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

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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.


Federal Charge of Bank Robbery Filed Against Kenneth M. Matlock in the Alleged Plainfield Bank Robbery

August 18, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 18, 2014 released the following:

“A man suspected of robbing a Plainfield bank last Friday was arrested a short time after the robbery and charged today in U.S. District Court in Chicago in connection with the heist. The arrest was announced today by Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI, and Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Kenneth M. Matlock, age 35, who was last known to reside in Woodridge, Illinois, appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox and was formally charged with one count of bank robbery, a felony offense. Matlock was ordered held pending his next court appearance on August 21, 2014, at 3:00 p.m.

According to the complaint, the robber entered the BMO Harris Bank branch located at 15901 South Route 59 in Plainfield on Friday at around 2:20 p.m. and, after telling a bank teller he would like to make a withdrawal, presented a note to the teller demanding money and indicating that he was armed with a gun. A witness in the parking lot of the bank, alerted to the robbery by a bank employee, noticed a Dodge Durango leaving from an area where the alleged robber had been seen heading after the robbery. The witness followed the Durango and provided information that led law enforcement officers to the Durango. Approximately 15 minutes after the robbery occurred, officers from the Plainfield Police Department and other state law enforcement officers stopped the Durango and arrested the sole occupant of the vehicle, later identified as Matlock, without incident.

If convicted of the charge filed against him, Matlock faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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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.


Louis and Rosemary Brothers Arrested for Alleged Unauthorized Transfer of Export-Controlled Items

August 18, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 15, 2014 released the following:

Pair Arrested for Unauthorized Transfer of Export-Controlled Items

FBI Special Agent in Charge Howard S. Marshall announces the arrest of Louis and Rosemary Brothers of Union, Kentucky, for offenses related to the unauthorized transfer of export controlled items. FBI Louisville received information from the State Department indicating Valley Forge Composite Technologies, a company owned and operated by Louis Brothers, provided International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restricted military grade electronic components to China. An arrest warrant was issued for the pair after a thorough investigation into the alleged activity.

The FBI works closely with the National Counterproliferation Center to investigate the serious threats posed by individuals and organizations that attempt to acquire sensitive and proprietary technologies. The proliferation of technology is a threat to our nation’s economy and to U.S. national security. The FBI is dedicated to detect, deter, and defeat the threat posed by state sponsored groups, individuals, and organizations attempting to illicitly acquire technology. Preventing this requires close coordination with other agency partners and the public. This arrest is an example of that close coordination between the FBI, State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Members of the public that have information about the transfer of technology, physical components, weapons, or other items that are protected by export controls should immediately report this information to the FBI.

Louis and Rosemary Brothers are considered to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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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.


Los Angeles Federal Grand Jury Indicts Chinese National, Su Bin, in Computer Hacking Scheme Allegedly Involving Theft of Trade Secrets

August 18, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 15, 2014 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A federal grand jury has indicted a Chinese national on five felony offenses stemming from a computer hacking scheme that involved the theft of trade secrets from American defense contractors, including The Boeing Company, which manufactures the C-17 military transport aircraft.

Su Bin—who also used the names “Stephen Su,” “Stephen Subin” and “Steven Subin”—was named in a five-count indictment returned Thursday afternoon and filed in United States District Court.

Su is currently in custody in British Columbia, Canada, where he is being held pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant submitted by the United States. Su was previously charged in a criminal complaint filed in Los Angeles, but the indictment is now the operative charging document.

The indictment alleges that Su, a 49-year-old businessman, worked with two unindicted co-conspirators based in China to infiltrate computer systems and obtain confidential information about military programs, including the C-17 transport aircraft, the F-22 fighter jet, and the F-35 fighter jet.

