Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Large Scale Drug Trafficking Organization Taken Down In Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff and FBI seize Methamphetamine, Heroin, Cocaine, Fentanyl, Cash and Firearms

DENVER – Fourteen individuals have been charged and arrested for illegal drug distribution as well as firearm crimes that took place in Colorado Springs, announced U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips, Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski and El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder.  In addition to the arrests, agents and officers seized methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, cash and firearms.

According to court records, in 2018, detectives with the Colorado Springs Metro Vice, Narcotics, and Intelligence Division (Metro VNI) initiated an investigation into individuals distributing illegal narcotics to patrons at various bars and nightclubs in downtown Colorado Springs and in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado.  Due to the scope of this investigation, Metro VNI requested assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force.  From mid-2018 to early 2019, numerous arrest and search warrants were authored and executed. The following items were seized as part of this investigation:

    Approximately 70 pounds of methamphetamine
    Approximately 15 pounds of heroin
    Approximately 4 pounds of cocaine
    Approximately 3,100 fentanyl pills
    Approximately $140,000.00 in US currency
    29 Firearms (including: semi -automatic handguns, assault rifles and shotguns)

Those arrested include:

United States v. Jesse Santiago Anaya et al  (19-cr-234-PAB) (4 defendants)

        1,413 grams of methamphetamine
        263.2 grams of cocaine
        89.3 grams of heroin
        13 guns

United States v. Missael Leyva Castro (19-cr-172-CMA) (1 defendant)

        3,703 grams of methamphetamine
        210 grams of heroin
        1 gun

United States v. Cristian Diaz De Leon Beltran (19-cr-071-RM) (1 defendant)

        1,764 grams of heroin
        5,868 grams of methamphetamine
        1 gun

United States v. Maria Ruiz Del Carmen Gutierrez et al (19-cr-236-REB) (3 defendants)

        12,431 grams of methamphetamine;
        2,796 grams of heroin;
        1,097.4 grams of cocaine
        8 guns

United States v. Fabian Perales (19-cr-053-RBJ) (1 defendant)

        3,113 grams of methamphetamine
        1,470 grams of heroin
        3,234 tablets of fentanyl (approximately 330.838 grams) (1 defendant)

United States v. Jeff Skelton (19-cr-030-WJM)

        1,909 grams of methamphetamine

United States v. Octavio Solis-Garcia (19-cr-103-WJM) (1 defendant)

        70 grams of cocaine
        2 guns

United States v. Daniel James Ingham (19-cr-175-WYD) (1 defendant)

        20 grams of heroin
        1 gun

“This investigation proves that when it comes to stopping major drug trafficking in Colorado, great federal-state partnerships make great cases,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “The Colorado Springs Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI did terrific work and the results speak for themselves.”

“The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, working in conjunction with the Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, brought criminals to justice for weapons and drug-related crimes,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. “This positive outcome reflects how collaboration makes us a formidable force in ensuring public safety.”

This case is being investigated by the FBI, the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Metro Vice Narcotics and Intelligence Division (VNI).  The defendants are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter McNeilly and Justin DeRosa.

Federal Probe into Bank Fraud in North Suburbs Adds Two New Defendants

CHICAGO — A federal investigation that previously led to bank fraud and identity theft charges against a north suburban businessman has resulted in indictments against two additional defendants, including the businessman’s brother.

JASON SCHIFF, 40, of Lincolnwood, is charged with three counts of bank fraud, according to a superseding indictment returned July 24, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Chicago.  The superseding indictment also charges Jason Schiff’s brother, YALE SCHIFF, 44, of Riverwoods, with 12 counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Yale Schiff was initially charged in the case last month.  The Schiffs pleaded not guilty today during arraignments before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim in Chicago.

A separate indictment returned July 17, 2019, charges Yale Schiff’s business associate, DAVID IZSAK, 44, of Chicago, with eleven counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  During the investigation, federal authorities seized Izsak’s 57-foot Carver 570 Voyager yacht known as the “Flying Lady.”  The indictment seeks forfeiture of the yacht, as well as a personal money judgment against Izsak of approximately $4 million.  Izsak pleaded not guilty at his arraignment earlier this month.

The indictments were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Craig Goldberg, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri H. Mecklenburg.

