HSI, Caribbean Corridor Strike Force seize 330 kilograms of cocaine, arrest 6

June 8, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 8, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), officers and special agents assigned to the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force arrested six Dominican Republic nationals on drug trafficking charges earlier this week. The individuals tried to introduce 330 kilograms and one kilogram of heroin with an estimated street value of $8 million into the United States.

“Through these arrests and seizures we are sending a clear message Puerto Rico will not be a safe haven for criminals looking to ship drugs into Puerto Rico and the United States,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “ICE and its federal and local partners are committed to working together to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into Puerto Rico.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers onboard a marine surveillance vessel detected the six men aboard a suspicious 25-foot unmarked fiberglass boat transiting illegally towards Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received notification from a CBP officer of the ongoing situation and proceeded to divert the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to interdict the suspect vessel.

The Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus arrived on scene, interdicted the suspect vessel and detained Jairo Torres-Balbuena, 29; José Manuel Rodríguez, 30; Anheli Regalado, 25; Berner Balbuena-Perreaux, 38; Jorge King, 52; and Juan Polanco-Rodríguez, 35; following the discovery of 15 bales of suspected contraband which later tested positive for cocaine and heroin during a field test.

Coast Guard personnel transferred custody of the six Dominicans, the suspect vessel, and the seized contraband to awaiting HSI special agents in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

Those arrested were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They had their initial hearing before US Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin June 6 and remain detained.

The strike force is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. It is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Coast Guard, CBP and Puerto Rico Police Department’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action.”

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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.


45 Indicted in Major DEA-Led Investigations of Alleged Drug Trafficking Operations at San Juan International Airport

June 6, 2012

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“–Multi-Ton Quantities of Cocaine Shipped Aboard American Airlines Commercial Aircraft Destined for Continental United States–

June 6 (San Juan, PR) – On May 31, a federal grand jury indicted 25 individuals as a result of an investigation lead by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

The defendants are charged in a 16 count indictment with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in narcotics distribution and criminal acts principally out of the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The leader of the organization is Maribel Rodríguez-Fragoso, aka “La Flaca.”

The indictment alleges that in or around 2010 until May 2012, members of the enterprise and their associates carried kilograms of cocaine in backpack/bags, or hidden on their person, or driving official work vehicles into the Airport through the employees secured entrance. Once in the secured area, they would transfer the kilograms of cocaine to couriers inside of a designated restroom, who would then board flights departing to the continental United States.

It is further alleged that members of the enterprise transported large sums of drug proceeds in the form of U.S. currency from the continental United States to Puerto Rico. Some of the drug proceeds were used to purchase items, such as vehicles, which were regularly used to further the enterprise.

DEA Deputy Administrator Thomas M. Harrigan today said, “Americans have a right to expect the highest integrity from those they entrust with their safety, and DEA is committed to protecting that trust. Today’s arrests at one of the nation’s busiest airports reflect our relentless commitment to working with our partners to aggressively fight drug trafficking, not only at our nation’s points of entry, but at source, transit, and arrival zones throughout the world.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Kidd, Sean Torriente and Justin Martin from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. This unit operates under the Narcotics Unit, and it is supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, AUSA Timothy Henwood. This unit is yet another component of our new initiative against violent crime and illegal firearms.

A second indictment unsealed today charges 20 individuals for aiding and abetting each other, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 9000 kilograms of cocaine, aboard American Airlines commercial aircrafts. At times pertinent to this indictment, convict Wilfredo Rodríguez-Rosado, aka “Mogoyo” recruited and organized a group of individuals to package, transport and deliver suitcases loaded with kilograms of cocaine to the American Airlines cargo area at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport. Moreover, he recruited and organized a group of American Airlines employees to ensure that those suitcases were smuggled into American Airlines aircrafts destined to Miami and Orlando, Florida and Newark, NJ.

The case was investigated by the DEA, the PRPD, and the FBI, with the collaboration of the San Juan Municipal Police, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Olga Castellón, Mariana Bauzá and Maritza González.

“The defendants in this investigation not only utilized their positions and security access to smuggle large quantities of illegal narcotics, but they also compromised the safety and security at one of the Caribbean’s most vital airports,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Division, Pedro Janer. “DEA will continue to dismantle these organizations that think they can blatantly use legitimate entities to carry out their smuggling operations.”

