Seattle mansion dwellers charged in alleged welfare fraud

May 9, 2012

SeattlePi.com on May 9, 2012 released the following:

“BY LEVI PULKKINEN

A Seattle couple accused of drawing welfare while living in a $1.2 million Lake Washington mansion has been charged with defrauding the government and is expected to plead guilty.

Accusing the couple of stealing more than $115,000 meant to subsidize housing for the poor, federal prosecutors have filed felony theft charges against chiropractor David Mark Silverstein and Lyudmila Shimonova.

Both are expected to appear in U.S. District Court next week to answer the felony charge of theft of government funds, which was filed by information Tuesday. Attorneys for both defendants said Tuesday their clients will be pleading guilty.

Noting that the thefts have cost Silverstein personally and professionally, attorney David Allen said his client will be paying back twice the amount of government assistance prosecutors allege the couple received.

“He’s very sorry for what he did,” said Allen, an attorney with the Seattle firm Allen, Hansen & Maybrown. “He takes full responsibility.”

Shimonova’s attorney Michele Shaw said her client is very sorry for the thefts and will be taking responsibility for her actions.

Federal investigators raided the couple’s Lake Washington home in late November looking for evidence that they’ve bilked government assistance programs for more than a decade.

At the time, investigators claimed Shimonova received $135,000 in federal housing assistance benefits that were paid to her “landlord” – Silverstein, described as her husband in court documents – for rent on the Island Drive South home. Shimonova was also alleged to have collected additional money through a federal program for destitute disabled Americans and state programs meant to feed needy families.

“All of these programs are need-based programs, meaning that a person can qualify for the programs only if he or she demonstrates that his or her income or resources fall below a certain level,” a Department of Housing and Urban Development special agent previously told the court. “The investigation has developed substantial evidence that the subjects defrauded theses programs by misrepresenting and concealing material information.”

Attorneys for the government previously filed a civil lawsuit aimed at recovering money they claim was taken from government coffers by fraud. That lawsuit remains ongoing; if the government prevails, Silverstein and Shimonova could be ordered to pay three times the amount of money they received in benefits.

The criminal charge was filed against the couple on Tuesday. Neither has been jailed in the case.

In November, HUD investigators and others searched the couple’s Island Drive South home, located on the shore of Lake Washington in Seattle’s Dunlap neighborhood. According to court documents, agents seized financial documents, Nordstrom receipts and framed photos of the couple.

Apparently following up on documents seized at the home, agents received a second search warrant and seized the couple’s safe deposit box.

In a search warrant affidavit, the HUD special agent noted Silverstein and Shimonova took numerous international trips together while Shimonova was collecting substantial amounts of money in government assistance. Among their destinations were the Dominican Republic, Moscow and Paris.

Government attorneys claim in civil filings that Shimonova had been receiving $1,272 a month in housing assistance payments since 2003. Those payments allegedly went to pay rent to her landlord, Silverstein.

In the civil lawsuit, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harold Malkin and Kayla Stahman contended Shimonova told HUD officials that only she and her two children lived on the property, and that her total assets were less than $5,000. Agents watching the property noted that Silverstein’s Jaguar sedan was often parked at the home, and that his purported home address was actually his chiropractic clinic.

Beyond that, though, the prosecutors noted Silverstein and Shimonova are very likely married, despite claims to the contrary made to HUD. Silverstein describes himself as “happily married with two children” on his business website.

Since 1995, Shimonova has also been receiving disability payments meant to assist Americans with monthly incomes of less than $675, the assistant U.S. attorneys continued. Shimonova is alleged to have failed to disclose several savings accounts, holding tens of thousands of dollars, to which she had access.

At the same time, Shimonova was drawing food stamps and support checks from a program meant to keep poor families from starving, the government attorneys continued. She is also alleged to have received medical care through Medicaid.

Silverstein and Shimonova are expected to appear before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez on Wednesday. Neither has been jailed.”

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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.


Alleged Members of Native Mob Charged in Sweeping Racketeering Indictment

January 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 25, 2012 released the following:

“MINNEAPOLIS— A 47-count federal indictment unsealed in part late yesterday charges 24 alleged members of the Native Mob gang with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and other crimes. The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, young, male, Native American populations. Association with the gang is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or sporting gang-related tattoos.

