Sunday, March 31, 2019

Major marijuana trafficker sentenced to federal prison

Defendant provided drugs for cross-country conspiracy targeted by multiple agencies in Operation Five Hole

SAVANNAH, Ga:  A California man who supplied large amounts of marijuana for a drug trafficking operation across the country has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Daniel Martin, a/k/a “Whiteboy,” 38, of Roseville, Calif., was sentenced by United States District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. to 96 months in prison and a $30,000 fine after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Distribute 50 Kilograms or More of Marijuana, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his sentence, Martin will serve an additional three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

Martin has two prior marijuana-related convictions in California and Ohio. He was one of 20 defendants indicted in August 2017 in Operation Five Hole, a multi-agency investigation targeting an extensive drug trafficking organization that used the sale of marijuana to finance cocaine purchases for further distribution. The traffickers shipped cash proceeds hidden in candy machines to hubs in Atlanta and California, with conspirators transporting large amounts of marijuana and cocaine to Savannah by U.S. Mail and in vehicles with hidden compartments.

During this investigation, agents seized eight firearms, more than 200 pounds of marijuana, multiple kilograms of cocaine, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

The ringleader of the drug trafficking organization was alleged to be Eugene “Poncho” Allen, who directed the distribution network using smuggled contraband phones despite currently serving a life sentence for murder in a Georgia state prison.

“From thousands of miles away in California, Daniel Martin took part in a scheme that distributed massive amounts of illegal narcotics here in our community,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “But distance isn’t a factor when investigators and prosecutors are determined to bring these merchants of misery to justice.”

“Despite prior felony convictions, Martin continued to plague our communities with drugs and the crimes that result from it,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “With eight years to spend in federal prison without the possibility of parole, hopefully he will come to the realization that his actions need to change. If not, rest assured the FBI and our law enforcement partners will go to every length to uphold the law.”

 “It’s time we put a stop to those in prison from enriching themselves and others through violence and drugs,” said Eastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Meg Heap. “I want to thank the U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine and his staff for their role in this conviction.”

Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team Director Everett Ragan said, “CNT prides itself in operations like this. It shows we stand united with our local, state, and federal partners to enforce drug laws and we are not restricted by borders.”     

This investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Chatham County Narcotics Unit (CNT), the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham and Effingham County Sheriffs’ Offices, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) program, which is the premier law enforcement unit whose task is to dismantle multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations. The cases are being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney/Assistant District Attorney Noah Abrams, and Assistant United States Attorneys Greg Gilluly and Frank Pennington.

Tuba City Man Sentenced to 42 Months for Illegally Possessing Firearms and Ammunition

     PHOENIX – This week, Joshua Felkins, of Tuba City, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes to 42 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Felkins had previously pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

     On May 24, 2017, Navajo tribal law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a search of Felkins’ residence in Tuba City, pursuant to a federal search warrant.  Inside the residence, officers and agents found two firearms and dozens of rounds of ammunition.  At the time of the search, Felkins had previously been convicted of felony offenses in both California and New Mexico.  Accordingly, he was legally prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.

     The investigation in this case was conducted by the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Samuels, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Philadelphia Business Owner Indicted for Multi-Million Dollar Fraudulent Loan Scheme

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Gary Frank, age 48, of Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, was charged today by indictment with wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and money laundering, stemming from a massive fraudulent loan scheme.

According to the indictment, for over a decade, the defendant executed a complex and sophisticated scheme to defraud numerous victims. The defendant owned and operated a Bala Cynwyd business named the Legal Coverage Group, Ltd., which contracted with employers desiring to offer a legal plan to their employees as part of their employee benefits plans. It is alleged that the defendant tricked his victims into believing that the Legal Coverage Group was a rapidly growing leader in the legal plan industry, generating hundreds of millions of dollars of annual revenue and employing hundreds of individuals. In reality, however, the Legal Coverage Group experienced virtually no growth from approximately 2006 through 2017, generating only several thousand dollars of annual revenue. Through this fraud, the defendant allegedly obtained over $30 million in loans, which he used to live an extravagant lifestyle.

According to the indictment, the defendant’s largest victims were banks and financial institutions, which loaned the Legal Coverage Group millions of dollars based upon the defendant’s fraudulent misrepresentations and false documents that he created.  The defendant also allegedly deceived many individuals and other entities, including several of his close friends, his company’s staff members, its advisors, customers, vendors, and local charities.

“This Office takes allegations of financial fraud and loan fraud very seriously,’ said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “As alleged, the defendant obtained millions of dollars from lenders and friends, only to spend it on his lavish personal lifestyle. My Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect innocent individuals and businesses from being victimized by fraud.”

"This defendant allegedly lived high on the hog for over a decade by fraudulently misrepresenting his business practices and prowess," said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. "The FBI will continue to diligently investigate and hold accountable those foolish enough to engage in financial fraud."

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 935 years imprisonment, full restitution, a fine, and a period of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patrick J. Murray.                                                                   

An indictment, information or complaint is an accusation.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.