“The United States Attorney’s Office, along with our state and federal law enforcement counterparts, will continue investigating and prosecuting drug trafficking organizations which use our island as a trans-shipment point for drugs to the U.S. mainland. The use of commercial aircraft to smuggle narcotics in and out of Puerto Rico, also creates a serious threat to our national security,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

The defendants in both cases are facing a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years up to life. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The DEA Caribbean Division would also like to extend its gratitude to the DEA Divisions in New York, Miami, Newark and Dallas for their incredible support and assistance.”

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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.


Thirty-Two Individuals Indicted in Puerto Rico for Allegedly Violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

March 28, 2012

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

“SAN JUAN—A federal grand jury has indicted 32 individuals as a result of an investigation by the FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), with the collaboration of the San Juan Puerto Rico, Municipal Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced today. The 36-count indictment, unsealed today, was brought on March 20, 2012. The defendants are charged with, among other things, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity (VICAR), use of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms by prohibited persons.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and committed acts of violence, including murder, in San Juan. Since 2004, the defendants conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity involving narcotics trafficking, murder, and attempted murder.

The indictment alleges that in or around 2004, the leaders of nearly all the drug gangs operating in the San Juan area formed an alliance. This alliance would help them resolve conflicts between the previously rival drug gangs in a way that would not bring about the attention of local and federal authorities, thus ensuring increased profits from drug sales for all and reducing the risk of federal charges. The leaders agreed that if conflicts arose between members of the alliance, the leaders from the different housing projects would discuss the issues with each other in order to resolve the same without violence. The leaders named the alliance “La ONU,” which stands for La Organización de Narcotraficantes Unidos (United Drug Traffickers Organization).

It is further alleged that the alliance initially worked but weakened over time. Several housing project gangs became disgruntled with La ONU and sought to break away from the organization. After several conflicts, La ONU broke into two separate rival factions, La ONU and La Rompe ONU. The housing project gangs were essentially split evenly between those belonging to La ONU and La Rompe.

From the time of the split, the goal of La ONU was to maintain control through the use of force over the drug points in their members’ housing projects and to kill La Rompe members and leaders in order to expand. Members of La ONU who committed murders and other violent acts were given benefits, including weapons, money, and the ability to advance within the criminal enterprise. Though unwritten, the general rules followed by members of La ONU included, but were not limited to: no associating with La Rompe members; kill La Rompe members on sight; no killing of other members of La ONU without leadership authorization; no overtaking housing projects/drug points owned by other members of La ONU; and no cooperating with law enforcement. Any violation of these rules was punishable by death of the violator and/or his/her family members.

The indictment details eight murders, three attempted murders, and one shooting directed toward Puerto Rico police officers, all committed by members of La ONU. These acts are as follows:

  • On or about November 12, 2007, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, aka “Jincho,” “Jeanji,” “Jan,” or “Casper”; Ramón Lanza-Vázquez, aka “Ramoncito”; and Antonio Pérez-Medina, aka “Choco,” shot and killed Orlando Medina-Serrano.
  • On or about February 19, 2009, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki”; and José Abel Ramos-Cruz, aka “Paleta” or “Tito Paleta,” killed Ángel González-Villanueva, aka “Chaple.”
  • On or about January 5, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, aka “Hueso”; José Abel Ramos-Cruz; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago, aka “Triple-H” or “Luis Jo”; Carlos H. O’neill-Santiago, aka “Ken-Y”; Christian Figueroa-Viera, aka “Coqueto”; and others killed Luis Antonio De-Jesús-Pérez.
  • On or about April 2, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, and others shot at and fled from Puerto Rico police officers.
  • On or about April 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Jorge E. Asencio-Viera, aka “Macar”; Victor Santana-González, aka “Run Run” or “Pequeño”; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Carlos Meléndez-Serrano; and others shot and killed Victor Vega-Ortega, aka “Victor El Nazi.”
  • On or about May 4, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino, aka “Bernard,” shot into a patrolling police helicopter and killed Jesús Quiñones-Santiago and attempted to kill José Rivera-Quinoñes, Eduardo Alvelo-Meléndez and Shakira Vázquez-Nieves.
  • On or about July 7, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago; Carlos H. O’Neill-Santiago; Ángel L. García-Velásquez, aka “Wiwo”; and Mike Graciany-Febu, aka “Mikey”; and others shot and killed Puerto Rico Police Officer Blanca De Los Santos-Barbosa and Manuel Medina-Rivera.
  • On or about August 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Victor Santana-González; Ismael E. Cruz-Ramos, aka “Chapu”; Pedro L. Ramirez-Rivera, aka “Peter Pai”; José Laureano-Salgado, aka “Geo”; Emanuel Rodríguez Isaac, aka “Manuelito”; and others killed Christian Toledo-Sánchez, aka “Pekeke.” During the course of the murder, Luis Gallardo-Rivera, aka “El Tuerto,” was shot and killed by the rival drug gang.

