Tennessee Couple Indicted for Alleged Role in Warzone Contracting Scheme

July 17, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 16, 2013 released the following:

Alleged to Have Steered $6.9 Million in Proceeds from Defense Subcontracts in Afghanistan

ALEXANDRIA, VA— Keith Johnson, 46, and Angela Johnson, 44, both of Maryville, Tennessee, were indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and substantive wire fraud for their alleged role in a scheme to steer $6.9 million from Department of Defense (DOD) subcontracts in Afghanistan to shell entities through kickbacks and the use of assumed names.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Robert E. Craig, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge of Mid-Atlantic Field Office; John Sopko, Inspector General for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); and Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU), made the announcement following the grand jury’s return of the indictment.

Keith and Angela Johnson face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud if convicted.

According to the indictment, between July 2007 and June 2010, Keith and Angela Johnson engaged in a scheme to defraud Company #1, a DOD contractor, relating to two contracts worth more than $269 million. The contracts at issue were to provide vehicle-fleet maintenance for the Afghan National Army (ANA). Keith Johnson worked for Company #1 in Kabul, Afghanistan, as its project manager and procurement manager for the ANA contracts. Johnson fielded requests for vehicle parts from Company #2, a Company #1 subcontractor. Company #1 would then issue purchase orders for those parts to subcontractors after receiving multiple bids. In September 2007, Keith and Angela Johnson formed Company #4 as a Tennessee corporation, but they listed Angela Johnson’s mother and daughter on its corporate documents. Thereafter, Keith Johnson used his position in Company #1 to steer parts-supply purchase orders and other business on the ANA contracts to Company #4. To conceal Keith Johnson’s relationship to Company #4, Angela Johnson used her maiden name when interacting with Company #1 on Company #4’s behalf.

According to the indictment, the Johnsons also agreed with two other individuals at Company #2 to further the scheme. The two Company #2 employees helped steer Company #1 business to the Johnsons through Company #4, and Keith Johnson helped steer Company #1 business to Company #3, an entity operated by the two Company #2 employees using a fictional name. The Company #2 employees allegedly paid kickbacks to the Johnsons through a shell company. As part of the scheme, the Johnsons also allegedly participated in a bid-rigging practice of coordinating inflated bids on behalf of Company #3 or Company #4 to ensure that the other company would receive particular contracts. The conspirators also caused Company #1 to order excess parts that were not yet needed on Company #1’s contracts, and Company #4 did not ultimately supply all parts in compliance with Company #1’s requirements.

According to the indictment, the conspirators obtained $6,933,179.31 in proceeds from the scheme, which they used in part to purchase, among other items, several luxury vehicles and more than $191,000 in jewelry.

This case is being investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Faulconer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, who is also a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

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

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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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.


Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative Results in Charges Against 15 Individuals in 12 Separate Cases

June 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 4, 2012 released the following:

“To Date, 85 Defendants Have Been Charged as Part of the Initiative

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Eric I. Bustillo, Regional Director, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Southeast Region; and Linda Charity, Interim Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), announced the most recent results of the Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative (the Initiative), first announced in December 2010 and designed to combat securities and investment fraud and protect the interests of the investing public.

The Initiative was established to address the increase in securities and investment fraud schemes in the Southern District of Florida. In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, SEC, and OFR, other participating agencies in the Initiative include the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Southeast Region. These law enforcement and regulatory agencies have shared intelligence and combined their resources to combat securities and investment fraud, including Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud schemes, prime bank/high-yield investment scams, business opportunity fraud, promoter/micro-cap/“pump and dump” schemes, foreign exchange (FOREX) frauds, false bankruptcy petitions, and other schemes to defraud individual investors. Among the goals of the Initiative are to alert the public about the prevalence of these types of schemes, to educate the public on how to avoid falling prey to these schemes, and to highlight the law enforcement response to the problem.

The Southern District of Florida ranks second in the nation in securities and investment fraud investigations and prosecutions. Using the strike force model successfully developed in the health care and mortgage fraud areas, the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative has yielded similar success. Since its inception in December 2010, the Initiative has resulted in charges against 85 defendants in the Southern District of Florida, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in restitution ordered. Today, we are announcing charges against 15 individuals in 12 separate cases.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Our primary goal in creating the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative was to protect investors from fraud and to restore the integrity of the securities market. Too often, we hear from victims who have lost their entire lives’ savings or their retirement nest egg to one of these unscrupulous schemers. Today, we hope to educate the public about the need to be alert and to verify before trusting and investing. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

“The fraud from these stock market manipulation schemes could have defrauded numerous innocent investors out of millions of dollars. Because the FBI and our partners were able to disrupt these schemes early on through our undercover operations, the investing public was protected,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “The law enforcement efforts announced today also serve to send a message that the FBI and its partners will continue to target those who would chip away at the trust and confidence in the securities markets.”

Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said, “This Initiative is a testament to our allegiance to investors and our commitment to prosecute those who seek to defraud them. When we say we’re determined to stamp out microcap fraud, that’s not a slogan. That’s a pledge.”

“I commend the hard work of investigators from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, as well as other state and federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” said Linda Charity, Interim OFR Commissioner. “These partnerships are essential to effectively combat securities fraud and help protect Florida’s investors.”

Below is a summary of the cases being announced today. These cases involve a variety of frauds, including fraudulent Federal Reserve notes, illegal kickback schemes, market manipulation schemes, and more traditional Ponzi schemes.

Fraudulent Federal Reserve Notes:

U.S. vs. Cleland Ayison, 12-80056-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Ayison, 32, of Tampa, was arrested today on charges of possessing a fraudulent $500,000,000 Federal Reserve Note.

Illegal Kickback Schemes:

U.S. vs. Michael Cimino and Joseph Repko, 12-2733-MJ-GARBER

Cimino, 59, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the director and chairman of the board for Sure Trace Security Corporation (SSTY), and Repko, 63, of Hobe Sound, Florida, SSTY’s chief financial officer and president, were arrested today on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiring to commit mail fraud by paying kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. SSTY, a Utah corporation, was purportedly involved in the anti-counterfeiting technology business.

U.S. vs. Ryan Coblin, 11-80159-CR-RYSKAMP

Coblin, 41, of Boca Raton, was the president of Delivery Technology Solutions Inc., a domestic and international delivery company catering to corporations. Coblin was charged by information in September 2011 and pled guilty on March 8, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a hedge fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a hedge fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2012.

Market Manipulation Schemes:

U.S. vs. Kevin Brennan, Donald Huggins, and Marc Seaver Page, 12-60064-CR-COHN

Today, charges were unsealed against defendants Brennan, 60, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the CEO of Optimized Transportation Management Inc. (OPTZ), a Delaware freight transportation company; Huggins, 64 of St. Petersburg, Florida, an investor in OPTZ; and Marc Seaver Page, 50, of Tiburon, California. The defendants are charged with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of OPTZ common stock.

U.S. vs. Douglas Hague, 12-60124-CR-WILLIAMS

Hague, 65, of Boca Raton, was the President of Clean Coal Technologies Inc., a corporation that purportedly converted low-grade coal to high-grade clean-burning coal. He was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices.

U.S. vs. Harold Steven Bonenberger, 12-60125-CR-COHN

Bonenberger, 56, of Carlsbad, California, was CEO of Angel Acquisition Corp. (AGEL), a Nevada corporation that purportedly managed assets. Bonenberger was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of AGEL common stock.

U.S. vs. Robert Cotton, 12-60126-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Cotton, 61 of Houston, Texas, was the President of Cotton and Western Mining Inc. (CWRN), a Nevada corporation that purportedly exported and mined iron minerals. Cotton was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of CWRN common stock.

U.S. vs. Matthew A. Connor, 12-2732-MJ-GARBER

Connor, 36, of Amherst, Virginia, a shareholder of and consultant for KCM Holdings Corporation (KCMH) was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of KCMH stock, in violation of the wire fraud statute. KCMH was purportedly in the business of providing strategic consulting services to clients.

U.S. vs. Scott Haire, 12-2734-MJ-GARBER

Haire, 42, of Coral Springs, President of Wound Management Technologies Inc. (WNDM), a Texas corporation that purportedly developed advanced wound care products. Haire was charged by criminal complaint with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of WNDM common stock. Haire is expected to surrender on June 6, 2012.

Ponzi Schemes:

U.S. vs. Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 12-20148-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Rodriguez, 49, of Miami, was indicted on March 6, 2012 for committing wire fraud in the execution of a Ponzi scheme. According to the indictment, Rodriguez was the sole officer and director of MDN Financial Group Inc., a Miami company that solicited approximately $5.2 million from investors with promises that the company would invest in stocks, bonds, and precious metals. Rodriguez would recruit colleagues and friends to invest in MDN Financial, promising them 20, 30, 40, and even 50 percent returns. In fact, Rodriguez did not invest the money he was given by investors. Instead, he used more than $1 million of the money to pay for personal expenses like credit card bills. A calendar call is scheduled for July 20, 2012.

U.S. vs. George Elia, 12-60077-CR-WILLIAMS

Elia, 68, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 6, 2012 on charges of operating a Ponzi scheme in which he recruited investors by making false claims about the potential returns on investments. Elia was the president of International Consultants & Investment Group LC., a corporation based in Broward County.

