Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

SAN DIEGO MAN SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS FOR POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ARSONS

“SAN DIEGO – Daniel Hector Mackinnon was sentenced in federal court today to seven years in prison for committing two politically-motivated arsons, including one that endangered the lives of children.

During today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes described Mackinnon’s conduct as ‘cold blooded and cowardly’ and expressed concern that Mackinnon is a danger to the community. ‘In light of what you did, I think every day is warranted,’ Judge Hayes told the defendant, referring to the length of the sentence.” read here

MISSISSIPPI MAN SENTENCED TO 36 MONTHS FOR CROSSBURNING

“WASHINGTON – The Honorable Judge Keith Starrett, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, sentenced Defendant Graham Williamson, 38, to serve 36 months incarceration on federal charges for his commission of a crossburning on Oct. 24, 2017, in Seminary, Mississippi. Williamson previously pleaded guilty on Aug. 5, 2019, to one count of interference with housing rights, a federal civil rights violation, and one count of conspiring to use fire to commit a federal felony. Williamson, along with a co-conspirator, built and burned a wooden cross near the home of a juvenile victim, M.H., who lived in a predominantly African-American residential area of Seminary. He burned the cross to threaten, frighten, and intimidate M.H. and other African-American residents because of their race and color, and because they lived in and occupied residences in that area of Seminary.” read here

NIGERIAN WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG TRAFFICKING AND FRAUD SCHEMES

“ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Nigerian woman pleaded guilty today to leading a conspiracy to import more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as to her role in a separate bank fraud scheme, and to making false statements relating to fraudulent claims submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement.

‘Tammy Olaiya is a ‘triple threat’ of criminality – drug trafficker, a fraudster, and a liar,’ said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. ‘Olaiya, a Nigerian immigrant who has spent the last two decades with the privilege of living in the United States as lawful permanent resident, clearly has zero respect for American laws pertaining to our borders, controlled substances, our financial system, or our health care system.’”read here

RETIRED DEA AGENT INDICTED ON CHARGES OF BRIBERY, OBSTRUCTION, AND CONSPIRACY

“BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned an 11-count indictment charging Joseph Bongiovanni, 55, of Tonawanda, NY, with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to distribute controlled substances; accepting a bribe; obstruction of justice; and making false statements to an agency of the United States. The drug conspiracy charge carries a maximum possible sentence of up to life in prison, while the maximum possible sentences for the remaining counts range from five years to 20 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Tripi and Brendan T. Cullinane, who are handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, between 1998 and February 1, 2019, the defendant served as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. From 2001 until his retirement, Bongiovanni was assigned to the Buffalo Resident Office.” read here

TWO INDIVIDUALS PLEAD GUILTY TO ACTING AS ILLEGAL AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN

“WASHINGTON – Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, 39, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen, and Majid Ghorbani, 60, an Iranian citizen and resident of California, entered pleas of guilty yesterday to charges stemming from their conduct conducting surveillance of and collecting identifying information about American citizens and U.S. nationals who are members of the Iranian dissident group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

On Oct. 8, 2019, Doostdar entered a guilty plea to one count of acting as an agent of the Government of Iran without notifying the Attorney General, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 951, and one count of conspiring to violate that statute, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. On November 4, 2019, Ghorbani entered a guilty plea to one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. § 1705, and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 560.” read here

MINNESOTA COUPLE CHARGED WITH INTERNATIONAL ELDER FRAUD SCHEME

“RICHMOND, Va. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging a Minnesota couple with their roles in a sophisticated fraud scheme that primarily targeted elderly Americans.

According to court documents and allegations in the indictment, Chirag Janakbhai Choksi, 35, and his wife, Shachi Naishadh Majmudar, 35, were members of a criminal conspiracy who had members that impersonated law enforcement officials to trick and coerce victims into mailing and shipping cash to other conspiracy members by convincing the victims that it was in their best interests to do so.” read here

ILLEGAL ALIEN ADMITS TO REENTRY CHARGE

“CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Jose Catarino Feregrino-Resendez, a citizen of Mexico, has admitted to an immigration violation, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Feregrino-Resendez, age 49, pled guilty to one count of ‘Reentry of Removed Alien.’ Feregrino-Resendez admitted to reentering the country illegally after be removed once before. The crime occurred in April 2019 in Harrison County.” read here

NIGERIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO A DECADE IN PRISON FOR ROLE IN $1.83 MILLION ROMANCE FRAUD SCHEME INVOLVING ELDERLY VICTIMS

ATLANTA – Olu Victor Alonge has been sentenced for his role in a multi-year wire fraud scheme that targeted users of American dating websites and caused a total loss of $1,835,279. Six other Nigerian nationals have been charged as part of the conspiracy; three have pled guilty, and Alonge is the first to be sentenced.

