Last Updated Friday, June 26, 2020, at 1:08 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, June 26, 2020
I. Monmouth County Man Charged with Tax Evasion, Corrupt Interference with Administration of Internal Revenue Laws, and Failure to File Tax Returns
On June 23, 2020, a Monmouth County, New Jersey, man was charged with tax evasion, corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, and failure to file federal tax returns.
The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito. Thomas Bertoli, 62, of Matawan, New Jersey, was charged by indictment with three counts of tax evasion, one count of corrupt interference with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, and four counts of failure to file tax returns. He is scheduled to be arraigned at an as-yet-undisclosed later date.
According to the indictment, Bertoli operated several businesses, including The Doormen Inc.; City Street Associates LLC, a/k/a CSA LLC; and Urban Logistics LLC, individually. Through these companies, Bertoli obtained payments from clients, including developers and construction firms, for expediting services on real estate development and construction projects, primarily in Jersey City, New Jersey; and payments from political campaigns for political consulting services in New Jersey.
In the construction industry, expediting typically refers to obtaining building permits and other government agency approvals required for the completion of real estate projects. This came to hundreds of thousands of dollars in gross receipts for calendar years 2009 to 2016, but as of April 18, 2017, Bertoli had not filed federal tax returns or paid any of the taxes due for those services, except for one $5,000 nominal payment in September 2014.
This, despite receiving substantial gross receipts and having a substantial tax due and owing. He concealed and attempted to conceal from the IRS his income and assets through various means; Bertoli cashed client payments at check cashers payments, made false and fraudulent statements to the IRS, and used the Urban Logistics bank account for his own personal expenditures.
II. East Longmeadow Man Indicted on Charges of Attempted Arson at Longmeadow Senior Health Care Facility
An East Longmeadow man was indicted on June 23, 2020 by a federal grand jury in connection with an attempted arson at a Longmeadow senior health care facility in April 2020. John Michael Rathbun, 36, was indicted on one count of attempting to transport or receive explosive devices in interstate or foreign commerce with the knowledge or intent that the device will be used to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or unlawfully to damage or destroy any building or vehicle, as well as one count of attempting to maliciously damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce.
On April 15, 2020, Rathbun was arrested and charged by criminal complaint; he has been detained in federal custody since April 17, 2020.
According to the indictment, on the morning of April 2, 2020, police discovered a homemade incendiary device next to the driveway entrance – and within feet of a widely used pedestrian walkway – to Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare, Inc. (“JGS”), a nonprofit organization in Longmeadow, Mass. whose mission is to provide health, education, and social services guided by Jewish traditions and values. The device consisted of a 5-gallon Scepter fuel canister, approximately one-third filled with gasoline, and a partially charred Christian religious pamphlet placed in the nozzle of the canister. If convicted. Rathbun faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
III. Texas Man Charged with Covid-19 Relief Fraud, False Statements and Money Laundering
A 44-year-old Murphy, Texas man was charged in an indictment unsealed today with wire fraud, false statements to a financial institution and money laundering for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $3 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, along with a number of law enforcement officials and officials who specialize in enforcement of financial and consumer crimes made the announcement on June 23, 2020.
Fahad Shah was charged in an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Texas with three counts of wire fraud, one count of false statements to a bank, and four counts of money laundering. Shah was arrested this morning and appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine A. Nowak of the Eastern District of Texas.
The indictment alleges that Shah submitted fraudulent applications for more than $3 million in PPP loans to two different SBA-approved lenders filed under the name of WBF Weddings by Farah Inc. In those applications, Shah claimed to have more than 120 employees earning wages when, in fact, no employees worked for his business at the time.
The indictment also alleges that Shah submitted fraudulent documentation in support of his applications. The indictment alleges that Shah ultimately received over $1.5 million in PPP loan funds and used the funds primarily for personal purposes, including purchasing a Tesla, personal investments, and home mortgage payments.
IV. Alabama Tax Preparer Indicted for Filing False Returns
A federal grand jury in Birmingham, Alabama, returned an indictment on June 23, 2020, charging an Alabama tax preparer with filing a false tax return for herself and preparing false tax returns for clients. The indictment was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, along with the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Jay E. Town.
According to the indictment, Shuntan Renee Rue owned and operated Rue Tax Service, a tax return preparation business located in Birmingham, Alabama. From at least 2014 to 2016, the indictment alleges that Rue falsified clients’ tax returns by claiming non-existent business losses and charitable gifts, as well as medical, unreimbursed employee, and education expenses that her clients did not incur, in order to fraudulently increase their refunds.
The indictment further alleges that Rue falsely reported education expenses on her own 2013 tax return. If convicted, Rue faces up to three years in prison on each count, in addition to a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
V. Massachusetts Man Arrested for Unlawful Firearm Possession During an ATF Undercover Operation
On June 23, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Eric LaFrance, 34, of Westfield, MA, was arrested yesterday for unlawful possession of a firearm during an ATF undercover operation in Brattleboro, Vermont. LaFrance appeared before the Honorable John M. Conroy, United States Magistrate Judge, that afternoon, and was ordered detained pending a detention hearing.
According to court records, LaFrance attempted to arrange to purchase a firearm from a Vermont Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) despite being a resident of Massachuesetts. LaFrance’s repeated efforts concerned the FFL, who reported the incident to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
ATF investigated LaFrance’s criminal record, and determined LaFrance had an arrest history in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and North Dakota, dating back to 2003. A review of court records revealed that LaFrance had sustained a 2016 conviction for Larceny Over $250, which prohibited LaFrance from lawfully possessing firearms.
