Last Updated Friday, February 05, 2021, at 2:09 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, February 05, 2021
I. Federal Arrest Announced as Part of Dollar General Shooting Investigation
On February 1, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Jason Dunn announced that Johnny Ray McCaslin, age 49, of Arvada has had been charged with being a felon in possession of firearm and ammunition. McCaslin had his initial appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado that afternoon.
According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, evidence supporting the firearm charge was obtained as part of an investigation into a shooting at a Dollar General store in Arvada on in January 26, 2021. Mr. McCaslin was identified as a suspect in that shooting, which led to a search warrant for his residence.
During that search, investigators located two firearms and ammunition. Mr. McCaslin has previously been convicted of felonies in the State of Colorado and is therefore prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.
II. State Lawmaker Indicted for Stem Cell Fraud Scheme, Illegally Distributing Prescription Drugs
An elected Missouri state representative has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a fraud scheme in which she made false claims about a supposed stem cell treatment marketed through her clinics in southern Missouri and for illegally providing prescription drugs to clients of those clinics.
Patricia “Tricia” Ashton Derges, 63, of Nixa, Missouri, was charged in a 20-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo. The indictment was unsealed and made public today following Derges’ self-surrender and initial court appearance.
The federal indictment charges Derges with eight counts of wire fraud related to five specific victims (identified by their initials). These five victims were among those who lost a total of nearly $200,000 in the fraud scheme, which lasted from December 2018 to May 2020. During this time, Derges exclusively obtained amniotic fluid, which she marketed under the name Regenerative Biologics, from the University of Utah.
Derges advertised Ozark Valley Medical Clinic as a “Leader in … Regenerative Medicine,” including stem cells, and marketed her “stem cell” practice through seminars, media interviews, and social media. The federal indictment cites an August 2019 seminar in which Derges told her audience that the amniotic fluid she used in her stem cell practice was a “stem cell shot” and that it contained “mesenchymal stem cells.”
In fact, however, the amniotic fluid Derges administered to her patients did not contain stem cells of any kind. The amniotic fluid she obtained from the University of Utah was a sterile filtered amniotic fluid allograft (a tissue graft comprised of human amniotic membrane and amniotic fluid components derived from placental tissue) that was “acellular,” meaning it did not contain any cells, including stem cells.
The University of Utah sold its amniotic fluid allograft to Derges for approximately $244 per milliliter and $438 for two milliliters. Derges charged her patients $950 to $1,450 per milliliter. In total, Derges’ patients paid her approximately $191,815 for amniotic fluid that did not contain stem cells.
III. Two Indicted on Charges Stemming From $100 Million Home Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
Two women were arrested yesterday and charged in connection with a $100 million home health care fraud scheme. The government also filed a civil action seeking forfeiture of five properties and 40 financial accounts and investments involved in a scheme to launder the ill-gotten gains.
Faith Newton, 52, of Westford, and Winnie Waruru, 41, of Lowell, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud; one count of healthcare fraud – aiding and abetting, and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. In addition, Newton was indicted on one count of money laundering conspiracy and seven counts of money laundering.
In addition, Waruru was indicted on two counts of making false statements and one count of making a false statement in a health care matter. Newton and Waruru were arrested yesterday and will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston today at 1:30 p.m.
According to the indictment, from January 2013 to January 2017, Newton was part owner and operator of Arbor Homecare Services LLC. Waruru was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)employed as a home health nurse at Arbor.
It is alleged that Newton and Waruru engaged in a conspiracy to use Arbor to defraud MassHealth and Medicare of at least $100 million by committing health care fraud and paying kickbacks to induce referrals. Newton then allegedly laundered the ill-gotten gains.
IV. Ohio Man Charged with Possession of Explosive Devices and Illegal Firearm
On February 1, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Bridget M. Brennan, announced that a federal grand jury in Cleveland had returned a three-count indictment charging Oliver Smith, 51, of Youngstown, Ohio, with possession of explosive devices, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of an unregistered silencer.
According to court documents, in October 2020, the Adult Parole Authority (APA) and law enforcement agents learned that the defendant allegedly had in his possession a firearm with an attached silencer at his Youngstown-area residence.
At the time of the incident, the defendant was on Community Control under the supervision of the APA related to a previous conviction of drug possession and was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous conviction of aggravated assault.
V. Real Estate Developer, Three Others Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme
A federal grand jury has indicted a real estate developer and three others for allegedly participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded financial institutions out of at least $3 million.
Andrzej Lajewski, who owned Des Plaines-based Highland Consulting Corp., and Chicago-based Quality Management and Remodeling Inc., schemed with two mortgage professionals and the owner of a remodeling company to fraudulently obtain at least $3 million in mortgage loans by making and causing to be made materially false representations to financial institutions regarding the buyers’ qualifications for the loans, according to an indictment returned Jan. 28, 2021, in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
According to the indictment, the false representations made concerned concerning the buyers’ employment history, income, assets, source of down payment, and intention to occupy the properties. Sometimes, Lajewski fraudulently claimed to lenders that the buyers were employed by his companies, even though he knew that was untrue.
That claim was intended to help buyers qualify for the mortgage loans. The alleged fraud scheme lasted from 2010 to 2016 and involved numerous properties on the South Side of Chicago.
The indictment charges multiple counts of financial institution fraud against Lajewski, 53, formerly of Wheeling, the two mortgage professionals – loan originator Agnieszka Siekowski, 46, of Northbrook, and loan processor Aldona Bobrowicz, 45, of Arlington Heights – and the home remodeler, Andrzej Bukowski, 66, formerly of Wheeling.
