Federal Drug Charges Dropped Because of Too Much Evidence

August 16, 2012

CBS News on August 15, 2012 released the following:

“IOWA CITY, Iowa — A fugitive doctor charged in the nation’s largest prosecution of Internet pharmacies is getting off in part because there’s just too much evidence in his case: more than 400,000 documents and two terabytes of electronic data that federal authorities say is expensive to maintain.

Armando Angulo was indicted in 2007 in a multimillion dollar scheme that involved selling prescription drugs to patients who were never examined or even interviewed by a physician. A federal judge in Iowa dismissed the charge last week at the request of prosecutors, who want to throw out the many records collected over their nine-year investigation to free up more space.

The Miami doctor fled to his native Panama after coming under investigation in 2004, and Panamanian authorities say they do not extradite their own citizens. Given the unlikelihood of capturing Angulo and the inconvenience of maintaining so much evidence, prosecutors gave up the long pursuit.

“Continued storage of these materials is difficult and expensive,” wrote Stephanie Rose, the U.S. attorney for northern Iowa. She called the task “an economic and practical hardship” for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case started in 2003 with a raid of a small Iowa drugstore and eventually secured the conviction of 26 defendants, including 19 doctors. The investigation dismantled two Internet pharmacies that illegally sold 30 million pills to customers. Investigators also recovered $7 million, most of which went to Iowa police agencies that helped with the case.

When a major drug suspect flees the country, federal authorities often leave the charges pending in case the fugitive tries to sneak back into the U.S. or a country with a friendly extradition process. But in Angulo’s case, the volume of evidence posed a bigger burden.

The evidence took up 5 percent of the DEA’s worldwide electronic storage. Agents had also kept several hundred boxes of paper containing 440,000 documents, plus dozens of computers, servers and other bulky items.

Two terabytes is enough to store the text of 2 million novels, or roughly 625,000 copies of “War and Peace.”

Two-terabyte memory drives are widely available for $100, but the DEA’s data server must be relatively small and may need replacement, a costly and risky proposition for an agency that must maintain the integrity of documents, said University of Iowa computer scientist Douglas Jones.

“A responsible organization doesn’t upgrade every time new technology is available. That’s all they would be doing,” Jones said. “But the result is you end up in situations like this where the capacity they have is not quite up to the incredible volume of data involved.”

Randy Stock, who runs the website whatsabyte.com, which explains electronic storage, said he doubted that storing the data would have been that problematic for the government.

“I’m thinking that excuse is just their easy way out,” he wrote in an e-mail.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

Angulo, 59, was accused of improperly authorizing thousands of prescriptions for pain pills, diet medication and other drugs while working for Pharmacom International Corp., a Florida-based Internet company that operated from 2003 to 2004.

The company’s doctors approved prescriptions without examining patients, communicating with them or verifying their identities, prosecutors said. Three Pharmacom officials and a person who recruited doctors were sentenced to prison. Eight physicians pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances and launder the proceeds.

The investigation began after agents raided the Union Family Pharmacy in Dubuque and found evidence that it had illegally dispensed medication over a six-month period for Pharmacom and another Internet company, Medical Web Services, which pleaded guilty. Eleven of its physicians were also prosecuted.

Angulo fled to Panama around the time Florida regulators suspended his medical license for prescribing controlled substances to Medicaid patients “in excessive quantities and without medical justification.” An audit found his prescriptions cost Medicaid $6.5 million over six years and caused addiction and dangerous health risks.

Investigators know Angulo’s whereabouts in Panama, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S. to return fugitives. But a spokeswoman for the Panamanian Embassy in Washington said the country never received a formal extradition petition for Angulo and that the country’s constitution bars the extradition of Panamanian citizens.

The dismissal of the charges does not mean Angulo is free to return to the U.S. He is still listed as one of Florida’s most wanted criminals and is being sought for separate Medicaid fraud and narcotics charges in that state.”

————————————————————–

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.


Megaupload charges should stay: US

June 15, 2012

The Sydney Morning Herald on June 15, 2012 released the following:

“AAP

Lawyers for the US government say attempts to have internet piracy charges against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom thrown out are a waste of time.

German-born Dotcom, who the United States wants to extradite from New Zealand to face piracy charges, is arguing in a US court that the US has no jurisdiction over the Hong Kong-based cloud storage service.

But the US Attorney’s office argues that defence is a waste of time and resources, CNET reports.

It says some of Megaupload’s lawyers have conflicts of interest – representing in the past some of the witnesses and victims, including Google, Disney, Time Warner and Paramount Pictures.

Neil MacBride, US Attorney for Eastern District of Virginia, compared Megaupload’s request that more of the company’s money be returned to “returning money to a bank robber”.

Hollywood film studios say that Megaupload enabled millions of people around the world to store pirated movies and TV shows in the company’s digital lockers.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand high court judge has effectively halted a previous court decision to allow Dotcom and his three co-accused access to some of the information that will be used against them in an extradition hearing scheduled for August.

An urgent two-day judicial review has been ordered, although a date is yet to be set.

