Criminal Justice News

Monday, February 28, 2011

Seeking Information on Robbery of TCF Bank Branch in Minneapolis

On February 28, 2011, at approximately , the TCF Bank branch located at
1444 West Lake Street
in Minneapolis, was robbed by a lone man. The robber waited in line for an available teller. When he got to a teller window he provided a demand note to the teller. The teller complied and provided the robber with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber then told the teller that he would shoot him if he did not provide more money. The teller told him he did not have any more money to give the robber. The robber then displayed what appeared to be a mace container, and pointed it at the teller. The robber pulled the trigger on the container, but it appeared that it did not activate. The robber then left the bank and entered a stolen 1996 tan Acura. It had been parked outside the bank, and there was another man waiting in the vehicle. The Acura left the area, and was involved in an accident a short time later at the corner of
South 24th Street
and
Bryant Avenue South
in Minneapolis. While traveling at a high rate of speed, the Acura crashed into a BMW with two people in it, as well as several parked cars.

The bank robber, bleeding from the face, then encountered a woman who was warming up her car before leaving for work. The robber tried to steal her silver Ford Taurus, but she resisted. The robber told his accomplice to shoot her, and she stopped struggling with the robber. No weapon was actually observed. The robber and his accomplice then fled the area in her car, traveling at a high rate of speed, southbound on
Colfax Avenue
. That vehicle was subsequently recovered and is currently in possession of the Minneapolis Police Department. The occupants of the BMW suffered minor injuries, and the woman whose Taurus was carjacked did not sustain any injuries. Both airbags in the stolen Acura were deployed, and some money, a red baseball cap, and some blood were observed in that vehicle by responding Minneapolis police officers and FBI agents.

The robber did not display a gun at the bank, and the bank teller did not sustain any physical injuries. The bank robber is described as an Hispanic male, in his early to mid 30s, about 5’6” tall, and having a small to medium build. He wore a black jacket, blue jeans, black boots and gloves, and a red baseball cap. His accomplice is described as a white male, 35-40 years old, with short cropped blond or light brown hair, wearing a multi-colored blue and yellow jacket.

The Acura used as the getaway vehicle in the bank robbery was reported stolen on Saturday from a halfway house located at
2825 Lake Street
in Minneapolis. Gregory Scott Tyler, 49, is a suspect in the theft of that vehicle. Tyler is being sought by law enforcement for violating his release from the halfway house and for being a suspect in the theft of the Acura.

Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Office of the FBI, requests that anyone with information regarding this bank robbery and carjacking incident contact the Minneapolis FBI Office at 612-376-3200, the Minneapolis Police Department at 612/348-2345, or Crime Stoppers at 800/222-8477.

Maricopa Man Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Assault and Discharge of a Firearm in a Crime of Violence

PHOENIX—U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake sentenced Bernett Steven Lopez, Jr., 25, of Sacaton, Arizona, to 13 years in prison for assault resulting in serious bodily injury and discharge of a firearm in a crime of violence.

On April 10, 2010, Lopez was drinking and shot the victim at close range in the chest. There was no known provocation for or motive regarding the shooting. The defense attorney argued at sentencing that the defendant was highly intoxicated. The victim suffered serious bodily injury, requiring multiple surgeries and hospitalization for approximately one month.

Lopez, an Ak-Chin Indian Community member, pleaded guilty to the charges on October 5, 2010.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Ak-Chin Police Department and the FBI. The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER: CR-10-553-PHX-NVW
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-029 (Lopez)

Significant Enforcement Activity Highlights FY 2010 for CBP Nationally and Locally

El Paso, Texas. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection has released year-end data on its fiscal year 2010 operations – illustrating the agency’s success in securing the border and facilitating legitimate trade and travel through targeted operations, enhanced partnerships, and the unprecedented deployment of personnel, technology and infrastructure along America’s borders.

In fiscal 2010, CBP seized more than 4,140,000 pounds of narcotics and more than $147 million in currency. CBP also processed nearly $2 trillion in trade – a 15.8 percent increase over FY 2009 – and more than 352 million travelers in fiscal year 2010, and continued to expand trusted traveler and shipper programs designed to expedite screening for low-risk travelers and trade through rigorous, recurrent background checks.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees from the El Paso Office of Field Operations recorded a number of highlights during the recently completed fiscal year 2010 which began Oct. 1, 2009 and ended Sept. 30, 2010. For example, CBP personnel working at area ports of entry seized in excess of 40 tons of illegal drugs while processing more than 32 million people applying for legal entry to the U.S.

“Homeland security is our number one priority at El Paso area ports of entry,” said Ana Hinojosa, director of field operations in El Paso. “Everyday our officers are making a positive contribution to keep our nation and our neighborhoods safe and secure through their vigilance and commitment to duty. I commend them on their success.”

The complete CBP national news release and 2010 highlights can be found at the following links: ( CBP Announces Fiscal Year 2010 Year-End Data ) ( Securing America’s Borders: CBP Fiscal Year 2010 in Review Fact Sheet )

El Paso Field Office Enforcement & Traffic Results Summary
Fiscal year 2010 (October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010)

Total illegal drugs (pounds) 83,226
Marijuana (pounds) 82,399
Cocaine (pounds) 622
Heroin (pounds) 58
Methamphetamine (pounds) 147
Inadmissible aliens 8,043
Criminal aliens encountered 683
Agriculture quarantine material intercepts 68,025
Agriculture pest intercepts 5,243
Northbound trucks 799,949
Northbound cars 11,920,221
Northbound buses 24,351 
Northbound pedestrians 7,532,919
Total Northbound People 32,125,030

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Mississippi Companies to Pay $2 Million for Selling Thousands of Engines from China That Failed to Meet Clean Air Act Standards

Settlement Will Reduce Emissions That Cause Smog and Respiratory Issues by More Than 4,500 Tons

WASHINGTON – Mississippi-based PowerTrain Inc., Wood Sales Inc., and Tool Mart Inc., (collectively known as “PowerTrain”) will jointly pay a civil penalty of $2 million to resolve claims that the company imported and sold almost 80,000 nonroad engines and equipment that were not covered by emissions-related certificates of conformity, and in most cases could not be certified because they exceeded emissions standards under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.  

