Members of Alleged Sports Betting Ring Charged with Racketeering

August 8, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 8, 2012 released the following:

“PHILADELPHIA—A 23-count indictment was unsealed today charging 16 defendants in a conspiracy case involving the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization, a multi-million-dollar sports betting operation with bettors throughout the U.S. At its peak, the alleged organization had more than 1,000 bettors and was generating millions of dollars a year. All but one defendant (Joanna Mastronardo) are charged with conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise (RICO) and conducting an illegal gambling business. The indictment alleges that between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2011, the organization utilized Internet websites and telephone numbers that allowed bettors to place sports bets on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing, and other sporting events. Residents of Costa Rica staffed the Internet and telephone sites. The defendants allegedly hid more than $1 million in and around their homes, including in specially-built compartments and in PVC pipes that were buried in a yard.

Charged are Joseph Vito Mastronardo, Jr. and John Mastronardo, the two alleged leaders; Joseph F. Mastronardo, Eric Woehlcke, Harry Murray, Joseph Vitelli, Anna Rose Vitelli, Patrick Tronoski, Edward Feighan, Kenneth Cohen, Schuyler Twaddle, Michael Loftus, Michael Squillante, David Rounick, Ronald Gendrachi; and Joanna Mastronardo, the wife of Joseph Mastronardo, Jr. All, with the exception of Twaddle, were arrested this morning.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, FBI Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman.

The indictment alleges that the defendants ran the organization using telephone, Skype, e-mail, text messaging, and in-person communication. They allegedly met bettors in-person, often in public buildings and parking lots, to collect or deliver payments that ranged from $1,000 to more than $100,000. The organization also allegedly used a gas station on Norristown Road in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, as a mailing address and drop-off site to collect gambling payments.

According to the indictment, members of the Mastronardo Bookmaking Organization laundered the gambling proceeds using check cashing agencies, private bank accounts, and international bank accounts and provided instructions so that a losing bettor could pay a gambling debt through a charitable donation.

According to the indictment, leader Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. supervised the agents, sub-agents, websites (www.betroma.com and http://www.betrose.com), office employees; laundered some of the betting proceeds; collected debts; and instructed others to collect debts. Mastronardo’s brother, John, also a leader in the organization, supervised agents and sub-agents, laundered proceeds, and collected debts. John’s son, Joseph F. Mastronardo, worked as an office employee, collected debts, and performed other financial duties. Eric Woehlcke was initially a bookmaker and office employee, then worked as an office manager, and eventually became a leader supervising agents and sub-agents and laundering proceeds. Harry Murray was a bookmaker who resided in Florida and laundered proceeds in and outside the U.S. Joseph and Anna Rose Vitelli owned J&A Check Cashing where, in 2006, they allowed the organization to occupy an office for the illegal gambling business and which was also used to aid in the laundering of proceeds. Tronoski, Feighan, Cohen, Twaddle, Loftus, Squillante, Rounick, and Gendrachi were all bookmakers.

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr., in a conversation with bookmaker Harry Murray, commented, “Well, times like this I’m happy I’m a bookmaker,” to which Murray responded, “Me too.”

“Technology allowed the defendants to allegedly expand their gambling and money laundering operation far beyond the borders of Pennsylvania,” said Memeger. “Unfortunately for the defendants, however, we have the necessary statutory tools to investigate and prosecute those who openly flout our illegal gambling and financial reporting laws.”

“Illegal gambling and money laundering are the financial engines that help drive criminal enterprises like the one alleged today,” said Special Agent in Charge Venizelos. “The type of gambling activity charged here is illegal. These types of extensive and long-term joint investigative efforts, worked with our partners like the IRS and Montgomery County Detectives, are intended to dismantle criminal organizations that profit from illegal activities.”

“This alleged racketeering operation was anchored in Montgomery County but had tentacles spreading across the U.S. and beyond,” said D.A. Ferman. “Despite our attempt to shut it down in 2006-2007 with a Montgomery County prosecution, my office discovered that the defendants, as is alleged in the indictment, were back in business. We partnered with our federal counterparts to examine the full scope of the alleged illegal gambling operation. Today’s indictment reflects the work of many law enforcement agents across multiple agencies. These defendants tried to ‘game’ the system. Today, they crapped out.”

