Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Monday, December 15, 2014
Jury Returns Guilty Verdicts Against Members of Violent Loan Sharking and Illegal Gambling Ring

A federal jury today returned guilty verdicts against four defendants charged in a loan sharking and illegal gambling ring that was run out of several Philadelphia businesses, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Ylli Gjeli, 49, Fatimir Mustafaraj, aka “Tony,” 42, Gezim Asllani, aka “Sam,” 35, Rezart Rahmi Telushi, aka “Luigi,” 41, all of Philadelphia, were found guilty following a six-week jury trial of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, racketeering collection of unlawful debts, making extortionate extensions of credit, collections of extensions of credit by extortionate means.  Additionally, Gjeli, Mustafaraj and Aslanni were convicted of counts involving extortionate extension of credit.  Finally, Gjeli and Mustafaraj were convicted of illegal gambling. U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn Jr. scheduled sentencing hearings for March 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants’ enterprise used businesses in Philadelphia, including the Lion Bar & Grill, Blackbird Café and “Ylli’s 2 Brothers,” to conduct the illegal loan sharking and gambling activities.  The enterprise generated money by making and collecting on loans with usurious rates of interest, and making loans to customers whose debts were incurred through the enterprise’s illegal gambling business.  The evidence established that from October 2011 to 2013 alone, the enterprise extended 125 usurious loans totaling $1.78 million with annual interest rates ranging from 104 percent to 395 percent.  Further, the evidence established that from February 2007 to August 2013, the organization’s online sports betting website contributed more than $2.9 million in gross profits.

Members and associates of the enterprise cultivated their reputations within the organization by threatening customers with dangerous weapons such as firearms and a hatchet, and threating to kill, assault or “break the legs” of delinquent customers if they did not pay their debts, and also by physically assaulting subordinate members and associates who stole from the organization.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Gjeli was a “boss” of the organization, Mustafaraj served as “muscle” to forcefully collect debts owed to the organization, and Asllani and Telushi served as “collectors,” both making loans and collecting the weekly payments from customers.  Gjeli and Mustafaraj directed the other members in the loan sharking activities and illegal gambling business, financed loans and the gambling operation, used intimidation and threats of violence against customers to collect loan payments, and physically assaulted subordinate members and associates who stole from the organization.  Asllani and Telushi assisted Gjeli and Mustafaraj in making loans, and regularly collected weekly loan payments from customers.  

The evidence also demonstrated that the defendants attempted to conceal the existence and operations of the enterprise from law enforcement by limiting their discussions of criminal activities when on the phone, using cryptic and coded language to describe criminal activities, conducting pat-downs and body searches of customers to check for weapons and recording devices, and conducting the enterprise’s transactions primarily in cash.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, Montgomery County Detectives, and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Margaret Vierbuchen of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Salvatore L. Astolfi of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


For Immediate Release
December 15, 2014
Another Fugitive of the Week Succumbs to Media Pressure

 NHJFTF LogoConcord, NH – Shortly after noon today, last week’s “Fugitive of the Week,” Joshua John Torres surrendered to the U.S. Probation Office in Manchester, NH. Torres was being sought on an outstanding federal arrest warrant for violation of his conditions of supervised release. Torres was on supervision after being convicted and sentenced for distribution of cocaine. Torres was last known to live in Manchester, where he surrendered to his probation officer today.

As part of the U.S. Marshals fugitive investigation, Torres was featured just last week as the “Fugitive of the Week.” The “Fugitive of the Week” is broadcast on WTPL-FM, WMUR-TV, The Union Leader, The Nashua Telegraph, The Patch, Foster’s Daily Democrat and is prominently featured on the internet. The “Fugitive of the Week” continues to be very successful tool that has resulted in the location and arrest of numerous fugitives since its implementation in 2007.

Torres’ surrender was due in part to the extensive media coverage. After Torres’ surrender, he was picked up by members of the NH Joint Fugitive Task Force and transported to the U.S. District Courthouse in Concord, NH. Torres is currently being processed and detained pending his initial court appearance at 4:00 pm this afternoon.

Since the inception of the New Hampshire Joint Fugitive Task Force in 2002, these partnerships have resulted in over 5,869 arrests (Updated as of 12/4/2014). These arrests have ranged in seriousness from murder, assault, unregistered sex offenders, probation and parole violations and numerous other serious offenses. Nationally the United States Marshals Service fugitive programs are carried out with local law enforcement in 94 district offices, 85 local fugitive task forces, 7 regional task forces, as well as a growing network of offices in foreign countries.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Mankato, Minnesota, Woman Sentenced in Forced Labor Case

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson sentenced Tieu Tran, 59, of Mankato, Minn., to serve one year and one day in prison followed by 1 year supervised probation upon release, the Justice Department announced today.  Tran pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor trafficking on March 25, 2014.  Tran is the former owner and manager of Nails By Jordan, a nail salon located in Mankato.

According to evidence presented in court proceedings and documents, in 2008, Tran recruited a woman from Vietnam to travel to the United States using false promises of legal immigration status and a high-paying job.  In reality, Tran smuggled the victim and two other Vietnamese nationals across the southern U.S.-Mexico border, imposed a significant debt upon her, and forced her to pay down the smuggling debt by working at Tran’s son’s Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Saigon, in Mankato.

Tran admitted to compelling the victim to work long hours without paying her as promised, using a scheme, plan and pattern of coercion, including manipulation of debts, isolation, and intimidation that held the victim in fear, knowing that the victim was without legal status and money, did not speak English, feared losing her family home in Vietnam to creditors, and had nowhere else to turn for subsistence.

“This defendant callously preyed on the victim’s vulnerabilities and exploited her labor through intimidation, debts, and isolation,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Kappelhoff for the Civil Rights Division.  “Human trafficking is an affront to human rights and to our nation’s core values, and the Justice Department is committed to vindicating the rights of the victims and to bringing human traffickers to justice.”

“Prosecuting human traffickers is a priority of this Office,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger for the District of Minnesota.  “Tieu Tran smuggled this victim into the United States who she forced to work long hours in her nail salon by isolating and intimidating her. This kind of abuse simply is unjust.  I am proud to work with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to end human trafficking in Minnesota.”

“The FBI remains committed to ensuring that innocent persons are not exploited by human traffickers,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton for the FBI Minneapolis Division.  “There will be no safe harbor granted to those who prey upon vulnerable people.  Those who exploit other human beings will continue to be high priority targets for the FBI.”

