Miami-Area Residents Mayelin Santoyo and Jose Martin Olivares Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Alleged Roles in $190 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

October 1, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 27, 2013 released the following:

“WASHINGTON—Two Miami-area residents were indicted in connection with their alleged participation in a $190 million Medicare fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Christopher B. Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Office of Investigations, Miami Office, made the announcement after the indictment was unsealed.

Mayelin Santoyo, 28, and Jose Martin Olivares, 36, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive illegal health care kickbacks and two counts of receiving health care kickbacks. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.

According to the indictment, the scheme that Santoyo and Olivares allegedly participated in lasted from approximately February 2006 to October 2010. The scheme was orchestrated by the owners and operators of American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) and its management company, Medlink Professional Management Group Inc. (Medlink). ATC and Medlink were Florida corporations headquartered in Miami. ATC operated purported partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness, in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. Both corporations have been defunct since their owners were arrested in October 2010.

The indictment alleges that Santoyo and Olivares served as patient brokers who provided ineligible patients to ATC in exchange for kickbacks in the form of checks and cash. The amount of the kickback was based on the number of days each recruited patient spent at ATC. Throughout the course of the ATC conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for PHP services and who attended treatment programs that were not legitimate PHPs so that ATC could bill Medicare for the medically unnecessary services. According to court filings, to obtain the cash required to support the kickbacks, the co-conspirators laundered millions of dollars of payments from Medicare.

ATC, Medlink, and various owners, managers, doctors, therapists, patient brokers, and marketers of ATC and Medlink have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial. In September 2011, ATC owner Lawrence Duran was sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in orchestrating and executing the scheme to defraud Medicare.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Anne P. McNamara and Robert A. Zink of the Fraud Section.

Since their inception in March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Fifty-Nine South Florida Residents Charged as Part of Nationwide Coordinated Takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force Operations

May 3, 2012

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

107 Individuals Charged Nationally for Submitting Approximately $452 Million in Fraudulent Billing; South Florida Responsible for more than $137 Million in False Billings

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG); and Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division, announced that 59 South Florida residents were charged for their alleged participation in various schemes to defraud Medicare out of more than $137 million. The charges in South Florida are part of a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in seven cities that resulted in charges against 107 individuals, including doctors, nurses and other licensed professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $452 million in false billing. This coordinated takedown involved the highest amount of false Medicare billings in a single takedown in strike force history.

The joint Department of Justice and HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud. Approximately 400 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the national takedown.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “The Medicare program is a valuable and limited trust fund to provide much needed services for the poor, the elderly and the sick. Among the dozens of fraudsters charged in South Florida in this operation are clinic owners, nurses, therapists, patient recruiters, pharmacy owners, accountants, former social workers, and even beneficiaries, all of whom stole precious health care dollars through a variety of schemes. These get rich quick schemes at the expense of the most vulnerable in our society are unacceptable. We will continue to fight health care fraud on all fronts: we will prosecute each link in the fraud chain and each evolving fraud scheme.”

“The results we are announcing today are at the heart of an administration-wide commitment to protecting American taxpayers from health care fraud, which can drive up costs and threaten the strength and integrity of our health care system,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are determined to bring to justice those who violate our laws and defraud the Medicare program for personal gain. As today’s takedown reflects, our ongoing fight against health care fraud has never been more coordinated and effective.”

“More than half of those charged in a record setting health care fraud takedown today were from the Miami area. The local fraud totaled more than $137 million. Sadly, in Miami, multi-million-dollar health care fraud cases are no longer shocking in their magnitude or frequency,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Office. “Here’s my message clear and simple: you can run, but as evidenced by today’s nationwide takedown, you can’t hide.”

“Medicare fraud diverts precious resources from those who are eligible and need it most,” said Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s region covering Florida. “Today’s action should send a strong message that we will continue to track the evidence to ensure that those involved are held accountable.”

U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Henry Gutierrez stated, “Medicare fraud is an assault on resources for our most needy and vulnerable citizens. This joint effort by the South Florida law enforcement community demonstrates that those who engage in these illegal schemes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The South Florida defendants are accused of various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes and money laundering. The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services such as home health care, mental health services, and physical and occupational therapy. According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes never provided. In many cases, court documents allege that patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could submit fraudulent billing to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never provided.

Specifically, the South Florida cases announced as part of the nationwide Medicare Fraud Strike Force takedown include:

U.S. v. Odalys Fernandez, Kelvin Soto, Yumidia Naranjo, Jose Guerra, Yanuris Lima, and Servando Raya, Case No. 12-20230-CR-Ungaro

In this six-defendant case, two registered nurses employed by Ideal Home Health (Odalys Fernandez and Kelvin Soto) are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for purportedly providing services, such as skilled nursing and physical therapy, to homebound beneficiaries. In fact, however, the services were either medically unnecessary or were never provided. As part of the scheme, the defendants falsified medical paperwork to make it appear as if they had provided the services. Four other defendants (Yumidia Naranjo, Jose Guerra, Yanuris Lima, and Servando Raya) are alleged to be patient recruiters who paid Medicare beneficiaries so they would serve as patients at Ideal Home Health. Ideal, in turn, submitted more than $40 million in false billings to Medicare. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bernstein.

