Saturday, May 29, 2010

Richmond Married Couple Sentenced for Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

May 28, 2010 - RICHMOND, VA—Kenneth O. Morris, 44, and Bernice R. Morris, 43, of Richmond, Virginia were sentenced today for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Kenneth O. Morris was sentenced to 48 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Bernice R. Morris was sentenced to 36 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew E. Harris, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge James R. Spencer. Kenneth and Bernice Morris, husband and wife, plead guilty on February 26, 2010.

In a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Bernice Morris admitted to conspiring with Kenneth Morris in 2009 to engage in a scheme to defraud various financial institutions and to commit identity theft. As part of this scheme, Kenneth Morris stole wallets and bank and credit cards from office buildings across Virginia. With respect to some or all of the thefts, Bernice Morris called the theft victims and claimed to be a representative from the victim’s financial institution who was checking on questionable transactions on the victim’s account. She obtained many victims’ personal identification numbers by this form of deceit. Bernice Morris would relay the victims’ personal identification numbers to Kenneth Morris, who would, in turn, use the victims’ bank cards, including their account and personal identification numbers, to make cash withdrawals from their bank accounts and to obtain other things of value. Kenneth and Bernice Morris shared the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme.

This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service as a member of the Metro-Richmond Identity Theft Task Force, with assistance from the Chesterfield County Police Department, Henrico County Police Department, Richmond City Police Department, Newport News City Police Department, Fredericksburg Police Department, and Fairfax County Police Department. Other member agencies of the Task Force include: the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State; Richmond Police Department; and Henrico County Division of Police. Prosecutions for the Task Force are handled by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Assistant United States Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch and Michael R. Gill are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States. For more information on the Task Force, including assistance for victims of identity theft, visit:

Former Claims Manager from Virginia Birth Injury Fund Sentenced 10 Years for Embezzling $755,000

May 28, 2010 - RICHMOND, VA—Iris F. Allen, 45, of Richmond, Virginia a former claims manger at the Virginia Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Fund, also known as the Virginia Birth Injury Fund (BIF), was sentenced today to 10 years, for defrauding the fund of approximately $755,000. Allen is also subject to a forfeiture money judgment of nearly $1.3 million.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson.

“As a claims manager, Iris Allen was expected to act for the good of BIF families,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Instead, Allen exploited these families and pocketed more than $750,000 that belonged not to BIF but to the many children and their caregivers who benefit from that fund.”

“This was such a despicable act,” said Attorney General Cuccinelli. “When my office was investigating this case, we realized that state law limited how much money could be recovered from Allen to pay back the fund. That’s when we decided that a special assistant U.S. attorney from my office would work with our friends in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute under federal law, which provided the best mechanism for recovery and for addressing Allen’s criminal conduct.”

BIF was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1987 to provide lifetime medical benefits to participating infants born with severe birth-related neurological injuries. BIF is currently funded by participating physicians and hospitals.

On Feb. 8, 2010, Allen pled guilty to health care fraud and aggravated identity theft as a result of a fraudulent billing scheme she began in July 2006. During her employment at the fund, from 2004 to 2009, Allen submitted false invoices to BIF for payment to one of two companies she created. The businesses—identified in the statement of facts filed with her plea agreement as Paratransit Company of Virginia and Dandridge Design and Construction, L.L.C.—were listed as the vendor or contractor on numerous false or inflated invoices. Unbeknownst to the BIF representative issuing payments, Allen was the sole owner of both companies. Allen also used the names of 28 different BIF children or parents to create the appearance of legitimate invoices submitted to BIF.

In some instances, the invoices were for services never rendered, and in others, Allen submitted inflated invoices above the total cost for actual services provided by other vendors. The total amount of fraudulent claims Allen submitted to BIF, including inflated invoices, was nearly $1.3 million; however, the actual loss to BIF is approximately $755,000.

Court records also indicate that in November 2008, Allen solicited and received a total of $9,000 in kickbacks from a BIF contractor in return for ensuring that the contractor was selected for contract work.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Virginia State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Laura Colombell Marshall and Special Assistant United States Attorney and Assistant Attorney General Shannon Y. Dion prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States. The United States Marshal Service’s Asset Forfeiture Division assisted the prosecution in asset recovery and restitution.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Plymouth Man Charged with Child Pornography Offenses

May 28, 2010 - BOSTON, MA—A Plymouth man was charged today in federal court with transportation and possession of child pornography.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Office and Chief Michael E. Botieri of the Plymouth Police Department announced today that GEORGE H. LUNT, 25, of Plymouth was charged in an indictment with two counts of transportation of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.

The indictment alleges that LUNT transported child pornography on November 26, 2008, and possessed child pornography on January 8, 2009.

If convicted on these charges, LUNT faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment on each count of transportation of child pornography, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment on the possession of child pornography, both would be followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Significant assistance was provided by the Plymouth Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Yoon of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Bridgeport Man Sentenced to More Than 18 Years in Prison for Robbing Banks in Milford and Woodbridge

May 28, 2010 - David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that DOMINGO GONZALEZ, JR., 51, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to 220 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for participating in the armed robberies of two Connecticut banks. On July 22, 2009, GONZALEZ pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery and one count of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to court documents and statements made in court, on January 28, 2009, GONZALEZ and Francisco Deida robbed the Webster Bank on Merwin Avenue in Milford. On that date, GONZALEZ and Deida entered the bank wearing heavy winter clothing, had their faces covered with masks and scarves, and were carrying umbrellas, which they kept open to block the bank’s video surveillance. GONZALEZ approached the bank manager, grabbed her by the arm, pressed a gun up against her and demanded access to the safe. GONZALEZ then demanded that the bank manager and the assistant manager accompany him behind the teller line. At the same time, Deida approached a bank teller, pulled out a gun, and demanded money. GONZALEZ directed all of the bank employees to a corner behind the teller line and told them to turn around, while the teller emptied the bank’s day vault into a bag held by Deida. GONZALEZ and Deida then fled from the bank in a car driven by co-defendant Henry Crespo with approximately $84,000.

On April 6, 2009, GONZALEZ and Deida robbed the TD Banknorth on Amity Road in Woodbridge. Like the previous robbery, GONZALEZ and Crespo wore heavy clothing, masks and disguises on their faces, and carried umbrellas. GONZALEZ entered the bank and vaulted over the teller line and demanded cash from two tellers. At the same time, Deida approached branch manager, flashed a gun in his waistband and demanded access to the vault. Deida directed the bank employees to a safe deposit room behind the teller line, while GONZALEZ forced a bank employee to go into the vault with him. GONZALEZ and Deida left the bank with approximately $23,000, and fled in a car driven by Crespo.

During the course of the Woodbridge robbery, a U.S. postal carrier delivering mail to the bank entered the bank and observed the robbery in progress. The postal carrier then left the bank and immediately called 911 from his postal vehicle. Chased by police, Crespo drove the getaway car from Woodbridge into the Rock Creek neighborhood of New Haven. There, Crespo slowed the car down and GONZALEZ and Deida jumped out and fled on foot. Crespo abandoned the car a few blocks later and was apprehended later that day in the neighborhood.

On May 22, 2009, FBI agents arrested GONZALEZ in Bridgeport. At the time of his arrest, GONZALEZ possessed in his car a loaded .32 firearm, along with several fake moustaches and a make-up kit. Deida was arrested on May 28, 2009.

GONZALEZ has 16 prior state convictions for first degree robbery that span a period of approximately 30 years. GONZALEZ’ previous robberies include an armed robbery of a diner in Milford, armed robberies of convenience stores in New Haven and Wallingford, and the armed robbery of an auto parts store in Cheshire.

GONZALEZ has been detained since his arrest.

On June 29, 2009, Crespo pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery. On March 3, 2010, a jury found Deida guilty of two counts of bank robbery. Each awaits sentencing.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Milford Police Department, the Woodbridge Police Department, the New Haven Police Department, and the Connecticut State Police. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.

U.S. Border Patrol Continues to See Success in West Desert

Tucson, Ariz. – U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Ajo station seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana during three separate incidents within the last 72 hours. The combined value of the marijuana is estimated at $2.5 million.