Under the settlement filed in federal court today, PowerTrain will implement a plan to ensure that the engines and equipment they import in the future comply with Clean Air Act regulatory requirements.   PowerTrain will also implement projects to offset the excess pollution from these engines. For one of its offset projects, which is estimated to cost $600,000, PowerTrain will provide subsidies for consumers to replace older, dirtier wood stoves with efficient, EPA-certified wood stoves.

 “As this settlement shows, we will vigorously enforce the law to ensure that Americans buying foreign imports get environmentally sound products that conform with U.S. laws,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.  “We will not allow those who cut corners and violate federal emission standards to gain an unfair economic advantage over responsible businesses who comply with our nation's clean air law.”   

“We enforce the standards for emissions from imported engines to protect the air we breathe and at the same time protect responsible companies that play by the rules,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement helps ensure cleaner air and a level playing field for companies that meet U.S. emissions standards.”

Between 2002 and 2008, PowerTrain Inc. imported 79,830 nonroad engines or pieces of equipment into the U.S. that were not covered by Clean Air Act-required certificates of conformity. The engines and equipment were then sold to businesses and individuals through Wood Sales Inc. and Tool Mart Inc. The engines and equipment were not covered by certificates of conformity because they were different models, had different power ratings or were made by a different manufacturer than was listed on the certificates.   The engines also lacked two-year emissions-related warranties, as required by law.

EPA estimates that the PowerTrain engines that were sold to the public caused excess emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.   Ground level ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion.   It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

The settlement is the latest in a series of cases brought as part of EPA’s effort to ensure that vehicles and engines imported into the U.S. comply with Clean Air Act standards.   The Justice Department and EPA announced settlements with Pep Boys – Manny, Moe and Jack and Baja Inc., in 2010 and with the McCulloch Corporation, Jenn Feng Industrial Co. Ltd., MTD Southwest Inc. and MTD Products Inc. in 2008.

The proposed consent decree lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, will be subject to a 30-day public comment period.

Information on EPA requirements for imported vehicles and engines: epa.gov/otaq/imports/index.htm.

This article was sponsored by Police Leadership Books.

Vaughan Released Under GPS Monitoring Pending Trial

ALBUQUERQUE—During a detention hearing held this morning in the Albuquerque federal court house, the court denied the United States' motion to detain Douglas F. Vaughan. Vaughan was released pending trial to the third party custody of Suzy Fairfield, who is required to post a $50,000 unsecured bond. While on release, Vaughan will be subject to GPS monitoring and must observe a curfew. Vaughan also has to surrender his passport.

As previously reported, Vaughan was arrested on February 25, 2011 based on a 30-count indictment generally alleging that, between 2005 and 2010, Vaughan operated a promissory note investment program, which he marketed as a means of generating revenue to grow his real estate business, as a Ponzi scheme. According to the indictment, Vaughan owed more than $76 million in unpaid principal and interest payments to approximately 600 investors when the fraudulent scheme collapsed in early 2010.

The case against Vaughan was investigated by the Securities Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and United States Secret Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Fouratt.

An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case against Vaughan was brought in coordination with the President's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. The task force is also making the public aware of resources available to protect against these types of fraud and how to report fraud when it occurs. To learn more about investment scams, how to take steps to protect yourself from scams, or how to report investment fraud if you believe you have been victimized, the task force recommends that you visit its website, StopFraud.gov.

Ex-NYPD Officer Receives Over 21 Years at Bedside Sentencing for Transporting Three Minors Across State Lines for Purposes of Illegal Sex

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that United States District Judge KENNETH M. KARAS sentenced TRENT YOUNG, 42, a former New York City police officer, to 262 months’ imprisonment for his transportation of three different minors across state lines for purposes of engaging in illegal sexual activity. The sentencing took place at the prison ward of the Westchester Medical Center, where YOUNG is being treated for a terminal illness.

According to the charges in the indictment to which YOUNG pled guilty and statements made in court at the guilty plea proceeding on July 2009 and at the sentencing today:

YOUNG operated a martial arts studio out of his home in Middletown, New York. In or about the Spring of 2006, YOUNG opened "Iron Tiger Martial Arts" ("Iron Tiger"), a martial arts studio in West Milford, New Jersey. On an occasion in or about October or November 2006, Young brought a 14-year-old minor from Middletown to Iron Tiger and engaged in sexual intercourse with her. In or about November or December 2006, Young brought a second minor, who was then 16 years old, to Iron Tiger and engaged in sexual intercourse with her as well.

Prior to these indictments, in or about April 2003, YOUNG drove another 14-year-old minor from her home in Brooklyn, New York, to YOUNG's home in Middletown, New York, traveling through New Jersey, and engaged in sexual intercourse with her.

In pleading guilty, YOUNG admitted that he transported each of the three minors across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity and that, after transporting the minors across state lines, he engaged in sexual intercourse with each of them. He also admitted that he exercised supervisory control over each of the three minors.

