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.


Operation Prairie Thunder Results in Drug Trafficking Charges Against 17 on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

June 6, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 5, 2012 released the following:

“Multiple Law Enforcement Agencies and Prosecutors’ Offices Involved in 14-Month Operation and Arrests Made Today

BISMARCK— U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota Timothy Q. Purdon announced that a total of 17 defendants have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking offenses in federal court in North Dakota and South Dakota and in Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court as a result of Operation Prairie Thunder. The federal and tribal drug charges are the result of “Operation Prairie Thunder,” a 14-month-long investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services on the Standing Rock Reservation. Multiple arrests of Operation Prairie Thunder defendants were made today on the Standing Rock Reservation by a cooperating team of federal, local, and tribal law enforcement officers.

In Bismarck, U.S. Attorney Purdon said, “The charges filed as a result of Operation Prairie Thunder will make the Standing Rock community stronger and safer. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to a strategy in Indian Country that is built on close cooperation between federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. This cooperation has resulted in charges being filed, not just in federal court, but also in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s own tribal court where appropriate. Cooperation like this means better law enforcement, better prosecutions and safer communities.”

In Sioux Falls, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan Johnson said, “These indictments illustrate the progress that is being made in Standing Rock and throughout Indian Country in South Dakota and North Dakota. The success of this investigation was the result of close cooperation between dedicated professionals in numerous law enforcement agencies.” U.S. Attorney Johnson added, “These are serious offenses, and we will continue our efforts to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and eradicate large-scale drug conspiracies in the Dakotas.”

In Fort Yates, Standing Rock Sioux Chief Prosecutor Grant Walker said, “Close cooperation between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has allowed the tribe to participate directly in Operation Prairie Thunder by charging, where appropriate, additional defendants tied to this investigation in tribal court. By being a partner in this operation, the Standing Rock Tribe is able, through the exercise of its own sovereignty, to make its own important contribution to the safety of its community. ”

Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Minneapolis Field Office, which includes North Dakota and South Dakota said, “The arrests resulting from this joint investigation serve as a shining example of cooperative law enforcement efforts in the region. The FBI, along with our partners, remains unwavering in its commitment to the safety and well-being of people on the Standing Rock Reservation.”

“Jurisdictional issues exist throughout Indian Country and working together with other federal, state, and local agencies in a common goal is essential for Indian Country law enforcement,” said Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent in Charge Mario Redlegs. “This operation affirms to the people of Standing Rock that we are watching vigilantly and ensuring that they do have a safe place to live.”

U.S. Attorney Purdon praised the coordinated efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, United States Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, Sioux County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Parole and Pre-Trial Services in achieving the near simultaneous arrests today on the Standing Rock Reservation of many of those charged in the Operation Prairie Thunder cases.

Those charged as a result of Operation Prairie Thunder include:

Charged in United States District Court, District of North Dakota:

  • Casey Dogskin, 5023 Mule Deer Street, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana;
  • Donald White Lightning, 5014 3rd Avenue, Cannonball, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana (two counts);
  • Francis Lester, 5664 Douglas Skye Complex, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of morphine; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of Ritalin; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of Oxycodone;
  • Bryan See Walker, 5659 Douglas Skye Complex, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana (two counts);
  • Paul Miner, 29 5Hawk Avenue, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of hydrocodone; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of oxycodone;
  • Sage Claymore, 479 Whitetail Street, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana (two counts);
  • James Grant, 546 Warrior Street, Fort Yates, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of morphine;
  • Muriel Long Feather, address unknown; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of oxycodone;
  • Winfield Kills Crow, sddress unknown; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of morphine;
  • Allen Siegfried, 5005 4th Ave., Cannonball, North Dakota; possession with intent to distribute and distribution of morphine;

Charged in United States District Court, District of South Dakota:

  • Chaske Little Bear, address unknown; distribution of a controlled substance (two counts);
  • Francine Jensen, address unknown; distribution of a controlled substance;

Charged in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Tribal Court:

  • Lance Summers Fort Yates, North Dakota; criminal sale of drugs
  • Chad Yellow Lodge Fort Yates, North Dakota; criminal sale of drugs
  • Odette Elk, Fort Yates, North Dakota; criminal sale of drugs
  • Rodney Claymore, address unknown; criminal possession of drugs;
  • Claude Ramsey, address unknown; criminal possession of drug paraphernalia

An indictment or a complaint is not evidence that the defendants committed the crimes charged. The defendants are presumed innocent until the government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Operation Prairie Thunder cases are being prosecuted in North Dakota federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Delorme, in South Dakota federal court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Miller, and in Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court by Chief Tribal Prosecutor Grant Walker.”

