Ex-State Department Official Charged With Allegedly Taking A Bribe

October 16, 2012

Bloomberg on October 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Phil Milford

A former U.S. State Department official was arrested by the FBI and accused of taking a $30,000 bribe linked to renovation of a prison in Afghanistan, according to papers unsealed in federal court in Delaware.

Kenneth Michael Brophy, who supervised Afghan contractors in renovation of the Pol-i-Charki Prison in Kabul, was charged with receipt of an illegal gratuity by a public official and willful receipt by an executive branch employee of a payment for assisting the contractor, Katherine Arden, a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, said in court papers.

“There is probable cause to believe that Brophy accepted an illegal $30,000 payment” from the unidentified Afghan firm in exchange for “lobbying” the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of a company contract appeal, Arden wrote.

Brophy, a civil and structural engineer, worked for the State Department from 2008 to 2010, according to Arden. He was arrested last week when he traveled to Delaware to attend a relative’s wedding, and was released pending trial, according to court papers.

During an investigation, Brophy told authorities the alleged cash bribe was actually “slipped” into his coat pocket and he “did not notice the money” until he returned to his billet in the U.S. Embassy, Arden wrote.

Brophy claimed his wife in Dubai gave him $50,000 and that there was about $500,000 in cash and collectible stamps stored in a relative’s basement in Delaware, the agent said.

Federal agents found $29,000 in cash when they searched his Kabul quarters, Arden said.

Brophy’s lawyer, Edmund D. Lyons Jr., didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on the charges.

The case is USA v. Brophy, 1:12-mj-00171, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).”

————————————————————–

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

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

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

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


Bruno trial ready for February

May 30, 2012

TimesUnion.com on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“Jury selection for second trial of ex-Senate majority leader set to begin Feb. 4 in Albany

By Brendan J. Lyons

ALBANY — The second criminal trial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno is scheduled to begin in February.

A federal judge on Tuesday met with federal prosecutors and Bruno’s defense attorneys for the first time since Bruno was indicted May 3 on two felony mail fraud charges. The attorneys discussed the scheduling of pre-trial motions, and the judge set a Feb. 4 trial date.

Bruno is charged with depriving the state of his honest services by allegedly using his political leverage to benefit a business associate and friend, Jared E. Abbruzzese of Loudonville.

Bruno’s dealings with Abbruzzese led to a conviction on two counts of honest services fraud at Bruno’s first trial, which ended in December 2009. The law used to convict Bruno was later retooled by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared honest services convictions must include allegations of a bribe or kickback, and Bruno’s conviction was vacated last fall.

A mid-level appeals court in Manhattan rejected Bruno’s arguments that he not face a second trial. The panel ruled there was enough evidence to support a new indictment, and the court ruled federal prosecutors could seek new charges on a theory that Bruno had received kickbacks.

Bruno, 83, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting in the chambers of U.S. District Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe, according to court minutes.

In May 2010, Sharpe sentenced Bruno to two years in prison for his conviction on two of the eight counts of honest services fraud contained in the earlier indictment. The sentence was vacated after Bruno’s 2009 conviction was overturned.

The new indictment alleges Bruno received $440,000 in payments from Abbruzzese that were “disguised as ‘consulting’ payments and $80,000 in payments for a virtually worthless horse.”

The investigation of Bruno, called Operation Green Pastures, began in late 2005 when FBI agents started examining his use of private jet aircraft supplied by Abbruzzese, his horse-breeding partner. Abbruzzese flew Bruno to Kentucky horse country, New York City and exclusive Florida golf resorts — including trips that were largely bankrolled by Abbruzzese.”

————————————————————–

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.


US prosecutors: Ex-Mexican governor’s Texas properties bought with bribes from drug cartels

May 23, 2012

The Washington Post on May 22, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

McALLEN, Texas — Federal prosecutors allege the former governor of a Mexican state bordering Texas accepted millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels and invested the money in Texas real estate.

The allegations were levied in two property forfeiture cases filed Tuesday against Tomas Yarrington, who served as governor of Tamaulipas state from 1999 to 2004. No criminal charges have been filed.

Yarrington’s attorney says he’s reviewing the documents.

Yarrington was named earlier this year in the federal indictment of a man charged with money laundering in San Antonio. That indictment alleged leaders of the Gulf and Zetas cartels paid millions to Institutional Revolutionary Party members, including Yarrington.

In the forfeiture cases, U.S. authorities are trying to confiscate a condominium in South Padre Island and a 46-acre property in San Antonio.”

————————————————————–

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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.


