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Friday, May 31, 2013


Thursday, May 23, 2013
Missouri Woman Indicted for Violating Civil Rights of Family by Setting Fire to Their Home

An Independence, Mo., woman was indicted by a federal grand jury today for violating the civil rights of an African-American family by setting fire to their residence, announced Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Victoria A. Cheek-Herrera, 33, of Independence, was charged in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo.

Today’s indictment charges Cheek-Herrera with participating in a conspiracy to threaten and intimidate an Independence family from exercising their constitutional right to reside in their home because of their race or color. It also charges Cheek-Herrera with committing a racially-motivated arson and with using fire during the commission of a felony.

According to the indictment, Cheek-Herrera conspired with others on June 26, 2008, to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate Larry Davis, Stacey Little and the couple’s minor children in the free exercise of their constitutional right to occupy and rent their home in Independence, because of their race and color. Davis, Little and their children are all African American.

The indictment alleges that Cheek-Herrera discussed with others her desire to set fire to the home of Davis and Little, and that Cheek-Herrera and a co-conspirator drew a swastika and wrote the words "White Power" on the driveway to Davis and Little’s residence. Cheek-Herrera allegedly asked a juvenile acquaintance for gasoline then helped create a Molotov cocktail by filling a glass bottle with gasoline and inserting a rag into the bottle to serve as a wick. Cheek-Herrera and a co-conspirator then allegedly lit the wick and threw the gasoline-filled bottle into the side of the house that Davis and Little were renting, which set the residence on fire.

If convicted, Cheek-Herrera faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for one charged count of conspiracy against rights, a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for one charged count of interference with housing rights, and a penalty of 10 years imprisonment consecutive to any other sentence and a fine of $250,000 for one charged count of using fire during the commission of a felony.

The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Ketchmark and Trial Attorney Shan Patel of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. It was investigated by the FBI.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Thursday, May 23, 2013
Alabama Man Pleads Guilty to His Role in Cashing Fraudulently Obtained Tax Refund Checks

Rodriquez Thomas, of Montgomery County, Ala., pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama to conspiring to cash fraudulently obtained federal tax refund checks, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.

According to court documents, Thomas, along with his co-conspirators, Jesse Johnson and Quanesha Johnson, obtained U.S. Treasury tax refund checks that were issued as a result of the filing of fraudulent tax returns. Thomas and the Johnsons and others cashed approximately 77 fraudulently obtained U.S. Treasury tax refund checks that totaled approximately $137,016 by bringing them to a bank teller, Debora Gray, who worked for a bank in Wetumpka, Ala., and who participated in the scheme.

Jesse and Quanesha Johnson and Debora Gray have all previously pleaded guilty to their involvement and are awaiting sentencing. Thomas faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy. He is also subject to fines, mandatory restitution and forfeiture.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of IRS - Criminal Investigation. Trial Attorneys Charles Edgar Jr. and Michael Boteler of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown are prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Feds shut down ’financial hub of the cyber-crime world’

Feds shut down ’financial hub of the cyber-crime world’


Thursday, May 23, 2013
Three Defendants Plead Guilty to Participating in Ambush Murder and Attempted Murder of Ice Agents in Mexico
Julian Zapata Espinoza, also known as "Piolin," 32, pleaded guilty today to the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila in Mexico. The court also unsealed today the guilty pleas of three other defendants on related murder, attempted murder, racketeering and accessory charges.

The guilty pleas, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr.; Assistant Director Ronald T. Hosko of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division; and ICE Director John Morton.

As set forth in court filings, on Feb. 15, 2011, Espinoza, a commander in Los Zetas Cartel, a heavily armed Mexican narco-trafficking cartel and transnational criminal organization, attempted to hijack Special Agent Zapata’s and Special Agent Avila’s armored government vehicle as the agents were driving on Highway 57 in San Luis Potosi. Two armed Zetas hit squads, or "estacas," forced the agents off the road and surrounded their vehicle. Espinoza, the leader of the attack, ordered the agents to exit their vehicle. When the agents refused and attempted to identify themselves as American diplomats from the U.S. Embassy, the hit squad members fired weapons near and into the vehicle, striking both agents. Estaca members continued to fire at the vehicle as the agents attempted to escape by driving away. Special Agent Zapata died as a result of the gunshot wounds he suffered during the attack, and Special Agent Avila was seriously injured.

On April 19, 2011, Espinoza was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on multiple counts pertaining to the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Avila and, on Dec. 20, 2011, was extradited from Mexico to the United States. This morning, the defendant entered a guilty plea before Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth to the murder of Special Agent Zapata, an officer and employee of the United States, and the attempted murder of Special Agent Avila, an officer and employee of the United States.

In addition to the announcing the guilty plea of Espinoza, prosecutors also announced related guilty pleas by three other defendants. Ruben Dario Venegas Rivera, also known as "Catracho," 25, pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2011, to federal charges concerning the murder of Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Avila. Jose Ismael Nava Villagran, also known as "Cacho," 30, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2012, also to federal charges concerning the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents. Francisco Carbajal Flores, also known as "Dalmata," 38, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10, 2012, to conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and to being an accessory after the fact to the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.

As part of their guilty pleas, Espinoza, Rivera and Villagran admitted to being members of a Los Zetas hit squad and to participating directly in the Feb. 15, 2011, ambush of the two Special Agents. The fourth defendant, Flores, acknowledged assisting Zetas members after the Feb. 15 attack.

All four defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. No sentencing date has been set for the defendants.

"Special Agent Zapata died for his country in a senseless and brutal attack, and Special Agent Avila was grievously wounded in the same ambush by members of Los Zetas Cartel," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. "Both men are American heroes who dedicated themselves to protecting the United States, only to be attacked by vicious thugs. I hope that today’s announcement of guilty pleas by the Cartel members directly responsible for the attack brings some measure of justice to the victims and their families. A team of dedicated prosecutors and investigators has worked day and night to identify and hold these defendants accountable. Our work is far from over, and we will continue to devote our full resources and work with our law enforcement partners here and abroad to investigate and prosecute those responsible."

"The deadly ambush of two highly dedicated and courageous American law enforcement officers by the Los Zetas drug cartel demanded an intense, dedicated and forceful response," said U.S. Attorney Machen. "The message to any criminal who dares to commit an act of violence against a U.S. law enforcement officer serving in a foreign land is unmistakable - if you commit such a heinous crime, we will not forget, we will not falter, and we will not rest until you are brought to justice. Our work in this critical case will continue until all of those who participated in the murder of Special Agent Zapata and attempted murder of Special Agent Avila are held accountable."

"With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, assailants responsible for murdering Agent Zapata and wounding Agent Avila have been brought to justice," said FBI Assistant Director Hosko. "While there is nothing we can do to change what happened that fateful day in Mexico, let it be known that an attack against any federal agent serving his or her country is an attack on all federal agents and as such remains a priority for the FBI until those responsible are brought to justice."

"Today’s announcement is a very important milestone in the effort to see that justice is served in the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila," said ICE Director Morton. "Both men were trying to make the world a safer place, and today’s result is a very welcome step to honor their service and sacrifice."

