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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Convicted Sex Offender Wanted by Lake County Authorities Arrested by U.S. Marshals




Painesville, OH – Convicted sex offender Willard Wigfield, 32, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force and Osceola County Sheriff’s deputies at approximately 5:30 pm on July 23rd, 2013. Wigfield was on bond after pleading guilty to a charge of rape and a warrant was issued after he failed to appear for his sentencing in Lake County Common Pleas Court on Monday, July 8th, 2013. As a condition of the bond, Wigfield was wearing an electronic monitoring device that was sending signals from the Tuscarawas River near New Philadelphia, OH at the time he was supposed to be in court. An extensive search of the river by local authorities failed to locate Wigfield or the device.

The U.S. Marshals Service, along with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Mentor-on-the-Lake Police, immediately launched an investigation and quickly developed evidence that Wigfield had cut off his bracelet, faked suicide, and was on the run.

During the late night hours of July 9th, 2013 investigators developed information that Wigfield traveled to Orlando, FL and Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a hotel to attempt to arrest him. When deputies arrived Wigfield was no longer in the room, however they did locate 33 year old Robert Mahaffey of New Philadelphia, OH. Florida authorities arrested Mahaffey for his involvement in Wigfield’s flight from Ohio. Mahaffey, who had been identified as a close family friend of Wigfield, is still being held in the Osceola County Jail on the first degree felony charge of accessory after the fact to the crime of rape.

Task Force investigators discovered that on Friday, July 5th, 2013 Wigfield made known his plans to flee and enlisted the help of his sister, Stephanie Smith of Coshocton. Smith rented a vehicle for her brother, and the vehicle was recovered by police at the Florida hotel. On Wednesday, July 10th members of the Task Force traveled to Coshocton, and with the help of the Coshocton County Sheriff and Prosecutor, obtained an arrest warrant charging Smith with Obstructing Justice, a third degree felony. Smith was arrested on the warrant and her case in pending.

Investigators turned to the public for help by disseminating Wigfield’s information to local and national media outlets. Tips began flooding in and Marshals followed up on leads in several states. The most promising leads led investigators right back to an area not far from where Wigfield was last seen. The investigation by the Florida Task Force began focusing on an area around the 3100 block of Parkway Blvd. near Kissimmee, FL. This area is a popular tourist destination with many hotels, motels and apartments, which makes it a very easy place for someone to blend in. The Florida Task Force responded by patrolling the area and surveillance was conducted on multiple locations.

On July 23rd the Florida Regional Task Force again established surveillance in the area and late in the afternoon an alert Deputy observed what they believed to be Wigfield’s dog being walked by a person who was not the suspect. The Deputy recognized the dog from photos that were disseminated early in the investigation. The team followed the individual walking the dog and it lead them to Wigfield, who was standing in a parking lot. As the Task Force approached Wigfield, he ran into a swampy, wooded area. The Marshal’s, aware of Wigfield’s previous flight from police, were prepared with a helicopter and K-9 units from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. The helicopter was able to track Wigfield’s movements through the swamp and when he began making his way towards a busy interstate a K-9 was deployed. When the K-9 reached Wigfield he refused to surrender and began kicking the dog while trying to run. Wigfield was taken into custody moments later and was transported to a local hospital by Osceola County EMS to be treated for injuries related to the struggle with the K-9. Wigfield is being guarded by armed Officers at the Florida Hospital until he is medically cleared for release. Florida authorities will hold Wigfield until he is extradited back to the State of Ohio.

Assistant Chief Deputy Marshal Andrew Deserto stated, "We are relieved that this sexual predator is back in custody and will soon be facing the sentence he attempted to avoid. Great work to all the law enforcement officers involved in Ohio and Florida."

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of a known fugitive is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at 1-866-4WANTED or Text keyword WANTED and tip to TIP411 (847411) Tipsters can remain anonymous and reward money is available.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force – Painesville Division is composed of the following federal, state and local agencies: U.S. Marshals Service, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Offices, Lake County Narcotic’s Agency Ashtabula County Adult Probation, Mentor Police Department, Painesville Police Department, Willoughby Police Department, Willoughby Hills Police Department, Wickliffe Police Department, Eastlake Police Department, Willowick Police Department, Mentor on the Lake Police Department, Middlefield Police Department, Burton Police Department, Chester Township Police Department, Ashtabula Police Department, Conneaut Police Department, and the North Kingsville Police Department.

