Thursday, August 31, 2017

Three Individuals Indicted in Nevada for Allegedly Stealing More Than $1 Million in Tax Refunds

A federal grand jury in Las Vegas, Nevada returned an indictment charging three individuals with stealing more than $1 million in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre for the District of Nevada.

The indictment charges Chanh V. Trinh, Cannedy Trinh, and Elizabeth Trinh with conspiring to file fraudulent claims for tax refunds and theft of government funds. Chanh V. Trinh is also charged with filing false claims for tax refunds, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Chanh V. Trinh, Cannedy Trinh, and Elizabeth Trinh were residents of Las Vegas, who allegedly conspired to file federal corporate and individual income tax returns reporting fake income and income tax withholdings and as a result, obtained more than $1 million in refunds to which they were not entitled. The indictment alleges that the fraudulent returns were filed in the names of the defendants and others, including a long-deceased family member and fictitious businesses. Months after filing a fraudulent return, the defendants would allegedly file a fraudulent amended return requesting an additional refund. The indictment alleges that Chanh V. Trinh prepared and filed the returns, and that all three defendants deposited or cashed the fraudulently obtained refund checks using multiple bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and check-cashing businesses in Las Vegas. The indictment alleges that the defendants frequently concealed the funds by purchasing cashier’s checks to obtain gambling chips at casinos.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count and each of the theft of government funds counts. Chanh V. Trinh also faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the mail fraud counts, five years in prison for each of the false claims counts and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for each of the aggravated identity theft counts. The defendants also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg and Acting U.S. Attorney Myhre thanked special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Tax Division Trial Attorneys Thomas W. Flynn and Eric C. Schmale of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

U.S. Nuclear Engineer Sentenced to Serve Twenty-Four Months in Federal Prison for Violating The Atomic Energy Act

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On August 31, 2017, Szuhsiung Ho, aka Allen Ho, 66, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced by the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, Chief U.S. District Judge, to serve 24 months in prison and one year of supervised release. Upon his release, he will be supervised by U.S. Probation for one year. He was also order to pay a fine of $20,000.

Ho pleaded guilty in January 2017 to conspiracy to unlawfully engage or participate in the production or development of special nuclear material outside the United States, without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in violation of the Atomic Energy Act.

An April 2016 indictment charged Ho; China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), the largest nuclear power company in China, and Energy Technology International (ETI), a Delaware corporation with these offenses. At the time of his indictment, Ho was a nuclear engineer, employed as a consultant by CGNPC and was also the owner of ETI. CGNPC specialized in the development and manufacture of nuclear reactors and was controlled by China’s State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

According to documents filed in the case, beginning in 1997 and continuing through April 2016, Ho conspired with others to engage or participate in the development or production of special nuclear material in China, without specific authorization to do so from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, as required by law. He assisted CGNPC in procuring U.S.-based nuclear engineers to assist CGNPC and its subsidiaries with designing and manufacturing certain components for nuclear reactors more quickly by reducing the time and financial costs of research and development of nuclear technology. In particular, Ho sought technical assistance related to CGNPC’s Small Modular Reactor Program; CGNPC’s Advanced Fuel Assembly Program; CGNPC’s Fixed In-Core Detector System; and verification and validation of nuclear reactor-related computer codes.

Under the direction of CGNPC, Ho also identified, recruited, and executed contracts with U.S.-based experts from the civil nuclear industry who provided technical assistance related to the development and production of special nuclear material for CGNPC in China. Ho and CGNPC also facilitated the travel to China and payments to the U.S.-based experts in exchange for their services.

“The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to working to ensure that sensitive and controlled technology is not illegally obtained and exported from the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr. “Violations of our export control laws will be aggressively prosecuted in the Eastern District of Tennessee.”

“Today, Allen Ho is being held accountable for enlisting U.S.-based nuclear experts to provide assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China for a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company. He did so without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Prosecuting those who unlawfully facilitate the acquisition of sensitive nuclear technology by foreign nations continues to be a top priority of the National Security Division.”

“Theft of our nuclear technology by foreign adversaries is of paramount concern to the FBI. Along with our local, state and, federal partners, we will aggressively investigate those who seek to steal our technology for the benefit of foreign governments,” said FBI Knoxville Special Agent in Charge, Renae McDermott.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Tennessee Valley Authority - Office of the Inspector General, DOE-National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from other agencies. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles E. Atchley Jr. and Bart Slabbekorn of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Trial Attorney Casey T. Arrowood of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Attorney Jeffrey M. Smith of the Appellate Unit in the National Security Division, represented the United States.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Florida Men Sentenced for Assault and Cross Burning Aimed at Intimidating an Interracial Couple Living Next Door

Today, United States District Judge Mary S. Scriven of the Middle District of Florida sentenced Thomas Herris Sigler, III, 46, and William A. Dennis, 56, to serve 33 and 21 months incarceration, respectively. Sigler and Dennis both pled guilty to civil rights violations for their roles in attacking and intimidating an interracial couple in Port Richey, Florida. A third co-defendant, Pascual Carlos Pietri also pled guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment on March 23, 2016. All three of the co-defendant’s sentences are to be followed by three years of supervised release. A fourth co-conspirator is now deceased.

According to the evidence presented in court proceedings and documents, in September 2012 an interracial couple moved in next door to Sigler and Dennis. Sigler and Dennis began regularly harassing the African-American male neighbor shortly after the couple moved in with racial slurs and derogatory statements. Then in mid-October 2012, Sigler physically attacked the African-American neighbor, while Dennis looked on and prevented another neighbor from intervening.

On Halloween night, Sigler and Dennis attended a party at the home of the fourth co-conspirator. The men made a plan to intimidate the couple into moving from their residence by burning a cross in their front yard. Using wood and tools from the fourth co-conspirator, Sigler and Dennis constructed a wooden cross, and Dennis poured gasoline on the cross. Dennis and Pietri carried the cross to the victims’ front yard, leaned it against their mailbox, and Dennis instructed Pietri set the cross on fire, which he did.

“The victims were attacked and threatened in their own neighborhood and home because of their race,” said John M. Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney for Civil Rights. “Such violence and intimidation has no place in our society, the Justice Department is committed to protecting the rights of all citizens, and will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals who commit such atrocious acts of hate.”

“Acts of intimidation and violence perpetrated against people because of their race, ethnicity, color, or creed are reprehensible,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow. “Individuals and families should have the right to live wherever they choose, without fear. Acts of hatred such as this simply cannot be tolerated and we will investigate and prosecute those who commit these crimes.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Josephine W. Thomas and Simon A. Gaugush of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney William E. Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.