Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

EIGHTH MEMBER OF INTERNATIONAL MONEY LAUNDERING ORGANIZATION SENTENCED IN $19 MILLION DOLLAR SCHEME

“SAN DIEGO – Manuel Reynoso Garcia was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes to 78 months in prison for his role as a leader in an international money laundering organization that laundered more than $19 million in narcotics proceeds from the United States to Mexico.

The multi-year investigation led by the FBI’s Cross Border Violence Task Force targeted Reynoso as one of the key leaders of the Tijuana- and San Diego-based money laundering organization. Reynoso was the last of eight former members of the criminal organization sentenced.” read here

JURY FINDS ROLAND MAN GUILTY OF ATTEMPTED ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR TO ENGAGE IN SEX

“LITTLE ROCK— A Roland man has been convicted of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity after exchanging messages with an undercover investigator.

Cody Hiland, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today that a federal jury has convicted Patrick Karl Tate, 57, of Roland. United States District Judge James M. Moody, Jr., presided over the two-day trial, which concluded Tuesday with the jury verdict finding Tate guilty on the single count. Tate will be sentenced by Judge Moody at a later date.

Testimony during the trial established that in April of 2017, an undercover investigator with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office saw an ad posted on Craigslist. The ad was located in a section of the website titled Casual Encounters, which an investigator testified is known for sex solicitations. The ad specified it was looking for “mother/daughter,” and it asked for responses to be sent through KIK messenger, an online messaging service. The ad provided a KIK username: karlpatrick69. This was later identified to be the defendant, Patrick Karl Tate.” read here

JORDANIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRACY TO BRING ALIENS INTO THE UNITED STATES

“WASHINGTON – A Jordanian National was sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States and actually bringing Yemeni aliens through Mexico to the United States.

According to the plea agreement, during the second half of 2017, Moayad Heider Mohammad Aldairi, 31, conspired with others to smuggle at least six Yemeni nationals across the Texas border and into the United States in exchange for a fee. Aldairi admitted his role in transporting the aliens from Monterrey, Mexico to Piedras Negras, where he directed them to cross the Rio Grande River into the United States. Aldairi provided construction hard hats and reflective vests to some of the aliens in an effort to enable them to blend in after crossing.” read here

FEDERAL GRAND JURY IN EL PASO INDICTS ALLEGED LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPOSTER

“In El Paso this morning, federal and state authorities arrested 27–year-old Jose Alejandro Vaquera for allegedly impersonating a federal agent, stated U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge David Eisenreich, El Paso Division; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Special Agent in Charge Charles Anderson and El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles.

A federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges the El Paso resident with one count of impersonator making arrest or search. According to the indictment, on July 8, 2018, Vaquera knowingly pretended to be an ICE agent engaged in detaining and arresting a person.” read here

FORMER MEXICAN GOVERNOR EXTRADITED ON MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES

“CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A former Coahuila, Mexico, governor is set to appear in federal court to face charges for his role in a money laundering scheme to enrich himself and others through bribery, misappropriation and theft of public funds, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Jorge Juan Torres-Lopez, 65, Feb. 8, 2017. He has been in custody in Mexico since Feb. 5, 2019. Today, he was returned to the United States and is set for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington in Corpus Christi tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Torres-Lopez is charged in the money laundering scheme that includes offenses against a foreign nation involving bribery of a public official and misappropriation, theft and embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official. He is also charged with bank fraud and wire fraud.” read here

FEDERAL JUDGE DENIES BOND TO SAN ANTONIO UNIVERSITY STUDENT CHARGED WITH ENTICING MINORS INTO PERFORMING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT CONDUCT

“In San Antonio today, a federal magistrate ordered that a 21-year-old local university student be detained without bond pending trial for allegedly enticing minors into engaging in sexually explicit conduct, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

During a detention hearing this morning, U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Farrer ruled that Felipe Jesus Duran of Atascosa, TX, poses a threat to the community and should remain in federal custody while litigation is pending. On October 15, 2019, federal and state authorities arrested Duran based on a federal criminal complaint charging him with enticement of a minor and extortion as well as production, receipt and possession of child pornography.” read here

FORMER CITY OF NEW ORLEANS BUILDING INSPECTOR PLEADS GUILTY

“NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced today that KEVIN RICHARDSON age 56, of New Orleans, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Susie Morgan, to one count of violating Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1952(a)(3) and 2, use of an interstate facility with intent to carry on unlawful activity.