Six defendants made their initial federal court appearances late yesterday afternoon. They were apprehended earlier Tuesday, during a take-down conducted by between 100 and 150 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement officials. Arrests were made on the White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake Indian reservations as well as in the Twin Cities. Of the 18 remaining defendants, 12 are presently in jail or prison on other charges, while six continue to be sought by law enforcement. The six individuals arrested yesterday remain in custody pending their next hearings, scheduled for Jan. 26 and 27.

Earlier today, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said of the investigation, “This investigation exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation we are fortunate to experience here in Minnesota. Local, state, federal, and tribal investigators worked side by side to take down some of the most violent criminals in our state and, in the process, disrupt an extremely dangerous gang that diminishes the quality of life for those who live and work in Native American communities. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

The indictment alleges that since at least the mid-1990s, the defendants named in this case and others have conspired to conduct criminal activity through an “enterprise,” namely, the Native Mob, in violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The indictment alleges that the primary objective of this “enterprise” is to preserve, protect, promote and enhance the Native Mob’s power, territory, and financial gains.

To that end, gang members purportedly distribute illegal drugs, from crack cocaine to ecstasy. They also reportedly provide monetary support to other members, including those incarcerated; share with one another police reports, victim statements and other case discovery; hinder or obstruct officials from identifying or apprehending those wanted by the law; and intimidate witnesses to Native Mob crimes. Moreover, they purportedly maintain and circulate firearms for gang use and commit acts of violence, including murder, against individuals associated with rival gangs.

Those arrested yesterday, along with their last known residence, include:

  • Dale Wesley Ballinger, Jr., 20, Isle, Minn.;
  • Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, Onamia, Minn.;
  • Aaron James Gilbert, Jr., 24, Minneapolis;
  • Cory Gene Oquist, 22, Bemidji, Minn.;
  • Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, Cass Lake, Minn.; and
  • Justen Lee Poitra, 26, Cass Lake.

In addition to the racketeering charge filed against all 24 defendants, other charges were levied against some of the defendants. Those charges include conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; the use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; felon in possession of ammunition; felon in possession of a firearm; armed career criminal in possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence; conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; distributing a controlled substance; and tampering with a witness. (See the attached chart for a breakdown of charges by defendant. Note, until such time as defendants make their initial appearances in federal court, their names and the specific charges levied against them will not be disclosed.)

If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum sentence of between 20 years and life in federal prison. Since the federal justice system does not have parole, prison terms would be served virtually in entirety. All sentences will ultimately be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of a long-term, cross-jurisdictional investigation conducted by local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement officers dedicated to making our streets and communities safer. They include the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; the Carlton County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI-funded Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force; the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department; the Minneapolis Police Department; the Minnesota Department of Corrections; and the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force.

These agencies investigated this case with assistance from—in alphabetical order—the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the Carlton County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office of Wisconsin, the Duluth Police Department, the Fon du Lac Tribal Police Department, the Fridley Police Department, the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, the Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, the LCO Reservation Police Department, the Lower Sioux Tribal Police Department, the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office, the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office, the New Brighton Police Department, the North Central Drug Task Force, the Prior Lake Police Department, the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, Richfield Police Department, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Minneapolis Violent Offender Task Force, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the White Earth Tribal Police Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and Steven L. Schleicher.”

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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 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.


119 Individuals Charged in Three Countywide Law Enforcement Operations

January 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 25, 2012 released the following:

“Two Mexican Mafia Members and 117 San Diego County, California Street Gang Members and Associates with Ties to the Mexican Mafia Charged with Racketeering Conspiracy, Drug Trafficking Violations, and Firearms Offenses

119 Individuals Charged in Three Countywide Law Enforcement Operations

SAN DIEGO—A federal grand jury in San Diego has handed up 17 indictments and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California has filed eight criminal complaints charging a total of 119 defendants with federal racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking violations, and federal firearm offenses, announced U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy.

U.S. Attorney Duffy said, “The cases unsealed today make communities stronger and safer. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to an anti-gang, anti-violence strategy built on close coordination between federal, state and local officials. This coordination provides better intelligence about street gangs and violent crime within our communities. And better intelligence means better law enforcement and prosecutions.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter commented, “Today’s arrests mark one of the largest single takedowns in San Diego FBI history. The FBI and our law enforcement partners stand unified in our efforts to protect this county from the violence, drug trafficking and extortion schemes employed by the Mexican Mafia and its affiliates. San Diego is inherently safer today because of the cooperation between our agencies working together to disrupt and dismantle the criminal activities of these dangerous individuals.”

