FBI: “Former NBA Player and CEO of the George Group Convicted on all Counts in $2 Million Ponzi Scheme”

October 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 30, 2013 released the following:

“TRENTON, NJ— C. Tate George, former NBA basketball player and the CEO of purported real estate development firm The George Group, was convicted today on all counts on which he was indicted in connection with his role in orchestrating a $2 million investment fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The jury deliberated four hours before convicting George, 45, of Newark, of four counts of wire fraud after a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper. George was immediately remanded into federal custody to await sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2014.

According to documents filed in this case and evidence presented at trial:

George, a former player for the New Jersey Nets and Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball teams, held himself out as the CEO of The George Group and claimed to have more than $500 million in assets under management. He pitched prospective investors, including several former professional athletes, to invest with the firm and told them their money would be used to fund The George Group’s purchase and development of real estate development projects, including projects in Connecticut and New Jersey. George represented to some prospective investors that their funds would be held in an attorney trust account and personally guaranteed the return of their investments, with interest.

Based on George’s representations, investors invested more than $2 million in The George Group between 2005 and 2011, which he deposited in both the firm’s and his personal bank account. Instead of using investments to fund real estate development projects as promised, George used the money from new investors to pay existing investors in Ponzi-scheme fashion, as well as paying for his daughter’s Sweet 16, extensive renovations on his New Jersey home (that has since been foreclosed), the mortgage on a New Jersey home, the mortgage on a Florida home, taxes to the IRS, and traffic tickets. The defendant gave money to family members and friends. He also spent $2,905 for a reality video about himself (a “sizzle reel” for “The Tate Show,” is available on YouTube). The George Group had virtually no income-generating operations.

Each of the wire fraud counts on which he was convicted is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; postal inspectors of the USPIS, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates; and criminal investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with the investigation leading to today’s conviction.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph B. Shumofsky and Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.”

Federal Wire Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1343

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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.


“Sentencing Commission in sweeping review of prison terms for drug dealers”

August 16, 2013

The Guardian on August 15, 2013 released the following:

By: Dan Roberts in Washington

“The US Sentencing Commission has voted unanimously to begin a sweeping review of federal sentences for drug dealers in a move that could herald long-awaited reductions in America’s prison population.

Just days after attorney general Eric Holder called for a new approach to the so-called “war on drugs”, the commission met in Washington to agree a new policy priority that potentially goes far further than the Department of Justice can in lowering sentences.

As anticipated, the independent government agency, which issues sentencing guidelines to federal judges, will now spend the next few weeks reviewing its “drug quantity table” – the grid that determines prison lengths for dozens of different categories of offence – before publishing new recommendations in January.

A reduction in sentencing guidelines could still be blocked by Congress, but Holder’s speech on Monday has coincided with a new mood of reform in Washington that reverses decades of political pressure to increase penalties for drug dealers. His comments were welcomed by Senate judiciary committee chair Patrick Leahy and leading Republicans such as senator Rand Paul.

Currently the guidelines in the commission’s drug quantity table can result in first-time offenders facing sentences of 19 to 24 years, with no parole, for possession of the maximum quantities of heroin, crack or methamphetamine. Even dealers caught with 100g of cocaine can face between 27 and 33 months, according to the table.

A number of specific offences are also subject to mandatory minimum sentences prescribed by Congress, although Holder instructed US prosecutors on Monday to begin circumventing such automatic terms by changing the way they bring charges.

The seven commissioners who voted on the sentencing panel, including five senior judges, are now thought likely to go much further than this by formulating across-the-board changes to the recommended sentences.

Speaking afterwards, Dabney Friedrich, a former associate counsel in the Bush White House who sits on the commission, told the Guardian she thought that pressure in Congress to control the cost of the US prison system would be a key factor in ensuring political support for such a move.

The Department of Justice also issued a supportive statement on Thursday, which welcomed the commission’s progress.

