“FBI seized vendor records, hard drives from Horizon charter schools”

July 23, 2014

The Columbus Dispatch on July 23, 2014 released the following:

By Jennifer Smith Richards

“The FBI is examining the relationship between the Horizon Science Academy charter schools and several technology vendors, including some based in Ohio.

Court-ordered search warrants and evidence logs show that FBI investigators removed financial documents, including check stubs, invoices, bank records and travel-reimbursement receipts from the Concept Schools headquarters and Horizon Science Academy Middle School in Columbus. Agents also took external computer hard drives and copied more than a dozen hard drives.

The warrants from early June sought any records related to the federal E-rate program dating back to 2003. Agents served the warrants in Concept-operated buildings on June 4. A federal grand jury also issued a subpoena to the schools for the same information sought in the warrants.

The Chicago-based school group runs 30 public charter schools across the Midwest, 19 of them in Ohio. Four are in Columbus. The FBI served warrants in several Midwestern states, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Agents searched individual schools, as well as main and regional headquarters and storage units.

The Dispatch obtained the warrants and FBI evidence logs through public-records requests to the schools. The logs don’t indicate the reason agents removed records or computer hardware, only a description of the evidence they seized.

Schools can use federal E-rate grants to purchase technology upgrades and discounted telecommunication services. Ohio’s Horizon schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, have been awarded about $7.4 million in E-rate grants since 2002.

An FBI spokeswoman in Cleveland said yesterday that she could not release more information about the FBI’s interest in the Horizon Science schools. The spokeswoman, Vicki Anderson, repeated that the FBI is conducting “an ongoing investigation that involves a white-collar type matter” and is working with the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC distributes E-rate grants.

A spokeswoman for Concept Schools in Chicago said yesterday that there’s little the schools can say about the investigation, but that Concept is cooperating.

Investigators focused on a few technology vendors in seeking invoices and payment data from the Chicago Concept Schools headquarters and from the Columbus headquarters, which oversees half of Ohio’s Concept buildings. Some of those vendors are in Ohio and one is a former Concept Schools employee.

Schools that use E-rate funds have to select vendors through a competitive bidding process to get the most cost-effective rates.

Agents seized information related to Ozgur Balsoy, vice president of Advanced Solutions for Education. The company is based in Mentor, near Cleveland, and also has headquarters in Schaumburg, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. Records kept by the Ohio Department of Education list Balsoy as an administrator at Horizon Science Middle School in Columbus in 2007.

The FBI also removed financial information related to Core Group, Inc., which is based in suburban Chicago and run by Ertugrul Gurbuz; Cambridge Technologies based in Chesterland, Ohio, which is owned by Stephen Draviam; Sundance International, an IT company owned by Galip Kuyuk and based in Chicago and Istanbul; and the Metropolitan Educational Council in Columbus. The MEC is an education consortium that contracts to provide services to several central Ohio public school districts.

Concept Schools was founded by a group of Turkish scientists and continues to be managed by Turkish-Americans, including the three Horizon schools and Noble Academy in Columbus.

The owners of some of the companies whose financial relationships with Concept Schools are of interest to the FBI also are of Turkish heritage.

The warrant served at the Concept headquarters buildings also sought records about specific employees, including Concept Schools’ founder and the chief information officer.

This FBI’s work is separate from some state inquiries into Horizon Science. A handful of former teachers at a Horizon school in Dayton have made several allegations about that school, including unreported sexual activity in the school, unequal treatment of students and teachers, and standardized-test cheating. Both the Ohio Department of Education and the state auditor have said they will look into the matter.

Concept Schools officials called those allegations baseless but said they will look into them.”

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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.


Federal indictment charges 7 people in alleged $17 million multistate mortgage scams, Ponzi schemes

September 15, 2012

OregonLive.com on September 14, 2012 released the following:

“By The Associated Press

A federal indictment unsealed Friday charged seven people with running a multistate Ponzi scheme and related mortgage fraud scams that prosecutors said cost investors and lenders a combined $17 million.

The years-long investigation resulted in the arrest of 55-year-old Lawrence Leland Loomis. He and his father-in-law, John Hagener, 76, were charged with operating a fraudulent California-based investment fund that cost more than 100 investors more than $7 million.

Both men are from Granite Bay, a wealthy Sacramento suburb.

Hagener’s attorney, William Portanova, said his client would plead not guilty in federal court in Sacramento. It was not immediately clear if the others had retained attorneys.

Loomis and five other defendants are also charged in a 50-count indictment with costing lenders $10 million in losses through two mortgage fraud schemes.

Prosecutors said all three frauds were operated through Loomis Wealth Solutions, which was based in California and also worked with investors in Illinois, Washington and elsewhere from 2006 through 2008.

“We are bringing to justice some of those who are responsible for the mortgage crisis in this district and elsewhere,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement announcing the indictments.

Portanova said the investigation was under way for at least four years before his client was charged.

“We’re looking forward to a resolution of this matter. It’s been a long investigation and we’re all ready to move forward,” Portanova said. “Large-scale, long-term white collar investigations are by their nature measured by calendars, not stopwatches.”

Loomis and Hagener were charged with bilking investors through a program called Naras Funds in 2007 and 2008. The indictment said Loomis encouraged investors to tap their home equity and retirement accounts to buy shares in the funds and to help purchase residential real estate.

He called the investments “simply the best financial plan ever created,” according to prosecutors.

He and his father-in-law allegedly promised 12 percent annual returns and said the funds were guaranteed, but the indictment claims the men used investors’ money to pay themselves, their companies’ operating expenses, and to prop up the scheme by paying later investors with money from earlier victims.

Loomis and Hagener had court appearances Friday, while the others were to appear later.

Loomis and a real estate appraiser, Darren Fehst, 44, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, are also charged in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme in which Loomis is accused of paying Fehst thousands of dollars to overstate appraisals so properties could be sold for inflated prices.

Loomis and four others also are charged with buying about 200 properties in Arizona, California, Florida and elsewhere while falsifying the sales prices and costing lenders about $10 million.

The others are Michael Llamas, 27, of Tracy; Peter Woodard, 54, of Ventura; Joseph A. Gekko, 43, of Yorba Linda; and Dawn C. Powers, 42, of Lincoln.

All are charged with mail and wire fraud. Each fraud charge carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in federal prison.”

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

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

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.