An ATF Special Agent working in an undercover capacity contacted LaFrance and offered to sell him a firearm. LaFrance expressed interest in purchasing all firearms and ammunition listed as for sale by the agent. LaFrance allegedly told the undercover agent that although he possessed a .22 caliber pistol, but he needed to upgrade after a recent violent confrontation.
LaFrance eventually agreed to trade an older revolver, marijuana, and U.S. Currency for a Glock Model 22 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol and ammunition on June 22, 2020, in Brattleboro, Vermont. The undercover agent then provided the Glock to LaFrance, who was arrested moments later. If convicted, LaFrance faces up to 10 years in prison.
VI. Seven Individuals Indicted for Methamphetamine Drug Conspiracy
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced today that seven defendants, primarily residents of Pittsburg, Le Flore, and Sequoyah Counties, have been indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere. Drug Conspiracy is punishable by at least 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000,000 fine or both. The defendants were indicted on June 9, 2020 and a coordinated operation to arrest the defendants charged began on June 16, 2020.
Defendants indicted include: Heath Lloyd Taylor, 41, of McAlester, Oklahoma; Kyle Lee Hamby, 29, of McAlester, Oklahoma; Marlene Annette Garcia a/k/a Marlene Annette Moss, 38, of Poteau, Oklahoma; Edward Charles Sofsky, 28, of Poteau, Oklahoma; Rhanda Danielle Chautee Billy a/k/a Rhonda Billy, 28, of Wister, Oklahoma; Marty Ray Campbell, 45, of Muldrow, Oklahoma; and Kevin Leon King, 36, of Muldrow, Oklahoma.
The charges arose from a joint investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the DEA, and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office, with numerous other agencies playing important roles. This case is part of the DOJ’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.
VII. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar Arrested on Federal RICO Charge that Alleges He Agreed to Accept At Least $1.5 Million in Illicit Benefits
On June 23, 2020, special agents with the FBI arrested Jose Huizar, an elected member of the Los Angeles City Council, on a federal racketeering charge.
Charging documents allege that he led a criminal enterprise that used his powerful position at City Hall to solicit and accept lucrative bribes and other financial benefits to enrich himself and his close associates in exchange for Huizar taking official actions favorable to the developers and others who financed and facilitated those bribes.
Huizar, 51, of Boyle Heights, was taken into custody at his home without incident and is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Huizar was arrested pursuant to a federal criminal complaint filed on June 22 and unsealed this morning. The complaint charges Huizar with one count of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and alleges that, as part of the criminal enterprise, he and his associates violated a series of laws, including bribery, honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
VIII. Seminole County Tax Collector Indicted For Stalking
The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Maria Chapa Lopez, announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Joel Micah Greenberg, 35, of Lake Mary, with stalking and unlawful use of a means of identification of another person. According to the indictment, Greenberg, who is the elected Seminole County Tax Collector, engaged in a course of conduct that caused and attempted to cause substantial emotional distress to a political opponent who worked at a school located in the Middle District of Florida.
As part of that course of conduct, Greenberg caused letters to be sent to the school where the employee worked. The letters falsely represented that they had been sent by an anonymous “very concerned student” of the school who had information that the school employee had engaged in sexual misconduct with a particular student, which Greenberg knew was false.
Greenberg also set up a Facebook account that claimed to belong to a “very concerned teacher” at the school, and he posted that falsely alleged that the school employee had engaged in sexual misconduct with a student.
He also set up an imposter Twitter account using the name and photograph of the school employee, without their knowledge, consent, or authorization. If convicted on both counts, Greenberg faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
IX. Monterey County Man Accused Of Dealing Fentanyl-Laced Pills That Killed One, Injured Another
On June 22, 2020, Xavier Jimenez-Robledo appeared in court on charges that he dealt counterfeit pills containing fentanyl that led to the overdose death of one individual in Monterey County, and the hospitalization of another individual, a minor. The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District iof California, David L. Anderson, along with Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Jimenez Robledo was arrested in Marina, California on June 16, 2020, and made his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on June 17, 2020. Jimenez Robledo is currently being held in custody pending further proceedings. He was due to appear June 22 for a detention hearing before the Honorable Laurel Beeler, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
According to the complaint, Jimenez Robledo, 19, of Seaside, California, is alleged to have sold counterfeit Percocet “M30” pills laced with fentanyl on two occasions between April 13 and May 5, 2020. The complaint alleges that one of the buyers, a Carmel Valley man, overdosed and died after being hospitalized. The complaint further alleges that the other buyer, a Pacific Grove minor, also overdosed but ultimately survived.
According to the complaint, the defendant was identified after agents pursued leads they obtained from the victims’ Snapchat communications arranging to purchase M30 tablets, among other things. Investigators pursued these leads to a house in Seaside, California, where on May 21, 2020, agents observed Jimenez-Robledo give a small plastic baggie to an unidentified subject who then gave Jimenez-Robledo an unknown amount of cash. Between May 21 and May 24, 2020, the agents also observed numerous vehicles stopping at the premises for short periods of time and meeting with individuals who had access to the premises.
X. Washington Woman Charged with Wire Fraud for Scheme to Embezzle from Company She Founded, Then Sold
A 53-year-old Port Orchard, Washington, woman was charged June 22, 2020 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. She was charged with wire fraud for her scheme to embezzle from a company she started and then sold to a Texas firm, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.
Julie Sue Doran is alleged to have transferred illegally nearly $725,000 from company accounts for her own expenses, including the purchase of property in Aruba. Doran is scheduled to make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on July 6, 2020.
