FBI: “Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce Insider Trading Charges Against Director of Market Intelligence at Investor Relations Firm”

August 26, 2014

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 26, 2014 released the following:

“Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that MICHAEL A. LUCARELLI, the Director of Market Intelligence at Lippert/Heilshorn & Associates, Inc. (“LHA”), an investor relations firm, was arrested this morning on 13 counts of insider trading. LUCARELLI is expected to be presented today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, and despite the well-known parade of convicted insider trading perpetrators over the past several years, Michael Lucarelli was not deterred and violated both his company’s policies and his responsibility to its clients by trading on material nonpublic information for his personal financial gain. For the over $500,000 he earned from his illicit trades he is charged with 13 counts of securities fraud.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos said: “Instead of doing his job, Lucarelli spent his days setting up brokerage accounts to make illegal trades using inside information from unwitting clients. He violated the responsibility he had to both company and clients. He also broke the law and today finds himself under arrest and charged in a thirteen count complaint.”

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:

From at least August 2013 through at least August 2014, LUCARELLI engaged in an insider trading scheme to use and trade upon material non-public information that he acquired during his employment at LHA, an investor relations firm based in Manhattan. Specifically, LUCARELLI, as an LHA employee, had access to working drafts of press releases prepared by LHA for its clients prior to their issuance to the investing public. Those draft press releases contained material, non-public information about business events and announcements relating to LHA’s clients.

In violation of LHA’s policies and in breach of his duties to LHA and its clients, on multiple occasions, LUCARELLI took positions in the stock of LHA clients shortly before the announcement by these companies of material information through press releases prepared by LHA. Shortly following the issuance of the press releases drafted by LHA, LUCARELLI exited the positions in these securities that he had acquired prior to the issuance, thereby profiting on the movement in the stock price.

LUCARELLI repeatedly traded in LHA client securities despite LHA’s written code of conduct, which strictly prohibited LHA employees from trading in any security issued by an LHA client. LUCARELLI carried out his scheme in at least four different brokerage accounts. When opening new brokerage accounts through which to conduct his illegal trades, LUCARELLI did not reveal his affiliation with LHA. And, on two occasions, LUCARELLI opened new brokerage accounts soon after his ability to trade in other accounts had been suspended by the respective brokerage firms.

On or about July 24, 2014, the FBI obtained a search warrant to search LUCARELLI’s office at LHA for evidence of his insider trading activities. During that search, which was conducted without LUCARELLI’s knowledge, the FBI located a locked briefcase which, when opened, contained a draft press release for LHA client, TREX Company (“TREX”). That press release was marked “DRAFT” and contained TREX’s second fiscal quarter 2014 financial results. The following day, after the FBI completed the search, LUCARELLI started purchasing shares of TREX. Between July 25, 2014 and August 1, 2014, LUCARELLI took a net position of 37,400 shares of TREX. Then, on August 4, 2014, shortly before the market opened, TREX issued a press release announcing its second fiscal quarter 2014 financial results. Among other things, TREX announced that sales and earnings before taxes had increased 23 percent and 62 percent, respectively, in comparison with the comparable period in 2013. TREX also issued revenue guidance for the third fiscal quarter of 2014, which was a 27 percent increase over the comparable period in 2013. Within two hours of the announcement, LUCARELLI sold 35,058 of the 37,400 TREX shares he previously purchased. Those sales yielded a profit of almost $90,000.

As a result of the 13 instances of insider trading alleged in the Complaint, LUCARELLI earned at least $538,215.32 in illicit proceeds. Furthermore, the FBI has discovered numerous additional trades that LUCARELLI conducted in LHA client securities and that exhibit a similar pattern of fraud. The FBI’s investigation is ongoing.

* * *

LUCARELLI is charged with 13 counts of securities fraud. The securities fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The statutory maximum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the SEC, which has filed civil charges in a separate action.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since the inception of FFETF in November 2009, the Justice Department has filed more than 12,841 financial fraud cases against nearly 18,737 defendants including nearly 3,500 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Blais and Damian Williams are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolina Fornos of the Office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit is responsible for the forfeiture of assets.

The allegations contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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

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.


“In New York counterterrorism sting, a setback for federal law enforcement”

August 15, 2014

The Washington Post on August 14, 2014 released the following:

“By Adam Goldman

When Ahmed Abassi arrived in the United States for the first time in March 2013, the Tunisian student settled into a historic, neo-Gothic apartment building in Manhattan’s Financial District.

Unknown to him, the apartment was wired with audio recording devices, and Abassi’s American host was an undercover FBI agent. Abassi, then 26 and suspected of terrorism ties, had landed in an FBI sting, part of an elaborate operation that stretched from New York to Quebec City to a small town in Tunisia.

Abassi was caught on tape discussing “the principle that America should be wiped off the face of the earth,” with people he believed to be co-conspirators, one of whom was the FBI agent, according to court records. At one point, Abassi suggested “putting bacteria in the air or in a water supply.”

