Jerry Williams to ask for leniency in Tuesday’s federal court sentencing

June 12, 2012

NaplesNews.com on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“By LAURA LAYDEN

FORT MYERS — Once facing fraud charges that could have put him away for life, Jerry Williams, the ex-CEO of Orion Bank in Naples, won’t spend more than 15 years in prison.

Under his plea agreement, he can’t get any more time than that for his crimes.

But he’s asking for a sentence of no more than five years, arguing through his attorneys that when he crossed the line it was an “isolated mistake.”

His sentencing hearing is at 1 p.m. Tuesday in federal court in Fort Myers.

Williams, 52, pleaded guilty to three counts involving bank fraud at Orion, with each count carrying a sentence of up to five years. He faces fines of at least $250,000 and he’s agreed to pay restitution to his victims. Charges in his original 13-count indictment carried a maximum sentence of 220 years in prison.

“Based on the fact he only pleaded to three of the 13 charges I see no reason for any additional leniency,” said Patrick Miller, Orion’s former senior vice president and one of the hundreds of shareholders in Orion’s holding company who lost millions when the bank failed in November 2009.

Williams admitted to orchestrating a complex scheme that involved illegally raising more capital for Orion and selling off bad loans to a borrower to make the failing bank appear in better financial shape than it was to its regulators.

Williams isn’t the only bank executive to find himself in trouble after doctoring financial documents and lying to state and federal regulators. Some of the more recent cases resulted in sentences ranging from a few months to more than six years in prison:

** In late 2011, a former Georgia banker was sentenced to six years in federal prison for a scheme that netted him kickbacks for fraudulent loans made to a Florida real estate developer. On top of his sentence, banker S. Pope Cleghorn Jr., the former president and CEO of Hometown Bank, had to pay more than $2.5 million in restitution to SunTrust, which acquired the bank after its collapse in 2008.

** Earlier this year, Mary S. Becker, a former vice president of Jersey State Bank in Illinois, was sent to prison for five years and three months for bank fraud and ordered to pay restitution after siphoning $4.45 million from the bank, putting it into her accounts.

** About a year ago, William Sandison, the former CEO of Community National Bank in Minnesota, got a four-month prison sentence and had to pay a $30,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to defrauding nearly two dozen other banks that invested millions of dollars in a failed town center project.

** A little more than two years ago, David Kennelly, a former executive with the Bank of Clark County in Washington, was sentenced to four months in prison after he hid appraisals on 17 properties that had fallen in value. Based on the appraisals, regulators would have required his bank to set aside nearly $17 million in reserves for loan losses.

** In late 2010, Jeffrey Thompson, former president of Hume Bank in Missouri, got a 6-and-1/2-year prison sentence after admitting he concealed problem loans from regulators and altered records. Loan losses caused the bank to fail in March 2008.

Peter Turecek, a senior managing director in the New York office of Kroll, a leading risk consulting company, said though plea deals can often result in lighter sentences for the accused, there are benefits to others. There doesn’t have to be a costly trial, saving taxpayer money, and it keeps the courts from getting clogged.

If Williams went to prison for life he wouldn’t be able to pay restitution, Turecek noted.

Bank fraud often doesn’t involve hardened criminals, he said.

“They are people who probably went into it with a high ideal and a desire to run a business and somewhere along the way something came up and when faced with an ethical decision or hard decision they made the wrong choices,” he said. “Then they tried to continue to cover it up, which led to more lies.”

Fred Gibson, deputy inspector general for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a bank regulator, said his office has 210 open investigations and about half of those cases involve allegations of criminal activity against bank officials.

Some think there hasn’t been enough prosecution of bankers.

“The general feeling of a lot of people is that with this current crisis there weren’t enough put in jail,” said Ken Thomas, a Miami-based economist and independent banking consultant. “There is a public sentiment out there that ‘How could we have this terrible crisis with so many losses and very few people going to jail?'”

