Sean E. Wagner, Former Owner of Two Florida Airline Fuel Supply Companies, Charged for Alleged Role in Scheme to Defraud Illinois-Based Ryan International Airlines

July 22, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs on July 22, 2013 released the following:

“A former owner and operator of two Florida-based airline fuel supply service companies made his initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach on charges of participating in a scheme to defraud Illinois-based Ryan International Airlines, the Department of Justice announced.

Sean E. Wagner was arrested on July 19, 2013, in Weston, Fla., on a one-count criminal complaint to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud relating to a scheme to defraud Ryan, a charter airline company based in Rockford, Ill. At today’s hearing, the department said that Wagner was arrested after there were indications that he was a flight risk.

The criminal complaint alleges that Wagner participated in a conspiracy to defraud Ryan by making kickback payments to Wayne Kepple, the former vice president of ground operations for Ryan in charge of contracting with providers of goods and services on behalf of the company. In exchange, Kepple awarded business to Wagner’s fuel supply service companies. According to the criminal complaint, from at least as early as December 2005 through at least August 2009, Wagner, his companies, and others made kickback payments totaling more than $200,000, in the form of checks, wire transfers, gift cards and cash, to Kepple while working at Ryan.

Ryan provided air passenger and cargo services for corporations, private individuals, and the U.S. government, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.

“The Antitrust Division will take enforcement action against those who subvert the competitive process by trading contracts for kickbacks, especially where the U.S. government is being victimized,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The Antitrust Division will hold accountable those who seek to defraud the government and U.S. taxpayers.”

Wagner is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 criminal 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 amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

As a result of this ongoing investigation, four individuals have pleaded guilty to date. Three of the individuals have been ordered to serve sentences ranging from 16 to 24 months in prison and to pay more than $220,000 in restitution. The fourth individual, Wayne Kepple, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

This charge is the result of an investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.”

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

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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.


“US Supreme Court to consider Florida couple’s fight to use frozen assets for criminal defense”

July 1, 2013

The Washington Post on June 30, 2013 released the following:

“By Associated Press, Published: June 30

MIAMI — When Kerri and Brian Kaley came under federal investigation for allegedly stealing medical devices, they took out a $500,000 line of credit on their New York house to hire lawyers. Yet after their indictment in 2007, prosecutors sought to prevent the Kaleys from using the money because the government intended to seize the house.

The Kaleys insisted they were legally reselling the medical items. At the very least, they wanted a hearing to determine whether the government’s case was strong enough to justify freezing most of their assets and denying them the right to hire the attorney of their choice.

It’s an issue federal courts around the country are deeply divided over. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has a chance to settle the matter after agreeing earlier this year to hear the Kaleys’ appeal.

The case involves both the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause and the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel, and could potentially affect thousands of cases each year in which the Justice Department seeks to seize defendants’ property. Such cases typically range from alleged drug dealers and Mafia figures to Ponzi schemers and Medicare fraudsters, but also could ensnare people who are wrongly accused.

To property rights advocates, the Kaleys’ case is an opportunity for the court to tip the scales of justice slightly more in the favor of defendants who are routinely deprived of their assets without being convicted. The ruling would not directly impact state courts, which operate under their own forfeiture laws, but lawyers could cite the Supreme Court decision to help a client.

“People who are indicted on criminal charges in the United States are presumed innocent,” said Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit law firm involved in forfeiture and property seizure cases nationwide. “Seizing their assets on the basis of an indictment alone turns the presumption of innocence on its head. It follows the rule of punishment first, evidence later.”

Prosecutors, however, say a grand jury’s decision to bring criminal charges shows the case has enough merit to enable them to freeze assets that may have been obtained through illegal activity.

In fiscal 2012, more than $4.2 billion was deposited in the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund. That compares with about $1.6 billion in each of the two previous years.

Prosecutors say adding a hearing to allow a defendant to attack the validity of the grand jury’s indictment would force prosecutors to prematurely lay out their case and might even endanger witnesses.

“No reason exists to think that an extra layer of procedure on that score — one that could be undertaken only at significant cost — would be beneficial, much less that it is constitutionally mandated,” the U.S. solicitor general’s office wrote in Supreme Court papers.