But last month, Abassi, who declined to be interviewed, pleaded guilty to relatively minor charges that did not include any terrorism enhancements that could have sent him to prison for years, and he is not contesting a deportation order.

The case was a rare setback for the FBI and federal prosecutors, which have successfully targeted suspected terrorists using sting operations, typically ending with the defendants about to embark on what they believe is a terrorist attack with fake weapons or bombs supplied by the bureau. Guilty verdicts and long prison sentences follow.

According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch, nearly 50 percent of the more than 500 federal counterterrorism convictions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have “resulted from informant-based cases; almost 30 percent of those cases were sting operations in which the informant played an active role in the underlying plot.”

Among the more prominent prosecutions, a Moroccan man was convicted for planning a suicide bombing at the Capitol. Amine Mohamed El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant who lived in Alexandria, was arrested wearing a suicide vest that he believed to be real and had been provided by undercover FBI agents. In Portland, a Somali-American was convicted of planning to remotely detonate an 1,800 pound bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The device was, in fact, inert and had been supplied by the bureau. In one 2009 case, the FBI arrested a group of men in New York state — the “Newburgh Four” — and charged them with plotting to blow up a pair of synagogues in the Bronx with fake bombs provided by an informant.

Human rights groups allege that the government is making terrorists out of people who otherwise would not have the ability or the will to move forward with an attack. “The government pursues people with mental or intellectual disabilities or people who are desperately poor with an aggressive informant or undercover agent to get them to agree to commit terrorist acts,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office.

And the use of sting operations has also drawn some criticism from the bench. In the Newburgh case, the federal judge said the government “made them terrorists” and said the “buffoonery” of one of the defendants was “positively Shakespearean in scope.”

But no defendant, including in the Newburgh case, has successfully claimed in court that he was entrapped by overzealous investigators.

At a recent security forum in Aspen, Colo., former FBI director Robert Mueller defended the bureau’s tactics against charges of entrapment. Mueller said agents and prosecutors go to great lengths to make sure they do not cross that line.

“We know at the outset that anytime we do this that the defense is going to be entrapment and there has to be substantial predication to get over that hurdle,” he said. “It’s been the defense in probably dozens of terrorism cases that have been tried since Sept. 11. And I challenge you to find one of those cases in which the defendant has been acquitted asserting that defense. I don’t believe there is one out there.”

Abassi was arrested last year and charged with two counts of fraud and misuse of visas to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Federal prosectuors in the Southern District of New York withdrew the terrorism enhancements against Abassi before they could be adjudicated, and some activists said an entrapment defense might have tested the government’s winning record.

An FBI spokesman in New York declined to comment.

Abassi was more talker than terrorist and resisted attempts to move beyond words to direct action, according to his attorney, Sabrina P. Shroff, a federal public defender. She described the case against her client as a failed entrapment in which the government attempted to prey on Abassi’s “bad thoughts and bad speech.”

Fateful meeting

Abassi first came to the attention of the FBI in Canada, where he was studying for an engineering degree at Laval University in Quebec City, according to court records. His family said his sister followed him to Canada, where he also met and married a Tunisian woman.

Among Abassi’s new circle of friends was Chiheb Esseghaier, a doctoral student. The FBI and Canadian authorities began to suspect that Esseghaier and Abassi were part of a terrorist cell, according to court records.

Esseghaier introduced Abassi to a man from New York, Tamer El Noury, who said he was born in Egypt and had immigrated to the United States when he was a child. He looked like one of Abassi’s favorite performers, a Syrian singer named George Wassouf. The two got along famously. When in Quebec, Noury came to Abassi’s house to eat.

Neither Abassi nor his wife, Yousra, ever suspected that Noury was an FBI agent.

“We had no idea,” his wife said in an interview.

The New Yorker appeared wealthy and said he ran a successful real estate company in the city. As a wedding gift, he said he would pay for Abassi and Yousra to visit Manhattan, she said.

Abassi declined the invitation, and instead he and his wife flew to Tunisia in December 2012 to renew their wedding vows. “We danced, we invited all our relatives and friends and we enjoyed together,” his wife said.

The euphoria didn’t last. That month, the Canadians revoked Abassi’s visa without explanation. Officials decided to test Abassi’s willingness to conduct an act of terrorism.

Noury began what Abassi’s attorney described as an aggressive campaign to get her client to come to New York from Tunisia. Cut off from his wife, who was able to return to Canada to finish her education, Abassi seemed determined to secure a new visa so he could return to her side. He wanted to finish his master’s degree, and he had a job offer with a major mining company. But no Canadian visa was forthcoming.

Noury called Abassi’s wife in February 2013.

“We can get him in New York where he can stay with me in the apartment, or he will have his own apartment, and if, God willing, you can take some time off from work, we can bring you here to stay with him so that you can spend some time together,” said Noury, according to a transcript of the call.

Abassi agreed to fly to New York after U.S. law enforcement arranged a visa for the “sole purpose of advancing the investigation,” according to court records.