The indictment specifically alleges three charges related to unauthorized computer access, a conspiracy to illegally export defense articles and a conspiracy to steal trade secrets. The charges carry a total maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in prison.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


“Nearly $1 million from charters went to firms named in FBI probe”

August 18, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times on August 18, 2014 released the following:

By: DAN MIHALOPOULOS

“Contractors facing scrutiny in an ongoing federal investigation of Concept Schools have been paid nearly $1 million over the past three years for work at three Chicago Public Schools-funded campuses run by the Des Plaines-based charter operator, records show.

In June, the FBI raided 19 Concept Schools locations in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, including the group’s Des Plaines headquarters. Search warrants showed they were seeking records concerning Concept’s use of the federal “E-rate” program and companies hired under that program, which helps pay for high-tech upgrades.

The agents also were looking for records regarding top Concept officials, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last month.

No one has been charged. The FBI has said only that the investigation is a “white-collar criminal matter.”

The CPS-funded work done by the contractors named in the FBI search warrants has ranged from selling Concept computers and uniform polo shirts to organizing professional-development seminars.

Concept operates three schools in Chicago. All rely almost entirely on public funding.

Concept’s Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park — one of the schools the FBI raided June 4 — was approved by CPS officials 10 years ago.

The charter operator’s Horizon Science Academy McKinley Park at 2845 W. Pershing Rd. and Horizon Science Academy Belmont at 5035 W. North Ave. have been open for a year after being initially rejected by CPS because of questions regarding student performance at CMSA.

Concept appealed to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, which overrode CPS, ordering them to finance the two schools with tax dollars.

The three Chicago Concept schools have paid more than $283,000 since the start of 2011 to Advanced Solutions in Education of Schaumburg, records show. The company and its founder and former chief executive, Ozgur Balsoy, were named in FBI search warrants served at

Concept’s headquarters and at its schools in Rogers Park and Peoria.

ASE was a consultant for Concept on its applications for federal E-rate funding. The company also was hired to do other work for Concept, including organizing seminars for school administrators and teachers.

Balsoy previously was an administrator at a Concept school in Columbus, Ohio. He formed ASE in Ohio in 2009, expanding to Illinois in 2011. ASE listed him as “sole owner” until 2012. He’s now listed as vice president.

ASE’s president, Erdal Aycicek, formerly served was treasurer of the Niagara Foundation, based in downtown Chicago. Like Concept and many of its contractors, the foundation was founded and continues to be led by Turkish immigrants, many of them with ties to the global Gulenist movement led by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania.

Two other ASE executives — Huseyin Alper Akyurek and Esat Albulut — also previously worked for Concept as administrators at schools in Ohio.

ASE executives did not return calls seeking comment.

Another company listed in the search warrants, Core Group Inc. of Mount Prospect, has been a major contractor for Concept’s schools in Chicago. The three schools have paid more than $550,000 to two Core subsidiaries for goods including computers and polo shirts with school logos on them.

Core’s president, Ertugrul Gurbuz, who was named in the search warrants, also founded Quality Builders of Midwest Inc., a Concept construction contractor whose work included building a gym addition at CMSA at 7212 N. Clark St.

Gurbuz referred questions to attorney Patrick Cotter, who said Friday the company is “in the process of complying” with a grand-jury subpoena it got as part of the FBI probe. Cotter declined to say what Core was asked to turn over.

A Core subsidiary was cited in a 2012 audit, done for Fulton County, Georgia, school officials, that questioned why a Gulen-affiliated charter school in that state bought polo shirts from Core Design & Production when “there were cheaper prices to be obtained.” The principal of the Georgia school told auditors he looked online for a polo shirt vendor and found Core — though the auditors said they found no mention of polo shirts on the company’s website.

Core was started in 2005 by Guclu Koseli, who was a founding board member for Concept in Illinois.

Another contractor named in the FBI search warrants — Signature Maker Inc. of Hoffman Estates — has been paid more than $112,000 by Concept’s Chicago schools, Concept records show.

Signature Maker owner Ergun Koyuncu, who was also named in the search warrants, would not comment.

Concept’s vice president, Salim Ucan, also declined to comment, citing the ongoing FBI investigation.