This case is being investigated by the FBI, with substantial assistance from ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Customs and Border Protection, the Diplomatic Security Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.

The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime and Gang Section and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division provided substantial assistance.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Spending Cuts Devastate Cocaine Interdiction, Admiral Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013 - Sequestration spending cuts are letting 38 more metric tons of cocaine into the United States, the director of the Joint Interagency Task Force South said here today.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Charles D. Michel told the Defense Writers Group that sequestration is devastating his cocaine interdiction effort.

Michel's task force targets cocaine -- an $85 billion-a-year malevolent industry. The drug is made in only three countries -- Colombia, Peru and Bolivia -- and the United States is its biggest market. The three countries produce about 1,200 metric tons of cocaine a year, with roughly 500 metric tons going to the United States.

Last year, the command interdicted or disrupted about a third of cocaine shipments to the United States. This year, Michel said, he expects cocaine interdictions to drop between 20 and 25 percent.

The primary reason for the decreased interdiction is a lack of capabilities, the admiral said.

"It breaks my heart to see multi-metric-ton cocaine shipments go by that we know are there and we don't have a ship to target it," he said. "Once it gets on land, it becomes almost impossible to police up."

The task force looks to U.S. Southern Command for support, and that has "always been an economy-of-force theater," Michel noted. Still, he said, ships and aircraft were devoted to the mission in the past.

"With sequestration, as well as other Department of Defense cuts, those resources become scarcer," he said. At his interagency group based in Key West, Fla., resources have been on a "multi-, multiyear downward trend," Michel said -- doubling the prefix to illustrate the length of the trend -- "particularly for aircraft and vessels."

On the U.S. side, aircraft come from the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection. Vessels come from the Coast Guard and the Navy. International partners -- Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and others -- provide vessels to work with the task force.

"There is more intelligence out there on the movement of cocaine than there are surface vessels to interdict this product," Michel said.

The scope of the area and mission are daunting. The area goes across five combatant commands' geographic areas and is 12 times the size of the continental United States.

"Right now ... on any given day, I'd estimate that for U.S. capital ships I have about three or four," he said. The same is true of major aircraft assets such as P-3 Orions.

"Go back 20 years and we would have multiple times the number of ships and aircraft," he said, though he noted that ships and planes were far less capable then.

"It is difficult to resource this mission set, and sequestration has been devastating to it," he said. "At one point, it looked like the mission would receive no Navy ships."

Law enforcement agencies cannot duplicate the Defense Department's capabilities, the admiral said. They don't have anti-submarine warfare capability, they have little capability to board a semi-submersible vessel or radar systems to detect aircraft, he added.

The drug networks have all of these capabilities and more, he said.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


May 21, 2013
Members of International Sex Trafficking Ring Indicted
Victims Brought to Atlanta and Southeast from Mexico and Guatemala

Arturo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas, and Severiano Martinez-Rojas, all of Tenancingo in the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico have been indicted on charges of sex trafficking and alien harboring, announced the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. A fourth man, Daniel Garcia-Tepal, also of Tlaxcala, Mexico, is charged with encouraging and inducing aliens to enter and reside in the United States unlawfully.

According to U.S. Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Rojas-Coyotl and his uncles Odilon Martinez-Rojas and Severiano Martinez-Rojas used force, fraud and coercion to compel three women to engage in prostitution in Atlanta and Norcross, Ga. at various times between 2006 and 2008. Daniel Garcia-Tepal and Arturo Rojas-Coyotl are also charged with encouraging and inducing a fourth woman to unlawfully enter and remain in the United States between 2010 and 2013.

Special Agents of the FBI and ICE Homeland Security Investigations arrested Arturuo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas, and Daniel Garcia-Tepal in a highly coordinated law enforcement sweep today. Severiano Martinez-Rojas remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico. The FBI will coordinate with its legal attaché in Mexico City to affect his arrest and subsequent extradition back to the U.S. Four search warrants were also executed today in Atlanta and Norcross, Ga. in conjunction with the arrests.

Rojas-Coyotl, 26, Martinez-Rojas, 41, Martinez-Rojas, 48, and Garcia-Tepal, 28, are scheduled for arraignment today. Each sex trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison while each alien harboring charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, with all counts carrying a fine of up to $250,000 each. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Interagency cooperation in international sex trafficking operations is imperative and vital to the success of the prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Coppedge and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information related to sex trafficking should call the Atlanta FBI hotline at 404-679-9000 or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Two Members of Latin Kings Street Gang Sentenced in Indiana for Racketeering Conspiracy and Related Crimes

Two members of the Latin Kings street gang were sentenced today in Hammond, Ind., federal court for racketeering conspiracy, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana.

Martin Anaya, aka "Lefty," 42, of Chicago, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Rudy Lozano to 360 months in prison after a jury returned a guilty verdict on Sept. 26, 2012, to racketeering and drug conspiracies.

Jason Ortiz, aka "Creeper" 29, of Chicago, was sentenced today to serve 300 months in prison after pleading guilty on July 30, 2010, to racketeering conspiracy by U.S. District Judge Lozano.

According to the third superseding indictment filed in this case, the Latin Kings is a nationwide gang that originated in Chicago and has branched out throughout the United States. The Latin Kings is a well-organized street gang that has specific leadership and is composed of regions that include multiple chapters. The third superseding indictment charges that the Latin Kings were responsible for more than 20 murders.

Also according to the third superseding indictment, the Latin Kings enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the Latin Kings. Members are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, including taking on assignments often referred to as "missions."

During Anaya’s trial, the government presented evidence of several murders committed by the members of the Latin Kings. In addition, cooperating defendants testified that the Latin Kings were responsible for more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana over the course of the racketeering conspiracy.

Evidence of one the murders presented at trial involved the shooting death of Christina Campos that occurred at 107th block of Hoxie Avenue, Chicago, on April 22, 2009. Witnesses testified that Anaya, Ortiz, Brandon Clay, a defendant previously sentenced to 360 months in this case, and a fourth Latin King member drove across the south side of Chicago to a Latin Counts’ neighborhood. The Latin Kings confronted Campos and two other Latin Count members as they were walking to their car. Ultimately, gun shots were fired resulting in Campos being fatally shot. At the trial, the jury acquitted Anaya on the charges related to Campos’ murder. Nevertheless, during the sentencing hearing, Judge Lozano found Anaya responsible for Campos’ death.

During his guilty plea proceeding, Ortiz acknowledged that on Feb. 25, 2007, he, along with four other defendants, rode on a "mission" from Illinois to Griffith, Ind. While armed with three firearms, they were ordered to ambush – that is shoot to kill – rival gang members who were attending a party. Once two Latin Dragon members James Walsh, aka "Jim Boy" and Gonzalo Diaz, aka "Chalo," left the party, the Latin Kings, including Ortiz, rode up in a vehicle and two of Ortiz’s co-defendants got of the vehicle and shot and killed Walsh and Diaz.

Twenty-three Latin Kings members and associates have been indicted in this case. Aside from Anaya and Ortiz, 20 of the other defendants pleaded guilty and one remains a fugitive.

