Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Shopping Tips

FBI Reminds Shoppers to Beware of Cyber Criminals

In time for the holiday season, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reminds shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information.

Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or e-mails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

■Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
■Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
■Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
■Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
■Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
■Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
■Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
■If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.

Chicago Bear Caleb Hanie Endorses FBI National Child ID Program

Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI,) was joined today by Caleb Hanie of the Chicago Bears Football Club in unveiling a new digital version of the paper child ID kit as distributed by the National Child ID Program (NCIDP).

Established in 1997 in partnership with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), this nationwide program provides inkless fingerprint and DNA sample kits to interested parents, grandparents or guardians of minor children. The fingerprints and DNA samples are taken and maintained by the parents or guardians of young children and can be used to assist law enforcement in the event of a natural disaster or missing child. If ever needed, this ID kit will give authorities vital and immediate information needed to assist with efforts to locate a missing child.

The new digital version, being announced locally today, is the next step in helping to protect young children by using state-of-the art technology. The application stores a child’s photo and vital information on a parent or guardian’s “smart phone” so that it is literally at their fingertips, should it ever be needed. The Child ID application also includes tips on keeping children safe and provides guidance on what to do in those first few critical hours after a child goes missing.

As part of this initiative, representatives from the FBI’s Chicago office will be on the second floor of Water Tower Place tomorrow (November 30th) from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., distributing the traditional paper identification kits and demonstrating the new digital application.

In making today’s announcement, Mr. Grant said “This initiative is part of our efforts to help protect our nation’s estimated 60 million youths. We encourage anyone with young children and who has a “smart phone” to download this valuable application today.” At present, the application is only available for iPhones and can be downloaded, free of charge, from iTunes. A Droid-compatible version will be available in early January. To date, approximately 100,000 digital identification kits have been downloaded nationwide.

A four-year veteran with the Chicago Bears, Hanie has joined the growing ranks of NFL players who have endorsed the FBI’s National Child ID program. In recognition of Hanie’s support of this program, he is being presented with the FBI’s “Exceptional Service in the Public Interest” award from Director Robert S. Mueller, III.

Traditional paper Child Identification Kits are also available to interested groups and organizations through the Chicago FBI’s Community Outreach Program at (312) 421-6700. Locally, the FBI and AFCA have distributed nearly 50,000 of the Child ID kits during the past five years through the Chicago Public School system and at Northwestern and Northern Illinois University football games.

The FBI’s Community Outreach Program provides crime, drug, and gang prevention information, along with educational programs that help meet the growing needs of our communities. Additional details about the FBI’s Community Outreach Program can be found at FBI.gov.

Additional information about the Child Identification Kit Program is available online at Info@childidprogram.com.

Farmington Man Sentenced to 262 Months in Prison for Attempting to Rob Wells Fargo Bank in Raton, New Mexico

Defendant to Serve a Total of 300 Months’ Imprisonment

ALBUQUERQUE—Today in Albuquerque federal court, Michael Lee Montoya, 32, of Farmington, N.M., was sentenced to a 262-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for his conviction on conspiracy to commit bank robbery and attempted bank robbery charges. Because 60 months of Montoya’s prison sentence is to be served consecutive to a 240-month prison sentence previously imposed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Montoya will serve a total sentence of 300 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Montoya’s conviction was based on his unsuccessful effort to rob the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1103 South 2nd Street, in Raton, N.M. on April 23, 2009.

Montoya, who has been in federal custody since his arrest on March 26, 2010, went to trial on a second superseding indictment charging him with (1) conspiracy to commit bank robbery, (2) carrying a firearm during and in relation to the bank robbery conspiracy, (3) attempted bank robbery, and (4) carrying a firearm during and in relation to an attempted bank robbery. On July 1, 2011, a federal jury convicted Montoya on counts one and three after a five-day trial, but was unable to reach a verdict on counts two and four.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Raton Police Department, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shana B. Long and David M. Walsh.

San Luis CBP Officers Seize Nearly Half-Million Dollars in Meth

San Luis, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Tucson Field Office, a component of CBP’s Joint Field Command – Arizona, seized nearly half a million dollars worth of methamphetamines yesterday.

A CBP officer removes methamphetamine from seized vehicle at the San Luis, Ariz. port of entry. 

CBP officers referred a 29-year-old United States woman accompanied by her 10-year old daughter for a secondary inspection of her Chevrolet SUV when she attempted to enter the United States through a San Luis Port vehicle lane. After a CBP narcotics detection canine alerted to drugs under the hood, officers located and removed 20 packages of methamphetamines from a non-factory compartment weighing nearly 32 pounds. The vehicle and narcotics were processed for seizure. The subject was arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The child was turned over to the custody of her grandmother.

