Brooks Kellogg Sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to Serve 72 months (6 years) in Federal Prison for a Murder for Hire Scheme

September 4, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Colorado on September 1, 2011 released the following:

“BROOKS KELLOG SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR MURDER FOR HIRE SCHEME

DENVER – Brooks Kellogg, age 72, and a resident of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced this afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to serve 72 months (6 years) in federal prison, followed by 2 years on supervised release, for traveling in interstate commerce in commission of murder-for-hire, United States Attorney John Walsh and FBI Special Agent in Charge James Yacone announced. Judge Arguello also ordered Kellogg to pay a $100,000 fine. Kellogg, who appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, was then remanded.

Brooks Kellogg was arrested based on a Criminal Complaint on October 20, 2010. He was then charged by Information on November 1, 2010, which was followed by an indicted returned by a federal grand jury on November 3, 2010. Kellogg was later charged by superseding indictment on February 8, 2011. On April 28, 2011, Kellogg pled guilty before Judge Arguello. He was sentenced today, September 1, 2011.

According to court documents, on October 19, 2010, after flying from Minneapolis, Minnesota and arriving at Denver International Airport, Kellogg met at the airport with an FBI agent acting in an undercover capacity. Kellogg paid the undercover agent $2,000 in cash to murder a Florida man with whom he was involved in a real estate transaction that resulted in civil court litigation. Kellogg had already paid an additional $6,000 for the hit. The Florida man had sued Kellogg, obtaining a multi-million judgment.

“As today’s sentence reveals, anyone attempting to hire a contract killer will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.

“This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to aggressively investigate all levels of violent crimes,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge James Yacone. “Mr. Kellogg’s criminal activity was thwarted through a quick and decisive investigation.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the Denver Police Department assisting with the arrest.

Kellogg was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brown.”

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 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.

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Texas Syndicate Gang Members and Associates Sentenced to Prison

August 31, 2011

U.S. Attorneys Office Southern District of Texas on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“McALLEN, Texas – Six Texas Syndicate members and associates have been sentenced to prison for racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, kidnapping and possession with intent distribute cocaine, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno announced today.

At a hearing on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced the chairman of the Texas Syndicate in the Rio Grande Valley, Jose Ismael Salas, 40 of Edinburg, Texas, to 20 years in federal prison without parole for drug trafficking offenses in violation of the racketeering statute. Salas pleaded guilty on April 2, 2009, admitting to committing two acts of racketeering, namely two separate acts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance – six kilograms of cocaine on Aug. 12, 2004, and 39 kilograms of marijuana on March 28, 2003, intending to further the goals of the gang.

Five other members or associates of the gang were also sentenced yesterday by Judge Hinojosa including Fidel Valle, 45 of Donna, Texas – the source of drug supply to the gang who employed gang members to assist in his drug distribution business. He received 126 months imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute six kilograms of cocaine. On July 28, 2009,Valle pleaded guilty to the federal felony drug charge acknowledging that on Aug. 12, 2004, upon being contacted by Salas, Valle agreed to sell approximately six kilograms (approximately 13 pounds) of cocaine to Salas’s associates. That drug load was found and seized by law enforcement officers during a traffic stop of a Ford pickup seen leaving Valle’s residence in Donna on Aug. 12, 2004.

Romeo Rosales, 41 of Raymondville, Texas – an admitted Texas Syndicate gang member who was convicted of kidnapping Amancio Pinales-Garcia – was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment. Reyes, son-in-law of the kidnapping victim, sought a monetary reward to turn over Pinales-Garcia to unknown subjects in Mexico. Pinales-Garcia was shot several times in the low torso during the struggle and subsequently died in Mexico. Rosales pleaded guilty to kidnapping Pinales-Garcia on March 3, 2009.

Noel De Los Santos, 33, of Donna, Texas was sentenced to 240 months imprisonment for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, that is, for the murder of Crisantos Moran on March 20, 2003. According to trial testimony, Moran had been ordered by the Texas Syndicate to kill a rival gang member who lived near Penitas, Texas. De Los Santos and Jose Armando Garcia, both Texas Syndicate gang members, agreed to accompany Moran to commit the murder. However, Moran failed to carry out the order as given. Instead, De Los Santos and Garcia shot and killed Moran for failing to carry out the order. On Aug. 10, 2010, Garcia was convicted of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to life in prison on Jan. 5, 2011.

