Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

WELLS FARGO BANK PERSONAL BANKER PLEADS GUILTY TO MONEY LAUNDERING AND BANK FRAUD

SAN DIEGO – Leopoldo Lara Aguilera, a former Wells Fargo personal banker, pleaded guilty in federal court today to money laundering conspiracy and bank fraud.

Aguilera was arrested by FBI agents on May 2, 2019, for his participation in an international money laundering organization based in Tijuana, Mexico which operated primarily in San Diego. read here

TWO MEN INDICTED IN SCHEME TO STRAW PURCHASE FIREARMS IN WISCONSIN AND RE-SELL THEM IN CHICAGO

CHICAGO — Two men have been indicted on federal firearm charges for conspiring to straw purchase 19 handguns in Wisconsin and re-sell them in Chicago.

Wisconsin resident KIRK VALENTINE purchased the firearms at retail stores, pawn shops and gun shows, and falsely certified on required forms that he was the actual buyer, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. In reality, Valentine was a straw purchaser who knowingly bought the guns at the direction of FRANCISCO ROCHA, a Chicago resident who identified which firearms he wanted and paid Valentine a premium over the list prices, the indictment states. In the first six months of 2018, the pair caused at least 19 handguns to be purchased in Wisconsin and transported to Chicago, where Rocha and others re-sold and distributed them, the indictment states. read here

NORTH SUBURBAN PSYCHOLOGIST SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR BILLING FOR NONEXISTENT SERVICES

CHICAGO — A north suburban psychologist has been sentenced to six months in federal prison and fined $100,000 for submitting false claims to private insurers and Medicare.

PAMELA ANTELL, also known as Pamela Gruenhut, operated a psychology practice in Glenview. From 2011 to 2018, Antell submitted fraudulent claims to private insurers and Medicare for mental health services that were not rendered. Some of the fraudulent claims were submitted for an individual who was not actually a patient, while in other instances Antell was not in Illinois on the dates she claimed to have provided treatment. Antell also attempted to obstruct justice by instructing a former patient to lie to investigators about the frequency of treatment sessions and the patient’s payment of copayments. read here

ILLEGAL ALIEN ARRESTED WITH ENOUGH FENTANYL TO KILL 500,000 PEOPLE SENTENCED TO OVER SIX YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR HEROIN TRAFFICKING

Gulfport, Miss. – Pablo Vega-Ontanon, 53, an illegal alien from Mexico who was living in Georgia, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to 74 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for possession with intent to distribute heroin, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Jere T. Miles with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans.

On November 6, 2018, Vega-Ontanon and two co-defendants arrived in Gulfport to sell heroin to a confidential informant. They claimed to have ten kilograms of heroin hidden in a compartment of their vehicle. All three were arrested shortly thereafter. The substance was eventually tested and found to contain nine kilograms of heroin and one kilogram of fentanyl. read here

CADDO PARISH MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING FIRM OWNER AND SUPERVISOR INDICTED FOR BILLING NEARLY $8 MILLION FOR SERVICES NOT PROVIDED, PAYING KICKBACKS

SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that two Northwest Louisiana residents who owned and ran the Positive Change Counseling Agency LLC were indicted for improperly billing Medicaid for almost $8 million, in addition to paying kickbacks in violation of the law.

The owner and operator of Positive Change, Marty Johnson, 57, of Shreveport, and the company’s supervisor and business manager, Keesha Dinkins, 42, of Bossier City, Louisiana, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, 47 counts of health care fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  Johnson also faces one count of paying a kickback. read here

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL CHARGE OF ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THE BIOLOGICAL TOXIN RICIN FOR UNLAWFUL PURPOSES

LOS ANGELES – A La Crescenta man pleaded guilty today to attempting to obtain ricin from an online source, admitting that he intended to acquire the biological agent for use as a weapon.

Steve S. Kim, 41, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter to one count of violating a criminal statute called prohibition with respect to biological weapons. read here

O.C. BUSINESS OWNER FACES TAX EVASION CHARGE RELATED TO NEARLY $30 MILLION OWED TO IRS ON PAYROLL TAXES WITHHELD FROM EMPLOYEES

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County business owner is named in a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today that charges him with tax evasion for failing to pay to the Internal Revenue Service nearly $30 million in payroll taxes, penalties and interest related to money that had been withheld from the salaries of employees of his various temporary worker companies.

Luis E. Perez – who has maintained residences in Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda and Dove Canyon – is charged with one felony count of tax evasion in an indictment returned by a grand jury on August 28. read here

FORMER CAPE COD BOOKKEEPER INDICTED ON EMBEZZLEMENT AND FEDERAL TAX CHARGES

BOSTON – A Centerville woman was indicted in federal court on five counts of wire fraud and five counts of filing false federal tax returns, stemming from her embezzlement of more than $1 million from a bookkeeping client.