Individuals arrested are charged with a criminal complaint, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation’s ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.

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.

FBI Alert: Montana Residents Warned of E-Mail Scam

The FBI Salt Lake City and FBI El Paso Divisions are issuing an alert this afternoon about an e-mail scam that is affecting Montana residents. The FBI office in Billings, Montana has received complaints about a phony e-mail. We are aware of one individual who may have sent money, not realizing this is a scam.

Recipients are led to believe the e-mail was sent by the FBI El Paso Division. It states special agents have confiscated a box at a Texas airport containing a large sum of money that was en route to the e-mail recipient’s personal residence. The e-mail demands a response and threatens the recipient with possible arrest.

The FBI would like to warn Montana residents not to respond to this e-mail. Anyone who may have questions should contact their local FBI office. Residents are encouraged to report this, or other e-mail scams, to IC3.gov.

U.S. Border Patrol Seizes Drugs Worth $8.3 Million on Thanksgiving Day

Westmorland, Calif. – On Thanksgiving Day, U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio station seized a substantial amount of cocaine at the Highway 86 Checkpoint near Westmorland.

The incident occurred at approximately 12 p.m., after a Border Patrol Canine team alerted to a blue semi-truck as it performed a cursory search of the vehicle. The truck driver was identified as a 44-year-old male Mexican national with valid immigration documents. Agents used a large scale imaging system to scan the vehicle. The scan revealed several anomalies within the vehicle which led to the discovery of 100 sealed packages of cocaine concealed inside a non-factory compartment. The cocaine weighed approximately 260 pounds and was given an estimated street value of more than $8.3 million.

The driver was arrested and turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration along with the vehicle and narcotics.

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.

Owner of Houston Health Care Company Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Medicare

WASHINGTON—The owner of a Houston health care company pleaded guilty today in connection with a Medicare fraud scheme involving durable medical equipment (DME), announced the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Akinsunbo Akinbile, 44, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison in Houston to eight counts of health care fraud.

Akinbile admitted that he was the owner and operator of Hallco Medical Supply, a company that purported to provide DME to Medicare beneficiaries. According to court documents, Hallco submitted claims to Medicare for DME, including orthotic devices, that were medically unnecessary and/or never provided. Many of the orthotic devices were components of “arthritis kits,” and purported to be for the treatment of arthritis-related conditions. The arthritis kits generally contained a number of devices including braces for both sides of the body and related accessories such as heat pads. In total, from June 2007 through May 2009, Hallco submitted approximately $737,770 in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

At sentencing, scheduled for Feb. 15, 2012, Akinbile faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the Dallas Regional Office of HHS’s Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Laura M.K. Cordova and Assistant Chief Sam S. Sheldon of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, HHS’s 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.

Robbery of Wells Fargo Bank Branch in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI are seeking the public’s assistance to identify and locate the subject responsible for the robbery of the Wells Fargo Branch located at 340 S. 2nd Street earlier today.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., the subject entered the bank and presented a threatening demand note to a teller. After obtaining cash, the subject fled the area of the bank on foot and was last seen headed east on Pine Street.

The subject is described as a white male in his 20s, 5’4” tall, thin build, clean shaven, wearing a red Phillies baseball cap, sunglasses and a black “puffy” jacket.

This subject is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call the Philadelphia Police Department or the FBI at 215-418-4000. There may be a reward for information leading to this subject’s capture, and tipsters can remain anonymous.

A photograph from the bank’s security cameras is below.

Twenty-Four Arrested in Permian Basin Hydroponic Marijuana Distribution Operations

United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced that 24 individuals have been arrested in connection with Hydroponic marijuana distribution operations in the Permian Basin. A complete list of those charged and arrested is below.

A federal grand jury seated in Midland returned four indictments earlier this month in connection with these investigations. All were unsealed today.

U.S. v. Cody Lyn Timmons, et al. (MO-11-cr-388)
This 30-count indictment charges alleged ringleader 37-year-old Cody Lyn Timmons of Andrews, Texas, his hydroponic marijuana supplier, 37-year-old David Pace of Ruidoso, New Mexico, and 19 other individuals in a conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of hydroponic marijuana, cocaine and Hydrocodone pills. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Timmons faces 25 substantive distribution charges—five of which allegedly occurred within 1,000 feet of a school or playground; and, three of which, Timmons allegedly distributed marijuana to persons under the age of 21. Timmons is also charged with money laundering as well as maintaining an Andrews County residence for the cultivation of hydroponic marijuana and a Midland residence for the distribution of hydroponic marijuana. Finally, the indictment contains a notice of criminal forfeiture whereby the government seeks the forfeiture of alleged criminally derived proceeds including several residences, vehicles, and firearms plus a monetary judgment in the amount of $400,000.