The remainder of the defendants who are part of the organization and participated in its criminal acts include: FNU LNU, aka “Rosco” or “Diablo”; Luis Cordero-Cruz, aka “Chapi”; Roberto L. Aponte-Cordero, aka “Pichu”; Andrés Guerra-Santana, aka “El Negro” or “Pingy”; Teddy León-Ayala; Ángel D. Ramos-Cruz, aka “Api”; Luis Llanos-Skerett, aka “Jomo”; Miguel Feliciano-Boria, aka “Chupito”; Carlos Andino Matienzo, aka “Hoffman”; José Ismael Costoso-Ramos, aka “Magnolia”; FNU LNU, aka “Luigi”; and FNU LNU, aka “José Armero,” “José Niple,” or “El Mecánico.”

“Violent drug organizations whose members hold our community hostage through violence, intimidation, and fear should think twice about the consequences of their criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The investigation which led to today’s arrests is the first ever RICO Act prosecution of its nature in the District of Puerto Rico. We will use all the tools at our disposal to take dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico until we break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”

“The FBI is committed to dismantling street gangs and criminal organizations, such as La ONU, who terrorize and put at risk the good people of our community with indiscriminate acts of violence. These combined and proactive law enforcement efforts are intended to aggressively target these threats and take back our streets,” said Joseph Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kidd and Sean Torriente from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. This unit operates under the Narcotics Unit and will exclusively handle drive-by shootings and other significant RICO and organized crime prosecutions. This unit will be initially staffed with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Torriente, Brian Kidd, and Justin Martin and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alberto López Rocafort, from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and will be supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood. This unit is yet another component of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’s initiative against violent crime and illegal firearms.

Twenty of the defendants are charged with capital eligible offenses. The other 12 defendants face up to life in prison. The defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $10,000,000. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless 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

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Seizes 245 Kilograms of Cocaine, Arrests Two

February 11, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 10, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR—The U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, along with the heads of the agencies that compose the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) announced today the seizure of approximately 119 bricks of cocaine with an estimate weight of 245 kilograms and an approximate street value of $4.9 million; and the arrest of two U.S. citizens for illegal importation of narcotics.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, a Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious white fiberglass twin outboard center console vessel traveling eastbound towards Puerto Rico with two persons on board.

A second suspicious vessel; described as a single engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats; was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound towards the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.

A CBP marine interceptor was launched to intercept the vessel reaching it at approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera in the southwestern coast of the island. Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel was instructed to set course to the Mayaguez Marine Unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP’s field operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine during a field drug test.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation.

Those arrested, the brothers Elvis Aviles Vega, 46, and Alberto Aviles, 47, were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They will have the initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.

“We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and try to smuggle and transport illegal contraband in our jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

CCSF is an initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and PRPD’s FURA.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Jose Capo Iriarte.”

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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.


Ten Individuals Charged by a Federal Grand Jury for Alleged Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud

January 19, 2012

The Feral Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 19, 2012 released the following:

