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Friday, November 30, 2012

New Jersey Couple Sentenced to Prison for Failing to Pay Employment Taxes

James and Theresa DeMuro of Bridgewater, N.J., were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to 44 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.  Judge Thompson also ordered the DeMuros to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $1,337,952.12.  A jury had convicted the DeMuros of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and 21 counts of willfully failing to pay over employment taxes. Today’s sentencing follows an April 23, 2012, order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which affirmed the convictions but remanded the case for resentencing.   
  
According to the indictment and evidence introduced during trial, the DeMuros co-owned and operated an engineering and surveying firm called TAD Associates LLC dba DeMuro Associates. From 2002 through 2008, they withheld employment taxes from their employees’ paychecks but failed to pay more than $546,000 in taxes to the IRS. In addition, they operated under a prior entity name DA Resources Inc., which they ceased operating in an effort to thwart the ability of the IRS to collect unpaid employment taxes related to that entity.
 
At trial, the government introduced evidence that, beginning with the first quarter of 2007 through the last quarter in 2008, the defendants paid employees’ wages and withheld employment taxes from paychecks but did not pay any of the employee withholdings to the U.S. Treasury. In addition, the DeMuros withheld funds from their employees’ pay checks for health insurance, child support and retirement savings accounts, and failed to pay these funds over to the appropriate entities. 
 
Evidence was also introduced that the DeMuros converted withheld funds for their business and personal use, including more than $280,000 in purchases from QVC, Home Shopping Network and Jewelry Television.   
 
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the IRS Criminal Investigation special agents who investigated the case as well as Tax Division Trial Attorneys Tino M. Lisella and Jessica Moran, who prosecuted the case. Assistant Attorney General Keneally also thanked U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman and his entire office for their assistance.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Two Brooklyn Clinic Employees Plead Guilty in Connection With $71 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme Co-Defendant Pleaded Guilty Yesterday for Role in Scheme

WASHINGTON – Two Brooklyn, N.Y., residents pleaded guilty today for their roles in a $71 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch; Acting Assistant Director in Charge Mary E. Galligan of the FBI’s New York Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).
 
Katherina Kostiochenko, 34, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in the Eastern District of New York to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to pay kickbacks.   Sergey V. Shelikhov, 51, pleaded guilty today before Judge Gershon to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  
 
Co-conspirator Leonid Zheleznyakov, 28, pleaded guilty yesterday before Judge Gershon to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for his role in the scheme.
 
Kostiochenko, Shelikhov and Zheleznyakov were employees of a clinic in Brooklyn that operated under three corporate names: Bay Medical Care PC, SVS Wellcare Medical PLLC and SZS Medical Care PLLC (Bay Medical clinic). According to court documents, owners, operators and employees of the Bay Medical clinic paid cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries and used the beneficiaries’ names to bill Medicare for more than $71 million in services that were medically unnecessary or never provided.   The defendants billed Medicare for a wide variety of fraudulent medical services and procedures, including physician office visits, physical therapy and diagnostic tests.
 
            According to the criminal complaint, the co-conspirators allegedly paid kickbacks to corrupt Medicare beneficiaries in a room at the clinic known as the “kickback room,” in which the conspirators paid approximately 1,000 kickbacks totaling more than $500,000 during a period of approximately six weeks from April to June 2010.
 
Kostiochenko, Shelikhov and Zheleznyakov pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud for their roles in the Bay Medical scheme.  Kostiochenko also pleaded guilty to paying cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries as part of the scheme.
 
 
At sentencing, Kostiochenko faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, and Shelikhov and Zheleznyakov both face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.   Kostiochenko and Zheleznyakov are scheduled for sentencing on March 12, 2013, and Shelikhov is scheduled for sentencing March 13, 2013.
 
In total, 16 individuals have been charged in the Bay Medical scheme, including two doctors, nine clinic owners/operators/employees and five external money launderers.   To date, 10 defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.   Six individuals await trial before Judge Gershon on Jan. 22, 2013.
 
