FBI Los Angeles: “$11 Million Boiler Room Mail and Wire Fraud Indictment Unsealed Today”

October 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 1, 2013 released the following:

Owner, Manager, and Salesperson at Fraudulent Investment Venture Taken into Custody for Mail and Wire Fraud in Connection with $11 Million Fraudulent Oil and Gas Well Investment Scheme.

LOS ANGELES—Two men were taken into custody today by special agents of the FBI for their alleged involvement in an Orange County boiler room operation that defrauded investors by falsely claiming high returns from oil and gas wells and by failing to disclose high sales commissions on investments, announced Bill L. Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and André Birotte Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California. A third defendant charged in this indictment is already in custody on unrelated charges.

Jerry Aubrey, 51, already in custody, his brother Timothy Aubrey, 53, of Moreno Valley, who self surrendered to the FBI’s Riverside Resident Agency, and Aaron Glasser, 30, of Mission Viejo, who was arrested without incident, are all in custody today after a federal grand jury indictment that charges them with mail and wire fraud was unsealed.

The indictment alleges Jerry Aubrey founded, managed, and operated the telemarketing investment scheme (also known as a “boiler room”) located in Costa Mesa, CA, doing business as Progressive Energy Partners, LLC (PEP). Timothy Aubrey worked as a PEP manager and salesperson, in addition to preparing, with Aaron Glasser, the sales scripts read to potential investors. Finally, Aaron Glasser was a PEP salesperson who worked as both a sales “fronter” and “closer,” making cold calls and closing deals. In his work as a salesperson, the indictment alleges Glasser raised around a quarter of the total amount of investments.

PEP allegedly employed salespersons called “fronters” and “closers” to raise over $11 million in five unregistered securities offerings for the purported purpose of developing and supporting oil and gas wells. In reality, most of the money was used to pay for the Aubrey brothers’ personal expenses, to pay up to 30% commissions to salespersons, and to make Ponzi-like payments to previous investors.

The defendants directed salespersons to cold call potential investors from purchased lead lists and solicit investments using scripts touting the profitability of investing in PEP. Fronters would pass the names of those who were potentially interested to closers, who could conclude the sale.

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants caused the salespersons to make material misrepresentations and conceal material facts when speaking to investors about, among other things, the percentage of investor money that would be spent on the development and operation of oil and gas wells, the anticipated amount and timing of returns to investors, and the payment of sales commissions to PEP salespersons, i.e., the fronters and closers.

Some of the false and deceptive statements indicated that investors would receive a greater than 50% annual rate of return on their investments; that almost half of the investor funds would be spent on oil and gas wells, and that the remainder of the investor funds would be spent on other business expenses; that salespersons would only receive a sales commission in the form of a share of the investment profits; and that PEP would use the assistance of an “independent CPA firm” to make distributions to investors.

The indictment alleges that, through the scheme, the defendants concealed from investors the material facts that approximately 30% of the investor funds would be spent on the Aubreys’ personal expenditures; that almost 20% of the investor funds would be used to make investor distributions and to return investor principal; that less than 10% of investor funds was spent on oil and gas wells; that investors would not, in fact, earn an annual rate of return of over 50%; and that defendant Jerry Aubrey, rather than an “independent CPA firm,” would determine the distributions to investors. The indictment alleges that by devising, executing, and participating in the above scheme, the defendants induced more than 200 investors to distribute to PEP over $11 million between 2005 and 2010.

In 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtained summary judgment against these defendants in connection with the PEP investment scheme. Additionally, Jerry Aubrey was charged in 1998 by the SEC with violating the broker-dealer registration provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in connection with an offering fraud in which he sold securities in a fictitious cruise ship. The following year, he was permanently enjoined from future violations of Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act (failure to register as a broker dealer), a permanent injunction he has violated through his alleged activities in PEP.

If convicted on all eight counts of Mail Fraud and two counts of Wire Fraud, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 200 years in federal prison.

The criminal investigation was conducted by the FBI. The Securities and Exchange Commission conducted the civil investigation.

An indictment itself is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.”

