BROTHER OF RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN ADMITS TO $700,000 TAX EVASION CONSPIRACY
SAN DIEGO – Mendel Goldstein, the owner of a videography business based in Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty in federal court today to tax evasion charges relating to a long-running conspiracy with his brother, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
Until around 2018, Yisroel Goldstein was the director and head rabbi at Chabad of Poway, a tax-exempt organization that the brothers used to divert Mendel Goldstein’s income and conceal more than $700,000 in earnings from the IRS. They hid the money by depositing it into Chabad accounts, then secretly funneling it back to Mendel Goldstein by writing checks to fictitious names like “Mr. Green,” “Mr. Gold,” or “Mr. Fish.”
According to his plea agreement, beginning in 2012, Mendel Goldstein agreed with his brother Yisroel Goldstein that Mendel Goldstein could deposit his freelance videography income directly into bank accounts owned by Chabad of Poway. This allowed Mendel Goldstein to avoid reporting his entire income to the IRS. In return, the brothers agreed that Yisroel Goldstein would keep 10 percent of Mendel Goldstein’s income as his fee—amounting to about $70,000. Mendel Goldstein saved approximately $155,881 in taxes he should have paid to the IRS. (Read Here)
FEDERAL GRAND JURY HANDS DOWN MORE THAN 60 INDICTMENTS IN SEPTEMBER
United States Attorney Trent Shores today announced the results of the September 2020 Federal Grand Jury B. The grand jury returned 55 unsealed and eight sealed indictments.
“We have experienced another first in our District with more than 60 indictments being returned by the federal Grand Jury. I could not be any prouder of the diligent work of my entire team. Our attorneys, support staff, and administrative staff have worked tirelessly to pursue our mission of justice,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “This month we were also lucky to have the help of federal prosecutors and support staff from other U.S. Attorney’s Offices who volunteered to work in Tulsa for the next six months. They were essential to our efforts this month and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.”
The following individuals have been charged with violations of United States law in indictments returned by the Grand Jury. The return of an indictment is a method of informing a defendant of alleged violations of federal law, which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome a defendant’s presumption of innocence. (Read Here)
FORMER CALIFORNIA EDD EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS FRAUD AND IDENTITY THEFT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Katherine Decker, 49, of Fresno, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to three years and seven months in prison for a disability benefits fraud and identity theft scheme, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, between June 14, 2013, and May 1, 2017, Decker and co‑defendant Angela Stubblefield, 49, of Tacoma, Washington, formerly of Martinez, participated in a scheme to defraud the State of California by filing fraudulent claims for disability insurance benefits with the California Employment Development Department (EDD). In furtherance of the scheme, Decker and Stubblefield used Decker’s position as an employee with the EDD to file fraudulent claims for disability benefits and to fraudulently extend existing disability claims, using the names and identities of real persons with and without their knowledge. In total, the conspiracy resulted in 15 fraudulent disability claims, resulting in a loss to the EDD of approximately $373,566.
This case is the product of an investigation by EDD’s Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shea J. Kenny and Amy S. Hitchcock are prosecuting the case.
On Feb. 10, Decker and Stubblefield pleaded guilty to the fraud scheme. Stubblefield is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mueller on Nov. 9. A hearing to determine the restitution amount is also scheduled for Nov. 9.
PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD: PRINCETON WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO DISTRIBUTE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. – A Princeton woman pled guilty to conspiring with another person to distribute child pornography, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Elizabeth Kaye Haway, 43, pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute child pornography.
“Protecting our children is my highest priority,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “My office takes all Project Safe Childhood cases very seriously and prosecutes them to the fullest extent possible. That being said, even among those cases, this one stands out for the considerable degree of lifelong physical and mental trauma that Haway has inflicted on this young victim.”
Haway admitted that she began talking with codefendant Randall Peggs, of Wheeling, on Facebook in November 2018. Over the course of several months, Haway and Peggs conspired to distribute child pornography of Victim 1, a 5-year-old female minor child. The majority of their communications occurred on Facebook Messenger and conversations focused on Haway’s desires to touch and sexually violate Victim 1 while recording it to send to Peggs. Peggs encouraged Haway to record and send him nude videos of Victim 1 and told her that he would watch anything she sent him. Ultimately, Haway recorded a video of child pornography depicting a nude Victim 1 and sent the video to Peggs twice via Facebook in February 2019. (Read Here)
PROJECT SAFE CHILDHOOD: HUNTINGTON MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OFFENSE
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man pled guilty to a child pornography offense, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Trent S. Davis, 29, pled guilty to possession of child pornography involving minors.
“Davis planned his deviant acts,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “He believed he was communicating with the parent of young girls. It is wrong on so many levels to think that is okay. He went further to make arrangements to meet the minors. The investigation also uncovered images and videos of younger children on his cell phone and computer that are too appalling to imagine.”
Davis admitted that on April 27, 2020, he arranged with a person he believed to be the parent to two minor females, ages 12 and 14, to travel from his job in Eleanor, West Virginia to Ashland, Kentucky, in order to engage in sexual activity with both minor girls. On the way to the meeting location, Davis stopped to purchase condoms to use during the sexual activity. Davis was arrested when he arrived at the meeting location in Ashland. A subsequent search of his cell phone revealed numerous images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of minors, including videos depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and images and videos depicting sadistic conduct. A search of Davis’ residence located additional computer equipment that also contained child sexual abuse materials. (Read Here)
FORMER VA EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO EMBEZZLING $70,000 USING MOBILE PAYMENT APPLICATION
BOSTON – A former Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) employee was sentenced today for embezzling nearly $70,000 in VA funds.
