Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Corporate Executive Charged in Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme

United States Attorney's Office

District of Massachusetts

BOSTON—A Boston based real estate executive was charged today in federal court with engaging in a scheme to conceal illegal campaign contributions made to federal campaign committees. He is also charged with witness tampering.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Office, announced today that MARTIN RAFFOL, 54, of Natick, was charged with one count of engaging in a scheme to conceal material information from the Federal Election Commission.

RAFFOL served as executive vice-president for a Boston company that provided management services to a portfolio of real estate holdings, including several publicallysubsidized housing communities in Dorchester and Roxbury. The Information alleges that as part of its business, executives from the company actively solicited campaign contributions from individuals for elected candidates for federal, state, and local office throughout the years. These executives did so primarily to advance the business interests of the company, including to obtain support for public financing of a large-scale, mixed-use development project within the City of Boston. The Federal Election Campaign Act limits the amounts individuals can contribute to election campaigns and political campaign committees, prohibits corporations from making direct contributions to federal candidates, and requires the true identity of each contributor to be disclosed.

It is alleged that, as part of an effort to increase the amount of campaign contributions to candidates who supported the company’s projects or who might support these projects in the future, executives and senior management directed RAFFOL to solicit campaign contributions from vendors who regularly did work for the company.

RAFFOL in turn allegedly engaged in an ongoing scheme whereby he reimbursed the vendors for thousands of dollars of campaign contributions he solicited from them. This included vendors who provided general contracting services, energy services, and security services. According to the Information, as a result of RAFFOL’s scheme, the true source of these vendor’s campaign contributions were disguised from the FEC, similar state authorities, campaign committees and ultimately, the public.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz said, “Transparency is the cornerstone of federal campaign financing. The public has a right to know the true source of financial support for its elected officials.”

In total, RAFFOL allegedly caused over $12,000 in illegal campaign contributions to candidates running for federal office, specifically candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. It is further alleged that he also caused over $30,000 in illegal contributions to candidates running for state and local office, including candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Senate, House of Representatives, District Attorney, Mayor of the City of Boston and Boston City Council. This scheme caused numerous reports, which falsely indicated the source of these contributions to be unwittingly filed by the relevant political committees with the FEC and similar authorities. There is no evidence that the federal campaign committees listed in the Information had knowledge of RAFFOL’s reimbursement scheme.

The Information further alleges that RAFFOL engaged in witness tampering to conceal the illegal campaign contribution scheme and to prevent law enforcement from learning of the scheme. In particular, RAFFOL instructed a cooperating witness to lie to authorities if authorities questioned him about the campaign contribution scheme.

If convicted on these charges, RAFFOL faces up to five years’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for the false statement charge, and 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for the witness tampering charge.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Dowden of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Senior Litigation Counsel William M. Welch II of the Criminal Division.

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

Feds, local law enforcement team up to seize millions in counterfeit goods

Fakes include designer clothing, jewelry, handbags, sunglasses and cell phones

LOS ANGELES - Federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested 30 individuals over the past week and seized millions of dollars worth of designer knockoffs and pirated products, including clothing, jewelry, leather goods, movie DVDs, music CDs, even phony iPhones, in a closely coordinated crackdown targeting counterfeit goods vendors in the greater Los Angeles area.

The enforcement actions involved the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department; the Los Angeles, Torrance and Garden Grove police departments; as well as investigators from the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

All told, the searches resulted in seizing more than 47,000 individual items, ranging from counterfeit watches and wallets, to athletic shoes and workout wear. Authorities estimate the collective value of the merchandise seized during the operation to be more than $12 million, based upon the items' suggested retail price had they been legitimate. The largest cache of counterfeits, estimated to be worth nearly $9.8 million, was confiscated during a warranted search last Thursday by ICE-HSI agents and Los Angeles Police Department investigators at a warehouse in Santee Alley.

The seized knockoffs represent more than 30 well-known designer brands, including foreign labels like Burberry, Hermes, Chanel, and Cartier, along with U.S.-based companies such as Oakley, Dooney and Bourke, Nike, Ray Ban and Kate Spade. In addition to the merchandise, investigators also recovered a variety of equipment used for manufacturing counterfeit apparel, including heat-transfer and silk-screening machines.

In a related enforcement action in Orange County, ICE-HSI agents and Garden Grove police detectives executed a state search warrant at a business called iProducts in Garden Grove, Calif. There, investigators seized four counterfeit iPhones and dozens of counterfeit phone covers that included Louis Vuitton knockoffs. The company's owner, David Nguyen, 26, is one of 30 vendors taken into custody during the operation who now face state criminal charges for possessing and selling counterfeit goods. ICE-HSI officials emphasize the agency's investigation is ongoing and subsequent federal prosecution is a possibility.

"People need to realize that the sale and purchase of counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of ICE-HSI in Los Angeles. "Commercial piracy and counterfeiting undermine the U.S. economy, rob Americans of jobs, stifle American innovation, and promote other types of crime."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca echoed those concerns and predicted more joint enforcement efforts targeting this type of criminal activity will be forthcoming.

"By conducting these sweeps, we hope to increase global awareness of the negative impact of organized intellectual property crimes," Sheriff Baca said. "Counterfeiting and piracy impact public safety by funding organized crime, street gangs, and even terrorism through the sales of these counterfeit products. These criminals cost society billions of dollars in lost government revenues, foreign investments and local business profits."

Investigators from the Los Angeles and Torrance police departments also played a prominent role in the enforcement effort.

"This operation shows yet again the important role law enforcement partnerships are playing in the effort to combat crime here in Los Angeles," said Capt. Ann Young, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department's detective support and vice division. "By pooling our resources, expertise and investigative leads, we can have far greater impact than we might by working these cases individually."

"The sale of counterfeit goods is a serious crime that has a profound and negative impact on the local and national economy," said Torrance Deputy Police Chief Michael Browne. "The Torrance Police Department will continue to work diligently with local and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure that suspects committing these types of crimes are located, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

ICE-HSI's participation in the crackdown on counterfeit goods vendors is part of Operation Fire Sale, an agency initiative targeting intellectual property crime in several major cities nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. Spearheaded by the ICE-HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), Operation Fire Sale resulted in the seizure of more than $16 million worth of counterfeit merchandise in those cities last week.

ICE-HSI plays a leading role in investigating the production, smuggling and distribution of counterfeit products and combating intellectual property rights (IPR) violations. While many ICE-HSI enforcement actions involve counterfeit designer clothing and accessories, some of the top commodities seized in ICE-HSI IPR investigations are products that pose disturbing risks to public safety and security, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and critical technology components, such as computer chips for defense systems and airplane equipment.

ICE-HSI's intellectual property theft enforcement efforts have continued to escalate in the past 18 months under this Administration. In fiscal year 2008, ICE initiated 643 intellectual property theft investigations during the entire year. In the first two quarters of this fiscal year, ICE-HSI initiated 560 intellectual property theft investigations. At that pace, ICE-HSI expects to increase its intellectual property theft enforcement by 40 percent compared to just two years ago.

-- ICE --

Acting Capo of Genovese Organized Crime Family Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy in Manhattan Federal Court

For Immediate Release

August 30, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANTHONY PALUMBO, a/k/a "Tony D.," pled guilty today to a superseding Information (the "Information") that charges him with participating in a conspiracy to commit murder in aid of a racketeering enterprise, based on his involvement in the planned murder of an individual associated with Russian organized crime.

According to the superseding Information filed today in Manhattan federal court and other court documents in the case:

PALUMBO was a soldier and acting capo in the Genovese organized crime family, and operated crews in both Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey. During the time he served as an acting capo, he supervised racketeering crimes of his own “crew” of Genovese family members and associates. Both as a soldier and as an acting capo, PALUMBO was involved in overseeing various of the Genovese organized crime family’s rackets, including gambling, loansharking, and extortion activities.