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sarah M. Hall of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Jones of the Eastern District of New York.   The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS.
 
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
 
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Used Car Dealer Sentenced to Prison for Odometer Tampering Fraud Scheme

Beau Michael Guidry of Baton Rouge, La., was sentenced today in connection with an odometer tampering scheme that defrauded victims in and around Louisiana, the Justice Department announced.   U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana James J. Brady sentenced Guidry to a term of 20 months in prison and a term of one year of supervised release during which he cannot be involved in the sale of motor vehicles. In addition, the court ordered Guidry to pay $72,805.51 in restitution to the victims of his crimes.
 
Guidry purchased high-mileage motor vehicles via eBay and wholesale automobile auctions in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.   The vehicles’ odometers were then rolled back as much as 147,000 miles and resold via Guidry’s used vehicle company, Affordable Imports in Denham Springs, La., or through eBay to unsuspecting purchasers.   Guidry exclusively rolled back vehicles that were more than 10 years old when he sold them.
 
Because of the age of the cars, Guidry was not required to sign a disclosure certifying the mileage on those 10-year old vehicles as accurate.   However, each time he altered an odometer with intent to change the mileage on the odometer, he violated federal law.
 
“Odometer tampering preys mostly on those in society who can least afford to be defrauded,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. “In these tough economic times, we will take strong action against anyone who defrauds consumers and jeopardizes the safety of our roads and highways.”
 
 Special Agent Wendell Espeland of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation (NHTSA) investigated this case.   The case was prosecuted by Justice Department trial attorney David Sullivan of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

U.S. Marshals Graduate 2012 Citizens’ Academy



El Paso, TX – The United States Marshals Service in El Paso will graduate students from their 2012 Citizens’ Academy at 6:00 P.M., on November 28, 2012, at the Albert Armendariz Sr., United States Courthouse, 525 Magoffin in El Paso. Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas will preside over the evening’s graduation.

During the 6-week program, community members were provided presentations and speakers from various agency disciplines focusing on the historic role the marshals have served since their creation from the Judiciary Act of 1789. Students received first-hand information on judicial and courthouse security, fugitive investigations, asset seizure administration, as well as a host of other critical missions and contemporary roles for which the marshals are frequently called upon to execute by court order, Attorney General or Presidential directive.

Marshal Almonte said, “We are proud and honored to present to the community this year’s participants from our 2012 USMS Citizens’ Academy. The citizens’ academy affords us the opportunity to partner with the citizenry of our city to make it a safer place for everyone.”

The United States Marshals Service invites all members of the media to the evening’s graduation event as honorees and local community leaders will be available to the media.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Project Longevity Launched to Reduce Gang and Gun Violence in Connecticut’s Cities

Government Officials, Community Members, Service Providers and Law Enforcement Join Forces in Statewide Anti-Violence Initiative
 
Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney David Fein and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy joined members of law enforcement, public officials, social service providers, community leaders and researchers in New Haven today to launch “Project Longevity,” a comprehensive initiative to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities.  Project Longevity uses a strategy that has shown violence can be reduced dramatically when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate a   community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it.  To accomplish this, law enforcement, social service providers and community members are recruited, assembled and trained to engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.
 
“Project Longevity will send a powerful message to those who would commit violent crimes targeting their fellow citizens that such acts will not be tolerated and that help is available for all those who wish to break the cycle of violence and gang activity,” said Attorney General Holder. “Today’s announcement underscores our commitment to working together – across levels of government and jurisdictional boundaries – to protect the American people from the crime that threatens too many neighborhoods and claims far too many innocent lives.”
 
Project Longevity is based on a model that has been successful in reducing gun violence in multiple neighborhoods across the country and represents the first time the strategy is being implemented statewide.
 
“On the state level, I have directed my administration to focus our criminal justice resources on urban violence,” Governor Malloy said.  “We agree that no strategy will be effective without the support of the community.  This means parents, clergy, neighborhood leaders, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles – everyone working toward one goal.  We are working to regain the trust of the African American and Latino communities.  We need their help.  The lives of these young people are too valuable not to act.”
 