This case was investigated by the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; ICE Homeland Security Investigations; the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the Houston Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Highland Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; and the East Chicago Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and David J. Nozick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana. Andrew Porter of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois provided significant assistance.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. Those charged in the indictment are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Friday, May 24, 2013




WASHINGTON — Two Alabama real estate investors and their company were sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile, for their participation in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama, the Department of Justice announced.

Robert M. Brannon, of Laurel, Miss., and his son, Jason R. Brannon, of Mobile, Ala., were each sentenced to serve 20 months in prison for their participation in the conspiracies. The Brannons and their Mobile-based company, J&R Properties LLC, were ordered to pay $21,983 in restitution to the victims of the crime.

"Today’s sentences send a strong message that the Antitrust Division will continue to hold individuals and companies accountable for their anticompetitive conduct," said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. "Whether on a local, national or international scale, bid rigging and fraud subvert the competitive process and the division will remain vigilant in vigorously pursuing those who violate the antitrust laws for their own financial enrichment."

On Dec. 12, 2012, the Brannons and their company, pleaded guilty to an indictment originally returned on June 28, 2012, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, charging each of them with one count of bid rigging and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. According to court documents, the Brannons and their company conspired with others not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions in southern Alabama. After a designated bidder bought a property at a public auction, which typically takes place at the county courthouse, the conspirators would generally hold a secret, second auction, at which each participant would bid the amount above the public auction price he or she was willing to pay. The highest bidder at the secret, second auction won the property.

The indictment also charged the Brannons and their company with conspiring to use the U.S. mail to carry out a fraudulent scheme to acquire title to rigged foreclosure properties sold at public auctions at artificially suppressed prices; to make payoffs to and to receive payoffs from co-conspirators; and to cause financial institutions, homeowners and others with a legal interest in rigged foreclosure properties to receive less than the competitive price for the properties. The indictment charged the Brannons and their company with participating in the bid-rigging and mail fraud conspiracies from as early as October 2004 until at least August 2007.

"The success of this investigation represents the FBI’s staunch commitment to target and investigate those who are willing to abuse and exploit illegal advantages during this legal process for personal gain at the expense of suffering citizens and businesses," said Stephen E. Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Mobile Division.

A total of eight individuals and two companies have pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, in connection with this investigation. The sentences announced today resulted from an ongoing investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division and the FBI’s Mobile Office, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Monday, May 20, 2013

Eighth Individual Sentenced in Connection with Costa Rica-Based Business Opportunity Fraud Ventures

Sean Rosales, a dual United States and Costa Rican citizen, was sentenced today in connection with a series of business opportunity fraud ventures based in Costa Rica, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced today. Rosales was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula M. Ungaro in Miami to 97 months in prison and 5 years supervised release. Rosales was also ordered to pay more than $7.3 million in restitution.

On March 20, Rosales pled guilty to one count of an indictment pending against him, charging conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Rosales was arrested in Chicago, Illinois late last year following his indictment by a federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 29, 2011. The indictment alleged that Rosales and his co-conspirators purported to sell beverage and greeting card business opportunities, including assistance in establishing, maintaining and operating such businesses. The charges form part of the government’s continued nationwide crackdown on business opportunity fraud.

Prior to Rosales’ sentencing today, eleven other individuals were charged in connection with business opportunity fraud ventures based in Costa Rica. Rosales is the eighth of those individuals to be convicted and sentenced in the United States.

"Many Americans dream of owning and operating their own small business, but fraud schemes such as the one perpetrated by this defendant can turn that dream into a nightmare," said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to be aggressive in prosecuting those who take advantage of innocent, hardworking Americans through business opportunity fraud."

Beginning in May 2005, Rosales and his coconspirators fraudulently induced purchasers in the United States to buy business opportunities in USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc., The Coffee Man Inc., and Powerbrands Distributing Company. The business opportunities cost thousands of dollars each, and most purchasers paid at least $10,000. Each company operated for several months, and after one company closed, the next opened. The various companies used bank accounts, office space and other services in the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere.

Rosales, using aliases, participated in a conspiracy that used various means to make it appear to potential purchasers that the businesses were located entirely in the United States. In reality, Rosales operated out of Costa Rica to fraudulently induce potential purchasers in the United States to buy the purported business opportunities.

The companies made numerous false statements to potential purchasers of the business opportunities, including that purchasers would likely earn substantial profits; that prior purchasers of the business opportunities were earning substantial profits; that purchasers would sell a guaranteed minimum amount of merchandise, such as greeting cards and beverages; and that the business opportunity worked with locators familiar with the potential purchaser’s area who would secure or had already secured high-traffic locations for the potential purchaser’s merchandise stands. Potential purchasers also were falsely told that the profits of some of the companies were based in part on the profits of the business opportunity purchasers, thus creating the false impression that the companies had a stake in the purchasers’ success and in finding good locations.

The companies employed various types of sales representatives, including fronters, closers and references. A fronter spoke to potential purchasers when the prospective purchasers initially contacted the company in response to an advertisement. A closer subsequently spoke to potential purchasers to finalize deals. References spoke to potential purchasers about the financial success they purportedly had experienced since purchasing one of the business opportunities. The companies also employed locators, who were typically characterized by the sales representatives as third parties who worked with the companies to find high-traffic locations for the prospective purchaser's merchandise display racks.

Rosales, using aliases, was a fronter for USA Beverages, a fronter and reference for Twin Peaks, a fronter and reference for Cards-R-Us, a fronter, locator and reference for Premier Cards, a locator for Coffee Man, and a locator for Powerbrands.

Each of the companies was registered as a corporation and rented office space to make it appear to potential purchasers that its operations were fully in the United States. USA Beverages was registered as a Florida and New Mexico corporation and rented office space in Las Cruces, N.M. Twin Peaks was registered as a Florida and Colorado corporation and rented office space in Fort Collins, Colo., and Cards-R-Us was registered as a Nevada corporation and rented office space in Reno, Nev. Premier Cards was registered as a Colorado and Pennsylvania corporation and rented office space in Philadelphia, and The Coffee Man was registered as a Colorado corporation and rented office space in Denver. Powerbrands was registered as a Wisconsin corporation and rented office space in Glendale, Wisconsin and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"Fraudulent business opportunity sellers must realize that financial fraud victimizing Americans will be prosecuted vigorously, even if the fraudsters conduct their operations from abroad," said Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. "Increased international law enforcement cooperation eliminates safe havens for those who seek to cheat Americans from overseas."

"The success of this investigation shows that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to working with the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestically, to protect Americans from the predatory nature of business opportunity frauds," said Ronald Verrochio, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge, Miami Division.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Delery commended the investigative efforts of the Postal Inspection Service. The case was being prosecuted by Assistant Director Jeffrey Steger and trial attorney Alan Phelps with the U.S. Department of Justice Consumer Protection Branch.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Monday, May 20, 2013

Virginia Investment Firm Officer Sent to Prison in Kpmg Tax Shelter Case

Michael Parker, of Baltimore, Md., who was the chief operating officer of TransCapital Corporation, a tax-advantaged investments company based in Northern Virginia, was sentenced yesterday to 54 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced. In addition, Parker was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release after his release from prison. In December 2009, Parker pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in KPMG’s promotion, marketing, and implementation of a tax shelter product known as SLOTS.

