Criminal Justice News

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Georgia Defense Contractor and Its President to Pay $750,000 to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

WASHINGTON – Quantum Dynamics Inc, located in Macon, Ga., and its president, Audrey Price, have agreed to pay the United States $750,000 to settle claims that they fraudulently obtained contracts from the Army, the Justice Department announced today. The contracts had been set aside for companies that qualified for the Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. Quantum was allowed to participate in the HUBZone program based on false statements made to the government.

Under the HUBZone program, companies that maintain their principal office in a designated HUBZone and employ 35 percent of their workforce from a HUBZone, among other requirements, can apply to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for certification as a HUBZone small business company. HUBZone companies can then use this certification when bidding on government contracts. In certain cases, government agencies will restrict competition for a contract to HUBZone-certified companies.

The United States alleged that Quantum did not actually maintain its principal office in a designated HUBZone location in Washington, D.C., as they had represented to the Army and the SBA, but rather set up their office in a Virginia suburb. Additionally, the government alleged that Quantum Dynamics did not employ a sufficient percentage of employees who lived in a HUBZone. Despite not properly qualifying for the HUBZone program, Quantum Dynamics was awarded Army contracts that had been set aside for qualified HUBZone companies based upon the false statements they made to the Army and the SBA.

"The Department of Justice is committed to rooting out fraud in government contracting programs," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "We will take action against those contractors who seek to gain an unfair advantage over qualified HUBZone small businesses."

"This settlement sends a strong message that the government will not tolerate fraud in the HUBZone or any other SBA program, and that we will pursue civil fraud and all other remedies against those who seek to obtain government contracts through false statements," said SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson.

"This case represents the cooperative effort of SBA’s Offices of the General Counsel and the Inspector General and the Department of Justice to uncover and remedy fraud in our procurement programs," said SBA General Counsel Sara Lipscomb.

Assistant Attorney General West thanked the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the SBA Office of General Counsel, and the SBA Office of Inspector General for the collaboration that resulted in the settlement announced today.

4 Minnesotans plead guilty to trafficking counterfeit sportswear

MINNEAPOLIS - Four Minnesotans pleaded guilty on Wednesday to trafficking counterfeit goods, including NFL and NHL jerseys, and "Nike" sports apparel, announced U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones, District of Minnesota. The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Charles Freddie Thompson, 40, and his wife, Patricia Ann Thompson, 38, both of Long Prairie, Minn., William Clifford Bakken, 67, of Plymouth, Minn., and Robert Anthony Ingebretson, 49, of Alexandria, Minn., appeared before U. S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim on Wednesday. All pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, following their indictment on April 21.

"Anyone who sells counterfeit goods to unsuspecting sports fans will be held accountable," said William H. Lowder, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Office of HSI in Bloomington, Minn. "Vendors selling inferior items tarnish the reputation of trademark holders like the NFL and NHL. Trafficking counterfeit goods is a global enterprise that robs legitimate companies of billions of dollars in revenue every year."

According to court documents, the defendants admitted that they conspired to traffic in counterfeit trademarked sports apparel from September 2007 through December 2009. Charles Thompson admitted ordering counterfeit apparel from his suppliers in China and elsewhere, and having the items shipped to his residence and other residences.

Thompson also admitted having an agreement with Bakken, Ingebretson and others to purchase the counterfeit apparel, knowing it would be resold for profit. In addition, Charles Thompson recruited others to help him wire money to China to pay for the counterfeit goods.

Charles Thompson recruited his wife, who admitted wiring money to China to pay a total of $51,975 for counterfeit sportswear on 21 occasions between Jan. 22, 2008, and July 10, 2009. Patricia Thompson also admitted that on Nov. 23, 2009, she accepted delivery at her residence of 11 parcels from China containing a total of 133 counterfeit NFL jerseys.

Bakken admitted purchasing counterfeit items from Charles Thompson in order to resell them for profit. On Nov. 23, 2009, he was present at Charles Thompson's residence when law enforcement officers executed a search warrant. Bakken admitted he was purchasing about $2,500 worth of counterfeit apparel when officers interrupted the transaction. Police found 146 counterfeit items in Bakken's vehicle.

In his plea agreement, Ingebretson admitted participating in the conspiracy from December 2008 through December 2009. In addition, he admitted that 123 counterfeit NFL jerseys, 13 counterfeit NHL jerseys, and four counterfeit NFL T-shirts were seized at his Alexandria-based store, "Sportsminded," on Dec. 1, 2009.

For their crimes, all four defendants face a potential maximum penalty of five years in prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled. Prosecution continues against the remaining co-defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Paulsen, District of Minnesota, prosecuted this case.
Former Husband and Wife Sentenced for Their Roles in $5.8 Million Fraudulent HIV Infusion Scheme in Miami


WASHINGTON – David Marrero, a founder of and consultant at a fraudulent Miami-area HIV/AIDS infusion clinic known as Tendercare Medical Center Inc., was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in a $5.8 million scheme to defraud the Medicare program, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS). Marrero’s ex-wife, Maria Valero Marrero, the owner and operator of Tendercare, was also sentenced today to 70 months in prison.

In addition to the prison terms, David and Maria Marrero each were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro in the Southern District of Florida to three years of supervised release. David and Maria Marrero were also ordered to pay restitution jointly and severally with co-defendants in the amount of $2.7 million.

David Marrero was convicted by a federal jury in May 2010 of one count of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of money laundering. Maria Marrero pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in April 2010. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, David and Maria Marrero participated in a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting claims for injection and infusion treatments that were medically unnecessary and, in most instances, were not provided. Maria Marrero admitted to conspiring to pay kickbacks to induce Medicare beneficiaries to provide their Medicare numbers and their signatures, which were used by Tendercare to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for injection and infusion services. According to court documents, David Marrero transferred ownership of the fraudulent HIV clinic to Maria Valero Marrero as part of a divorce settlement.

According to court documents, between January 2005 and December 2007, Tendercare submitted approximately $5.8 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare. Medicare paid Tendercare approximately $2.7 million.

Today’s sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.

The cases were prosecuted by Fraud Section Trial Attorney Charles D. Reed and former Special Trial Attorney Martha Talley, on detail from HHS-OIG.

The cases were brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven districts have obtained indictments of more than 810 individuals who collectively have fraudulently billed the Medicare program for more than $1.85 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Three Indicted for Civil Rights Conspiracy, False Statements and Perjury in Connection with Cross-burning in Athens, Louisiana

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Shreveport, La., returned an indictment yesterday charging Joshua James Moro, 23; Jeremy Matthew Moro, 33; and Sonya Marie Hart, 31, with offenses related to a cross-burning in Athens, La., in October 2008, near the home of an interracial couple. Another man, Daniel Danforth, was previously convicted by a federal jury for participating in the same cross-burning.

Joshua Moro was charged with one count of conspiring to interfere with another person’s civil rights. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison for this charge. Joshua Moro, Jeremy Moro and Sonya Hart were each charged with one count each of making false statements to Special Agents of the FBI, and Joshua Moro and Sonya Hart were each charged with one count of perjury before the grand jury. The defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each of the false statements and perjury charges.

According to the indictment, between Oct. 23 and 26, 2008, Joshua Moro agreed with his cousin, Daniel Danforth, and another person known to the grand jury, to build, erect and burn a cross near the home of their cousin, the cousin’s African American boyfriend, her 11-year-old son and another relative who was believed to approve of the cousin’s interracial relationship. Specifically, Joshua Moro offered Danforth diesel fuel to use to burn the cross and sent a text message later that evening to see if Danforth and his other co-conspirator still needed the diesel. The indictment further alleges that Joshua Moro falsely denied his involvement in the cross-burning conspiracy to FBI agents and in his testimony before the grand jury. Finally, the indictment alleges that Jeremy Moro, whom Danforth invited to help burn the cross, and Sonya Hart, whose truck was used to help carry-out the cross-burning, falsely denied having any knowledge about the cross-burning.

Danforth was sentenced to 48 months in prison in May 2010 for his role in the cross-burning and attempted cover-up.

This case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick for the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Erin Aslan from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

TUSCALOOSA—A federal judge today sentenced former Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White to 10 years in prison on 2008 convictions for accepting bribes from a sewer contractor whose company had about $50 million in contracts with the county, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley.

U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler ordered White to pay $22,000 in restitution to the Jefferson County Commission, and to forfeit $22,000 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity. Judge Coogler set a tentative date of Aug. 30 for White to report to prison.

