Eighteen sheriff’s deputies charged by FBI LA in an alleged inmate-abuse probe

December 10, 2013

The Guardian on December 9, 2013 released the following:

Associated Press in Los Angeles

“Federal officials on Monday unsealed five criminal cases filed against 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, as part of an FBI investigation into allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption in the nation’s largest jail system.

The charges were announced at a press conference after 16 of 18 defendants were arrested earlier in the day. They were expected to be arraigned later in US district court.

“These incidents did not take place in a vacuum – in fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized,” said US attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “The pattern of activity alleged in the obstruction of justice case shows how some members of the sheriff’s department considered themselves to be above the law.”

Four grand jury indictments and a criminal complaint allege unjustified beatings of jail inmates and visitors at downtown Los Angeles jail facilities, unjustified detentions and a conspiracy to obstruct a federal investigation into misconduct at the Men’s Central Jail. The FBI has been investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct at the county’s jails since at least 2011. An official said the arrests were related to the abuse of individuals in the jail system and also allegations that sheriff’s officials moved an FBI informant in the jails possibly to thwart their probe.

A sheriff’s department spokesman, Steve Whitmore, referred calls to the FBI and said Sheriff Lee Baca would provide a comment later on Monday afternoon. “We’ve cooperated fully with the FBI in their investigation and we’ll continue to do so,” Whitmore said.

One federal indictment, filed on 20 November, named seven deputies charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. It is unclear from the indictment whether they are currently employed by the department. Among those charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the 18-page indictment are two lieutenants, one of whom oversaw the department’s safe jails program and another who investigated allegations of local crimes committed by sheriff’s personnel, two sergeants and three deputies.

All seven are accused of trying to prevent the FBI from contacting or interviewing an inmate who was helping federal agents in a corruption and civil rights probe. One of the investigations involved trying to see if a deputy would accept a bribe to provide the inmate with a cell phone, court documents show. The indictment alleges the inmate was moved to hide him and false entries were made in the sheriff’s databases to make it appear as if he had been released.

In an attempt to find out more information about the investigation, one lieutenant and the two sergeants sought a court order to compel the FBI to provide documents, prosecutors said. When a state judge denied the proposed order, the two sergeants allegedly attempted to intimidate one of the lead FBI agents outside her house and falsely told her they were going to seek a warrant for her arrest, the indictment said.

Baca has acknowledged mistakes to a county commission reviewing reports of brutality, but he has also defended his department and distanced himself personally from the allegations. He said he has made improvements including creating a database to track inmate complaints. Baca has also hired a new head of custody and rearranged his command staff.

Retired sheriff’s commander Bob Olmsted, who is challenging Baca for the voter-elected position of sheriff in 2014, said in a statement on Monday that the arrests “underscore the high level of corruption that has plagued the Sheriff’s Department”. He said that as a commander he tried “several times” to notify the sheriff and his command staff about “ongoing abuses and misconduct” in Men’s Central Jail, but his “concerns fell on deaf ears”.

“I knew I had to act, and as a result, I notified the FBI of the department’s culture and acceptance of excessive force, inmate abuse, sheriff’s gangs, and corruption,” Olmsted said.

In 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union sued the sheriff’s department, claiming the sheriff and his top commanders had condoned violence against inmates. The organization released a report documenting more than 70 cases of misconduct by deputies.

Last month the county announced the appointment of a veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor, Max Huntsman, to head a new office of inspector general that will oversee the sheriff’s department.

As of Monday, the county’s jails held more than 18,700 inmates.”

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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.


Prominent defense lawyer faces US charges

May 29, 2012

The Boston Globe on May 29, 2012 released the following:

“Robert A. George goes on trial today on charges of conspiring to launder money

By Milton J. Valencia

In a recent trial in federal court in Boston, well-known lawyer Robert A. George stood before a jury for his closing arguments, and spoke directly.

“When you’re innocent, you have a right to stand up and say something,’’ he declared in defense of his client, a Dorchester nurse and a mother of five charged with distributing prescription drugs.

But George might well have been speaking for himself – because he, too, is about to stand trial.

The 57-year-old father of three is accused by federal prosecutors of conspiring to help a former client launder drug money, and of restructuring bank deposits in violation of tax laws. Jury selection is slated for Tuesday. The case is a fight for his career and his livelihood.

The arrest of George in March 2011 caused a stir in the legal community, and defense lawyers descended on the Moakley courthouse to show their support.

In the year since FBI agents first swarmed his home, George, known for his testy exchanges with prosecutors, has represented clients just as aggressively as he did years ago when he defended Mafia figures and, later, the trash collector who maintains he was wrongly convicted of murdering Cape Cod fashion writer Christa Worthington.