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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 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.


North Hollywood Man Arrested After Being Indicted Under New Legislation Making it a Crime to Point a Laser at an Aircraft

April 19, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 18, 2012 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A North Hollywood man was taken into custody this morning after being charged in a federal indictment that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at multiple aircraft, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.

Adam Gardenhire,18, was arrested this morning at his North Hollywood residence without incident. Gardenhire was named in a two-count indictment filed yesterday in United States District Court in Los Angeles that alleges he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter.

The federal statute used to charge Gardenhire is part of new legislation recently signed into law by President Obama that makes it a federal crime to deliberately point a laser at an aircraft. The indictment marks the second time a violation of the new statute has been charged in the United States, and the first time one has been charged on the West Coast.

According to the indictment, Gardenhire deliberately aimed a commercial-grade green laser at multiple aircraft on the evening of March 29, 2012. The laser attack was initially reported by a pilot operating a privately owned Cessna Citation. The indictment further alleges that the beam of Gardenhire’s laser was pointed at a helicopter operated by a pilot with the Pasadena Police Department who was responding to the report of the laser attack on the Cessna. Air and ground investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Pasadena Police Department identified Gardenhire as a suspect later that evening, and Gardenhire was taken into custody on state charges of pointing a laser at an aircraft. Gardenhire subsequently posted bail and was released from local custody while the joint investigation continued.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. In addition, technology has advanced the effectiveness of laser devices, with a resulting increase in the potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft and their passengers and crew. Such safety hazards include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight. In addition, pilots have reported the need to abort landings or relinquish control of the aircraft to another pilot as a result of laser attacks. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks. Over 3,500 laser attacks were reported in 2011.

Gardenhire is scheduled to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge this afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles.

If convicted of both charges in the indictment, Gardenhire faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Gardenhire is also subject to civil penalties by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This investigation was conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pasadena Police Department, the Burbank Police Department, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the FBI.

Gardenhire is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless 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

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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 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.


James Louis Whittlesey Arrested in Montreal Who is Wanted By the FBI For Alleged Aggravated Bank Robbery

December 12, 2011

Digital Journal on December 11, 2011 released the following:

“Dangerous fugitive wanted by FBI arrested in Montreal

By Arthur Weinreb

Montreal – An American fugitive, described as armed and dangerous by the FBI, was arrested without incident while standing on a street corner in downtown Montreal.

James Louis Whittlesey, 51, was arrested in Montreal around 8 a.m. this morning. According to Montreal police, the fugitive was taken into custody by a tactical unit, without incident, at a street corner. The arrest was made after information from the FBI and RCMP indicated Whittlesey might be in Montreal.

Jacqueline Roby, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said authorities had been looking for Whittlesey in Montreal since Wednesday, Roby told CTV that the fugitive was handed over to the CBSA around noon today. Once it is determined he is not wanted for a crime in Canada, he will be free to voluntarily return to the United States or to be extradited to the United States if the U.S. applies to have him brought back.

Whittlesey was sought after a local bank in Winchester, Virginia, was robbed on Oct. 14. According to the FBI, Whittlesey allegedly displayed a weapon during the course of the robbery. He is also accused of firing at officers from the Winchester Police Department as they responded to the robbery in progress.

The officers returned fire. On Dec. 7, the Winchester Police Department completed a review [PDF] of the incident. Not only did they find their officers acted properly but that “the officers acted with bravery and professionalism and their actions led to the swift identification of the suspect.”

Whittlesey faces three counts of robbery, one count of attempted homicide on a law enforcement officer and one court of use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. In addition to these state charges, a warrant was issued for his arrest by the United States District Court, Western District of Virginia, on Oct. 20. He is wanted on a federal charge of aggravated bank robbery.

