“Prosecutors: Ex-comptroller accused of stealing $53M from small Illinois city to plead guilty”

November 14, 2012

The Washington Post on November 13, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

CHICAGO — A former comptroller accused of stealing $53 million from her small northern Illinois city to fund a lavish lifestyle, including one of the nation’s foremost horse-breeding operations, is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

Rita Crundwell will plead guilty to a federal charge that accuses her of stealing the public money while overseeing the public finances of Dixon, U.S. attorney’s spokesman Randall Samborn said. Prosecutors allege that she stole the money over several years and siphoned it into a secret bank account.

Crundwell had previously pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud count, which carried a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Dixon Mayor James Burke welcomed her apparent change of heart, saying it should clear the way for the city to recoup more of its losses. A guilty plea in the federal case enables U.S. Marshals to start selling off millions of dollars of assets still in Crundwell’s name, including around $450,000 worth of diamonds and other jewels, ranch land and a house in Florida, he said.

“This is very good news,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his office Tuesday. “If she wanted to continue with not guilty pleas, she could have dragged this out for two or three years.”

Burke said Crudwell’s assets probably amounted to several million dollars, though he didn’t have a specific figure.

Crunwell’s federal public defenders, Paul Gaziano and Kristin Carpenter, did not immediately return messages seeking messages Tuesday afternoon. Crundwell, who is free on a recognizance bond, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard in Rockford federal court on Wednesday.

Crundwell, 58, is accused of using her modestly paid town hall job to steal tax dollars, support an extravagant lifestyle and win national fame as a breeder. Prosecutors allege that since 1990, Crundwell stole more than $53 million from Dixon, where she oversaw public finances as the city comptroller since the 1980s. The small city is about 100 miles west of Chicago.

Authorities say Crundwell bought luxury homes and vehicles, and spent millions on her horse-breeding operation, RC Quarter Horses LLC, which produced 52 world champions in exhibitions run by the American Quarter Horse Association.

Prosecutors say Crundwell’s scheme unraveled only after a co-worker filling in for her while she was on an extended vacation stumbled upon the secret bank account.

Federal prosecutors alleged Crundwell created phony invoices that she characterized as being from the state of Illinois. She then allegedly put that money from a city account into another account, which she repeatedly used for personal use.

Her arrest stunned Dixon, a small city along a picturesque vein of the Mississippi River in Illinois farm country and the boyhood home of the late President Ronald Reagan. Its 16,000 residents are largely lower-middle class, working at factories, grain farms, the local prison and a hospital, among other places.

Crundwell also has pleaded not guilty to 60 separate but related felony theft counts in Lee County. The selling of the assets was held up only by the federal case, said Burke.

Since the case broke, the U.S. Marshals Service auctioned dozens of Crundwell’s horses. Officials have said that if Crundwell was found guilty, the proceeds would go toward restitution for the city.

Crundwell grew up in Dixon, playing baseball and surrounded by the outdoors and animals on her family’s farm. At 17, she started at City Hall in a work program for high school students. She stayed, serving as treasurer before becoming comptroller.

According to the mayor, the horses could be sold — unlike the jewelry and other property — before a guilty plea because Crundwell agreed to it.

But otherwise, he added, “there is no indication that she has remorse over this whole thing.””

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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 Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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


Federal Agents Raid Calif. Marijuana University

April 4, 2012

MyFoxAtlanta.com on April 2, 2012 released the following:

“TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Federal agents on Monday targeted a San Francisco Bay area medical marijuana training school started by a leading pot advocate who has been instrumental in pushing for ballot measures to legalize the drug.

The doors to Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland were blocked by U.S. marshals and yellow tape following the early morning raid by agents with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents carted trash bags of unknown materials out of the school as protesters gathered to condemn the action. A museum connected to the school and a nearby medical marijuana dispensary operated by Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee also were raided.

Demonstrators outside the multistory building, some openly smoking marijuana, held signs demanding an end to federal crackdowns on marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law.

Ryan Hooper, 26, of Oakland, wearing an Oaksterdam hat and sweat shirt, said he had finished taking courses at the school in February.

“This is not in the best interest of the city,” Hooper said. “If they close the dispensaries, all of this stuff is going to go back underground.”

Oaksterdam University was founded by Lee, who spent more than $1 million as the main backer of a California ballot measure defeated in 2010 that would have legalized marijuana in the state for recreational use. Lee did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The school offers classes to would-be medical marijuana providers in fields ranging from horticulture to business to the legal ins-and-outs of running a dispensary. It does not distribute marijuana.

