Bruno trial ready for February

May 30, 2012

TimesUnion.com on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“Jury selection for second trial of ex-Senate majority leader set to begin Feb. 4 in Albany

By Brendan J. Lyons

ALBANY — The second criminal trial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno is scheduled to begin in February.

A federal judge on Tuesday met with federal prosecutors and Bruno’s defense attorneys for the first time since Bruno was indicted May 3 on two felony mail fraud charges. The attorneys discussed the scheduling of pre-trial motions, and the judge set a Feb. 4 trial date.

Bruno is charged with depriving the state of his honest services by allegedly using his political leverage to benefit a business associate and friend, Jared E. Abbruzzese of Loudonville.

Bruno’s dealings with Abbruzzese led to a conviction on two counts of honest services fraud at Bruno’s first trial, which ended in December 2009. The law used to convict Bruno was later retooled by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared honest services convictions must include allegations of a bribe or kickback, and Bruno’s conviction was vacated last fall.

A mid-level appeals court in Manhattan rejected Bruno’s arguments that he not face a second trial. The panel ruled there was enough evidence to support a new indictment, and the court ruled federal prosecutors could seek new charges on a theory that Bruno had received kickbacks.

Bruno, 83, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting in the chambers of U.S. District Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe, according to court minutes.

In May 2010, Sharpe sentenced Bruno to two years in prison for his conviction on two of the eight counts of honest services fraud contained in the earlier indictment. The sentence was vacated after Bruno’s 2009 conviction was overturned.

The new indictment alleges Bruno received $440,000 in payments from Abbruzzese that were “disguised as ‘consulting’ payments and $80,000 in payments for a virtually worthless horse.”

The investigation of Bruno, called Operation Green Pastures, began in late 2005 when FBI agents started examining his use of private jet aircraft supplied by Abbruzzese, his horse-breeding partner. Abbruzzese flew Bruno to Kentucky horse country, New York City and exclusive Florida golf resorts — including trips that were largely bankrolled by Abbruzzese.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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

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

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


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

May 3, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

According to the indictment:

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

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

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

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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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.


Nine Health Care Professionals, Including Five Doctors, Charged in Alleged Kickback Scheme

January 25, 2012

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

“GRAND RAPIDS, MI— U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today the federal indictment of eight individuals, including four licensed physicians and one licensed physician’s assistant, for conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Additionally, a state charge was filed against a Jackson, Michigan physician for allegedly accepting kickbacks to refer his patients to certain rehabilitation facilities. All eight federally charged defendants appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh W. Brenneman for an initial appearance on the charge, which carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and restitution.

The federal indictment alleges that Babubhai Rathod owned and operated medical clinics, outpatient rehabilitation facilities, and home health care companies that paid employees and outside health care providers for the referral of patients. The Indictment identifies many of Rathod’s companies, which include Lakeshore Spine & Pain, P.C., with clinics in cities including Ludington and Edmore, Michigan, and U.S. Rehab Services, P.C., with facilities around the state, including in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The indictment identifies Rajesh Makwana as an administrator of Lakeshore Spine & Pain and Raju Nakum as a manager of U.S. Rehab Services.

The indictment alleges that Rathod, Makwana, and Nakum paid health care providers agreed rates for the referral of patients for electrodiagnostic testing, physical therapy, and home health care services. The indictment identifies Lino S. Dial, Jr., D.O., Natalie Schutte, P.A., Niti Thakur, M.D., Andre Blair Smith, M.D., and Muhammad Salman Rais, M.D. as health care providers who referred Medicare and Medicaid patients to companies operated by Rathod in return for illegal kickback payments. The indictment further alleges that the kickback payments were falsely disguised as reimbursement for other purported expenses, including mileage, medical director fees, continuing medical education, and contractual labor.

Kevin S. Witt, D.O., 51, is charged in 54B District Court in East Lansing, Michigan with two felony violations of MCL 400.604, which makes it a crime to receive kickbacks in exchange for referring patients for treatment elsewhere. The charge is a four-year felony. Witt was arrested this morning by Attorney General investigators and was arraigned this afternoon.

