Last Updated Friday, April 09, 2021, at 3:26 PM
Every Friday, The Criminal Lawyer Group publishes a digest of the latest federal prosecutions nationally. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country.
Unless otherwise disclosed, none of the defendants mentioned in these summaries are clients of our firm.
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FRIDAY, April 09, 2021
I. Massachusetts Woman Charged with Wire Fraud and Stealing Social Security Benefits
On April 5, 2021, Shirley Buchanan, 66, of Cambridge, was arrested and charged with the theft of Social Security benefits and committing wire fraud to receive SNAP benefits, formerly known as “Food Stamps.” Buchanan was indicted on one count of theft of public funds and three counts of wire fraud, and she made her initial appearance the same day before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal.
The indictment alleges that Buchanan maintained and used two Social Security numbers under two different names and that she applied for and received Social Security benefits under both. It is also alleged that Buchanan used the same two names and Social Security numbers to apply for and receive SNAP benefits she was not entitled to.
In all, the indictment also alleges that Buchanan stole approximately $184,410 in Social Security benefits from March 1993 through November 2018 and approximately $12,916.89 in SNAP benefits from February 2012 through April 2020. If convicted, Buchanan faces up to 10 years in prison for the charge of theft of public funds and up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge.
II. Corrections Officer Indicted for Plan To Smuggle Drugs Into Prison
On April 5, 2021, the Acting Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann announced the return of an indictment charging Wayne Grant, Jr., 27, of Orlando, with receipt of a bribe by a public official. According to the indictment, as Grant was working as a corrections officer at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Sumter County in December 2020, he unwittingly began contacting an undercover agent in order to smuggle methamphetamine into the prison for an inmate in exchange for money.
Subsequently, during his assigned shift on February 4, 2021, they watched Grant smuggled the contraband into the prison and provided it to an inmate. According to court documents, federal agents mailed approximately 70 grams of fake methamphetamine and $2000 in money orders to a post office, which is where Grant had requested the drugs be sent. Agents also observed Grant retrieving the package from the post office and then depositing the money orders into his bank account.
III. South Dakota Man Charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Patrick Red Legs, 27, of Huron, SD, was indicted on March 9, 2021, on a charge of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender., and he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on March 29, 2021, where he pled not guilty to the Indictment. The announcement of the indictment and Red Legs’ first appearance was made by Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Dennis R. Holmes.
If he is convicted of the charge, Red Legs faces as much as 10 ten years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, from five years to the life of supervised release and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered. The Indictment alleges that on multiple occasions between May 31, 2020, and September 16, 2020, Red Legs, a person required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, knowingly failed to register and update his registration as required by law.
IV. Two Brothers, Including Self-Identified Proud Boy, Charged with Crimes Related to U.S. Capitol Breach
Matthew Leland Klein, 24, and Jonathanpeter Allen Klein, 21, two brothers from Oregon, one of which is a self-described “Proud Boy,” have been arrested and ordered held without bond after they were formally charged with conspiracy and other charges related to the Capitol attack that occurred on January 6, 2021.
Matthew Leland Klein, 24, and Jonathanpeter Allen Klein, 21, both of Oregon, were indicted in federal court in the District of Columbia on charges of conspiracy; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, and aiding and abetting; destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and , and disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
As alleged, Matthew Klein assisted members of the crowd with using a police barricade to climb a wall and gain access to an external stairwell leading to the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol. At 2:16 p.m. on Jan. 6, Jonathanpeter Klein entered the Capitol building on the northwest side with his brother entering shortly after through the same door at 2:18 p.m.
After exiting the building, the brothers worked together to forcibly open a secured door on the Capitol’s north side, with federal officers visible on the other side, causing damage to the building in excess of $1,000. When the officers responded to the violent entry, Matthew Klein put on protective goggles and advanced toward the officers waving a flag affixed to a pole so as to interfere with law enforcement’s efforts.
V. Chicago Area Tax Preparer Charged With COVID-Relief Fraud
On April 6, 2021, John R. Lausch, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, announced that a Chicago area tax preparer, Haim Isbaih, 39, of Palos Heights, had been indicted April 5, 2021, on federal fraud charges. Among the charges alleged include one count of providing fraudulent assistance to customers in obtaining millions of dollars in loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and another four counts for wire fraud.
The indictment was returned by a grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois, and he made an initial court appearance on April 6, 2021, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth W. Jantz. Two sources of relief established by the CARES Act, passed by Cngress Congress in March 2020, included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL).
According to the indictment, Isbaih owned and operated Flash Tax Service Inc., a tax and investment consulting business in Bridgeview, Ill. From April to October 2020, Isbaih submitted on behalf of hundreds of Flash Tax customers PPP and EIDL applications that contained materially false statements and misrepresentations about the customers’ businesses, such as gross revenues, expenses, and the number of employees, the indictment states.
Isbaih’s false representations and statement statements led to millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained PPP and EIDL funds to be being disbursed.
VI. Southern California Man and His Sister Charged in Real Estate Scam
On April 6, 2021, a brother-and-sister team from Southern California were arrested on federal charges alleging they orchestrated a $6 million real estate fraud scam in which they listed homes without the owners’ consent and collected money from multiple would-be buyers for each of the not-for-sale homes.
Later that day, Adolfo Schoneke, 43, of Torrance, and his sister, Bianca Gonzalez, a.k.a. Blanca Schoneke, 38, of Walnut, each pleaded not guilty to the nine charges contained in an indictment, which charges Schoneke and Gonzalez with one count of conspiracy, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, Schoneke and Gonzalez, along with several co-conspirators, operated real estate and escrow companies in places such as Cerritos, La Palma, and Long Beach under several names, including MCR and West Coast. The indictment alleges the siblings, Schoneke and Gonzalez, found properties to list for sale, including some that were not actually for sale and for which they had no authority to list them for sale, Despite that, they marketed the properties as short sales, which they would sell at below-market prices.