The largest seizure occurred Monday when agents responded to a suspicious vehicle spotted by an agent using a handheld infrared camera. Agents discovered an abandoned truck containing 2,000 pounds of marijuana. The agent using the infrared camera observed two subjects fleeing the area back toward Mexico. No arrests were made in connection with the seizure.

Yesterday, an agent was conducting patrol duties in a remote location. The agent responded to suspicious activity near his location and discovered 14 bundles of marijuana hidden in the brush. The agent searched the immediate area but was unable to locate any subjects. The 14 bundles had a combined weight of more than 600 pounds.

“These seizures are a testament to the hard work of our agents assigned to the Ajo Station,” said Patrol Agent in Charge Brian Hastings. “Their experience and determination, combined with proven technology and infrastructure, is furthering our mission of securing our nation’s borders.”

The most recent seizure occurred early this morning when agents assigned to the Ajo Horse Patrol Unit responded to a call. An agent, using an infrared camera saw a group of suspected illegal aliens and guided the horse patrol unit to their location. When they arrived, the subjects had fled. Agents searched the area and discovered 20 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 500 pounds and valued at roughly $445,000. In each incident, the seized marijuana was taken to the Ajo Station for processing.

Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agents remain vigilant despite continuous attempts from smugglers to cross contraband into the United States. Through the proper mix of manpower, technology and infrastructure, from Oct. 1, 2009, to April 30, 2010, agents in the Tucson Sector seized approximately 622,000 pounds of marijuana with an estimated value of $498 million.

CBP at Brownsville Port of Entry Seize Weapons and Cocaine

Brownsville, Texas -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations at the Gateway International Bridge on Tuesday seized two Berretta 9mm semi-automatic pistols, four 9mm magazines and 14 50-caliber assault-type rifle magazines. In a separate seizure also on Tuesday, CBP officers at Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge stopped an attempt to smuggle nearly $1.6 million in cocaine into the country.

The first case took place at the Gateway International Bridge on May 25, 2010 when CBP officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations encountered a black Volkswagen as it attempted to exit the United States to enter Mexico. The driver, identified as a 29-year-old male U.S. citizen and resident of San Benito, Texas was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, further inspection of the vehicle by CBP officers and agents resulted in the discovery two Berretta 9mm semi-automatic pistols, four 9mm magazines and 14 50-caliber assault rifle magazines in this enforcement operation. Officers seized the weapons, magazines and the vehicle.

The second case occurred at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge on May 25, 2010. At primary a CBP officer’s inspection resulted in the referral of a blue 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, driven by a 27-year-old Mexican citizen who resides in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico for further inspection. While in secondary, CBP officers’ secondary examination revealed a total of 19 packages of cocaine hidden within the Dodge. Officers removed 19 packages from the vehicle which had a combined total weight of 21.90 kilograms (48.3 pounds) of cocaine.

The cocaine from this seizure has an estimated street value of approximately $1,545,600. Officers seized the narcotics and the vehicle.

Both men were taken into custody by CBP officers and turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents for further investigation.

“CBP officers and agents in Brownsville continue to work diligently to stem the flow of weapons out of and narcotics into the country. I congratulate our team for an outstanding job with these interceptions,” said Port Director Michael Freeman, Brownsville Port of Entry.

Afton General Store Owner Sentenced to Over 19 Years for Drug Trafficking

May 28, 2010 - SACRAMENTO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Jesus Rodriguez, 42, of Butte City, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. to 19 years and seven months in prison for his conviction on methamphetamine trafficking charges. On March 24, 2009, after a six-day trial, a federal jury found Rodriguez guilty of two counts of possession of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force, the NET-5 Drug Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and with the assistance of other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that targeted methamphetamine distributors in Yuba, Sutter, and Glenn Counties. Assistant United States Attorneys Phillip A. Talbert and Heiko P. Coppola prosecuted the case.

The evidence introduced at trial showed that Rodriguez delivered one-half pound of crystal methamphetamine on two occasions in 2004 to an undercover DEA informant. The second transaction took place inside Rodriguez’s place of business, the Afton General Store, in Glenn County. When officers and agents attempted to arrest Rodriguez, he led them on a high-speed car chase, during which he threw three-quarters of a pound of crystal methamphetamine out his car window. Rodriguez also called his sister during the chase. Rodriguez’s sister was apprehended by agents and officers as she fled the rear of the store carrying a box containing four handguns and used drug packaging material. A search of the store pursuant to a federal search warrant revealed a digital scale and approximately $30,000 in U.S. Currency, much of it in heat-sealed plastic. Agents also discovered DEA prerecorded buy funds among the heat-sealed currency. Rodriguez testified at trial and claimed he had been entrapped, a claim that the jury rejected.

In sentencing Rodriguez, Judge England noted the large amounts of highly pure crystal methamphetamine Rodriguez distributed, calling him a “high level” drug trafficker. Judge England remarked, “This is one of the largest methamphetamine trafficking cases there has been in Northern California.” Judge England made a specific finding that Rodriguez obstructed justice when he took the stand and testified under oath that he had never sold drugs before and was entrapped into committing the crimes, and took that finding into account in determining Rodriguez’s sentence.

In all, 30 defendants were convicted of drug charges arising out of the investigation, including Rafael Ojeda-Ontiveros, aka Pancho Aceka (210 months), Alfredo Ojeda-Moreno (168 months), Francisco Garcia-Gandarilla (168 months), Michael Ayala (146 months), Juan Pablo Velasquez (135 months), Maclovio Acosta (135 months), Benito Topete (120 months), Angel Gomez (120 months), Ramon Ramirez (120 months), Adan Ayala, Jr. (120 months), Armando Solis (108 months), Vicente Ocadio (108 months), and Jose Santana Rivera (103 months).

“This case shows that our office together with our law enforcement partners will vigorously investigate and prosecute those individuals and organizations who peddle large quantities of illegal drugs in our community and across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Wagner.

United States Files Civil Forfeiture Action in Connection with the Cuyahoga County Corruption Investigation

May 28, 2010 - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Jose Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, today announced that the United States filed a civil forfeiture action in connection with the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation.

On December 8, 2009, March 2, 2010, and May 17, 2010, respectively, Teresa Damiani (the widow of attorney Louis C. Damiani) voluntarily turned over the following properties to the United States: (1) a quit claim deed for a Condominium Unit (valued at $500,000.00) located on West Gulf Drive in Sanibel, Florida; (2) an official bank check in the amount of $39,062.79; and, (3) an official bank check in the amount of $1,057,000.00. The forfeiture complaint alleges that these properties are forfeitable to the United States as a result of Louis Damiani’s participation in a conspiracy to bribe Public Official 2 in connection with contracts to perform commercial real estate appraisals for the Cuyahoga County Auditor’s Office. Louis Damiani died in September 2006.

This civil forfeiture action is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney James L. Morford. The related criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann C. Rowland, Antoinette T. Bacon, and Robert J. Patton. The investigation is being conducted by the Cleveland office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. The investigation is ongoing.

Upon completion of this forfeiture proceeding, it is the intent of the United States to return any forfeited property to Cuyahoga County.

By turning over the above-described properties to the United States, along with an earlier $1,950,000.00 payment, Teresa Damiani has paid back all of the funds (approximately $3,550,000.00) illegally acquired by her deceased husband (Louis C. Damiani) during the course of the conspiracy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Former Legal Aid Bureau Chief of Finance Charged in Scheme to Steal Over $1.1 Million

May 27, 2010 - BALTIMORE, MD—A criminal information was filed charging Benjamin Louis King, a/k/a “Bennie King,” age 58, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland and Wendell Jackson, a/k/a “Sonny,” age 59, of Westminster, Maryland, with theft from a program receiving federal funds, in connection with a scheme to steal money from the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau.

The charges were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Inspector General Jeffrey E. Schanz of Legal Services Corporation - Office of Inspector General.

According to the criminal information, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau (Legal Aid) is a private, non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide high-quality free legal services to persons who cannot afford legal representation in civil matters. Legal Aid has offices throughout Maryland, with its headquarters in Baltimore. Legal Aid is funded by private donations and by grants from the Legal Services Corporation, which was created by the United States Congress to provide grants of federal funds in order to promote equal access to civil justice for poor and disadvantaged persons.

According to the criminal information Benjamin Louis King, a/k/a Bennie King was employed by Legal Aid from 1978 until January 2008 as the Chief of Finance and Wendell Jackson, a/k/a Sonny, owned and operated a check-cashing business in downtown Baltimore, with a store near Legal Aid’s headquarters.