In about 1990, DANIEL PAGANO, then a capo in the Genovese organized crime family, was imprisoned in connection with state charges. Subsequently, PALUMBO was placed in charge of overseeing the Genovese crime family’s interests in an illegal mob cartel. The cartel extorted petroleum companies affiliated with Russian organized crime that were engaged in a fraudulent motor fuel bootlegging scheme. Through this scheme, the petroleum companies evaded the payment of federal and state motor fuel excise taxes, and the Genovese and other organized crime families extorted a share of the illegal proceeds.

In about late 1992 or early 1993, during PALUMBO’s involvement in that scheme, a member of Russian organized crime asked PALUMBO and others to murder a hitman who worked for him. PALUMBO and his co-conspirators agreed to murder the Russian hitman, but higher-ups in the Genovese crime family would not authorize the murder, and the Russian hitman never was killed. During today’s plea proceeding, PALUMBO admitted that he agreed with others to commit the charged murder.

PALUMBO entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge JAMES L. COTT. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge RICHARD J. HOLWELL on December 3, 2010. PALUMBO faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department in this investigation.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "Today, Anthony Palumbo acknowledged his role in plotting murder and will face the consequences. This office, along with our partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department, will continue to work to reduce the violent impact of organized crime in New York City."

This case is being handled by the Office's Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys AVI WEITZMAN, DANIEL GOLDMAN, and DAVID B. MASSEY are in charge of the prosecution.

Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensed Importers Regarding Acquisition and Disposition Records Under 18 U.S.C. 923(G)(1)(A)

August 27, 2010

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is committed to keeping industry members informed of statutory and regulatory developments affecting them. In furtherance of this commitment, we have prepared this open letter, which contains information about a recent clarification on the “date of importation” required to be recorded in a licensed importer’s record of acquisition, often referred to as the “bound book.”

Records Maintained by Licensed Importers

Pursuant to 27 CFR 478.122, each licensed importer shall, within 15 days of the date of importation or other acquisition, record the type, model, caliber or gauge, manufacturer, country of manufacture, and the serial number of each firearm imported or otherwise acquired, and the date such importation or other acquisition was made. In addition, the importer is required to mark the firearm in accordance with 27 CFR 478.92 and to complete and forward a duplicate ATF Form 6A to ATF in accordance with 27 CFR 478.112(d). The duplicate Form 6A must include the serial number of the firearm if not previously reported on the original Form 6A filed by the importer with CBP at the time of release.

Due to questions recently raised by licensed importers, ATF believes it is necessary to precisely explain “date of importation” as it is used in the GCA. The date of importation is the date a firearm is released from the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and brought into the United States. This interpretation is based on the GCA’s definition of “importation” in 27 CFR 478.11. The date of importation may not necessarily be the date an importer physically receives the firearm at its licensed premises. An importer located in New Hampshire may have its firearms imported through a CBP port of entry located in New York, and it may take several days for the firearms to be physically transported to the importer’s premises.

For example, if CBP releases a firearm on August 1, 2010, and the importer physically receives it on August 5, 2010, then the importer has until August 16, 2010 to mark the firearm, complete and forward the duplicate Form 6A to ATF, along with the serial number if not previously reported on the original Form 6A, and document the importation in its record of acquisition. The date of importation that is to be recorded in the record of acquisition is August 1, 2010, the date of CBP release and entry into the U.S.

The regulation’s reference to “other acquisition” as the possible starting point for the 15-day period refers to firearms acquired by an importer domestically, such as purchases from U.S. wholesalers, retail dealers, or nonlicensees.

If an importer is receiving a particularly large lot of imported firearms for which it does not have serial numbers in advance of physical receipt, it may sometimes be difficult to inventory, mark, and record the entire shipment within the 15-day period specified in the regulations. In such cases, importers may apply to ATF for a variance to extend the time period in which marks are to be applied, ATF Form 6A is filed, and the record of acquisition completed. Such variances should be submitted on a case-by-case basis in advance of a shipment’s receipt in order give ATF sufficient time to review and act on the request well before expiration of the standard 15-day period. The request also should identify and explain the amount of additional time needed by the importer to comply with marking and recordkeeping requirements.

Maintaining open lines of communication with the import community is essential to ATF in carrying out its mission.

The Firearms and Explosives Industry Division staff is available to answer your questions about the issues addressed in this letter. You may reach them by phone at (202) 648-7090 or by fax at (202) 648-9640.

Sincerely yours,

Teresa G. Ficaretta
Deputy Assistant Director
Enforcement Programs and Services

Grand Jury Indicts Honolulu Man for Fireworks Offenses

For Immediate Release

August 26, 2010

Florence Nakakuni, United States Attorney
Contact: Elliot Enoki

HONOLULU, HAWAII — A federal grand jury indicted Honolulu resident Brandon C. Haleamau, age 26, yesterday on three charges of transporting display fireworks without a license, one charge of importing display fireworks from China by means of a false declaration, and one charge of structuring financial transactions totaling over $1.1 million to evade federal currency transaction reporting requirements. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of $345,421.70 seized from Halemau's credit union account, a 2009 Acura sedan, a 2009 Nissan coupe, and a 2008 Lexus sedan. At Haleamau’s arraignment today before Magistrate Judge Kevin S. C. Chang, trial was set for October 26, 2010, before Senior United Stated District Court Judge Helen Gillmor.

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that the indictment alleges that: in 2007 Haleamau caused to be transported and received 278 cases of 1.3G type display fireworks without the proper federal license, and that in December 2008, Haleamau attempted to import from China 1.3G type display fireworks by falsely declaring them as 1.4G type consumer fireworks. Under federal law, a Currency Transaction Report must be filed by a financial institution with the Internal Revenue Service in regard to any currency transaction over $10,000. It is illegal to structure transactions with financial institutions in order to avoid this filing requirement. The indictment alleges that Haleamau structured 283 such transactions.

Haleamau faces a maximum periods of imprisonment of ten years on each of the transportation charges, two years on the importation charge, and five years on the structuring charge. Charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictment culminated investigations by Homeland Security Investigations (formerly Immigration and Customs Enforcement); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant United States Attorney Darren W.K. Ching is prosecuting this case.

Robbery of Wells Fargo Bank Branch in Wheat Ridge

For Immediate Release

August 30, 2010 FBI Denver

Contact: Media Coordinator Dave Joly

The Wheat Ridge Police Department and FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force (RMSSTF) responded to a bank robbery which occurred on Monday, August 30, 2010, at approximately 2:05 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Bank, 12601 W. 32nd Ave., Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his 40’s, approximately 5'7" tall, approximately 230 pounds, salt and pepper hair, with a beard.

The suspect presented a demand note and demanded money.

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).

Monday, August 30, 2010

ICE unit recognized for combating gangs in North Carolina

August 27, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) gang unit in Charlotte, N.C., recently received law enforcement's Special Achievement Award by the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association (NCGIA).

NCGIA recognized the ICE gang unit - officially called the Operation Community Shield Task Force - in the Resident Agent in Charge Office in Charlotte for its success in combating and reducing gang activity throughout the state, and for developing innovative gang enforcement strategies.

"We are honored to receive this award from NCGIA, and we will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to disrupt gang activities, and seek aggressive criminal prosecution of gang members in the state and federal court systems for gang-related crimes," said Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's HSI office in North Carolina. "We also use our unique investigative authorities to enforce administrative immigration law to place into removal proceedings gang members and their associates who are illegally residing in the United States."