Funded by federal, state and local sources, Project Longevity is being launched initially in three Connecticut cities – New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport.
“After more than a year of hard work and preparation by so many public and private partners, I am pleased to announce Project Longevity, our statewide anti-violence initiative,” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “Many dedicated people and organizations have come together to support this proven strategy to reduce gang and gun violence through focused deterrence.”    
 
 A critical component of the Project Longevity strategy is the “call-in,” a face-to-face meeting where partners engage group members and deliver certain key messages.  First, that group members are part of a community, that gun violence is unacceptable and that the community needs it to end.  Second, that help is available to all who will accept it in order to transition out of the gang lifestyle, and that social service providers are standing by to assist with educational, employment, housing, medical, mental health and other needs.  Third, that any future violence will be met with clear and certain consequences.  The next time a homicide is traced to any member of a violent group, all members of that group will receive increased and comprehensive law enforcement attention to any and all crimes any of its members are committing.
 
Yesterday, the first call-ins of two groups were convened in New Haven. At the call-ins, approximately 25 individuals heard the Project Longevity message from senior leadership of the New Haven Police Department, federal and state prosecutors, outreach workers and other members of the New Haven community. One Project Longevity participant, Adult Education Director for the New Haven Board of Education Alicia Caraballo, spoke about losing her 24-year-old son when he was shot and killed in New Haven in April 2008.
 
Project Longevity is based on the Group Violence Reduction Strategy developed by the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  The research behind the strategy, which was first implemented in Boston as “Operation Ceasefire” in the mid-1990s, has found that violence in troubled neighborhoods is caused predominantly by a small number of people who are members of street gangs, drug crews and other identified groups.  These groups, whose members typically constitute less than 0.5 percent of a city’s population, often have little organization, hierarchy or common purpose, and commit violent acts primarily for personal reasons, not to achieve any economic gain or other advantage. The Group Violence Reduction Strategy, which also has been deployed in areas of Chicago, Cincinnati, Providence, R.I., and elsewhere, has resulted in a 40 to 60 percent reduction in group-related homicides in certain neighborhoods. After Project Longevity is established in Hartford and Bridgeport, the program may be deployed in other Connecticut cities if research and data analysis of a city’s homicide rate determine that the model offers an appropriate solution to gun violence .
 
The Rev. William Mathis has been appointed as Project Longevity’s New Haven Program Manager.  The Rev. Mathis is also the Pastor of Springs of Life-Giving Water Church in New Haven, an attorney, a former prosecutor and an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University and the University of New Haven.  As program manager, the Rev. Mathis is responsible for developing effective and sustainable working relationships between law enforcement, service providers and community members to insure Project Longevity’s success.
 
The organizational structure of Project Longevity in New Haven includes a Governing Board, Strategy and Implementation Team, Research Team, Law Enforcement Team, Community Service Provider Team and Community Engagement Team, all of which meet regularly. Project Longevity’s Governing Board includes: U.S. Attorney Fein, Governor Malloy, State Senator Toni Harp, State Representative Toni Walker, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, New Haven Alderperson Jorge Perez, New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington, Court Support Services Executive Director William Carbone, Connecticut Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone, Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice David Kennedy, and Yale University’s Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development Bruce Alexander.
 
The Strategy and Implementation Team is co-chaired by New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman and New Haven businessman Howard Hill, and includes members of law enforcement, service providers, researchers and the community. Chief Esserman has previously partnered with the Center for Crime Prevention and Control to implement a similar strategy when he served as police chief in Providence. Several community and business leaders in New Haven, as well as members of the New Haven Clergy Association, are also actively involved in Project Longevity. In order to assist identified individual transition from a destructive gang lifestyle, Project Longevity has engaged nine service providers in the New Haven area, including Children’s Community Program of Connecticut, Community Service Administration for the City of New Haven, Consultation Center (Yale), Gateway Community College, Elm City Communities, New Haven Family Alliance, Project Model Offender Reintegration Experience (M.O.R.E.), Workforce Alliance/CT Works and United Way of Greater New Haven. The University of New Haven, Yale University and the University of Cincinnati are working with law enforcement to collect and analyze crime data and provide research support to identify the groups and individuals that will be contacted through Project Longevity. Many of these individuals are already known to law enforcement and/or are under the supervision of probation or parole officers.
 
