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Thursday, January 31, 2013

High-Ranking Member of Mexican “Los Zetas” Cartel Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy Charges

Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, aka “Mamito” and “Caballero,” a high ranking member of the “Los Zetas” drug cartel, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to import multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Rejon Aguilar, 36, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in the District of Columbia.  Rejon Aguilar was extradited to the United States in September 2012 and was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial.

On Nov. 4, 2010, Rejon Aguilar and 19 co-defendants were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana for importation into the United States.  The indictment charges that between 2000 and 2010, members of Los Zetas, including Rejon Aguilar, engaged in a conspiracy with members of the Gulf Cartel in an arrangement referred to as the “Company” to import drugs into the United States.  Rejon Aguilar was an original member of Los Zetas and held a high ranking position with the Company.

 “As a leader of the Company’s drug trafficking operation, Rejon Aguilar ensured that mass quantities of cocaine and marijuana were brought into the United States for distribution,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “The Justice Department is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to bring cartel members and associates to justice for their crimes.”

“As an original and high-ranking member of the Los Zetas cartel, Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar was responsible for funneling massive amounts of marijuana and cocaine into the United States while using violence to intimidate anyone that stood in his way,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart.  “Rejon Aguilar’s plea today was possible only with the strength and power of international law enforcement cooperation.  DEA, along with our Mexican counterparts, are committed to bringing violent criminals like Rejon Aguilar, to justice.”

According to the indictment, the Company transported shipments of cocaine and marijuana by motor vehicles from Mexico to cities in Texas for distribution to other cities within the United States.  The indictment alleges that Rejon Aguilar, his co-defendants and others organized, directed and carried out various acts of violence to retaliate against and to intimidate anyone who interfered with, or who were perceived to potentially interfere with, the cocaine and marijuana trafficking activities of the Company.

On April 15, 2009, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the President identified Los Zetas as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker.  On March 24, 2010, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) named Rejon Aguilar as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker.  On July 25, 2011, an executive order was issued that blocks the transfer, payment or export of property belonging to certain transnational criminal organizations, including Los Zetas.

The department expressed its gratitude and appreciation to the government of Mexico for its assistance in this matter. 

 At sentencing, Rejon Aguilar faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition.  The investigation in this case was led by the DEA’s Houston Field Division and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Applications for Tillman scholarships open until mid-February

from Tillman Military Scholars Foundation
Army News Service


1/30/2013 - WASHINGTON -- Service members, veterans and their spouses have until Feb. 15 to apply for financial aid through the Tillman Military Scholars program.

The Tillman Military Scholars program removes financial barriers to completing a degree program. The scholarship covers direct study-related expenses such as tuition and fees, in addition to other needs such as housing and child care.

"After five years of service in the Army, I was set on transitioning out to attend business school, but lacked the financial resources to pay for the two-year program," said Thomas Allison, a former Army captain, Army Ranger, and Tillman Military Scholars program scholarship recipient. "I had always been motivated by the exceptional sacrifices of Pat Tillman and thought the program sounded like a great fit."

Allison applied for the program and was granted a scholarship. He said he applied to help fill the gap in funding between what was provided by the G.I. Bill and the actual cost of attending school. He also said that being part of the Tillman Military Scholars program community has provided for him more than just financial rewards.

"I was able to attend the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit in Maryland where I met dozens of other Tillman Military Scholars from across the services," Allison said. "During the conference, we held discussions on issues relevant to transitioning veterans, visited members of Congress in D.C., and had the opportunity to perform a service project in Baltimore."

Allison also participated in "Pat's Run," last April, where he was able to network with other run participants.

"While the race was fun, the coolest part of this event was the opportunity to network and hang out with scholars and other veterans who showed up for the weekend," Allison said.

The Tillman Military Scholars Foundation also provides access to transition assistance tools, career guidance, entrepreneurial and service-related workshops such as those provided through Inc. Magazine and the Clinton Global Initiative conferences, and unique job opportunities following school.

Those interested in applying to the program or learning more about the criteria and application process, the benefits and expectations of the program or the Tillman Community can visit http://www.pattillmanfoundation.org/tillman-military-scholars/apply/

Hampton Man Pleads Guilty to Robbery and Firearm Charges



NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Christian Johnson, 24, of Hampton, pled guilty today to robbery, as well as possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Johnson was set to begin trial today in Norfolk Federal Court.

Neil H. MacBride, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and James D. Newman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Henry C. Morgan.

Johnson was charged in a superseding indictment returned on September 20, 2012, with three counts of robbery and two counts of possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the robbery charge and a mandatory total consecutive sentence of 32 years on the firearm counts when he is sentenced on May 1, 2013 in Norfolk.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Johnson admitted to robbing Approved Cash Advance located in Norfolk, on June 21, 2012, and a 7–Eleven store on Kecoughtan Road in Hampton on July 3, 2012. During both robberies he possessed and brandished a firearm. Following the 7–Eleven robbery, Johnson was seen entering a vehicle dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt, t–shirt and jeans, and wearing a black ski mask and gloves. A witness followed Johnson’s vehicle and reported it to police. A high speed chase ensued when Johnson failed to yield to law enforcement. Johnson drove across the James River Bridge and began throwing items out of the car on the bridge. The chase ended 30 minutes later when Johnson struck a median, lost control and crashed into several trees. He then fled the scene on foot and was apprehended by the Virginia State Police.

