Twenty-One Defendants Charged for Alleged Corruption at Two Southern California DMV Offices

May 3, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 2, 2012 released the following:

“United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today that employees at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) in San Diego County were charged in a criminal complaint for their involvement in a long-running bribery conspiracy that resulted in the production of hundreds of fraudulent driver licenses for applicants who had failed—or not taken—the required driver license tests.

The complaint alleges that DMV officials at the El Cajon DMV office, located at 1450 Graves Avenue, El Cajon, California, and the Rancho San Diego DMV office, located at 1901 Jamacha Road, El Cajon, California, falsely entered both “passing” written and “passing” driving test scores for applicants in exchange for bribes ranging up to $3,000 per license.

In addition to the DMV employees, 16 other defendants were charged in the complaint. According to the charging documents, these 16 other defendants are applicants who paid bribes to receive fraudulent driver licenses, or recruiters who brokered the corrupt deals for fraudulent licenses by getting money from the applicants and paying the bribes to the DMV employees. According to court documents, the corruption scheme involved the fraudulent production of both Class C (regular) and Commercial Class A driver licenses. Hundreds of applicants paid recruiters approximately $400- $500 for each fraudulent Class C license, which the conspirators produced at the El Cajon DMV. The complaint alleges that the DMV employees named in the complaint accepted bribes paid by these applicants despite the obvious public safety risk posed. For example, one DMV employee admitted to a recruiter that an applicant taking a driving test was so dangerous that she was “gonna kill someone.” The DMV employee, however, provided a fraudulent license to the dangerous applicant in exchange for a bribe the recruiter because he “need[ed] cash.”

According to the complaint, applicants seeking Commercial Class A licenses, produced at the Rancho San Diego DMV, typically paid recruiters $2,500-$3,000. Commercial Class A driver licenses allow the licensee to drive commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds, which can cause enormous harm to the public if operated incorrectly by an unqualified driver. The complaint further alleges that DMV employees entered false passing test scores that allowed applicants to fraudulently obtain additional certifications for specific operations of the commercial vehicles, such as transporting hazardous materials or towing multiple trailers. The United States Attorney emphasized that these fraudulent certifications posed a significant threat to public safety, given that an unqualified driver could then transport hazardous materials or tow multiple trailers on the public roads.

For both Class C and Commercial Class A licenses, the recruiters told the applicants that, if they paid the fee, they would not have to take any of the required tests in order to receive a license. The complaint alleges that the recruiters made good on their claim as Jim Lynn Bean, Jeffrey Thomas Bednarek, Scott David Friedli, and Marco Beltran took advantage of their positions as DMV employees to enter fraudulent passing written and driving test scores into the DMV database. These DMV employees were responsible for conducting driving tests for driver license applicants, but by entering false information, circumvented the DMV’s driver license application process.

All 21 defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery and to produce unauthorized identification documents, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In addition, defendants Bean, Bednarek, Friedli, and Beltran were charged with one count of bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B). The operator of the U.S. Driving School in El Cajon, Kuvan Adil Piomari, was charged with one count of bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(2). The defendants taken into custody today are expected to make their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo on May 3, 2012.

United States Attorney Duffy commented that this criminal complaint and arrests are the result of an active, ongoing criminal investigation. If anyone in the community has information about corruption at the DMV, they are asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-877-NO-BRIBE (662-7423), or the DMV’s Investigations Branch-Office of Internal Affairs at 626-851-0173.

Criminal Case No. 12MJ1576
 

Defendants
Jim Lynn Bean Age: 33
Kuvan Adil Piromari Age: 42
Jeffrey Thomas Bednarek Age: 53
Scott David Friedli Age: 32
Marco Beltran Age: 41
Gabriela Villanueva Age: 30
Bashar Asaad Azaria Age: 34
Reenan Esa Kuza Age: 29
Usman Aliyev Age: 29
Abdulmajed Alhokair Age: 21
Ahmad Alarbeed Age: 20
Mohammed Alsuwaidi Age: 18
Ali Rashid Al-Sowaidi Age: 22
Khalid Abdulaziz Al-Sowaidi Age: 22
Talal Bass Almousharji Age: 19
Virginia Pena Age: 32
Yontar Gizem Age: 19
Douri Zafer Age: 43
Asiel Bahjat Tomika Age: 30
Angel Salvador Astimibay Age: 50
Bekzad Mirhanov Age: 31

Summary of Charges

Count 1: Title 18, United States Code, Section 371—Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and to Produce Unauthorized Identification Documents—statutory maximum sentence of five years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, and $100 special assessment. All defendants.