George has also fought for a new trial for a former Stoughton police chief after finding information about one of the jurors that could have excluded her from serving on the panel in that extortion case. That request is pending in state court.

He has been working on his own case with two of the state’s better known defense lawyers, Robert M. Goldstein and Kevin R. Reddington. With them, he has filed repeated motions.

George has accused prosecutors of retaliating against him, being vindictive because of his defense of a man accused of plotting to kill a federal prosecutor several years ago. He has questioned the propriety of the government’s use of a confidential informant in his case, a man with a lengthy criminal history.

George and his lawyers are even attempting to include US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz on his witness list.

“He has been laser focused on his clients’ cases, as well as his own,’’ said Thomas Shamshak, a former police chief in Spencer and Winthrop and a Somerville lieutenant who founded his own private investigative firm. He has worked with George on several cases, including this one. “He is a ferocious advocate unlike anyone I have ever worked for.’’

Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who has represented high-profile clients in federal court and who won the acquittal of a lawyer in a racketeering case several years ago in Florida, said the case also demonstrates the quintessential challenge for any lawyer: representing another criminal defense lawyer and the symbolism that comes with it.

“There’s always that added context, that you’re representing the lifestyle,’’ said Weinberg. “You’re representing everything he is.’’

Lawyers in Massachusetts can lose their law license if they are convicted of a felony, but nothing prevents them from carrying out their practice until their case has concluded.

Court rules require only that a lawyer notify his or her clients of the pending charges. A lawyer would have to notify the state Office of Bar Counsel if convicted.

George, who has lived on Cape Cod and the suburbs west of Boston, faces up to 20 years in prison on charges of trying to help a former client launder his drug-dealing profits for a fee, by referring him to a mortgage broker who would help him.

The former client, Ronald Dardinski, was cooperating with authorities, and George alleges he was targeted by authorities because he represented a man who in 2007 plotted to kill prosecutor Jack Pirozzolo.

Prosecutors rejected that allegation, and US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton refused to dismiss the case or to hold an evidentiary hearing, saying there was no evidence of retaliation. Prosecutors say they have audio recordings of George setting up the money-laundering scheme.

Rosemary Scapicchio, a friend of George’s, represented him at his initial hearing, before he could hire Reddington, and she lashed out at prosecutors for “investigating a criminal defense attorney who is out there protecting people’s rights. This is outrageous.’’

It is not the first time a defense lawyer has been a defendant in federal court in Boston. Last January, for instance, Gorton admonished attorney Lawrence M. Perlmutter before sentencing him to 5 1/2 years for laundering drug profits for his clients.

“You have disgraced not only yourself, but the rest of us who hold our profession in the highest esteem, and for what?’’ Gorton hissed. He is the same judge in George’s case.

George and his lawyers would not comment for this article.

One of George’s last appearances in a federal courtroom was May 9, for the sentencing of Gladys Ihenacho, the Dorchester nurse and wife of a pharmacist. Her husband, Baldwin, who had a different lawyer, was sentenced to 63 months in prison.

Gladys was acquitted of 23 of the 30 charges she faced.

Prosecutors had asked that she serve 27 months in prison, saying she showed greed. But George had asked that she serve no prison time because she had a family to care for, and argued that the charges did not reflect her work as a mother.

She was sentenced to probation, with 10 days of home detention, and went home that day.”

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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 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.


Extradited businessman Christopher Tappin granted US bail

April 24, 2012

News Shopper on April 23, 2012 released the following:

“A RETIRED businessman extradited to the USA over arms dealing charges has been granted bail and will be released later this week, his lawyer said.

Christopher Tappin, 65, of Larch Dene, Farnborough Park, will be released from the Otero County detention centre in New Mexico either tomorrow or Wednesday (April 25), his US lawyer Kent Schaffer said.

Judge David Briones set the bond at one million US dollars (£620,527) and Tappin’s family must pay 50,000 dollars (£31,026) before he can be released, documents filed at the US district court in the Western District of Texas show.

Tappin, the former president of the Kent Golf Union, was told last month that he must remain in custody while he awaits trial over the state border in El Paso, Texas.

He could now be freed tomorrow, but will have to remain in Texas.

Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran, originally spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell before being moved to a shared cell.

He denies the charges.

The case fuelled the row over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said Tappin’s extradition highlighted problems with the treaty which were not “readily curable”, warning that many Britons were left uneasy when faced with the seemingly harsh and disproportionate sentences in the American justice system.

