numerous shots at an officer with the Ennis Police Department during a high-speed pursuit, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Specifically, Martinez pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit kidnapping; possession with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute heroin; using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during or in relation to a crime of violence; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. While Martinez faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison and a $2.75 million fine, if the Court accepts the plea agreement between the government and the defendant, Martinez should receive a total sentence of 40 years in federal prison. Sentencing is set for March 2, 2017, before U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle.
According to documents filed in the case, on July 12, 2016, Martinez, along with co-defendants Jose Cardenas Aguirre, 25, and Melissa Trevino, 23, planned to kidnap another individual because of an unpaid drug debt involving cocaine. During the planned kidnapping, Martinez and Aguirre wore ballistic vests and black camouflage clothing. The kidnapping was unsuccessful, and as Martinez, Aguirre, and Trevino fled the scene, they were engaged in a high-speed chase with officers with the Ennis Police Department. During this pursuit, Martinez, using an AR-156 style rifle, fired numerous shots at a police officer. Martinez led, supervised, and organized this planned kidnapping.
A trial date of December 5, 2016, has been set for defendants Aguirre and Trevino. Three other defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Between December 2015, and continuing to July 2016, Martinez conspired to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. On February 5, 2016, Martinez possessed a firearm in furtherance of these drug trafficking crimes.
In addition, according to the factual resume, on January 7, 2016, Martinez sold another individual one ounce of heroin and offered to sell that same individual one kilogram of heroin for $40,000. During that same conversation, Martinez offered to sell the same individual an AK-47 for $7,000 and an AR-15 rifle for $1,500. On April 11, 2016, Martinez sold three ounces of heroin and two AR-15’s to another individual; these drug and gun sales took place at his residence.
The case was investigated by the Ennis Police Department and the FBI’s Violent Gang Taskforce. Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.
Florida Man Admits Defrauding Bergen County, New Jersey, Company Out Of More Than $1.5 Million
TRENTON, N.J. – A Windermere, Florida, man today admitted using phony invoices to fraudulently obtain over $1.5 million from a factoring company in Bergen County, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J Fishman announced.
Jerry Guidice, 57, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In July 2015, Guidice had a trucking company he owned enter into an agreement with a Bergen County factoring company. Pursuant to the agreement, the trucking company would assign some of its accounts receivable to the factoring company in return for short-term financing.
However, Guidice sought to defraud the factoring company by emailing fraudulent invoices for trucking services that were never actually performed by his company. As a result of the invoices, the factoring company transferred more than $1.5 million to Guidice’s company from September 2015 through February 2016.
The charge of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Christopher Atcachunas Esq., Orlando, Florida
Meriden Construction Company Fined $250K for Filing False Tax Return
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill today ordered Meriden-based SRC CONSTRUCTION, INC. to pay a $250,000 fine for filing a false tax return.
According to court documents and statements made in court, SRC CONSTRUCTION, a real estate development and construction management firm, employed an internal accounting department that handled the general ledger, journal entries and bank accounts for the business, including the receipt and payment of invoices. At least one individual employed by the company was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the business and financial matters for the company’s owner. That individual and others under the individual’s control reviewed payments made by the company to employees, vendors and others, and directed how the items should be expensed. The individual instructed others that most, if not all, invoices be paid out of company funds, including a series of expenses that the individual knew were not deductible business expenses. The individual, who also was responsible for providing to the company’s outside accountants all information to prepare audited financial statements and tax returns, knowingly provided to the accountants a substantial number of non-deductible expenses knowing that they were non-business expenses.
In February 2006, SRC CONSTRUCTION willfully made and subscribed a false corporate tax return, a 2004 Form 1120 for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2005, that overstated expenses. As a result, for the 2004 tax year, the company failed to report corporate income totaling $296,642, resulting in tax loss of $112,609.
On July 15, 2016, SRC CONSTRUCTION pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.
SRC CONSTRUCTION has paid the $250,000 fine, as well as the identified back taxes due of $112,609. The company also itemized for the court the various accounting and other internal changes made as a result of the investigation that are intended to ensure future tax and accounting compliance.
This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Schmeisser and Jennifer Laraia.