U.S. Attorney Davis stated that the state and federal charges result from a joint investigation with the Health Care Fraud Division of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office. Special agents from the Bay City, Michigan Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Grand Rapids, Michigan Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General are coordinating the federal investigation.

U.S. Attorney Davis noted, “The federal Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits the payment of any remuneration that is designed to induce or reward medical referral decisions involving Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally-funded health care programs. In passing the anti-kickback legislation, Congress intended that medical decisions be made with the patient’s best interest in mind and not because the referral of a patient will result in a financial benefit to the referring physician. Because our health care system relies heavily on the trust and integrity of medical professionals to provide services under the appropriate conditions and in the interests of patients, we will continue to aggressively investigate allegations of fraud and kickbacks and prosecute cases where professionals have abused this trust.”

“Patients deserve to know that when a doctor refers them for additional treatment, the decision to do so is based upon quality health advice—not what is best for the doctor’s bank account,” said Attorney General Schuette. “Kickbacks with the Medicaid program don’t just hurt patients, they affect the taxpayers who support the bottom line. Medically unnecessary treatments drive up the costs of Medicaid, and taxpayers ultimately pay the price.”

Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Region of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General echoed U.S. Attorney Davis and Attorney General Schuette’s comments. “Patients trust that their physicians are making referrals to other health care providers so they can obtain the highest quality of care, not because they financially benefit from it,” said Pugh. “Paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for such referrals is illegal, and the OIG will aggressively investigate allegations of this nature in order to protect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and taxpayer dollars.”

Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Division emphasized that, “The FBI will remain vigilant in stopping health care fraud in the State of Michigan. This type of crime affects all of our health care premiums and serves as a drain on society. The indictments of these physicians and others send a strong message that abuse of the health care system will not be tolerated.”

The charges in an indictment, as well as state charges, are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and 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.


Seven Krahl Construction Executives and Employees and Two Others Indicted in Alleged Billing Fraud and Kickback Scheme

November 14, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 11, 2011 released the following:

“CHICAGO— The principal owner and six top executives and employees of a former general contractor, together with two former employees of client companies, were indicted for allegedly engaging in a fraudulent billing and kickback scheme. The seven defendants affiliated with the former contractor, Krahl Construction, allegedly caused losses of $9 million and $400,000 respectively to the two client companies, while the former employees of those firms allegedly received kickbacks valued at $645,000 and $119,500, respectively. All nine defendants were charged together in a 16-count indictment returned late yesterday by a federal grand jury, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today.

Krahl Construction, which specialized in interior construction, closed its Chicago office at 322 S. Green St., in January 2010 after FBI agents executed a federal search warrant. The company also had an office in Denver.

The indictment alleges that between 2005 and 2009, certain defendants fraudulently inflated the cost of renovation projects performed by Krahl and caused the creation of false documents to support the inflated costs, resulting in overbilling at least $15 million to Company A, which suffered actual losses of at least $9 million, and losses of approximately $400,000 to Company B. At the same time, the two clients’ employees secretly used their positions to solicit and accept bribe/kickback payments and home improvements in exchange for favorable action to help Krahl obtain contracts with those companies, the indictment charges.

Company A is identified as a San Francisco-based real estate investment trust that hired Krahl to renovate portions of an eight-story building located at 350 E. Cermak, Chicago. Company B is identified as a property management firm located on Michigan Avenue, Chicago, that hired Krahl to develop commercial property in Bolingbrook known as the Tallgrass project.