“The indictments announced today are the result of a significant and complex investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric Hylton. “With both law enforcement and financial expertise, our agents are uniquely qualified to assist with these types of cases by following the trail of money. Our office will continue to work aggressively to identify and target illegal financial gains.”

Joanna Mastronardo is charged with one count of structuring in which it is alleged that she participated in making approximately 72 deposits in amounts less than $10,000, totaling more than $500,000 in a 12-month period.

Joseph V. Mastronardo, Jr. is charged in all 23 counts of the indictment. The remaining 14 defendants are each charged with the RICO conspiracy and with prohibition of illegal gambling. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of more than $6.3 million as alleged proceeds of the illegal enterprise.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason P. Bologna.

An indictment or information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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


Indictment Charges Alleged Dental Clinic Operator Involved in $20 Million Medicaid Fraud Scheme

June 12, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury in New Haven has returned a nine-count indictment charging Gary F. Anusavice, also known as “Gary Andrews,” “Gary Andrus,” and “Gary Francis,” 59, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, with various offenses related to his involvement in a $20 million Medicaid fraud scheme. The indictment was returned on June 7, 2012. Anusavice has been detained since his arrest on May 24, 2012.

“By surreptitiously operating dental clinics in Connecticut, this defendant allegedly defrauded the Medicaid program of more than $20 million over a two-year period,” said U.S. Attorney Fein. “We are committed to protecting American taxpayers from health care fraud, which can increase costs and jeopardize the integrity of our health care system. I want to commend HHS-OIG, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the FBI for their investigative efforts and thank the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, which provided invaluable assistance during the course of this investigation.”

According to the indictment, the Medicaid program is a joint federal-state program that provides funds for medical services to lower-income individuals who qualify for benefits. The program is jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and supervised by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In Connecticut, the Medicaid program is administered by the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS).

The indictment alleges that Anusavice was previously a registered dentist in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In July 1997, Anusavice sustained a felony conviction in Massachusetts for submitting false health care claims and was subject to disciplinary proceedings in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Based on Anusavice’s Massachusetts disciplinary proceedings, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified Anusavice in April 1998 that he was being excluded from participation in Medicare and state health care programs, including Medicaid. As part of that notice, Anusavice was informed that, as an excluded individual, he may not “submit claims or cause claims to be submitted” for payment from the federal Medicaid program. Further, Anusavice was advised that Medicaid reimbursement payments are prohibited to any entity in which he serves as an “employee, administrator, operator, or in any other capacity.”

In November 2005, Anusavice surrendered his right to practice dentistry in Rhode Island for 18 months, and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry permanently revoked Anusavice’s license to practice dentistry in Massachusetts in 2006.

The indictment alleges that, from 2009 to April 2011, Anusavice owned and operated several dental clinics in Connecticut but used a licensed dentist, who is referred to in the indictment as “Co-Conspirator 1,” to act as the nominal head of the dental clinics. The clinics included Landmark Dental in West Haven, Dental Group of Connecticut in Trumbull, and Dental Group of Stamford. After Co-Conspirator 1 provided false Medicaid Provider Enrollment Applications to DSS, which failed to disclose Anusavice’s ownership or control interest in the dental clinics and Anusavice’s disciplinary history, the dental practices received nearly $21 million in Medicaid reimbursements from the Connecticut Medicaid program, which payments were prohibited given Anusavice’s exclusion from the Medicaid program. Anusavice, in turn, received more than $3 million in payments from the clinics through nominee entities that he controlled.

As alleged in a previously filed criminal complaint, at the dental clinics, Anusavice was involved in reviewing patient charts, suggesting dental procedures to be performed, reviewing billing records, reviewing income reports, interviewing and hiring dentists, and providing overall management direction to the offices.