“This is a traditional case of dishonor amongst thieves,” commented San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore. “Gangs were made to pay ‘taxes’ in order to facilitate their trafficking and violent behavior. We answered with a one-two punch: a strong and experienced multi-agency investigation, armed with the RICO statute. The results speak for themselves.”

The charges stem from three investigations entitled, “Operation Notorious County,” “Operation Carnalismo,” and “Operation 12-Step.”

“Operation Notorious County”

The indictments are the result of an 18-month-long investigation entitled, “Operation Notorious County,” led by the North County Regional Gang Task force. Eight indictments charging 51 individuals, including one charging 40 defendants with participating in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy were unsealed today. All five indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury sitting in San Diego on Jan. 19, 2012. The RICO conspiracy alleged in the indictment involves the commission of both state and federal crimes, including attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, money laundering, and drug trafficking violations. As set forth in the indictment, the defendants are members, associates and facilitators of violent street gangs operating primarily in north San Diego County under the auspices of the Mexican Mafia or “La Eme.” The gangs named in the indictment include the Diablos and West Side gangs, based in Escondido, Calif., as well as the Varrio San Marcos and the Varrio Fallbrook Locos. The individuals named in the indictment were involved in a long-standing criminal enterprise used to extort money by threat or violence. The money was then sent on to high-ranking members of the Mexican Mafia, including defendant Rudy Espudo. The indictment alleges that Espudo is a validated member of the Mexican Mafia who oversees their activities throughout much of northern San Diego County.

“Operation Carnalismo”

In “Operation Carnalismo,” led by the Violent Crime Task Force-Gang Group, a group of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents led by the FBI, five indictments charging 36 individuals were unsealed today. Eight defendants are charged in one indictment with a conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), violent crime in aid of racketeering (VCAR), distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin and criminal forfeiture. Four additional indictments, charging 28 defendants were also unsealed. These related indictments charge distribution and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and criminal forfeiture. All five indictments were handed up by a federal grand jury sitting in San Diego on Jan. 24, 2012, and unsealed today. The RICO indictment charges the criminal enterprise was run by Mexican Mafia member Salvador Colabella. Colabella and his associates conspired to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, extorted and robbed others, and laundered drug-trafficking proceeds. Colabella and his associates collected the extortion payments through the threat of violence and the commission of violence. According to the indictment, the Mexican Mafia has about 200 members, but its reach extends to thousands of Hispanic street-gang members in Southern California. A Mexican Mafia member is the highest level one can attain in the Mexican Mafia. A member, also called “Brother” or “Carnal” or “Tio,” controls, exploits and profits from the criminal activity conducted by street-gang members and others. This control over the criminal activity is enforced through acts of violence or the threat of violence.

“Operation 12-Step”

This year-long investigation, known as “Operation 12-Step,” was led by the East County Regional Gang Task Force, a group of federal and state law enforcement led by the FBI and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Operation 12-Step focused on gang-related methamphetamine distribution activities in San Diego County. Today four indictments and eight complaints were unsealed charging 32 individuals with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. According to court records, individuals charged in this investigation belong to nine different criminal street gangs including Varrio Chula Vista, East Side Piru, Old Town National City, Shelltown, National City Locos, Imperial Beach Imperials, Paradise Hills, Varrio Encanto Locos and National City Block Boys. Between Feb. 22, 2011, and Dec. 13, 2011, law enforcement made more than 20 methamphetamine and heroin seizures in connection with this investigation. In addition, search warrants were executed at eight residences in San Diego; Spring Valley, Calif.; National City, Calif.; Imperial Beach, Calif.; and Chula Vista, Calif..

U.S. Attorney Duffy praised the coordinated effort of the law enforcement agencies of the Violent Crimes Task Force-Gang Group, the East County and North County Regional Gang Task Forces under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) for the coordinated team effort culminating in the charges filed in these cases. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and utilize all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against major drug trafficking.

The cases are being investigated by the FBI, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the National City, Calif., Police Department; the San Diego Police Department; the Escondido, Calif., Police Department; the Carlsbad, Calif., Police Department; the U.S. Marshals Service; the La Mesa, Calif., Police Department; the El Cajon, Calif., Police Department; the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office; the U.S. Bureau of Prisons; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the San Diego County Probation Department; Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; and Customs and Border Protection-United States Border Patrol.

The cases are being prosecuted in San Diego federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Mazza, Jaime Parks, Fred Sheppard and Tara McGrath.

An indictment or a complaint are 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:

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 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.