Two Burlington County, New Jersey, Pharmacists Charged With Illegally Distributing Oxycodone, Other Pain Killers From Medford, New Jersey, ‘Pill Mills’
CAMDEN, N.J. – Two pharmacists were arrested today and charged in a long-running conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense large quantities of oxycodone and other controlled substances from two pharmacies located in Medford, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Michael Ludwikowski, 44, of Medford, and David Goldfield, 58, of Medford Lakes, New Jersey, were charged in a 16-count indictment with conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and multiple substantive counts of illegal distribution. Ludwikowski was also charged with using his cellphone in furtherance of the conspiracy. Both defendants are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider in Camden federal court.
“There is a real opioid epidemic in the United States, one that’s responsible for personal tragedy, widespread suffering, and enormous financial loss,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Doctors, pharmacists, and other health care professionals have a unique opportunity to address this epidemic by ensuring prescription opiates are dispensed only for legitimate medical purposes. Instead, Ludwikowski and Goldfield allegedly chose to exacerbate the problem by selling opiates to customers with fake prescriptions or to individuals whom they knew to be addicts.”
“Opioid and prescription drug abuse is sweeping the country. By allegedly participating in a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone within our community, the defendants engaged in a behavior that ultimately contributes to this epidemic,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher. “Today’s arrests are not only a victory for the FBI and our partners, but for everyone who confronts the tragic outcomes of opioid addiction and abuse.”
Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s New Jersey Division said, “Unfortunately, this is another alleged case of two pharmacists violating the public trust. They should have been doing their part to help in the reduction of the opioid epidemic we are facing. Instead, based on the charges, they have played a part in adding to the epidemic.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From March 2008 through August 2013, Ludwikowski, the owner of both Olde Medford Pharmacy and Medford Family Pharmacy, and his employee, Goldfield, knowingly distributed and dispensed oxycodone and other controlled substances to individuals, including addicts, who presented phony prescriptions.
Ludwikowski ordered tens of thousands of dosage units of oxycodone, among other products, from a large national distributor. The distributer established thresholds for the quantity of controlled substances that it supplied to certain pharmacies. These thresholds could not be exceeded unless a pharmacy provided sufficient justification for an increase. As part of the conspiracy, Ludwikowski fraudulently requested and received increases to the thresholds of oxycodone supplied to his pharmacies, even though he knew they were not going to be used for legitimate medical reasons.
In some instances, the customers presented fraudulent prescriptions that had been blatantly “washed,” or “bleached,” through a chemical process that removed the original writing for a non-narcotic substance. The customers then rewrote the prescriptions for their drug of choice, including oxycodone. Ludwikowski and Goldfield even allegedly ignored concerns raised by an employee who pointed out an obviously altered prescription.
Customers who used the fraudulent prescriptions generally paid in cash and provided gifts to Ludwikowski and Goldfield. In some instances, these customers filled fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone multiple times a week.
In furtherance of the scheme, Ludwikowski and another pharmacist he employed – referred to in the indictment as “Pharmacist 3” – reached an agreement with a physician –referred to in the indictment as “Doctor 1” – to “steer” Doctor 1’s patients to Ludwikowski’s pharmacies. In a text message from Pharmacist 3 to Ludwikowski on Jan. 11, 2013, Pharmacist 3 wrote: “I talked to [Doctor 1] and he is going to direct all of his patients to us he is the pain doc in Cherry Hill.”
Following that exchange, Ludwikowski received a voicemail from an individual referred to in the indictment as “Individual 3” who claimed to be a patient of Doctor 1 and was looking for a monthly supplier. After Ludwikowski passed along his number to Pharmacists 3, Individual 3 was able to fill prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances at Olde Medford Pharmacy or Medford Family Pharmacy.
In another instance, a Pennsylvania resident referred to in the indictment as “Individual 4” informed Ludwikowski that he was “in a bit of a pickle” because he had been unable to fill a prescription written by Doctor 1 in Pennsylvania, but had heard that Ludwikowski would be able to help. Subsequently, Individual 4 was able to acquire oxycodone and other controlled substance prescriptions from Ludwikowski’s pharmacies.