In the case of financial fraud, a judge needs to look closely at the victims and consider how they’ve been hurt, he said.

“You’re not talking about a lost life or someone who has lost a leg, or who is injured for life or paralyzed,” Thomas said. “But financial disaster can also ruin lives. They cause relationships to break up, foreclosures, lost homes, lost businesses.”

Williams’ co-conspirators already are serving time in federal prison and will have to pay restitution to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which lost $844 million when Orion failed. Their sentences ranged from two years to 5-and-1/2-years.

Nicole Waid, the federal prosecutor in the Orion case, wrote in a memorandum to the judge that Williams “clearly had the most to gain financially” from the fraud. He owned 24 percent of Orion Bancorp’s stock and was the largest single shareholder.

In 2009, Williams reported a net worth of about $78 million, but if his bank had failed at that time and his stock had become worthless his net worth would have dropped to $65,000, according to the court filing.

Waid’s recommending the court not go easy on Williams.

In a motion for a lighter sentence, Williams’ attorneys paint him as a community leader, a family man, a philanthropist, a caring employer. Attached to the motion are letters from his wife, Heather, and other supporters.

“He offers neither excuses nor qualifications,” his attorneys wrote. “And yet the facts of this case compel one to recognize it for what it is: a critical aberration from an otherwise exemplary life and career.””

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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.


Army Master Sergeant Arrested by AFOSI and the FBI

May 31, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“TAMPA—On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, special agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and the FBI Innocent Images Task Force (IITF) arrested Army Master Sergeant Thomas Meyer, age 42, at his residence this morning without incident. A federal search warrant was also executed at Meyer’s residence today.

The law enforcement activity was the culmination of investigative efforts by the AFOSI; Largo Police Department; Kenton County Police Department, Kentucky; Pennsylvania State Police; United States Postal Inspection Service; and the FBI.

Meyer will be facing federal charges, including attempted production of child pornography, transportation of child pornography, and transfer of obscene material to an individual under the age of 16. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years in federal prison for the production charge; a mandatory minimum penalty of five years, up to 20 years in federal prison for the transportation charge; and up to 10 years in federal prison for the transfer of obscene matter charge.

The FBI’s IITF is an intelligence-driven, proactive investigative initiative that combats the proliferation of child pornography and child sexual exploitation facilitated by the Internet. The mission of the IITF is to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse facilitated through computers; to identify and rescue witting and unwitting child victims; and to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet to sexually exploit children for personal and financial gain.

The charges in the complaint are merely allegations 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

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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.


Drug crime sends first-time offender grandmom to prison for life

May 10, 2012

Houston Chronicle on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“Houstonian, who has no secrets to trade, is doing more time than drug lords
By Dane Schiller

FORT WORTH – The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.

But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life – without parole.

“It is ridiculous,” said Castillo, who is a generation older than her cell mates, and is known as “grandma” at the prison here. “I am no one.”

Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses – men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.

The drug capos had something to trade: the secrets of criminal organizations. The biggest drug lords have pleaded guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences.

Castillo said she has nothing to offer in a system rife with inconsistencies and behind-the-scenes scrambling that amounts to a judicial game of Let’s Make A Deal.

“Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.

In 2010, of 1,766 defendants prosecuted for federal drug offenses in the Southern District of Texas – a region that reaches from Houston to the border – 93.2 percent pleaded guilty rather than face trial, according to the U.S. government. Just 10 defendants were acquitted at trial, and 82 saw their cases dismissed.

The statistics are similar nationwide.

The latest case in point came this week with the negotiated surrender of a Colombian drug boss Javier Calle Serna, whom the United States accuses of shipping at least 30 tons of cocaine.

While how much time Calle will face is not known publicly, he likely studied other former players, including former Gulf Cartel lord Osiel Cardenas Guillen.

Cardenas once led one of Mexico’s most powerful syndicates and created the Zetas gang. He pleaded guilty in Houston and is to be released by 2025. He’ll be 57.

