Monday, April 19, 2021

Elkhart, Indiana Man Sentenced To 9 Years in Prison possession of stolen mail, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and felon in possession of a firearm,

 SOUTH BEND – Lafiamma Orona, age 33, of Elkhart, Indiana, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Damon R. Leichty upon his plea of guilty to possession of stolen mail, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and felon in possession of a firearm, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Bell. 

Orona was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment followed by 2 years of supervised release.

According to documents filed in this case, during the spring of 2020, Orona stole mail from mailboxes near Elkhart, Indiana.  The mail contained, checks, check books, debit and credit cards, and personal information of victims. Orona then forged checks, fraudulently used victims’ debit and credit cards, and opened new credit card accounts using victims’ stolen personal information. In May 2020, a description of the car stealing mail was broadcast to all local police departments.  On May 6, 2020, the car was located in Bristol, Indiana. Orona was driving the car and possessed fake drivers’ licenses with his own photo and victims’ names, stolen checks and check books, other stolen mail items, a handgun holster and a box of ammunition. On the road nearby, police found a loaded handgun that was thrown out of the car. The following day, police searched a house in Michigan where Orona was residing.  Police found more stolen mail items, stolen checks and check books, a printer with more fake drivers’ licenses, tools for forging checks, notebooks with victims’ personal information, handgun ammunition, and narcotics paraphernalia. In total, Orona had stolen items and checks valued at more than $226,000, stolen mail from approximately 46 victims, and the personal information of approximately 253 people.

The case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department; Bristol Police Department; Cass County Sheriff’s Department (Michigan); and Cassopolis Police Department (Michigan).  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke N. Reilander.

Three Indicted In ID Theft, Fraudulent Credit Card Scheme

 PROVIDENCE – A federal indictment returned by a grand jury on April 2, 2021, and unsealed on April 16, 2021, charges three individuals with having been in possession of dozens of fraudulent drivers’ licenses, fraudulent credit cards, equipment to produce credit cards, and lists of individuals stolen personal identifying information.

It is alleged in the indictment that Courtney Hilaire, 28, of Providence, Hugh A. Martin, 32, of Pawtucket, and Shawn K. Hilaire, 30, of Avon, MA, possessed devices and equipment used to create fraudulent credit cards with the use of stolen credit card numbers and personal identifying information, such as names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

According to information presented to the court following the arrest of Courtney Hilaire on April 5, 2021, a Warwick Police Department Captain discovered the three men reclined in a vehicle parked in a hotel parking lot in the early morning hours of  July 3, 2020. It was determined that the license plate on the vehicle was allegedly stolen from Norwood, MA.

After removing the individuals from the vehicle, Warwick Police allegedly discovered 33 counterfeit credit cards, numerous fraudulent drivers’ licenses from multiple states, equipment used to read and transfer information onto credit card magnetic strips, listings of  individuals identities and personal identifying information, and approximately $13,000 in crisp, clean $100 and $50 dollar bills.

The indictment charges the three men with conspiracy to possess fifteen or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices, possession of fifteen or more counterfeit or unauthorized access devices, possession of device-making equipment, and aggravated identity theft.

Since the issuance of the indictment, further investigation into Courtney Hilaire’s alleged criminal activity has resulted in the return of 17-count indictment charging Courtney Hilaire with using stolen Social Security numbers and personal identifying information of numerous individuals to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funded unemployment insurance compensation from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor  and for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration.

Courtney Hilaire is currently detained in both state and federal custody at the ACI. Arrest warrants have been issued for Hugh A. Martin and Shawn K. Hilaire.

The indictment of Hugh A. Martin, Courtney Hilaire, and Shawn K. Hilaire is announced by Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker, Warwick Police Chief Colonel Bradford Connor, and Pawtucket Police Chief Tina Goncalves.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.

The matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Warwick and Pawtucket Police Departments.

TSA seeks input on mobile driver’s licenses to inform REAL ID rulemaking

 WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published a request for information in the Federal Register seeking information about security standards and technologies concerning mobile driver’s licenses. Responses to the request for information will support future DHS/TSA rulemaking to update the REAL ID Act implementing regulation to accommodate mobile driver’s licenses.  

