Federal “Criminal Indictment Is Expected for SAC Capital Advisors”

July 24, 2013

The New York Times on July 23, 2013 released the following:

“BY BEN PROTESS AND PETER LATTMAN

Federal authorities are poised to level a criminal indictment against SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund run by the billionaire Steven A. Cohen, capping a nearly decade-long insider trading investigation into one of Wall Street’s most prominent firms.

Prosecutors and the F.B.I. in Manhattan are expected to announce the charges in the coming days, according to people briefed on the matter, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The move, a rare aggressive action against a big company, could cripple SAC.

It is unclear whether SAC’s lawyers will try to settle at the last minute, though that is an unlikely option at this point. Mr. Cohen is not expected to be charged criminally, though authorities are still contemplating bringing charges against other employees at SAC.

While the legal deadline for filing some insider trading charges may have already passed, authorities are planning to navigate around that requirement by filing a broader criminal conspiracy case against SAC, these people said. As long as one of the trades cited in the case took place in the last five years – and some did – then the government has the power to sweep in older trades to highlight a continuing scheme.

Representatives for the government and SAC declined to comment.

The indictment would come on the heels of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s filing a civil action last week. It accused Mr. Cohen of failing to supervise employees suspected of insider trading. Those employees, Mathew Martoma and Michael S. Steinberg, had been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

In its order, the S.E.C. cited a 2008 e-mail forwarded to Mr. Cohen in which an SAC analyst explicitly stated that he had a “2nd hand read from someone at” the computer maker Dell, a source who provided financial information about the company before its earnings announcement. Minutes after receiving the e-mail, Mr. Cohen sold his entire position in Dell, the S.E.C. said.

In a 46-page document responding to the S.E.C.’s charges, Mr. Cohen’s lawyers said there was an innocent explanation for his not reacting to the suspicious e-mail: he did not read it.

“Cohen has no memory of having seen it and no witness will testify that they discussed it with him,” the lawyers said in the document, circulated internally at SAC and reviewed by The New York Times and referred to earlier in The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Cohen, the lawyers argued, received an average of 1,000 e-mails each day in 2008. At the time, he apparently opened only 11 percent of the e-mails, though the lawyers did not disclose how they arrived at that figure.

To locate an incoming message, Mr. Cohen would have to look at the only one of his seven computer screens that displays e-mail, a monitor that happened to be “to the far left” of the others, his lawyers argued. Then he would have to “minimize one or two computer programs” to call up his Microsoft Outlook window, which was “reduced” so that Mr. Cohen could see, at most, only five messages at once.

While the document makes a strong case that Mr. Cohen was not knowingly trading on inside information, it is unclear whether it will rebut the S.E.C.’s claims that he did not prevent employees from doing so. The S.E.C. must show that Mr. Cohen did not “reasonably” supervise them.

Mr. Martoma, 39, and Mr. Steinberg, 40, have each pleaded not guilty to criminal insider trading charges and face separate trials in November.

Mr. Cohen’s civil case will play out before an administrative law judge at the S.E.C. rather than in a federal court. On Tuesday, Chief Judge Brenda P. Murray was assigned to the case, and a hearing was scheduled for Aug. 26.

The SAC document, people briefed on the matter said, was adapted from the lawyers’ response to the S.E.C.’s so-called Wells notice that warned of potential charges. It also outlined the arguments that SAC most likely presented in an effort to persuade the Justice Department not to bring a criminal indictment of the fund.

A criminal charge against SAC would likely serve as a death blow to the firm. SAC has already been hobbled by the government’s investigation, with investors in the fund pulling about $5 billion from the fund since the beginning of the year. But an indictment may pressure more investors to pull their money. It could also force SAC’s trading partners, which include nearly all of the largest Wall Street banks, like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to suspend business with the firm.

Criminal charges against companies are extremely rare, and the government is reluctant to bring them given the potential collateral consequences. After the Justice Department indicted Enron’s accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, the firm was forced to close and 28,000 jobs were lost. SAC, which is based in Stamford, Conn., has about 1,000 employees.

Before bringing indictments against companies, federal prosecutors consider a number of factors when deciding to bring a case, including the pervasiveness of wrongdoing and the company’s level of cooperation in the investigation.

The Dell e-mails are expected to play a central role in the criminal case.

Even if he was a vigilant e-mail consumer, the lawyers say, Mr. Cohen could argue that the 2008 dispatch did not identify the source of the information about Dell, suggesting that it could have “lawfully” come from an authorized person at the company. The source, the lawyers note, did in fact turn out to be someone from the investor relations department, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing. The lawyers also note that the information in the e-mail “turned out to be wrong.”

Still, SAC made profits and avoided losses of $1.7 million. And once Dell released its earnings, Mr. Cohen sent an e-mail to Mr. Steinberg that said, “Nice job on Dell.”

Mr. Cohen sold his stake in Dell, the lawyers argue, with “good reason.” Mr. Cohen, they said, took the position based on the recommendation of a portfolio manager at SAC, whom people briefed on the matter identified as Gabe Plotkin. Minutes after Mr. Plotkin started selling, so did Mr. Cohen.”

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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.