“As the attorney general expressed earlier this week, we think there is much to be done to improve federal sentencing and corrections,” said DOJ official Jonathan Wroblewski. “Moreover, we think the US Sentencing Commission has a very big role to play in shaping that reform.”

In a statement issued after its meeting, the commission noted that drug offenders account for nearly half of all federal inmates, and that “an adjustment to the drug quantity tables in the sentencing guidelines could have a significant impact on sentence lengths and prison populations.”

“With a growing crisis in federal prison populations and budgets, it is timely and important for us to examine mandatory minimum penalties and drug sentences, which contribute significantly to the federal prison population,” added Judge Patti Saris, chair of the commission.

“The Commission is looking forward to a serious and thoughtful reconsideration of some of the sentencing guidelines which most strongly impact the federal criminal justice system,” she said. “I am glad that members of Congress from both parties and the Attorney General are
engaged in similar efforts.”

The Commission also pledged to work with Congress to reduce the “severity and scope of mandatory minimum penalties and consider expanding the ‘safety valve’ statute which exempts certain low-level non-violent
offenders from mandatory minimum penalties”. It will pass its final amendments to Congress in May.

Political reaction to the recent sentencing developments has been broadly positive. Senator Leahy said was pleased at Holder’s call for a review of mandatory minimum sentences.

Although he believes long sentences are appropriate in some cases, but the veteran Democrat said it believes judges should be given more flexibility rather than relying on mandatory requirements.

Others have expressed concern however at the new mood sweeping Washington.

William Otis, a former federal prosecutor at Georgetown University, said stiffer sentences in recent decades had contributed to lower crime rates.

“Two generations ago, in the 1960s and 1970s, our country had the wholly discretionary sentencing system Holder admires. For our trouble, we got a national crime wave,” he wrote in a USA Today op-ed.

“We have every right to instruct judges that some offenses are just too awful to allow an overly sympathetic jurist to burst through a congressionally established floor.””

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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.


FBI: “Former Kinloch Mayor Indicted for Lying on Employment Records”

July 11, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 10, 2013 released the following:

“ST. LOUIS, MO— Former Kinloch Mayor Keith Conway was indicted on federal charges of falsifying employment records while completing his original sentence at a St. Louis halfway house, the Dismas House.

According to the indictment, on May 1, 2013, the United States Bureau of Prisons transferred Conway from its prison facility at Marion, Illinois, to the Dismas House residential re-entry center in St. Louis. The Bureau of Prisons contracts with Dismas House for the housing and supervision of inmates and retains jurisdiction and responsibility over those inmates until their ultimate release from Bureau of Prisons’ custody upon completion of their sentences. As a resident of Dismas House, Conway was required to seek and obtain full-time employment and to submit paycheck stubs to verify that employment to the Dismas House Program Director. While a resident at Dismas House awaiting final release from the Bureau of Prisons, Conway falsely represented that he had obtained full-time employment and was permitted to leave the Dismas House premises during his purported work hours.

Conway was originally sentenced to 21 months in prison in November 2011 on charges of using Kinloch city funds to pay personal expenses, fund personal travel, and purchase a Florida vacation condominium timeshare; and attempting to influence Kinloch City Officials to provide false information to federal law enforcement about the criminal charges pending against him.

Conway, 49, was indicted by a federal grand jury on four felony counts of filing false documents.

If convicted, each count carries a maximum penalty of five years and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Public Corruption Unit, including officers of the St. Louis County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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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 prosecutors seek prison psychologist’s personal notes on Tucson shooting suspect

July 18, 2012

The Washington Post on July 17, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — Federal prosecutors say they want to see a prison psychologist’s personal notes on Tucson shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner.

In a motion filed Tuesday, prosecutors asked a federal judge for Bureau of Prisons psychologist Dr. Christina Pietz’s personal notes from her latest competency evaluations of Loughner from Feb. 8 to June 7.

Prosecutors say the pages containing Pietz’s notes of conversations with defense counsel can be redacted from the government’s copies.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges stemming from the January 2011 shooting that killed six people and wounded former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others.

