Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cincinnati City Council president charged with honest services wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion

CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati City Council President Pro Tem has been arrested and charged federally with honest services wire fraud, bribery and attempted extortion.

Tamaya Dennard, 40, appeared in federal court this afternoon. The charges pending against her were unsealed at that time.

Dennard was elected to Cincinnati City Council in November 2017.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between August and December 2019, Dennard engaged in acts and attempted acts of bribery and extortion, attempting to exchange her votes for money.

“As the affidavit details, a concerned citizen contacted law enforcement following an interaction with Dennard, feeling an ethical and moral obligation to report any criminal wrongdoing,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. “The individual then worked at the direction of law enforcement throughout this investigation. It takes courage for citizens to come forward and assist law enforcement as this individual did.”

Dennard allegedly requested between $10,000 and $15,000 from the individual to pay for her personal expenses.

At the direction of and in coordination with FBI, the individual and Dennard exchanged a total of $15,000, in increments of $10,000 and $5,000, for upcoming votes on a matter scheduled to be heard by Council.

Dennard deposited $10,000 in a personal bank account the same day she received it.

After receiving the initial $10,000, Dennard requested the additional $5,000 in advance. Records indicate the same day she received the $5,000 in cash, Dennard booked two seats on a Sept. 22, 2019 flight from Cincinnati to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. On Sept. 27, 2019, she booked two return tickets. Financial records indicate Dennard spent more than $4,000 total on the Florida trip to include accommodations at the Opal Sands Resort in Clearwater, Fla. and the airfare.

Dennard allegedly continued to reach out to the individual asking for money on various occasions in October and November 2019. Text messages from Dennard to the individual during that time include “Happy to help you. But need yours too”; and “As I said, I’m sure there will be ways to help you as well and I will.”

Dennard is charged with one count each of honest services wire fraud (up to 20 years in prison), bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds (up to 10 years in prison) and attempted extortion under color of right (up to 20 years in prison).

David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; and Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; announced the charges. Deputy Criminal Chief Emily N. Glatfelter and Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Singer are representing the United States in this case.

A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

New York Man Admits Role In Wire Fraud Conspiracy

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bronx, New York, man today admitted engaging in fraudulent activity that exposed victims to more than $1.5 million in losses, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Joshua Suarez, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to an information charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud.

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

Suarez was a member of a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain money, including by impersonating account holders and obtaining money from their accounts. He recruited and paid individuals to open bank accounts. A member of the conspiracy then caused money to be deposited into the accounts, money that often had been fraudulently obtained by impersonating victims and transferring money out of their financial accounts. Suarez and others then caused money to be withdrawn from the bank accounts. The conspiracy exposed victims to losses of more than $1.5 million.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for June 29, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka in New York, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Dennis Cleary Esq., West Orange, New Jersey

Former Dunbar Armored Supervisor Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Stealing Almost $300,000 from Company’s Cash Storage Vault

          LOS ANGELES – A former Dunbar Armored Inc. employee was sentenced today to 24 months in federal prison for orchestrating the theft of nearly $300,000 in cash out of Dunbar’s storage facility in Vernon.

          Eric Miranda, 39, of East Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee, who also ordered him to pay $279,369 in restitution.

          Miranda pleaded guilty in March 2019 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank theft and three counts of bank theft.

          At the time of the theft, Miranda was a Dunbar Armored supervisor with access privilege to company vaults. He stole cash from the Dunbar vault by using “dummy” stacks of $100 bills that he switched out for real stacks of $100,000. First, Miranda created “dummy” stacks of $100,000 by taking hundreds of $1 bills and sandwiching them between $100 bills – in order to make them appear to be stacks of $100 bills totaling $100,000.

          He then smuggled the “dummy” stacks into the Dunbar vault, where he and his co-conspirator, Monique Castruita, 36, of Maywood, switched them for real stacks of $100,000. Miranda and Castruita then marked the dummy stacks to ensure they were not placed into circulation.

          Finally, Miranda smuggled the real stacks of money out of the vault room by hiding it in a postal box. On three occasions between October 2017 and January 2018, Miranda smuggled a total of approximately $300,000 out of the Dunbar facility.

          In March 2018, defendant’s scheme was finally exposed when a Dunbar employee discovered 19 empty money straps in the trash can of a women’s restroom. Ultimately, the loss to Dunbar totaled $279,369.

          Castruita pleaded guilty in November 2018 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank theft and three counts of bank theft. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 29.

          “Collectively, (Miranda’s) actions reflect a blatant and deliberate abuse of his position, disregard for the integrity of financial institutions, and disrespect for the rule of law,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

          The FBI investigated this matter and received substantial assistance from the Vernon Police Department.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky and Joseph D. Axelrad of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.