The federal E-rate program requires competitive bidding in hiring contractors in an effort to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. There’s no such requirement, though, imposed on charter schools by either CPS or the state charter commission, even though the privately run schools depend almost entirely on tax dollars and CPS requires competitive bidding for its own schools.

Nor do they require charter operators to report to officials who their vendors are or how much they are paid.

None of the deals that Concept’s Chicago schools made with Core or ASE was awarded via competitive bidding.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Detroit One Collaboration Leads to Indictment by a Federal Grand Jury of Two Alleged Latin Count Gang Members on Racketeering Charges

August 15, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 15, 2014 released the following:

“A superseding indictment was unsealed yesterday charging Devin Dantzler, 23, of Ecorse, with using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence causing death and murder in aid of racketeering. Christopher Pierce, 20, of Detroit, was also charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering announced Barbara L. McQuade.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office.

Specifically, the indictment alleges that several Latin Counts assaulted Mustafa Al-Yasiry, and Dantzler, in fact, shot and killed him at the Big Apple Market in southwest Detroit on April 18, 2014. According to the indictment, the Latin Counts gang operates in southwest Detroit and the downriver communities of Lincoln Park and Ecorse. The indictment alleges that seven defendants committed assaults, murder, selling illegal narcotics and stolen firearms, breaking and entering homes and businesses and robbery. The indictment alleges that the gang uses violence to stake out its “turf” and intimidate both rival gang members and the citizens of southwest Detroit.

Under the Detroit One Initiative, and through the lead efforts of the Detroit Police Department and the FBI Violent Crime Task Force, investigators were able to merge separate probes of various members of this organization and its activities into one encompassing investigation.

Detroit One is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit. By working collaboratively, local, state, and federal law enforcement is striving to maximize its ability to identify and arrest the persons and groups initiating the violence in Detroit.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


“In New York counterterrorism sting, a setback for federal law enforcement”

August 15, 2014

The Washington Post on August 14, 2014 released the following:

“By Adam Goldman

When Ahmed Abassi arrived in the United States for the first time in March 2013, the Tunisian student settled into a historic, neo-Gothic apartment building in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Unknown to him, the apartment was wired with audio recording devices, and Abassi’s American host was an undercover FBI agent. Abassi, then 26 and suspected of terrorism ties, had landed in an FBI sting, part of an elaborate operation that stretched from New York to Quebec City to a small town in Tunisia.

Abassi was caught on tape discussing “the principle that America should be wiped off the face of the earth,” with people he believed to be co-conspirators, one of whom was the FBI agent, according to court records. At one point, Abassi suggested “putting bacteria in the air or in a water supply.”

But last month, Abassi, who declined to be interviewed, pleaded guilty to relatively minor charges that did not include any terrorism enhancements that could have sent him to prison for years, and he is not contesting a deportation order.

The case was a rare setback for the FBI and federal prosecutors, which have successfully targeted suspected terrorists using sting operations, typically ending with the defendants about to embark on what they believe is a terrorist attack with fake weapons or bombs supplied by the bureau. Guilty verdicts and long prison sentences follow.

According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, nearly 50 percent of the more than 500 federal counterterrorism convictions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have “resulted from informant-based cases; almost 30 percent of those cases were sting operations in which the informant played an active role in the underlying plot.”

Among the more prominent prosecutions, a Moroccan man was convicted for planning a suicide bombing at the Capitol. Amine Mohamed El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant who lived in Alexandria, was arrested wearing a suicide vest that he believed to be real and had been provided by undercover FBI agents. In Portland, a Somali-American was convicted of planning to remotely detonate an 1,800 pound bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The device was, in fact, inert and had been supplied by the bureau. In one 2009 case, the FBI arrested a group of men in New York state — the “Newburgh Four” — and charged them with plotting to blow up a pair of synagogues in the Bronx with fake bombs provided by an informant.