Legal Aid purchased office supplies in bulk under a “blanket” system, whereby Legal Aid would be able to take advantage of bulk purchasing power without having to warehouse large amounts of supplies. Under this system, Legal Aid would prepay for supplies, and order them on an as-needed basis, drawing against the prepaid sum whenever one of the Legal Aid offices took delivery of supplies. King’s department at Legal Aid was in charge of paying invoices and administering the “blanket” purchasing agreement, making deductions as invoices were paid, and adding money if approved and allocated by Legal Aid’s Board of Directors and management.

According to the criminal information, in 1997, King approached Jackson about starting an office supply business for the purpose of selling to Legal Aid under the “blanket” system. Jackson created “Baltimore Office Supply,” for the purpose of selling office supplies, chiefly printer paper, envelopes and toner, to Legal Aid. The information alleges that King and Jackson planned that Baltimore Office Supply would inflate its invoices to Legal Aid, King would see that the invoices were paid, and King and Jackson would take the excess money and divide it. Baltimore Office Supply had no warehouse, no other customers, and in fact, Jackson did not even know how to create invoices. King allegedly showed Jackson where to purchase supplies and how to create invoices to Legal Aid.

According to the information, when Baltimore Office Supply invoiced Legal Aid for supplies, King, as the Chief of Finance, paid the invoices with Legal Aid funds. King and Jackson then split the proceeds, typically with 85 percent going to King in cash and 15 percent going to Jackson. The amount of money skimmed by the defendants between January 2004 and December 2007 exceeded $1.1 million, approximately 25 percent of which was directly attributable to federal grants that Legal Aid had received through the Legal Services Corporation.

King and Jackson face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. No court appearance has yet been scheduled for the defendants.

A criminal information is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal information is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Barbara S. Sale, who is prosecuting the case.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Woman with Million-Dollar “Water Park for Foster Kids” Fraud

May 27, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), today announced charges against LILIANA TRAFFICANTE of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with an approximately five-year scheme to defraud investors by falsely claiming that investor money would be used to build a water park for foster children. TRAFFICANTE instead spent much of the money on personal expenses and on repaying people who previously gave her money for the water park project.

TRAFFICANTE, 43, of Manhattan, surrendered to authorities this morning and is expected to be presented before United States Magistrate Judge DEBRA FREEMAN in Manhattan federal court later today.

According to the two-count Complaint:

TRAFFICANTE held herself out as the founder and Chief Executive Officer of International Dreams, a Manhattan-based entity. She is also the principal of, or otherwise affiliated with, a number of entities that appear to be related to International Dreams, including GoOcean Park and Resort LLC, The Little Water Park That Could, Bouchville Manors, and Signature A (collectively, the "Trafficante Entities"). TRAFFICANTE claimed to be raising money for the purchase of land and completion of a water park for foster children (the "Water Park Project"). TRAFFICANTE raised money in various ways, including through postings on the Craigslist website. TRAFFICANTE made numerous false statements to individuals in order to induce them to make loans and/or investments to the Trafficante Entities.

TRAFFICANTE told one individual that land had been located for the Water Park Project and claimed that the land was rich with natural resources, the exploration of which could help fund the Water Park Project. Based on these representations, the individual loaned $100,000 to one of the Trafficante Entities. In connection with this loan, the individual and TRAFFICANTE executed a promissory note that stated that the “purpose” of the $100,000 loan was to help “GoOcean Water Park & Resort purchase excavating equipment.” In fact, no land had been purchased by TRAFFICANTE for a water park, or for any other purpose, and the money was not used to purchase any equipment. Rather, TRAFFICANTE made $40,000 in rent payments, among other personal payments, the same day that the $100,000 was wired to her account.

In total, TRAFFICANTE induced more than $1 million in loans and investments purportedly for the water park project.

TRAFFICANTE is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge and five years on the conspiracy charge. On both counts, the defendant also faces a fine of the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss from the offense.

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the FBI in the investigation of this case.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “Liliana Trafficante allegedly played on people’ good intentions by inducing them to invest in the building of a water park for foster children, but that purported investment venture in fact held no water. This Office, with its partners at the FBI, will continue to pursue those who would lie and cheat to line their own pockets with investor funds.”

FBI New York Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge GEORGE VENIZELOS said: “Individuals who make false representations of charitable intentions will be held accountable for their actions. Those who donated money in the hopes of funding the Water Park Project for foster children were betrayed, along with the children of the community who could have benefitted from the generous contributions of others. The FBI is committed to tracking down anyone who sets out to deceive the unwitting public in an effort to secure their own financial gain, and to restoring the faith of those with honest intentions.”

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

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

This case is being handled by the Southern District of New York's Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney EUGENE INGOGLIA is in charge of the prosecution.

Smugglers Abandon Almost One Ton of Drugs After Roll Over

La Casita, Texas - U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande City Station seized 128 bundles of marijuana this afternoon from a rolled-over vehicle.

Agents on patrol observed a suspicious, newer-model maroon F-250 pickup truck traveling north from the Rio Grande at a high rate of speed. When the agents approached, the driver of the pickup made an abrupt U-turn and attempted to head back to the river. The driver lost control of the truck, causing it to roll over and scatter bundles of marijuana onto the roadway. The driver managed to flee into the surrounding brush.

At the scene of the accident, agents found almost one ton of marijuana, which was valued at more than $1.4 million.

To report suspicious activity in the area, contact the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector’s toll-free telephone number at 1-800-863-9382.

FBI and San Diego Police Seek Public’s Assistance to Identify Union Bank Robber

The FBI and San Diego Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the unknown male responsible for robbing the Union Bank, 4225 Genesee Avenue, San Diego, California, on Tuesday, May 25, 2010.

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, at approximately 3:00 p.m., the Union Bank, 4225 Genesee Avenue, San Diego, California, was robbed by an unknown male using a demand note. After receiving money from the teller the robber walked quickly out of the bank.

Witnesses described the robber as a Hispanic male, 5’5” tall, 160 lbs., goatee beard, blue long sleeve shirt, baby blue chargers ball cap with yellow bolt on front, and sunglasses.

Cincinnati Man Sentenced to 10 Years for Possession of Crack Cocaine

May 27, 2010 - COVINGTON, KY—Donald Walker, 32, of Cincinnati, Ohio was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for Possession of Crack Cocaine by United States District Court Judge David L. Bunning.

During his guilty plea, Walker admitted that he was in possession of over 100 grams of crack cocaine during a traffic stop in Covington, Kentucky. Walker has prior convictions including drug possession, drug trafficking, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Under federal law, Walker must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence, and, upon release, will be under the supervision of the United States Probation Office for six years.

Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth Fries, Louisville Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, jointly made the announcement today after the sentencing.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and Covington Police Department. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony J. Bracke.

Red Lake Man Sentenced for Involuntary Manslaughter

May 27, 2010 - A 27-year-old Red Lake man was sentenced earlier today in federal court in Bemidji for killing a passenger in the vehicle he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. United States District Court Donovan W. Frank sentenced Donald Joseph Sumner, Jr., to 42 months in prison on one count of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the incident, which occurred on September 18, 2008.

Sumner was indicted on November 18, 2008, and pleaded guilty to the crime on December 15, 2009. In his plea agreement, Sumner admitted killing Daniel DeFoe, without malice, while recklessly driving on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

The Red Lake Indian Reservation is a federal-jurisdiction reservation. As such, the federal government has primary law enforcement authority regarding felonies that occur there. This case, therefore, was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Red Lake Tribal Police Department. Assistance was provided by the Minnesota State Patrol. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford B. Wardlaw.

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Civil Rights Violation in Connection with Cross-Burning

May 27, 2010 - WASHINGTON—Daniel Earl Danforth, 31, of Minden, Louisiana was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release in federal court in Shreveport, Louisiana on federal hate crime and obstruction of justice charges in connection with a cross-burning he carried out with others near the home of an interracial couple in Athens, Louisiana the Justice Department announced today.