U.S. v. Eulises Escalona, Case No. 12-20293-CR-Lenard

This indictment charges Eulises Escalona with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks, and five counts of payment of health care kickbacks stemming from a $42 million home health care fraud scheme. According to the indictment, Escalona owned and operated Willsand Home Health, Inc. (Willsand), a home health agency that purportedly provided home health and physical therapy services to eligible Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, however, from January 2006 through November 2009, Escalona and others paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to induce them to become patients at Willsand regardless of medical need and to falsely attest that they had received the purported services. In addition, Escalona and others paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and to doctors who signed fraudulent prescriptions and plans of care (POCs) for unnecessary home health services for patients at Willsand. To execute the scheme, Escalona and others falsified patient files and POCs to make it appear as if the patients had qualified for and actually received home health services. In this way, Willsand allegedly submitted approximately $42 million in false claims to Medicare for services it claimed to have provided to approximately 622 beneficiaries. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Rodolfo Nieto, Jr., Case No. 12-20290-CR-Altonaga

This indictment charges Rodolfo Nieto, Jr., owner and operator of Ronat Home Health Care, Inc. (Ronat), with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to receive and pay health care kickbacks and three counts of receipt of kickbacks for his participation in a $60 million home health care fraud scheme. According to the indictment, from January 2006 through November 2009, Nieto accepted kickbacks in return for recruiting Medicare beneficiaries for placement at Nany Home Health, Inc. (Nany). Nieto allegedly caused Nany to submit claims to Medicare for home health services, including insulin injections and physical therapy, purportedly provided through Ronat. According to the indictment, Nany submitted approximately $60 million in false claims to the Medicare program for services that it purportedly provided to approximately 1474 beneficiaries. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph S. Beemsterboer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Maggie Leon, Yuderkis Pena Garcia and Eduardo Vilau, Case No. 12-20274-CR-Seitz

In this case, defendants Maggie Leon, Yuderkis Pena Garcia, and Eduardo Vilau, owners of Leon Medical and Leah Medical, were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud for submitting false claims to private insurance companies that were Medicare Advantage contractors under Part C of the Medicare program. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants submitted approximately $1,826,000 in false claims for expensive cancer and HIV injections that were not medically necessary and were not actually provided to the Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, the indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to pay kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries so that they would serve as patients at Leah and Leon. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Clark.

U.S. v. Ricardo Martinez, Case No. 12-20316-CR-Martinez

This indictment charges defendant Ricardo Martinez with health care fraud and paying kickbacks to patients. The indictment alleges that the defendant paid kickbacks and bribes to beneficiaries so that they would serve as patients at Rima Medical. The indictment further alleges that Martinez, through Rima Medical, submitted approximately $1,706,701 in false claims for expensive cancer and HIV injections to private insurance companies that were Medicare Advantage contractors under Part C of the Medicare program. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Clark.

U.S. v. Yaquelin Colls, Pedro Colls, and Jesus Fernandez, Case No. 12-20315-CR-Seitz

This indictment charges defendants Yaquelin Colls, Pedro Colls, and Jesus Fernandez with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, substantive health care fraud, conspiracy to pay health care kickbacks, and substantive charges of paying kickbacks. More specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants owned and operated Ma Medical and Therapy Services, Inc. (Ma Medical), and caused the submission of $972,068 in false medical claims for expensive cancer and HIV injections to a private insurance company that was a Medicare Advantage provider under Part C of the Medicare program. In a similar scheme, the defendants submitted $55,642 in false claims to another private insurance company under Part C of the Medicare program through a second clinic, Healthy Touch Rehab Center Inc. (Healthy Touch), which they also owned and operated at the same address as Ma Medical. The indictment further alleges that the defendants conspired to pay kickbacks and bribes to beneficiaries so that they would serve as patients at Ma Medical and Healthy Touch. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Clark.

U.S. v. Roberto L. Valdes Gonzalez, Francisca Gema Valdez, Gilberto Faure, and Alberto Sotolongo, Case No. 12-20275-CR-Moore

In this case, defendants Jose L. Valdes Gonzalez, a/k/a “Roberto Gonzalez,” Alberto Sotolongo, a/k/a “Ruben,” Gilberto Faure, and Francisca Gema Valdes were charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and substantive counts of health care fraud in connection with the operation of Ilva Pharmacy, Inc. More specifically, the indictment alleges that between 2009 and 2011, the defendants caused Ilva Pharmacy to submit approximately $1.3 million in false claims for prescription drugs that were not provided to Medicare and private insurance companies that were Medicare Advantage contractors under Part D of the Medicare program. The indictment additionally charges Gonzalez and Sotolongo with offering and paying kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to induce them to serve as patients at Ilva Pharmacy. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Couriel.