As part of her plea agreement, Tran agreed to nullify all debts imposed upon the victim, and upon seven other individuals.  The Court further ordered that Tran pay 51,844 in restitution to the victim.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Salem, Virginia Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Bribery
Admits to Soliciting Sexual Favors in Exchange for Potential Lenient Treatment

A police officer employed by the City of Salem, Virginia, and assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force pleaded guilty today for soliciting and receiving sexual favors from a cooperating defendant in exchange for agreeing to recommend a favorable sentence to a federal prosecutor on the defendant’s behalf.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Lee of the FBI’s Richmond Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael Tompkins of the  Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Kevin Moore took a solemn oath to protect and serve the public, but then abused the authority of his badge by sexually exploiting a federal witness,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “When Moore crossed the line from enforcing the law to breaking it, his actions cast an unfortunate shadow over the selfless and courageous work of his fellow officers.  Working with our law enforcement partners, the Department of Justice will expose and prosecute all such abuses of authority, in order to restore and maintain the public’s trust.”

“Cases involving corruption of law enforcement officials are among the FBI’s highest priority criminal investigations.  The public should expect integrity from those sworn to uphold the law.  Mr. Moore’s breach of his sworn duty in this case is particularly pernicious as he exploited his victims in the most personal way. The Richmond Division of the FBI continues to have confidence in the City of Salem Police Department.  We value our partnership with the Department and the proud men and women who serve their community with distinction everyday,” said Special Agent in Charge Lee.

“The OIG will aggressively investigate with its law enforcement partners allegations of misconduct among Department employees, contractors, and deputized task force officers to help ensure the Department of Justice performs its critical work with integrity,” said Special Agent in Charge Tompkins.

Kevin C. Moore, 42, of Roanoke, Virginia, was a Salem Police Department officer and was assigned to the DEA task force in Roanoke, Virginia.  According to his plea agreement and accompanying statement of facts, between June and September 2014,  Moore informed a female cooperating defendant that he was in a position to help her with her pending federal methamphetamine trafficking case.  In August 2014, for example, in a series of text messages with the cooperating defendant, Moore made clear that he could recommend a favorable sentence to the prosecutor on the cooperating defendant’s behalf in exchange for sexual favors.  Moore then convinced the cooperating defendant to go for a ride in his official vehicle where she performed a sexual act with Moore.

As part of his guilty plea, Moore admitted to engaging in similar conduct with two other female cooperating witnesses in federal drug investigations dating back to 2009.  According to the statement of facts, Moore falsely informed these witnesses that he had convinced federal prosecutors not to charge them with federal criminal offenses that would carry significant prison sentences.  Moore then solicited and received sexual favors from the witnesses in exchange for his purported assistance.

Moore pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with bribery before Chief U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad of the Western District of Virginia.  In cooperation with the City of Salem Police Department and DEA, Moore was arrested on Oct. 10, 2014, without incident, after being charged by complaint, and was suspended from the police department and DEA task force the same day.  His sentencing is scheduled for February 9, 2015.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the  Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Charles R. Walsh and Robert J. Heberle of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Monday, December 15, 2014
Trucker Convicted of Kidnapping and Interstate Domestic Violence

After a week-long trial, a federal jury convicted a trucker and Florida resident of kidnapping and interstate domestic violence.  Evidence adduced at trial showed that the defendant held the female victim captive for 10 days and inflicted psychological and physical abuse that included sexual battery.  This was the first time an individual was charged with domestic violence in federal court in South Florida under the Interstate Domestic Violence statute.    

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

According to the evidence presented at trial, on August 21, 2014, the 40-year-old female victim leapt from a window of Timothy John Miers’, 47, 18-wheeler truck cabin and ran into the arms of civilians at a truck stop in Medley, Florida.  These civilians, and later police officers, observed that the victim had bruises all over her body, two black eyes and was bleeding from her nose and ear.

The victim recounted to law enforcement the physical and psychological abuse, as well as the sexual battery, that Miers inflicted on her over the course of several days he held her captive.  Miers had confined the victim in the cabin of his 18-wheeler truck between August 11, 2014 and August 21, 2014, while he drove from Boston to South Florida.  Law enforcement’s entry into the defendant’s iPhone revealed a cache of photographs of the victim bruised and battered, which Miers had taken while the victim was held and terrorized.  In addition, Miers had video recorded his sexual assault of the victim and forced her to engage in humiliating and degrading dialogue.  During that video, Miers announced his intention to subject her to a life of sexual slavery and daily beatings.  Miers stated to the victim that he had beaten and killed other women previously.  In fact, that was the case.

At trial, two other women testified that they had been romantically involved with Miers until he became violent and abusive.  Miers’ ex-wife testified that he confined, repeatedly beat, raped and degraded her.  She also testified that Miers forced her to urinate in a bucket instead of in a toilet and sometimes refused to give her food unless she complied with all of his demands.  Miers also threatened to kill his ex-wife and her daughter if she ever tried to escape.  The last act of violence that the defendant inflicted on his ex-wife was a punch to the face that resulted in a fractured orbital socket and other injuries.  Another former girlfriend was similarly beaten in the face by Miers when she tried to leave his vehicle against his command.

Evidence at trial further revealed that a fourth victim, also an ex-girlfriend, had been confined in a vehicle by Miers.  This victim tried to escape by throwing herself from the fast moving vehicle into oncoming traffic.  Several bystanders saw what happened and rendered aid while she screamed that Miers was going to kill her.

Although not admitted at trial, court filings reveal that one of Miers’ ex-girlfriends was reported missing after last being seen with him.  Public filings detail that the missing woman’s blood was found behind some baseboards in the bathroom of the apartment they shared together. She has never been found and no charges have been filed relating to this woman’s disappearance.  If anyone has any information regarding this incident, please call Detective Moises Garcia, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, Homicide Section, (813) 247-0569.

At sentencing, Miers faces up to life in prison for kidnapping, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, 1201, and faces up to 10 years imprisonment on each count of Interstate Domestic Violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2261.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer stated, “No human being should have to endure the abuse and terror that these women suffered at the hands of Timothy John Miers.  Thanks to the bravery of the victims who testified and the other compelling evidence presented at trial, their captor has been brought to justice.  Making full use of our federal laws, we were able to charge the defendant with kidnapping, and for the first time in this District, with federal domestic violence.  We will continue to vigorously prosecute such acts of violence.”

“Gaining access to the data on Mr. Miers’ cell phone produced evidence that was an essential part of this investigation,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge for FBI Miami.  “Miers videotaped his sexual assault of a victim and threatened to subject her to a life of sexual slavery and daily beatings.  Now convicted of his heinous crimes, he faces the possibility of a long prison sentence.”

Mr. Ferrer commended the FBI for their efforts in the investigation of this case.  Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Medley Police Department for their assistance and cooperation in this matter.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gilfarb and Vanessa Johannes.