Following his arrest in January 2008, YOUNG was detained without bail.

In imposing the 262-month sentence on YOUNG, Judge KARAS underscored that the "extraordinarily high" sentence was appropriate in light of what YOUNG did to the girls he chose as his victims. According to KARAS, the "magnitude of the conduct here outweighs the medical issues" faced by YOUNG.

Mr. BHARARA praised the efforts and assistance of the FBI, the Middletown Police Department, the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the Rockland County Sheriff's Department, the West Milford, New Jersey, Police Department, and the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office's White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney MARCIA S. COHEN is in charge of the prosecution.

Winterset Man Pleads Guilty to Mailing Threatening Letters

DES MOINES, IA—On February 24, 2011, United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt announced that William David Langford, of Winterset, Iowa, has pleaded guilty to charges pertaining to his utilization of the United States Mail to send threatening communications to individuals and organizations in Winterset, Iowa in February of 2010.

In pleading guilty to count one of the indictment, Langford admitted to mailing an envelope containing a written death threat and a white powder, with the intent to falsely convey the transfer of a harmful biological agent or toxin. As part of his guilty plea to count six of the indictment, Langford admitted to separately mailing letters threatening to injure a named individual to nine different individuals or organizations.

Both counts carry the potential for not more than five years' imprisonment, not more than a $250,000 fine, or both such fine and imprisonment, not more than three years' supervised release, and a mandatory $100 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund. The Indictment is on file with the Clerk of the United States District Court (Case No. -CR-101). A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 27, 2011.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Des Moines Resident Agency, the Winterset Police Department, the Des Moines Fire Department - Hazardous Materials Response Team, the Madison County Emergency Coordinator, and the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Former Owner of Bronx Blood Laboratory Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 18 Months in Prison for Medicare Fraud

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ZAFAR CHAUDHRY, the former owner and manager of a blood testing laboratory in the Bronx, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 18 months in prison for Medicare fraud. CHAUDHRY, who previously pled guilty, obtained almost $200,000 from the Medicare program based upon fraudulent reimbursement claims. U.S. District Judge DENISE L. COTE imposed the sentence.

According to the indictment, other documents filed in the case, and statements made during CHAUDHRY's guilty plea and sentencing:

CHAUDHRY was charged in February 2000 with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and making false statements relating to health care matters. At the time, CHAUDHRY was in Pakistan, having left the country in 1998 following the initiation of the investigation in this matter by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). Meanwhile, CHAUDHRY's uncle and co-defendant, RAZA CHUDRY, who did not leave the country, was arrested on the same charges. RAZA CHUDRY pled guilty to the charges in February 2001, and was subsequently sentenced to 55 months in prison. CHAUDHRY, meanwhile, returned to the United States on June 20, 2010, and was arrested by the FBI that same day at JFK Airport.

From 1996 to 1998, CHAUDHRY and CHUDRY submitted fraudulent claims to the Medicare program through two blood testing laboratories, one formerly owned by CHAUDRY and one by CHUDRY—the Scientific Biomedical Laboratories, Inc., located in the Bronx, New York, and Brookdale Clinical Laboratories, located in Hackensack, New Jersey. Specifically, the defendants submitted fraudulent claims charging Medicare for amino acid profiles that had never been ordered by a physician. At the time, amino acid profiles were highly reimbursed, but rarely indicated, blood tests that were generally used to detect genetic defects. In 1997, the defendant's lab and CHUDRY's lab accounted for approximately 20 percent of all amino acid profile reimbursement claims submitted to the Medicare program throughout the entire country, according to statistics maintained by the government.

On November 12, 2010, CHAUDHRY, 49, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and health care fraud and the submission of false statements relating to health care matters.

In addition to the prison term, Judge COTE sentenced CHAUDHRY today to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $195,463.52, in restitution to the Medicare program. During the sentencing proceeding, Judge COTE called CHAUDHRY's crime "a naked fraud against the government" that merited a significant sentence of imprisonment.

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI in this case.

This case is being handled by the Office's Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney ROBIN W. MOREY is in charge of the prosecution.

Podiatrist Sentenced to 21 Months for Violating Exclusion from the Medicare Program

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office; and Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigation, announce yesterday’s sentencing of defendant Arthur C. Haspel, 65, of Boca Raton, on two counts of filing false Medicare claims. On February 24, 2011, U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan sentenced Haspel to 21 months’ imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, plus $324,491 in restitution.

Defendant Arthur C. Haspel was a podiatry physician. In 2002, Haspel was sentenced for unlawful distribution of hydrocodone. As a result, in June of 2003, Haspel was excluded from participation in the Medicare program. Nonetheless, according to court documents, from January 2005 to January 2009, Haspel continued to provide services to Medicare beneficiaries at various offices he shared with other physicians. Haspel billed Medicare for the services he provided. The claims falsely stated that the services were provided by other physicians. After receiving payment from Medicare, the other physicians would kickback a portion of the collected amounts to Haspel.

This investigation began after a whistle blower filed a civil false claims complaint against Haspel and the other doctors under whose names Haspel billed Medicare. In that case civil case, the United States obtained a consent judgment against Haspel for double damages, $775,364. The other doctors through whom Haspel billed Medicare also settled the civil matter.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG. The criminal case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana Maria Martinez. The civil case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney June Acton.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Broward Lawyer Sentenced for Stealing Trust Funds

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office; and J. Thomas Cardwell, Commissioner, State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation, announced today’s sentencing of Joseph Sindaco, 63, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, on a mail fraud charge in connection with his embezzlement of funds from clients’ trust account. U.S. District Judge James Cohn sentenced Sindaco to 48 months in prison and ordered Sindaco to pay more than $3,879,896 in restitution to the victims. Sindaco had previously pled guilty in December 2010.