Two 'Fugitives of the Week' Arrested in Two States



Concord, NH - Today, operations conducted by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Forces in both NH and Massachusetts resulted in the early morning arrests of two 'Fugitives of the Week.' Matthew MacInnis, 27 whose last known address was in Manchester, NH was arrested in East Bridgewater, Mass. Frederick Sanborn, 28 who most recently resided in Laconia, NH was located and arrested in Gilford, NH.

Frederick Sanborn was wanted on an outstanding parole warrant that was issued by the NH Department of Corrections Parole Board. Sanborn was on parole as part of his court ordered sentence for witness tampering. Information developed through tipsters and the hard work of investigators led the fugitive task force to a residence on Liscomb Circle in Gilford, NH where Sanborn was arrested without incident. This arrest was made by members of the NH Joint Fugitive Task Force from the Belknap County Sheriff’s Office, Gilford & Greenfield Police Departments, NH Probation and Parole, along with deputy U.S. Marshals.

Matthew MacInnis was being sought by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on an arrest warrant for probation violations stemming from a conviction for a second degree assault by strangulation. This morning, members from the Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Massachusetts acted on information provided by NH investigators led to the location and arrest of MacInnis at a residence in the 200 block of Hudson Street in East Bridgewater, Mass. Also arrested at this location was MacInnis’ girlfriend, Nicole Rossier, 27, who had outstanding arrest warrants in Massachusetts for possession of narcotics and shoplifting. These arrests in Massachusetts were made through a cooperative effort of the Marshals Fugitive Task Forces in both Mass. and NH, including task force members from the Brockton Police Department, Mass. State Police – Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, along with deputy U.S. Marshals.

As part of these investigations, Sanborn and MacInnis were aired in the weekly feature known as the 'Fugitive of the Week.' Sanborn was featured on July 18, 2013, while MacInnis was only featured today. The 'Fugitive of the Week' is broadcast on WTPL-FM, WMUR-TV, The Union Leader, The Nashua Telegraph and is prominently featured on the internet.

Sanborn is currently being processed at the Belknap County Jail where he will be held pending his return to the NH State Prison on his parole violations.

MacInnis has been charged as a fugitive from justice on the outstanding Hillsborough County arrest warrant. MacInnis will have a court appearance at Brockton District Court sometime today and will be held at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility pending his return to NH, where he will face his probation violation charges.

Since the inception of the New Hampshire Joint Fugitive Task Force in 2002, these partnerships have resulted in over 5,370 arrests. These arrests have ranged in seriousness from murder, assault, unregistered sex offenders, probation and parole violations and numerous other serious offenses. Nationally the United States Marshals Service fugitive programs are carried out with local law enforcement in 94 district offices, 85 local fugitive task forces, 7 regional task forces, as well as a growing network of offices in foreign countries.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Three Former UBS Executives Sentenced to Serve Time in Prison for Frauds Involving Contracts Related to the Investment of Municipal Bond Proceeds


Three former financial services executives were sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for their participation in frauds related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts, the Department of Justice announced.

Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty, all former UBS AG executives, were convicted on Aug. 31, 2012, after a five-week trial for their roles in the frauds.  They were sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood. Ghavami was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and to pay a $1 million criminal fine; Heinz was sentenced to serve 27 months in prison and to pay a $400,000 criminal fine; and Welty was sentenced to serve 16 months in prison and to pay a $300,000 criminal fine. 

“For years, these executives corrupted the competitive bidding process and defrauded municipalities across the country for important public works projects,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “The division will continue to prosecute those who subvert and corrupt competitive markets for personal profit.”

According to evidence presented at trial, while employed at UBS, Ghavami, Heinz and Welty participated in multiple fraud conspiracies and schemes with various financial institutions and with a broker, at various time periods from as early as March 2001 until at least November 2006.  These financial institutions, or providers, offered a type of contract – known as an investment agreement – to state, county and local governments and agencies, and not-for-profit entities, throughout the United States. The public entities were seeking to invest money from a variety of sources, primarily the proceeds of municipal bonds that they had issued to raise money for, among other things, public projects. Public entities typically hire a broker to assist them in investing their money and to conduct a competitive bidding process to determine the winning provider.