Count 2: Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B)—Bribery—statutory maximum sentence of 10 years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, and $100 special assessment. As to defendants: Jim Lynn Bean, Jeffrey Thomas Bednarek, Scott David Friedli, and Marco Beltran.

Count 3: Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(2)—Bribery—statutory maximum sentence of 10 years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, and $100 special assessment. As to defendant Kuvan Adil Piromari.

Investigating Agencies

Federal Bureau of Investigation
California Department of Motor Vehicles-Investigations Division

A complaint is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s

Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

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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.


Mount Pleasant Man Charged with Allegedly Committing Federal Grant Fraud; Charged with His Wife in an Alleged Campaign Finance Fraud

September 20, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 19, 2011 released the following:

“United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that two indictments previously returned by a federal grand jury were unsealed today. A 36-count indictment charges that Mount Pleasant native Jian-Yun Dong and one of his companies, Vaxima, Inc., committed a number of offenses relating to the fraudulent use and conversion of funds received as federal grants. The indictment charges that the defendants submitted false claims for payment of federal grant monies and that they used grant funds received for scientific research for prohibited purposes. Specifically, this indictment charges that Dong, as the president and chief executive officer of GenPhar, Inc, (1) submitted false claims to federal agencies in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287; (2) converted grant funds to his own use in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 666; and (3) committed wire fraud, in that he used interstate communications to execute a scheme to defraud the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. The indictment also charges that Defendant Vaxima, Inc, a corporation owned solely by Dong, assisted in the execution of the scheme.

The second indictment charges Dong (54) and his estranged wife, Danher Wang (52) with violations of federal campaign laws. The seven-count indictment charges that Dong and Wang conspired to make illegal campaign contributions in the names of other persons using money from a foreign national, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. The indictment further alleges in other counts that Dong and Wang made or caused others to make illegal contributions after they (Dong and Wang) exceeded their maximum contribution allowance, in violation of Title 2, United States Code, Sections 437(g)(1)(D)(I) and 441f. According to the indictment, contributions were made in a way to conceal their true origin from the FEC, campaigns and the public. Finally, the indictment alleges that Dong made false statements to law enforcement agents (in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001) and that Dong attempted to illegally influence the testimony of a witness in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512.

As to the grant fraud indictment, the maximum sentences Dong faces for wire fraud regarding the misuse of federal grant funds is 30 years’ imprisonment as to each count, with a maximum fine of $250,000 per count. Dong faces sentences of up to 10 years for the other charges contained in this indictment. Both Dong and Wang face maximum sentences of five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count of campaign finance fraud, and Dong faces an additional maximum sentence of 20 years as to the witness tampering charges in the first indictment.

These companion cases were investigated by agents of the Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The cases will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark C. Moore and Debbie Barbier of the Columbia office.

The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these Indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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

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Former Memorial Hospital West Facilities Director, Wife of Former Memorial Regional Hospital Team Leader, and Seven Hospital Vendors Charged in Bribery Scheme

June 16, 2011

United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida on June 15, 2011 released the following press release:

“Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and José A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announce the indictment of nine individuals for their participation in a bribery and kickback scheme in connection with the award of facilities maintenance contracts at Memorial Regional Hospital (MRH), in Hollywood, FL, and Memorial Hospital West (MHW), in Pembroke Pines, FL. Both hospitals are part of the Memorial Healthcare System, an organization that receives more than $10,000 in federal assistance each calendar year.

Charged in the twenty-three count indictment are Adil Osman, 64, of Miramar, a former Director of Facilities Management at MHW; Dorece Gordon, 63, of Lake Worth, wife of a former Team Leader in the Facilities Management Department at MRH; and seven vendors who did business with MRH and MHW. The vendors charged in the indictment are Thomas Kennedy, 44, of Davie, Paul Chaiet, 48, of Dania Beach, Richard Cohen, 45, of Wellington, Robert Andrei, 70, of Davie, Thomas Pacchioli, 52, of Weston, John W. Hunter, 64, of Palm Coast, and Louis Columbo, 37, of Lake Worth.

Four defendants (Kennedy, Chaiet, Cohen, Andrei) were arrested earlier today and will make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne E. Vitunac, in West Palm Beach, at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Defendants Osman, Pacchioli, Dorece Gordon and Columbo will surrender to U.S. Magistrate Judge Vitunac, in West Palm Beach; no date has been set yet. Defendant Hunter, who was arrested in Daytona Beach, will have his initial appearance in the Middle District of Florida.