On Oct. 1, 2009, the Operation Community Shield Task Force was established within the ICE-HSI office in Charlotte. This office has investigative authority over 38 counties in western North Carolina to specifically address violent criminal and transnational gangs and firearms violations associated with violent criminal gang activity.

Since that date, the unit has arrested more than 186 gang members, gang associates, and immigration violators encountered in the company of gang members or in residences of gang members at the time of their arrests.

In addition to the arrests, ICE HSI special agents have seized eight handguns with magazines and ammunition (including one handgun used in a gang shooting), two SKS assault rifles, one .22-caliber rifle, seven 12-gauge shotguns (five with sawed off barrels), one machete, one pair of brass knuckles, marijuana, cocaine and false identification.

The Operation Community Shield Task Force has identified numerous transnational gangs operating within the area and linked them to significant violent crimes and narcotics distribution activities in North Carolina and the surrounding states.

The local gang unit has disrupted activity of the following gangs: Malditos, Mara Salvatrucha 13, Blythe, Bosnian Folk Nation, Crips, Bloods, Surenos 13, Vatos Locos, Destroy Everything in Sight, Asian Boyz, Down to Do It, 42nd Little Criminals, Brown Pride, M Zone Rydas, the Mexican Mafia (La Erne), Sugar Loaf Clique 31, and the Wickedside SUR-13 criminal street gangs.

As stated in the award nomination, "The HSI gang unit special agents have made themselves available to assist state and locals with whatever means in which they can be most effective. In addition, the gang unit special agents have been integral in assisting local homicide and robbery divisions and other federal investigative agencies targeting gang members and other violent criminals."

In February 2005, ICE launched Operation Community Shield, a national law enforcement initiative that brings HSI's broad law enforcement authorities to bear in the fight against violent street gangs. Operation Community Shield is part of a comprehensive approach, working with law enforcement partners at the federal, state, local and international levels.

-- ICE --

Sarasota Man Sentenced to 262 Months for Unlawfully Possessing a Firearm

For Immediate Release

August 26, 2010

A. Brian Albritton, United States Attorney
Contact: Steve Cole

Tampa, FL — U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton announces that U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on Tuesday sentenced Terrance Riley (age 39, of Sarasota) to 21 years in federal prison for possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony and possessing crack cocaine. A jury had found Riley guilty on February 2, 2010.

Facts at trial established that Riley was stopped in Sarasota, Florida, on July 14, 2008. As law enforcement officers approached Riley, he fled the scene and a chase ensued. During a foot pursuit Riley reached into the front of his pants and pulled out a firearm. Law enforcement was able to gain control of the weapon and Riley was subsequently arrested. A search incident to arrest revealed that Riley was in possession of approximately 22 pieces of crack cocaine.

This case was investigated by the Sarasota Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacie B. Harris.

This is another case prosecuted as a part of the Department of Justice’s “Project Safe Neighborhoods” program - a nationwide, gun-violence reduction initiative led by ATF. United States Attorney A. Brian Albritton, along with Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Tampa Field Division is coordinating the Project Safe Neighborhoods effort here in the Middle District of Florida in cooperation with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials. The program’s objective is to reduce violent crime by locating and seizing unlawfully possessed guns and then swiftly prosecuting the offenders.

Leader of Drug Conspiracy “Rip Crew” Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2010

Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney
Contacts: Wyn Hornbuckle, Public Affairs

PHOENIX — Juan Victor Munoz, 30, Sixto Alonzo Castro, 26, Modesto Castro, 28 all of Phoenix, Ariz.; and Bobby Joe Pierce, 31 of Modesto, California, were sentenced on Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Martone for charges related to their role as a “rip crew”in a drug conspiracy. The court sentenced Munoz, the leader of the crew, to 15 years in prison. Munoz has prior felony convictions which include a conviction for attempted burglary, escape and a drug trafficking offense.

“Four extremely dangerous criminals have been removed from the Phoenix community for a long time,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “This successful outcome is due to the outstanding collaboration and commitment of my federal prosecutors, the ATF and the Phoenix Police Department to make Phoenix safer by targeting criminals involved in the violent drug trade.”

After a jury trial held April 27 to May 5, 2010, a jury found Munoz guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense (aid and abet); and felon in possession of a firearm.

Sixto Alonzo Castro, Modesto Castro and Bobby Joe Pierce previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. The court sentenced Sixto Alonzo Castro, a convicted felon, to seven years in prison and five years of supervised release. Modesto Castro, a convicted felon, was sentenced to five years and10 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Finally, Bobby Joe Pierce, also a convicted felon, was sentenced to five years in prison and five years of supervised release.

“During the summer of 2009 ATF partnered with the Phoenix Police Department to proactively confront the violent criminal crews operating in the metro area,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge William D. Newell. “ATF’s primary mission is to reduce violent crime and we are successful due to our long-standing partnerships with our state and local law enforcement peers. The sentencing in this case is evidence that these joint efforts are the most effective.”

In May 2009, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted a sting operation, dubbed “Operation Gideon”, in an effort to address violent crimes, including home invasions robberies, drug trafficking, and firearms trafficking. On May 29, 2009, Munoz, a prohibited possessor, sold a firearm with a partially obliterated serial number, to an undercover ATF agent. On June 8, 2009, Munoz met with the same undercover agent and sold him approximately one ounce of crack cocaine. During that meeting, undercover ATF agents presented an opportunity for Munoz to steal four kilograms of cocaine from an armed drug courier. Munoz agreed to steal the cocaine and said he had four men who would help him. On June 10, 2009, Munoz, this time bringing Sixto Alonzo Castro and Bobby Joe Pierce, met with the same undercover ATF agents again to discuss the robbery of the cocaine. On June 11, 2009, Munoz, Sixto Alonzo Castro, Modesto Castro, and Bobby Joe Pierce, met the undercover agents at the agreed upon location for the drug rip-off. The crew brought three loaded guns and ski-masks to the meeting in the rear parking lot of a Costco in west Phoenix, where they were immediately arrested.

“Operation Gideon” involved the deployment of some of ATF’s most experienced undercover operatives to team with local agents and police investigators by conducting sting investigations involving violent home invasion crews. Phoenix was selected as the launch site for “Operation Gideon” to address violent crimes, including home invasion robberies and kidnappings. Operation Gideon yielded 70 arrests, the seizure of approximately $39,000 dollars, several firearms along with ballistic vests, plastic restraints, duct tape, gloves and ski masks. Operation Gideon began in May 2009 and ran for 120 days.

The investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution was handled by Sabrina D. DeCosta, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Raymond K. Woo, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Member of Oakland-Based Armed Robbery Crew Sentenced to More Than Thirteen Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
August 24, 2010

Joseph P. Russoniello, United States Attorney
Contact: Jack Gillund

OAKLAND, Calif. — A member of an Oakland-based armed robbery crew was sentenced today to a total of 159 months in prison by United States District Judge Claudia Wilken, for his participation in a series of armed robberies that targeted businesses throughout the Bay Area, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. According to court documents, San Kwen Saephan, 29, of Oakland, was a member of an armed robbery crew that committed several violent armed robberies between December 2007 and January 2008. During these robberies, the victims (many of whom were teenage girls) were held at gunpoint, threatened with death, and physically restrained. Saephan and the rest of the crew typically took the victims’ cash, credit/debit cards, and identifications. “The Department of Justice takes gun crimes seriously and is dedicated to arresting and prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those individuals who use guns to terrorize law-abiding citizens,” U.S. Attorney Haag said. “My office will continue to work with our federal, state and local law-enforcement partners to dismantle violent criminal groups and help maintain law and order in the Northern District of California.” The first robbery occurred on Dec. 30, 2007. According to court documents, on that date, Saephan and his co-conspirators Kao Saeturn, Davis Kiet Dang, and Jantar “Kelly” Phun traveled from Oakland to a massage parlor in San Rafael, Calif. Saeturn, Saephan, and Dang went inside the business and Saeturn pointed a Glock 17 pistol at a woman demanding her money. After taking her purse and a necklace, the entire group drove back to Oakland to divide up the robbery proceeds.