U.S. vs. Aner Menendez, 12-20389-CR-SCOLA

Menendez was arrested today on charges of mail and wire fraud. Menendez was the sole member and manager of De Forcade and recruited investors by claiming he was a skilled foreign currencies trader. Through a series of misrepresentations, he exploited social relationships to convince his victims to invest their savings with him. After receiving their money, Menendez made no investments for victims, instead spending their savings on himself and others.

In addition to the 12 criminal cases announced above, the SEC has filed nine separate civil injunctive actions against 12 individuals and eight microcap companies, charging them with violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and seeking, among other relief, permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and financial penalties. These defendants, including several CEOs and their companies and three penny stock promoters, are charged with securities fraud for their roles in various illicit kickback and market manipulation schemes.

Regarding the continued results of the Initiative, other members stated as follows:

IRS Special Agent in Charge José A. Gonzalez stated, “IRS-Criminal Investigation Division is pleased to lend our forensic financial expertise to uncover financial wrongdoings by those who commit investment fraud. Make no mistake, whether on Wall Street or Main Street, swindlers will be thoroughly investigated and swiftly brought to justice.”

U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Henry Gutierrez stated, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to stop investment fraud. We are particularly focused on fraud committed against often-targeted pension funds, in which victims have deposited their hard-earned money.”

Cindy Liebes, Director of the Federal Trade Commission Southeast Region, stated, “The Federal Trade Commission is also working to stop investment fraud and has filed several actions. Most recently, the FTC has sued Sterling Precious Metals LLC, Matthew Meyer, Francis Ryan Zofay, and Kerry Marshall for operating an investment scheme that allegedly took in almost $10 million by targeting elderly consumers and conning them into buying precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks. In March, the FTC brought a similar action against Anthony J. Columbo, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc.”

Other Recent Cases Resulting from the Initiative

In addition to the cases announced above, the Initiative boasts a number of other recent cases, a few of which are highlighted below:

U.S. vs. Anthony Zito, 12-20030-CR-WILLIAMS

Zito, 64, of Naples, Florida, was charged in connection with a $7.5 million investment scheme. Zito owned and operated a firm named Gladius Investments (Gladius). Zito founded Gladius in 2004 and acted as the company’s officer, director, and president. Gladius purported to invest in silver on the commodities market on behalf of investors who entrusted Gladius with their money. On June 8, 2010, for example, Gladius’ internal database showed that the company had approximately 130 investors, that Gladius had invested in 1,271,500 ounces of silver on behalf of its investors, and that the total value of that silver was $19,708,250. In fact, however, Gladius’ actual trading account statement showed that Gladius had no more than 50,000 ounces of silver investments that month and that the total value of the trading account was about $672,000. The investors in Gladius lost approximately $7.5 million as a result of Zito’s fraud. On March 30, 2012, Zito was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the fraudulent investment scheme. In addition, Zito was ordered to pay $7.5 million in restitution to the victims of his crime. The court also ordered the forfeiture of half the value of Zito’s house, as well as his cars and bank accounts.

U.S. vs. Douglas Newton, 11-60150-CR-COOKE

On May 9, 2012, Newton was convicted after trial of two counts of mail fraud, four counts of securities fraud, and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for August 29, 2012. According to evidence presented during the trial, Newton operated Billy Martin’s USA, a retail company that was delinquent with its lease payments at the Trump Plaza in New York City. In need of funding, Newton turned to a cooperating defendant who arranged a meeting with an undercover FBI agent. Newton attended a meeting in Broward County, Florida, where he agreed on video to bribe a pension fund manager to invest the pension fund investors’ money in Real American Brands. In addition, to hide the illegal bribes, the defendant entered into a fraudulent consulting agreement and sent fictitious e-mails to the undercover FBI agent. Newton also claimed in the recorded meetings to have business relationships with Jeffrey Sebelia, the winner of the “Project Runway TV” contest, and country singer Carrie Underwood. In total, Newton paid $12,000 in bribes to the purported pension fund and received a total of $40,000 from the fund. The defendant used the money to pay for his golf club, home owner fees, and his utilities.

U.S. vs. Yan Skwara, 11-60294-CR-WILLIAMS

Skwara, 47, of San Diego, California, was the president of U.S. Farms, Inc., a Nevada corporation that promoted wellness-based products. Skwara pled guilty on April 20, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 3, 2012.

U.S. vs. Gaston E. Cantens, 12-20005-CR-WILLIAMS

On April 4, 2012, Gaston E. Cantens, 73, of Miami, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a fraud committed at Royal West Properties Inc. (Royal West). According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, Cantens was the president of Royal West Properties Inc. and recruited individuals to invest in Royal West by promising investors a fixed rate of return and that their investments would be guaranteed by properties or mortgages that acted as collateral. Cantens used his extensive ties to the South Florida community, including his ties to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, to recruit investors to the fraud. Cantens told investors that their money were collateralized by individual properties but failed to inform them that the collateralized properties had previously been assigned to other investors. Cantens received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations, and used the moneys for his personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme.