Move to New York

In March 2013, Abassi flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was briefly questioned by immigration authorities. Noury met him at the airport.

The two drove to the downtown apartment, where the call to prayer sounded electronically five times a day to highlight Noury’s piety. The undercover agent provided Abassi with a cellphone and laptop. The rent was free.

An unexpected visitor soon arrived: Esseghaier, who said he was attending a scientific conference in New York.

The three men met frequently. Authorities say Esseghaier told Abassi about his plans for a terrorist attack. But Abassi did not want any part of them, frustrating the conspirator, who urged Noury to throw him out of the apartment. Esseghaier called Abassi “useless” and not a “true brother.”

Abassi continued to make inflammatory statements, however. He argued that the Koran allowed “Muslims to attack Americans in the same ways Americans had attacked Muslims, including the killing of women and children,” according to court records.

On April 22, 2013, Abassi was questioned by the FBI. Prosecutors said he lied repeatedly about his relationship with Esseghaier and whether he knew the Tunisian planned to engage in terrorism. The FBI arrested Abassi. That same day, Canadian authorities took Esseghaier and another man into custody, charging them with conspiracy to attack an Amtrak train traveling from New York to Toronto.

U.S. prosecutors said Abassi acknowledged possibly radicalizing Esseghaier, and that the two had talked about committing terrorist acts, according to court records. They said Abassi did not want to participate in Esseghaier’s plans only because “the number of American casualties from such an operation would be too few.”

Shroff said her client did not radicalize Esseghaier.

“If you actually listen to the conversations between Chiheb [Esseghaier] and Ahmed, you’ll realize Ahmed is talking about words and verses from the Koran,” his attorney said. “He’s telling Chiheb what’s in the Koran. That is not radicalizing.”

Authorities also said the men had received guidance from members of al-Qaeda.

A U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details of the case, said the FBI had to end the U.S. operation against Abassi prematurely because the Canadians were concerned about the threat Esseghaier posed and arrested him.

The official said more will come out about the men, including Abassi, when Esseghaier goes on trial in Canada. The official said the men were part of a cell and presented a serious threat, one the FBI helped eliminate.

“It was a good case,” the official said.

Abassi spent months in jail, part of that time in a segregated housing unit, before his attorney received transcripts of the FBI recordings. Shroff said it was apparent to her that Abassi had not provided the evidence the FBI needed to make its case, that he had not stepped over the line into active participation in a plot.

Prosecutors seemed to reach a similar conclusion. They told Shroff they would drop the terrorism enhancements if Abassi agreed to plead guilty to the charges that included putting false information on an application for a green card — the same one the undercover agent helped him complete — and making a false statement to immigration officials.

“Mr. Abassi would not be asked at the time of the plea, if he accepted this offer, to in any way admit that either of these crimes touched on a crime of international terrorism,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara told the judge during a hearing in April.

Ferrara would not discuss the case, but another U.S. law enforcement official said there were considerations if the case went to trial, including revealing the true identity of the FBI undercover agent.

“There were strategic discussions,” the official said. “We had a good undercover who would then be exposed. Was it worth it to get a couple of extra years in prison? It’s not clear the judge would have given him more time.”

The official added that Abassi pleaded guilty to a felony and “will never again be in the U.S. That’s much better than letting him float around out there and never be charged at all.”

For Shroff, the reason prosecutors backed off is clear: “He was entrapped,” she said.

At sentencing, prosecutors called for a longer prison term than the six months suggested by the guidelines, arguing that Abassi was far more dangerous than “simply an immigration fraudster” and had “dangerous, extremist views.”

In a phone interview, his sister Amira Abassi said: “My brother is not a monster. That is the reality. He is not evil.”

On July 16, Judge Miriam Cedarbaum waved away government calls for a stern sentence. The 84-year-old judge told Abassi to stay clear of trouble.

“I hope that you will think very seriously about the events of the last year and will decide to always abide by the laws of the United States,” she said. “And if you do that, I wish you good luck.”

Abassi is being held in an immigration detention facility in New Jersey, where he awaits deportation to Tunisia.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


FBI: Fourteen Charged with Alleged Heroin and Cocaine Trafficking in the Bronx and Across the Hudson Valley

October 2, 2013

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

“Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, Assistant Director-In-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Brian R. Crowell, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), and Joseph A. D’Amico, the Superintendent of the New York State Police, announced the arrest of 14 defendants and the unsealing of an Indictment today charging conspiracies to distribute kilogram quantities of heroin and cocaine in Beacon, the Bronx, the City of Middletown, the City of Newburgh, and New Windsor, New York.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Drug traffickers long ago discovered opportunities to peddle their venom way beyond city limits, and fortunately the law enforcement community is there to intercept them. Today’s arrests exemplify our unrelenting efforts to remove drug dealers from our streets and make them safe for law-abiding citizens, city and country.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos stated: “Heroin and cocaine are a scourge on society, often victimizing our cities’ most vulnerable. Today’s arrest and subsequent charges bring us one step closer to cleaning up our streets.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell stated: “Drug abuse claims more young people’s lives annually today than suicides, firearm deaths or school violence and unintentional drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in 17 states, even more than automobile accidents. This case is a fine example of state, local and federal law enforcement to keep our neighborhoods safe from drug traffickers. I commend our law enforcement partners and our men and women who worked shoulder to shoulder on this investigation to make the streets safer for the residents and youth in the Newburgh area.”