Cristobal Hernandez, 31, and Arturo Rodriguez, 28, both of Brownsville, Texas, were sentenced to 120 and 240 months imprisonment, respectively, for violent crimes in aid of racketeering arising from the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez in June 2007. After members of the Texas Syndicate obtained a copy of a sealed court document from an employee of a McAllen area law firm which represented Marcelino Rodriguez in a federal case, the murder of Marcelino Rodriguez was approved by the leadership of the Texas Syndicate. Hernandez and Arturo Rodriguez were recruited by Raul Galindo to commit the murder. Galindo shot Marcelino Rodriguez in the back of the head while Arturo Rodriguez set the vehicle on fire with gasoline. On Aug. 10, 2010, Galindo was convicted of violent crimes in aid of racketeering and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant. On Jan. 5, 2011, Galindo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

All six of the defendants sentenced yesterday are in federal custody and will remain in custody pending transfer to Bureau of Prisons facilities to be designated in the near future.

All 13 charged in this case have been convicted and sentenced to prison. Juan Pablo Hinojosa, who was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering and violent crimes in aid of racketeering, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Jan. 5, 2011. On Jan. 28, 2010, Benjamin Piedra pleaded guilty to violent crimes in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 120 months confinement and three years of supervised release on Feb. 22, 2011. Adan Roberto Ruiz pleaded guilty to criminal information charging him with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, while Jorge Puga pleaded to a criminal information charging him with possession with intent to distribute 39 kilograms of marijuana. Ruiz and Puga received 52 and 37 months, respectively. Joel Carcano Jr. pleaded guilty providing false statements – admitting he lied to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents when he falsely stated he did not provide a copy of downward departure motion to Texas Syndicate members. This document was used as the basis to order the murder of the government’s informant. On Feb. 22, 2011, Carcano was sentenced to 52 months custody and a three-year-term of supervised release.

The investigation leading to the federal charges and subsequent conviction of these admitted Texas Syndicate gang members was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Wells, Jr. prosecuted the case.”

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 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.

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Lakecia Motley Sentenced to 63 Months in Federal Prison for Tax Fraud Conspiracy

August 23, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Alabama on August 22, 2011 released the following:

“MONTGOMERY WOMAN SENTENCED IN TAX FRAUD CONSPIRACY  
  
Montgomery, Alabama – Lakecia Motley, 32, of Montgomery, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for tax fraud announced, George L. Beck, Jr., United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Motley was also ordered to pay $676,465.49 in restitution to the United States.

On August 12, 2011, Motley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to file false and fraudulent federal income tax returns, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 286. At the plea and sentencing hearings, the United States proved that between 2005 and 2007, Motley and her co-conspirators filed numerous fraudulent tax returns using stolen identity information. The United States lost a total $676,465.49 from the false tax returns.

The case was investigated by Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the United States Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jared Morris.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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Cornell Wade Sentenced in U.S. District Court in Wheeling on Federal Drug Charges

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“Wheeling Resident Sentenced on Drug Charge

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A 35 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident who was a key player in the Robert “R.J.” Saunders conspiracy was sentenced in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that CORNELL WADE was sentenced today to 89 months imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release. In March WADE entered a plea of guilty to one count of a drug conspiracy involving over 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; one count of the aiding and abetting Saunders in the illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling; and one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of the Madison Elementary School on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling. For these convictions WADE received 77 months in prison, and then was given another 12 months in prison for violating his supervised release on a prior federal drug conviction, for a total of 89 months of incarceration.