Count 1 charges the seven vendors with conspiracy to bribe employees of MRH and MHW, in exchange for being selected to perform certain facilities maintenance contracts, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666 and 371. The vendors are also individually charged with substantive bribery counts (Counts 5 – 13), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, 666. In turn, defendant Osman is charged with soliciting and accepting bribes in connection with his employment at MHW from June 2004 through July 2008 (Count 2), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666.

According to the indictment, Osman was the Director of Facilities Management in the Facilities Management Department at MHW from June 7, 2004 until July 10, 2008. Osman was responsible for contracting with vendors for the purchase of goods and services for MHW. In this capacity, Osman was authorized to unilaterally select the vendors on jobs that cost less than $10,000, but was required to obtain bids from at least three vendors on jobs costing more than $10,000. The indictment alleges that Osman accepted money and in-kind payments, including home improvements, such $1,440 for gutters, a $3,625 deposit for a swimming pool, $3,230 for a fence, $2,000 for cabinets, and $12,000 for an electric generator, from vendors in exchange for selecting them to perform work at MHW. A nearly identical kickback scheme allegedly existed between some of these vendors and former Team Leaders Elliot Gordon and Anthony Merola at MRH. Defendants Elliot Gordon and Anthony Merola were previously charged and pled guilty to a Criminal Information, and are scheduled to be sentenced on July 29, 2011.

According to the charges, the seven charged vendors would inflate their invoices to MHW and MRH to facilitate the payment of kickbacks to Osman and former Memorial Regional Team Leaders. Through this scheme, the vendors allegedly received more than $15 million in contracts from the Memorial Healthcare System from June 2004 through February 2009. In exchange, Osman, Merola and Gordon allegedly received bribes and kickbacks in the form of cash and in-kind payments.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “When individuals engaged in programs receiving federal funds solicit and accept bribes from those intent on paying to gain secret access and reap lucrative contracts, the system has broken down. We will continue to aggressively investigate this conduct act to ensure that government monies don’t fall into the hands of the greedy and corrupt.”

“This investigation reveals how business is not to be conducted in the United States. We cannot tolerate a system in which individuals corrupt the competitive process by selling their integrity through the payment and receipt of bribes at taxpayers’ expense,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office. “There is a growing intolerance by the American people for corruption, which is reflected in their willingness to come forward and report abuses. We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. That information is critical to our work.”

IRS-CID Special Agent in Charge José A. Gonzalez stated, “The tax system is built on the premise that taxpayers file accurate tax returns. This case should send a message that aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.”

In addition, Count 4 charges defendants Cohen and Osman with mail fraud for their involvement in a scheme to defraud MHW by rigging the bidding process on contracts over $10,000. Indeed, Cohen is alleged to have won forty-six bids by essentially bidding against himself through nominee and victim corporations. Defendant Kennedy is charged with engaging in a similar scheme to defraud MRH (Count 3), using fictitious bid proposals utilizing separate nominee and victim corporations. In both instances, the victim corporations were unaware that their names were being used by the defendants to submit bids.

Defendant Chaiet is charged with nine counts of assisting in the preparation of multiple fraudulent individual and corporate income tax returns by knowingly deducting personal expenses as business deductions, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(2) (Counts 14- 19 and 21-23). More specifically, Chaiet, a Certified Public Accountant, is alleged to have prepared false income tax returns for Dorece Consulting Services, Whitehead Industries, and Elliot Gordon for taxable year 2005. He is also charged with preparing false income tax returns for taxable year 2006 for Whitehead Industries, RSM&F Enterprises, and Dorece and Elliot Gordon. For 2007, he is alleged to have prepared false income tax returns for Elliot Gordon and Anthony Merola.

Lastly, defendant Dorece Gordon is individually charged with filing a false tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7206(1) (Count 20), by failing to report cash payments and proceeds allegedly received through Whitehead Industries and Dorece Consulting, and improvements to her home, totaling approximately $175,723.

If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum terms of imprisonment of up to five (5) years on the conspiracy charge, ten (10) years on the each of the substantive bribery counts, twenty (20) years on the mail fraud charges and three (3) years each on the tax offenses.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the management and security personnel at Memorial Healthcare System for their assistance and cooperation in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil.”

Attached is the Federal Indictment.

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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