Ashland Trio Indicted for Alleged Labor Trafficking and Other Crimes

July 17, 2013

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

“A five-count indictment was filed charging three people from Ashland, Ohio with engaging in a labor trafficking conspiracy and other crimes related to them holding woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor for them, law enforcement officials said today.

Jordie L. Callahan, 26; Jessica L. Hunt, 31; and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation, deprivation, and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and B.E., according to the indictment.

Their tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting B.E. and S.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals, and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar, according to the indictment.

Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded. Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts, according to the indictment.

A fourth person, Daniel K. Brown, 33, of Ashland, was charged with one count of conspiracy in a criminal information filed today.

“These charges paint a picture of the unspeakable cruelty these defendants inflicted upon this mother and her child,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “It provides another stark reminder that human trafficking takes place all around us and that we need to be better neighbors to one another.”

“These defendants are being held accountable for their unfathomable treatment of another human being,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals that force others into unlawful labor or sex practices.”

Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy to violate laws; forced labor; theft of government benefits; and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.

The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby, and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012. The object of the conspiracy included holding S.E. in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining S.E.’s and B.E.’s public assistance benefits; and intentionally causing painful injuries to S.E. so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed to satisfy their personal drug craving, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt recruited S.E. and B.E. to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that S.E. has a cognitive disability and that S.E. and B.E. received monthly public assistance payments, according to the indictment.

In or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to have her and B.E.’s public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check. They then took control of the card, forced S.E. to give them the PIN, and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends, according to the indictment.

In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed S.E.’s hand with a rock with such force that S.E. needed to go to the hospital emergency room. Callahan, Hunt, and Silsby then forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated at the emergency room, according to the indictment.

In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured S.E.’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment. Again, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

In March 2012, Callahan kicked S.E. in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment. Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened S.E. and B.E. with serious physical harm, including death, if S.E. did not clean up the apartment; care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes, and other reptiles; purchase items at the store; and perform other labor and services ordered by the conspirators, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor S.E. and B.E.’s activities and conversations in the apartment. They often forced S.E. to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food, and other items for Callahan, Hunt, and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card. They allotted S.E. only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out. They frequently required B.E. to remain with them at the apartment while S.E. was out and threatened physical harm to B.E. and S.E. if S.E. broke any of their rules, according to the indictment.

Callahan and Hunt also threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have B.E. taken away if S.E. purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct, according to the indictment.

In June 2011, after S.E. and B.E. had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find S.E. and B.E. and bring them back to the apartment. Brown and Silsby lured S.E. and B.E. into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to deposit them afterwards back at the apartment, according to the indictment.

On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked S.E. and B.E. in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside, according to the indictment.

In October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced S.E. to hit her child while they recorded a video and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both S.E. and B.E. if S.E. did not comply, according to the indictment.

One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced S.E. to strike B.E. while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone. Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have B.E. taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure S.E.’s compliance to the conspirators’ commands.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz, with assistance from Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including each defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), his or her role in the offenses, and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum, and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal 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 Chicago-Area Defendants Charged with Alleged Commodities Fraud in Separate Federal Criminal Cases

October 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 25, 2012 released the following:

“CHICAGO—Two defendants were charged with commodities fraud in unrelated cases, federal law enforcement officials announced today. In one case, an investment firm officer was charged with defrauding customers of approximately $2.5 million. In the other case, a former clerk for a lean hogs futures trader was arrested today and charged with manipulating trades to generate a profit of more than $225,000 for herself.

Joshua T. J. Russo, 30, of Chicago, a former vice president of alternative investments for Olympus Futures Inc. (previously Peak Trading Group), was charged with a single count of commodities fraud in a criminal information filed today. In a separate case, Nicole M. Graziano, 32, of Roselle, a former trading clerk, was charged with four counts of commodities fraud in an indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury.

Graziano was arrested this morning and later released on a $10,000 unsecured bond after pleading not guilty before U.S. District Judge James Zagel. Russo was not arrested and will be arraigned at later date in federal court.

The charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Each count of commodities fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is being represented in both cases by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher McFadden.

The investigation falls under the umbrella of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which 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. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The details of each case follow.

United States. V. Russo, 12 CR 836

Between March 2007 and April 2011, Russo fraudulently obtained approximately $2.5 million from at least six investors and caused losses of more than $1.3 million, including approximately $208,000 in commissions for himself that he spent on gambling, vacations, clothing, theater tickets, meals, and entertainment, the charges allege. Russo obtained the funds by misrepresenting to investors that their funds would be used to purchase various investments, including shares of the Peak Performance Fund, which he knew had never accepted individual investors, and no money was ever invested with the fund. Russo allegedly made false statements about his prior performance investing in commodity futures, the level of risk, the existence and trading performance of the Peak Performance Fund, and the uses of the funds he obtained from investors. He concealed the fraud by creating and distributing false e-mails, spreadsheets, statements, and audit reports, the charges allege.