NY State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico stated: “A significant amount of drugs will not make it into our communities as a result of the dedication and due diligence of investigators and prosecutors working collaboratively to wipe out these types of drug operations. It is through this cooperative effort among our partners in law enforcement that we will continue to target, and remove from our streets those who choose to engage in this type of illegal and dangerous activity.”

The Indictment charges 14 people, ESMERALDO HERNANDEZ, a/k/a “Esmo,” 32, ABNER ALVAREZ, JR., 30, ABNER ALVAREZ, SR., 47, JAMES L. CANELLI III, 36, EMILIO CASTILLO, a/k/a “E,” 28, ANTHONY CESPEDES, a/k/a “Anth,” 27, MICHAEL FIGUEROA, a/k/a “Scooby,” 36, BRADLEY FRIEDLANDER, 30, DARRELL LOPEZ, a/k/a “D,” 32, CARLOS MARTINEZ, 30, RAUL OQUENDO, 32, NYGEL RIVERA, 22, RAMON URIBE, a/k/a “Polo,” 38, and BERNARDO VALENTIN, a/k/a “Chickie,” 42, with conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine and/or heroin. The charges against each defendant and the corresponding maximum potential penalties are outlined in the chart attached to this press release.

Thirteen of the defendants charged in the Indictment unsealed today were arrested today or have previously been taken into custody. One, Darrell Lopez, remains at large as a fugitive. The defendants in custody are to be presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge George A. Yanthis.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the DEA, the New York State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Beacon Police Department, the City of Middletown Police Department, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the Town of Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. . The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gerber and Ilan Graff are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

UNT CHARGE DEFENDANTS MAXIMUM PENALTIES
1 Narcotics conspiracy (Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine.) ESMERALDO HERNANDEZ, a/k/a “Esmo,” ABNER ALVAREZ, JR., MICHAEL FIGUEROA, a/k/a “Scooby,” BRADLEY FRIEDLANDER, CARLOS MARTINEZ, RAUL OQUENDO, NYGEL RIVERA, RAMON URIBE, a/k/a “Polo,” BERNARDO VALENTIN, a/k/a “Chickie” Life in prison Mandatory minimum: 10 years in prison
2 Narcotics conspiracy (Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram and more of heroin.) ESMERALDO HERNANDEZ, a/k/a “Esmo,” JAMES L. CANELLI III, EMILIO CASTILLO, a/k/a “E,” ANTHONY CESPEDES, a/k/a “Anth,” MICHAEL FIGUEROA, a/k/a “Scooby,” DARRELL LOPEZ, a/k/a “D,” a RAMON URIBE, a/k/a “Polo” Life in prison Mandatory minimum: 10 years in prison
3 Narcotics conspiracy (Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine.) ABNER ALVAREZ, SR.
ABNER ALVAREZ, JR.
Life in prison Mandatory minimum: 10 years in prison

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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.


FBI: “Former Studio Assistant to Jasper Johns Charged in Manhattan Federal Court in $6.5 Million Scheme to Sell Stolen Johns Works”

August 16, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 15, 2013 released the following:

“Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging James Meyer, a former assistant to artist Jasper Johns, with selling 22 works that he stole from Johns’ studio in Sharon, Connecticut. Meyer was arrested yesterday morning at his home in Salisbury, Connecticut, and appeared in federal court in Hartford that afternoon.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, James Meyer is the latest in a long line of thieves who sought to make millions through a fraud on the art world. Meyer, a former assistant to artist Jasper Johns, allegedly stole and resold a number of pieces he was charged with maintaining. His arrest underscores our commitment to exposing deception in this lucrative industry and holding fraudsters to account.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “As alleged, James Meyer exploited his position of trust to steal repeatedly from his long-time employer. That his employer is a renowned American artist only made the crime more lucrative. To convert the artworks to cash, Meyer allegedly engaged in a serial scheme to deceive the buyers of the art and the gallery through which they bought it.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:

Meyer was a studio assistant for Johns for over 25 years and was responsible for, among other things, maintaining a studio file drawer containing pieces of art that were not yet completed by Johns and not authorized by Johns to be placed in the art market.

Between September 2006 and February 2012, Meyer removed 22 individual pieces of art from the studio file drawer he was responsible for maintaining, and from elsewhere in Johns’ studio, and transported those pieces from the studio in Sharon to an art gallery located in Manhattan for the purpose of selling those works without the knowledge or permission of Johns. Meyer represented both to the owner of the gallery (the “gallery owner”) and to potential purchasers that these pieces had been given to him as gifts by Johns when, in fact, that was not true.