“Substantial prison time is absolutely deserved in a case where a public official solicits and receives regular cash payments in return for doling out millions of dollars in government contracts,” Vance said.

A federal jury in January 2008 convicted White of conspiring with and accepting bribes from Sohan Singh between 2003 and 2005, while White was an elected commissioner with oversight of Jefferson County’s Environmental Services Department. Singh’s company, U.S. Infrastructure, had numerous “no bid” professional services contracts with the county for sewer projects.

Singh regularly gave White $100 bills in white envelopes. The amount routinely was $2,000, but ranged from $1,000 to $4,000. During the time period of the conspiracy, Singh’s company received more than $11 million in sewer-related contracts with the county. The jury convicted White of one conspiracy and eight bribery counts.

Sentencing in the case was put on hold after White sought a new trial following his convictions and claimed his trial should not have been held in Montgomery, which is outside the Northern District of Alabama. U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon set aside the convictions and ordered a new trial.

Today’s sentencing follows an appeals court ruling in December 2009 that reinstated White’s convictions. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled White waived his right to be tried within the district where his crimes allegedly occurred because he did not object to the location for his trial until after the trial was held.

The FBI investigated the case. U.S. Attorney J. Patton Meadows prosecuted it.

Middletown Man Admits Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

David B. Fein, United States for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOHN JACKSON, 42, of Middletown, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Christopher F. Droney in Hartford to a one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud stemming from a mortgage fraud scheme.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in 2006, JACKSON conspired with a New Haven-based real estate attorney and an East Hartford-based mortgage broker to defraud Mortgage Lender Network USA, Inc., a Florida corporation with offices in Middletown, through the purchase of Meriden residential property. Working with the attorney and mortgage broker, JACKSON signed a loan application provided by the mortgage broker for a loan in the amount of $280,000. Both JACKSON and the mortgage broker knew that application contained several material misrepresentations, including JACKSON’s true financial condition. The application also falsely represented the purchase price of the property, which was substantially less than reflected on the loan application; that the property was to be JACKSON’s primary residence, when it was not; JACKSON’s total liabilities, which were much higher than represented on the application, and that JACKSON would provide approximately $60,000 in cash at the loan closing.

On approximately July 21, 2008, as part of the scheduled loan closing, Mortgage Lender wired approximately $283,000 into the attorney’s trust account. At the closing, JACKSON signed a HUD settlement statement, which was prepared by the attorney, that overstated the actual purchase price of the property by more than $150,000, and that stated that JACKSON had made an earnest payment toward the purchase. In fact, JACKSON had not made a payment. Instead, the attorney had made a payout to JACKSON.

Judge Droney has scheduled sentencing for October 15, 2010, at which time JACKSON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

This case is being investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Christopher W. Schmeisser.

District Man Sentenced to 27 Years for Violent Sexual Assault in October 2006

DNA Evidence Tied Him to Crime

WASHINGTON—United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced that Robert Carlton Young, 50, of the District of Columbia, was sentenced yesterday by the Honorable Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. to 27 years in prison for two counts of first degree sexual abuse, one count of kidnapping and one count of third degree sexual abuse. On May 19, 2010, a jury in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia returned guilty verdicts on these counts against Young, stemming from a violent sexual assault in the Fort Totten area of the District.

According to the evidence presented at trial, on October 11, 2006, during the late afternoon hours, Young followed the 19-year-old victim into her apartment building and grabbed her from behind by her hair and put a key to her throat, just as she was about to enter her apartment. Young dragged and pushed the victim down to the basement of her building, where he raped her multiple times. Afterward, he fled the building and the victim ran to her apartment, where she immediately reported the crime to her family, who called the police.

The victim was taken to Howard University Hospital, where a sexual assault examination was conducted. Swabs taken from the victim during the examination were sent to the FBI Laboratory for DNA testing. The FBI Laboratory placed the male DNA profile found on one of these swabs into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a web of state and national databases containing DNA profiles from convicted offenders and crime scenes that is used as an investigative tool. The defendant was identified as a suspect through a CODIS search and DNA “cold hit.” The FBI then did further DNA testing, which confirmed that Young was the assailant.

Young was sentenced to 27 years on each of the two counts of first degree sexual abuse, 10 years in prison on the count of kidnapping and 4½ years in prison on the count of third degree sexual abuse, with each sentence to run concurrently. Following his prison term, Young will be placed on lifetime supervised release and be required to register as sex offender for life.

U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of MPD Detective Karen Zibrat and Mobile Crime Officer John Holder, who did an exemplary job investigating the case, processing the scene and working with the victim and other witnesses. He praised the work of the FBI’s Forensic Examiners, as well as MPD Trace Evidence Examiner Harold Deadman. U.S. Attorney Machen also praised the work of Investigator John Marsh from the Criminal Investigations Unit, who conducted forensic analysis on the victim’s cell phone, and expressed special thanks to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Donovan and Michael Ambrosino, who provided assistance and guidance on DNA-related issues. He also commended the work of Paralegal Jason Manuel, Legal Assistant Nicole Lee, Intelligence Analysts Larry Grasso, Sharon Johnson, Shannon Alexis, and Bill Hamann, Victim/Witness Assistance Unit Staff Katina Adams, LaJune Thames and David Foster, and Leif Hickling from Litigation Services, all of whom provided critical support in preparing for trial. Finally, U.S. Attorney Machen expressed his special appreciation to Victim/Witness Advocate Iris Vega who worked closely with the victim and other witnesses, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Last, who investigated and prosecuted this case.

U.S. Attorney Announces Section 8 Housing Fraud Indictments

PORTLAND, OR—Dwight Holton, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today that a federal grand jury has returned separate indictments charging Curtis James Cavitt, 37, of Newberg, Oregon, and David Lee and Crystal Foster, 41 and 33, respectively, of McMinnville, Oregon, with theft of government money by receiving Section 8 federal housing subsidies through fraud and deceit. Each defendant appeared in federal court today and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment against Curtis James Cavitt charges that he failed to disclose that he had an ownership interest in the housing unit for which he received the federal housing subsidy. He is charged with one count of theft of public money. The indictment against David Lee and Crystal Foster charges that they failed to disclose income and falsely represented that a certain family member lived in their home 51% or more of the time. The Fosters are charged with two counts of theft of public money, and one count of making a false statement to a government agency.

Section 8 is a federal government program which helps low income families get decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Participants in the program are free to choose any housing that meets the program's requirements. Each month, a housing subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the participating family, and that family pays the difference between the actual rent and the amount subsidized by Section 8. Section 8 is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by local housing authorities. Income limits for Section 8 are set by the federal government and vary depending on the number of people in a household. Program participants must re-certify each year to establish their continued eligibility.

United States Attorney Holton said, “In the current economic climate, there are long waiting lists for eligible Oregon families to receive a Section 8 rental subsidy. My office will continue to work with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who are cheating the Section 8 program so that we can make room for the truly deserving families.”

The maximum penalties for the theft of public money charge include up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for making a false statement to a federal agent is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment announced today is the result of an investigation by HUD’s Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie F. Beckerman.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

2400 Cop Books

July 28, 2010 (San Dimas, CA) Police-Writers.com is a website that lists state and local police officers who have written books. With the latest release of two novels by Lieutenant Wayne Zurl (ret.), Suffolk County Police Department, the website now lists over 2400 books written by state and local law enforcement officials, from 466 police departments.

During the summer of 2010, Wayne Zurl is donating all the royalties from his book to National Law Enforcement Officer’s National Memorial Fund.

Wayne Zurl is the author of A Labor Day Murder, Bullets Off-Broadway and A Murder in Knoxville.

According to the book description of A Labor Day Murder, “Chief Sam Jenkins learns of an illegal card game and the sale of moonshine at the Iron Skillet restaurant and decides to raid the premises. That looked straight forward until a firearms examiner links a confiscated handgun to an unsolved homicide. Jenkins encounters political corruption, domestic abuse, and a cover-up in his pursuit to solve the murder.”

According to the book description of Bullets Off-Broadway, “Prospect, Tennessee City Councilman Danny Swope had two bad habits. He drank too much and he beat his wife. Throw in an overbearing personality and Police Chief Sam Jenkins isn't surprised when Danny is found shot to death with an 1873 single action revolver. Jenkins' investigation takes him into the world of cowboy action shooters. Two colorful characters who call themselves Clint Southwood and Dakota Lil offer clues that lead Sam to the killer and his own deadly fast draw contest.”