The indictment charges Anusavice with conspiring with others to fraudulently obtain money from the Connecticut Medicaid program by submitting Medicaid claims and concealing and misrepresenting Anusavice’s prior disciplinary and criminal history, his ownership interest in the dental clinics, and his exclusion from the Medicaid program. This charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

The indictment also charges Anusavice with one count of health care fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, and two counts of wire fraud, which carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, on each count. Anusavice also is charged with four counts of making false statements involving the Medicaid Program, and one count of concealment and failure to disclose an event affecting the Medicaid Program. Each of these charges carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of Anusavice’s Rhode Island home, his 2008 Mercedes automobile, and $91,700 in cash that was seized at the time of his arrest.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office provided assistance and cooperation throughout the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Wines and Richard Molot and Special Assistant United States Attorney Sean Beaty. U.S. Attorney Fein encouraged individuals who suspect health care fraud to report it by calling the Health Care Fraud Task Force at 203-777-6311 or 1-800-HHS-TIPS.”

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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.


Four Indicted in Alleged Mortgage Fraud Scheme

June 4, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 1, 2012 released the following:

“Defendants Allegedly Exploited Immigrant Straw Buyers to Defraud Multiple Banks

Four Seattle-area residents were arrested today on a 21-count indictment charging them with conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. The mortgage fraud scheme ran from 2006 to 2008 and defrauded more than 10 banks, financial institutions, and mortgage lenders of more than $8.6 million. More than 50 mortgages were involved on properties in a variety of communities around Puget Sound including Medina, Renton, South Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland. Jonathan Mendoza Martinez, 34, of Bellevue, Washington; his sister, Jazmin Villalba Martinez=, 30, of Seattle, Washington; Celia Perez Morales, 35, of Kirkland, Washington; and Jorge Castrejon Pichardo, 41, of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle today.

According to the indictment, three of the defendants worked at Emerald City Escrow and at Nationwide Home Mortgage and conspired to use straw buyers to defraud banks. The fourth defendant worked at a tax preparation business and provided some of the false documentation submitted with the loan applications. The conspirators submitted false financial, employment, and tax information to apply for residential mortgage loans. They falsely inflated the sale price of the properties. After the lenders funded the loans, the conspirators kept the excess proceeds, and the straw buyers quickly defaulted on the mortgages. The victim banks included Washington Mutual (now JPM Chase), Bank of America, American Sterling Bank, ING Bank, IndyMac Bank, and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., among others. Documents in the scheme were submitted via mail and wire. In all, the defendants secured, or aided and abetted in securing, through unqualified buyers, at least 50 mortgage loans, representing approximately $22,396,660 in loan proceeds, based on false and fraudulent representations, resulting in a loss to financial institutions and mortgage lenders totaling approximately $8,672,330.

Each count in the indictment is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The charges contained in the indictment 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 Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Lang and James Oesterle.”

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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.


Virginia Businessman Pleads Guilty to Federal Money Laundering Charge in Investigation of Federal Government Contracts

April 19, 2012

7thspace.com on April 18, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— James Edward Miller, 64, the owner of a Virginia-based construction management company, pleaded guilty today to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with an ongoing investigation into the awarding of millions of dollars of contracts by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C Machen, Jr; James W McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Eric Hylton, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); Peggy E Gustafson, Inspector General for the Small Business Administration (SBA); Robert E Craig, Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Field Office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and Major General David E Quantock, the Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID).

Miller, formerly of Virginia Beach, Virginia, pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A sentencing date has not been set. The charge carries up to 20 years in prison as well as potential fines and an order of restitution. As part of the plea agreement, Miller must forfeit a money judgment of $4,055,063 and forfeit specific property, including bank account funds, a property in Virginia Beach, three vehicles, diamond rings, and other jewelry.

Miller is the sixth person to plead guilty to charges stemming from an investigation into a scheme that unfolded from 2007 to 2011.

The scheme allegedly involved two former managers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, various businesses and executives, more than $20 million in bribes and kickback payments, and the planned steering of a government contract that potentially was worth about $1 billion.

Miller’s role in the crimes is described in a statement of offense that he signed as part of his plea agreement. Miller was the owner of Big Surf Construction Management LLC, a company based in Virginia Beach that was involved in residential and commercial construction projects. He was a close friend of another businessman, Harold Babb, the director of contracts at Eyak Technology (EyakTek), a business with an office in Dulles, Virginia.