Human rights groups allege that the government is making terrorists out of people who otherwise would not have the ability or the will to move forward with an attack. “The government pursues people with mental or intellectual disabilities or people who are desperately poor with an aggressive informant or undercover agent to get them to agree to commit terrorist acts,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office.

And the use of sting operations has also drawn some criticism from the bench. In the Newburgh case, the federal judge said the government “made them terrorists” and said the “buffoonery” of one of the defendants was “positively Shakespearean in scope.”

But no defendant, including in the Newburgh case, has successfully claimed in court that he was entrapped by overzealous investigators.

At a recent security forum in Aspen, Colo., former FBI director Robert Mueller defended the bureau’s tactics against charges of entrapment. Mueller said agents and prosecutors go to great lengths to make sure they do not cross that line.

“We know at the outset that anytime we do this that the defense is going to be entrapment and there has to be substantial predication to get over that hurdle,” he said. “It’s been the defense in probably dozens of terrorism cases that have been tried since Sept. 11. And I challenge you to find one of those cases in which the defendant has been acquitted asserting that defense. I don’t believe there is one out there.”

Abassi was arrested last year and charged with two counts of fraud and misuse of visas to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Federal prosectuors in the Southern District of New York withdrew the terrorism enhancements against Abassi before they could be adjudicated, and some activists said an entrapment defense might have tested the government’s winning record.

An FBI spokesman in New York declined to comment.

Abassi was more talker than terrorist and resisted attempts to move beyond words to direct action, according to his attorney, Sabrina P. Shroff, a federal public defender. She described the case against her client as a failed entrapment in which the government attempted to prey on Abassi’s “bad thoughts and bad speech.”

Fateful meeting

Abassi first came to the attention of the FBI in Canada, where he was studying for an engineering degree at Laval University in Quebec City, according to court records. His family said his sister followed him to Canada, where he also met and married a Tunisian woman.

Among Abassi’s new circle of friends was Chiheb Esseghaier, a doctoral student. The FBI and Canadian authorities began to suspect that Esseghaier and Abassi were part of a terrorist cell, according to court records.

Esseghaier introduced Abassi to a man from New York, Tamer El Noury, who said he was born in Egypt and had immigrated to the United States when he was a child. He looked like one of Abassi’s favorite performers, a Syrian singer named George Wassouf. The two got along famously. When in Quebec, Noury came to Abassi’s house to eat.

Neither Abassi nor his wife, Yousra, ever suspected that Noury was an FBI agent.

“We had no idea,” his wife said in an interview.

The New Yorker appeared wealthy and said he ran a successful real estate company in the city. As a wedding gift, he said he would pay for Abassi and Yousra to visit Manhattan, she said.

Abassi declined the invitation, and instead he and his wife flew to Tunisia in December 2012 to renew their wedding vows. “We danced, we invited all our relatives and friends and we enjoyed together,” his wife said.

The euphoria didn’t last. That month, the Canadians revoked Abassi’s visa without explanation. Officials decided to test Abassi’s willingness to conduct an act of terrorism.

Noury began what Abassi’s attorney described as an aggressive campaign to get her client to come to New York from Tunisia. Cut off from his wife, who was able to return to Canada to finish her education, Abassi seemed determined to secure a new visa so he could return to her side. He wanted to finish his master’s degree, and he had a job offer with a major mining company. But no Canadian visa was forthcoming.

Noury called Abassi’s wife in February 2013.

“We can get him in New York where he can stay with me in the apartment, or he will have his own apartment, and if, God willing, you can take some time off from work, we can bring you here to stay with him so that you can spend some time together,” said Noury, according to a transcript of the call.

Abassi agreed to fly to New York after U.S. law enforcement arranged a visa for the “sole purpose of advancing the investigation,” according to court records.

Move to New York

In March 2013, Abassi flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was briefly questioned by immigration authorities. Noury met him at the airport.

The two drove to the downtown apartment, where the call to prayer sounded electronically five times a day to highlight Noury’s piety. The undercover agent provided Abassi with a cellphone and laptop. The rent was free.

