Federal District Court Judge: How Mandatory Minimums Forced Me to Send More Than 1,000 Nonviolent Drug Offenders to Federal Prison

October 26, 2012

The Nation on October 24, 2012 released the following:

Judge Mark W. Bennett

“Reuters/Joshua Lott

Growing up in blue collar Circle Pines, Minnesota, in the 1950s, raised by parents from the “Greatest Generation,” I dreamed only of becoming a civil rights lawyer. My passion for justice was hard-wired into my DNA. Never could I have imagined that by the end of my 50s, after nineteen years as one of 678 federal district court judges in the nation, I would have sent 1,092 of my fellow citizens to federal prison for mandatory minimum sentences ranging from sixty months to life without the possibility of release. The majority of these women, men and young adults are nonviolent drug addicts. Methamphetamine is their drug of choice. Crack cocaine is a distant second. Drug kingpins? Oh yes, I’ve sentenced them, too. But I can count them on one hand. While I’m extremely proud of my father’s service in World War II, I am greatly conflicted about my role in the “war on drugs.”

You might think the Northern District of Iowa—a bucolic area home to just one city with a population above 100,000—is a sleepy place with few federal crimes. You would be wrong. Of the ninety-four district courts across the United States, we have the sixth-heaviest criminal caseload per judge. Here in the heartland, I sentence more drug offenders in a single year than the average federal district court judge in New York City, Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco—combined. While drug cases nationally make up 29 percent of federal judges’ criminal dockets, according to the US Sentencing Commission, they make up more than 56 percent of mine. More startling, while meth cases make up 18 percent of a judge’s drug docket nationally, they account for 78 percent of mine. Add crack cocaine and together they account for 87 percent.

Crack defendants are almost always poor African-Americans. Meth defendants are generally lower-income whites. More than 80 percent of the 4,546 meth defendants sentenced in federal courts in 2010 received a mandatory minimum sentence. These small-time addicts are apprehended not through high-tech wiretaps or sophisticated undercover stings but by common traffic stops for things like nonfunctioning taillights. Or they’re caught in a search of the logs at a local Walmart to see who is buying unusually large amounts of nonprescription cold medicine. They are the low-hanging fruit of the drug war. Other than their crippling meth addiction, they are very much like the folks I grew up with. Virtually all are charged with federal drug trafficking conspiracies—which sounds ominous but is based on something as simple as two people agreeing to purchase pseudoephedrine and cook it into meth. They don’t even have to succeed.

I recently sentenced a group of more than twenty defendants on meth trafficking conspiracy charges. All of them pled guilty. Eighteen were “pill smurfers,” as federal prosecutors put it, meaning their role amounted to regularly buying and delivering cold medicine to meth cookers in exchange for very small, low-grade quantities to feed their severe addictions. Most were unemployed or underemployed. Several were single mothers. They did not sell or directly distribute meth; there were no hoards of cash, guns or countersurveillance equipment. Yet all of them faced mandatory minimum sentences of sixty or 120 months. One meth-addicted mother faced a 240-month sentence because a prior meth conviction in county court doubled her mandatory minimum. She will likely serve all twenty years; in the federal system, there is no parole, and one serves an entire sentence minus a maximum of a 15 percent reduction rewarded for “good time.”

Several years ago, I started visiting inmates I had sentenced in prison. It is deeply inspiring to see the positive changes most have made. Some definitely needed the wake-up call of a prison cell, but very few need more than two or three years behind bars. These men and women need intensive drug treatment, and most of the inmates I visit are working hard to turn their lives around. They are shocked—and glad—to see me, and it’s important to them that people outside prison care about their progress. For far too many, I am their only visitor.

If lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug addicts actually worked, one might be able to rationalize them. But there is no evidence that they do. I have seen how they leave hundreds of thousands of young children parentless and thousands of aging, infirm and dying parents childless. They destroy families and mightily fuel the cycle of poverty and addiction. In fact, I have been at this so long, I am now sentencing the grown children of people I long ago sent to prison.