According to records filed in the case, Doran was the major shareholder and CEO of My YearLook, Inc., a start-up business that was designing a web portal to collect, store, and share school yearbooks in digital form.
In February 2015, a Texas company, American Achievement Group Holding Corporation (AAC) purchased a majority stake in My YearLook by paying approximately $1.3 million into company accounts. The purchase agreement specified that the money was to be used to grow the company. Doran was retained as the CEO at an annual salary of $160,000.
Within days of the Texas company transferring the money to the My YearLook accounts, Doran began transferring the money into accounts she controlled and used it for her personal expenses such as payments to a horse training and boarding facility, purchase of a motorcycle and a recreational vehicle, and purchase of a property in Aruba. Doran also altered some of the transfer records to hide the embezzlement from the financial staff at the parent company.
In November 2015, the financial team in Texas realized Doran had multiple bank accounts and had falsified bank statements and records and the scheme was revealed. She was fired in February 2016, and the parent company recovered the last $240,000 in the My YearLook accounts. If convicted, Doran faces up to 20 years in prison.
Friday, June 19, 2020
I. Registered Nurse Charged with Drug Diversion
On June 15, 2020, a Dighton, Massachusetts registered nurse was charged in federal court in Boston with drug tampering. Marietta Strickland, 61, was charged by information with one count of tampering with a consumer product, specifically the Schedule II controlled substance oxycodone, which is used for pain relief. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew E. Lelling.
According to court documents, while working as a registered nurse at Dighton Care and Rehabilitation Center, Strickland tampered with three blister card packages of oxycodone prescribed to an 89-year-old hospice patient who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, severe dementia and breast cancer.
To avoid detection, Strickland replaced the stolen oxycodone pills with other prescription drugs disguised to look like oxycodone. As a result of Strickland’s tampering, the victim was deprived of her prescribed oxycodone for more than two months and ingested at least 77 unnecessary prescription tablets. If convicted of thew charges, Strickland faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
II. Rochester, Minnesota Man Charged With Arson Of Minneapolis Pawn Shop
On June 15, 2020, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, Erica H. MacDonald, announced a federal criminal complaint against Montez Terrill, 25, charging him with arson. Lee was arrested June 15 in Rochester, Minnesota, and made his initial appearance on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, before a Magistrate Judge in U.S. District Court.
According to the complaint, on June 8, 2020, investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received video footage from an arson that took place on May 28, 2020, at a pawn shop located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The first video was supplied by an anonymous source. The video shows a masked man, later identified as Lee, pouring liquid from a metal container throughout the pawn shop, while a second video shows Lee standing in front of the burning pawn shop. In the video, Lee can be heard saying, “[expletive] this place. We’re gonna burn this [expletive] down.”
III. Texas Man Charged with Transporting a Boston Resident Minor to San Antonio to Engage in Sexual Relations
On June 16, 2020, a federal judge unsealed a criminal complaint charging 48–year-old San Antonio resident Shannon Kuchler with driving to Boston to pick up a minor he met on the “Dark Web” and transport her to San Antonio to engage in sexual relations. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, John F. Bash, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
The criminal complaint charges Kuchler with transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. According to the criminal complaint, the defendant allegedly met his 16-year-old victim on the “Dark Web” in 2019. In December 2019, Kuchler traveled to Boston, picked up his victim and transported her to San Antonio.
On several occasions during the trip back to Texas, Kuchler engaged in sexual intercourse with his victim. After arriving in San Antonio, Kuchler allegedly sexually assaulted the victim on two occasions and forced her to engage in oral sex. The U.S. Marshals Service arrested Kuchler at his residence yesterday on June 15. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad in San Antonio on June 23, 2020.
IV. Founder of Plastics Company Charged in $61 Million Tax Evasion Scheme
A Florida man made his initial court appearance on June 17, 2020 in connection with charges that he evaded over $61 million in income taxes from 2016 through 2018. The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, made the announcement. Alfred Teo, 74, of Boca Raton, Florida, is charged by complaint with one count of tax evasion. His initial appearance by videoconference came before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward S. Kiel, who set bond at $20 million.
According to court filings and other informational sources, Teo was the majority shareholder of multibillion-dollar plastics manufacturing holding company Alpha Industries Management (Alpha) and he also traded heavily in the securities markets. Between January 2016 and December 2018,
Teo allegedly diverted $600 million from Alpha’s line of credit directly into his brokerage accounts to trade and to pay off margin calls. Teo returned a portion of the $600 million to Alpha, but he did not report the remaining outstanding amount as income on his personal tax returns.
Instead, $167 million was recorded as income to AAST Holding Corp. (AAST), another Teo-owned entity that was unrelated to his plastics business, and which Teo used as a vehicle to hide personal income.
Alpha did not provide AAST with the $167 million that AAST claimed as income from Alpha in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The money Alpha recorded as salary to AAST was instead money provided for the benefit of Teo and included money that Alpha sent directly to Teo’s trading accounts.Instead of reporting the $167 million of income from Alpha on Teo’s personal tax returns in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and paying taxes on that income, the income was reported on AAST’s corporate tax returns.
Teo then provided false deduction information to his tax preparer in the form of fictitious “cost of goods sold” to artificially reduce his income and evade the income taxes owed.
V. New Jersey Man Charged with Selling Phony Prescriptions
An employee of a Mount Holly, New Jersey, medical practice was arrested on June 17, 2020 for allegedly selling fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances. The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito. Jose Colon, 36, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, has been charged by complaint with one count of distributing controlled substances. He was expected to appear by videoconference later the same afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Colon, who is not a medical provider, used the identities of doctors with whom he worked to make and sell fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances, including Oxycodone, Adderall, Percocet, and Xanax. Colon sometimes met his customers in person with a prescription pad to sell the fraudulent prescriptions for cash. However, he also submitted some fraudulent prescriptions electronically to pharmacies in exchange for electronic payments from his customers.