As part of his scheme to defraud, Meyer provided sworn, notarized certifications both to the gallery owner and to buyers stating that each piece was an authentic Johns work, that the art had been given to him directly by Johns, that he was the rightful owner of the piece, and that he had the right to sell that particular work. In addition, Meyer conditioned the sale of each of these works on the signed agreement by the purchaser that the art would be kept private for at least eight years, during which time the piece would not be loaned, exhibited, or re-sold.

Meyer also created fictitious inventory numbers for these pieces to give the impression that they were finished works that were authorized by Johns to be sold in the art market. Additionally, and to facilitate certain sales, Meyer created fake pages that he thereafter inserted into a ledger book of registered pieces of art maintained at Johns’ studio, and which he subsequently photographed, to give additional assurances to prospective buyers about the provenance, or history of ownership, of a particular piece.

During the course of his almost six-year scheme, the gallery owner sold 22 works of art on Meyer’s behalf for a total of approximately $6.5 million, of which $3.4 million was remitted directly to Meyer in sales proceeds.

* * *

Meyer, 51, of Salisbury, Connecticut, is charged with one count of interstate transportation of stolen property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein is assigned to the case.

Mr. Bharara praised the FBI for its outstanding work in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Frey is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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

————————————————————–

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.


“Attorney General, Manhattan U.S. Attorney, and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce Charges Against Two Derivatives Traders in Connection with Multi-Billion-Dollar Trading Loss at JPMorgan Chase & Company”

August 15, 2013

The New York Times on August 14, 2013 released the following:

Defendants Hid More Than Half-a-Billion Dollars in Losses Resulting from Derivatives Trading in JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office; a Third Trader, Bruno Iksil, Entered a Non-Prosecution Cooperation Agreement

Eric Holder, the Attorney General; Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the unsealing of criminal complaints against Javier Martin-Artajo and Julien Grout for their alleged participation in a conspiracy to hide the true extent of losses in a credit derivatives trading portfolio maintained by the Chief Investment Office (CIO) of JPMorgan Chase & Company (JPMorgan). Martin-Artajo served as a managing director and head of Credit and Equity Trading for the CIO, and Grout was a vice president and derivatives trader in the CIO.

Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Our financial system has been hurt in recent years not just by risky bets gone bad but also, in some cases, by criminal wrongdoing. We will not stop pursuing those who violate the public trust and compromise the integrity of our markets. I applaud U.S. Attorney Bharara, his colleagues in the Southern District of New York, and all of our partners on the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force for their longstanding commitment to combating all forms of financial fraud. And I pledge that we will continue to move both fairly and aggressively to bring the perpetrators of financial crimes to justice.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, the defendants, Javier Martin- Artajo and Julien Grout, deliberately and repeatedly lied about the fair value of billions of dollars in assets on JPMorgan’s books in order to cover up massive losses that mounted month after month at the beginning of 2012, which ultimately led JPMorgan to restate its losses by $660 million. The defendants’ alleged lies misled investors, regulators, and the public, and they constituted federal crimes. As has already been conceded, this was not a tempest in a teapot but rather a perfect storm of individual misconduct and inadequate internal controls. The difficulty inherent in precisely valuing certain kinds of financial positions does not give people a license to lie or mislead to cover up losses; it does not confer a license to create false books and records or to make false public filings. And that goes double for handsomely paid executives at a public company whose actions can roil markets and upend the economy.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “The complaints tell a story of a group of traders who got in over their heads, and to get out, doubled down on a series of risky positions. In the first quarter of 2012, boom turned to bust, as the defendants, concerned about losing control to other traders at the bank, fudged the numbers on their daily book and in some cases completely made them up. It brought a whole new meaning to ‘cooking the books.’”

In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced civil charges against Martin-Artajo and Grout.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaints unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

JPMorgan’s CIO is a component of the bank’s Corporate/Private Equity line of business, which, according to the bank, exists to manage the bank’s excess deposits—approximately $350 billion in 2012. Since approximately 2007, the CIO’s investments have included a so-called Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP), which consists of indices and tranches of indices of credit default swaps (CDS). A credit default swap is essentially an insurance contract on an underlying credit risk, such as corporate bonds. CDS indices are collections of CDSes that are traded as one unit, while CDS tranches are portions of those indices, usually sliced up by riskiness.

Under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and according to JPMorgan policy, CDS traders were required to value the securities in their portfolios on a daily basis. Those values, or “marks,” became part of the bank’s daily books and records. Because CDS indices and tranches are not traded over an exchange, traders are required to look to various data points in order to value their securities, such as actual transaction prices, price quotations from market makers, and values provided by independent services (such as Totem and MarkIT). JPMorgan’s accounting policy, which used the same methodology employed by the independent services, provided that the “starting point for the valuation of a derivatives portfolio is mid-market,” meaning the mid-point between the price at which market-makers were willing to buy or sell a security. Through about January 2012, CIO traders generally marked the securities in the SCP approximately to this mid-point, which they sometimes referred to as the “crude mid.”