D.C. taxi official turned FBI informant recalls role in corruption probe

April 3, 2012

Washington Post on April 2, 2012 released the following:

“By Del Quentin Wilber,

Leon Swain Jr. double-checked his recording device and then stepped from his black sport-utility vehicle into an overcast September Friday with one simple, yet potentially dangerous, task: to see if his cover had been blown.

“It’s showtime,” he thought.

For the past hour, Swain, a D.C. taxi official turned FBI informant in a public corruption probe, had been mulling over how to keep the investigation going, if only for one more week. He knew it would not be easy: That morning’s newspapers had been filled with headlines trumpeting the arrest of a D.C. Council aide, and his FBI handlers were nervous that their targets might suspect Swain was an informant.

Clad in a dark suit that hung loosely from his rotund frame, the taxi commission chairman took a deep breath and then lumbered across the parking lot to meet one of the targets sitting in an idling gold Mercedes-Benz.

In a city where federal authorities are investigating the campaigns of the mayor and the chairman of the D.C. Council, where a council member was forced to resign in January after pleading guilty to corruption charges and where lower-level officials seem to be indicted all too frequently, Swain not only turned down a substantial bribe but also became an FBI informant. He willingly wore a wire, accepted about $250,000 in payoffs from corrupt businessmen trying to control the D.C. taxi industry and spent two years looking over his shoulder wondering if anyone was onto him.

What did he get for his work? The voluble former D.C. police officer, a bespectacled 59-year-old retiree who shuffles because he has two wrecked knees, received not a dime, nor even a mention in self-congratulatory press releases issued by federal authorities. Stress wrecked his sleep, binge eating hoisted 60 pounds onto his considerable build, and his close-cropped hair and mustache turned increasingly gray. When his boss lost reelection, he was pushed out of his job.

Now, with the key figures recently sentenced, Swain is finally free to talk — about being an informant and what it was like to wonder whether the man in the Mercedes might put a bullet in his head.

To think it all started in a produce aisle.

The bribe

Swain was pushing his cart through a supermarket in College Park on the warm Saturday of Labor Day weekend in 2007 when Yitbarek Syume materialized at his side. A powerful figure in the D.C. cab industry, Syume had called 30 minutes earlier to demand a meeting with Swain, the newly installed chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

Syume — a diminutive and soft-spoken Ethio­pian American who had driven a cab before becoming a local taxi tycoon — had something important he needed to discuss, he told Swain over the phone. Immediately. The taxi commissioner, not wanting to offend Syume, suggested meeting while he shopped. Minutes later, Syume was throwing vegetables into Swain’s cart, extolling the importance of proper nutrition.

“What do you want, Yitbarek?” Swain finally asked, cutting short the small talk.

He and others in the taxi industry wanted to give Swain $20,000 to help him build “community support,” Syume replied. And with that, he left the supermarket, but not before promising to appear at Swain’s office Tuesday with the cash.

The taxi commissioner finished his errand in a fog and felt sick to his stomach. As he drove to his home in Southeast Washington, his mind roiled. Had he just been offered a bribe? What did Syume want for the money? He had met with Syume before and heard him and some of his associates talk about their visions for the industry and how they thought they could profit from a controversial switch from the zone fare system to taxi meters. Did that, Swain thought, have something to do with the promise of money?

Swain also wondered why Syume would offer him cash when the businessman knew he had spent 17 years as a D.C. police officer. He had even gained a modicum of fame on the force: In 1981, he drove John W. Hinckley to D.C. police headquarters moments after President Ronald Reagan was nearly killed by the would-be assassin, and he enlisted Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 to persuade a kidnapper to turn over an 18-month-old girl.

Swain, a lifelong city resident who has connections in the D.C. political community and has weighed runs for the D.C. Council, was on his second tour on the taxi commission.

Within days of taking office in 2007 and having heard rumors about corruption in the cab industry, he told a group of taxi drivers: “I don’t want your money; I don’t want your liquor; and I don’t want women. There is nothing you have that I want.” For a brief moment, Swain wondered if Syume’s ham-handed approach bore the hallmarks of an FBI sting.

This account of Swain’s involvement in the taxi cab case was built on interviews with Swain, current and former federal authorities and lawyers familiar with the case, and a review of court records.

That night, Swain decided to report Syume to an adviser to then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who had tapped him to be chairman of the commission. Then Swain spoke with D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who told him that she would send detectives to speak with him.

By Tuesday, the taxi commissioner was meeting with Syume in his Southeast office, which two D.C. police detectives had wired with recording devices before stationing themselves in a cramped adjoining bathroom.

Syume wasted little time in handing Swain an envelope stuffed with $14,000 in cash, telling him that he wanted to purchase licenses to operate cab companies. The next day, he gave Swain $8,000, explaining that he wanted to expedite the licensing process. He also said he thought the certificates would become increasingly valuable if the city limited the number of cab companies as expected.