U.S. v. Alina De Armas, Case No. 12-20282-CR-Zloch

In this case, defendant Alina De Armas is charged with health care fraud and with paying kickbacks to patients. The information alleges that De Armas offered and paid kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries to induce them to serve as patients at Ultratech Medical Supplies, Inc., d/b/a Guines Pharmacy. In this way, from 2007 through 2011, De Armas caused the submission through Guines Pharmacy of approximately $3.6 million in false claims for prescription drugs to Medicare and private insurance companies that were Medicare Advantage contractors under Part D of the Medicare program. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Couriel.

U.S. v. Isaura Bou-Melendez and Gricel Font, Case No. 12-20113-CR-MGC

In this case, Isaura Bou-Melendez and Gricel Font are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Bou and Font, licensed therapists, owned and operated a comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility, Font & Bou Rehab Associates, Inc. The information alleges that from January 2006 through February 2010, Font and Bou allegedly submitted approximately $6.9 million in false claims to Medicare for physical and occupational therapy services that were not medically necessary or not provided as claimed. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Juenger.

U.S. v. Maritza Claudia Fernanda Lorza Ramirez, and James Arley Velasco Gonzalez, Case No. 12-60090-CR-KMW

This indictment charges defendants Maritza Lorza Ramirez and James Velasco Gonzalez with conspiracy to commit money laundering and substantive counts of money laundering. More specifically, the indictment alleges that between January 2006 and December 2010, Lorza and Velasco laundered approximately $3 million in health care fraud proceeds for several companies using their own corporations, including Celebration Home Services, Inc., 4 All Your Needs, Inc., VPP Staffing, Inc, and Work Force Innovations, Inc. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Juenger.

U.S. v. Orlando Conrado Piedra Jr., Case No. 12-60091-CR-KMW

This indictment charges Orlando Piedra, an accountant, with conspiracy to commit money laundering and substantive counts of money laundering. More specifically, the indictment alleges that between June 2007 and September 2009, Piedra laundered approximately $500,000 in health care fraud proceeds for several companies through his own company, Media Health Consultants, Inc. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Juenger.

U.S. v. Armando “Manny” Gonzalez, John Thoen, Wondera Eason, Paul Thomas Layman, Alexandra Haynes, Serena Joslin, Ivon Perez, Daniel Martinez, Raymond Rivero, Case No. 12-20291-CR-Altonaga

Armando “Manny” Gonzalez, John Thoen, Wondera Eason, Paul Thomas Layman, Alexandra Haynes, and Serena Joslin are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud through a company called Health Care Solutions Network (HCSN). Additionally, defendants Gonzalez, Daniel Martinez, Raymond Rivero, and Ivon Perez are charged with conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks; defendants Martinez, Rivero, and Perez are charged with substantive counts of soliciting and receiving health care kickbacks; defendants Gonzalez and Thoen are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and defendant Gonzalez is charged with substantive counts of money laundering. More specifically, the indictment alleges that between November 2004 and March 2011, Gonzalez, Thoen, Eason, Layman, Haynes, and Joslin conspired to submit approximately $63 million in false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for mental health services that were neither necessary nor provided. The indictment also alleges that Gonzalez conspired with owners of Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs), including Martinez, Rivero, and Perez to pay and receive health care kickbacks in exchange for referring Medicare beneficiaries to HCSN. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Sarah Da Silva Keller, Case No. 12-20289-CR-Cooke

Sarah Da Silva Keller is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. More specifically, the criminal information alleges that between April 2006 and February 2008, Keller conspired with others at HCSN to submit false claims to Medicare for mental health services that were neither medically necessary nor provided. The information further alleges that HCSN submitted approximately $63 million in false claims to Medicare. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Alba Serrano, Case No. 12-20285-CR-Seitz

Alba Serrano is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The criminal information alleges that Serrano, the owner of Elsa’s House of the Elderly, a Miami-Dade ALF, referred residents from her ALF to American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC) in exchange for kickbacks. ATC was a Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) that submitted false claims for intensive mental health services, called Partial Hospitalization Program, based on Serrano’s Medicare beneficiary referrals. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Bobby Ramnarine, Case No. 12-20288-CR-Middlebrooks

Bobby Ramnarine is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The criminal information alleges that Ramnarine, the owner of Elmina’s ALF, in Broward County, recruited residents from Elmina’s to become patients at ATC in exchange for kickbacks. ATC submitted false claims for PHP services based on Ramnarine’s Medicare beneficiary referrals. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Giuseppe Pellerito, Case No. 12-20292-CR-Cooke

In this case, defendant Giuseppe Pellerito is charged with conspiracy to receive health care kickbacks and substantive counts of receiving kickbacks. The indictment alleges that Pellerito, the owner of Florida Sober House (FSH), received kickbacks for recruiting residents from FSH to become patients at ATC. ATC, in turn, submitted false claims for PHP based on Pellerito’s referrals. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Hassan Collins, Case No. 12-20286-CR-Moore

Hassan Collins is charged with one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks. According to the criminal information, Collins was the owner of New Way Recovery Inc. (NWR), which operated several halfway houses in Broward County. Collins allegedly received kickbacks for recruiting Medicare beneficiaries who resided at NWR to become patients at ATC. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Jean Luc Veraguas, Case No. 12-20287-CR-Moreno