The office, which represents the administration of President Barack Obama before the Supreme Court, also asked the justices to settle the question nationally so there would be a single standard in federal courts.

The Kaleys, who live in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., have been battling the government for more than six years. They declined an interview request through their Miami-based attorneys, Howard Srebnick and Richard Strafer.

It all started when the Food and Drug Administration began an investigation in 2005 into what appeared to be a highly lucrative but unregulated market of resale of various medical devices, from hardware to sutures. The probe led investigators to a Delray Beach middleman in South Florida who was buying the devices from the Kaleys and others and then selling them to other medical providers. He did some $10 million in business in one year.

At the time, Kerri Kaley was a sales representative for Ethicon Endosurgery, a subsidiary of medical supplies giant Johnson & Johnson. She and her lawyers insist that she was legally allowed to resell the medical items she was given because Johnson & Johnson would not accept them as returns after a certain date and because hospitals wanted to clear out space for newer products. Hospitals also traded the older items for newer, free devices from the sales force.

Another sales representative, Jennifer Gruenstrass, was charged along with the Kaleys but went to trial separately. She was acquitted in November 2007. Gruenstrass’s assets were not frozen before the trial.

“There is a vibrant trading culture that exists between reps and between hospitals,” Gruenstrass’ attorney Robert Casale said. “Nobody is reporting a theft at any of the hospitals. Nobody at Ethicon is saying, ‘We were missing stuff.’ No theft.”

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, said there was evidence the Kaleys and Gruenstrass knew what they were doing was illegal. For example, he said, Brian Kaley set up two shell construction businesses that actually acted as only conduits for the checks his wife was getting through the device sales. And, he said, the Kaleys hastily cleaned out their garage of the devices when they were first contacted by the FDA.

“Those were stolen devices,” Watts-Fitzgerald said. “She had no right, title and interest in any of the equipment they were selling.”

Still, the acquittal of Gruenstrass could indicate the Kaleys have a point in questioning the strength of the federal case. What they want from the Supreme Court is a chance to show that weakness to a federal judge so they can win access to the money they need to pay the lawyers they choose.

The $500,000 line of credit the Kaleys took out on their house was based on their lawyers’ estimate of their fees and expenses to take the case all the way through trial.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases from South Florida, said the Kaleys were only entitled to a hearing on whether their frozen assets were connected to the alleged crimes. Three other circuits have similar standards, while five others do require prosecutors to show at least some evidence of guilt.

The Kaleys face an eight-count indictment on conspiracy, transportation of stolen property, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges that carry maximum combined penalties of 85 years in prison. If convicted, they would likely lose their New York house and the $500,000 line of credit.

“With so much at stake in a criminal case, we believe due process requires a pretrial hearing to determine the propriety of the restraint of assets needed to retain counsel of choice at trial,” said Srebnick, one of the Kaley attorneys.

The criminal prosecution is on hold in federal court in West Palm Beach until the Supreme Court makes its decision. Oral arguments are not expected until October, with a ruling likely in late 2013 or early 2014.”

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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 – Appeal

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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.


Managing Partner of U.S. Broker-Dealer Charged in Manhattan Federal Court with Allegedly Participating in a Massive International Bribery Scheme

June 12, 2013

The U.S. Department of Justice on June 12, 2013 released the following press release:

Defendant Allegedly Participated in Scheme That Generated Broker-dealer More Than $60 Million in Fees for Business Directed by a Senior Venezuelan Banking Official Who Was Allegedly Paid Over $5 Million in Kickback Payments

A managing partner of a U.S. broker-dealer was arrested today on felony charges arising from a conspiracy to pay bribes to a senior official in Venezuela’s state economic development bank, Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (BANDES).

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, and Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Office made the announcement.

Ernesto Lujan, 50, among others, allegedly arranged the bribe payments to Maria De Los Angeles Gonzalez De Hernandez at BANDES in exchange for her directing BANDES’s financial trading business to the Broker-Dealer. Lujan was arrested this morning in Wellington, Fla., where he resides, and was presented in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“The huge bribes Mr. Lujan and others allegedly paid funneled millions to his firm and into his own pockets,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Bribery corrupts markets, and this arrest – just the latest in the Department’s recent series of anti-corruption charges in various districts – is yet another demonstration that, at the end of the day, the real dividends bribe payers reap are criminal charges.”