VI. Ohio Man Indicted on Meth Charge In West Virginia
Devante Crutez Taylor, of Columbus, Ohio, was indicted on February 2, 2021, on a drug charge, the U.S. Attorney for the District of West Virginia Bill Powell announced. Taylor, 28, was indicted on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine. Taylor is accused of having 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in August 2019 in Ohio County.
The government is also seeking the forfeiture of $3,638 in cash found with Taylor that is believed to be proceeds from drug sales. If convicted, Taylor will face at least 10 ten years and up to life incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn M. Adkins is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Wheeling Police Department investigated.
VII. Former Navy CPO, Naval Reservist Indicted for ID Theft Scheme
On January 28, 2021, a federal grand jury in Fresno indicted Selma couple Marquis Asaad Hooper, 30, and Natasha Renee Chalk, 37, charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Hooper was stationed in Japan as a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet until October 2018. Chalk, his wife, was a naval reservist stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. Hooper separated from the Navy in October 2018, but shortly before his separation was final, Hooper and Chalk fraudulently obtained access to a database containing the personal information of millions of people.
In August 2018, Hooper contacted the company, falsely claiming that the Seventh Fleet needed access to the database to run background checks on Navy personnel. In reality, Hooper was not acting on behalf of his fleet, and he did not access the database for a legitimate government purpose.
Over more than two months, Hooper and Chalk searched for tens of thousands of individuals on the database and sold the information to third parties in exchange for bitcoin.
VIII. Proud Boys Member Charged with Offenses Related to Jan. 6 Riots
On February 3, 2021, a member of the Proud Boys, a nationalist organization, was arrested today and charged in federal court in the District of Columbia with obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, among other charges.
Ethan Nordean, a/k/a Rufio Panman, 30, of Washington state, was charged by criminal complaint in District of Columbia federal court with obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, or grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Nordean appeared in federal court in the Western District of Washington later the same day.
According to charging documents, Nordean is the self-described “Sergeant of Arms” of the Seattle Chapter of the Proud Boys, a group self-described as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.” It is alleged that Nordean was observed marching at the front of a group of known Proud Boys shortly before the riot began.
It is further alleged that Nordean was among those who entered the U.S. Capitol building after rioters, including certain persons associated with the Proud Boys, forced entry into the Capitol by means of destruction of Federal property. It is also alleged that Nordean was near the front of the crowd of rioters, who collectively approached, confronted, and vastly outnumbered Capitol Police.
IX. Four Arrested and Charged with Physical Therapy Clinic Fraud
On February 4, 2021, four people were arrested and charged in Boston, Massachusetts, in connection with a scheme to defraud an insurance provider for physical therapy services that were not provided to patients. Gyulnara Bayryshova, 55, of Brighton; Anna Barenboym, 45, of Wayland; Slava Pride, 41, of West Roxbury; and Raya Bagardi, 36, of Brighton, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and health care fraud, eight counts of mail fraud and one count of health care fraud.
In addition, Barenboym, Pride, and Bagardi were each charged with three counts of making false statements in connection with a health care benefit program. The defendants will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston later today.
As alleged in the indictment, Bayryshova was the owner of Brighton Physical Therapy (BPT), a physical therapy clinic on Washington Street in Brighton. Barenboym was a licensed physical therapist, and Pride and Bagardi were licensed physical therapist assistants, all employed by BPT.
It is alleged that, from October 2018 through June 2020, the defendants conspired to cause an insurance company to reimburse them for physical therapy services that were not actually provided and/or were not medically necessary and, in some cases, were provided by individuals not licensed to provide the services.
Specifically, the defendants falsely billed for services purportedly rendered to patients injured in automobile accidents when the services were not actually provided. In addition, some of the services for which the defendants sought reimbursement were not provided by licensed physical therapists.
It is further alleged that BPT paid patients for referrals, referred patients to attorneys to assist with patients’ insurance settlements, and accepted kickbacks from those attorneys in return.
X. Former Nike Marketing Manager Charged in Scheme to Defraud Company
On February 4, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams announced that Errol Amorin Andam, 49, of Beaverton, Oregon, a former marketing manager at Nike, Inc., has been charged by criminal information with wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements on a loan application as part of a scheme to defraud his former employer.
According to the information, from 2001 until his termination in 2018, Andam was employed by Nike at its headquarters in Beaverton. Most recently, Andam worked as a manager in the company’s North American Retail Brand Marketing division, wherein he managed the design, build-out, and operation of “pop-up” retail venues, temporary Nike shops situated near and tailored to sports competitions, and other special events around the U.S.
In the summer of 2016, Andam recruited a childhood friend to establish a company to design and build the pop-up venues as an independent contractor for Nike. Andam used his authority as a manager at Nike to ensure that his friend’s company was consistently awarded the contracts for these jobs. Though he had no formal role in his friend’s company, Andam assumed control of much of the company’s financial operations, managing financial accounts and issuing invoices to Nike.
To conceal his role in the scheme, Andam used an alter ego, “Frank Little,” to invoice Nike and manage the contract company’s account with Square, Inc., a California-b
ased provider of mobile credit-card-processing services. In 2016, Andam also renewed the lapsed registration of an Oregon-based limited liability corporation (LLC) he owned so that he could use the defunct entity as a shell company to funnel the proceeds diverted from Nike and his friend’s company to accounts under his personal control.