The second robbery occurred on Jan. 6, 2008. According to court documents, on that date, the same group robbed a professional massage business in El Cerrito, Calif. Again, Saeturn, Saephan, and Dang went inside the business. Once inside, Saeturn kicked opened the office door and pointed his Glock at two women and took their money. Meanwhile, Saephan and Dang went into one of the private massage rooms where they encountered a male customer lying face down on a massage table. Saephan pointed a replica firearm at the man and demanded his money while Dang attempted to bind the man’s hands behind his back with duct tape. Saeturn eventually ordered that they leave, and the three robbers fled.

According to court documents, just two nights later, on Jan. 8, 2008, Saeturn, Saephan, and Soeung “Goofy” Mouv robbed a karaoke club in Hayward, Calif. Saeturn and Saephan went to a room and robbed four teenage girls and a fifty-three year-old man at gunpoint. Saeturn and Saephan made the man get on his knees and put his hands behind his back. They then tied the man’s hands behind his back and his ankles together with microphone cord and pointed a gun at his head. Mouv pointed a .38 caliber revolver at another man’s stomach, forced him into another room, and tied his hands behind his back and his ankles together using microphone cord. After robbing two more teenage girls and another man at gunpoint, Saeturn and Saephan encountered a woman and grabbed her and tried to force her into a dark room. The woman resisted by grabbing onto a door frame. Saeturn and Saephan broke the woman’s collarbone in the process of ripping her purse off her shoulder and then ran out of the business.

“This case is another example of violent criminals using firearms, putting the public at risk and terrorizing our communities,” stated Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins. “Without question violent crime is ATF’s top priority and along with our state, local and federal partners we will continue to aggressively pursue these criminals and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

On July 16, 2008, a federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment charging Saephan with one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and extortion; three counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion; and three counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a), and 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). On Dec. 9, 2009, Saephan pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and extortion; two counts of interference with commerce by robbery and extortion; and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a), and 924(c)(1)(A)(ii).

On Oct. 28, 2009, Kao Saeturn, the leader of the robbery crew, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and extortion; interference with commerce by robbery and extortion; and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a) and 924(c)(1)(A)(ii), based on his participation in the robberies and his role as the organizer/leader of the robbery crew. On Aug. 4, 2010, Judge Wilken sentenced Saeturn to a total term of imprisonment of 272 months.

On Aug. 12, 2009, Soeung Mouv pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and extortion; interference with commerce by robbery and extortion; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a), 924(c)(1)(A)(i), 922(g)(1), and 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), stemming from his involvement in the karaoke club robbery and a subsequent arrest for possession of narcotics for sale and a firearm. On Oct. 28, 2009, Judge Wilken sentenced Mouv to a fifteen-year prison term.

Saephan, who has been in custody since his February 2008 arrest, will begin serving his 159-month sentence after he completes six months that remain of a three-year state prison term he was previously serving. In addition to the federal prison term, Judge Wilken also sentenced Saephan to a five-year term of supervised release during which he may be searched by any federal, state or local law enforcement officer with or without cause. Saephan was also ordered to pay a $400 special assessment.

Assistant United States Attorney Garth Hire, of the United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Strike Force, prosecuted the case with the assistance of Legal Technician Kathleen Turner.

The conviction and sentence were the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the California Highway Patrol, the Hayward Police Department, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Oakland Police Department, the El Cerrito Police Department, and the San Rafael Police Department.

Interstate Firearms Trafficker Sentenced

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2010

Contact: Special Agent in Charge Andrew L. Traver
Contact: Acting PIO/Special Agent Todd Reichert
Acting U.S. Attorney William C. Martin
Contact: John Alexander, Criminal Chief

Chicago Man Sentenced to 10 Years Federal Prison

GREENVILLE, Miss. — On Wednesday, Quawi Gates, 27, formerly of 2115 W. 71st St., Chicago, Ill., was sentenced to two 5-year sentences to be served consecutively for a total of 10 years in federal prison. Gates was sentenced for his role in a firearms trafficking scheme which resulted in the illegal interstate trafficking of firearms from Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois. Gates pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and abetting another to cause a federal firearms dealer to keep false records in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 924 (a)(1)(A).

Four firearms purchased for Gates in Mississippi have been recovered in violent crimes in the Chicago area at the hands of Gangster Disciple street gang members. The firearm which was used in the murder of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV on May 19, was one of the firearms illegally trafficked by Gates. Wortham was gunned down in front of his parent’s house in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago. Gates was investigated by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and police officers from the Chicago Police Department assigned to an ATF Firearms Trafficking Taskforce located in Chicago, Ill.

Gates was sentenced by Judge Allen Pepper in the Northern Judicial District of Mississippi in Greenville, Miss. Gates’ incarceration will be followed by three years of supervised release. Gates was ordered to pay a mandatory special assessment fee of $200. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Bradley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern Judicial District of Mississippi.

Latin Kings Leader Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy That Included Two Attempted Murders, Armed Robbery and Witness Tampering

For Immediate Release

August 25, 2010

Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney
Contacts: AUSA Vickie E. LeDuc, Marcia Murphy

Defendant Admits Membership in Violent Gang with Thousands of Members Greenbelt, Maryland - Francisco Ortiz, a/k/a “Francis Gabriel Ortis,” “Pone,” and “King Pone,” age 26, of Rockville, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, in connection with his gang activities as a member and leader of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (Latin Kings).

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer, of the Department of Justice Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy; Chief Roberto L. Hylton of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.

“The defendant admitted that the Latin Kings is a violent organized gang with thousands of members who commit assaults, robberies and murders,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The strategy of combining the resources and intelligence of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to pursue federal racketeering charges is proving effective.” “The people of Maryland know all too well the violence that Latin Kings members can bring to communities. Attempted murder, witness tampering and armed robbery — Francisco Ortiz admitted to participating in all these activities as a Latin Kings member and leader. As this guilty plea shows, however, our Gang Unit prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement partners are taking these violent offenders off the streets of our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

According to Ortiz’s plea agreement, the Latin Kings is a violent street gang with thousands of members across the country and overseas. The Latin Kings have a detailed and uniform organizational structure, which is outlined — along with various “prayers,” codes of behavior and rituals — in a written “manifesto” widely distributed to members throughout the country. Members of the Latin Kings are also traditionally given “King Names” or “Queen Names,” which are names other than their legal names, by which they are known to members of the gang and to others on the street. At the local level, groups of Latin Kings are organized into “tribes,” including, the Royal Lion Tribe, MOG, Sun Tribe and UTL.

According to the plea agreement, in mid-2007, Ortiz became a member of the Royal Lion Tribe in Maryland and the tribe’s Third Crown/Enforcer. Ortiz became the First Crown/Inca of the tribe in 2008, when members of the Royal Lion tribe formed the MOG tribe. Ortiz led the MOG tribe until mid-2009, when he was removed from power, then formed and became the leader of the UTL tribe. As a Latin King leader, Ortiz organized meetings where dues were collected from members and gang business was discussed. As First Crown/Inca, Ortiz traveled to Pennsylvania, New York and Florida where he met with other Latin King leaders.