For years I have debriefed jurors after their verdicts. Northwest Iowa is one of the most conservative regions in the country, and these are people who, for the most part, think judges are too soft on crime. Yet, for all the times I’ve asked jurors after a drug conviction what they think a fair sentence would be, never has one given a figure even close to the mandatory minimum. It is always far lower. Like people who dislike Congress but like their Congress member, these jurors think the criminal justice system coddles criminals in the abstract—but when confronted by a real live defendant, even a “drug trafficker,” they never find a mandatory minimum sentence to be a just sentence.

Many people across the political spectrum have spoken out against the insanity of mandatory minimums. These include our past three presidents, as well as Supreme Court Justices William Rehnquist, whom nobody could dismiss as “soft on crime,” and Anthony Kennedy, who told the American Bar Association in 2003, “I can accept neither the necessity nor the wisdom of federal mandatory minimum sentences.” In 2005, four former attorneys general, a former FBI director and dozens of former federal prosecutors, judges and Justice Department officials filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court opposing the use of mandatory minimums in a case involving a marijuana defendant facing a fifty-five-year sentence. In 2008, The Christian Science Monitor reported that 60 percent of Americans opposed mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenders. And in a 2010 survey of federal district court judges, 62 percent said mandatory minimums were too harsh.

Federal judges have a longstanding culture of not speaking out on issues of public concern. I am breaking with this tradition not because I am eager to but because the daily grist of what I do compels me to. In 1999, Judge Robert Pratt of the Southern District of Iowa, a courageous jurist whose brilliant opinion in Gall v. United States led to one of the most important Supreme Court sentencing opinions in my professional life, wrote a guest editorial in The Des Moines Register criticizing federal sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums. He ended by asking, “If we don’t speak up, who will?” I hope more of my colleagues will speak up, regardless of their position on the fairness of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. This is an issue of grave national consequence. Might there be a problem when the United States of America incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any nation in the world?”

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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.


Trial Judge to Appeals Court: Review Me

July 17, 2012

The New York Times on July 16, 2012 released the following:

“Earlier this year, an opinion for the Supreme Court by Justice Anthony Kennedy noted a stunning and often overlooked reality of the American legal process: a vast majority of criminal cases — 97 percent of federal cases, 94 percent of state cases — are resolved by guilty pleas. “Criminal justice today,” he observed, “is for the most part a system of pleas, not a system of trials.”

In this context, the recent rejection in a federal district court by Judge John Kane of a plea bargain deal between a defendant and federal prosecutors is truly startling. Judge Kane rejected the deal in part because the defendant waived his right to appeal to a higher court.

The judge insisted the matter go forward to trial so that the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit could review it: “Indiscriminate acceptance of appellate waivers,” he said, “undermines the ability of appellate courts to ensure the constitutional validity of convictions and to maintain consistency and reasonableness in sentencing decisions.” The case is scheduled for trial next month in Denver.

Waivers are a common but largely hidden element of plea bargains — which, in many federal cases, aren’t really bargains because the power of prosecutors is often so much greater than that of the defendants or their lawyers. The process is closer to coercion. Prosecutors regularly “overcharge” defendants with a more serious crime than what actually occurred. The defendants must then choose between the risk of being found guilty at trial and getting a longer sentence than the alleged crime would warrant or a guilty plea in exchange for a lighter sentence. All but a tiny minority of defendants take the plea as the price of avoiding the crapshoot of a trial.

In a sample of almost 1,000 federal cases around the country, agreements included waivers about two-thirds of the time and more often in some places. Every federal appeals court has ruled that in general waivers are enforceable as part of the efficient administration of justice.

Some standard parts of waivers are outrageous, keeping defendants from appealing even if they become convinced that they received inadequate counsel to accept a defective plea agreement where the sentence was not lighter or where the prosecutor wrongly withheld evidence. Any defense lawyer or prosecutor who asks a defendant to sign a waiver ruling out appeals on those grounds is protecting himself.