Jean-Luc Veraguas is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The criminal information alleges that Veraguas was the owner of Neu Ways Inc., which operated several halfway houses in Broward County. Veraguas allegedly referred residents at his houses to ATC in exchange for kickbacks. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Steven Kim of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

U.S. v. Pablo Orama, Vivian Augustine, a/k/a Vivian Salazar, Ariane Marchioro Amorim, Jose Orelvis Ortega, Marlen Diosdada Garcia, Ivon Perez, Marianela Terrero, Jose Abreu-Gonzalez, Elba M. Caicedo, Carlos A. Herrera, Marisela Sherwood, Nancy Diaz, Daymi Fuentes Gil, Olga Martinez Rodriguez, Yuria Perez Rivero, and Joel Loyola, Case No. 12-20265-CR-Middlebrooks(s)

In this case, 16 defendants are charged with conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks and substantive counts of paying and receiving kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program. According to the indictment, defendant Pablo Orama was the owner of Superstar Home Health, a Miami-Dade County home health agency that purportedly provided skilled nursing services and physical therapy to homebound Medicare beneficiaries. Vivian Augustine and Ariane Amorim were employees of the company. Jose Orelvis Ortega, Marlen Garcia, Ivon Perez, Marianela Terrero, Jose Abreu-Gonzalez, Elba Caicedo, Carlos Herrera, Marisela Sherwood, and Nancy Diaz were recruiters who offered money to Medicare beneficiaries in return for their agreement to serve as patients at Superstar. Defendants Daymi Fuentes Gil, Olga Rodriguez, Yuria Rivero, and Joel Loyola were Medicare beneficiaries who accepted kickbacks in return for agreeing to serve as patients at Superstar. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric E. Morales.

U.S. v. Jorge Luis Reyes and Waldo Gonzalez, Case No. 12-14030-CR-Moore

This indictment charges Jorge Luis Reyes and Waldo Gonzalez, owners of a medical clinic that purported to treat HIV-positive Medicare beneficiaries at locations in Miami-Dade and St. Lucie Counties. According to the indictment, between November 2005 and January 2009, the defendants submitted approximately $15,201,162 in fraudulent claims to Medicare for treatment that was not provided, and in many cases would not have been medically necessary. The majority of the fraudulent claims (more than $13.6 million) were submitted to private insurance companies that were a Medicare Advantage contractor under Part C of the Medicare program. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Osborne.

U.S. v. Manotte Bazile, Case No. 12-20284-CR-Lenard

Defendant Manotte Bazile, a former social worker and licensed intern at Biscayne Milieu, was charged with health care fraud conspiracy for purportedly treating patients who did not qualify for PHP treatment. This case is part of larger indictment involving of Biscayne Milieu, a CMHC that was involved in the submission of $57 million in false claims to Medicare for purportedly providing PHP services to Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for or receive the treatments that were billed to Medicare. In this case, Bazile assisted non-U.S. citizen patients by completing immigration forms on their behalf that falsely indicated that the patients suffered from mental illnesses, thereby fraudulently enabling the patients to avoid taking the citizenship test. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Shick.

U.S. v. Roselyn Nicole Charles, Case No. 12-20283-CR-Ungaro

Defendant Roselyn Nicole Charles, a former patient recruiter at Biscayne Milieu, was charged with conspiracy to pay health care fraud kickbacks. More specifically, the criminal information alleges that Charles recruited patients to participate in Biscayne Milieu’s PHP in exchange for kickbacks. These patients, who did not qualify for PHP treatment, were promised assistance with their U.S. citizenship applications in exchange for their participation in Biscayne Milieu’s PHP. This case is part of larger indictment of Biscayne Milieu, a CMHC that was involved in the submission of more than $57 million in false claims to Medicare for purportedly providing PHP services to Medicare beneficiaries who did not qualify for PHP treatment or receive the treatments that were billed to Medicare. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Shick.

The cases announced today are being prosecuted and investigated by Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams comprised of attorneys from the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Southern District of Texas, the Central District of California, the Middle District of Louisiana; the Northern District of Illinois, and the Middle District of Florida; and agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,330 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $4 billion. Miami was the first Strike force city in the nation, and the model for others that followed.

An indictment or information is only an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.”

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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.


Two Physicians Indicted in an Alleged Conspiracy to Defraud the IRS by Concealing Their Income and Filing False Tax Returns

March 29, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“GREENBELT, MD—A federal grand jury has indicted cardiologist Abdul H. Fadul, age 75, and Ali Al-Attar, age 49, a doctor of internal medicine, of Alexandria and McLean, Virginia, respectively, today on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States by attempting to hide their true income and aiding in the preparation of false tax returns.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric C. Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“This case should serve as a warning to anyone who is tempted to cheat on their taxes,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The IRS can and will pursue evidence of tax fraud and bring federal criminal charges.”