As the federal prison system has no parole, Castillo has no prospect of ever going home.

“Any reasonable person would look at this and say, ‘God, are you kidding?’ ” said attorney David Bires, who represented Castillo on an unsuccessful appeal. “It is not right.”

Castillo’s elderly mother in Mexico has not been told she’s serving life, and her toddler grandson thinks she’s in the hospital when he comes to visit her in prison.

Castillo is adamant about her innocence.

“Put yourself in my shoes. When you are innocent, you are innocent,” she said. “I don’t say I am perfect. I am not … but I can guarantee you 100 percent that I am innocent of this.”

At the urging of her boyfriend, Martin Ovalle, Castillo became partners with a smooth-talking Mexican resident who said he wanted to set up a Houston-based bus company.

But the buses were light on passengers and shuttled thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States and millions of dollars back to Mexico. Her lawyers argued she was naive.

Castillo claims she didn’t know about the drug operation, but agents said she should have known something was wrong when quantities of money and drugs were repeatedly found on the coaches.

“After hearing all the evidence as presented from both the government and defense in this case, the jury found her guilty … ,” said Kenneth Magidson, chief prosecutor here.

Former federal prosecutor Mark W. White III said if Castillo had something to share, she might have benefited from a sentence reduction for cooperating.

“Information is a cooperating defendant’s stock in trade,” White said, “and if you don’t have any, … the chances are you won’t get a good deal.”

Castillo has faith that she’ll somehow, some day, go free. Her daily routine doesn’t vary: when she eats breakfast, when she works, when she exercises, and when she brushes her hair, which has gone from red-blond to black and gray. The gray gets respect in prison.

“I will leave here one day with my head held high,” she said. “I don’t feel like a bug or a cockroach. I am a human being, with my feet firmly on the ground.””

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Grand Jury Returns Multiple Indictments in Tyler

May 4, 2012

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

“TYLER, TX— A federal grand jury returned multiple indictments on May 2, 2012, charging individuals with separate federal crimes in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.

David Anthony, 51, of Texarkana, Arkansas, was indicted on charges of theft of government property. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison. According to the indictment, on March 18, 2012, Anthony is alleged to have stolen brass, which belonged to the Department of the Army, from the Red River Army Depot. The resulting loss to the government was more than $1,000. This case is being investigated by the Red River Army Depot and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise O. Simpson.

Thomas Rochelle, III, 34, of Texarkana, Texas, was indicted on charges of theft of personal property within special maritime and territorial jurisdiction. If convicted, he faces up to one year in federal prison. According to the indictment, on Mar. 19, 2012, Rochelle is alleged to have stolen an iPhone which belonged to another person while he was in the jurisdiction of the United States at the Red River Army Depot. This case is being investigated by the Red River Army Depot and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise O. Simpson.

Santos Silva-Hernandez, 43, an inmate at the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution, was charged with possession of contraband in a prison. If convicted, he faces up to five years in federal prison. According to the indictment, on Nov. 26, 2011, Silva-Hernandez is alleged to have been in possession of marijuana while incarcerated in a federal correctional facility. This case is being investigated by the FBI and the Texarkana FCI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise O. Simpson.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Former media mogul Conrad Black is released

May 4, 2012

Associated Press on May 4, 2012 released the following:

“MIAMI (AP) — Former media mogul Conrad Black was released from a federal prison in Miami early Friday and faced deportation after serving about three years for defrauding investors.

Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke did not give an exact time on when Black was released and said he didn’t have any other details.

Black, whose empire once included the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of London, The Jerusalem Post and small papers across the U.S. and Canada, had returned to prison last September to finish serving his sentence.

U.S. immigration officials said they had custody over Black, who doesn’t have American citizenship. Black is facing deportation and could travel to either Canada or Britain.

“I can confirm that he’s in (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody,” said bureau spokesman Nestor Yglesias He would not say where Black was headed, citing privacy laws.

