“End Of The Silk Road: FBI Says It’s Busted The Web’s Biggest Anonymous Drug Black Market”

October 3, 2013
Ross William Ulbricht
“Ross William Ulbricht, alleged to be the “Dread Pirate Roberts” behind Silk Road’s drug black market.”

Forbes on October 2, 2013 released the following:

By: Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

“After two and a half years running the booming anonymous narcotics bazaar known as the Silk Road, the drug kingpin who called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts has allegedly been unmasked.

On Wednesday, the FBI announced that they arrested 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, the Silk Road’s accused administrator, in the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library at 3:15 Pacific time on Tuesday. Ulbricht has been charged with engaging in a money laundering and narcotics trafficking conspiracy as well as computer hacking. The Department of Justice has seized the website of the Silk Road’s as well as somewhere between $3.5 to 4 million in bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used to buy drugs on the Silk Road.

Earlier this summer, the Silk Road’s administrator calling himself by the Dread Pirate Roberts pseudonym gave his first extended interview to Forbes over the same Tor anonymity network that has hosted the Silk Road and its users since the site’s creation in early 2011.

Forbes estimated at the time that the Silk Road was earning between $30 and $45 million in annual revenue. In fact, the number may have been far larger: The criminal complaint against Ulbricht states that the Silk Road turned over $1.2 billion in revenue since its creation, and generated $80 million commissions for its operator or operators.

“This is supposed to be some invisible black market bazaar. We made it visible,” says an FBI spokesperson, who asked not to be named. “When you interviewed [Ulbricht], he said he would never be arrested. But no one is beyond the reach of the FBI. We will find you.”

The FBI hasn’t yet revealed how it managed to track down Ulbricht in spite of his seemingly careful use of encryption and anonymity tools to protect his identity and those of his customers and vendors who visited Silk Road as often as 60,000 times per day. The FBI spokesperson declined to offer details about the investigation, but told me that “basically he made a simple mistake and we were able to identify him.”

One clue mentioned in the criminal complaint against Ulbricht was a package seized from the mail by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as it crossed the Canadian border, containing nine seemingly counterfeit identification documents, each of which used a different name but featured Ulbricht’s photograph. The address on the package was on 15th street in San Francisco, where police found Ulbricht and matched his face to the one on the fake IDs.

The complaint also mentions security mistakes, including an IP address for a VPN server used by Ulbricht listed in the code on the Silk Road, mentions of time in the Dread Pirate Roberts’ posts on the site that identified his time zone, and postings on the Bitcoin Talk forum under the handle “altoid,” which was tied to Ulbricht’s Gmail address.

In his conversation with me, which took place on July 4th, the Silk Road administrator calling himself the Dread Pirate Roberts espoused Libertarian ideals and claimed that the use of Bitcoin in combination with Tor had stymied law enforcement and “won the State’s War on Drugs.”

He also said he intended to bring his marketplace into mainstream awareness, and had recently launched the first non-Tor website for the Silk Road known as SilkRoadlink, which remains online. “Up until now I’ve done my best to keep Silk Road as low profile as possible … letting people discover [it] through word of mouth,” Roberts says. “At the same time, Silk Road has been around two and a half years. We’ve withstood a lot, and it’s not like our enemies are unaware any longer.”

One remaining mystery in Ulbricht’s criminal complaint is whether he was in fact the only–or the original–Dread Pirate Roberts. In his July interview with me, Roberts said that he had in fact inherited the Dread Pirate title from the site’s creator, who may have also used the same pseudonym.

As of around noon Wednesday, the Silk Road’s forum for users also remained online, and the site’s loyal users were grieving over the Silk Road takedown and mourning the arrest of Ulbricht, whose apparent persona as the Dread Pirate Roberts was a widely respected figure in the online drug community.

