FBI Los Angeles: “$11 Million Boiler Room Mail and Wire Fraud Indictment Unsealed Today”

October 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 1, 2013 released the following:

Owner, Manager, and Salesperson at Fraudulent Investment Venture Taken into Custody for Mail and Wire Fraud in Connection with $11 Million Fraudulent Oil and Gas Well Investment Scheme.

LOS ANGELES—Two men were taken into custody today by special agents of the FBI for their alleged involvement in an Orange County boiler room operation that defrauded investors by falsely claiming high returns from oil and gas wells and by failing to disclose high sales commissions on investments, announced Bill L. Lewis, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and André Birotte Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California. A third defendant charged in this indictment is already in custody on unrelated charges.

Jerry Aubrey, 51, already in custody, his brother Timothy Aubrey, 53, of Moreno Valley, who self surrendered to the FBI’s Riverside Resident Agency, and Aaron Glasser, 30, of Mission Viejo, who was arrested without incident, are all in custody today after a federal grand jury indictment that charges them with mail and wire fraud was unsealed.

The indictment alleges Jerry Aubrey founded, managed, and operated the telemarketing investment scheme (also known as a “boiler room”) located in Costa Mesa, CA, doing business as Progressive Energy Partners, LLC (PEP). Timothy Aubrey worked as a PEP manager and salesperson, in addition to preparing, with Aaron Glasser, the sales scripts read to potential investors. Finally, Aaron Glasser was a PEP salesperson who worked as both a sales “fronter” and “closer,” making cold calls and closing deals. In his work as a salesperson, the indictment alleges Glasser raised around a quarter of the total amount of investments.

PEP allegedly employed salespersons called “fronters” and “closers” to raise over $11 million in five unregistered securities offerings for the purported purpose of developing and supporting oil and gas wells. In reality, most of the money was used to pay for the Aubrey brothers’ personal expenses, to pay up to 30% commissions to salespersons, and to make Ponzi-like payments to previous investors.

The defendants directed salespersons to cold call potential investors from purchased lead lists and solicit investments using scripts touting the profitability of investing in PEP. Fronters would pass the names of those who were potentially interested to closers, who could conclude the sale.

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants caused the salespersons to make material misrepresentations and conceal material facts when speaking to investors about, among other things, the percentage of investor money that would be spent on the development and operation of oil and gas wells, the anticipated amount and timing of returns to investors, and the payment of sales commissions to PEP salespersons, i.e., the fronters and closers.

Some of the false and deceptive statements indicated that investors would receive a greater than 50% annual rate of return on their investments; that almost half of the investor funds would be spent on oil and gas wells, and that the remainder of the investor funds would be spent on other business expenses; that salespersons would only receive a sales commission in the form of a share of the investment profits; and that PEP would use the assistance of an “independent CPA firm” to make distributions to investors.

The indictment alleges that, through the scheme, the defendants concealed from investors the material facts that approximately 30% of the investor funds would be spent on the Aubreys’ personal expenditures; that almost 20% of the investor funds would be used to make investor distributions and to return investor principal; that less than 10% of investor funds was spent on oil and gas wells; that investors would not, in fact, earn an annual rate of return of over 50%; and that defendant Jerry Aubrey, rather than an “independent CPA firm,” would determine the distributions to investors. The indictment alleges that by devising, executing, and participating in the above scheme, the defendants induced more than 200 investors to distribute to PEP over $11 million between 2005 and 2010.

In 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtained summary judgment against these defendants in connection with the PEP investment scheme. Additionally, Jerry Aubrey was charged in 1998 by the SEC with violating the broker-dealer registration provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 in connection with an offering fraud in which he sold securities in a fictitious cruise ship. The following year, he was permanently enjoined from future violations of Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act (failure to register as a broker dealer), a permanent injunction he has violated through his alleged activities in PEP.

If convicted on all eight counts of Mail Fraud and two counts of Wire Fraud, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of 200 years in federal prison.

The criminal investigation was conducted by the FBI. The Securities and Exchange Commission conducted the civil investigation.

An indictment itself is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.”

More Information on Federal Mail Fraud Statutes, Jury Instructions, and Crimes
Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

Video on Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

More Information on Federal Wire Fraud Statutes, Jury Instructions, and Crimes
Federal Wire Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1343

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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.