A former member of the British House of Lords, he had been sentenced to more than six years in prison after his 2007 conviction in Chicago, but had then been released on bail two years later to pursue an appeal that was partially successful. A judge reduced his sentence to three years and he returned to prison last September. With time off for good behavior, he has completed his sentence.

Black’s big chance to quash his convictions arose in June 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court sharply curtailed the disputed “honest services” laws that underpinned part of the case against him.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago tossed out two of Black’s fraud convictions last year, citing that landmark ruling. But it said one conviction for fraud and one for obstruction of justice were not affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. The fraud conviction, the judges concluded, involved Black and others taking $600,000 and had nothing to do with honest services. It was, they asserted, straightforward theft.

Black – who received the title of Lord Black of Crossharbour – was known for a grand lifestyle, including a $62,000 birthday party for his wife, a swanky apartment on Park Avenue in New York and a trip to the island of Bora Bora.

Black’s three-month trial drew international attention, heightened by his sometimes haughty comments. When shareholders grumbled about the cost of the Bora Bora trip, he wrote a memo saying: “I’m not prepared to re-enact the French revolutionary renunciation of the rights of the nobility.”

At the core of the honest-services charges against Black was his strategy, starting in 1998, of selling off the bulk of the small community papers, which were published in smaller cities across the United States and Canada.

Black and other Hollinger executives received millions of dollars in payments from the companies that bought the community papers in return for promises that they would not return to compete with the new owners.

Prosecutors said the executives pocketed the money, which they said belonged to shareholders, without telling Hollinger’s board of directors.

At his resentencing hearing last year, several inmates wrote letters to the judge saying Black had changed their lives through lectures he gave on writing, history, economics and other subjects. But one prison employee claimed in an affidavit that Black had arranged for inmates – “acting like servants” – to iron his clothes, mop his floor and perform other chores. Another employee told her Black once insisted she address him as “Lord Black.””

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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

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.


North Hollywood Man Arrested After Being Indicted Under New Legislation Making it a Crime to Point a Laser at an Aircraft

April 19, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 18, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A North Hollywood man was taken into custody this morning after being charged in a federal indictment that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at multiple aircraft, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.

Adam Gardenhire,18, was arrested this morning at his North Hollywood residence without incident. Gardenhire was named in a two-count indictment filed yesterday in United States District Court in Los Angeles that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter.

The federal statute used to charge Gardenhire is part of new legislation recently signed into law by President Obama that makes it a federal crime to deliberately point a laser at an aircraft. The indictment marks the second time a violation of the new statute has been charged in the United States, and the first time one has been charged on the West Coast.

According to the indictment, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012. The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation. The indictment further alleges that the beam of Gardenhire’s laser was pointed at a helicopter operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. Air and ground investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department identified Gardenhire as a suspect later that evening, and Gardenhire was taken into custody on state charges of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Gardenhire subsequently posted bail and was released from local custody while the joint investigation continued.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. In addition, technology has advanced the effectiveness of laser devices, with a resulting increase in the potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft and their passengers and crew. Such safety hazards include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight. In addition, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks. Over 3,500 laser attacks were reported in 2011.

Gardenhire is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge this afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

If convicted of both charges in the indictment, Gardenhire faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Gardenhire is also subject to civil penalties by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the FBI.

Gardenhire is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless 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

————————————————————–

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.


Enron’s Skilling Rejected by Top U.S. Court on Conviction

April 16, 2012

Bloomberg on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Greg Stohr

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact Jeffrey Skilling’s conviction for leading the Enron Corp. accounting fraud, refusing to grant a second hearing to the imprisoned former chief executive officer.

Today’s rebuff leaves Skilling with nothing to show for his victory at the Supreme Court in 2010, when the justices said prosecutors used an improper legal theory to convict him. A federal appeals court then reaffirmed his 19-count conviction, saying the verdict would have been the same regardless.