“From his perch as managing partner Ernesto Lujan allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme designed to drum up foreign trading business for his firm,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Along with his alleged cohorts, three of whom were arrested last month, he pocketed millions from the alleged scheme which was executed through kickbacks to a Venezuelan government official and through money laundering.”

“As alleged, Lujan led a conspiracy to bribe a foreign government bank official to steer business to his firm,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Venizelos. “As previously alleged, much of this trading activity was conducted solely to generate fees for the firm. Lujan personally reaped millions in profits, and used Swiss bank accounts to conceal both the bribes and his own proceeds of the scheme.”

On May 3, 2013, Gonzalez, along with two employees of the Broker-Dealer, Tomas Alberto Clarke Bethancourt and Jose Alejandro Hurtado, were arrested on separate charges relating to this bribery scheme. On May 6, 2013, the government filed a civil forfeiture action in Manhattan federal court seeking the forfeiture of assets held in a number of bank accounts associated with the scheme, including several bank accounts located in Switzerland, and the forfeiture of several properties in the Miami area related to Hurtado that were purchased with his proceeds from the scheme. That same day, the court also issued seizure warrants for multiple bank accounts and a restraining order relating to those Miami properties.

In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced civil charges against Lujan.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint unsealed today, and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, Lujan, a managing partner of the Broker-Dealer, which was headquartered in New York City, was the branch manager of its Miami offices. In 2008, the Broker-Dealer established a group called the Global Markets Group, which included Lujan, Clarke and Hurtado, and which offered fixed income trading services to institutional clients. One of the Broker-Dealer’s clients was BANDES, which operated under the direction of the Venezuelan Ministry of Finance. The Venezuelan government had a majority ownership interest in BANDES and provided it with substantial funding. Gonzalez, a BANDES official, oversaw the development bank’s overseas trading activity. At her direction, BANDES conducted substantial trading through the Broker-Dealer. Most of the trades executed by the Broker-Dealer on behalf of BANDES involved fixed income investments for which the Broker-Dealer charged the bank a mark-up on purchases and a mark-down on sales.

From December 2008 through October 2010, Lujan, along with Clarke, Hurtado and Gonzalez, allegedly participated in a bribery scheme in which Gonzalez directed trading business she controlled at BANDES to the Broker-Dealer, and in return, agents and employees of the Broker-Dealer, including Lujan, split the revenue the Broker-Dealer generated from this trading business with Gonzalez. During this time period, the Broker-Dealer generated over $60 million in mark-ups and mark-downs from trades with BANDES. Agents and employees of the Broker-Dealer, including Lujan, Clarke and Hurtado, allegedly devised a split with Gonzalez of the commissions paid by BANDES to the Broker-Dealer.

Court records allege that to further conceal the scheme, the kickbacks to Gonzalez were often paid using intermediary corporations and offshore accounts that she held in Switzerland, among other places. For example, at least $9.5 million was transferred from the Broker-Dealer to a Swiss bank account controlled by Clarke, who in turn transferred at least $6.5 million to a Swiss bank account controlled by Lujan. Lujan then allegedly transferred at least $1.5 million of these proceeds to a Swiss bank account controlled by Gonzalez.

Lujan was charged with one count each of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), violation of the FCPA, conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and violation of the Travel Act, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, which each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

This ongoing investigation is being conducted by the FBI, with assistance from the SEC and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. Assistant Chief James Koukios and Trial Attorneys Maria Gonzalez Calvet and Aisling O’Shea of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry A. Chernoff and Jason H. Cowley of the Southern District of New York’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force are in charge of the prosecution.

Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be
found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed 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

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.


FBI Announces the Arrests of Two Individuals on Federal Charges of Alleged Conspiracy to Kidnap, Attempted Kidnapping, Extortion

June 1, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 31, 2012 released the following:

“The FBI announces the arrests yesterday of Michael James Melillo, 50, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Pavlos C. Kaimacliotis, 38, of Jupiter, Florida, on federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap, attempted kidnapping, and extortion. Melillo was arrested at approximately 8:30 p.m. on May 29, 2012 in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Kaimacliotis was arrested at approximately 9:15 p.m. on May 29, 2012, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, both without incident.