Over the next two years, in exchange for licenses he didn’t realize were fictitious, Syume passed the taxi commissioner more than $200,000 in cash in folded newspapers, envelopes, shopping bags and even a pillow case — so much money, Swain says, that he remembers the payoffs as “just a blur.”

The role

Not long after the first bribe, the FBI took the lead. And it soon became clear to agents and federal prosecutors that Swain seemed to relish his role, perhaps revisiting glory days on the police force. He strapped a pistol to his hip (as a former D.C. police officer he is allowed to carry one). And drawing on his lengthy experience as a vice officer, he provided a stream of advice about techniques, didn’t always take instructions well and criticized agents when he thought they made mistakes. Once, he chastised an agent for repeatedly driving through his meeting place in a conspicuous Ford Crown Victoria.

“I was a pain,” Swain concedes.

Despite the commissioner’s bluster, law enforcement officials say Swain played the role of corrupt official to near-perfection — prodding and cajoling his targets while capturing every bribe and incriminating word on tape.

“Get the money straight,” he told one of Syume’s associates in a recorded conversation. “If you’re not going to get me the money, tell me. But don’t tell me you’re going to give me the money, then don’t show up with it.”

The undercover work and the stresses of his day job — implementing the meter system, for instance, sparked lawsuits and angry confrontations with taxi drivers — eventually wore him down.

He grew apprehensive that Syume and his financial backers, always nebulous in his mind, might resort to violence. Concerned that bystanders might get hurt in potential crossfire, Swain quit his church choir.

Twice divorced with three grown children, Swain removed every photograph and personal item — including a grandson’s hand-drawn birthday card — from his office because he worried Syume might target his family if things went sour. He even asked the FBI to buy him an expensive guard dog, a request that was denied.

“He did not look good,” LaVerne Swain-Thompson, one of Swain’s five siblings, recalled after seeing her brother in 2008 or 2009. “I could tell something was wrong. I asked him about it, and he just told me, ‘There’s something going on, but I can’t tell you about it.’ ”

Unable to talk to friends or family members — Swain was mostly a loner anyway — he came to increasingly rely on his D.C. police handler, Detective Joseph Sopata, a veteran officer who remained on the case with the FBI. Nearly every day, Sopata called Swain to measure his mood and keep him calm with reassurances and jokes.

One way Sopata reduced the tension was to wager that Swain could not slip non-sequiturs into his recorded conversations. When Swain uttered one such phrase, “the Great Gazoo,” during a meeting in his office, Sopata later told the taxi commissioner that he nearly burst out laughing in the nearby bathroom. (Sopata declined to comment.)

“Joe knew what I was going through,” Swain said. “Without him, I would have put an end to it. It was just overwhelming. He helped me through a very tough period.”

Swain also came to depend heavily on the District’s then-Attorney General, Peter Nickles. Known for his brusque demeanor, Nickles surprised Swain by calling at least twice a week to check on him, always expressing earnest concern.

“His effort was heroic,” Nickles recalled recently. “The roughest part was that it never seemed to end. The FBI would tell him it will be over in a week, then two weeks would pass and then a month would pass and they would have him accept more cash. . . . I asked him a couple of times if it was too much and I had to pull the plug, and he would say: ‘No, I love the city. I love my job. I’m determined to see it to its end.’ ”

‘I hear rumors’

As the investigation wore on, Swain met with more people suspected of being involved in the scam, including Abdul Kamus, an advocate for Ethiopian taxi drivers and a close associate of Syume’s. Swain accepted $20,100 from Kamus for taxi licenses, and the FBI soon confronted the suspect and persuaded him to also become an informant. While wearing a recording device, Kamus handed $1,500 to Ted Loza, a top staffer to the influential council member Jim Graham (D-Ward-1).

When Loza was arrested on a Thursday in late September 2009 and word spread that Kamus was an informant, Swain was told by a taxi driver that Syume was gunning for him. Then he got a call from an FBI agent who said that Syume was sitting in his gold Mercedes in a parking lot near the Taxicab Commission offices.

Swain and an undercover FBI agent were worried that Syume knew the taxi commissioner was an informant. Maybe he was waiting there to silence him, Swain thought.

Still, Swain and the agents wanted to keep the operation going until they could arrest Syume and several dozen taxi drivers on charges of bribing Swain to obtain individual operator’s licenses.

As he got out of his truck and shuffled toward the Mercedes, Syume was getting out of the car. Swain’s mind whipped through ways to handle Syume. As they converged, Swain decided to be bold, hoping to push Syume off balance.