Friday, December 26, 2014


Friday, December 19, 2014
Civilian Navy Employee Found Guilty of Obstruction and False Statements After Jury Trial

A federal jury today returned a guilty verdict against a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy posted at the Capodichino Navy Base near Naples, Italy, for obstructing an investigation and making false statements, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt of the Southern District of Iowa.

Steven William Ashton, 41, with a last known U.S. residence in Davenport, Iowa, was found guilty after a nine-day jury trial of creating false documents to obstruct the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation into Ashton’s private consulting business called BlackGrid Consulting LLC.  The jury also found Ashton guilty of making false statements about his tour of duty in order to obtain federal benefits and access to military bases worldwide.  

The evidence at trial showed that the NCIS was investigating Ashton for conflicts of interest and using inside government information to advance his business.  When Ashton learned about the investigation, he created fraudulent documentation purporting to show that he had fully disclosed his business to Navy authorities and received approval.  At Ashton’s direction, his defense counsel unwittingly submitted those false documents to the prosecutors and gave other false explanations to the Justice Department.  

According to the evidence presented at trial, from April 2004 to March 2013, Ashton was employed by the Navy as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Host Nation Programs Manager for the regions of Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, responsible for managing contracts and agreements among the Navy and other countries to support the United States’ military efforts.

He was found not guilty on charges of theft of government funds for obtaining housing benefits, called Living Quarters Assistance, to which he was not entitled, and of obstructing that investigation.

This case was investigated by the NCIS and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.  The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Litigation Catherine Votaw of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Cronk of the Southern District of Iowa.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Thursday, May 19, 2011
Former Department of Defense Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Financial Assistance Funds Intended for Service Members

WASHINGTON – A former civilian employee of the Department of Defense pleaded guilty today in Columbus, Ga., to conversion of Army Emergency Relief (AER) funds while he was employed at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of Korea, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.

Tyrone L. Ellis, 56, of Columbus, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia to one count of conversion. Ellis was charged in an indictment returned on Oct. 27, 2010, and unsealed following his arrest on Nov. 3, 2010.

The AER is a private, non-profit organization that serves as the emergency financial assistance organization for the U.S. Army. AER’s operations are financed by voluntary contributions from active and retired soldiers during an annual fund raising campaign, as well as by unsolicited contributions, repayment of outstanding loans and income from reserve funds.
As part of his guilty plea, Ellis admitted that he worked as an Assistant Army Emergency Relief Officer at Camp Humphreys in 2005 and 2006. During that time period, Ellis was tasked with providing AER loans and grants to service members and their families in financial need. Ellis admitted that he approved grants for a dozen soldiers that were greater than the amounts they needed, and that he requested and received approximately $9,250 back from the grant recipients, which he converted to his own use. Ellis also admitted making false statements to investigators in 2006 when questioned about the allegations.

At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 25, 2011, Ellis faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John P. Pearson and Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and U.S. Army Audit Agency.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Thursday, December 18, 2014
Ten Sentenced for Involvement in Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Racketeering Conspiracy
Final 10 of 36 Convicted and Sentenced

Ten Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang members and associates were sentenced to prison this week for their roles in the violent ABT enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Today, Michael Richard Lamphere, 56, of Houston, Texas, Glen Ray Millican Jr., 41, of Houston, Texas, and Rebecca Johnson Cropp, 46, of Dallas, Texas, were sentenced to serve respective terms of 240 months, 120 months and 36 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas.  Earlier this week, William David Maynard, 44, of Houston, Texas, Sammy Keith Shipman, 32, of Houston, Texas, Chad Ray Folmsbee, 32, of Houston, Texas, David Orlando Roberts, 36, of Houston, Texas, Justin Christopher Northrup, 29, of Houston, Texas, Tammy Melissa Wall, 45, of Otto, North Carolina, and Benjamin Troy Johnson, 43, of Corpus Christi, Texas, were each sentenced to serve respective terms of 262 months, 188 months, 140 months, 135 months, 130 months, 72 months and 36 months in federal prison.

According to information presented in court, the 10 defendants were admitted members and associates of the ABT, a powerful race-based organization that operates inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and the United States.  Along with other ABT gang members and associates, they agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang.  ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other things.

The ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system.  The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s.  Previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism, but over time, the ABT has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit, according to court records.

In order to be considered for ABT membership, a person must be sponsored by another gang member.  Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.

Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, arson, assault, robbery and threats against those who violated the rules or posed a threat to the enterprise.  Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”

The defendants sentenced this week represent the final 10 of 36 defendants convicted of conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges.

This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case was investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; Alvin, Texas, Police Department; Carrollton, Texas, Police Department; Mesquite, Texas, Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; and the Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ed Gallagher and Tim Braley of the Southern District of Texas.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Man Sentenced to Prison for Robbery of a Jewelry Courier

An Atlanta man was sentenced to 70 months in prison for his role in the robbery of a jewelry courier, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia.

Jose Vicente Ramirez-Rodriguez, 40, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty on Dec. 10, 2014, to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and interstate transportation of stolen property.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ordered Ramirez-Rodriguez to pay $122,398 in restitution.

According to admissions in his plea agreement, Ramirez-Rodriguez followed the jewelry courier to a QuikTrip gas station on Jan. 31, 2013.  As he was following the courier, Ramirez-Rodriguez contacted a co-defendant to help him with the robbery.  That co-defendant, in turn, contacted the other three defendants, all of whom came to the gas station together.  When the courier was putting gas in his car, two of the defendants approached him, one restrained him with a knife, while the other smashed the car’s window and took a briefcase containing over $125,000 in assorted jewelry.

Honorio Sanchez-Valenica, John Rodriguez, Ali Alejandro Godoy-Maximo, and Michael Alejandro Tovar-Vargas, were sentenced to serve 137 months in prison, 63 months in prison, 68 months in prison and 87 months in prison respectively on Oct. 27, 2014, for their involvement in the robbery.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Gwinnett County Police Department, with assistance from the Dallas Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Laura Gwinn of the Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Dammers of the Northern District of Georgia.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Thursday, December 11, 2014
Romanian Man Sentenced to Prison for Role in International Fraud Scheme Involving Online Marketplace Websites

A Romanian man was sentenced today to serve 63 months in prison for his role in receiving and sending overseas approximately $690,000 in proceeds from an international fraud scheme involving online marketplace websites, as well as for the use of a fraudulent passport.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney David Rivera of the Middle District of Tennessee and U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence.

Razvan Caprarescu, 39, originally of Bucharest, Romania, was indicted in the Middle District of Tennessee in March 2014 for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in connection with his participation in the online marketplace scheme.  In June 2014, the case was transferred to the Southern District of Florida, where Caprarescu had already been indicted in March 2013 for use and attempted use of a false, forged, and counterfeit Belgian passport.  Caprarescu pleaded guilty to both charges in August 2014.  In addition to his prison term, Caprarescu was ordered to pay $658,441 in restitution.

