Investment Fraud: Hector Absi Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Commit Mail, Wire, And Securities Fraud

Hector Absi Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Commit Mail, Wire, And Securities Fraud

Former Chief Operating Officer of Davis Bio-Pesticide Company Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail, Wire, and Securities Fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hector Absi, 51, of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Absi is the former head of the sales department of Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (MBI), a company headquartered in Davis, California that produces “bio-based” pesticides. Absi also served as MBI’s Chief Operating Officer from January 2014 until his resignation in August 2014. MBI is a publicly traded company; its stock trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol “MBII.” As a publicly traded company, it is required to file quarterly and annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In its reports, MBI stated that it recorded revenue in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

According to Absi’s plea agreement, in order to increase sales, Absi sold MBI products to customers with side agreements that offered “inventory protection” under which MBI agreed to either repurchase the product from the customer or continue the date by which the customer would need to make full payment for the product. Under GAAP, revenue from sales that include such agreements cannot be recognized on the company’s books at the time of the sales. Between March 2013 and July 2014, Absi conspired with at least one other MBI employee to misrepresent to MBI’s accounting department, its external auditors, and the investing public that MBI had made sales under such terms. By concealing the practice, Absi caused MBI to report a doubling of its revenue in 2013 in comparison to 2012. Absi also conspired to backdate the delivery of certain shipments of MBI’s products to enhance MBI’s reported revenues for the quarter. Absi received a performance-based bonus and exercised stock options during a time when MBI’s inflated revenue figures were being reported.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has also filed a civil complaint against Absi in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging that Absi violated the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and federal rules issued under the Exchange Act, and seeking an injunction against Absi, disgorgement of wrongfully obtained benefits, and civil penalties.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley is prosecuting the case.

U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. is scheduled to sentence Absi on Feb. 20, 2020. Absi faces a maximum statutory penalty of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross loss or gain. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Financial Fraud: Michael Cary Lawing Sentenced For One-Count Felony Information Charging Him With Conspiracy To Commit Wire Fraud

Michael Cary Lawing Sentenced For One Count Felony Information Charging Him With Conspiracy To Commit Wire Fraud

Another Tech Support Fraudster Sentenced To Prison

An American citizen who spent over a year running the day-to-day operations of a fraudulent tech support call center in Costa Rica is heading to prison. Michael Cary Lawing, 34, of Lincolnton, North Carolina, has been sentenced to serve 18 months behind bars for his role as the CEO of ABC Repair Tech (ABC) from 2015 to 2016. Lawing pleaded guilty in October 2018 to a one-count felony information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to court documents, Lawing’s company was affiliated with another fraudulent tech support business in South Florida known as First Choice Tech Support, which later changed its name to Client Care Experts (CCE). Both ABC and CCE purchased pop-up advertisements that would appear suddenly on a person’s computer screen. The pop-ups were made to look like system warnings and falsely informed the victims that serious problems, such as viruses or malware, had been detected on their computers. Often, the pop-ups caused the person’s internet browser to freeze up and stop responding. The pop-ups also typically warned the victims not to shut down their computers or else they would lose all their data. Instead, the ads directed them to call a toll-free number, where they were connected to sales representatives who continued the fraud.

The sales representatives at ABC and CCE would convince the victims to grant them remote access to their computers, where normal computer functions and routine processes were highlighted as evidence of serious computer problems. Victims were never told that the pop-ups that had hijacked their computers were just advertisements purchased by the tech support company, or that in most instances they could make the pop-ups go away simply by rebooting their computers. Instead, they were sold remote “tune-ups” for $250 and anti-virus protection software for another $400. If victims balked at the steep prices, the sales representatives would offer them a discount for being a senior citizen or a military veteran or something else.

From 2013-2016, the two companies – CCE and ABC – combined to defraud more than 40,000 people.

Victims were located in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, several U.S. territories, all 10 Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, and several other foreign countries. At least 57 victims of the scams were residents of the Southern District of Illinois, representing 22 of the district’s 38 counties, including St. Clair and Madison. All told, the two companies took in over $25 million.

In handing down the 18-month sentence, Chief United States District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel explained that the need to deter other would-be scammers was a “big factor” in her decision. “The general public needs to see that this kind of crime is taken seriously,” she said.

