OPERATION LEGEND: CASE OF THE DAY TENNESSEE: THREE MEMPHIS MEN CHARGED WITH STEALING 32 FIREARMS
United States vs. Kendrick Monger, Corey Groves, and Martez Banks
On Sept. 10, 2020, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against three Memphis men for conspiracy and theft of firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
“The proliferation of stolen firearms on the streets of Memphis contributes to the increased frequency and severity of shooting incidents and violent crime in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee. “Under Operation LeGend, we are surging federal resources to assist local law enforcement, and we are committed in our resolve to reduce violent crime by aggressively prosecuting federal firearms offenses. This indictment does just that.”
According to the indictment, on Aug. 2, 2020, Kendrick, Monger, 24; Corey Groves, 25; and Martez Banks, 25, all of Memphis, stole 32 firearms from the Shoot Point Blank gun range, a federally licensed firearms dealer in Memphis.
If convicted, the defendants each face up to 10 years in prison. There is no parole in the federal system. (Read Here)
JUDGE SENTENCES UK NATIONAL FOR ROLE IN “DARK OVERLORD” HACKING GROUP
ST. LOUIS, MO – A United Kingdom national pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit aggravated identity theft and computer fraud, and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie White for the Eastern District of Missouri sentenced Nathan Wyatt, 39, who participated in a computer hacking collective known as “The Dark Overlord,” which targeted victims in the St. Louis area beginning in 2016. Wyatt was extradited from the United Kingdom to the Eastern District of Missouri in December 2019. Judge White also ordered Wyatt to pay $1,467,048 in restitution.
“Nathan Wyatt used his technical skills to prey on Americans’ private data and exploited the sensitive nature of their medical and financial records for his own personal gain,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s guilty plea and sentence demonstrate the department’s commitment to ensuring that hackers who seek to profit by illegally invading the privacy of Americans will be found and held accountable, no matter where they may be located.” (Read Here)
CONVICTED SEX TRAFFICKER BRIAN FOLKS SENTENCED TO OVER 22 YEARS IN PRISON
The Honorable William K. Sessions III sentenced Brian Folks, 45, to twenty-two years and six months in prison today, followed by ten years of supervision upon release. A federal jury in Burlington, Vermont, previously found Folks guilty of 13 federal felonies after a nearly three-week trial back in May 2019. Evidence presented at trial showed that Folks ran an extensive and violent sex and drug trafficking operation that sold heroin and cocaine base throughout the greater Burlington area and forced young, drug-addicted women to prostitute. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Christina E. Nolan for the District of Vermont, and DEA Special Agent in Charge-Boston Brian D. Boyle announced the sentence.
In May 2019, a federal jury convicted Folks of five counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, one count of sex trafficking of a minor, one count of operating an unlawful prostitution business enterprise, four counts of distributing heroin, one count of possessing heroin and cocaine base with the intent to distribute, and one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine base. Following trial, the Court dismissed one of two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion with respect to one victim. When imposing the sentence, Judge Sessions indicated that he would later determine the amount of restitution Folks owes the victims of the crimes. (Read Here)
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FILES STATEMENT OF INTEREST CHALLENGING NEW MEXICO’S MORE STRINGENT COVID-19 CAPACITY LIMITS ON PRIVATE SCHOOLS THAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Department of Justice today filed a statement of interest in a New Mexico federal court asserting that the States’ COVID-19 rules limiting private schools to operating at 25% of capacity but allowing public schools to operate at 50% of capacity violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The brief, filed in the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, explains that the Supreme Court has recognized parents’ educational choices for their children as a fundamental right under the Constitution, and that New Mexico has no grounds for abridging that right in adopting stricter rules for private schools than for public schools.
“Parents have a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, without interference from the government, to select the school for their children of their choice, whether a public school, a parochial school, or a non-religious private school,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “New Mexico’s response to COVID-19 has infringed that right by adopting one rule for public schools and another for private schools, resulting in private schools remaining closed for in-person instruction, without justification. There is no pandemic exception to the Constitution and New Mexico’s differential standards for private and public schools cannot stand.”
“I respect Governor Lujan Grisham’s good faith efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the health of New Mexicans,” said John Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. “But COVID-related restrictions must be applied and implemented equally and impartially, and that simply did not happen here. There is no good reason to penalize students just because they choose to attend a private school.” (Read Here)
CALIFORNIA EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS CASE
BOSTON – A California insurance and private equity executive pleaded guilty today in connection with using fraud and bribery to cheat on the ACT exam on behalf of his daughter.
Mark Hauser, 59, of Los Angeles, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21, 2021.
According to the terms of Hauser’s plea agreement, the government will recommend a sentence of six months in prison, one year of supervised release, a fine of $40,000 and restitution.
Hauser agreed with William “Rick” Singer to pay an amount, ultimately totaling $40,000, to facilitate cheating on his daughter’s ACT exam. As part of the scheme, co-conspirator Mark Riddell traveled to Houston, Texas, where Hauser’s daughter took the exam and purported to proctor the test. Instead, Riddell corrected the answers on the exam after she completed it. Two days later, Singer paid an intermediary, Martin Fox, $25,000, with the understanding that Fox would pass part of the payment on to Niki Williams, the test site administrator who allowed the cheating to occur. Singer also paid Riddell $10,000 for his role in the scheme. (Read Here)
CONVICTED CHILD MOLESTER SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS FOR PRODUCING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OF TEENS IN HIS CARE
ROME, GA– Daniel Strickland, who molested two minors in his care and produced child pornography of them, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“Strickland’s crimes will haunt his victims and their families for years,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Instead of safeguarding the children in his care, he sexually exploited them. Thankfully, one of his victims came forward and reported him to law enforcement. Her courage prevented Strickland from traumatizing other children.”