In connection with his guilty plea, Caprarescu admitted that his co-conspirators fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as eBay.  When victims expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, the co-conspirators responded with emails directing the victims to wire payments to specified bank accounts.  These bank accounts were opened by Caprarescu and another co-conspirator using false identities and fraudulent documents, including counterfeit passports.  Eighteen victims sent approximately $367,036 to accounts opened by Caprarescu between October 2011 and June 2012.  Another 17 victims sent approximately $321,389 to accounts opened by Caprarescu’s co-conspirator.  Caprarescu and his co-conspirator subsequently sent the bulk of the money to co-conspirators located overseas.  Caprarescu also admitted that he used a false Belgian passport bearing an alias to rent a mailbox at a U.S. Pak-n-Ship store located in Broward County, Florida.

The cases were investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  The cases were prosecuted by Senior Counsel Mysti Degani of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron M. Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Shick of the Southern District of Florida.

Friday, December 19, 2014


December 18, 2014
Fact Sheet: Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Today the President will sign an Executive Order to create the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and announce its members. The Task Force is part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. The Task Force will be chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, and Laurie Robinson, professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs.

The Task Force will include law enforcement representatives, community leaders, academics, and youth leaders. Ron Davis, Director of DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office will serve as the Executive Director of the Task Force under the direction of the co-chairs. The Task Force will examine, among other issues, how to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction. The Executive Order directs the Task Force to prepare a report and recommendations to be presented to the President. An initial report will be due to the President in March.

The taskforce will engage with Federal, State, tribal, local officials, technical advisors, young leaders, and nongovernmental organizations through meetings and 21st century technology to provide a transparent process to engage with the public. The Task Force will convene listening sessions where they will hear testimony, including proposed recommendations for consideration, from invited witnesses and also receive comments and questions from the public. The first session will be held in Washington D.C. in mid-January. Subsequent listening sessions and additional outreach details, including the online public comment process, is forthcoming.

Recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect. As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.

Task Force members include:

Charles Ramsey, Appointee for Member and Co-Chair, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Charles Ramsey is the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), a position he has held since 2008.  Since 2010, he has served as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.  Commissioner Ramsey began his law enforcement career in 1968 as a cadet with the Chicago Police Department (CPD).  Over the next thirty years, he held various positions with CPD, including Commander of the Narcotics Division, Deputy Chief of the Patrol Division, and Deputy Superintendent, a role he held from 1994 to 1998.  In 1998, he was named Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (MPDC), where he served until early 2007.  In 2007, Commissioner Ramsey served on the Independent Commission on Security Forces of Iraq, leading a review of the Iraqi Police Force.  In addition to his current role at PPD, he also serves as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.  Commissioner Ramsey received a B.S. and M.S. from Lewis University.

Laurie Robinson, Appointee for Member and Co-Chair, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Laurie Robinson is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University, a position she has held since 2012.  She served as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the U.S. Department of Justice from 2009 to 2012.  Prior to that, Ms. Robinson served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for OJP and Acting Assistant Attorney General for OJP.  Previously, she was a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team.  From 2003 to 2009, Ms. Robinson was the Director of the Master of Science Program in Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.  From 1993 to 2000, she served her first term as the Assistant Attorney General for  OJP.  Before joining DOJ, Ms. Robinson spent over twenty years with the American Bar Association, serving as Assistant Staff Director of the Criminal Justice Section from 1972 to 1979, Director of their Criminal Justice Section from 1979 to 1993, and as Director of the Professional Services Division from 1986 to 1993.  She is a Senior Fellow at the George Mason University Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and serves as co-chair of the Research Advisory Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  She also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Vera Institute of Justice.  Ms. Robinson received a B.A. from Brown University.

Jose Lopez, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Jose Lopez is currently the Lead Organizer at Make the Road New York (MRNY), a Brooklyn-based non-profit community organization focused on civil rights, education reform, and combating poverty.  He became Lead Organizer of MRNY in 2013.  Mr. Lopez began his career in 2000 as Youth Organizer with Make the Road by Walking, which later merged with the Latin American Integration Center to form MRNY in 2007.  He continued to serve as Youth Organizer with MRNY until 2009, when he became Senior Organizer.  Since 2011, Mr. Lopez has represented MRNY on the steering committee of Communities United for Police Reform, a New York City organization advocating for law enforcement reform.  From 2001 to 2004, he was an active contributor to the Radio Rookies Project, an initiative of New York Public Radio.  He received a B.A. from Hofstra University.

Bryan Stevenson, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Bryan Stevenson is Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.  In addition to directing the EJI since 1989, he is a Clinical Professor at New York University School of Law.  He previously has served as a visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan School of Law. Mr. Stevenson has received the American Bar Association's Wisdom Award for public service, the ACLU's National Medal of Liberty, and the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award Prize. Mr. Stevenson received a B.A. from Eastern College (now Eastern University), a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Brittany Packnett, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Brittany Packnett is currently Executive Director of Teach For America in St. Louis, Missouri, a position she has held since 2012.  From 2010 to 2012, she was a director on the Government Affairs Team at Teach for America.  Ms. Packnett was a Legislative Assistant for the United States House of Representatives from 2009 to 2010.  From 2007 to 2009, she was a third grade teacher in Southeast Washington, D.C., as a member of the Teach For America Corps.  Ms. Packnett has volunteered as Executive Director of Dream Girls DMV, a mentoring program for young girls, and was the founding co-chair of The Collective-DC, a regional organization for Teach For America alumni of color.  She currently serves on the boards of New City School, the COCA Associate Board, the Urban League of Metro St. Louis Education Committee, and the John Burroughs School Board Diversity Committee.  Ms. Packnett received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.A. from American University.

Susan Rahr, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Susan Rahr is Executive Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, a position she has held since 2012.  From 2005 to 2012, she served as the first female Sheriff in King County, Washington.  Ms. Rahr spent over thirty years as a law enforcement officer, beginning as a patrol officer and undercover narcotics officer.  While serving with the King County Sheriff’s Office, she held various positions including serving as the commander of the Internal Investigations and Gang Units, commander of the Special Investigations Section, and Police Chief of Shoreline, Washington.  Ms. Rahr received a B.A. from Washington State University.  

Tracey Meares, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Tracey Meares is the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, a position she has held since 2007.  From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Deputy Dean of Yale Law School.  Before joining the faculty as Yale, she served as a professor at The University of Chicago Law School from 1995 to 2007.  She has served on the Committee on Law and Justice, a National Research Council Standing Committee of the National Academy of Sciences. She was appointed by Attorney General Holder to serve on the inaugural Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Science Advisory Board.  She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation.  Ms. Meares began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  She later served as a trial attorney in the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice.  Ms. Meares received a B.S. from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School.

