FBI: “Five Charged with Fraud in Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union Investigation”

August 25, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 21, 2014 released the following:

“The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that a Grand Jury in Scranton returned indictments Tuesday charging five members of the Wilkes-Barre City Employees Federal Credit Union with conspiracy and bank fraud. The indictments were sealed pending the arrests and/or voluntary surrender of the defendants today.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Tino Ninotti, age 35, Jason Anthony, age 34, Leo Glodzik, age 43, Amanda Magda, age 30, and Jeffrey Serafin, age 35, were charged in three separate indictments related to activities of the credit union. Glodzik is also charged with tampering with a witness. Magda was the assistant manager at the Credit Union; Jason Anthony is a Wilkes-Barre City Police Officer; Ninotti is a former Wilkes-Barre City Police officer; Glodzik is a contractor whose company had a towing contract with the City of Wilkes-Barre.

Four of the defendants appeared today before Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick in federal court in Wilkes-Barre. Ninotti, Anthony and Glodzik were released from custody and ordered to report to pretrial services. Glodzik was ordered to surrender his passport. Serafin was released on his own recognizance. The hearing for Magda is expected to take place later today.

The indictments, unsealed today, allege that the defendants, during 2014, individually or by aiding and abetting one another, secured loans from the Credit Union by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, including the use of false collateral, the stolen identities of others who were not aware of loans in their names, and forgery. Magda and Anthony are charged in one indictment; Ninotti, Glodzik and Magda in a second indictment; and Serafin alone in the third indictment.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 30 years in prison and fines in the amount of $1,000,000.

According to the U.S. Attorney the charges are a significant step in an ongoing corruption investigation by the FBI. The case represents the pursuit of allegations against individuals; the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office value the close working relationships they have with local police departments, including Wilkes-Barre’s, and with honest police officers. These relationships will continue.

The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) which plays an integral role in investigations of fraud and public corruption. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Luzerne County citizens, as well as employees and officials of local government are urged to come forward and provide relevant information about this case and others involving corruption in local government by contacting the Scranton FBI Office at 570-344-2404.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Terrorism Federal Criminal Trial is Underway in Riverside Federal Court

August 19, 2014

Los Angeles Times on August 18, 2014 released the following:

Terrorism trial underway for men accused of trying to join Al Qaeda

By MATT HANSEN

The trial of two Inland Empire men accused of being involved in a terrorist plot resumes in Riverside federal court this week, as jurors weigh whether the defendants’ alleged plans to travel overseas and join Al Qaeda posed a true threat or were overstated by investigators.

Sohiel Omar Kabir, 36, of Pomona and Ralph Kenneth Deleon, 25, of Ontario face five counts of conspiracy, including plans to provide support to overseas terrorist groups, commit terrorist acts overseas and receive Al Qaeda training.

Prosecutors allege that Kabir, a naturalized American citizen who was born in Afghanistan, persuaded Deleon, a Filipino citizen and legal resident of the United States, and two other men to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban and later join Al Qaeda.

The other men, Miguel Alejandro Santana, 23, of Upland and Arifeen David Gojali, 23, of Riverside, are scheduled to testify against the remaining two defendants, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Deleon, Santana and Gojali were arrested in November 2012 as they prepared to leave California to rendezvous with Kabir, who had relocated to Afghanistan. Kabir was seized by American soldiers in Afghanistan and returned to the United States to face charges.

The men’s purported plot was documented by a confidential informant who became close with the men and recorded audio and video of them as they spoke openly of their plans to join terrorist organizations overseas, according to the prosecution’s trial memorandum, which lays out its plans for the case.

Prosecutors also allege that the men began exercise regimens, visited firing ranges and renewed their passports in preparation for traveling to Afghanistan. Deleon dropped out of college and sold his car to raise money for the trip, prosecutors say.

“Kabir told Deleon and Santana that he made contacts in Afghanistan and that upon their arrival the three men would join the ‘Students,’ referring to the Taliban, before joining the ‘professors,’ referring to Al-Qa’ida,” the trial memo states.

Defense attorneys argue that overzealous federal authorities misinterpreted the men’s sometimes immature actions as true threats, and said their clients never intended to actually join or assist terrorist groups.

“This was a very carefully planned out plot by the government from the investigation stage onwards,” said David Thomas, who represents Deleon. “It was a manufactured prosecution, is our argument. They had their target two years ago and executed.”

On Friday, the second day of testimony, witnesses included a firearms range manager and a Customs and Border Protection inspector who testified about the men’s actions before their arrest.