Other participating Justice Department agencies in Project Longevity include: the FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fraudulent Telemarketer Sentenced to 108 Months in Prison

WASHINGTON – An employee of Costa Rica-based telemarketing call centers was sentenced today to serve 108 months in prison for his role in a phony sweepstakes scheme that defrauded thousands of U.S. victims of more than $10 million, announced Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer.

Osman Bah, 25, of Owings Mills, Md., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn of the Western District of North Carolina.  In addition to his prison term, Bah was sentenced to serve two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $187,500 in restitution.

On July 26, 20l1, Bah pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Bah participated in a conspiracy to defraud U.S. residents, most above the age of 55, out of millions of dollars by deceiving them into believing each person had won a large monetary prize in a “sweepstakes contest.”  Calls to victims were made from Costa Rica using Internet-connected computers that disguised the originating location of the calls.  Victims were informed that the callers were from the Federal Trade Commission, and that to receive their prize, victims had to wire thousands of dollars for a purported refundable insurance fee to Bah.  Bah received the victims’ money in Maryland and, after keeping a portion for himself, forwarded the rest of the money on to his co-conspirators in Costa Rica.  As long as the victims continued to pay, the co-conspirators continued to solicit more money from them.

Bah’s co-conspirator Ercell Carey pleaded guilty in June 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud for his role in the scheme.  He was sentenced to serve eight months of home confinement, forfeit $61,689 and pay $43,022 in restitution, jointly and severally.

To date, 45 defendants have been convicted for their participation in this scheme.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney William H. Bowne, Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick M. Donley and former Senior Trial Attorney Peter B. Loewenberg of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Inspector General; FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

California Jewelry Store Owner Convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Conspiracy to Launder the Proceeds of Bank Fraud

A federal jury sitting in Santa Ana, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, convicted Safieh Fard of one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and one count of conspiracy to launder the proceeds of bank fraud obtained after submitting fraudulent mortgage applications, the Justice Department and IRS Criminal Investigation announced. Fard’s co-conspirators, her sister Sedigheh Bahramian, and two of her sons, Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye, pleaded guilty to related counts of bank fraud in 2010.
 
According to the indictment and evidence introduced at trial, starting in 1997 and continuing through 2004, Fard and her co-conspirators purchased valuable residential real estate properties, including numerous beachfront properties in Newport Beach, Calif. In order to obtain mortgages to purchase these properties, Fard and her co-conspirators provided false information to federally-insured banks that substantially overstated their income and assets on mortgage applications. Fard submitted mortgage applications that falsely stated she earned over $40,000 per month, despite claiming no taxable income on her federal income tax returns during the eight year conspiracy.
                                   
The evidence also established that Fard and her co-conspirators bought, sold, and transferred ownership of the properties between and among themselves. Ultimately, the properties were sold to third parties resulting in substantial monetary gain. Fard and her co-conspirators then failed to report capital gains on more than $3.7 million from these sales on their federal income tax returns.
 
The evidence further established that Fard and her co-conspirators Mohsen Kikalaye and Ahmad Kikalaye sold Newport Beach properties to unrelated third parties and received the proceeds in a large lump-sum payment by either wire transfer or check. Fraud proceeds were then transferred through multiple bank accounts to an account in the name of Fard’s co-conspirator Ahmad Kikalaye, who withdrew proceeds in cash in amounts slightly below the $10,000 federal reporting requirement. Fraud proceeds were also used to buy new real estate properties.
           