Colon advised his customers on how to fill the fraudulent prescriptions, including instructing them to wait until the medical practice was closed so that Colon would be able to answer any phone calls from the pharmacies questioning the validity of the fraudulent prescriptions.
If Colon is convicted on the count of distributing controlled dangerous substances, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
VI. Nine Pharmacists Charged for Role in $12.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme
Nine pharmacists were charged in three separate indictments unsealed last week for their alleged participation in a $12.1 million health care fraud scheme executed in Detroit and southern Ohio. The announcement of the charges was made by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, and several law enforcement officials.
Auday Maki, 66, of Northville, Michigan, was charged with three counts of health care fraud. Hassan Abdallah, 49, of Sterling Heights, Michigan; Raef Hamaed, 50, of Scottsdale, Arizona; Tarek Fakhuri, 47, of Windsor, Canada; Kindy Ghussin, 45, of Greene County, Ohio; Balhar Singh, 57, of Butler County, Ohio; and Ali Abdelrazzaq, 44, of Sterling Heights, Michigan were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. In addition, Abdallah and Abdelrazzaq were each charged with three counts of health care fraud and Fakhuri with two counts of health care fraud.
Finally, Hassan Khreizat, 40, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan; and Nofal Cholag, 41, of Macomb, Michigan were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and four counts of health care fraud. The nine defendants are licensed pharmacists and/or owners of pharmacies in Michigan and Ohio.
The indictments allege that, using the pharmacies, the defendants billed Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) for prescription medications that were neither purchased nor dispensed and/or were dispensed but were medically unnecessary, and/or were purportedly dispensed to deceased beneficiaries after their dates of death. Allegedly, the defendants received over $12.1 million due to fraudulent claims.
VII. Two Ashtabula Men Indicted Separately on Illegal Drug and Firearms Charges
Justin. E. Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced on June 17, 2020 that a federal grand jury in Cleveland has returned separate indictments against two men in the Ashtabula area on charges of illegal drug and firearm possession. These are separate cases and are not related. William Campany, age 35, of Ashtabula was indicted on one count of felon in possession of a firearm.
The indictment alleges that on October 29, 2019, Campany possessed a .40 caliber pistol. Campany is prohibited from possessing firearms due to a previous sexual battery conviction in 2010 in the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas. The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the ATF. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Yasmine Makridis.
Also charged was Joseph Kelsey, Sr., 45, of Ashtabula, on a three-count indictment for felon in possession of firearms, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to that indictment, on October 9, 2019, Kelsey possessed two semiautomatic pistols and intended to distribute at least 5 grams of methamphetamine. Kelsey is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous conviction of illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs in 2005 in the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the ATF and Crime Enforcement Agency of Ashtabula County. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Yasmine Makridis.
VIII. Las Vegas Dentist Indicted On Income And Employment Tax Charges
A federal grand jury in Las Vegas, Nevada, returned an indictment on June 17, 2020, charging a Las Vegas dentist with failing to pay over payroll taxes, file a tax return, and pay income taxes.
The announcement of the charges was announced by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Also on hand for the announcement was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada, Nicholas A. Trutanich and Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan for the IRS-Criminal Investigation.
According to the indictment, Timothy Wilson owned and operated Starsmiles Children’s Dentistry, LLC (Starsmiles), located in North Las Vegas, Nevada. From 2013 through 2014, Wilson withheld payroll taxes from his employees, but he allegedly did not pay more than $85,000 in withheld taxes over to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Wilson also allegedly did not file a tax return for 2014 and did not pay more than $100,000 in taxes that he owed for 2013 through 2018. If convicted, Wilson faces up to five years in prison for each count of failure to pay over payroll taxes and one year in prison for each count of failure to file a tax returns or pay taxes. Wilson also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and other monetary penalties.
IX. Lompoc Man Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in Connection with Fatal Car Accident Near Vandenberg Air Force Base
A Santa Barbara County man was charged on June 17, 2020, with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly crashing a stolen Jeep near Vandenberg Air Force Base while under the influence of drugs.
As a result of the crash, one motorist was killed and another was severely injured. Michael James Culligan, 29, of Lompoc, was arrested June 16 and made his initial appearance June 17 in U.S. District Court. He is charged in a federal criminal complaint filed today with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter within federal jurisdiction.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, on June 16, law enforcement responded to a report of a traffic accident on Santa Lucia Canyon Road, near Vandenberg Air Force Base.
There, law enforcement found two cars – a 2016 Lexus whose driver was dead and whose passenger was badly injured, and an unoccupied 2013 Jeep. From the Jeep, law enforcement officers allegedly recovered empty alcoholic beverage containers and a Culligan’s California identification card.
Law enforcement also determined that the Jeep had been reported stolen and that the Jeep’s license plates belonged to a different car. An eyewitness at the crash scene said the driver of the Jeep appeared to have lost control, drove into the oncoming lane of traffic, then crashed head-on into the Lexus, according to the affidavit. The Jeep’s driver then fled the scene of the accident, the eyewitness claimed.
X. Two Charged with Murder And Aiding And Abetting In Slaying Of Federal Protective Service Officer At Oakland Courthouse
At a press conference held on June 16, 2020 at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Oakland, the Department of Justice announced that murder and attempted murder charges have been filed against Steven Carrillo, the alleged gunman in the May 29, 2020, drive-by shooting that resulted in the death of Protective Security Officer David Patrick Underwood and significant injuries to a second security officer.