An important element of justice is missing even when the defendant and the government believe a plea bargain is fair and when an appeal waiver is narrow so the defendant can appeal about certain specified issues. Congress gave appeals courts the power to review federal sentences to ensure the government applies the law reasonably and consistently. Without an appeals court’s policing, the odds go up that prosecutors will do neither. Our system of pleas then looks more like a system of railroading.”

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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.


Jared Mitchell Rothenberger Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury Alleging Charges of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Bank and Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Monetary Transactions in Criminally Derived Property, and Bank Fraud

May 10, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 9, 2012 released the following:

“Minneapolis Man Indicted for Mortgage Fraud in Connection with Burnsville Condo Project

MINNEAPOLIS— Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 43-year-old Minneapolis man was indicted with allegedly defrauding mortgage lenders out of millions of dollars in connection with the sale of condominiums at Chateau Ridge in Burnsville. Jared Mitchell Rothenberger was specifically charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, seven counts of money laundering, two counts of monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and one count of bank fraud. The indictment combines charges related to Chateau Ridge with those Rothenberger also faces in connection to the Cloud 9 Sky Flats development in Minnetonka. Rothenberger was originally charged in the Cloud 9 case on November 8, 2011.

The most recent indictment alleges that from August 24, 2006 through July 15, 2007, Rothenberger and others conspired to defraud mortgage lenders out of money by finding straw buyers to apply for mortgage loans to purchase units at Chateau Ridge. He and others then allegedly made misrepresentations to the lenders regarding the straw buyers’ financial situation, among other things. In some instances, he also reportedly provided straw buyers with funds for down payments, although his actions were never disclosed to the lenders. Furthermore, Rothenberger allegedly participated in the distribution of mortgage loan proceeds outside of actual property closings, again without informing the lenders. Some of the funds—or kickbacks—distributed in that manner amounted to hidden purchase-price discounts and were allegedly provided to the straw buyers. Kickbacks were also purportedly made to Rothenberger and others involved in the scheme in the form of “facilitator” fees or other bogus charges.

Rothenberger is accused of similar criminal activity in connection with the Cloud 9 Sky Flats condominium development in Minnetonka. That case involves more than 40 Cloud 9 units. In excess of $4.2 million was reportedly transferred to accounts for the purpose of paying kickbacks and otherwise sharing in the proceeds of the fraud scheme.

If convicted, Rothenberger faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, 30 years for bank fraud, 20 years for each count of money laundering and wire fraud, 10 years for each count of monetary transaction involving criminally derived property, and five years for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christian S. Wilson and Robert M. Lewis.

This law enforcement action is in part sponsored by the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. It 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, 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.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.”

US v. Jared Mitchell Rothenberger – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 1343

18 U.S.C. § 1344

18 U.S.C. § 1349

18 U.S.C. § 1956

18 U.S.C. § 1957

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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.


Federal Prosecutors Say James “Whitey” Bulger’s Alleged Victims Should Address a Federal District Court Judge in Catherine Greig’s Federal Case

April 16, 2012

Boston.com on April 13, 2012 released the following:

“Prosecutors say Bulger victims should address court in Greig’s case

By Milton J. Valencia, Globe Staff

Federal prosecutors say that the families of James “Whitey” Bulger’s alleged victims should be able to address a federal court judge and describe the pains they suffered at the hands of his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, when she is sentenced in June.

Victims of crimes are allowed to provide impact statements in court proceedings, and prosecutors say that Bulger’s alleged victims are Greig’s victims, as well.

“She knew that law enforcement was actively searching for Bulger so that he could be brought to Boston to face charges,” prosecutors said in court filings. “At a minimum, she should have known that her conduct would cause distress to those families.”

Greig, 61, pleaded guilty in March to helping Bulger remain a fugitive, and for identity theft. She helped him go to a doctor’s office and obtain prescriptions, using fake identification, for instance.

She was with him for most of his 16 years on the lam, and they were arrested together on June 22 last year in Santa Monica, Calif., in the same apartment they had been living in since at least 1998.

Greig is slated to be sentenced June 12, and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts: conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and identity theft.