According to the criminal information and statements made in court during today’s sentencing hearing, Sindaco practiced law from 1980 through August 2010 at his law firm in Fort Lauderdale. As an attorney, he handled real estate closings for clients, mortgage lenders, and the administration of estates in state court. During that time, Sindaco misappropriated more than $3,879,896 of his clients’ funds. Sindaco was permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court on August 26, 2010.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, FBI, and the State of Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Florida Bar for their assistance in this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey H. Kay and Larry Bardfeld.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Serial Bank Robber Brings Accomplices

The Houston FBI Bank Robbery Task Force is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying serial bank robber and the accomplices who helped him pull off his latest heist. The latest robbery occurred at the Bank of America located at
22617 Tomball Parkway
in Tomball, Texas on 02/24/2011. Bank surveillance video captured photos of the serial robber and the accomplice he brought inside the bank.

At approximately , two men entered the bank. One approached the teller counter and asked for a deposit slip, then walked away. The other walked up to the same teller and handed her a threatening note which demanded cash. While the teller was removing some cash from the drawer, the other robber walked up to a different teller, and also gave that teller a note which demanded money. Both got away with some cash. They were seen fleeing in a mid-2000 year black Chevrolet Impala driven by a third suspect. No one was physically hurt during the robbery.

The first robber is described as a black male in his early 20s, 5’8" tall, with a thin build. He wore a black long-sleeved shirt, dark slacks, a dark beanie hat and sunglasses. The second robber is described as a black male, early 20s, 5’8” tall, with a thin build. He wore a white long-sleeved shirt, dark slacks, and clear glasses with a black frame.

The robber wearing the hat is suspected in at least seven bank robberies in Harris and Montgomery Counties since November of 2010.

Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000.00 for information leading to the charging and arrest of these robbers. If you have information about this case, please call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 713-222-TIPS (8477), or the Houston office of the FBI at 713-693-5000.

Secure Communities' information-sharing capability now activated across California

LOS ANGELES - The activation earlier this week of Secure Communities in six northern California jurisdictions - Alpine, Del Norte, Lassen, Sierra, Siskiyou and Trinity counties - means the program's vital information-sharing capability is, for the first time, accessible to law enforcement agencies in all 58 of the state's counties.

Secure Communities' information-sharing capability, a key component of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) comprehensive strategy to enhance efforts to identify and remove convicted criminal aliens from the country, uses biometric identification to alert ICE when potentially removable aliens are booked into local law enforcement custody for a crime.

Since May 2009, when San Diego County became the first California jurisdiction to benefit from Secure Communities, ICE has taken custody of nearly 48,000 convicted criminal aliens in the state identified as a result of the program. Of that number, 23,712 have already been removed from the United States. The aliens deported from California as a result of Secure Communities include more than 10,000 individuals who had been convicted of serious or violent criminal offenses. The data is current through Jan. 31.

The deportable aliens identified in California as a result of Secure Communities include a previously deported aggravated felon from Mexico who was arrested Jan. 31 by the Los Angeles Police Department for driving with a suspended license. Benjamin Yanez-Parra, 40, was subsequently turned over to ICE and is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office for re-entry after deportation. The publicly available case indictment details what the Secure Communities fingerprint screening originally revealed, that Yanez-Parra's criminal record includes three prior drug trafficking convictions and a burglary conviction as well as six deportations over a period of 11 years.

In Sacramento, Secure Communities is credited with identifying a man who used an alias following his Sept. 2010 arrest by Sacramento police for carrying an open container of alcohol in public. That individual, Jorge Vega-Reyes, was ultimately prosecuted by the Sacramento U.S. Attorneys Office for felony re-entry after deportation. As with the Los Angeles case, the publicly available case indictment details what the Secure Communities fingerprint originally showed, that Vega-Reyes had multiple prior convictions for drug trafficking as well as a conviction for assault with a firearm and had been previously deported. Vega was convicted of felony re-entry in November 2010 and is currently serving a 27-month prison sentence, following which he will be deported to Mexico.

"This is another significant milestone in the ongoing national deployment of the Secure Communities strategy," said Secure Communities Acting Assistant Director Marc Rapp. "Secure Communities is improving and modernizing the identification and removal of criminal aliens. It is a major step forward in ICE's efforts to work with local law enforcement in California and across the country to prevent criminal aliens from being released to our streets."

Prior to the deployment of Secure Communities, biometrics-fingerprints-taken of individuals charged with a crime and booked into custody were checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Now, through enhanced information sharing between DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), biometrics submitted through the state to the FBI will be automatically checked against both the FBI criminal history records in IAFIS and the biometrics-based immigration records in DHS's Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). The IDENT system is maintained by DHS's US-VISIT program and IAFIS is maintained by the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS).

If fingerprints match those of someone in DHS' biometric system, the new automated process notifies ICE. ICE evaluates each case to determine the individual's immigration status and takes appropriate enforcement action. This includes aliens who are in lawful status and those who are present without lawful authority. Once identified through fingerprint matching, ICE will respond with a priority placed on aliens convicted of the most serious crimes first-such as those with convictions for major drug offenses, murder, rape and kidnapping.