The conspiracy charge and each substantive count of illegal distribution of oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The count of using a telephone in furtherance of the drug trafficking crimes carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The counts of maintaining a drug-involved premises each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gallagher; the DEA New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Kotowski; the Medford Police Department under the direction of Chief Richard J. Meder; the Moorestown Police Department under the direction of Chief Lee R. Lieber; the Florence Police Department under the direction of Chief John Bunce; and the Lumberton Police Department under the direction of Chief Tony Diloreto, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin C. Danilewitz and Senior Litigation Counsel Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Devlin of the Office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Amherst man charged with mailing threatening communication
A federal grand jury indicted Michael G. Roby, 46, of Amherst, on charges of mailing a letter threatening the lives of a male victim and his family, said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
The indictment alleges that on or about June 15, 2016, Roby knowingly caused to be delivered by the United States Postal Service a letter to the victim that contained threats to injure the victim as well as the victim’s mother, brother, wife, and son.
The Amherst Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ranya Elzein.
If convicted, the Court will determine the defendant’s sentence after a review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cleveland man charged for bank robberies and escape
A federal grand jury indicted Derrick Swinney, 46, of Cleveland, on one count of escape and two counts of bank robbery, said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
The indictment alleges that on or about January 13, 2016, Swinney walked away from the Oriana House, a correctional halfway house in Cleveland, after having been released from federal prison following a 2005 conviction for bank robbery.
The indictment further alleges that Swinney robbed the Key Bank at 3110 W. 117th Street, in Cleveland, on September 20, and again on October 4, 2016, of a total of $4,870.
The U.S. Marshal Service conducted the investigation in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karrie D. Howard.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cleveland man charged with enticement, sexual exploitation of a child
A Cleveland man was charged with enticement, sexual exploitation of a child and receiving visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, said Carole S. Rendon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Kevin D. Wyrock, 49, knowingly used a cellular phone with Internet connectivity, to persuade, induce, entice, coerce and attempt to persuade, induce, entice and coerce a 12-year-old girl, to engage in sexual activity for which Wyrock could be charged with a criminal offense. This took place in October 2015, according to the indictment.
The indictment also charges that during that same time period, Wyrock used, persuaded, enticed and coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct, knowing and having reason to know that such visual depiction would be transported and transmitted, using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, and in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, and such visual depiction was actually transported and transmitted, using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, and in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce.
The indictment also charges that during that same time period, Wyrock knowingly received, using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, numerous digital files, which files contained visual depictions of a real minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and which files had been shipped and transported in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael A. Sullivan following an investigation by the Cleveland and Miami offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Juniper (Florida) Police Department.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
High-Ranking Gangster Disciple Sentenced to More Than 17 Years in Federal Prison
Memphis, TN – A high-ranking member of the Gangster Disciples has been sentenced to 210 months in federal prison for felony possession and distribution of cocaine. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the sentence today.
According to information presented in court, Kevin Coleman aka “Booger,” 34, of Covington, Tennessee, holds the rank of chief enforcer for the Covington region of the Gangster Disciples. A violent criminal organization present in more than 30 states, the Gangster Disciples are organized into different positions, including board members and governor-of-governors who each control geographic regions; governors, assistant governors, chief enforcers, and chief of security for each state or regions within the state where the Gangster Disciples are active.
Beginning in July 2014, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began investigating members of the Gangster Disciples in the Tipton County area. They later identified Coleman as the Chief Enforcer/Assistant Chief Enforcer for the Covington region.
As the Chief Enforcer, Coleman was tasked with administering punishment to members who violated gang rules. He also permitted other members to illegally possess firearms and commit violent actions when deemed necessary.
Because of his position of authority, Coleman was required to have a firearm at all times, or have another armed gang member accompany him. During the investigation, agents became aware of two instances in which Coleman ordered the physical punishment of two fellow gang members.
Law enforcement also discovered that Coleman regularly conspired with others to obtain cocaine from other high-level members of the Gangster Disciples for distribution.
On November 3, 2015, law enforcement officers conducted a knock-and-talk at Coleman’s residence. At the time, Coleman was on probation and, as part of his probation, agreed to a provision allowing law enforcement to search him or his residence without a warrant.
When Coleman came to the front door, law enforcement asked if he possessed anything illegal. He admitted to having cocaine on his kitchen table. A search was conducted on his residence and the cocaine was recovered. Agents also seized $1,100 in drug proceeds, a scale, and .45 caliber ammunition.
After waiving his Miranda rights, Coleman informed agents that he had been buying and selling cocaine since around 2011. He admitted to purchasing ounce quantities of cocaine once a week for distribution.
In June 2016, Coleman proceeded to trial. However, after the government presented their first witness, he pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays Jr. to one count of unlawfully possessing with the intent to distribute and distributing more than 500 grams of cocaine.