Skilling is serving a 24-year sentence in a federal prison in Colorado after he and former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay were found guilty of deceiving investors about the company’s true financial condition. Lay died in 2006.

The accounting fraud caused Enron, once the world’s largest energy trading company, to file for bankruptcy in 2001, wiping out more than 5,000 jobs and $60 billion in shareholder value.

The 2010 Supreme Court ruling said Skilling couldn’t be convicted under a federal statute outlawing fraudulent schemes to withhold “honest services.” The high court said that law could be used only in cases involving bribery or kickbacks, which weren’t at issue in the Enron case.

The honest-services law had come into play on Skilling’s conviction on one charge of conspiracy. The jury didn’t spell out whether he had conspired to commit honest-services fraud or to commit securities fraud.

In its ruling last year, the New Orleans-based appeals court said there was “overwhelming evidence that Skilling conspired to commit securities fraud.”

Skilling’s sentence might be adjusted because the appeals court concluded in an earlier opinion that the trial judge overseeing the case erred on one issue.

The case is Skilling v. United States, 11-674.”

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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

————————————————————–

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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Making Crime Pay

April 9, 2012

The New York Times on April 7, 2012 released the following:

“By MATT RICHTEL

LARRY LEVINE, heavyset and bald, runs a thriving business out of a gated apartment complex in Ventura County, Calif., a setting that’s not at all bad for a home office considering some of the prison cells he’s lived in. But as he drops into his plush beige and white sectional couch to talk business, something is nagging at him.

The trouble is the new competition. All these guys are setting up shop, marketing themselves on the Internet, claiming they know the ropes and cutting into his market share.

To Mr. Levine, they’re a bunch of poseurs, with no street cred. After all, they’ve barely spent any time behind bars.

“Look at my résumé, I’ve got 10 years: high-security, medium, low,” said Mr. Levine, 50, who was in jail until 2007 on narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting and weapons charges. “These guys go in for a year and a half, maybe two. I’ve got more experience than all the rest of these guys combined.”

Mr. Levine is a prison consultant. The business — which entails advising people who are facing jail time on how to prepare for life on the inside, deal with medical issues, transfer to other prisons and even reduce their sentences — has been around for decades. It enjoys a burst of publicity when a boldface name like Bernie Madoff or Michael Vick hires a consultant.

But the business is changing. Behind the scenes, the profession is attracting a new crop of ex-cons who believe they can put their experience to work, rather than have it burden them in a tough job market.

And more competition means rising tempers and flying accusations. Some prison consultants say that others are so lacking in expertise that their businesses are practically criminal enterprises. Rancor among thieves.

“This industry’s exploding,” mourned Mr. Levine, who operates two Web sites, American Prison Consultants and Wall Street Prison Consultants. He reached to a nearby coffee table and picked up a piece of paper listing the names of several dozen competitors and the length of their prison sentences. This is not a rap sheet, it’s market research.

The business, he said, is “becoming saturated with people who don’t know what they’re doing.”

He and his competitors (some of whom find his prison time equally unimpressive) walk a fine marketing line, bragging about an extensive criminal record to attract customers. That can make it tough for potential clients to choose: How much incarceration time is enough? What kind of experience is right for the job — maximum security, solitary confinement, a knife fight?

To hear the consultants talk, most competitors aren’t worth the time of day.

“Let’s put it this way: If I was in prison, I wouldn’t share a chow table with Larry Levine,” said William Mulholland, who founded the Real Prison Consultant in 2010. He and Mr. Levine have had words about Mr. Mulholland directing people to free online resources about the prison system.

He also said Mr. Levine routinely criticizes lawyers as money pits, which Mr. Mullholland said only alienates lawyers who could be crucial allies for the fledgling industry. (Mr. Levine said Mr. Mulholland is afraid to criticize lawyers.)

“He’s like a used-car salesman,” Mr. Mulholland said of Mr. Levine.