Mobile driver's licenses are digital representations of physical driver’s licenses, and are typically accessed via an app installed on a smartphone. Conceptually, mobile driver’s licenses are similar to digital representations of physical credit cards that are accessed via apps installed on smartphones. DHS and TSA are interested in mobile driver’s licenses because, compared to physical driver’s licenses, mobile driver’s licenses could provide greater security to TSA and all federal agencies verifying an individual’s identity, stronger privacy protections to individuals, and health and safety benefits to all users by enabling touchless identity verification.

“The TSA workforce comprises teams of security-focused innovators who look for opportunities to improve security and the traveler experience across the nation’s transportation network,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “The mobile driver’s license is one emerging technology example, and TSA is interested in exploring its incorporation into our identity verification processes.”

The Request for Information, solicits comments and input regarding technical approaches, applicable industry standards and best practices to ensure that mobile driver’s licenses can be issued and authenticated with features that ensure security, privacy and identity fraud detection. Comments may be submitted until June 18, 2021.

The REAL ID Act applies to mobile and digital driver’s licenses and identification cards. To enable federal agency acceptance of mobile driver’s licenses for “official purposes,” which the REAL ID Act defines as including access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, the REAL ID Act implementing regulation requires an update to accommodate mobile driver’s licenses. This request for information will inform potential updates to the regulation.

For more information on REAL ID, please visit TSA.gov

Providence Man Indicted for CARES Act Fraud

 PROVIDENCE – A federal grand jury in Providence on Friday returned a 17-count indictment charging a local man, who used the moniker “Mr. Vacation,” with using stolen Social Security numbers and personal identifying information of numerous individuals to apply for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funded unemployment insurance compensation from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor  and for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration.

It is alleged in the indictment that beginning in March 2020, Courtney Hilaire, 28, obtained from the Internet personal identifying information, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth of numerous individuals, then accessed commercial public records data bases to obtain additional information about the identity of his victims. In July 2020, using the stolen identities, Hilaire filed a least six applications for unemployment insurance payments from the State of Pennsylvania. On at least seven occasions beginning in August 2020, Hilaire withdrew fraudulently obtained CARES Act unemployment funds from bank accounts he accessed through ATMs in Rhode Island.

It is also alleged in the indictment that Hilaire, using the moniker “Mr. Vacation,” solicited the assistance of another individual to defraud the Small Business Administration by fraudulently seeking CARES Act Economic Injury Disaster Loans, a program which provides economic relief to small businesses that have experienced a temporary loss of revenue during the pandemic. It is alleged that Hilaire filed at least twenty-eight fraudulent applications with the Small Business Administration for Economic Injury Disaster Loans if he was not entitled to receive.

Hilaire, charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 14 counts of wire fraud, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, is the latest individual charged in federal court in Providence with allegedly running schemes to defraud CARES Act programs. Earlier this month, the United States Attorney’s Office publicly detailed investigations and charges brought against fraudsters who collectively have targeted more than $31 million in CARES Act funding.

To date, the United States Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island has charged 24 individuals with allegedly defrauding state unemployment agencies in Rhode Island and elsewhere and the Small Business Administration, of CARES Act relief funds made available to assist American families and business in need due to the pandemic. Several investigations are ongoing.

The indictment of Courtney Hilaire is announced by Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge William S. Walker, Warwick Police Chief Colonel Bradford Connor, and Pawtucket Police Chief Tina Goncalves.

A federal indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation that resulted in an indictment being brought against Hilaire for CAREs Act fraud was conducted by the Warwick Police Department, Pawtucket Police Department Special Squad, and Homeland Security Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William F. Ferland.

Friday, April 16, 2021

ATF Offers Reward in Gun Store Burglary

Left Image: Suspect in black hooded jacked wearing red pants. Right image: Black and white security image of a car turning right into parking lot.

 ATF and Billings Police Department seek the Public’s Help in Firearms Theft from Shipton’s Big R

Billings, MT. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in conjunction with the Billings Police Department are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft of firearms from Shipton’s Big R, a federal firearms licensee (FFL). 

On April 12th, 2021 Shipton’s Big R, located at 216 North 14th St., Billings, Montana was burglarized where 7 firearms were reported stolen to the Billings Police Department.  ATF Industry Operations Investigators responded to the FFL and conducted an inventory to determine the exact number of firearms stolen.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact ATF at ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477) or the Billings Police Department at (406)657-8200.