Ortiz admitted that as part of his gang activities, in late summer or fall of 2007, Ortiz and other Latin King members carried out the armed robbery of a drug dealer at condominiums in Langley Park, Maryland. According to the plea agreement, one of the Latin Kings knocked on the drug dealer’s door and when the door opened, Ortiz and two other Latin King members and associates forced their way into the apartment, each carrying a gun. Once inside, they put their guns to the heads of the dealer and his young daughter. The Latin King members held the drug dealer and his daughter at gunpoint in the bedroom while they searched the residence, eventually stealing a few bags of powder cocaine.

According to the plea agreement, in December 2007, Ortiz and other Latin King members and associates participated in the attempted murder of a suspected rival gang member. When several Latin King members began walking in the wooded area behind a condominium complex in Langley Park, one or more people — suspected to be MS-13 members — began shooting at them. After the Latin Kings began running to their cars, Ortiz made them stop, get out of their cars and retaliate against the suspected MS-13 members. When the Latin Kings found an individual who they believed was a member of MS-13, they attacked and stabbed him. Ortiz admitted that on January 19, 2009, he and other Latin King members and associates threatened and attempted to physically assault a Latin Queen, who was the intended victim of an earlier firebombing. Three days earlier, three members of the Latin Kings had been sentenced after pleading guilty in that case. Ortiz and other Latin Kings attended the sentencing at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Believing that if the Latin Queen was not a witness or changed her testimony the three Latin Kings would be able to successfully appeal their convictions for the firebombing, Ortiz and other Latin Kings put a plan in place to assault the Latin Queen in an attempt to influence, change or prevent her testimony. ATF agents learned of the plan and were able to prevent the attack.

Finally, Ortiz admitted that on July 8, 2009, he and members of the UTL tribe attempted to murder a person in Germantown, Maryland. The victim was walking on a residential street with two friends when a car approached them. Several people got out of the car and began chasing the victim. The victim was eventually caught and struck in the back of the head. The victim fell to the ground where Ortiz and other Latin Kings beat the victim with a bat, kicked, punched and stabbed him multiple times. Ortiz was arrested two days after the attack and at the time of his arrest had three machetes with him.

Ortiz faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for December 1, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. Ortiz remains detained.

Co-defendants Miguel Cruz, a/k/a “Skibee” and “King Skibee,” age 45, of Bronx, New York, one of the founders of the Maryland tribe of the Latin Kings; Andres Echevarria, a/k/a “BBoy” and “King B-Boy,” age 23, of Brooklyn, New York, who admitted that he held leadership positions in the Latin Kings; and Nelson Santos, a/k/a “Nelly” and “King Nelly,” age 27, of Silver Spring, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy in connection with their gang activities and are scheduled to be sentenced on September 16, 2010, September 2, 2010, and October 22, 2010, respectively, at 9:30 a.m. All remain in federal custody.

Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Breuer thanked the Gaithersburg Police Department, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland National Capital Park Police - Prince George’s County Division, the Maryland State Police, the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Emily Glatfelter and David Salem, and Lara M. Peirce, a Trial Attorney with the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit, who are prosecuting the case.

Kitsap County Repeat Offender Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Gun Crimes

For Immediate Release

August 24, 2010
Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney
Contact: Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer

Bremerton Felon Found With Stolen Gun Hidden in Engine Compartment

DAVID GLENN HARRISON, 27, of Bremerton, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. HARRISON was arrested in June 2009 and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm. HARRISON was linked to a series of burglaries in Kitsap County where guns, electronics, jewelry and other valuables were stolen. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle said, “You have been a recipient of substantial leniency in the past; it was striking to see how often you were able to persuade a judge that you were turning your life around.” The judge went on to say, “I want to impose a sentence that protects the public, that deters you from further crime, and that gives you a chance to prove yourself.”

According to records filed in the case, HARRISON has criminal convictions dating back to 1997. As an adult, he has three felony convictions. On November 16, 2001, he was convicted in King County Superior Court for malicious placement of an explosive. He was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. In 2005, he was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm, and was convicted federally of being a felon in possession of a firearm. HARRISON was arrested in June 2009, after law enforcement officers received information that he had a gun hidden under the hood of his vehicle. A court authorized search of the vehicle revealed a stolen hand gun in a battery box under the hood.

Even while HARRISON was on federal supervision following his release from prison, he was committing crimes. As Assistant United States Attorney Marc Perez wrote in his sentencing memorandum, “Even though he was on federal supervision during this period, Harrison remained undeterred. He burglarized homes, kept certain stolen items for his own use, and peddled other stolen goods, including firearms, to his criminal cohorts.”

HARRISON was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in Kitsap County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Marc Perez.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Somali Pleads Guilty to Acts of Piracy Against USS Ashland

NORFOLK, VA—Jama Idle Ibrahim, a/k/a Jaamac Ciidle, of Somalia, pled guilty today to acts of piracy against the USS Ashland, which he believed was a merchant vessel that he intended to seize and hold for ransom.

In addition, Ibrahim was charged today in the District of Columbia through a criminal information with conspiracy to commit piracy under the law of nations and conspiracy to use a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The charges stem from an alleged act of piracy in the Gulf of Aden against a merchant vessel, the M/V CEC Future. This matter is being handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Shawn Henry, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Norfolk, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

“Today marks the first conviction in Norfolk for acts of piracy in more than 150 years,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Modern-day pirates must be held accountable and will face severe consequences. Ibrahim admitted his role in an armed attack on a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden, which he attempted to take by force after mistaking it for a merchant vessel.”

Today, Ibrahim pled guilty to charges filed in the Eastern District of Virginia for attacking to plunder a vessel, engaging in an act of violence against persons on a vessel and using of a firearm during a crime of violence in regards to an attack against the USS Ashland on April 10, 2010. The charges range from a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison to a maximum of life in prison, and the plea agreement indicates that both parties agree that a sentence of 30 years in prison is appropriate. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29, 2010.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in and around April 10, 2010, Ibrahim and five other Somalis sailed on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden searching for a merchant ship to attack and seize, intending to plunder the vessel and hold the crew and contents for ransom. The six men sighted a ship they believed to be a merchant vessel—but which was in fact the USS Ashland, a United States Navy vessel—chased it, and, once they were alongside the vessel, began firing at the USS Ashland and the people on board. In the statement of facts, Ibrahim admitted that all six men were willing participants in the planned piracy and that the purpose of firing at the vessel was to cause the vessel to surrender to them, at which point they would board the vessel, seize the ship, its crew and its contents.

The investigations of the cases in the Eastern District of Virginia and the District of Columbia are being conducted by the FBI, including members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The prosecution in the Eastern District of Virginia is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch, Joseph DePadilla and Raymond E. Patricco Jr., from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Jerome Teresinski from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division

Saturday, August 28, 2010

CBP Officers Seize 2,520 Pounds of Marijuana in 3 Separate Attempts

San Diego, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa Cargo port of entry intercepted three narcotic smuggling attempts this Monday.

The first seizure occurred at about 11:30 a.m., when a CBP officer referred a 26-year-old Mexican citizen driving a 1991 Freightliner Tractor to the secondary examination area for further inspection.

During the secondary examination, an x-ray of the vehicle displayed anomalies, and a detector dog alerted officers to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. An intense inspection led to the discovery of 36 wrapped packages of marijuana concealed in the tires of the tractor. The total weight of the narcotic was 435 pounds with a street value of $217,500.

The second seizure occurred at the Otay Mesa Rail Yard where vigilant officers were scanning the incoming rail cars with a rail x-ray. Officers noticed anomalies in two rail cars. Officers had the bottom door of the hopper open and they discovered a total of 16 bundles which had been magnetically attached to the structure of the rail car. The weight of the narcotic was 202 pounds with a street value of $101,000.