According to the plea agreement and statements made during trial and related proceedings before U.S. District Judge Sandra S. Beckwith in Cincinnati, Ohio, Parker admitted to conspiring with others to defraud the IRS with regard to tax shelter transactions. Parker, a CPA and an attorney, acted as the Chief Operating Officer of TransCapital Corporation during the alleged conspiracy. Parker testified at the trial of an accountant who was a tax partner at KPMG, LLC, at its Tysons Corner, Va., office, and an attorney for TransCapital, both of whom were acquitted of conspiracy charges after a four-week jury trial.

According to the plea agreement, trial testimony and other statements, from 1998 through 2006, Parker and others marketed and implemented a tax shelter to KPMG clients called the Sale Leaseback of Tenant Improvements Strategy (SLOTS). The SLOTS shelter enabled client corporations to claim tax deductions totaling more than $240 million on corporate income tax returns filed with the IRS. During 2002 through 2004, the IRS audited three U.S. corporations that had claimed losses generated by SLOTS transactions, including The Kroger Company. Parker identified Kroger as the Fortune 500 corporation that did the largest SLOTS tax shelter transaction, and which claimed over $178 million in loss deductions, causing over $64 million in tax loss to the IRS. Parker admitted that he and the others conspired to impede and impair the IRS by making false and misleading statements to IRS agents and attorneys during these audits, including the Kroger audit. Additionally, Parker admitted that he and others concealed certain aspects of the tax shelter transaction from SLOTS clients, including Kroger, for the purpose of impeding and impairing the IRS. Parker further acknowledged that the SLOTS tax shelter and related transactions were themselves nothing more than devices to disguise and conceal mere financing transactions.

Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio for their assistance in this case, and also thanked the IRS-Criminal Investigation agents who investigated the case, as well as Tax Division Attorneys John E. Sullivan, Richard M. Rolwing, and Alexander Robbins who prosecuted the case.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Michigan Physician Pleads Guilty for Role in Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area physician pleaded guilty today to making fraudulent referrals for home health care as part of a $1.6 million home health care fraud scheme, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade, Special Agent in Charge Robert D. Foley III of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office.

Dr. Sonjai Poonpanij, 82, of Rochester, Mich., pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

According to court documents, Dr. Poonpanij admitted that beginning in approximately July 2010, he conspired with others to commit health care fraud by referring Medicare beneficiaries for home health care that was not medically necessary and causing false and fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare.

Dr. Poonpanij admitted that he saw patients at a psychotherapy center in Flint, Mich., known as New Century Adult Day Program Services LLC, and referred Medicare beneficiaries at New Century to home health care companies – including a home health care company known as Angle’s Touch Home Health Care LLC – even though he knew that those beneficiaries did not qualify for home health care. According to court documents, Dr. Poonpanij wrote prescriptions for narcotics requested by the beneficiaries in exchange for their enrollment with Angle’s Touch for home health care that they did not need or receive. In addition to referring patients that he saw at New Century, Dr. Poonpanij also referred beneficiaries whom he had never seen or treated to Angle’s Touch and other home health agencies. Dr. Poonpanij signed plans of care for these beneficiaries that were used to bill Medicare for services that were either never actually performed or were not performed in the beneficiaries’ homes as required.

Court documents allege that between September 2008 and September 2012, Dr. Poonpanij caused Angle’s Touch and two other home health agencies to submit claims to Medicare for services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided, which caused Medicare to pay these companies approximately $1,318,954.

At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 14, 2013, Dr. Poonpanij faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Niall M. O’Donnell of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. It was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged more than 1,480 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $4.8 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, is taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.


Sunday, May 19, 2013


Friday, May 17, 2013
Army National Guard Captain Charged for Alleged Role in Bribery and Wire Fraud Scheme and Two Former Soldiers Sentenced for Their Roles in a Related Scheme

To Date, 11 Individuals Have Been Charged in Ongoing Corruption Investigation

A Texas Army National Guard captain has been charged for his alleged role in a bribery and wire fraud scheme and two former soldiers in the Texas Army National Guard were sentenced for their roles in a separate scheme to defraud the National Guard Bureau and its contractor, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

These cases arose from an investigation concerning allegations that former and current soldiers and military and civilian contract recruiters in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging scheme to obtain fraudulent recruiting referral bonuses. To date, 11 people have been charged in this ongoing investigation, including yesterday’s 17-count indictment of Fabian Barrera, 46, of Schertz, Texas, a Captain in the Army National Guard accused of personally obtaining more than $185,500 in fraudulent recruiting bonuses. Barrera made his initial appearance on May 16, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze. The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker, Inc., to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), which was designed to offer monetary incentives to soldiers who referred others to join the U.S. military. To participate in the G-RAP, an eligible soldier needed to establish an online recruiting assistant (RA) account. Through these recruiting programs, a participating soldier could receive up to $3,000 in bonus payments for every person he or she referred to serve in the U.S. military.

Barrera, an RA in the G-RAP between approximately December 2005 and February 2012, is alleged to have paid Army National Guard recruiters for the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers and used this information to claim that he was responsible for referring dozens of potential soldiers to join the military, though he allegedly did not recruit any of those people. As a result, Barrera is accused of receiving more than approximately $185,000 in fraudulent recruiting bonuses, and the indictment alleges that Barrera paid various recruiters in the form of checks and cash payments.

Former Staff Sergeant Jermaine Britt, 39, of Richmond, Texas, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Biery for his role in obtaining $86,500 in fraudulent bonus payments. According to court documents, Britt served as a recruiter in the Houston area from approximately November 2006 until November 2012. He conspired with former Specialist Stephanie Heller, 37, of Wharton, Texas, who was an RA in the G-RAP and claimed approximately $44,500 in fraudulent bonuses through her account. Heller made approximately $19,750 in bribe payments to Britt, who served as a recruiter in the Houston area from approximately November 2006 until November 2012. Heller also made a $1,000 bribe payment to another recruiter in exchange for Britt and that recruiter providing the personal information of potential soldiers. In addition to accepting bribes from Heller, Britt worked with at least two other RAs to claim fraudulent bonus payments and accepted a total of $23,750 in bribe payments in exchange for providing the personal information of potential soldiers.

Britt also admitted that he obstructed justice by coaching Heller to make false statements to federal agents. In September of 2012, Heller recorded two conversations with Britt. In those conversations, Britt told Heller how she could provide false stories to federal agents to innocently explain incriminating conduct, such as large cash withdrawals from her bank account, her receipt of emails from Britt in which Britt provided the personal identifiers of potential soldiers, and her use of Britt’s military computer to make referrals under her RA account.

Britt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud, bribery, and obstruction of justice on Nov. 9, 2012. Heller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud and bribery on Oct. 4, 2012. Heller was also sentenced today to five years’ probation, and her cooperation was instrumental in the case against Britt.

These cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr., Brian A. Lichter, and Sean F. Mulryne of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. These cases are being investigated by agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of the Major Procurement Fraud Unit, U.S. Army CID, and from the San Antonio Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

Friday, May 17, 2013



Friday, May 17, 2013

Individual Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Id Fraud and Impersonating an Osha Official in Wake of Gulf Oil Spill

Connie Knight Conducted Fraudulent Hazardous Waste Safety Training for Those Seeking Employment in Oil Spill Cleanup

Connie M. Knight, 47, previously of Belle Chasse, La., was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison in New Orleans federal court late yesterday for providing fraudulent hazardous waste safety training in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. In addition, Ms. Knight was ordered to pay victim restitution in the amount of $25,300.

"On the heels of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, Knight illegally profited from a community already suffering from the impacts of the oil spill by impersonating a federal official and raising false hopes for employment. For that she is being held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The Department of Justice is committed to environmental justice and will vigorously prosecute those who victimize vulnerable communities."

"Knight took advantage of an environmental disaster and the resulting vulnerabilities of an immigrant community," said U.S. Attorney Boente. "Her callous crime focused on her financial gain, ignoring the potential harm to the restoration of the Louisiana coastal region."

On Jan. 24, 2013, Knight pleaded guilty to three felony criminal charges and one misdemeanor criminal charge for creating false identification documents and impersonating a federal official. Court documents explained how, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Knight impersonated a high-ranking Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hazardous waste safety instructor and inspector in order to collect money from individuals who hoped to work on the cleanup effort that followed the spill. Knight created and used multiple false federal identifications to bolster her credibility as an OSHA employee and to convince attendees, who were primarily from the Southeast Asian fishing community, that she could ensure them lucrative employment cleaning the spill. In reality, Knight did not have any connection to OSHA, to the cleanup effort, nor did she have training in hazardous waste safety.

Daniel R. Petrole, Deputy Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General stated, "Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to those who would intentionally engage in fraudulent activity that compromises the integrity of the Department of Labor’s OSHA program."

"The defendant not only defrauded people who were desperate for jobs, but also created a risk that poorly trained workers could expose both themselves and the public to hazardous waste that was improperly handled or cleaned up," said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Knight claimed her classes satisfied the various safety requirements that all individuals were to complete in order to be employed at a Deepwater Horizon hazardous waste cleanup site. Her fraudulent classes, however, lasted as little as two hours, while the legitimate certifications would take at least six days of classroom training followed by three days of on-site training. At least some attendees later gained access to hazardous waste cleanup sites based on the fraudulent certifications created by Knight.

"OSHA will not tolerate fraudulent training or unscrupulous activity when workers' health and lives may be at stake," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Inadequate training jeopardizes the safety and health of workers cleaning up hazardous waste sites."

At the sentencing, Federal District Court Judge Lance Africk considered statements from victims who recounted how Knight targeted the Southeast Asian fishing communities in southern Louisiana, many of whom did not speak or read English. Court documents explained that because many shrimp grounds were closed from the time of the spill through late 2010, Gulf fishermen had to seek other means of employment. To gain access to these fishermen and their families, Knight convinced young bilingual individuals from Southern Louisiana, who believed her to be an OSHA trainer, that she could be a source of employment for their struggling communities. She then used those individuals to publicize her trainings throughout the Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian neighborhoods.

According to court documents, Knight required each attendee to pay between $150 and $300 cash to enter a class, and there were at least 950 victims in the Eastern District of Louisiana. After a short presentation in English, Knight would provide false completion certifications and tell attendees to ready their vessels for BP cleanup work, which she claimed would be coming any day.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the FBI, investigators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Plaquemines Parish, La., Sheriff’s office.

The case was prosecuted by Patrick M. Duggan of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Emily K. Greenfield of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.


- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) urge Illinois residents affected by recent severe storms and flooding to be alert for potential fraud and to keep these points in mind:
FEMA does not charge for information that it gives out. Apply free online at or call 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).
FEMA does not send out text messages asking recipients to call fee-based telephone numbers. The toll-free numbers above are used for all contact with FEMA, including applying and follow-up.
FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration do not charge fees for information regarding filling out the SBA loan applications. Free assistance is available by calling SBA’s toll-free number, 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339).

FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) are canvassing affected areas to provide information about disaster assistance and give Illinois residents an opportunity to register. While FEMA DSATs are offering at-your-door service, it’s important to remain vigilant about protecting your personal information:
Residents should always ask for ID. Federal and state officials always have identification clearly visible. If someone represents themselves as a federal or state employee, but does not produce identification, ask to see it.
DSAT members may offer residents the opportunity to use a tablet computer to register, or ask to enter information on their behalf. DSAT members will never require Illinois residents to provide personal information. If residents prefer to use personal computers or phones to register, they can call 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), visit or use a mobile device at Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse may call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 800-323-8603. You may also send an email to Complaints may also be made via the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) or with state or local law enforcement officials or consumer agencies.

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Monday, May 13, 2013

High Ranking Gulf Cartel Member Sentenced in Washington, D.C., to 35 Years in Prison for Drug Trafficking

Highest Ranking Gulf Cartel Member to Be Convicted by a U.S. Jury in the Past 15 Years

Aurelio Cano Flores, a Mexican national and high ranking member of the Gulf Cartel, was sentenced today to serve 35 years in prison for conspiring to import multi-ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Cano Flores, 40, aka "Yankee" and "Yeyo," was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in the District of Columbia. In addition to his prison term, Cano Flores was ordered to forfeit $15 billion in drug proceeds as part of a money judgment. At a post-trial hearing, the United States proved that from 2000 to 2010, the Gulf Cartel distributed in excess of 1.4 million kilograms of cocaine and 8,000 metric tons of marijuana. The money judgment represents the gross receipts of the Gulf Cartel’s drug sales into the United States from its principal distribution centers located along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"For over a decade, Aurelio Cano Flores worked with some of the most dangerous criminals in the world to import massive quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. "As a leader of the Gulf Cartel, one of the most notorious criminal enterprises in Mexico or the United States, he endangered the lives of innocent people on both sides of the border. As a result of today’s sentencing, he will spend 35 years in federal prison as punishment for his crimes."

"DEA and its partners use every law enforcement tool possible to bring to justice drug cartel leaders and facilitators who inflict damage on both sides of the border," said DEA Administrator Leonhart. "Aurelio Cano-Flores used his position as a Mexican police officer to help one of the most violent and brutal drug trafficking organizations in the world bring vast amounts of drugs into the United States. Like many other cartel leaders, he posed a threat to the citizens of both the United States and Mexico. We are confident and pleased that justice was served today by the pronouncement of his lengthy U.S. prison sentence."

Following a trial that lasted over two weeks, Cano Flores was convicted by a federal jury on Feb. 26, 2013, of one count of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, knowing and intending the substances would be unlawfully imported into the United States.

Cano Flores was one of 19 defendants charged in a superseding indictment on Nov. 4, 2010, with drug trafficking offenses. He was extradited to the United States from Mexico in August 2011 and was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial.

Evidence presented at trial included dozens of lawfully intercepted telephone conversations between Cano Flores and other leaders of the Gulf Cartel, as well as testimony from previously convicted Cartel members. According to the trial evidence, Cano Flores began working for the Gulf Cartel in approximately 2001, while he was serving as a police officer in Mexico. During his time as a police officer, Cano Flores recruited others into the Gulf Cartel, collected drug money and escorted large shipments of cartel drugs to the U.S. border.