Whittlesey is believed to have committed three other robberies in central Pennsylvania and one in Delaware.”

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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.


Matthew L. Grant Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for Allegedly Robbing Crescent Springs Bank

September 12, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 9, 2011 released the following:

“Williamstown Man Indicted for Robbing Crescent Springs Bank

COVINGTON—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the FBI jointly announced today that a Williamstown man was indicted for robbing a Crescent Springs, Ky., bank in May of this year.

A federal grand jury in Covington returned the indictment yesterday which charges 28-year-old Matthew L. Grant with one count of bank robbery.

The indictment alleges that on May 9, Grant robbed the Heritage Bank in Crescent Springs using force, violence, and intimidation.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the FBI and the Erlanger Police Department. The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher L. Nasson.

Grant’s appearance before the United States District Court has not yet been set by the court in Covington. If convicted, Grant faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of sentences.

The indictment of a person by a grand jury is an accusation only, and that person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.”

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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Man Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud in Multi-Million-Dollar NASCAR Merchandise Ponzi That Bilked Friends and Family

September 7, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 6, 2011 released the following:

“LOS ANGELES— A San Fernando Valley man pleaded guilty to this afternoon to mail fraud charges after taking millions of dollars from victims—including friends and family members—who thought they were financing a wholesale business that distributed NASCAR merchandise.

Eliott Jay Dresher, 64, of Chatsworth, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Dresher admitted that he fraudulently took in more than $13.5 million from victims during the course of a Ponzi scheme that lasted more than a decade. As a result of his criminal activity, more than two dozen families suffered losses of at least $5 million, although that figure could be as high as $9.5 million.

Dresher solicited money from investors by telling them that he had an inside connection that allowed him to purchase NASCAR apparel and merchandise at a discount, and that he then sold that merchandise to “big box” stores, such as Costco, for a substantial profit. As part of his scheme, Dresher guaranteed substantial monthly returns—typically between 20 percent and 25 percent every six months. However, Dresher did not actually have any inside source and did not operate a business to buy and sell NASCAR-related merchandise. Instead, all of the funds paid to investors were “Ponzi” payments that came from money invested by victims.

The specific mail fraud count to which Dresher pleaded guilty relates to more than $250,000 that he solicited from a longtime friend who at the time had been unemployed for more than three months.

Judge Gutierrez scheduled a sentencing hearing for December 19. As a result of his guilty plea to the mail fraud charge, Dresher faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Dresher has been held without bond since his arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2009.

The case against Dresher was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service.”

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

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

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

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N.Y. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis Limits Access to Cell Phone Location Data

August 30, 2011

Law.com on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“N.Y. Federal Judge Limits Access to Cell Phone Location Data

Joshua Engel
Law Technology News

Judge Nicholas Garaufis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, has issued on important decision about the ability of the government to obtain cell phone location information.

The case is In the Matter of an Application of the United States of America for an Order Authorizing the Release of Historical Cell-Site Information, No. 10-MC-897, United States District Court, E.D. New York (August 22, 2011).

In this matter, the government sought an order compelling Verizon to disclose location information about a suspected criminal’s cell phone for 113 days. Magistrate Judge Orenstein had previously denied the government’s application. See In the Matter of an Application of the United States of America for an Order Authorizing the Release of Historical Cell-Site Information, No. 10-MJ-0550, United States District Court, E.D. New York (August 27, 2010). Garaufis had previously granted such orders, but decided to consider “anew the constitutionality of ordering this application in light of recent developments in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.”

The court began its analysis by noting that “cellular service providers have records of the geographic location of almost every American at almost every time of day and night … What does this mean for ordinary Americans? That at all times, our physical movements are being monitored and recorded, and once the Government can make a showing of less-than-probable-cause, it may obtain these records of our movements, study the map our lives, and learn the many things we reveal about ourselves through our physical presence.”

Under the Fourth Amendment, the government can, absent a few exceptions, only conduct a search with a warrant. A search is defined as government conduct that invades a justifiable, reasonable, or legitimate expectation of privacy. This has two components, subjective and objective: (1) whether the subject of the search expects that the thing to be searched is private, and (2) whether “society is willing to recognize that expectation as reasonable.” Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 33 (2001), citing Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967).