Information can also be sent to ATFTips@atf.gov, through ATF’s website at www.atf.gov/contact/atftips. Tips can be submitted anonymously using the Reportit® app, available from both Google Play and the Apple App store, or by visiting www.reportit.com.

ATF is the lead federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction involving firearms and violent crimes, and regulates the firearm industry. More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.

Lifetime Founding Member of the Oath Keepers Pleads Guilty to Breaching Capitol on Jan. 6 to Obstruct Congressional Proceeding

 WASHINGTON – Jon Schaffer, 53, of Columbus, Indiana, today admitted that he breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021, wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear repellent, and pleaded guilty to unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol to obstruct Congress’ certification of the U.S. presidential election results.

"On this 100th day since the horrific January 6 assault on the United States Capitol, Oath Keepers member Jon Schaffer has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, including for breaching the Capitol while wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear spray, with the intent to interfere with Congress’ certification of the Electoral College results," said Acting Deputy Attorney General John P. Carlin.  "The FBI has made an average of more than four arrests a day, seven days a week since January 6th.  I commend the hundreds of special agents, prosecutors and support staff that have worked tirelessly for the last hundred days to bring those who committed criminal acts to justice."

"The defendant in this case admits forcing his way into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 for the express purpose of stopping or delaying congressional proceedings essential to our democratic process. These actions are disgraceful and unacceptable" said FBI Deputy Director Paul M. Abbate. "The FBI and our partners will continue to utilize all available authorities to aggressively investigate, pursue and hold accountable those who committed acts of violence or otherwise violated the rule of law that day." 

In his plea agreement, Schaffer acknowledged he is a founding lifetime member of the Oath Keepers, a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias.

In his plea agreement, Schaffer also acknowledged that on January 6, 2021 he was in Washington to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. to protest the results of the presidential election, which he believed were fraudulent. Schaffer wore a tactical vest and carried bear spray, a dangerous weapon and chemical irritant used to ward off bears. When the rally finished, Schaffer joined a large crowd that marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress, presided over by Vice President Michael Pence, was in session to certify the electoral college vote results. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., members of the mob forced entry into the Capitol building, disrupting the joint session and causing members of Congress and the Vice President to be evacuated from the House and Senate chambers.

In his plea agreement, Schaffer admitted that after arriving on Capitol grounds, he walked past barriers intended to restrict access to the public and to a set of locked doors on the Capitol’s west side.  At approximately 2:40 PM, Schaffer positioned himself at the front of a crowd that broke open a set of doors being guarded by four U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers wearing riot gear. Schaffer admitted to being among the first individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the Capitol building, forcing officers to retreat. Schaffer and others advanced toward five or six backpedaling USCP officers while members of the mob swelled inside of the Capitol and overwhelmed the officers. The officers ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob. Schaffer was among the people who were sprayed in the face, after which exited while holding his own bear spray in his hands.

Schaffer pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with obstruction of an official proceeding and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. Combined, he faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta accepted Schaffer’s guilty plea.

Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

The charges contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Community Reporting Engagement Support and Training Rated Promising

 

This is an enhanced day reporting center designed to reduce the risk of recidivism in probationers with mental illnesses. It provides services such as substance abuse treatment and crisis intervention.

The program is rated Promising. Treatment group probationers had a statistically significantly lower risk of conviction for any offense, compared with control group participants on standard probation. However, there was no statistically significant effect on the risk of conviction for a felony.

LEARN MORE

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Crafty Approach

 

An air-cushioned landing craft prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex in the Pacific Ocean, April 12, 2021.

InfraGard Marks 25 Years

 Protecting the Country’s Critical Infrastructure Through Partnerships

In 1996, a small group of private sector and government officials began working with the FBI's Cleveland Field Office to help identify cyber threats to the country. The FBI passed along what we knew about cyber intrusions and crime trends to our partners to help them secure their facilities and computer networks. And our partners, in turn, shared their information technology expertise and information they had on possible cyber crimes.

The group became known as InfraGard because of its focus on protecting critical infrastructure components—like utility companies, transportation systems, telecommunication networks, water and food suppliers, public health, and financial services.

The original program proved so successful that we replicated it nationally. And just as the cyber threat has evolved over the last 25 years, so has InfraGard.

Today, InfraGard—managed by the FBI’s Office of Private Sector—has grown to more than 75,000 members representing the private sector, government, and academia. InfraGard has expanded its initial focus on cyber crime to include terrorism, intelligence, criminal, and security matters.