Constance Rice, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Constance Rice is a civil rights attorney and Co-Director of the Advancement Project, an organization she co-founded in 1999.  In 2003, Ms. Rice was selected to lead the Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel, which investigated the largest police corruption scandal in Los Angeles Police Department history.  In 1991, Ms. Rice joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and in 1996, she became Co-Director of the Los Angeles office.  She was previously an associate at Morrison & Foerster, and began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Damon J. Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Ms. Rice received a B.A. from Harvard College and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Roberto Villaseñor, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Roberto Villaseñor is Chief of Police for the Tucson Police Department (the TPD), a position he has held since 2009.   He joined the TPD in 1980, and has served as Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and as Assistant Chief from 2000 to 2009.  Chief Villaseñor was named Officer of the Year for the TPD in 1996, and has been awarded the TPD Medal of Merit three times.  He also received the TPD Medal of Distinguished Service.  Chief Villaseñor is the incoming President of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police and a Board Member of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).  He received a B.S. from Park University and an M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University.

Sean Smoot, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Sean Smoot is currently Director and Chief Counsel for the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois (PB&PA) and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee (PBLC), positions he has held since 2000.  He began his career with PB&PA and PBLC as a Staff Attorney in 1995, before becoming Chief Counsel of both organizations in 1997.  Since 2001, Mr. Smoot has served as the Treasurer of the National Association of Police Organizations, and has served on the Advisory Committee for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Rights Center since 1996.  From 2008 to 2009, he was a policy advisor to the Obama-Biden Transition Project on public safety and state and local police issues, and was a Member of the National Institute of Justice and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety from 2008 to 2011.  Mr. Smoot served as Police Commissioner of Leland Grove, Illinois from 1998 to 2008.  He received a B.S from Illinois State University and a J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Cedric L. Alexander, Appointee for Member, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Cedric L. Alexander is the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Public Safety in DeKalb County, Georgia, a position he has held since late 2013.  Dr. Alexander is also the National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.  In 2013, he served as Chief of Police for the DeKalb County Police Department.  Prior to this, Dr. Alexander served as Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from 2007 to 2013, and from 2006 to 2007, he was Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.  From 2005 to 2006, Dr. Alexander was Chief of the Rochester Police Department (RPD) in Rochester, New York, where he previously served as Deputy Chief of Police from 2002 to 2005.  Before joining RPD, Dr. Alexander was a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center from 1998 to 2002.  He began his career as a Deputy Sheriff in Florida from 1977 to 1981, before joining the Miami-Dade Police Department, where he was as an Officer and Detective from 1981 to 1992.  He received a B.A. and M.S. from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, and a Psy.D. from Wright State University.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks on Meeting the Education Needs of Incarcerated Youth
Alexandria, VAUnited States ~ Monday, December 8, 2014

Good morning – and thank you all for being here.

I’d like to thank the dedicated public servants here at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center for welcoming us to Alexandria today.  It’s an honor, as always, to stand among so many of the committed professionals who work tirelessly to change the lives of our young people, to get them on the right paths, and to provide the resources they need to overcome adversity and fulfill their full potential.  And it’s especially fitting that we gather at a facility where so much of this critical work takes place to make an important announcement that will help take these efforts to a new level.

It is a privilege to join my good friend, Secretary Arne Duncan – and our colleagues from the Departments of Justice and Education – in unveiling a critical new resource for improving educational systems for youth who come into contact with our juvenile justice system.

This announcement is born of the recognition that, in this great country, all children – all children – deserve equal access to a high-quality public education.  And this is no less true for children in the juvenile justice system.

In recent months, we’ve seen the emergence of a growing national dialogue about the need to ensure that America’s justice system serves everyone equally – and to instill renewed trust in that system from top to bottom – from the law enforcement officers who bravely patrol our communities, to the ways in which we use incarceration, diversion programs, reentry initiatives, and other tools to protect public safety while empowering people to become productive, law-abiding citizens.

This morning, we’re taking yet another crucial step to advance this work.  To bolster the effectiveness of our system and improve the ways in which it serves the American people.  And to ensure that system-involved youth throughout the country can imagine different futures for themselves – and then prepare for those futures by laying the groundwork of a successful path forward.

The President has underscored the urgent need for action to lift up our youth, too many of whom face an uphill climb out of poverty and crime.  His My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which aims to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential, specifically emphasizes the importance of strengthening correctional education for juveniles.

Through the Federal Interagency Reentry Council I convened nearly four years ago, and in close partnership with Secretary Duncan and his colleagues, the Justice Department – and particularly our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – has been doing important work to reach out to young Americans who haven’t gotten the education they deserved while they were involved with the juvenile justice system.

We’ve learned that many of these kids received deficient instruction.  In some troubling cases, they reported receiving no instruction at all.  And still others attended class every day – which, for some, represented a pivotal change in behavior – only to find that their hard work would not count toward a high school diploma.

These findings illustrate not only an unacceptable failure – on the part of our nation – to live up to our stated commitments, but also a lost opportunity to intervene in the lives of incarcerated youth.

These issues are compounded by the thousands of young people whose futures they impact, thereby perpetuating cycles of criminality, poverty, and incarceration that can trap individuals for decades.  And they can have the effect of robbing entire communities – all across the country – of the potential and promise that these individuals have to offer.

As I’ve said many times during the six years I’ve served as Attorney General, we will never be able to incarcerate our way to better outcomes, a stronger nation, or a brighter future.  For youth especially, reducing contact with the justice system is the best hope for positive outcomes and for countering the economic challenges to state and local budgets posed by high levels of incarceration.

But for those who are in juvenile justice facilities, among the most powerful and cost-effective tools we have to ensure success after they are released are high-quality correctional education, training, and treatment.  That’s why we are working tirelessly to ensure that every young person who’s involved in the system retains access to the quality education they need to rebuild their lives and reclaim their futures.

Our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Department of Education have been collaborating to support a reentry model for youth in secure confinement that we will be pilot testing over the coming year.

And I am pleased to announce today that the Departments of Justice and Education are taking the next step in this important effort – by unveiling new guidance for strengthening the support and instruction offered in juvenile justice facilities.

A key component of this correctional education package, entitled Guiding Principles for Providing High Quality Education in Juvenile Justice Secure Care Settings, will serve as a resource for promoting educational attainment for all youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

It is our hope – and our expectation – that this document will offer a roadmap for enhancing not only their academic abilities, but also their social and emotional skills; that it will reduce the likelihood of recidivism; and that it will amplify their chances to grow, to contribute, and to succeed.