He remains in custody at a Missouri prison facility where he’s undergoing treatment to make him mentally fit to stand trial. A status hearing is scheduled Aug. 7.”

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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

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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.


Bout could serve sentence in Russia – US Attorney General

May 16, 2012

RT.com on May 16, 2012 released the following (edited on May 17, 2012):

“The US may consider an application to transfer Viktor Bout, sentenced to 25 years in jail, to serve his prison term in Russia if it sends one, US Attorney General Eric Holder told Russian reporters.

The­ US Attorney General gave an exclusive interview to a number of Russian media outlets. A full interview will be published in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily on Thursday.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated recently that the country will do everything possible to get Bout back.

Earlier this week, the US Bureau of Prisons announced that it was reconsidering its plan to send the Russian businessman to the high-security Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Bout’s attorney Albert Dayan said that he was informed about this decision on Tuesday. On the same day, prosecutors notified the judge in a letter that the Bureau of Prisons was re-evaluating where to transfer Viktor Bout from a federal lockup in Brooklyn.

Viktor Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was found guilty of conspiracy to kill US nationals, including military officers and employees, conspiring to use anti-aircraft missiles and selling millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. He is now serving his 25-year prison term in the US.

Russia has repeatedly condemned Bout’s trial on the grounds that the charges were not connected to any crime, but rather were over alleged criminal intent.The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement that blasted the US trial as politically motivated, adding that it has blacklisted the US officials involved in the case.”

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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.


Making Crime Pay

April 9, 2012

The New York Times on April 7, 2012 released the following:

“By MATT RICHTEL

LARRY LEVINE, heavyset and bald, runs a thriving business out of a gated apartment complex in Ventura County, Calif., a setting that’s not at all bad for a home office considering some of the prison cells he’s lived in. But as he drops into his plush beige and white sectional couch to talk business, something is nagging at him.

The trouble is the new competition. All these guys are setting up shop, marketing themselves on the Internet, claiming they know the ropes and cutting into his market share.

To Mr. Levine, they’re a bunch of poseurs, with no street cred. After all, they’ve barely spent any time behind bars.

“Look at my résumé, I’ve got 10 years: high-security, medium, low,” said Mr. Levine, 50, who was in jail until 2007 on narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting and weapons charges. “These guys go in for a year and a half, maybe two. I’ve got more experience than all the rest of these guys combined.”

Mr. Levine is a prison consultant. The business — which entails advising people who are facing jail time on how to prepare for life on the inside, deal with medical issues, transfer to other prisons and even reduce their sentences — has been around for decades. It enjoys a burst of publicity when a boldface name like Bernie Madoff or Michael Vick hires a consultant.

But the business is changing. Behind the scenes, the profession is attracting a new crop of ex-cons who believe they can put their experience to work, rather than have it burden them in a tough job market.

And more competition means rising tempers and flying accusations. Some prison consultants say that others are so lacking in expertise that their businesses are practically criminal enterprises. Rancor among thieves.

“This industry’s exploding,” mourned Mr. Levine, who operates two Web sites, American Prison Consultants and Wall Street Prison Consultants. He reached to a nearby coffee table and picked up a piece of paper listing the names of several dozen competitors and the length of their prison sentences. This is not a rap sheet, it’s market research.

The business, he said, is “becoming saturated with people who don’t know what they’re doing.”

He and his competitors (some of whom find his prison time equally unimpressive) walk a fine marketing line, bragging about an extensive criminal record to attract customers. That can make it tough for potential clients to choose: How much incarceration time is enough? What kind of experience is right for the job — maximum security, solitary confinement, a knife fight?

To hear the consultants talk, most competitors aren’t worth the time of day.

“Let’s put it this way: If I was in prison, I wouldn’t share a chow table with Larry Levine,” said William Mulholland, who founded the Real Prison Consultant in 2010. He and Mr. Levine have had words about Mr. Mulholland directing people to free online resources about the prison system.

