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

June 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fraudulent Federal Reserve Notes:

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

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

Illegal Kickback Schemes:

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

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

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

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

Market Manipulation Schemes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ponzi Schemes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Recent Cases Resulting from the Initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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

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

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


Secret Service Agents Relieved Of Duty Following Colombia Misconduct Allegations

April 16, 2012

Huffington Post on April 13, 2012 released the following:

“By JULIE PACE

CARTAGENA, Colombia — A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Barack Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty because of allegations of misconduct.

A caller who said he had knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

Ronald Kessler, a former Post reporter and the author of a book about the Secret Service, told the Post that he had learned that 12 agents were involved, several of them married.

The incident threatened to overshadow Obama’s economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying only that there had been “allegations of misconduct” made against Secret Service personnel in the Colombian port city hosting Obama and more than 30 world leaders.

Donovan said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president’s arrival Friday night.

Obama was attending a leaders’ dinner Friday night at Cartagena’s historic Spanish fortress. He was due to attend summit meetings with regional leaders Saturday and Sunday.

Those involved had been sent back to their permanent place of duty and were being replaced by other agency personnel, Donovan said. The matter was turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency’s internal affairs.

“These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the president’s trip,” Donovan said.”

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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

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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.


Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez Indicted for Allegedly Attempting to Assassinate the President of the United States

January 17, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 17, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was indicted by a federal grand jury today for attempting to assassinate the president of the United States. The indictment stems from the November 11, 2011 shooting near the White House.

The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and David Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.

The federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a 17-count indictment against Ortega-Hernandez, who has been in custody since his arrest November 16, 2011. In addition to the attempted assassination charge, Ortega-Hernandez was charged with assaulting federal officers with a deadly weapon, injuring property of the United States, and related firearms charges. The grand jury returned criminal charges against Ortega-Hernandez for violating District of Columbia law as well. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the charges carry a possible prison term of life imprisonment.

According to the government’s evidence, on November 11, 2011, at about 9 p.m., the defendant drove his Honda Accord westbound in the 1600 block of Constitution Avenue NW. He stopped the vehicle just past the entrance to the Ellipse, and fired several rounds at the White House. No one was injured. FBI investigators examined the building and located several confirmed bullet impact points on the south side of the building on or above the second story residence area. Several bullets and fragments also were collected in the area near the impact points.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.

In announcing the charges, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, and Special Agent in Charge Beach expressed their appreciation to all those who diligently investigated this case from the FBI, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Park Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys George P. Varghese and John W. Borchert of the National Security Section of the United States Attorney’s Office.”

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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

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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.


Twenty South Florida Residents Charged in $40 Million Bank and Mortgage Fraud Scheme

September 29, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“MIAMI— Twenty individuals, including numerous licensed real estate industry professionals, have been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud in connection with their alleged participation in a $40 million mortgage fraud scheme. According to the indictment, from March 2006 through June 2008, the defendants conspired to submit false loan applications and related documents to multiple banks for the purpose of obtaining approximately $40 million in mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). This resulted in approximately $20 million in losses to the banks.

The indictment was announced today by Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office; Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS); Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG); and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), along with members of the Federal-State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force.

The 25-count indictment charges the following defendants: Alina Rubi, 45, of Miami (mortgage broker); Camilo Garcia, 39, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Sylvia M. Zagales, 48, of Miami Lakes, Fla., (title agent); Ivette Carreno, 34, of Miami (bank manager); Pedro Rubi, 42, of Miami (mortgage broker); Dianelys Garcia, 37, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Luis Pardo Dieguez, 51, of Miami (realtor); Galia Fernandez, Jr., 50, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Sheena Eizmendiz, 36, of Miami; Ivis R. Hernandez, 41, of Miami (realtor); Jose Raul Hernandez, 52, of Miami (realtor); Yovanis Obregon Jimenez, 38, of Key Largo (real estate appraiser); Jose Manuel Pardo, 49, of Miami (realtor); Sandra M. Rodriguez, 50, of Miami, Mayra Martinez Suarez, 46, of Miami (mortgage broker); Laura E. Diaz, 57, of Hialeah, Fla.; Juan R. Prieto, 49, of Miami (realtor); Flavia E. Perez, 52, of Miami (mortgage broker); Jose Antonio Diaz, 75, of Miami, and Johny Hernandez, 25, of Miami (mortgage broker).