Mr. Mulholland’s Web site identifies him as the “#1 Qualified Federal/State Prison Consultant in the United States.” It adds: “I Challenge any other Consultants as to their ‘So Called Certified Credentials.’ ”

He offers advice free, he said, so he can build credibility. There’s another reason: He’s not allowed to charge for his services. That’s because he remains under supervisory release and faces limitations on interacting with known felons, who could be among his clientele. He spent 21 years in prison for violent crimes; he’s been in gunfights, has beaten people with bats and sold drugs.

He said he is building his brand for when he can begin charging in June 2013. He also has a Twitter feed and a YouTube video. The name of his blog: The God of Time.

The Internet and social media certainly have given the business a boost, and the consultants are go-to guests on cable shows whenever a high-profile personality is indicted. The field includes Felony Prison Consultants, Executive Prison Consulting, the Real Prison Consultant, Faceless Prison Consultants, the Prison Coach, the Prison Doctor and others, around three dozen in all.

Their prices range widely; some charge by the hour, some by the service, from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands per client, depending partly on the consultant’s experience and work required. It’s not clear whether the number of customers is growing or just the number of people hanging out a shingle is.

The consultants’ Web sites promote a long list of services, including helping people petition to be sent to a jail nearer to home, getting them into a drug-treatment program that can reduce a sentence or transitioning them to a halfway house. Many people hire consultants simply because they’re scared and want to know what to expect. The consultants teach prison etiquette.

For example? “Never walk across a wet floor,” Mr. Mulholland advised, saying you might mess up the work of the prisoner manning the mop. And then he might kill you.

A Web site is where Vickie Skidmore, 58, stumbled onto Michael Frantz, an ex-convict who runs Jail Time Consulting. Ms. Skidmore was seeking help getting a transfer and some medical assistance for her son, Marcus Rosenberger, 36, sentenced recently to 33 months on several counts of wire fraud related to real estate transactions in Florida.

She talked to several consultants and settled on Mr. Frantz, she said, because he listened to her, sounded intelligent and lived in her home state. And he’d done time.

“I asked lawyers to help me, but they don’t understand what goes on in the inside,” she said.

Some consultants rely on testimonials. On its Web site, Executive Prison Consultants gets a shout-out from Tim Donaghy, a former National Basketball Association referee who pleaded guilty to charges related to betting on games. The defrocked referee is quoted as saying, “The professionals at EPC get results!”

The site attracted a potential new client named Jeff, a Missouri resident who last year pleaded guilty to wire fraud and, in a few weeks, will enter a federal prison camp in Kansas City for a one-year sentence. Jeff, who asked that his last name not be used because he did not want to widely publicize his conviction, said that he went looking for a consultant because, “I’m just interested in spending the least amount of time in prison as possible.”

He checked out a few other Web sites and corresponded with a competitor by e-mail, he said, but he was dismayed when the competitor responded with form-letter responses, including one that referred to helping Jeff and “his wife.” Jeff is not married.

Do the consultants make a difference?

They certainly can, according to people who work in the criminal justice system. A sharp consultant, they say, can help with complicated paperwork, in much the same way that a college consultant can help a family navigate complicated financial aid forms. That said, people can also do the work themselves.

Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, declined to comment on the industry.

Not all prison consultants are ex-cons. Some worked as prison guards or employ former prison officials. Others are lawyers. Their clean record is more of an asset than being able to brag about time behind bars, they say.

“You think a warden is going to change a decision based on advice from a former resident? That is just not going to happen,” said Joel Sickler, who runs Justice Advocacy Group and has been a prison consultant for 30 years and, before that, a prison guard. He said his unblemished past would go over better with prison officials when he’s trying to petition for, say, a client transfer.

The ex-convicts in the business see things differently, arguing that relevant experience matters.

Mr. Frantz, of Jail Time Consulting, prefers this metaphor: “If you had to have someone take your appendix out, would you go to a guy that runs a gas station?”