According to the indictment, Fadul and Al-Attar held joint ownership interests in nine medical practices located in Maryland and Virginia, with each medical practice having its own bank account. For tax years 2004 and 2005, Fadul and Al-Attar engaged an accounting firm in Maryland to prepare income tax returns for themselves and the joint medical practices. The defendants advised the accounting firm that it was standard practice for each of the joint medical practices to deposit the business receipts it generated, including payments from patients and insurance companies, into its own bank account. On March 26, 2004, Fadul and Al-Attar opened a joint bank account in their own names, into which they began depositing business receipts without telling their accountants.

The five-count indictment alleges that from March 26, 2004 through July 12, 2006, Fadul and Al-Attar conspired to defraud the U.S. by concealing their total income. Specifically, Fadul and Al-Attar deposited a total of over $500,000 in checks from patients and insurance companies for medical services rendered into the joint account in their names, rather than into the bank account of the medical practice that had generated the payment. The defendants then allegedly spent the money on personal items including real estate and other personal investments.

The indictment further alleges that Fadul opened a joint account with his wife and a separate account in his name only, which he then used to deposit payments from patients and insurance companies for services rendered by Fadul at medical practices he owned, including Cardio Vascular Center LLL, which Fadul owned with his wife. Fadul used the funds in both the joint account he owned with his wife and his personal account for his own enjoyment, including a $155,000 payment to the Fisher Island Club in Florida.

Fadul and Al-Attar concealed these personal accounts from the accounting firm, causing the accounting firm to prepare 2004 and 2005 income taxes for the doctors and their wives that fraudulently omitted the income the doctors had deposited into their personal accounts. Fadul and Al-Attar are both charged in the conspiracy and with aiding in the preparation of false tax returns for tax year 2005. Fadul is also charged with aiding in the preparation of false tax returns for tax years 2006 and 2007.

Fadul and Al-Attar face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy. Al-Attar faces a maximum of three years in prison for aiding in the preparation of a false tax return and Fadul faces a maximum of three years in prison on each of three counts of aiding in the filing of false tax returns. No court appearance has been scheduled.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the IRS-CI, FBI, and HHS Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant United States Attorney Daren Firestone and Assistant United States Attorney David I. Salem, who are prosecuting the case.”

US v Abdul H. Gadul and Ali Al-Attar – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 371

26 U.S.C. § 7206

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Alicia Vasquez Arrested and Charged by a Federal Grand Jury for Alleged Conspiracy and Anti-Kickback Violations

January 29, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 27, 2012 released the following:

“McAllen-Area Health Care Marketer Arrested for Conspiracy and Anti-Kickback Violations

MCALLEN, TX—The owner of a purported health care resource center has been charged by a federal grand jury with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of soliciting and receiving kickback payments in violation of the federal anti-kickback statute, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Alicia Vasquez, of San Juan, Texas, the owner of David’s Star Loving Vision Resource Center (DSLV), was charged in a three-count indictment returned under seal on Nov. 1, 2011. The indictment was unsealed this morning, following the arrest of Vasquez by FBI and Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General (DHHS-OIG) agents. Vasquez, 51, is scheduled to appear in McAllen federal court later this morning for an initial appearance.

The federal anti-kickback statute prohibits individuals and entities from knowingly and willfully paying or offering to pay, as well as soliciting or receiving, remuneration (money or other things of value) in return for the referral of patients for medical services or items which are benefits under a federal health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. A violation of the anti-kickback statute is a felony offense that is punishable by up to five years in federal prison without parole and a $25,000 fine.

According to allegations in the indictment, from September 2009 through April 2011, Vasquez solicited numerous Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries through DSLV for the purpose of referring them to a variety of health care providers in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties including durable medical equipment (DME) companies, physicians and home healthcare agencies.

Over time, Vasquez allegedly referred the Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to these providers in exchange for a total of at least $70,000 in payments in violation of the anti-kickback statute. In turn, the providers billed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Medicare and Medicaid programs as a result of the allegedly illegal referrals. The indictment further charges that Vasquez, and the providers to which she referred beneficiaries, undertook a variety of measures to conceal Vasquez’s involvement with respect to the referrals. For example, the indictment alleges one owner of a DME company paid kickbacks to Vasquez through a third-party—referred in the indictment as “Person A.” The kickbacks were allegedly deposited into Person A’s bank account, from where the money was later diverted to Vasquez.

The ongoing investigation in this case is being conducted by the FBI and DHHS-OIG. Assistant United States Attorney Greg Saikin is prosecuting the case.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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

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

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


Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng, Hia Soo Gan Benson, and Hossein Larijani Indicted in an Alleged Fraud Conspiracy Involving Exports to Iran of U.S. Components Later Found in Bombs in Iraq

October 25, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 25, 2011 released the following:

“Five Individuals Indicted in a Fraud Conspiracy Involving Exports to Iran of U.S. Components Later Found in Bombs in Iraq

Indictment Also Alleges Fraud Conspiracy Involving Illegal Exports of Military Antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong

WASHINGTON—Five individuals and four of their companies have been indicted as part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States that allegedly caused thousands of radio frequency modules to be illegally exported from the United States to Iran, at least 16 of which were later found in unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq. Some of the defendants are also charged in a fraud conspiracy involving exports of military antennas to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Yesterday, authorities in Singapore arrested Wong Yuh Lan (Wong), Lim Yong Nam (Nam), Lim Kow Seng (Seng), and Hia Soo Gan Benson (Hia), all citizens of Singapore, in connection with a U.S. request for extradition. The United States is seeking their extradition to stand trial in the District of Columbia. The remaining individual defendant, Hossein Larijani, is a citizen and resident of Iran who remains at large.