Danforth was convicted on Jan. 21, 2010, following a jury trial. At trial, the evidence revealed that on Oct. 23 or 24, 2008, Danforth agreed with his two cousins to build, erect and burn a cross near the homes of a cousin and her African-American boyfriend (now husband), and other relatives who approved of their interracial relationship. Danforth and his co-conspirators built the cross using two pine trees, wire or cable and a large nail. One of Danforth’s cousins then went to get diesel fuel to use to burn the cross. Meanwhile, Danforth and his other cousin transported the cross to an area adjacent to the victims’ homes where, using chainsaw gas, they set the cross on fire in order to intimidate the victims. On Oct. 26, 2008, Danforth telephoned a relative who was living with the victims and directed her to the location of the burned cross.

“Driven only by bigotry and hate, the defendant threatened members of his own family with violence because they associated with persons of another race. Incidents of this kind have no place in this country, and they are a reminder of the civil rights challenges we still face in 2010,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.

“The defendant’s burning cross was designed to send a terrifying message of racial intolerance and intimidation to a couple who desired nothing more than to live in their home in peace,” said William J. Flanagan, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.

Evidence also showed that several days later, after the defendant and his co-conspirators learned that the FBI was investigating the crime as a potential civil rights violation, Danforth, his cousin who helped transport and burn the cross, and the cousin’s girlfriend formed a plan to get rid of the burned cross to prevent the FBI from discovering it and using it as evidence. Danforth’s cousin drove Danforth to the woods behind the victims’ homes, where Danforth removed the cross, disassembled it and hid it in the woods in an effort to thwart the FBI investigation into the cross-burning.

On April 28, 2010, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Danforth’s cousin, Joshua James Moro, for his participation in the civil rights conspiracy. The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick for the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Erin Aslan from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Erie Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Dealing Crack Cocaine

May 27, 2010 - Acting United States Attorney Robert S. Cessar announced today, May 26, 2010, that Christopher George Bowersox, a resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court in Erie to sixty months in jail on his conviction of violating federal drug laws.

United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin imposed the sentence on Bowersox, age 38.

According to information presented to the court by Assistant United States Attorney Marshall J. Piccinini, Bowersox possessed with intent to distribute and distributed approximately 5.4 grams of crack cocaine.

Mr. Cessar commended the EAGLE task force, which is comprised of members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Erie Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Bowersox.

Jonathan Rodriguez Sentenced in U.S. District Court

May 27, 2010 - The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on May 27, 2010, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ, a 24-year-old resident of Billings, appeared for sentencing. RODRIGUEZ was sentenced to a term of:

• Prison: 105 months

• Special Assessment: $100

• Supervised Release: Five years

• RODRIGUEZ was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney James E. Seykora, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On July 29, 2009, members of the FBI Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force executed a search warrant at RODRIGUEZ’s Billings residence after receiving information that he had a large amount of methamphetamine at his residence. Probation officers had responded and located several ounces of suspected methamphetamine before summoning the task force.

A subsequent search yielded 617 grams of suspected methamphetamine, which field tested positive. DEA lab results show the amount to be 585.4 grams of a mixture of meth or 159.3 grams of actual methamphetamine.

When interviewed, RODRIGUEZ admitted to the following:

He began obtaining and distributing methamphetamine in early January of 2009.

Between January 2009 and July 29, 2009, he estimated that he received and re-distributed approximately nine to ten pounds of methamphetamine to various subjects in Billings.

He directed other people, some of whom were juveniles, to wire money to his drug sources in Arizona as payment for drugs. RODRIGUEZ stated he provided them with the money to wire.

The day he was arrested (July 29, 2009), he received approximately one and a half pounds of methamphetamine for re-distribution.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the “truth in sentencing” guidelines mandate that RODRIGUEZ will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, RODRIGUEZ does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for “good behavior.” However, this reduction will not exceed 15 percent of the overall sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Big Sky Safe Streets Task Force and Probation and Parole.

Pediatric Practice Pays $65,378 to Settle Allegations Under the False Claims Act

May 27, 2010 - David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that MILFORD PEDIATRIC GROUP, P.C., a pediatric medical practice with a business address at 20 Commerce Park, Milford, Connecticut, has entered into a civil settlement agreement with the Government in which it will pay $65,378 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.

U.S. Attorney Fein explained that the allegations against MILFORD PEDIATRIC involved improper billing of a “special services” code. When services such as office visits are provided on days when the office is normally closed or after a provider’s usual office hours, a provider is permitted to bill an add-on code and receive an extra payment, in addition to the payment for the underlying service. Between 2006 and 2009, the so-called “after hours” billing code (CPT code 99050) was defined as services provided “at times other than regularly scheduled office hours, or days when the office is normally closed (e.g. holidays, Saturday or Sunday).”

In 2006, the American Medical Association provided the following guidance as to when this add-on code could be properly billed: “A patient develops severe ear pain that is unresponsive to home treatment. Late Monday evening after the office is closed, the physician agrees by telephone to meet the patient in the office to provide treatment. CPT code 99050 is reported in addition to the basic service.” The American Academy of Pediatrics also issued guidance on this and other add-on codes in 2004: “the AMA further clarifies the use of these codes by indicating they cannot be used when the physician and staff ‘plan’ to be at the office ready and available to address patients who may require care, albeit previously unscheduled.”

The Government alleges that MILFORD PEDIATRIC GROUP routinely billed Medicaid for the special add-on code and received additional payments, above and beyond the usual payments for the services in question, when the practice was not closed, but instead was open for business and regularly scheduling patients for same day sick visits.

To resolve its liability under the False Claims Act, MILFORD PEDIATRIC GROUP will pay double damages, in the amount of $65,378, in order to reimburse the Medicaid program for conduct occurring between January 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. The False Claims Act provides for treble damages and penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim submitted to the Government.

In entering into the civil settlement agreement, MILFORD PEDIATRIC GROUP did not admit liability.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne F. Thidemann, along with Auditor Kevin A. Saunders.

People who suspect health care fraud are encouraged to report it by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 785-9270.

Tahlequah Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Animals for Dog Fighting

MUSKOGEE, OK—Sheldon J. Sperling, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, announced today that JERRY RAY MILLER, age 48, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, pled guilty to Possession of Animals for Participation in an Animal Fighting Venture, in violation of Title 7, United States Code, Section 2156 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 49.

The charges arose from an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On July 8, 2009 a federal search warrant was executed at MILLER’s residence in rural Cherokee County. The warrant was part of a coordinated multi-state investigation which resulted in the arrest of approximately 30 persons and the seizure of about 350 dogs in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma.

The investigation of MILLER revealed that on January 17, 2009 and April 4, 2009, MILLER hosted contract dog fights in a red building located on his property. MILLER constructed and maintained a dog fighting arena in the building. During the July 2009 search warrant at MILLER’s residence, law enforcement officials discovered numerous items including the dog fighting arena, scales used to weigh dogs participating in the fights, break sticks used to separate dogs during the fights, medical supplies, muzzles, chains and treadmills used to train dogs for fighting. Law enforcement officials also located and seized 12 pit bull terriers.

MILLER was indicted in April 2010. The Indictment alleged that in 2009, MILLER conspired with others to promote and sponsor pit bull terriers in an animal fighting venture as well as possessing pit bull terriers for participation in an animal fighting venture.

The Honorable Steven P. Shreder, Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, accepted the defendant’s guilty plea and ordered the completion of a presentence report. Sentencing will be scheduled following its completion. MILLER will remain on bond pending sentencing.

The statutory range of punishment is not more than five years' imprisonment and up to $250,000.00 in fines. A preliminary calculation of the sentencing guidelines predicts a term of six-12 months imprisonment.

Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Roberts represented the United States.
FBI Seeks Public Assistance in Fugitive Search

ANSON CO, NC—The Charlotte FBI Safe Streets Gang Task Force is searching for fugitive Robert Lamar Smith, aka: “Bubba” (dob: 01/04/1990) who is wanted for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Smith was one of more than a dozen subjects indicted in federal court and rounded up in Wadesboro, NC and Anson County on Friday May 21, 2010. Smith’s last known address was 414 2nd Street, Morven, NC.

If anyone has seen Smith or may know where he is, they are asked to call the Charlotte Division of the FBI at 704-377-9200 or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Violent Criminal Apprehension Team at 704-336-VCAT (8228).