In 2008, Babb proposed that Miller use Big Surf to obtain government contracts awarded by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Under the plan, Big Surf would be hired by EyakTek as a subcontractor.

Initially unbeknownst to Miller, Babb was already involved in a conspiracy with, among others, Kerry F Khan, then a program manager for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and Ananke LLC, a company that was controlled by Khan.

The statement of offense identifies three subcontracts awarded and paid by EyakTek to Big Surf in 2008 and 2009, totaling more than $8 million. Of this money, Big Surf channeled more than $3.6 million from the first two subcontracts to Ananke. According to the statement of offense, Babb directed Miller to pay another $2.9 million, from the third subcontract, to Ananke. However, Miller allegedly reneged on the plan and Big Surf kept the money.

As a result, a fourth intended subcontract, worth about $1.9 million, was canceled.

In the early stages, according to the statement of offense, Miller believed that Ananke was actually providing services for the money. However, by the time of the second contract, he knew that Ananke was not providing services to EyakTek or the Army Corps of Engineers. He also understood that Babb was using his position at EyakTek to facilitate the award of orders to Big Surf in exchange for payments from Big Surf directly and indirectly to Babb.

Indeed, during the scheme, Miller and Big Surf provided a number of benefits to Babb, including cash payments, an investment in real estate, and money for a Porsche.

Babb, 60, pleaded guilty in March 2012 to federal charges of bribery and unlawful kickbacks. He is awaiting sentencing.

Khan, 54, was indicted in September 2011 on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud and aiding and abetting and causing an illegal act to be done, as well as one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He pleaded not guilty.

In the overall investigation, to date, the United States has seized for forfeiture or recovered approximately $7.2 million in bank account funds, cash and repayments, 19 real properties, six luxury cars, and multiple pieces of fine jewelry.

In announcing the plea, United States Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, Acting Special Agent in Charge Hylton, Inspector General Gustafson, Special Agent in Charge Craig, and Major General Quantock thanked those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office; the Washington Field Office of IRS-CI; the Office of the Inspector General for the SBA; DCIS; the Defense Contract Audit Agency; and the United States Army CID. They also expressed thanks to the United States Marshals Service for its assistance on the forfeiture matter.

They also praised the efforts of those who worked on the case from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Assistant United States Attorneys Michael K Atkinson and Bryan Seeley of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section and Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Saler of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Finally, they expressed thanks for assistance provided by former Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Dana; Forensic Accountant Maria Boodoo; Paralegal Specialists Tasha Harris, Shanna Hays, Taryn McLaughlin, Sarah Reis, Christopher Samson, and Nicole Wattelet and Legal Assistant Krishawn Graham.”

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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 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.


Men Indicted For Allegedly Defrauding Lions Gate Entertainment

March 26, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 24, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES—Two men were arrested Friday by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation after being indicted for their roles in a $2 million kickback scheme involving the Santa Monica-based film and distribution company Lions Gate Entertainment (Lionsgate), announced André Birotte, Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California; Steven Martinez, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Los Angeles.

Roccio James Cuccia, 31, of Downey; and Larry D. Collins, 50, of Northridge, were charged in a 14-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 22, 2012. The indictment includes allegations of wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

According to the indictment, Cuccia started working as a senior buyer at Lionsgate in January 2006 and was responsible for acquiring cardboard advertising used to display Lionsgate DVDs and Blu-ray Discs at retail stores. Cuccia is alleged to have used Collins as a vendor to supply the display cases to retail stores from 2006 through 2011.

Cuccia and Collins allegedly devised a scheme whereby Lionsgate was overbilled for the number of display cases provided by Collins. The indictment alleges that by accessing Lionsgate’s computer system, Cuccia would inflate the number of previously approved display cases ordered from Collins by Lionsgate. Collins would then generate fraudulent invoices for the inflated purchase orders, the indictment alleges.

Lionsgate sent payment for the inflated purchase orders to a third party, who would then wire a substantial percentage of the Lionsgate funds to Collins. The indictment alleges that Collins would then wire a portion of these funds to Cuccia’s bank account. The indictment alleges that Cuccia and Collins caused losses to Lionsgate totaling approximately $2,064,000.