“JPMorgan discloses federal criminal investigation over sale of mortgage-backed securities”

August 9, 2013

The Washington Post on August 8, 2013 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

NEW YORK — The U.S. Justice Department is investigating JPMorgan Chase over mortgage-backed investments the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis.

The New York-based bank said in a regulatory filing that it is responding to investigations by the civil and criminal divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California. In May, the civil division informed JPMorgan that it had “preliminarily concluded” that the bank had violated federal securities laws in connection with certain mortgage-backed investments it sold from 2005 to 2007.

A JPMorgan spokeswoman declined to comment.

The disclosure is just the latest in a swirl of mortgage-related lawsuits and investigations that have hammered big U.S. banks in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The banks have been accused of improperly foreclosing on homeowners, discriminating against others and knowingly making loans to people who couldn’t afford them. Other probes, including the one disclosed by JPMorgan, have focused on mortgage-backed securities, where the banks bundled together their mortgages and sold them in slivers to investors.

JPMorgan didn’t give details on what the Justice Department is investigating. But previous lawsuits and investigations, against both JPMorgan and other big banks, have said that the banks misled investors about the quality of the loans they were buying. When the real estate bubble burst, many of the mortgage-backed securities soured and the investors who bought them lost billions.

If the investigations result in criminal or civil action by the Justice Department against JPMorgan, it would be the most high-profile government move against the bank to date. JPMorgan, which came through the financial crisis stronger than most of its competitors and was lauded for wise risk-management practices, has lately faced a slew of sanctions by federal regulators.

In January, regulators ordered the bank to take steps to correct poor risk management that led to a surprise trading loss last year of more than $6 billion. The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency also cited JPMorgan for lapses in oversight that could allow the bank to be used for money laundering. Last month, the bank agreed to pay $410 million to settle allegations by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it manipulated electricity prices in California and the Midwest.

An investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the trading loss is nearing final stages with civil charges possible, according to news reports Thursday. The SEC is seeking an admission of wrongdoing from JPMorgan in a settlement, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the case.

That would be a departure from the SEC’s traditional policy of allowing most companies and individuals agreeing to settlements to neither admit nor deny wrongdoing. It would be a major application of a new policy announced recently by SEC Chairman Mary Jo White that calls for requiring admissions of wrongful conduct in some significant cases.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined comment on the reports.

The newly disclosed Justice Department investigations are not JPMorgan’s first legal headaches over mortgage-backed securities. It has settled charges from the SEC over mortgage-backed investments it made in the run-up to the financial crisis. It’s also facing lawsuits from the New York Attorney General’s Office and the National Credit Union Administration over the securities.

JPMorgan is fighting the attorney general’s lawsuit, which focused on investments sold by Bear Stearns in 2006 and 2007. JPMorgan bought Bear Stearns in 2008.

JPMorgan made the disclosure about the Justice Department investigations in a quarterly regulatory filing late Wednesday. It came a day after the U.S. government accused Bank of America of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008. The government says that the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network.

Bank of America has disputed those allegations, saying the investors who bought the securities had “ample access” to data about the mortgages.

“We are not responsible for the housing market collapse that caused mortgage loans to default at unprecedented rates and these securities to lose value as a result,” the bank said in a statement this week.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. slipped 47 cents, to close Thursday trading at $54.83. The stock has traded between $36.40 and $56.93 in the past 52 weeks, and remains up 25 percent since the start of the year.”

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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.


“SAC Capital portfolio manager pleads not guilty in NYC insider trading case”

March 29, 2013

The Washington Post on March 29, 2013 released the following:

“By Associated Press

NEW YORK — A portfolio manager for the hedge fund operator SAC Capital Advisors has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in an insider trading probe.

The FBI arrested Michael Steinberg at 6 a.m. Friday at his home in New York City.

His attorney says in a statement that Steinberg “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Attorney Barry H. Berke says Steinberg was “caught in the crossfire of aggressive investigations” into other people’s activities.

At least four other people associated with the Stamford, Conn.-based firm have been arrested over a period of about four years.