According to the court documents, RICHARDSON was employed as a building inspector for the City of New Orleans and utilized the internet-based City of New Orleans’ LAMA system to alter and/or delete city documents and submit material information.  He solicited and accepted approximately $65,000 in bribe payments from individuals seeking favorable inspection reports and certificates of completion for properties that did not comply with the city and state building codes and for properties that had not been inspected.  He also paid bribe money to a City of New Orleans permit analyst for the issuance of permits without proper documentation and plan review.” read here

TENNESSEE MEDICAL DOCTOR AND ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSE CHARGED IN SCHEME TO UNLAWFULLY DISTRIBUTE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

“A Tennessee medical doctor and an advanced practice registered nurse were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their roles in unlawfully distributing controlled substances.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Atlanta Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Special Agent in Charge M.A. “Mo” Myers of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office and Director David B. Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) made the announcement.

Hemal V. Mehta, M.D., 49, of Brentwood, Tennessee, and Heather L. Marks, APRN, 36, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, were charged in an indictment filed Oct. 23, 2019, in the Middle District of Tennessee with one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and nine counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances.” read here

FORMER MISSOURI HOSPITAL EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY TO PASS-THROUGH BILLING SCHEME THAT CAUSE OVER $100 MILLION IN LOSSES

“The former CEO of a Missouri hospital pleaded guilty today for his role in a pass-through billing scheme in which the hospital was used to submit fraudulent claims for toxicology and blood testing, resulting in multiple insurance companies and the Missouri Medicaid program paying over $100 million in claims.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez of the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Garrison of the Western District of Missouri, Special Agent in Charge Rachel Rojas of the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Langan Jr., of the FBI’s Kansas City Field Office, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Thomas W. South of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Office of the Inspector General (OPM-OIG), Special Agent in Charge Rafiq Ahmad of the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG) and Special Agent in Charge Basil P. Demczak of the Amtrak Office of Inspector General (Amtrak-OIG) made the announcement.” read here

FORMER ST. VINCENT HEALTHCARE NURSE SENTENCED IN PAIN PILL INVESTIGATION

“BILLINGS—An ex-St. Vincent Healthcare nurse who admitted swapping a patient’s pain pills for an over the counter medication, leaving the patient in pain, was sentenced today to four years of probation, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Shelia Marie White, 61, of Billings, pleaded guilty in June to tampering with a consumer product.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.” read here

ACCOUNTING FIRM SENTENCED FOR FAILING TO FILE CASH TRANSACTION FORMS

“Portland, Maine:  A Lewiston accounting firm was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Portland for failing to file cash transaction forms, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced.

U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal sentenced Leonardo & Co., P.A. to one year of probation. The company was also fined $15,000 and ordered to forfeit $12,500. The company pleaded guilty on June 12, 2019.

According to court records, in 2017, Leonardo & Co. wrote four checks, each in the amount of $12,500, to a member of a marijuana trafficking organization. The checks were drawn on accounts associated with the firm. The payments did not involve a tax refund or payment for any services rendered to the firm. Instead, on each occasion, the company exchanged the checks for $12,500 in cash.
Because the checks involved the receipt of more than $10,000 in U.S. currency, federal law required Leonardo & Co. to file a report commonly known as a Form 8300. The company failed to file reports as required by federal law and as a result intentionally evaded the mandated reporting requirements.” read here

FORMER ADMINISTRATOR OF TEXARKANA ASSISTED LIVING FACILITY GUILTY OF FEDERAL VIOLATIONS

“TEXARKANA, Texas – A 43-year-old Little Rock, AR man has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown today.

Antonio Otero pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with equity skimming today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry A. Bryant.

According to information presented in court, from before 2011 until October 2015, Otero was the administrator of the Magnolia Alzheimer’s Assisted Living facility in Texarkana, Texas, and was instrumental in the founding and operation of the facility. In order to secure millions of dollars in necessary funding, Otero obtained a loan that was insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.) The HUD insured loan provided a favorable interest rate and did not require the owners of the Magnolia to take personal responsibility for the loan in the event of a default. Instead, HUD would suffer the financial loss in the event that the Magnolia defaulted on the loan. As a condition of this federal benefit, Otero and the owners of the Magnolia agreed to be bound by a regulatory agreement with HUD that prohibited them from removing equity from the Magnolia unless the loan was being paid and the Magnolia had surplus cash.” read here

CENTRAL TEXAS LAWYER GUILTY OF SWINDLING COLOMBIAN DRUG TRAFFICKING CLIENTS

“SHERMAN, Texas – A Central Texas criminal defense lawyer was found guilty of federal violations related to an international fraud scheme involving his Colombian cocaine trafficking clients, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the Dallas Field Office today.

James Morris Balagia, 62, of Manor, Texas was found guilty by a jury of five federal charges today following a two week trial before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.

According to information presented in court, Balagia, also known as Jamie Balagia, also known as The DWI Dude,” read here

JURY CONVICTS SPRINGFIELD MAN OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

“SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Springfield, Missouri, man was convicted by a federal trial jury today of receiving and distributing child pornography.

