Seventeen Members of an Alleged North Carolina Racketeering Enterprise Indicted on Investment Fraud, Mortgage Fraud, and Related Charges

October 25, 2012

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

“Fourteen Others to Plead Guilty on Related Charges; Total of 81 Defendants Have Been Charged to Date in Operation Wax House

CHARLOTTE, NC— A federal indictment charging 17 defendants in Charlotte and elsewhere with racketeering, investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank bribery, and money laundering was unsealed today in U.S. District Court, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Fourteen additional defendants have agreed to plead guilty in connection with the latest round of criminal charges resulting from Operation Wax House, a mortgage fraud investigation that began in the Western District of North Carolina in 2007.

Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division; Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); and Elaine Marshall, North Carolina Secretary of State join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in making today’s announcement.

The federal racketeering indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte on July 26, 2012, but remained sealed until today. The indictment alleges that the 17 defendants and others were part of a criminal organization (the Enterprise) that operated principally in the cities of Charlotte and Waxhaw, North Carolina, and stole more than $75 million from investors and mortgage lenders. The indictment was unsealed following the arrests this week of 11 members of the Enterprise, including three of its leaders, James Tyson, Jr.; his mother, Carrie Tyson; and Victoria Hunt. James Tyson, Jr. was arrested on Sunday, October 21, 2012, at Washington Dulles International Airport upon arrival in the United States from a flight originating in Dakar, Senegal, which is Tyson’s last known residence.

The racketeering charges contained in the indictment are the result of Operation Wax House, an ongoing investigation into securities and mortgage fraud targeting communities in the Mecklenburg and Union Counties of North Carolina’s Western District. The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and IRS-CI, along with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Securities Division.

According to allegations contained in the unsealed indictment:

The Enterprise, which operated from about 2005 through the present, engaged in an extensive pattern of racketeering activities, consisting of investment fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and distribution of illegal drugs. Members of the Enterprise also bribed bank officials and committed perjury before the grand jury. The co-conspirators targeted professional athletes and doctors as well as their personal and professional acquaintances and convinced them to invest in a series of sham corporations controlled by the Enterprise. The co-conspirators stole over $27 million from more than 50 investor victims, including money that the investor victims were induced to obtain as loans from financial institutions. Rather than investing victims’ money as promised, the Enterprise diverted victims’ money to finance its mortgage fraud operations and to support its members’ lifestyles. For example, members of the Enterprise used the stolen money to purchase luxury vehicles, take lavish vacations, organize extravagant dinners and parties, and invest in other sham businesses or investments. In addition, the conspirators made Ponzi-style payments to other victims.

The Enterprise’s mortgage fraud operations involved acquiring luxury homes in neighborhoods in Charlotte and Waxhaw. One member of the Enterprise would agree with a builder to purchase a property at the “true price.” The Enterprise would then arrange for a buyer to purchase the property at an inflated price. In most circumstances, the buyer would agree to purchase the property in his or her own name and sign whatever documents were necessary, in exchange for a hidden kickback. The builder would sell the property at the inflated price, the lender would make a mortgage loan on the basis of that inflated price, and the difference between the inflated price and the true price would be extracted at closing by the Enterprise.

The 17 defendants charged in today’s indictment and the 14 defendants who have agreed to plead guilty bring the total number of defendants charged to date in connection with Operation Wax Houseto to 81. Charged in the indictment are:

  • Ramin Amini, 44, of Tehran, Iran, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Leader and promoter in the scheme. Status: Fugitive.
  • Vonetta Tyson Barnes, 38, of Wahiawa, Hawaii, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Travis Bumpers, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Fugitive.
  • Glynn Hubbard, 35, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: In federal custody, pending release on conditions, following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Victoria Hunt, 36, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Toby Hunter, 37, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Steven Jones, 44, of Waxhaw, is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • John McDowell, 40, of Dunn, North Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Arrest warrant issued.
  • Kurosh Mehr, 52, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Promoter and buyer. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Ann Tyson Mitchell, 61, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Facilitator. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • John Wayne Perry, Jr., 31, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • Donte Thorogood, 34, of Durham, North Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
  • Carrie Tyson, 58, of Winterville, North Carolina, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Released following arrest and initial appearance.
  • James Tyson, Jr., 32, of Dakar, Senegal, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, bank bribery, and money laundering. Role: Leader and promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • James Tyson, Sr., 61, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud to defraud investors, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Currently in federal custody pending detention hearing.
  • Nathan Shane Wolf, 41, of Charlotte, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud and money laundering. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for an initial appearance pursuant to a summons.
  • Purnell Wood, 41, of Palmyra, New Jersey, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and money laundering. Role: Promoter. Status: Arrest warrant issued.

Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed criminal bills of information and plea agreements against 14 other defendants who acted as mortgage brokers, real estate agents, straw buyers, and a home builder in the scheme. They acknowledge taking part in the mortgage fraud conspiracy and have agreed to plead guilty. They are:

  • Crystal Goodson-Hudson, 44, of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Shannon Lee (Somer Bey), 47, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Robert Mahaney, 52, of Ridgeway, South Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • George Moore, 44, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Kevin Smith, 46, of Oxford, North Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Holly Pasut, 56, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Real estate agent. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Danielle Vaughn, 34, of Greenbelt, Maryland, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Mary Vaughn, 58, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Jamaine Wallace, 41, of Conyers, Georgia, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Phillip Wellington, 46, of Charlotte, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Promoter. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • William Wellington, 30, of Amityville, New York, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Buyer. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Marcia Williams, 36, of York, South Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Sean Williams, 41, of Orangeburg, South Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. Role: Mortgage broker. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.
  • Mark, Wittig, 41, of Matthews, North Carolina, is charged with mortgage fraud conspiracy. Role: Builder. Status: To appear for initial appearance upon a summons.

The conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross profits or other proceeds. The securities fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bank fraud charge carries a maximum term of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds. The bank bribery conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. In addition, the guilty plea of any other person is not relevant to the guilt of any indicted person.

Operation Wax House in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI, the Criminal Division of the IRS for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and the Securities Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State. The prosecution for the government is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Maria K. Vento and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin M. Harrington.

The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

The names and case numbers of all the defendants charged to date in Operation Wax House are listed below, organized by their alleged role in the scheme.

Attorneys and Paralegals
Crawford/Mallard, Michelle 3:11cr374
Gates, Christine 3:09cr100
Norwood, Kelli, 3:09cr162
Rainer, Demetrius 3:08cr239/241
Smith, Troy, 3:08cr264

Bank Insiders
Brown, Jamilia, 3:10cr124
Eason, Danyelle, 3:10cr116
Henson, Vic. F., 3:10cr124
Jackson, Mitzi, 3:11cr374
Ramey, Bonnie Sue, 3:10cr124

Builders and Sellers
Fink, James, 3:11cr374
Jackson, Jennifer, 3:09cr241
Smith, Kelvis, 3:12cr238
Viegas, Jeffrey, 3:12cr298
Wittig, Mark, 3:12cr335
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208

Facilitators and Financiers
Hickey, Denis, 3:09cr103
McClain, Landrick, 3:10cr124
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Panayoton, Sherrill, 3:11cr176
Taylor, Alicia Renee, 3:10cr124
Wilson, Willard, 3:09cr161

Buyers
Banks, Arketa, 3:12cr297
Hillian, Kirk, 3:12cr83
Mathis, Charles, 3:10cr1
Mobley, Sarena, 3:10cr124
Moore, George, 3:12cr337
Richards, Dan, 3:10cr119
Smith, Kevin, 3:12cr341
Tyler, Glenna, 3:11cr200
Vaughn, Mary, 3:12cr329
Wallace, Jamaine, 3:12cr330
Wellington, William, 3:12cr333

Notary Public
Willis, Anthony, 3:09cr218

Appraiser
Darden, Clinton 3:10cr108

Mortgage Brokers
Bradley, Bonnette, 3:12cr299
Clarke, Linda, 3:10cr120
Flood, Ericka, 3:10cr124
Goodson-Hudson, Crystal, 3:12cr339
Mahaney, Robert, 3:12cr34-0
Scagliarini, Coley, 3:11cr374
Staton, Walter, 3:10cr113
Vaughn, Danielle, 3:12cr329
Williams, Marcia, 3:12cr334
Williams, Sean, 3:12cr336

Woods, Joseph, 3:09cr178

Real Estate Agents
Belin, Chris, 3:11cr374
Clark, Christina, 3:09cr44
Lee, Shannon, 3:12cr338
Pasut, Holly Hardy, 3:12cr331
Wolf, Nathan Shane, 3:12cr239
Wood, Gary, 3:09cr208