An indictment or information is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent 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

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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.


Father and son plead guilty in multimillion-dollar federal bribery scheme

May 18, 2012

The Washington Post on May 18, 2012 released the following:

“By Clarence Williams

A former program manager for the Army Corps of Engineers and his son pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges in a scheme that paid out more than $30 million worth of bribes and kickbacks as payments for steering multimillion dollar government contracts, federal prosecutors said.

Kerry F. Khan, 54, of Alexandria, pleaded before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the U.S. District Court in the District to charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit money laundering, officials said in a statement.

“Today, the ringleader of the largest bribery and bid-steering scheme in the history of federal contracting accepted responsibility for his crimes,” U.S. Attorney for the District Ronald Machen said in the statement. “For his shocking abuse of his position of power, Kerry Khan faces more than two decades in prison.”

Kahn’s son, Lee A. Kahn, 31, of Fairfax also pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The elder Khan worked for the Army Corps of Engineers from 1994 until he was arrested by federal authorities in October 2011. His position gave him authority to place orders for products and services through federal contracts, and he also certified that work orders were completed, officials said.

The father and son were among four men arrested in October on charges of conspiring to commit bribery and wire fraud. Authorities accused the men of inflating invoices during a four-year period and then collecting tens of millions of dollars for themselves and co-conspirators.

Prosecutors said Kerry Khan signed a statement of offense that said that in or around 2006, he and colleagues agreed to work together to obtain government contracts for corrupt contractors who would reward them with bribes. Authorities said their investigation continues, but they have found eight people to have have been part of this scheme.

Among others, Kerry Khan and Michael A. Alexander, also an Army Corps of Engineers program manager, worked with Harold F. Babb, a contractor, on their plot to use a company called EyakTek as a vehicle for channeling contracts awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers. EyakTek then hired subcontractors that submitted fraudulently inflated estimates or prices for equipment and services, authorities said.

The subcontractors kicked back a significant portion of the excess funds to Kerry Khan and Alexander as bribes for keeping the money flowing their way, officials said.

Prosecutors said Khan and his son admitted to establishing multiple corporations and shell companies to hide the money and purchase real estate, including several houses and condos. Lee Khan managed the portfolio of properties and automobiles purchased using the bribe money, by leasing the homes to tenants or selling vehicles, officials said.

A sentencing date has not been set for either man. Kerry Khan faces a maximum 15-year sentence for the bribery charge and up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge. Babb and Alexander pleaded guilty to federal charges earlier this year.

The men will remain held through the sentencing, officials said.”

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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 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.


Homebuilder Indicted in an Alleged $14.7 Million Construction Investment Scheme

March 2, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 1, 2012 released the following:

“BALTIMORE—A federal grand jury indicted Patrick J. Belzner, a/k/a “Patrick McCloskey,” age 42, of Glen Arm, Maryland, yesterday for conspiring to commit wire fraud arising from an investment fraud scheme. The indictment was unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendant.

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

According to the indictment, from at least August 2009 to August 2011, Belzner, a homebuilder, and a co-conspirator also in the home building business, targeted individuals seeking investment opportunities or commercial real estate development lending. Belzner, who falsely presented himself as “Patrick McCloskey” with certain investors, instructed the victims that in order to obtain loans for commercial real estate projects, the purported lenders required that large sums of money be deposited in an escrow bank account to show “liquidity.”

The indictment alleges that in order to gain their victims’ confidence, Belzner and his co-conspirators caused victim investors and borrowers to enter into escrow agreements which stated that no person other than the victims had the ability to remove the escrowed funds without the victims’ permission. Belzner told the victims that a co-conspirator had to be the attorney assigned as the escrow agent.

The indictment alleges that Belzner and his co-conspirator fraudulently withdrew approximately $14,730,780 from the escrow accounts and used these stolen funds to satisfy their business and personal debts. To conceal their scheme, Belzner and his co-conspirators allegedly e-mailed fabricated bank statements to victims that misrepresented the escrow account balance and the date by when the investors’ money would be returned. Belzner and his co-conspirators also used funds fraudulently obtained from some victim investors to repay money owed to previous victim investors, or to other individuals to whom the conspirators owed debts.

The indictment seeks forfeiture at least $14,730,780, the amount of money stolen from victim investors.

Belzner faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the gain or loss. Belzner had his initial appearance today in federal court in Baltimore.

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.

This law enforcement action is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the FBI and IRS-CI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean O’Connell and Sujit Raman, who are 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

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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