During this investigation, authorities have seized approximately 60 pounds of marijuana, approximately 25 firearms and more than $45,000 in cash.

“Today’s arrests demonstrate the FBI’s commitment to the citizens of Midland, Ector and Andrews Counties that we will vigorously investigate allegations of drug trafficking in this area. Through the professionalism, dedication, and cooperative efforts of local, state, and other federal agencies, we worked together to bring this investigation to its successful conclusion,” stated FBI SAC Mark Morgan.

This case is being investigated by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation together with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Andrews (TX) Police Department, Roswell (NM) Police Department and Ruidoso (NM) Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Klassen.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is committed to disrupting and dismantling all criminal organizations operating within the state. The lengthy investigation leading up to today’s operation is an outstanding example of investigative cooperation and intelligence sharing between a dozen law enforcement agencies. Alliances such as this are the standard for law enforcement agencies operating within the El Paso Region. This operation has resulted in the citizens of West Texas being more secure today than they were yesterday because there are fewer criminals conducting their criminal activities in our towns and neighborhoods,” stated TXDPS Region 4 Commander Carey Matthews.

U.S. v. Juan David Lopez, et al. (MO-11-cr-392); U.S. v. Robin Ray Rios, et al. (MO-11-cr-393); and U.S. v. Joseph William Logan, et al. (MO-11-cr-394)
These three indictments charge a total of 11 individuals with conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of hydroponic marijuana. Defendant James White, age 30, of Midland is also charged with one count of maintaining a residence for the purpose of distributing and using marijuana and one count of distribution of marijuana to a person under 21 years of age.

“These investigations highlight the outstanding cooperation among law enforcement agencies in West Texas. The resulting indictments and arrests strike a significant blow to the drug trafficking organizations and will have an immediate impact in this region. DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to work together, leveraging our respective resources to pursue those who threaten our communities by trafficking dangerous drugs,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit.

During this investigation, authorities have seized approximately 100 pounds of marijuana, approximately four firearms and more than $21,000 in cash.

These cases are being investigated by agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandi Young.

Upon conviction of: the conspiracy charge, the defendant faces up to 40 years in federal prison; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school or a playground, between one and ten years in federal prison; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, up to five years in federal prison; distributing marijuana to a person under 21 years of age, between one and 10 years in federal prison; maintaining a residence for distributing and using marijuana, up to 20 years in federal prison; and, money laundering, up to 20 years in federal prison.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Calexico Port Officers Arrest 19-Year-Old Male for attempt to Smuggle 52 Pounds of Cocaine

Calexico, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico downtown port of entry arrested a 19-year-old male Mexican citizen after they discovered 52 pounds of cocaine hidden in the vehicle he was driving when he entered the port Sunday.

The seizure occurred at about 5:15 p.m. when a CBP officer conducting inspections of vehicles and travelers referred a red 1992 Chevrolet Camaro for further examination.

During the intensive inspection, a canine team was utilized and the detector dog alerted to the rear area of the vehicle. A search of the vehicle led officers to the discovery of 21 wrapped packages of cocaine concealed inside a non-factory metal compartment within the rear bumper. The estimated street value of the narcotic is approximately $468,000.

CBP officers turned custody of the driver, a resident of Mexicali, Baja California, over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who then transported him to the Imperial County Jail where he currently awaits arraignment.

CBP placed an immigration hold on the Mexican citizen to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.

CBP seized the narcotic and vehicle.

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.

New York State Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr. Charged with Bribery and Attempted Hobbs Act Extortion

Recordings Capture Boyland Soliciting More Than $250,000 in Bribes, Accepting Thousands in Bribes Solicited and Accepted Following Earlier Bribery Arrest

Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced the unsealing of a complaint charging New York State Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr. with soliciting more than $250,000 in bribes and accepting thousands of dollars of bribe money in exchange for performing official acts for the bribe payers.1 Boyland was arrested this morning and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Joan M. Azrack, at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The criminal complaint alleges the following:

Between August 2010 and June 2011, Boyland solicited and accepted a stream of bribes from a carnival promoter (“CW”) and two undercover FBI agents (“UC1” and “UC2”), whom Boyland believed to be out-of-state businessmen and real estate developers. In exchange, Boyland agreed to take official action to secure business opportunities for CW, UC1 and UC2.

