Former Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Campaign Finance Violation

June 11, 2012

7thSpace.com on June 9, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Kwame R Brown, the former Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia, pled guilty today to a federal charge of bank fraud and a second criminal charge involving a violation of the District of Columbia’s campaign finance laws.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney Ronald C Machen Jr; Ronald T Hosko, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division; and Rick A Raven, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

Brown, 41, pled guilty to the bank fraud charge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In a separate proceeding, he pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to the campaign finance violation. As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to submit his immediate resignation from the District of Columbia Council. Brown also has agreed to cooperate as the investigation continues.

The Honorable Richard J Leon scheduled sentencing in the federal case for 11 AM on September 20, 2012.

The Honorable Juliet McKenna scheduled sentencing in the campaign finance case for 2:30 PM on the same date.

The bank fraud charge carries up to 30 years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the parties have agreed that the applicable range for this offense would be up to six months in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000. The campaign finance charge carries a maximum of six months of incarceration and a possible fine of up to $5,000.

Brown is the second member of the Council of the District of Columbia to plead guilty to criminal charges this year. In January, in a separate and unrelated case, Harry L Thomas, Jr pled guilty to federal theft and tax charges.

Thomas, who resigned as part of his plea agreement, has since been sentenced to a prison term of 38 months. Thomas was the first sitting member of the DC. Council to be charged with and convicted of a felony.

The charges against Kwame Brown involve two separate matters. In one case, Brown admitted providing false documentation to secure two personal loans, totaling more than $220,000.

In the other, Brown admitted aiding and abetting another individual, a relative, to make a cash payment of $1,500 to a campaign worker for the 2008 council campaign. The relative was a signatory on the campaign’s bank accounts; Brown also admitted failing to disclose the relative’s identity to the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance.

“For the second time this year, a member of the DC. Council has pled guilty to a felony offense and been forced to resign,” said United States Attorney Machen. “While sitting on the council, Kwame Brown repeatedly falsified and forged documents to deceive the bank into giving him money, even faxing one of the fraudulent documents from his council office.

Brown also gave a family member free license to make illegal and untraceable cash expenditures from his 2008 campaign in violation of DC. law. The people of the District of Columbia deserve better from their elected officials. Today’s pleas take us one step closer to a culture of integrity and accountability that will not tolerate politicians engaging in dishonesty and self dealing.”

“This week, Mr Brown admitted to forging bank documents and withholding information about his re-election campaign finances,” said Special Agent in Charge Hosko.

“This investigation and today’s guilty pleas demonstrate that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will pursue all allegations of illegal conduct that clouds the judgment of our elected officials and deprives our citizens of the honest government to which they are entitled.”

“No matter what your position, it is unacceptable to submit false information to a financial institution in an effort to secure a loan,” said Special Agent in Charge Raven. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will make every effort to aggressively investigate financial fraud of any kind and not give a free pass to anyone who blatantly fails to comply with the law.”

Brown was elected as an at-large member of the District of Columbia Council in 2004 and took office in January 2005. He was re-elected in 2008, and then, in 2010, he was elected chairman. He took office in that position in January 2011.

According to a statement of offense signed by the government as well as the defendant, Brown submitted false information in securing a $166,000 home equity loan, as well as a $55,335 loan that he used to purchase a boat.

Both loans were issued by Industrial Bank, NA.

In paperwork for the home equity loan, which Brown sent by facsimile from his council office on September 26, 2005, Brown provided a Verification of Employment Form. In it, he falsely wrote that he held the position of “Vice President of Strategy” in an unnamed company; that he earned $3,000 per month; that his probability of continued employment was “great”; that he was projected to earn a $10,000 pay increase on January 3, 2006; and that he was a full-time employee. At the bottom of this form, Brown forged the name and signature of a friend from college who was purportedly the president of the company. In fact, Brown did not have his friend’s permission to sign this form, and his friend was never Brown’s employer.

Brown filed and submitted this form to overstate his annual income in an effort to win approval of his loan application, believing that, without artificially inflating his income, his request would be rejected.

Based on Brown’s purported income, Industrial Bank issued a loan to Brown on October 12, 2005, in the amount of $166,000.

Brown submitted the second loan application on July 25, 2007, this time seeking money for the purpose of purchasing a boat. As part of the application, he submitted an Internal Revenue Service form, purporting to be from a company for which he had worked as a consultant. The form that Brown submitted showed his 2006 income from the company to be $85,000. In fact, Brown’s income from the firm that year totaled $35,000.

Before submitting the form, Brown had altered the “3” on the document to an “8,” so that it appeared he earned $85,000, not $35,000.