According to the book description of A Murder in Knoxville, “Prospect PD's Chief Sam Jenkins answers a friend's call for a favor and ends up investigating a murder in another jurisdiction. Everything points to domestic violence until Sam finds an important clue and meets an unlikely killer.”

More information about the website is available at:
http://www.police-writers.com/
More information about Wayne Zurl is available at:
http://www.police-writers.com/wayne_zurl.html

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Former Carpenters Union Leader Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Over a Decade of Racketeering

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and MARJORIE FRANZMAN, the Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Region of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General ("DOL-OIG"), announced today that MICHAEL FORDE, the former Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the District Council of New York City and Vicinity (the "District Council") of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (the "Carpenters Union") and Chairman of the District Council benefit funds, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to participating in a 15-year racketeering scheme.

According to the Indictment to which FORDE pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge ANDREW J. PECK, other documents previously filed in this case, and statements made in court today:

The Carpenters Union is a national labor union that represents skilled workers at construction sites. In New York City, approximately 20,000 members of the union are divided into eleven locals, overseen by the District Council. From 1994 to 1997, FORDE was a business agent for Local 608, the largest local in the District Council, with approximately 7,400 members. From 1997 to 2000, FORDE was the president and business manager of Local 608. From 2000 to 2009, FORDE was the Executive Secretary- Treasurer (the highest position) of the District Council and a trustee and eventual hairman of the District Council’s benefit funds.

Since 1994, the District Council and its constituent locals have been bound by a federal Consent Decree stemming from a civil case brought by the United States under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") to address a history of union corruption and organized crime influence within the District Council. The Consent Decree, among other things, prohibited union officials from associating with organized crime figures and imposed job referral rules governing the assignment of shop stewards and union members to job sites. At various times, monitors have been appointed under the Consent Decree to investigate wrongdoing in the union, including job referral violations, bribe taking, false reports, and off-the-books payment of wages.

Notwithstanding the Consent Decree, between 1994 and their arrest in August 2009, FORDE and his co-conspirators engaged in a racketeering conspiracy to enrich themselves and others and maintain control of the Carpenters Union through, among other things, the unlawful solicitation and obtaining of cash payments and other things of value from owners of construction contractors who had signed collective bargaining agreements with the Union. In exchange for the bribes, FORDE and his co-conspirators allowed and helped certain contractors to defraud the union and its benefit funds out of millions of dollars by permitting the contractors to, among other things, pay union members cash at below-union rates, without benefits, employ illegal aliens and non-union workers on their job sites, and avoid payment to the union benefit funds in violation of applicable collective bargaining agreements.

In pleading guilty today, FORDE admitted that from approximately 1994 through 2004, he received cash bribes from multiple contractors (including On Par Contracting, Turbo Construction, Pyramid Associates Construction, New York City Acoustics, and KAFCI) in return for allowing these contractors to violate the terms of their collective bargaining agreements with the District Council. Among other things, FORDE admitted that he let these contractors use undocumented workers and avoid making required payments to the District Council benefit funds of which he was the Chairman. FORDE also admitted to committing perjury in a January 2009 deposition he gave in a civil action brought by the District Council against one of the contractors from whom his co-conspirators had accepted bribes. FORDE further admitted to obstructing efforts to investigate his conduct.

FORDE pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of racketeering, which also carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. FORDE is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge VICTOR MARRERO on November 19, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.

FORDE was previously relieved of his union officer positions following his arrest.

FORDE is the eighth defendant in the case to plead guilty. The seven other defendants who have previously pleaded guilty to date are as follows:

MICHAEL BRENNAN, 54, of Bushkill, Pennsylvania, who was a union shop steward, pleaded guilty on July 6, 2010, to the Indictment's RICO count, and specifically to racketeering acts involving the acceptance of cash bribes and obstruction of justice. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 29, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

BRIAN CARSON, 50, of Bronx, New York, who was a union shop steward, pleaded guilty on April 5, 2010, to one count of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of monies from union benefit funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30, 2010, at 4:30 p.m.

JOHN GREANEY, 50, of Yonkers, New York, who was the former president and business manager of Local 608, pleaded guilty on July 16, 2010 to one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of racketeering, four counts of wire-fraud conspiracy, four counts of deprivation of honest services, two counts of unlawful acceptance of payments by a labor representative, and one count of perjury. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2010, at 3:30 p.m.

FINBAR O'NEILL, 44, of Paramus, New Jersey, who is a contractor, pleaded guilty on May 20, 2010, to one count of making unlawful payments to labor representatives, and one count of conspiracy to make such unlawful payments. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 19, 2010.

JOSEPH RUOCCO, 50, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylavania, who was a union shop steward, pleaded guilty on July 8, 2010, to one count of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of monies from union benefit funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 29, 2010, at 3:30 p.m.

JOHN STAMBERGER, 53, of Brick, New Jersey, who was a union shop steward, pleaded guilty on March 12, 2010, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and unlawful acceptance of payments by a labor representative. He is scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, at 3:00 p.m.

MICHAEL VIVENZIO, 62, of Mahwah, New Jersey, who was a union shop steward, pleaded guilty on June 23, 2010, to one count of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of monies from union benefit funds. He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 15, 2010, at 4:00 p.m.

All defendants are currently out on bail, and will be sentenced by Judge MARRERO.

Trial as to the remaining defendants, BRIAN HAYES and JOSEPH OLIVIERI, is scheduled to begin on September 7, 2010, before Judge MARRERO. The charges contained in the Indictment against these defendants are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “For 15 years, Michael Forde made a career out of corruption, at the helm of one of New York City's largest unions. Instead of honorably representing union members, he sold their interests for his own enrichment. Today's guilty plea marks another milestone in this Office's long-standing commitment to root out crime from the Carpenters Union, and points the union toward a new era in its history."

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge GEORGE VENIZELOS stated: "With today's plea Michael Forde has acknowledged taking bribes from contractors to betray the rank-and-file union members he purportedly represented. He now faces serious time for his serious crimes. The FBI is steadfast in its determination to hold union officials accountable to their membership."

DOL-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Region MARJORIE FRANZMAN stated: "Even though Michael Forde was entrusted with safeguarding the rights, wages, and benefits of the Carpenters Union in New York City, he violated this trust by systematically cheating union members out of their earnings. Today's guilty plea demonstrates that depriving union members of their benefits will not be tolerated. The Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate labor racketeering at all levels.”

Mr. BHARARA praised the FBI and the DOL-OIG for their outstanding work in investigating this case. Mr. BHARARA also thanked the Manhattan District Attorney's Office for the assistance they provided in the case.

The prosecution is being handled by the Organized Crime Unit of the United States Attorney's Office. Assistant United States Attorneys LISA ZORNBERG and MARK LANPHER are in charge of the prosecution.

Washingtonian pleads guilty to charges under PROTECT Act

Admits he traveled to Cambodia to have sex with underage girls

SEATTLE - A south King County, Wash., man who traveled to Cambodia to have sex with young girls pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Craig Thomas Carr, 59, of Kent, Wash., admitted in his plea agreement that prior to his trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in January 2010, he contacted a taxi driver there via the Internet who agreed to identify young females for Carr to have sex with when he visited. Carr expressed an interest in girls about 12-years-old and sent sexually explicit photographs to the cab driver to show the approximate age of the girls he was seeking.

While still in the United States, Carr made plans to take naked photos of the young girls, requesting the address of a FedEx store in Phnom Penh. He planned to send the explicit photos directly to his home while he was still in Cambodia.

Carr traveled to Phnom Penh from Seattle on January 13. During the next eight days, he admits that he had sex with three young Cambodian females.

On January 22, he was arrested by the Cambodian National Police. He remained in the custody of Cambodian authorities until he was removed from that country and escorted back to the United States by ICE HSI agents on May 7.

"This guilty plea sends a clear message to child predators who falsely believe they can travel to other countries with the intent of sexually exploiting children and avoid detection by U.S. law enforcement," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of HSI in Seattle. "ICE remains committed to dedicating its investigative resources to deter this type of illegal activity in the future."

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Carr faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and he will be placed on lifetime supervised release following his incarceration. He will also be required to register as a sex offender and has agreed to pay restitution to the young victims in Cambodia.