An unexpected visitor soon arrived: Esseghaier, who said he was attending a scientific conference in New York.

The three men met frequently. Authorities say Esseghaier told Abassi about his plans for a terrorist attack. But Abassi did not want any part of them, frustrating the conspirator, who urged Noury to throw him out of the apartment. Esseghaier called Abassi “useless” and not a “true brother.”

Abassi continued to make inflammatory statements, however. He argued that the Koran allowed “Muslims to attack Americans in the same ways Americans had attacked Muslims, including the killing of women and children,” according to court records.

On April 22, 2013, Abassi was questioned by the FBI. Prosecutors said he lied repeatedly about his relationship with Esseghaier and whether he knew the Tunisian planned to engage in terrorism. The FBI arrested Abassi. That same day, Canadian authorities took Esseghaier and another man into custody, charging them with conspiracy to attack an Amtrak train traveling from New York to Toronto.

U.S. prosecutors said Abassi acknowledged possibly radicalizing Esseghaier, and that the two had talked about committing terrorist acts, according to court records. They said Abassi did not want to participate in Esseghaier’s plans only because “the number of American casualties from such an operation would be too few.”

Shroff said her client did not radicalize Esseghaier.

“If you actually listen to the conversations between Chiheb [Esseghaier] and Ahmed, you’ll realize Ahmed is talking about words and verses from the Koran,” his attorney said. “He’s telling Chiheb what’s in the Koran. That is not radicalizing.”

Authorities also said the men had received guidance from members of al-Qaeda.

A U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details of the case, said the FBI had to end the U.S. operation against Abassi prematurely because the Canadians were concerned about the threat Esseghaier posed and arrested him.

The official said more will come out about the men, including Abassi, when Esseghaier goes on trial in Canada. The official said the men were part of a cell and presented a serious threat, one the FBI helped eliminate.

“It was a good case,” the official said.

Abassi spent months in jail, part of that time in a segregated housing unit, before his attorney received transcripts of the FBI recordings. Shroff said it was apparent to her that Abassi had not provided the evidence the FBI needed to make its case, that he had not stepped over the line into active participation in a plot.

Prosecutors seemed to reach a similar conclusion. They told Shroff they would drop the terrorism enhancements if Abassi agreed to plead guilty to the charges that included putting false information on an application for a green card — the same one the undercover agent helped him complete — and making a false statement to immigration officials.

“Mr. Abassi would not be asked at the time of the plea, if he accepted this offer, to in any way admit that either of these crimes touched on a crime of international terrorism,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara told the judge during a hearing in April.

Ferrara would not discuss the case, but another U.S. law enforcement official said there were considerations if the case went to trial, including revealing the true identity of the FBI undercover agent.

“There were strategic discussions,” the official said. “We had a good undercover who would then be exposed. Was it worth it to get a couple of extra years in prison? It’s not clear the judge would have given him more time.”

The official added that Abassi pleaded guilty to a felony and “will never again be in the U.S. That’s much better than letting him float around out there and never be charged at all.”

For Shroff, the reason prosecutors backed off is clear: “He was entrapped,” she said.

At sentencing, prosecutors called for a longer prison term than the six months suggested by the guidelines, arguing that Abassi was far more dangerous than “simply an immigration fraudster” and had “dangerous, extremist views.”

In a phone interview, his sister Amira Abassi said: “My brother is not a monster. That is the reality. He is not evil.”

On July 16, Judge Miriam Cedarbaum waved away government calls for a stern sentence. The 84-year-old judge told Abassi to stay clear of trouble.

“I hope that you will think very seriously about the events of the last year and will decide to always abide by the laws of the United States,” she said. “And if you do that, I wish you good luck.”

Abassi is being held in an immigration detention facility in New Jersey, where he awaits deportation to Tunisia.”

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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.