Under traditional Fourth Amendment analysis, electronic surveillance of an individual’s location in public has traditionally not been considered to be a search. See United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276, 281 (1981). In contrast, if the electronic surveillance reveals information about a person in a private residence, then this has been considered to be a search. United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705, 713-18 (1984). The U.S. Supreme Court — in considering a case involving GPS tracking of vehicles — is set to reconsider this analysis next term. This reconsideration is long overdue, because, as I noted elsewhere, these cases rely on rather primitive tracking devices that are very distinct from modern cell phones.

The New York court was concerned about the question that the U.S. Supreme Court has never addressed — whether electronic surveillance of movements in public for an extended period can constitute a search, even though short-term electronic surveillance of movements in public from one place to another does not. In this case, the district court concluded that permitting the government to obtain “what is essentially at least 113 days of constant surveillance of an individual” is too much for the Fourth Amendment.

The district court said, “The cell-site-location records sought here captures enough of the user’s location information for a long enough time period — significantly longer than the four weeks in Maynard — to depict a sufficiently detailed and intimate picture of his movements to trigger … constitutional concerns.”

This decision is significant because it recognizes that the collection of cell phone location data enables “mass” or “wholesale” electronic surveillance of most Americans — something that has never been permitted under the Fourth Amendment.

A common response from the government is that most cell phone users are aware that the cell phone company maintains tracking data, and that cell phone users waive any privacy concerns by voluntarily providing this information to the companies whenever they turn on their cell phones. Under this analysis, cell phone location data is like bank records — there is no expectation of privacy because the information is provided to a third party or company. This is the analysis that allows the government to obtain, for example, phone calling records. See Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735(1979).

The court noted that even if people currently are not aware that cell phone companies maintain this information, such public ignorance is not likely to persist. Instead, the court relied upon an expectation to the “public disclosure” doctrine that analogized cell phone location data to letters. Letters, in this analysis, are considered to be private even though an envelope is handed to a third party. The district court considered the location information to be like the information contained inside an envelope — private even though delivered to the parties. The court explained:

“The fiction that the vast majority of the American population consents to warrantless government access to the records of a significant share of their movements by ‘choosing’ to carry a cell phone must be rejected. In light of drastic developments in technology, the Fourth Amendment doctrine must evolve to preserve cell-phone user’s reasonable expectation of privacy in cumulative cell-site-location records.”

This decision must be considered in the context of courts continuing to struggle with the application of the Fourth Amendment to emerging technologies. The language of the district court may be a bit overwrought: “the government’s surveillance of our movements over a considerable time period through new technologies, such as the collection of cell-site-location records, without the protections of the Fourth Amendment, puts our country far closer to Oceania than our Constitution permits.”

It is enough, rather, for courts to recognize that the application of old doctrines and approaches to technology may not provide adequate protections for privacy in the 21st century.”

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

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

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

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Tamara Lanz Moon Indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Six Counts of Mail Fraud Alleging She Stole From Her Clients at Citigroup

June 30, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of California on June 29, 2011 released the following press release:

Former Citigroup Employee Allegedly Stole A Total Of More Than $800,000 From More Than 20 Clients

SAN FRANCISCO – Today agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Tamara Lanz Moon based on charges that she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients at Citigroup, United States Attorney MELINDA HAAG announced. On June 23, 2011, a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Moon on six counts of mail fraud, and that Indictment was unsealed this morning after Mooon’s arrest.

According to the Indictment, Moon, 43, formerly of Redwood City and now of Fremont, worked for Citigroup from 1996 until 2008. During that time, she was registered as a General Securities Representative, and she held both a Series 7 and a Series 63 license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. At Citigroup, Moon’s duties included executing trades for brokers and handling much of the paperwork related to certain clients who had investment accounts with Citigroup.

