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Friday, April 30, 2010

San Angelo, Texas Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison on Child Pornography Conviction

April 30, 2010 - LUBBOCK, TX—William Ray Nobles, 32, of San Angelo, Texas, who pleaded guilty in February 2010 to one count of receiving child pornography, was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to 20 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Judge Cummings also ordered that Nobles serve a lifetime of supervised release following his prison sentence. Nobles has been in federal custody since his arrest in mid-October following the execution of a federal search warrant by FBI agents at his residence.

Nobles, who was charged in November 2009 in a superseding indictment with 10 counts of child pornography, child enticement and child obscenity felony offenses, admitted in plea documents that he used various computers that he owned to download various forms of pornography, including child pornography, from the Internet.

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 United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the San Angelo, Texas, Police Department, the Collin County, Texas, Sheriff's Office and the St. Charles County, Missouri, Sheriff's Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the Lubbock, Texas, U.S. Attorney’s Office, prosecuted.

Indiana Man Sentenced in Extensive Fraud Scheme

Scam Artist Bilks Investors Out of $948K, Gets 15 Years in Return

April 30, 2010 - PLANO, TX—U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that a 60-year-old Indianapolis, Indiana man has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in an investment fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas.

LOUIS SIMPSON was sentenced to 183 months in federal prison on Apr. 29, 2010 by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell. Judge Schell also ordered Simpson to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

According to information presented in court, beginning in 2006, Simpson devised a marketing scheme to defraud investors by claiming to operate a fraudulent program that he had with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Simpson marketed the fraudulent program to investors and obtained approximately $948,500 in wired funds from these investors. To facilitate the scheme, Simpson provided investors with fraudulent letters from HUD officials and false bank documents from financial institutions. Simpson was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 11, 2008 and charged with federal violations. After a five-day trial, a jury found Simpson guilty on Oct. 29, 2009 of seven counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HUD and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shamoil Shipchander.

Former CFO of Houston Engineering Firm Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Millions

HOUSTON—Christopher McCullough, 47, currently of Frederic, Colorado, and formerly of Houston, has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with his embezzlement of more than $3 million while serving as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of LJA Engineering (LJA), United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

McCullough entered the guilty plea this afternoon before United States District Judge Nancy Atlas. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Additionally, McCullough has agreed to make full restitution to his former employer of approximately $3.75 million. McCullough remains free on bond pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for July 19, 2010.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, McCullough served as the CFO of Houston-based LJA and was a member of the LJA’s Board of Directors. Using the access he had as CFO to LJA bank accounts, McCullough engaged in more than 200 transactions totaling more than $3.5 million in which he converted LJA funds to his personal use. McCullough embezzled these funds by withdrawing cash, writing checks drawn on the LJA accounts to pay his personal expenses and purchasing cashier’s checks with the LJA funds which he used to pay personal expenses. The personal expenses McCullough paid with the embezzled funds include his personal taxes owed to the IRS, stock purchases, the purchase of real estate in Houston and Colorado, and expenses related to the construction, landscaping and interior decorating of a home in Estes Park, Colorado.

The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.

Robert Ray Sayne Receives 77-Month Prison Sentence

April 30, 2010 - GREENEVILLE, TN—Robert Ray Sayne, 33, of Newport, Tennessee , was sentenced in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, at Greeneville, to serve 77 months in prison. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea by Sayne on November 9, 2009, to a federal indictment charging him with making false statements to a United States Probation Officer and to wire fraud. The sentence also resulted from a guilty plea to six violations of terms of supervised release. The Honorable Ronnie Greer, United States District Judge sentenced Sayne to serve 41 months in prison on each of the false statement and wire fraud charges to run concurrently and to serve an additional 36 months in prison on the probation violation charges to run consecutive to the other charges, for a total sentence of 77 months. Sayne has remained in federal custody since his arrest at the James H. Quillen United States Courthouse on January 20, 2009.

Sayne was convicted of bank fraud in 2003, sentenced to serve 51 months in prison and ordered on supervised release for five years after his release from prison in January 2008. Shortly after his release from federal prison, Sayne submitted false documents to his supervising probation officer, provided false information to his probation officer, failed to comply with terms of his release, and engaged in an entirely new wire fraud scheme involving credit cards and debit cards. He stole more than $40,000 from a Florida credit card processor and depleted the equity in his grandmother’s home through a reverse mortgage.

James R. Dedrick, United States Attorney, stated that the integrity of the United States Probation Office and the protection of the credit card system are important to the Department of Justice and the United States Attorneys Office. “The United States Probation Office serves as the eyes and ears of the federal judges. The entire system of supervised release and probation depends upon the candor of individuals who complete that process. We will be vigilant in protecting the integrity of the probation process and in protecting the safety of our credit and debit financial system.”

The United States Probation Office and the FBI participated in the investigation and prosecution of Sayne. Helen Smith, Assistant United States Attorney, represented the United States.

Senior Executive Convicted

Former Doral Senior Executive Convicted in Manhattan Federal Court for Securities Fraud Scheme That Caused $4 Billion Decline in Shareholder Value


April 30, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that MARIO S. LEVIS, a/k/a "Sammy Levis," was found guilty on securities and wire fraud charges after a five-week jury trial before United States District Judge THOMAS P. GRIESA for his role in a scheme to defraud investors and potential investors in the stock of Puerto Rico-based Doral Financial Corporation ("Doral") that took place while he was the Treasurer and Senior Executive Vice President of Doral. The scheme, occurring between 2001 and 2005, involved misrepresentations that LEVIS made regarding certain core assets of Doral. An aggregate decline in shareholder value of approximately $4 billion followed the unraveling of the scheme.

According to the Superseding Indictment and the evidence at trial:

Doral, with mortgage banking operations in Puerto Rico and New York City, was a leading residential mortgage lender in Puerto Rico. Between 2001 and 2005, LEVIS corrupted the process by which Doral determined the publicly reported value of certain non-cash assets carried on Doral's financial books called "interest-only strips" ("IOs"). Doral represented to the public, in its annual financial statements, that the aggregate value of its IOs, and company earnings associated with those IOs, were increasing substantially year after year. By the beginning of 2005, Doral publicly announced a streak of 28 quarters of "record earnings" based in significant part on the stated value of its IOs.

During the same time, Doral's stock price steadily increased from approximately $10 per share in early 2000 to almost $50 at the end of 2004. Also during this time frame, LEVIS and other members of his family were substantial holders of Doral securities. Between 2001 and 2004, the value of LEVIS's stock in Doral tripled to over $60 million.

In its public filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), Doral represented that the value of its IOs was based, in part, on two "outside" and "independent" expert valuations provided to Doral on a quarterly basis. According to Doral's filings with the SEC and representations by LEVIS to investors, these outside independent valuators were performing the valuation using their own economic and portfolio assumptions.

In truth and in fact, however, LEVIS thoroughly corrupted those valuations. For example, the valuation provided by a Morgan Stanley trader in fact involved the trader merely recopying numbers provided by LEVIS without any other work whatsoever, and then subsequent attempts by LEVIS to conceal that fact from Doral's auditors and lawyers. The other valuation from Popular Securities ("Popular") actually involved LEVIS dictating key assumptions for Popular to use in performing its valuation analysis. In both cases, LEVIS failed to inform the valuators that Doral was treating their valuations as independent or citing their work in Doral's SEC filings.

In March 2005, when an executive at Popular directly asked LEVIS whether Popular's valuation was being used as an independent valuation, LEVIS denied that Popular was one of the independent valuations. Later, when investors pressed LEVIS to identify the sources of the independent valuations described in Doral's SEC filings, he falsely told investors that he could not identify the sources due to confidentiality agreements.

LEVIS also materially misrepresented to the investing public—in direct communications with investors, investor representatives, and market analysts—certain specific characteristics of the Doral IO portfolio. Specifically, among other things, LEVIS falsely claimed provision in Doral's loan- sale agreements called "caps," which would purportedly function to prevent substantial write-downs of the IOs if interest rates continued to rise.