“jesus christ this is TERRIBLE!!” wrote one user named danceandsing. Others suggested that users migrate to other, smaller but similar anonymous black markets such as Black Market Reloaded–another popular alternative to the Silk Road known as Atlantis went offline last week, with its administrators saying only that they shut down the business for “security reasons.”

Another user blamed the Dread Pirate Roberts’ carelessness, including his decision to raise his profile by giving an interview to Forbes. “Sorry, but when he gave the fucking Forbes interview I imagined this would be coming,” wrote a user calling himself Dontek. “Should have kept all this shit on the down low rather than publicly bragging about it.”

Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile describes his background as a graduate researcher in materials science at Pennsylvania State University, as well as an undergrad degree in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.

According to Ulbricht’s grandmother, Martha Ulbricht, who was reached by phone, the younger Ulbricht received a full scholarship to UT Dallas. “Ross has always been an upstanding person as far as we know and a rather outstanding person,” she said.

Ulbricht’s half-brother Travis Ulbricht, also reached by phone in Sacramento, described him as an “exceptionally bright, smart kid” who had no criminal history to his knowledge.

Asked what he did for a living before moving to San Francisco, Ulbricht’s grandmother said, “Something on the computer…a little technical for me. He was good with computers.””

Federal Criminal Case 1: New York Federal Criminal Complaint
Northern District of California, Case No.: 3:13-mj-71218-JCS-1 (Proceedings on Out-of-District Criminal Charges Pursuant to Rules 5(c)(2) and (3)) and lists the following case on the docket sheet: Southern District of New York, Case No.: 13-mj-2328

21 U.S.C. 846 – Drug Conspiracy
18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2) – Computer Hacking Conspiracy
18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and (B)(i) – Money Laundering Conspiracy

Ross William Ulbricht New York Criminal Complaint

Federal Criminal Case 2: Maryland Federal Indictment
District of Maryland, Case No.: 1:13-cr-00222-CCB-1

21 U.S.C. 846 – Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance
18 U.S.C. 1512(a)(1)(C) – Attempted Witness Murder; 18 U.S.C. 2 – Aiding and Abetting
18 U.S.C. 1958(a) – Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in Commission of a Murder-for-hire; 18 U.S.C. 2 – Aiding and Abetting

Ross William Ulbricht Maryland Superseding Indictment

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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.


Federal Criminal Trial Resumes in Laredo Federal Court For Three Men Accused of a Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

July 23, 2013

Laredo Morning Times on July 23, 2013 released the following:

Three stand trial in alleged cocaine trafficking conspiracy

By César G. Rodriguez
Laredo Morning Times

Three men are standing trial this week in federal court before U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, accused of taking part in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

An indictment filed June 27, 2012, charges Enrique Mendez, Carlos Flores Sr., and Carlos Flores Jr., with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of at least 5 kilograms of cocaine. Mendez faces additional charges of money laundering conspiracy and obstruction by threats of force while Flores Sr. faces an added charge of possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Robert Flores, Homeland Security Investigations special agent, took the stand as the first witness. He talked about several surveillance instances which implicated a man identified as Elbert Figueroa and the Floreses. Federal authorities identified Figueroa as the person in charge of the connections in Mexico and the transportation cells in Laredo. Figueroa would pick up cocaine and stash it to later be moved to Atlanta. He was also in charge of receiving drug money to later be taken into Mexico. Money seizures included sums in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Agents arrested Figueroa in 2010 on conspiracy and cocaine charges. He’s yet to be sentenced.

Part of the conspiracy was to recruit individuals to perform various functions critical to the success of the organization. An indictment states that people assisted in the storage, loading, transportation, unloading, conducting surveillance and delivery of drug shipments. During the conspiracy, commercial tractor-trailers had to be used to transport cocaine from Texas to Georgia. Drug proceeds flowed down to Laredo to pay for transportation costs and other expenses. The rest of money was headed to Mexico, according to the indictment.