As with the 2005 loan, Brown believed that this loan would not be approved without artificially inflating his income. Based on Brown’s purported income, Industrial Bank issued a loan to Brown on August 30, 2007, in the amount of $55,335.

In the campaign finance case, Brown admitted aiding and abetting an unlawful cash campaign expenditure, in excess of the $50 limit imposed on individual cash transactions. According to a statement of offense in that matter, signed by the government as well as the defendant, the “Committee to Re-Elect Kwame Brown” was formed for Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign for the at-large seat on the council.

In or around April 2007, Brown allowed a relative to be a signatory on the committee’s bank account, which was held at Industrial Bank. The relative and the committee’s treasurer jointly opened the account.

In his Statement of Candidacy, filed with the Office of Campaign Finance, Brown listed this account as the committee’s sole bank account. He failed, however, to disclose that his relative was a signatory on the account.

In August 2008, with Brown’s knowledge and permission, the relative opened a second bank account at Industrial Bank, called the “side account,” purportedly to pay for “get-out-the-vote” campaign activities. Brown authorized the relative to make withdrawals on behalf of the committee from the side account. However, he failed to amend his Statement of Candidacy to disclose the existence of the second account.

Later, on or about September 11, 2009, Brown’s relative paid an expense in the amount of $1,500 related to the 2008 re-election campaign, using cash withdrawn from the side account.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Washington Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation.

In announcing the guilty pleas, United States Attorney Machen, Special Agent in Charge Hosko, and Special Agent in Charge Raven commended those who investigated the case for the FBI and IRS-CI.

They also acknowledged the efforts of Assistant United States Attorneys David S Johnson, Maia L Miller, Matt Graves, Ellen Chubin Epstein, and Daniel Butler of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the United States Attorney’s Office; Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Saler of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the United States Attorney’s Office; and Trial Attorney Peter Mason of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, who have prosecuted the case.

Finally, they expressed appreciation to Forensic Accountant Crystal Boodoo; Paralegal Specialists Diane Hayes, Lenisse Edloe, Tasha Harris, Shanna Hays, and Sarah Reis; Legal Assistants Krishawn Graham, Nicole Wattelet, and Christopher Samson; former Legal Assistant Jared Forney; Criminal Investigators Matthew Kutz and Duncan Templeton; Litigation Support Services Specialist Thomas Royal; Information Technology Specialist Kimberly Austin; Victim-Witness Coordinator Dawn Tolson-Hightower; former Student Law Clerks Carl Barnes, Iris Postelnicu, and Danielle Rosborough; and Intelligence Specialist Lawrence Grasso, all of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Reported by: 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

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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.


Federal bank fraud cases up in north Alabama

May 14, 2012

Blog.al.com on May 13, 2012 released the following:

By Kent Faulk

“BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Eight men and women have stood before federal judges in Birmingham the past few weeks on bank fraud charges.

Among them:

• A Mountain Brook man sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from his former employer by writing checks to himself on the company’s bank account.
• A former Union State Bank branch employee in Trussville sentenced to a month in prison for theft of about $25,000 from the teller drawer and bank vault in 2007 and 2008.
• A former Regions Bank telebanking representative who pleaded guilty to taking $190,000 from a customer’s account during a two-year period, and directing money from the account to pay her bills after she had left her job.

The number of cases being prosecuted for bank fraud by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Alabama has steadily increased in recent years. In 2011 federal prosecutors charged bank fraud in 22 cases, up from 16 cases in 2010, 15 cases in 2009 and 11 cases in 2008. So far, eight cases have been charged this year through May 4.

Some cases include more than one defendant and other charges are also included in some cases.

“I guess it’s a sign of the times,” said James Kendrick, a Birmingham attorney who has represented clients charged with bank fraud.

Rod Pittman, director of corporate security for BBVA Compass, stated in a written response to questions from The Birmingham News that recently they have “seen a significant increase in fraud attempts, the majority of which can be attributed to the economy and technology.”

“In this economy many people are unemployed and more likely to be in a desperate financial situation. This sometimes results in attempted fraud,” Pittman wrote.

Some of those charged with bank fraud in the past year have been bank employees working alone or with help from outside the bank.

Bank employees may be thinking they will pay it back, Kendrick said. “Before you know it, you’ve got more than you can pay,” he said.

Bank fraud isn’t always an inside job.

“The crime of bank fraud is broader than a bank employee stealing money from the bank,” said Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in Birmingham.

“The statute allows that if someone makes misrepresentations to a bank in order to get other people’s money held in that bank, then bank fraud has occurred.”

Some attorneys and bank security officials attribute the increase in people being charged by federal prosecutors to a more aggressive stance by the Justice Department on financial fraud.