Instead of investing the funds as he purported, Russo misappropriated the money to make speculative trades—and regularly lost money—in various commodity futures, including energy sources, precious metals, agriculture products, foreign currencies, and stock indices. After providing one investor with false information about positive returns, Russo successfully encouraged that investor to refer friends and relatives to open accounts through him, resulting in additional victims.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association assisted in the investigation.

United States. V. Graziano, 12 CR 834

Between September 2009 and August 2010, Graziano, who was a clerk for a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, now CME Group, secretly inserted trade cards for her own personal orders into the decks of trade cards submitted by public customers that she provided to floor traders to execute during the opening and closing brackets of trading in lean hogs futures contracts, the charges allege. She then fraudulently allocated lower purchase prices to her buy orders, and higher prices to her sell orders, to the detriment of public customers, according to the indictment. Graziano allegedly submitted at least 104 fraudulent trade cards to the appropriate clearing firms, resulting in illegal profits to her of $13,390 during the opening bracket and $213,680 during the closing bracket.

The CME Group assisted in the investigation.”

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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.


Leslie Apisdorf Charged by a Federal Criminal Information Alleging Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud for Acts That Resulted in Losses of More Than $300,000

August 28, 2012

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

“A criminal information was filed charging Leslie Apisdorf, age 51, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for acts that resulted in loss of more than $300,000, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

From on or about October 24, 2005 through on or about February 1, 2009, Apisdorf conspired to defraud financial institutions in connection with the financing of trucks and trailers which were purported to be owned by Mark’s Akron Medina Truck Sales Inc., according to the information.

Apisdorf owned and operated Hazel Financial Ltd., which provided financing through Hazel on vehicles sold and purchased by Mark’s. Both Hazel and Mark’s were located at 2636 Brecksville Road in Richfield, Ohio, according to the information.

It was part of the scheme that between 2005 and 2009, Apisdorf and others submitted false documents to financial institutions which purported to show transactions for the sales of trucks and trailers, according to the information.

In fact, the trucks and trailers submitted for financing were inflated above their market rate, were already collateralized or did not exist, according to the information.

Apisdorf and others received loan proceeds and fees in connection with the financing of trucks and trailers based on false documents, according to the information. As a result of the acts committed by Apisdorf during the time period of the conspiracy, financial institutions suffered total losses of approximately $308,474.

The information is a result of an investigation conducted by Special Agent Jeffrey P. Kassouf with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Henry F. DeBaggis.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal records, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.

In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum, and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.

An information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.

A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal 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.


Joe H. Nichols Charged in a Criminal Complaint Alleging Mail Fraud Crimes in Connection with Charitable Donations from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)

June 18, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 15, 2012 released the following:

“Houston Man Charged with Defrauding Veterans of Foreign Wars Organization

HOUSTON— Joe H. Nichols has been arraigned on a one-count criminal information charging him with mail fraud in connection with charitable donations from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Nichols, 46, of Houston, appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith.

The VFW is a charitable organization that supports veterans and active duty personnel who have or are serving in the United States military overseas. According to the allegations in the criminal information, the VFW agreed to fund a communication project that would allow soldiers deployed in remote locations in Iraq to communicate with their families. Nichols allegedly agreed to assist the VFW by having his company, Prasolus, serve as project manager to get the communication hardware and software to Iraq.

The Texas VFW raised approximately $182,000 for the communication project, from which Nichols submitted invoices for payment. In June 2007, he allegedly traveled to the national headquarters of the VFW in Kansas City and induced the national VFW to give him an additional $100,000, which he said he needed to complete the communication project and deploy it to Iraq. Although the national VFW mailed a check to Nichols for $100,000, the communication system was never delivered. Instead, he allegedly used funds from the $100,000 for his personal benefit.

Judge Smith permitted Nichols to remain free with the execution of a $50,000 unsecured bond under the condition he surrender his passport and travel only within the continental United States.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for mail fraud is 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Belinda Beek is prosecuting the case.

A criminal information is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.”

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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.


2nd campaign aide to DC mayor faces federal charges

May 24, 2012

CBS News on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON — A second former aide to District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray was charged Wednesday with a federal offense arising from Gray’s 2010 campaign and intends to plead guilty, a day after another aide’s guilty plea revealed the use of underhanded tactics to get Gray elected.

Howard Brooks, a 64-year-old campaign consultant to Gray, faces a single count of making a false statement to the FBI. He was charged in a criminal information, a document that typically means a defendant has reached a plea deal. A plea hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court.

According to the document, Brooks told FBI agents in April 2011 that he never gave any cash, money orders or other payments to the campaign of minor mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown, when in fact Brooks did make such payments.

At some point after the agents interviewed him, Brooks began cooperating with the FBI.