Beginning in mid-January 2005, when Doral announced an approximate $97.5 million write-down of the stated value of its IOs attributed to rising interest rates, and LEVIS' scheme concerning the IO valuations began to unravel, the market price of Doral's common stock began to drop steadily from its high of almost $50 per share. By the time LEVIS resigned from Doral in late August 2005, the price of Doral's shares had fallen more than 70 percent to approximately $14.13 per share. In total, the company's shareholders had suffered an aggregate decline in shareholder value of approximately $4 billion.

LEVIS was found guilty of one count of securities fraud (Count One) and two counts of wire fraud (Counts Three and Five). The jury found LEVIS not guilty of one count of wire fraud (Count Four), and the Court dismissed an additional count of wire fraud (Count Two). LEVIS faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the securities fraud count and a fine of the greatest of $5 million or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. For each of the wire fraud counts on which he was found guilty, LEVIS faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of the greatest of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

LEVIS, 46, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge GRIESA on September 14, 2010.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "Senior executives of publicly traded companies have to tell the investing public the truth, even when it hurts. It's that simple. Today, a Manhattan jury found that Mario Levis of Doral intentionally flouted this bedrock principle, causing a colossal $4 billion loss to his company's shareholders. Our Office, working more closely than ever with the FBI and the SEC, will continue to pursue corrupt professionals in the financial services industry whose greed-driven misconduct hurts honest investors and threatens our markets."

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and thanked the SEC for its assistance in the case.

This case was brought in coordination with President BARACK OBAMA's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. BHARARA serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group. President OBAMA established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

The case is being prosecuted by the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force of the United States Attorney's Office. Assistant United States Attorneys WILLIAM J. STELLMACH and DANIEL A. BRAUN and Special Assistant United States Attorney JASON M. ANTHONY, are in charge of the prosecution.

Seeking Serial Bank Robber


The individual depicted in the below bank surveillance photo and wanted flyer is a suspect in the robbery of five banks in the northwest suburbs, dating to April 5, 2010. The most recent robbery occurred yesterday (April 28) when the Village Trust and Bank, 331 South Arlington Heights Road in Arlington Heights was robbed on an undisclosed amount of cash.

The robber is described as a white male, 25 years of age, 5’10” – 6’ tall, medium build. He claims to be armed but no weapon has been displayed and no injuries reported during any of the robberies.

Additional information about this robber and other unsolved Chicago area bank robberies, including downloadable photos, is available online at http://www.bandittrackerchicago.com/.

Brevard Man Pleads Guilty to Producing Child Pornography

April 30, 2010 - ORLANDO—United States Attorney A. Brian Albritton announces that William Ciccotto (age 51, of Micco, Florida) pleaded guilty today to producing child pornography. Ciccotto faces a mandatory minimum 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of 30 years.

According to the plea agreement, Ciccotto created a fictitious MySpace account in the name of “Cindy Westin,” and posed as a young girl between the ages of 13 and 14 years old. On the MySpace profile, Ciccotto posted pictures of a young girl whom he represented was “Cindy Westin” and made daily posts. Ciccotto also created a hotmail account.

While misrepresenting his identity as the young teen “Cindy Westin,” Ciccotto sent “friend requests” to young girls on MySpace. Ciccotto befriended these children, some who were as young as 10 years old, and chatted with them on both MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). During the chats, he talked to them about sex and persuaded them to use their cell phones to take pictures of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He then directed these young girls to send the pictures to his hotmail account.

Ciccotto also transmitted pictures of child and/or adult pornography to many of his victims over the Internet using AIM or e-mail, and, acting as “Cindy Westin,” persuaded these girls to photograph themselves engaging in the same sexually explicit conduct as depicted in the photographs he sent. Ciccotto often misrepresented to his victims that the pornographic pictures he sent depicted “Cindy Westin.”

On January 26, 2010, law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Ciccotto's home in Micco and seized his computers. Agents located more than 3500 pictures of child pornography and more than 1700 videos of child pornography. They also located MySpace and AIM chats between Ciccotto posing as “Cindy Westin” and young girls during which Ciccotto had persuaded the girls to take pictures of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct and to send the pictures to his hotmail account. Agents also executed a search warrant for the contents of Ciccotto’s hotmail account and found the sexually explicit pictures of 13 of his young victims.

During an interview with agents, Ciccotto admitted to possessing and distributing child pornography through a private peer-to-peer network from his home. He said that he had been interested in child pornography for the past 15 years, that he had possessed and traded child pornography for the past 10 years, and that he had traded images of child pornography as recently as the day before, on January 25, 2010. Ciccotto also admitted to establishing the fictitious MySpace account in the name of “Cindy Westin” to convince young girls to take nude pictures and send them to his hotmail account. According to Ciccotto, during his communications with young girls that he met on MySpace, he obtained their telephone numbers and communicated with them via text messaging using a special trac phone that he purchased specifically for this purpose and to conceal his true identity.



Ciccotto also said that sometimes the girls told him where they were, and he would go to their location’s to watch them.

This case was investigated by the Orlando Innocent Images Task Force which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karen L. Gable.

The 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 (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov and click on the tab "other resources" or please visit the Attorney General of Florida's website www.safeflorida.net.

Two Puerto Rico Police Officers Sentenced for Federal Civil Rights Charges Related to Fatal Assault

April 30, 2010 - WASHINGTON – U.S. District Court Judge Daniel R. Dominguez sentenced former San Juan, Puerto Rico, Police Officers, Aaron Vidal Maldonado and Jose Pacheco Cruz today for their roles in the fatal assault by San Juan officers against Jose Rivera Robles, an unarmed civilian, the Justice Department announced.

Vidal Maldonado received a sentence of 200 months in prison and five years of supervised release after conviction at trial for using excessive force, resulting in death, and for committing various obstruction of justice offenses. Pacheco Cruz received a sentence of 57 months in prison and two years supervised release after conviction at trial for obstructing the commonwealth and federal investigations into the circumstances surrounding Rivero Robles’ death.

At trial, the government presented evidence that on July 20, 2003, in the course of arresting the victim at a Citgo gas station, co-defendants Juan Morales Rosado, Carlos Pagan Ferrer, Elias Perocier Morales and Eliezer Rivera Gonzalez repeatedly kicked and otherwise assaulted Rivera Robles when he was lying face down on the ground, in no way resisting or posing a threat to the officers. Aaron Vidal Maldonado, the senior officer on the scene, pinned Rivero Robles to the ground during the beating and did nothing to discourage the excessive force used by his subordinates.

After this beating, Vidal Maldonado directed officers to transport the badly injured, semiconscious victim to a nearby police station where co-defendant Elias Perocier Morales again brutally assaulted the victim in Vidal Maldonado’s presence. After this second beating, instead of immediately seeking medical attention for the victim, Vidal Maldonado directed his subordinates to dump the victim on the floor of the police station. Soon after, the injuries to the victim caused by the beatings resulted in Rivero Robles’ death.

"Law enforcement officers who use their badges as an excuse to commit egregious acts of violence are an affront to the rule of law," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue to aggressively prosecute officers who abuse their power in this manner."

"Our citizens have a right to just, fair and equal treatment from all law enforcement officers and we, as public servants, must never forget that we have sworn an oath to serve and protect them," said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue prosecuting these crimes to the full extent of the law."

The other co-defendants in this case have already been sentenced for their roles in the beating. On Dec. 20, 2009, co-defendants Elias Perocier Morales and Eliezer Rivera Gonzalez were sentenced to ten years in prison and six-and-a-half years in prison, respectively. On March 25, 2010, Juan Morales Rosado and Carlos Pagan Ferrer were both sentenced to ten years in prison.