California is the ninth state nationwide where Secure Communities has been fully deployed. Other states include Texas, Arizona and Florida. Across the country, ICE is using the Secure Communities information-sharing capability in 1,067 jurisdictions in 39 states. By 2013, ICE plans to be able to respond nationwide to all fingerprint matches generated through IDENT/IAFIS interoperability.

Since ICE began using this enhanced information sharing capability in October 2008, immigration officers have removed from the United States more than 62,500 aliens convicted of a crime. ICE does not regard aliens charged with, but not yet convicted of crimes, as "criminal aliens." Instead, a "criminal alien" is an alien convicted of a crime. In accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, ICE continues to take action on aliens subject to removal as resources permit.

"US VISIT is proud to support ICE, helping provide decision makers with comprehensive, reliable information when and where they need it," said US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny. "By enhancing the interoperability of DHS's and the FBI's biometric systems, we are able to give federal, state and local decision makers information that helps them better protect our communities and our nation."

"Under this plan, ICE will be utilizing FBI system enhancements that allow improved information sharing at the state and local law enforcement level based on positive identification of incarcerated criminal aliens," said Daniel D. Roberts, assistant director of the FBI's CJIS Division. "Additionally, ICE and the FBI are working together to take advantage of the strong relationships already forged between the FBI and state and local law enforcement necessary to assist ICE in achieving its goals."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Philadelphia Man Charged with Bank Robbery

An indictment was filed today against Roger Lee Day charging him with one count of bank robbery, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. The indictment alleges that on or about January 7, 2011, Day robbed the Citizen's Bank at
7327 Frankford Ave.
, in Philadelphia, of approximately $1,385.

INFORMATION REGARDING THE DEFENDANT
NAME, ADDRESS, YEAR OF BIRTH
Roger Lee Day Philadelphia, PA 1969 (41 years old)

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, a three-year term of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, restitution, and a $100 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Albert S. Glenn.

Broomall Man Convicted of Illegal Trading with Iran

PHILADELPHIA—Mohammad Reza Vaghari, 43, of Broomall, Pennsylvania, was convicted today of crimes relating to his participation in illegal business transactions with Iran between 2005 and 2008. Vaghari was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), two substantive counts of violating IEEPA, and one count of naturalization fraud stemming from his attempt to procure U.S. citizenship.

Vaghari operated in this country through a Pennsylvania corporation called Saamen Company, purchasing items from other American companies and exporting the items to coconspirators in the United Arab Emirates, who would then deliver the items to customers in Iran. Vaghari also made false statements in connection with his attempt to obtain U.S. citizenship in November 2004.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 3, 2011.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nancy B. Winter and Lauren Ouziel.

Former Scancarbon Employee Leslie Janous Pleads Guilty to $4 Million Embezzlement

KNOXVILLE, TN—Leslie Janous, of Knoxville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering before the Honorable Leon Jordan, U.S. District Court Judge. The sentencing hearing for Janous was set for July 18, 2011, at

Janous was indicted on October 5, 2010, on 13 counts of wire fraud. An information was filed on February 11, 2011, charging Janous with money laundering.

According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Janous was employed from 2004 through 2010, as a bookkeeper by Scancarbon, Inc., in Knoxville, Tennessee. She admitted that she used her position to embezzle at least $4 million from Scancarbon for her own use. In 2005, she set up a company entitled Lesleigh Enterprises, LLC and opened up a bank account that she controlled. Thereafter, she began making unauthorized wire transfers of funds from a bank account owned by Scancarbon to the Lesleigh bank account. Janous subsequently transferred the funds to other bank accounts that she owned. In order to prevent her embezzlement scheme from being detected, she created phony bank statements to present to Scancarbon's management to misrepresent how the corporation's funds were being spent.

Janous admitted during today’s plea hearing that in April 2010, she transferred $687,698.64 from Scancarbon's account to Lesleigh's bank account and then transferred these funds to Title Associates in Knoxville. These funds were used towards the purchase a piece of real property at
1308 Selby Lane, Knoxville, Tennessee
.

As part of her plea agreement, Janous agreed to the forfeiture of her interests in three pieces of real property located in Knoxville, two vehicles, two jet skis, numerous pieces of jewelry, furniture and household items, artwork, purses, a television, computers, and balances in two bank accounts.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank M. Dale, Jr., represented the United States.

Southern New Mexico Cracks Down

Las Cruces, NM – February 22-24 the U.S. Marshals Service Southwest Investigative Fugitive Team (SWIFT) task force conducted operation “COPPER DUCK” in the Silver City and Deming areas. The Southern New Mexico operation was a success with 97 arrests. Combined the agencies cleared 134 warrants and confiscated various amounts of narcotics. In addition to the arrests, the teams were able to complete 62 sex offender address verifications. The Marshals Service was notified that an additional 14 people turned themselves in this morning to the Silver City Police Department after their houses were endeavored last night. U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico, Conrad Candelaria, stated ““Our Task Force is a force multiplier when targeting wanted criminals roaming our community streets. Bringing these 97 fugitives to the Halls of Justice in such a short period, is an example of what our Task Force is designed to do.”

Participating in the operation with the Marshal Service were the Deming Police Department, Bayard Police Department, Silver City Police Department, Grant County Sheriff Department, Luna County Sheriff Department, State Probation Office and the United States Border Patrol.

Massachusetts Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Charge

WASHINGTON – William F. Murphy, 51, of West Roxbury, Mass., was sentenced today to 10 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release for a child pornography offense, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office.