Promoters
Amini, Ramin, 3:12cr239
Barnes, Vonetta Tyson, 3:12cr239
Bumpers, Travis, 3:12cr239
Carr, Stephen, 3:10cr124
Clarke, Reuben, 3:10cr120
Coleman, Gregory, 3:10cr118
Hitchcock, Jimmy, 3:11cr374
Hubbard, Glynn, 3:12cr239
Hunt, Victoria, 3:12cr239
Hunter, Toby, 3:12cr239
Jones, Steven, 3:12cr239
Jones, Tyree, 3:10cr230
Marshall, Michael, 3:07cr283
McDowell, John, 3:12cr239
McPhaul, Elizabeth, 3:10cr114
Mehr, Kurosh, 3:12cr239
Mitchell, Ann Tyson, 3:12cr239
Perry, John Wayne, Jr., 3:12cr239
Perry, Kim, 3:10cr25
Phillips, Rick, 3:10cr115
Sharreff-El, Drew, 3:10cr124
Sherald, Kiki, 3:10cr117
Simmons, Aaron, 3:09cr240
Snead, Todd, 3:10cr124
Staton, Lisa, 3:10cr113
Thorogood, Donte, 3:12cr239
Tyson, Carrie, 3:12cr239
Tyson, James, Jr. 3:12cr239
Tyson, James, Sr., 3:12cr239
Wellington, Phillip, 3:12cr332
Wood, Purnell, 3:12cr239″

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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.


Grand Jury Indicts 11 Allegedly Linked to an Inland Empire Loan Modification Scam That Targeted Financially Distressed Homeowners

September 13, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 12, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— Federal agents this morning arrested 10 defendants who worked at a Rancho Cucamonga-based business that allegedly offered bogus loan modification programs to financially distressed homeowners. As a result of the scheme allegedly run out of 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. and several related companies, more than 4,000 financially distressed homeowners lost at least $7 million in fees they paid to the company, and many homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure.

Those taken into custody this morning were among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment unsealed today following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

According to the indictment, during an 18-month period that began in June 2008, a Rancho Cucamonga woman, Andrea Ramirez, operated 21st Century and several other companies. According to the indictment, 21st Century “defrauded financially distressed homeowners by making false promises and guarantees regarding 21st Century’s ability to negotiate loan modifications from the homeowners’ mortgage lenders, falsely representing that 21st Century was operating a loan modification program sponsored by the United States government, instructing homeowners to cease communication with their mortgage lenders and to cease making their mortgage payments.”

“The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Many of the victims in this alleged scheme were in desperate financial straits, and shameless financial predators promised relief they could not deliver. As a result, many homeowners went into foreclosure and now have to deal with the ramifications of losing their homes.”

Ramirez and the other 21st Century employees contacted distressed homeowners through cold calls, newspaper ads and mailings, and various 21st Century-controlled websites that advertised loan modification services. Once they contacted the distressed homeowners, according to the indictment, Ramirez and other 21st Century employees often falsely told clients that the company was operating through a federal government program, that they would be able to obtain new mortgages with specific interest rates and reduced payments, and that attorneys would negotiate loan modifications with their lenders. Ramirez and other 21st Century employees regularly instructed financially distressed homeowners to cease making mortgage payments to their lenders and to cut off all contact with their lenders because they were being represented by 21st Century. On some occasions, Ramirez and other 21st Century employees would tell homeowners that 21st Century was using the fees paid by the homeowner to make mortgage payments, when in fact Ramirez and 21st Century simply were keeping the homeowner’s money.

Christy Romero, Special Inspector General at SIGTARP, stated: “Ramirez and her co-conspirators are charged with fraudulently operating 21st Century to exploit the hardships of homeowners fighting to keep a roof over their head. As alleged, these con artists swindled distressed homeowners by lying about their affiliation with federal housing programs and giving money-back guarantees that the homeowners would get a lower mortgage payment if they paid an advance fee. SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners are committed to shutting down schemes that prey on those who can least afford it by falsely claiming an affiliation with TARP’s housing programs.”

Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office, said: “Using the guise of a federally sponsored loan modification program and the assurance of a qualified legal team, the defendants preyed on financially distressed homeowners allegedly depriving them of much needed money and property. Those who find ways to fraudulently benefit from government programs meant to help struggling homeowners keep their homes will be brought to justice.”

The 11 defendants named in the indictment are:

  • Andrea Ramirez, who also used the names Andrea Parker and Lisa Evans, 44, of Rancho Cucamonga;
  • Christopher Paul George, 42, Rancho Cucamonga, who surrendered this morning to authorities;
  • Michael Bruce Bates, who also used the names Michael Bruce Myers and Robert Allen Castro, 61, of Moreno Valley;
  • Crystal Taiwana Buck, 37, of Long Beach;
  • Michael Lewis Parker, 34, of Pomona, who is currently a fugitive being sought by federal authorities;
  • Catalina Deleon, 35, of Glendora;
  • Hamid Reza Shalviri, 50, Montebello, who self-surrendered this morning after being contacted by federal agents;
  • Yadira Garcia Padilla, 35, of Rancho Cucamonga;
  • Mindy Sue Holt, 53, of San Bernardino;
  • Iris Melissa Pelayo, 42, of Upland; and
  • Albert DiRoberto, 59, of Fullerton.

The defendants arrested this morning are expected to be arraigned this afternoon during their initial court appearances in United States District Court in Riverside.

“Fraudulent loan modification scams affect consumers at the most basic level, jeopardizing their ability to retain ownership of their homes,” said B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Los Angeles Division. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will investigate these crimes to protect consumers and when the nation’s mail system is used for illegal or dangerous use.”

Steve Linick, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Inspector General, stated: “The government created programs intended to assist homeowners by allowing them to remain in their homes during these troubling financial times. Anyone attempting to engage in schemes designed to exploit struggling homeowners and the government programs created to help those same homeowners will ultimately be brought to justice.”

All 11 defendants are charged with nine felony counts—five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy. Each count in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

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.

This prosecution is part of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 United States Attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants, including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.”

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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

————————————————————–

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 Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Campaign Finance Violation

June 11, 2012

7thSpace.com on June 9, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Kwame R Brown, the former Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia, pled guilty today to a federal charge of bank fraud and a second criminal charge involving a violation of the District of Columbia’s campaign finance laws.

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney Ronald C Machen Jr; Ronald T Hosko, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division; and Rick A Raven, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

Brown, 41, pled guilty to the bank fraud charge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In a separate proceeding, he pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to the campaign finance violation. As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to submit his immediate resignation from the District of Columbia Council. Brown also has agreed to cooperate as the investigation continues.

The Honorable Richard J Leon scheduled sentencing in the federal case for 11 AM on September 20, 2012.

The Honorable Juliet McKenna scheduled sentencing in the campaign finance case for 2:30 PM on the same date.

The bank fraud charge carries up to 30 years in prison. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the parties have agreed that the applicable range for this offense would be up to six months in prison and a possible fine of up to $5,000. The campaign finance charge carries a maximum of six months of incarceration and a possible fine of up to $5,000.

Brown is the second member of the Council of the District of Columbia to plead guilty to criminal charges this year. In January, in a separate and unrelated case, Harry L Thomas, Jr pled guilty to federal theft and tax charges.

Thomas, who resigned as part of his plea agreement, has since been sentenced to a prison term of 38 months. Thomas was the first sitting member of the DC. Council to be charged with and convicted of a felony.

The charges against Kwame Brown involve two separate matters. In one case, Brown admitted providing false documentation to secure two personal loans, totaling more than $220,000.

In the other, Brown admitted aiding and abetting another individual, a relative, to make a cash payment of $1,500 to a campaign worker for the 2008 council campaign. The relative was a signatory on the campaign’s bank accounts; Brown also admitted failing to disclose the relative’s identity to the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance.

“For the second time this year, a member of the DC. Council has pled guilty to a felony offense and been forced to resign,” said United States Attorney Machen. “While sitting on the council, Kwame Brown repeatedly falsified and forged documents to deceive the bank into giving him money, even faxing one of the fraudulent documents from his council office.

Brown also gave a family member free license to make illegal and untraceable cash expenditures from his 2008 campaign in violation of DC. law. The people of the District of Columbia deserve better from their elected officials. Today’s pleas take us one step closer to a culture of integrity and accountability that will not tolerate politicians engaging in dishonesty and self dealing.”