So while the threat is more complex today, the mission remains the same. InfraGard helps the FBI protect the country’s critical infrastructure sectors through partnerships.

InfraGard participants share information, intelligence, training, best practices, and more through a member website and through more than 70 regional chapters, each having a relationship with a local FBI field office.

Trial Attorney

 Criminal Division (CRM)

Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section
Attorney
Chantilly, VA
United States
21-CRM-MLARS-033
About the Office: 

The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) leads the Department's asset forfeiture and anti-money laundering enforcement efforts. This position is assigned to the Special Financial Investigations Unit (SFIU), which investigates money laundering organizations and supports civil and criminal forfeiture cases for the Section and in nationwide partnership with United States Attorney Offices and other Department components. The SFIU is composed of experienced in-house financial investigators, litigators, and senior advisors.

Job Description: 

The incumbent will be co-located with law enforcement in Chantilly, Virginia, and report to Section management in Washington, DC.

The incumbent serves as a national money laundering and asset forfeiture litigation resource to federal prosecutors and law enforcement. The incumbent will partner with prosecutors from the Section and from U.S. Attorney's Offices, as well as headquarters and field elements from the FBI, DEA, HSI, IRS-CI, ATF and other federal law enforcement agencies, to build and execute cutting edge money laundering investigations targeting transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups, fraud networks, and corrupt government officials. Core duties include:

  • Identifying and developing prosecutions against individuals and corporations involved in the national and international movement of illicit proceeds and funds that facilitate crime;
  • Coordinating a national effort to combat certain criminal organizations prioritized by the Section or the Department;
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with anti-money laundering prosecutors and agents throughout the inter-agency law enforcement community;
  • Advising and conducting training to prosecutors and law enforcement agents regarding money laundering, seizure, and forfeiture best practices; and
  • Occasional civil and criminal litigation in Federal courts.

The incumbent must have good people skills, be detail oriented, and be able to work independently to stay apprised of money laundering and forfeiture caselaw, as well as developments in anti-money laundering and asset tracing techniques.

Qualifications: 

Required Qualifications: Interested applicants must possess a J.D., or equivalent, degree, be duly licensed and authorized to practice as an attorney under the laws of any State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and be an active member of the bar in good standing.

Grade Specific Qualifications:

  • To qualify at the GS-14 grade level, applicants must have at least two and a half (2.5) years post J.D. legal experience, one of which was specialized experience at, or equivalent to, the GS-13 grade level. Examples of specialized experience include: performing legal analysis and formulating recommendations to senior managers; composing pleadings, briefs, and other court documents involving legal issues in civil or criminal litigation; and conducting civil or criminal litigation.
  • To qualify at the GS-15 grade level, applicants must have at least four (4) years post J.D. legal experience, one of which was specialized experience at, or equivalent to, the GS-14 grade level. Examples of specialized experience include: independently performing legal analysis; composing pleadings, briefs and other court documents involving unique and/or difficult legal issues in civil or criminal litigation; conducting highly complex civil or criminal litigation; and leading paralegals and support staff.


Preferred Qualifications:
The ideal candidate will have a track record of successfully prosecuting sophisticated money laundering offenses and/or complex asset forfeiture litigation. Experience prosecuting Title 21 offenses, litigating CIPA issues, and familiarity with OCDETF, HIDTA and inter-agency coordination is also helpful. Foreign language ability, especially with Arabic, Spanish, French, or Mandarin, is highly desirable.

Salary: 
The salary range for this position is $122,530 – $172,500 per annum, which includes locality pay. See OPM's Web page at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2021/general-schedule/
Travel: 
Attendance at national and international law enforcement conferences, meetings, and seminars is a core function of the incumbent.
Application Process: 

The Application Package must be received by 11:59 PM, Eastern Time, on the closing date of this announcement.

Please submit your application through USAJOBS. The list of required documents can be found in the USAJobs announcement.

  1.  If you do not already have an account, please create a USAjobs account before applying Create an Account. You will be able to upload your resume and supporting documents and complete your profile prior to applying.
  2. Once you have an account, apply to the USAjobs vacancy: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/598503800

Applicants should familiarize themselves and comply with the relevant rules of professional conduct regarding any possible conflicts of interest in connection with their applications. In particular, please notify this Office if you currently represent clients or adjudicate matters in which this Office is involved and/or you have a family member who is representing clients or adjudicating matters in which this Office is involved so that we can evaluate any potential conflict of interest or disqualification issue that may need to be addressed under those circumstances.