Murphy was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf in the District of Massachusetts.   On Aug. 13, 2010, Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly accessing child pornography with intent to view.   This case arose from an FBI investigation of Murphy’s use of online peer-to-peer software to access and view visual depictions of minor females engaging in sexually explicit conduct.   These images included depictions of prepubescent girls, and sadistic and masochistic conduct.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.   Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.   For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case against Murphy was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael I. Yoon of the District of Massachusetts and CEOS Trial Attorney Bonnie L. Kane of the Criminal Division.   The case was investigated by the FBI.

Busy Week in Ariz. Brings CBP 3,000 Arrests, $17M in Drugs Seized

Tucson, Ariz. — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joint Field Command logged nearly 3,000 arrests with $17 million in narcotics and close to $230,000 in currency seized for the week of Feb. 14 - 20.

The seizures consisted of more than 24,000 pounds of marijuana, close to 60 pounds of methamphetamines, more than 10 pounds of cocaine, a little more than two pounds of heroin, and 37 vehicles that were used for illicit purposes. The $230,000 in illegal proceeds was intercepted during outbound operations at the ports.

During the week, nearly 600 of those apprehended were criminally prosecuted.

Earlier this month, CBP announced the Arizona Joint Field Command, an organizational realignment that brings together Border Patrol, Air and Marine, and Field Operations under a unified command structure to integrate CBP’s border security, commercial enforcement, and trade facilitation missions to more effectively meet the unique challenges faced in the Arizona area of operations.

Since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009, the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Janet Napolitano has engaged in an unprecedented effort to bring focus and intensity to Southwest border security, coupled with a reinvigorated, smart and effective approach to enforcing immigration laws in the interior of our country.

The Joint Field Command (JFC) integrates the combined assets of the Tucson and Yuma Border Patrol Sectors, the Office of Field Operations Tucson Field Office, and the Office of Air and Marine’s Tucson and Yuma Air Branches, enabling CBP leadership in the Arizona area of operations to direct an integrated approach to our mission of border security, commercial enforcement and trade facilitation.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Former City Chevrolet Controller to Serve 46 Months in Prison for Mail Fraud and Tax Evasion

OKLAHOMA CITY—DEBRA A. MINSHALL, also known as Debra Alzubi, of Oklahoma City, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti to serve 46 months in federal prison for using the U.S. Mail to defraud her former employer, City Chevrolet, and for evading the payment of federal personal income taxes, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. She was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims of her crimes totaling $1,409,114.00.

From 2002 until late 2008, Minshall worked as the controller at City Chevrolet, in Oklahoma City. Her duties included writing checks, including checks to pay off liens on automobiles purchased by the dealership. Minshall used her position and access to the financial accounts to steal from the dealership by signing City Chevrolet checks and mailing them to banks to pay her personal credit card bills. She then disguised these personal payments as lien payments on automobiles that did not exist, that did not require lien pay-offs, or that had liens held by different banks. For each of the years 2006 through 2008, Minshall also failed to report more than $200,000 in taxable income on her federal income tax returns.

In May of 2010, Minshall pled guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion.

At the sentencing hearing today, Judge DeGiusti also ordered that Minshall pay restitution of $1,081,475.00 to the dealership and its insurer and $327,639.00 to the Internal Revenue Service. Minshall is also ordered to serve two years of supervised release after she has completed her 46-month prison term.

This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott E. Williams.

Calexico Agents Start Week With Arrest, $800K Cocaine Seizure

Calexico, Calif. – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Calexico station arrested a man wanted for sexual assault and interdicted a cocaine smuggling attempt with a street value estimated at more than $800,000.

Agents working west of downtown Calexico apprehended 32-year-old Juan Carlos Orozco Monday for illegal entry into the U.S. from Mexico. Orozco was transported to the Calexico station for processing after agents determined he is a Mexican national without immigration documents. During processing agents discovered that Orozco has an active warrant out of Los Angeles for sexual assault on a minor. Orozco was transferred to the custody the Calexico Police Department where he awaits extradition.

The following morning, Border Patrol agents at the Interstate 8 checkpoint near Calexico encountered a red Nissan Sentra, driven by a 24-year-old female U.S. citizen. A Border Patrol canine team conducted a cursory inspection of the vehicle, resulting in a positive alert to the vehicle. Further examination lead agents to discover several hidden packages of cocaine located in a non-factory compartment. The driver, narcotics and vehicle were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“These are just two examples of how U.S. Border Patrol agents help keep the community safe from dangerous drugs and criminals,” said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Roy D. Villareal. “I’m extremely proud of the high level of vigilance our agents maintain on a daily basis.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Nigerian National Sentenced in North Carolina to 108 Months in Prison for Role in Advance Fee Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON - Ugochukwu Enwerem, aka Joseph Smith, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C., to 108 months in prison for his role in an advance-fee fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Daniel S. Cortez, Deputy Chief Inspector of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

U.S. District Judge Graham C. Mullen also ordered Enwerem to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term.    In addition, Enwerem was ordered to forfeit $9,453,815 and to pay restitution in the same amount, jointly and severally with co-defendant Kent Okojie.

Enwerem was found guilty in March 2010 by a federal jury in the Western District of North Carolina on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and 14 counts of wire fraud.    In September 2009, co-defendant Okojie pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud.  In November 2010, Okojie was sentenced to 72 months in prison.  Okojie and Enwerem, Nigerian citizens who resided in the Netherlands, originally were charged in a June 2007 complaint and were subsequently extradited to the United States from The Netherlands, where they had been in custody on Dutch charges.