In opening statements, defense attorney Silverio A. Martinez Jr., who represents Mendez, said a man violated his client’s and took advantage of the yard at KCM Transportation, 645 Rancho Peñitas Road, owned by Mendez. Martinez said truckers are not supposed to fill the trailer with illicit items.

About the “kidnapping” or obstruction by threats of force allegation against Mendez, Martinez said that was false. Martinez told jurors they’ll hear testimony that the alleged victim was at a ranch cooking out and drinking beer with an illegal immigrant. The victim had his vehicle’s keys in his pocket and was never kidnapped.

Martinez told jurors that Figueroa was protecting the real “boss” in hopes that’d reduce his sentence.

The trial resumed at 8:30 a.m. today.”

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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.


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

————————————————————–

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.


Feds charge Cherryville cops with allegedly aiding ‘crooks’

October 19, 2012
FBI
“Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
FBI agents seize computers and other materials from the Cherryville Police Department on Wednesday.”

Lincoln Times-News on October 19, 2012 released the following:

“JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

An undercover federal investigation is shaking up the Cherryville Police Department this week, amid claims that some police officers were operating on the wrong side of the law.

Four law enforcement officers and two other men who are accused of conspiring earlier this year to safeguard stolen property and proceeds from their sale, are set to make their second appearance in a Charlotte courtroom today, following an FBI raid on Wednesday.

The officers have also been accused of securing monetary bribes for their legal authority in the operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the state’s Western District said.

According to federal authorities, the men made a serious blunder – their partners in the conspiracy, whom they believed to be criminals, were actually undercover FBI agents.

As a result of the arrests, the city of Cherryville has also suspended its police chief and captain.

Federal officials are not saying who else might be a target of the ongoing investigation.

Two federal indictments were unsealed earlier Wednesday in the case.

One indictment from Tuesday charged Cherryville Police officer Frankie Dellinger, 40, Gaston County Sheriff’s reserve officer Wesley Clayton Golden, 39, and Cherryville resident Mark Ray Hoyle, 39.

Each man faces one count each of conspiracy to extort under color of official right, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to transport and/or receive stolen property, four counts each of transportation of stolen property, money laundering and aiding and abetting and three counts of possession of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, according to a press release.

Federal authorities also charged Dellinger with with an extra count of extortion.

The three men are accused of protecting the men they believed were co-conspirators by allowing them to safely transport tractor trailers filled with stolen property through the area, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Hoyle, Dellinger and Golden also protected the transportation of more than $400,000, proceeds from the merchandises’ sale, the release said.

Goods included televisions and generators worth nearly $160,000.

A second indictment from Aug. 21 charged Cherryville patrol officers Casey Justin Crawford, 32, and David Paul Mauney III, 23, along with Cherryville resident John Ashley Hendricks, 47, with one count each of conspiracy to transport and/or receive stolen property and conspiracy to extort under color of official right.

Crawford additionally faces one count of program fraud bribery.

Since May, Crawford, Mauney and Hendricks similarly worked with undercover agents they thought were criminals in protecting the transport of more than $300,000 in stolen merchandise along with more than $300,000 in proceeds from the items’ sale, the release said.

Hoyle’s role in the conspiracy included “representing himself as a law enforcement officer,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. On the other hand, Hendricks, Crawford and Mauney used counter-surveillance to ensure other officers wouldn’t discover the illegal operation, the release said.

FBI officials launched the investigation following allegations last year that Dellinger had been involved in illegal activity, an indictment said.

The phony criminals requested assistance from law enforcement officers who would be willing to provide protection for stolen items in exchange for cash bribes.

Dellinger accepted the offer and soon “recruited” Hoyle and Golden, according to the indictment.

The three men received $17,000 in the scheme in exchange for keeping the stolen goods away from thieves and the detection of other law enforcement agencies and even agreed to use violence, if necessary, to carry out such duties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

All six men appeared in a Charlotte courtroom today on the charges.

They each face up to 20 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, if convicted, the release said.