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Relocation Expenses: 
Relocation expenses are not authorized.
Number of Positions: 
1
Updated April 15, 2021

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Department Policies

Equal Employment Opportunity:  The U.S. Department of Justice is an Equal Opportunity/Reasonable Accommodation Employer.  Except where otherwise provided by law, there will be no discrimination because of color, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability (physical or mental), age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, protected genetic information, pregnancy, status as a parent, or any other nonmerit-based factor.  The Department of Justice welcomes and encourages applications from persons with physical and mental disabilities. The Department is firmly committed to satisfying its affirmative obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to ensure that persons with disabilities have every opportunity to be hired and advanced on the basis of merit within the Department of Justice. For more information, please review our full EEO Statement.

Reasonable Accommodations:  This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency.  Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Outreach and Recruitment for Qualified Applicants with Disabilities:  The Department encourages qualified applicants with disabilities, including individuals with targeted/severe disabilities to apply in response to posted vacancy announcements.  Qualified applicants with targeted/severe disabilities may be eligible for direct hire, non-competitive appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. § 213.3102(u)) hiring authority.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact one of the Department’s Disability Points of Contact (DPOC) to express an interest in being considered for a position. See list of DPOCs.   

Suitability and Citizenship:  It is the policy of the Department to achieve a drug-free workplace and persons selected for employment will be required to pass a drug test which screens for illegal drug use prior to final appointment.  Employment is also contingent upon the completion and satisfactory adjudication of a background investigation. Congress generally prohibits agencies from employing non-citizens within the United States, except for a few narrow exceptions as set forth in the annual Appropriations Act (see, https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/working-in-government/non-citizens/). Pursuant to DOJ component policies, only U.S. citizens are eligible for employment with the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Trustee’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Unless otherwise indicated in a particular job advertisement, qualifying non-U.S. citizens meeting immigration and appropriations law criteria may apply for employment with other DOJ organizations. However, please be advised that the appointment of non-U.S. citizens is extremely rare; such appointments would be possible only if necessary to accomplish the Department's mission and would be subject to strict security requirements. Applicants who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and another country will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All DOJ employees are subject to a residency requirement. Candidates must have lived in the United States for at least three of the past five years. The three-year period is cumulative, not necessarily consecutive. Federal or military employees, or dependents of federal or military employees serving overseas, are excepted from this requirement. This is a Department security requirement which is waived only for extreme circumstances and handled on a case-by-case basis.

Veterans:  There is no formal rating system for applying veterans' preference to attorney appointments in the excepted service; however, the Department of Justice considers veterans' preference eligibility as a positive factor in attorney hiring. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference must include that information in their cover letter or resume and attach supporting documentation (e.g., the DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty and other supporting documentation) to their submissions. Although the "point" system is not used, per se, applicants eligible to claim 10-point preference must submit Standard Form (SF) 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference, and submit the supporting documentation required for the specific type of preference claimed (visit the OPM website, www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/SF15.pdf for a copy of SF 15, which lists the types of 10-point preferences and the required supporting document(s). Applicants should note that SF 15 requires supporting documentation associated with service- connected disabilities or receipt of nonservice-connected disability pensions to be dated 1991 or later except in the case of service members submitting official statements or retirement orders from a branch of the Armed Forces showing that his  or her retirement was due to a permanent service-connected disability or that he/she was transferred to the permanent disability retired list (the statement or retirement orders must indicate that the disability is 10% or more).

 

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This and other vacancy announcements can be found under Attorney Vacancies and Volunteer Legal Internships. The Department of Justice cannot control further dissemination and/or posting of information contained in this vacancy announcement. Such posting and/or dissemination is not an endorsement by the Department of the organization or group disseminating and/or posting the informatio

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Man Pleads Guilty to Counterfeit COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Scheme

 ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Reston man pleaded guilty today to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to create counterfeit Economic Impact Payments (also known as COVID-19 stimulus checks), and for attempting to conduct a series of fraudulent financial transactions.