“This week, Mr Brown admitted to forging bank documents and withholding information about his re-election campaign finances,” said Special Agent in Charge Hosko.

“This investigation and today’s guilty pleas demonstrate that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will pursue all allegations of illegal conduct that clouds the judgment of our elected officials and deprives our citizens of the honest government to which they are entitled.”

“No matter what your position, it is unacceptable to submit false information to a financial institution in an effort to secure a loan,” said Special Agent in Charge Raven. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will make every effort to aggressively investigate financial fraud of any kind and not give a free pass to anyone who blatantly fails to comply with the law.”

Brown was elected as an at-large member of the District of Columbia Council in 2004 and took office in January 2005. He was re-elected in 2008, and then, in 2010, he was elected chairman. He took office in that position in January 2011.

According to a statement of offense signed by the government as well as the defendant, Brown submitted false information in securing a $166,000 home equity loan, as well as a $55,335 loan that he used to purchase a boat.

Both loans were issued by Industrial Bank, NA.

In paperwork for the home equity loan, which Brown sent by facsimile from his council office on September 26, 2005, Brown provided a Verification of Employment Form. In it, he falsely wrote that he held the position of “Vice President of Strategy” in an unnamed company; that he earned $3,000 per month; that his probability of continued employment was “great”; that he was projected to earn a $10,000 pay increase on January 3, 2006; and that he was a full-time employee. At the bottom of this form, Brown forged the name and signature of a friend from college who was purportedly the president of the company. In fact, Brown did not have his friend’s permission to sign this form, and his friend was never Brown’s employer.

Brown filed and submitted this form to overstate his annual income in an effort to win approval of his loan application, believing that, without artificially inflating his income, his request would be rejected.

Based on Brown’s purported income, Industrial Bank issued a loan to Brown on October 12, 2005, in the amount of $166,000.

Brown submitted the second loan application on July 25, 2007, this time seeking money for the purpose of purchasing a boat. As part of the application, he submitted an Internal Revenue Service form, purporting to be from a company for which he had worked as a consultant. The form that Brown submitted showed his 2006 income from the company to be $85,000. In fact, Brown’s income from the firm that year totaled $35,000.

Before submitting the form, Brown had altered the “3” on the document to an “8,” so that it appeared he earned $85,000, not $35,000.

As with the 2005 loan, Brown believed that this loan would not be approved without artificially inflating his income. Based on Brown’s purported income, Industrial Bank issued a loan to Brown on August 30, 2007, in the amount of $55,335.

In the campaign finance case, Brown admitted aiding and abetting an unlawful cash campaign expenditure, in excess of the $50 limit imposed on individual cash transactions. According to a statement of offense in that matter, signed by the government as well as the defendant, the “Committee to Re-Elect Kwame Brown” was formed for Brown’s 2008 re-election campaign for the at-large seat on the council.

In or around April 2007, Brown allowed a relative to be a signatory on the committee’s bank account, which was held at Industrial Bank. The relative and the committee’s treasurer jointly opened the account.

In his Statement of Candidacy, filed with the Office of Campaign Finance, Brown listed this account as the committee’s sole bank account. He failed, however, to disclose that his relative was a signatory on the account.

In August 2008, with Brown’s knowledge and permission, the relative opened a second bank account at Industrial Bank, called the “side account,” purportedly to pay for “get-out-the-vote” campaign activities. Brown authorized the relative to make withdrawals on behalf of the committee from the side account. However, he failed to amend his Statement of Candidacy to disclose the existence of the second account.

Later, on or about September 11, 2009, Brown’s relative paid an expense in the amount of $1,500 related to the 2008 re-election campaign, using cash withdrawn from the side account.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Washington Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation.

In announcing the guilty pleas, United States Attorney Machen, Special Agent in Charge Hosko, and Special Agent in Charge Raven commended those who investigated the case for the FBI and IRS-CI.

They also acknowledged the efforts of Assistant United States Attorneys David S Johnson, Maia L Miller, Matt Graves, Ellen Chubin Epstein, and Daniel Butler of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the United States Attorney’s Office; Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Saler of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the United States Attorney’s Office; and Trial Attorney Peter Mason of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, who have prosecuted the case.