‘The conspirators in these cases, including some who were overseas, used fake personas on online dating websites to trick individuals, including elderly retirees, into giving them large amounts of money,’ said U.S. Attorney Byung J. ‘BJay’ Pak. ‘The conspirators would spend weeks cultivating online relationships with their victims before defrauding them of hundreds of thousands of dollars, often taken from their retirement savings or inheritances. The judge rightly called the romance fraud scheme ‘pure evil’ before handing down the defendant’s sentence. Combating this type of transnational fraud targeting elderly Americans is a top priority of my office and the Department of Justice; would-be cybercriminals should think twice before engaging in such vile conduct.'” read here

U.S. ATTORNEY DAVID C. JOSEPH ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA HUMAN TRAFFICKING TASK FORCE

“SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced today the creation and launch of the Northwest Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force, which held its first meeting this morning. The task force, formulated and led by the United States Attorney’s Office and Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, is a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, along with local non-governmental victim services organizations, including civic, faith-based, and social services organizations.

Members of the task force will work collectively to identify, investigate and prosecute criminals using a victim-centered approach, provide victims/survivors with assistance, offer training to law enforcement and service providers, and increase public awareness about human trafficking throughout northwest Louisiana.  The task force will be led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell, and will meet monthly to share information, coordinate investigations, and discuss potential matters and active cases in preparation of prosecution.” read here

HARRISON COUNTY MAN INDICTED FOR FAILING TO UPDATE HIS SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION

“CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Gordon Eugene Mays, Jr., of Reynoldsville, West Virginia, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on a sex offender charge, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Mays, age 55, was indicted on one count of ‘Failure to Update Sex Offender Registration.’ Mays, a person required to register as a sex offender, is accused of failing to update his registration in September 2018.” read here

MEXICAN NATIONAL MAN SENTENCED FOR IMMIGRATION CRIME

“CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Mexican national man was sentenced to twelve months and one day of incarceration for the felony offense of reentry of a removed alien, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Jose Guadelaupe Camarena-Jacinto, 38, entered a guilty plea on September 4, 2019. At the conclusion of his federal incarceration, he faces possible removal from the United States through administrative proceedings. Stuart commended the investigative efforts of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Ripley Police Department.

‘Camarena-Jacinto has four prior removals,’ said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. ‘He will now serve a year in prison before being deported for a fifth time. No one likes a line skipper — not at Disney World and not at the border.'” read here

DOMINICAN NATIONAL INDICTED ON FENTANYL TRAFFICKING, ID THEFT, HEALTH CARE FRAUD CHARGES

“PROVIDENCE – A Dominican national living in Providence, who allegedly delivered fentanyl on at least four occasions and who allegedly adopted a stolen identity and used it to gain a Rhode Island driver’s license and Medicaid benefits, was indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges of trafficking fentanyl, aggravated identity theft, misusing a Social Security number, and health care fraud.

Joaquin Soto-Medina, aka P.C.R., 47, was arrested by members of the Woonsocket Police Department on October 7, 2019, moments after he exited a residence in Woonsocket that a court-authorized search by Woonsocket Police Detectives allegedly revealed was a drug stash house. It is alleged that at the time of his arrest Soto-Medina was found to be carrying 18 plastic baggies containing fentanyl.” read here

COLORADO U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FILES COURT ACTION TO ENFORCE SUBPOENAS ISSUED TO STATE PROGRAM IN INVESTIGATION OF COLORADO PHARMACIES

“DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced today that it has filed a petition in federal court to enforce subpoenas that were issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration in its ongoing investigations of two Colorado pharmacies that dispense opioids and other controlled substances.