On March 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that two affiliates of SAC Capital Advisors would pay more than $614 million in what federal regulators called the largest insider trading settlement ever. The settlement is subject to court approval.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A senior portfolio manager for one of the nation’s largest hedge funds was arrested Friday, accused of making $1.4 million illegally in a widening insider trading probe involving an investment company founded by billionaire businessman Steven A. Cohen.

Michael Steinberg, 41, was arrested at 6 a.m. at his Manhattan home on insider trading charges lodged in an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in New York City. A senior portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors, he was scheduled to appear in court Friday.

His attorney, Barry Berke, said in a statement that Steinberg “did absolutely nothing wrong.” He said Steinberg’s trading decisions were based on detailed analysis along with other information he properly obtained.

“Caught in the crossfire of aggressive investigations of others, there is no basis for even the slightest blemish on his spotless reputation,” he said.

In a statement, SAC Capital said Steinberg “has conducted himself professionally and ethically during his long tenure at the firm. We believe him to be a man of integrity.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Steinberg “was another Wall Street insider who fed off a corrupt grapevine of proprietary and confidential information cultivated by other professionals who made their own rules to make money. With lightning speed in at least one case, Mr. Steinberg seized on the opportunity to cash in and tried to keep his crime quiet, as charged in the indictment.”

George Venizelos, head of the FBI’s New York office, said the arrest was the latest in an FBI probe that has resulted in more than 70 arrests.

“Mr. Steinberg was at the center of an elite criminal club, where cheating and corruption were rewarded,” he said. “Research was nothing more than well-timed tips from an extensive network of well-sourced analysts.”

At least four other people associated with the Stamford, Conn.-based firm have been arrested over a period of about four years.

The arrest of Steinberg and the January arrest of a former hedge fund portfolio manager for an affiliate of Cohen’s firm has increased speculation that the government is taking a hard look at the practices of the billionaire hedge fund owner. In the January case, Cohen is repeatedly referenced as a “Hedge Fund Owner” in a criminal complaint. He has not been charged in the case and SAC spokesman Jonathan Gasthalter has said the company and Cohen are cooperating with the inquiry and “are confident that they have acted appropriately.”

In the latest case, Steinberg is charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and four counts of securities fraud, accused of using inside information as he made trades involving Dell Inc. and Nvidia Corp. securities. If convicted, he could face up to 85 years in prison.

Civil charges against Steinberg also were filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On March 15, the SEC said that two affiliates of SAC Capital Advisors would pay more than $614 million in what federal regulators called the largest insider trading settlement ever. The settlement is subject to court approval.”

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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.


Former Calpers Chief Indicted Over Alleged Fraud

March 19, 2013

The New York Times on March 18, 2013 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

As head of the country’s largest pension fund, Federico R. Buenrostro wielded vast influence in the money management world.

From 2002 to 2008, Mr. Buenrostro served as chief executive of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Calpers, which allocates more than $200 billion to investment firms across the globe.

Federal prosecutors say that Mr. Buenrostro abused that position. In an indictment filed in Federal District Court in San Francisco on Monday, the United States attorney charged Mr. Buenrostro and his friend, Alfred J. Villalobos, with defrauding the private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The corruption charges against Mr. Buenrostro and Mr. Villalobos are connected to a nationwide pay-to-play scandal that erupted several years ago. Regulators from numerous states, including California and New Mexico, have cracked down on widespread influence peddling in how their state pension funds were invested.

The scandals focused on the role of middlemen, or placement agents, who charged lucrative fees to help money managers win business from state pension funds. In some cases, placement agents proved to be unlicensed fixers who received illegal kickbacks from pension officials. A number of pension officials and middlemen have served prison time, including Alan G. Hevesi, the former head of New York’s state pension fund.

The government claims that Mr. Buenrostro and Mr. Villalobos invented a crude scheme that tricked Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, into paying Mr. Villalobos at least $14 million in fees for his help in securing an investment from Calpers.

“We are extremely pleased that law enforcement authorities are moving to hold individuals accountable for activities which violate the public trust,” Rob Feckner, the board president of Calpers, said in a statement.

A lawyer for Mr. Buenrostro, William H. Kimball, declined to comment. Mr. Villalobos, who filed for personal bankruptcy in 2010, could not be reached for comment.