Cano Flores ultimately rose through the ranks of the Gulf Cartel to become a major transporter of narcotics within Mexico to the U.S. border and became the Cartel’s top representative in the important border town of Los Guerra, Tamaulipas, Mexico. As the "plaza boss" for Los Guerra, Cano Flores oversaw the mass distribution of cocaine and marijuana into the United States on a daily basis. Testimony established that between 2000 and 2010, the Gulf Cartel grew from an organization of only 100 members controlling three border towns to an organization of 25,000 people controlling the drug trade over approximately half of Mexico. As established during the trial, the means and methods of this conspiracy included corruption, murder, kidnapping and intimidation.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Darrin McCullough and Sean Torriente of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the provisional arrest and extradition of Cano Flores, and the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section provided assistance at sentencing. The investigation in this case was led by the DEA Houston Field Division’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit. The case was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force’s Operation "Day of Reckoning."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

President Obama Speaks at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service | The White House

President Obama Speaks at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service | The White House


May 13th, 2013 Posted by Katie Dixon

National Police Week: Remembering and Supporting our Public Safety Officers

The following post appears courtesy of Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.

During National Police Week, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) proudly honors the brave and dedicated officers who enforce our laws and protect our communities. Our streets and homes are safer because of their service — and we are acutely aware of the price that public safety officers sometimes must pay. Every single day, our nation’s public safety officers place themselves in harm’s way to protect our neighborhoods. Sometimes they are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund, on average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty in the United States every 57 hours. Yet, our officers face those dangers with courage and a devotion to duty. We at the Department of Justice recognize our solemn duty to support and protect public safety officers as they answer this call.

Through OJP’s Body Armor Safety Initiative, we are working hard to ensure that protective gear, critical to law enforcement safety, is scientifically tested to meet the highest rigorous standards. Our Bulletproof Vest Partnership program has provided hundreds of thousands of bulletproof vests to state, local and tribal officers on the street. Last year, vests were directly attributable to saving the lives of at least 33 law enforcement officers. Twelve of them were wearing protective vests purchased, in part, with funds provided by this program – and in just the first three months of 2013, there have been 11 recorded incidents of deadly assaults on law enforcement officers who survived because of the vests they were wearing.

OJP’s National Institute of Justice – the department’s research and development arm – supports standards and testing to ensure this protective equipment meets the highest industry standards.

OJP’s VALOR Initiative, administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, gives public safety officers critical training to identify and prevent potentially deadly encounters and emerging threats. The VALOR Initiative has trained thousands of officers, who continue to make a difference in their communities and neighborhoods.

And when tragedy does strike, we provide support to officers’ families, friends and departments. The Public Safety Officers Benefit Program (PSOB) provides death and education benefits to survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders and public safety officers, and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty. Through our partnerships with organizations such as the Concerns of Police Survivors, the Officer Down Memorial Page, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, we actively reach out nationwide to increase survivors’ awareness of PSOB programs and to help them apply for and receive the benefits they deserve.

OJP is committed to its partnership with state, local, and tribal justice systems, and honored to provide the innovative leadership, critical research, and essential funding to support the men and women who risk their lives for our nation’s safety.


Thursday, May 9, 2013
Former Middle School Employee Sentenced in Texas to 30 Years in Prison for Producing and Distributing Child Pornography

A Texas man was sentenced today to serve 30 years in prison for producing and distributing material relating to the sexual exploitation of children, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Robert Pitman.

Robert Ramos Jr., 33, of Austin, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in the Western District of Texas. In addition to his prison term, Judge Yeakel sentenced Ramos to serve 10 years of supervised release.

Ramos pleaded guilty on Oct. 31, 2012, to one count of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.

According to court documents and proceedings, Ramos, who was previously an assistant band director at Dessau Middle School in Pflugerville, Texas, admitted that he obtained sexually explicit images of a 13-year-old girl through communicating with her on Facebook using Facebook accounts that falsely portrayed him as a teenaged girl. Ramos admitted to distributing those images to Timothy Bek, a teacher in New York who was also contacting minor boys and girls for the purpose of obtaining sexually explicit images.

Ramos admitted at his plea hearing that he viewed via Internet webcam and saved to his computer a video of a five-year-old girl being sexually abused by Jennifer Mahoney, of New Jersey.

Both Bek and Mahoney have been prosecuted in their respective jurisdictions for their criminal activities relating to child pornography. Bek was sentenced in the Western District of New York on May 23, 2012, to serve 30 years in prison for production and possession of child pornography. Mahoney was sentenced in the District of New Jersey on Dec. 18, 2012, to serve 30 years in prison in for production of child pornography.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the University of California Berkeley School of Law Commencement
Berkeley, Calif. ~ Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thank you, Dean Edley, for those kind words – and thank you all for such a warm welcome. It’s a privilege to join you; Professor Murray; distinguished members of the faculty, staff, and administration; and so many proud parents, family members, friends, and alumni – in congratulating the Class of 2013, and celebrating the achievements that have defined your time here at Berkeley Law School.

I’d particularly like to thank Javier, Kate, and Aaron for their thoughtful remarks, and for all that they and their fellow student leaders have done to make today’s ceremony so special. It’s an honor to share the stage with you this morning – and a pleasure to be among the first to welcome you and your classmates into the legal profession. I’d also like to thank the musicians who are here with us – especially, as a person with West Indian roots, those talented steel drum players – for helping to set an appropriately formal tone for this important ceremony. Most of all, I’d like to thank the Class of 2013 for inviting me to share in this moment – as we mark the end of your formal legal training, and the beginning of your stewardship of our nation’s justice system.

This is an occasion you’ve been working toward – and waiting for – for three long years. In just a few moments, each of you will accept a diploma signifying your graduation from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country. You’ll take your leave of the campus, and the remarkable community of learning, that you’ve come to call home. You’ll say goodbye to friends you’ve made, and professors you’ll never forget. And you’ll fan out – around the state of California, throughout the country, and across the world – seeking to make a living, striving to make your mark, and aspiring – in every industry and field of endeavor – to improve our country; to make more peaceful a world that’s riven by misgiving and despair; to build the brighter future that all people deserve; and to advance the great and enduring promise that’s been woven throughout your legal education, and must now become your common cause: the promise of equal justice under law.

Of course, I realize that these challenges may seem distant, or even abstract, as we gather on this beautiful morning to celebrate your commencement. After all, your memories of final exams are still fresh, and you may have good reason to focus on more immediate concerns – about job opportunities, looming life decisions, and studying for the bar exam. Today’s ceremony marks an important milestone and I understand that, as we reflect on the achievements that have led you to this point, the last thing you may want to think about is accepting a new mantle of responsibility.

But – today of all days – that’s precisely what you must do. Your journey of service to the law – and to all whom it protects and empowers – is just beginning. Although the future you face is far from certain, each of you has been given a rare chance to make a meaningful difference. Uncertain times give birth to unique opportunities to effect positive change. And, as I look around this crowd of bright young faces, I can’t help but feel confident that you are ready, and superbly prepared, to do just that.