The Department of Justice also announced aiding and abetting charges against Robert Alvin Justus, Jr., the driver of the vehicle from which Carrillo is alleged to have attacked the guards.
The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, David L. Anderson, held the news conference to announce the charges, noting that, “Pat Underwood was a brother, a father, and a son. Many, many people will miss hearing the sound of his voice and laughter. Pat Underwood wore his uniform because it signified his authority to protect the courthouse where we are gathered here today.” He characterized the arrests as “an important step” in the healing process.
According to the complaints, at approximately 9:27 p.m., on May 29, 2020, a white Ford Econoline-style van parked directly across the street from the federal building in Oakland on Jefferson Street. The van was parked facing the guard post where Officer Underwood and his partner that evening stood guard to protect the building. Shortly after the van parked, a man emerged from the driver’s seat and walked around the area conducting reconnaissance for approximately ten minutes.
Then, at approximately 9:43 p.m., the exterior lights of the van turned on and the van moved north on Jefferson Street toward the guard post. The passenger-side sliding door opened, and Carrillo allegedly fired multiple rounds from a firearm toward the guard post, killing Officer Underwood and injuring his partner.
Friday, June 12, 2020
I. Florida Man Charged in Growing Scheme Surrounding Telemedicine
A Florida man who supplied Medicare patient information to his co-conspirators in order to ultimately bill Medicare for durable medical equipment claims has become the 26th individual charged for his alleged participation in a kickback and telemedicine fraud scheme.
Daniel Craig Hallam, a/k/a Daniel Craig, 41, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is alleged to have conspired to pay kickbacks for “leads,” or patient identifications and insurance information, of persons who may need durable medical equipment. According to court filings, Craig then received a percentage of the profit from a durable medical equipment company – which billed Medicare for the durable medical equipment – in exchange for supplying leads.
The announcement the charge was made on June 11, 2020 by Bobby L. Christine, who is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Hallam was charged by way of an Information, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
The combined total of more than $480 million in fraud charged in the Southern District of Georgia is part of nationwide operations by the Department of Justice. The operations have that thus far included allegations involving billions of dollars in fraudulent claims for genetic testing, orthotic braces, pain creams, and other items.
II. Florida Convicted Felon Arrested for Federal Firearm Offense
On June 11, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Maria Chapa Lopez, announced the return of an indictment charging Malcolm Jerome Straughter, 34, of Ocala with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Federal agents arrested Straughter yesterday.
Based on court records, on March 19, 2020, City of Ocala Police Department officers conducted a traffic stop on Straughter’s vehicle, during which officers found Straughter in possession of a loaded 9mm firearm and multiple small bags of marijuana. The firearm had an obliterated serial number and was later confirmed to have been stolen.
Straughter has prior state felony convictions for possession of cocaine, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and robbery with a firearm. Because of his prior felony convictions, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law. If convicted, Straughter faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
III. Owner of New Jersey Business Consulting Firm Admits Orchestrating Multimillion-Dollar Bank Fraud and Securities Fraud Scheme
On June 11, 2020, a Passaic County, New Jersey man who founded and owned a business consulting firm admitted to orchestrating a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and securities fraud scheme operated through that firm. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito.
The CEO of Wayne, New Jersey-based Cash Flow Partners LLC (Cash Flow) pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of securities fraud.
As the founder and chief executive officer of Cash Flow, Espinal controlled the company’s operations. From March 2016 through December 2019.
During that time, he allegedly led and directed a bank fraud conspiracy designed to obtain millions of dollars in loans from banks on the basis of false representations.
To attract customers, Cash Flow released internet advertisements and held seminars offering to assist customers with low-paying salaries in obtaining loans. These advertisements included promotional videos featuring Espinal and a former telenovela actor.
Customers who contacted Cash Flow were routed to the company’s sales department, who then encouraged customers to sign up for various loan programs that Cash Flow provided and to enter into contracts with Cash Flow.
Under those contracts, employees would help customers obtain loans from banks. The Cash Flow contracts permitted customers to keep a portion of the loan proceeds and customers agreed to provide the remaining percentage of the proceeds to Cash Flow.
Cash Flow agreed to pay off the loans on behalf of its customers. Cash Flow then used false information and fraudulent documents to obtain loans for its customers for which they otherwise would not have qualified and posed as the customers in communications with the banks.
IV. Baltimore Businessman Facing Federal Charges for Using a Phone and the Internet to Promote a Prostitution Business
On June 11, 2020, Charles “Chuck” Nabit, 64, of Baltimore, Maryland, was charged by federal criminal complaint for using a phone and the Internet to promote a prostitution business.
More specifically, the criminal complaint alleges that Nabit arranged for commercial sex workers to be brought to his office in Baltimore to engage in commercial sex acts in exchange for payments made to the man who allegedly trafficked the women.
Nabit, who owns the Westport Group, LLC, located on Commerce Street in Baltimore, was arrested on June 10, 2020, and had his initial appearance at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner, who ordered Nabit to be released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services, after posting a property bond.
The criminal complaint was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, aong with Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Lisa Myers of the Howard County Police Department. If convicted, Nabit faces up to five years in federal prison for the charge of using an interstate facility to promote a prostitution business.
V. California Resident Charged For Their Role in Sim Swap Scam Targeting At Least 20 People
On June 8, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Peter G. Strasser announced that Richard Yuan Li, 20, of Hercules, California, had been charged in a one-count Bill of Information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 1343, for his role in a SIM Swap scam that targeted at least twenty people, including a New Orleans-area physician.