Sentencing is scheduled for April 8, 2013.                                                                         

Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the efforts of special agents from IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations of Orange County, Calif., who jointly investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Erin S. Mellen and Mark L. Williams, who prosecuted the case with valuable support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hungarian Woman Pleads Guilty in Tennessee for Role in International Fraud Scheme Involving Online Marketplace Websites

WASHINGTON – A Hungarian woman pleaded guilty today in Nashville, Tenn., for her role in moving approximately $550,000 in illicit proceeds derived from an international online marketplace fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Beatrix Boka, 34, of Hungary, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger in the Middle District of Tennessee to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud.  Boka and co-conspirator Aleksandar Kunkin, also of Hungary, were charged in a one-count indictment by a federal grand jury in August 2012.  Kunkin pleaded guilty on Nov. 15, 2012.

Boka admitted in her plea hearing today that members of the conspiracy fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as eBay.  When victims expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, co-conspirators sent emails that directed victims to wire payments to certain bank accounts, and victims never received the vehicles for which they paid.

Boka further admitted that, from May to June 2012, she and Kunkin visited Bank of America branches in North Carolina and South Carolina and opened bank accounts under false identities, which were supported by fraudulent identity documents including counterfeit Hungarian passports.  Boka pleaded guilty to opening 17 such accounts, each under a different name.  In total, 36 victims sent approximately $550,102 to accounts opened by Boka and Kunkin.  Boka admitted that she and Kunkin subsequently sent the bulk of the money to co-conspirators located abroad.

According to the criminal complaint affidavit, in June 2012, Boka and Kunkin traveled together to Madison, Tenn., where Kunkin was apprehended as he attempted to open an account at a Bank of America branch using a Hungarian passport bearing an alias.  Boka was subsequently apprehended in Kennesaw, Ga., when she attempted to open an account at a Bank of America branch using a Hungarian passport bearing an alias.
Boka faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2013.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron M. Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Mysti Degani of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.  The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Cobb County, Ga., Sheriff’s Department.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Iranian National and His Company Charged in Plot Involving Export of Military Antennas from the United States

Amin Ravan, a citizen of Iran, and his Iran-based company, IC Market Iran (IMI), have been charged in an indictment unsealed today with conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, and violating the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) in connection with the unlawful export of 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.
 
The indictment was announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John Morton, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Stephanie Douglas, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; and Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Commerce Department.
 
According to the indictment, which was returned under seal by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on Nov. 16, 2011, Ravan was based in Iran and, at various times, acted as an agent of IMI in Iran and an agent of Corezing International, Pte, Ltd, a company based in Singapore that also maintained offices in Hong Kong and China.  
 
On Oct. 10, 2012, Ravan was arrested by authorities in Malaysia in connection with a U.S. provisional arrest warrant.   The United States is seeking to extradite him from Malaysia to stand trial in the District of Columbia.   If convicted of the charges against him, Ravan faces a potential 20 years in prison for the AECA violation, 10 years in prison for the smuggling charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge.
 
According to the indictment, in late 2006 and early 2007, Ravan attempted to procure for shipment to Iran export-controlled antennas made by a company in Massachusetts, through an intermediary in Iran.   The antennas sought by Ravan were cavity-backed spiral antennas suitable for airborne or shipboard direction finding systems or radar warning receiver applications, as well as biconical antennas that are suitable for airborne and shipboard environments, including in several military aircraft.
 
After this first attempt was unsuccessful, Ravan joined with two co-conspirators at Corezing in Singapore so that Corezing would contact the Massachusetts company and obtain the antennas on behalf of Ravan for shipment to Iran.  When Corezing was unable to purchase the export-controlled antennas from the Massachusetts firm, Corezing then contacted another individual in the United States who was ultimately able to obtain these items from the Massachusetts firm by slightly altering the frequency range of the antennas to avoid detection by the company’s export compliance officer.
 