Mr. Frantz, 65, earned his nearly 36 months of experience in a federal prison camp in Miami after pleading guilty to tax evasion and Medicare-fraud charges.

He hired a prison consultant, and the experience led to an epiphany: crime could indeed pay. He decided to become a consultant himself.

Besides, his options were limited. “I knew when I got out, I’d be 62 years old, a convicted felon,” he said. “Who the hell was going to hire me?”

While in prison, he spent time in the law library, learning about penal regulations. He wrote “Jail Time,” a book about what to expect in federal prison that he published in 2009, a year after he was released, and started Jail Time Consulting. It was promptly shut down by a judge, who suspended the operation until Mr. Frantz ended his supervisory release in 2011.

In this business, bad news is just another marketing opportunity. Mr. Frantz’s Web site now reads: “Jail Time — the book a United States District Judge doesn’t want you to read.”

Like other prison consultants, he questions his competitors’ business practices. Their rates, he says, can be outrageous.

“You want a transfer, I’ll charge you $625, for goodness sake,” he said. “Other people are charging $2,500. Come on!”

The business is unregulated, no license required. There is a Web site called the National Registry of Prison Consultants — “the authority on trust in the marketplace.”

It was started last year by Steven Oberfest, the founder of the Prison Coach, who said he served 15 months in the ’90s after taking a plea deal for racketeering. (He said it was related to charges that his piano-moving company was involved in the theft and distribution of stolen grand pianos, accusations he denies.) He said the industry sorely needs self-regulation for it to be taken seriously.

“You can’t just have people popping into the industry,” he said. “Just because you’ve finished doing time, doesn’t mean you’re a better person.”

The registry has a list of the top 10 prison consultants, but lists only two, Mr. Oberfest and Mr. Levine, the consultant from Ventura County.

But Mr. Levine said he considered the registry to be “a hoax.”

“For me, my reputation and my experience is my badge of honor,” he said, not an affiliation with an industry group.

Mr. Levine said he thought the competition would thin out over time because the competitors lack marketing smarts. Besides, he argued, he has the criminal CV to back up the marketing.

If they handed out diplomas for prison savvy, he said, “These guys have maybe an associate degree. I have like a Ph.D. or above.””

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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 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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Prison note details how priest allegedly conspired with mob hit man

March 30, 2012
Rev. Eugene Klein
Rev. Eugene Klein listens to his attorney talk to the news media after his first appearance in federal court last summer. (José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / June 22, 2011)

WSBT.com on March 30, 2012 released the following:

“By Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune reporter

For two years, vicious mob killer Frank Calabrese Sr. allegedly passed cupcakes, candy bars and a copy of a psalm through the food slot in his prison cell to a Roman Catholic priest who was there to give him Communion and counsel.

In a new court filing, federal prosecutors allege that Calabrese also slipped a note, tucked into religious reading materials, to the Rev. Eugene Klein, telling him how to find a valuable violin hidden in the mobster’s former Wisconsin home.

The note, seized by federal investigators from Klein’s home last year, read like a treasure trail for Klein, who was charged last summer with violating special restrictions on Calabrese that prohibited him from communicating with anyone outside the prison but his attorney and certain relatives.

“Be sure to have a little flashlight with you so you can see,” it said. “Make a right when you go into that little pull out door. Go all the way to the wall. That is where the violin is.”

Prosecutors contend that two confidants of Calabrese whose identities have not been made public schemed with Klein to gain control of the violin to prevent the government from seizing it and providing compensation to families of the mob hit man’s victims.

According to the government filing, Klein even expressed interest in buying the house to enable him and the two associates to try to find the violin, which has never been recovered.

Calabrese, 75, is serving a life sentence for his conviction in the infamous Family Secrets trial. In sentencing him, a federal judge held him responsible for 13 gangland slayings decades ago.

Klein, who was the prison chaplain at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., has denied the charges. He is scheduled to go to trial in September in federal court in Chicago. On Thursday, his attorney vowed a vigorous fight.