More Information on Federal Mail Fraud Statutes, Jury Instructions, and Crimes
Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

Video on Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

More Information on Federal Wire Fraud Statutes, Jury Instructions, and Crimes
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.


Kenmore Financial Advisor Edward H. Kahler Arrested for Allegedly Committing Mail Fraud

October 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 30, 2013 released the following:

Allegedly Liquidated $125,000 Client Account Without Permission

A long-time financial advisor who was stripped of his insurance producers license in 2012, was arrested today on a federal charge of mail fraud for liquidating a client account without authorization, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. EDWARD H. KAHLER, 64, is the owner of Key Resources, a Kenmore, Washington retirement consultation company which sells annuities and life insurance. The charge alleges that KAHLER used proprietary information from the company he used to represent to access customer accounts. KAHLER allegedly used that information to liquidate the customer account and use the money for his own benefit. KAHLER will make his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, October 1, 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, from 1983 to 2007 KAHLER was a financial advisor for Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC), and was appointed by VALIC to sell its annuities. VALIC terminated KAHLER in 2007 when it discovered he was promoting competing annuities. Using information that he had in his files, KAHLER allegedly created profiles for former clients using the VALIC on-line system, and fraudulently caused VALIC to liquidate the clients’ accounts and send the proceeds to him for his personal use and benefit. In the instance described in the complaint, on Christmas Eve 2012, KAHLER liquidated the account of a client who had died in 1984, and used the $125,000 to fund a trip to Las Vegas, the payment on a BMW and other personal expenses. He also paid business expenses with the money.

Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Arnold.”

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

Video on Federal Mail Fraud 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

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.


Father and Son Allegedly Linked to Separate Federal Fraud Schemes Arrested at LAX as They Prepared to Leave U.S. with One-Way Plane Tickets to Russia

May 11, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 2013 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A father and son were arrested yesterday afternoon as they were about to board a plane to Moscow on federal fraud charges that include allegations that the older man sent tens of thousands of bogus “invoices” to small business owners in California in a shakedown scheme that caused at least 5,000 victims to send $225 to a fake company that purported to be a state agency.

The men—Viktor Ryzhkin, 45, of the Little Armenia section of Los Angeles; and his son, Evgenii Ryzhkin, 22, who lived with his father—were arrested late yesterday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents as they prepared to board a Transaero Airlines flight to Russia. The Ryzhkins, both of whom are Russian nationals, and two other family members, all had one-way tickets to Moscow that had been purchased on Monday.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon in United States District Court, Viktor Ryzhkin targeted more than 170,000 California small business owners in a mail fraud scheme that would have brought in nearly $40 million had all of the potential victims complied with demands to send payments to “Corporate Business Filings,” a Beverly Hills company set up and controlled by Viktor Ryzhkin.

The small business owners targeted in this scheme received invoices that appeared to be from the state of California, notifying them that they each owed $225 to the state and directing them to fill out certain forms related to their businesses. The letters sent to the victims—all of which were sent over the course of several days at the end of March and beginning of April—each listed the correct, publicly available California Small Business Administration entity number assigned to the particular small business. The business owners were told in the letters that they would face $250 penalties if they did not remit payment by April 15, 2013, and did not fill out the forms as directed. The letters and invoices that appeared to be from the state of California were completely bogus.

Investigators believe that Viktor Ryzhkin became aware of the investigation into his scheme in late last month. Viktor and Evgenii Ryzhkin, accompanied by the two family members, were about to board a plane at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, when they were arrested by United States Postal Inspectors.

Evgenii Ryzhkin was charged in a separate criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court. Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged with participating in a conspiracy to take over home equity lines of credit in a scheme that caused at least $1.2 million in losses. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Eygenii Ryzhkin, he was caught on surveillance video depositing a stolen check linked to a hijacked HELOC account.

Both Ryzhkins are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.

Viktor Ryzhkin is charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged in a separate criminal complaint with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, each of which carries a statutory maximum sentence of sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

This two cases against the Ryzhkins are being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection assisted during yesterday’s arrests.”

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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.