The SCP was extremely profitable for JPMorgan—it produced approximately $2 billion in gross revenues since its inception—but in the first quarter of 2012, the SCP began to sustain consistent and considerable losses. From at least March 2012, Martin-Artajo and Grout conspired to artificially manipulate the SCP marks to disguise those losses. They did so, among other reasons, to avoid losing control of the SCP to other traders at JPMorgan.

Although Martin-Artajo pressured his traders, including Grout, to “defend the positions” in early 2012 by executing trades at favorable prices, the SCP lost approximately $130 million in January and approximately $88 million in February. In March 2012, when the market moved even more aggressively against the CIO’s positions, Martin-Artajo specifically instructed Grout and the head SCP trader, Bruno Iksil (who has entered a non-prosecution agreement), not to report losses in the SCP unless they were tied to some identifiable market event, such as a bankruptcy filing by a company whose bonds were in the CDS index. Martin-Artajo explained that “New York”—meaning, among others, JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Officer—did not want to see losses attributable to market volatility.

By mid-March 2012, Grout was explicitly and admittedly “not marking at mids.” He maintained a spreadsheet that kept track of the difference between the price that Grout recorded in JPMorgan’s books and records on the one hand, and the “crude mids” on the other. By March 15, 2012, according to Grout’s spreadsheet, the difference had grown to approximately $292 million. In a recorded online chat the same day, Grout explained that he was trying to keep the marks for most of the SCP’s positions “relatively realistic,” with the marks for one particular security “put aside.” That is, Grout mispriced that one particular security, of which the SCP held billions of dollars’ worth, by the full $292 million. The following day, Iksil told Martin-Artajo that the difference had grown to $300 million, and “I reckon we get to 400 [million] difference very soon.” In a separate conversation, Iksil remarked to Grout that “I don’t know where he [Martin-Artajo] wants to stop, but it’s getting idiotic.”

In the days that followed, Grout at times ignored Iksil’s instructions on how to mark the positions and instead followed Martin-Artajo’s mandate to continue to hide the losses. By March 20, 2012, Iksil insisted that Grout show a significant loss: $40 million for the day. In a recorded call, Martin-Artajo excoriated Iksil, finally emphasizing, “I didn’t want to show the P&L [the profit and loss].” Throughout the remainder of March 2012, while Iksil continued to try to insist that Martin-Artajo acknowledge the reality of the losses, Grout, at Martin-Artajo’s instructions, continued to hide them. As of March 30, 2012—the last day of the first quarter of 2012—Grout continued to fraudulently understate the SCP’s losses. These incorrect figures in the SCP were not only integrated into JPMorgan’s books and records, but also—as Martin-Artajo and Grout were well aware—into the bank’s quarterly financial filing for the first quarter of 2012 with the SEC.

During the course of the mis-marking scheme carried out by Martin-Artajo and Grout, the CIO’s Valuation Control Group (VCG) was supposed to serve as an independent check on the valuations assigned by traders to the securities that the traders were marking at month-end. The VCG, however, was effectively only staffed by one person and did not perform any independent review of the valuations. Instead, the VCG tolerated valuations outside the bid-offer spread as presented by Martin-Artajo and other CIO traders.

In August 2012, after Martin-Artajo and Grout were stripped of their responsibilities over the SCP and their scheme was discovered, JPMorgan restated its first quarter 2012 earnings and recognized an additional loss of $660 million in net revenue attributable to the mismarking of the SCP. JPMorgan announced that it was restating its earnings because it had lost confidence in the “integrity” of the marks submitted by Grout, at Martin-Artajo’s direction.

* * *

Martin-Artajo, 49, a Spanish citizen, and Grout, 35, a French citizen, are charged in one count of conspiracy; one count of falsifying the books and records of JPMorgan; one count of wire fraud; and one count of causing false statements to be made in JPMorgan’s filings with the SEC. They each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and 20 years in prison on each of the three remaining counts in the complaints and a fine of the greater of $5,000,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss as to certain of the offenses.

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. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.

Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the FBI. He also thanked the SEC and the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eugene Ingoglia and Matthew L. Schwartz are in charge of the prosecutions.

The charges contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and 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.


FBI: “Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce Insider Trading Charges Against Four SAC Capital Management Companies and SAC Portfolio Manager”

July 25, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 25, 2013 released the following:

SAC Management Companies Allegedly Engaged in Decade-Long Insider Trading Scheme on a Scale Without Known Precedent in Hedge Fund Industry; SAC Portfolio Manager Responsible for $1.25 Billion “Special Situations” Fund Has Pled Guilty to Insider Trading

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today the unsealing of insider trading charges against four companies—S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS, L.P. (SAC Capital LP), S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS, LLC (SAC Capital LLC), CR INTRINSIC INVESTORS, LLC (CR Intrinsic), and SIGMA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC (Sigma Capital); (collectively the SAC Companies). The SAC Companies are responsible for the management of a group of affiliated hedge funds (collectively the SAC Hedge Fund or SAC). Charges were also unsealed today against RICHARD LEE, a portfolio manager employed by SAC Capital LP, who focused on “special situations” like mergers and acquisitions, private equity buy-outs, and corporate restructurings in publicly traded companies across various industry sectors. LEE pled guilty on July 23, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe, to conspiracy and securities fraud charges in connection with his work at SAC Capital LP.