Special Agent Luis Rivero of the FBI’s San Juan Office investigated this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio Bazan, Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

$50,000 Reward Armored Car Robbery

Joint Reward of $50,000 Offered for Information About Suspects Responsible for 4/5 Riverside Armored Car Robbery and Attempted Murder of Guard Who Was Severely Wounded

April 30, 2010 - Pendum Armored Company, the FBI and Bank of America are offering a joint reward of up to $50,000 in exchange for information about the person/s responsible for the attempted murder of a Pendum guard and an armed robbery of the cash being transported in a Pendum armored car on April 5, 2010. A guard was seriously wounded during the robbery and remains hospitalized in serious condition.

On Monday, April 5th, the Riverside Police Department and the FBI responded to the shooting of the Pendum Armored Company guard outside of a Bank of America in the city of Riverside. At least three people are suspected in the robbery and attempted murder in which the guard was assaulted with pepper spray and then shot three times at close range.

According to investigators, two suspects confronted the guard and entered the side door of a van; the third suspect is believed to have acted as the getaway driver. Police later recovered the van, which had been stolen.

The unidentified male suspects were described as either Caucasian or Hispanic and were armed with pepper spray and at least one semi automatic weapon.

Pendum Armored Company is offering a reward of up to $25,000 and Bank of America is offering a reward of up to $5,000, for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person/s responsible for the armed robbery and shooting of the Pendum guard.* The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest of those responsible. The joint reward offered totals $50,000.

This case is being investigated by the Riverside Police Department and the FBI. Individuals with information should contact the FBI or Riverside Police Department Detective Rick Cobb at 951 353-7135. The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, which includes Riverside County, can be reached 24 hours a day at 1 888 CANT HIDE (1 888 226-8443).

*A reward is paid for original information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of a criminal suspect. Pendum, in its sole discretion, will decide who is entitled to a reward and in what amount. Pendum may pay only a portion of the maximum reward offered, up to $25,000. The decision will be based primarily upon law enforcement's evaluation of the value of the information provided. When there are multiple claimants, the reward will be shared in amounts determined by Pendum. Pendum team members are not eligible for the reward. This reward offer is good for one year from the date it is first offered, unless extended by Pendum.

Wanted - Child Abduction and Murder

UNLAWFUL FLIGHT TO AVOID PROSECUTION - CHILD ABDUCTION; FIRST DEGREE MURDER


BENITO CASANOVA

DESCRIPTION
Date of Birth Used: October 28, 1977 Hair: Black
Place of Birth: Mexico Eyes: Brown
Height: 6'0" Sex: Male
Weight: 200 pounds Race: White (Hispanic)
NCIC: W314251296 Nationality: Mexican
Occupation: Unknown
Scars and Marks: None known

Remarks: Casanova has ties to Mexico. Additionally, he may be traveling in a 2002 Dodge Dakota, with Illinois license plates 86196H.

CAUTION

Benito Casanova is wanted for allegedly murdering his wife and abducting their three children, who have since been located. The incident occurred on April 18, 2008, in Chicago, Illinois. Casanova may be residing in or around the city of Iguala in the state of Guerrero, Mexico.

On April 23, 2008, an arrest warrant for Casanova was issued in the state of Illinois, Cook County Circuit Court, for child abduction. An arrest warrant was also issued for him in Illinois on May 14, 2008, for murder. Additionally, on April 23, 2008, Casanova was subsequently charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in a federal arrest warrant issued by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

REWARD

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of Benito Casanova.

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS

IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION CONCERNING THIS PERSON, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FBI OFFICE OR THE NEAREST AMERICAN EMBASSY OR CONSULATE.

CEO Embezzling Millions

Former CFO of Houston Engineering Firm Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Millions


April 30, 2010 - HOUSTON—Christopher McCullough, 47, currently of Frederic, Colorado, and formerly of Houston, has pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with his embezzlement of more than $3 million while serving as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of LJA Engineering (LJA), United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

McCullough entered the guilty plea this afternoon before United States District Judge Nancy Atlas. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Additionally, McCullough has agreed to make full restitution to his former employer of approximately $3.75 million. McCullough remains free on bond pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for July 19, 2010.

According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, McCullough served as the CFO of Houston-based LJA and was a member of the LJA’s Board of Directors. Using the access he had as CFO to LJA bank accounts, McCullough engaged in more than 200 transactions totaling more than $3.5 million in which he converted LJA funds to his personal use. McCullough embezzled these funds by withdrawing cash, writing checks drawn on the LJA accounts to pay his personal expenses and purchasing cashier’s checks with the LJA funds which he used to pay personal expenses. The personal expenses McCullough paid with the embezzled funds include his personal taxes owed to the IRS, stock purchases, the purchase of real estate in Houston and Colorado, and expenses related to the construction, landscaping and interior decorating of a home in Estes Park, Colorado.

The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregg Costa.

Defeat Federal Drug Tests

Owner of “Your In The Clear” Product Pleads Guilty of Conspiring to Defeat Federal Drug Tests


April 30, 2010 - Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today, April 29, 2010, that Stephen C. Sharp, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with its duty to drug test employees.

Sharp, age 41, of Daytona Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, Assistant United States Attorney Mary M. Houghton advised the court that throughout the period of the conspiracy from November 1, 2006 through May 7, 2008, Sharp was employed as a pilot for PSA Airlines, Inc., which flies under US Airways Express brand for US Airways and is wholly owned by US Airways Group.

Sharp was the owner and President of Sharp Labs, Inc., a national Internet business located in Daytona Beach, Florida. From November 1, 2006 through May 7, 2008, Sharp, using Sharp Labs, Inc. and the Internet website, www.yourintheclear.com, conspired to defraud the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the United States Department of Heath and Human Services by defeating and obstructing the lawful governmental functions of SAMHSA in overseeing, monitoring and establishing scientific and technical guidelines for federal workplace drug testing programs, and standards for certification of laboratories engaged in urine drug testing for federal agencies and federally regulated industries, under the Federal Agency Drug‑Free Work Place Program. Hundreds of thousands of forensic workplace urine tests are done under the Federal Agency Drug‑Free Work Place Program for federal employees per year and millions of federal and federally regulated urine specimens are tested per year in SAMHSA certified labs. These tests include tests of federal employees in testing designated positions that cover national security and public safety positions.

During period from November 1, 2006 through May 7, 2008, Sharp, using Sharp Labs, Inc., sold over the Internet site, www.yourintheclear.com, the product, "Your in the Clear," which is a drug test powder drink mix, to customers throughout the United States and in the Western District of Pennsylvania, for the purpose of defeating federal, and federally regulated, employment drug urine tests overseen by SAMHSA for marijuana, cocaine and other controlled substances under Title 21 of the United States Code.

During the period of the conspiracy, Sharp caused the site, www.yourintheclear.com, to claim that the "Your In The Clear" drink mix product works like magic and "abracadabra," the user passes his drug test:

"'Your In The Clear' drug test drink mix helps with instant detoxification of your body while your body contains those harmful trace marijuana, cocaine, etc., detectable metabolites. Get the help you need to pass your drug test quickly and safely with no gimmicks! Keep a bottle with you wherever you go. Keep one in your car. Keep one at your work. Our powdered detox simply gets mixed with a beverage and then you drink it and abracadabbra the cleansing begins in 5 minutes. Maximum cleansing occurs from about 1‑5 hours after used. Pass Your Drug Test Guaranteed!"

Mr. Cessar said, "Drug testing of employees in national security and public safety positions is overseen by the federal government to ensure the safety and security of the public. The fact that Stephen Sharp is a pilot further underscores the importance of this type of prosecution."

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for September 3, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of five (5) years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. 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.

Mr. Cessar commended the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Food and Drug Administration for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Sharp.

Coordination Along the Border Yields Large Apprehension


Tucson, Ariz. – Coordination efforts between U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Casa Grande and Tucson Stations, along with a helicopter crew from the Office of Air Marine, resulted in the apprehension of 105 illegal aliens Wednesday in southern Arizona.

Agents assigned to the Casa Grande Station, operating a Mobile Surveillance System, spotted three groups of suspected illegal aliens crossing into the Tucson Station’s area of responsibility. Tucson agents and the OAM crew responded to the area and spent several hours rounding up the groups so they could be transported for processing.