Carr is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington under the PROTECT Act. The PROTECT Act, which went into effect seven years ago, substantially strengthened federal laws against predatory crimes involving children outside the United States by adding new crimes and increasing the penalties for these charges.

This investigation is part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Third Chi Mei Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty and Serve Jail Time for Participating in Global LCD Price-Fixing Conspiracy

WASHINGTON – A former executive from Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation (Chi Mei) has agreed to plead guilty and to serve jail in the United States for participating in a global conspiracy to fix the price of thin-film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to a one-count felony charge filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Wen-Hung “Amigo” Huang conspired with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of TFT-LCD panels. Huang, a resident of Taiwan and the former director of sales of Chi Mei, participated in the conspiracy from on or about Sept. 14, 2001, to on or about Dec.1, 2006.

Under his plea agreement which is subject to court approval, Huang, who was charged today, has agreed to serve 9 months in jail, to pay a $25,000 criminal fine and to assist the department in its ongoing TFT-LCD investigation.

TFT-LCD panels are used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices. By the end of the conspiracy period, the worldwide market for TFT-LCD panels was valued at $70 billion. Companies directly affected by the LCD price-fixing conspiracy are some of the largest computer and television manufacturers in the world, including Apple, Dell and Hewlett Packard.

The department charged that Huang participated in a conspiracy in which the participants met and agreed to charge prices of TFT-LCD panels at predetermined levels. The participants in that conspiracy also issued price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached and exchanged information on the sales of TFT-LCD panels for the purpose of monitoring adherence to the agreed-upon prices, the department said.

As a result of this investigation, more than $890 million in criminal fines have been obtained to date. Including today’s filing, 18 executives and eight companies have been charged in the department’s ongoing investigation into price fixing in the LCD industry.

Huang is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charge is the result of a joint investigation by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Field Office and the FBI in San Francisco.

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding the U.S. Department of Defense of More Than $450,000

WASHINGTON - A Virginia man pleaded guilty today to one count of mail fraud for his participation in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Defense, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Jonathan Feeney, 28, of Woodbridge, Va., waived his right to an indictment and pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia before U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema. The information charges Feeney with using the U.S. mails to execute a scheme involving fraudulent invoices to defraud the U. S. Department of Defense.

According to court documents, BAE Systems Training Services Inc. (BAE) maintained a procurement contract with the Defense Department during 2005 and 2006. Under the terms of the contract, BAE would purchase surveillance equipment and subsequently bill the U.S. government for those purchases. According to court documents, Feeney worked as a logistics engineer at BAE and was responsible for purchasing the items needed under the contract.

According to court documents, Feeney started making secret purchases in BAE’s name beginning in August 2005. He admitted that he used his position to authorize the purchase of camera lenses and video equipment, intending to keep the equipment for his personal use but to bill BAE for the purchases. This would in turn cause BAE to use the mail to bill those purchases to the United States. Between Aug. 6, 2005, and June 30, 2006, Feeney admitted he made 15 illicit purchases, totaling $476,424 in fraudulent charges, of which $464,819 was billed to the U.S. government. According to court documents, Feeney subsequently sold many of the purchases on an Internet auction site for profit.

The mail fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, as well as three years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. The case is being prosecuted by Fraud Section Trial Attorney Liam Brennan and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve A. Linick, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The investigation is being conducted by Defense Criminal Investigative Service and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force.

Today’s charges are an example of the Department of Justice’s commitment to protect U.S. taxpayers from procurement fraud through the National Procurement Fraud Task Force. The National Procurement Fraud Initiative, announced in October 2006, is designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in contracting activity for national security and other government programs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Former Nixa Employee Sentenced for Mail Fraud, Theft, and Money Laundering

Admits Role in Schemes Totaling $756,000

SPRINGFIELD, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former employee for the city of Nixa, Missouri was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a series of mail fraud and money laundering schemes totaling more than $756,000.

David W. Griggs, 45, of Willard, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr to two years and eight months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Griggs to pay $272,718 in restitution, and to forfeit to the government $756,010 and a 1999 Dutchman travel trailer, which were obtained from the proceeds of the offenses.

On Aug. 27, 2009, Griggs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Griggs was employed by the city of Nixa as a utility worker in the city’s street department from Nov. 6, 2003, to Feb. 8, 2006. He was promoted to be the lead utility worker on Aug. 4, 2004.

Co-defendant Larry W. Covington, 50, of Ash Grove, Missouri, pleaded guilty on June 1, 2010, to his role in the conspiracy to defraud the city of Nixa. Covington was employed by the city of Nixa from March 6, 2000, to Feb. 23, 2009. He was appointed to be the superintendent of the street department on May 6, 2004.

Griggs and Covington used two fictitious businesses established by Griggs—Airborne Specialist (sometimes referred to as Airborne Specialists) and Tri-State Supply—to invoice the city of Nixa for approximately $273,645 in goods and services for the street department that were never provided. During the course of the conspiracy, 122 fraudulent invoices were submitted to the city.

Covington admitted that he prepared purchase orders for street department supplies that were invoiced by the two fictitious businesses. Covington caused the city to prepare purchase orders and falsely acknowledged receiving the items, which were never actually delivered.

Griggs established separate post office boxes for the two businesses. When the city mailed checks payable to the businesses, they were deposited into business bank accounts and Covington and Griggs split the proceeds. Griggs admitted that he conspired with others to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of the mail fraud.

Covington also admitted that he registered a third fictitious business, Ward & Spooner, which he repeatedly used to invoice the city of Nixa for goods and services that were never provided. Between Dec. 7, 2004, and Feb. 25, 2009, Covington submitted 150 fraudulent invoices totaling $482,365 to the city of Nixa for goods and services that were never provided. Covington repeatedly made false representations to the city that Ward & Spooner would supply goods and services, and falsely represented to the city that goods had been delivered and that services had been performed by Ward & Spooner by signing or initialing fraudulent invoices.

Covington also admitted that he participated in a mail fraud conspiracy related to financial transactions involving the proceeds of the mail fraud.

Covington’s wife, Paula K. Covington, 53, of Ash Grove, pleaded guilty to money laundering. She admitted that she used the proceeds of the fraud scheme to purchase American Kennel Club-registered Labrador retrievers and a four-hole, homemade dog trailer. When her husband was arrested on state charges on Feb. 24, 2009, she contacted the owner of Lone Oak Retrievers and directed him to immediately sell three of the dogs.

On March 3, 2009, the owner of Lone Oak Retrievers sold three of the dogs. Paula Covington directed him to remit the $10,881 in proceeds to another person’s account at Liberty Bank. On March 6, 2009, $10,640 was withdrawn from the Liberty Bank account and used to purchase two cashier’s checks totaling $10,636. Both of the cashier’s checks were made payable to Advanced Bail Bonds of Ozark, Missouri, for the purpose of posting bond for Larry Covington.

Paula Covington admitted that the money from the sale of the dogs represented the proceeds of mail fraud. She also admitted that the financial transactions involved—including the wire transfer of funds into Liberty Bank and the withdrawal of the funds in order to purchase the cashier’s checks to pay the bonding company—was designed to disguise the fact that the money from the fraud scheme was used to post bond.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Nixa, Missouri, Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

Two Indicted for Alabaster Bank Robbery

BIRMINGHAM—A federal grand jury today indicted two men in connection with the May robbery of Regions Bank in Alabaster, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley and Alabaster Police Chief Stanley Oliver.

A four-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges NATHAN PARKE BATEMAN, 26, of Alabaster, and ROBERT ANDRE MORTON, 25, of Meridian, Miss., with armed bank robbery and two associated federal firearm violations.

“Innocent people’s lives were put at risk when two gunman robbed the Alabaster bank in May,” Vance said. “Alabaster police are to be commended for their quick and effective response, which led to the immediate capture of the two suspects.”

Bateman and Morton stand accused of committing armed robbery at the Alabaster branch office of Regions Bank on May 21. In addition, both men are charged with carrying firearms during the course of the robbery. Because of a previous felony conviction, Bateman also has been indicted for illegal possession of a firearm.