Arlette Lee, an IRS spokeswoman and no relation to Richard Lee, told reporters that agents were serving a federal search warrant but said she could not otherwise comment on the purpose of the raid.

“What we are doing here today is under seal,” Lee said.

Agents also raided Richard Lee’s home and briefly detained him during their search but did not arrest him, said Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam’s executive chancellor.

“Clearly, they’re trying to knock down one of the leaders in the cannabis reform movement,” Jones said.

No other arrests were reported, and it was unclear if the raid was prompted by a civil or criminal complaint. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, also declined comment.

The raid was the latest move by the federal government to crack down on California’s thriving medical marijuana industry. Federal prosecutors across the state joined late last year to shut down dozens of dispensaries by threatening to seize landlords’ property if they did not evict marijuana retailers.

The government’s action came as a surprise to medical marijuana advocates because the city of Oakland has been somewhat of a safe haven for pot clinics. The city has long allowed four medical marijuana dispensaries to legally operate under city ordinances and recently awarded permits that would allow four more to open.

“Oakland has one of the most highly regulated systems for distributing medical marijuana in the state,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California’s director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We think this is a campaign by the U.S. attorneys not just to limit but to kill access to medical marijuana in California.”

Others countered that pot advocates are mistaken if they believe the Obama administration wouldn’t take action.

“This is a warning signal to any city including Oakland that they should tread very carefully when sanctioning an illegal activity,” said Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser to the president’s drug czar and an assistant professor at the University of Florida. “The brazenness of Oakland and other cities like this has actually made them a target.”

Some observers said the federal government’s decision to go after Oaksterdam shows it’s not going to back down.

“It doesn’t get much more confrontational than that,” said Alex Kreit, a law professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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

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

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


Federal, State, and Local Authorities Arrest Six Alleged San Antonio-Based Texas Mexican Mafia Members

October 13, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“United States Attorney Robert Pitman, FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson, and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced today that six San Antonio-based members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) have been arrested based on two federal drug indictments.

Those arrested include:

  • 45-year-old Robert Carreno, Jr, (aka “Lil Bit”);
  • 39-year-old Tony Berlanga (aka “Tony”);
  • 46-year-old Gabriel Quiroz (aka “Biker”);
  • 48-year-old Guadalupe Ramos (aka “Lupio”);
  • 56-year-old Julio Villanueva (aka “Shorty Hawk”); and,
  • 63-year-old Teresa Alonzo (aka “Tia”).

Manuel Gonzales (aka “Speedy”), age 36, and Alexander Garza (aka “Animal”), age 35, were already in federal custody for a supervised release violation. Joseph Sanchez (aka “Cowboy”), age 41, and 20-year-old Santos Trevino (aka “Dedos,” “Beatles”) are currently in state custody on unrelated charges.

The first indictment, returned on October 5, 2011, and unsealed today, charges all of the defendants, with the exception of Teresa Alonso, with one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Upon conviction, the defendants face a minimum mandatory 10-year term of imprisonment, and a maximum of life in federal prison.

Officials allege that from December 1, 2009, to July 20, 2011, the defendants were responsible for the distribution of at least 48 kilograms of heroin, which the TMM sold for $750,000. Authorities believe Carreno holds the rank of “Free World General” of the TMM. Also, Carreno and Berlanga allegedly oversaw the transportation of the heroin from Laredo to San Antonio, for further distribution by TMM members.

The second indictment, also returned on October 5, 2011, charges Teresa Alonzo (aka “Tia”) with a conspiracy to distribute heroin, between December 1, 2009 and July 20, 2011. Upon conviction, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

In June 2011, Alonzo allegedly attempted to smuggle an ounce of heroin to TMM Vice President Benito Alonzo, while he was incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections. Also as part of the distribution conspiracy, Alonzo is accused of having accepted thousands of dollars as repayment to Benito Alonzo for monies loaned to purchase heroin. A federal search warrant executed at her residence in August 2011 resulted in the seizure of notebooks containing names and telephone numbers of TMM members, and correspondence from Benito Alonzo.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force together with the Texas Department of Public Safety – Criminal Investigations Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, New Braunfels Police Department, and the 81st Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Marshals Service also assisted in making the arrests.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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