Defendant John Paderta, 52, of Fontana, Wis., and formerly of Burr Ridge, the president of Krahl who owned approximately 85 percent of the company, was charged with one count of mail fraud. Also indicted were:

Thaddeus Stepniewski, 50, of Lisle and formerly of Lombard, Krahl’s chief financial officer, who was charged with 15 counts of mail and wire fraud;

Doug Harner, 47, of Chicago, Krahl’s executive vice president and part owner, who was also charged with 15 counts of mail and wire fraud;

Scott Mousel, 48, of New Orleans and formerly of Lisle, a Krahl project manager for two portions of the Cermak project, who was charged with five counts of mail fraud;

John Bak, 37, of Ringwood, Ill., also a Krahl project manager on portions of the Cermak project, who was charged with one count of mail fraud;

Heather Ellis, 34, of Midlothian, a Krahl project manager assistant on portions of the Cermak project, who was charged with one count of mail fraud;

Erin Scott, 36, of Clarendon Hills, also a Krahl project manager assistant on the Cermak project, who was charged with four counts of mail fraud;

Scott Solano, 40, of Burr Ridge, property manager for the Cermak building, first as an employee of Company C, which managed the building for Company A, and then, beginning in April 2009, as an employee of Company A, who was charged with one count of mail fraud; and

Timothy Scannell, 48, of Chicago, vice president of Company B, who managed a three-story office building and warehouse in Bolingbrook, known as the Tallgrass building, which Krahl was hired to remodel, and who was charged with one count of mail fraud.

Each defendant will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture from Paderta, Stepniewski and Harner of at least $9 million. Separately, it seeks forfeiture of approximately $645,000 from Solano, and approximately $119,500 from Scannell, representing the value of the bribes/kickbacks they each allegedly received.

The indictment alleges that certain defendants engaged in aspects of the scheme as follows:

  • budgets: during the budgeting phase of the Cermak projects, Paderta, Stepniewski, Harner, Mousel, Bak and Solano fraudulently identified and included fictitious costs to be added to the project budgets to generate additional profits for Krahl;
  • spreadsheets: Paderta, Stepniewski, Mousel, Bak, Ellis and others created financial spreadsheets to keep track of the fraud, identifying the actual amounts owed to subcontractors along with the inflated amounts that were billed by Krahl. Stepniewski reviewed those spreadsheets on a regular basis, and he and others manually input the inflated amounts into the accounting records;
  • sham companies: Paderta instructed Stepniewski to set up sham companies that could be used to fraudulently obtain payment from customers, and Stepniewski arranged for those companies to be incorporated, knowing that they would be shell corporations used for fraudulent billing purposes;
  • creation of false documents: Paderta, Stepniewski, Harner, Mousel, Bak, Ellis, Scott and others created documents containing false information to support the inflated prices being charged by Krahl. Those documents included fraudulent invoices, change orders, lien waivers, applications and certifications for payment, and numerous documents from the sham companies. Certain documents were created by cutting and pasting information and signatures. Some documents contained forged signatures and falsely notarized signatures. Krahl maintained two sets of files; one containing legitimate documents, and the other containing false and fraudulent documents;
  • inflated amounts: Paderta decided on the inflated amounts that should be added to certain invoices, and he gave Mousel, Bak and others that information. Mousel and Bak created inflated invoices or made handwritten changes on documents to inflate the charges and gave those documents to Stepniewski Ellis and Scott, who then created new documents using the inflated numbers. On some occasions, Harner told Mousel and Bak to inflate certain costs for Company A projects;
  • inflated bids: Paderta, Stepniewski, Harner, Mousel, Bak, Ellis, Scott and others inflated bids to support the overstated invoices that were submitted for payment. They also inflated bids in order to make it appear that certain sham companies had submitted lower bids, which justified awarding the work to the sham companies. Paderta gave Bak inflated amounts to include in certain bid proposals, which Bak did;
  • false documents to Company A: Paderta, Stepniewski, Harner, Mousel, Bak, Ellis, Scott, Solano and others caused false and fraudulent invoices to be submitted to Company A, as well as other false documents, resulting in over-billing of at least approximately $15 million. Paderta, Stepniewski and Harner received substantial salary and bonus payments as a result of the overstated charges paid by Company A to Krahl;
  • Company A’s request: in December 2009, in response to Company A’s request for documents pertaining to the Cermak projects, Paderta, Stepniewski, Mousel and Ellis provided to Company A copies of numerous false and fraudulent documents, which had previously been submitted to Company A, showing inflated and fictitious costs, knowing that they were false and fraudulent; and
  • Company B: Paderta, Stepniewski, Harner and others submitted false and fraudulent documents to Company B, including invoices, payment applications, and lien waivers, falsely representing that at least three of the sham companies—Harvey Glass, Everygreene Electric, and Great Lakes Illinois Supply—had provided services and materials. In fact, Paderta, Stepniewski and Harner knew that those sham companies had not provided such services or materials.