Jared Albert Weeks-Combs Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court

The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on May 25, 2010, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JARED ALBERT WEEKS-COMBS, a 20-year-old resident of Wolf Point, pled guilty to possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Sentencing has been set for August 26, 2010. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah J. French, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On April 20, 2009, the Roosevelt County Undersheriff discovered that drug evidence was missing from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office’s (RCSO) evidence room. The Undersheriff asked the recently retired RCSO Evidence Custodian to inventory all drug evidence stored in the evidence room. The Evidence Custodian concluded that there were 22 items of drug evidence missing. He was able to quantify the following missing drug amounts: approximately 12 grams of methamphetamine and 12 ounces of marijuana. He also noted that $400 cash was missing. The Evidence Custodian also found nine evidence envelopes torn open – which had contained an unknown amount of marijuana.

The same day he discovered the missing drug evidence, the Undersheriff received information from a Roosevelt County Commissioner that a private citizen had reported to the County Commissioners that Roosevelt County Jailer WEEKS-COMBS had been taking drugs from the RCSO and selling the drugs to pay his rent.

The Undersheriff asked two members of his staff to review security camera footage of the jail and evidence room. This review was limited because the tape did not show the door into the evidence room and they could only review tapes for six days prior to the date they started the review. The review showed WEEKS-COMBS carrying a brown paper bag with what looked like red evidence tape from the area of the evidence room to the jail’s kitchen area. During this investigation, a Roosevelt County Reserve Deputy also learned that WEEKS-COMBS had turned off the security cameras for a period of time during one of his shifts.

The Undersheriff interviewed an inmate being held in the Roosevelt County Detention Center. The inmate admitted that WEEKS-COMBS had provided him with a syringe filled with methamphetamine and a marijuana cigarette while the inmate was being held in the Detention Center. According to the inmate, WEEKS-COMBS stole an evidence bag containing drug evidence (3.5 grams of methamphetamine) from the evidence storage area and replaced it with a new evidence bag containing sugar. Examination of the evidence bag revealed that someone had copied the information from the original sealed bag onto a second sealed bag. The Undersheriff confirmed that the substance in the second bag was not methamphetamine.

The Undersheriff also interviewed WEEKS-COMBS who admitted removing five FedEx envelopes of drugs from the evidence room in March of 2009. He also admitted taking a sack of marijuana from the evidence room and replacing it with a box of rubber gloves. He admitted replacing the methamphetamine in one evidence bag with salt, but claimed he had flushed the methamphetamine down the toilet. WEEKS-COMBS denied giving an inmate a syringe containing methamphetamine, claiming that he filled the syringe with water. An FBI agent also interviewed WEEKS-COMBS. During that interview, WEEKS-COMBS admitted that he provided an inmate with a syringe filled with methamphetamine, in addition to the water-filled syringe that he had tricked the inmate into thinking was methamphetamine on an earlier date. WEEKS-COMBS admitted that he gained access to the evidence room eight to fifteen times between February 2009 and April 23, 2009, and that he stole 21 to 22 evidence envelopes marked as containing methamphetamine or marijuana. He estimated that he had taken approximately 7.7 grams of methamphetamine and 2.5 pounds of marijuana. He also admitted having taken a wallet containing $400 in cash. WEEKS-COMBS claimed that he used most of the stolen drugs himself, but admitted providing some to friends.

WEEKS-COMBS faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $1,000,000 fine and at least three years’ supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Scam E-Mail/Letter Claiming to be Associated with FBI Detroit SAC Arena

On May 25, 2010, it was brought to the attention to the Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Andrew G. Arena’s name was used fraudulently in a e-mail/letter scam.

The e-mail/letter claims to be an official “Guarantee of Payment” from SAC Andrew G. Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Recipients are told they have been named the beneficiary of millions of dollars. In this case, the e-mail/letter claims “the International clamp down on Terrorist” has put a hold on the funds. Recipients are directed to send money, within a certain time frame, so the millions of dollars can be released. (Please see below document).

Additionally, in this particular scam, a second e-mail/letter “100% Payment Guarantee” is attached using the letterhead of a legitimate financial institution. This e-mail/letter also uses the name of SAC Arena and language similar to the first letter.

The FBI does not send unsolicited e-mails/letters. Consumers should not respond to any unsolicited e-mails/letters requesting personal information or money. It is imperative consumers guard their personally identifiable information. Providing such information will compromise your identity.

If you have been a victim of Internet fraud, please file a complaint at

Seeking Information on Bank of the West Robbery

The Denver Police Department and the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force responded to a bank robbery which occurred on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at approximately 2:05 p.m. at the Bank of the West, 2050 S. Downing St., Denver, Colorado.

The suspect is described as a white female, 5'4" to 5'5" tall , approximately 150 lbs., 45 to 55 years of age.

The suspect presented a demand note for money to the teller.

She is believed to be responsible for two other bank robberies in the Denver metro area. The FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force has dubbed this bank robber the "Bad Hatter Bandit," for obvious reasons.

Bank robbery is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence for each offense and increases if a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of the crime.

The FBI continues to provide financial institutions with the best practices for security to make them less vulnerable to robberies.

If anyone has any information on the bank robbery above, or any bank robbery, please call the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171; or, you can remain anonymous and earn up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) by calling CRIMESTOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).

Former Idaho Falls Man Sentenced for Debit Card Fraud

Troy Caleb Wood, 37, of Oregon City, Oregon, and formerly of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in federal prison for access device fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge also ordered Wood to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term, and to pay $98,005 in restitution. Wood pleaded guilty to the charge in March 2010.

Wood admitted making unauthorized charges to the Pilot Career Foundation debit cards of students at the Let’s Fly flight school in Rigby, Idaho. The debit cards were linked to proceeds of their student loans and each transaction from the debit card was charged against their student loan. The cards were debited for flight time and training. Wood was in charge of billing for the flight school. In 2005, some students began noticing that their debit cards, and thus their student loans, had been billed for amounts far in excess of their actual flight time and training costs. Wood admitted overbilling the flight students and using the proceeds for his personal benefit.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Four Florida Promoters of Tax Defier Schemes Convicted of Tax and Mail Fraud

One Promoter Previously Sentenced in Connection with Actor Wesley Snipes

WASHINGTON -- Four promoters of a Florida-based business that sold fraudulent tax schemes were convicted today of selling worthless "bills of exchange" for the purpose of impeding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and promoting other schemes to orchestrate tax fraud, the Justice Department and IRS announced today. The evidence at trial showed that the four and their employees manufactured over $1 billion in fictitious financial instruments purporting to be drawn on the U.S. Treasury.

Eddie Ray Kahn, Stephen C. Hunter, Danny True and Allan J. Tanguay, all of Florida, were found guilty after an 18-day trial. Jerry Williamson, who was charged in the same case, pleaded guilty in April of 2009 to one count of mail fraud for sending a fictitious bill of exchange purporting to be drawn on the U.S. Treasury. Chief Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, who presided over the trial, set sentencing for August 30, 2010.

All four men were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit mail fraud in the operation of American Rights Litigators/Guiding Light of God Ministries (ARL). In addition, each defendant was convicted of one or more counts of mail fraud. The evidence at trial showed that Kahn founded and ran ARL from 1996 through 2004. During that time, ARL enrolled more than 4,000 customers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Hunter, True and Tanguay worked at ARL with Kahn to develop and sell tax defiance schemes based on deliberate misrepresentations of the legal foundation of the tax system.

The evidence at trial showed that the purpose of the tax defiance schemes promoted by the four men was to thwart the IRS in its attempts to assess and collect taxes by various means. These schemes included manufacturing and selling more than one thousand worthless bills of exchange supposedly drawn on the U.S. Treasury for customers to use in purported payment of their taxes, as well as producing false and harassing complaints against IRS employees that were sent to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in Washington.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against ARL which resulted in a December 2003 preliminary injunction ordering ARL to cease selling its schemes. The evidence at trial showed that the defendants continued to prepare fraudulent and obstructive correspondence to the IRS on behalf of ARL customers, even after the entry of that order. ARL injunction: Kahn was previously sentenced in connection with the Wesley Snipes case: The evidence in that case showed that Snipes was a customer of ARL.

"Convictions, like the one returned against these defendants today, send a loud and clear message that illegal tax defiers will be investigated, prosecuted, and subjected to the full punishment of the law for their actions," said John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department Tax Division.