“The defendant illegally obtained the personal identifiers and financial information of more than 150 individuals in EDVA by stealing their mail, which he then used to conduct fraudulent transactions and create counterfeit COVID-19 stimulus checks,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are firmly committed to holding accountable fraudsters who engage in identity theft and exploit a national economic crisis for personal gain at the expense of hardworking members of our communities.”

According to court documents, Jonathan Drew, 38, stole U.S. mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax County between approximately December 2019 and August 2020. The mail Drew stole included bank statements, credit cards, credit card statements, W-2 forms, and more than $700,000 in checks, including a COVID-19 stimulus payment and checks Drew used to create counterfeit checks.

According to court documents, Drew used the stolen stimulus check to create counterfeit stimulus checks ranging from $1,200 to $2,400, and he negotiated his own authentically issued stimulus check twice. Drew also used the personally identifiable information of several individuals without authorization to lease an apartment, open bank accounts, and attempt to conduct fraudulent transactions through counterfeit checks, forged checks, unauthorized use of credit cards, and wire transfers.

Drew is scheduled to be sentenced on August 25. He faces a maximum penalty of 32 years in prison, including a mandatory minimum of two years. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; David M. Rohrer, Fairfax County Interim Chief of Police and Deputy County Executive for Public Safety; and Michael L. Chapman, Loudoun County Sheriff, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberta O. Roberts and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg are prosecuting the case.

Six Defendants Convicted And Sentenced To Over 75 Years Combined In Federal Prison For Trafficking Methamphetamine

Fort Smith, Arkansas – David Clay Fowlkes, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas,announced that on April 14, 2021, the final of six (6) individuals were sentenced by the United States District Court for their roles in a methamphetamine trafficking ring which operated in Benton County, Arkansas and other jurisdictions such as California and Missouri.  This investigation and prosecution, named “Operation Inner Circle,” lasted from approximately January of 2019 through today’s final sentencing hearing. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court records, in early 2019, Homeland Security Investigations Fayetteville initiated an investigation which revealed that a methamphetamine distributor in Los Angeles, Zeache Dupree Rose, would supply methamphetamine to local sellers of methamphetamine Michael James Smith, Craig Ryan Kelley and Joseph A. James, who would sell it in smaller amounts locally in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri. In order to facilitate the transportation of the methamphetamine from California to Arkansas, Rose would utilize couriers DaJohn Alexander and Marcus A. Jones, who would transport the methamphetamine in luggage smuggled on to commercial aircraft or buses traveling from California to Arkansas.  In total, more than 13 kilograms of pure methamphetamine was seized as part of this operation.

Defendants in this conspiracy received the following sentences:

Zeache Dupree Rose, age 25, the leader of the organization from Los Angeles, California was sentenced December 18, 2020 to 180 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and one count of money laundering.  Rose was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas on March 4, 2020 and plead guilty on July 1, 2020. 

Michael James Smith, age 43, a distributor of methamphetamine from Anderson, Missouri was sentenced October 7, 2020 to 151 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Possession With Intent to Distribute More Than Fifty (50) Grams of Methamphetamine.  Smith was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas on November 20, 2019 and plead guilty on December 9, 2019.

Joseph A. James, age 39, a distributor of methamphetamine from Siloam Springs, Arkansas was sentenced December 8, 2020 to 121 months in federal prison followed by four years of supervised release on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute More Than Five-Hundred (500) Grams of a Mixture or Substance Containing Methamphetamine.  James was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas on August 16, 2019 and plead guilty on October 3, 2019.

Craig Ryan Kelley, age 45, a distributor of methamphetamine from Eureka Springs, Arkansas was sentenced August 12, 2020 to 240 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of More Than Five (5) Grams of Methamphetamine.  Kelley was indicted in the Western District of Arkansas on March 4, 2020 and plead guilty on May 1, 2020.

DaJohn Lequor Alexander, age 21, a transporter of methamphetamine from Los Angeles, California, was sentenced November 4, 2020 to 97 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Alexander was charged by Information and entered a plea of guilty on July 2, 2020.

Marcus Alan Jones, age 27, a transporter of methamphetamine from Los Angeles, California, was sentenced April 14, 2021 to 120 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Jones was charged by Information and entered a plea of guilty on December 2, 2020.           

This prosecution was part of the Western District of Arkansas’ Operation Inner Circle, which is part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.  The OCDETF program is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy.  OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.  Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illicit drug supply.