And the third and final attempt was at approximately 4:50 p.m. when a 1996 Freightliner tractor and trailer driven by a 37 year-old Mexican citizen entered the inspection facility, and the primary officer referred the tractor and trailer to the secondary inspection dock and x-ray area. CBP officers noticed anomalies in the x-ray and conducted an intensive inspection of the cargo in the trailer. A narcotic detector dog alerted to the presence of narcotics. Officers completely unloaded the trailer, which claimed to contain tackle boards for carpet installation. Concealed within the boxes of tackle strips, there were 263 packages of marijuana with a total weight of 1,883 pounds with a street value of $941,500.

The total amount of marijuana seized was 2,520 pounds with an estimated street value of $1,260,000.CBP officers turned over the custody of the two individuals to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. All are awaiting arraignment at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. CBP seized the drugs, the tractors, and trailer. The rail car was released as soon as it was verified to not have any more narcotics.

Officers Seize Marijuana at Lukeville Port of Entry

Selfridge ANGB, Mich — At approximately 11:30 am, August 25, Air Interdiction agents (AIA) assigned to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Great Lakes Office of Air and Marine spotted a marijuana field while on routine patrol.

Deputy Director of Air Operations for Great Lakes Office of Air and Marine Matt Mills stands before the AS350 Eurocopter used to find the marijuana field.

The pilots flying an AS350 Eurocopter were on a routine flight along the Lake Huron shoreline in St. Clair County when they spotted the marijuana growing within a corn field. U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Marysville Border Patrol Station along with Marine Interdiction agents from Port Huron responded to the scene were 58 marijuana plants were located throughout the corn field.

Once on the scene the Border Patrol and Marine Interdiction agents along with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office were directed from the pilots hovering over the corn field to the exact location of the marijuana due to the dense vegetation.

The marijuana plants were confiscated by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office and will be destroyed.

Partner at Major International Accounting Firm Convicted of Tax Crimes

WASHINGTON – A jury in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., has returned a guilty verdict against Stephen A. Favato, a resident of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., and a partner in BDO Seidman LLP’s Woodbridge, N.J., office, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. The jury found Favato guilty of one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue laws and one count of aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false tax return.

During the trial, evidence presented proved that from late 2001 through April 2005, Favato attempted to obstruct the IRS by, among other conduct, advising his client, Daniel Funsch, on how to include false items on the 2002, 2003 and 2004 joint income tax returns for Funsch and his then-wife. Additionally, the evidence proved that Favato knowingly prepared and signed false joint tax returns for the Funsches for these years, causing over $114,000 of tax loss to the IRS in connection with the Funsches’ filed 2002 return and attempting to cause over $150,000 of tax loss in connection with tax years 2003 and 2004.

The evidence presented at the trial showed that Favato advised Funsch to significantly reduce the salary payments that Funsch was receiving from his corporation and to instead have this compensation paid to Funsch’s limited liability company, Great Escape Yachts LLC, in the form of purported lease payments for Funsch’s yacht. However, his corporation had not leased the yacht. This course of action recommended by Favato enabled Funsch to fraudulently deduct his personal yacht expenses as business expenses. In addition, the evidence presented showed that Favato advised Funsch on how to falsely increase his expenses in order to fraudulently eliminate a portion of the gain on three properties that Funsch sold in 2002 and 2004. Finally, the evidence showed that Favato advised Funsch to report inflated charitable contributions on Funsch’s 2003 tax return.

The charges of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue laws and aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of a false return each carry a maximum punishment of three years and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, Favato was acquitted of one count of tax evasion.

John A. DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division; Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey; and Charles R. Pine, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Manhattan, commended the IRS agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Trial Attorneys Patrick J. Murray and Sean Delaney, who prosecuted the case.

Former Memphis Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Using Excessive Force on an Arrestee

WASHINGTON – Bridges McRae, a former officer with the Memphis Police Department (MPD), pleaded guilty today in federal court to a felony civil rights charge related to the use of excessive force, the Justice Department announced today.

During the plea hearing, McRae admitted that Duanna Johnson had been in his custody when he used an unreasonable amount of force against her when he struck her while booking her into the Shelby County Jail. McRae acknowledged that his conduct violated federal law and that he violated Johnson’s civil rights. He further admitted that his attack caused bodily injury to Johnson in the form of cuts, bruises and pain.

McRae faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the civil rights offense. The parties agree that McRae will be incarcerated for 24 months per the plea agreement. McRae also agreed to plead guilty to one count of tax evasion, pending approval by the Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

"Law enforcement officers are entrusted with a great amount of power so that they can effectively carry out their duty to protect public safety. This officer abused that power when he violated the civil rights of an individual in his custody," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Officers who violate the public trust in this way will be brought to justice."

"Ensuring that public officials do not victimize the public by abusing their power is a top priority of this office," said Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

"No one is above the law, especially those who have sworn an oath to uphold the law," said Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office. "It is a sad day when our citizens are preyed upon by its protectors, however, the FBI is proud to have worked alongside our law enforcement partners to ensure justice was served."

"We will continue to hold all officers of the Memphis Police Department accountable for their actions," said Director Larry Godwin of the MPD. "The citizens of Memphis expect no less. We will continue to investigate all complaints of abuse." The case was jointly investigated by the FBI and the MPD Security Squad.

International Manhunt Leads to Arrest of One of the Most Wanted Child Sex Offenders in America

WASHINGTON - An international manhunt has ended in Poland with the capture of John Edward Hamilton. Hamilton is on the G8 Wanted Child Sex Offender list, making him one of the 10 most wanted child sex offenders in the country.

"The capture of John Hamilton exemplifies the growing international commitment to bring fugitives to justice, across both borders and jurisdictions," said Director John F. Clark of the U.S. Marshals Service. "This arrest of this sexual predator is made possible through the cooperation of numerous law enforcement agencies worldwide, as well as the resources and talents of the dedicated individuals working in our Sex Offender Targeting Center. I offer my sincere thanks to our many international and domestic partners who played a part in this apprehension."

After a coordinated effort between the U.S. Marshals, INTERPOL and the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department, Hamilton was located Wednesday on a bus leaving the Czech Republic entering into Poland. Hamilton was traveling under an alias when Polish authorities in the border town of Gliwice detained him when he refused to show his ID and provided evasive answers. The Polish Border authorities pulled him to the side and subsequently found his U.S. passport.

Hamilton was turned over to the provincial police, who contacted INTERPOL – Warsaw, who, in turn, contacted the U.S. Marshals Service at INTERPOL - Washington to provide identity information and a hit confirmation. INTERPOL Washington officials confirmed Hamilton’s identify after sending Polish authorities confirmation of his fingerprints.

The U.S. Marshals began working the case in September 2009. Detectives assigned to the Fairfax County Child Services Unit also worked closely with the U.S. Marshals Service on this intricate and extensive investigation. When the case was adopted as part of the International roundup INFRA-RED and the G8 Wanted Child Sex Offender initiatives, the U.S. Marshals International Investigations Branch picked up the case in July 2010. They developed information he was traveling between Denmark, Germany and the Czech Republic. With the assistance of their overseas counterparts in those countries and deploying investigative methods, the USMS were able to track Hamilton’s movements between different countries in Europe.

An Interpol Red Notice was issued for Hamilton and sent to every country in Europe, ultimately resulting in the arrest of Hamilton.

“I commend the work of all the law enforcement authorities involved in this case,” said Timothy A. Williams, INTERPOL Washington Director. “This is a great example of how U.S. and international law enforcement agencies share information to bring child predators like John Hamilton to justice. I would like to especially commend the U.S. Marshals Service and the Fairfax County Police for their tireless efforts in this investigation.”