“What the —- happened,” Swain barked before a bit of probing: “I hear rumors you were pissed at me and you were going to take me out.”

“Oh, no, trust me,” Syume said — though it quickly became clear that he would not be forgiving Kamus.

“The one [Kamus] will be eliminated,” Syume said. “You’ll see . . . eliminated soon. . . . Permanently eliminated.”

Despite the heat, Swain persuaded the businessman to continue with the scheme. The next week, authorities nabbed Syume and 36 taxi drivers at the D.C. police academy when they showed up to take their tests and obtain their certificates. The major players, including Syume and Loza, would all eventually receive prison terms.

In the weeks after the arrests, Swain didn’t celebrate. Instead, he checked himself into a hospital to be treated for fatigue. “I had to be taught how to sleep again,” he said.”

————————————————————–

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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.


Kim Davis Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury Allegeding Conspiring to Commit Extortion Under Color of Official Right, Extortion Under Color of Official Right, and Corrupt Solicitation or Acceptance of a Bribe

February 1, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 31, 2012 released the following:

“East Orange Construction Official Charged with Taking Bribe

NEWARK, NJ—A longtime construction official in the property maintenance department of the city of East Orange, N.J., was arrested this morning in East Orange by special agents of the FBI for allegedly taking a bribe from an East Orange property owner in exchange for his assistance in city government matters, U.S. Attorney Fishman announced.

Kim Davis, 45, of New York and formerly of Newark, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiring to commit extortion under color of official right; one count of extortion under color of official right—for accepting a $5,000 corrupt cash payment in exchange for official action; and one count of corrupt solicitation or acceptance of a bribe. Davis is expected to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.

According to the indictment unsealed today:

Davis is a certified technical assistant to construction officials in the building division of the property maintenance department of the city of East Orange. The building division is responsible for the enforcement of the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code and the approval of all applications for construction, alterations and renovations of buildings within the city.

Davis and an inspector in the code and enforcement division of the property maintenance department—referred to in the indictment as co-conspirator 1—conspired in 2007 to accept corrupt cash payments from East Orange property owners and developers in exchange for promises of official action in East Orange government matters related to the construction and development of property. Specifically, Davis accepted a $5,000 bribe from an East Orange property owner in September 2007.

The extortion and conspiracy counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the aggregate loss to victims or gain to the defendant. The bribery count carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the aggregate loss to victims or gain to the defendant.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Garret Mountain Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for the investigation leading to the indictment.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra L. Moser of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

————————————————————–

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 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.


Minnesota IRS Agent Charged with Soliciting a Bribe from Business Owners

June 7, 2010

An agent from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has been charged in federal court with soliciting and receiving payment toward a $9,700 bribe from two business owners in exchange for lowering the amount of taxes their business owed the IRS. Roger Anthony Coombs, age 40, of Circle Pines, was charged with one count of corruptly soliciting and agreeing to receive and accept anything of value personally in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. The criminal complaint was unsealed upon Coombs’s initial appearance earlier today in federal court.

The complaint alleges that on May 8, 2010, Coombs met the two business owners regarding an IRS audit of their business and said the business owed the IRS approximately $60,000. Coombs allegedly said he could make the situation “manageable,” and added he would arrange for the IRS to accept $11,000 instead of $60,000 if the business owners paid Coombs $9,700. Coombs, who began working with the IRS in June of 2009, would conduct audits of individuals and entities to determine whether those individuals or entities had correctly reported their tax liability to the IRS. On February 4, 2010, one of the two business owners received a letter from Coombs regarding the audit. On May 6, 2010, Coombs met with the business owners and the office of their accountant. At that meeting and without the accountant present, Coombs allegedly told the business owners they should meet somewhere away from the accountant’s office and without the accountant to further discuss the matter.

Because of his concerns about Coombs’s alleged proposal, one of the business owners secretly recorded their May 8 meeting. Coombs allegedly said he would have to lie about certain things in their audit. They agreed to another meeting where Coombs would receive a partial payment of the bribe. Following the May 8 meeting, the business owners reported Coombs’s activity to law enforcement.

Coombs and one of the business owners met on May 19, 2010, in Brooklyn Park. Agents observed the business owner providing Coombs with $3,000. Coombs said he had already arranged for another meeting on June 2, 2010, to exchange a second payment toward the full bribe amount. Coombs was arrested yesterday without incident.

If convicted, Coombs faces a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. All sentences are determined by a federal district court judge.

The federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. 201 , criminalizes solicitation of bribes by a public official in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. There must be a clear quid pro quo, in other words, a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act. The statute is broad in scope, and is meant to deter the corrupt influence of official acts by public officials.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

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.

Bookmark and Share