Carnival Scheme: Boyland Takes Over $7,000 in Bribes

Starting in August 2010, Boyland, UC1 and CW met and discussed ways in which Boyland could assist CW and UC1 with CW’s carnival business.2 All the meetings were recorded. In explaining how he could help them secure carnival locations in his district, Boyland stated that he had the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) “locked up,” and stated that “we got HPD . . . we’re there.” Boyland and UC1 also discussed ways to “compensate” Boyland for his assistance, including by funneling payments to Boyland through a non-profit organization controlled by Boyland or through payments disguised as fees to a consulting firm.

UC1 ultimately made payments to Boyland. The first was a $3,800 payment in the form of money orders to Boyland’s campaign account in October 2010. The second payment occurred in February 2011, in the form of a $3,000 check (where the payee line was left blank) and $600 cash. In that case, UC1 specifically told Boyland that he did not want the $3,000 check to be applied against the New York State campaign contribution limit of $3,800. Boyland replied, “Got it, got it, got it. Makes sense.” Despite this, the $3,000 check was ultimately made payable to and deposited into Boyland’s campaign account.

In return for these payments, Boyland told CW and UC1 that Boyland and his staff had engaged in discussions with governmental agencies to assist CW in obtaining leases and permits for his carnival business. In addition, at Boyland’s direction, Boyland’s staff provided UC1 with letters of support from Boyland, on his official State Assembly letterhead, on behalf of CW and the carnivals CW purported to be promoting.

Real Estate Scheme: Boyland Takes $7,000 Cash Bribe

After Boyland was charged with bribery in a separate case in the Southern District of New York on March 10, 2011,3 Boyland and a member of his staff contacted UC1 seeking a direct, personal payment of $7,000. In a recorded telephone call, Boyland told UC1 that he needed the money to “solidify some attorneys.” Boyland stated that he was willing to travel to Philadelphia for the money and that he wanted the payment in cash.

On or about March 25, 2011, UC1 met Boyland at his district office in Brooklyn. During that meeting, which was recorded by UC1, Boyland and UC1 discussed real estate development projects in Boyland’s district that Boyland had previously discussed with UC1 and UC2. UC1 made clear that the money he was going to give Boyland was coming from both him and UC2, and in response, Boyland stated, “We’ll do business.” UC1 then told Boyland that he and UC2 wanted state grant monies to help finance the proposed development projects. Boyland assured UC1 that the money was there and stated that his support was a “no brainer” because the projects are “right here at home.”

At the end of meeting, UC1 gave Boyland the $7,000 in cash, and stated: “Knowing that if you think you want to bring someone else onboard or knowing that you’ll be there politically for us is all that we’re looking for.” In response, Boyland made a “thumbs up” sign and affirmed that “the political thing will be fine in terms of just where we need to go because I’m thinking environmental and I’m thinking the two houses of the state and city. You know, the relationships are there.”

Approximately one week after Boyland took the $7,000 cash bribe, he showed UC1 and UC2 different properties in his district. In a recorded conversation, Boyland assured UC1 and UC2 that certain zoning changes requested by UC1 and UC2 in connection with developing the sites were “not a problem.” He emphasized that all the properties he was showing UC1 and UC2 were in his district, which “we have control over.” Boyland later reiterated this point: “Everything we’ve seen I’m in control of. You know, I’m the politician. I’m the guy who can make that move over on this end, so we know the folks that can pull the sort of triggers we’re looking for.”

Hospital Buy-Back Scheme: Boyland Solicits $250,000 Bribe

On or about April 29, 2011, during a recorded conversation in a hotel suite in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Boyland solicited a $250,000 bribe from UC1 and UC2. Boyland proposed a scheme which called for UC1 and UC2 to purchase a former hospital in Boyland’s district for $8 million, obtain state grant money to renovate the hospital, and resell it to a non-profit organization that Boyland claimed to control for $15 million. In exchange for the $250,000, Boyland promised that he would, among other things, arrange for the sale and take official action and use his influence to secure state grant money to allow UC1 and UC2 to renovate the hospital so that it could be sold to Boyland’s organization for a profit.

During this meeting, Boyland promised that he would facilitate any needed state grants and also promised that he would arrange for one of UC2’s purported investors to be awarded any demolition contracts related to the project. Boyland stated that “zoning won’t be an issue,” because he had “tons of friends” and knew “everybody on the Board” of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals, which handles zoning issues.