Hamilton pled guilty in August 2009 and is awaiting sentencing on two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child, two counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of crimes against nature with a minor. The charges were filed with the Circuit Court of the County of Fairfax, Va.

Friday, August 27, 2010

CBP Officers Seize Marijuana at Lukeville Port of Entry

Lukeville, Ariz. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Lukeville port of entry seized more than 109 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a mini-van with an estimated street value of $93,000.

On Aug. 23, at approximately 6:30 p.m. while CBP officers were processing travelers entering the U.S., a 25-year-old woman and her 25-year old female passenger, both U. S. citizens from Evansville, Ind., applied for entry while driving a 1999 gold Ford Windstar mini-van. The women were referred to secondary inspection where officers discovered several anomalies during a non-intrusive inspection. They subsequently found 101 packages of marijuana concealed in various locations inside the van.

“Despite regular publicity on our abilities to locate illegal contraband, some people still try to smuggle contraband into the United States,” said Acting Port Director, Efrain Solis. “Regardless of the creative ways criminal organization try to circumvent our detection methods, we will remain thorough and vigilant.”

The two subjects were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and drugs seized.

A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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

Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers’ primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.

Three Pennsylvania Men Indicted for Cross Burning

WASHINGTON – Michael Bealonis and Kenneth Stiffey, Jr., of Robinson, Penn., and Michael Bracken, of Bolivar, Penn., were indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from a cross burning in the yard of an African-American juvenile in November 2009.

In the three-count indictment, Bealonis, Stiffey and Bracken were charged with one count of conspiracy to interfere with the housing rights of another, one count of interfering with the housing rights of another, and one count of using fire in the commission of a felony.

If convicted, Bealonis, Stiffey and Bracken face a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the FBI, together with the Pennsylvania State Police. The case will be prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patricia A. Sumner from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Local Law Enforcement Cracks Down on DUIs

By April Phillips, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Law enforcement officials began their annual "Drunk Driving Over the Limit Under Arrest," driving under the influence (DUI) prevention campaign Aug. 20.

Increased DUI enforcement, including sobriety checkpoints, will continue through Labor Day, Sept. 6, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

The Naval Safety Center is supporting the campaign and fleetwide efforts to educate Sailors about the consequences of driving while impaired and irresponsible use of alcohol in general.

"We are always happy when we can partner with other organizations who share our priorities and goals," said Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, commander, Naval Safety Center.

He noted that law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and U.S. territories will be cracking down on impaired driving.

Nationwide, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher, and GHSA reports that nearly 12,000 people were killed in crashes involving drivers or motorcycle riders with BACs above the legal limit in 2008.

While DUIs are down in the Navy, Johnson said it's important for leaders up and down the chain of command to keep this trend moving in the right direction.

"If alcohol will be a part of your Labor Day holiday festivities, this is your reminder to plan for a safe ride home," said Johnson. "Failure to do so can be quite costly."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mississippi Man Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Production, Distribution, Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography

WASHINGTON – Robert Morris of Crystal Springs, Miss., was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Donald R. Burkhalter and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. Morris was also ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release following his prison term and to pay a $1,500 fine.

Morris pleaded guilty on June 2, 2010, to four counts of producing child pornography, one count of distributing child pornography, one count of receiving child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography before U.S. District Court Judge William H. Barbour Jr. According to court documents and proceedings, ICE special agents and local police officers executed a federal search warrant on Jan. 15, 2009, for child pornography at Morris’s residence. A forensic review of a computer owned by Morris revealed numerous images of child pornography. According to information presented in court, Morris admitted to ICE agents that he had child pornography on his computer, that he had chatted with others online about having sex with children, and that he had knowingly received and traded pornographic images of children. A subsequent forensic review of Morris’ computer revealed that Morris had molested and photographed young teenage girls at his home on numerous occasions.

"Robert Morris’s crimes ran the full gamut of child pornography offenses – from production and distribution to receipt and possession," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "We can never forget that real children are being abused, then victimized repeatedly, as images of their abuse are passed from person to person. We are committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who perpetuates this chain of exploitation – from those who create these horrific images, to those who send and receive them."

"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigation’s in New Orleans. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, whether that abuse is physical in nature or if it’s accomplished by exploiting their images. The sentencing of Morris sends a strong message that ICE will not tolerate such despicable crime. Our agents will continue to police cyber space and target those who travel abroad to exploit one of the most vulnerable segments of our society- our children."

This case was investigated by ICE and the Crystal Springs, Miss., Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda R. Haynes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Andrew McCormack of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baltimore Man Exiled to Over 10 Years in Prison for Two Armed Carjackings

Baltimore, Maryland — U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced Dennis Hairston, age 20, of Baltimore, today to 130 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit carjacking and possession of a gun in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Theresa R. Stoop of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy; and Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

According to Hairston’s plea agreement, on June 11, 2009, the Baltimore City Police Department received a call reporting an armed carjacking that occurred in the 3600 block of Elmora Avenue in Baltimore. The victim reported that two men armed with handguns ordered the victim out of his car. The men got in and drove away in the vehicle. Soon thereafter, the victim’s vehicle was involved in an armed robbery. Upon further investigation of the robbery,police detectives identified one of the two suspects involved in the robbery and constructed a photo array for the carjacking victim. The victim identified Hairston, and a warrant was issued for Hairston’s arrest.

Four days later on June 15 another armed carjacking was reported, this time of a black Tahoe in the area of the 4500 block of Frederick Avenue in Baltimore. The victim stated that a man, later identified as Hairston, approached the victim asking for a ride, and the victim complied. Hairston removed a gun from his waist, cocked the hammer and pointed it at the victim’s head. Hairston told the victim to leave his wallet and cell phone in the vehicle and stated that “if you call anybody, I know where you live.” Hairston ordered the victim to exit the vehicle. The victim ran away, flagged down a motorist and called the police.

Following a police city-wide broadcast of the vehicle description, police detectives were at the intersection of N. Pulaski Street and Mulberry Avenue when they observed two suspects in the stolen vehicle. A car chase ensued and concluded when Hairston lost control of the vehicle and skidded into the front of 10 S. Exeter Street. A police helicopter, which entered the pursuit earlier, observed the two suspects flee on foot and directed the assisting police units to the suspects. Both Hairston and the passenger were apprehended shortly thereafter. Officers in the helicopter also observed one of the subjects throwing an object underneath a vehicle during the foot chase. Detectives recovered a duffle bag under a car parked near S. Exeter Street containing a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and 14 rounds of ammunition.

The detectives obtained a search warrant for the stolen vehicle and recovered a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol loaded with nine rounds of ammunition.

Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U.S. Attorney John W. Sippel, Jr., who prosecuted this case.

Brothers Sentenced for Armed Robbery in Titusville

Orlando, Florida — U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton announces that U.S. District Judge John Antoon, II on August 20, 2010, sentenced Ramiret Davis (age 25, of Titusville) to 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy and armed robbery. Davis was found guilty by a jury on May 6, 2010. Davis’s brother, Loranzo Thomas (age 23, of Albany, Georgia) pleaded guilty on May 4, 2010, to charges of conspiracy, and armed robbery. Thomas was sentenced to 13 years and 7 months in federal prison.

According to court documents, on November 21, 2009, Davis and Thomas went into a Marathon Gas Station in Titusville with a revolver and a shotgun and demanded money from the clerk at gunpoint. The robbers “pistol-whipped” the clerk, and then shoved him into the store’s walk-in cooler before leaving with over $700. Two days later, Davis and Thomas drove to the Community Educator’s Credit Union in Titusville, intending to commit another armed robbery. While they were preparing to commit the robbery, they were spotted by a witness, who promptly called the police. The Titusville Police Department immediately responded, and were able to prevent the robbery and arrest the brothers. At the time of arrest, Davis and Thomas were found with a revolver, a pump shotgun, and a “sawed-off” shotgun.