Regarding bribes and kickbacks, the indictment alleges that Solano solicited and accepted kickbacks from Krahl, including payments totaling approximately $520,000 and renovations on Solano’s home totaling approximately $125,000. The renovations included work on the basement, general repairs, new windows, and installation of a generator and new televisions. In exchange for the kickbacks, Solano promised to, and did, take favorable action on behalf of Krahl as requested and as opportunities arose, including helping Krahl obtain contracts from Company A, while Solano was employed at Company A and elsewhere.

Scannell allegedly solicited and accepted kickbacks from Krahl, including payments totaling approximately $100,000, as well as renovations on his home totaling approximately $19,500. In exchange for the kickbacks, Scannell promised to take favorable action on behalf of Krahl as requested and as opportunities arose, including agreeing to help Krahl obtain contracts from Company B, while Scannell was employed at Company B.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Heinze, Jacqueline Stern and John Kness.

Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or a fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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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 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.


Chicago Federal Grand Jury Indicted Five Chicago Individuals on Federal Fraud Charges for Allegedly Receiving Kickbacks totaling at least $800,000

July 15, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“FORMER NORTH CHICAGO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER AND TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR AMONG FIVE DEFENDANTS INDICTED FOR ALLEGED ROLES IN $800,000 KICKBACK SCHEME INVOLVING STUDENT BUSING CONTRACTS

CHICAGO — A former North Chicago school board member and the district’s former transportation director were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly receiving kickbacks totaling at least $800,000 from three co-defendants who controlled several different companies that received at least $21 million in student bus contracts over nearly a decade. All five defendants were charged in a 26-count indictment alleging that, between 2001 and August 2010, they schemed to defraud and deprive the citizens of North Chicago, located in Lake County, and the approximately 4,000-student North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 (NCSD) of the honest services of former school board member Gloria Harper and former transportation director Alice Sherrod. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury late yesterday and announced today by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The North Chicago School District cooperated with the investigation.

Harper, 59, of North Chicago, who was a member of the NCSD board from 1999 to May 2009, and Sherrod, 59, of Gurnee, who was District 187’s transportation director from 2001 to July 2010, allegedly used their positions to enrich themselves secretly by soliciting and accepting gifts and cash from their three co-defendants in exchange for favorable official action regarding student transportation contracts. Initially, Harper and Sherrod allegedly received kickbacks of approximately $4,000 to $5,000 a month but, by 2003, they were collecting approximately $20,000 a month, the indictment alleges.

Also indicted were: Derrick Eubanks, 47, of Lake Villa; Tommie Boddie, 66, of Wadsworth; and Barrett White, 52, of Matteson. All five defendants were each charged with six counts of wire fraud and various counts of soliciting or paying bribes. All but White were also charged with multiple counts of filing false federal income tax returns. All five defendants will be arraigned on dates still to be determined in U.S. District Court.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $9.67 million, as well as 48 buses and vans and seven personal automobiles.

According to the indictment, from the late 1990s until mid-2003, the NCSD contracted with various companies to provide student transportation, including T&M Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Boddie, and Eubanks Transportation, which was owned at least in part and controlled by Eubanks. In approximately 2001, Harper and Sherrod met with Boddie and told him they would arrange for the NCSD to increase the number of students that T&M transported if Boddie agreed to pay them in return, and Boddie agreed. At Harper’s request, White began acting as an intermediary, or “bagman,” receiving cash from Boddie, keeping some for himself, and providing the bulk to Harper, who, in turn, shared the money with Sherrod, the indictment alleges.