At trial, the Department of Justice showed that while acting as providers, Ghavami, Heinz and Welty conspired with other providers and with a broker to corrupt the bidding process for more than a dozen investment agreements in order to increase the number and profitability of the agreements awarded to UBS.  At other times, while acting as brokers, Ghavami, Heinz, Welty and their co-conspirators arranged for UBS to receive kickbacks in exchange for manipulating the bidding process and steering investment agreements to certain providers. Ghavami, Heinz and Welty deprived the municipalities of competitive interest rates for the investment of tax-exempt bond proceeds that were to be used by municipalities to refinance outstanding debt and for various public works projects, such as for building or repairing schools, hospitals and roads. Evidence at trial established that they cost municipalities around the country and the U.S. Treasury millions of dolla rs.
 
During the trial, the government presented specific evidence relating to 26 corrupted bids, including 76 recorded conversations made by the co-conspirator financial institutions. Among the issuers and not-for-profit entities whose agreements or contracts were subject to the defendants’ schemes were the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation, the Tobacco Settlement Financing Corporation of Rhode Island, the Hospital Authority of Forsyth County, Ga., and the RWJ Health Care Corp. at Hamilton in New Jersey.
 
“The charges against these individuals outline a deceptive scheme to subvert competition in the marketplace. Those who engage in this type of criminal activity not only stand to defraud public entities, but erode the public’s trust in the competitive bidding process,” said George Venizelos, Acting Director in Charge of the FBI in New York.  “The sentences announced today remind the public that the FBI will continue to work with the Antitrust Division to ensure the integrity of competitive bidding in public finance.”
 
“Those who manipulate the competitive bidding system to benefit themselves will be held accountable for their criminal activity,” said Richard Weber, Chief, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “The defendants conspired with others to corrupt the bidding process for more than a dozen investment agreements in order to increase the profitability of the agreements awarded to UBS. Quite simply, they enriched themselves at the expense of the towns and cities that needed the money for important public works projects such as building and repairing schools, hospitals and roads. IRS-CI is committed to using our financial expertise to uncover this kind of corruption.”

Ghavami was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of substantive wire fraud. Heinz was found guilty on three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of substantive wire fraud. Welty was found guilty on three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

A total of 20 individuals have been charged as a result of the department’s ongoing municipal bonds investigation, and 19 have been convicted or pleaded guilty. Another individual awaits trial. Additionally, one company, Rubin/Chambers, Dunhill Insurance Services Inc. has pleaded guilty.
 
The sentences announced today resulted from an ongoing investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York and Chicago Offices, the FBI and the IRS-CI. The division is coordinating its investigation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
 
Today’s charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.

Friday, July 19, 2013

California Man Sentenced to 960 Months for Producing Child Pornography Involving Two Young Virginia Girls

John Stuart Dowell, 47, of Santa Cruz, Calif., was sentenced late yesterday in Harrisonburg, Va., to serve 960 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for producing child pornography.

The sentence was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy J. Heaphy.

Dowell was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski in the Western District of Virginia.

In October 2012, Dowell pleaded guilty to 12 counts of using a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of that conduct and one count of transportation of child pornography.

According to a statement of facts entered into the record by the government and agreed to by the defendant, Dowell admitted that in late 2010 and early 2011 he was staying at a residence in Frederick County, Va.  While staying at the home, Dowell repeatedly sexually abused a 3-year-old girl and filmed the abuse.  A computer forensic examination further revealed that Dowell, in separate incidents, produced two videos of a 5-year-old female engaging in sexually explicit conduct. According to testimony provided at the sentencing hearing, Dowell also had a collection exceeding 70,000 images and videos of other child pornography and child erotica.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Northern Virginia-District of Columbia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with assistance from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the San Jose, Calif., Police Department, as well as Danish law enforcement officers and Interpol.  The High Tech Investigative Unit from the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) conducted the forensic examination.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy S. Healey and CEOS Trial Attorney Darcy Katzin are prosecuting the case for the United States.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My educational journey: It doesn’t have to be a race

by Technical Sgt. Antonio Trigo
58 MXG/MXOP


7/18/2013 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- I enlisted in the Air Force in April 1999. Like many who enlist, I signed up for the benefit of a "paid for" education, in addition to the travel opportunities and honor of serving in the USAF. I had a brand new wife and a baby boy, and joining the Air Force was an excellent opportunity for me and my family.

I understood that accomplishing both my basic training and technical training courses would put me six classes away from a Community College of the Air Force degree. My first duty assignment was Kunsan AB, Korea, in December 1999. I was immediately enrolled into upgrade training to achieve my 5-level, "journeyman" skill level. My supervisor made it clear to me that pursuing my education was important but completing my upgrade training was to be my "main priority." After six months, I was able to complete the EOC exam of my upgrade training, allowing me the opportunity to focus on pursuing my CCAF requirements.