All subjects were taken to the Tucson Station for processing and to be entered into the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

The Border Patrol continues to expand operational control of the border by collaborating with Customs and Border Protection partners, such as OAM, and effectively deploying the right resources. Technology such as the MSS helps the Border Patrol gain greater situational awareness along the border and aids in the detection, identification and apprehension of individuals who may pose a threat to national security. IAFIS enables the Border Patrol to rapidly identify criminal aliens and process them accordingly.

CBP Buffalo Field Operations Make 2 Significant Arrests

Niagara Falls, N.Y. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Buffalo Field Office, is reporting the arrests of two wanted fugitives from justice.

Arrested on April 28, at the Rainbow Bridge was Anyely Reyes, a 28-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic, permanent resident of the United States. Ms. Reyes faces charges out of Hamilton, Ohio for failure to appear for sentencing on convictions relating to cocaine possession and trafficking. She fled the U.S. in April 2008 to Canada where she attempted to make a refugee claim. That claim was denied and she then was deported by Canadian authorities on Wednesday. Reyes was arrested by CBP officers and turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service to complete the extradition process to Ohio.

Arrested on April 28, at the Champlain port of entry was Darine Chely, a 51-year-old female, U.S. citizen from Boulder, Co. Chely was attempting to depart the U.S. to avoid prosecution relating to weapons charges and jury tampering. CBP officers arrested Chely on two outstanding warrants issued out of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. After her initial appearance for a weapons charge in March 2010, Chely was accused of attempting to bribe a jury member during that trial. Chely was turned over to the custody of the New York State police for extradition to Colorado.

Cocaine Disguised as Rum


CBP at Newark Discovers Bottles of Liquid Cocaine Disguised as Rum


Newark, N.J. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Newark Liberty International Airport apprehended a woman trying to smuggle liquid cocaine concealed in three bottles of rum.

On April 24, CBP officers selected passenger Claudia Paulina Gregory, a citizen of Antigua, for a random examination. Ms. Gregory, who arrived on a flight from Antigua, stated she was here vacationing and intended on visiting friends and family in the Bronx.

During an examination Ms. Gregory’s checked luggage CBP officers discovered several bottles of alcohol with unusual consistency and smell. The liquid was tested; and resulted in a positive test for cocaine. A total of nearly 12 pounds of cocaine was seized.

“This seizure exemplifies the effective training and skills utilized by CBP Oofficers while conducting enforcement examinations,” said Robert E. Perez, director, Field Operations, New York Field Office. “It also demonstrates CBP’s partnership with local law enforcement in apprehending all types of smugglers despite various deceptive concealment methods.”

Ms. Gregory was arrested and turned over to local authorities for prosecution. The narcotics seized during this inspection carry a street value of over $350,000. An investigation is ongoing. If convicted, Ms. Gregory may face significant time in prison.

CBP Officers Make Eight Drug Seizures on a Busy Tuesday



El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at El Paso area ports of entry confiscated 477 pounds of marijuana in seven seizures and 20.3 pounds of cocaine in one bust on Tuesday. CBP officers also identified 33 additional violations while performing exams at area ports.

The largest seizure of the day occurred at the Santa Teresa port of entry just before 7 a.m. when a 1982 Ford F-150 pickup arrived at the port from Mexico. CBP officers working at the port noted discrepancies in the appearance of the vehicle and initiated an intensive exam. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with an X-ray unit and spotted bundles in the propane fuel tank. The fuel tank was opened and CBP officers removed 216 marijuana-filled bundles. The drugs weighed 242 pounds. CBP officers arrested the driver, 32-year-old Nolberto Miranda Beltran of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents to face federal prosecution.

CBP officers at the Ysleta international crossing in El Paso seized 20.3 pounds of cocaine late Tuesday morning. CBP officers and canine teams were conducting a sweep of vehicles waiting in line at the port when CBP drug sniffing dog “Frankie” alerted to a 1998 Ford Expedition. CBP officers launched an exam and located a non-factory compartment in the center console area of the vehicle. CBP officers removed a total of eight cocaine-filled bundles from the compartment. CBP officers arrested the driver, 32-year-old Arturo Martinez of Berino, New Mexico. He was turned over to ICE special agents to face federal prosecution.

CBP officers at the El Paso port made six more drug busts Tuesday seizing an additional 235 pounds of marijuana in those cases. CBP officers also identified and apprehended 20 imposters who were attempting to enter the U.S. using legitimate documents that were not assigned to that person. They also stopped seven intended immigrants, three people who had entered the country illegally, two NCIC fugitives, and one agriculture violation.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

Bribery, Extortion, and Money Laundering

Two Former Detroit Public School Risk Management Officials and Two Vendors Indicted For Bribery, Extortion, and Money Laundering


April 30, 2010 - A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed today charging two former Detroit Public Schools (DPS) officials with converting more than $3 million of DPS funds to themselves, family, and friends, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today. Also charged were two vendors hired to administer a health awareness program for DPS.

Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Maurice Aouate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service; and Robert C. Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager for the Detroit Public Schools.

The eight-count indictment alleges crimes involving bribery, fraud, extortion, and money laundering committed between 2005 and 2006 by former Executive Director of Risk Management Stephen Hill, age 58, of Detroit, MI; former Risk Management Finance Manager Christina Polk-Osumah, age 59, of Detroit, MI; Sherry Washington, age 53, of Detroit, MI; and, Gwendolyn Washington, age 66, of Detroit. Sherry Washington and Gwendolyn Washington were partners of Associates for Learning.

United States Attorney McQuade said, "Protecting the integrity of public funds is always a priority. However, stealing funds from a public school in these times is particularly egregious, as it threatens to rob our children of their futures and ultimately compounds future crime problems." McQuade offered special thanks the Detroit Public Schools for its cooperation and efforts to weed out corruption from within its own institution and to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office for its assistance in investigating these allegations and others involving the Detroit Public Schools.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena stated "Detroit Public School officials have been entrusted to act in the best interest of their students. The FBI continues to vigorously investigate elected and appointed officials who abuse public trust. We would like to thank the Detroit Public School Inspector General's office for their assistance in this matter."

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Maurice Aouate said, "Money laundering constitutes a serious threat to our communities, especially when public funds are used to pay false or inflated invoices and kickbacks. IRS Criminal Investigation will use our financial expertise to follow the money, identify all involved, and assist in the prosecution of the offenders to the fullest extent of the law."

Mr. Bobb stated, "By bringing to justice those who have sought to enrich themselves at the expense of our children, we hope to send a message that the level of corruption that has been allowed to flourish in Detroit Public Schools in the past will no longer be tolerated. We will continue to work quickly and aggressively to root out corruption wherever we find it."

Hill and Polk-Osumah are expected to appear in federal court in Detroit this afternoon to be arraigned on the indictment.

If found guilty of all counts, the defendants could face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years' incarceration on each of the eight counts of the indictment.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Former Brockton Official Sentenced on Bribery Charges

Accepted Cash from a Contractor

April 29, 2010 - BOSTON, MA—The former Brockton Superintendent of Buildings was sentenced today in federal court on charges that he received kickbacks from a contractor in exchange for his allowing the contractor to perform work for the City.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division; and Susan Dukes, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation - Boston Field Office, announced today that Senior U.S. District Judge Edward F. Harrington sentenced JOSEPH L. VASAPOLLO, JR., 67, of Brockton, to one year and a day in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release. In February 2010, VASAPOLLO pled guilty to three counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of bribery.