Jessica L. Greenan, 42, of Centerville, formerly an employee of a Cape Cod bookkeeping service, was indicted on wire fraud and false tax return charges related to her embezzlement from a Hyannis client for which she handled bookkeeping and payroll services. It is alleged that beginning in October 2014 and continuing until she was terminated in March 2018, Greenan embezzled $1,135,460. Greenan allegedly wired funds 536 times from the store’s operating bank account to pay her credit cards at Capital One, Citibank, American Express and Bank of America. It is further alleged that Greenan doctored the company bank statements and internal records to make the payments to her credit cards appear as legitimate expenses. Finally, the indictment alleges that Greenan failed to report any of her illegal income to the IRS over the five year duration of the embezzlement scheme, thereby evading payment of more than $ 325,000 in federal taxes. read here

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH STEALING GOVERNMENT FUNDS

BOSTON – A USPS employee was charged on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, in federal court in Boston with stealing approximately $7,000 in government money.

Adam Lavertue, 37, of Dracut, was indicted on one count of embezzlement and theft of public money, property or records. read here

CBL/BFL MEMBER PLEADS GUILTY FOR HIS ROLE IN RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Dajon Nettles, a/k/a Gucc, 25, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo to racketeering conspiracy. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul C. Parisi, who is handling the case, stated that between 2010 and August 28, 2018, the defendant was an associate with the CBL/BFL Gang, which stands for, among other things, “Cash Been Long” and “Brothers for Life.” He conspired with several other associates to sell drugs, commit robbery, retaliate against witnesses, and commit assault. CBL/BFL operated within a specifically defined geographic area on the East side of Buffalo. Gang members and associates engaged in drug trafficking to generate income and violent crimes to maintain control over their territory. As part of his plea, defendant Nettles admitted to participating in the following acts:read here

HARTFORD MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SEX TRAFFICKING MINORS, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OFFENSES

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that CHRISTOPHER HAMLETT, also known as “Cadi” and “Cadillac Black,” 26, of Hartford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 180 months of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, for multiple offenses related to the sex trafficking of minors.

According to the evidence presented during his trial, between August and November 2017, Hamlett recruited and enticed two minor female victims to engage in prostitution at hotels in Hartford and Wethersfield. In order to solicit clients for the minors, Hamlett took sexually explicit photographs of each minor and submitted them to the website Backpage. read here

ILLEGAL U-TURN LEADS TO DISCOVERY OF GUN AND DRUG PREMISES

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Newport News woman pleaded guilty today to possessing a firearm while distributing crack cocaine.

According to court documents, Dynetta R. Littlejohn, 30, was at home in August 2018, when law enforcement lawfully searched her residence and seized several narcotics to include MDMA, promethazine, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and cocaine base. Police also seized two digital scales, $1,225 in U.S. currency, glassine bags and other drug packaging material, narcotics cutting agents, and other tools of the drug trafficking trade, such as a loaded Ruger P90 .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun and additional ammunition. Littlejohn told officers that the items seized belonged to her. The search of the residence sprung from Littlejohn’s cohabitant making an illegal U-turn mere hours earlier in a vehicle also filled with drugs, a gun, and $3,091 in U.S. currency. read here

MEXICAN ALIEN WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER CONVICTION GUILTY OF ILLEGAL REENTRY

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal judge convicted a Richmond man today after a bench trial on the charge of illegally reentering the United States following removal after a felony conviction.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Rodrigo Martinez-Mendoza, 54, a citizen of Mexico, first made illegal entry into the United States in 1993. In 1996 in Texas, he was convicted of forgery. Immigration authorities learned of the matter and commenced removal proceedings. Following processing, Martinez-Mendoza was then released on his own recognizance.  In May 1997, Martinez-Mendoza failed to appear at his scheduled hearing, and was ordered deported to Mexico, and a warrant was issued. In August 2005, ICE Special Agents encountered Martinez-Mendoza at Fort Lee Army Base in Petersburg, and was then processed for deportation. In September 2005, Martinez-Mendoza was removed to Mexico at taxpayer expense. Thereafter on an unknown date, at an unknown location, he illegally returned to the United States. read here

FORMER GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO IMPORT COCAINE INTO THE UNITED STATES AND MONEY LAUNDERING OFFENSES

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today that the Dominican Republic’s former Consul General to Jamaica, JEREMIAS JIMENEZ CRUZ, and a co-conspirator have been charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and conspiring to launder money. JIMENEZ CRUZ was arrested on September 6 and presented on September 7 before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. The second defendant has not yet been arrested. The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Kimba M. Wood. read here

OHIO COUPLE ADMITS TO FILING INACCURATE BANKRUPTCY CLAIM

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – Larry E. Brown and Jacinta Jo Brown, both of Wintersville, Ohio, have admitted to a false bankruptcy charge, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Larry Brown, age 68, and Jacinta Brown, age 65, each pled guilty to one count of “False Bankruptcy Declaration.” The Browns admitted to fraudulently omitting an interest in an ongoing claim against a corporation, as required by law. read here

UNIONTOWN MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR POSSESSING MATERIALS DEPICTING THE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Uniontown, Pennsylvania has been sentenced in federal court to a term of imprisonment of three years and one month (37 months), to be followed by 10 years of supervised release on his conviction of possession of materials depicting the sexual exploitation of minors, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Senior United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose imposed the sentence on Jason A. Early, age 41, of Uniontown, PA. read here

OSCEOLA COUNTY RESIDENT SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ATTEMPTING TO ENTICE A MINOR TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY

Christopher Lee Cumberland, of Osceola County, Florida was sentenced on September 6, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Roy K. Altman to 365 months in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity (Case No. 19CR60094).