In September 2000, I prepared a degree plan with the University of Maryland University College to map a course to my CCAF and ultimately an undergraduate degree. I completed a speech class prior to my short tour ending in Korea and was then assigned to Dyess AFB, Texas, in December 2000. In 2001, with my second child on the way, I completed five CLEPS/DANTES to satisfy the remaining requirements of my CCAF and was awarded an AAS in Avionic Systems technology in March 2002.

Pursuing an undergraduate degree would prove to be difficult in the years following September 2001. I deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, three separate times for four month from November 2002 through July 2004. It made sense to pursue my bachelor's degree from UMUC online, allowing me to meet the mission of the Air Force, be a husband to my extremely supportive wife, and be a father to my growing family. My wife and I greeted our third child in August 2004.

In September 2004, I was assigned to Kirtland AFB, N.M. I continued to take one or two classes each semester for the next eight years. In March 2008, I became a Field Training Instructor, earning a second CCAF degree in 2009 for Instructor of Military Science, along with a Certification for Instructional System Design and CCAF Instructor Certifications I & II. As an instructor, I was afforded the time to commit to my education goals, and I became an advocate of the CCAF process to my students and coworkers. In May 2012, I earned both a bachelor's in Computer and Information Systems, along with earning a Computer Networking certification from UMUC's certification program.

For me it wasn't a race. Within those eight years, I changed my degree focus a few times until I was satisfied with my focus of study. I learned early on the importance behind balancing my professional development, my home life, and my personal educational goals while serving in the Air Force. UMUC's online degree plans allowed me the flexibility I needed to accomplish my goals.

Owner of Los Angeles-area DME Company Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal

The owner of a Los Angeles-area durable medical equipment (DME) supply company has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Medicare and Medi-Cal of more than $650,000.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney AndrĂ© Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California; Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry for the Los Angeles Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG); Assistant Director in Charge Steven Martinez of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Joseph Fendrick of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, made the announcement.

Kim Ricks, of Moreno Valley, Calif., pleaded guilty on July 17, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin in the Central District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

In court, Ricks admitted that she owned and operated Kim’s Medical Supplies (“KMS”), a DME company that was located in Moreno Valley.  Ricks enrolled KMS in both Medicare and Medi-Cal, which allowed her to submit claims to both programs.  Ricks admitted that between approximately December 2005 and September 2012, she submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for power wheelchairs (PWCs) and other DME on behalf of people who did not have a legitimate medical need for the equipment, a practice that, Ricks admitted in court, she knew violated Medicare and Medi-Cal rules and regulations.

Ricks also admitted that she submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for PWCs and other DME that neither she nor her co-conspirators delivered to KMS’s customers, which Ricks knew violated the rules and regulations of both Medicare and Medi-Cal.  In some cases, Ricks obtained the Medicare billing and personal information of individuals and, without their knowledge, used that information to submit claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for PWCs and other DME that neither she nor her co-conspirators provided to the individuals.  Ricks admitted that she submitted these types of claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal because she needed the money to keep KMS viable.  Ricks also admitted that she submitted claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal for power wheelchairs and DME that she knew were supported by fraudulent prescriptions forged by her co-conspirators.

Ricks admitted that she was responsible for the claims that KMS submitted to Medicare and Medi-Cal, although, at times, her co-conspirators used her Medicare and Medi-Cal provider numbers to submit false and fraudulent claims to both programs.  As a result of this conspiracy, Ricks admitted that she and her co-conspirators submitted and caused the submission of approximately $643,468 in fraudulent Medicare claims and received approximately $236,882 in ill-gotten reimbursement payments.  Ricks admitted further that she and her co-conspirators submitted and caused the submission of approximately $11,849 in fraudulent Medi-Cal claims and received approximately $8,660 in ill-gotten reimbursement payments.

At sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 24, 2013, Ricks faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jonathan T. Baum of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case is being investigated by the HHS-OIG and the California Department of Justice.
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 Central District of California.  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 1,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Maple Flag brings heat to Great White North

by Senior Airman Kate Vaughn
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/15/2013 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Members of the 425th Fighter Squadron recently participated in Maple Flag, a Canadian directed exercise conducted annually that provides training for warfighters in large-force employment of 50 aircraft at a time.

