Prominent defense lawyer faces US charges

May 29, 2012

The Boston Globe on May 29, 2012 released the following:

“Robert A. George goes on trial today on charges of conspiring to launder money

By Milton J. Valencia

In a recent trial in federal court in Boston, well-known lawyer Robert A. George stood before a jury for his closing arguments, and spoke directly.

“When you’re innocent, you have a right to stand up and say something,’’ he declared in defense of his client, a Dorchester nurse and a mother of five charged with distributing prescription drugs.

But George might well have been speaking for himself – because he, too, is about to stand trial.

The 57-year-old father of three is accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to help a former client launder drug money, and of restructuring bank deposits in violation of tax laws. Jury selection is slated for Tuesday. The case is a fight for his career and his livelihood.

The arrest of George in March 2011 caused a stir in the legal community, and defense lawyers descended on the Moakley courthouse to show their support.

In the year since FBI agents first swarmed his home, George, known for his testy exchanges with prosecutors, has represented clients just as aggressively as he did years ago when he defended Mafia figures and, later, the trash collector who maintains he was wrongly convicted of murdering Cape Cod fashion writer Christa Worthington.

George has also fought for a new trial for a former Stoughton police chief after finding information about one of the jurors that could have excluded her from serving on the panel in that extortion case. That request is pending in state court.

He has been working on his own case with two of the state’s better known defense lawyers, Robert M. Goldstein and Kevin R. Reddington. With them, he has filed repeated motions.

George has accused prosecutors of retaliating against him, being vindictive because of his defense of a man accused of plotting to kill a federal prosecutor several years ago. He has questioned the propriety of the government’s use of a confidential informant in his case, a man with a lengthy criminal history.

George and his lawyers are even attempting to include US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz on his witness list.

“He has been laser focused on his clients’ cases, as well as his own,’’ said Thomas Shamshak, a former police chief in Spencer and Winthrop and a Somerville lieutenant who founded his own private investigative firm. He has worked with George on several cases, including this one. “He is a ferocious advocate unlike anyone I have ever worked for.’’

Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who has represented high-profile clients in federal court and who won the acquittal of a lawyer in a racketeering case several years ago in Florida, said the case also demonstrates the quintessential challenge for any lawyer: representing another criminal defense lawyer and the symbolism that comes with it.

“There’s always that added context, that you’re representing the lifestyle,’’ said Weinberg. “You’re representing everything he is.’’

Lawyers in Massachusetts can lose their law license if they are convicted of a felony, but nothing prevents them from carrying out their practice until their case has concluded.

Court rules require only that a lawyer notify his or her clients of the pending charges. A lawyer would have to notify the state Office of Bar Counsel if convicted.

George, who has lived on Cape Cod and the suburbs west of Boston, faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of trying to help a former client launder his drug-dealing profits for a fee, by referring him to a mortgage broker who would help him.

The former client, Ronald Dardinski, was cooperating with authorities, and George alleges he was targeted by authorities because he represented a man who in 2007 plotted to kill prosecutor Jack Pirozzolo.

Prosecutors rejected that allegation, and US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton refused to dismiss the case or to hold an evidentiary hearing, saying there was no evidence of retaliation. Prosecutors say they have audio recordings of George setting up the money-laundering scheme.

Rosemary Scapicchio, a friend of George’s, represented him at his initial hearing, before he could hire Reddington, and she lashed out at prosecutors for “investigating a criminal defense attorney who is out there protecting people’s rights. This is outrageous.’’

It is not the first time a defense lawyer has been a defendant in federal court in Boston. Last January, for instance, Gorton admonished attorney Lawrence M. Perlmutter before sentencing him to 5 1/2 years for laundering drug profits for his clients.

“You have disgraced not only yourself, but the rest of us who hold our profession in the highest esteem, and for what?’’ Gorton hissed. He is the same judge in George’s case.

George and his lawyers would not comment for this article.

One of George’s last appearances in a federal courtroom was May 9, for the sentencing of Gladys Ihenacho, the Dorchester nurse and wife of a pharmacist. Her husband, Baldwin, who had a different lawyer, was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Gladys was acquitted of 23 of the 30 charges she faced.

Prosecutors had asked that she serve 27 months in prison, saying she showed greed. But George had asked that she serve no prison time because she had a family to care for, and argued that the charges did not reflect her work as a mother.

She was sentenced to probation, with 10 days of home detention, and went home that day.”

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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.


U.S. busts an alleged global online drug market, arrests eight

April 17, 2012

Chicago Tribune on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“Dan Whitcomb | Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Eight men charged with running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to 3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” prosecutors said on Monday.

The secret ring known as “The Farmer’s Market” operated through the TOR computer network, which allows users to communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.

The online drug market provided order forms and customer service, guaranteeing delivery in exchange for a commission and accepting payment through PayPal, Western Union and other means, the indictment charges.

Authorities said the defendants were accused of running one of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the Internet and said the prosecution represented a first of its kind.