The DEA issued the subpoenas to obtain information that the pharmacies had reported to Colorado’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (‘PDMP’). As explained in the petition, the DEA was informed by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office that the information those pharmacies had reported to the PDMP would not be disclosed to the DEA. The petition filed today requests a court order directing three respondents—the Colorado Board of Pharmacy; Patty Salazar, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies; and Appriss, Inc., a corporation headquartered in Kentucky that maintains information reported to Colorado’s PDMP—to produce the information sought by the DEA subpoenas.” read here

JAMAICAN PLEADS GUILTY IN DRUG TRAFFICKING SCHEME THAT USED U.S. MAIL TO SHIP COCAINE FROM CALIFORNIA TO WESTERN PA

“PITTSBURGH – A Jamaican citizen pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Robert Forbes, also known as ‘Daniel Kirkpatrick’ and ‘Joe’, age 45, Pomona, California, pleaded guilty to one count before Senior United States District Judge Marilyn J. Horan.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Forbes conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance from April 2017 through April 2019. The conspiracy involved the shipment of cocaine from California using the United States Mail to various cities throughout the United States, including New Castle, Pennsylvania. The conspiracy also involved the shipment of cash, also through the United States Mail, from the recipients of the cocaine to the suppliers of cocaine. Many of the cocaine distributors were, like Forbes, originally from Jamaica. Forbes is not a United States citizen and will likely face deportation after he serves his sentence.” read here

ARIZONA MAN SENTENCED TO OVER 11 YEARS IN PRISON FOR KIDNAPPING GIRL AND TRANSPORTING AND POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

“LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Luis Angel Vicente Martir Gudiel, 27, of Arizona, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan to 11 years in federal prison to be followed by lifetime supervised release, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich announced. Gudiel will be deported after serving his sentence.

According to court documents, in 2016, Gudiel met a 14-year-old girl at church in Arizona and began a sexual relationship with her. The relationship ended when the victim’s family and church members learned of their relationship. In December 2017, Gudiel rekindled his sexual relationship with the victim and they communicated with each other via Snapchat and Facebook. From December 2017 to March 2018, Gudiel had sex with the victim more than 50 times. On March 4, 2018, when the victim was 15 years old, Gudiel picked her up from church and drove her home.After seeing the victim’s father outside the home, Gudiel told the victim that they were running away together and drove her to Las Vegas. When they arrived in Las Vegas, Gudiel received a call from the Phoenix Police Department looking for the victim. Through a collaborative effort between the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI, the victim was found in Las Vegas and returned safely to her family. Gudiel was arrested and officers obtained a search warrant for his cell phone. A forensic review of that phone showed child pornography videos of the victim that Gudiel had produced, transported, and possessed. Gudiel pleaded guilty in June 2019, to transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography.” read here

OHIO MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO PLOTTING JULY 4TH ATTACK IN CLEVELAND AS PART OF PLOT TO PROVIDE SUPPORT TO AL QAEDA

“A Maple Heights man pleaded guilty to crimes related to his plot to launch a terrorist attack in Cleveland on Independence Day. The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General of National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio, and Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith for the FBI Cleveland Field Office.

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, aka Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, aka Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, 50, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, threats against the President of the United States and threats against family members of the President of the United States.

According to an affidavit filed in the case, between 2015 and 2017, Pitts expressed anti-American sentiments and expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans. The defendant expressed a desire to meet with an al Qaeda ‘brother’ and in June he was introduced to an FBI employee acting in an undercover capacity (UCE), who Pitts believed was such a ‘brother.'” read here

GEORGIA TECH PROFESSOR SENTENCED FOR DEFRAUDING THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

ATLANTA – Maysam Ghovanloo has been sentenced for violating the federal wire fraud statute in furtherance of a scheme to defraud the National Science Foundation. Ghovanloo was a tenured full professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

‘Grant funding is limited, and the competition for those dollars is keen,’ said U.S. Attorney Byung J. ‘BJay’ Pak. ‘People awarded grants to do research and development vow that they will adhere to the rules governing it. Ghovanloo decided to sacrifice his reputation by dodging those rules and lying.'” read here

FORMER VA HOSPICE NURSE INDICTED FOR ALLEGEDLY DIVERTING AND TAMPERING WITH MORPHINE MEANT FOR DYING VETERANS

“BOSTON – A Tewksbury woman was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Boston on charges of diverting morphine while employed as a nurse in the hospice unit at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center campus in Bedford.