The investigation of this case was led by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, with the assistance of the Norfolk Police Department, Hampton Police Division, Chesapeake Police Department, and the Virginia State Police. Trial Attorneys Louis Crisostomo of the Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Teresa Wallbaum of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, both in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Federal Jury Convicts Newark, N.J., Man of Illegal Firearm/Drug Possession



CAMDEN, N.J. — A Newark, N.J., man was convicted by a federal jury today of possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and unlawful possession of a loaded handgun by a convicted felon, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Jimmil Henderson, 29, was convicted of all three counts of a Superseding Indictment following a five–day trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

On Feb. 18, 2011, Newark Police Department officers were patrolling the area of Lincoln Park in Newark and saw Henderson engaging in a hand–to–hand drug transaction. Upon seeing the officers, Henderson ran through Lincoln Park, tossing a 9mm firearm loaded with 11 rounds of ammunition into the park. When the officers apprehended him at the corner of Broad and Pennington streets, they recovered quantities of cocaine and marijuana.

At sentencing, Gilbert faces potential penalties as follows:

    Count One (possession with intent to distribute) – maximum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
    Count Two (possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense) – minimum of 5 years in prison, maximum of life in prison, and a $250,000 fine; sentence to run consecutively to any other sentence
    Count Three (unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon) – maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine,).

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Donald J. Soranno; and the Newark Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Samuel A. DeMaio and Chief Sheilah A. Coley, for the investigation leading to today’s conviction.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dara A. Govan and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Donnelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gang Crime Unit in Newark.

St. Louis Man Sentenced For the 2008 Bombing in A Clayton Parking Garage



St. Louis, MO – Milton Ohlsen, III, was sentenced to 20 years in prison involving the 2008 bombing in the Carondelet Plaza garage that injured Clayton attorney John L. Gillis.

With his plea last September, Ohlsen admitted that on October 15, 2008, he transported a bomb to the parking garage at 190 Carondelet with the intent that the bomb would cause death or serious bodily injury to the intended victim. He concealed the explosive device in a gift basket and placed the basket next to an Acura TL that he incorrectly believed belonged to the intended victim. On October 16, 2008, the bomb exploded and caused permanent bodily injury to John Gillis, who had moved the basket because it was blocking access to the driver‘s door of his Acura TL.

Ohlsen, 41, pled guilty to one felony count each of transportation of explosive with intent to injure; malicious use of an explosive devise; being a previously convicted felon in possession of an explosive; and possession of an unregistered destructive device, and appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge E. Richard Webber.

The case was investigated by ATF, the St. Louis County and Clayton Police Departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation‘s Evidence Response Team. Prosecutors from both the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office and the United States Attorney‘s Office also assisted in the almost three- year-long investigation. First Assistant United States Attorney Carrie Costantin handled the case for the U.S. Attorney‘s Office.

Businessman Sentenced to Federal Prison on Tax Charges



Co–defendant, former state legislator John J. McCauley, Jr. sentenced to 27 months in federal prison

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — William L’Europa, 47, of Scituate, co–operator of McCauley and L’Europa Public Adjusters, LLC and PIA Restoration, LLC, was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to defraud the United States government and filing false tax returns.

L’Europa’s business partner, former state legislator John J. McCauley, Jr., 54, of Cranston, was sentenced on December 21, 2012, to 27 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years supervised release.

At the time of their guilty pleas before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi, who imposed the sentences, L’Europa and McCauley admitted to the court that they underreported business receipts for tax years 2007 – 2010 by nearly $1.8 million dollars, resulting in the underpayment of federal taxes to the Internal Revenue Service of more than $500,000.

According to signed plea agreements filed with the court, McCauley and L’Europa must file accurate, amended federal tax returns for tax years 2007 – 2011.

L’Europa’s sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation; Richard Deslauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office; Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of ATF; and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William J. Ferland and Sandra R. Hebert.

The matter was investigated by IRS–Criminal Investigation, FBI, ATF, Rhode Island State Police, and the Providence Fire Department Fire Prevention Division.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DOD, USDA Partner in ‘Win-win’ Distance Learning Program

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2013 – A new education program offers a “win-win” approach to helping military community members further their careers while aiding the Defense Department’s family support and child and youth development services, a Pentagon official said.

Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s office for family policy, children and youth, explained the Military Academic Advancement Program to the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

“We were looking for a way to cement people’s skills and credentials in working with military families, as well as offering our spouses, our military members and veterans opportunities to acquire advanced education online,” she said.

Online programs are particularly useful to those in the military community, she noted, so students “don’t have to worry about losing credits as they move from location to location.”

Thompson said the Defense and Agriculture departments are partnered in the new initiative, which offers graduate-level distance education opportunities through a consortium of land-grant universities.