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) made the announcement. read here

SOUTH FLORIDA WOMAN SENTENCED TO PRISON AND ORDERED TO PAY $1.6 MILLION IN RESTITUTION FOR “FORTUNE TELLING” FRAUD SCHEME

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office announced that a South Florida woman was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $1.6 million in restitution for orchestrating a fraud scheme involving “fortune telling.”

Sherry Tina Uwanawich, a/k/a “Jacqueline Miller, 28, was sentenced on September 6, 2019, to 40 months’ incarceration by U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz (Case No. 18CR80235).  Uwanawich had previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.  read here

CAPITAL CARING PAYS $3.1 MILLION TO RESOLVED MEDICARE BILLING CLAIMS

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Capital Caring, located in Falls Church, has agreed to pay $3.1 million to settle allegations that it caused the government to overpay the organization as a result of billings it submitted to the Medicare Program for hospice services.

Capital Caring provides hospice and palliative care services for patients in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The overpayments were the result of claims Capital Caring submitted to Medicare for hospice services for patients who the government alleged either did not meet the hospice eligibility guidelines for the Medicare Program, Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, or for whom the hospice clinical record information maintained by Capital Caring was insufficient to support Medicare hospice coverage. read here

FORMER PORTLAND RESIDENT SENTENCED TO 270 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SEXUALLY EXPLOITING CHILDREN WHILE BABYSITTING

PORTLAND, Ore.—After years of contentious litigation and attempts to obstruct justice, Andrew Franklin Kowalczyk, 44, formerly of Portland, was sentenced today to 270 years in federal prison followed by a life term of supervised release for the repeated sexual abuse, exploitation and torture of three young children.

On December 6, 2018, after a four-day trial and deliberating for just 20 minutes, a federal jury in Portland convicted Kowalczyk on nine counts of producing child pornography. read here

FORMER VIRGINIA TECH PROFESSOR SENTENCED FOR GRANT FRAUD, FALSE STATEMENTS, OBSTRUCTION

Roanoke, VIRGINIA – Yiheng Percival Zhang, a former Virginia Tech professor studying artificial sweeteners, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court to time served, which included incarceration for approximately three months, and home incarceration for approximately two years, First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar announced today. Zhang was convicted of committing federal grant fraud, making false statements and obstruction by falsification following a bench trial in September 2018.

Zhang, 47, of Blacksburg, Va., was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction by falsification. read here

FORMER MONTGOMERY COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OFFENSES

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Matthew Laver, age 38, of Souderton, in Montgomery County, PA, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Judge Michael Baylson to multiple counts of distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography.

The defendant was indicted in March 2019 after an investigation into the defendant’s collection of almost 4,000 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children that he downloaded and distributed to other users on the internet over approximately ten years. The investigation revealed that Laver trafficked in child pornography that depicted children as young as infants being sexually assaulted and raped, and that he did so during the time that he was employed as a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Officer. read here

MANDEVILLE WOMAN CHARGED IN INDICTMENT FOR OPERATING BUSINESSES SELLING ANABOLIC STEROIDS AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION

NEW ORLEANS –  U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced the September 4, 2019 unsealing of a seven-count Indictment charging NATALIE BARTON, age 41, of Mandeville, Louisiana, with conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute anabolic steroids, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(E)(i) and 846 (Count 1); conspiracy to misbrand drugs, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (Count 2); distribution of anabolic steroids, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(E)(i), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2 (Counts 3 and 4); and misbranding of prescription drugs, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 331(a) and 333(a)(2), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2 (Counts 6 and 7). read here

FEDERAL INMATE GETS 18 MORE YEARS FOR BOGUS INVOLUNTARY BANKRUPTCY PETITIONS FILED AGAINST WARDEN, POLICE OFFICER

The prison sentence for one inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, just got a lot longer. Kurt F. Johnson, 56, who was due to be released in 2028, was sentenced earlier today to serve an additional 216 months behind bars for filing fictitious, involuntary bankruptcy petitions against federal prison officials. Johnson was convicted of the charges after a three-day jury trial in Benton, Illinois, last year. read here

TWO PHARMACY CHAINS PAY CIVIL MONETARY PENALTIES TO RESOLVE ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT

CONCORD – Two national pharmacy chains agreed to pay civil monetary penalties to resolve allegations that they violated the Controlled Substances Act by filling fraudulent prescriptions, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.

Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreements, New Albertsons, L.P., d/b/a Osco Pharmacy agreed to pay $30,000 to resolve allegations that it had filled 13 fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances at its location in Stratham between December 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014.  Additionally, Maxi Drug North, Inc., d/b/a Rite Aid agreed to pay a penalty of $22,500 to resolve allegations that it had filled 15 fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances at its location in Concord between December 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014. read here

 

 

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