In many cases the dollar amount is the difference between whether federal prosecutors or state prosecutors will handle a case, said Larry Meredith, director of corporate security for Birmingham-based Cadence Bank.

The U.S. Attorneys Office has been active when it comes to presentations to the banks on various issues, including the importance of the timely sharing of information on possible criminal activity, said Bill Burch, director of corporate security for Regions Bank. “The communication between prosecutors, federal law enforcement offices (and banks) has been enhanced dramatically,” he said.

Sanford said the push by U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance’s office in north Alabama is consistent with the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to make financial fraud a top priority and President Barack Obama’s creation of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

Banks don’t generally share how much they lose to fraud schemes, but as an industry it’s in the billions of dollars each year, according to some estimates.

But it’s a lot more than the old fashioned way of illegally taking money from a bank.

“The losses are greater than if you had just walked in an robbed the bank with a note,” Meredith said.

While the money lost in a bank robbery may only be a few thousand dollars, the losses from both internal and external fraud is often tens of thousands of dollars and taken over a period of months and years.

The punishment for bank fraud varies. The range of sentences was one month to four years for those charged and sentenced so far in the 2011 cases on just the bank fraud charges. A few had longer sentences because they also had other charges besides bank fraud.

One person also was acquitted and couple had their bank fraud charge dismissed as part of plea deals at sentencing.

Wellington Monroe Phillips II was sentenced to four years in prison for bank fraud for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from a Birmingham-based natural gas supplier.

Twice a month Phillips issued himself an unauthorized check from the corporate bank account held at First Commercial Bank. He would forge the name of the company’s owner on each check and submit them for payment.

Bank corporate security officers say banks have increased security as new fraud schemes surface to tap into bank accounts.

Dan Bailey, chief executive of the Alabama Bankers Association, said that bank customers should take it upon themselves to help secure their accounts, including checking their accounts daily. “Catch it before it goes too far,” he said.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal 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.


Dimitry Vishnevetsky Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bank Fraud in an Alleged Fraud Scheme

May 2, 2012

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

“Chicago Investment Advisor Indicted for Allegedly Causing Clients to Lose $1.5 Million in Fraud Scheme

CHICAGO— A Chicago investment advisor allegedly engaged in an investment fraud scheme that swindled clients, causing them to lose approximately $1.5 million, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendant, Dimitry Vishnevetsky, was charged with eight counts of mail or wire fraud and one count of bank fraud in a nine-count indictment returned yesterday by a federal grand jury. Vishnevetsky allegedly raised approximately $1.7 million from investors and misappropriated at least $1.5 million for his own purposes, including to pay for such business and personal expenses as mortgage and car payments, travel and vacations, restaurant bills, athletic club dues, and to make trades for his own benefit, while using additional investor funds to make Ponzi-type payments to clients.

Vishnevetsky, 33, of Chicago, will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court. The charges were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also yesterday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a civil enforcement lawsuit against Vishnevetsky and his companies in federal court in Chicago.

According to the indictment, Vishnevetsky offered and sold investments, including commodities and promissory notes, primarily through Hodges Trading, LLC, and Oxford Capital, LLC, which purported to be in the business of providing brokerage/management services to investors and of managing commodities funds, including the Oxford Global Macro Fund, the Oxford Global Arbitrage Fund, and the Quantum Global Fund, which existed in name only. He also offered and sold promissory notes, described as London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) adjusted notes, through Hodges Trading, which also existed in name only.

The indictment alleges that between September 2006 and March 2012, Vishnevetsky schemed to defraud investors and potential investors by making false representations about the profitability of his prior and current trading, the use of the invested funds, the risks involved, the expected and actual returns on investments and trading, and false representations about Hodges Trading, Oxford Capital and the commodities funds. For example, Vishnevetsky created and provided some investors fraudulent trading results showing profits as high as 36 percent per year, the indictment alleges. “In fact, to the extent that Vishnevetsky engaged in trading, the trading consistently resulted in net losses, not profits,” the indictment states.

The bank fraud count alleges that between 2007 and 2010, Vishnevetsky made false statements to Merrill Lynch Bank & Trust concerning his income and assets to cause the bank to issue, and later modify, two loans totaling approximately $519,500 to purchase a condominium in Chicago. Vishnevetsky subsequently stopped making payments on the loans, the charges allege.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Stern.

Each count of mail or wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, and restitution is mandatory. The court may also impose a fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

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 defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

US v. Dimitry Vishnevetsky – Federal Criminal Indictment

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

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

Federal Bank Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1344

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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

————————————————————–

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.