Nolan Avery, a manager at LAX Firing Range in Inglewood, testified that Deleon, Santana and a third man, whom defense attorneys identified in court as the confidential informant, visited the range in September 2012 and shot an AR-15 rifle and a Glock 17 pistol.

Avery said he remembered the men because they seemed unenthusiastic and had traveled from the Inland Empire to go to the range, passing other shooting ranges closer to home.

“Usually there is a sense of camaraderie in groups,” he said. “This was kind of weird because they separated right away.”

Later testimony placed Gojali picking up a passport in Los Angeles in November 2012, and Santana returning to the U.S. after a visit to Mexico with his grandmother in January 2012.

A Border Patrol agent testified that Santana crossed into the U.S. carrying anti-American propaganda, including literature from radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki and a copy of the jihadist magazine Inspire. Defense attorneys argued that Santana was also carrying unrelated books that explored conspiracy theories and the occult.

A recurring topic during testimony was the role of the government’s informant. After the prosecution showed video from a hidden camera reportedly taken by the informant of Deleon firing weapons at the range, defense attorneys challenged the evidence, saying that only the informant could verify the authenticity of the video. The defense has subpoenaed the informant to appear.

Although U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips determined that the video evidence was admissible, the confidential informant remains a sticking point in the case.

The Los Angeles branch of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy organization, has called for the public to share any additional details they may know about the informant.

The organization alleges that the frequent federal use of informants in terrorism cases can lead to entrapment of suspects.

“We’ve seen other communities targeted by the FBI with informants sent into communities and mosques,” said Fatima Dadabhoy, senior civil rights lawyer for CAIR in Los Angeles. “I think what’s important about not just this case but this issue in general is to make sure that when we are doing terrorism cases, we’re not using improper tactics.”

The trial is set to resume Tuesday.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Eighteen sheriff’s deputies charged by FBI LA in an alleged inmate-abuse probe

December 10, 2013

The Guardian on December 9, 2013 released the following:

Associated Press in Los Angeles

“Federal officials on Monday unsealed five criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, as part of an FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption in the nation’s largest jail system.

The charges were announced at a press conference after 16 of 18 defendants were arrested earlier in the day. They were expected to be arraigned later in US district court.

“These incidents did not take place in a vacuum – in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized,” said US attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the sheriff’s department considered themselves to be above the law.”

Four grand jury indictments and a criminal complaint allege unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail. The FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct at the county’s jails since at least 2011. An official said the arrests were related to the abuse of individuals in the jail system and also allegations that sheriff’s officials moved an FBI informant in the jails possibly to thwart their probe.

A sheriff’s department spokesman, Steve Whitmore, referred calls to the FBI and said Sheriff Lee Baca would provide a comment later on Monday afternoon. “We’ve cooperated fully with the FBI in their investigation and we’ll continue to do so,” Whitmore said.

One federal indictment, filed on 20 November, named seven deputies charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. It is unclear from the indictment whether they are currently employed by the department. Among those charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the 18-page indictment are two lieutenants, one of whom oversaw the department’s safe jails program and another who investigated allegations of local crimes committed by sheriff’s personnel, two sergeants and three deputies.

All seven are accused of trying to prevent the FBI from contacting or interviewing an inmate who was helping federal agents in a corruption and civil rights probe. One of the investigations involved trying to see if a deputy would accept a bribe to provide the inmate with a cell phone, court documents show. The indictment alleges the inmate was moved to hide him and false entries were made in the sheriff’s databases to make it appear as if he had been released.

In an attempt to find out more information about the investigation, one lieutenant and the two sergeants sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide documents, prosecutors said. When a state judge denied the proposed order, the two sergeants allegedly attempted to intimidate one of the lead FBI agents outside her house and falsely told her they were going to seek a warrant for her arrest, the indictment said.

Baca has acknowledged mistakes to a county commission reviewing reports of brutality, but he has also defended his department and distanced himself personally from the allegations. He said he has made improvements including creating a database to track inmate complaints. Baca has also hired a new head of custody and rearranged his command staff.

Retired sheriff’s commander Bob Olmsted, who is challenging Baca for the voter-elected position of sheriff in 2014, said in a statement on Monday that the arrests “underscore the high level of corruption that has plagued the Sheriff’s Department”. He said that as a commander he tried “several times” to notify the sheriff and his command staff about “ongoing abuses and misconduct” in Men’s Central Jail, but his “concerns fell on deaf ears”.

“I knew I had to act, and as a result, I notified the FBI of the department’s culture and acceptance of excessive force, inmate abuse, sheriff’s gangs, and corruption,” Olmsted said.