“Ten Individuals Arrested for Health Care Fraud

SAN JUAN, PR—On January 12, 2012, a federal grand jury returned two indictments against 10 individuals for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The investigation was led by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), with the collaboration of the United States Secret Service (USSS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Gilberto Gómez, president of Monte Mar Health Corporation (Monte Mar), PROMEDS Medical Inc. (PROMEDS) and Quality Care Medical Supply (Quality); Yolanda García-Rodríguez, aka “Yolanda Gómez,” wife of Gómez and president of PROMEDS, secretary/treasurer of Monte Mar and an authorized official of Quality; Lissette Acevedo, independent sales coordinator; Doctor Francisco Garrastegui; Luisa Nieves, independent sales coordinator; Glendaly Báez, billing director for Monte Mar, PROMEDS and Quality; Mario Rivera, independent sales coordinator; and Marcos Sarraga, independent sales coordinator, are charged in a 39-count indictment for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and a forfeiture allegation of $1,956,750.54. The government seeks to forfeit two bank accounts, one investment account, and a Gallery Plaza Condominium located in the Condado area in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The indictment alleges that from on or about November, 2008, until on or about May, 2010, Monte Mar submitted at least 1,518 false and fraudulent claims to Medicare totaling approximately $2,993,127.35 for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) that was not medically necessary, causing Medicare to disburse approximately $1,440,597.65. In March 2010, the indictment further alleges that after Monte Mar had been placed in a pre-payment status by Medicare, defendants Gilberto Gómez and Yolanda García-Rodríguez purchased PROMEDS and submitted false claims to Medicare seeking reimbursement for DME, including power wheelchairs, power pressure reducing air mattresses and knee orthosis. PROMEDS submitted at least 359 fraudulent claims to Medicare totaling approximately $786,368.34, causing Medicare to disburse approximately $335,493.12. In October 2010, the indictment alleges that a third company, Quality, was purchased by Gómez and García-Rodríguez after PROMEDS had been placed in a pre-payment status by Medicare. From on or about October 2010, until May, 2011, Quality submitted at least 115 false claims to Medicare totaling approximately $298,321.26, causing Medicare to disburse approximately $180,659.77. The indictment alleges a total amount of $4,077,816.95 fraudulently billed by using Monte Mar, PROMEDS and Quality, where Medicare disbursed a total of approximately $1,956,750.54.

Doctor Francisco Garrastegui was a physician licensed to practice medicine in Puerto Rico but not a Medicare provider. Garrastegui signed and completed false progress notes, prescriptions, Certificate of Medical Necessity (CMNs) and Statements of Ordering Physician for Medicare beneficiaries that were billed by Monte Mar, PROMEDS and Quality. The doctor was paid kickbacks by the three health corporations for the preparation of these false documents. The other defendants’ participation during the conspiracy involved the creation and submission of the fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The health care fraud scheme charged in the second indictment involves Luz M. Vega, president of Preferred Medical Equipment (PME), Doctor Francisco Garrastegui, Lissette Acevedo, Luisa Nieves and María Elisa Pérez. According to the 60-count indictment, from on or about April 2010, until on or about March 2011, PME submitted false claims to Medicare, seeking reimbursement for Durable Medical Equipment including: power wheelchairs, power pressure reducing air mattresses, wheelchair accessories, lumbar-sacral orthosis, knee orthosis and hospital beds. The co-conspirators submitted at least 95 fraudulent claims totaling approximately $210,223.47, causing Medicare to disburse approximately $107,876.73. Defendants Garrastegui, Acevedo and Nieves also participated in the first conspiracy charged in the previously mentioned indictment. The government seeks to forfeit $107,876.73 and one bank account.

“As part of the nation’s health care system, Medicare serves vulnerable populations,” said United States Attorney, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “Today’s arrests by HHS-OIG agents and our law enforcement partners show that we will not tolerate criminals who engage in fraudulent schemes which deplete the Medicare program of funds which are destined for our elderly population, in order to enrich themselves.”

“HHS/OIG works diligently to investigate allegations of Medicare fraud. Today’s arrests involving durable medical equipment (DME) fraud demonstrate our resolve to bring these subjects to justice. Furthermore, as seen on the attached chart (DME data), our efforts, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners, have made a dramatic reduction on the total dollars billed and paid for DME in Puerto Rico.”

“The U.S. Secret Service is committed to investigate any financial fraud crimes to include identity theft along with our partner agencies to safeguard our financial system,” said Pedro Gómez, Special Agent in Charge. We will continue to investigate these types of crimes to the fullest extent of the law and bring to justice these criminals that engage in identity theft to facilitate other criminal activities.”

HHS-OIG, USSS, and the FBI conducted the investigations. The agencies that conducted the arrests were HHS-OIG, USSS, FBI, and the U.S. Marshal Service.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia Díaz-Rex, health care fraud coordinator, and Héctor Ramírez-Carbó, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace A. Bustelo.