Finally, they expressed appreciation to Forensic Accountant Crystal Boodoo; Paralegal Specialists Diane Hayes, Lenisse Edloe, Tasha Harris, Shanna Hays, and Sarah Reis; Legal Assistants Krishawn Graham, Nicole Wattelet, and Christopher Samson; former Legal Assistant Jared Forney; Criminal Investigators Matthew Kutz and Duncan Templeton; Litigation Support Services Specialist Thomas Royal; Information Technology Specialist Kimberly Austin; Victim-Witness Coordinator Dawn Tolson-Hightower; former Student Law Clerks Carl Barnes, Iris Postelnicu, and Danielle Rosborough; and Intelligence Specialist Lawrence Grasso, all of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

Reported by: FBI”

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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 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.


Dental Practice Operators Charged in an Alleged $20 Million Medicaid Fraud Conspiracy

May 25, 2012

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

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Susan J. Waddell, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for New England; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in New England; and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that Gary F. Anusavice, also known as “Gary Andrews,” “Gary Andrus” and “Gary Francis,” 59, of North Kingstown, Rhode Island; and Mehran Zamani, DDS, 47, of Pound Ridge, New York, were arrested today on federal charges related to their alleged involvement in a $20 million Medicaid fraud scheme.

“As alleged, these operators of dental practices throughout Connecticut 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.”

“Although Gary F. Anusavice was barred from Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health programs back in 1998, he allegedly continued to defraud taxpayers by using an elaborate shield of companies and individuals—including Dr. Zamani—to hide his involvement,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Waddle. “Working with federal and state partners, our investigators will penetrate such schemes and help bring suspects to justice.”

“To combat healthcare fraud, IRS Criminal Investigation provides the financial investigative expertise to follow the money trail from the crime to the culprit,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Offord. “We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners to document the financial benefits derived from these fraudulent activities.”

“The FBI views health care fraud as a serious crime problem,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “It degrades the integrity of our health care system and legitimate patient care. Today’s arrests send a clear message to those persons who are defrauding our federal Medicare and Medicaid and private health insurance programs. The FBI remains committed to investigating health care fraud and bringing these individuals to justice. The FBI will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to investigate those who violate the public trust by stealing taxpayer money. We urge anyone with information regarding health care fraud activity to contact its nearest FBI field office.”

According to court documents, 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).

As alleged in court documents, Anusavice was previously a registered dentist in several states. In July 1997, Anusavice sustained a felony conviction in Massachusetts for submitting false health care claims. Based on that conviction, 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, and the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry permanently revoked Anusavice’s license to practice dentistry in Massachusetts in 2006.

The criminal complaint alleges that Anusavice established several dental practices in Connecticut, which were operated by other dentists, including Zamani. These dental practices received millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements from the Connecticut Medicaid program, which payments were prohibited given Anusavice’s exclusion from the Medicaid program. The dental practices operated by Anusavice and Zamani included Landmark Dental in West Haven, Dental Group of Connecticut in Trumbull, and Dental Group of Stamford. Despite his permanent exclusion, 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.

It is alleged that Anusavice hired Zamani at Landmark Dental in October 2008 and that Zamani soon became aware of Anusavice’s disciplinary history. In January 2009, Zamani submitted a Medicaid Provider Enrollment Application with the DSS in order to obtain a Medicaid provider number for Mehran Zamani LLC, listing his group practice name as Landmark Dental. In May 2009, Zamani submitted an application with the DSS for a Medicaid provider number for Landmark Dental. In the applications Zamani submitted, he failed to disclose that Anusavice had an ownership or control interest in Landmark Dental, even though Zamani knew that Anusavice was running the practice and profited from it. From approximately February 2009 to March 2011, Mehran Zamani LLC and Landmark Dental received more than $12.9 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

It is further alleged that in April 2009, Zamani and “Haven Consulting,” an entity Anusavice created, entered into a Business Consultant Contract for the Dental Group of Stamford, a practice that Zamani had operated previously. Although the contract provided that Haven Consulting was a “business consultant” to the Dental Group of Stamford, Anusavice had an ownership interest in the practice and acted in an ownership and managerial capacity. Zamani’s DSS application in May 2009 failed to disclose Anusavice’s involvement in the practice and his disciplinary history. From approximately June 2009 to March 2011, the Dental Group of Stamford received more than $4.4 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

It is further alleged that Zamani’s April 2010 DSS application for a Medicaid provider number for the Dental Group of Connecticut also failed to disclose Anusavice’s involvement in the practice. From approximately August 2010 to March 2011, the Dental Group of Connecticut received more than $3.5 million in Medicaid reimbursement payments.