“It’s all going to come down to whether this is a federal crime,” said Thomas Anthony Durkin, who has filed a motion to dismiss the charges. “He is not charged with stealing the violin. He is charged with violating (the prison restrictions). … This is not a criminal case.”

Klein, a priest for 40 years, first began meeting with Calabrese in 2009 at the federal prison as he administered Communion to him daily. But guards became concerned about the frequency of the visits given the severe restrictions on who could see Calabrese and restricted the meetings to 90 minutes on Saturdays, prosecutors said.

Klein, 63, who was twice interviewed by federal authorities before he was charged, insisted he was not “duped” by Calabrese. Nor did he deny that Calabrese passed him items while he was there, according to the government. One exchange was secretly captured on video, according to the government filing. Klein said it might have been a candy bar or a card for his ailing mother, prosecutors said.

Klein did not deny taking the note regarding the violin’s location either, according to the filing. He also allegedly told investigators that he traveled to the Chicago area to meet with the two Calabrese associates to discuss how they might get their hands on the violin.

The three allegedly believed that the instrument was worth $26 million based on information one of the two confidants had learned from a program on the Discovery Channel. They believed that the violin once belonged to entertainer Liberace. Some of the proceeds from its sale, they figured, could pay for Calabrese’s defense, Klein allegedly told the government. Klein also intended to keep some of the money for himself.

The three allegedly plotted to get inside the home, which was for sale, by asking to view the house. The plans, however, fell apart because the home had already been sold.

During the trip to the Chicago area, Klein had told prison officials that he was tending to his ill mother in St. Louis and took sick pay for that time off, prosecutors alleged.”

US v Eugene Klein – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 371

18 U.S.C. § 2232

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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

————————————————————–

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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


FBI Arrests Two For Allegedly Defrauding Lionsgate Entertainment in a Kickback Scheme

March 26, 2012

Chicago Tribune on March 26, 2012 released the following:

“FBI arrests two for defrauding Lionsgate

Joshua L. Weinstein
Reuters

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – The FBI has arrested two California men on charges of defrauding Lionsgate Entertainment of more than $2 million in a kickback scheme that bought one of them a Mercedes, the bureau said Saturday.

Roccio James Cuccia, 31 of Downey, worked at Lionsgate as a senior buyer.

He and Larry D. Collins, of Northridge, had a kickback scheme that cheated the studio out of more than $2 million.

Cuccia, who joined Lionsgate in 2006, bought cardboard advertising for Lionsgate DVD and Blu rays at retail stores. The FBI says Cuccia used Collins as a vendor, supplying display cases to retail stores for five years.

In an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, federal prosecutors say that after the Lionsgate marketing department asked for display cases, Cuccia would go into the company’s computer system and change the number of cases requested.

He would then tell Collins, who would generate phony invoices, according to the indictment.

Lionsgate paid the inflated purchase orders to a third party, who gave much of that money to Collins, the FBI says.

“Collins would kick back a portion of these funds to … Cuccia by wiring money into … Cuccia’s bank account,” the indictment says. “Cuccia and Collins caused losses totaling approximately $2,064,000.”

The FBI says Cuccia used part of the money to buy a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and a 2006 Mercedes Benz R350. Federal agents seized both cars on Friday.

The indictment also accuses Cuccia of failing to report the income on his 2006 and 2007 income tax statements.

Cuccia and Collins each are charged with 10 counts of wire fraud. Cuccia is also charged with two counts of “conducting a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000,” and two counts of filing false tax returns.

The two appeared before a U.S. magistrate in federal court in Los Angeles Friday and were released on bond.

If convicted, Cuccia faces up to 226 years in prison and Collins faces up to 200 years in federal prison.

The FBI, IRS and Santa Monica Police Department conducted the investigation with the cooperation of Lionsgate.

The arrest came on the same day that Lionsgate released its biggest movie ever, “The Hunger Games.””

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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 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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.