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.


Kenmore Financial Advisor Edward H. Kahler Arrested for Allegedly Committing Mail Fraud

October 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 30, 2013 released the following:

Allegedly Liquidated $125,000 Client Account Without Permission

A long-time financial advisor who was stripped of his insurance producers license in 2012, was arrested today on a federal charge of mail fraud for liquidating a client account without authorization, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. EDWARD H. KAHLER, 64, is the owner of Key Resources, a Kenmore, Washington retirement consultation company which sells annuities and life insurance. The charge alleges that KAHLER used proprietary information from the company he used to represent to access customer accounts. KAHLER allegedly used that information to liquidate the customer account and use the money for his own benefit. KAHLER will make his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, October 1, 2013.

According to the criminal complaint, from 1983 to 2007 KAHLER was a financial advisor for Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC), and was appointed by VALIC to sell its annuities. VALIC terminated KAHLER in 2007 when it discovered he was promoting competing annuities. Using information that he had in his files, KAHLER allegedly created profiles for former clients using the VALIC on-line system, and fraudulently caused VALIC to liquidate the clients’ accounts and send the proceeds to him for his personal use and benefit. In the instance described in the complaint, on Christmas Eve 2012, KAHLER liquidated the account of a client who had died in 1984, and used the $125,000 to fund a trip to Las Vegas, the payment on a BMW and other personal expenses. He also paid business expenses with the money.

Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Arnold.”

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

Video on Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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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.


Gerardo Blasi, Former New Jersey Turnpike Authority Manager, Charged with Allegedly Stealing More Than $120,000

July 1, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 1, 2013 released the following:

“NEWARK, NJ—A former claims manager for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority was arrested today for allegedly stealing more than $120,000 from the authority, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Gerardo Blasi, 54, of Clifton, New Jersey, was arrested by special agents of the FBI and charged by complaint with mail fraud and defrauding a state agency that receives federal funds. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court.

According to the complaint:

Blasi was a claims manager at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, responsible for negotiating and collecting payments from insurance companies whose insured drivers caused damage to the Turnpike. From April 2011 to June 2013, Blasi allegedly stole more than $120,000 from the authority in several ways, including instructing insurance companies to issue checks payable to fraudulent repair companies. When the checks were mailed to Blasi at the authority, he would arrange to have them cashed and keep a portion of the money for himself.

The fraud count with which Blasi is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The theft from a state agency count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, with the investigation leading to today’s charges. He also thanked the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for its cooperation in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Foster of the office’s Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. § 1341

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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.


Father and Son Allegedly Linked to Separate Federal Fraud Schemes Arrested at LAX as They Prepared to Leave U.S. with One-Way Plane Tickets to Russia

May 11, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 2013 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A father and son were arrested yesterday afternoon as they were about to board a plane to Moscow on federal fraud charges that include allegations that the older man sent tens of thousands of bogus “invoices” to small business owners in California in a shakedown scheme that caused at least 5,000 victims to send $225 to a fake company that purported to be a state agency.

The men—Viktor Ryzhkin, 45, of the Little Armenia section of Los Angeles; and his son, Evgenii Ryzhkin, 22, who lived with his father—were arrested late yesterday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport by federal agents as they prepared to board a Transaero Airlines flight to Russia. The Ryzhkins, both of whom are Russian nationals, and two other family members, all had one-way tickets to Moscow that had been purchased on Monday.

According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday afternoon in United States District Court, Viktor Ryzhkin targeted more than 170,000 California small business owners in a mail fraud scheme that would have brought in nearly $40 million had all of the potential victims complied with demands to send payments to “Corporate Business Filings,” a Beverly Hills company set up and controlled by Viktor Ryzhkin.

The small business owners targeted in this scheme received invoices that appeared to be from the state of California, notifying them that they each owed $225 to the state and directing them to fill out certain forms related to their businesses. The letters sent to the victims—all of which were sent over the course of several days at the end of March and beginning of April—each listed the correct, publicly available California Small Business Administration entity number assigned to the particular small business. The business owners were told in the letters that they would face $250 penalties if they did not remit payment by April 15, 2013, and did not fill out the forms as directed. The letters and invoices that appeared to be from the state of California were completely bogus.

Investigators believe that Viktor Ryzhkin became aware of the investigation into his scheme in late last month. Viktor and Evgenii Ryzhkin, accompanied by the two family members, were about to board a plane at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, when they were arrested by United States Postal Inspectors.

Evgenii Ryzhkin was charged in a separate criminal complaint filed yesterday in United States District Court. Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged with participating in a conspiracy to take over home equity lines of credit in a scheme that caused at least $1.2 million in losses. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Eygenii Ryzhkin, he was caught on surveillance video depositing a stolen check linked to a hijacked HELOC account.

Both Ryzhkins are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court.

Viktor Ryzhkin is charged in a criminal complaint with mail fraud, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Evgenii Ryzhkin is charged in a separate criminal complaint with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, each of which carries a statutory maximum sentence of sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

This two cases against the Ryzhkins are being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection assisted during yesterday’s arrests.”

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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.


Gregory Lashon Thomas, Aja D. Crawford, and Ernest Ohenekitiwa McMillan Set for a Federal Criminal Trial Before Honorable Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater

July 7, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas on July 6, 2011 released the following:

“TRIAL DATE SET IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE FRAUD CASE

Alleged Fraud Involved Approximately $6 Million in Fraudulently Obtained Loan Proceeds

DALLAS — An August 29, 2011, trial date, before Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, has been set for three defendants charged with running a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme in the Dallas area, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Gregory Lashon Thomas, Aja D. Crawford, aka Aja Abercrombie and Ernest Ohenekitiwa McMillan were arrested on conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud charges outlined in a four-count indictment returned last month. All three pleaded not guilty and have been released on bond.

According to the indictment, Gregory Thomas, 40, of Desoto, Texas, owned and operated Myriad Investments and Investors Source, two real-estate “investment” companies in the Dallas area. Gregory Thomas recruited individuals, including Ernest McMillan, 41, of Dallas, and others to buy residential real estate by telling them that they were purchasing “investment” properties. Thomas further worked with various loan officers, including Aja Crawford, 34, of Irving, Texas, to prepare false loan applications on behalf of the individual purchasers. The loan applications included misrepresentations about the individuals’ monthly income, intention to occupy the property, assets and liabilities. Some loans also included fake documents attempting to justify an individual’s credit-worthiness, such as fake bank records to show that the individual had sufficient money in the bank to qualify for the mortgage

For certain properties involved in the scheme, Thomas provided the down payment at closing. Shortly after closing, Thomas received payment from the seller that wasn’t disclosed on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. Thomas would then pay the individual purchaser or another recruiter for purchasing the property.

The indictment alleges that from February 2006 through July 2008, Thomas recruited individuals to purchase real estate properties resulting in approximately $6 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds and $2 million in estimated losses.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, 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. For more information about the task force visit: http://www.stopfraud.gov

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the conspiracy to commit mail fraud count and each of the substantive mail fraud counts carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Nicholas Bunch is in charge of the prosecution.”

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

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

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

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