And this guidance recognizes that children in juvenile justice facilities are often the very same children who need our educational support the most – whether they are learning with disabilities or learning English as a non-native language.

The exact figures vary from study to study, but we know that roughly 20 percent of youth in juvenile justice facilities receiving Department of Education dollars have disabilities.  Yet, of those with diagnosed learning disabilities, less than half report that they are getting the services they need.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, every one of these children – including those involved with the justice system – is entitled to a free appropriate education.

Juvenile facilities must comply with this important law.  And our new guidance will encourage the behavioral and social support services that are necessary to address the individual needs of all youth, including those with disabilities and English learners.

This guidance also recognizes that all learning environments must be safe, free of violence, and free of harassment.  And it lays out concrete principles that codify the enduring responsibility, moral imperative, and powerful incentive that our nation has to educate young people while they’re in the juvenile justice system.

In addition, today the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights are issuing a Dear Colleague letter to school districts, state educational agencies, and juvenile justice agencies, reminding these entities about the application of federal civil rights laws to recurring issues in correctional education.  The Dear Colleague letter explains how federal laws protect confined students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability and sex.

Together, the Guiding Principles document and the Dear Colleague letter – along with the department’s longstanding work to enforce the rights of confined youth, to ensure fairness in the juvenile justice system, and to prevent youth contact with that system whenever possible – reaffirm our strong commitment to juvenile justice reform.

I am also pleased to note that, as you’ll hear from Secretary Duncan in just a moment, this guidance makes clear that youth who are ready to pursue higher education may be eligible to fund their studies through Pell Grants.  Offering this support is a critical element in our effort to reduce barriers to reentry.  And I commend Secretary Duncan for his leadership on this issue.

Of course, we know that young people make mistakes.  But even when those mistakes are serious enough to require placement in a juvenile correction facility, youth should not be deprived of the chance to better themselves and improve their prospects for law-abiding and productive futures.

Quality education is, and will always be, an essential component in preventing delinquency and crime.  It can empower, engage, and transform a young person’s view of him- or herself.  And it can broaden opportunities, raise expectations, and elevate every child’s sense of his or her place in the world.

So today, it is a special privilege to stand among young people who are taking the difficult but vital steps necessary to turn the page – and chart a new course – for themselves, their families, and their communities.

It takes tremendous courage to own up to past mistakes, and it takes significant resolve to plot a different path forward.  I’ve seen throughout my career in federal law enforcement that reclaiming one’s future is the challenge of a lifetime.  And I will always be proud to support – and empower – those who accept this challenge.

I want to thank you all, once again, for the opportunity to be here today.  And I’d like to turn things over to our outstanding Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, who has devoted his career to advancing these efforts – and who will provide more information on this announcement.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Yuba City, California, Man Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison for Racially Motivated Attack on White Man and African-American Woman

Anthony Merrell Tyler, 34, of Yuba City, California, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez to serve 46 months in prison for violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  The crime involved a racially motivated attack by Tyler and two co-defendants, Billy Hammett, 30, and Perry Jackson, 29, on a white man and an African-American woman in Marysville, California, in 2011.  In addition to his term of incarceration, Tyler was ordered to serve three years of supervised release upon his release from prison and to pay $175 in restitution.

According to documents filed with the court, around 10:45 p.m. on April 18, 2011, a white man and an African-American woman parked their car at a convenience store in Marysville.  Shortly afterward, the three defendants attacked the man and woman because of their race.  Jackson punched him twice in the head through the open passenger window.  At the same time, Hammett opened the driver-side door and kicked the woman in the chest.  Seconds later, Tyler smashed the car’s windshield with a crowbar, sending shattered glass into the passenger compartment.  As the attack continued, the woman managed to take refuge inside the convenience store and the man struggled to get away.  All three assailants then descended upon the male victim and began attacking him in the parking lot.  He sustained abrasions on his right forearm and knees, while the woman suffered bruising to her chest.  None of the defendants knew their victims.

In today’s hearing, and during Hammett and Jackson’s proceedings, Judge Mendez considered the defendants’ backgrounds and criminal histories.  Tyler has the words “white pride” tattooed down the backs of his arms and a swastika on his left upper arm.  He has previously acknowledged being a member of the Yuba County Peckerwoods, a local white supremacist group.  Hammett, who has a tattoo of the words “white power” across his abdomen, was previously convicted for the unprovoked assault on a 72-year-old African-American man and was sentenced on March 25, 2014, to 87 months in prison.  Jackson, who has the words “white power” tattooed in block letters down his shins, was sentenced on April 29, 2014, to 70 months in prison.  Tyler entered his guilty plea on March 11, 2014.

“These three defendants targeted the victims because of their race,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “This type of attack causes harm not only to the immediate victims, but tears at the fabric of our communities and society itself.  The department will continue to vigorously prosecute such acts of racial violence.”

“Racially motivated violence not only threatens the harmony of our diverse communities, it undermines the principle of equality under law, which is a foundation of our society,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California.  “For these reasons, prosecuting hate crimes will continue to be one of our highest priorities.”

This case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office and the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office.  The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Wagner and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Monday, December 8, 2014
Miami-Area Certified Nursing Assistant Sentenced to 150 Months in Prison for Role in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

A Miami licensed nursing assistant was sentenced today to serve 150 months in prison for participating in a $200 million Medicare fraud scheme involving fraudulent billings by American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a mental health company headquartered in Miami.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement.

Rodolfo Santaya, 55, of Miami, was convicted on July 18, 2014, after a six-day jury trial, of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive bribes and kickbacks, and two counts of receipt of bribes and kickbacks in connection with a federal health care benefit program.  In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida ordered Santaya to pay more than $18.2 million in restitution.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that, between 2006 and 2010, Santaya was paid thousands of dollars a month in cash kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to ATC, which operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.

Evidence at trial also demonstrated that the Medicare beneficiaries Santaya sent to ATC did not need, qualify for, nor receive PHP treatment.  Nevertheless, ATC submitted false and fraudulent bills to Medicare for services purportedly provided to each of Santaya’s patients.  In order to justify ATC’s fraudulent billings, medical professionals, including doctors, fabricated and signed fraudulent medical documentation and patient files.      

ATC, an associated management company, and more than 20 individuals, including ATC’s owners, have all previously pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.  Santaya has been in federal custody since his conviction.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Robert A. Zink and Trial Attorneys Nicholas E. Surmacz and Kelly Graves of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Monday, December 8, 2014
Armed Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 57 Years in Prison for Firearms and Narcotics Offenses

An armed drug trafficker was sentenced today to serve 57 years in prison for his involvement in a decade-long cocaine-trafficking conspiracy in Newport News, Virginia.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office and Chief Richard W. Myers of the Newport News Police Department made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar of the Eastern District of Virginia imposed the sentence.