The Class of 2013 has come a long way since you arrived at Berkeley in 2010 – from 27 countries, 113 undergraduate institutions, 77 different majors, and a wide array of religious and ethnic backgrounds. Your diversity set you apart and, as diversity always does, provided the opportunity for tremendous individual interaction and enhanced institutional strength. Your previous achievements – as scientists, journalists, athletes, parents, military veterans, public servants, musicians, and artists – were impressive. And your potential is now truly without limit.

You’ve come together – and forged lasting bonds of friendship and fellowship. You’ve taken part in the same rituals and rites of passage – from AmJur Day, to Thursday night "bar review" – that have been familiar to Berkeley Law students for years. Whether you’ve earned a JD, an LLM, or a PhD, you’ve helped to strengthen and extend the tradition of collegiality and collaboration that has always made this institution such a remarkable place. And you’ve already begun to make a difference – and have a positive impact – far beyond this beautiful campus.

From protesting tuition increases across the state, to rallying support for same-sex marriage – you’ve raised your voices on some of the most pressing issues facing your peers and fellow citizens. From human trafficking to domestic violence, you’ve gained hands-on experience combating heinous crimes, providing assistance to victims, and navigating the complexities of our legal system. You’ve proven your commitment to the cause of justice – and the highest ideals of public service – by logging more than 18,000 hours of pro bono work and changing the lives of the clients of one of Berkeley’s nationally-recognized clinics. And you’ve done it all while coping with the academic rigors that come with a world-class legal education – and taking some time to relax and enjoy student life, during "wine bus" trips to Napa Valley and weekly gatherings of the "Wednesday Warriors." After all, as the old saying goes – "You Only 3L Once."

Today, this chapter draws to a close. But these experiences will stay with you. They will continue to guide your actions, inform your choices, and shape your path forward. Whether you envision a future prosecuting dangerous criminals, defending the accused, ruling from the bench, campaigning for elected office, leading a corporation, running a nonprofit, or charting some other course altogether your own – before you know it, you’ll find yourselves in positions of responsibility in all sectors of society. You’ll be entrusted with honoring and preserving the values you learned here – and building on the rich tradition of service and advocacy that your predecessors have established.

From Annette Adams – who, in 1920, became the first woman ever to serve in the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant Attorney General – to Chief Justice Earl Warren; from the great civil rights champion John Doar, to former Solicitor General Ted Olsen – over the last century, Berkeley Law alumni have done nothing less than shape, and re-shape, the world we live in. As we speak, Berkeley graduates are continuing this work at every level of our government, and across today’s Department of Justice – including in my office, where Margaret Richardson, Class of 2003, serves as my Chief of Staff and trusted advisor.

Thanks to these dedicated leaders, and countless others who have spoken out, sacrificed, and organized in order to advance the singular promise that unites us this morning – today, we live in an America that our forebears could only dream about. Before these talented women and men were providing critical leadership to our nation’s legal community, every one of them sat where you do today. Each, in their own way, was called upon to address the threats, and confront the novel legal questions, of their time. And, starting this moment graduates, it’s your turn.

It’s your chance to help realize your vision of a better world. It’s your obligation to move our nation confidently into the future – no matter what it might bring. And it’s your solemn responsibility – and humbling opportunity – to act with optimism; with fidelity to our most treasured principles; and with abiding faith in yourselves and one another – not merely to serve clients or win cases, but to ensure – in every case, in every community, and in every circumstance – that justice is done.

Since our country’s earliest days, the American legal community has risen to this challenge. But you are about to embark on your legal careers in an hour of particular consequence, at a crossroads in history – as our nation confronts grave obstacles and national security threats that demand our constant vigilance and steadfast commitment.

How we respond to such adversity – as leaders, as lawyers, and as Americans – represents a defining issue of our time. And as we reflect upon these threats this morning, each of you must consider some important questions: How can we uphold the values, and remain true to the highest ideals, of our legal system –
while keeping pace with 21st-century threats? In what ways could we, or should we, adapt and adjust this system consistent with our finest legal traditions? Above all, how can we be nimble in our pursuit of justice without sacrificing our dedication to our values and the rule of law?

None of these questions are rhetorical. Their answers are being debated every day – not only in seminars at world-class institutions like this one, but in the Executive Branch and the halls of Congress as well. Especially since last month’s horrific attacks at the Boston Marathon, the urgency of this discussion has come – once again – into sharp focus. Complicated and emotionally-charged issues of principle and procedure have been thrust back into the national spotlight. And the importance of finding the right answers would be difficult to overstate.

It is in such moments of difficulty and crisis – when cases are most shocking, emotions are running high, and fear is at a fever pitch – that our legal system, and all who serve it, are truly put to the test. At times of maximum danger we must always restrain the impulse to implement that which we might think to be effective but, indeed, is surely inconsistent with our treasured values. It is also important to remember, in these trying times, that nothing can be taken for granted. Positive outcomes are not preordained. As history teaches us, our great country doesn’t always get it right.

In 1942, just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes here in California and throughout the Pacific coast. Many were transported to War Relocation Camps in isolated areas. More than 60 percent of those interned were American citizens. And, in a deeply misguided ruling, the United States Supreme Court held that this exclusion process passed constitutional muster.

More recently – in the aftermath of 9/11, as our nation struggled to cope with an unprecedented tragedy, and to respond to a new kind of stateless threat – fear and uncertainty drove us, in certain cases, to abandon our values in pursuit of information about those who would do us harm. We used techniques that were of questionable effectiveness, but were certainly inconsistent with who we say we are as a people. And in bringing suspected terrorists to justice, some questioned – and continue to question – the capacity and effectiveness of our federal civilian court system. Members of Congress placed unwise and unwarranted restrictions on where certain detainees could be housed, charged and prosecuted. In short, many lost faith with our founding documents and our time-tested, effective institutions.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, many of these tired and meritless political arguments – and renewed calls to abandon the use of civilian courts in dealing with terrorism-related activity – are being made once again. And once again, every legal professional, every aspiring leader, and every graduate in this crowd today must renew your commitment to standing firm – in the face of manufactured controversy and overheated partisan rhetoric – to uphold our most sacred values.

Let me be clear: those who claim that our federal courts are incapable of handling terrorism cases are not registering a dissenting opinion. They are simply wrong. Their assertions ignore reality. And attempting to limit the use of these courts would weaken our ability to incapacitate and to punish those who target our people and attempt to terrorize our communities.

Throughout history, our federal courts have proven to be an unparalleled instrument for bringing terrorists to justice. They have enabled us to convict scores of people of terrorism-related offenses since September 11. Hundreds are properly, safely and securely held in our federal prisons, not Guantanamo, today. Not one has ever escaped custody. No judicial district has suffered a retaliatory attack of any kind. And no other tool has demonstrated such a robust ability to stop terrorists – and collect intelligence – over a diverse range of circumstances. I defy anyone, on the merits, to challenge these assertions.

Our heritage, and our legacy to future generations, clearly demand that we maintain full faith and confidence in a court system that has distinguished this nation for more than two centuries. Our security demands it, as well, because prosecuting terrorists in federal court is not just consistent with our values – it is extraordinarily effective. The Article III system is both strong and fair. And it has long been seen as legitimate around the world – setting this country apart, differentiating us from other nations, and serving as a model for others to envy – and to emulate.