Evidence at trial showed that between at least Aug. 25, 2004, and April 23, 2007, Enwerem and his coconspirators solicited individuals in the United States, Europe and Australia by sending spam emails informing potential victims that they had either won a foreign lottery, inherited a large sum of money from a long lost relative, or were eligible to recover outstanding construction contract payments.   When individuals responded to the emails, the defendants, posing as lawyers, bankers and European government officials, solicited fees from victims ostensibly to pay for things such as “antiterrorism certificates,” “EU bank clearances,” “anti-money laundering certificates,” and legal fees in order to secure their purported lotto winnings, inheritance or contract payments.  

According to evidence presented at trial, Enwerem and Okojie instructed U.S. victims to wire funds, using Western Union and other money transfer services, to them and their designees in The Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.  According to trial testimony, at least 18 U.S. and international victims were defrauded of more than $9.5 million during the period when Enwerem was a member of the conspiracy.

The case was investigated by a team of U.S. Postal Inspectors working with the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the Amsterdam Politie.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Laura Perkins and Nicole H. Sprinzen of the Fraud Section.  Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.  Assistance regarding forfeiture and restitution was provided by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bain-Creed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina.

Bakersfield business owner indicted for trafficking in counterfeit goods

FRESNO, Calif. - A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging a Bakersfield, Calif., shop owner with one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Eric Huggins, 51, owner of two clothing and accessories shops called Girlfriends by Design, was arrested last week on a criminal complaint. Assistant United States Attorney David Gappa is prosecuting the case.

According to court documents, when HSI undercover investigators visited one of Huggins' stores, he told them he could put "any logo," such as Prada or Gucci, on numerous plain purses that he was selling. In addition to the stores, the affidavit alleges Huggins also sold counterfeit goods from the back of a vehicle in various parking lots around Bakersfield. Much of that merchandise was counterfeit professional sports apparel such as NBA and NFL jerseys.

"Vendors who sell counterfeit products are stealing - they're robbing from law-abiding merchants, from the legitimate companies that make these products, and from the men and women who depend on those legitimate companies for their livelihood," said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge for ICE HSI in Bakersfield. "Trafficking in counterfeit goods is a serious crime, which is why ICE HSI will continue to target retailers and websites that engage in this type of activity."

Searches in March 2010 at the Girlfriends by Design stores on Ming Ave. and 19th Street and at Huggins's Bakersfield home resulted in the seizure of more than $140,000 in counterfeit clothing and accessories bearing the labels of well-known designer brands such as Chanel, Coach, Prada, Dooney & Bourke, Burberry, True Religion, Kate Spade, Juicy Couture, as well as counterfeit sports apparel and merchandise, some with Adidas and Reebok labels. The estimated value of the seized goods is based upon what the items would have sold for had they been genuine.

Huggins has been released on numerous pretrial conditions, and his next court appearance is March 1 before a federal magistrate judge in Fresno, Calif. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $2 million fine and a three-year term of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

A charge in an indictment is only an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Retired Minister Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

ATLANTA—Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Brian D. Lamkin, on behalf of the FBI's Innocent Images Task Force and the GBI's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, announces the following arrest at Smyrna, Georgia:

Albert Turnell, Jr., 71 years old, a retired minister residing in Smyrna, Georgia, was arrested without incident this morning, February 24, 201, at his residence by FBI agents and task force officers, with the assistance of the Smyrna Police Department as well.

Turnell is being charged federally with possession and distribution of child pornography. He will appear in front of a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Atlanta later today for his initial appearance.

The public should be reminded that the above are mere allegations and that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

CBP Unmasks $112K in Fake MAC Make-up Brushes

5,400 Counterfeit Make-up Brushes From China Seized at LAX

Los Angeles — Cracking down on counterfeit commodities arriving from China, U.S. Customs and Border Protection import specialists and officers at Los Angeles International Airport discovered and confiscated five parcels containing counterfeit MAC/Estee Lauder make-up brushes with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $112,500.

The infringing merchandise comprised of 5,400 brushes in 225 kits arrived in Los Angeles from Jan. 20 to Feb. 11. CBP import specialists and officers targeted and seized the counterfeit merchandise at an air cargo express consignment location. The domestic value of the five shipments is $22,488.

“The illegal trade of unsafe counterfeit imports is harmful to U.S. consumers and the economy. Applying their skills and ability to detect trademark violations, CBP import specialists and officers at LAX continue to intercept and confiscate these illicit shipments,” said CBP Acting Director of Field Operations Los Angeles, Carlos Martel.

The theft of intellectual property and the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation based economy, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers, and, in some cases, national security and the health and safety of our consumers.

The trade in these illegitimate goods is associated with smuggling and other criminal activities, and often funds criminal enterprises. In fiscal year 2009, 14,841 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods with a domestic value of $270.7 million were intercepted at U.S. ports of entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

This article was sponsored by Police Leadership Books.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pearlman Sales Agent Who Targeted Elderly Investors Indicted

ORLANDO, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces the unsealing of an indictment last week charging Steven B. Rodd (45, Tampa) with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to sell unregistered securities, and mail fraud. If convicted on all counts, Rodd faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Rodd that the United States is seeking a money judgment from him in the amount of $936,500, representing the amount of commissions he illegally received from the scheme.