Conviction for the bank robbery charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of carrying a firearm during the robbery, each man faces an additional and consecutive prison term of seven years. Should Bateman be convicted of illegal gun possession, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by Alabaster Police and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Simpson.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Former Fugitive in Multi-Million-Dollar New Square Fraud Scheme Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 27 Months in Prison

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that AVRUM DAVID FRIESEL was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 27 months in prison for his participation in a long-running scheme to defraud millions of dollars from a number of federal and state programs, including the Pell Grant and Section 8 Housing programs. FRIESEL fled from the United States to Israel in 1997, shortly before he was charged in the case. Following the arrest of a co-defendant who had also fled to Israel, FRIESEL absconded to the United Kingdom in 1999, where he hid until he was arrested in 2008. FRIESEL was extradited to the United States in August 2009, over 12 years after he was initially charged. United States District Judge BARBARA S. JONES imposed the sentence on FRIESEL.

According to the Superseding Indictment, documents filed in court, and statements made during the guilty plea and sentencing proceedings:

FRIESEL and several other co-defendants defrauded a number of federal and state grant, loan, and subsidy programs of millions of dollars for the benefit of themselves and other residents of the Village of New Square, an incorporated village in Rockland County. For example, FRIESEL and his co-defendants defrauded the Pell Grant program funded by the United States Department of Education. The Pell Grant program provides funds to post-secondary school students with financial need who are seeking to obtain an academic or professional degree, vocational certificate, or other recognized undergraduate educational credential. FRIESEL and his co-defendants assisted in enrolling thousands of New Square residents and others in fraudulent postsecondary educational programs in order to obtain tens of millions of dollars in Pell Grants and other forms of student financial aid to which they were not entitled. Most of these students were enrolled in "independent study" programs that did not require the students to attend classes, but instead permitted them to study independently under the guidance of "mentors," who supposedly met with them periodically to gauge their progress and administer examinations. Members of the conspiracy lied repeatedly to conceal the fact that many of these "students" were actually ineligible to receive financial aid because they were not seeking any certificate or degree, or because they were still in high school.

Among other things, and in order to execute the fraud, participants in the conspiracy: created entities through which federal and state funds could be fraudulently obtained; submitted fraudulent documentation in order to establish the eligibility of New Square residents and others to participate in these programs; used the funds obtained from these programs for impermissible purposes; and concealed their fraud by using false names and nominee bank accounts.

In addition to the Pell Grant program, co-conspirators, including FRIESEL, defrauded other federal programs and departments, including: a Small Business Administration program designed to provide venture capital to small, minority-owned businesses; the Section 8 rental subsidy program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Social Security Administration; and the Internal Revenue Service.

Judge JONES also ordered FRIESEL to pay over $11 million in restitution and to serve two years of supervised release following his prison sentence. FRIESEL previously pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge HENRY B. PITMAN to one count of conspiracy to defraud a number of federal agencies and programs.

Four of FRIESEL's co-defendants were convicted on January 25, 1999, following an 11-week jury trial in White Plains federal court before Judge JONES and received sentences of between 30 and 78 months in prison, which were commuted in 2001 by then-President CLINTON. CHAIM BERGER, the leader of the scheme who fled the United States, was arrested in Israel in 1999 and was later extradited to the United States. He pleaded guilty on January 23, 2002, and was sentenced to 72 months in prison. The remaining defendant, NATHAN ADLER, remains at large.

In sentencing FRIESEL, Judge JONES also explained that one of the reasons for the imposed sentence was that FRIESEL left the United States and remained out of the country after it had to be obvious that he was going to be charged. In response to FRIESEL's request that his sentence should be lower to take account of the fact that the sentences of several of his co-conspirators were commuted in 2001, Judge JONES stated that she gave "no weight" to the fact that several of FRIESEL's co-defendants had their sentences commuted.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "Avrum Friesel stole millions of dollars in federal and state funds that should have gone to the poor and needy, among other worthy recipients, all to benefit himself and his co-conspirators. He spent 11 years on the run on two continents to avoid facing those charges, but today’s sentence confirms that it is never in a defendant’s interest to flee the authorities. Our Office, together with our law enforcement partners here in the United States and around the world, will work tirelessly to bring to justice all fugitives, no matter where they go or how long they are gone."

Mr. BHARARA praised the work and cooperation of the U.S. Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration for their investigation and their extraordinarily dedicated commitment to the prosecution. Mr. BHARARA also praised the efforts of the United States Marshals Service for locating FRIESEL, helping to apprehend FRIESEL in the United Kingdom, and providing essential support in obtaining his return to the United States. Mr. BHARARA also thanked London's Metropolitan Police Service, Extradition Unit, for its assistance in the location and apprehension of FRIESEL and the Crown Prosecution Service, Extradition Unit, of London in his extradition.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office's Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney DANIEL W. LEVY is in charge of the prosecution.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Would you Marry a Cop?

On July 29, 2010, Conversations with American Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a conversation with Sergeant Brian Cain, Holly Springs Police Department, on marriage in law enforcement.

Program Date: July 29, 2010
Program Time: 1700 hours Pacific
Topic: Would you Marry a Cop?
Listen Live:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lawenforcement/2010/07/30/would-you-marry-a-cop

About the Guest
Sergeant Brian Cain, Holly Springs Police Department (North Carolina), is a ten year veteran of law enforcement. Four years of his law enforcement experience includes working as a K-9 handler in the United States Marine Corps. In addition to working as a K-9 handler, Sergeant Brian Cain has worked as a detention officer, patrol officer and member of a multi-agency narcotics task force. In 2008, he started a ministry for law enforcement officials called Code-4 Ministries.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is Police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. American Heroes Radio brings you to the watering hole, where it is Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in Law Enforcement, public policy, Public Safety Technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in Law Enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lawenforcement/2010/07/30/would-you-marry-a-cop

Archive:
http://www.hitechcj.com/americanheroesradio/would_you_marry_a_cop.html

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA
editor@police-writers.com
909.599.7530

Physician’s Assistant Convicted of Conspiring to Defraud Medicaid

McALLEN, TX—Local Physician Assistant Manuel Anthony Puig, 44, has pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the Texas Medicaid program, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced today. Manuel Puig, doing business as Puig Medical Services, operated La Hacienda Family Clinic, near Alton, Texas.

Indicted by a federal grand jury on March 9, 2010, for health care fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit health care fraud, Puig pleaded guilty before Chief United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa on Friday, July 23, 2010, to the conspiracy charge and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conviction.

By state law, as a physician assistant, Manuel Puig is required to have a licensed physician supervising his work and delegating responsibilities to him. At today’s hearing, Manuel Puig admitted that in 2005, he joined an ongoing conspiracy with others to submit claims to the health care benefit program known as the Texas Medicaid program. Puig admitted fraudulently using the Medicaid provider number of R.J.P., a medical doctor who, for some time before 2005 until his death, was physically and mentally unable to practice medicine nor provide any health care benefits, items, or services; who did not delegate authority to Manuel Puig to provide any health care benefits, items, or services; and who did not supervise Puig’s attempts to provide health care benefits, items, or services.

Puig admitted that he furthered the conspiracy by submitting, or allowing others to submit, a written notice with the Texas State Board of Physician Assistant Examiners that fraudulently claimed that R.J.P. would supervise his attempts to provide health care benefits, items and services at La Hacienda Family Clinic. Thereafter, Puig operated La Hacienda Family Clinic without supervision from R.J.P. or any other licensed physician and then submitted claims, or aided and abetted others in the submission of claims, to Medicaid under the Medicaid provider number of R.J.P. for health care benefits, services or items which were not provided by R.J.P.; were not authorized, ordered or supervised R.J.P.; were not provided by a licensed person; or were not provided at all.

Puig admitted that for the period of time beginning on or about May 1, 2005, through on or about Jan. 10, 2006, he provided medical care and services for Medicaid beneficiaries without the authority or the supervision of R.J.P., signed an affidavit sent to the Texas Medical Board in January 2006—falsely claiming he had been assisting R.J.P., that there had been communications between them and that he believed R.J.P was mentally capable of practicing medicine.

Puig admitted that he submitted or caused to be submitted over 6,000 claims to Medicaid fraudulently using the Texas Medical provider number for R.J.P. for which Medicaid paid the approximately $173,830.56 between May 2005 and January 2006.

The clinic operated by Puig is no longer in operation. Puig remains free on bond of $174,000 pending sentencing scheduled for October 26, 2010.

Puig’s wife, Romelia Sanchez Puig, 41, who allegedly acted as the biller for the clinic she and her husband operated and is also charged for her alleged involvement in the health care fraud scheme, remains on bond pending trial on the charges pending against her.

The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by the FBI and the Texas Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Casey N. MacDonald and Special Assistant United States Attorney Rex G. Beasley are prosecuting the case.