According to the Bill of Information, a SIM Swap scam is a cellular phone account takeover fraud that results in the routing of a victim’s incoming calls and text messages to a different phone.
Once a perpetrator is able to swap the SIM card, they can obtain access to a victim’s various personal accounts, including email accounts, bank accounts, and cryptocurrency accounts, as well as any other accounts that use two-factor authentication.
The Bill alleges that LI participated in a scheme that involved multiple parts. First, in January 2018, they defrauded Apple, Inc. into providing a second Apple iPhone without paying for it by convincing an Apple customer service representative that they had not received an Apple iPhone 8 they ordered. LI then took possession of the Apple iPhone 8.
He and his co-conspirators then arranged for victims’ telephone numbers to be swapped to SIM cards contained in cellular phones in their possession, including the Apple iPhone 8.
More specifically, on November 10, 2018, Victim A’s telephone number was swapped to a SIM card contained in the Apple iPhone 8, which LI kept in his dorm room in the San Diego, California area.
The SIM swap caused the transmission of a series of writings, signs, signals, and sounds that traveled in interstate commerce, including between the States of Florida, Louisiana, and California.
Thereafter, LI and his co-conspirators gained access to Victim A’s email accounts and cryptocurrency accounts as a result of the SIM Swap and stole a significant portion of Victim A’s cryptocurrency.
In total, between October 11, 2018, and December 6, 2018, LI participated in unauthorized SIM Swaps with his co-conspirators that targeted at least twenty victims.
If convicted, LI faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, he faces up to three years of supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment.
VI. California Man Charged with Pointing Laser at Police Helicopter
On June 10, 2020, Rudy Alvarez of Lemon Grove was charged in federal court of knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at a San Diego Police helicopter as the aircraft flew over protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
According to a federal complaint, the incident occurred at a large demonstration that passed through the area of 500 University Avenue in Hillcrest on June 6 at 8:30 p.m.
Two officers from the San Diego Police Department’s Air Support Unit were monitoring the crowd in a marked San Diego Police Department helicopter. The officers reported that one of the demonstrators in the crowd was shining a laser at their aircraft that impeded their ability to safely operate the helicopter.
Based primarily on a description of the man pointing the laser, San Diego police detectives located and later identified Rudy Alvarez in the crowd of demonstrators in the vicinity of 600 G Street at approximately 9:45 p.m. One detective noted that Alvarez was wearing the same clothing as described by the officers in the helicopter. Alvarez was arrested without incident.
VII. Three Charged in Conspiracy To Defraud U.S. Department Of Agriculture
On June 10, 2020, the U.S. United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the unsealing of an indictment charging Ghasan Awad (58, Safety Harbor); Ahmad Al Saleh (56, Tampa); and Bassam Al Saleh (63, Tampa) with conspiracy to defraud the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) and making false statements to the USDA regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”).
The indictment also charges Awad alone with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of obtaining SNAP benefits in violation of federal law and USDA regulations, and Ahmad Al Saleh and Bassam Al Saleh each with three counts of making certain false statements to the USDA.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy offenses, and Awad also faces up to 5 years in prison for each of the charged SNAP benefits violations, as well as a possible 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count. In addition, Ahmad Al Saleh and Bassam Al Saleh each face up to five years in prison for each false statement count. The indictment notifies the defendants that the United States is seeking a money judgment as to the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.
VIII. Executive for Medical Technology Company Charged In Scheme To Defraud Patients With COVID-19 Testing
SAN FRANCISCO – The president of a California-based medical technology company was charged in a complaint unsealed today in the Northern District of California, in connection with his alleged participation in schemes to mislead investors, to manipulate the company’s stock price and to conspire to commit health care fraud in connection with the submission of over $69 million in false and fraudulent claims for allergy and COVID-19 testing.
The complaint against Mark Schena, 57, of Los Gatos, California, who is the president of Arrayit Corporation, represents the first criminal securities fraud prosecution related to the COVID-19 pandemic that has been pushed by the brought by the Department of Justice . It charges one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Schena touted Arrayit as the “only laboratory in the world that offers” revolutionary “microarray technology” that allows Arrayit to test for allergy and COVID-19 based on a drop of blood that is far smaller than the technology touted by Theranos.
Beginning in or around 2018 and continuing to in or around February 2020, Schena and others paid kickbacks and bribes to recruiters and doctors to run an allergy screening test for 120 allergens (including things ranging from stinging insects to food allergens) on every patient regardless of medical necessity, and then made numerous misrepresentations to potential investors about Arrayit’s allergy test sales, financial condition, and its future prospects. Schena and others issued press releases and tweeted about partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and public institutions, without disclosing that such partnerships either did not exist or were of minimal value.
IX. Pennsylvania Felon Charged with Illegal Possession of a Gun and Ammunition
A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Erie on a charge of violating federal firearms laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. The one-count indictment named Douglas Jermaine Jordan, 47, as the sole defendant. According to the indictment presented to the court, on or about April 25, 2020, Jordan possessed a firearm and ammunition while being a convicted felon. If convicted, Jordan faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or both.
Assistant United States Attorney Paul S. Sellers is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The Erie Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
X. Harvard University Professor Indicted on False Statement Charges
The former Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, Dr. Charles Lieber, 61, was indicted today on charges of making false statements to federal authorities regarding his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program. He was indicted on June 9, 2020 by a federal grand jury on two counts of making false statements and will be arraigned in federal court in Boston at a later date. Lieber was arrested on Jan. 28, 2020 and charged by criminal complaint.