According to the indictment, Rodd was barred from selling securities by the State of Florida in 1998 and again in 2003. Despite these prohibitions, Rodd and his partner allegedly began selling an unregistered security named the Employee Investment Savings Account (EISA) through two companies, the Churchill Financial Group and Oxford Financial. The EISA program was supposedly an investment in TransContinental Airlines, a company owned by Louis J. Pearlman. In reality, the EISA was nothing more than an investment fraud. Together with his business partner, Rodd sold over $32 million worth of the EISA program to over 250 investors living in Pasco, Pinnellas, and Hillsborough Counties from 2005 through 2006. As part of the conspiracy, Rodd would lure elderly investors into Churchill Financial with newspaper and radio advertisements for annuities or certificates of deposit. He would then sell the investors the EISA program. It was also part of the alleged conspiracy for Rodd to conceal from investors his prior securities bars from the State of Florida, a pending investigation of the EISA program, and to lie to investigators about EISA program commissions and records.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the State of Florida - Office of Financial Regulation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel W. Eckhart.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

Minnesota District Court Clerk Indicted for Allegedly Fixing Tickets in Exchange for Money

Earlier this week in federal court in Minneapolis, a senior clerk of court for the State of Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District was indicted for allegedly fixing traffic citations in exchange for money. Abdulkadir Mohamoud Afrah, age 43, of Hastings, was specifically charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and one count of soliciting a bribe by an agent of an organization that receives federal funds. The indictment alleges that from 2008 through 2011, Afrah devised a scheme to dismiss tickets for failure to produce proof of car insurance in exchange for money.

A law enforcement affidavit filed in the case states that in March of 2010, authorities learned that Afrah was fixing tickets for people cited for no proof of insurance. In his professional capacity, Afrah reviews and processes traffic citations at the Violations Bureau in the Hennepin County Government Center. Specifically, he handles no-proof-of-insurance citations brought to him by members of the public. If presented with such a citation as well as an insurance card, Afrah has the authority to dismiss the ticket if the insurance company named on the card confirms that a policy was in force at the time the citation was issued. In order to dismiss the ticket, Afrah is required to enter information in the court’s computer system, including the policy number from the applicable insurance card.

On January 10, 2011, a cooperating witness who was issued a citation allegedly met with Afrah and asked for his help with a ticket because he truly did not have insurance. Afrah purportedly told the man he could help him in exchange for $278, which was the fine amount. Afrah then allegedly met with the cooperating witness again later in the day, walking with the cooperating witness to a nearby building, where Afrah accepted $280 in cash. Afrah then reportedly told the cooperating witness that the citation would not go on his record. The court’s electronic records indicate that Afrah dismissed the ticket at 4:10 p.m. that day. On January 19, 2011, the cooperating witness returned to the Violations Bureau, met with Afrah, and received a receipt that showed the citation had indeed been dismissed.

Through further investigation, authorities discovered that between 2008 and 2011, Afrah dismissed at least 22 no-proof-of-insurance citations where the insurance policies cited in the court’s computerized records did not actually cover the ticketed individuals. Those 22 citations are valued at more than $6,100.

Afrah has worked for the State of Minnesota since March of 2003. If convicted of the federal charges now levied against him, he faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge and 10 years on each of the remaining two charges. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance of the Fourth Judicial District. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tracy L. Perzel.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

CBP Announces Fiscal Year 2010 Achievements for San Diego Air and Marine Branch, El Centro Air Branch

San Diego — During fiscal year 2010, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged about 5,289 hours at sea, securing the ocean border near Southern California, and about 7,511 hours in the skies above, with the El Centro Air Branch contributing another 2,769 hours of flight time securing U.S. borders.

From Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010, whether on a CBP mission or as part of a task force, agents and officers from San Diego were instrumental in the seizure of 238,157 pounds of marijuana, 880 pounds of cocaine, 398 pounds of methamphetamine and about 95 pounds of heroin. Agents contributed to 5,000 thwarted illegal immigration attempts in Southern California along the land border. They also assisted with seizing almost $3.1 million, 25 vehicles, 57 vessels, and 67 weapons used in the commission of various crimes. Agents and officers from El Centro were instrumental in the apprehension of 2,719 undocumented migrants, as well as the seizure of 2,766 pounds of marijuana, 21 vehicles, and $80,000.

Nationally, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization. In addition to interdicting any illegal activity that takes place in the seas and skies of southern and central California, the San Diego Air and Marine Branch and El Centro Air Branch perform other missions critical to U.S. security, including: supporting local Border Patrol agents on the ground by providing surveillance; transporting agents to remote locations and acting as a force multiplier supporting interdictions on the ground; assisting other federal law enforcement agencies with surveillance; and other missions in support of CBP, other federal agencies, and other law enforcement organizations.

The San Diego Air and Marine Branch features maritime units headquartered out of North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, as well as air units stationed at Brown Field Airport near Otay Mesa, North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, Sacramento, and Riverside, Calif., and an aviation facility in Pine Valley, Calif.

The San Diego Air and Marine Branch is also a key member of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command, an all-threats multi-agency approach to maritime law enforcement operating in the San Diego and Orange County maritime region. Numerous interdictions this past fiscal year were the results of coordinated efforts this past fiscal year by member agencies of the San Diego Maritime Unified Command, comprised of CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coast Guard, and other law enforcement partners.

The El Centro Air Branch is located in Imperial, Calif, and patrols all of Imperial County and the inland portions of Riverside County. The branch was crucial in supporting 38 rescues of illegal aliens, and eight other rescues during the past fiscal year, including the rescue of a Border Patrol agent in distress.

The San Diego Air and Marine Branch and El Centro Air Branch employ sophisticated aircraft including the Cessna Citation jet, Black Hawk and American Eurocopter AS-350 helicopters, as well as a variety of other fixed wing and rotary aircraft. Marine Interdiction Agents in San Diego command 39-foot Midnight Express Interceptors and other vessels along California’s coastal waters in search of potential terrorists or smugglers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.