Criminal Justice News

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Charges Filed in Bank Robberies In Which Shots Were Fired


KANSAS CITY, KAN. – Two Kansas men were charged today with a pair of bank robberies in which shots were fired and robbers wore Black Panther and Venom masks, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said today.

Michael Shiferaw, 20, Olathe, Kan., and Kenya Breakfield, 21, Olathe, Kan., were charged with two counts of bank robbery. They were charged with an Oct. 31, 2018, robbery at Wells Fargo Bank in Leawood, Kan., and a March 27, 2019, robbery at Commerce Bank in Roeland Park, Kan.

Wells Fargo robbery

According to documents filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., two robbers entered the Wells Fargo Bank at 2000 West 103rd in Leawood carrying guns and wearing masks that looked like the comic book and movie character Venom. Both robbers were carrying guns and threatened bank employees. Before leaving with cash, one of the robbers fired a round from his handgun into the ceiling.

Commerce Bank Robbery

At Commerce Bank, a single robber entered the building wearing a Black Panther mask. During the robbery, he fired a total of four shots while giving orders to bank employees. When he left the bank, he got into a small, black, four-door car.

Investigation

On March 27, agents set up surveillance at a house in the 1700 block of Lindenwood in Olathe where they spotted the defendants. Agents followed the defendants as they drove to Shiferaw’s residence in the 12000 block of Meadow Lane in Olathe. Later that day, Olathe Police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at the house. The defendants were arrested with a black backpack full of currency and a handgun.

It is alleged that Breakfield took part in the first robbery and drove the getaway car in the second robbery. The defendants purchased the masks at a Spencers gift store.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 25 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. Investigators included the FBI, Leawood Police Department, the Olathe Police Department, the Kansas City Police Department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Flannigan is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

Former Yale University Coach Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes to Facilitate Admissions to Yale


BOSTON – The former Yale University women’s soccer coach pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with accepting bribes to facilitate the admission of students to Yale as recruited athletes.

Rudolph “Rudy” Meredith, 51, of Madison, Conn., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud and one count of wire fraud and honest services wire fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for June 20, 2019 at 2:30 p.m.

From 1995 through November 2018, Meredith was employed as the head women’s soccer coach at Yale University. Beginning in April 2015, Meredith agreed with William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., to accept bribes in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as recruits for the Yale women’s soccer team, and thereby facilitating their admission to the University.

In early November 2017, Singer received an email indicating that an individual wished to make a “donation” to “one of those top schools” for his daughter’s “application.” Singer sent the resume and personal statement of the client’s child to Meredith and stated that he would “revise” the materials to “soccer.” Singer then sent Meredith an athletic “profile” that falsely described the child as the co-captain of a prominent soccer club team in southern California. Meredith subsequently designated the child as a recruit for the Yale women’s soccer team – thereby facilitating her admission to Yale – despite the fact that the child did not play competitive soccer. On Jan. 1, 2018, after the child was admitted to Yale, Singer mailed Meredith a check for $400,000 from the account of his purported charitable organization, Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF). During the summer of 2018, relatives of the applicant paid Singer $1.2 million in multiple installments.

On April 12, 2018, Meredith met with the father of another prospective Yale applicant in a Boston hotel room. During the recorded meeting, Meredith stated that he would designate the child as a recruit for the Yale women’s soccer team in exchange for $450,000. At the meeting, Meredith accepted $2,000 in cash as a partial payment and provided bank account information for future payments.

On March 22, 2019, Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. in Boston.

The charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, and  honest services wire fraud and wire fraud, provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie Wright, and Kristen A. Kearney of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

Fugitive Who Allegedly Obtained $9 Million in Fraudulent Real Estate Loans Surrenders to Federal Agents


          LOS ANGELES – A long-time international fugitive who is charged with nine felonies for allegedly participating in a $9 million bank fraud scheme against Wells Fargo has been taken into federal custody in Los Angeles.

          Napoleon Olarte, 41, formerly of Reseda, lived in South America as a fugitive since approximately 2011 and was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2017. He self-surrendered to federal law enforcement yesterday and his initial appearance on the criminal charges is scheduled for today in United States District Court.

          Olarte is the third and final defendant charged in the mortgage fraud scheme. Olarte’s two co-conspirators – Juan Jose Calle and Nancy Karina Coleman – previously pleaded guilty to charges in the scheme and have served prison sentences in the case. Olarte fled to Venezuela when federal agents began investigating the case, and he had been living in Venezuela for much of his time as a fugitive. He relocated with his family to Uruguay in approximately November 2018. Shortly before to his move to Uruguay, federal agents established communication with Olarte and, after numerous conversations between Olarte and federal agents between October 2018 and March 2019, Olarte agreed to self-surrender. Olarte was arrested yesterday as he entered the United States at Miami International Airport. Agents then transported Olarte to Los Angeles to face the criminal charges alleged in the indictment.

          According to court documents, Coleman worked as a mortgage consultant at Wells Fargo while Olarte and Calle ran Fast Escrow, a rogue brokerage and escrow company in Northridge. Between August 2008 and January 2009, Coleman accepted bribes and other favors in exchange for approving $9 million in fraudulent loans for Olarte and Calle, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in the case. Olarte allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications to Wells Fargo that contained false information for borrowers’ income, assets and employment. On some of the Wells Fargo-financed loans, Olarte allegedly failed to pay off existing loan holders and failed to record liens in favor of the bank, leaving Wells Fargo with no collateral when the loans defaulted.

          Olarte has been charged with one count of conspiracy, six counts of bank fraud, and two counts of making false statements to a financial institution. If convicted on all counts, Olarte would face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for each of the nine counts.

          An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

          This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.

          Olarte’s arrest involved the participation of and coordination with Interpol Washington, the United States Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshals Service, United States Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy Regional Support and Assistant Regional Support Officers in Uruguay.

          This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kerry L. Quinn of the Major Frauds Section.