If found guilty, the defendants could face a possible sentence of 10 years in prison for the health care fraud offense with a consecutive term of imprisonment of two years for the aggravated identity theft offense and a fine of up to $250,000. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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.


Florida-Based Sea Star Line LLC Agrees to Plead Guilty and Its Former President is Indicted for Alleged Price Fixing on Coastal Freight Services Between the Continental United States and Puerto Rico

November 18, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 17, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Sea Star Line LLC has agreed today to plead guilty and to pay a $14.2 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices in the coastal water freight transportation industry, the Department of Justice announced. Additionally, a federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico, returned an indictment against Frank Peake, the former president of Sea Star Line, for his role in the same conspiracy.

According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, Sea Star Line, whose principal place of business is in Jacksonville, Fla., engaged in a conspiracy to fix rates and surcharges for water transportation of freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico from as early as May 2002, until at least April 2008. According to a one-count indictment filed today in the same district, Peake participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as late 2005, until at least April 2008.

Sea Star Line transports a variety of cargo shipments, such as heavy equipment, perishable food items, medicines and consumer goods, on scheduled ocean voyages between the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

According to the court documents, Sea Star Line, Peake and co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing during meetings and communications to allocate customers of Puerto Rico freight services and to rig bids and fix the rates and surcharges to be charged to purchasers of water transportation of freight between the continental United States and Puerto Rico. The department said that Sea Star Line, Peake and co-conspirators also engaged in meetings for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to the agreed-upon rates and sold Puerto Rico freight services at collusive and noncompetitive rates.

In addition to today’s charges, as a result of this investigation, on April 30, 2011, Horizon Lines LLC was sentenced to pay a $15 million criminal fine, and five former shipping executives from both Sea Star Line and Horizon Lines have been sentenced to pay a total of nearly $85,000 in criminal fines and to serve more than 11 years in prison, collectively.

Sea Star Line and Peake are charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100 million for corporations, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Today’s charges arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in the coastal water freight transportation industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section; the Baltimore Resident Agency of the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); the Miami Field Office of the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General; and the Jacksonville Field Office of the FBI.”

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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

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


Eighty-Two Individuals Indicted for Drug Trafficking in the Luis Lloréns Torres Public Housing Project

October 13, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, PR—On October 7, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 82 individuals as a result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a two-count indictment with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, “crack” (cocaine base,) heroin, marijuana, and Oxycodone (also known as Percocet). The object of the conspiracy was to distribute controlled substances at the Luis Lloréns Torres Public Housing Project, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico for significant financial gain.

According to the indictment, from on or about March 2007, the object of the conspiracy of this drug trafficking organization was to possess with the intent to distribute and distribute cocaine, crack, heroin, marijuana, and Percocet at a drug distribution point located at the sector known as “Calle 4” within the Luis Lloréns Torres Public Housing Project. The main leaders of the organization were: Malvin Nater-Ayala, aka “Malvin”; Emanuel Rodríguez-Isaac, aka “Manuelito”; and Christian Rosario-Bonilla, aka “Christian Nora” and “Mellao.”

The defendants and their co-conspirators would purchase wholesale quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana in order to distribute the same in street quantity amounts at their drug distribution points. The 82 co-conspirators had many roles, in order to further the goals of the conspiracy, including: three leaders, 14 enforcers, six suppliers, 21 drug owners, 12 runners, 53 sellers, and four facilitators.

It was further part of the manner and means of the conspiracy that the co-conspirators would use apartments and other locations to cook, store, package, and sell the drugs, and to conceal drugs, drug paraphernalia, drug ledgers, drug proceeds, scanners, firearms, and ammunition. The members of the drug trafficking organization would possess, carry, use, brandish, and discharge firearms in order to maintain control of their drug points and in order to protect themselves, their drugs and proceeds from rival individuals and organizations, and to expand their drug trafficking business within the community.

“Today’s operation was part of our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and contributes to our ongoing battle against the drug trafficking organizations that operate all around Puerto Rico,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “We will not rest until every town is safe again, and all our citizens can live in peace.”

“The FBI and other state and local law enforcement agencies are dedicated to increasing the safety and security of the people of Puerto Rico by continuing to combat the violence permeating our community,” said Joseph S. Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-San Juan Field Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carmen Márquez and Ilianys Rivera.

If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment, with fines of up to $10 million. Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

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