Last Updated Friday, May 21, 2021, at 9:14 AM
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, May 21, 2021
I. Miamians Charged with Bribing Patients, Fraudulently Billing Medicaid for Rehab Services
On May 17, 2021, in Miami, Florida, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging two Miami residents, Lorena Osella, 43, and Juan Luis Matos, 58, with running a mental health care fraud scheme that bilked Medicaid out of approximately $1 million.
According to the information contained in the indictment, Osella owned Lighthouse Community Center LLC, a psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) clinic located in Doral, Florida. Lighthouse claimed to offer mental health counseling services that were specially designed to assist people who have to know how to cope with their conditions and learn to live better with conditions such as anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders.
The indictment also alleges that Osella and Matos made bribes to generate business for the clinic, and they offered and paid kickbacks to Medicaid beneficiaries, who registered as patients with the clinic and agreed to receive PSR services via telemedicine that they either did not need or that were not billed as provided.
They also allegedly fraudulently billed Medicaid for these unnecessary services. Osella and Matos also are charged with illegally receiving Florida unemployment benefits.
II. Massachusetts Man Indicted on Federal Firearm Offenses
On May 17, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Nathaniel R. Mendell announced that a Sandisfield, MA man had been indicted by a federal grand jury the previous week in connection with receiving and possessing an unregistered firearm. Brian Hohman, 57, was indicted on one count of receiving and possessing an unregistered firearm. Hohman was detained following an initial appearance in federal court in Springfield today. A detention hearing has not yet been scheduled.
According to the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2020, Hohman was in possession of a Harrington & Richardson Arms shotgun which had a barrel length of less than 18 inches and was not registered to Hohman in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. If he is convicted of the charge, Hohman faces as much as ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
III. Jefferson County Man Indicted for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Patrick Allen Darlington, 42, of Charles Town, West Virginia, was indicted on May 18, 2021, for his failure to register as a sex offender, as required by a previous conviction. The charge was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, Randolph J. Bernard.
In all, Darlington was indicted on one count of “Failure to Register.” Darlington, a person required to register as a sex offender because of a prior conviction, is accused of traveling across state lines without updating his sex offender registration from August 2020 to March 2021 in Jefferson County and elsewhere.
If he is convicted on this charge, Darlington faces as much as 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
IV. Four Caught Crossing Rio Grande Illegally Indicted for Claiming to be Minors
On May 18, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Jennifer Lowery announced that a federal grand jury had returned four indictments against non-citizen adults for falsely claiming they were under the age of 18.
The separate-but-similar indictments charge Fernando Antonio Flores-Galvez, 19, Jose Alfredo Sandoval-Hernandez, 23, Osmin Trochez-Miranda, 24, all from Honduras; and Sergio Galindo Chun-Cucul, 23, of Guatemala. Originally charged by complaint and in custody, they are expected to make appearances before a magistrate judge at an as-yet-undetermined date in the near future.
Each of the charges indicate the men had illegally crossed the Rio Grande. They then allegedly claimed to be minors so they could be released into United States. The indictment further alleges that each defendant used false documents with incorrect birth dates as a way to convince authorities they were under 18.
Flores-Galvan and Sandoval-Hernandez were arrested as they attempted to enter the United States April 21, while law enforcement took Trochez-Miranda and Chun-Cucul into custody on April 28 and May 3, respectively. If they are convicted, each of the four men faces as much as five years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000.
V. In Texas, Red River Army Depot Officials Charged in Bribery and Conspiracy Scheme
Four individuals, including two Red River Army Depot (RRAD) officials, have been charged with violations of federal regulations in the Eastern District of Texas. The charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Nicholas J. Ganjei, on May 18, 2021. Jimmy Scarbrough, 69, of Hooks, was an RRAD supervisor and has been charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to defraud the United States, as well as 36 counts of bribery.
Scarbrough made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven May 18. Jeffrey Harrison, 43, of Texarkana, and Justin Bishop, 50, of Clarksville, both were RRAD vendors, who pled guilty on May 18 to bribery charges. Devin McEwin, 41, of Avery, TX, who is an RRAD official, has also been charged with bribery and has claimed that he plans to plead guilty.
According to information presented in court, Scarbrough was the Equipment Mechanic Supervisor at the RRAD in Texarkana, Texas, a position he held from November 2001 until May 2019. During that time, Scarbrough allegedly directed more than $7 million in purchases from RRAD to Harrison and Bishop through the government purchase card (GPC) program.