He also said Mr. Levine routinely criticizes lawyers as money pits, which Mr. Mullholland said only alienates lawyers who could be crucial allies for the fledgling industry. (Mr. Levine said Mr. Mulholland is afraid to criticize lawyers.)

“He’s like a used-car salesman,” Mr. Mulholland said of Mr. Levine.

Mr. Mulholland’s Web site identifies him as the “#1 Qualified Federal/State Prison Consultant in the United States.” It adds: “I Challenge any other Consultants as to their ‘So Called Certified Credentials.’ ”

He offers advice free, he said, so he can build credibility. There’s another reason: He’s not allowed to charge for his services. That’s because he remains under supervisory release and faces limitations on interacting with known felons, who could be among his clientele. He spent 21 years in prison for violent crimes; he’s been in gunfights, has beaten people with bats and sold drugs.

He said he is building his brand for when he can begin charging in June 2013. He also has a Twitter feed and a YouTube video. The name of his blog: The God of Time.

The Internet and social media certainly have given the business a boost, and the consultants are go-to guests on cable shows whenever a high-profile personality is indicted. The field includes Felony Prison Consultants, Executive Prison Consulting, the Real Prison Consultant, Faceless Prison Consultants, the Prison Coach, the Prison Doctor and others, around three dozen in all.

Their prices range widely; some charge by the hour, some by the service, from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands per client, depending partly on the consultant’s experience and work required. It’s not clear whether the number of customers is growing or just the number of people hanging out a shingle is.

The consultants’ Web sites promote a long list of services, including helping people petition to be sent to a jail nearer to home, getting them into a drug-treatment program that can reduce a sentence or transitioning them to a halfway house. Many people hire consultants simply because they’re scared and want to know what to expect. The consultants teach prison etiquette.

For example? “Never walk across a wet floor,” Mr. Mulholland advised, saying you might mess up the work of the prisoner manning the mop. And then he might kill you.

A Web site is where Vickie Skidmore, 58, stumbled onto Michael Frantz, an ex-convict who runs Jail Time Consulting. Ms. Skidmore was seeking help getting a transfer and some medical assistance for her son, Marcus Rosenberger, 36, sentenced recently to 33 months on several counts of wire fraud related to real estate transactions in Florida.

She talked to several consultants and settled on Mr. Frantz, she said, because he listened to her, sounded intelligent and lived in her home state. And he’d done time.

“I asked lawyers to help me, but they don’t understand what goes on in the inside,” she said.

Some consultants rely on testimonials. On its Web site, Executive Prison Consultants gets a shout-out from Tim Donaghy, a former National Basketball Association referee who pleaded guilty to charges related to betting on games. The defrocked referee is quoted as saying, “The professionals at EPC get results!”

The site attracted a potential new client named Jeff, a Missouri resident who last year pleaded guilty to wire fraud and, in a few weeks, will enter a federal prison camp in Kansas City for a one-year sentence. Jeff, who asked that his last name not be used because he did not want to widely publicize his conviction, said that he went looking for a consultant because, “I’m just interested in spending the least amount of time in prison as possible.”

He checked out a few other Web sites and corresponded with a competitor by e-mail, he said, but he was dismayed when the competitor responded with form-letter responses, including one that referred to helping Jeff and “his wife.” Jeff is not married.

Do the consultants make a difference?

They certainly can, according to people who work in the criminal justice system. A sharp consultant, they say, can help with complicated paperwork, in much the same way that a college consultant can help a family navigate complicated financial aid forms. That said, people can also do the work themselves.

Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, declined to comment on the industry.

Not all prison consultants are ex-cons. Some worked as prison guards or employ former prison officials. Others are lawyers. Their clean record is more of an asset than being able to brag about time behind bars, they say.

“You think a warden is going to change a decision based on advice from a former resident? That is just not going to happen,” said Joel Sickler, who runs Justice Advocacy Group and has been a prison consultant for 30 years and, before that, a prison guard. He said his unblemished past would go over better with prison officials when he’s trying to petition for, say, a client transfer.