Father and Son Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Alleged Theft of Military Equipment

August 14, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 14, 2014 released the following:

“OCALA, FL—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces the return by a grand jury of a three-count indictment charging Pedro Luis Infantes (47) and his son, Luis Rafael Infantes (21), both of Ocala, with the theft of government property, interstate transportation of stolen property and making a false statement to a federal agency. If convicted on all counts, Pedro Luis Infantes faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in federal prison. His son faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. The indictment was returned on August 13, 2014.

According to the indictment and other court documents, on July 11, 2014, Pedro Luis Infantes unwittingly met with a confidential source who was working in cooperation with law enforcement. Pedro Luis Infantes believed that the source had connections to potential buyers affiliated with Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Ultimately, Pedro Luis Infantes negotiated a sale price of $153,500 for 17 military-grade, thermal-imaging monoculars, rifle cleaning kits, and other assorted military equipment that had been stolen from the government. When arrested and interviewed by the FBI agents, Pedro Luis Infantes provided false statements to the agents about how he had acquired the military items and how the serial numbers on the items had been removed.

Luis Rafael Infantes is an active-duty supply sergeant for the United States Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He admitted to military investigators that he had illegally taken the thermal imaging equipment and other items from his base’s inventory and then given them to his father to sell. Luis Rafael Infantes said that he had stolen the items because he had fallen into financial trouble and needed the money.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case is investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bodnar, Jr.”

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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

————————————————————–

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 seized vendor records, hard drives from Horizon charter schools”

July 23, 2014

The Columbus Dispatch on July 23, 2014 released the following:

By Jennifer Smith Richards

“The FBI is examining the relationship between the Horizon Science Academy charter schools and several technology vendors, including some based in Ohio.

Court-ordered search warrants and evidence logs show that FBI investigators removed financial documents, including check stubs, invoices, bank records and travel-reimbursement receipts from the Concept Schools headquarters and Horizon Science Academy Middle School in Columbus. Agents also took external computer hard drives and copied more than a dozen hard drives.

The warrants from early June sought any records related to the federal E-rate program dating back to 2003. Agents served the warrants in Concept-operated buildings on June 4. A federal grand jury also issued a subpoena to the schools for the same information sought in the warrants.

The Chicago-based school group runs 30 public charter schools across the Midwest, 19 of them in Ohio. Four are in Columbus. The FBI served warrants in several Midwestern states, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Agents searched individual schools, as well as main and regional headquarters and storage units.

The Dispatch obtained the warrants and FBI evidence logs through public-records requests to the schools. The logs don’t indicate the reason agents removed records or computer hardware, only a description of the evidence they seized.

Schools can use federal E-rate grants to purchase technology upgrades and discounted telecommunication services. Ohio’s Horizon schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, have been awarded about $7.4 million in E-rate grants since 2002.

An FBI spokeswoman in Cleveland said yesterday that she could not release more information about the FBI’s interest in the Horizon Science schools. The spokeswoman, Vicki Anderson, repeated that the FBI is conducting “an ongoing investigation that involves a white-collar type matter” and is working with the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC distributes E-rate grants.

A spokeswoman for Concept Schools in Chicago said yesterday that there’s little the schools can say about the investigation, but that Concept is cooperating.

Investigators focused on a few technology vendors in seeking invoices and payment data from the Chicago Concept Schools headquarters and from the Columbus headquarters, which oversees half of Ohio’s Concept buildings. Some of those vendors are in Ohio and one is a former Concept Schools employee.

Schools that use E-rate funds have to select vendors through a competitive bidding process to get the most cost-effective rates.

Agents seized information related to Ozgur Balsoy, vice president of Advanced Solutions for Education. The company is based in Mentor, near Cleveland, and also has headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. Records kept by the Ohio Department of Education list Balsoy as an administrator at Horizon Science Middle School in Columbus in 2007.