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

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


Armando Pena Pleads Guilty to a One Count Federal Indictment Charging Him with Aiding and Abetting Honest Services Wire Fraud in Violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343 and 1346

July 27, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on July 26, 2011 released the following:

“Probationer Allowed by Judge Limas to Report by Mail After Bribe Paid, Pleads Guilty

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – The probationer who left the state without authorization but was permitted to report by mail after a bribe was paid to former State District Judge Abel Limas has been convicted of aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Armando Pena, 30, of Corpus Christi, Texas, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan to a one-count criminal indictment charging him with aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud by former state judge Abel Corral Limas, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343, 1346, and 2. At today’s hearing, Pena admitted to his role in arranging a $1,500 payment to Limas in April 2008, allegedly through middleman Jose Manuel “Meme” Longoria, in exchange for Limas’s order allowing him to report to the state probation by mail rather than in person. Pena, who had left Texas without authorization to reside in Arkansas, was subject to arrest and revocation of his deferred adjudication probationary term for violating a condition of his eight-year probationary term imposed for aggravated robbery in March 2006.

Per the pleadings filed in court today, Karina Pena, Armando’s wife, contacted Longoria on April 22, 2008, seeking his assistance to arrange for her husband to be permitted to report by mail. Two days later, according to court documents, Karina Pena was told that Limas wanted $1500, Longoria sought $300 for himself for arranging the deal and Limas had already been paid $1,000. On April 24, 2008, Armando Pena finalized the arrangements with Longoria and wire transferred $1800 to Harlingen, Texas.

FBI agents later reviewed the Armando Pena state court case file and located a progress report written by Pena’s probation officer indicating that, “On April 23, 2008, the Honorable Court (Limas) contacted our office in reference to allowing the defendant to report by mail.” Furthermore, on May 13, 2008, Judge Limas signed an order allowing Pena to report by mail.

Pena faces a maximum prison term of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years. Sentencing is set before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen on Oct. 31, 2011. Pena was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Pena’s wife, Karina Pena, pleaded guilty to the same offense on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, and has been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.

The charges against the Penas are the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Wynne and Oscar Ponce are prosecuting the cases.”

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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Brent Farris Sentenced in St. Louis’ Federal Court for Bankruptcy Fraud After Five Years on the Run

July 18, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Missouri on July 15, 2011 released the following:

“St. Louis, MO – The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Brent Farris, former owner of the Farris Gallery, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

In 2004 Farris was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution. Farris was released on bond until such time he was directed to serve his sentence. When directed to appear to begin serving his sentence, Farris instead fled abroad. The U.S. Marshals tracked Farris through approximately 14 different countries on three continents for five years. Farris obtained a false British passport in order to aid his flight. Farris also used the passport to live and work in China, and attempt to travel throughout Asia and Europe undetected.

Based on information provided by the U.S. Marshals, Italian authorities arrested and detained Farris in Rome, Italy in 2009. He was confined in an Italian prison for a period of time, then released to house arrest while the United States sought extradition. Farris absconded from Italy while awaiting extradition. He was finally apprehended and detained in 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico by Mexican Immigration officials acting on information obtained from U.S. law enforcement, and deported back to the United States, where he was met and placed into custody by the U.S. Marshals. He was charged with failure to appear, for which he was sentenced today. The new sentence will be served consecutive to the original sentence he is now serving.

“The Marshal’s Service deserves a tremendous amount of credit for their perseverance and tenacity in the pursuit of Mr. Farris,” stated U.S. Attorney Rich Callahan.

In July 2004, Farris pled guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud. He admitted with his plea that in January 2002 he transferred ownership of an oil painting to another person. He then had the person auction the painting at Christie’s in New York City in order to conceal the proceeds in the bankruptcy.

BRENT FARRIS, St. Louis, Missouri, appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge Catherine D. Perry.”

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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James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond a Hip Hop Manager Arrested for Allegedly Running a Cocaine Trafficking Ring

June 22, 2011

The Wall Street Journal on June 21, 2011 released the following story:

“By Pervais Shallwani and Sean Gardiner

Federal agents arrested the manager of several big-name hip hop artists after a foot chase in Manhattan on Tuesday.

James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond, who had been a fugitive from the law for the past month, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals after they discovered that he had been staying at the W Hotel in Union Square. When he spotted the agent, Rosemond, 46 years old and the head of Czar Entertainment, started walking quickly and then ran for several blocks before being tackled and arrested at 21st Street and Park Avenue.