The exercise, which took place at Cold Lake, Canada, was designed to give real-world experience to participants and promote the ability of allied nations to work together. Ten nations, including Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, came together to practice combat tactics in an international training environment.

The opportunity to work with allied nations was a great experience, said Maj. Nicholas Holmes, 425th FS assistant director of operations.

"Working with coalition partners with a common goal in mind was an invaluable experience," he said. "We can simulate this type of practice at home, but this type of scenario adds the true complexity of real-world operations."

According to the Royal Canadian Air Force website, "Exercise Maple Flag is a Canadian variation of the U.S. Air Force Red Flag Exercise, held several times a year at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada."

The RCAF website also provides insight as to how Maple Flag came to be.

"Both exercises were developed in response to a Vietnam War finding that 90 percent of aircraft losses took place during the first ten combat missions."

Capt. Kwan Quek, 425th Fighter Squadron fighter weapons instructor, attended the exercise and said it falls perfectly in line with the 425th FS mission statement.

"Our mission statement is to conduct high-end training for the Republic of Singapore air force," Quek said. "While benchmarking against the best in the world we were able to learn from others while fulfilling our mission statement."

Quek also said knowledge learned here at Luke contributed to the success of the RSAF in the exercise.

"Due to training here at Luke, from mission planning to technical execution, we were able to participate at maximum capacity," Quek said.

It wasn't only those who participated in the actual exercise that made the event possible.

"I am very proud of the 425th as a whole. They safely moved 122 personnel, 21 pallets of equipment and completed 154 sorties without a hitch," Holmes said. "I would also like to extend a huge thank you to the 56th Operations Support Squadron and 56th Security Forces Squadron for working extra hours and weekends to help us conclude our exercise when the airfield is normally closed."

Multiple resources, including maintenance and ground forces were vital to making Maple Flag possible, Quek said.

"It's a realistic training scenario not just for our pilots but for our maintainers as well," he said. "Thanks to their efforts, every single one of our jets got off the ground successfully."

Maple Flag utilized the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which consists of 4,478 square miles of land, and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada.

Ashland, Ohio, Trio Indicted for Labor Trafficking and Other Crimes

A five-count indictment was filed charging three people from Ashland, Ohio, with engaging in a labor trafficking conspiracy and related crimes for holding a woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor for them, law enforcement officials said today.
 
According to the indictment, Jordie L. Callahan, 26, Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and her child B.E.  A fourth person, Daniel K. Brown, 33, of Ashland, was charged in a criminal information filed today with one count of conspiracy.
 
The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012.  The object of the conspiracy included holding S.E. in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining S.E.’s and B.E.’s public assistance benefits; and intentionally causing painful injuries to S.E. so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed.
 
According to court documents, the defendants’ tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting S.E. and B.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar. 
 
Callahan and Hunt recruited S.E. and B.E. to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that S.E. has a cognitive disability and that S.E. and B.E. received monthly public assistance payments.
 
According to the indictment, in or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to have her and B.E.’s public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check.  They then took control of the card, forced S.E. to give them the PIN and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends.
 
On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened S.E. and B.E. with serious physical harm, including death, if S.E. did not clean up the apartment, care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes and other reptiles, purchase items at the store and perform other labor and services.  On one occasion, Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded.  Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts .
 
In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed S.E.’s hand with a rock with such force that S.E. needed to go to the hospital emergency room.  In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured S.E.’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment.  In March 2012, Callahan kicked S.E. in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment.  After each incident, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescriptions for the medication as stated in  the indictment.
 
Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor S.E. and B.E.’s activities and conversations in the apartment.  They often forced S.E. to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food and other items for Callahan, Hunt and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card.  They allotted S.E. only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her that she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out.  They frequently required B.E. to remain with them at the apartment while S.E. was out and threatened physical harm to B.E. and S.E. if S.E. broke any of their rules.
 
The indictment also states that  Callahan and Hunt threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have B.E. taken away if S.E. purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct.
 
In June 2011, after S.E. and B.E. had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find S.E. and B.E. and bring them back to the apartment.  Brown and Silsby lured S.E. and B.E. into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to drive them afterwards back to the apartment.
 
On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked S.E. and B.E. in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside according to court documents.
 