Other critics of the 2003 treaty, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, have described it as “one-sided”, but an independent review by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker last year found it was both balanced and fair.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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

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


FBI Arrests ‘jockey’ Christopher James Woods in an Alleged $2.5m Fraud

October 17, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald on October 16, 2011 released the following:

“Neil Mercer

AN AUSTRALIAN man who claimed to be a former champion jockey has been arrested in the United States and charged with a $2.5 million fraud.

Christopher James Woods, 52, was arrested by the FBI in Greenwich, Connecticut, and extradited to Los Angeles where he appeared in the US District Court.

In an affidavit to the court, FBI Special Agent Ty Thomas said Mr Woods [] had used some of the money to pay $1 million off his American Express card. It is alleged the card was used to buy luxury goods, food, travel and entertainment.

The Sun-Herald has learnt that Chris Woods, as he is generally known, has for more than 30 years told people in Australia and overseas that he was a successful jockey and he had inside information on horse races.

In the early 1980s he told the Double Bay restaurant owner Tony Eustace there was a ”sure thing” running at Murray Bridge in South Australia.

Mr Eustace, who was murdered in 1985 during the Sydney gang wars, gave $10,000 in cash to a friend called Frank Webb, who went to the race track where he met Mr Woods.

Mr Webb told The-Sun Herald last week he became suspicious when three other punters turned up, each with $10,000, to put on the ”sure thing” at odds of about 4-1.

He said he declined to put Mr Eustace’s money on the horse but the other punters went ahead. The horse did not win.

Mr Webb said he had had nothing to do with Mr Woods since then.

Special Agent Thomas’s affidavit states that in mid-2007, Mr Woods’s alleged co-conspirators, Henrik and Hamlet Sardariani, told the manager of a company called Bith, LLC, they were buying a hospital in Los Angeles County and needed $2.5 million to be placed into a secure account for 30 days.

Then, $1.9 million was transferred to Mr Woods’s US bank account. The court heard more than $1 million was used to pay off Mr Woods’s Amex card.

An FBI spokeswoman said Mr Woods had been arrested on August 23. He is due to reappear in court later this month.”

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.


Seven More Indicted in Houston for Alleged Participation in Health Care Fraud Scheme

October 18, 2010

Seven additional Houston-area residents who allegedly served as patient recruiters and a nurse have been charged for their alleged participation in a $5 million Medicare home health care fraud scheme, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday. The individuals were scheduled to make their initial appearances Thursday and Friday in U.S. District Court in Houston before Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith.

A superseding indictment filed October 7, 2010, and unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Houston charges Clifford Ubani, 52; Ezinne Ubani, 45; Princewill Njoku, 51; Caroline Njoku, 45; Mary Ellis, 54; Michelle Turner, 42; Cynthia Garza-Williams, 49; Adelma Casas Sevilla, 44; and Sammie Wilson, 69, with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Florida Holiday Island, 50; Margaret Pleasant, 45; Estella Joseph, 61; Terrie Porter, 47; and Erica Walker, 30, are charged with conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, along with Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, and Garza-Williams. These individuals are also charged with separate counts relating to the payment and receipt of kickbacks. Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku and Ellis are also charged with making false statements in the submission of claims to the Medicare program. Clifford Ubani, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, and Garza-Williams were charged in the original indictment filed on June 21, 2010.

Typically, a superseding indictment occurs when the government obtains additional or new evidence and wants to charge more individuals with participation in the alleged scheme. The new evidence is most likely derived from others that have already been indicted and are seeking a better plea deal. The government uses this tactic often in order to bring additional charges against other individuals.

According to the superseding indictment, Clifford Ubani, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, and Caroline Njoku were the owners and operators of Family Healthcare Services. The superseding indictment alleges that these owners and operators submitted false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for purportedly providing home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not rendered. According to the superseding indictment, the Medicare program paid Family Healthcare Services approximately $5 million based on the false and fraudulent claims.

Caroline Njoku, Ellis, Turner, Garza-Williams, Wilson, Island, Pleasant, Joseph, Porter, and Walker allegedly recruited Medicare beneficiaries to be placed at Family Healthcare Services for skilled nursing services, and in return allegedly were paid kickbacks by Clifford Ubani, Princewill Njoku, and others for the referrals. According to the superseding indictment, Ezinne Ubani, Princewill Njoku, Ellis, Garza-Williams, and Sevilla allegedly falsified or helped falsify patient files to make it appear that Medicare beneficiaries qualified for and received home health care services that were not medically necessary and/or not provided.

The maximum sentence for committing health care fraud is 10 years in prison. The maximum sentence for conspiracy to pay or receive kickbacks, each individual count of paying and/or receiving kickbacks, and making false statements in determining rights for benefit and payment by Medicare is five years in prison. The superseding indictment seeks forfeiture of assets held by the defendants.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

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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