Interim City Manager and Cherryville Fire Chief Jeff Cash released a separate statement late Wednesday announcing that Police Chief Woody Burgess and Capt. Mike Allred, a Lincoln County resident, have been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, though neither has been charged to this point.

“As interim city manager, I will be naming myself interim police chief with the day-to-day operational activities to be supervised by Sgt. Cam Jenks,” Cash wrote.

Cash said safety of the citizens would not be compromised by the investigation into the police department and other law enforcement agencies were assisting as needed.

Individuals with emergencies can call 911 or police dispatch at (704) 435-1717.

The Gaston County District Attorney’s Office was quoted by other area news media saying they may drop pending criminal cases relying on any of charged officers’ testimonies, though the Times-News was unable to independently confirm this. Just how many cases that would include is also unclear.

Five of the six suspects remain without bond behind Mecklenburg County bars. The location of John Hendricks is currently unknown. He was not listed as a current Mecklenburg County inmate and does not even have a record in the county, an employee with CharMeck Citizen Services told the Times-News Thursday afternoon.

The State Bureau of Investigation has also been looking into the city of Cherryville since last year for misuse of town funds.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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

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

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


15 Arrests in an Alleged International Online Drug Probe

April 16, 2012

Associated Press on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By ROBERT JABLON

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sophisticated online drug marketplace that sold everything from marijuana to mescaline to some 3,000 people around the world has been cracked with the arrests of 15 people in several countries, U.S. authorities announced Monday.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Los Angeles claims eight men ran “The Farmer’s Market,” which allowed suppliers of drugs – including LSD, Ecstasy and ketamine – to anonymously sell their wares online. They hooked up with buyers in 34 countries and accepted various forms of payment, including cash, Western Union and PayPal transactions, the indictment claims.

From 2007 to 2009 alone, the marketplace processed more than 5,000 orders for drugs valued at more than $1 million, federal officials contended. It began operations as far back as March 2006, authorities said.

The market “provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply” and charged the suppliers a commission based upon the value of the order, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

“For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs,” the statement said.

The alleged ringleader, Dutch citizen Marc Willems, 42, was arrested Monday at his home in Lelystad in the Netherlands, officials said.

Michael Evron, 42, a United States citizen living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was taken into custody on Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, authorities said.

The other six men were arrested at their homes. They are identified as Jonathan Colbeck, 51, of Urbana, Iowa; Brian Colbeck, 47, of Coldwater, Mich.; Ryan Rawls, 31, of Alpharetta, Ga.; Jonathan Dugan, 27, of North Babylon, N.Y.; George Matzek, 20, of Secaucus, N.J.; and Charles Bigras, 37, of Melbourne, Fla.

It was not immediately clear whether the men had obtained lawyers.

The 12-count indictment charges all eight men with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering conspiracy. Some of the men also are charged with distributing LSD and taking part in a continuing criminal enterprise.

All could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of conspiracy.

In addition, seven other people were arrested on suspicion of drug crimes Monday in the Netherlands, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and authorities seized hallucinogenic mushrooms, hashish, LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The investigation led to those arrests, but authorities still were trying to determine their connections to the online marketplace, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Rosenberg.

The two-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb, “involved law enforcement agents from several U.S. states and several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands and Scotland, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The case was filed in Los Angeles because some of the customers and an undercover agent who bought drugs through the marketplace are from the area, Rosenberg said.

“Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in the statement. “But the reach of the law is just as long. … We want to make the Internet a safe and secure marketplace by rooting out and prosecuting those persons who seek to illegally pervert and exploit that market.”

The marketplace “was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing online technology,” said Briane M. Grey, acting special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The marketplace allegedly used the Tor network, which spreads website and email communications through a volunteer network of servers around the world in order to mask Internet address information.