In the insular world of private equity, the charges struck many executives as unusual given Apollo and Calpers deep and lucrative ties. The California fund has invested at least $3 billion with Apollo, including a 2007 transaction in which it paid $600 million for a 9 percent stake in the firm.

For years, Apollo had retained Mr. Villalobos — a former Calpers board member — as a placement agent, agreeing to pay him for his help in securing investments from state pensions. Apollo paid at least $48 million in fees to Mr. Villalobos for his help in arranging for Calpers and other pensions to invest in its firm.

But to comply with securities laws and avoid perceived conflicts of interest, Apollo asked that Mr. Villalobos disclose to Calpers that he would receive payments related to the pension fund’s investments.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Buenrostro, 64, and Mr. Villalobos, 69, worked together, and fabricated letters from Calpers that purportedly signed off on the payments from Apollo to Mr. Villalobos.

“The allegations in the indictment unsealed today by the United States Department of Justice, if true, are troubling,” Charles V. Zehren, an Apollo spokesman, said Monday. “Apollo has always followed best practices in handling its placement agent relationships, and was not aware of any misconduct engaged in by Mr. Villalobos during the time that he worked with Apollo.”

The charges come after a civil lawsuit brought last year against Mr. Buenrostro and Mr. Villalobos by the Securities and Exchange Commission. And in 2011, a Calpers internal investigation concluded that Mr. Villalobos had turned Mr. Buenrostro into “a puppet” who directed Calpers investments to his clients. The firm’s report said that Mr. Villalobos lavished bribes on Mr. Buenrostro, including trips on private jets and gambling junkets at Nevada casinos.

When Mr. Buenrostro left Calpers in 2008, he took a job working with Mr. Villalobos as a placement agent.”

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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.


Appeal in Insider Trading Case Centers on Wiretap

October 24, 2012

The New York Times on October 23, 2012 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

In March 2008, the Justice Department made an extraordinary request: It asked a judge for permission to record secretly the phone conversations of Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager.

The request, which was granted, was the first time the government had asked for a wiretap to investigate insider trading. Federal agents eavesdropped on Mr. Rajaratnam for nine months, leading to his indictment — along with charges against 22 others — and the biggest insider trading case in a generation.

On Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison term after being found guilty at trial, will ask a federal appeals court to reverse his conviction. They contend that the government improperly obtained a wiretap in violation of Mr. Rajaratnam’s constitutional privacy rights and federal laws governing electronic surveillance.

Such a ruling is considered a long shot, but a reversal would have broad implications. Not only would it upend Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction but also affect the prosecution of Rajat K. Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs director who was convicted of leaking boardroom secrets to Mr. Rajaratnam. Mr. Gupta is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.

A decision curbing the use of wiretaps would also affect the government’s ability to police Wall Street trading floors, as insider trading cases and other securities fraud crimes are notoriously difficult to build without direct evidence like incriminating telephone conversations.

“Wiretaps traditionally have been used in narcotics and organized crime cases,” said Harlan J. Protass, a criminal defense lawyer in New York who is not involved in the Rajaratnam case. “Their use today in insider trading investigations indicates that the government thinks there may be no bounds to the types of white-collar cases in which they can be used.”

More broadly, Mr. Rajaratnam’s appeal is being closely watched for its effect on the privacy protections of defendants regarding wiretap use. Three parties have filed “friend-of-the-court” briefs siding with Mr. Rajaratnam. Eight former federal judges warned that allowing the court’s ruling to stand “would pose a grave threat to the integrity of the warrant process.” A group of defense lawyers said that upholding the use of wiretaps in this case would “eviscerate the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

To safeguard privacy protections, federal law permits the government’s use of wiretaps only under narrowly prescribed conditions. Among the conditions are that a judge, before authorizing a wiretap, must find that conventional investigative techniques have been tried and failed. Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers said the government misled the judge who authorized the wiretap, Gerard E. Lynch, in this regard.

They say that the government omitted that the Securities and Exchange Commission had already been building its case against Mr. Rajaratnam for more than a year using typical investigative means like interviewing witnesses and reviewing trading records. Had the judge known about the S.E.C.’s investigation, he would not have allowed the government to use a wiretap, Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers argue.