Seven People Indicted for Alleged Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute

August 9, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 9, 2012 released the following:

“MINNEAPOLIS—A federal indictment unsealed yesterday charged seven individuals with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine. Heriberto Sanchez, age 24; Musaaleh Waheed Muhammad, age 35; William Elijah Carter, age 27; Rossco Antonio Ross, age 34; Charles Eric Jackson, Jr., age 44; Gregory Leroy Carter, age 25; and Travis Sentell Peeler, age 32, were charged with possessing five kilograms or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute them. Carter was also charged with one count of carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. The indictment, which was filed on July 23, 2012, was unsealed following the defendants’ initial appearance in federal court.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine between March 2009 and March 2012. On February 5, 2012, Carter allegedly possessed a Taurus 9mm pistol in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

If convicted, each defendant faces a potential penalty of life in prison. Carter also faces a potential penalty of five years in prison if convicted for carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Safe Streets Task Force, with assistance from the Wisconsin State Patrol and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Safe Streets is a FBI-sponsored task force that focuses on combating violent street crime as well as gang and drug trafficking offenses. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney LeeAnn K. Bell.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.”

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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.


Members of Alleged Sports Betting Ring Charged with Racketeering

August 8, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 8, 2012 released the following:

“PHILADELPHIA—A 23-count indictment was unsealed today charging 16 defendants in a conspiracy case involving the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization, a multi-million-dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the U.S. At its peak, the alleged organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year. All but one defendant (Joanna Mastronardo) are charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise (RICO) and conducting an illegal gambling business. The indictment alleges that between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2011, the organization utilized Internet websites and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place sports bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing, and other sporting events. Residents of Costa Rica staffed the Internet and telephone sites. The defendants allegedly hid more than $1 million in and around their homes, including in specially-built compartments and in PVC pipes that were buried in a yard.

Charged are Joseph Vito Mastronardo, Jr. and John Mastronardo, the two alleged leaders; Joseph F. Mastronardo, Eric Woehlcke, Harry Murray, Joseph Vitelli, Anna Rose Vitelli, Patrick Tronoski, Edward Feighan, Kenneth Cohen, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick, Ronald Gendrachi; and Joanna Mastronardo, the wife of Joseph Mastronardo, Jr. All, with the exception of Twaddle, were arrested this morning.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, FBI Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.

The indictment alleges that the defendants ran the organization using telephone, Skype, e-mail, text messaging, and in-person communication. They allegedly met bettors in-person, often in public buildings and parking lots, to collect or deliver payments that ranged from $1,000 to more than $100,000. The organization also allegedly used a gas station on Norristown Road in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, as a mailing address and drop-off site to collect gambling payments.

According to the indictment, members of the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization laundered the gambling proceeds using check cashing agencies, private bank accounts, and international bank accounts and provided instructions so that a losing bettor could pay a gambling debt through a charitable donation.

According to the indictment, leader Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. supervised the agents, sub-agents, websites (www.betroma.com and http://www.betrose.com), office employees; laundered some of the betting proceeds; collected debts; and instructed others to collect debts. Mastronardo’s brother, John, also a leader in the organization, supervised agents and sub-agents, laundered proceeds, and collected debts. John’s son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, worked as an office employee, collected debts, and performed other financial duties. Eric Woehlcke was initially a bookmaker and office employee, then worked as an office manager, and eventually became a leader supervising agents and sub-agents and laundering proceeds. Harry Murray was a bookmaker who resided in Florida and laundered proceeds in and outside the U.S. Joseph and Anna Rose Vitelli owned J&A Check Cashing where, in 2006, they allowed the organization to occupy an office for the illegal gambling business and which was also used to aid in the laundering of proceeds. Tronoski, Feighan, Cohen, Twaddle, Loftus, Squillante, Rounick, and Gendrachi were all bookmakers.

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr., in a conversation with bookmaker Harry Murray, commented, “Well, times like this I’m happy I’m a bookmaker,” to which Murray responded, “Me too.”

“Technology allowed the defendants to allegedly expand their gambling and money laundering operation far beyond the borders of Pennsylvania,” said Memeger. “Unfortunately for the defendants, however, we have the necessary statutory tools to investigate and prosecute those who openly flout our illegal gambling and financial reporting laws.”

“Illegal gambling and money laundering are the financial engines that help drive criminal enterprises like the one alleged today,” said Special Agent in Charge Venizelos. “The type of gambling activity charged here is illegal. These types of extensive and long-term joint investigative efforts, worked with our partners like the IRS and Montgomery County Detectives, are intended to dismantle criminal organizations that profit from illegal activities.”

“This alleged racketeering operation was anchored in Montgomery County but had tentacles spreading across the U.S. and beyond,” said D.A. Ferman. “Despite our attempt to shut it down in 2006-2007 with a Montgomery County prosecution, my office discovered that the defendants, as is alleged in the indictment, were back in business. We partnered with our federal counterparts to examine the full scope of the alleged illegal gambling operation. Today’s indictment reflects the work of many law enforcement agents across multiple agencies. These defendants tried to ‘game’ the system. Today, they crapped out.”

“The indictments announced today are the result of a significant and complex investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton. “With both law enforcement and financial expertise, our agents are uniquely qualified to assist with these types of cases by following the trail of money. Our office will continue to work aggressively to identify and target illegal financial gains.”

Joanna Mastronardo is charged with one count of structuring in which it is alleged that she participated in making approximately 72 deposits in amounts less than $10,000, totaling more than $500,000 in a 12-month period.

Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. is charged in all 23 counts of the indictment. The remaining 14 defendants are each charged with the RICO conspiracy and with prohibition of illegal gambling. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $6.3 million as alleged proceeds of the illegal enterprise.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P. Bologna.

An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed 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

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.