The arrests and the indictment were announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John Morton, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Mark Giuliano, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary of Commerce; and David Adelman, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.

“Today’s charges allege that the defendants conspired to defraud the United States and defeat our export controls by sending U.S.-origin components to Iran rather than to their stated final destination of Singapore. Ultimately, several of these components were found in unexploded improvised explosive devices in Iraq,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “This case underscores the continuing threat posed by Iranian procurement networks seeking to obtain U.S. technology through fraud and the importance of safeguarding that technology. I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked on this extensive investigation.”

“These defendants misled U.S. companies in buying parts that they shipped to Iran and that ended up in IEDs on the battlefield in Iraq,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This prosecution demonstrates why the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes cases involving misrepresentations regarding the intended use of sensitive technology so seriously. We hope for a swift response from Singapore to our request for extradition.”

“One of Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) top enforcement priorities is preventing sensitive technology from falling into the hands of those who might seek to harm American personnel or interests—whether at home or abroad,” said ICE Director Morton. “This international investigation conducted by ICE’s HSI and our law enforcement partners demonstrates the importance of preventing U.S. technology from falling into the wrong hands, where it could potentially be used to kill or injure our military members and our allies. Our agency will continue to work closely through our attachés to identify these criminals, dismantle their networks, and ensure they are fully prosecuted.”

“This multi-year investigation highlights that acquiring property by deceit has ramifications that resonate beyond the bottom line and affects our national security and the safety of Americans worldwide,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Giuliano. “We continue to work side-by-side with our many partners in a coordinated effort to bring justice to those who have sought to harm Americans. We consider this investigation as the model of how we work cases—jointly with the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Commerce/Office of Export Enforcement and collectively with our foreign partners to address the threats posed by Iranian procurement networks to the national security interests of the United States both here and abroad.”

“These cases are the product of vigorous, cooperative law enforcement focused on denying to Iran items that endanger our coalition forces on the battlefield in Iraq,” said Under Secretary of Commerce Hirschhorn. “We will continue aggressively to go after such perpetrators—no matter where they operate—to guard against these types of threats.”

U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, David Adelman, praised the cooperation within the U.S. executive branch agencies and with the Singaporean authorities. “Twenty-first century law enforcement is most effective when countries work collaboratively as evidenced by this strong, cooperative effort between the U.S. and Singapore. Congratulations to all the officials in both our countries who made this happen,” he said.

The Charges

The indictment, which was returned in the District of Columbia on Sept. 15, 2010, and unsealed today, includes charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, smuggling, illegal export of goods from the United States to Iran, illegal export of defense articles from the United States, false statements and obstruction of justice.

The charged defendants are Iranian national Larijani, 47, and his companies Paya Electronics Complex, based in Iran, and Opto Electronics Pte, Ltd., based in Singapore. Also charged is Wong, 39, an agent of Opto Electronics who was allegedly supervised by Larijani from Iran. The indictment also charges NEL Electronics Pte. Ltd., a company in Singapore, along with NEL’s owner and director, Nam, 37. Finally, the indictment charges Corezing International Pte. Ltd., a company in Singapore that maintained offices in China, as well as Seng, 42, an agent of Corezing, and Hia, 44, a manager, director and agent of Corezing.

Wong, Nam, Seng and Hia allegedly conspired to defraud the United States by impeding U.S. export controls relating to the shipment of 6,000 radio frequency modules from a Minnesota company through Singapore to Iran, some of which were later found in unexploded IEDs in Iraq. Seng and Hia are also accused of conspiring to defraud the United States relating to the shipment of military antennas from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore has agreed to seek extradition for Wong and Nam on the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States relating to the components shipped to Iran, and to seek extradition for Seng and Hia on the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States relating to the military antenna exports.

In coordination with the criminal actions announced today, the Commerce Department announced the addition of 15 persons located in China, Hong Kong, Iran and Singapore to the Commerce Department’s Entity List. In addition to the five individual defendants in this case, the Commerce Department named additional companies and individuals associated with this conspiracy. In placing these parties on the Entity List, the Commerce Department is imposing a licensing requirement for any item subject to Commerce regulation with a presumption that such a license would be denied.