Marco Barraza, 27, was found guilty of one count of receiving and distributing child pornography.

Law enforcement investigators received two reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Barraza had transmitted images of child pornography through chat sessions on his Tumblr account in September 2016. Officers executed a search warrant at Barraza’s residence on March 16, 2017, and seized numerous computer-related property, including three cell phones and two hard drives that had been removed from laptop computers. Those devices contained approximately 600 images of child pornography.” read here

MARYSVILLE WOMAN SENTENCED TO ONE YEAR AND A DAY OF IMPRISONMENT FOR FORGING 164 OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS

“HARRISBURG—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Belinda Dietrich, age 63, of Marysville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced on October 28, 2019, by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo to one year and a day in prison followed by three years of supervised release, for forging the signature of a dentist on 164 prescriptions for opioid drugs.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Dietrich pleaded guilty before Judge Rambo in April 2019, to one count of distributing a controlled substance and one count of making false statements in health care matters. Dietrich, a former receptionist for a solo dental practitioner in Harrisburg, forged the signature of her employer on a blank prescription form on February 13, 2017, for oxycodone pills for her mother, a Medicare beneficiary, who was not a patient of the dentist. Dietrich then had the prescription filled at a Harrisburg area pharmacy and received 24 oxycodone pills, who then converted the drugs to her own use. The pharmacy billed the cost of the oxycodone pills to Medicare, which paid the claim.” read here

GUAM AMBULANCE COMPANY EXECUTIVES PLEAD GUILTY TO MEDICARE AND TRICARE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

“Two former owners and an employee of an ambulance services provider headquartered in Guam pleaded guilty yesterday for their roles in a health care fraud and money laundering scheme that resulted in a loss to the United States of approximately $10.8 million. This is one of the largest single Medicare ambulance fraud cases prosecuted nationwide.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Shawn N. Anderson of the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Special Agent in Charge Eli S. Miranda of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell of IRS Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Seattle Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Timothy DeFrancesca of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office made the announcement.

Clifford P. Shoemake, 63, of Guam, Casey C. Conner, 60, of Saipan, and Nicholas A. Shoemake, 31, of Guam, the former owners and an employee, respectively, of Guam Medical Transport (GMT), pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District of Guam, to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions with the proceeds of specified unlawful activity. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29, 2020.” read here

EX-DOCTOR SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 11 YEARS’ IMPRISONMENT FOR HIS ROLE IN ILLEGAL OXYCODONE PRESCRIBING, HEALTH CARE FRAUD, AND MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME AND FOR COMMITTING SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD

“PITTSBURGH – A former Pennsylvania-licensed physician has been sentenced in federal court to a total of 11 years and four months (136 months) in prison on his conviction for conspiracy to illegally distribute oxycodone, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and Social Security fraud, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

On October 28, 2019, Chief Judge Mark R. Hornak imposed the sentence on Paul Michael Hoover, age 59, formerly of Novato, California. Judge Hornak further ordered Hoover to pay restitution to Medicare, Medicaid, and the Social Security Administration totaling $406,760.75, and to forfeit assets totaling approximately $1.2 million in U.S. currency, gold, silver, and real property.” read here

FORMER JACKSONVILLE BEACH DOCTOR’S OFFICE EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO OPIOID DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY

“Jacksonville, Florida – Rhiannon Rader (34, Fern Park) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, hydrocodone, and alprazolam (also known as Xanax). She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, as an employee in a Jacksonville Beach physician’s office, Rader had access to her employer’s prescription pad. Without her employer’s knowledge, Rader sold fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Xanax to drug dealers. She also filled fraudulent prescriptions for drugs in her own name.” read here

FORMER U.S. NAVY AIRMAN APPRENTICE SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 19 YEARS FOR ATTEMPTING TO ENTICE A 13-YEAR-OLD AND 15-YEAR-OLD FOR SEX

“Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Erold Martin Panopio (25, Jacksonville) to 19 years and 7 months in federal prison for attempted enticement of two minors to engage in sexual conduct. Panopio had pleaded guilty on April 24, 2019.