As part of his sentence, Lawing was ordered to pay back over $266,000 in restitution to ABC victims – a figure that represents ten percent of the roughly $2.6 million in actual losses incurred by
over 10,000 victims during Lawing’s tenure as the company’s top executive. Evidence presented in court showed that Lawing himself made only about $90,000 from the scam. The bulk of ABC’s fraudulent earnings were reportedly reinvested in the company.

Lawing’s sentence comes just one week after CCE’s Vice President, Grand Clark Wasik, 36, of Oakland Park, Florida, was sentenced to 125 months in prison and ordered to pay over $10 million in restitution. Wasik pled guilty to count one of a 14-count superseding indictment earlier this year.

Two former owners of CCE, Michael Austin Seward, 32, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and Kevin James McCormick, 46, of Delray Beach, Florida, also pled guilty to their role in the conspiracy and are
due to be sentenced on November 18. The Honorable Joe Billy McDade from the Central District of Illinois, who presided over Wasik’s case, will also conduct the sentencings of Seward and McCormick.

Since April 2017, 14 other employees of CCE and ABC have also pleaded guilty to federal fraud violations in the Southern District of Illinois:

•      Joseph Ralph Aievoli, IV, 26, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Cory Steven Bachman, 26, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Andrew Douglas Broad, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Director of Training at CCE
•      Ryan Stocker Carr, 24, of Mount Laurel, NJ – Team Leader at CCE
•      Joshua Dennis Cortez, 38, of Lake Worth, FL – Director of Training at CCE
•      Erica Marie Crowell, 30, of Maple Shade, NJ – Salesperson at CCE
•      Nicholas James Davidson, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Patrick M. Dougherty, 36, of Boynton Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Tatum Elyse Espenshade, 27, of West Palm Beach, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Eric M. Iannaccone, 33, of Monroe Township, NJ – Sales Manager at CCE
•      Anthony Vincent Ludena, 30, of Boca Raton, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Robert Thomas McCart, 33, of Boynton Beach, FL – Team Leader at CCE
•      Timothy James Miller, II, 28, of Schwenksville, PA – Salesperson at CCE
•      Jonathan Matthew Richardson, 28, of Lake Worth, FL – Salesperson at CCE
•      Kyle Evan Swinson, 27, of Boynton Beach, FL – Team Leader at ABC/CCE


Eleven of these additional defendants have been sentenced already:

DateDefendantPrison SentenceRestitution
Mar. 8, 2018Ryan Carr12 months + 1 day$20,384.36
May 7, 2018Joshua Cortez18 months$3,034.00
June 8, 2018Patrick Dougherty12 months + 1 day$240,966.94
June 14, 2018Anthony Ludena12 months + 1 day$176,692.26
June 29, 2018Nicholas Davidson5 years probation$181,808.40
July 26, 2018Timothy Miller5 years probation + 200 hours
community service
$127,042.06
Aug. 3, 2018Tatum Espenshade1 day + 18 months home detention$132,683.68
Sept. 11, 2018Andrew Broad12 months + 1 day$55,238.28
Sept. 20, 2018Jonathan Richardson12 months + 1 day$78,638.99
Oct. 4, 2018Cory Bachman1 day$156,806.25
Oct. 10, 2019Joseph Aievoli1 day$106,355.82


Because the crimes allegedly took place in connection with telemarketing and victimized 10 or more persons over the age of 55, the maximum punishment in each case is 30 years imprisonment. The defendants could also be ordered to serve up to five years of supervised release and pay a fine of up to $250,000. Under federal law, restitution to identified victims is mandatory.

These cases are part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan D. Stump, Scott A. Verseman, and Ranley R. Killian.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office raided CCE in June 2016 and has been cooperating with the federal investigation, in addition to bringing its own civil enforcement action against CCE under Florida state law.

The Federal Trade Commission has been working for some time to shut down illegal tech support scams. For more information about the FTC’s “2019 Tech Support Takedown,” please visit https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/…2019.

Some consumers who were victimized by ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support have received additional fraudulent calls. These calls typically come from companies claiming   either (a) that the technical support the victims purchased has been transferred to them and additional funds are now needed; or (b) that they can help the victims obtain a refund. Victims should be advised that no companies have been authorized to provide them with any tech support services on behalf of ABC or CCE / First Choice Tech Support, or to provide them with a refund for any previous purchases.