Boyland further explained his desire to conceal his involvement in the bribery scheme. He stated, “I got a middle guy by the way . . . I gotta stay clean . . . I got a bag man . . .” Boyland also explained to UC1 and UC2 that he did not want to talk on the telephone about these activities and that he preferred in-person meetings: “I stopped talking on the phone awhile ago . . . I’m just saying there is no real conversation that you can have that, you know, especially with what we’re talking about. You can’t do that.”

About one month later, Boyland, a member of his staff, and an individual whom Boyland described as a “developer” took UC2 on a site tour of the hospital.

On or about June 7, 2011, Boyland met with UC1 and UC2 in a hotel room in Manhattan. The meeting was recorded. Boyland reiterated that he wanted to be paid $250,000. UC2 offered to pay Boyland $5,000 for each introduction to another person who would accept bribes in connection with the development project. Boyland rejected the suggestion, stating that the people whom Boyland planned to introduce to UC1 and UC2 were worth more than $5,000: “I’m not talking about $5,000 folks. I’m talking about . . . people that can actually get these projects done and that’s where we started off with. We started off, we didn’t start off with, we can go with somebody who knows someone. We not talking about those folks . . . . We talking about the man.”

“As detailed in the criminal complaint, the extent of the charged corruption is staggering,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.” The defendant had a strong political legacy, the trust of his community, and the privilege of serving it. Not content with these many benefits, the defendant is alleged to have auctioned the power of his seat in the Assembly to the highest bidder, for his own personal gain and to the potential detriment of the voters who elected him to office. Fortunately for his constituents and the people of New York, in this instance the “bidders” were working for the FBI. The message of this case is clear – we will utilize all available resources to protect the public’s right to government free of corruption.” Ms. Lynch stated that the government’s investigation is continuing.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The charges announced today are all the more astonishing in light of the fact that Boyland allegedly committed much of the criminal conduct after he had already been charged in another bribery case. Boyland was unaware that it was two undercover FBI agents with whom he was arranging quid pro quo deals, and to whom he insisted on speaking in person to avoid the recording of incriminating phone calls. Recording phone calls is not the only method the FBI has available to fight public corruption.”

If convicted, Boyland faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Roger Burlingame, Carolyn Pokorny and Lan Nguyen.

The Defendant:
WILLIAM F. BOYLAND, JR.
Age: 41

1 The charges contained in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
2 As detailed more fully in the complaint, to obtain the permissions and/or permits necessary to operate carnivals in New York City, carnival businesses must obtain the support of local community boards and elected officials.
3 Boyland was acquitted of those charges on November 10, 2011.

Three Plead Guilty to Manufacturing Marijuana; Three Others Expected to Plead Guilty This Week

Defendants Arrested Following Discovery of Grow Operation in National Forest in Northern Wisconsin

MADISON, WI—John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros, 24, and Abraham Ramirez, 29, citizens of Mexico, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Madison to charges of conspiring to manufacture marijuana. Cesar Tinoco, 21, also of Mexico, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge on November 23, 2011. All three men, as well as three additional co-conspirators who are scheduled to plead later this week, were apprehended in connection with a grow operation of over 9,000 marijuana plants in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest located about six miles south of Clam Lake, Wis.

U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb scheduled sentencing for Tinoco on January 31, Ramirez on February 1, and Lopez-Ontiveros on February 2, 2012. Each of the defendants face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.

During the plea hearings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson described how Tinoco, Ramirez and Lopez Ontiveros were apprehended in early August along with Jose Esqueda-Garcia, 19, of Mexico, Moises Lopez-Ontiveros, 21, of Mexico, and Norberto Burciaga, 40, of St. Paul, Minn., after the marijuana grow was raided by over 200 law enforcement officers from over a dozen different local, state and federal agencies.

The grow location had initially been discovered in November 2010 by hunters who reported the find to police. Police monitored the area in 2011 to determine if persons involved in the grow would return to use the area again. After months of monitoring and surveillance, law enforcement officers from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Ashland County Sheriff’s Department; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Forest Service; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Northwest Area Crime Unit (comprised of Sawyer, Douglas and Washburn County Sheriffs’ Departments and Superior Police Department); U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission raided the campsite of the suspected growers and seized over 9,000 marijuana plants that were being grown and tended by the men.

Four of the five men at the camp eluded capture until the following day when Burciaga arrived from Minnesota to pick them up. Sawyer County deputies observed the Burciaga truck and stopped it as it headed back toward Minnesota, apprehending four of the suspects who had fled and stayed in the forest overnight.

United States Attorney Vaudreuil stated, “The message from these prosecutions should be very clear: if you use public land for a marijuana manufacturing business, be prepared to serve very long sentences in federal prison.”