As stated in the indictment, in October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to hit her child while they recorded a video, and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both S.E. and B.E. if S.E. did not comply.  One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced S.E. to strike B.E. while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone.  Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have B.E. taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure S.E.’s compliance to the conspirators’ commands.
 
Callahan, Hunt and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy; forced labor; theft of government benefits; and acquiring a controlled substance by deception.  Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.
 
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz and Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with  assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.
 
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Massachusetts Man Charged with Selling Counterfeit Semiconductors Intended for Use on Nuclear Submarines

Peter Picone, 40, of Methuen, Mass., has been charged with importing counterfeit semiconductors from China for sale in the United States.

The charges were announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly; Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston; Acting Special Agent in Charge of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Northeast Field Office Craig W. Rupert; and Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Northeast Field Office Cheryl A. DiPrizio.  

The eight-count indictment charges Picone with conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, conspiring to traffic in counterfeit military goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering.  The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in New Haven on June 25, 2013, and was unsealed today.

The indictment charges that from February 2007 through April 2012, Picone, through two companies he owned and operated, Tytronix Inc. and Epic International Electronics, purchased counterfeit semiconductors from sources in Hong Kong and China.  According to the indictment, Picone made false representations about the semiconductors and sold them to customers throughout the United States, including companies believed by Picone to be defense contractors in Connecticut and Florida.  Certain semiconductors sold by Picone were intended for use on nuclear submarines.

“By allegedly purchasing and reselling counterfeit semiconductors for military applications, Peter Picone put personal gain above the safety and well-being of dedicated U.S. servicemen and women,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “As charged in the indictment, Picone went to great lengths to conceal the true origin of counterfeit semiconductors in order to sell the devices as seemingly legitimate and reliable components for use in nuclear submarines and other complex machinery.  The charges unsealed today demonstrate our steadfast commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to prosecute counterfeiters and others who risk the security of the men and women of the U.S. military.”

“Counterfeit semiconductors pose a serious health and safety risk to consumers and end-users, and an even greater threat to the safety of the men and women of our armed services when they are sold for use in the military,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daly.  “We will prosecute these types of cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Today’s charges demonstrate the continued commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our peer agencies to protect the Department of Defense’s supply chain from being infiltrated and compromised with inferior components,” said DCIS Northeast Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Rupert.  “Safeguarding our warfighters and ensuring their equipment functions at the absolute highest levels is vital to our nation’s defense and readiness.  Detecting and dismantling the operations of suppliers who choose to make a profit by supplying counterfeit or inferior products is a DCIS priority.  I applaud the agents and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about this result.”

“Trafficking in counterfeit sensitive technologies is an extremely dangerous practice on several fronts. Not only are there significant risks associated with the transportation of this faulty equipment, but our own American servicemembers are also put in harm’s way when they encounter substandard equipment,” said ICE-HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart.  “One of HSI's top enforcement priorities is protecting the integrity of U.S. military products and other sensitive technology.” 

“Counterfeit semiconductors represent a serious threat to the safety of our military service members and raise national security concerns,” said NCIS Special Agent in Charge DiPrizio.  “The introduction of defective equipment into the military supply chain can result in product failure, property damage and even serious bodily injury, including death.  Some of these counterfeit devices can also be preprogrammed with malicious code and enable computer network intrusion.  NCIS has worked closely with our law enforcement partners at DCIS and ICE-HSI in identifying unscrupulous suppliers and bringing them to justice.”

Picone was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez of the District of Connecticut in Hartford, Conn., and was released on bond.  Trial is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford.

If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.  If convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, or wire fraud, Picone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.  If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison. 

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of proceeds from illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods and wire fraud as well as the seizure of the goods and any property involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was jointly investigated by HSI, DCIS and NCIS.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorneys Kendra Ervin and Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.  Trial Attorney Kristen M. Warden of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section is assisting with the forfeiture aspects of the case.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Associate Sentenced to 96 Months in Prison

Gary Battaglini was sentenced today to serve 96 months in prison for his participation in a racketeering conspiracy involving loan sharking and illegal gambling, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.

Battaglini, 52, of Sewell, N.J., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  In addition to his prison term, Battaglini was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release.

 On Feb. 5, 2013, after a four-month trial, a jury convicted Battaglini of conspiring to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra (LCN) Family through a pattern of racketeering activity.  The evidence at trial proved that, in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy, Battaglini, as an LCN Family “associate,” engaged in loan sharking and illegal sports bookmaking activities on behalf of the mob.  Battaglini exploited the violent reputation of the Philadelphia LCN Family in extending usurious loans and collecting payments on the loans, leaving the borrowers in fear of physical harm if they did not pay promptly. 