The indictment lists 10 wire transfers totaling over $745,000, which represents funds received by Collins as part of the scheme, a portion of which were then wired to Cuccia. Cuccia is alleged to have used part of the funds to purchase a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and a 2006 Mercedes Benz R350, both of which were seized on Friday by federal agents. The indictment further alleges that Cuccia failed to report his portion of the fraudulently received funds as income on his 2006 and 2007 federal tax returns.

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

Cuccia and Collins had an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Friday afternoon and were granted bond.

If convicted of all charges alleged in the indictment, Cuccia faces a statutory maximum sentence of 226 years in federal prison, and Collins faces 200 years in federal prison.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Santa Monica Police Department. Lions Gate Entertainment cooperated with the investigation.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.”

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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.


L. Brian Whitfield, Marsha Whitfield, and D. Edwin Todd, Former Executives at Sommett Group, LLC, Indicted by a Nashville Federal Grand Jury Alleging Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Theft From an Employee Pension Benefit Plan, and Money Laundering

March 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 2, 2012 released the following:

“Former Executives at Sommett Group, LLC Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud, and Tax Charges

Indictment Alleges That Defendants Defrauded Clients in Various Ways, Including by Paying Clients $83 Million in Gross Wages but Only Reporting $4 Million to IRS

L. Brian Whitfield, 46, formerly of Franklin, Tennessee; Marsha Whitfield, 39, of Franklin, Tennessee; and D. Edwin Todd, 68, of Franklin, Tennessee, were charged yesterday by a federal grand jury for their roles in a multi-million-dollar fraud perpetrated by the Sommet Group, LLC, a payroll-processing company and former sponsor of the Nashville arena once known as the Sommet Center.

The indictments were announced today during a morning press conference by U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin, joined by Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge (SAC), FBI-Memphis Division, and Christopher A. Henry, SAC, IRS-Criminal Investigation-Nashville Field Office.

Brian and Marsha Whitfield both face one count of conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of theft from an employee pension benefit plan, and four counts of money laundering. In addition to those charges, Brian Whitfield alone faces four counts of filing a false tax return. Ed Todd faces a single count of criminal conspiracy. The different offenses carry varying maximum penalties from three years of imprisonment (for filing false return), five years (for conspiracy and for theft from a pension benefit plan), 10 years (for money laundering), and 20 years (for wire fraud).

“This case represents just the latest example of this U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to prosecuting white-collar crime,” said United States Attorney Jerry E. Martin. “Sommet was a prominent Middle Tennessee business that had millions of dollars of client funds under its control. But instead of safeguarding that money and meeting their legal obligations to their clients and the IRS, these defendants diverted it to their own business and personal use. Citizens and businesses in the Middle District of Tennessee can be assured that this office, along with our many valued law enforcement partners, stand committed to rooting out and prosecuting such frauds. Would-be fraudsters can be assured that they will face stiff consequences for their crimes.”

According to the 24-page indictment, Sommet purported to be a payroll-processing company. For a fee, business clients provided Sommet their gross payroll and Sommet would allocate and distribute the funds in the appropriate amounts to state and federal taxing authorities, a health-insurance plan, 401(k) plans, and client employees’ paychecks. The indictment alleges that, instead of distributing those client funds in appropriate amounts at appropriate times, the defendants diverted those funds to the Whitfields’ personal use, including, among other things, the purchase of a houseboat and various home renovations and to prop up several start-up businesses affiliated with Sommet (referred to in the indictment as the “Sommet Business Units”). As a result, client employees’ 401(k) funds were not fully deposited into their 401(k) accounts, their medical and prescription drug claims were not fully paid by health insurance, and their gross wages were not fully reported to the IRS.

The indictment alleges that the defendants made various misrepresentations to clients, the IRS, and others regarding taxes, health insurance, and 401(k) plans.

“Fraud by well-known or high-profile companies get the biggest headlines, but it is important to remember how devastating fraud of this kind can be to the hard-working victims, who simply want justice,” said Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Today’s indictments underscore that the FBI, working with our law enforcement partners, will pursue fraudsters in whatever form and that we will use all the investigative techniques in our arsenal to find you, stop you, and bring you to justice.”

