Justice Files Tuesday

Justice Files Tuesday

PORTLAND MAN CHARGED WITH INTIMIDATING A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE NEAR HATFIELD FEDERAL COURTHOUSE

PORTLAND, Ore.—Dakota Kurtis Means, 20, a resident of Portland, has been charged by criminal information with forcibly assaulting, impeding, and intimidating a federal employee near the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on August 24, 2020, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

According to court documents and information shared in court, at approximately 5:30am on August 24, 2020, an employee was walking to work at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse when Means allegedly began following the employee, yelling obscenities. Means was carrying a black colored paintball rifle and yelled “it’s a paintball gun now, but it’s going to be an AR later,” seemingly referring to an AR-15 assault rifle. Means was arrested a short time later near the courthouse by U.S. Marshals Service deputies. (Read Here)

ILLEGAL ALIEN ADMITS TO DRUG TRAFFICKING

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Hashim Hussein, a citizen of Kuwait, has admitted to selling cocaine near West Virginia University, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Hussein, also known as “Kuwait,” age 21, pled guilty to one count of “Distribution of Cocaine Hydrochloride within 1000 Feet of Protected Location.” Hussein admitted to selling cocaine hydrochloride, also known as “Coke,” in December 2019 near the campus of West Virginia University in Monongalia County. (Read Here)

MIDDLESBORO MAN SENTENCED TO 188 MONTHS FOR ATTEMPTED PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

LONDON, Ky.— Jordan Ryan Turner, 32, of Middlesboro, Kentucky, was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison on Tuesday, by United States District Judge Claria Horn Boom, after pleading guilty to using the internet to attempt to persuade, induce, or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.

According to Turner’s plea agreement, he admitted to using Facebook Messenger and Kik Messenger to persuade and induce minors to produce sexually explicit videos and still images. Turner further admitted that, in March 2018, while employed as a teacher at Bell County High School, he used Facebook Messenger to attempt to convince a minor to send him a sexually explicit photo.

Turner pleaded guilty to the charges in March 2019. (Read Here)

FLOYD COUNTY DENTIST PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD

FRANKFORT, Ky.- A McDowell, Ky., man, Denver D. Tackett, DMD, 66, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, before U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove, to health care fraud.

According to the plea agreement, Tackett, a licensed dentist who owned and operated Tackett Family Dentistry in McDowell, Ky., submitted false and unnecessary claims to Kentucky Medicaid for reimbursement for dental procedures and services performed at his practice. Tackett admitted to performing, and submitting claims for, dental procedures that were not reasonable or necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of a patient’s illness or injury. For example, Tackett submitted claims for “surgical” extractions when he had only performed a “simple” extraction, a lower reimbursing procedure, or a “surgical” extraction was not medically necessary.

In total, Tackett admitted to submitting more than $95,000 in reimbursement claims to Kentucky Medicaid and its fiscal intermediaries for medically unnecessary dental procedures. (Read Here)

CHIROPRACTOR SENTENCED TO NEARLY 4 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SCHEME THAT FRAUDULENTLY BILLED LABOR UNION HEALTH PLAN $4.8 MILLION

 LOS ANGELES – A chiropractor was sentenced today to 46 months in federal prison for conspiring to defraud a labor union’s health care benefit plan by offering kickbacks to patients for attending the clinic and by submitting approximately $4.8 million in sham billings.

Mahyar David Yadidi, 38, of West Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner, who also ordered him to pay $1,976,832 in restitution.

In November 2019, Yadidi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Yadidi operated Philips San Pedro Chiropractic – formerly known as Synergy Healthcare and Wellness Center – in San Pedro. From July 2016 to October 2018, Yadidi operated a scheme to defraud the International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Pacific Maritime Association (ILWU-PMA) health care benefit plan. Yadidi worked with co-conspirators Ivan Semerdjiev, 41, of Irvine, a chiropractor who worked for Yadidi, and Julian Williams, 45, of San Pedro, a personal trainer who also worked for Yadidi. (Read Here)

ACTING MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES SECURITIES AND WIRE FRAUD CHARGES AGAINST FOUNDER AND FORMER CEO OF PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that SEPEHR SARSHAR was charged this morning with securities fraud and other fraud offenses in connection with SARSHAR’s scheme to provide inside information to his friends and family so they could trade in the securities of a pharmaceutical company SARSHAR founded and of which he was a member of the board of directors.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged, Sepehr Sarshar, aware of an impending tender offer for his company, tipped off friends and a close relative, enabling them to reap nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in illegal profits.  My Office and the FBI remain resolute in our commitment to policing and prosecuting insider trading.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “It seems intuitive that material nonpublic information should never be shared with the public, or traded on, prior to shareholder knowledge. Still, time and time again we see where those privy to a company’s inside information pass it on to family and friends. As alleged today, Sepehr Sarshar, a founder and board member of Auspex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., tipped off his own inner circle to an anticipated tender offer for the company. His associates traded on this information, and profited by the hundreds of thousands. Upsetting the market balance in this way puts all investors at a disadvantage. I think the message here is pretty clear – insider trading is risky business, and it’s a crime that’s typically met with hefty fines or significant jail time.”  ((Read Here)