Come what may, we must never cede our freedoms or curtail our dearest liberties, nor feel that there is a tension between them and our ability to keep safe. Especially in moments of crisis, when we are under attack or faced with difficulty and danger, our actions – your actions – must be grounded in the bedrock of the Constitution. And steps forward must be rooted not only in our proudest legal traditions – but also our highest ideals.

At the same time, we must never be afraid to engage in a robust, responsible dialogue about new strategies for dealing with new challenges – including the need to provide law enforcement with the tools and authorities necessary for gathering vital intelligence; keeping pace with rapidly-changing threats; and protecting public safety – all while safeguarding individuals’ rights to due process. Just as surely as we are today a nation at war – so, too we are, and must always remain, a nation of laws.

With all that you possess, and all you’ve been given, every member of the Class of 2013 has a special responsibility to help us meet these challenges – and keep advancing our uniquely American pursuit of a safer, more just, and more perfect Union. I’m encouraged to note that more than 50 of you are already planning to fulfill this obligation by pursuing positions in public interest law and public service. Others have been awarded post-graduate fellowships to perform public interest work. And two of you will soon be coming to the Justice Department – to work for me.

But, in the critical days ahead, no matter how you choose to put your legal training to work – in the public sector, in private industry, or in private practice – I urge you to keep up the habit of pro bono service you established here at Berkeley. Keep engaging with the difficult concepts and defining challenges you’ve grappled with on this campus. And never forget that every one of you is among the most qualified legal professionals in this country. You are among the best equipped to serve and to lead. And you are among the most prepared to help a new generation rise to the challenges of the moment, bring about the meaningful changes we need, and make this world – your world – a truly better place.

I know that each one of you has that ability – and that possibility – within you. I implore you to make the most of it. Use your unique skills, your idealism – and the power that your new law degree affords – to better yourselves, to improve your communities, and to solve the complex problems that undoubtedly lie ahead. Dare to question that which is accepted truth. Strive to change that which is unjust. And dedicate yourselves, above all else, to creating a world that reflects your aspirations for a brighter future; reaching for the principles that have always made our nation great; and fighting to secure and make real the promise of justice not only for your time, but for all time.

As you make your way forward, know that we have faith in you. We are proud of each one of you. And we are counting on this Class of 2013 to make more fair and just a world that now looks to you for the leadership that you are uniquely qualified to share.

Congratulations, Class of 2013 – and Godspeed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

President Obama Honors the Nations TOP COPS | The White House

President Obama Honors the Nations TOP COPS | The White House


Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Georgia Men Plead Guilty to Receiving Bribes in Transportation Scheme at Local Military Base

Two former employees at the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB-Albany) have pleaded guilty to receiving bribes related to a scheme to funnel freight hauling business to a local transportation company resulting in the loss of millions of dollars to the United States government, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.

Mitchell D. Potts, 48, and Jeffrey S. Philpot, 35, both of Sylvester, Ga., each pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.

During their guilty pleas, Potts, the former Traffic Office Supervisor for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at MCLB-Albany, and Philpot, the former Lead Transportation Assistant in the Traffic Office, admitted to participating in a scheme whereby Potts and Philpot assisted Person A, the owner of several local commercial trucking companies, in obtaining trucking business from the DLA in exchange for the payment of cash and other things of value. Both defendants admitted that they took a variety of steps designed to push business to Person A and his companies, including: 1) delaying shipments for a period of hours or days, thereby reducing the time available to fulfill the shipping request and assuring that it would be awarded to a local trucking company, usually one owned by Person A; 2) "short loading" shipments awarded to Person A’s companies so that it would appear to require more trucks than necessary to move the subject freight, resulting in additional loads being awarded to Person A’s companies; 3) indicating that removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers were required for shipments, which resulted in many loads being directed to Person A’s companies because they always had RGNs available; and 4) creating "ghost shipments" where Person A billed the DLA for shipments that were never made. Both Potts and Philpot admitted that their actions led to millions of dollars of overcharges to the government.

Potts and Philpot admitted that they received cash payments from Person A when he visited the traffic office, sometimes multiple times per week. They also admitted receiving lunches provided by Person A several times a week during the relevant period and that they also received gift cards and other things of value. Potts admitted receiving approximately $209,000 in kickbacks from Person A during the roughly three-year scheme. Philpot admitted receiving approximately $523,000 in cash and other things of value from Person A during the same period.

At sentencing, Potts and Philpot each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than twice the pecuniary loss to the government. As part of their plea agreements with the United States, both Potts and Philpot have agreed to forfeit the bribe proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2013.

The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Logistics Agency Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Former Medical Doctor Pleads Guilty in Washington, D.C. to Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct with Minors in Kenya

A former medical doctor pleaded guilty today in Washington, D.C., to engaging in illicit sexual conduct in Kenya, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

John D. Ott, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton in the District of Columbia to one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. Ott was charged in an information filed on March 21, 2012.

According to filed court documents and proceedings, Ott was a former medical doctor who worked for non-governmental organizations and hospitals in Kenya. Court records show that Ott also started an orphanage in Kenya. Ott admitted that between approximately January 2004 and September 2012, he engaged in illicit sexual conduct in Muhuru Bay, Sori and Kendu Bay, Kenya, with at least 14 minors, who ranged in age from approximately nine to 17 years old when the illicit sexual conduct began. Ott admitted that he frequently paid for schooling and provided other financial support, including housing, for minors with whom he engaged in illicit conduct.

Ott has been in federal custody since he was arrested in December 2012, following his deportation from Tanzania. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Ott’s sentencing has been scheduled for July 26, 2013.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Keith A. Becker of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Redbord of the District of Columbia. The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and CEOS, 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 to identify and rescue victims.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Las Vegas Mortgage Agent Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

A Las Vegas mortgage agent was sentenced late yesterday to serve 15 months in prison for her participation in a mortgage fraud scheme that netted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent mortgage loans, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada and Acting Special Agent in Charge William C. Woerner of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office announced today.

Heidi Haischer, 44, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du in the District of Nevada. In addition to her prison term, Haischer was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release.

In November 2012, after a four-day trial, a federal jury in Las Vegas found Haischer guilty of one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for submitting fraudulent loan documents to purchase two homes.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Haischer participated in a mortgage fraud scheme while employed as a mortgage broker in Nevada. From December 2006 to January 2007, Haischer and her co-conspirators fraudulently secured loans totaling over $1 million to obtain properties with the intent to flip and sell them for profit. Evidence at trial showed that Haischer and her co-conspirators subsequently enriched themselves by collecting brokerage commissions generated by the sales of the properties.

The court documents and trial evidence demonstrated that Haischer submitted multiple loan applications in which she overstated her income, submitted false verification of employment and misrepresented her intent to reside in one of the properties as her primary residence. Additionally, Haischer presented inflated bank account balances supported by forged bank statements to make it appear that she had assets she did not have, in order to help qualify for mortgage loans for which she otherwise would not have been eligible.

Co-conspirator Kelly Nunes was convicted in a related case in Las Vegas on Feb. 2, 2012, of one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. On July 11, 2012, Nunes was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Trial Attorneys Thomas B.W. Hall and Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada.

This case was a result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.

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