The case arose out of VASAPOLLO’s relationship with an asbestos removal contractor who had previously performed work for the city. In 2007, VASAPOLLO hired the Norwood-based contractor to remove materials containing asbestos from the Brockton War Memorial Building, which the City of Brockton has been attempting to renovate into a performing arts center. VASAPOLLO directed the contractor to break the work up into multiple invoices under $5,000, so that he alone would be authorized to approve them without resorting to the city’s more formal bidding process. After the work was completed, VASAPOLLO approved the city’s payment of three invoices totaling approximately $15,000 to the contractor. In three secretly recorded meetings that took place in restaurant parking lots in Brockton, the contractor paid VASAPOLLO a total of $4,000 in cash kickbacks for his approval of the work. At the conclusion of one of the meetings, VASAPOLLO insisted that they continue the kickback arrangement with new asbestos removal projects, encouraging the contractor to “keep the flow” so that they could “make a couple of bucks on the side.”

United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, “Taxpayers expect that public officials will do what is right for the communities they serve—not what is financially best for themselves. Mr. Vasapollo’s actions are unconscionable, and Brockton residents deserve honest and faithful services from their local officials—uncompromised by personal gain and cash payments.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez Testifies Before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


~ Thursday, April 29, 2010Good afternoon Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Sensenbrenner and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for calling this hearing on Fair Lending issues, which have become a top priority for the Civil Rights Division. I also want to thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today to tell about what the Division is doing to address these critical issues.

The nationwide housing crisis that has been a significant factor contributing to our nation’s economic challenges, we now know, was fueled in large part by risky and irresponsible lending practices that allowed too many Americans to get unsustainable or unaffordable home loans. According to industry analysts between 8 and 13 million homes will be lost to foreclosure by the end of the crisis. About one in four borrowers are underwater and owe more on their loans than their homes are worth.

Communities nationwide have been devastated during the housing crisis. So many middle class Americans who worked hard to achieve the most basic building block of the American Dream – homeownership – have found themselves on the brink of disaster, facing the loss of their most important asset. The cost of foreclosures to our country is not limited just to the families that have lost their homes. Tens of millions of homeowners who have paid their mortgages on time will have their homes lose value because they are located near a home that has gone into foreclosure.

This crisis has overwhelmed families and communities of all kinds, but one fact is clear; while the foreclosure crisis has touched so many communities across America, communities of color have been hit particularly hard. A study of foreclosures in the New York region by the New York Times that looked at neighborhoods with mortgage default rates of at least twice the regional average, found that 85 percent of those neighborhoods have a majority of black or Latino homeowners. The same study noted that a black household in New York City making more than $68,000 a year was almost five times more likely to have a subprime loan than whites with similar or lower incomes. Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data has shown that African-American and Latino borrowers were far more likely to receive a subprime loans than white borrowers. A 2004 Center for Responsible Lending study that supplemented HMDA data with data from a proprietary database concluded that African-Americans and Latinos received higher-priced subprime loans than white borrowers, even after controlling for creditworthiness and other underwriting factors. The Reinvestment Fund, in a series of foreclosure studies, found that as a community’s percentage of African-American and Latino residents increases, so does that community’s overall share of foreclosures.

The more segregated a community of color is, the more likely it is that the homeowners who live there will face foreclosure. In part, this is because some of the lenders who made the most toxic loans, which are the loans that are failing at the highest rates, targeted the residents of those communities. The result is a large number of foreclosures in close proximity to each other with devastating consequences for the community – many of the very same communities in which substantial investments have been made and that had begun to revitalize and flourish. I have now had the chance to see this crisis and its devastating impacts from the local, State and Federal levels.

As a member of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Council in the first half of the last decade, I saw the realities of lending discrimination at the ground level. Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. It is also racially diverse. Even when we controlled for wealth, data showed us that African-American and Latino borrowers were disproportionately in subprime loans. The data in my home county showed that upper income African-Americans were as much as six times as likely to be in a subprime loan as upper income non-minorities.

In 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley asked me to be the Secretary of the agency that oversees financial regulation for the State of Maryland. In this position at the height of the crisis, I had the opportunity to work on solutions at the State level. We passed a sweeping package of reforms that extended the foreclosure process, cracked down on fraud, required lenders to verify a borrower’s ability to repay a loan, and established a duty of care that requires brokers to offer the best products for which a borrower is eligible, rather than the one which will give the broker the highest fees. The Corporation for Enterprise Development’s 2009-2010 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard cited Maryland as having the strongest law to curb predatory mortgage lending in the country, matched only by New Mexico.

Again, our reach was limited, because large, national players are not subject to State regulation. While we worked within our limited sphere of authority to combat the crisis, both at the front end, where loans were originated, and at the back end, where people were losing their homes, the Federal government was decidedly absent.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned as a local and State official trying to address this crisis was that Federal oversight and enforcement is absolutely critical to ensuring responsible, non-discriminatory lending.

For this reason, President Obama has made mortgage fraud and homeownership preservation a top priority by establishing the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and an array of programs to assist distressed homeowners and communities. To implement the President’s mandate in civil rights Attorney General Holder and I have made fair lending a top priority. The Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity Acts. The Division receives referrals from banking regulatory agencies, which must refer cases to the Department when an agency believes a pattern or practice of discrimination may exist at a bank or other regulated financial institution. Today, we continue to open cases based on those referrals, but we are also making a concerted effort to take a more proactive approach to fair lending enforcement. The Division has created the necessary infrastructure to support and expand our fair lending work, begun to identify major targets for enforcement and started to fundamentally reshape our relationships with other Federal agencies and State partners, including State attorneys general.

We have created a Fair Lending Unit in the Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section in order to devote more resources to this critical work. Both current career attorneys and new hires will staff the unit, and we have hired several new attorneys to fill additional positions. The unit will also have three dedicated economists, a math statistician and dedicated professional staff to assist the attorneys. Initially, the unit will consist of more than 20 staff members who will devote a significant portion of their time to lending cases. Loosely modeled after the Human Trafficking Unit in the Division’s Criminal section, which yielded tremendous results, this new unit will increase capacity, develop greater expertise and obtain significant results. The Division recently hired four new full-time lending attorneys to complement existing staff in the Housing Section. The Division has also hired a Special Counsel for Fair Lending, a senior career position in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, to ensure that fair lending issues receive immediate attention and high priority.

The Fair Lending Unit is focusing its efforts on the entire range of abuses seen in the market, from traditional access to credit issues, such as redlining, to reverse redlining, pricing discrimination and other areas. No single case will capture the full range of discriminatory conduct occurring in the mortgage market. However, what you will see is a series of cases, each one targeted at specific discriminatory lending practices.

For example, last month we announced a settlement with two subsidiaries of AIG, resolving allegations that the lenders engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-American borrowers. The Division’s lawsuit alleged that the African-American borrowers nationwide were charged higher fees on wholesale loans made by the lenders through contracted brokers. The $6.1 million settlement marked the largest amount of damages for victims in a fair lending settlement ever secured by the Department of Justice, and the case marked the first time the Department has held a lender accountable for failing to monitor brokers’ fees to ensure that the fees are not being charged in a discriminatory manner.

Addressing another type of discriminatory lending abuse, in September the Division reached a settlement with an Alabama bank, First United Security Bank, to resolve allegations of a pattern or practice of discrimination based on race. The complaint alleged that the bank charged African-American borrowers higher rates on mortgage-related loans than it charged to similarly situated white borrowers, and that it engaged in redlining by failing to offer its lending products and services on an equal basis in areas that are majority African-American. The bank agreed to open a new branch in an African-American neighborhood, to invest $500,000 in a special financing program for African-American borrowers and businesses and to spend more than $100,000 on outreach to potential customers and consumer financial education.

Also in September, the Division filed a lawsuit against a bank and two auto dealerships in Los Angeles, alleging that they violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by charging non-Asian American customers higher interest rate mark-ups. One of the three defendants, Nara Bank, agreed in a settlement to pay up to $410,000 to resolve the allegations.

These cases are just the beginning of what will be a robust enforcement effort to eradicate discriminatory lending practices from all markets. We currently have 39 matters open, including 17 investigations and an authorized lawsuit against a major lender involving allegations of discrimination based on marital status. We have identified seven national lenders as targets of enforcement efforts. While the current crisis necessitates that much of our focus will be on mortgage lending, the unit will address discrimination in all areas of lending including unsecured consumer lending, auto lending, and credit cards.