It is further alleged that on April 13, 2011, the DSS suspended Medicaid payments to Mehran Zamani, DDS, Landmark Dental, Dental Group of Stamford, and Dental Group of Connecticut based upon a pending investigation of a credible allegation of fraud. As a result, the last Medicaid payment to any of these entities occurred on or about March 22, 2011. By that time, it is alleged that the Anusavice-Zamani entities had collectively received nearly $21 million in Medicaid reimbursement funds. Further, according to Zamani’s accountant’s records, between February 2009 and March 2011, Anusavice-controlled entities received more than $3 million in payments from Zamani-related entities.

It is further alleged that Anusavice and another dentist are now operating a new set of dental clinics, doing business as Alpha Dental Group in Cromwell, Dental Group of New Britain, and Hartford Dental Care. Between November 2011 and March 2012, Arbor Dental has received more than $2.6 million in Medicaid funds. Anusavice also has recently reopened a dental practice at the former location of Dental Care of Connecticut in Trumbull.

Anusavice was arrested this morning at his home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island on a federal criminal complaint charging him with conspiring to commit health care fraud, committing health care fraud, and making false statements involving federal health care programs. Zamani was arrested today at his home in New York on a criminal complaint charging him with the same offenses. Both appeared this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport.

In association with today’s arrests, investigating agencies conducted court-authorized searches of Anusavice’s Rhode Island residence and dental clinics he is allegedly operating in New Britain and Trumbull.

The government also has filed a civil forfeiture complaint against the real property located at 229 Potter Road, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, an 8,145 square foot home on 9.66 acres of land, where Anusavice resides. The forfeiture complaint alleges that this property was purchased in February 2011 for $695,000 by AMZ Consulting Inc., a nominee entity controlled by Anusavice and that proceeds used to purchase the property stem from Anusavice’s alleged Medicaid fraud scheme.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that a complaint is only a charge and 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. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island and Assistant United States Attorney Paul Daly have provided valuable assistance.”

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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.


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.


Members of Alleged Asian Organized Crime Organization Appear in Federal Court Today

July 12, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts on July 12, 2011 released the following:

“Detention Hearing Scheduled for Five Defendants Today at Noon

BOSTON, Mass. – Five federal defendants are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston today, following a multi-year federal investigation into their roles in illegal activity in Chinatown and elsewhere. A total of 26 individuals from Massachusetts, Florida and Rhode Island have been indicted in connection with the alleged organized crime conspiracy.

According to court filings, the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force led a long-term investigation into drug-trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, prostitution, and other criminal activity in the Chinatown area of Boston and elsewhere. The investigation included court-authorized wire surveillance of cellular telephones for seven months, including the cell phones of five of the defendants. The investigation to date has resulted in the seizure of more than $340,000, thirteen firearms and approximately 12,000 pills of suspected oxycodone. Investigators also uncovered extensive evidence of illegal gambling and prostitution, and the use of extortionate threats to collect loans to gamblers and others.

“Organized crime can paralyze or seriously disrupt small communities, particularly close-knit neighborhoods like Chinatown,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “This criminal organization is alleged to have trafficked large amounts of drugs, threatened and beat up individuals who failed to pay off large illegal debts, and moved women around the country to work in their brothels.”

“We encourage the victims of these alleged crimes to contact us to assist in protecting the community and prosecuting those responsible,” added U.S. Attorney Ortiz. “We are very fortunate in Massachusetts to have dedicated prosecutors, agents and local law enforcement who challenge themselves and creatively leverage resources to work these multi-faceted complex investigations.”

Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, said, “The indictments and arrests stemming from this operation send a clear message to those involved in organized crime organizations everywhere: The FBI and its law enforcement partners will pursue those who engage in drug dealing, illegal gambling, extortion and exploitation of women regardless of the geographic boundaries.”

SAC DesLauriers added, “In this case, law enforcement’s jurisdictional reach and investigative tenacity culminated in the arrest of multiple individuals. The methodical nature and duration of this investigation reflects our collective dedicated effort to secure justice for the victims. Organized crime groups are emerging from every corner of the globe. Through our task-force and intelligence based model, we will use every tool at our disposal to disrupt and dismantle organized criminal enterprises.”