As part of his plea, WADE has agreed to the forfeiture of his interest in money seized from his residence on August 27, 2009, and admitted to supplying Saunders between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds of crack cocaine between 2006 and 2009. WADE was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force. The Task Force consists of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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Joseph F. Skowron III Pled Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to conspiracy to Engage in Insider Trading and Obstruction of Justice

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“FORMER HEDGE FUND PORTFOLIO MANAGER JOSEPH “CHIP” SKOWRON PLEADS GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO INSIDER TRADING SCHEME INVOLVING CLINICAL DRUG TRIAL

Inside Tips Allowed Fund to Avoid $30 Million in Losses

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOSEPH F. SKOWRON III, a/k/a “Chip Skowron,” a former portfolio manager of the health care unit of a hedge fund group (the “Hedge Fund”), pled guilty today to conspiracy to engage in insider trading and obstruction of justice. SKOWRON used material, non-public information (“Inside Information”) that he received from YVES BENHAMOU, a doctor who served as an advisor on a clinical drug trial, to avoid approximately $30 million in trading losses. SKOWRON obstructed justice by urging BENHAMOU to lie to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) during an investigation into his trading. SKOWRON pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge DENISE L. COTE.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “Chip Skowron is the latest example of a portfolio manager willing to pay for proprietary, non-public information that gave him an illegal trading edge over the average investor. He seized upon the opportunity presented by his advance knowledge to avoid $30 million in losses on the basis of information concerning just one stock. The integrity of our market is damaged by people who, like Chip Skowron, engage in insider trading, and they will continue to be prosecuted by this office.”

According to the Information, a Complaint previously filed in this case, other court filings, and statements made during today’s guilty plea proceeding:

During the period of the insider trading scheme, SKOWRON was responsible for the Hedge Fund’s investment decisions in public companies, including the biopharmaceutical company Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (“HGSI”), that were involved in the development of drugs to treat hepatitis C. BENHAMOU was a medical doctor with an expertise in hepatitis treatment who served on an HGSI steering committee that oversaw a clinical trial of a drug called Albuferon. At the same time, BENHAMOU also worked as a consultant for an expert networking firm that, for a fee, put him in contact with portfolio managers and other investors at hedge funds, including SKOWRON, who purchased and sold securities in the healthcare sector.

Beginning in April 2007, SKOWRON developed a personal and financial relationship with BENHAMOU independent of the expert networking firm. For example, SKOWRON gave BENHAMOU 5,000 euros in cash during a meeting in Barcelona, Spain. He also paid some of BENHAMOU’s expenses, including $4,624.83 in September 2007 for a New York City hotel room for him and his wife. SKOWRON also offered to hire BENHAMOU as a consultant or permanent advisor to a new hedge fund. SKOWRON gave these benefits to BENHAMOU to encourage him to provide Inside Information about the Albuferon clinical drug trial. BENHAMOU understood that SKOWRON would buy or sell HGSI stock on the basis of the Inside Information.

For example, on January 18, 2008, after learning from BENHAMOU that HGSI’s independent safety committee had recommended to discontinue a portion of the clinical trial following serious adverse side effects suffered by two patients, SKOWRON directed a trader at the Hedge Fund to “sell the hgsi,” “all of it.” On January 22, 2008, the day before HGSI announced it would discontinue a portion of the trial, BENHAMOU disclosed this information, as well as the potential of a press release from HGSI, to SKOWRON. While on the phone with BENHAMOU, SKOWRON sent an instant message to a trader at the Hedge Fund, urging him to sell the remaining HGSI shares more quickly. As a result of those communications, SKOWRON caused the Hedge Fund to sell more than 6 million shares of HGSI, thereby avoiding approximately $30 million in losses.

In addition, SKOWRON and BENHAMOU undertook efforts to conceal the insider trading scheme from regulatory authorities. Specifically, beginning in February 2008 after the SEC began investigating the Hedge Fund’s trading in HGSI stock, SKOWRON induced BENHAMOU to lie to the SEC by falsely denying that they had discussed the serious adverse events before they were made public.

SKOWRON, 42, of Greenwich, Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruct justice. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or double the gain or loss arising from his conduct. In addition, he agreed to forfeit $5,000,000 to the United States. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge COTE on November 18, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.

BENHAMOU previously pled guilty in April 2011 to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, securities fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and making false statements to the FBI related to the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge GEORGE B. DANIELS on October 20, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also thanked the SEC for its assistance.

This case was brought in coordination with President BARACK OBAMA’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which Mr. BHARARA serves as a Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group. President OBAMA established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage anaggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The 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.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys PABLO QUIÑONES, REED M. BRODSKY, and DAVID B. MASSEY are in charge of the prosecution.”

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 extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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