Before Mr. Rajaratnam’s trial, the presiding judge, Richard J. Holwell, held a four-day hearing on the legality of the wiretaps. Judge Holwell criticized the government, calling its decision to leave out information about its more conventional investigation a “glaring omission” that demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the truth.”

Nevertheless, Judge Holwell refused to suppress the wiretaps, in part, he said, because they were necessary to uncover Mr. Rajartanam’s insider trading scheme. “It appears that the S.E.C., and by inference the criminal authorities, had hit a wall of sorts,” Judge Holwell wrote.

On appeal, Mr. Rajaratnam lawyers argued that the government’s lack of candor should not be tolerated. They described the government’s wiretap application as full of “misleading assertions” and “outright falsity” that made it impossible for Judge Lynch to do his job.

“The government’s self-chosen reckless disregard of the truth and of the critical role of independent judicial review breached that trust and desolated the warrant’s basis,” wrote Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyers at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

In their brief to the appeals court, federal prosecutors dispute that they acted with a “reckless disregard for the truth.” Instead, they argue that omitting details of the S.E.C.’s investigation was at most “an innocent mistake rising to the level of negligence.” In addition, they said that the S.E.C.’s inquiry failed to yield sufficient evidence for a criminal case, necessitating the use of a wiretap.

Once Judge Lynch signed off on the wiretap application, the government’s investigation into Mr. Rajaratnam accelerated. The wiretapping of Mr. Rajaratnam’s phone, along with the subsequent recording of his supposed accomplices, yielded about 2,400 conversations. In many of them, Mr. Rajaratnam could be heard exchanging confidential information about technology stocks like Google and Advanced Micro Devices.

Three years ago this month, federal authorities arrested Mr. Rajaratnam and charged him with orchestrating a seven-year insider trading conspiracy. The sprawling case has produced 23 arrests of traders and tipsters, many of them caught swapping secrets with Mr. Rajaratnam about publicly traded companies.

Among the thousands of calls were four that implicated Mr. Gupta, a former head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company who served as a director at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble. On one call in July 2008, the only wiretapped conversation between the two men, Mr. Gupta freely shared Goldman’s confidential board discussions with Mr. Rajaratnam. On another, Mr. Rajaratnam told a colleague at his hedge fund, the Galleon Group, “I heard yesterday from somebody who’s on the board of Goldman Sachs that they are going to lose $2 per share.”

Those conversations set off an investigation of Mr. Gupta. He was arrested in October 2011 and charged with leaking boardroom secrets about Goldman and P.& G. to Mr. Rajaratnam. A jury convicted him in May after a monthlong trial.

On Wednesday at Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge Jed S. Rakoff will sentence Mr. Gupta. Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison term of up to 10 years. Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have asked Judge Rakoff for a nonprison sentence of probation and community service. One proposal by the defense would have Mr. Gupta living in Rwanda and working on global health issues.

Regardless of his sentence, Mr. Gupta plans to appeal. And because prosecutors used wiretap evidence in his trial, Mr. Gupta would benefit from a reversal of Mr. Rajaratnam’s conviction.

Yet a reversal would not affect the convictions of the defendants in the conspiracy who have pleaded guilty. As part of their pleas, those defendants waived their rights to an appeal.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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

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

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


Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative Results in Charges Against 15 Individuals in 12 Separate Cases

June 5, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 4, 2012 released the following:

“To Date, 85 Defendants Have Been Charged as Part of the Initiative

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Eric I. Bustillo, Regional Director, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Southeast Region; and Linda Charity, Interim Commissioner, State of Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), announced the most recent results of the Southern District of Florida Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative (the Initiative), first announced in December 2010 and designed to combat securities and investment fraud and protect the interests of the investing public.

The Initiative was established to address the increase in securities and investment fraud schemes in the Southern District of Florida. In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, SEC, and OFR, other participating agencies in the Initiative include the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), U.S. Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Southeast Region. These law enforcement and regulatory agencies have shared intelligence and combined their resources to combat securities and investment fraud, including Ponzi schemes, affinity fraud schemes, prime bank/high-yield investment scams, business opportunity fraud, promoter/micro-cap/“pump and dump” schemes, foreign exchange (FOREX) frauds, false bankruptcy petitions, and other schemes to defraud individual investors. Among the goals of the Initiative are to alert the public about the prevalence of these types of schemes, to educate the public on how to avoid falling prey to these schemes, and to highlight the law enforcement response to the problem.