Bulger is slated to go to trial in November.

US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock had asked prosecutors whether Bulger’s victims would be eligible to address the court in Greig’s case, and prosecutors respond that they are, that they suffered “emotional distress.”

“The defendant helped Bulger avoid capture,” prosecutors said. “By doing so, she took an active part in denying the families of the alleged murder victims an opportunity to have Bulger brought to court to face justice. The emotional harm to those families was real and significant.

“For sixteen years, those families faced the prospect that Bulger would never be found and that the alleged murderer of their loved ones would escape justice.””

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

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 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.


Federal District Court Judge Told a Federal Jury That They Must Keep Deliberating in the R. Allen Stanford Federal Criminal Trial

March 6, 2012

The New York Times on March 5, 2012 released the following:

“Jurors Told to Keep Talking in Financier’s Fraud Trial

By BLOOMBERG NEWS

The judge in the fraud trial of the financier R. Allen Stanford ordered the jury on Monday to return to deliberations after it said it could not reach a unanimous verdict in its fourth day of reviewing the evidence.

The eight men and four women on the jury told Judge David Hittner of Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston that they had been unable to reach a verdict on each of the 14 counts, the judge said, reading a note they had written to lawyers for both sides.

Judge Hittner instructed jurors to continue deliberations, saying that the trial had taken a lot of time and money and that it was unlikely that the lawyers could put on a better trial or that another jury could be more conscientious.

”It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so, without surrendering your conscientious opinion,” Judge Hittner said.

Mr. Stanford, 61, is accused of leading a $7 billion international fraud scheme involving the sale of certificates of deposit issued by his bank, which was based in Antigua.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the most severe charges, mail fraud and wire fraud. Mr. Stanford says he is not guilty.

The jury left for the day after it was told to resume deliberations.

Jury selection began Jan. 23. The panel heard five weeks of evidence.

The government presented testimony from investors who had bought the reportedly fraudulent C.D.’s and from the executives who had helped sell them.

The witnesses included government officials and the former chief financial officer of the Stanford Financial Group, James M. Davis, who pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in 2009 and testified for five days against Mr. Stanford.

The defense presented former Stanford employees who said they had seen no evidence of fraud at the company. Mr. Stanford did not testify during the trial.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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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.


Alleged Members of Native Mob Charged in Sweeping Racketeering Indictment

January 26, 2012

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

“MINNEAPOLIS— A 47-count federal indictment unsealed in part late yesterday charges 24 alleged members of the Native Mob gang with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and other crimes. The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, young, male, Native American populations. Association with the gang is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or sporting gang-related tattoos.

Six defendants made their initial federal court appearances late yesterday afternoon. They were apprehended earlier Tuesday, during a take-down conducted by between 100 and 150 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement officials. Arrests were made on the White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake Indian reservations as well as in the Twin Cities. Of the 18 remaining defendants, 12 are presently in jail or prison on other charges, while six continue to be sought by law enforcement. The six individuals arrested yesterday remain in custody pending their next hearings, scheduled for Jan. 26 and 27.

Earlier today, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said of the investigation, “This investigation exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation we are fortunate to experience here in Minnesota. Local, state, federal, and tribal investigators worked side by side to take down some of the most violent criminals in our state and, in the process, disrupt an extremely dangerous gang that diminishes the quality of life for those who live and work in Native American communities. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

The indictment alleges that since at least the mid-1990s, the defendants named in this case and others have conspired to conduct criminal activity through an “enterprise,” namely, the Native Mob, in violation of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The indictment alleges that the primary objective of this “enterprise” is to preserve, protect, promote and enhance the Native Mob’s power, territory, and financial gains.

To that end, gang members purportedly distribute illegal drugs, from crack cocaine to ecstasy. They also reportedly provide monetary support to other members, including those incarcerated; share with one another police reports, victim statements and other case discovery; hinder or obstruct officials from identifying or apprehending those wanted by the law; and intimidate witnesses to Native Mob crimes. Moreover, they purportedly maintain and circulate firearms for gang use and commit acts of violence, including murder, against individuals associated with rival gangs.