U.S. Attorney Albritton stated: “I want to commend the Titusville Police Department and ATF for their teamwork which resulted in a successful prosecution and a long term prison sentence.”

Virginia O’Brien, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s central and north Florida operations stated: “These violent brothers were a two man crime wave. Innocent customers and employees lives were endangered due to the Davis brothers’ disregard for the law. Because of the courage and efforts of the Titusville Police Department Officers, the Davis brothers are behind bars for a long time.”

This case was investigated by the Titusville Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Also assisting in this case was the Brevard County Cease Fire Task Force. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent S. Chiu.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Former Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Funds from Steamship Authority

BOSTON—A Mashpee woman was convicted late yesterday in federal court of embezzling more than $100,000 from her former employer, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority (Steamship Authority).

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division, announced that ARMINE E. SABATINI, 46, of Mashpee, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf to two counts of embezzlement and two counts of wire fraud.

At the plea hearing, the prosecutor told the court that had the case proceeded to trial, the government’s evidence would have proven that from in or about October 2001, through in or about September 2009, SABATINI, a bookkeeper employed by the Steamship Authority, carried out her fraud by creating fictitious names of Steamship Authority customers and assigning refund credits to them. It is alleged that SABATINI then credited Steamship Authority funds—purportedly payable to the fictitious customer names she created—to credit or debit card accounts she controlled. During the relevant time period, SABATINI allegedly conducted approximately 380 fraudulent refund transactions and misappropriated an aggregate total of approximately $145,000 in Steamship Authority funds.

Chief Judge Wolf scheduled sentencing for November 17, 2010. SABATINI faces up to 10 years' imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count of embezzlement, and up to 20 years' imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count of wire fraud.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Falmouth Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. DiSantis of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

Johnson City Resident Lindsey Rebecca Shepard Sentenced for Document Fraud

GREENEVILLE, TN—Lindsey Rebecca Shepard, 28, of Johnson City, Tennessee, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee today. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea to one count of production of false identification documents in violation of federal law. In addition to the prison sentence, Shepard was sentenced to serve two years' supervised release, pay a $100 special assessment, and forfeit the instrumentalities of the offense.

From April 2008 to April 2009, Shepard manufactured more than 400 false identification documents which were used by undocumented aliens to obtain employment in the United States. Shepard ran the illegal document mill from her apartment in subsidized housing located on Washington Avenue in Johnson City. The conviction was the result of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Helen Smith.

City Inspector Charged with Hobbs Act Extortion

Kenneth Gassman, an inspector with the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspection, was charged today by indictment with Hobbs Act extortion, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. The indictment returned by a federal grand jury alleges that Gassman used his position with L&I in an effort to compel the owner of a commercial property to sell the property to him.

According to the indictment, Gassman, who owned multiple properties in and around the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, made two offers to buy the property located in the 2500 block of E. Thompson Street. The indictment alleges that after the owner of the property rejected the offers, Gassman engaged in conduct designed to inhibit the property owner’s ability to sell the property to others and to compel the owner to sell the property to him. Gassman caused other L&I inspectors to inspect the property and issue violations, including a bogus violation for operating an unlicensed auto repair business. Gassman is further alleged to have vandalized the property, removed for sale signs, and used aliases to contact the city’s 311 system with complaints that the property was unsafe. According to the indictment, Gassman’s conduct caused the owner of the property to spend money to make repairs and to contest the L&I violations.

“The citizens and taxpayers of Philadelphia deserve fair and evenhanded treatment by public officials and employees, untainted by the personal interests of those who enforce the city’s commercial, building, and zoning codes,” said Memeger. “Abusing one’s public position for personal gain is illegal and cannot be tolerated.”


NAME: Kenneth Gassman
ADDRESS: Philadelphia, PA

If convicted, Gassman faces a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years supervised release, and restitution.

The case is the result of an investigation initiated by the Philadelphia Office of Inspector General, conducted jointly with the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard P. Barrett.

Trevor Cook Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Swindling 923 Investors out of $158 Million

Trevor Cook, age 38, of Apple Valley, Minnesota, was sentenced earlier today in federal court in Minneapolis for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that collectively cost more than 900 investors $158 million. United States District Court Judge James M. Rosenbaum sentenced Trevor Gilson Cook to 300 months in prison on one count of mail fraud and one count of tax evasion in connection to the crime. In imposing the sentence, Judge Rosenbaum described Cook’s offense as “retched, tawdry, and cheap.” Cook was charged on March 30, 2010, and pleaded guilty on April 13, 2010.

Following today’s sentencing hearing, United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, B. Todd Jones, said, “Affinity fraud is a horrible crime. Victims are swindled not only of their money, but of their trust. Cook preyed upon those with whom he made connections through church or in the community. Today he atoned for his crimes.”

In his plea agreement, Cook admitted that from January 2007 through July 2009, he schemed to defraud people by purportedly selling investments in a foreign currency trading program. In reality, however, he diverted a substantial portion of the money provided him for other purposes, including making payments to previous investors; providing funds to Crown Forex, SA, in an effort to deceive Swiss banking regulators; purchasing ownership interest in two trading firms; buying a real estate development in Panama; paying personal expenses, including substantial gambling debts; and acquiring the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis.

The Internal Revenue Service and the FBI, both of which investigated the case, released statements after today’s sentencing. IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Julio La Rosa warned the public, “Don’t fall victim to these types of schemes, which involve taking money from later investors and using it to pay earlier ones. Although the economics of Ponzi schemes are simple, contemporary swindlers conceal this fact with sophisticated marketing. Go beyond the sales pitch and personality to find the truth behind the numbers.” Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the local FBI office, added, “Mr. Cook is responsible for swindling over a hundred million dollars from the collective savings of his victims. The FBI will continue to vigorously pursue those criminals who prey on our citizens in order to satisfy their own financial greed.”

Cook has been in jail since January because he refused to hand over more than $35 million in frozen assets, including $27 million in offshore accounts, a BMW and two Lexus automobiles, a collection of expensive watches as well as a collection of Faberge eggs, and $670,000 in cash. He now agrees to assist the government in recovering assets to repay victims for their losses. If he fails to do so, he will be subjected to additional court action.

To carry out his massive Ponzi scheme, Cook caused false statements to be made to potential investors, including promises that the investment program would generate annual returns of 10 to 12 percent, and that trading would present little or no risk to the investors’ principal. He also caused material information to be withheld from investors, such as the precarious financial position of Crown Forex, SA, in Switzerland, an entity through which he traded. In addition, he withheld the fact that trading at PFG in Chicago generated losses in excess of $35 million between July 1, 2006, and August 31, 2009.

To further his scheme, Cook caused an account to be opened in the name of Crown Forex, LLC, at Associated Bank, which he used to deposit investor funds subsequently diverted for his own use as well as the use of others. He also caused statements to be sent to investors that misrepresented the status of their investments. Moreover, he caused due-diligence letters to be prepared that falsely indicated that Oxford Global Advisors had more than $4 billion in assets under management, and that all accounts were liquid.

Specific to the charges of mail fraud and tax evasion, Cook now admits that on January 29, 2009, he caused a $50,000 check to be sent through the U.S. mail from Arizona to Minnesota for investment in his foreign currency trading program. He also admitted that on April 15, 2009, he filed a false and fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, for calendar year 2008. That return failed to report taxable income of at least $5,285,719, upon which tax was due in the amount of at least $1,844,571.

As stated previously, this case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Dixon and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank J. Magill.

This law enforcement action was in part sponsored by the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. It 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, 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.