The Southern District of Florida ranks second in the nation in securities and investment fraud investigations and prosecutions. Using the strike force model successfully developed in the health care and mortgage fraud areas, the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative has yielded similar success. Since its inception in December 2010, the Initiative has resulted in charges against 85 defendants in the Southern District of Florida, resulting in more than $1.5 billion in restitution ordered. Today, we are announcing charges against 15 individuals in 12 separate cases.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Our primary goal in creating the Securities and Investment Fraud Initiative was to protect investors from fraud and to restore the integrity of the securities market. Too often, we hear from victims who have lost their entire lives’ savings or their retirement nest egg to one of these unscrupulous schemers. Today, we hope to educate the public about the need to be alert and to verify before trusting and investing. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

“The fraud from these stock market manipulation schemes could have defrauded numerous innocent investors out of millions of dollars. Because the FBI and our partners were able to disrupt these schemes early on through our undercover operations, the investing public was protected,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “The law enforcement efforts announced today also serve to send a message that the FBI and its partners will continue to target those who would chip away at the trust and confidence in the securities markets.”

Eric I. Bustillo, Director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office, said, “This Initiative is a testament to our allegiance to investors and our commitment to prosecute those who seek to defraud them. When we say we’re determined to stamp out microcap fraud, that’s not a slogan. That’s a pledge.”

“I commend the hard work of investigators from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, as well as other state and federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” said Linda Charity, Interim OFR Commissioner. “These partnerships are essential to effectively combat securities fraud and help protect Florida’s investors.”

Below is a summary of the cases being announced today. These cases involve a variety of frauds, including fraudulent Federal Reserve notes, illegal kickback schemes, market manipulation schemes, and more traditional Ponzi schemes.

Fraudulent Federal Reserve Notes:

U.S. vs. Cleland Ayison, 12-80056-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Ayison, 32, of Tampa, was arrested today on charges of possessing a fraudulent $500,000,000 Federal Reserve Note.

Illegal Kickback Schemes:

U.S. vs. Michael Cimino and Joseph Repko, 12-2733-MJ-GARBER

Cimino, 59, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the director and chairman of the board for Sure Trace Security Corporation (SSTY), and Repko, 63, of Hobe Sound, Florida, SSTY’s chief financial officer and president, were arrested today on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiring to commit mail fraud by paying kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. SSTY, a Utah corporation, was purportedly involved in the anti-counterfeiting technology business.

U.S. vs. Ryan Coblin, 11-80159-CR-RYSKAMP

Coblin, 41, of Boca Raton, was the president of Delivery Technology Solutions Inc., a domestic and international delivery company catering to corporations. Coblin was charged by information in September 2011 and pled guilty on March 8, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a hedge fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a hedge fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 13, 2012.

Market Manipulation Schemes:

U.S. vs. Kevin Brennan, Donald Huggins, and Marc Seaver Page, 12-60064-CR-COHN

Today, charges were unsealed against defendants Brennan, 60, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the CEO of Optimized Transportation Management Inc. (OPTZ), a Delaware freight transportation company; Huggins, 64 of St. Petersburg, Florida, an investor in OPTZ; and Marc Seaver Page, 50, of Tiburon, California. The defendants are charged with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of OPTZ common stock.

U.S. vs. Douglas Hague, 12-60124-CR-WILLIAMS

Hague, 65, of Boca Raton, was the President of Clean Coal Technologies Inc., a corporation that purportedly converted low-grade coal to high-grade clean-burning coal. He was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices.

U.S. vs. Harold Steven Bonenberger, 12-60125-CR-COHN

Bonenberger, 56, of Carlsbad, California, was CEO of Angel Acquisition Corp. (AGEL), a Nevada corporation that purportedly managed assets. Bonenberger was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of AGEL common stock.

U.S. vs. Robert Cotton, 12-60126-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Cotton, 61 of Houston, Texas, was the President of Cotton and Western Mining Inc. (CWRN), a Nevada corporation that purportedly exported and mined iron minerals. Cotton was charged by information on June 1, 2012 with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of CWRN common stock.