According to court documents, in October 2018, law enforcement learned of online communications of a sexual nature between Panopio and a 15-year-old girl. A forensic analysis of the girl’s phone revealed that Panopio had filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with two 15-year-old girls earlier that month. A Homeland Security Investigations agent assumed the identity of one of the girls and began communicating with Panopio. Panopio told the undercover agent, posing as the child, all of the sexual acts that he wanted to engage in with the child and a “friend” of the child who was 13 years old. Panopio traveled from his home in Jacksonville to Clay County, where he intended to meet the 15-year-old and 13-year-old girls for sex, and was subsequently arrested. During an interview with law enforcement, Panopio admitted that he had traveled for the purpose of meeting the children to have sex with them. He also acknowledged having sex with the 15-year-old on a prior occasion.” read here

PELHAM MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DISTRIBUTING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

“ALBANY, Ga. — A Pelham, Georgia man has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Michael S. King, 41, of Pelham, entered a guilty plea today to count one of his indictment charging him with distribution of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Leslie Gardner. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to life for his crime. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

Mr. King’s illegal activity was discovered on August 13, 2018 during an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Using the name ‘SilentDream1977’, the defendant uploaded and distributed images of child pornography on the Kik App, an online instant messaging application. The defendant also used the name ‘Silent Dream 78’ on the Kik App. HSI agents, with assistance from the Pelham Police Department, executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence on January 17, 2019. Mr. King had two desktop computers, a laptop, iPad, iPhone and two thumb drives, all containing child pornography. Mr. King admitted he had been possessing, downloading and viewing child pornography ‘for forever.'” read here

ENCOMPASS HEALTH CORPORATION AGREES TO PAY $4 MILLION TO RESOLVE ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPERLY BILLING MEDICARE

“LAS VEGAS, Nev. Encompass Health Corp. (EHC), formerly known as HealthSouth Corporation, has agreed to pay the United States $4 million to settle allegations that an inpatient rehabilitation facility the company owned and operated in Nevada was improperly billing Medicare.

‘This significant settlement demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting the Medicare program against fraud and abuse,’ said U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Henderson, LLC is owned by EHC, which operates an inpatient rehabilitation facility, formerly HealthSouth Henderson, Inc. (HHI). Kenneth Bowman was the Chief Executive Officer of HHI from approximately January 2010 through approximately March 2012.” read here

FORMER PAIN FOUNDATION FOUNDER AND CEO WHO EMBEZZLED $1.5 MILLION SENTENCED TO PRISON

“John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that PAUL GILENO, 47, of Brewster, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for embezzling approximately $1.5 million from a Connecticut nonprofit organization, and for failing to pay federal income taxes.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Gileno was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Pain Foundation, a Middletown-based nonprofit organization designed to find support and resources for individuals with pain issues. Between approximately 2015 and 2017, Gileno embezzled more than $1.5 million from the foundation. He also failed to pay more than $532,943 in federal income taxes on the embezzled income, and other income, for the 2015 through 2017 tax years.” read here

BLACKLICK MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON FOR POSING ONLINE AS TEENAGE INTERNET STAR TO COERCE 10-YEAR-OLD CHILD

“COLUMBUS, Ohio – Darren M. Kamnitzer, 45, of Blacklick, was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 300 months in prison for producing child pornography.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Joseph M. Deters, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, Westerville Police Chief Charles Chandler, and other members of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison.” read here

MAN SENTENCED FOR STEALING MORE THAN $300,000 AS PART OF A HEALTHCARE FRAUD

“ATLANTA – Michael Bang has been sentenced for defrauding the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association’s (‘COPERA’) health insurance plan, called PERACare.

‘Bang exploited a public entity that was at the same time providing him with medical and other benefits,’ said U.S. Attorney Byung J. ‘BJay’ Pak. ‘His scheme depleted the healthcare resources available to other retirees and cost the public hundreds of thousands of dollars.’

‘Bang falsified prescriptions in order to generate illicit profits at the expense of retirees and tax payers,’ said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. ‘This sentencing will not only hold him accountable for those actions but will serve as a reminder to others that the FBI will pursue any individual who abuses our health care system.'” read here

MONTGOMERY COUNTY KARATE TEACHER SENTENCED TO 6 1/2 YEARS IN PRISON FOR ABUSING TEENAGE STUDENTS

“PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Evan Burgess, 28, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 78 months’ imprisonment followed by fifteen years of supervised release by the United States District Judge Timothy J. Savage. The defendant will be required to register as a sex offender as a result of this conviction.

The defendant, a former karate instructor at Destolfo’s Premier Martial Arts in Conshohocken, previously pleaded guilty in June 2019 to two counts of traveling in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct with two minors, who were his teenage karate students at the time of the incidents. These incidents occurred while the defendant and his victims were attending karate tournaments in August 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland and in September 2014 in East Elmhurst, New York.” read here

LUZERNE COUNTY MAN GUILTY OF RECEIVING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

“SCRANTON—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that William Barratt, age 39, of Sugarloaf Township, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty on October 28, 2019, to receiving child pornography before Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Barratt admitted that he used his cell phone and computer to receive images and videos of child pornography from websites on the internet. Barratt committed the offense between April 2018 and March 5, 2019, in Luzerne County.” read here

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