According to the Indictment, Moon operated a scheme through which she stole a total of more than $800,000 from more than 20 of Citigroup’s clients. Moon allegedly falsified account records, forged client signatures, created fake “letters of authorization” to divert client funds, and made unauthorized trades in client accounts. According to the Indictment, Moon used the proceeds of her scheme to remodel her home, to pay mortgages on properties she owned, to pay her credit card bills, to pay down her personal home equity line of credit, and to invest in real estate.

After she was arrested this morning, Moon appeared in Court and was arraigned on the Indictment. She was released on bail and ordered to appear before United States District Court Judge William H. Alsup on July 5, 2011, at 2:00 p.m.

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, three years of supervised release, and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Doug Sprague and Robin Harris are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Ms. Moon must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Further Information:

Case #: CR 11-0404 WHA”

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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Benjamin Barber Charged with Child Pornography Offenses

June 29, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Iowa on June 28, 2011 released the following press release:

“Benjamin Barber, age 30, from Bronson, Iowa, has been charged with transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography. The charges are contained in an Indictment unsealed today in United States District Court in Sioux City.

The Indictment alleges that, between May 2003 and July 2007, Barber knowingly transported in interstate commerce a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and that he both received and possessed such depictions.

If convicted, Barber faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 50 years’ imprisonment, $750,000 in fines, $300 in special assessments, and at least 5 years and up to life on supervised release following any imprisonment.

Barber appeared today in federal court in Sioux City and was released on bond. Barber’s next appearance for trial is set for September 6, 2011.

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Tremmel and was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office, and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.”

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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18 Charged in Federal Fraud Cases Related to Telemarketing Operations that Solicited Over $25 Million for Indie Films

June 20, 2011

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 17, 2011 released the following press release:

FBI and IRS Agents Arrest 12 Who Face Fraud and Money Laundering Charges

LOS ANGELES—12 people have been arrested this week on federal fraud charges stemming from boiler room operations that solicited investments in independent movies with false promises of up to 1,000 percent returns and misrepresentations as to how investor funds would be used. Yesterday, Federal authorities arrested a total of ten defendants; one person in Florida and nine people in Southern California. Today, Federal authorities arrested two additional defendants in Florida.

The arrests are the result of two indictments returned on Wednesday by a federal grand jury. The indictments charge a total of 17 defendants—four of whom are named in both indictments—who allegedly participated in fraudulent fundraising activities related to independent film projects. While some of the movies were actually produced, the indictments allege that the defendants lied, gave half-truths and concealed material facts from investors around the nation.

Federal prosecutors have also charged an 18th person in this investigation.

A former CIA agent who ran a Burbank movie company called Q Media Assets has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy, mail fraud and tax charges in relation to the fraudulent boiler rooms.

In relation to the arrests this week, one indictment concerns the activities of Cinamour Entertainment LLC, which allegedly bilked investors who put money into independent motion pictures called “From Mexico with Love” and “Red Water: 2012.” The defendants raised money for the films through boiler room telemarketing operations, which made fraudulent pitches to investors. The charged defendants and other telemarketers cold-called investors from “lead lists” and solicited investments with false claims, such as that 93 percent of investor money would be used to produce and promote the films, and that investors would receive returns up to 1,000 percent. According to the indictment, the telemarketers failed to disclose that they would receive commissions when, in fact, often more than one-third of the investments went into their pockets. Little more than one-third of investor funds were used to actually produce and promote “From Mexico With Love.”

During the course of the Cinamour scheme—which the indictment alleges ran from early 2004 through May 2009—the defendants collected approximately $15 million for “From Mexico With Love” from about 450 victim-investors. The movie cost about $5 million to produce and generated approximately $550,000 in its theatrical release in October 2009. The defendants raised about $2.7 million for the “Red Water” movie from about 100 victim-investors, but essentially none of the money was used to produce the film, which was never made.

The second indictment filed this week focuses on Q Media Assets LLC. This indictment alleges that telemarketers for Q Media fraudulently raised funds for films called “Eye of the Dolphin” and its sequel, “Way of the Dolphin” (which was later called “Beneath the Blue”). Telemarkers associated with Q Media also bought “lead lists” from the same San Clemente company that sold lists to the Cinamour telemarketers. As in the Cinamour case, telemarketers seeking investments in the Dolphin movies allegedly “made material misrepresentations, told material half-truths, and concealed material facts, when speaking to investors,” specifically concealing information about commissions and promising returns of up to 1,000 percent.