Kansas Cattleman Sentenced for Bank Fraud

KANSAS CITY, KS—Joseph C. Donohue, 70, Greeley, Kan., has been sentenced to six months in federal prison followed by six months of house arrest for bank fraud, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today. The court also ordered Donohue to pay $10 million in restitution.

Donohue pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. In his plea, Donohue admitted he provided false information to Lyons State Bank in order to obtain loans for purchasing and feeding cattle. In November 2007, Donohue signed a promissory note to the bank for more than $7.6 million. To secure the debt, he granted the bank an interest in all livestock he owned and he agreed to provide quarterly inventory reports on his cattle.

In September 2008 he provided the bank a financial statement claiming he had cattle inventory of more than $18.2 million when in fact value of the cattle was approximately $3 million. In an inventory report dated Oct. 31, 2008, he claimed to have 13,267 head of cattle. The bank determined there were only 650 head of cattle to secure the loan.

Donohue also obtained loans from other lenders based on false financial statements. Farmers and Merchants State Bank in West Pointe, Neb., loaned him more than $3.2 million and Farmers State Bank in Garnett, Kan., loaned him more than $1 million.

Welch commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway for their work on the case.

Convicted Felon Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison for Firearm Violation

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — OLIN DEREK GRANT, age 44, a resident of New Orleans, was sentenced today in federal court by U. S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey to fifteen (15) years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten. In addition, GRANT was ordered to serve five (5) years of supervised release during which time he will be under federal supervision and risk additional imprisonment should he violated any terms of the release.

According to the court documents, GRANT pled guilty on April 29, 2010 admitting that on September 1, 2009, he was in possession of a .500 S&W Magnum caliber revolver when he was arrested by New Orleans Police Officers. GRANT also admitted that he has previous conviction in Jefferson Parish for manslaughter, burglary of an inhabited dwelling and attempted simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling, and distribution of cocaine.

This investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the New Orleans Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher Cox of the Violent Crime Unit.

Idaho man sentenced for possessing child pornography

BOISE, Idaho - An Ada County, Idaho, man was sentenced Thursday to 51 months in federal prison for possessing sexually explicit images of minors, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Edward Vance, 52, of Meridian, Idaho, was also ordered to a lifetime of supervised release following his release from prison. He pleaded guilty to the child pornography charges in May 2010.

Vance came to the attention of law enforcement after ICE's Cyber Crime Center began investigating a criminal organization operating a commercial child pornography website. The investigation showed that Vance had purchased memberships to several websites that were selling child pornography.

In September 2007, ICE agents served a search warrant at Vance's home. At that time, he admitted to possessing child pornography and turned over several compact discs that were hidden behind some books.

Agents seized six computers and four hard drives in addition to the discs. Vance admitted that he had purchased more than 10 memberships to illegal websites over the past seven or eight years.

ICE HSI agents conducted a forensic analysis of the computer storage items and discovered more than 6,500 sexually explicit images and 555 videos of child pornography. Investigators identified nearly 70 minors from Europe and throughout the United States who were victims of abuse depicted in the images.

"Every time an image of child pornography is viewed, an innocent child is exploited," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's HSI office that oversees Idaho. "We will continue to dedicate our resources and investigate those individuals who commit this type of crime and ensure they are brought to justice."

This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

Public tip leads to pot seizure in Tucson home

TUCSON, Ariz. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents seized more than 480 pounds of marijuana from a Tucson stash house Wednesday following a tip from a concerned citizen.

The lead came from someone concerned about suspected drug smuggling activity at a residence in the 200 block of West Tennessee Street in Tucson. After further investigation, agents determined the residence was previously searched in April during Operation In Plain Sight, one of the largest human smuggling investigations in ICE history. A federal search warrant was issued for the house, and inside agents seized a total of 484 pounds of marijuana and a revolver.

"This is a great example of an alert citizen having a positive impact on the community," said Rick Crocker, deputy special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tucson. "Denying drug smugglers the use of this residence will certainly improve neighborhood safety." ICE HSI agents investigating this case work with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Strike Force in Tucson. ICE actively participates in this multi-agency task force, whose specialized mission is to conduct complex criminal investigations into large-scale drug trafficking cartels. The concept is to use the combined capabilities and resources of the participating agencies as an effective tool to attack all aspects of dangerous criminal organizations.

Since January 2010, ICE HSI agents assigned to this task force have arrested 20 suspects and seized more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana, 10 weapons, and 124 grams of methamphetamine.

The investigation into this incident is on-going. Any one with information regarding this bust should contact ICE's tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Law Enforcement Partnerships Help Reunite Mother and Son

Lake Charles, La. – Within minutes of receiving a lookout that originated with the Houston Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the New Orleans Sector located a reported missing child on Thursday, June 22.

The two-year old boy was reported missing by his mother in Houston. The mother believed that the boy’s estranged father had taken custody of him and fled to the New Orleans area. Border Patrol agents received the information from the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office and within 30 minutes of receiving the information, located the child and estranged father in Lake Charles, La.

This case shows the improved communications and strengthened partnerships between the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies throughout New Orleans and the multiple state area that defines the New Orleans Sector’s area of responsibility. On this occasion, the unified efforts of the involved law enforcement agencies verified the welfare of a small child within minutes of receiving the information. These types of unified efforts are employed to make our communities and borders safer places.

Houston PD and the Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office will continue to investigate the case.

U.S. Marshals Service Join with Interpol for Worldwide Fugitive Apprehension

Operation INFRA-RED 2010

Washington - The U.S. Marshals Service recently participated in a worldwide manhunt for violent fugitives, providing investigative support to Interpol and Crime Stoppers International during Operation International Fugitive Round-up and Arrest - Red Notices also known as INFRA-RED 2010.

Operation INFRA-RED 2010, a cooperative effort combining the resources of Interpol, CSI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. National Central Bureau (Interpol Washington) and other law enforcement agencies from 29 countries across six continents, produced one of the most successful international fugitive apprehension operation in Interpol history, officials said. The success of the operation hinged on the exchange of information concerning violent fugitives who have fled internationally and are believed to be residing in other countries.

Operation INFRA-RED 2010, which began May 3, targeted 450 convicted or wanted persons worldwide identified by the 29 participating member countries. More than 2,450 law enforcement messages were exchanged between law enforcement agencies worldwide resulting in 130 individuals being located or arrested. New information on 357 of the cases has also been provided to Interpol, including possible locations, travel details, photographs and telephone numbers.

International fugitive cases are particularly difficult, and INFRA-RED targeted the “worst of the worst” offenders. Leaders at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals Service expressed gratitude for the outstanding cooperation by law enforcement across the globe and the exceptional public interest and assistance generated during this operation.

“Anytime we can take a violent fugitive off the streets is a good day, but when we do so on a large, international scale it is truly an amazing accomplishment,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. “I am impressed with the level of cooperation and involvement we were able to achieve during Operation INFRA-RED.”

During Operation INFRA-RED, the U.S. Marshals Service dedicated investigative resources, including its national network of fugitive task forces, foreign field offices, and technical surveillance and criminal intelligence assets. Representatives from the U.S. Marshals Service also went to Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France on May 1 to provide investigative support for Operation INFRA-RED 2010.

"Having U.S. Marshals deployed to the Interpol General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon for the duration of Infra-Red, meant that all of the countries taking part in the operation could benefit from their expertise and experience in fugitive investigations," said Ronald K. Noble, Interpol Secretary General. "Their presence, combined with the support of the U.S. Marshals in the United States and the Interpol National Central Bureau in Washington made a significant contribution to the success of the operation, which has so far seen 130 fugitives located and arrested around the world.”

U.S. Marshals investigators coordinated with officers from various countries throughout the world to locate and arrest violent fugitives worldwide.

“The U.S. Marshals Service is proud to have once again played a role in Operation INFRA-RED,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark. “This worldwide operation brings together the full force of law enforcement agencies throughout the world with the single purpose of hunting down criminals who think they can hide from justice. I commend Secretary General Noble of Interpol and President Murphy of Crime Stoppers International for taking the lead on this highly successful operation.”