The SAC Companies are charged with criminal responsibility for insider trading offenses. These alleged offenses were committed by numerous employees, occurred over the span of more than a decade, and involved the securities of more than 20 publicly-traded companies across multiple sectors of the economy. It is charged that the acts of these employees were made possible by institutional practices that encouraged the widespread solicitation and use of material, non-public information (Inside Information). This activity allegedly resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal profits and avoided losses at the expense of members of the investing public. The SAC Companies are expected to be arraigned on the charges on tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “A company reaps what it sows, and as alleged, SAC seeded itself with corrupt traders, empowered to engage in criminal acts by a culture that looked the other way despite red flags all around. SAC deliberately encouraged the no-holds-barred pursuit of an ‘edge’ that literally carried it over the edge into corporate criminality. Companies, like individuals, need to be held to account and need to be deterred from becoming dens of corruption. To all those who run companies and value their enterprises, but pay attention only to the money their employees make and not how they make it, today’s indictment hopefully gets your attention.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said: “Our aim all along has been to root out the wrongdoers and send a message to anyone else inclined to break the law. If your information ‘edge’ is inside information, you can’t trade on it.”

According to the allegations in the five-count indictment and the criminal information to which LEE pled guilty, both of which were unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

The SAC Hedge Fund operated as a collection of dozens of individual trading portfolios that covered nearly every trading sector of the economy. Each portfolio was headed up by a portfolio manager (PM), and supported by one or more research analysts (RAs). SAC PMs had substantial discretion in managing the investments in their own portfolios, and were required by the SAC Companies to share the investment recommendations in which they had the greatest confidence with the owner of the SAC Companies (the SAC Owner). The SAC Owner managed the largest trading portfolio at SAC.

From 1999 through at least 2010, numerous employees of the SAC Companies obtained and traded on Inside Information, or recommended trades based on such information to SAC PMs or the SAC Owner. To date, eight SAC Company PMs and RAs have been charged and/or convicted in insider trading cases involving the SAC Hedge Fund, including LEE, who was charged and pled guilty earlier this week.

The systematic insider trading engaged in by SAC PMs and RAs was the predictable and foreseeable result of an institutional failure. The SAC business culture encouraged and tolerated the relentless pursuit of an information “edge,” with no meaningful commitment to ensuring that such an “edge” came from legitimate research and not Inside Information.

As charged in the indictment, these institutional failings fell into three main categories:

First, the SAC Companies focused on recruiting SAC PMs and SAC RAs who had proven networks of public company contacts. The SAC Companies, however, did not make any corresponding effort to ensure that prospective SAC PMs and SAC RAs did not use these contacts to obtain illegal Inside Information. For example, in a November 16, 2008, e-mail forwarded to the SAC Owner, an SAC PM candidate in the industrial sector was recommended in part because he had “a house in the Hamptons with the CFO” of a Fortune 100 industrial sector company. In another instance, the SAC Companies hired LEE despite a warning to the SAC Owner from LEE’s prior employer, that LEE had been a member of an insider trading group at that hedge fund. LEE ultimately traded on Inside Information in the $1.25 billion “special situations” SAC portfolio he jointly managed with a second SAC PM.

Second, employees of the SAC Companies were financially rewarded for recommending to the SAC Owner “high conviction” trading ideas, in which the SAC PM had an “edge” over other investors. In many cases, the employees were not questioned when making trading recommendations that appeared to be based on Inside Information. On numerous occasions, the SAC Owner failed to follow up with SAC employees who were promoting trading sourced to an “edge” from a contact at a public company or with similar language suggesting potential insider trading. On one occasion, the SAC Owner participated in a discussion with his employees on the topic of confidential information the SAC employees had said that they learned during a paid consultation session from a clinical investigator for a drug trial. During the discussion with his employees, the SAC Owner, a sophisticated trader with over three decades of experience, never questioned whether the drug trial data constituted Inside Information. In addition, the SAC Owner and SAC Companies cultivated an environment that emphasized not discussing Inside Information openly rather than not seeking or trading on it in the first place.

Third, the SAC Companies employed limited compliance measures designed to detect or prevent insider trading by SAC PMs or SAC RAs. They failed to routinely monitor employee e-mails for indications of insider trading until late 2009, even though SAC’s head of compliance had recommended such monitoring to SAC management four years earlier. Indeed, despite numerous documented cases of insider trading at SAC—established by, among other things, guilty pleas of six former SAC PMs and RAs, each predicated upon repeated insider trading over substantial periods of time—SAC’s compliance department contemporaneously identified only a single instance of suspected insider trading by its employees. In that one case, the SAC Companies permitted those involved to continue working at SAC and failed to report the conduct to regulators or law enforcement.