Exports of U.S. Components Later Found in IEDs

According to the indictment, IEDs caused roughly 60 percent of all American combat casualties in Iraq between 2001 and 2007. The first conspiracy alleged in the indictment involved radio frequency modules that have several commercial applications, including in wireless local area networks connecting printers and computers in office settings. These modules include encryption capabilities and have a range allowing them to transmit data wirelessly as far as 40 miles when configured with a high-gain antenna. These same modules also have potentially lethal applications. Notably, during 2008 and 2009, coalition forces in Iraq recovered numerous modules made by the Minnesota firm that had been utilized as part of the remote detonation system for IEDs.

The indictment alleges that, between June 2007 and February 2008, the defendants fraudulently purchased and caused 6,000 modules to be illegally exported from the Minnesota company through Singapore, and later to Iran, in five shipments, knowing that the export of U.S.-origin goods to Iran was a violation of U.S. law. In each transaction, the defendants allegedly told the Minnesota firm that Singapore was the final destination of the goods. The defendants also caused false documents to be filed with the U.S. government, in which they claimed that a telecommunications project in Singapore was the final end-use for the modules. In reality, each of the five shipments was routed from Singapore to Iran via air cargo. The alleged recipient of all 6,000 modules in Iran was Larijani, who had directed Wong, his employee in Singapore, to order them.

According to the indictment, the defendants profited considerably from their illegal trade. The defendants allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars for arranging these illegal exports from the United States through Singapore to Iran.

The indictment alleges that several of the 6,000 modules the defendants routed from Minnesota to Iran were later discovered by coalition forces in Iraq, where they were being used as part of the remote detonation systems of IEDs. In May 2008, December 2008, April 2009, and July 2010, coalition forces found no less than 16 of these modules in unexploded IEDs recovered in Iraq, the indictment alleges.

During this period, some of the defendants were allegedly communicating with one another about U.S. laws prohibiting the export of U.S.-origin goods to Iran. For example, between October 2007 and June 2009, Nam contacted Larijani in Iran at least six times and discussed the Iran prohibitions and U.S. prosecutions for violation of these laws. Nam later told U.S. authorities that he had never participated in illicit exports to Iran, even though he had participated in five such shipments, according to the indictment.

Exports of Military Antennas

The indictment further charges Seng, Hia, and Corezing with a separate fraud conspiracy involving the illegal export of two types of military antenna from the United States. The indictment alleges that these defendants conspired to defraud the United States by causing a total of 55 cavity-backed spiral antennas and biconical antennas to be illegally exported from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required State Department license.

These military antennas are controlled for export as U.S. munitions and are used in airborne and shipboard environments. The indictment states that the biconical antenna, for example, is used in military aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom, the F-15, the F-111, the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-16 combat jets.

Seng, Hia and Corezing are alleged to have, among other things, conspired to undervalue the antennas to circumvent U.S. regulations on the filing of shipper’s export declarations to the U.S. government. They also allegedly used false names and front companies to obtain the antennas illegally from the United States.

Additional Misrepresentations

The indictment further alleges that Larijani, based in Iran, made false statements about doing business with an accused Iranian procurement agent and that he attempted to obstruct an official proceeding by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In January 2010, the Department of Commerce placed Larijani’s company, Opto Electronics, on the Entity List, which is a list of companies to which U.S. businesses cannot export controlled dual-use items without obtaining U.S. government licenses. In response, Larijani repeatedly contacted Commerce Department officials in Washington, D.C., from Iran, requesting that his company be removed from the Entity List, according to the indictment. Commerce officials advised Larijani that, in considering whether his firm should be removed from the list, he needed to disclose whether he or his firm had any involvement with Majid Kakavand or Evertop Services Sdn Bhd.

Kakavand is an accused Iranian procurement agent who has been indicted in the United States, along with his Malaysian company Evertop Services, for illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran, including to military entities in Iran involved in that nation’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Kakavand remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Iran.

According to the indictment, Larijani denied to Commerce officials on three occasions that he or his company, Opto Electronics, had done any business with Kakavand or Evertop Services. In fact, the indictment alleges that Larijani had been in communication with others about his business dealings with Kakavand on at least five occasions from 2006 through 2009.

This investigation was jointly conducted by ICE agents in Boston and Los Angeles; FBI agents in Minneapolis; and Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security agents in Chicago and Boston. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, particularly the Justice Department Attaché in the Philippines, as well as the FBI and ICE Attachés in Singapore.

U.S. law enforcement authorities thanked the government of Singapore for the substantial assistance that was provided in the investigation of this matter.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Asuncion and John W. Borchert of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; and Trial Attorneys Jonathan C. Poling and Richard S. Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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

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

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


Minnetta Walker an Ex-TSA Officer Admits to Aiding Drug Suspects Through the Buffalo Niagara International Airport

August 29, 2011

The Buffalo News on August 26, 2011 released the following:

“By Dan Herbeck

Says she helped them get through security

A former federal security officer admitted Friday that she helped members of a local drug gang smuggle cash through the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Minnetta Walker, who was arrested in March after an 11-month investigation, admitted that she helped an alleged member of the drug ring use a fake name for traveling and helped him bypass security scanners at the airport.

The 43-year-old Buffalo woman also admitted that she once warned two of the man’s alleged drug associates that federal agents were tailing them in the airport.