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank A. Labor III and Suzanne B. Ercole of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Valuable prosecutorial assistance was provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.

 A total of 12 leaders, members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN Family have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury as part of this case. Six of the defendants, including Battaglini, have been sentenced, and six are awaiting sentencing.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, Philadelphia Police Department, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.  Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Sex Discrimination

The Department of Justice announced today the filing of a lawsuit, against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), alleging that CDCR discriminated against Joe B. Cummings on the basis of his sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.  Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. 
 
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that Cummings’s former co-worker at CDCR sexually harassed him for more than a year until she was placed on administrative leave, for unrelated reasons, in October 2009.   According to the complaint, Cummings, a male cook with CDCR, was subjected to frequent unwanted and unwelcomed sexual advances made towards him by a female co-worker, including frequent profane and suggestive comments and inappropriate touching of his person.  The complaint alleges that the female co-worker’s misconduct escalated in August 2008, when she forced her hand down Cummings’s pants and struck him in the head.   
 
The United States alleges that Cummings made numerous complaints to his supervisors about the sexual harassment and that CDCR failed to take timely steps to end the harassment or to discipline the harasser.  The complaint alleges that the CDCR failed to follow its own anti-discrimination policy, which charges CDCR’s supervisors with preventing and correcting allegations of sexual harassment of which they become aware through either a report made to them or by personal observation.  Through this lawsuit, the United States seeks declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the CDCR to develop and implement policies that would prevent CDCR employees from being subjected to sexual harassment.  The United States also seeks monetary relief for Cummings to compensate him for the damages he sustained as a result of the alleged discrimination.
 
Cummings originally filed a charge of sex discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which referred the charge to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office investigated the matter, determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination had occurred, and referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
 
“Employees, regardless of their sex, have the right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   "The Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously enforce that right."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

AF Special Victims' Counsel provides advocacy, support for sexual assault survivors

by Senior Airman Jason J. Brown
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


7/10/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- In continuing the war against sexual assault, the Air Force recently established the Special Victims' Counsel (SVC) Program, designed to give sexual assault survivors legal assistance in navigating the criminal justice system with help from lawyers trained to handle their unique needs.

The SVCs provide direct legal advice to clients throughout the military justice process, and ensure the clients' rights are being observed and protected by advocating on their behalf both inside and outside of the courtroom. Ultimately, SVCs aim to encourage survivors of sexual assault to seek assistance from military legal professionals.

Survivors of sexual violence can take advantage of SVC counseling upon making a report to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), victim advocate, military criminal investigator, victim/witness liaison or legal office attorney. These base agencies are obligated to inform the survivor of the availability of legal assistance from the SVC.

When the SVC office is notified by one of these agencies that a survivor requests support, the office determines the victim's eligibility and assigns a specially-trained attorney to provide counsel.

"While we understand there are a variety of circumstances that lead an individual to report a sexual assault, such as talking to a first sergeant, supervisor, co-worker, friend or spouse, the main goal is to get the victim the support they need and allow them the opportunity to seek legal guidance from an SVC," said Tech. Sgt. Alan Salmones, a paralegal from the Andrews Region SVC, which supports survivors from Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Capt. Dustin Kouba, an Andrews Region SVC attorney, said that even if a survivor wishes to make, or has made, a restricted report, they remain eligible for SVC support. Restricted reports of sexual assault can be made through the SARC or the victim's primary care manager.

Air Force attorneys, like any other attorney, owe ethical duties and privileges of confidentiality to their clients. These duties come directly from state bar rules of professional conduct and the Air Force Rules of Professional Conduct, and encourage clients to make "full and frank" disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation, Kouba explained.

"Our office, like the [Area Defense Counsel], is completely independent of the command and base legal office. We are not bound by the chain of command's practices or reporting procedures," Kouba said. "SVCs advocate the interests of their clients, not of the Air Force."

In the near future, Kouba said perspective clients will be allowed to contact the SVC office directly without making a report. Subsequent meetings are covered by the same ethical rules and confidentiality agreements as reports, guaranteeing survivor confidentiality even if they ultimately decide not to use the program.

Though the SVC attorneys are not located at each installation, they remain flexible in providing counsel to clients. In instances where an SVC cannot meet with the client face to face, telephone correspondence will be the main source of contact.