The defendants in the Q Media case raised approximately $5 million for “Eye of the Dolphin” and about $4 million for “Way of the Dolphin” from about 250 investors. “Eye of the Dolphin” made about $70,000 in ticket sales in its theatrical release, while “Way of the Dolphin” went straight to video.

The 45-count Cinamour indictment charges a dozen defendants:

  • Daniel Toll, 56, of Encino, who was president of Cinamour, will make his initial appearance in two weeks;
  • Joel Lee Craft Jr., 41, of San Clemente, who was the CEO of the San Clemente-based American Information Strategies, Inc., which sold investor lead lists to telemarketing operations that solicited investors through telephone cold calls, appeared in court yesterday;
  • James Lloyd, 47, of Lake Arrowhead, who was a “closer” for Cinamour and later operated his own boiler room that raised money for Cinamour and Q Media, will appear in court Thursday, June 23;
  • Paul Baker, 50, of Palm Springs, a closer for Cinamour, who later operated his own boiler room under the name Independent Essentials that raised funds for Cinamour, will appear in court today;
  • Bart Douglas Slanaker, 48, of Panorama City (who is already in custody after being charged earlier this year in another movie-related telemarketing case), was another closer who helped raise funds for Cinamour in several capacities;
  • Allen Bruce Agler, 54, of Canyon County, a closer who used the name “Paul Kingman” and raised funds for “From Mexico With Love,” appeared in court yesterday;
  • Albert Greenhouse, 58, of Delrey Beach, Florida, who also raised funds for “From Mexico With Love,” will appear in court today;
  • DeLitha Jones-Floyd, 54, of Lancaster, another closer, will appear in court Thursday, June 23;
  • Brian Emmanuel Ellis, 35, of Saugus, another closer, appeared in court yesterday;
  • Daniel Morabito, 31, of Redondo Beach, a closer, appeared in court yesterday;
  • David Nelson, 40, of Eagle Rock, a closer, will appear in court Thursday, June 23; and
  • Daryll Van Snowden, 40, formerly of Chatsworth and now of West Hollywood, another closer, is still being sought by authorities.

All 12 defendants are charged in a conspiracy count, as well as in several of the 15 mail fraud counts, nine wire fraud counts and 13 sale of unregistered securities counts that are alleged in the indictment. Additionally, Craft, Toll and Floyd are each named in at least one of five money laundering counts. The indictment also charges Slanaker with two counts of tax evasion.

The 33-count Q Media indictment charges nine defendants, including Lloyd, Agler, Craft and Morabito. The indictment additionally charges:

  • Robert Keskemety, 56, of Hallandale Beach, Florida, a closer, appeared in court yesterday;
  • Jady Laurence Herrmann, 34, of Lake Arrowhead, a closer, appeared in court yesterday;
  • Joseph McCarthy, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, a closer, will appear in court today;
  • Matthew Bryan Wellman-Mackin, 30, of Manhattan Beach, a closer, appeared in court yesterday; and
  • Robert Ramirez, 44, of Sunland, who was hired by Sellers to handle investor relations, appeared in court yesterday.

All nine defendants in the Q Media case, including those also charged in the Cinamour case, face charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and sale of unregistered securities. Lloyd is also charged in this indictment with two counts of money laundering. Craft is also charged in this indictment with two counts of tax evasion.

Slanaker and another man who is now deceased were previously charged with fraudulently raising money for another independent movie by claiming, among other things, that well known stars were associated with the project (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/pressroom/pr2011/035.html). Slanaker, who is charged with mail fraud and wire fraud in this case, is currently scheduled to be tried in this case on August 16 in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The charge of conspiracy carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison or custody. The wire fraud and mail charges have a maximum possible sentence of 20 years. The money laundering counts alleged in the indictment carry maximum statutory penalties of 10 years. The charge of sale of unregistered securities has a maximum possible sentence of five years. And the tax evasion charges have a maximum possible sentence of five years.

The investigation into fraudulent boiler rooms raising money for independent movies is being conducted by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS—Criminal Investigation.”

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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