Wakpala Man Indicted for Sexual Abuse

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Wakpala man was indicted by a federal grand jury by superseding indictment for sexual abuse.

Lyle Baker, age 51, appeared before United States Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes on November 23, 2011, and pled not guilty to the superseding indictment. The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.

The charge relates to the suspect’s alleged abuse of an Eagle Butte woman in May 2011. The charge is merely an accusation, and Baker is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Standing Rock Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mikal Hanson is prosecuting the case. Baker was released on bond pending trial on April 10, 2012.

Former Lake St. Louis Businessman Indicted on Fraud Charges

ST. LOUIS—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that James France was indicted for wire fraud in connection with an advance fee scheme.

According to the indictment, France held himself out as being in the business of commercial lending, and operated his business under various names such as AmBanc, Commercial Capital Banc and U.S. Underwriting. The indictment alleges that from around 2005 until sometime in 2010, France executed a scheme to obtain money from others by falsely representing that he had the ability to obtain financing for their commercial projects. The indictment alleges that France made numerous false representations to make himself appear to be a successful businessman, including claiming that he owned or was involved in coal mining businesses, that he once owned a bank and that he was a direct lender. According to the indictment, in order to secure his services, France persuaded clients to pay him a deposit in advance which was to be used to cover the expenses of securing funding for their projects. Instead, he allegedly used clients’ money for other purposes such as personal expenses, paying himself a salary and giving money to others.

JAMES FRANCE, currently residing in Virginia, was indicted by a federal grand jury on three felony counts of wire fraud. He appeared in federal court this morning.

If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lake St. Louis Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Reginald Harris is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Former Executive at Orange County Bank Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $2 Million

SANTA ANA, CA—An Orange County man who served as a vice president of Farmers and Merchants Bank and was the manager of the institution’s Laguna Hills branch pleaded guilty today to stealing nearly $2 million from a customer’s account.

Matthew J. Walker, 34, of Orange, pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of theft of bank funds. During this afternoon’s hearing before United States District Judge Andrew J. Guilford, Walker specifically admitted that he stole $1,973,000 over a 16-month period that ended in July 2010.

By pleading guilty, Walker acknowledged that he withdrew money from a line of credit in the name of a trust that held an account at Farmers and Merchants. To cover up the scheme, Walker made interest payments on the money supposedly loaned to the trust.

When he is sentenced on May 21, 2012, Walker will face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. A plea agreement in the case contemplates a sentence of approximately four years, but Judge Guilford will determine the appropriate sentence in this case.

The case against Walker was investigated by the FBI.

CONTACT:
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Waier (714) 338-3550

Narcotics Discovered in Vehicle’s Secret Compartment

United States Citizen Arrested and Charged

Tucson, Ariz. –Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Sector, a component of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Joint Field Command-Arizona, stopped a cross-border smuggling attempt yesterday involving a U.S. citizen and a truck with a hidden compartment.

Agents working on the east side of Douglas, near the international boundary, discovered 515 bundles of marijuana in a pick-up truck’s hidden compartment with the assistance of a Border Patrol canine team. The marijuana weighed more than 550 pounds and had an estimated value of $275,000. Carlos Dominic-Pino, 21, of Tucson was arrested in conjunction with the narcotics smuggling.

Using a national fingerprint identification system, agents discovered Dominic-Pino was convicted of armed robbery in Pima County in 2006 and served 4.5 years in prison. Dominic-Pino is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on federal drug charges.

The Border Patrol has made significant progress toward combating transnational criminal organizations by impacting their ability to transport contraband throughout the United States and ensuring smugglers face stiff federal penalties for their actions. In Arizona, the probability of being detected and the consequences of doing so are higher than ever before.

Customs and Border Protection appreciates assistance from the community. Citizens can report suspicious activity by calling the Border Patrol at (877) 872-7435 and remain anonymous.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with managing and protecting our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while also enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Massachusetts man charged with concealing past ties to El Salvadoran military to remain in US

Reports allege that certain human rights abuses were committed by troops directly under his command

BOSTON — A Massachusetts man was charged today in federal court with making false statements on immigration forms and committing perjury in order to remain in the United States. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston.

Inocente Orlando Montano, 69, of Everett, Mass., was charged with one count of making false statements on an immigration application and one count of perjury.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, District of Massachusetts; and Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston, made the announcement today.

According to documents submitted to the court, the government alleges that Montano, a citizen of El Salvador, received military training and served as an officer in the military of El Salvador from 1979 through 1991, a period of civil war in El Salvador. Montano also allegedly served as El Salvador's vice-minister for public security from 1989 to 1992.