“The drug trafficking organization targeted in Operation Adam Bomb was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,” Briane Grey, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acting special agent in charge, said in a written release.

“Today’s action should send a clear message to organizations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice,” Grey said.

Marc Willems, 42, who is accused of creating and running “The Farmer’s Market,” was taken into custody at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands, by Dutch authorities, U.S. Attorneys spokeswoman Gymeka Williams said.

Law enforcement officials in Bogota arrested 42-year-old Michael Evron, a U.S. citizen living in Argentina who allegedly oversaw technical and customer support for the online marketplace, as he was attempting to leave Colombia, Williams said.

Jonathan Colbeck, 51; Brian Colbeck, 47; Ryan Rawls, 31; Jonathan Dugan, 27; George Matzek, 20; and Charles Bigras, 37, were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

All eight defendants were charged with federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges and prosecutors had filed extradition papers to return Willems and Evron back to the United States for trial, Williams said.

Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

According to the 66-page indictment, “The Farmer’s Market” allowed independent sources to advertise illegal drugs – including LSD, ecstasy, fentanyl, mescaline ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana – for sale to the public.

The deals were allegedly handled through the online marketplace, which processed more than 5,200 orders for controlled substances valued at more than $1 million between January 2007 and October 2009, the indictment charges.

The law enforcement operation was called “Adam Bomb” because the original name of the marketplace was Adamflowers, according to the indictment.

According to its website, TOR offers free software and an open network that allows users to defend against “network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy.””

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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 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.


Muhammed Omar Mullahkhel, Ajmal Omar Mullahkhel, Bilqis Shahnaz Mullahkhel, Nargas Parwana Mullahkhel, Abdul Subur Mumtaz Mullahkhel, and AJ’s Kwik Mart Indicted in 20 Counts by a Federal Grand Jury in Salt Lake City

July 6, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Utah on July 6, 2011 released the following:

“AJ’s Kwik Mart, Five Individuals Charged in Alleged Scheme to Defraud Nutrition Assistance Program

SALT LAKE CITY— A federal grand jury returned a 20-count indictment Wednesday afternoon charging AJ’s Kwik Mart in Salt Lake City and five individuals with violations of federal law in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

AJ’s Kwik Mart is a small convenience store located at 268 South Main Street. It carries small food and convenience items such as soft drinks, chips, candy, canned soups, pastas, prepared sandwiches, and miscellaneous snack items, among other things.

Charged in the indictment along with the business are Muhammed Omar Mullahkhel, aka Omar Mullahkhel, age 59, and Ajmal Omar Mullahkhel, aka AJ, age 24, both of West Valley City; and Bilqis Shahnaz Mullahkhel, age 26; Nargas Parwana Mullahkhel, age 28; and Abdul Subur Mumtaz Mullahkhel, aka Mumtaz, all of Salt Lake City. A summons will be issued to each defendant to appear in federal court for an arraignment. (No date has been set.)

The indictment includes one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud; 13 counts of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud; one count of access device fraud; and five counts of money laundering. The charges follow an investigation by agents of the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the FBI.

The SNAP program provides assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. States are given authority to determine eligibility and to certify recipients who qualify for the program. In Utah, SNAP benefits are administered by the Utah State Department of Workforce Services. Approved applicants are given a benefits transactions card, similar to a bank debit card, linked to a SNAP account. Benefits for recipients are electronically encoded to the account on a monthly basis to allow beneficiaries to purchase eligible food items. SNAP card benefits can only be exchanged for eligible food items and can only be used at authorized stores. SNAP benefits may not be redeemed for cash.

The indictment alleges the defendants devised a scheme to redeem SNAP benefits for cash paid in amounts less than the amounts charged to the SNAP benefits cards. On multiple occasions between December 2007 and May 2011, according to the indictment, a SNAP benefits card would be presented to an employee of the store, along with a request to redeem the value on the card for cash. Employees would require the customer to purchase a nominal amount of food or non-food items, such as cigarettes, and in one or more card transactions would process the purchase and an additional amount up to the SNAP benefit limit on the card. The indictment alleges approximately 50 percent of the cash value of the transaction over the value of the merchandised purchased would be refunded to the customer and the other 50 percent would be kept by the store. The full value of the transaction would subsequently be deposited by electronic funds transfer into the bank account of AJ’s Kwik Mart. A portion of the excess SNAP benefits purchased would be allocated to various employees of the store, the indictment alleges.

AJ’s Kwik Mart was authorized to accept SNAP benefits on March 3, 2004. According to the indictment, on an application to participate as a SNAP retailer, Muhammed Omar Mullahkhel reported estimated annual food sales of items eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits of $175,000. A.J.’s Kwik Mart redeemed approximately $1,371,600 in SNAP benefits during the period of December 2007 to February 2011.

The potential maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison. SNAP benefits fraud carries a potential five-year penalty. The potential penalty for access device fraud is up to 15 years in prison and money laundering is up to 10 years.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List 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.

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