Superseding Indictment Charges Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno with Alleged Scheme to Defraud Citizens of His Honest Services

May 3, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 3, 2012 released the following:

Explicitly Charges Bribery and Kickback Theory, Pursuant to Decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

ALBANY, NY— A federal grand jury in Albany returned a superseding indictment today against Joseph L. Bruno, the former New York State Senate majority leader. Bruno is charged with carrying out a scheme to defraud the state of New York and its citizens of the right to his honest services through bribery and kickbacks by soliciting and accepting payments from an Albany businessman totaling $440,000. Bruno will be arraigned this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge David R. Homer in Albany, New York.

Today’s indictment follows a trial and an appeal. In December of 2009, a jury convicted Bruno of two counts of honest services fraud. Then, in 2010, the United States Supreme Court decided United States v. Skilling, holding that the honest services statute criminalizes only fraudulent schemes involving bribes or kickbacks. On November 16, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion vacating Bruno’s conviction and authorizing a retrial, as requested by the United States. The Court of Appeals noted that the jury had been instructed pursuant to the law in effect at the time of the trial, which had not required bribery or kickbacks to constitute honest services fraud, but the subsequent Skilling decision had changed the law. In determining that a retrial was proper, the Court of Appeals reviewed the case against the elements of honest services fraud as altered by Skilling and held that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that Bruno accepted “payments that were intended to and did influence his conduct as a public official,” and to find that “Bruno’s actions deprived New York citizens of his honest services as a New York senator under the standard announced in Skilling.” The Court of Appeals also endorsed the government’s proposal to seek a superseding indictment, commenting: “While the indictment alleges sufficient facts to support a bribery charge, it does not explicitly charge a bribery or kickback theory, and does not contain language to the effect that Bruno received favors or gifts ‘in exchange for’ or ‘in return for’ official actions. It would be preferable and fairer, of course, for the government to proceed on explicit rather than implicit charges, and as the government intends to seek a superseding indictment, we dismiss the indictment, without prejudice.”

United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said: “Based on the decision issued by the Second Circuit, a federal grand jury has returned a superseding indictment today charging Joseph L. Bruno with depriving New York of his honest services through bribery, kickbacks, and the exploitation of his official position for personal enrichment. Before Skilling, a trial jury determined that Bruno committed honest services fraud, and the Court of Appeals determined that the evidence presented at that trial was sufficient to convict Bruno under the Skilling standard. We look forward to having an impartial jury consider this superseding indictment and the evidence in this case as soon as possible.”

According to the indictment:

  • Bruno solicited payments from an Albany businessman who directed that several companies pay Bruno a total of $440,000. The payments were disguised as “consulting” payments and $80,000 in payments for a virtually worthless horse. Bruno did not perform legitimate consulting work commensurate with the money that he was paid; the horse payments were to make up for expected consulting payments that had been stopped; and Bruno accepted the payments knowing, understanding, and believing that (a) he was not entitled to the payments; (b) the payments were made in return for official acts as opportunities arose rather than being given for reasons unrelated to his office; and (c) his reasonably perceived ability to influence official action, at least in part, motivated the making of the payments.
  • The payments gave the Albany businessman greater access to the New York State Senate majority leader than was available to the other citizens of New York state. In return for the payments, Bruno would and did perform official acts benefitting the interests of the Albany businessman and his companies as opportunities arose, including (a) in or about February 2004, Bruno directed the award of a $250,000 grant to Evident Technologies, Inc.; (b) in or about April 2004, Bruno recommended that the Albany’s businessman’s partner be appointed to the board of the New York Racing Association; (c) in or about July 2005, Bruno directed the award of a $2.5 million grant to the Sage Colleges for the benefit of Evident Technologies, Inc.; (d) in or about the fall of 2005, Bruno sought the acceleration of the award of the NYRA franchise; and (e) in or about November 2005, Bruno sought the dismissal of certain NYRA officials.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and Bruno is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. None of the other persons or entities identified in the indictment have been accused of federal criminal violations. If convicted, Bruno faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 on each of the two counts of the indictment under the federal mail fraud statute.

The investigation which led to this indictment was conducted by the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States is represented in this prosecution by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth C. Coombe and William C. Pericak.”

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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.