Those arrested yesterday, along with their last known residence, include:

  • Dale Wesley Ballinger, Jr., 20, Isle, Minn.;
  • Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, Onamia, Minn.;
  • Aaron James Gilbert, Jr., 24, Minneapolis;
  • Cory Gene Oquist, 22, Bemidji, Minn.;
  • Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, Cass Lake, Minn.; and
  • Justen Lee Poitra, 26, Cass Lake.

In addition to the racketeering charge filed against all 24 defendants, other charges were levied against some of the defendants. Those charges include conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; the use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence; assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; felon in possession of ammunition; felon in possession of a firearm; armed career criminal in possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence; conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; distributing a controlled substance; and tampering with a witness. (See the attached chart for a breakdown of charges by defendant. Note, until such time as defendants make their initial appearances in federal court, their names and the specific charges levied against them will not be disclosed.)

If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum sentence of between 20 years and life in federal prison. Since the federal justice system does not have parole, prison terms would be served virtually in entirety. All sentences will ultimately be determined by a federal district court judge.

This case is the result of a long-term, cross-jurisdictional investigation conducted by local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement officers dedicated to making our streets and communities safer. They include the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; the Carlton County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI-funded Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force; the Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department; the Minneapolis Police Department; the Minnesota Department of Corrections; and the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force.

These agencies investigated this case with assistance from—in alphabetical order—the Becker County Sheriff’s Office, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the Carlton County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Attorney’s Office, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office of Wisconsin, the Duluth Police Department, the Fon du Lac Tribal Police Department, the Fridley Police Department, the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, the Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, the LCO Reservation Police Department, the Lower Sioux Tribal Police Department, the Mahnomen County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office, the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office, the New Brighton Police Department, the North Central Drug Task Force, the Prior Lake Police Department, the Red Lake Tribal Police Department, the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office, Richfield Police Department, the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Paul Police Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Minneapolis Violent Offender Task Force, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the White Earth Tribal Police Department.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and Steven L. Schleicher.”

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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.


James Warren Hoffman and his wife Teresa Gay Hoffman Indicted for Allegedly Orchestrating a $5 Million Mortgage Fraud Scam

October 19, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 18, 2011 released the following:

“Minnesota Couple Indicted for Orchestrating $5 Million Mortgage Fraud Scam

MINNEAPOLIS— Earlier today in federal court, a Minnesota couple was indicted in connection with a $5 million mortgage fraud scheme. James Warren Hoffman, age 51, and his wife, Teresa Gay Hoffman, age 52, both of Stillwater, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud through the use of interstate wire and nine counts of mortgage fraud through interstate wire.

The indictment alleges that from August of 2001 through 2009, James Hoffman conspired to defraud mortgage lenders and obtain money from those lenders. Teresa Hoffman began participating in the scheme in August of 2006. The defendants allegedly recruited straw buyers to purchase real estate in both Minnesota and Wisconsin with the proceeds of fraudulent mortgage loans arranged by James Hoffman, and in some instances by both defendants. The defendants owned several entities, which arranged financing for the fraudulent transactions.

From August 2001 through 2008, the couple lived in a Hastings home without ever owning it. James Hoffman arranged for a series of straw purchasers to buy the property entirely with the proceeds of fraudulent loans. From June 2001 through 2008, the couple used a Spicer Lake property as their vacation home without ever owning it by also arranging fraudulent mortgage loans for a series of straw buyers. Starting in June of 2006, the couple, through three of their businesses, purchased apartment buildings in Rochester, Sauk Rapids and Spicer to convert them into condominiums. Then they sold the condos to straw buyers, who paid for them with proceeds of fraudulent mortgage loans arranged by the defendants. In total, the estimated loss to mortgage lenders is approximately $5 million. During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants allegedly received loan proceeds that were wire transferred by the lenders.

If convicted, the defendants face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each mortgage fraud count and five years on the conspiracy count. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge. This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. MacLaughlin.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.”

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

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.