The defendants are variously charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud (count 1); bank fraud (counts 2-21); receipt of gifts for procuring loans (counts 22 and 23); and providing gifts for procuring loans (count 24 and 25). The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of real property and money derived from the fraud. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison on each count.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer stated, “Even by South Florida fraud standards, today’s prosecution is shocking. Never before have we seen so many real estate and bank industry professionals charged in a single indictment. In addition, the defendants’ $40 million fraud spanned two years and resulted in $20 million in actual losses to the victim banks. Our commitment to stomp out mortgage fraud is unwavering. We will continue to prosecute all those involved in fraud, from straw buyers and sellers, all the way up the chain to corrupt bank officials and mortgage brokers.”

“Combating mortgage fraud continues to be a priority due to the impact of lending and the housing market on the nation’s economy,” said Special Agent in Charge Gillies. “This is a warning to those in the mortgage industry who think they can get away with creating phony documents to line their pockets with stolen loan proceeds. The FBI will continue to work with its federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.”

“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General is pleased to join the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and our law enforcement colleagues in announcing these indictments today. We are committed to our partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement to address mortgage fraud cases throughout the country. The American people need to be assured that their government is working to ensure integrity in the financial services and housing industries and that those involved in criminal misconduct that undermines that integrity will be held accountable,” said Inspector General Rymer.

Miami-Dade Police Director Loftus added, “Though we are pleased with the outcome of this investigation, we recognize that the indictment of this organization is only a small part of a systemic, ongoing criminal enterprise. We will remain vigilant in our pursuit of these offenders.”

As part of the scheme, brother and sister team, Alina Rubi and Camilo Garcia used Ivette Carreno, then a manager at Regions Bank, to obtain approval of nearly 200 fraud-based HELOCs. Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia and his wife, Dianelys Garcia, and other co-defendants prepared false documents, such as proof of employment, tax returns, and property deeds, to support loan applications that were replete with false statements. Other co-defendants, such as Pedro Rubi, Luis Pardo Dieguez, and Ivis Hernandez, prepared mortgage and HELOC loan applications on behalf of unqualified borrowers and buyers. The loan applications and related documents, which were submitted to lenders, contained numerous false statements regarding the borrowers’ and buyers’ employment, income, deposits, assets, liabilities, and other information necessary for lenders to assess their qualifications to borrow money. Some of the false statements included misrepresentations that the borrowers were doctors, dentists, engineers, or engaged in other high-paying professions, with false yearly incomes, sometimes exceeding $300,000. In many instances, the unqualified buyers lied about property ownership, in that they did not even own the properties for which they received the equity lines of credit. On some occasions, the defendants used the HELOC proceeds to later purchase the very properties for which they had obtained the HELOC loans.

Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia, Pedro Rubi, Luis Pardo Dieguez, and Galia Fernandez recruited individuals, and paid others to recruit individuals, to fraudulently obtain mortgage and HELOC loans on the properties. Among the individuals recruited to act as unqualified buyers and borrowers were defendants and co-conspirators Sheena Eizmendiz, Yovanis Obregon Jimenez, Jose Manuel Pardo, Sandra M. Rodriguez, Mayra Martinez Suarez, Laura Diaz, Juan Prieto, Flavia Perez, Jose Antonio Diaz, and Johny Hernandez.

To further the fraud scheme, Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia, and other co-defendants used Silvia Zagales, a title agent, and her company, the Title Services Group, to divide and disburse, among the defendants, millions of dollars in loan proceeds. As part of the closing procedure, Zagales prepared and submitted to lenders documents that falsely stated, among other things, that borrowers supplied their own funds at the closing of the sale transactions; that she had sufficient loan proceeds and cash-to-close funds to cover the disbursements approved by the lender; and that good faith deposits had been provided by borrowers. Zagales and her co-conspirators fraudulently disbursed the loan proceeds to the sellers and others. In some instances, Zagales used the loan proceeds to satisfy the buyers’ cash-to-close obligations, and would often pocket seller proceeds through another company that she owned and operated. In addition, to conceal the fraud and to conduct multiple mortgage loan and HELOC closings with the same properties, Zagales and her co-defendants, in some cases, failed to timely record, and falsely recorded, mortgage deeds and mortgage documentation with State of Florida authorities.