The ex-convicts in the business see things differently, arguing that relevant experience matters.

Mr. Frantz, of Jail Time Consulting, prefers this metaphor: “If you had to have someone take your appendix out, would you go to a guy that runs a gas station?”

Mr. Frantz, 65, earned his nearly 36 months of experience in a federal prison camp in Miami after pleading guilty to tax evasion and Medicare-fraud charges.

He hired a prison consultant, and the experience led to an epiphany: crime could indeed pay. He decided to become a consultant himself.

Besides, his options were limited. “I knew when I got out, I’d be 62 years old, a convicted felon,” he said. “Who the hell was going to hire me?”

While in prison, he spent time in the law library, learning about penal regulations. He wrote “Jail Time,” a book about what to expect in federal prison that he published in 2009, a year after he was released, and started Jail Time Consulting. It was promptly shut down by a judge, who suspended the operation until Mr. Frantz ended his supervisory release in 2011.

In this business, bad news is just another marketing opportunity. Mr. Frantz’s Web site now reads: “Jail Time — the book a United States District Judge doesn’t want you to read.”

Like other prison consultants, he questions his competitors’ business practices. Their rates, he says, can be outrageous.

“You want a transfer, I’ll charge you $625, for goodness sake,” he said. “Other people are charging $2,500. Come on!”

The business is unregulated, no license required. There is a Web site called the National Registry of Prison Consultants — “the authority on trust in the marketplace.”

It was started last year by Steven Oberfest, the founder of the Prison Coach, who said he served 15 months in the ’90s after taking a plea deal for racketeering. (He said it was related to charges that his piano-moving company was involved in the theft and distribution of stolen grand pianos, accusations he denies.) He said the industry sorely needs self-regulation for it to be taken seriously.

“You can’t just have people popping into the industry,” he said. “Just because you’ve finished doing time, doesn’t mean you’re a better person.”

The registry has a list of the top 10 prison consultants, but lists only two, Mr. Oberfest and Mr. Levine, the consultant from Ventura County.

But Mr. Levine said he considered the registry to be “a hoax.”

“For me, my reputation and my experience is my badge of honor,” he said, not an affiliation with an industry group.

Mr. Levine said he thought the competition would thin out over time because the competitors lack marketing smarts. Besides, he argued, he has the criminal CV to back up the marketing.

If they handed out diplomas for prison savvy, he said, “These guys have maybe an associate degree. I have like a Ph.D. or above.””

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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

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Visitor Arrested for Allegedly Attempting to Smuggle Contraband into Metropolitan Detention Center

March 20, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 19, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN—On March 17, 2012, CARMEN GONZALEZ-ORTIZ, age 70, was arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle contraband into the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) located in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. GONZALEZ-ORTIZ is charged with possession of prohibited items within a federal prison facility.

The criminal complaint alleges GONZALEZ-ORTIZ entered the federal detention facility in order to visit her son, MIGUEL GONZALEZ-GONZALEZ, an inmate at MDC. It is further alleged GONZALEZ-ORTIZ entered the facility carrying inside her front waistband and inside her front pants pocket approximately 30 pills of what is believed to be the controlled substance known as Suboxone, 100 pieces of orange film also believed to be Suboxone, and two cellular telephone SIM cards, all wrapped in a balloon. In addition, it is also believed she was carrying approximately 13 grams of marijuana, which was wrapped in black electrical tape.

While visiting her son, GONZALEZ-ORTIZ was seen by a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officer who was monitoring the MDC visitation room surveillance cameras covertly removing the contraband from her pants pocket, and also, from inside her waistband, and handing them to her son. MIGUEL GONZALEZ-GONZALEZ then took the contraband and appeared to place it in his rectum.

GONZALEZ-ORTIZ and her son were subsequently escorted out of the visitation room and placed in separate holding areas within MDC. During the examination of MIGUEL GONZALEZ-GONZALEZ, the contraband items as seen on the MDC surveillance cameras were found.