The program is open to military spouses, veterans, service members and civilians serving the military community, she said. Thompson explained MAAP allows such students to enroll in any of the member universities in specific distance-learning programs and take courses offered through other schools in the program.

The option of taking courses through several schools can speed a student’s progress through a graduate program, Thompson noted.

“A lot of times, you need a specific course to complete your degree, and your university may not be offering it that semester,” she said. “So you can go into this consortium of universities and find [one] that is offering it that semester.”

Universities participating in the program are:
-- Iowa State University;
-- Kansas State University;
-- Michigan State University;
-- University of Missouri;
-- Montana State University;
-- University of Nebraska-Lincoln;
-- North Carolina State University;
-- North Dakota State University;
-- Oklahoma State University;
-- South Dakota State University; and
-- Texas Tech University.

Thompson said master’s degree and graduate certification programs offered through MAAP focus on three areas: family and community services, family financial planning and youth development.

“Those are three areas that we find critical to support the military family community,” she said. “So the goal is not only will our service members, spouses and veterans have opportunities to receive their education, but they can also contribute back to the military community in those fields.”

Specific degrees and certificates, she added, include a 36-credit-hour master's degree in family and community services; a 42-credit-hour master’s degree in family financial planning, which allows the student to take the Certified Financial Planner examination; and an 18 credit-hour graduate certificate in financial counseling and housing, qualifying students to take the Accredited Financial Counselor exam.

The program also offers a 36 credit-hour master's degree in youth development, a 13 credit-hour youth development specialist graduate certificate, and a 13 credit-hour youth program management and evaluation graduate certificate, Thompson said.

Alabama State Employee Indicted for Identity Theft

Chequ li a Motley, a resident of Montgomery, Ala., was indicted by a federal grand jury for her involvement in a conspiracy to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. Motley was indicted on various charges, including conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud and five counts of aggravated identity theft.
 
According to the indictment, Motley worked for an Alabama state government agency and had access to individuals’ personal identifying information as part of her job. She stole identities and sold them to several co-conspirators, the indictment alleges. Those co-conspirators used the stolen identities to file false tax returns that fraudulently requested tax refunds from the IRS.
 
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Motley faces a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud charge and a mandatory two-year sentence for the aggravated identity theft counts. She will also be subject to fines and mandatory restitution if convicted.  
 
This case was investigated by special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Michael Boteler and Jason Poole of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case, with the assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama and, in particular, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown.
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Miami-Area Therapist Sentenced to Prison in Florida in $205 Million Community Mental Health Fraud Scheme

Miami-area resident Nichole Eckert, former therapist at the mental health care company American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), was sentenced today to serve 48 months in prison for participating in a $205 million Medicare fraud scheme.

The sentence was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent-in-Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.

Eckert, 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz in the Southern District of Florida.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Seitz sentenced Eckert to serve three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay more than $72 million in restitution, jointly and severally with her co-defendants.
On Nov. 15, 2012, a federal jury in the Southern District of Florida found Eckert guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud after a 16-day trial.  She has been in federal custody since her conviction.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that the defendant and her co-conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare through ATC, a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami that operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness. The defendant and her co-conspirators also used a related company, American Sleep Institute, to submit fraudulent Medicare claims.
Evidence at trial revealed that ATC secured patients by paying kickbacks to assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners who would then steer patients to ATC. These patients attended ATC, where they were ineligible for the treatment ATC billed to Medicare and where they did not receive the treatment that was billed to Medicare.  After Medicare paid the claims, some of the co-conspirators then laundered the Medicare money in order to create cash to pay the patient kickbacks.
Eckert was a therapist at ATC’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., center from September 2005 to September 2007, and returned to ATC as a therapist from late 2009 to October 2010, when ATC closed its doors as a result of federal charges.  Evidence at trial revealed that Eckert fabricated therapist notes and other documents for patient files and submissions, and taught others to fabricate them, to make it appear both that ATC patients were qualified for PHP treatment and that they were receiving the intensive, individualized treatment PHP is supposed to be.  ATC used those patient files to substantiate false and fraudulent claims to Medicare.  Included in these submissions were claims for patients who were in the late stages of diseases causing permanent cognitive memory loss and patients who had substance abuse issues and were living in halfway houses.  These patients were ineligible for PHP treatments, and because they were forced by their assisted living facility owners and halfway house owners to attend ATC, they were not receiving treatment for the diseases they actually had.

ATC and related company Medlink pleaded guilty in May 2011 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. ATC also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive illegal health care kickbacks. On Sept. 16, 2011, the two corporations were sentenced to five years of probation per count and ordered to pay restitution of $87 million. Both corporations have been defunct since their owners were arrested in October 2010.  Dozens of individuals have been convicted at trial or pleaded guilty for their participation in the scheme.

Evidence at trial showed that the ATC scheme resulted in a total of $205 million in fraudulent Medicare billings.  

The cases were prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino and Trial Attorney Laura M.K. Cordova of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case 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 Southern District of Florida.
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.