Several reports published in the early 1990's documented human rights violations committed by the Salvadoran military during the civil war, including torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and disappearances. Such reports allege that certain human rights abuses were committed by troops directly under Montano's command. In 1994, Montano retired from the military, and at some point thereafter left El Salvador and eventually came to Massachusetts.

The document filed today also cites a United Nations Truth Commission Report finding that there was substantial evidence that Montano colluded with other Salvadoran military officers to issue an order that resulted in the murder of six Jesuit priests, an employee of the priests, and the employee's daughter.

In or about 2002, Montano was present in the United States and, on several occasions thereafter, applied for and received temporary protected status (TPS), a benefit the U.S. government extends to certain foreign nationals, permitting them to remain in the United States if they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

To be eligible for TPS, a foreign national must submit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security an application which requires, among other things, the applicant to reveal if he has ever received military training or served in the military.

Aliens who ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion is ineligible for TPS.

The document specifically charges that Montano, in 2008, submitted a TPS application in which he falsely denied that he ever "served in, been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any military unit, paramilitary unit, police unit;" had "been a member of, assisted in, or participated in any group, unit, or organization of any kind in which you or other persons used any type of weapon against any person or threatened to do so;" or had ever "received any type of military, paramilitary, or weapons training."

Montano faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count.

ICE HSI places a high priority on targeting alleged human rights abusers through its Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. The center was established in 2009 to further ICE HSI efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers. The center leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency's broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete the agency's online tip form.

Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 200 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE has obtained deportation orders for and physically removed more than 400 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.

ICE HSI is pursuing more than 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from approximately 95 different countries. These cases are predominantly focused on Central and South America, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia and Africa. They represent cases in various stages of investigation, prosecution or removal proceedings.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John A. Capin and Donald L. Cabell.

District of New Mexico Raises Money for Charities During the Combined Federal Campaign

Albuquerque, NM - This year, the United States District of New Mexico participated in the Combined Federal Campaign, the worlds’ largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign. More than 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and internationally help to raise millions of dollars each year. Pledges made by federal, civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season (Sept. 1 - Dec.15) support eligible nonprofit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world. http://www.opm.gov/cfc/

The district personnel also augmented CFC contributions by hosting a silent auction to raise additional funds for donation to local and national charities like the, The Community Pantry which Feeds 4,000 hungry New Mexicans a week through direct programs and to partner soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters. The District also contributed to the “That Others May Live Foundation,” which provides critical support, scholarships, grants and warfighter appreciation for warfighter families ensuring children of fallen Air Force rescue heroes receive every opportunity for success and the “Cancer Research Foundation,” to aid in the bold and innovative laboratory and clinical research. In total the United States Marshals Service in New Mexico raised over $2600.00 for local and national charities.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Put a freeze on winter fires: Holiday decorations

Focus on Fire Safety: Holiday Fire Safety

Decorating homes and businesses is a long-standing tradition around the holiday season. Unfortunately, these same decorations may increase your chances of fire. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires resulted in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.

Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch.

Do not leave holiday lights on unattended!

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents. If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

Don't Block Exits
Ensure that trees and other holiday decorations do not block an exit way. In the event of a fire, time is of the essence. A blocked entry/exit way puts you and your family at risk.

Never Put Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace
Wrapping paper in the fireplace can result in a very large fire, throwing off dangerous sparks and embers that may result in a chimney fire.

Give the local fire department a break and put a freeze on winter fires.

Earthquake Survivors Beware of Fraud: Ask for Identification

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Always ask for identification if someone approaches you about your personal or business disaster losses, officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Agency (VDEM) advise. If the person claims to be with a government agency, he or she will have an official government ID. It's very important not to give out personal or business information unless you are presented with an ID.

"It is a double tragedy to become a victim of fraud after suffering the effects of a disaster. Still, disaster survivors do become prime targets for fraud, identity theft, and other crimes linked to the event," said Federal Coordinating Officer Don Keldsen.

Here's what to expect from authorized officials:

 •All FEMA, VDEM, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives and inspectors will be wearing an official photo ID in plain sight on their person.
 •Inspectors will call to arrange an appointment before visiting an applicant or their property.
 •FEMA, VDEM, or SBA inspectors will never charge a fee and will not ask for your personal or financial information.
 •Insurance adjusters should be able to provide identification upon request.
 •Local building inspectors who ensure compliance with building codes should also have a photo ID.

For more information, contact the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline, (866) 720-5721. The call is completely confidential.

