Criminal Justice News

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Former President of Oregon Foster Care Agency Sentenced to Federal Prison for Theft, Money Laundering and Tax Evasion


PORTLAND, Ore.—Mary Holden Ayala, 59, of Portland, was sentenced today to 33 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for stealing over $1 million from an Oregon foster care agency, money laundering and filing false personal income tax returns.

On February 7, 2019, after eight days of trial, Ayala was convicted by a federal jury in Portland on five counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property and seven counts of filing a false federal tax return.

From at least 2008 to 2015, Ayala, a longtime Portland resident, served as the President, Executive Director and primary agent of Give Us This Day (GUTD), a private foster care agency and residential program for youth.

“Mary Holden Ayala was responsible for protecting and caring for children in Oregon’s foster care system. Instead she callously stole from them,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Stealing from vulnerable children she was entrusted to serve with taxpayer money is a despicable act and warrants severe consequences.”

“Foster children have already lost almost everything—their parents, their homes, their sense of security. Mary Holden Ayala took from them the last thing they had—faith in a foster care system that is supposed to give them a chance at a better life. To steal from society’s most vulnerable children to enrich yourself is simply unconscionable,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.

“Mary Ayala’s crimes include stealing funds intended to provide support for juvenile foster kids entrusted in her care, spending the funds selfishly on a luxurious lifestyle, and then hiding her personal use of the funds by filing false tax returns,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “Today’s sentence holds Ayala accountable. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our partners and investigate those who steal from the most vulnerable in our society.”

“Stealing money meant to pay for foster care expenses is reprehensible,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven Ryan of the HHS Office of Inspector General. “Such greed-fueled fraud can impact those in need and cheats taxpayers; however, today’s sentence shows that our hardworking investigators and law enforcement partners are committed to making sure criminals are held accountable for their actions.”

According to court documents, since its inception in 1979, GUTD was primarily funded by the Oregon state and federal government for foster care services including hiring and screening foster parents for community placements, compensating foster parents for services and placing foster children in residential or group homes. GUTD federal funding originated from the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was administrated by ODHS.

From 2009 through 2015, Ayala exercised sole and complete control over GUTD finances. No other GUTD employee or board member had access to the organization’s bank accounts or statements during this time. With no internal controls in place, Ayala wrote checks, used the GUTD debit card and withdrew cash at will, using the organization’s bank accounts as her own.

Ayala used the money stolen from GUTD to pay her mortgage, remodel her home and fund other retail, travel and transportation expenses. Additionally, she used the money to fund other, non-GUTD business ventures including a media company, Big Mary’s fish and ribs restaurant in Portland, and to purchase and flip a commercial property.

In total, Ayala stole over $1 million from GUTD. As a result, her employees, foster parents and foster children in GUTD’s care suffered. GUTD residential house managers complained about a lack of basic necessities, including but not limited to food, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

In 2015, the day after Ayala resigned her position at GUTD, she filed five false federal income tax returns for tax years 2009 through 2013. Shortly thereafter, she filed a sixth false return for tax year 2014. Ayala failed to file a tax return in 2015.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Marco A. Hernandez ordered Ayala to pay $239,192 in restitution to the IRS and $1,025,235 to satisfy a forfeiture money judgement. The court also forfeited to the U.S. more than $451,000 in net proceeds from the sale of a commercial property on NE Martin Luther King Boulevard in Portland that Ayala purchased with stolen GUTD funds.

In a superseding indictment returned on May 3, 2017, a federal grand jury in Portland charged Ayala with five counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, one count of concealment of money laundering, one count of failure to file a personal federal tax return and two counts each of engaging in monetary transactions with criminally derived property and filing a false personal federal tax return. The government dropped the concealment of money laundering charge prior to trial.   

This case was investigated by the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and IRS-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Donna Maddux, Clemon Ashley and Julia Jarrett, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

Belcourt, ND, Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 12 Years Old


Fargo – First Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas W. Chase announced that on June 24, 2019, U.S. District Judge James M. Moody, Eastern District of Arkansas, sitting by designation, sentenced Calvin Keith Delorme, age 30, Belcourt, ND, to 30 years confinement in a federal prison on the charge of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 12 Years, to be followed by lifetime supervised release.

This case came to the attention of law enforcement in March 2014, when a child under Delorme’s care disclosed that he had sexually abused her over a period of several years.  The victim stated the abuse occurred on many occasions when the victim was left in the defendant’s care.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Greenley and Lori Conroy prosecuted the case.

Former Hoboken City Council Candidate Convicted of Conspiring to Use Mail to Promote Voter Bribery Scheme


NEWARK, N.J. – A former candidate for the Hoboken City Council was convicted today of conspiring to promote a voter bribery scheme by use of the mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Francis Raia, 67, of Hoboken, New Jersey, was a candidate for Hoboken City Council in 2013. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the federal Travel Act for causing the mails to be used in aid of voter bribery, contrary to New Jersey state law, during that election. The jury deliberated for one day, following a five-day trial before Senior U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court.

“The defendant in this case tried to rig a Hoboken municipal election by voting multiple times, both for himself and for a ballot question that he supported,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “He did so by deploying his loyal foot soldiers to buy votes from people who he thought were in need of money, and then creating a phony cover story to conceal his tracks. Fortunately, neither federal law enforcement nor the jury was fooled. Today’s verdict underscores this Office’s continued dedication to uncovering, investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption at every level of New Jersey government.”

“The health of our democracy relies on the integrity of our electoral system,” FBI-Newark Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said. “When people use corrupt methods to work around that system, it deprives every constituent of their right to be heard through their vote.”

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Under New Jersey law, registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot by mail rather than in person. To receive a mail-in ballot, voters must complete and submit to their County Clerk’s Office an Application for Vote By Mail Ballot (VBM Application). After the VBM Application is processed by the County Clerk’s Office, voters receive a mail-in ballot.

From October 2013 through November 2013, Raia instructed Dio Braxton, Matt Calicchio, Lizaida Camis, and other conspirators who worked for his campaign, to pay certain Hoboken voters $50 if those voters applied for and cast mail-in ballots in the November 2013 Hoboken municipal election. The conspirators provided these voters with VBM Applications and then delivered or mailed the completed VBM Applications to the Hudson County Clerk’s office.

After the mail-in ballots were delivered to the voters, at Raia’s direction, the conspirators went to the voters’ residences and instructed them to vote for Raia and in favor of a ballot referendum that Raia supported that would have loosened rent control restrictions in Hoboken. The conspirators promised the voters that they would be paid $50 for casting their mail-in ballots and told them that they could pick up their checks after the election at Raia’s office in Hoboken.  Raia and his workers, including Braxton, Calicchio, Camis, and others, checked the ballots to ensure that voters had voted the way that they had instructed them to vote. Raia and his workers also had the voters sign declarations falsely stating that they had been paid in exchange for working on the campaign, when in fact the voters had been paid for their vote. After the election, the voters received $50 checks from a political consulting firm that was paid by Raia’s political action committee. Those $50 checks were never disclosed on Raia’s publicly filed political action committee election reports.

Braxton and Camis previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Braxton is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 10, 2019, and Camis’ sentencing date has yet to be scheduled. Calicchio previously pleaded guilty to violating the federal Travel Act and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 12, 2019. Raia, Braxton, Calicchio, and Camis each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ehrie in Newark, and special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, with the investigation leading to today’s verdict.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rahul Agarwal, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.