According to charging documents, since 2008, Dr. Lieber has served as the Principal Investigator of the Lieber Research Group at Harvard University, which specializes in the area of nanoscience. Lieber’s research at the Lieber Research Group has been funded by more than $15 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD). Among other things, these grants required the disclosure of all sources of research support, potential financial conflicts of interest and all foreign collaboration. It is alleged that, unbeknownst to Harvard, beginning in 2011, Lieber became a “Strategic Scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China. It is alleged that in 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied to federal authorities about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with WUT. On or about April 24, 2018, during an interview with federal investigators, it is alleged that Lieber falsely stated that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program, but that he “wasn’t sure” how China categorized him. In November 2018, NIH inquired of Harvard about whether Lieber had failed to disclose his then-suspected relationship with WUT and China’s Thousand Talents Plan. Lieber allegedly caused Harvard to falsely tell NIH that Lieber “had no formal association with WUT” after 2012, that “WUT continued to falsely exaggerate” his involvement with WUT in subsequent years, and that Lieber “is not and has never been a participant in” China’s Thousand Talents Plan.
Friday, June 5, 2020
I. Leader of Newark, New Jersey Drug Trafficking Organization Charged with Narcotics and Firearm Offenses
A Newark man had his initial appearance on June 1, 2020, on charges stemming from his arrest for narcotics trafficking and illegally possessing a firearm. The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito. Ibraaheem Islam, a/k/a Ish, 32, appeared by video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre and was detained without bail. He is charged by complaint with three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (Counts One through Three), one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Count Four), and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count Five).
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from at least April 17, 2020, to May 27, 2020, Islam engaged in conduct consistent with hand-to-hand narcotics transactions on a regular basis in the vicinity of Chadwick Avenue, Newark, New Jersey. Law enforcement obtained a warrant for Islam’s arrest, as well as warrants to search two vehicles and one residence associated with Islam. On May 30, 2020, law enforcement recovered a 5.7×28 millimeter caliber FN Herstal model “FN Five-SeveN” pistol, loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition, 194 vials containing suspected cocaine base, and 64 glassine envelopes containing suspected heroin. Islam was placed under arrest and taken into custody.
II. Chicago Man Who Allegedly Set Fire to Chicago Police Vehicle Arrested on Federal Arson Charge
On June 2, 2020, a Chicago man was arrested on a federal arson charge for allegedly setting fire to a Chicago Police Department vehicle last weekend. Timothy O’Donnell, 31, apparently placed a lit object into the gas tank of a marked police vehicle on previous Saturday, while it was parked in downtown Chicago. Subsequently, the vehicle ignited in flames. At the time, Chicago Police officers were in the area investigating reports of various malfeasances and unrest. O’Donnell set the fire while wearing a “joker” mask that partially covered his face, the complaint states.
The complaint charges O’Donnell with one count of arson. Federal authorities arrested O’Donnell this afternoon and carried out a court-authorized search of his residence. An initial appearance in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled. The complaint and arrest were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. If convicted, O’Donnell faces between 5 years and 20 years in federal prison.
III. Two Charged in Federal Court with Illegally Possessing Loaded Handguns in Downtown Chicago
Two individuals have been charged with federal firearm offenses for allegedly illegally possessing loaded handguns in downtown Chicago this past weekend. Brandon Peques, 28, of Riverdale, and Amber L. Peltzer, also 28, of Lansing, have each been charged with a single count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Pegues and Peltzer were previously convicted of criminal felonies and were not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm. The defendants’ initial court appearances in U.S. District Court in Chicago have not yet been scheduled.
The federal charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, along with several law enforcement officials. The government is represented in the Pegues case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. McCrobie, and in the Peltzer case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Albert Berry. Pegues and Peltzer were arrested separately early Sunday morning, May 31, 2020, by Chicago Police Officers who were investigating numerous reports of various malfeasances and unrest in the downtown area of the city. A city of Chicago curfew took effect at 9:00 p.m. Saturday, and the defendants were arrested nearly four hours after that took effect.
IV. Nevada Resident Indicted for Possession, Receipt, And Distribution of Thousands of Images Of Child Pornography
On June 2, 2020, Brandon Eric Navarrete, 27, of Reno, was arraigned in federal court today on an indictment charging him for allegedly unlawfully possessing, receiving, and distributing approximately 17,000 images and videos of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada. Navarrete was arrested Monday morning. He appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla L. Baldwin, who scheduled a jury trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Miranda M. Du on July 14, 2020.
According to the indictment and a transcript of the June 1 court proceedings, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a CyberTip from SmugMug Inc. — a paid image sharing, image hosting service, and online video platform — regarding possible child pornography on its servers. On the basis of that tip, a search warrant was executed at Navarrete’s residence in Reno. A forensic analysis of the electronic devices that were seized revealed approximately 14,000 images of child pornography and approximately 300 video files depicting child pornography. If convicted, Navarrete faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine, in addition, he also faces a period of supervised release following any term of imprisonment imposed, restitution, and monetary penalties.
V. Man Charged with Making Threats After He Brandished Assault Rifle at Protest
A man who brandished an assault rifle at a Black Lives Matter protest in Lubbock on Saturday has been charged with making interstate threats, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. According to a criminal complaint unsealed June 2, 2020, Emmanuel Quinones, 25, allegedly brought a loaded Smith & Wesson .223 caliber semi-automatic to a protest decrying the death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police last month.