***

In addition to the indictment, today the government filed a civil forfeiture action (the forfeiture complaint) in Manhattan federal court, seeking the forfeiture of assets held by investment funds to which the SAC Companies served as investment advisors, assets held by affiliated investment funds, and assets held by the SAC Companies themselves. The Forfeiture Complaint alleges that the SAC Companies engaged in money laundering by commingling the illegal profits from insider trading with other assets, using the profits to promote additional insider trading, and transferring the profits with the assistance of financial institutions.

The SAC Companies are charged together in count one of the indictment with wire fraud, and each of the four SAC Companies is charged separately in counts two through five with securities fraud. Each of the SAC Companies faces a maximum fine for the securities fraud charges of the greater of $25 million, or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense on each charge.

The criminal information unsealed today, to which RICHARD LEE pled guilty earlier this week, charges LEE with one count of conspiracy and one count of securities fraud in connection with insider trading between April 2009 through 2010, while he was employed by SAC Capital LP. LEE faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the securities fraud charge and five years in prison for the conspiracy charge. He also faces a maximum fine of $5 million for the securities fraud charge and $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense on the conspiracy charge.

Of the seven other SAC Company portfolio managers and research analysts previously charged in insider trading cases involving the SAC Hedge Fund, five have pled guilty and await sentencing. They include:

  • Jon Horvath, who pled guilty on September 28, 2012;
  • Wes Wang, who pled guilty on July 13, 2012;
  • Donald Longueuil, who pled guilty on April 28, 2011;
  • Noah Freeman, who pled guilty on February 7, 2011; and
  • Richard Choo-Beng Lee, who pled guilty on October 13, 2009

Charges are still pending against the remaining two defendants previously charged in connection with SAC, Michael Steinberg and Mathew Martoma, who are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the FBI and also thanked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance in the investigation. He added that the investigation is continuing.

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. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed nearly 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.StopFraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arlo Devlin-Brown, Antonia M. Apps and John T. Zach are in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah Smith is responsible for the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and 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.


Manhattan U.S. Attorney and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Announce Charges Against Psychiatrist for Allegedly Distributing Oxycodone

June 19, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 18, 2013 released the following:

“Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the arrest today of William S. Belfar, a licensed psychiatrist in New York, on charges that he distributed oxycodone, a prescription painkiller, for cash and without a medical purpose. Belfar was presented today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “As alleged, William Belfar, a licensed psychiatrist, contributed to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse and addiction by writing prescriptions in exchange for cash—conduct which he had described as illegal when discussing other doctors. This office will not tolerate medical professionals who exploit their licenses to fuel the prescription drug problem.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “William Belfar, a licensed physician and mental health professional, allegedly exploited the addictive nature of oxycodone—the very thing he warned of on television—to make money. He violated the oath of his profession and broke the law in peddling oxycodone prescriptions. The Health Care Fraud Task Force was formed in part to protect the public from unscrupulous doctors who put profiteering ahead of professional responsibility.”

According to the complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

Belfar operated a medical office in Manhattan, New York, from which he sold prescriptions for oxycodone and other medications for cash. On three occasions from May 2011 to April 2013, he sold prescriptions of oxycodone pills and other medications to an FBI confidential informant and two undercover FBI officers. Belfar sold the prescriptions for up to $1,000 per prescription. On one occasion when Belfar sold an oxycodone prescription, he stated to the informant, “[I]t is a very easy way to make money, but it’s an easy way for me to go to jail, too.” Belfar prescribed the oxycodone to the confidential informant even though he said he believed the informant was a “dealer.”

In February and March 2013, around the same time that Belfar was selling oxycodone prescriptions, he appeared on two television shows as an interview guest on the subject of oxycodone addiction. During those interviews, Belfar discussed cases of celebrities becoming addicted to oxycodone, including one situation where the “doctor essentially became [a] drug dealer.” Belfar also stated during one interview that “This is a big business….On the street…each [oxycodone] pill is $30….Patients will pay a lot of money just to get these pills….The doctors prescribe it. Yes, some do it for money. Some do it because they just don’t know what they are doing….[T]hey just shouldn’t be doing it.”

Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, is a powerful painkiller with a high potential for addiction and abuse. It is sold on the street as a substitute for heroin and other illegal drugs.

Belfar, 49, of Huntington, New York, is charged with three counts of distributing oxycodone. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI, the FBI’s Boston Field Office, the FBI Boston-Lakeville RA, the New York City Police Department, and the FBI’s New York Health Care Fraud Task Force. The FBI’s New York Health Care Fraud Task Force was formed in 2007 in an effort to combat health care fraud in the greater New York City area. The task force is composed of agents, officers, and investigators of the FBI, NYPD, New York State Insurance Fraud Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Inspector General, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, NYS Attorney General’s Office, NYS-Office of Medicaid Inspector General, NYC Health and Hospitals Inspector General, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Rahul Mukhi and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and 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

————————————————————–

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.