Tor originally was developed at a project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications. The free software and open network is used to prevent websites from tracking users, getting access to websites blocked by Internet providers, and providing anonymity for online users and online publishers. It is used by “normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others,” according to the Tor Project website.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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

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

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


A Charlotte Federal Grand Jury Indicted Four in an Alleged $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

February 24, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 23, 2012 released the following:

“Four Hedge Fund Managers Indicted in $40 Million Ponzi Scheme

Defendants Join Seven Others and CommunityONE Bank Charged in Connection with the Scheme

CHARLOTTE, NC—A federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte returned an indictment against Jonathan D. Davey, 47, of Newark, Ohio, Jeffrey M. Toft, 49, of Oviedo, Fla., Chad A. Sloat, 33, of Kansas City, Mo., and Michael J. Murphy, 51, of Deep Haven, Minn., on February 22, 2012, on four criminal charges relating to an investment fraud conspiracy, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Joining U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Jeannine A. Hammett, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI).

According to the criminal indictment, the defendants operated “hedge funds” as part of a conspiracy that took in $40 million from victims for a Ponzi scheme operating under the name Black Diamond Capital Solutions (Black Diamond). The indictment alleges that the conspiracy lasted from about October 2007 through about April 2010. The indictment alleges that the defendants lied to get money from their victims by claiming, among other things, that they had done due diligence on Black Diamond and were operating legitimate hedge funds with significant safeguards, when in reality, neither claim was true. The indictment also alleges that, as Black Diamond began collapsing, the defendants and others created a new Ponzi scheme and with a separate Ponzi account that Davey administered. Thereafter, new victim money was deposited into the Ponzi account and used to make Ponzi payments to other victims and to fund the defendants’ lifestyles.

The indictment also charges Davey with tax evasion for claiming to the IRS on his 2008 tax return that $810,000 that Davey stole from victims was a “loan.” In reality, the indictment charges, Davey stole that $810,000, plus approximately $500,000 in 2009, from victims to build Davey’s personal mansion. Davey attempted to evade the taxes due and owing in 2008 by calling the money a “loan” from his investors to “Sovereign Grace, Inc.,” a Belizian corporation that Davey created as a diversion for his victims and the IRS.

The first charge against all four defendants, alleging conspiracy to commit securities fraud, carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The second charge against all four defendants, alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The third charge against all four defendants, alleging a money laundering conspiracy, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of criminally derived proceeds. The final charge against Davey only, alleging tax evasion, carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

The defendants will be making their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in the coming weeks.

This indictment follows a series of convictions and other charges in this matter. On December 16, 2010, Keith Simmons was convicted following a jury trial of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Simmons is in custody awaiting sentencing.

On April 27, 2011, a criminal bill of information and a Deferred Prosecution Agreement were filed against CommunityONE Bank, N.A., for its failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. As alleged in that bill of information, Simmons was a customer of CommunityONE, and used various accounts with the Bank in furtherance of the Ponzi scheme. However, as alleged in that bill of information, the Bank did not file any suspicious activity reports on Simmons, despite the hundreds of suspicious transactions that took place in his accounts.

Other defendants convicted in this case are set forth below. It should be noted that those defendants already sentenced had their sentences reduced by the Court to reflect their cooperation with the United States in its investigation and prosecution of others.

  • Bryan Keith Coats, 51, of Clayton, N.C., pled guilty on October 24, 2011, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Coats is awaiting sentencing.
  • Deanna Ray Salazar, 54, of Yucca Valley, Calif., pled guilty on December 7, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and tax evasion. Salazar is awaiting sentencing.
  • Jeffrey M. Muyres, 36, of Matthews, N.C., pled guilty on May 17, 2011, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Muyres was sentenced to 23 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on January 18, 2012.
  • Roy E. Scarboro, 47, of Archdale, N.C., pled guilty on December 3, 2010, to securities fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to the FBI. Scarboro was sentenced to 26 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on May 4, 2011.
  • James D. Jordan, 49, of El Paso, Texas, pled guilty on September 14, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Jordan was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on June 29, 2011.
  • Stephen D. Lacy, 52, of Pawleys Island, S.C., pled guilty on December 9, 2010, to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Lacy was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by Chief Judge Robert Conrad, Jr., on May 4, 2011.