To facilitate his role as the scheme’s bagman, White established D’Amoto Transportation, which he used to funnel money from Boddie’s T&M company to Harper and Sherrod. Sometime in 2002 or 2003, White established BWT Transportation to replace D’Amoto. In approximately May 2003, Harper allegedly suggested to Boddie and Eubanks that they join together to form one company to bid on NCSD transportation contracts. Both Harper and Sherrod told Boddie and Eubanks that if they won the contract they would have to split the profits with the two school officials, and the two men agreed to do so, the charges allege. As a result, Boddie and Eubanks created Safety First Transportation, Inc., which won the NCSD’s transportation contract in 2003. Once Safety First began to receive school district payments, White allegedly converted Safety First’s funds into cash to pay Harper for her to share with Sherrod, while White kept a portion for himself. Neither White nor his company, BWT, did any work for Safety First and their sole role was to funnel cash to Harper
and Sherrod, according to the indictment.

As a result of an IRS audit of Safety First in 2006-2007, Safety First began providing funds to White as an employee, as well as continuing to provide him with funds as a contractor, in late 2006, even though he continued to provide no service other than paying kickbacks as an intermediary.

Also as a result of the audit, Harper allegedly agreed that White’s portion of the proceeds should be increased to compensate him for the tax debt White owed the IRS. All five defendants agreed that an amount of Safety First’s revenues from the NCSD would be excluded from the profits to be split with Harper and Sherrod and instead would be used to repay tax debts owed by Boddie, Eubanks and White, the charges allege.

The fraud scheme and individual tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks filed false federal tax returns for Safety First claiming that they paid White hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees and wages for assisting them in obtaining the transportation contract with NCSD. In fact, the indictment alleges that money paid to White was intended solely to fund the kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod in exchange for helping them win and maintain the transportation contract.

In April 2008, the defendants allegedly agreed to set up a new company, Quality Trans, LLC, to replace Safety First and to assume its contracts with the school district. All five allegedly agreed to split among them Quality Trans’s profits, and Boddie, Eubanks and White continued to make cash payments to Harper and Sherrod. In June 2009, Quality Trans won a five-year contract to provide NCSD with transportation services.

Various tax counts allege that Boddie and Eubanks took false deductions for the money that Safety First paid to White and which White then funneled as kickbacks to Harper and Sherrod. Other tax counts allege that Harper and Sherrod filed false individual tax returns failing to report the kickbacks they received as income.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Getter and Greg Deis.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and each count of soliciting or paying bribes carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine. As an alternative, the Court may impose a maximum fine totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to any defendant, whichever is greater, and restitution is mandatory. Filing a false federal income tax return carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, a defendant convicted of tax offenses faces mandatory costs of prosecution and remains civilly liable to the Government for any and all back taxes, as well as a civil fraud penalty of 75 percent of the underpayment plus interest. If convicted, the Court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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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32 South Texas Residents Charged With Fraud as a Result of “Operation Sitting Duck” More Than 20,000 Allegedly False Insurance Claims Submitted to AFLAC

June 19, 2011

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 17, 2011 released the following press release:

“McALLEN, TX – “Operation Sitting Duck,” an ongoing investigation into fraudulent insurance claims filed with the American Family Life Assurance Company (AFLAC), has resulted in the return of eight separate but related sealed indictments, charges of conspiracy and wire fraud and the arrest of 32 South Texas residents for their alleged involvement in a scheme to defraud AFLAC of millions of dollars by allegedly filing false injury claims, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today along with Special Agent-in-Charge Cory B. Nelson of the FBI San Antonio field office.

“Simply put, this fraud scheme is a robbery without a gun of the self-insured American taxpayer,” said Nelson, “and as such, the FBI considers it to be a direct threat to the critical U.S. health care infrastructure designed to be available for Americans in their time of medical need.”