"The defendants in this scheme manufactured and sold worthless "bills of exchange" for use in paying their tax liability. This scheme was nothing more than a sham to disguise their intent to evade the payment of taxes," said Victor S.O. Song, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "These criminal actions will not be tolerated. Individuals who intentionally evade their legal responsibility to pay taxes will be brought to justice."

Acting Assistant Attorney General DiCicco commended the IRS agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Trial Attorneys Jeffrey McLellan, Tino Lisella and Melissa Siskind, who prosecuted the case. Additional information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its enforcement efforts is available at

Two Former Managers for Big Dig Contractor Sentenced

BOSTON—Two former managers of Aggregate Industries Inc., the largest concrete supplier on the Big Dig project, were sentenced late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Boston. Despite prosecutors’ recommendation of lengthy terms of imprisonment, the Honorable Richard G. Stearns sentenced both men to three years’ probation.

United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz; Theodore L. Doherty III, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Regional Office of the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General; Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Division; and Colonel Marian McGovern, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police announced that ROBERT PROSPERI, 64 of Lynnfield, Mass. and GREGORY A. STEVENSON, 53 of Furlong, PA, were sentenced to three years' probation with six months of electronic home monitoring. The defendants were convicted, following a three-week jury trial on August 3, 2009, of 135 felony counts, including Conspiracy to Commit Highway Project Fraud and Mail Fraud; Conspiracy to Defraud the Government with Respect to Claims; and Making False Statements in Connection with Highway Projects and Mail Fraud.

PROSPERI, the former General Manager, and STEVENSON, the former Operations Manager of Aggregate’s Ready Mix Concrete Division, had been found guilty of highway project fraud and related offenses for their participation in a scheme to provide concrete to Big Dig projects that did not meet contract specifications, and to conceal the true nature of the concrete through false documentation. Between 1996 and 2005, Aggregate (under the defendants’ direction) delivered approximately 5,000 truckloads of non-specification concrete to the Big Dig. Each truckload comprised approximately 10 yards of concrete. This concrete included recycled concrete that was over 90-minutes old and had not been used by other customers, concrete that had been adulterated with the addition of excess water, and concrete that was not batched pursuant to Big Dig project specifications.

The leftover loads of mixed concrete were dubbed “10-9 loads” by the defendants, and did not meet Big Dig project specifications. The defendants concealed this fraud by falsifying concrete batch slips delivered to Big Dig inspectors and/or representatives of the general contractors at the various construction sites. These false batch reports were relied upon by the government to determine the quality and amount of concrete placed by the general contractors on the project.

Big Dig project specifications required that concrete must be placed or poured within 90 minutes of batching. In most instances involving these “10-9 loads,” the concrete had exceeded the 90-minute time limit. In order to conceal the true age of the concrete, the defendants directed truck drivers and other Aggregate employees to add water, as well as other ingredients, to the “10-9 loads” to make those loads appear to be freshly batched. Big Dig project specifications also prohibited the addition of water to concrete after the concrete had been batched except under tightly controlled circumstances. The defendants also falsified batch reports to indicate the presence of fly ash when in fact, there was none in the load because Aggregate Industries ran short of fly ash. Fly ash is an essential ingredient in concrete that makes the it more durable and prevents the infiltration of water.

The defendants faced maximum penalties of 20 years’ incarceration on each of the mail fraud counts, 10 years’ incarceration on the conspiracy to make false claims against the United States, and five years’ incarceration on the conspiracy to commit highway project fraud and mail fraud count, as well as on each highway project fraud count. Each count also carried a maximum fine of $250,000 fine. Pursuant to the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines, which the sentencing court is required to consider, the defendants’ sentencing range was 87 to 108 months' incarceration based on their leadership roles within Aggregate and the cost of the adulterated concrete they sold to the CA/T.

In a downward departure, the District Court sentenced PROSPERI to three years of probation on each count to run concurrently, six months of electronic home monitoring and 1,000 hours of community service. In addition, the court ordered payment of a $15,000 fine and a $13,500 special assessment representing $100 for each count of conviction. STEVENSON received the same sentence, but with a fine of $5,000.

“The government is disappointed with the sentences in this case, and while it respects the court in this matter, the government does not believe the sentences reflect the seriousness of the offense or serve as a deterrent to others who might engage in similar conduct on public works projects in our commonwealth,” stated United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

The case was investigated by the United State Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Massachusetts State Police Assigned to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred M. Wyshak, Jr., Anthony E. Fuller and Jeffrey M. Cohen of Ortiz’s Public Corruption Unit.

Woman Charged in Federal Court with Mail Fraud

BIRMINGHAM—A federal grand jury today indicted a Birmingham woman for mail fraud, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced.

A one-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges CHARLENE ANDREWS, 36, with mail fraud in connection to her application for a mortgage loan to buy a house.

According to the indictment, the fraud occurred as follows: ANDREWS applied for a mortgage loan in March 2007, causing the application and supporting documents to be mailed to NorthStar Mortgage Company. In each of those documents, ANDREWS falsely claimed that she received monthly Social Security disability benefits. Had ANDREWS accurately reported her income, she would not have been eligible to receive the mortgage loan.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $69,500, the amount of the fraudulently obtained loan.

The maximum sentence for mail fraud is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Special agents of the FBI, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, and the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, worked this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney is prosecuting it.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Real Estate Developer Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Launder Money for Political Contributions to Union City Official

NEWARK, NJ—Shimon Haber, a real estate developer, was sentenced today to five months in prison and five months of home confinement for conspiring to launder money for political contributions to a Union City official in exchange for official approvals, United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The sentence was imposed in Newark federal court by United States District Judge Jose L. Linares, who continued Haber’s release on a $100,000 secured bond pending his surrender to officials with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, scheduled for July 5, 2010.

Haber, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, previously pleaded guilty before Judge Linares on January 14, 2010, to an Information charging him with conspiracy to launder money to conceal and promote unlawful activity – specifically, to make contributions to the Union City official’s political committee in exchange for official approvals to develop certain property in Union City, New Jersey.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

At his plea hearing, Haber admitted that in March 2007, he had meetings with a cooperating witness and co-conspirators Michael Altman, 40, of Monsey, New York, and Itzhak Friedlander, 42, of Union City, New Jersey. The meetings were held to negotiate the terms of an arrangement in which Altman and Friedlander would launder money from the cooperating witness through a purported charitable entity called Gmach Shefa Chaim. The conspirators conspired to have Altman funnel this money through Gmach Shefa Chaim to the political committee of a Union City official, in exchange for official approvals for developing a Union City property in which Haber and the cooperating witness would be partners. Haber admitted that he conspired to launder $24,000.

Today’s sentencing results from a two-track undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) investigation into political corruption and international money laundering which resulted in the charging of 44 individuals in criminal Complaints on July 23, 2009.

In addition to the prison term and home confinement, Judge Linares ordered Haber to serve two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a fine of $4,000.

In determining the actual sentence, Judge Linares consulted the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which recommend sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offenses, the defendant’s criminal history, if any, and other factors, including acceptance of responsibility. The Judge, however, had discretion and was not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all of that time.

Friedlander is scheduled for sentencing before Judge Linares on July 14, 2010. A grand jury indicted Altman on January 28, 2010, and his case is pending.

Fishman credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge William P. Offord, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Chao of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

Joint CBP Operation Seizes 1,994 Assault Rifle Rounds Leaving U.S. at Brownsville Port of Entry

Brownsville, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge’s southbound lanes seized 1,994 rounds of undeclared assault rifle ammunition hidden within a 2007 Chrysler Sebring.

On May 24, CBP officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge encountered a black Chrysler Sebring as it attempted to exit the U.S. to enter Mexico. The driver, identified as a 23-year-old male, and his 19-year-old male passenger, who both were U.S. citizens and residents of Brownsville, Texas, were referred to secondary for further inspection.

In secondary inspection, further examination of the vehicle by CBP officers and agents resulted in the discovery of several packages containing ammunition that were hidden throughout the Chrysler. CBP officers discovered a total of 1,994 rounds of .223-caliber ammunition in this enforcement operation.

Both men were taken into custody by CBP officers and turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents for further investigation.

“Brownsville’s CBP team has stopped a significant quantity of assault-type ammunitions from being exported into Mexico in violation of federal law. I applaud our officers and agents for a job well done with the interception of close to 2,000 rounds of ammunition,” said Port Director Michael Freeman of the Brownsville Port of Entry.