On Monday, November 14, Judge Mays sentenced Coleman to 210 months in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 25th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office, and the Tipton County Sheriffs Office.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Stringfellow prosecuted this case on the government’s behalf.
Louisville man charged in child pornography case
Alleged to have viewed pornography then tried to destroy evidence as FBI agents investigated
New Albany—United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today charges against a Louisville, Ky., man for knowing receipt of child pornography, possession with intent to view child pornography, possession of a computer containing child pornography and destruction of evidence in a federal investigation. Adrian Grisanti, 44, was arrested this morning on the charges.
“Protecting the most vulnerable of our society is a responsibility I take personally and remains a high priority in this office,” said Minkler. “Every time child pornography is viewed on the internet it revictimizes a child.”
According to the indictment, in February 2015, the FBI took over a website that contained a network of users who posted and accessed child pornography via hidden network services not readily available to the internet community. Grisanti is alleged to have utilized the website to receive and access files containing child pornography.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Bradley P. Shepard who is prosecuting this case for the government, Grisanti could face a minimum of five years up to 20 years’ imprisonment for knowing receipt of child pornography, and up to 10 years for each count of accessing with intent to view child pornography, up to 20 years for possession of child pornography, and up to 20 years for destruction of evidence if convicted.
An indictment is only charge and not evidence of guilt. All parties are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in federal court.
Three Twin Cities Men Sentenced For Providing Material Support To ISIL
The first three of nine defendants expected to be sentenced this week for conspiring to provide material support to ISIL were sentenced today in three separate hearings in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. ABDULLAHI YUSUF, 20, was sentenced to time already served. ABDIRIZAK WARSAME, 21, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. ZACHARIA ABDURAHMAN, 21, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota Andrew M. Luger, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Division Richard T. Thornton, and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Mary B. McCord.
“The hard work of rehabilitating those who seek to engage in ideological violence must continue,” said United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “Judge Davis recognized that fact today in his considered sentences for those defendants who cooperated with the government and have begun to disengage from ISIL’s violent ideology.”
According to his guilty plea, in April 2014, YUSUF applied for an expedited U.S. Passport at the Minneapolis Passport Office. The following month, YUSUF attempted to travel from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, to join ISIL. He was stopped at the airport by federal agents. YUSUF pleaded guilty on February 26, 2015. YUSUF cooperated with the United States and testified at the trial of three of his co-conspirators.
According to his guilty plea, WARSAME participated in the conspiracy throughout 2014 and early 2015 in various capacities, including serving briefly as “emir” of the co-conspirators, and helping unindicted co-conspirator, Yusuf Jama, obtain contact information to aid his joining ISIL in Syria. WARSAME pleaded guilty on February 11, 2016. WARSAME cooperated with the United States and testified at the trial of three of his co-conspirators.
According to his guilty plea, in November 2014, ABDURAHMAN and three co-conspirators traveled by bus from Minneapolis to New York City’s JFK airport, where they attempted to fly overseas to join ISIL in Syria. They were stopped from flying and questioned by federal agents before returning to Minnesota. Despite being stopped from traveling in November 2014, ABDURAHMAN and the co-conspirators continued to discuss and plan another attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIL. ABDURAHMAN pleaded guilty on September 17, 2015.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The JTTF includes members from the following departments: the United States Marshals Service, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bloomington Police Department, St. Paul Police Department, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Air Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Minneapolis Police Department, Burnsville Police Department, Department of State, the Airport Police, Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, and the FBI.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Winter, John Docherty and Julie Allyn.
ABDULLAHI YUSUF, 20
Inver Grove Heights, Minn.
Convicted:Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, 1 count
Sentenced:Time already served20 years of supervised release
ABDIRIZAK WARSAME, 21
Convicted:Conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, 1 count
Sentenced:30 months in prison ,20 years of supervised release
ZACHARIA ABDURAHMAN, 21
Columbia Heights, Minn.
Convicted:Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, 1 count
Sentenced:10 years in prison, 20 years of supervised release
Huntington heroin dealer sentenced to over seven years in federal prison for drug crime
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man was sentenced today to seven and a half years in federal prison for a heroin crime, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Lamont Walter Haywood, 38, previously pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin.