In order to manipulate the GPC program, which is designed to ensure a competitive bidding process, Scarbrough told the vendors what to bid, including the item, the quantity, and the price. By collecting fake bids from multiple vendors, Scarbrough was able to direct RRAD purchases to his select vendors, in this case Harrison and Bishop, while maintaining the appearance of a competitive bidding process.
Scarbrough also falsely certified that he had received the purchased items, therefore causing the RRAD to pay said vendors. However, the reality was that Scarborough instructed the vendors not to deliver certain RRAD-purchased items.
VI. Mineral County Man Indicted on Federal Firearms Charges
On May 18, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, Randolph J. Bernard announced that Donald Mark Tillotson, 24, of Burlington, WV, had been indicted earlier that day on firearms charges. Overall, Tillotson was indicted on one count each of “Unlawful Possession of a Firearm,” “Possession of a Stolen Firearm,” and “Possession of Firearm with Obliterated Serial Number.”
Tillotson is prohibited from carrying or owning a firearm because of a previous felony conviction. He is now accused of having in his possession an allegedly stolen .40 caliber pistol with an obliterated serial number in January 2021 in Mineral County, WV. If he is convicted of the current charges, Tillotson faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
VII. Two Charged with Distribution of Child Pornography
On May 19, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Richard G. Frohling, announced that a federal grand jury handed down an indictment the previous day, alleging that Joshua A. Gama, 35, of Bridgeton, Missouri, distributed child pornography. The same grand jury handed down a separate indictment the same day, alleging that David J. Dexter, 43, of Lebanon, Tennessee, also distributed child pornography in violation of federal law.
In all, Gama is charged with two counts of distributing child pornography, while Dexter is charged with a single count of distribution. If each man is convicted of each count. They each face at least five years and up to 20 years in prison upon conviction.
Both indictments are a direct result of Operation Kick Boxer, a collaborative effort involving the FBI’s Milwaukee Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. Both defendants used a popular internet messaging platform to access chat rooms in which they each are alleged to have distributed child pornography.
VIII. Six Charged with Selling Psychedelic Mushrooms Online
A federal grand jury in Columbus, Ohio has charged six people with selling liquid psychedelic mushrooms online to customers nationwide. The victims include at least one customer identified as living in Columbus, Ohio. The six defendants named in the indictment include; James Verl Barlow, 44, Ronald Royal Edward Bust, 45, and Monet L. Carriere, 32, all of Las Vegas, NV; Matthew Taylor Barlow, 35, and Jennifer Helen Campbell, 42, both of Murray, Utah; and Tony Du Phan, 44, of Memphis, TN.
According to the indictment, all six defendants have been charged with one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a psychedelic mushroom analogue. Each of the defendants faces up to 20 years in prison. This is in addition to charges against the same six defendants, which were filed via criminal complaint back in April with attempting and conspiring to manufacture, distribute and dispense controlled substances using cryptocurrencies via the dark web.
The group allegedly received millions of dollars in online drug sales between November 2013 and April 2021, by selling liquid psychedelic mushrooms in nine milligram vials for approximately $20 each on the darknet via the moniker TRIPWITHSCIENCE. For this case, the government seeks to forfeit the profits of the alleged drug scheme, as well as a 2016 Tesla Model-X Wagon and land in Brighton, Colorado valued at more than $1.5 million.
IX. Atlanta couple indicted for millions in Economic Impact Disaster Loan Program fraud
On May 20, 2021, a federal grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment against Paul Kwak, 63, and Michelle Kwak, 60, both of Braselton, Georgia. The indictment arose out of an investigation of an elaborate scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) by filing fraudulent applications in the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program. Congress created EIDL as part of the CARES Act to help businesses weather the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the indictment, and other information presented in court: Paul Kwak and Michelle Kwak conspired to submit fraudulent EIDL applications in the names of shell companies that actually had no employees and conducted no business activities. In response to the fraudulent applications, the Kwaks received millions of dollars in aid. An EIDL application must provide, among other information, the amount of revenue the business generated in the 12 months prior to the application and the number of employees.
The applicant must certify, under penalty of perjury, that the information is correct and that he or she is legally eligible to apply for an EIDL. The Kwaks are allegedly connected to over 70 fraudulent EIDL applications, of which about half were successful, resulting in over $4 million in fraudulent loans.