This law enforcement action is sponsored by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established 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.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, the FDIC, and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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.

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Jeffery Wayne O’Neil and His Son Nathaniel O’Neil Indicted by a Houston Federal Grand Jury with Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud

August 26, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on August 25, 2011 released the following:

“Houston Man and Son Indicted For Fraud

HOUSTON – Jeffery Wayne O’Neil, 63, of Houston, has been arrested following the return of an indictment charging him and his son, Nathaniel Chilo aka Nathaniel O’Neil, 21, with mail and wire fraud, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Jeffrey O’Neil was arrested last night by United States Secret Service agents without incident. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy and was released on a $50,000 bond. A warrant remains outstanding for the arrest of Nathaniel O’Neil. Anyone who has information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact the United States Secret Service at 713-868-2299.

The 10-count indictment, returned under seal on Aug. 11, 2011, was unsealed today following the arrest of Jeffrey O’Neil. The father and son, both of Houston, are charged with six counts of mail fraud and four counts of wire fraud. Jeffery O’Neil operated various debt relief businesses in the Houston area under different names, including but not limited to J. O’Neil/Associates Inc., World Outlook, World Outlook Management and Universal Restoration, none of which were licensed by the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges a scheme allegedly perpetrated by the O’Neils between June 2005 and September 2010 which consisted essentially of a plan to obtain money from individuals throughout the United States by representing that in exchange for paying money for entering into various programs they offered, they could provide debt relief in the form of credit card debt, tax liens, mortgage foreclosure, judgments. The O’Neils allegedly used agents in various parts of the United States to solicit, communicate with and receive payments from individuals seeking debt relief and the O’Neils communicated with agents and individuals seeking debt relief by and through e-mails. The defendants allegedly falsely represented and caused others to falsely represent that debt relief would be obtained through the Federal Trade Commission, the Senate Banking Committee, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), through injunctive action, and through a program called the “Debt Reconciliation Program” or “Debt Relief Program,” referred to as “DRP.” According to the indictment, Jeffery O’Neil falsely represented and caused others to falsely represent that he worked with the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

Additionally, the indictment alleges the scheme further involved the sending of emails to include an altered speech by Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which falsely include statements about a debt reconciliation proposal sponsored by World Outlook Management as well as a fraudulent calendar for the Judiciary Committee of U.S. House of Representatives. Also, the O’Neils allegedly created Fair Credit Investigation Company, an entity bearing the initials “FCIC,” the same as the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission which was falsely represented as a debt relief program. The O’Neils allegedly caused individuals throughout the United States to send checks payable to the FCIC to an address in Houston, to obtain credit card debt relief. When, in actuality, according to the indictment, the majority of the funds were used for the O’Neils’ personal benefit.

The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture seeking forfeiture of $617,000, the alleged proceeds from the illegal activity alleged in the indictment.

Each count of mail fraud and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Braddock.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process 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 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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Houston Man Indicted for Fraud Related to Compensation Programs for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

July 13, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on July 11, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON – Eric Michael Thornton, 26, of Houston, has been indicted on charges of wire fraud and mail fraud in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

The indictment, returned July 6, 2011, alleges that between June 2010 and January 2011, Thornton defrauded BP and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), claiming he had lost wages as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident. BP established the GCCF in June 2010 to administer, mediate and settle certain claims of individuals and businesses for costs, damages and other losses suffered as a result of the oil discharges from the Deepwater Horizon incident that were originally handled by BP itself.

Thornton had previously lived in New Orleans, La., but was allegedly not living there at the time of the Deepwater Horizon incident, according to the indictment. The indictment alleges that Thornton fraudulently claimed and submitted false documentation that he had been employed as a seafood processor in New Orleans and had lost wages as result of the incident. He submitted several claims, according to the indictment, including a “final claim form” that he later requested to be modified from $50,000 to $500,000. Thornton allegedly received payments totaling $22,400 as a result of his fraudulent claims.

Thornton was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents today and is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith in federal court in Houston tomorrow.

Each count of wire fraud and mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000, upon conviction.

The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Braddock.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.”

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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