The FBI also removed financial information related to Core Group, Inc., which is based in suburban Chicago and run by Ertugrul Gurbuz; Cambridge Technologies based in Chesterland, Ohio, which is owned by Stephen Draviam; Sundance International, an IT company owned by Galip Kuyuk and based in Chicago and Istanbul; and the Metropolitan Educational Council in Columbus. The MEC is an education consortium that contracts to provide services to several central Ohio public school districts.

Concept Schools was founded by a group of Turkish scientists and continues to be managed by Turkish-Americans, including the three Horizon schools and Noble Academy in Columbus.

The owners of some of the companies whose financial relationships with Concept Schools are of interest to the FBI also are of Turkish heritage.

The warrant served at the Concept headquarters buildings also sought records about specific employees, including Concept Schools’ founder and the chief information officer.

This FBI’s work is separate from some state inquiries into Horizon Science. A handful of former teachers at a Horizon school in Dayton have made several allegations about that school, including unreported sexual activity in the school, unequal treatment of students and teachers, and standardized-test cheating. Both the Ohio Department of Education and the state auditor have said they will look into the matter.

Concept Schools officials called those allegations baseless but said they will look into them.”

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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.


“FBI, Interpol Host Critical Infrastructure Symposium”

July 8, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 8, 2014 released the following:

Director Comey Addresses the Importance of Partnerships

07/08/14

FBI Director James Comey was in Miami yesterday, where he spoke at the opening of the four-day International Law Enforcement Critical Infrastructure Symposium. The event, co-hosted by the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate and Interpol, has drawn senior law enforcement officials from more than 90 countries to explore and share best practices for managing WMD and counterterrorism threats targeted against critical infrastructure and to identify common approaches to protect infrastructure and key resources.

Also participating in the symposium are domestic first responders, corporate security officers, and other U.S. federal partners.

“Today, critical infrastructure is all encompassing,” said Director Comey. “It is everything to our country and our world—our dams, our bridges, our highways, our networks,” he added, explaining that the threats we face to our interconnected systems—such as bioterrorism, agroterrorism, and sabotage—are as diverse as our infrastructure itself.

Comey cited examples of threats to infrastructure, to include the armed assault last April on a California power station, the 2008 attack in Mumbai in which gunmen opened fire at a number of locations, and last year’s deadly shootings at a Kenyan shopping mall. He also noted the ninth anniversary of the July 7, 2013 strikes by terrorists who bombed the London Underground and a double-decker bus in a series of coordinated suicide attacks.

“We know these threats are real,” Comey told the audience. “We must together figure out ways to protect our infrastructure, to work together to strengthen our response to a terrorist attack, a tragic accident, or a natural disaster.”

While touching on topics ranging from terrorism, cyber, and WMD threats to training, partnerships, and intelligence, Comey’s theme throughout underscored the importance of open communication and information sharing with our partners in the U.S. and abroad.

Interpol, as an international police organization, is an important partner on which the Bureau relies heavily to help combat threats of all types. The FBI, through its liaison with Interpol, is able to leverage 190 member countries to address challenges around the globe—a very important ability in a constantly evolving global threat environment.

Comey also highlighted the work of our WMD Directorate, each FBI field office’s WMD coordinator, and our two regional WMD assistant legal attachés in Tbilisi and Singapore. “They integrate our counterterrorism, intelligence, counterintelligence, scientific, and technological components and provide timely analysis of the threat and response,” Comey said. “The goal is to shrink the world to respond to the threat.”

The symposium provides the opportunity for participants to help work toward that goal. Through networking and discussions on how to coordinate and cooperate on critical infrastructure preparedness and protection efforts, attendees will strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones. By rallying the international community around defeating a common threat, our collective chances of success increase.

Director Comey said that our greatest weapon in this fight is unity, which is developed through intelligence sharing and interagency cooperation. “It is built on the idea that standing together, we are smarter and stronger than when we are standing alone,” he said. “Because no one person—no FBI agent, no police officer, no agency, and no country—can prevent or respond to an attack on critical infrastructure alone.””

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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

————————————————————–

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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