In late May, 13 men and women were charged in the first of three indictments with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, marijuana and human growth hormone in the Massachusetts, Florida, South Carolina, and elsewhere. According to an affidavit filed in connection with detention proceedings, John Willis, 40, of Dorchester, also known as “Bac Guai John” (“White Devil John”), the leader of this drug-trafficking conspiracy, has a long history of involvement in Asian organized crime.

The following were also charged in the drug-trafficking conspiracy with Willis: Brant Welty, 39, Kevin Baranowski, 41, and Bridget Welty, 38, all of Boston; Vincent Alberico, 29, of Centerville, Mass.; Peter Melendez, 50, of Sunrise, Florida; Aibun Eng, 38,and Steven Le, 21, both of Quincy; Brian Bowes, 42, and Michael Clemente, 29, both of Sunrise, Florida; Michael Shaw, 39, of Wilton Manors, Florida; Mark Thompson, 28, of Davie, Florida; and Anevay Duffy, 25, of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Alberico is also charged with assaulting a federal official who was performing his official duties.

With the exception of Melendez, the defendants in this matter have been arrested. Willis, Le, and Alberico have been detained pending trial. Brant Welty remains in custody pending the court’s decision on the government’s motion for detention and Baranowski remains in custody pending a detention hearing on July 14. Alberico is in state custody.

If convicted on these charges, Willis and Baranowski face up to 30 years in federal prison. Each of the remaining defendants faces up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to a life term of supervised release, and $1 million fine. In addition, Alberico also faces up to eight years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for the assault charge.

On June 30, 13 additional defendants were charged in two separate indictments. One of the indictments charged Minh Cam Luong, 46, Vapeng Joe, 44, Hin Pau, 45, Judy Huyen Truong, 41, and Hui Zhou, 24, all of Quincy; Jian Ming Chen, 38, of Brighton; Elburke Lamson, 47, of Chelsea; Tan Ngo, 54, of Waltham; Songzeng Cao, 28, of Malden; and Yao Zheng Cao, 23, of Somerville, for operating an illegal gambling business since January 2010. That business has been based, since November 2010, at a illegal gambling den at 17-23 Beach Street in Chinatown. Luong, Pau, Songzeng Cao, Yao Zheng Cao and Zhou were also charged with using extortionate means, including threats or actual use of violence, to collect debts, including debts owed to the illegal gambling business. With the exception of Lamson and Truong, all defendants are currently in custody pending detention hearings. Five defendants are expected to have detention hearings today at noon.

According to a court filing, Luong and Ngo were both members of Chinatown’s Ping On Gang in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Gang was vying for control of crime in Chinatown. Both were convicted on federal charges including heroin trafficking, and both have served sentences in federal prison.

If convicted on these charges, each of the defendants faces up to five years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the illegal gambling business charge. Luong, Pau, Cao, Cao, and Zhou also face up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for each count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.

Lastly, Wei Xing Chen, 50, of Cambridge, and Yue Q. He, age unknown, of Boston, were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and 1-benzylpiperazine, both also known as ecstasy, and possession with intent to distribute 1-benzylpiperazine. In addition, Chen, He and Xiaohong Xue, 41, also of Cambridge, were charged in the same indictment with conspiring to induce travel to engage in prostitution. Chen, who operated brothels in Cambridge and Boston, is currently in custody. Arrest warrants have been issued for He and Xue.

If convicted on the drug charges, Chen and He face up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by at least three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine on each count. In addition, if convicted of prostitution conspiracy, each of the defendants faces up to five years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

According to the affidavit, Willis and several of his co-defendants frequented Chen’s brothels and Luong’s gambling den. Employees of Luong’s gambling business frequented Chen’s brothels. Some of Luong’s employees, including Joe, associated with Willis.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; FBI SAC DesLauriers; William P. Offord; Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Division; Bruce Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today.

The cases were investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Department of Correction, and Quincy, Cambridge, Medford, Boston and New York City Police Departments. Assistance was also received from the Broward County (Fla..) Sheriff’s Office and the Ridgeland and Dillon Police Departments in South Carolina. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy E. Moran and Richard L. Hoffman of Ortiz’s Strike Force Unit.

The details contained in the indictments are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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

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

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

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