In March 2007, Ravan and the co-conspirators at Corezing agreed on a purchase price of $86,750 for 50 cavity-backed antennas from the United States and discussed structuring payment from Ravan to his Corezing co-conspirators in a manner that would avoid transactional delays caused by the Iran embargo.   Ultimately, between July and September 2007, a total of 50 cavity-backed spiral antennas and five biconical antennas were exported from the United States to Corezing in Singapore and Hong Kong.
 
According to the indictment, no party to these transactions -- including Ravan or IMI -- ever applied for or received a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls to export any of these antennas from the United States to Singapore or Hong Kong.
 
Two of Ravan’s co-conspirators, Lim Kow Seng (aka Eric Lim) and Hia Soo Gan Benson (aka Benson Hia), principals of Corezing, have been charged in a separate indictment in the District of Columbia in connection with this particular transaction involving the export of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong.  The two Corezing principals were arrested in Singapore last year and the United States is seeking their extradition.
 
This investigation was jointly conducted by ICE agents in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents and analysts in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement agents and analysts in Chicago and Boston.  Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, and U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs.  
 
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
 
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.   Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

Colorado Tax Defier Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Fraud and Tax Conspiracy

Curtis L. Morris, age 43, of Elizabeth, Colo., was sentenced Monday in Denver to 120 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. Judge Blackburn also ordered Morris to pay $ $1,916,831 in restitution to the IRS.
 
Morris was found guilty on April 30, 2012, after a three week jury trial, of three counts of mail fraud, seventeen counts of filing false claims against the United States, and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.  According to the testimony at trial, Armstrong, Morris and others conspired to file false federal income tax returns claiming large tax refunds based upon fictitious federal income tax withholdings taken from bogus Forms 1099-OID for themselves and others.   Codefendant Richard Kellogg Armstrong, age 77, of Prescott, Ariz., was sentenced on Aug. 10, 2012, to 9 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  
 
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, commended the efforts of special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office, who investigated the case, and Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth Harmon and Tax Division Trial Attorney Kevin F. Sweeney, who prosecuted the case.

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Mexico Man Sentenced to Prison for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

Douglas Kuester, 43, a tax preparer from Silver City, N.M., was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for filing false claims and aggravated identity theft, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Kuester was also ordered to pay $911,000 in restitution and will be on supervised release for three years after completing his prison sentence.  
 
Kuester had pleaded guilty to the charges in May. He was originally indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 18, 2012, and has been in custody since his arrest on January 24.  
 
According to court documents, Kuester used stolen identities to file false tax returns which fraudulently claimed refunds.   He would direct the fraudulently obtained refunds to various bank accounts and prepaid debit cards, retaining portions of the proceeds for himself.   Kuester also admitted to using an anonymizer to help conceal his filing of the false returns.  
           
Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales commended special agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Jason H. Poole and Gregory P. Bailey, who prosecuted the case with assistance from the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Detroit-Area Nurse Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Role in $13.8 Million Home Health Care Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON—A Detroit-area registered nurse was sentenced today to serve 30 months in prison for his role in a nearly $13.8 million Medicare fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade; Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office.

Anthony Parkman, 41, of Southfield, Mich., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen in the Eastern District of Michigan. In addition to his prison term, Parkman was sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $450,988 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants.

Parkman pleaded guilty on June 26, 2012, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.
According to Parkman’s plea agreement, beginning in approximately December 2008, Parkman, a registered nurse, was paid to sign medical documentation for Physicians Choice Home Health Care LLC, a home health agency that billed and received payments from Medicare for home health care services that were never rendered.  Parkman admitted to not seeing or treating the beneficiaries for whom he signed medical documentation and admitted he knew that the documents he signed would be used to support false claims to Medicare.  Parkman was paid approximately $150 for each false and fictitious file that he signed.

Parkman was subsequently paid to sign falsified medical documentation and files for First Care Home Health Care LLC, Quantum Home Care Inc. and Moonlite Home Care Inc., which were Detroit-area home health care companies owned by Parkman’s co-conspirators that billed Medicare for services that were never rendered.