In 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union sued the sheriff’s department, claiming the sheriff and his top commanders had condoned violence against inmates. The organization released a report documenting more than 70 cases of misconduct by deputies.

Last month the county announced the appointment of a veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor, Max Huntsman, to head a new office of inspector general that will oversee the sheriff’s department.

As of Monday, the county’s jails held more than 18,700 inmates.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Feds Charge W.Va. Judge in an Alleged Drug-Related Conspiracy

September 19, 2013

ABC News on September 19, 2013 released the following:

“By VICKI SMITH Associated Press

A West Virginia judge already facing corruption allegations was charged Thursday in a conspiracy that federal prosecutors say was cooked up to protect a now-deceased sheriff from revelations that he’d bought drugs.

The complex conspiracy laid out in court documents also involves a local prosecutor and a commissioner in Mingo County, a coalfields community along the Kentucky border that’s long been plagued by corruption.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the goal of the plot was to stop a confidential informant from telling the FBI about his drug deals with late Sheriff Eugene Crum by putting the dealer behind bars.

Suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury was charged with one count of conspiracy in a document called an information, signaling he is cooperating with federal prosecutors and may plead guilty.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Thornsbury’s attorney, Stephen Jory, did not immediately comment.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to say whether prosecutor Michael Sparks or County Commissioner Dave Baisden will be charged. Sparks did not immediately return a message.

The sheriff, meanwhile, died in an April shooting apparently unrelated to the conspiracy. His widow, Rosie Crum, did not immediately respond to a message left at her home.

Rodney Miller, executive director of the West Virginia Sheriffs Association, called the revelations about Crum “disheartening” and a “a black eye” for all 55 county departments. Miller said his organization would never condone the kind of activity alleged by prosecutors.

“It flies in the face of what we do and what we stand for … and we don’t like that,” he said.

The judge was indicted last month, accused of abusing his power in a separate case. Prosecutors say Thornsbury had an affair with his secretary and tried to frame her husband repeatedly between 2008 and 2012 after she broke things off.

He is accused of enlisting the help of a state trooper and commandeering the grand jury and was set to stand trial next month. Prosecutors didn’t say how the new case will affect those charges.

The new charges against the judge paint a picture of a tightknit team of Mingo County officials ganging up on a local sign maker identified only as G.W. in the court documents.

The slain sheriff, who was also a longtime magistrate, was elected last fall on a campaign to clean up a pervasive drug problem. While campaigning, he bought signs and other materials from G.W. and still owed him $3,000 when he took office in January, the court document says.

When G.W. demanded payment, prosecutors say, Crum sent a confidential informant to buy the prescription painkiller oxycodone from him. Prosecutors say G.W. was arrested Feb. 1.

G.W. then hired an attorney and met with FBI agents. Prosecutors say he told agents he had sold narcotics to Crum “on multiple occasions” while he was the magistrate.

Crum and Sparks then went to the judge, prosecutors say, and told him that G.W. had incriminated the sheriff. Prosecutors say the group let G.W. know that if he fired his attorney and replaced him with one preferred by the judge, he could get a light sentence.

G.W. did, though the court filing does not identify either the new attorney or say what sentence he ultimately got. It says only that Sparks “arranged for a more favorable sentence … as a reward.”

Prosecutors say that after G.W. complied, Crum directed one of his deputies to have G.W. obtain a statement claiming he’d never sold the sheriff drugs.

Crum, 59, died in a downtown Williamson parking lot as he ate lunch in his car.

Tennis Melvin Maynard, a onetime boxing student of Crum’s, is charged with first-degree murder and awaiting trial. Maynard’s family claims the former sheriff had molested him and that the prosecutor’s office ignored his reports. Sparks has denied those claims.

On Wednesday, Sparks recused himself from Maynard’s case, citing only “an emerging conflict of interest.”

Crum was hired last summer as a special investigator in Sparks’ office while he campaigned for sheriff.

The day he was killed, Crum was keeping watch on a former “pill mill,” a place that had been shut down for illegally dispensing prescription drugs, to be sure it didn’t reopen.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI: Two Men Charged with Allegedly Defrauding Charter Flight Company, Other Luxury Brands of Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars

August 5, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 5, 2013 released the following:

“NEWARK, NJ—Two men were arrested by federal agents early this morning in Akron, Ohio for conspiracy to defraud an aviation company out of charter flights and other businesses out of services and luxury goods, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Dante G. Dixon, 45, of Miami, Florida, and Christopher L. Henderson, 32, of Akron, Ohio, were charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They made their initial court appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Burke in Akron federal court and were ordered held until they can be transported to New Jersey.