Kelvin L. Brown, aka, “Doom,” 34, of Newport News, was convicted by a jury on July 30, 2014, of participating in a drug conspiracy, distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Evidence presented at trial detailed various drug sales by Brown and his coconspirators, the use of firearms by Brown and others to protect the drug-trafficking enterprise and its proceeds, and threats made by Brown against a cooperating witness to dissuade him from cooperating with police.  In one incident, on Sept. 13, 2013, Newport News Police Department officers entered Brown’s apartment after he barricaded himself inside, and seized a firearm, scale and cocaine.

This investigation was led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, Newport News Police Department and Virginia State Police, and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph K. Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Friday, December 5, 2014
Navy Engineer Arrested for Attempting to Send USS Gerald R. Ford Schematics to the Egyptian Government

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, 35, of Yorktown, Virginia, was arrested today on charges of attempting to steal schematics of the Navy’s newest nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, and pass the schematics to whom he believed was an Egyptian government official.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Susan Triesch of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service's Norfolk, Virginia, Field Office made the announcement.

Awwad is charged with two counts of attempting to export defense articles and technical data, and faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

According to an FBI affidavit submitted to the court in support of search warrants, Awwad began working for the Department of Navy in February 2014 as a civilian general engineer in the Nuclear Engineering and Planning Department at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Based on joint investigation, an FBI undercover agent speaking in Arabic contacted Awwad by telephone on Sept. 18, 2014, and asked to meet him the following day.  Without seeking additional information from the caller, Awwad agreed.  The next day, Awwad met with the undercover FBI agent, who was posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer, in a park in Hampton, Virginia.  During the meeting Awwad claimed it was his intention to utilize his position of trust with the U.S. Navy to obtain military technology for use by the Egyptian government, including but not limited to, the designs of the USS Gerald R. Ford nuclear aircraft carrier.  Awwad agreed to conduct clandestine communications with the undercover FBI agent by email and unattributable telephones and to conduct “dead drops” in a concealed location in the park.

On Oct. 9, 2014, Awwad and the undercover FBI agent met at a hotel where Awwad described a detailed plan to circumvent U.S. Navy computer security by installing software on his restricted computer system that would enable him to copy documents without causing a security alert.  At this time, Awwad also provided the undercover FBI agent four computer aided drawings of a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier downloaded from the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Information system.  These drawings were marked with warnings that foreign distribution could result in criminal prosecution.  During the discussion, Awwad indicated his understanding that the drawings would be sent to and used in Egypt.  Awwad also asked the undercover FBI agent for $1,500 to purchase a pinhole camera he would wear around the shipyard to photograph restricted material.  At the conclusion of the meeting, Awwad agreed to provide the undercover FBI agent with passport photos which would be used to produce a fraudulent Egyptian passport so that Awwad could travel to Egypt without alerting U.S. government officials.

On Oct. 23, 2014, Awwad traveled to the pre-arranged dead drop site, situated on a secluded hiking trail in a park, and utilized a concealed container disguised in a hole in the ground.  He retrieved $3,000 in cash before placing a one-terabyte external hard drive and two passport photos inside.  The FBI later collected the contents of the dead drop container.

On Nov. 28, 2014, Awwad was observed entering his office at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard holding a cardboard tube about three feet long.  Once in his office, Awwad opened the cardboard tube and took out several white sheets which appeared to be design schematics of an aircraft carrier.  Awwad then placed the schematics on the floor of his office and photographed them.  After approximately 45 minutes of viewing the schematics and taking photographs, Awwad placed all the schematics back in the cardboard tube and left his office.

Awwad made his initial appearance in federal court today, and is scheduled to appear for a detention hearing on Dec. 10, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. at the federal courthouse in Norfolk.          

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, in cooperation with the Department of Navy.  Prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch and Joseph E. DePadilla for the Eastern District of Virginia and Department of Justice, Trial Attorney Heather M. Schmidt for the Justice Department’s National Security Division Counterespionage Section.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

U.S. Welcomes International Anticorruption Day

U.S. Welcomes International Anticorruption Day


Thursday, December 4, 2014
Three Former Georgia Correctional Officers Sentenced for Offenses Related to beating of Inmate and Ensuing Cover-Up

The Justice Department announced that Christopher Hall, a former Sergeant for the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) at Macon State Prison (MSP) in Oglethorpe, Georgia, and two former CERT officers, Ronald Lach and Delton Rushin, were sentenced on Thursday, December 4, 2014, for offenses related to the beating of an MSP inmate in 2010 and the cover-up that followed.  All three officers were convicted by a federal jury on June 20, 2014.  

Hall was sentenced to 72 months in prison for conspiracy to obstruct justice and two obstruction-related offenses.  Lach was sentenced to 90 months in prison for his involvement in the beating of the inmate, for conspiring to cover up the beating and for writing a false report.  Rushin was sentenced to 60 months in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice and obstruction-related offenses.  All three have two years of supervised release.

Evidence at trial, and a series of guilty pleas that preceded trial, showed that Lach was one of several MSP officers who participated in a retaliatory beating against an inmate in order to punish the inmate for his prior misconduct.  Hall, Lach and Rushin then conspired with other officers to cover up the beating by providing false and misleading statements to investigators and writing false reports.

To date, eight former MSP officers have been convicted in connection with the beatings of inmates at Macon State in 2010 and the cover-up that followed.

“Eight former corrections officials from Macon State Prison now stand convicted for their involvement in beating inmates or in the coordinated cover-ups that followed each assault,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “These officers betrayed the public trust by using their official positions to commit violent civil rights abuses and then to try to hide what they had done.  The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute corrections officers who use their power to violate federal law.”

"When individuals are sentenced to prison, we expect that they will serve their time under the supervision of dedicated correctional officers and staff,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.  “What we don't expect, and will not tolerate, is for the people in charge of supervising and protecting the prisoners to beat the inmates and then try to cover it up when word of those crimes makes its way outside the prison walls.  The inmates in prisons across the state are serving a sentence of incarceration, and that doesn't include being subject to beatings and the abuse of power by corrections officers.  And while being a prison guard is both an important and challenging task, it is a job that requires adherence to the law.  We are lucky in Georgia to have many outstanding corrections officers who do their jobs every day with unmatched professionalism.  The defendants in this case broke the law and the trust they were given."

These cases were investigated by the Macon Resident Agency of the FBI, with the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.  The cases were prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd for the Civil Rights Division, with the assistance of the United States Attorney’s Office in Macon.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Identity Trafficker in Puerto Rico Sentenced to 81 Months in Prison
A leader of a Puerto Rican identity trafficking organization was sentenced today to serve 81 months in prison. 