“Strickland will spend the next 25 years of his life in prison, which should send a strong message to anyone who even contemplates harming a vulnerable and defenseless child,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Along with our state and local law enforcement partners, the FBI is committed to working collectively to prosecute child predators.”
“It is the mission of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office to serve its citizens with dignity and honor. The safety of our children is the utmost importance and dearest to our heart. We are thankful that a victim in this case was brave enough to come forward and bring this matter to our attention so that justice could be served to Strickland,” said Jimmy Davenport, Chief Deputy, Murray County Sheriff’s Office. (Read Here)
NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER CHARGED WITH ACTING AS AN ILLEGAL AGENT OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
BROOKLYN, NY – A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Baimadajie Angwang, a New York City Police Department officer and United States Army reservist, with acting as an illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as well as committing wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing an official proceeding. Angwang was arrested today and will make his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Alan E. Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Counterintelligence Division; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and charges. (Read Here)
NEUROSURGEON MEDICAL PRACTICE DIRECTOR TO PAY OVER $1 MILLION TO RESOLVE FALSE CLAIMS ACT LIABILITY ARISING FROM BILLING OF P-STIM DEVICES
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that neurosurgeon Sagi M. Kuznits, practice director Pnina Kuznits, and Neurosurgical Care LLC (collectively, “Kuznits”), have agreed to pay $1,017,375.03 to resolve liability under the False Claims Act for the alleged improper billing of electro-acupuncture devices called Stivax and/or P-Stim and a memory-loss device called eVox.
From February 2017 through July 2018, Kuznits billed Medicare, TRICARE, and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program for the implantation of neuro-stimulators – a surgical procedure which usually requires an operating room and which is reimbursed by federal healthcare programs – when in fact the only procedures performed had been the non-surgical application of P-Stim and Stivax by a physician assistant. P-Stim and Stivax are applied with an adhesive and insertion of a limited number of needles, and they do not involve surgery, anesthesia, or take place in an operating room. Federal healthcare programs do not reimburse for devices such as P-Stim or Stivax, whether they are characterized as an electro-acupuncture device or as an implantable neuro-stimulator. Other brand names for this device include NeuroStim, ANSiStim, E-Pulse, and NSS-2 Bridge. (Read Here)
U.S. TAXPAYER IN PANAMA PAPERS INVESTIGATION SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON
Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced today that HARALD JOACHIM VON DER GOLTZ, a/k/a “H.J. von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Johan von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Jochen von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Tica,” a/k/a “Tika,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 48 months in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, false statements, and other charges. VON DER GOLTZ, a former U.S. resident and taxpayer, was charged along with Ramses Owens, Dirk Brauer, and Richard Gaffey, a/k/a “Dick Gaffey,” in connection with a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (“Mossack Fonseca”), a Panamanian-based global law firm, and its related entities. VON DER GOLTZ previously pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Harald Joachim von der Goltz, a one-time U.S. resident, previously admitted to an elaborate scheme to evade millions in taxes owed to the IRS. Von der Goltz was abetted by the specialized criminal services of the law firm Mossack Fonseca to conceal income and assets in shell companies and off-shore bank accounts. Now von der Goltz has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for his conduct.” (Read Here)
EXECUTIVES OF LEXINGTON MEDICAL COMPANIES SENTENCED FOR DEFRAUDING THE UNITED STATES OF TAXES
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Ann Sonderman Giles, 56, and Lu Anne Wallace, 66, both of Lexington, were sentenced on Monday, before U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, to 30 months and 33 months, respectively, for conspiring to defraud the United States.
According to their plea agreements, Giles and Wallace operated various health care related companies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Giles as the Chief Executive Officer and Wallace as the Chief Financial Officer. They admitted to knowingly failing to pay over to the IRS mandated trust fund taxes derived from the operations of their companies, including federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes that had been withheld from their employees’ paychecks. Giles and Wallace further admitted that between January 2014 and July 2017, they conspired to defraud the United States out of $1,595,725 in tax revenue.
Giles and Wallace pleaded guilty in June 2020. (Read Here)
SIX ELN MEMBERS AND ASSOCIATED CHARGED WITH NARCO-TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL COCAINE DISTRIBUTION CONSPIRACY
HOUSTON – A total of three Colombian nationals associated with the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional aka ELN), a paramilitary group designated as a foreign terrorist organization, have been taken into Colombian custody at the request of the United States on charges alleging a 20-year international drug conspiracy.
“When my predecessor visited Colombia last year, he said to approximately 100 Colombian National police officers that he was directing all U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) components stationed at the U.S. Embassy, to include FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and our DOJ Attaches, to make cases against ELN a top priority,” said Attorney General William Barr. “These enforcement efforts against six ELN members including federal criminal charges against ELN leader Wilver Villegas-Palomino reaffirms our commitment in dismantling and disrupting this narco-terrorist group. The United States and Colombia have a shared mission of combatting narco-trafficking and narco-terrorism and the long-standing cooperation and teamwork between U.S. and Colombian law enforcement is stronger in addressing transnational crime and weakening foreign terrorist organizations.”
“Colombia is an excellent law enforcement partner,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. “They made a commitment to work with the United States combatting ELN’s narco-terrorism. With major cities acting as drug trafficking hubs, the Southern District of Texas is uniquely situated in continuing our prosecution of these cases and working with our Colombian colleagues.” (Read Here)