Thursday, January 31, 2019

Lowell Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Bank Robbery

BOSTON - A Lowell man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Boston to a masked and armed bank robbery.

Jason M. Nobles, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of armed bank robbery. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for May 7, 2019. Nobles is currently in federal custody.

On Feb. 26, 2018, a masked individual, later identified as Nobles, entered a branch of the Santander Bank in Swansea, approached a teller’s station, brandished what appeared to be a black semi-automatic pistol, pointed the pistol at the bank’s tellers and demanded cash. Throughout the robbery, Nobles pointed the weapon at the tellers ordering them to hurry up and threatening to shoot them. The tellers handed Nobles cash from their drawers, and Nobles fled the bank. A post robbery audit determined that Nobles stole approximately $15,000.

Bank employees witnessed Nobles depart the bank, run to a neighboring parking lot, and leave the area in a gray Toyota SUV. The employees were able to provide law enforcement with a vehicle description and the physical description of the robber. Law enforcement across multiple towns worked together to locate the Toyota SUV, stop it, and detain the driver - Nobles - who matched the description of the robber given by the bank’s employees. Later, when law enforcement executed a search of the vehicle, they found a large sum of money and a black Sig Sauer semi-automatic pellet gun.

The charge provides for a sentence of no greater than 25 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office; Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn; Swansea Police Chief George Arruda; and Rehoboth Police Chief James J. Trombetta made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Shine of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.

Jersey City Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Scamming Investors of $3.4 Million

NEWARK, N.J. – A Jersey City man was sentenced today to 37 months in prison for swindling two investors of $3.4 million by falsely representing that his businesses had secured lucrative contracts to sell olive oil to major retailers, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Antonio Fasolino, 62, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael Vazquez to all four counts of indictment charging him with three counts of wire fraud and one count of transacting in criminal proceeds. Judge Vazquez imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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

Fasolino owned several companies that were purportedly involved in the manufacture, sale and distribution of pasta, tomato sauce, olive oil and other food products. In 2012, Fasolino obtained approximately $3.4 million from two victims by falsely representing that Fasolino’s companies had been awarded lucrative contracts to sell olive oil.

In fact, there were never any such contracts. Fasolino supplied the victims with altered bank statements and spent the money on himself, including car and mortgage payments, apartment rentals, a wedding, college tuition and credit card payments.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Vazquez sentenced Fasolino to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $3.4 million.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Devlin of the Assert Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.

Operators of Prison Consultation Company Charged with Conspiring to Defraud Federal Bureau of Prisons

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Brian C. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation in New England, today announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven has returned a nine-count indictment charging three Michigan residents with conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from an alleged scheme to qualify prospective and current federal inmates who do not require substance abuse treatment for admission into a Federal Bureau of Prisons program that, if completed successfully, will result in a shortened prison term.

Charged in the indictment, which was returned on January 15, 2019, are TONY TUAN PHAM, also known as “Anh Nguyen,” 49, of Grand Rapids, Michigan; SAMUEL COPENHAVER, 47, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and CONSTANCE MOERLAND, 33, of Hudsonville, Michigan.  The three defendants were arrested on January 23.

According to the indictment, the Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”) is a 500-hour substance abuse treatment program that is administered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”).  In order to gain admission to the RDAP, a federal inmate must meet certain criteria, including having a diagnosable and verifiable drug or alcohol abuse disorder.  By successfully completing the RDAP, an inmate can qualify for up to 12 months in early release from custody.

The indictment alleges that Pham, Copenhaver and Moerland were managing partners of Michigan-based RDAP Law Consultants, LLC.  The defendants solicited prospective and current federal inmates, including individuals in Connecticut, through telephone calls and emails with offers of assistance in applying to, and qualifying for, the RDAP.  For a fee, the defendants coached and advised prospective and current inmates on how to gain admission to the RDAP by lying to the BOP about the existence, duration and extent of a qualifying substance abuse disorder.

“The indictment alleges that these defendants profited by coaching federal inmates and prospective inmates to lie about substance abuse issues in order to be released from prison well before each sentencing judge intended,” said U.S. Attorney Durham.  “This is a scheme that defrauds the public by taking advantage of an important Bureau of Prisons treatment program that exists to help rehabilitate inmates with real addiction problems in order to prepare them for life after prison.”

“This indictment illustrates the depths to which federal investigators will go to uncover fraud of all types,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Turner.  “The alleged fraudulent methods used to defraud government programs will not be tolerated and will continue to be vigorously investigated.”

“In this alleged RDAP scheme, the fraudsters not only undermined the authority of the judicial system to administer fair and impactful sentences, but they diverted vital substance abuse treatment from inmates who really needed it,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge O’Connell.  “IRS-CI’s tracing of fees allowed investigators to uncover the breadth of this alleged fraud and we are proud of our role in this collaborative law enforcement effort.”

The indictment charges Pham, Copenhaver and Moerland with one count of conspiracy, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.  The indictment also charges Pham and Copenhaver with multiple counts of wire fraud, and offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count.

U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Avi Perry of the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, who has been designated as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for this matter.  The prosecution in the District of Connecticut was facilitated by significant assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith George Thomas of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.

U.S. Attorney Durham thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan for its assistance in this matter.