Suboxone is a Schedule III Controlled Substance used to treat opiate addiction. Suboxone is a combination of the prescription medications Buprenorphine and Naloxone.

If convicted, GONZALEZ-ORTIZ faces up to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.

This case is initially being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles Walsh and was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP)-MDC Special Investigations Office and the FBI.

The public is reminded a criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. The U.S. government has the burden 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

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Viktor Bout Opinion and Order February 24, 2012

February 24, 2012

U.S. v. Viktor Bout, Case No. 1:08-cr-00365-SAS

Order Granting Viktor Bout’s Request for a Transfer to General Population

As stated in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York’s Docket Sheet:

“OPINION AND ORDER as to Viktor Bout. After fifteen months in solitary confinement with extremely minimal human contact and mobility, Viktor Bout requests that he be transferred to general population. The Supreme Court has noted that “[p]rison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution” and that “‘[w]hen a prison… practice offends a fundamental constitutional guarantee, federal courts will discharge their duty to protect constitutional rights. Because I “cannot simply defer to the Warden and abandon my duty to uphold the constitution,” I must grant Bout’s request…. CONCLUSION: For the aforementioned reasons, Bout’s request for a transfer to general population is granted. The BOP is directed to transfer Bout forthwith. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin on 2/24/2012)(ja) (Entered: 02/24/2012)”

Viktor Bout Opinion and Order February 24, 2012

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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.


Viktor Bout Wants Better Prison Conditions

February 9, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on February 9, 2012 released the following:

“By Chad Bray

A suspected Russian arms dealer convicted last year of conspiring to sell surface-to-air missiles and other weapons after getting caught in a sting operation in Thailand wants to be held under less restrictive conditions while he’s awaiting sentencing.

Viktor Bout, a former Soviet air force officer who inspired the character played by Nicolas Cage in the movie “Lord of War,” no longer wants to be held in the special housing unit, or SHU, at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan. He has been held there since he was extradited from Thailand in 2010 after two years of legal wrangling.

His lawyer, Albert Dayan, said in a letter to the court that Mr. Bout, 45 years old, is essentially held in solitary confinement with no human contact, no fresh air and no access to the prison commissary to supplement his diet. Mr. Dayan said the prison diet is inadequate for Mr. Bout’s needs as a vegetarian.

Mr. Bout was arrested by Thai authorities and U.S. narcotics agents in a sting in March 2008. A Thai court initially freed Mr. Bout in August 2009, but the U.S. appealed the ruling and he remained in custody. After diplomatic pressure, an appeals court in the Southeast Asian nation ruled to extradite the suspect to face his charges in the U.S., overturning an earlier ruling.

Mr. Dayan asked that Mr. Bout be moved to the prison’s general population, noting that Monzer al-Kassar, an alleged Syrian arms trafficker, was allowed to be in general population while at the MCC.

Kassar, 66, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2009 after he was convicted of conspiring to sell weapons and murder U.S. citizens following a similar sting operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

“[Bout] doesn’t know when the sun rise or sets,” Mr. Dayan said in the letter, which was read during a court hearing on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin seemed to agree with Mr. Dayan’s arguments.

“It seems harsh. It seems brutal,” she said. “It seems unnecessary. It seems like something should be done about it.”

Still, the judge upheld the November verdict finding him guilty of four conspiracy charges that he sold weapons to South American terrorists with the understanding that they would be used to shoot down U.S. helicopter pilots, the Associated Press reported. The judge said the reasons submitted by the defense were the same ones offered before the trial and the verdict, AP said.

The judge set a hearing for Friday to discuss the issue of his confinement further. Prosecutors on Wednesday said they need time to consult with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons before responding.

Mr. Dayan said that he wants to resolve the issue before Mr. Bout is sentenced, otherwise the special designation may follow him to the prison where he ultimately serves his time.

Mr. Bout faces up to life in prison on the charges. Sentencing is set for March 12.”

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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.