All of these efforts are part of a larger, Administration-wide effort to crack down on financial fraud so that we can eradicate those practices that led to the financial meltdown and ensure they don’t happen again. The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is fostering unprecedented inter-agency collaboration, a critical need in the face of an unprecedented crisis. I am a co-chair, along with HUD and the Federal Reserve, of the Task Force’s Non-Discrimination Working Group, through which we are working with our partners at other agencies, as well as at the State level, to be able to address both existing and emerging issues. Last week we joined with the Illinois Attorney General, also a member of the Working Group, to host a Fair Lending Forum in Chicago to hear from experts on the ground about the issues.

Referrals from banking regulatory agencies are a key component of our fair lending enforcement program. Through the Task Force and our direct relationships with regulatory agencies we will work to ensure that we continue to receive a steady flow of referrals, and we will collaborate with these agencies so that problems identified in the referrals are resolved as expeditiously as possible.

We are also working with our partners to identify potential fair lending violations where much of the lending activity is occurring today – at the back-end of the process – in mortgage modifications. We want to be sure homeowners are not again subjected to abusive practices as they attempt to get out from under unsustainable loans. We will be getting data soon from the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP"), disaggregated by race and ethnicity, and the Non-Discrimination Working Group members are collaborating on methods to analyze the HAMP data. We will also be vigilant in looking at trends in the market as we continue to emerge from the recession, and as lending occurs once again at a more robust pace.

There are some who claim that aggressive enforcement of civil rights laws in the fair lending context will hurt the very people we are trying to help, and dampen the business climate. This has not been my experience. To the contrary, common sense consumer protection and promoting a sound climate for lending go hand in hand, and are inextricably intertwined. The absence of effective consumer protections and the dearth of meaningful Federal enforcement in recent years not only hurt communities across the country, but also brought about staggering losses in the industry and undermined the safety and soundness of so many lending institutions.

In addition to our fair lending efforts, our lending work also extends to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which ensures that servicemembers will not be subject to certain civil actions while on active duty. Under the SCRA, creditors may not take action to foreclose a lien against a servicemember on active duty without first obtaining a court order. I have recently authorized lawsuits against two national mortgage servicers for violating the SCRA by improperly foreclosing on active duty service members. We will continue to diligently enforce the SCRA and make sure that the brave men and women who protect our country enjoy the full protection of the law.

In short, the Civil Rights Division is open for business across the board, and we have become a conspicuous presence in the fair lending setting. Through our efforts and our partnerships with other Federal agencies and State partners, we will continue to ramp up fair lending enforcement to ensure that all Americans have equal access to credit. Such access is the foundation of our economy and the root of families’ ability to accumulate wealth from generation to generation – without it the promise of equal opportunity remains unfulfilled. In the Civil Rights Division, we are working once again to be sure that all individuals and all families have access to those resources that will allow them to achieve the promise of our great nation.

Murder of Border Patrol Agent

Defendant Sentenced to Prison for Murder of Border Patrol Agent U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Robert W. Rosas, Jr. was Killed While on Routine Duty on the U.S. - Mexico Border in July 2009


April 29, 2010 - SAN DIEGO—Christian Daniel Castro-Alvarez, 17, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz to serve 480 months in federal prison based on his guilty plea in the death of Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol Agent Robert W. Rosas, Jr., U.S. Attorney Karen P. Hewitt for the Southern District of California announced today. Agent Rosas was shot and killed on July 23, 2009, while he was on a routine patrol near San Diego. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to the murder of a federal officer committed in perpetration of a robbery.

U.S. Attorney Hewitt said, “Agent Rosas was tragically murdered in the line of duty as he protected the border and our nation. His proud career as a federal law enforcement officer stood for seeking justice and upholding the rule of law. Because of today’s sentence of imprisonment, the next 40 years the defendant serves in prison shall also echo those important principles—justice and the rule of law—for which Agent Rosas paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

According to the plea agreement, Castro-Alvarez admitted that during the evening of July 23, 2009, he illegally entered the United States for the purpose of robbing a Border Patrol agent of government property. While Agent Rosas was engaged in the performance of his duties, Castro-Alvarez and his co-conspirators lured Agent Rosas out of his vehicle for the purpose of robbing him. During the course of the robbery, Agent Rosas and the defendant struggled over a firearm and Agent Rosas was shot multiple times by the defendant and one or more of the co-conspirators. Agent Rosas died as a result of the shots fired. According to court documents, Castro-Alvarez was a minor at the time the offense was committed, and he voluntarily surrendered to the United States to face criminal charges. The defendant also agreed to transfer proceedings from juvenile disposition to adult criminal prosecution.

“This brutal act of violence on a U.S. Border Patrol agent cannot and will not be tolerated,” Acting Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow of the U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector said. “Although Mr. Castro-Alvarez has well earned this long custodial sentence, his punishment will never repay the debt he owes to those he has affected and who grieve the murder of Agent Rosas.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented, “Agent Rosas was a brave man who gave his life defending our nation's borders. Without thoughtful investigative work and cooperation of law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, today’s sentencing would not have come. Though the death of Agent Rosas was tragic, I am pleased to see this individual brought to justice.”

The investigation was conducted by the FBI. U.S. Attorney Hewitt noted that the agents of the FBI San Diego Field Division deserve special thanks for their swift, professional, and comprehensive action in investigating Agent Rosas’ death. The investigation was assisted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection - U.S. Border Patrol, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted in San Diego federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Pettit and Seth Askins.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thirteen Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

April 29, 2010 - Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a 25-count federal grand jury indictment in Cleveland, Ohio, was returned today against Kimberly Wilson, Michael Boyce, Beyond Wynn, Darlena Rogers, Drummell Coffey, Lawrence Calloway, Gerald Ford, Nafessah Walker, Travis Haynes, Antoinece Robin Boyd, Lavon Ruderson, Wesley D. Rahmon, and Robert M. Wilkes, Jr. in a mortgage fraud scheme involving 28 properties throughout the Cleveland area and over $3.25 million in mortgage loans. The indictment charges one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and 24 counts of wire fraud.

Kimberly Wilson, age 37, currently resides in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Michael Boyce, age 46, has a last known address in Cleveland, Ohio. Beyond Wynn, age 36, currently resides in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Darlena Rogers, age 44, currently resides in South Euclid, Ohio. Drummell Coffey, age 39, has a last known address in Cleveland, Ohio. Lawrence Calloway, age 67, has a last known address in Cleveland, Ohio. Gerald Ford, age 39, currently resides in Euclid, Ohio. Nafessah Walker, age 35, currently resides in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. Travis Haynes, age 39, currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Antoinece Robin Boyd, age 39, currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Lavon Runderson, age 40, currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Wesley D. Rahmon, age 41, currently resides in Beachwood, Ohio. Robert M. Wilkes, Jr., age 41, currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio.

The indictment alleges that from June 2005 through January 2007, all 13 defendants conspired to fraudulently purchase 28 properties in the Cleveland area, securing over $3.25 million in mortgage loans. The indictment further alleges that as part of the conspiracy, Defendant Kimberly Wilson, a loan officer for Park Mortgage, completed and submitted fraudulent loan applications in the names of straw buyers (individuals who applied for mortgage loans on a property, but never intend to live in the home). The straw buyers included Defendants Drummell Coffey, Lawrence Calloway, Gerald Ford, Nafessah Walker and Travis Haynes, whose employment, income and assets were falsified in almost every loan application and who concealed the source of the down-payment funds in order to obtain the financing to purchase the 28 properties. The indictment alleges that Defendant Antoinece Robin Boyd assisted in the scheme by falsely verifying employment for Defendants Drummell Coffey and Nafessah Walker through her tax preparing company, Boyd Management, in order for them to qualify for mortgage loans.