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Director Bill A. Miller of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and Chief Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Enrique Rogelio Mendez-Solis aka Rogelio Quero-Mendez, Roberto Marquez-Prada, 40, a Mexican national formerly of Seymour, Indiana, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez in the District of Puerto Rico for his leading role in trafficking the identities and corresponding identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens.  Judge Pérez-Giménez also ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised release and to forfeit $422,793 in illegal proceeds.  Mendez-Solis illegally entered the United States and the government will seek his deportation following the service of his prison sentence.  On Dec. 3, 2013, Mendez-Solis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling for financial gain and three counts of aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents.  Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set.  The identity brokers in the United States ordered the identity documents from the document suppliers in Savarona on behalf of their customers by making coded telephone calls.  The conspirators were charged with using text messages, money transfer services and express priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.

Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation.  Their customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses.  Some customers obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.  According to court documents, the organization trafficked at least 1,500 identities.

Various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, DeKalb and Aurora, Illinois; Seymour, Columbus and Indianapolis, Indiana; Hartford, Connecticut; Clewiston, Florida; Lilburn and Norcross, Georgia; Salisbury, Maryland; Columbus and Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Lawrence, Salem and Worcester, Massachusetts; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Burlington and Hickory, North Carolina; Hazelton and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; Abingdon and Albertville, Alabama; and Providence, Rhode Island.

To date, 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme.  All 49 arrested defendants have pleaded guilty and 46 defendants have been sentenced, including:

• Jorge Luis “Daniel” Mendez, 38, a Dominican national formerly of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 75 months in prison on April 28, 2014, followed by 3 years of supervised release;

• Daniel Aparicio-Lara, 30, a Mexican national formerly of Burlington, North Carolina sentenced to 65 months in prison on Dec. 18, 2012, followed by 3 years of supervised release;

• Rafael Joaquin Beltre-Beltre, 36, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 63 months in prison on Sept. 4, 2012, followed by deportation;

• Wilfredo Blanco-Diaz, 41, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 61 months in prison on March 11, 2014, followed by deportation;

• Jose Sergio Garcia-Ramirez, 39, a Mexican national formerly of Rockford, Illinois, sentenced to 54 months in prison on Nov. 26, 2012, followed by deportation;

• Moises Lara-Ceballos, 37, a Mexican national formerly of Seymour, Indiana, sentenced to 54 months in prison on Jan. 21, 2014, followed by deportation; and

• Wilson Antonio Hernandez-Fernandez, 40, a Dominican national formerly of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sentenced to 48 months in prison on Feb. 4, 2014, followed by 3 years of supervised release.

The charges are the result of Operation Island Express, a nationally coordinated investigation led by the ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ (ICE-HSI) Chicago Office and USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices in Chicago, in coordination with the ICE-HSI San Juan Office and the DSS Resident Office in Puerto Rico.  The Illinois Secretary of State Police; Elgin, Illinois Police Department; Seymour, Indiana Police Department and Indiana State Police provided substantial assistance.  The ICE-HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices around the country provided invaluable support.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James S. Yoon, Hope S. Olds, Courtney B. Schaefer, and Christina Giffin of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, with the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.  The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana, District of Connecticut, District of Massachusetts, District of Nebraska, Middle District of North Carolina, Southern District of Ohio, Middle District of Pennsylvania, District of Rhode Island, Southern District of Texas and Western District of Virginia provided substantial assistance.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Investigations Have Yielded 50 Plea Agreements and 16 Indicted Individuals

WASHINGTON — A Northern California real estate investor has agreed to plead guilty for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Felony charges were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland against Garry Wan of Concord, California.  To date, 50 individuals have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty, as a result of the department’s ongoing antitrust investigations into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California.
According to court documents, beginning as early as May 2008 until January 2011, Wan conspired with others not to bid against one another, and instead designate a winning bidder to obtain selected properties at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Alameda County.  Wan was also charged with conspiring to use the mail to carry out a scheme to fraudulently acquire title to selected Alameda County properties sold at public auctions, to make and receive payoffs, and to divert money to co-conspirators that would have otherwise gone to mortgage holders and other beneficiaries by holding second, private auctions open only to members of the conspiracy.  The department said that the selected properties were then awarded to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in the second, private auctions.  The private auctions often took place at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held.

“While there has been a lengthy series of guilty pleas by the participants in this activity, the division’s work is not yet over,” said Brent Snyder, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute collusion at real estate foreclosure auctions, which allow the conspirators to profit from illegal payoffs at the expense of financial institutions and distressed homeowners.”

The department said that the primary purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and eliminate competition and to conceal payoffs in order to obtain selected real estate offered at Alameda County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices. When real estate properties are sold at these auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with remaining proceeds, if any, paid to the homeowner. According to court documents, these conspirators paid and received money that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.

“These charges demonstrate our continued commitment to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations responsible for the corruption of the public foreclosure auction process,” said David J. Johnson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Office.  “The FBI is committed to work these important cases and remains unwavering in our dedication to bring the members of these illegal conspiracies to justice.”
A violation of the Sherman Act carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals.  The maximum fine for the Sherman Act charges may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim if either amount is greater than $1 million.  A count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The government can also seek to forfeit the proceeds earned from participating in the conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Today’s charges are the latest filed by the department in its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, California.  These investigations are being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office. Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300, or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Today’s charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established 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 nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Owners of Orlando Health Care Clinic Charged with $3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Charges have been unsealed against husband and wife owners of an Orlando health care clinic for their roles in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $3 million in allegedly fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Florida region made the announcement after the defendants were taken into custody last night and this morning.

A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida returned an indictment on Nov. 19, 2014, against Juan Carlos Delgado, 58, and Nereyda Infante, 48, both of Orlando, Florida, charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, five counts of health care fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  According to the indictment, Delgado and Infante owned and operated Prestige Medical Services and Rehab Center, a health care clinic that purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part B and Medicare Part C beneficiaries, and three other similarly named clinics that also purportedly provided medical services to Medicare Part C beneficiaries.

Between February 2012 and September 2014, the defendants allegedly submitted claims to Medicare that falsely represented that medical services were provided, medically necessary, and prescribed by a physician, when they were not.  The health care fraud counts specifically allege fraudulent claims involving Pentostatin prescriptions, an expensive chemotherapeutic medication, that were not medically necessary, not prescribed by a physician, and not provided.  The indictment also alleges that the defendants transferred proceeds obtained as the result of fraudulent claims and diverted them for their personal use.  According to the indictment, the defendants obtained more than $1.8 million in proceeds from the alleged fraud.  

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew H. Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers
a href="">Furniture Event - Save up to 50% at