Haywood admitted that on January 22, 2015, he sold heroin to a confidential informant working with the Huntington FBI Drug Task Force. The drug deal took place at Star Communications, located on 8th Avenue in Huntington, and was captured on video. Haywood further admitted that he was responsible for selling up to 700 grams of heroin during 2014 and 2015.
The Huntington FBI Drug Task Force conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Gregory McVey is responsible for the prosecution. Chief United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers imposed the sentence.
This prosecution is part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs and heroin. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of pills and heroin in communities across the Southern District.
Former Autonomy CFO Charged with Wire Fraud
Defendant Allegedly Defrauded Hewlett-Packard Company in the Acquisition of Autonomy for $11 Billion
A federal grand jury indicted Sushovan Hussain, 52, a citizen and resident of the United Kingdom, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and multiple counts of wire fraud. According to the indictment filed last Nov. 10, Hussain allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud purchasers and sellers of securities of Autonomy Corporation plc (Autonomy) and Hewlett-Packard Company about the true performance of Autonomy’s business, its financial condition and its prospects for growth.
According to the indictment, Hussain, was the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Autonomy, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom. Autonomy maintained dual headquarters in San Francisco and Cambridge. In 2010, about 68 percent of Autonomy’s reported revenues came from the United States and other countries in the Americas.
The case involves the acquisition by Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Company and Hewlett-Packard Vision B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of HP (collectively HP), of Autonomy. On Aug. 18, 2011, HP entered into an offer agreement with Autonomy and publicly announced its offer to acquire Autonomy for approximately $11 billion. On Oct. 3, 2011, HP’s acquisition of Autonomy closed and HP acquired control of Autonomy.
According to the indictment, between 2009 and 2011, Hussain artificially inflated Autonomy’s revenues by backdating written agreements to record revenue in prior periods; recorded revenue on contracts that were subject to side letters or other contingencies that impacted revenue recognition; improperly recorded revenue for reciprocal or roundtrip transactions; and made false and misleading statements to Autonomy’s independent auditor about transactions allegedly supporting the recognition of revenue and other items in Autonomy’s financial statements. In so doing, Hussain allegedly issued materially false and misleading quarterly and annual financial statements on behalf of Autonomy. The indictment further alleges that defendant and others provided these financial statements to HP during the time that HP was considering whether to purchase Autonomy.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Hussain caused Autonomy to make materially false and misleading statements directly to HP regarding Autonomy’s financial condition, performance and business during the negotiations between HP and Autonomy leading up to the Aug. 18, 2011, acquisition announcement. Allegedly, Hussain made false and misleading statements about the nature of Autonomy’s products, concealed Autonomy’s non-appliance hardware sales and made other false and misleading statements during HP’s “due diligence” of Autonomy. In sum, the indictment charges Hussain with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 14 counts of wire fraud.
No federal court appearance has yet been scheduled for the defendant.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for each count of wire fraud and for the conspiracy count. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Leach and Adam A. Reeves are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Phillip Villanueva and Bridget Kilkenny. The prosecution is the result of a multi-year investigation involving the FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gary, Indiana Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison for Robbing Bank in Carrizo Springs
In Del Rio this morning, 44-year-old Luis Gonzalez of Gary, IN, was sentenced to four years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for the robbery of Capital Bank of Texas in Carrizo Springs, TX, in October of last year, announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
On August 2, 2016, Gonzalez’s 36–year-old common-law wife Lidia Igartua, who has familial ties to Carrizo Springs, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for her role in the robbery.
On February 25, 2016, both Gonzalez and Igartua pleaded guilty to one count of bank theft. By pleading guilty, Gonzalez admitted that he robbed Capital Bank of Texas in Carrizo Springs on October 14, 2015, by use of force, violence and/or intimidation when he produced a note to a bank teller threatening violence and the use of a firearm. Gonzalez fled the bank with $7,712.00 in U.S. Currency. By pleading guilty, Igartua admitted to planning and purchasing disguises prior to the robbery, and being a recipient of proceeds from the bank robbery.
FBI arrested Igartua on the same day as the bank robbery; Gonzalez, the day after. Both defendants have since remained in federal custody.
Subsequent to the defendants being arrested, FBI agents recovered $7,200 of the stolen funds. At sentencing, United States District Judge Alia Moses ordered that both defendants pay—joint and several—the unrecovered amount of $512.00 in restitution to Capital Bank of Texas.
This case was investigated by FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Katie Griffin and Lewis Thomas.