Criminal Justice News

Monday, September 18, 2017

Man Sentenced to Prison in Maryland for Stolen Identity Refund Fraud

A 43-year-old man was sentenced in the District of Maryland to 21 months in prison for mail fraud in connection with a stolen identity refund fraud scheme, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning for the District of Maryland.

According to documents filed with the court, from approximately November 2011 through March 2013, Timothy West, along with others, engaged in a scheme to file fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claiming refunds to which they were not entitled. On two separate occasions, West hired a tax return preparer in Temple Hills, Maryland, to prepare fraudulent returns falsely claiming, among other things, that two individuals were his dependents. As part of the scheme, West and others then used these false tax returns as templates to prepare and file hundreds of additional fraudulent tax returns with the IRS seeking more than $413,000 in refunds. West caused a tax loss of approximately $284,706 as a result of his actions as part of the scheme.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm ordered West to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $284,706 in restitution to the IRS.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Schenning thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and Treasury Office of Inspector General, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Pulice and Trial Attorneys William Guappone and Thomas F. Koelbl of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Jamaican National Sentenced to Prison in Connection with Lottery Fraud Scheme Based in Jamaica

Jamaican citizen charged in connection with the operation of a Jamaica-based fraudulent lottery scheme was sentenced to two years in prison by the federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Department of Justice announced today.
Shashana Stacyann Smith, 34, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. Smith was also ordered to pay $167,532.95 in restitution.

Smith pleaded guilty on March 31, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in the Western District of North Carolina. As part of her guilty plea, Smith acknowledged that from in or about early 2015 through at least in or about August 2016, she was a member of a lottery fraud conspiracy that targeted victims in the United States.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to combatting foreign-based lottery fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Financial schemes designed to defraud unsuspecting victims will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Smith was arrested in Florida on Dec. 14, 2016 after being indicted by a grand jury in Charlotte, North Carolina. As part of her guilty plea, Smith acknowledged that victims of the scheme received a telephone call stating that they had won money in a sweepstakes or lottery. Victims were instructed to send money for fees or other expenses in order to release their purported lottery winnings. The victims of the scheme sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Smith, who then sent, transported, or facilitated payment of a portion of the money to Jamaica. Smith acknowledged there was no lottery, that there were no winnings, and that she kept some the victims’ money for her own benefit.

“Engaging in a fraud scheme targeting Americans carries serious consequences, including time in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina. “Particularly insidious are those who target victims in the sanctity of their home and those who unfortunately do not quite understand the consequences of providing information to these fraudsters. We consider today's sentence a win for all Americans who are weary of these phone call scammers.”

“The Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to investigating and combating fraud on American citizens, many of whom are older,” said Inspector in Charge Daniel Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Division. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates our efforts to catch criminals who use the U.S. mail to commit their criminal activity.”

This prosecution is part of the Department of Justice’s effort to work with federal and local law enforcement to combat fraudulent lottery schemes in Jamaica that prey on U.S. citizens.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Readler and U.S. Attorney Rose commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Raquel Toledo of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli H. Ferry of the Western District of North Carolina.

Man Charged with Hate Crime for Using Stun Cane During Racially-Motivated Assault of Neighbor in Utah

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah returned an indictment charging Mark Porter with violating 42 U.S.C. § 3631 by using force and the threat of force to injure, intimidate, and interfere with an African-American man because of his race after moving in nearby, announced John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division; John W. Huber, United States Attorney for the District of Utah; and Eric Barnhart, Special Agent in Charge for the Salt Lake City Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The indictment alleges that Mark Porter shouted racial slurs at the victim and his seven-year-old son, and then struck the victim with a stun cane. The indictment further alleges that the stun cane is a dangerous weapon, and that the victim suffered bodily injury.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted on the civil rights charge, Porter faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Field Office of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Drew Yeates of the United States Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Rose E. Gibson of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.