According to the complaint:

From May 2013 through June 2013, Dixon and Henderson and others allegedly conspired to fraudulently obtain at least four private charter flights from Jet Aviation, an international business aviation service with its United States’ headquarters in Teterboro, New Jersey. Dixon, Henderson, and others also conspired to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in other luxury goods and services, all via sham lines of credit issued to a well-known financial institution for the defendants and others’ use, by misrepresenting that they and others were employees at the financial institution.

On May 5, 2013, an individual using the name Josh Stevens called Jet Aviation’s offices in Chicago, Illinois and Van Nuys, California to inquire about its private charter flight services. That individual identified himself as being employed as a senior vice president at a well-known financial institution and provided an e-mail address purporting to be affiliated with the financial institution. It was later determined that this e-mail address was not, in fact, affiliated with the financial institution. A Jet Aviation employee sent an e-mail to the provided e-mail address. The e-mail from Jet Aviation contained a draft charter services agreement, which was signed by Josh Stevens and returned to Jet Aviation on May 9, 2013. The agreement falsely listed Josh Stevens as a senior vice president, Dixon as a vice president, and Henderson as a vice president of international affairs at the well-known financial institution.

On May 21, 2013, based on the false information provided by Josh Stevens, a Jet Aviation employee created an account and a $350,000 line of credit for the defendants and others. The line of credit was in the name of the financial institution on behalf and for the use of the defendants and others. Dixon and Henderson and others used the sham line of credit to take at least four private charter flights.

On June 7, 2013, a Jet Aviation employee at Teterboro met Dixon and Henderson before they boarded their charter flight to Miami, Florida. During the meeting, the defendants identified themselves as being employees at the financial institution. The Jet Aviation employee then contacted the financial institution and was informed that Dixon and Henderson and others were not, and had never been, employees at the financial institution.

As a result of their misrepresentations to Jet Aviation, Dixon and Henderson and others fraudulently obtained private high-end charter flights and limousine car services with a total value of $175,790. Jet Aviation never received payment from the defendants and others, or from the financial institution’s line of credit, for any of the services provided to the defendants and others, including the approximately $164,911 in charter flights and the approximately $10,879 in limousine services.

Dixon and Henderson and others made similar misrepresentations about their purported employment at the financial institution to other luxury service providers, including to a Tiffany & Co. store in Bal Harbour, Florida, and to The W South Beach Hotel in Miami, Florida. These misrepresentations resulted in the defendants and others fraudulently obtaining, via sham lines of credit with Tiffany and The W, approximately $19,991 in watches, sunglasses, sterling silver and leather business card holders, and men’s cologne from Tiffany, and approximately $25,466 in overnight hotel stays at The W.

The investigation has revealed that the financial institution was not aware that Dixon and Henderson and others were using its corporate identity. As a result of their scheme, Dixon and Henderson and others fraudulently obtained more than $220,000 in luxury goods and services.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud with which the defendants are charged is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss resulting from the defendants’ crimes.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation leading to today’s arrests.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mendelsohn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’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. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.”;

Federal Wire Fraud

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Two Florida Residents Indicted on Charges of Allegedly Scheming to Defraud and Threaten Spanish-Speaking Consumers

July 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs on July 25, 2013 released the following:

“A grand jury in the Southern District of Florida issued an indictment for two individuals on charges of conspiracy, fraud and extortion alleging they operated a series of fraudulent businesses targeting Spanish-speaking consumers, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced today. The indictment charges Daniel Carrasco, 54, and Federico Martin Gioja, 45, both of Miramar, Fla., with incorporating, owning and operating Florida companies that used telemarketers in a phone room in Argentina to extract money from consumers, using lies and extortion.

Carrasco and Gioja were charged by criminal complaint and arrested on June 26, 2013. They have remained incarcerated since that time. Carrasco and Gioja, and a third individual, Romino Tasso, also were named in a civil suit filed by the Justice Department. In the civil case, the Justice Department requested that the court issue an injunction, and, subsequently, Judge Cecilia Altonaga issued a temporary restraining order barring further lies to consumers and freezing the assets of Carrasco, Gioja, Tasso and companies under their control.

“We will use every tool at our disposal, including asset freezes, injunctive relief and criminal prosecution, against companies that lie to, extort, threaten and defraud consumers,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Protecting Americans from fraud continues to be a top priority for the Department of Justice.”