In view of the protesters, Mr. Quinones held the rifle at “low ready,” in firing position with the muzzle pointed toward the ground, as panic rippled through the assembled crowd. Although Texas is an open-carry state, the Texas Penal Code makes it illegal to display a firearm in a public place “in a manner calculated to alarm.” Quinones allegedly refused a Lubbock Police officer’s verbal commands to drop the rifle, and only did so when the officer drew his gun. A protester then tackled Mr. Quinones, who allegedly shouted, “this is a revolution” and “President Trump must die” as he was taken into custody. During an interview, Quinones admitted that he previously wrote social media posts designed to “intimidate” the President and “MAGA instigators.” One such post, shared on Facebook on May 28, intimated that he planned to obtain gun parts “to off racists and MAGA people.”
VI. Guatemalan Man Indicted for Assaulting Federal Officer
A 22-year-old citizen of Guatemala has been charged with forcibly assaulting a Border Patrol (BP) agent. The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. On June 2, 2020. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Josue Edilmar Ramirez-Pimentel. He is expected to appear for his arraignment next week before a U.S. magistrate judge in Laredo. According to the criminal complaint, on March 11, 2020, authorities responded to a call claiming that six people were attempting to make illegal entry into the United States near Richter’s Ranch in Laredo, Texas. As the Defendants attempted to apprehend the group, several individuals ran back towards the river.
Ramirez-Pimentel, however, allegedly ran toward an agent. The agent then shined his flashlight at Ramirez-Pimentel and gave him commands in Spanish to stop and lay down, according to the charges. He allegedly did not comply and continued to struggle collided with the agent, causing him to hit his head on the ground. He continued to struggle and struck the agent’s face with his forearm. The charges allege that as additional authorities arrived, they were eventually able to restrain and place Ramirez-Pimentel under arrest. If convicted, Ramirez-Pimentel faces up to eight years in federal prison.
VII. Texas Man Indicted for Investment Fraud Scheme
On June 2, 2020, a man from Houston, Texas, was indicted by a federal grand jury for an investment fraud scheme. Duc Nguyen, a/k/a “Doug,” 56, was charged in a 12-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on May 27, 2020. According to the indictment, Nguyen proposed an opportunity for high net worth individuals to invest in the purchase, refurbishing, and sale of used oil equipment.
Nguyen allegedly told Phillip and Brian Hudnall that profit from these transactions would be three to five times the amount of the investment. Brian and Phillip Hudnall raised money from investors based upon these representations from Nguyen. For example, Brian Hudnall wire transferred $415,000 to Nguyen between May 3 and Sept. 19, 2018, for the purchase, refurbishment, and shipping of the oil equipment. Phillip Hudnall transferred $1,075,000 to Nguyen between April 15 and June 17, 2019, for the purchase, refurbishment, and shipping of the oil equipment. However, Nguyen did not use any of the monies for the purchase, refurbishment, and shipment of used oil equipment. Instead, he spent the money on personal expenses, like the tens of thousands of dollars spent at several casinos.
VIII. Philadelphia Woman Indicted in $68 Million Securities Fraud Scheme
An investment fund manager, Brenda Smith, 59, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was indicted on June 2, 2020. She was charged in connection with an alleged $68 million securities fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. The charges against Smith include six counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud. Smith was initially charged by complaint in August 2019. According to court documents, Smith managed and controlled Broad Reach Capital LP, a purported investment fund. Broad Reach Capital was a pooled investment fund/hedge fund that was established in February 2016 and was open to accredited investors with a minimum investment of $1 million.
It is alleged that between February 2016 through August 2019, Smith allegedly orchestrated a scheme in which she made misrepresentations to investors and promised that she would invest their funds in particular trading strategies that Broad Reach Capital was optimally situated to execute. Smith referred to these strategies as dividend capture, VIX Convergence, and opportunistic trading. Instead of investing the money as she advertised, Smith diverted tens of millions of dollars of investor funds out of Broad Reach Capital for purposes inconsistent with the trading strategies, including for personal use and to pay out millions of dollars to other investors.
IX. Connecticut Resident Charged with Violating Federal Sex Offender Registration Law
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced on June 2, 2020, that Yamil Diaz, 48, whose last residence was in Waterbury, has been charged by federal criminal complaint with violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Diaz made his initial appearance on June 2, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill via videoconference. Diaz has been detained since February 24, 2020.
As alleged in court documents, on May 8, 2019, Diaz was convicted in the circuit court for Coffee County, Alabama, of attempted sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years of age. For that offense, he received a sentence of 10 years of incarceration, suspended after serving seven months, and two years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender and comply with the requirements of SORNA. It is alleged that, in September 2019, a court in Coffee County issued an arrest warrant for Diaz for violating his probation. On February 24, 2020, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force located Diaz in Waterbury and arrested him on the outstanding Alabama warrant.
X. Two Individuals Charged with Throwing Molotov Cocktails into Minnesota Government Building
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, Erica H. MacDonald, announced a federal criminal complaint against Garrett Patrick Ziegler, 24, and Fornandos Cortez Henderson 32, charging them with arson and possession of Molotov cocktails. Both Ziegler and Henderson made their initial appearance earlier the same day. They appeared before Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Ziegler and Henderson were ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which was scheduled for yesterday, June 4, 2020.
According to the allegations in the complaint, in the early morning hours of May 29, 2020, the Apple Valley Police Department (“AVPD”) was dispatched to a fire alarm at the Dakota County Western Service Center (“DCWSC”) in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The DCWSC houses state and local agencies and organizations, including Dakota County court facilities, as well as a U.S. Passport center. Once on scene, officers observed broken windows, smoke, and flames coming from the west side of the building where the judges’ chambers and clerks’ offices are located. Located at the scene were items consistent with those used in Molotov cocktails, including broken glass jars and liquor bottles, pushpins, intact glass jars containing ignitable liquid, and a charred red bandana.
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