The details contained in this indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The conviction or guilty plea of any other person is not evidence of the guilt of any of the defendants.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kurt W. Meyers and Mark T. Odulio of the Western District of North Carolina, and the case against Jeffrey Muyres was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio. The investigation is being handled by the FBI and the IRS.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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


Former North Carolina Resident Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Conspiracy

February 12, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 10, 2012 released the following:

“Defendant Engaged in Money Laundering Scheme in Connection with Queen Shoals Ponzi Scheme

CHARLOTTE, NC— A former North Carolina resident pleaded guilty to conducting a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the $32.5 million Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Gary D. Martin, 60, of St. Augustine, Fla. entered his guilty plea on Wednesday, February 8, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler.

Joining U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and the North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall.

A criminal bill of information filed on January 25, 2012, charged Martin with engaging in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme. According to court documents and court proceedings, on or about December 2007, Martin formed Queen Shoals Consultants, LLC (QSC) in North Carolina. Thereafter, Martin and others induced victims to invest over $28.5 million in the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme operated by Sidney Hanson. Although Hanson never directly told Martin that Queen Shoals was a Ponzi scheme, Martin induced victims to invest in the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme through a series of false and fraudulent representations, omissions of material facts and deceptive half truths. Specifically, Martin admitted to falsely claiming that QSC had over 20 years experience in financial services and international finance and that he had a vast background in financial services, including the silver, gold, and foreign currency trading markets. In truth and fact, Martin had no such experience, held no professional licenses related to finance or investments, and never had engaged in any silver, gold, or foreign currency trading.

According to court documents, Martin, through the QSC website and other means, also made false claims about, among other things, QSC’s financial expertise in “Self-Directed IRA Strategies and Fixed Rate Accounts.” Martin held QSC out as “leaders in Professional Private Placement Retirement Planning” and claimed that QSC had a “proven method of diversification [that] spreads the risk nicely for a balanced portfolio.” In truth and fact, QSC offered no such diversification, funneled victim funds solely into the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme, and had received no recognition as “leaders in Professional Private Placement Retirement Planning.” Martin admitted that he routinely vouched for the success and reliability of Queen Shoals by claiming to have personally invested a significant amount of his own money into Queen Shoals. On at least one occasion, Martin claimed that he invested his retirement life savings in Queen Shoals. In truth and fact, while Martin and others induced victims to invest over $28.5 million in Queen Shoals through QSC, Martin personally invested only $4,000.

According to the plea agreement and other filed documents, Martin engaged in money laundering transactions by utilizing the referral fees he received from Hanson to pay commissions to himself and the so-called QSC consultants. From in or about 2007 to in or about 2009, Martin received over $1.9 million in referral fees from Hanson and paid the consultants over $1.5 million during the relevant time period in return for inducing victims to invest in the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme. These payments caused QSC consultants to induce additional victims to invest in the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme, thereby perpetuating the scheme.

The bill of information filed against Martin includes a notice of forfeiture, which gives notice that the defendant must forfeit to the United States all of the property involved in the offenses charged in the information, and all property which is proceeds of such offenses.

Martin, who was charged with and pled guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy, has been released on bond. At sentencing, he faces a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine or a fine of not more than twice the amount of criminally derived property involved in the money laundering conspiracy. A sentencing date has not been set yet.

Martin’s guilty plea is the second conviction arising from the Queen Shoals Ponzi scheme investigation. Sidney Hanson pled guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud and was sentenced on March 31, 2011 to 22 years in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr.

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Securities Division of the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State. U.S. Attorney Tompkins also acknowledges the invaluable assistance provided by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Bureau of Financial Investigations in this case. The prosecution is handled by Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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