According to the civil complaint and the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the case resulted from a referral by Spanish-language television station, Univision. Companies belonging to Carrasco and Gioja are alleged to have falsely claimed an affiliation with Univision and purported to sell products such as vitamins, lotions, medical insurance and English-language training products. However, the companies frequently did not deliver products ordered by consumers. Since the companies allegedly did not have many of the products they promised to send to consumers, consumers received other products instead. Then, according to the indictment, after consumers refused delivery of the companies’ shipments, the Argentinian phone room telemarketers called and falsely threatened consumers with arrest, deportation or fines on their gas and electric bills.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “These defendants specifically targeted Spanish-speaking victims, pretending to be affiliated with Univision, to sell their products from their phone room in Argentina, when in fact, they had absolutely no connection to Univision, and their companies did not deliver the products consumers ordered. “We are committed to investigating and prosecuting such fraudsters, both domestic and international, whose schemes defraud consumers.”

According to the criminal and civil complaints, Carrasco and Gioja routinely changed the names of the companies under which they did business to evade consumer complaints, regulators and law enforcement. Allegedly, a variety of state agencies contacted the businesses regarding their illicit practices. Those working with Carrasco and Gioja, in emails cited in the affidavit in support of arrest, referred to these companies tainted by complaints as “burnt.” Rather than changing the “burnt” companies’ practices, Carrasco and Gioja allegedly incorporated new companies and started the same illegal practices again.

The alleged fraud first came to light when the Spanish language network Univision informed the USPIS that they believed a company was involved in a fraud scheme in which it misrepresented its affiliation with the network. Subsequently, the USPIS investigated the case, submitted the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrested the defendants.

“Postal inspectors will continue to investigate cases involving fraud against consumers and will vigorously pursue those individuals who use the mail to further their criminal schemes,” said Ronald Verrochio, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge in Miami.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Delery commended the Postal Inspection Service for their investigative efforts and thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for their contributions to the civil case. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant Director Richard Goldberg with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Ashland Trio Indicted for Alleged Labor Trafficking and Other Crimes

July 17, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 16, 2013 released the following:

“A five-count indictment was filed charging three people from Ashland, Ohio with engaging in a labor trafficking conspiracy and other crimes related to them holding woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor for them, law enforcement officials said today.

Jordie L. Callahan, 26; Jessica L. Hunt, 31; and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation, deprivation, and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and B.E., according to the indictment.

Their tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting B.E. and S.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals, and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar, according to the indictment.

Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded. Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts, according to the indictment.

A fourth person, Daniel K. Brown, 33, of Ashland, was charged with one count of conspiracy in a criminal information filed today.

“These charges paint a picture of the unspeakable cruelty these defendants inflicted upon this mother and her child,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “It provides another stark reminder that human trafficking takes place all around us and that we need to be better neighbors to one another.”

“These defendants are being held accountable for their unfathomable treatment of another human being,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals that force others into unlawful labor or sex practices.”

Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy to violate laws; forced labor; theft of government benefits; and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.

The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby, and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012. The object of the conspiracy included holding S.E. in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining S.E.’s and B.E.’s public assistance benefits; and intentionally causing painful injuries to S.E. so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed to satisfy their personal drug craving, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt recruited S.E. and B.E. to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that S.E. has a cognitive disability and that S.E. and B.E. received monthly public assistance payments, according to the indictment.

In or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to have her and B.E.’s public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check. They then took control of the card, forced S.E. to give them the PIN, and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends, according to the indictment.

In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed S.E.’s hand with a rock with such force that S.E. needed to go to the hospital emergency room. Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby then forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated at the emergency room, according to the indictment.

In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured S.E.’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment. Again, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

In March 2012, Callahan kicked S.E. in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment. Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened S.E. and B.E. with serious physical harm, including death, if S.E. did not clean up the apartment; care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes, and other reptiles; purchase items at the store; and perform other labor and services ordered by the conspirators, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor S.E. and B.E.’s activities and conversations in the apartment. They often forced S.E. to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food, and other items for Callahan, Hunt, and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card. They allotted S.E. only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out. They frequently required B.E. to remain with them at the apartment while S.E. was out and threatened physical harm to B.E. and S.E. if S.E. broke any of their rules, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt also threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have B.E. taken away if S.E. purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct, according to the indictment.

In June 2011, after S.E. and B.E. had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find S.E. and B.E. and bring them back to the apartment. Brown and Silsby lured S.E. and B.E. into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to deposit them afterwards back at the apartment, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked S.E. and B.E. in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside, according to the indictment.

In October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to hit her child while they recorded a video and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both S.E. and B.E. if S.E. did not comply, according to the indictment.

One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced S.E. to strike B.E. while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone. Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have B.E. taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure S.E.’s compliance to the conspirators’ commands.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz, with assistance from Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including each defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), his or her role in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


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