According to the indictments, which were returned under seal on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, the defendants-who include a local police officer, county employees and school teachers-purchased policies under the AFLAC Accident-Only Insurance Plan from several area insurance agents at various times beginning in July 2001. Under the plan, a policyholder could file a claim with AFLAC and obtain a cash benefit if he or she received treatment from a physician for a legitimate, accident-caused injury including lacerations, bruises, burns, fractures or dismemberment.

“Greed, simple and pure, has allegedly driven a police officer, teachers, county government employees and others to participate in a multi-million dollar insurance fraud,” said Moreno.

That same greed now makes them participants in our criminal justice system and subject to participation in our prison rehabilitation system. Insurance fraud affects every legitimate provider and beneficiary of our healthcare system, and we will vigorously pursue those who seek to profit illegally from it.”

The indictments allege that, from July 2001 through April 2010, the defendant policyholders routinely delivered lists of fake accidents and injuries to two physicians who worked together at a clinic in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The physicians allegedly prepared an “accident report” for each fake injury in exchange for a cash kickback of approximately $15 per accident report. In each report, the indictment alleges the physicians falsely claimed they had provided treatment and prescribed medication for the purported injury. In addition, the physicians and defendants allegedly attempted to conceal their scheme in numerous ways including agreeing to use injuries such as lacerations and minor burns as opposed to more serious injuries that paid higher cash benefits and could potentially attract a greater level of scrutiny by AFLAC’s claims department.

Over time, the defendants-many of whom allegedly recruited one another to purchase policies and join the alleged scheme-submitted approximately 21,600 allegedly false and fraudulent insurance claims, each accompanied by the physicians’ accident reports, to AFLAC’s claims department in Columbus, Ga. Based on the claims, AFLAC disbursed a total of approximately $3 million in insurance proceeds to the defendants.

Each count of conspiracy and wire fraud carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution.

The indictments listed below have been unsealed as to each of the following defendants who were arrested by FBI agents yesterday and today:

Indictment #1

Name Age City of Residence
Lucila Alcala

40

Edinburg, Texas

Lilly Perez

32

La Villa, Texas

Desiree Rodriguez

34

Edinburg, Texas

Jose D. Rodriguez

27

Edinburg, Texas

Steven Betancourt

39

Edinburg, Texas

Maria C. Alaniz

39

Elsa, Texas

Patricia Cerda-Flores

44

Palmview, Texas

Dalia Cerda-Delgado

39

Palmview, Texas

Leonor B. Salinas

46

Elsa, Texas

Maria Guzman

40

Edinburg, Texas

Rebecca Castillo

41

Edinburg, Texas

Ninfa Reyes

38

Edcouch, Texas

Noemi Villareal

60

Edinburg, Texas

Indictment #2

Idaleen Sanchez

34

Edinburg, Texas

Norma Sanchez

41

Edinburg, Texas

Valerio Ramos

55

Edinburg, Texas

Jose Guerra, Jr.

37

La Joya, Texas

Eddie Guerra

34

Alamo, Texas

Indictment #3

Mary Cedillo

65

Edinburg, Texas

Martha Ortega

57

McAllen, Texas

Yolanda Segovia

55

McAllen, Texas

Candida Chavez

34

McAllen, Texas

Lori Chavez

30

McAllen, Texas

Anissa Chavez

31

McAllen, Texas

Homer Cedillo, Jr.

41

Edinburg, Texas

Indictment #4

Norma Flores

54

Palmview, Texas

Nora Palacios

53

La Joya, Texas

Georgina Flores

33

Mission, Texas

Indictment #5

Nancy Rodriguez

31

Pharr, Texas

Maria Cantu

56

McAllen, Texas

Indictment #6

Beatriz Carreon

42

Edinburg, Texas

Indictment #7

Minerva Murguia

43

Sullivan City, Texas

The defendants have either made or are awaiting an initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in McAllen federal court and either have or are expected to be ordered released on bond pending trial. Four indictments remain partially sealed and warrants remain outstanding for others charged but as yet not in federal custody.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the McAllen office of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Greg Saikin is prosecuting the cases.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process 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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