This OCDETF case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Los Angeles, California, The Internal Revenue Service in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the Benton County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office, the Rogers, Arkansas Police Department, the Bentonville, Arkansas Police Department and the Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Brandon Carter prosecuted the case for the Western District of Arkansas.

 

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Cocaine

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Malik Matthews, 22, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, cocaine. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $1,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan E. Leydecker and Paul C. Parisi, who are handling the case, stated that between June 2018 and October 2019, the defendant sold cocaine to an individual over 50 times. In addition, Matthews sold crack cocaine to an undercover police officer. On June 4, 2019, Buffalo Police Officers executed a search warrant at the defendant’s Grey Street residence. During the search they seized three loaded firearms, ammunition, two bags of suspected crack cocaine, five digital scales, a bottle of a cutting agent, and a box of sandwich bags.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Buffalo police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia. 

Sentencing is scheduled for August 11, 2021, before Judge Sinatra.

Uncle Of Drug Trafficking Ring Leader Pleads Guilty For His Role In Narcotics Conspiracy Operating In The Jamestown, NY Area

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Garland Beardsley a/k/a Charlie Beardsley, 53, of Jamestown NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute, and distributing, 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, a fine of $10,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua A. Violanti and Misha Coulson, who are handling the case, stated that between December 2018 and October 27, 2020, the defendant was an associate in a drug trafficking ring led by his nephew, co-defendant Rocco Beardsley, which sold methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, cocaine, and hydrocodone in the Jamestown area. Garland Beardsley distributed methamphetamine to Rocco Beardsley’s customers. Rocco Beardsley stored, distributed, and manufactured methamphetamine, heroin/fentanyl, and other controlled substances at the defendant’s residence on Newland Avenue in Jamestown. On January 21 and February 11, 2020, an individual working with investigators purchased crystal methamphetamine from Rocco Beardsley at the defendant’s residence.

Charges remain pending against Rocco Beardsley. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.       

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Jamestown Police Department and the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force, under the direction of Jamestown Police Chief Timothy Jackson; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division.

Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.

Patient Recruiter Sentenced to Prison for $3.3 Million Cancer Genetic Testing Fraud Scheme

 A Florida man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with a scheme that resulted in the submission of approximately $3.3 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare for genetic testing.

Ivan Andre Scott, 36, of Kissimmee, was convicted by a federal jury on Jan. 8, 2021, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive unlawful health care kickbacks, and three counts of receiving unlawful kickbacks. According to court documents, Scott was the owner of Scott Global, a telemarketing call center located in Orlando. The evidence showed that Scott targeted Medicare beneficiaries with telemarketing phone calls falsely stating that Medicare covered expensive cancer screening genetic testing, or “CGx” tests. Each test cost as much as $6,000. After beneficiaries agreed to take the test, the evidence showed Scott paid unlawful bribes and kickbacks to telemedicine companies to obtain doctor’s orders authorizing the tests. 

The evidence at trial showed that the telemedicine doctors approved the expensive testing even though they were not treating the beneficiary for cancer or symptoms of cancer, and often without even speaking with the beneficiary. According to the evidence presented at trial, Scott then sold the genetic tests and doctor’s orders to laboratories in exchange for illegal kickbacks. To conceal the illegal kickbacks, Scott submitted invoices to the laboratories and other marketers making it appear as though he were being paid for hourly marketing services, rather than per referral. 

Between November 2018 and May 2019, labs submitted more than $3.3 million in claims to Medicare for genetic tests that Scott had referred to them, of which Medicare paid over $1.3 million. In that timeframe, Scott personally received approximately $194,000 for his role in the scheme.

“The defendant used telemarketing and telemedicine to defraud Medicare of more than a million dollars for unnecessary genetic screening tests,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “The department will continue working with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who seek to use new technologies to plunder our government health care programs.”

“Fraudsters who steal from taxpayer-funded federal health care programs and engage in predatory telemarketing calls are a threat to our country’s health care system and its most vulnerable beneficiaries,” said Special Agent in Charge Omar PĂ©rez Aybar of the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Our agents will continue to aggressively investigate health care fraud and hold criminals responsible for their actions.”

“The unscrupulous tactics used in this scheme to steal from taxpayers is what drives our investigators to combat healthcare fraud,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office. “The FBI’s mission to protect the American people includes protecting them from fraudsters who cheat our nation’s federally funded healthcare systems.”