International fugitives targeted by the U.S. Marshals Service and arrested during Operation INFRA-RED 2010 include:

Shawn Sullivan had been wanted in Minnesota since 1994 for allegedly molesting two 11 year-old girls and raping an unconscious 14 year-old girl. U.S. Marshals Service investigators coordinated with authorities in Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to locate and arrest suspected Sullivan. He faces 25 years imprisonment on each count. Sullivan was also convicted in Ireland of raping two 12 year-old girls as well. During the operation, Ireland investigators determined Sullivan obtained an Irish passport in 2009 under a different name. At that time, Sullivan provided a residential address located in London. Investigators from the Met Police in London then initiated a fugitive investigation. On June 28, Sullivan was arrested by the Met Police in London and is currently in custody awaiting extradition to the United States.

Elziane Neres Lima was wanted in Brazil for murder. The U.S. Marshals New York /New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her in New Jersey May 28. Lima is presently in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement where she is being detained without bond on administrative charges and while pending extradition/return to Brazil. The preliminary investigation indicates Lima may presently be, or may have been at one time, married to a U.S. citizen. However, her true U.S. immigration status has yet to be determined. As there is no assurance she will be held indefinitely or be subject to imminent immigration deportation, the United States has requested Brazil provide an extradition/provisional arrest request through normal diplomatic channels.

Wayne Leslie Davidson and his co-conspirators allegedly operated an estimated $10 million investment scheme from 1998 - 2007 where people would buy international bonds from Davidson and his associates. The U.S. Marshals Service investigators coordinated with authorities in the United Arab Emirates through Interpol resulting in Davidson’s arrest in the United Arab Emirates July 12. Davidson left a trail of victims in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada and England. Davidson was still running from justice while his co-conspirators have been serving sentences of 20 years or more. Davidson is being held in custody pending his return to the United States.

Interpol Washington served as a clearinghouse for facilitating investigative information to the U.S. law enforcement agencies and the 28 other countries who participated in Operation INFRA-RED.

“I am very pleased at the overall success of Operation INFRA-RED and the high level of cooperation and collaboration between the Interpol Secretariat General, U.S. law enforcement agencies and the other participant countries. This operation is another fine example of what can be achieved to combat transnational crime when countries come together and share resources,” said Interpol Washington Director Timothy A. Williams.

An Interpol Red Notice seeks the location and arrest of an individual for whom an arrest warrant has been issued with the aim of extraditing that fugitive to the country in which the crime was committed. Crime Stoppers International is the umbrella organization for the 1,200 official Crime Stoppers programs worldwide.

Three Colombian Nationals Extradited to the United States to Face Alien Smuggling and Visa Fraud Charges

WASHINGTON – Three Colombian nationals have been extradited from Colombia to the United States on charges of conspiracy to smuggle aliens for profit, alien smuggling for profit, and conspiracy to commit visa fraud in connection with their alleged roles in an extensive and sophisticated visa fraud scheme through which they fraudulently procured visas from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. The extraditions were announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia; Eric J. Boswell, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security and Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, U.S. State Department; and Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Heliber Toro Mejia, 52; Humberto Toro Mejia, 60; and Luz Elena Acuna Rios, 52; all of Bogotá, were charged in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on Feb. 4, 2009. The defendants were arrested on June 2, 2009, by Colombian authorities in Bogotá on provisional arrest warrants in response to a U.S. government request for their arrest. The defendants have been in custody in Colombia since their arrest and prior to their extradition to the United States. Humberto Toro Mejia was arraigned in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today and ordered detained by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle. Heliber Toro Mejia and Luz Elena Acuna Rios were arraigned on July 14, 2010, and ordered detained by U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay.

According to the indictment, the defendants were the leaders of an extensive and sophisticated visa fraud ring that profited by assisting otherwise inadmissible Colombian nationals in fraudulently procuring visas from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá. To support the visa applications of alien applicants, the defendants and other conspirators allegedly created fictitious backgrounds for the aliens and fraudulent supporting documentation, including paperwork that appeared to be official Colombian government-issued documents such as tax filings and birth and marriage certificates. The indictment alleges that the conspirators coached the aliens on how to pass the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá by answering questions untruthfully. During the course of this conspiracy, which according to the indictment lasted between July 15, 2005, and March 20, 2007, more than 100 aliens are alleged to have fraudulently obtained or attempted to fraudulently obtain a U.S. visa. According to the indictment, many of those aliens who did obtain a fraudulently-procured visa used that visa to enter the United States.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for profit, 10 years in prison for alien smuggling for profit, and five years in prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Each defendant is also subject to a maximum fine of $250,000 for each charge.

The charges are the result of “Operation Coffee Country,” a coordinated international investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service - Regional Security Office in Bogotá and the ICE Attaché’s Office in Bogotá. The Diplomatic Security Service - Criminal Investigations Division and the ICE Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Washington, D.C. provided substantial assistance.

The government of Colombia, including the Colombian Department of Administrative Security and Colombian prosecutors, provided significant assistance and support during the investigation, arrest and extradition of the defendants. The Office of International Affairs in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá worked with their counterparts in Colombia to effect the extradition.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney James S. Yoon of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick W. Yette of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Significant assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs was provided by Trial Attorney Nicolette Romano.

An indictment is merely a formal accusation. It is not proof of guilt, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Fort Totten Woman Sentenced for Theft from the Spirit Lake Tribe

FARGO—Acting United States Attorney Lynn Jordheim announced that on July 21, 2010, Melissa Rose Hunt of Fort Totten, North Dakota, was sentenced before United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson on a charge of theft from Indian tribal organization.

Hunt, 29, pleaded guilty on April 19, 2010, to fraudulently preparing and signing loans in the names of other individuals at the Spirit Lake Financial Office where she was employed at the time. She was detected in the criminal activity when a tribal member sought a loan and was denied because a loan had been taken out in her name. The incidents occurred from January 2005 through August 2008 on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

Judge Erickson sentenced Hunt to two years' probation and she was ordered to pay restitution which will be determined at a later date. Hunt was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Janice M. Morley prosecuted the case.

Clement David King Found Guilty in U.S. Federal Court

The United States Attorney's Office announced that on July 21, 2010, in Great Falls, after a federal district court trial before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, CLEMENT DAVID KING, a 22-year-old resident of Hays, was found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor, which occurred on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. Sentencing is set for November 8, 2010. He is currently detained.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia K. Hurd prosecuted the case for the United States.

KING faces possible penalties of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and supervision for life.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Hostage-Taking Bank Robber Pleads Guilty to Multiple Counts of Armed Bank Robbery

SAN FRANCISCO—Jason E. Dunlap pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco yesterday to one count of bank robbery, four counts of armed bank robbery that involved the taking of hostages by knife-point, and one count of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced.

In pleading guilty, Dunlap admitted that this spring he robbed five San Francisco banks. In four of the robberies, he placed the life of a teller or customer in jeopardy when he put a hunting knife to their neck and demanded money from bank employees.

According to information in the plea agreement, on or about March 22, Dunlap robbed Citibank on Van Ness Avenue of more than $400. On or about March 24, Dunlap robbed East West Bank on Washington Street. At East West Bank, he put the blade of a large knife to the neck of a customer while demanding money from the teller who provided him more than $2,700. On or about April 2, Dunlap robbed the Wells Fargo Bank on Grant Avenue by wrapping his arm around a customer’s neck, holding a knife blade to the customer’s neck, and stating to a bank teller “Give me the hundreds! Hurry! Hurry!” In response to his demands, the teller gave Dunlap more than $2,700. On or about April 5, Dunlap robbed City National Bank on California Street. During that robbery, he put his arm around the neck of an elderly woman, placed the blade of a knife to the customer’s neck, and told a teller “I need the money! Give me hundreds! I know you guys have hundreds!” In response to Dunlap’s demand, the teller gave him more than $1,700. On or about April 28, Dunlap robbed Borel Private Trust and Bank on California Street by jumping over the teller counter, taking a teller hostage and holding the large knife to her throat while yelling “Give me money! Give me money!” “Give me money or else.” Dunlap left with $1,100.

Prosecutors also charged Dunlap with transportation of a stolen motor vehicle between New York and California, which Dunlap admitted was the getaway car he used during his robbery spree.

Dunlap, 32, of New York City, was indicted by a federal grand jury in May on one count of bank robbery in violation of 18 United States Code Section 2113 (a), four counts of armed bank robbery in violation of 18 United States Code Section 2113 (a) and (d), and one count of interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle in violation of 18 United States Code Section 2312. Under the plea agreement, Dunlap pled guilty to all counts and agreed to what is known as treatment as a career offender, a law that is reserved for repeat criminals and allows for enhanced penalties.