The four home health companies for which Parkman worked were paid in total approximately $13.8 million by Medicare.  From approximately December 2008 through September 2011, Medicare paid approximately $450,988 to the four home health care companies for fraudulent skilled nursing claims based on falsified files signed by Parkman.

Nine of Parkman’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.  Three co-defendants are fugitives, and six co-defendants await trial.

This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  It was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Nearly $1 Million Now Available to Support Partnerships Offering Education and Workforce Training for Incarcerated Individuals Exiting Prisons

 
Reentry Education Model Released as Framework for Improving Rehabilitation Programs
 
The Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education announced today a new, nearly $1 million grant fund entitled, “Promoting Reentry Success through Continuity of Educational Opportunities” (PRSCEO), that will invest in innovative programs preparing incarcerated individuals to successfully reenter society with the support of education and workforce training. Eligible applicants include adult education providers partnering to connect education in state correctional facilities with local communities.  
PRSCEO provides an important opportunity for applicants to create new approaches and improvements for existing rehabilitation services.   Every year, more than 700,000 incarcerated individuals leave federal and state prisons. Yet, existing policies and programs too often fail to prepare released prisoners to reenter society, leading 4 of every 10 to commit new crimes or violate terms of their release within 3 years. Failure to support successful rehabilitation costs states more than $50 billion annually.
 
Based on a cooperative agreement, the one-time grant funding comes from a section of the Second Chance Act, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, a component within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice.
“Expanding access to education is a proven strategy for reducing recidivism and preventing crime,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “By working together to support education and training programs for those rejoining our communities, the Departments of Justice and Education are helping to improve outcomes and ensure public safety.”
 
“Education is key to creating successful pathways toward prosperity and opportunity for children and adults,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Promoting effective policies that offer education and workforce training to low-skill individuals will protect our communities and benefit our economy.”
 
The announcement was made today during a Department of Education-hosted Correctional Education Summit that gathered outside experts engaged in pursuing developing innovations to improve educational opportunities for youth and adults in secure confinement facilities. In conjunction with the event, the Department of Education released a new Reentry Education Model guidance document. Guidance outlined in the reentry model offers evidence-based improvements to support low-skill individuals leaving prison to successfully transition back into society through education and career advancement.
 
Suggested improvements include establishing an integrated reentry program that offers and incorporates education services, workforce training, and job search support into intake and prerelease processes and links education to employment services; targeting job support to labor market demands that do not have criminal history restrictions; using technology to increase program access and data to measure performance and outcomes; and conducting thorough program evaluations to further share lessons learned and best practices.     
 
Additional guidance on educational resources for incarcerated individuals reintegrating into society is available through the Department of Education‘s Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Take Charge of Your Future. The guide was recently updated to offer advice and information that serves a broader population, members of the community corrections population – the nearly five million Americans on parole or probation -- as well as incarcerated individuals.
 
Applications will be accepted until Dec. 26, 2012. The Department of Education anticipates awarding two to four grants ranging from $200,000 to $400,000. Awards will be made in January 2013.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Victim Advocates: rewards without recognition

by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs


11/16/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Sexual assaults can happen anywhere, within or outside the military. The victim advocates program is one way the Air Force supports sexual assault victims within its community, regardless if the assault happened before or during the Airman's time in the service.

The victim advocates program is spearheaded by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. It is SAPR's mission to reinforce the Air Force's commitment to eliminating sexual assault through a comprehensive program that provides prevention and awareness education. The office also ensures compassionate and effective response for survivors, cultivating a base-wide wingman culture that is founded on mutual respect and trust.

"Sexual assault is one of those egregious crimes that greatly alter a victim's life," said 1st Lt. Masha Scheglov, Andersen's sexual assault response coordinator. "People often have the misconception that victims can continue on and function as they did prior to the sexual assault if the situation happened years ago. What they don't understand is that it can later affect how they do their job."

Along with affecting job performance, such events can affect the individual on a personal level, possibly altering their personas, relationships, motivation and even aspirations.