“This type of manipulation and deception by educated and skilled professionals who know better will not be tolerated,” stated Christopher A. Henry, special agent in charge, IRS Criminal Investigation-Nashville Field Office. “The defendants’ repeated and protracted deception over a two-year period resulted in a substantial loss of funds and is insulting and harmful to the honest, hard-working citizens. This is not a victimless crime. Employment tax evasion results in the loss of tax revenue to the United States government and the potential loss of future Social Security, Medicare, or retirement benefits as well as health-care coverage for employees.”

“Theft of employee benefit assets jeopardizes the benefits of workers. This case reaffirms the Labor Department’s commitment to protect workers’ benefits by identifying criminal activity wherever and whenever it occurs,” said Isabel Colon, regional director of the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA) Atlanta Regional Office.

Regarding taxes, according to the indictment, the defendants misrepresented to clients that Sommet would report their gross wages on Sommet’s own employer quarterly federal tax return (IRS Form 941). Contrary to that representation, between Fourth Quarter 2008 and First Quarter 2010, Sommet paid approximately $83 million in gross wages to employees of Sommet, the Sommet business units, and certain Sommet clients known as Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). During that same time period, however, Sommet only reported to the IRS approximately $4 million in gross wages for those same entities. The defendants also misrepresented that they would remit to the IRS the clients’ federal taxes in appropriate amounts. Sommet, however, only remitted approximately $1.23 million of the clients’ approximately $20 million tax liability.

In addition, the indictment alleges that Brian Whitfield filed four false federal tax returns for Sommet and the Sommet Business Units, in which returns only reported $2.4 million in gross wages instead of the $6.2 million in gross wages it had paid to employees.

Regarding health insurance, the indictment alleges that Sommet offered a health insurance plan to clients but failed to adequately fund that health insurance plan with clients’ premiums. Because Sommet failed to fund the plan, two third-party administrators (companies that process health insurance claims) terminated their relationship with Sommet. The defendants attempted to conceal this and other problems related to health insurance by providing clients with false excuses and misleading information. By June 2010, Sommet had outstanding unpaid health insurance claims of approximately $3.8 million.

Regarding 401(k) funds, the indictment alleges that Sommet offered clients a 401(k) plan. Instead of directing employees’ designated retirement funds to that plan, the defendants diverted it to Sommet’s business or their personal use. Approximately $44,000 of employer and employee contributions were never forwarded to the 401(k) plan.

The indictment in this case followed a July 2010 search warrant executed by federal agents on Sommet’s offices. The case was investigated by agents with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Labor-Employee Benefits Security Administration. The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ty Howard and Tax Division Trial Attorney Kathryn Ward. An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty 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

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.


50 Individuals Charged in Puerto Rico with Allegedly Trafficking Identities of Puerto Rican Us Citizens

January 12, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice on January 11, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON – Fifty individuals were charged in an indictment unsealed today in Puerto Rico with conspiracy to commit identification fraud in connection with their alleged roles in a scheme to traffic the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents.

The charges were announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico; Director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Scott P. Bultrowicz, Director of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service; and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Acting Chief Rick Raven.

The one-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on Dec. 29, 2011, and unsealed today. Defendants were arrested today in multiple districts throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and will make initial appearances in federal court in the districts in which they were arrested. In addition, law enforcement agents executed searches as part of an ongoing investigation.

“The indictment unsealed today alleges that from April 2009 to December 2011, the defendants operated an extensive black market, identity fraud ring,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The alleged conspiracy stretched across the United States and Puerto Rico, using suppliers, identity brokers and mail and money runners to fill and deliver orders for the personal identifying information and government-issued identity documents of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens. Those willing to buy and sell personal identifying information and documents should take notice of today’s actions. The department and our law enforcement partners will not allow this kind of illegal activity to continue.”

“Today’s arrests are a reflection of ICE Homeland Security Investigations unrelenting determination to identify and dismantle national smuggling rings engaged in document and identity fraud,” said ICE Director John Morton. “The conspiracy alleged to be perpetrated by those charged undermines the integrity of our national immigration system. We will continue working with our federal partners to protect our homeland from criminals who have no regard for our nation’s safety and security.”