Dunlap faces up to 20 years in prison for the count of bank robbery, up to 25 years in prison for each count of armed bank robbery, and up to 10 years in prison for transporting a stolen motor vehicle, as well as a fine of $250,000 for each count. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. 3553.

Dunlap will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 5, 2010, before Judge Alsup in San Francisco.

Kathryn R. Haun is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal assistant Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of a months-long investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crime Squad.

Former Town of West Seneca Police Officer Charged with Depriving Another of Civil Rights

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., announced today that a criminal complaint has been filed in U.S. District Court charging Sean Kelley, 30, of West Seneca, New York, with deprivation of civil rights under color of law. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini Ross, who is handling the case, stated that the charging document alleges that on March 12, 2010, Kelley, then a police officer with the Town of West Seneca Police Department, was off-duty and at a bar when he assaulted another patron. Apparently, Kelley believed the victim had verbally insulted his wife. After he accepted the victim’s apology and a drink from him, Kelley used his position as a police officer to contact two on-duty West Seneca police officers. He then waited for the uniformed police officers to arrive at the scene before assaulting the victim.

Kelley is alleged to have punched the victim multiple times, repeatedly slam the victim's head against a wall, and choked the victim. The complaint alleges that these actions deprived the victim of the right secured and protected by the United States Constitution; namely, the right to be free from an unreasonable use of force by a law enforcement officer. Kelley's actions resulted in bodily injury to the victim.

“Police officers have an important job to carry out—enforcing the law and protecting the public from harm are just two of them. The vast majority of our officers faithfully do just that. In fact, this investigation began when the West Seneca Police Department brought the complaint to the attention of my office" said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "But when an officer chooses to break the law and also misuses his position to do so, such behavior will not be tolerated.”

The case against Sean Kelley is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James Robertson. In addition to Assistant United States Attorney Ross, Department of Justice Civil Rights Trial Attorney Patti Sumner will assist in the prosecution of the matter.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Twelve Members of Violent Latin Kings Drug Organization Charged with Murder in Aid of Racketeering

Separate Indictments Charge 23 More with Drug and Gun Offenses

BETHLEHEM, PA—A superseding indictment was unsealed today charging 12 alleged members of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN or “Latin Kings”) Bethlehem Sun Tribe with participating in a racketeering conspiracy that includes murder in aid of racketeering and other crimes, announced U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane David Memeger. According to the superseding indictment, the Bethlehem Sun Tribe used violence and intimidation as a means to maintain its territory, power, and profits. Its own members were subjected to murder, kidnapping, and assault as punishment for violating any of the tribe's rules. Indictments were also filed against 23 gang members and associates charging drug and firearms offenses.

The superseding indictment alleges that on Jan. 10, 2004, at Saucon Park in Bethlehem, Pa., Neftali Colon and Oscar Hernandez shot and killed Eugene Martinez, an individual who had assaulted and “disrespected” Colon and another member of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe.

“The type of brutality and lawlessness alleged in this indictment is exactly what the 222 Anti-Gang Initiative aims to eradicate,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger. “We will use every tool available to fight organizations that bring their criminal enterprises to the communities we serve.”

The 12 defendants charged in the RICO conspiracy superseding indictment are: Luis Colon, aka “King Respect;” Neftali Colon, aka “King Nefti;” Oscar Hernandez, aka “King Flip;” Pedro Velasquez, aka “King P-Solo;” Michael Pagan, aka “King Vision;” Abran Figueroa, aka “King Ace;” Jesse Zayas, aka “King Pride;” Waldemar Torres, aka “King Vail;” Steve Calderon, aka “King Silence;” Cesar Velez, aka “King C’s;” Hector Luis Rivera, aka “King Tito;” and Carlos R. Martinez, aka “King Knowledge.” The charges include conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise; murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering activity; conspiracy to commit kidnapping and assault in aid of racketeering activity; kidnapping and assault in aid of racketeering activity; using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence; distribution of controlled substances; convicted felons in possession of firearms; sales of firearms to known felons; and criminal forfeiture of 14 firearms and ammunition.

Some of the incidents alleged in the superseding indictment include:

On March 17, 2004, Luis Colon, Neftali Colon, Hernandez, Velasquez, Rivera and Martinez traveled to Vineland, N.J., upon orders of the Philadelphia chapter of the Latin Kings, armed with firearms, body armor and ammunition, to serve as “soldiers” to assist in the murder of members of the New Jersey Latin Kings. The plan was unsuccessful.

On Jan. 23, 2008, Figueroa, Zayas and Torres conspired and agreed to kidnap and assault an individual they believed had cooperated with law enforcement. The next day they kidnapped the individual and assaulted him.

On Jan. 27, 2008, Luis Colon, Pagan, Figueroa, Zayas and Torres discussed the possible murder of someone they believed had cooperated with law enforcement in the Saucon Park murder investigation. On Jan. 28, 2008, defendant Zayas arranged to obtain a firearm to use in the planned murder.

In October 2008, Velasquez, Pagan, Torres and Calderon conspired and agreed to murder an individual whom they believed to be cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of the Saucon Park murder. This plan was unsuccessful.

Between Nov. 22, 2007, and Feb. 2, 2010, Colon, Velasquez, Velez and Calderon are also alleged to have distributed crack cocaine and methamphetamine in Bethlehem.

Between Dec. 3, 2007, and Feb. 2, 2010, Velez and Figueroa allegedly sold numerous firearms to members of the Latin Kings Bethlehem Sun Tribe.

“This ongoing gang investigation, and the indictments and arrests announced today, highlight the importance of our vigilance against the continuing wave of criminal thugs who seek to profit through crime and violence,” said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk.

If convicted of all charges, each of the 12 defendants faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Joining in today’s announcement were FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk of the Philadelphia Field Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Mark Potter; Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph Clarke with the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General; Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli; Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin; and Bethlehem Police Commissioner Stuart Bedics.

Additional Drug and Gun Indictments

Along with the main indictment, 18 separate indictments were filed charging 23 people, who were members or associates of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe. The charges allege that the defendants sold guns, drugs or both, in Bethlehem, between November 2007 and June 2008. The gun charges include: possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; selling firearms to known felons; possession of firearms with obliterated serial numbers; possession of a machine gun; and possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle. The drug charges include: conspiracy to distribute; distribution of 50 grams or more of cocaine base; possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine; distribution of heroin; and distribution of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a public housing facility.

If convicted of all charges each defendant faces up to a maximum sentence of life in prison or 10 years for certain firearms violations and up to life in prison for certain narcotics convictions.

This case is part of the “222 Corridor Anti-Gang Initiative,” a federally-funded program designed to defeat some of the most violent and pervasive gangs in the country. The “222 Corridor” includes the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Reading, Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg. This initiative combines federal, state, and local law enforcement resources to attack gang crime and violence throughout the corridor.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the ATF, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, and the Bethlehem Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John M. Gallagher and Seth Weber.

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

Boy Scout Camp Director Indicted by Federal Grand Jury for Producing, Distributing, and Possessing Child Pornography

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Scott Allan Herrick, 39, of Twin Lakes, Michigan, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he sexually exploited children, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today. The indictment alleges that on four occasions Herrick surreptitiously videotaped boys as they were dressing in the boys’ locker room in the YMCA in Muskegon. Herrick was also charged with two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Herrick is scheduled to appear for his arraignment on July 27, 2010, before the Honorable Ellen S. Carmody, U.S. Magistrate Judge. Each count of attempting to produce child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ incarceration and a maximum penalty of 30 years’ incarceration. Herrick faces incarceration of five to 20 years for each act of distribution. A conviction for possession of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ incarceration. In total, Herrick could face up to 170 years of imprisonment, lifetime supervised release, fines of $1,750,000, and an order of restitution.

Herrick was the camp director for Gerber Boy Scout Camp in Twin Lakes, Michigan. Herrick also worked as a pool safety instructor for third grade boys at the YMCA in Muskegon, Michigan. Herrick was trading child pornography and was discovered during a series of undercover FBI operations. On July 1, 2010, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents executed a search warrant on the Gerber Boy Scout Camp and discovered evidence of child pornography. Herrick was arrested on July 8, 2010, and has been held in custody.

This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor’s offices, an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site: www.projectsafechildhood.gov. The continuing investigation of this matter is being conducted by FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Anyone with information regarding this matter is asked to call the FBI at (616) 456-5489. Prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Mekaru.

The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.