The indictment further alleges that Defendants Lavon Ruderson, Wesley D. Rahmon and Robert M. Wilkes, Jr. appraised the properties for a value in excess of the true market value of the properties allowing Wilson, through her companies, Suburban Home Care and Landscaping, LLC and Dakaliote, LLC, to fraudulently profit by obtaining the excess funds from the mortgage loans for her personal use, and the use of other defendants, such as the straw buyers. Wilson induced the straw buyers to participate by promising they could purchase the properties with no money down and the straw buyers could receive cash back at closing. The indictment also alleges that Defendants Beyond Wynn, Darlena Rogers and Michael Boyce, sellers of 12 of the properties, were aware of, and profited from, the sale of their properties to the straw buyers at the inflated values. The defendants’ fraudulent conduct induced Long Beach Mortgage Company, Argent Mortgage Company, LLC, New Century Mortgage Company, WMC Mortgage Company, and Aegis Mortgage Company to fund the mortgage loans. The victim companies suffered a total loss of approximately $1,942,971 as a result of defendants’ scheme.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any, each defendants’ role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.

United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach stated, "Mortgage fraud is one of the top priorities of this office because of the far reaching and devastating economic impact on our community. We are focusing a significant portion of the office’s resources, along with our law enforcement partners, to find and prosecute the perpetrators of mortgage fraud in Northeast Ohio with a goal of eliminating it."

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark S. Bennett, following an investigation by the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Ashburn, Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to $53 Million Bank Fraud

April 29, 2010 - ALEXANDRIA, VA—Osama El-Atari, 31, of Ashburn, Va., pleaded guilty today to operating a fraud scheme that stole more than $53 million from banks throughout the United States.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office; and C. André Martin, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

“In a scheme rife with fraud, Osama El-Atari stole more than $50 million from banks and then fled the country when the scam began to unravel,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Thanks to determined agents, we tracked him down, are holding him responsible for his crimes, and have begun the process of obtaining justice for his victims.”

“Mr. El-Atari’s lavish lifestyle was financed on repeated deception which ultimately caused tens of millions of dollars in losses to the banks,” said FBI ADIC Henry. “This type of greed and wanton disregard for others substantially harms the financial industry and consumers.”

“Money laundering constitutes a serious threat to our communities andto the integrity of our financial system,” said IRS-CI SAC C. André Martin. “IRS-CI has the financial investigators and expertise that is critical to locating the money and prosecuting the offenders.”

El Atari pled guilty to three counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering contained in a criminal information filed in the Eastern District of Virginia and an indictment filed in the Northern District of Ohio. Sentencing has been set for July 30, 2010. El-Atari faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each of the bank fraud counts and 10 years in prison on the money laundering count.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, El-Atari acknowledged to defrauding banks in Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland of more than $53 million. In order to accomplish his fraud, El-Atari presented the banks with fraudulent life insurance policies—with purported cash values of millions of dollars—as collateral to obtain the fraudulent loans. The stated purpose of the loans was for various business ventures. To facilitate his scheme, El-Atari set up fake domain names, used fake federal express mailings and fake e-mails in order to convince the banks that his collateral was authentic. El-Atari used money obtained from his fraud to buy exotic cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris and to purchase a multi-million-dollar home in Ashburn, Va. He fled the United States in May 2009 and was later apprehended in Texas in January 2010.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Washington, D.C., Field Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Fahey and Jack Hanly of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant United States Attorney John Sammon of the Northern District of Ohio are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Miami Resident Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the Export-Import Bank

April 29, 2010 - Miami resident Guillermo Sanchez, 55, pleaded guilty today to charges that he conspired to defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) of approximately $854,000, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Osvaldo L. Gratacos, Acting Inspector General of the Ex-Im Bank.

Sanchez pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to one count of conspiracy to defraud the Ex-Im Bank and one count of mail fraud in connection with 10 loans guaranteed by the Ex-Im Bank.

According to court documents and testimony at the plea hearing, from approximately May 2006 through August 2007, Sanchez acted as a purported exporter of construction equipment to South America in 10 different loan transactions. The loans were obtained from a Florida bank and insured by the Ex-Im Bank. Sanchez admitted that he and a co-conspirator prepared and submitted to the Florida bank and the Ex-Im Bank loan documents, including commercial invoices, packing lists and bills of lading falsely reflecting that Sanchez purchased and shipped approximately $854,000 worth of generators manufactured in the United States to South American customers.

According to court documents and testimony, Sanchez’s company, ACE Products, received approximately $853,642 in loan proceeds based on the false representations and Sanchez retained a portion of the money for his own personal benefit and use. In or about August 2007, defaults on the loan transactions caused the Ex-Im Bank to pay the Florida bank’s claim for outstanding principal and accrued interest of approximately $854,161.

The Ex-Im Bank, an independent agency of the United States, is the official export credit agency of the United States and issues loan insurance to U.S. banks on behalf of creditworthy foreign companies for the purpose of purchasing U.S. goods. The Ex-Im Bank issues a loan insurance policy, which provides that if the foreign borrower defaults on its loan repayments to the lending bank, the Ex-Im Bank will reimburse the amount of the outstanding loan principal and interest to the lending bank.

Sentencing for Sanchez is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2010. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and the mail fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Each charge also carries a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gain or loss, whichever is greater. The defendant also faces a term of supervised release following any prison sentence.

The scheme was investigated by special agents of the Ex-Im Bank, Office of Inspector General, after bank staff referred information concerning the loan defaults. This case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick M. Donley of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

New Haven Man Charged with Illegal Gun Possession

April 29, 2010 - Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven has returned an indictment charging PATRICK BROWN, also known as “Black Pat” and “Dread,” 27, formerly of Sherman Avenue, New Haven with one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

The indictment alleges that, on or about February 17, 2010, BROWN possessed a Marlin .22 caliber rifle. The indictment further alleges that, prior to that date, BROWN had sustained multiple felony convictions.

It is a violation of federal law for a person previously convicted of a felony offense to possess a firearm that has moved in interstate or foreign commerce.

If convicted of the charge, BROWN faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

BROWN has been detained in federal custody since his arrest by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on April 15, 2010.

U.S. Attorney Dannehy stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New Haven Police Department’s Tactical Narcotics Unit. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher M. Mattei.

The Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, and improving the safety of residents of Connecticut’s cities. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Murder of a Federal Witness Leads to Life in Prison for Drug Dealer

April 29, 2010 - PHILADELPHIA—Maurice Phillips, 38, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the leader of the Phillips Cocaine Organization (“PCO”), was sentenced today to life in prison for contracting his cousin to kill a federal witness, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy. Phillips was convicted earlier this month of all eight counts against him, which included the murder-for-hire of Chineta Glanville and the killing of her godson, Dane King; conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; conspiracy to distribute cocaine; engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise; conspiracy to commit money laundering; concealment of money laundering; and aiding and abetting.

Between 1998 and 2007, Phillips ran PCO, a multi-state, multi-million dollar cocaine distribution organization which distributed cocaine throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The PCO was trafficking multikilogram quantities of cocaine from Texas to the Eastern Seaboard via tractor-trailer and other vehicles. Phillips employed Chineta Glanville to help the organization launder its drug proceeds. In 2002, Maurice Phillips learned that Glanville was co-operating with a federal investigation into his organization and he hired his cousin, Bryant Phillips, charged elsewhere, to kill Glanville. Bryant Phillips went to Glanville’s Wyndmoor, PA home where he shot and killed her and her godson, Dane King. The PCO continued to distribute cocaine even after Glanville’s murder. His two co-defendants at trial, David Garcia and Sherman Kemp, were each convicted of the single count against them of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to life imprisonment. Prior to trial, eight other defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and other offenses.

The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, with assistance from the New Jersey United States Attorney’s Office, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration - Dallas and Baltimore Offices, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Gloucester Township Police Department (NJ), Washington Township Police Department (NJ), Springfield Twp Police Department (PA), Springfield Police Department (Union County, NJ), Union County Sheriff's Office, Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia/Camden HIDTA, Social Security Administration - OIG, U.S. Deptartment of State, Maryland State Police Department, New Castle County Police Department (DE), Roselle Police Department (NJ). It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Maureen McCartney and L.C. Wright, Jr.