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO COVID-19 FRAUD INVOLVING PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An Ashburn man pleaded guilty today to defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a federal initiative designed to help businesses pay their employees and meet their basic expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During a time of national crisis, the federal government set aside money to help struggling businesses pay their hardworking employees and keep their doors open,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Tarik Jaafar planned and executed a scheme to steal money from this essential program and use it for his own personal benefit. This office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to make sure that federal economic assistance provides relief for beleaguered businesses and not profits for devious criminals.” (Read Here)

33 INMATES AND ACCOMPLICES CHARGED WITH ILLEGALLY OBTAINING CORONAVIRUS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

PITTSBURGH – United States Attorney Scott W. Brady and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that 33 individuals, including inmates at eight state and county jails and prisons in western Pennsylvania and their accomplices, have been charged in federal and state criminal complaints for illegally obtaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act unemployment benefits that contained false or fraudulent statements, and to which they were not entitled.

U.S. Attorney Brady stated, “The unprecedented scope and audacity of this inmate unemployment compensation fraud is appalling. These benefits were intended to help Pennsylvania workers make it through a difficult time. These inmates and their accomplices took advantage of this national emergency to line their pockets through fraud. Their conduct is despicable at any time, but particularly in a time of a national emergency. As these charges make clear, this conduct will not go unpunished, and my office will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to bring these criminals and their co-conspirators to justice. The message to those who engaged in this fraud is clear: if you submitted a fraudulent application for unemployment benefits, withdraw it. If you got a check or debit card through fraud, return it. If you don’t, expect to hear a knock on your door very soon.” (Read Here)

TWO CHARGED IN $1.8 MILLION UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE SCAM

An employee of the State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency and a Detroit Woman were charged in a criminal complaint for their alleged role in a $1.8 million unemployment insurance fraud scheme aimed at defrauding the State of Michigan and the U.S. Government of funds earmarked for unemployment assistance during the COVID19 pandemic, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.

Joining in the announcement were Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Douglas J. Zloto, US Secret Service and Jeffrey Frost, Special Fraud Advisor, Unemployment Insurance Agency, Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Charged are Jermaine Rose, 41, and Serenity Poynter 36.

According to the complaint, Jermaine Rose was a Lead Claims Examiner for the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.  His duties included reviewing, processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims. (Read Here)

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER DETAINED ON SOLICITATION, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES

PROVIDENCE – A registered sex offender previously convicted in Rhode Island state court for indecent solicitation of a child was arraigned today on new federal charges of enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct, and possessing and distributing child pornography.

According to court documents, in January 2020, members of the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that an individual uploaded an image of child pornography from an IP address in Rhode Island. An investigation by members of the ICAC determined that the IP address belonged to an Internet subscriber in West Warwick. (Read Here)

LOBBYIST AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY IN CITY HALL BRIBERY SCHEME IN WHICH CITY COUNCILMAN JOSE HUIZAR SUPPORTED DEVELOPER IN EXCHANGE FOR PAC DONATIONS

LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors today filed a criminal information charging a longtime Los Angeles City Hall lobbyist and close associate of City Councilman Jose Huizar with participating in a bribery scheme in which he brokered deals where a developer client agreed to make $50,000 in political donations in exchange for Huizar’s official actions for the developer’s benefit.

Morris Roland Goldman, a.k.a. “Morrie,” 57, of Porter Ranch, was charged today with one count of conspiring to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud.

In a plea agreement also filed today in United States District Court, Goldman agreed to plead guilty to the felony offense and cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation. (Read Here)

RUSSIAN NATIONAL ARRESTED FOR CONSPIRACY TO INTRODUCE MALWARE INTO A NEVADA COMPANY’S COMPUTER NETWORK

Before Attempting to Flee the United States, Defendant Allegedly Plotted with Co-Conspirators to Pay $1 Million to Company Employee to Surreptitiously Insert Malware

RENO, Nev. — A Russian national made his initial appearance in federal court yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malicious software into the company’s computer network, extract data from the network, and extort ransom money from the company, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI.

“As Nevada’s economy diversifies and evolves into a center for technological innovation, our office will continue to prioritize protecting trade secrets and other confidential information belonging to U.S. businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we are committed to holding accountable anyone who plots to use malicious cyber tactics to harm American consumers and companies.” (Read Here)

FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR PUBLIC CORRUPTION WHILE WORKING AT SIERRA ARMY DEPOT AND AT NAVAL AIR STATION LEMOORE

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Jeffery Parsons, 44, of Dillon, Montana, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to one year in prison for conspiring to accept illegal gratuities on account of official actions and conspiring to sell government property without authority. Judge Mueller also ordered Parsons to forfeit to the United States over $230,000.