Information also can be sent to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909. Fax: 225-334-4707. Email disaster@leo.gov.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

New London Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Operating Extensive Mortgage Fraud Scheme

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that SYED A. BABAR, also known as “Ali” and “Asad,” 29, of New London, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 120 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for orchestrating a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.

“Mr. Babar earned this significant sentence by orchestrating a wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme that led to millions of dollars in losses and left tens of abandoned houses in its wake,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, HUD-OIG and the other participants in the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who are responsible criminally for creating blight in our communities and contributing to our nation’s banking crisis.”

According to court documents and statements made in court, between February 2007 and April 2010, BABAR and others engaged in a scheme to obtain millions of dollars in residential real estate loans, including loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, through the use of sham sales contracts, false loan applications and fraudulent property appraisals. BABAR was the de facto leader and organizer of the conspiracy.

BABAR and others recruited and paid straw purchasers to nominally purchase homes. He and his co-conspirators then directed the straw purchasers to enter into sales contracts with the sellers of homes for prices higher than the actual prices that the sellers would receive. Members of the conspiracy submitted false documentation in connection with loan applications, including fraudulent appraisals of the properties being purchased in order to justify the inflated sales prices and the loan amounts being sought to fund the purchases. BABAR and his co-conspirators also created a fictitious construction company in order to divert fraud proceeds to it and, in some cases, to falsely justify the artificially inflated sales price of houses based on renovations to the property that never occurred. BABAR and his co-conspirators then split the fraud proceeds.

Contrary to the representations made on the loan applications, the straw purchasers never occupied the houses as their primary residences. They defaulted on the loans they obtained and let the houses go into foreclosure.

BABAR and his co-conspirators conducted this scheme on approximately 30 properties in Connecticut. As a result, various lenders suffered total losses of approximately $4.75 million.

Today, Chief Judge Thompson ordered BABAR to pay restitution in the amount of $4,749,024.76.

On February 1, 2011, BABAR pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, eight counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and four counts of making false statements to the government.

BABAR has been detained since his arrest on May 12, 2010.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eric J. Glover, Susan Wines and Liam Brennan.

Citizens are encouraged to report any suspected mortgage fraud activity by calling 203-333-3512 and requesting the Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force, or by sending an e-mail to ctmortgagefraud@ic.fbi.gov.

The Connecticut Mortgage Fraud Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General, and State of Connecticut Department of Banking.

This case was brought in coordination with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which was established to wage an aggressive and coordinated effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force 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.

To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit stopfraud.gov.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

2 alien smugglers sentenced to a 17-year combined sentence

PHOENIX — Two Mexican nationals were sentenced Monday to 10 and seven years in jail respectively for harboring illegal aliens for profit and aiding and abetting and transporting illegal aliens for profit, following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) offices in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix.

 Guadalupe Toribio-Caballero, 25, and Humberto Guzman Caballero, 32, were leaders and managers of a local Phoenix smuggling operation, which specialized in harboring and transporting illegal immigrants from Central and South America, including Brazil, and had been involved in smuggling thousands of people since at least 2008.

According to court documents, on May 10, 2010, the ICE HSI office in Washington D.C., received a phone call from the El Salvadorian Embassy regarding three juvenile aliens, ages 11, 13 and 15, who were being held hostage in Phoenix. The parents of the juveniles, who were living in the D.C.-area, had already paid $19,500 to the human smugglers. The smugglers were extorting an additional $7,500 for the safe release of the children. ICE HSI special agents in Washington, D.C., working with ICE HSI agents in Phoenix, tracked the cell phone numbers used by the smugglers to several addresses in Phoenix.

 On May 11, 2010, ICE HSI agents in Phoenix rescued the three juvenile aliens, and with the help of the Phoenix Police Department, discovered 16 other victim hostages at a Phoenix "drop-house," including a 10-year-old female from Brazil. The hostages were from Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Brazil. They told law enforcement that they had been smuggled into the United States, and were being held against their will in the house until their families paid their smuggling fees.

 The other victims, including the juveniles, were held hostage at a "drop-house" where the defendants threatened the victims, menaced and physically intimidated them, and kept them in a locked house in order to compel their family members to pay the smuggling fee.

On May 20, 2010, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a three count indictment against the defendants, charging them with violations of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, and harboring illegal aliens for profit. On Dec. 29, 2010, the federal grand jury added an additional count of transporting illegal aliens for profit.

The investigation was conducted by ICE HSI offices in Phoenix, Washington D.C./Virginia, with assistance from ICE HSI offices in Boston and New York City. The prosecution was handled by Walter Perkel and Howard Sukenic, assistant U.S. attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.