U.S. vs. Matthew A. Connor, 12-2732-MJ-GARBER

Connor, 36, of Amherst, Virginia, a shareholder of and consultant for KCM Holdings Corporation (KCMH) was arrested today on a criminal complaint charging him with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of KCMH stock, in violation of the wire fraud statute. KCMH was purportedly in the business of providing strategic consulting services to clients.

U.S. vs. Scott Haire, 12-2734-MJ-GARBER

Haire, 42, of Coral Springs, President of Wound Management Technologies Inc. (WNDM), a Texas corporation that purportedly developed advanced wound care products. Haire was charged by criminal complaint with engaging in a scheme to manipulate the publicly quoted share price and trading volume of WNDM common stock. Haire is expected to surrender on June 6, 2012.

Ponzi Schemes:

U.S. vs. Juan Carlos Rodriguez, 12-20148-CR-DIMITROULEAS

Rodriguez, 49, of Miami, was indicted on March 6, 2012 for committing wire fraud in the execution of a Ponzi scheme. According to the indictment, Rodriguez was the sole officer and director of MDN Financial Group Inc., a Miami company that solicited approximately $5.2 million from investors with promises that the company would invest in stocks, bonds, and precious metals. Rodriguez would recruit colleagues and friends to invest in MDN Financial, promising them 20, 30, 40, and even 50 percent returns. In fact, Rodriguez did not invest the money he was given by investors. Instead, he used more than $1 million of the money to pay for personal expenses like credit card bills. A calendar call is scheduled for July 20, 2012.

U.S. vs. George Elia, 12-60077-CR-WILLIAMS

Elia, 68, formerly of Fort Lauderdale, is scheduled to be arraigned on June 6, 2012 on charges of operating a Ponzi scheme in which he recruited investors by making false claims about the potential returns on investments. Elia was the president of International Consultants & Investment Group LC., a corporation based in Broward County.

U.S. vs. Aner Menendez, 12-20389-CR-SCOLA

Menendez was arrested today on charges of mail and wire fraud. Menendez was the sole member and manager of De Forcade and recruited investors by claiming he was a skilled foreign currencies trader. Through a series of misrepresentations, he exploited social relationships to convince his victims to invest their savings with him. After receiving their money, Menendez made no investments for victims, instead spending their savings on himself and others.

In addition to the 12 criminal cases announced above, the SEC has filed nine separate civil injunctive actions against 12 individuals and eight microcap companies, charging them with violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and seeking, among other relief, permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and financial penalties. These defendants, including several CEOs and their companies and three penny stock promoters, are charged with securities fraud for their roles in various illicit kickback and market manipulation schemes.

Regarding the continued results of the Initiative, other members stated as follows:

IRS Special Agent in Charge José A. Gonzalez stated, “IRS-Criminal Investigation Division is pleased to lend our forensic financial expertise to uncover financial wrongdoings by those who commit investment fraud. Make no mistake, whether on Wall Street or Main Street, swindlers will be thoroughly investigated and swiftly brought to justice.”

U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Henry Gutierrez stated, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to stop investment fraud. We are particularly focused on fraud committed against often-targeted pension funds, in which victims have deposited their hard-earned money.”

Cindy Liebes, Director of the Federal Trade Commission Southeast Region, stated, “The Federal Trade Commission is also working to stop investment fraud and has filed several actions. Most recently, the FTC has sued Sterling Precious Metals LLC, Matthew Meyer, Francis Ryan Zofay, and Kerry Marshall for operating an investment scheme that allegedly took in almost $10 million by targeting elderly consumers and conning them into buying precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks. In March, the FTC brought a similar action against Anthony J. Columbo, Premier Precious Metals Inc., Rushmore Consulting Group Inc., and PPM Credit Inc.”