Seeking Information on the "Double Dip Bandit"


April 29, 2010 - The individual depicted in the below photos is a serial bank robber, dubbed the “Double Dip Bandit.” He is now suspected of the armed robbery of six banks in Chicago, dating to March of this year.

The most recent robbery occurred yesterday, April 28th at the TCF Bank branch inside a Jewel-Osco store, located at 6430 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago. The robber approached the teller counter, demanded money, and presented a white, plastic, grocery-style shopping bag. While at the teller counter, the robber lifted up his shirt to reveal a handgun tucked in his waistband. The teller gave the robber an undisclosed amount of cash and he then fled the area on foot.

The robber was also seen in the Jewel-Osco Store at this address on April 26, 2010. The robber is believed to be responsible for five prior TCF bank robberies, including two others at this location, one at 4734 N. Cumberland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, and two at 1 W. Devon Avenue, Park Ridge, Illinois.

The robber is described as a white male, 35 to 40 years old, 5'11" to 6'2" tall, dark hair, slight goatee or mustache, wearing a black "Guinness" baseball cap, sunglasses, and a dark-colored jacket and clothing.

Additional information about this and other unsolved Chicago area bank robberies is available at www.bandittrackerchicago.com.

Eagle Pass Border Patrol Seizes Marijuana, Arrest 4


April 29, 2010 - Del Rio, Texas – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Eagle Pass North Border Patrol Station seized more than 300 pounds of marijuana valued at $260,000.

Around 9:30 p.m. Monday, agents of the Eagle Pass North Station apprehended four subjects after noticing foot sign leading away from the Rio Grande River near Eagle Pass. Agents immediately began tracking the sign with the assistance of a CBP Air Operations pilot, and seized four large duffle bags of marijuana and arrested the four smugglers who were hauling the load.

The duffle bags contained 150 bricks of marijuana weighing more than 300 pounds with an estimated value of $260,000. The contraband and subjects were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sexual assault prevention - a mission of readiness

By Staff Sgt. Emily J. Russell
Wisconsin National Guard

April 29, 2010 - While April is recognized nationally as sexual assault awareness month, the Wisconsin National Guard emphasizes sexual assault prevention all year long.

"Preventing sexual assault is everyone's responsibility," said Capt. Kristin Boustany, Wisconsin National Guard sexual assault response coordinator and crisis intervention stress management chief. In the military, where service members are the biggest asset, men and women are called to action by promoting awareness and enforcing a safe environment.

This year's theme "Hurts one. Affects all. Preventing sexual assault is everyone's duty," encourages service members to take an active role in the education and prevention of sexual assault, and reinforces the standing Department of Defense no-tolerance policy toward sexual assault.

"We want to communicate how sexual assault affects victims, bystanders or family members of a victim," Boustany said. "Even though only one person may be affected by the trauma [of a sexual assault] it degrades mission readiness." Working as a unit is critical for service members, and trusting one another is paramount for any mission.

"If you pull one person from a team, you can see how it affects the individual and the [rest of] the team," Boustany said. "You're told, 'look to your right, look to your left ... these are the people who will save your life,' but when you're a victim of sexual assault, how can you count on anyone who wears the uniform, especially if the perpetrator is in the same unit?"

The "Hurts one, Affects all" theme provides sexual assault response coordinators and victim advocates an opportunity to speak with units and convey the message that the effect of sexual assault reverberates within a unit, not just the individual. When Sarah (not the victim's real name) was sexually assaulted, the Wisconsin National Guard member knew victim advocates were available but was so shaken by the ordeal "I didn't really know what I was doing. [The sexual assault prevention and response program] helped me to receive the medical care and the ongoing therapy that I needed.

"When I feel ready, I want to [openly] tell my story," she continued. "I want people to know what I've been through and to know how detrimental this is not just to the victim but to the family and everyone involved."

Since her attacks, Sarah has become involved with the SAPR program as a way to empower herself and to provide support to other victims.

"Even if [the assault] happened five to 10 years ago, they can come forward," Sarah said. "I want to educate others ... because it creates awareness and helps victims and bystanders who may not know how to help."

The significance of this project is keeping sexual assault prevention ever-present in service members' minds, according to Boustany. "We want to constantly remind them that we can intervene."

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available 24 hours a day. Contact the local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at 608-469-2627. For more information visit the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Website at www.sapr.mil

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two Kauai Individuals Convicted of Fraud Offenses

April 28, 2010 - HONOLULU, HI–A federal jury yesterday found Kevyn Paik, 47, and James Alan Duarte, 48, both of Kauai, guilty of multiple wire fraud and mail fraud offenses involving the award and performance of contracts for work at the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge. The jury also found Paik guilty of a conflict of interest offense arising out of the same transactions.

United States Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said that according to information produced in court, Paik is employed as an engineering equipment operator for the United States Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. Paik’s duties included maintaining the Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, a federally owned property maintained by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service sought to hire contractors to perform wetland restoration work at various ponds at the Refuge. Paik was prohibited by federal regulations from obtaining such contracts, as the work was related to his employment as a Fish and Wildlife Service employee.

According to the evidence produced at trial, Paik and Duarte agreed to solicit and perform work under two subcontracts, while concealing the fact of Paik’s involvement. Among other things, Duarte obtained a Kauai contractor’s permission to use the contractor’s license number in return for a portion of the subcontract amount. Paik then prepared a bid document purportedly from the contractor, but which contained the contact information of Duarte. Duarte and Paik then performed the work, while making it appear as if it had been done by the Kauai contractor. The evidence demonstrated that Duarte and Paik received the bulk of the proceeds paid by the government for the work.

The government also presented evidence that Paik participated personally and substantially in the contract as a government employee, without disclosing the fact that he had a personal financial interest in the contract.

Following a 13-day trial, the jury found Paik guilty of four counts of mail and wire fraud, and one count involving a criminal conflict of interest, and acquitted him of three other fraud charges and one other conflict of interest charge. Duarte was found guilty of four counts of mail and wire fraud and not guilty on three other fraud charges. When sentenced on August 23, 2010 by United States District Judge J. Michael Seabright, each defendant will face a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000 as to each mail and wire fraud count. Paik will face an additional penalty of up to five years of imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000, on the conflict of interest count.

The case was investigated by the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors.

Police Officer Charged with Drug Crime

April 28, 2010 - MADISON, WI—Stephen P. Sinnott, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that a federal criminal complaint was filed today charging Michelle V. Salentine, 28, Platteville, Wis., with using her residence at 930 Hathaway Street, Platteville, for the purpose of using crack cocaine. Salentine made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison today, and was detained pending her next court appearance.

The criminal complaint alleges that Salentine, a five-year veteran police officer with the Platteville Police Department regularly smoked crack cocaine at her residence, along with an individual who lived with her. According to United States Attorney Sinnott, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at Salentine's residence on April 26, 2010, and recovered drug paraphernalia, including suspected crack pipes.

If convicted, Salentine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The charge against Salentine is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of this case has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson. United States Attorney Sinnott noted that the Platteville Police Department is cooperating fully with the investigation.

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Car-Jacking

Aliceville Resident Charged with Armed Car-Jacking


April 28, 2010 - BIRMINGHAM—A federal grand jury today indicted an Aliceville man for a 2009 car-jacking in Tuscaloosa, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley announced.

A two-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges BRANDON TERRELL PEEBLES, 22, with car-jacking and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

Count 1 charges PEEBLES with forcibly taking a vehicle from a Tuscaloosa woman on Aug. 28, 2009. Count 2 charges PEEBLES with using and carrying a firearm during the car-jacking.

If convicted of car-jacking, PEEBLES would face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Conviction for the attending gun count carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Vance praised the work and collaboration among the FBI, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Aliceville Police Department, which led to PEEBLES arrest. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Simpson.