Michael Donaher, 41, of Lakeville, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani to time served (approximately one day), three years of supervised release with the first six months to be served in a sober house, and ordered to pay $69,720 in restitution. The government recommended a sentence of one year and one day incarceration. In May 2020, Donaher pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and theft of public money, property or records after being arrested and charged in January.
Donaher worked as an Inventory Management Specialist for the Veterans Affairs Medical Facility in Brockton and was responsible for purchasing various equipment necessary for use in the facility. Donaher conducted fraudulent transactions using his government-issued purchase cards and routed the proceeds to his personal bank account. He attempted to conceal these fraudulent purchases by making it appear as if the purchases were made through a large company that the VA frequently used for legitimate business, when, in fact, they were actually made through a company Donaher created through a mobile payment company. These purchases were not for actual items ever received by the VA. Furthermore, Donaher attempted to hide this fact by annotating the items as having been received within the VA’s accountability system. Donaher fraudulently routed approximately $70,000 of VA funds to his personal account since the scheme began in 2016.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, Northeast Field Office made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia M. Carris of Lelling’s Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted the case.
FLORIDA MAN CHARGED FEDERALLY WITH PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR
Tacoma – A 39-year-old New Port Ritchey, Florida, man is in federal custody tonight charged with production of child pornography and enticement of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. SAMUEL AARON LEONARD was arrested July 2, 2020, in Vancouver, Washington, just outside the home of the 14‑year-old girl he had spent months enticing online for sexual abuse. LEONARD had allegedly communicated with the girl on a number of social media platforms and represented to the girl that he was 20 years old. LEONARD will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.
According to the criminal complaint, LEONARD contacted the girl via a social media platform around April 1, 2020. Over the next few months, LEONARD communicated with the girl on various social media sites and sent her a cell phone so that they could communicate by text and telephone. Unbeknownst to the girl, LEONARD had installed tracking and surveillance software in the phone so that he could monitor her location and read her texts and emails. LEONARD turned the conversations with the girl to a sexual nature and convinced her to send various sexually explicit photos. The girl’s guardians became aware of the communication and contacted Kalama Police in late June 2020. Law enforcement immediately seized both phones that the teen had been using to communicate and had an undercover officer take over the communication. Analyzing the communications and the cell phone information, the investigation revealed that LEONARD had traveled from Florida to the Vancouver area via bus and was within a short bike ride of the girl’s home. When the officer, posing as the girl, revealed that the girl’s guardian had taken the phone LEONARD had sent to her, LEONARD said he would get her a new one. Police surveilled LEONARD as he took a newly purchased phone, hid it in a package, and tossed the package over the fence to the girl’s backyard. LEONARD was arrested shortly afterwards. (Read Here)
INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE AND DISBARRED ATTORNEY CHARGED IN OVER $5 MILLION CRYPTOCURRENCY FRAUD
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 Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging RANDY CRAIG LEVINE, a/k/a “Viktor Lapin,” a/k/a “Andre Santiago Santos Galindo,” a/k/a “Alexander Martinez Lavrov,” a/k/a “Alexander Kozlov,” a/k/a “Hristo Danielov Marinov,” and PHILIP REICHENTHAL with commodities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering offenses. As alleged, LEVINE induced others to send millions of dollars to REICHENTHAL, who was at the time a licensed attorney, to fund the purchase of Bitcoin after falsely representing that he intended to sell large quantities of Bitcoin to buyers. REICHENTHAL, who was purportedly acting as an escrow agent for the transactions, then sent a substantial portion of the money to LEVINE, before any Bitcoin was provided by LEVINE to investors. Neither LEVINE nor REICHENTHAL ever provided any Bitcoin or refunded the investors’ money.
LEVINE, a U.S. citizen, fled the United States in or about 2005 after learning that he was under investigation for passport fraud and that his residence had been searched. On or about May 19, 2005, a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of Florida returned an indictment charging LEVINE with passport fraud and perjury. In 2018, LEVINE was arrested in Guatemala with a Russian passport containing the alias “Viktor Lapin.” In June 2020, he was arrested in Austria with a Bulgarian passport containing the alias “Alexander Koslov.” Extradition proceedings are pending. (Read Here)
RAPID CITY MAN SENTENCED FOR WIRE FRAUD AND THEFT OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY
United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Rapid City, South Dakota, man convicted of 2 counts of Wire Fraud and 1 count of Theft of Government Property was sentenced by Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.
Robert Rodney Bland, age 52, was sentenced on September 4, 2020, to 12 months in federal prison, and was ordered to pay a $300 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund and $75,000 in restitution to the General Services Administration (GSA).
Between January 2010 and May 2018, Bland, while sole owner and operator of Motive Magic Mobile Windshield Repair, fraudulently billed GSA for hundreds of rock chip repairs he did not perform on dozens of vehicles leased to various federal agencies. On 1 vehicle, Bland claimed to have repaired 71 rock chips, but in reality only completed 2 repairs. On another vehicle, Bland claimed to have repaired 44 rock chips, but in actuality repaired none. The majority of the time, the agency which leased the GSA vehicle was unaware that the claimed repair had been billed to GSA because Bland would not notify the agency representative or provide invoices to the agency before or after billing for a claimed repair. In total, Bland fraudulently billed and was paid $75,000 by GSA for work he had not performed. Bland used the fraudulent proceeds to purchase and/or pay for a pontoon boat, boat trailer, Harley Davidson motorcycle, 5th wheel camper, and a van, all for his personal use. Each of these vehicles were seized and forfeited to the United States. (Read Here)