Rosemond has been accused of being the leader of a “large-scale, bi-coastal narcotics trafficking organization that shipped cocaine” from Los Angeles to New York, according to a 21-page federal complaint. The Rosemond Organization, as his alleged network is called in the document, “distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine since 2008 and generated millions of dollars through its narcotics sales.” Some of the cocaine was “packaged in vaccum-sealing and covered in mustard” to avoid being detected by narcotics-sniffing dogs, the complaint alleges.

Rosemond pleaded not guilty to intentionally conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. He was ordered held without bail.

His attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said, “This indictment was built on the backs of witnesses that have been threatened and bribed by federal prosecutors. And I plan to expose all of it. If the government wants a fight, they’re going to get a fight.”

Rosemond’s Czar Entertainment manages artists like Game, Brandy and Mario Winans. According to the criminal complaint, Rosemond disguised some shipments of drugs as “freight that was ostensibly needed by the performance artists he managed.”

Last week, a convicted killer namd Dexter Isaac claimed Rosemond hired him in 1994 to rob rapper Tupac Shakur, who was shot coming out of a Times Square recording studio. Shakur survived that shooting but was murdered two years later.

Lichtman called Isaac a “liar” and alleged he is only motivated by trying to reduce his jail sentence.

In Brooklyn federal court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky argued for no bail, alleging that when Rosemond was arrested he had a “fugitive’s tool kit” on him. The prosecutor said Rosemond was in the final stages of obtaining a fake passport and had a airplane ticket to the Bahamas for the morning of June 24.

Kaminsky said Rosemond was carrying five Blackberries, an iPad and two false driver’s licenses on him — a California drivers license with his photo and a fake name and a New York drivers license belonging to someone else. Kaminsky said the hip hop manager also had an application for a fast passport using the information on the New York driver’s license.

Tuesday’s arrest comes two months after federal authorities tried to serve an arrest warrant on Rosemond, but arrived to find he was not there, Kaminsky said.

Mr. Lichtman said the reason his client may have seemed like he was on the run was because he has been harassed for three years. “I don’t blame him for being anxious,” the attorney said.”

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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Keith Alan Hasson (a.k.a. Psyche) Added to the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted as a Suspected Federal Criminal Drug Kingpin

June 7, 2011

The U.S. Marshals Service on June 6, 2011 released the following press release:

“U.S. Marshals Add Drug Kingpin To 15 Most Wanted

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marshals have added a suspected drug kingpin to their 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. Keith Hasson is wanted on a 2005 open indictment from the New Mexico U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, continuing criminal enterprise and conspiracy to launder money.

Hasson, 45, is considered to be the leader of a criminal enterprise responsible for large- scale distribution of cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States. His organization operated from 1999 to 2005, generating more than $20 million in cash and assets.

Hasson’s brother, Anthony Hasson, received more than 24 years in prison for his conviction in the same criminal case.

Hasson has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1981, including arrests for attempted murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, burglary and possession with intent to distribute. Hasson is also wanted for questioning in two gang murders. He has a previous federal conviction for conspiracy to deliver cocaine.

“Only a handful of fugitives have as far-reaching a criminal enterprise, or such an extensive, continued history of violent behavior as Keith Hasson,” said Geoff Shank, Assistant Director of Operations for the U.S. Marshals Service. “We are committed to bringing him in and ending his three-decades-long history of criminal behavior.”

Hasson has family ties and associates across the United States including Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.

Investigators believe Hasson has access to significant financial resources and likely continues to organize criminal enterprise.

“Today, the Marshals Service in the District of New Mexico has become a force multiplier, with the law enforcement resources of the Marshals Service from throughout the entire 94 federal districts, coalesced with a unified goal of identifying the whereabouts of this extremely dangerous 15 Most Wanted fugitive,” said Conrad E. Candelaria, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico. “A unified goal so that fugitive Hasson can be taken into custody and held accountable and answer to the many horrendous crimes that he has committed. I would also encourage each and every citizen to be watchful of fugitive Hasson as he is a danger to our community and in all likelihood is committing and endangering our communities and citizens with criminal and violent behavior.”

Hasson is 6 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos on both arms and is known to use the aliases Keith Osborne, Dennis Osborne Phillips, Kevin Russell, Larry John Morrison, Taylor Jackson, Anthony Hasson, Tony Hasson and Dewayne Hasson.”

Attached is Keith Hasson’s Indictment

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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