"The arrest of these suspects demonstrates the BEST [Border Enforcement Security Task Force] team's dedication to pursue those who pose a threat to public safety and the well being of our communities," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "We will continue to target criminal organizations, ensure compliance with our immigration and customs laws and make certain that our nation's borders are secure at all times."

San Diego CBP Officers Find 1,300 Pounds of Marijuana in Cement Fixtures, Furniture

San Diego - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa cargo facility seized more than half a ton of marijuana Monday, after breaking apart cement fixtures to access the packages hidden inside.

Just before 5 p.m. on May 24, a driver with a truck carrying a shipment of cement tabletops, benches, and other furniture and cement decorative blocks, pillars, and tiles applied for entry into the U.S. at the Otay Mesa cargo facility.

After officers X-rayed the truck and cargo, they sent the conveyance to the dock for a more intensive examination.

A CBP officer roving the dock with her narcotic detection dog received an alert from the canine, reacting to the cement items in the truck.

Officers unloaded the shipment and drilled into one of the cement articles, discovering marijuana hidden inside.

After breaking apart various cement items from the shipment, officers found 140 packages of marijuana, weighing 1,335 pounds, with an estimated value of $667,500.

CBP officers turned over custody of the driver, a 36-year-old male Mexican citizen, to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The driver is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Photograph Released of Suspected Heights Bank Robber

The FBI Bank Robbery Task Force needs your help in identifying a man suspected of robbing the Allegiance Bank, located at 222 North Durham Drive, Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010.

At approximately 12:21 p.m., the man entered the bank and handed a note to the teller. The note demanded the teller give the robber 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 dollar bills. The robber gave the teller a black cloth bag to put the money in. The teller complied and the robber walked out of the bank and was last seen walking south on Durham Drive. No one was physically hurt during the robbery. The bank’s surveillance cameras captured a photographed of the man who is believed to have robbed the bank.

He's described as a white male, mid 40s, approximately 5’9” tall, 160-170 pounds, with a light complexion and a slender build. He had blond wavy hair, no facial hair, and wore a blue-gray short sleeve tee-shirt and blue jeans.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and arrest of this robber, or any felony suspect. If you have information about this crime, please call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

Fourteen Anson County Residents Charged With Narcotics Conspiracy, Armed Robbery, and Federal Firearms Violations

Coordinated Multi-Agency Law Enforcement Strike Shuts Down Local Drug Conspiracy

CHARLOTTE, NC — Eleven perpetrators allegedly involved in a conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine in Anson and Union Counties, two perpetrators who allegedly committed an armed robbery of the CQ Mart in Wadesboro, NC on January 11, 2010, and an individual alleged to have committed federal firearms offenses have been charged in three separate federal bills of indictment. Today’s announcement is made by U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Operations in North Carolina Owen D. Harris, Zebedee Graham, Special Agent in Charge of ATF for North and South Carolina, Tony Underwood, Special Agent in Charge of the Southern Piedmont Office of the North Carolina SBI, Chief Janie Schutz of the Wadesboro Police Department, Sheriff Tommy Allen of Anson County, and Chief Rodney Monroe of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The alleged drug conspiracy lasted from about 2007 to about May 17, 2010, and is alleged to have been carried out within the Western District of North Carolina, in Anson and Union Counties.

“Today’s indictments underscore our continuing efforts to prosecute drug conspiracies and related crimes through collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “The town of Wadesboro, like many small towns in our district, has struggled with the problem of crack cocaine distribution. This investigation and the resulting prosecutions will clearly impact this community in a positive way,” she added.

In addition to the criminal indictment, the United States filed a civil forfeiture action on Friday, May 21, against a house located at 982 Salisbury Street in Wadesboro. According to the complaint, the record owner of the house is T. Willie Bennett. Mr. Bennett is not charged in any of the federal criminal indictments. The forfeiture complaint alleges that since at least 2002, numerous persons have used the property as a place to meet in order to buy, sell, and possess with intent to sell and distribute controlled substances. Owners and other persons with a legal interest in the property are given notice of the complaint and allowed to file a claim and an answer.

Cedrick Little, Kendrick Parsons, Shaun Burns, Adrian Parker, Gecoby Hailey, Clayton C. Kersey, Duncan O. Borden, Katrina Gould, Jasmine Gatewood, Paul Long and Harvey Lee Sturdivant are named defendants in a federal bill of indictment filed under seal in U.S. District Court in Charlotte on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. In addition, Anthony Markee Allen and Antonius O’Keefe Owens are named in a second federal bill of indictment, and Robert Lamar Smith is charged in a third federal indictment. All of the defendants are from Anson County; most of them are from Wadesboro. Most of the defendants were arrested Friday morning, May 21 on the federal charges. Information and status of each defendant is listed below.

In the drug conspiracy indictment, (US v. Little, et al Docket Number 3:10cr87) eleven defendants have been charged with crack cocaine distribution conspiracy (count one), while Paul Long, Katrina Gould, Clayton Cadarius Kersey and Shaun Burns are each charged additionally in separate and individual counts alleging possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine in Anson and Union Counties on dates in 2009 and 2010. The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation.

The federal indictment against Anthony Markee Allen and Antonius O’Keefe Owens (US v. Allen, et al Docket Number 3:10cr88) alleges that those two defendants carried out a violent armed robbery of the CQ Mart on Highway 74 West in Wadesboro on January 11, 2010. According to the allegations contained in that federal indictment, Allen and Owens armed themselves, walked to the CQ Mart, disguised themselves by covering their heads and faces, entered the CQ Mart and brandished firearm. One defendant is alleged to have discharged a firearm while in the CQ Mart.

The third federal indictment announced today charges a single defendant, Robert Lamar Smith (US v. Smith Docket Number 3:10cr89) with two counts alleging violations of the federal firearms statutes: being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession a firearm which was not registered to him.

The case is being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas T. Cullen and Adam Morris. The investigation, which was developed over a period of approximately nine months and which is ongoing, was initiated by the Wadesboro Police Department and spearheaded by FBI’s “Safe Streets Task Force” of which the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police Department is a member. Significant support was provided by ATF and the Anson County Sheriff’s Office. Substantial assistance in the investigation came from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins also expressed appreciation for the extensive cooperation of all the participating law enforcement agencies: “Without the outstanding cooperation of these law enforcement agencies, today’s indictments would not have been possible,” she said.

The charges contained in the indictments are only allegations. In the American justice system, a person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea. If convicted, the defendants charged with crack cocaine conspiracy face a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years imprisonment and a $4 million fine on the conspiracy count alone. Allen and Owens, if convicted on counts one and two, face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years imprisonment. If convicted on count three, they each face a mandatory consecutive term of ten years. Smith, if convicted, faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years on both counts alleging firearms violations.

Leavenworth Man Sentenced to 21+ Years in Federal Prison on Sexual Abuse Charges

KANSAS CITY, KS—Chris Dwire, 37, of Leavenworth, Kansas, has been sentenced to 262 months in federal prison on sexual abuse charges, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today.

Dwire pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual abuse of a child and one count of producing child pornography. He admitted that in Dec. 8, 2008, a woman called the Leavenworth Police Department to report her 13-year-old daughter was communicating on the Internet with an unknown male who arranged to meet her for sex.

Police arrested Dwire when he stopped his white Chevrolet pickup in the alley behind the girl’s home. Dwire told officers he was going to meet the girl in order to warn her not to engage in sex acts with strangers, but police found a Kodak Easy Share digital camera in his truck. Investigators reviewed the record of chat sessions in which Dwire talked about having sex with the girl, which established his intent for being in the alley behind the girl’s home. Examiners from the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory found 90 movies on Dwire’s computer showing children engaged in sex acts. The computer also contained child pornography Dwire had produced himself. The child pornography produced by Dwire included images of a female less than 13 years of age.

In court, Dwire admitted that he assumed the identity of a teenage girl from Leavenworth on a social networking site and through the use of that identity, persuaded the 13-year-old to communicate with him through an instant messaging service. Dwire further admitted that he used the false identity to persuade the 13-year-old victim to engage in sexual conversations with him, which he intended to lead to sexual activity with the 13-year-old on December 8, so he could produce more child pornography.