Melillo and Kaimacliotis both had their initial appearances in federal court yesterday in West Palm Beach, Florida, and are anticipated to have pre-trial detention hearings this Friday (June 1, 2012) in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The FBI, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, Jupiter PD, and West Palm Beach PD continue their investigation. No further information will be released at this time.”

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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.


Scott Kupersmith Arrested, Charged with Allegedly Defrauding New Jersey Firms and Investors in Securities and Investment Fraud Schemes

October 28, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 26, 2011 released the following:

“NEWARK, NJ— A man who allegedly bought securities without being able to pay for them and claimed to run a phony hedge fund was arrested this morning at his Boca Raton, Fla., office by FBI agents after being charged for allegedly orchestrating the securities and investment fraud schemes, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Scott Kupersmith, 46, formerly of Alpine, N.J., and currently of Boca Raton, is charged by complaint with one count each of securities and wire fraud. He is scheduled to appear Friday, Oct. 28, 2011, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann E. Vitunac in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla.

According to the criminal complaint unsealed today in Newark federal court:

Kupersmith engaged in a securities fraud scheme commonly referred to as “free-riding,” in which a customer buys or sells securities in a brokerage account without the cash or securities to cover the trades. To perpetuate the scheme, Kupersmith and his associates opened more than half a dozen brokerage accounts at multiple brokerage firms located in New Jersey and elsewhere. In order to induce the brokerage firms to open these accounts, Kupersmith falsely represented that he had a personal net worth of approximately $5 million and that he controlled a hedge fund in Manhattan with assets of as much as $20 million.

Kupersmith also misappropriated the personal identification information of a family member and a friend and used that information to open additional brokerage accounts. Once these accounts were opened, Kupersmith used them to make large-dollar-value securities trades.

The defendant then failed to pay for or “settle” the trades he made that were not profitable. As a result, the brokerage firms were forced to settle the trades on Kupersmith’s behalf, leading to approximately $1 million in losses.

To induce investors to invest in a hedge fund he claimed to control, Kupersmith falsely represented to investors that they would receive extraordinary returns—representing to at least one prospective investor that he would receive a return on his investment of approximately 43 percent every three months—and told prospective investors that their principal investment was “guaranteed.”

Based on these, and other, misrepresentations, Kupersmith raised approximately $500,000 from investors in New Jersey and elsewhere. Kupersmith did not use investors’ funds to make legitimate securities trades. He used a small portion of the investments to fund his freeriding scheme, and spent the bulk of the funds either on personal expenditures—such as private limousine services, luxury hotel rooms, and adult entertainment clubs—or to make principal and interest payments to existing investors in Ponzi-scheme fashion.

If convicted, Kupersmith faces a maximum potential penalty per count of 20 years in prison, as well as a $5 million fine on the securities fraud count and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud count.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office worked with the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office in conducting the investigation, and is charging related violations of New York state law.

The SEC is also filing a parallel civil action.

“According to the complaint, Scott Kupersmith managed to defraud both investors and brokerage firms of least a million dollars by making trades he couldn’t pay for and promises he couldn’t keep,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “‘Free riders’ and Ponzi schemers who live large on others’ money do so on borrowed time.”

“The alleged conduct undermines the confidence investors place in the markets,” said FBI Acting Assistant Special Agent in charge Douglas Veivia. “Kupersmith’s alleged defrauding of investors is even more troublesome in this time of economic stress.”

“Financial markets are governed by rules that keep investors safe. This defendant, skilled in the technicalities of market function and bank operations, allegedly came up with a clever scheme to create risk-free investments,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. “The illegal scheme he is accused of was little more than a confidence game using offshore banks, shell companies, and fraud, and ultimately cost legitimate broker-dealers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, for their work in the continuing investigation, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Vance, for its contributions and cooperation in coordinating parallel investigations. He also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York Regional Office, under the leadership of Director George S. Canellos, for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

If you believe you are a victim of or otherwise have information concerning this alleged scheme, you are encouraged to contact the FBI at 973-792-3000.

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

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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.