Using other people’s broker’s licenses, Schoneke and Gonzalez allegedly listed the properties on real estate websites. In addition, these homes were marketed through open houses after they tricked homeowners into allowing their homes to be used in that way.
VII. Maryland Man Charged with Enticement of a Minor, Possession of Child Pornography
On April 6, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzne announced the filing of a criminal complaint charging Derrell Lamar Hooker Orange (“Hooker Orange”), 36, of Brandywine, Maryland, with the enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography. The criminal complaint was filed on April 1, 2021, and unsealed at Hooker-Orange’s initial appearance on April 2, 2021.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office (“CCSO”) of Green Cove Springs, Florida, responded to a sex offense call in which an adult female discovered sexually explicit messages on her 12-year-old daughter’s cell phone. CCSO spoke with the victim at her residence and discovered the victim had been communicating with “Lamar Thompson” of Washington, whom she believed to be a 16-year old male, from approximately July 2020 through October 2020.
The victim stated she met “Thompson” on a video creation application and continued to communicate with him, primarily through text messages and cellular phone calls. CCSO also observed sexually explicit text messages and images on the victim’s phone. With the adult female’s consent, the cell phone was placed into evidence at the CCSO. On October 22, 2020, the Clay County State’s Attorney allegedly received information that identified Hooker Orange as the subscriber who had been communicating with the victim.
VIII. Federal Immigration Official Charged with Illegally Obtaining U.S. Citizenship Under Fake Identity
An immigration services officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was arrested this morning in Maryland on a federal charge that alleges he obtained U.S. citizenship under a false name. The defendant is charged under the false name of “Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi,” but the criminal complaint, in this case, notes that his real name is Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi, originally from Nigeria.
Ifemembi, 48, who previously resided in Aliso Viejo, but relocated to Rockville, Maryland last year, has worked for USCIS for seven years. Ifemembi is charged in the complaint with one count of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Ifemembi allegedly made false statements on various government forms to obtain both U.S. citizenship and his employment with USCIS. The affidavit also alleged that Ifemembi first entered the United States in 2000, when he flew from France to Chicago with a British passport that had been issued to another person but had been altered to display Ifemembi’s photograph.
While immigration officials in Chicago caught Ifemembi – who admitted his fraudulent use of the U.K. passport, the affidavit states that he ultimately was granted asylum after falsely claiming his real name was “Karlos Mourfy” and that he was a native of Sierra Leone. Following he was granted asylum, Ifemembi attended the University of California, Berkeley, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2004. He soon then earned a J.D. (Law Degree) from the University of Oregon School of Law.
Then, in late 2010, “Karlos Mourfy” applied for U.S. citizenship and asked to change his name to Ifemembi – requests that were granted in May 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Ifemembi was hired by USCIS, according to the affidavit.
IX. Richmond Assisted Living Facility Owner Charged with Elder Fraud
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on April 6, 2021, charging the former owner of an assisted living facility, Mable B. Jones, 77, of Richmond, with allegedly diverting hundreds of thousands in federal and state benefits that were intended to pay for the care of the facility’s residents. As alleged in the indictment, the defendant diverted the benefits of her residents while leaving the facility’s in a condition described by many as “deplorable.”
The indictment alleges Jones owned and operated Jones & Jones, an assisted living facility complex that served primarily elderly and incapacitated adults. For residents who were legally incapable of managing their own funds, Jones & Jones served as a representative payee and regularly received state and federal benefits payments on behalf of those residents. Representative payees are required to use Social Security benefits to provide only for the beneficiary’s needs, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care, but no more than that.
Similar requirements also apply to auxiliary grants issued by the Virginia’s Virginia’s Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. However, according to the indictment, beginning around December 2015 and continuing throughout the facility’s existence, until its closure in 2019, Jones converted more than $800,000 of the residents’ federal and state benefit money for her own personal use.
For example, Jones used the residents’ benefit money to satisfy her personal debts, including her mortgage and bankruptcy payments, as well as to fund her personal travel, retail purchases, and gambling expenses at casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
X. New Jersey Man Arrested for Assaults on Law Enforcement Officers During U.S. Capitol Breach
On April 7, 2021, a New Jersey man was arrested for assault against several U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers and several other crimes. These actions occurred n January 6, during the U.S. Capitol breach that disrupted a Joint Session of Congress as they affirmed the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Christopher Joseph Quaglin, 35, of North Brunswick, New Jersey, has been officially charged by criminal complaint with assault, resisting or impeding certain officers or employees; employees, civil disorder; disorder, and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Quaglin made his initial appearance on April 7 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. According to court documents and publicly available video, Quaglin was seen repeatedly repeatedly seen assaulting multiple law enforcement officers guarding and protecting the Capitol. Police body camera footage shows Quaglin, who was wearing protective gear like a helmet and gas mask at the time, as he engaged with police violently and disruptively.
Additional Capitol Police surveillance video shows Quaglin pointing at and shoving a USCP officer on the Lower West Terrace while appearing increasingly agitated. He is seen grabbing and pushing the USCP officer by the neck before working with other rioters to rip one of the barrier fences away from MPD officers. At just after 2:30 p.m., body camera footage also showed Quaglin lunging at an officer and pushing him down. As a result, several officers dropped their shields, which Quaglin and other rioters stole, and passed back into the crowd.