The case raises disturbing questions:

  • Did Walker, an employee of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, act alone?
  • Is her case an indication of serious security problems at the airport?
  • If Buffalo drug dealers can evade airport security to smuggle cash, could terrorists use the same methods to smuggle dangerous weapons or substances?

Federal officials said they could not provide specific answers to those questions Friday afternoon, but no other officials of the TSA or the airport are charged in the case, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

Hochul said he hopes the case will cause the TSA to take a close look at security at airports in Buffalo and other cities, to determine whether improvements need to be made.

“It is certainly of concern to the Department of Justice,” said Hochul, the region’s chief federal prosecutor. “I would certainly recommend that there be an ongoing review … There definitely needs to be a learning experience [for] all of us.”

The tactics Walker used are being closely examined to make sure others cannot repeat them, said George W. Gast, who oversees airport security as chief of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police.

Walker was arrested after an investigation by Buffalo agents of the FBI, NFTA Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

In a related case Thursday, a former employee of the Buffalo city clerk’s office pleaded guilty to a felony, admitting that she made up a false birth certificate that an alleged drug dealer, Derek Frank, used for interstate travel.

Regina McCullen, 53, a former customer assistant who was fired by the city in May, pleaded guilty to an identity fraud conspiracy charge.

The Buffalo News learned that at least one other person — an individual who is close to McCullen and works for an airline — is also expected to be charged criminally in the case.

Walker has not been charged with receiving payoffs or gratuities of any kind from the drug traffickers she helped, Hochul said. The prosecutor said he really doesn’t know at this point why Walker did it.

When District Judge Richard J. Arcara asked Walker why she helped the drug dealers, she had little information for him.

“I don’t know … I wasn’t thinking,” she said.

But her court-appointed attorney, James DeMatteo, said Walker told him she did have a reason, and it wasn’t money.

“She told me that Derek Frank is a close friend of her family, and that she did this for one reason — to help a friend,” DeMatteo said. “I know the government doesn’t believe her, but I don’t know of one piece of evidence they have that she got money from any of these guys. She certainly hasn’t been out buying expensive cars or jewelry.”

Walker is sorry for her actions, and after taking her plea, she “burst into tears” in a courthouse elevator and “was almost out of control,” DeMatteo said.

“She’s made a huge mistake. She’s lost an excellent job with a decent paycheck and excellent benefits,” DeMatteo said.

Before the TSA fired her after her arrest, Walker told a judge she made about $40,000 annually as a behavioral detection officer at the airport.

Her job was to walk around the airport, looking for suspicious individuals who might be planning some criminal activity. Instead, she admitted she spent at least some of her working hours accompanying drug suspects as they walked through security checkpoints without undergoing close examination of themselves or their carry-on luggage.

Because Walker was close by Frank’s side, other TSA workers let him slide through the checkpoints with a minimum of scrutiny, authorities said.

According to a TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, it would be unfair for Walker’s actions to reflect on more than 47,000 TSA workers who work to ensure the safety of travelers.

TSA worked closely with federal prosecutors and agents on the probe, Farbstein said.

“The agency aggressively investigates all allegations of misconduct,” Farbstein said. She said the agency has a “zero tolerance” approach to illegal actions such as Walker’s.

While Walker is believed to be the first TSA worker to be criminally charged in Buffalo, the agency has had scandals in other cities.

In February, two TSA officers at Kennedy International Airport were charged with stealing $39,000 from a piece of luggage. A TSA supervisor in Newark, N.J., was charged last year with stealing thousands of dollars from foreign passengers, mostly people who could not speak English.

After an internal investigation in June, the TSA announced that it would seek the termination of 30 workers at the Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii. The probe focused on the improper screening of passenger baggage.

Speaking about the Buffalo probe on Friday, Hochul commended the work of the lead prosecutor on the case, Mary Catherine Baumgarten.

Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Walker faces a federal prison term in the probable range of 18 to 24 months. She pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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James E. Moss, Who Owned and Operated “Flash Tax,” was Federally Indicted with Four of His Employees By A Federal Grand Jury Sitting in Montgomery, Alabama

June 16, 2011

U.S. Department of Justice on June 16, 2011 released the following press release:

Five Alabama Tax Return Preparers Charged with Tax Fraud

WASHINGTON – A group of five tax return preparers were indicted in the Middle District of Alabama on tax fraud charges, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. James E. Moss, who owned and operated “Flash Tax,” was charged with four of his employees by a grand jury sitting in Montgomery, Ala. Moss along with Lutoyua N. Thompson, Chiquita Q. Broadnax, Avada L. Jenkins and Melinda M. Lambert were each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and 27 counts of assisting in the preparation of false tax returns.

According to the indictment, the group conspired to knowingly place false information on taxpayers’ returns in order to obtain higher tax refunds from the IRS. The indictment further alleges that the group sought at least $129,266 in fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS.

An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 86 years in prison.

The case is being investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Brown and by Tax Division Trial Attorneys Charles M. Edgar, Jr. and Michael Boteler.”

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

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

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

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