"We need to take care of our Airmen's well-being on the individual level in order for them to support the mission to their full capability," she continued. "That's why it's important that there are people to help these victims start regaining control of their own lives after a traumatic experience."

The victim advocates program is open to all active-duty military members. Airmen who volunteer for the program take time out of their schedule to ensure that victims seek the appropriate agencies and get the assistance and support that they need.

"We have an on-call phone which we rotate on a weekly basis," said Emily Calland, SAPR assistant. "If we receive a call from a victim and they request a victim advocate, the Airman holding the phone should be able to respond 24/7. When assigned to a victim, the victim advocate should be available to assist and accompany victims to medical appointments and forensic examinations if needed. Ultimately, they should be a presence that the victim can rely on."

Aside from being an active-duty Airman, there are certain qualities and skills that Airmen must develop should they aspire to become an effective victim advocate.

"It is important that a victim advocate has the ability to listen, withhold judgment, be physically and emotionally available and try to understand how it is to be in the victim's situation," said Mrs. Calland.

Additionally, a unit commander must give approval for an Airman to join the program, a proof of understanding that the Airman could be pulled from their primary duties to support a victim.

One of the main things that is stressed throughout victim advocate training is protecting the victim's privacy. One way SAPR protects this right is by assigning a victim advocate to a victim from a different unit. The victim advocate also signs a statement upon entering the program saying that that they understand that anything said between the victim and the advocate is completely confidential.

Along with supporting victims of sexual harassment, victim advocates also assist SAPR in conducting briefings and presentations for the First Term Airman Course, newcomers' brief, wingman days and more.

With the Department of Defense's SAPR regulations being rewritten, Air Force SAPR offices are currently pausing victim advocate training. It is anticipated that when the new guidance is released, requirements are going to be more stringent, making the program even more effective in helping sexual assault victims.

"When they release the documentation, they want victim advocates to be nationally certified, giving future victim advocates training and credentials that they may be able to use beyond their Air Force careers," said Lieutenant Scheglov.

The victim advocates program is not the only way to contribute to the plight of sexual assault prevention.

"If being a victim advocate is not for an individual, there are other ways to support SAPR," said Lieutenant Scheglov. "One of our busiest months is Sexual Assault Awareness month which occurs in April of every year. Throughout the month, we put together special events, programs and 5K runs. Such events provide great opportunities for our Airmen to be actively participating in the prevention of sexual assault."

Whether or not an individual wants to be a victim's advocate or simply a volunteer for events promoting awareness, supporting the SAPR program is highly encouraged. Though the Airmen's contributions could earn them bullets for enlisted performance reports, most receive the reward of gratitude from people whose lives were saved or changed for the better.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ATF Offers $5,000 Reward for Information on Store Robberies



Investigators Seek Public’s Help in Solving Crimes

Gwinnett, Ga. — An unidentified black male has robbed eight cellular telephone stores at gunpoint between May and October of this year. Seven of the robberies have occurred in South Gwinnett County on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, while the eighth occurred in Snellville, Ga.

"It goes without saying this individual has little to no regard for the safety and welfare of others," said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division Scott Sweetow. "This brazen display of reckless abandon for the law continues to drive the mission of ATF as the violent crime bureau. We will see to it these criminals are removed from our streets so that our communities can remain a safe place to live and prosper."

The robberies typically occur in the early afternoon and the suspect sometimes brings an accomplice. Each incident occurs in a strong-armed fashion where the suspect enters the store brandishing a firearm, demands that employees open the cash register and then orders the employees into the rear area of the business. During every robbery, the suspect produces a handgun.

From the onset of the robberies, detectives with the Gwinnett County Police Department along with agents from the ATF have combed through all available leads. Unfortunately, the evidence gathered has led to few viable leads which prompted ATF to offer a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the responsible individual(s).

ATF and the Gwinnett County Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying those responsible. Anyone with information is encouraged to call ATF at (404) 456–6684 or call the ATF Hotline at 1–800–ATF–GUNS (800–283–4867). Callers can remain anonymous.