"SVCs will always travel to Article 32 hearings and courts-martial, and will attend interviews if feasible. If they cannot attend, every attempt will be made to have the SVC available via telephone and advise their client appropriately," Salmones explained. "Overall, the SVC is there to advise their client whenever the client has questions and needs legal advice."

Counseling is available to all Air Force active duty, reserve, and Air National Guard victims who are in Title 10 status at the time of the offense and report they are a victim of sexual assault.

Additionally, all active duty and reserve members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including Army National Guard personnel in Title 10 status at the time of the offense and report that they are a survivor of sexual assault, are eligible for SVC counseling when an Air Force commander exercises jurisdiction, or when the perpetrator is an Air Force member.

All remaining categories of eligibility for the SVC program fall under Air Force Instruction 51-504, Legal Assistance, Notary, and Preventative Law Programs, which governs who is eligible for legal assistance depending on their location and circumstance.

"It takes a strong team to succeed in our mission to protect and defend the nation, and sexual assault undermines that," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III when announcing the launch of the program in January. "It's devastating to those involved. The Special Victims' Counsel will provide victims of sexual assault with a better understanding of the criminal process from an expert who is specially qualified to represent the victim."

"This program embodies what the Air Force is all about: taking care of our people," the general said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rich Lamance of the Air Force News Service contributed to this report.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Justice Department Releases Investigative Findings on the City of Miami Police Department and Officer-involved Shootings

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department today released its letter of findings determining that the city of Miami Police Department (MPD) has engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive use of force through officer-involved shootings in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.  Between 2008 and 2011, officers intentionally shot at individuals on 33 separate occasions, three of which MPD itself found unjustified.  The department found that a number of MPD practices, including deficient tactics, improper actions by specialized units, as well as egregious delays and substantive deficiencies in deadly force investigations, contributed to the pattern or practice of excessive force.
 
The department's findings noted that MPD did not provide close supervision or hold individuals accountable for their actions by failing to complete thorough, objective and timely investigations of officer-involved shootings.  For a significant number of the shootings, including one that occurred in  2008, MPD has not reached a conclusion internally as to whether or not the officer’s firearm discharge was lawful and within policy.  The Justice Department found that MPD’s failure to complete timely and thorough investigations of officer-involved shootings undermined accountability and exposed MPD officers and the community to unreasonable risks that might have been addressed through prompt corrective action, noting that several investigations remained open for more than three years.  Significantly, a small number of officers were involved in a disproportionate number of shootings, while the investigations into their shootings continued to be egregiously delayed.  The findings released today mark the conclusion of the department’s second investigation of MPD in recent years.  The department noted that similar deficiencies were found in its previous investigation that began in 2002.
 
“Although MPD appeared to correct course after our first investigation, many of the systemic problems that we previously identified returned to root deeply in MPD’s practices.  Our findings should serve as a catalyst to help MPD and the city of Miami restore the community’s confidence in fair, effective and accountable law enforcement,” said Roy L. Austin Jr, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “We look forward to collaborating with Chief Orosa, Mayor Regalado and the people of Miami to create and implement a comprehensive, court-enforceable plan to ensure sustainable reform.”
 
Wifredo Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida stated, “In November 2011, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice began a formal investigation to determine whether the city of Miami Police Department had engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive use of deadly force by firearms.  After a careful and thorough review of the facts and circumstances surrounding a series of police-involved shootings, the Civil Rights Division found that the police department in fact engaged in such prohibited conduct.  Today, we are releasing the detailed findings of the investigation, with the dual goal of shining a light on past wrongs and – more importantly – setting a clear course for the future that will assure the residents of the city of Miami that this type of behavior will not be repeated in our city.  We commend Chief Orosa for recognizing some of the problems the Civil Rights Division found and for pursuing initiatives to address them.  We are confident that the findings and recommendations will be heeded, and will result in institutional long-term reform that will make our city and police force better than ever.”
 
The department’s investigation involved an in-depth review of thousands of documents, including written policies and procedures, training materials, and internal reports, photographs, video and audio recordings and investigative files.  The review benefited from productive dialogue with MPD supervisors and officers, city of Miami officials, the Office of the State Attorney, the Civilian Investigative Panel, and members of the Miami community.  The Justice Department provided feedback to MPD during the investigation and commends Chief Manuel Orosa for taking steps to address some of the deficiencies identified since the investigation began.