Kathleen Noftle, 55, was charged by indictment with one count of tampering with a consumer product and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge. Noftle was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in this case in September 2019.” read here

FORMER MERCED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER CEO AND LICENSED NURSE PRACTITIONER SENTENCED TO 5 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD

“FRESNO, Calif. — Sandra Haar, 59, of Merced, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neil to five years in prison and ordered to pay $6,107,846 in restitution for health care fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Haar was ordered to self-surrender on Jan. 15, 2020, to begin serving her sentence.

Haar was the founder and chief executive officer of Horisons Unlimited, a nonprofit public benefit corporation that provided health and dental services in Merced and surrounding communities. According to court documents, between January 1, 2014, and March 2017, Haar orchestrated a scheme to bill Medicare and Medi-Cal for services she knew were not reimbursable, and she profited by over $3.7 million from her fraud. For example, Haar billed Medi‑Cal for health and dental services that were not rendered and for unnecessary health care services. She also billed Medi-Cal for office visits with purportedly licensed doctors when the patients instead were dispensed Suboxone, an opioid medication, in the parking lots of McDonald’s and Rite Aid in baggies.” read here

FORMER PASCO COUNTY ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL SENTENCED TO 35 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON

“Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Kyle Dale Ritsema (36, Land O’Lakes) to 35 years in federal prison for producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography.

Ritsema had pleaded guilty on December 21, 2018.

According to court documents, in 2014, Ritsema, a former teacher and Assistant Principal at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Pasco County, enticed a 14-year-old child on the mobile application “Grindr.” Ritsema had sex with the child on at least five occasions over the course of one year and produced pornographic images of the child. Ritsema shared the images with others, including another employee of Pasco County Schools. A subsequent investigation revealed that Ritsema had targeted many other minors, including former students, and enticed them for sex, and on several occasions sexually abused them. Ritsema’s conversations also revealed that he is HIV positive and that, on multiple occasions, he did not disclose his HIV status despite having unprotected sex with unknowing children and adults.” read here

SYRIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR STALKING OFFENSE

“John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALAA HASAN QALB ALLOUZ, 34, a citizen of Syria last residing in New Haven, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to 24 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for stalking in violation of a protective order.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in July 2016, Allouz, his wife and their children emigrated from Syria and settled in New Haven. In April 2017, Allouz’s wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage, after incidents of domestic violence and Allouz’s state arrests for risk of injury, assault, breach of peace, and violation of a protective order offenses. In July 2017, Allouz’s wife obtained a Standing Criminal Protective Order ordering Allouz not to contact his wife. In August 2017, after Allouz threatened his wife, Allouz’s wife withdrew her petition for dissolution of marriage.” read here

HOME HEALTH COMPANIES TO PAY $2.5 MILLION TO SETTLE FEDERAL FALSE CLAIMS ACT LAWSUIT

“United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today that Louisiana-based home health companies Health Care Options, Inc. and Health Care Options of Lafayette, Inc.; Texas-based Home Care Options Houston, Inc.; and Howard D. Austin, II, have agreed to settle a civil fraud complaint filed under the federal False Claims Act by paying $2.5 million to the United States.

The settlement resolves allegations that, between 2011 and 2018, the defendants defrauded the Medicare and Louisiana Medicaid programs by submitting false and fraudulent claims for payment for home health services without required face-to-face encounters between patients and physicians.” read here

SALVADORAN NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO PREVENTING HIS DEPARTURE FROM THE UNITED STATES

“NEW ORLEANS U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser announced today that JOSE ARMANDO VILLALOBOS (“VILLALOBOS”), age 49, pleaded guilty on October 31, 2019 to a one-count indictment for preventing or hampering his departure from the United States after he was ordered removed by a U.S. Immigration Court in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1253(a)(1)(C).

According to the indictment, VILLALOBOS, who had an order of removal pending against him from a U.S. Immigration Court, hampered his removal when he fled immigration officers as they tried to arrest him on July 25, 2019.  VILLALOBOS, faces a maximum term of imprisonment of four years, a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum term of supervised release of one year, and a mandatory $100 special assessment.  Judge Nannette Brown set his sentencing for December 12, 2019.” read here

 

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