Other Recent Cases Resulting from the Initiative

In addition to the cases announced above, the Initiative boasts a number of other recent cases, a few of which are highlighted below:

U.S. vs. Anthony Zito, 12-20030-CR-WILLIAMS

Zito, 64, of Naples, Florida, was charged in connection with a $7.5 million investment scheme. Zito owned and operated a firm named Gladius Investments (Gladius). Zito founded Gladius in 2004 and acted as the company’s officer, director, and president. Gladius purported to invest in silver on the commodities market on behalf of investors who entrusted Gladius with their money. On June 8, 2010, for example, Gladius’ internal database showed that the company had approximately 130 investors, that Gladius had invested in 1,271,500 ounces of silver on behalf of its investors, and that the total value of that silver was $19,708,250. In fact, however, Gladius’ actual trading account statement showed that Gladius had no more than 50,000 ounces of silver investments that month and that the total value of the trading account was about $672,000. The investors in Gladius lost approximately $7.5 million as a result of Zito’s fraud. On March 30, 2012, Zito was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the fraudulent investment scheme. In addition, Zito was ordered to pay $7.5 million in restitution to the victims of his crime. The court also ordered the forfeiture of half the value of Zito’s house, as well as his cars and bank accounts.

U.S. vs. Douglas Newton, 11-60150-CR-COOKE

On May 9, 2012, Newton was convicted after trial of two counts of mail fraud, four counts of securities fraud, and one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud. Sentencing is scheduled for August 29, 2012. According to evidence presented during the trial, Newton operated Billy Martin’s USA, a retail company that was delinquent with its lease payments at the Trump Plaza in New York City. In need of funding, Newton turned to a cooperating defendant who arranged a meeting with an undercover FBI agent. Newton attended a meeting in Broward County, Florida, where he agreed on video to bribe a pension fund manager to invest the pension fund investors’ money in Real American Brands. In addition, to hide the illegal bribes, the defendant entered into a fraudulent consulting agreement and sent fictitious e-mails to the undercover FBI agent. Newton also claimed in the recorded meetings to have business relationships with Jeffrey Sebelia, the winner of the “Project Runway TV” contest, and country singer Carrie Underwood. In total, Newton paid $12,000 in bribes to the purported pension fund and received a total of $40,000 from the fund. The defendant used the money to pay for his golf club, home owner fees, and his utilities.

U.S. vs. Yan Skwara, 11-60294-CR-WILLIAMS

Skwara, 47, of San Diego, California, was the president of U.S. Farms, Inc., a Nevada corporation that promoted wellness-based products. Skwara pled guilty on April 20, 2012 to engaging in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a pension fund fiduciary to induce the fiduciary to misappropriate money from a pension fund in order to buy restricted common stock at inflated prices. Sentencing is scheduled for July 3, 2012.

U.S. vs. Gaston E. Cantens, 12-20005-CR-WILLIAMS

On April 4, 2012, Gaston E. Cantens, 73, of Miami, was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a fraud committed at Royal West Properties Inc. (Royal West). According to documents filed with the court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, Cantens was the president of Royal West Properties Inc. and recruited individuals to invest in Royal West by promising investors a fixed rate of return and that their investments would be guaranteed by properties or mortgages that acted as collateral. Cantens used his extensive ties to the South Florida community, including his ties to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, to recruit investors to the fraud. Cantens told investors that their money were collateralized by individual properties but failed to inform them that the collateralized properties had previously been assigned to other investors. Cantens received moneys from investors based on these misrepresentations, and used the moneys for his personal benefit and to further the fraud scheme.

An indictment or information is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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


Chipotle says prosecutors probing it for securities law violations related to hiring practices

May 23, 2012

The Washington Post on May 22, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

DENVER — Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said on Tuesday that federal prosecutors are investigating the company for possible criminal violations of securities laws related to its hiring practices.

The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration enforcement unit is already probing the company for compliance with employee work authorization laws. The company said Friday that the Securities and Exchange Commission has also issued a subpoena regarding its compliance with work authorization requirements.

The company disclosed the latest probe, by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, in a SEC filing on Tuesday.

The restaurant chain, which is based in Denver, said it is cooperating with the investigations.

In 2010, following questions from federal immigration officials, Chipotle fired about 450 Minnesota employees who couldn’t prove they were eligible to work in the U.S. Federal officials then requested worker authorization documents for employees in Virginia and the nation’s capital. That investigation continues. The company has said that it is following the law.

Shares of Chipotle rose $2.23, less than 1 percent, to close at $395.56 on Tuesday. Shares have ranged from $267.43 to $442.40 in the past 12 months.”

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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.