Welch commended the Leavenworth Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Crimes Task Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask for their work on the case. The case was prosecuted through Project Safe Childhood. For more information see

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ATF Agent is Honored by U.S. Attorney for Dismantling Drug Trafficking Operations in Duluth

May 26, 2010 - Since 2002, federal prosecutors in Minnesota have dismantled many Duluth-based drug and gun trafficking organizations by prosecuting more than 200 of their leaders and members. One reason for the success of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in these cases has been the extraordinary investigations conducted by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) in partnership with the Duluth Police Department and the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force. In particular, Special Agent Darin J. Nemerow of the ATF has demonstrated great dedication and determination while working with his law enforcement partners to take down criminal operations that threaten the quality of life in Northeastern Minnesota. In appreciation for his tireless efforts, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones honored Agent Nemerow earlier today by awarding him with the tenth annual U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Recognition Award.

In recognizing ATF Special Agent Nemerow, U.S. Attorney Jones said, “Special Agent Nemerow exemplifies the best in the professionalism and dedication of federal law enforcement agents. He works diligently along side his State and local law enforcement partners, always focusing on the mission of disrupting criminal drug, gun, and gang operations, never seeking individual accolades. His efforts have strengthened law enforcement in this state and have made Northeastern Minnesota safer for all.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Award is presented annually to a local, State, or federal law enforcement agent or officer who has performed outstandingly on federal cases. In addition, the recipient has exemplified the cooperative spirit Minnesotans have come to expect from local, State, and federal law enforcement.

At today’s ceremony, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division, Bernard J. Zapor said of Nemerow, “He stands at the head of a line that goes back 200 years. He represents the type of men and women who serve our nation every day. Darin is part of a heritage that always works to support state and local law enforcement; always works as a team; and always focuses on the most violent and threatening criminals. We are more than grateful for his commitment to excellence and for this recognition of it.”

Because of the tenacious work of Nemerow and his multi-jurisdictional law enforcement partners in Northeastern Minnesota, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota indicted more than 150 violent criminals from that region between 2005 and 2008. As a result of one of those investigations, 26 people in a 28-defendant case involving the distribution of methamphetamine have now been sentenced. That criminal organization was responsible for selling between 30 and 50 pounds of methamphetamine in the Duluth area.

In a more recent case, 26 people were sentenced in federal court for distributing large amounts of cocaine and crack cocaine in and around Duluth during 2007. In addition, seven others were sentenced federally in connection to a separate drug distribution operation responsible for distributing between 40 and 60 kilograms of cocaine and crack cocaine in the Duluth area between 2008 and 2009. And just last week, Daniel Eugene Baity, age 33, of Duluth, was federally indicted following an investigation that determined he was a major supplier of methamphetamine in Duluth. Baity was charged with possessing with intent to distribute 213 grams of methamphetamine.

Upon hearing about today’s award ceremony, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said, “Special Agent Nemerow has been pivotal in developing our tremendous relationship with the ATF. His dedication and desire to build relationships with the Duluth Police Department has had an incredibly positive impact on our relationship with our federal law enforcement partners and has led to reduced crime. We are truly grateful for all he has done for us in Duluth.”

Nemerow and his partners at the Duluth Police Department and the Lake Superior Drug and Gang Task Force share the philosophy that, whenever possible, an entire criminal organization should be brought down at one time, instead of picking it apart person by person. They suggest that by handling investigations in that “wholesale” manner, criminal operations struggle more to re-establish themselves, and successful spin-off investigations are more likely to evolve during those redevelopment periods.

Nemerow joined ATF in 2003. Prior to that time, he worked with both the Federal Air Marshal Service and the U.S. Border Patrol. Nemerow earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science from Montclair State University in 1994. He also has obtained training in the investigation of armed violent offenders, career criminals, gun traffickers, and gangs, as well as arson and explosives.


Community Leaders See Bureau Up Close

05/25/10 - The El Paso office recently graduated its eighth class of business and community leaders as part of its annual Citizens’ Academy.

This Academy is designed to provide community leaders with a closer look at FBI operations and investigations. During the Academy, these leaders were introduced to the structure and operation of an FBI field office and given an overview of the services the Bureau provides to local and state law enforcement agencies and the El Paso community.

Other topics of discussion included investigative techniques used in both criminal and national security investigations; violent crime and white-collar crime investigations; and the different violations handled by the FBI. Community leaders also were given a SWAT demonstration, participated in a practical problem, and experienced a day at the range.

The FBI Citizens' Academy is made up of diverse community participants. The Academy is held each spring. Nomination forms are available in late January each year.

Candidates for the FBI Citizens' Academy must:

• Live and/or work within the Division's jurisdiction;
• Be at least 21 years old;
• Have no prior felony convictions;
• Have no misdemeanor arrests within one year of application; and
• Pass a limited background investigation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Operation Blood Drive Fugitive Turns Himself in to the Newburgh Police Department

May 25, 2010 - Today, Brandon Jackson, an associate of the Bloods street gang in Newburgh, NY, turned himself in to the Newburgh Police Department. Jackson has been on the run since May 13, 2010, when the FBI’s Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force (HVSSTF) conducted a major law enforcement operation in Newburgh. Seventy-eight gang members were indicted in the Southern District of New York on various federal charges, and starting in the early morning hours of May 13, over 500 law enforcement personnel carried out a major arrest operation. Seventy-four of the seventy-eight subjects have now been captured or turned themselves in.

“Since the wanted posters went out to the media, 10 of the 14 fugitives have surrendered or been captured. The pressure is on, but we won’t rest until we have 78 out of 78,” said FBI Special Agent Jim Gagliano, supervisor of the HVSSTF.

The FBI and the HVSSTF are searching for the remaining fugitives and seek the public’s assistance. The wanted poster at the following web address lists the names of the fugitives and those that have been captured or turned themselves in:

The remaining fugitives’ pictures have also been placed on the Clear Channel digital billboard in Times Square and have appeared prominently in the local press.

“The public’s awareness of these fugitives has been raised by seeing their pictures on the web, in the news, and on the billboards. The public can play a valuable role in tracking down them down. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is requested to call the FBI at 212-384-5000 or the local police,” said Special Agent Richard Kolko.

The Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force is comprised of agents and law enforcement officers from DOJ (SDNY); City of Newburgh PD; New York State Police; Orange County D.A.'s Office; Orange County Sheriff's Office; ATF; ICE; USMS; NYS Dept. of Corrections; City of Middletown PD; Town of Newburgh PD; Town of New Windsor PD; Village of Monticello PD; City of Poughkeepsie PD; Dutchess County Sheriff's Office; Beacon Police Department; Sullivan County Sheriff's Office; and NYS Department of Parole.

Belcourt Woman Pleads Guilty in Stabbing Incident

May 25, 2010 - BISMARCK—Acting United States Attorney Lynn Jordheim announced that on May 24, 2010, Crystal J. Morin, 30, of Belcourt, North Dakota, pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Daniel L. Hovland to a count of assault with a dangerous weapon. During the early morning hours of April 19, 2009, Morin stabbed the victim in the chest with a knife outside the victim’s residence after a dispute between the victim and another male. The injury the victim sustained was not life threatening.

The charge of assault with a dangerous weapon carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs - Turtle Mountain Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Belcourt Police Department.

Sentencing for Morin has not been scheduled.

Assistant United States Attorney Brandi Sasse Russell is prosecuting the case.

Hendersonville Commodities Trader Indicted on Fraud Charges

May 25, 2010 - NASHVILLE, TN—A federal grand jury has indicted Christian Leon Kis, 39, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, charging him with two counts of mail fraud and one count of money laundering, announced Jerry E. Martin, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Kis, through his businesses, Raptor Group and Raptor Capitol, Inc., operated as a commodity pool for investments in commodity futures contracts.

According to the indictment, beginning in December 2003 until about December 31, 2005, Kis devised a scheme to defraud clients with existing investments, as well as new clients, by representing that investments in commodity futures contracts had resulted in a profit for 2003 and 2004, which he knew to be false.

Kis’s false statements caused one investor to mail a $100,000 additional investment check from Burlington, Vermont and another investor to mail a $10,000 additional investment check from New York to Kis in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Kis then conducted a monetary transaction with the proceeds of his mail fraud investment scheme by transferring $100,000 between financial institutions.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Harold B. McDonough represents the government.

An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.