The case was investigated by HHS-OIG and the FBI and was brought as part of Operation Double Helix, a federal law enforcement action led by the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, focused on fraudulent genetic cancer testing and the use of telemedicine that has resulted in charges against dozens of defendants associated with telemedicine companies and cancer genetic testing laboratories for their alleged participation in one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever charged.

Trial Attorneys Alejandro Salicrup and Jamie de Boer of the Fraud Section prosecuted the case.

Wesley Chapel Man Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Armed Robbery Spree

 Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Barber has sentenced Robert Dayon Dumas (26, Wesley Chapel) to 25 years in federal prison for robbery and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. The Court also ordered Dumas to forfeit the firearm and ammunition used in the robberies, and to make restitution to the victims.

Dumas had been found guilty on January 25, 2021, following a bench trial.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, during a one-week span in February 2018, Dumas used a gun to rob five Wesley Chapel businesses, including a gas station, a hotel, and a cell phone store. During the robberies, Dumas held victims at gunpoint, including a woman and her two-year-old granddaughter. He also threatened to shoot victims if they did not do what he said, at one point firing his gun above a victim’s head and stating, “the next one goes in your head!” In total, the robbery spree netted just over $2,000.

This case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carlton C. Gammons.

New Ipswich Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

             CONCORD - Christopher Hodgeman, 29, of New Ipswich, pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to possession of child pornography, Acting United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.

             According to court documents and statements made in court, on or about November 28, 2018, Hodgeman began communicating with an undercover officer on a social media platform used to exchange child pornography. The officer pretended to be an uncle with a nine-year-old niece.  Hodgeman repeatedly asked the officer to send him pictures of his niece and allow him to talk to her.  Hodgeman sent images of child pornography to the officer.  Investigators traced the social media account to Hodgeman’s residence and executed a search warrant on April 15, 2019, where they seized various devices including a cellular phone.  A forensic examination of the phone revealed images of child pornography.  Hodgeman admitted to using the account, communicating with minor females online, and possessing and distributing child pornography.

            Hodgeman is scheduled to be sentenced on August 10, 2021.

            “Child pornography contains horrific images of children being exploited,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Farley.  “In order to protect children from exploitation and harm, we work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who manufacture, distribute or possess child pornography.”

            “The individual in this case not only traded in child exploitation material, but also sought to make direct contact with children online. Homeland Security Investigations is committed to investigating crimes against children online to prevent their exploitation and stop predators from making contact with potential victims,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations Boston Field Office, William S. Walker.

            This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Georgiana MacDonald.

             In February 2006, the Department of Justice introduced Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Cameroon Man Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Defrauding Bourbonnais Bank, Others

 PEORIA, Ill. –A citizen of Cameroon, Lovette Namatinga, 34, has been sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison for defrauding a Bourbonnais, Ill., bank of nearly $300,000. At the sentencing hearing, on April 13, 2021, Senior U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm further ordered that Namatinga pay restitution in the amount of $278,201 to the bank and numerous other individual and business victims of the defendant’s fraud scheme.

Namatinga, of Owings Mills, Md., has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since he was arrested on Oct. 7, 2019, at Washington Dulles International Airport by FDIC Office of Inspector General agents.

On Sept. 21, 2020, immediately prior to jury selection before his trial, Namatinga pleaded guilty to all counts of the indictment, four counts each of bank and wire fraud, as charged, related to his  defrauding Municipal Trust and Savings Bank, Bourbonnais, Ill. Namatinga admitted that he carried out the fraud from about February to April 2019, by falsely representing to the bank that the secretary of one of the bank’s customers requested that cashier’s checks be sent to Namatinga’s fraudulent company known as Keiko San Products Alimenticious, LLC. Namatinga is the registered agent for Keiko, and the four checks were mailed to his home address. Once the checks were deposited into Keiko bank accounts, Namatinga then transferred money from those accounts to his personal account or withdrew cash from those accounts.

In addition to the fraud committed through Municipal Trust & Savings Bank, Namatinga used his fraudulent business and multiple associated bank accounts to deposit and launder fraud proceeds from various other victims throughout the United States. Namatinga’s scheme, known as a business e-mail compromise scam, was just one such scheme in 2019 that resulted in more than 23,000 victims nationally, with an average loss of $75,000 per complaint, according to FBI crime statistics.

The FDIC Office of Inspector General conducted the case investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller represented the government in the prosecution.