According to the charges against the Schiffs, Yale Schiff made false statements in loan applications to obtain millions of dollars in mortgage loans secured by a variety of properties.  The charges allege that Yale Schiff filed with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds fraudulent letters from financial institutions claiming that loans on the properties were paid in full and that the mortgages were released, when, in fact, the loans were not paid in full and the mortgages had not been released.  Yale Schiff then kept the financing paid by the banks, as well as proceeds from the eventual sales of the properties, without paying the mortgages, the indictment states.  The fraud allegedly committed by Jason Schiff arose out of bank loans for vehicles and a loan secured by real estate purchased from Yale Schiff.

The charges against Izsak accuse him of fraudulently obtaining loans secured by real estate and vehicles.  Izsak allegedly submitted or caused to be submitted to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds fake letters purporting to be from the lender, purporting to congratulate Izsak for paying his loan in full and releasing the lien.  In reality, the letters were not from the lender, the loans were not paid in full, and the liens were not released, the indictment states.

Izsak and Yale Schiff are each accused of fraudulently obtaining loans by using names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth that did not belong to them.  Izsak also used a stolen identity to obtain a credit card, while Yale Schiff used fake and stolen identities to fraudulently obtain a charge card at Nordstrom department store and loans for a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Lexus RX350, the indictment states.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Each bank fraud count is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while each count of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Texas Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Trade Secrets

A Texas man was convicted today by a federal jury in Washington D.C. of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.

Following a nine-day trial, Shan Shi, 54, of Houston, Texas, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.  Shi was originally indicted in June 2017 for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, and a superseding indictment containing one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering charges issued in April 2018.  Shi was acquitted on the other charges.

“Shan Shi and his coconspirators went to great lengths to cash in on the Chinese government’s desire to obtain syntactic foam technology,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “As this case demonstrates, the Department of Justice is and will remain on the front lines of defending U.S. companies against the theft of their trade secrets.”

“The jury’s verdict makes clear that Shan Shi conspired to steal trade secrets by poaching employees from a U.S. company and enticing them to bring technical data to his company,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “He did this against the backdrop of China’s strategic plan to close the gap between China and United States in buoyancy technology and with the benefit of millions of dollars of funding from China.  Like our many other prosecutions implicating China’s economic aggression, this case exemplifies both the threat to American companies and our commitment to confront it.” 

“We take very seriously the theft of intellectual property that was developed in the United States through long years of research, development, and innovation,” said U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia.  “Shi chose to steal the secrets of a U.S. company rather than do the hard work necessary to succeed honestly in the free market.  He is now being held accountable for that choice.”

“Shan Shi attempted to obtain sophisticated U.S. technology with both military and civilian uses for the ultimate benefit of China,” said Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.  “It is no secret that China is determined to achieve superiority in virtually all high-tech areas, and the FBI is equally determined to stop individuals who commit illegal acts to help China achieve its goals.  The stakes are high both for U.S. national security and for American companies who invest so much money and time on research and development.”

“FBI Houston’s elite counterintelligence investigators worked for years to dismantle Mr. Shi’s prolific network and bring him to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office.  “Our highly trained agents and intelligence analysts work every day to protect American businesses from unscrupulous foreign adversaries.  We are pleased by today’s verdict, and we will continue to aggressively protect America's economic security and intellectual property from those who would do us harm.”

Evidence introduced at trial established that Shi conspired with others to steal trade secrets from a Houston-based company, Trelleborg Offshore, relating to syntactic foam, a strong, lightweight material with commercial and military uses that is essential for deep-sea oil and gas drilling.  In public statements of its national priorities, China has made clear its desire to develop this technology.  Shi sought to obtain information about syntactic foam for the benefit of CBM-Future New Material Science and Technology Co. Ltd. (CBMF), a Chinese company based in Taizhou, and for the ultimate benefit of the People’s Republic of China.  Four of Shi’s codefendants—some of whom worked at Trelleborg—had pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets, and two testified as cooperating witnesses at trial.  From 2014 to 2017, CBMF sent Shi’s company in Houston approximately $3.1 million from China in order to promote Shi’s activity in the United States.

Sentencing has been set for Oct. 25, 2019.

The FBI’s Houston Field Office conducted the investigation.  Senior Counsel Joss Nichols of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Pearlman and Luke Jones for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.