In the meantime US government lawyers must prepare the information so it can be handed over if the review rules in favour of the Megaupload group.

When New Zealand police raided Dotcom’s mansion north of Auckland earlier this year at the request of the US, FBI agents seized a massive 150 terabytes of data.

Dotcom is also waiting on a decision on a High Court judicial review seeking the return of 135 computer and data storage devices, challenging the legality of the search warrants used to seize them.”

————————————————————–

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.


Dutch man charged with allegedly stealing Wash. credit cards

June 12, 2012

Associated Press on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“By MANUEL VALDES
Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — In an investigation that spanned from a Seattle restaurant to Romania, a 21-year-old Dutch national pleaded not guilty Monday to federal computer hacking charges that include the theft of at least 44,000 credit card numbers.

Federal prosecutors said David Benjamin Schrooten is a prominent figure known as “Fortezza” in the international hacking community who sold stolen credit card numbers in bulk through websites.

The 44,000 credit card numbers included in these charges come from just one sale, authorities said.

Schrooten was arrested in Romania and arrived in Seattle on Saturday. He has been charged with 14 crimes, ranging from access device fraud to identity theft, authorities said.

“People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that’s not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan at a news conference. “We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you.”

A message left with Schrooten’s listed attorney was not immediately returned.

Seattle and federal authorities credited a local Italian restaurant owner for sparking the investigation.

Corino Bonjrada said he became alarmed after several complaints from customers of suspicious charges after dining at Modello Risorante Italiano.

Customers suspected his workers had taken their credit card information and used it, but Bonjrada found no evidence of that. He then called computer experts and eventually the police, he said.

That led police to Christopher A. Schroebel, 21, of Maryland, who they say planted spying malware in the sales systems of two Seattle businesses, two of dozens of businesses targeted. Schroebel had collected at least 4,800 credit card numbers in 2011.

“Some of my customers were saying they didn’t know if they wanted to come back,” Bonjrada said. “They were afraid.”

Schroebel was arrested in November 2011 and pleaded guilty last month to federal charges that included bank fraud. He is set to be sentenced in August.

Investigators said Schrooten worked with Schroebel in creating websites to sell the credit card numbers.

Bonjrada said some customers were charged within “10 minutes” of using their credit card at his restaurants in the amounts of $70 or $80.

Authorities said the investigation into the ring run by Schrooten is continuing.

Schrooten is scheduled back in court Aug. 20.”

————————————————————–

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.


Alleged Iran plot may have violated UN treaty

October 13, 2011

The Jerusalem Post on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“By REUTERS

Treaty forbids attacking diplomats; US, Saudi Arabia can bring case before Security Council, International Criminal Court, Interpol.

An alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States may have violated a UN treaty protecting diplomats and could escalate the crisis to an international court.

US authorities have arrested Iranian-American Manssor Arbabsiar for the alleged plot and accused a second Iranian man, Gholam Shakuri, who is believed to be at large in Iran and a member of the country’s elite Quds Force.

If they were involved in a plot to kill Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, that would likely violate the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons.

The treaty, which Iran signed in 1978, would require Tehran to consider prosecuting Shakuri in its court system or extradite him to a requesting country, potentially the United States or Saudi Arabia, both longtime foes.

An important sticking point to any prosecution or extradition is that Iran has fiercely denied the allegations and is unlikely to turn Shakuri over to any country.

“This is one of those areas where there’s not really too much fuzziness. It’s very clear that these kind of people (diplomats), these kind of officials, they’re immune from attack,” said David Kaye, executive director of the UCLA School of Law’s International Human Rights Law Program.

Jubeir was named Saudi ambassador to the United States in early 2007 after serving in the embassy in Washington. He is considered a close adviser to Saudi King Abdullah, a key US ally in the volatile and oil-rich Middle East region.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a point on Wednesday of noting that Iran had agreed to the UN treaty.

“This kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system. Iran must be held accountable for its actions,” she said.

Two options

The United States has two options if Iran officially rejects the case, including pursuing action at the UN Security Council. That was done when Libya refused to hand over two men accused of the Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The United States or Saudi Arabia could bring it to the United Nations and argue that “these are very obvious violations and for the Security Council to do nothing in light of this major attempted violation cheapens the words” of the treaty, Kaye said.

Another option, if there is a dispute under the UN treaty for protected persons, is that one side can seek an arbitration and ultimately a ruling from the Court of International Justice, located in the Netherlands.

“Basically it’s asking the court to interpret whether the convention has in fact been violated,” said Sean Murphy, a professor at George Washington University Law School who has argued several cases before the court.

After lengthy legal wrangling in the Lockerbie case and an eventual thawing of relations between Washington and Tripoli, the suspects in that case were handed over to a Scottish court that was convened in the Netherlands.

The United States could also turn the matter over to Interpol, the global police organization, which could order an international arrest warrant for Shakuri, thus making it difficult for him to travel outside of Iran, the experts said.

The legal proceedings against Arbabsiar will proceed in US District Court in New York where he will appear on Oct. 25 for a preliminary 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.