According to the indictment, from at least April 2009 to December 2011, conspirators in 15 states and Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, trafficked the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens, corresponding Social Security cards, Puerto Rico birth certificates and other identification documents to undocumented aliens and others residing in the United States.

The indictment alleges that conspirators located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico, (Savarona suppliers) obtained the Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Conspirators in various locations throughout the United States (identity brokers) solicited customers. The identity brokers allegedly sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. The indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls, including using terms such as “shirts,” “uniforms” or “clothes,” to refer to identity documents. Specifically, the brokers asked for “skirts” for female customers and “pants” for male customers in various “sizes,” which referred to the ages of the identities sought by the customers.

According to the indictment, the Savarona suppliers generally requested that customers’ initial payments be sent by the identity brokers through a money transfer service to persons whose names were provided by the Savarona suppliers. Savarona suppliers allegedly retrieved the payments from the money transfer service and then sent the identity documents to the brokers using express, priority or regular U.S. mail. The indictment alleges that various conspirators sent or received money and mail parcels. The conspirators frequently confirmed sender names and addresses, money transfer control numbers and trafficked identities via text messaging.

According to the indictment, once the identity brokers received the identity documents, they delivered the documents to the customers and obtained second payments. The brokers generally kept the second payments for themselves as profit. Some identity brokers allegedly assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation.

As alleged in the indictment, the customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.

“From Main Street to Wall Street, identity fraud exacts a devastating toll on American consumers and businesses. U.S. Postal Inspectors will continue to aggressively investigate criminals who use the mail to defraud postal customers,” said Chief Postal Inspector Cottrell.

“The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice those who commit document trafficking and identity fraud,” said Director Bultrowicz of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. “Fraudulently-obtained documents are frequently used to apply for U.S. passports and visas, two of the most coveted travel documents in the world.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation has made investigating identity theft a top priority,” said Acting Chief Raven of the IRS-CI. “We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to unravel the money trail of criminal enterprises that defraud government and prey on unwitting victims.”

The indictment alleges that various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, Ill.; Indianapolis; DeKalb, Ill.; Columbus and Seymour, Ind.; Aurora, Ill.; Hartford, Conn.; Clewiston, Fla.; Lilburn and Norcross, Ga.; Salisbury, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Salem, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Burlington, N.C.; Hickory, N.C.; Hazelton, Pa.; Philadelphia; Houston; and Abingdon, Va.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as forfeiture.

The charges announced today are the result of Operation Island Express, an ongoing, nationally-coordinated investigation led by the ICE-HSI Chicago Office and USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices in Chicago, in coordination with the ICE-HSI San Juan Office. The Illinois Secretary of State Police; Elgin, Ill., Police Department; Seymour, Ind., Police Department; and Indiana State Police provided substantial assistance. The ICE-HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic, National Drug Intelligence Center – Document and Media Exploitation Branch and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) provided invaluable assistance as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS CI offices around the country.

The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, with the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana and District of Connecticut provided substantial assistance. The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Florida, Northern District of Georgia, Western District of Kentucky, District of Maryland, District of Massachusetts, Western District of Michigan, District of Nebraska, District of New Jersey, Western District of North Carolina, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Virginia, Southern District of Illinois, Western District of Texas, Middle District of Louisiana and Western District of Virginia also provided invaluable support.

A website will be established to provide information about the case to potential victims and the public. Anyone who believes their identity may have been compromised in relation to this investigation may contact the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) and its online tip form at http://www.ice.gov/tipline. Anyone who may have information about particular crimes in this case should also report it to the ICE tip line or website.

Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of identity theft, or wants information about preventing identity theft, may obtain helpful information and complaint forms on various government websites including the Federal Trade Commission ID Theft Website, http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft. Additional resources regarding identity theft can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/pubs/ID_theft/idtheft.html; http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html ; http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/identity_theft; and http://www.irs.gov/privacy/article/0,,id=186436,00.html.

An indictment is merely a formal accusation. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty 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

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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.