According to court documents, Parsons was a civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. In November 2009, Parsons began working as an Environmental Protection Specialist at Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, California (SIAD). He later held the same position at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Lemoore, California (NASL). In his official positions at SIAD and NASL, Parsons’ responsibilities included the disposition of hazardous materials such as batteries, fuel and oil. (Read Here)

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES STATEMENT OF INTEREST IN MASSACHUSETTS ABSENTEE VOTING CASE

BOSTON – The Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest yesterday in the Supreme Judicial Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to help ensure that uniformed service members serving their country away from home, their family members absent with them and American citizens living overseas have the opportunity to participate fully in Massachusetts’s 2020 federal general election. The brief is part of the Department of Justice’s continued efforts to enforce the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

“We are committed to protecting the rights of Massachusetts men and women serving our country and our citizens living overseas, including ensuring that their votes are counted and so their voices heard,” said Andrew E. Lelling, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

“Our filing today reflects the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that military and overseas voters are afforded a meaningful opportunity to participate in federal elections,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to ensure that the ability of our brave men and women serving in the military and our citizens residing overseas to participate fully in all federal elections is not infringed.”  (Read Here)

PAIN DOCTOR PAYS TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF DECEPTIVE MEDICARE BILLING

HOUSTON – A 52-year-old pain management physician from Houston has paid $530,000 to resolve allegations he falsely billed Medicare for the use of electro-acupuncture devices, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

From March 1, 2019, to Oct. 31, 2019, Dr. Syed Nasir billed Medicare for the implantation of neurostimulator electrodes–a surgical procedure that usually requires use of an operating room. Medicare pays thousands of dollars for this procedure.

However, Nasir did not perform these surgeries. Instead, he applied a device used for electro-acupuncture. This procedure involves inserting needles into patients’ ears with the neurostimulator taped behind them with an adhesive.  (Read Here)

ST. HELENS MAN SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING MINOR

PORTLAND, Ore.—Gerald Ryan Davis, 37, of St. Helens, Oregon, was sentenced today to 13 years in federal prison and a life term of supervised release for travelling across state lines to repeatedly sexually assault a 14-year-old victim.

According to court documents, Davis used social media to find his victim and, beginning in December 2014, repeatedly traveled across state lines to meet in person and engage in criminal sexual conduct. Davis gave the victim alcohol during these encounters.

Davis, who was 33 years old at the time, had previously been convicted in 2011 of sexually abusing a 17-year-old and was sentenced to probation. While on probation, he repeatedly violated his release conditions by contacting minor victims and was ordered to serve two years in prison. He was released in July 2014, five months prior to sexually assaulting the minor victim in this case. (Read Here)

MEN ADMIT TO SMUGGLING DISASTER THAT RESULTED IN TRAGIC DEATHS OF THREE SISTERS

SAN DIEGO – Two brothers from Chihuahua, Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that they smuggled three sisters across the U.S.-Mexico border in an ill-fated trek across treacherous terrain that resulted in the tragic deaths of the young women. One of the victims was the mother of a young child.

Cecilio and Ricardo Rios-Quinones pleaded guilty to Transportation of Aliens Resulting in Death, Bringing in Aliens for Financial Gain and Conspiracy. The brothers are scheduled to be sentenced on November 13, 2020 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo. The defendants also agreed to provide restitution to the sisters’ families.

As part of their plea agreements, the defendants admitted that they conspired with others to serve as foot guides in order to smuggle individuals illegally into the United States, and that they were ill-prepared when they guided the three sisters – Juana Santos Arce, Margarita Santos Arce and Paula Santos Arce of Oaxaca, Mexico – through a remote, mountainous region during a snow storm. The youngest sister was the mother of a young child. (Read Here)

FIVE CHARGED IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS FRAUD SCHEME

Defendants Accused of Dumping Used Tires In Asia In Scheme to Submit Fraudulent Tariff “Drawback” Claims

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Dale Behm; Yong Heng Liang, also known as Colin Liang; Joshua Stanka; Joshua Clark; and Michael Choy with conspiracy, wire fraud, and related charges related to an alleged scheme to submit fraudulent claims for refunds on import duties, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Kareem Carter.

The indictment, filed August 12, 2020, and unsealed today, alleges Liang, 34, of Daly City, Calif.; Behm, 75, of Shell Knob, Missouri.; Stanka, 41, of Katy, Texas; Clark, 38, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas; and Choy, 47, of Etibicoke, Ontario, Canada, conspired to defraud the United States of as much as $40 million by submitting multiple claims for refunds to recover tariffs that were properly owed on imports.  Pursuant to the refund scheme, defendants allegedly used a tire recycling company in Hayward and a shell company, both controlled by Liang.  The recycling company had no recycling equipment and shipped containers of thousands of used tires to countries in Asia, often using the name of the shell company. In addition, the defendants forged the shipping documents to support false claims to the government that the exported tires were actually high-quality plastics, allowing defendants to seek refunds paid for other imports. (Read Here)

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