The charges have rattled the first-term mayor, who has been the subject of a federal probe since Brown went public last March with allegations that he was paid by the Gray campaign and promised a job in the Gray administration in exchange for making disparaging comments about then-mayor Adrian Fenty on the campaign trail. Gray has denied knowledge of the payments.

Gray declined to comment Wednesday on the charges, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We’ll let the investigation play out as well as it should, and then we’ll see where we are,” Gray said before chastising reporters for not paying attention to “the good things that are going on in this city.”

Gray won the 2010 Democratic primary by 10 percentage points after tapping into widespread dissatisfaction with Fenty, perceived by many as aloof. Gray, 69, billed himself as the more ethical candidate, criticizing Fenty for steering lucrative government contracts to his fraternity brothers. But Gray’s administration has been mired in scandal since shortly after he took office.

Thomas Gore, the acting treasurer for Gray’s campaign who pleaded guilty Tuesday, said in court that he was captured on a wiretap talking to Brooks about shredding evidence of payments to Brown. Brooks was not mentioned by name in court because he had not yet been charged.

Gore acknowledged at his plea hearing that he and Brooks conspired to convert undocumented cash contributions into money orders that were given to Brown, and that Brown was paid to stay in the race and disparage Fenty. The money orders contained the names of relatives and associates of Brooks, including his son Peyton Brooks. Gore admitted giving Brown $660 in money orders, although Brown contends the Gray campaign gave him more.

Peyton Brooks’ attorney, Troy W. Poole, confirmed Wednesday that his client has been granted immunity from prosecution in the ongoing federal probe. Poole added that Howard Brooks’ guilty plea had nothing to do with his client receiving immunity.

The charge against Brooks is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, although Brooks would likely receive a much lighter sentence under federal guidelines. His cooperation also could lead to a reduced sentence.

Brooks’ attorney, Glenn Ivey, did not return a message seeking comment.

Brooks and the mayor are not close — Gray said in late 2011 that he had not spoken to Brooks all year — and Brooks is not well-known in district politics. He is, however, a close personal friend of Lorraine Green, Gray’s campaign chairwoman and closest adviser during his 2010 bid. Brown has said he also received money from Green before she delegated that task to Brooks.

Brooks was rewarded handsomely for his work on the Gray campaign, receiving $44,000 in consulting fees. He was also paid $34,500 by the Gray transition.

Council Chairman Kwame Brown is also the subject of a federal probe for actions during his 2008 campaign, and former councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. is heading to prison after pleading guilty in January to embezzling from the city.

Several Gray campaign staffers have said Sulaimon Brown’s harsh rhetoric against Fenty at campaign forums amounted to a sideshow that did nothing to help Gray, although Brown has claimed his efforts were crucial. The Gray administration appointed Brown to a $110,000-a-year position in January 2011 and fired him less than a month later.

In a statement emailed to reporters Wednesday morning before the charges against Brooks were filed, Brown called on Gray to resign for violating the public trust. He also praised U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen for his efforts.

“I was not looking for vindication for the truth need not be vindicated,” Brown wrote. “I was seeking justice.””

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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.


Traveling to the United States Can Be Dangerous

May 18, 2012

Export Law Blog on May 17, 2012 released the following:

By Clif Burns

“On May 15, Ulrich Davis, a citizen and resident of the Netherlands, was sentenced to six months in prison and a $2,000 fine. He was charged with violating a Temporary Denial Order issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”).

The TDO in question was issued on October 1, 2007, against Aviation Services International, B.V., in the Netherlands, as well as affiliated and related individuals and entities in the Netherlands. Cyprus, and the UAE, and arose out of allegations that the parties subject to the TDO had shipped U.S. origin items to Iran. According to the Criminal Information, which served as the basis for Davis’s plea, Davis provided freight forwarding services involved in the export of acrylic adhesives and spray-paint coatings” from a company in the United States to an unspecified company listed on the TDO. All actions charged in the Criminal Information were undertaken by Davis entirely within the Netherlands and outside the United States.

The reason that Davis wound up being hauled in front of a U.S. federal district court and charged with violating U.S. criminal laws is that he traveled to the United States and was arrested at Newark Liberty Airport on his way back to the Netherlands from the United States. The U.S. takes the position that it has criminal jurisdiction over all persons, regardless of location and citizenship, for crimes arising out of their dealings with U.S. origin goods. This is not a position recognized by many other foreign countries, meaning that it would be unlikely that Davis could have been extradited from the Netherlands based on the actions alleged in this case, which all took place in the Netherlands and which did not violate Dutch law. But once he was in the United States — and voluntarily at that — whether he was extraditable under Dutch law was, at best, a moot point.

Moral of the story: if you live outside the United States and sell U.S. goods to Iran, postpone indefinitely any plans to visit Disneyland. (There is no indication of why Davis was in the United States. The reference to Disneyland is for illustrative purposes only.)”

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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

————————————————————–

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
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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.