Financial Fraud:Walter Konigseder Arrested On Investment Fraud Charges

Walter Konigseder Arrested On Investment Fraud Charges

Former Informix Executive Hauled Into Court On 19-Year-Old Indictment Regarding Alleged Investment Fraud Scheme

Walter Konigseder arrested on investment fraud charges

SAN FRANCISCO – This morning, former Informix executive Walter Konigseder appeared in federal court to face investment fraud charges laid out in an 11-count indictment filed in October of 2000, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

A federal grand jury indicted Konigseder, 67, a German national, on October 5, 2000. According to the indictment, in the early 1990s, Konigseder was the Sales Director and Country Manager for Germany of Menlo Park-based Informix, a multinational, publicly held computer software developer, support, training, and consulting company. From 1992 through 1996, Konigseder had authority over Informix’s sales force, finance, and legal staff within all of Central and Eastern Europe. The indictment alleges that Konigseder caused Informix to record false and illusory sales, to make false statement to Informix’s auditors and management, and to book license revenue in advance, rather than over the period of maintenance contracts.

The indictment describes how Konigseder engaged in numerous acts of alleged wrongdoing in connection with Informix’s restatement in 1997 of its 1996 earnings. The indictment alleges that Konigseder’s fraud contributed to the need for Informix to restate its 1996 earnings. Between April and September of 1997, Informix therefore restated its previous year’s growth. The result was a 60% drop in its stock value—a change to the company’s value from approximately $2.5 billion to as low as $975 million. For example, the indictment describes six illusionary sales between June of 1996 and January of 1997 in which Konigseder, contrary to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, directed Informix to recognize more than $25 million in revenue on contracts that contained contingencies. Further, the indictment describes how Konigseder allegedly concealed material facts from Informix’s auditors. In July of 1997, for example, Konigseder allegedly reported to Informix’s auditors that a client did not make a multi-million dollar payment because the client was hoping to expand on the existing contract with Informix. In truth, Konigseder was aware that the client had exercised a side agreement canceling the contract with Informix altogether. The indictment also alleges Konigseder caused Informix to make false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission overstating the company’s earnings in the second, third, and fourth quarters of 1996.

In sum, Konigseder was charged with three counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343 and 2; four counts of accounting fraud, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 78m(b) and 78ff(a), 17 C.F.R. 240.13b2-1, and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and three counts of false statements to accountants, in violation of 15 U.S.C. §§ 78m(b)(2) and 78ff(a), 17 C.F.R. 240.13b2-2, and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

A bench warrant was issued for Konigseder’s arrest on October 5, 2000. At that time he was residing in Germany and remained there for almost 19 years after being indicted. Konigseder was arrested by Mauritius authorities in August while on a trip to that country. He was handed over to United States authorities on October 9 and arrived in the United States on Friday, October 11. He made his initial federal court appearance at 10:30 this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud, 10 years’ imprisonment and up to $1 million for each count of falsification of accounting records and false statements to accountants. In addition, the court may order additional periods of supervised release, fines, and restitution, if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, Mauritius, and the United States Marshal Service.

Financial Fraud: Dwane Nevins Plead Guilty To An Indictment Charging Him With Corruption Related Crimes

Businessmen Shaking Hands And Receiving Money

Veterans Affairs Official Pleads Guilty to Six Corruption-Related Counts Arising from Scheme to Take Bribes To Rig Federal Contracts

Business Associates, Charged with Offering and Arranging for the Payments, Have Also Pleaded Guilty

DENVER – U.S. Attorney Jason R. Dunn announces that former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official Dwane Nevins, age 55, pleaded guilty last week to an indictment charging him with corruption related crimes, arising from a scheme to take payments from an undercover FBI agent. Earlier this week, on September 17, 2019, his co-conspirator Anthony Bueno pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with Nevins to make those payments. Another businessman involved with the scheme, Robert Revis, pleaded guilty in April 2019.

As described in the indictment, Dwane Nevins — a small business specialist at the VA’s Network Contracting Office in Colorado — agreed to take bribes offered by Revis, Bueno, and an undercover FBI agent to help them manipulate the process for bidding on federal contracts with the VA. Revis and Bueno, working with Nevins, agreed to submit fraudulent bids from service-disabled-veteran-owned small businesses under contract with their consulting company so that federal contracts would be set aside for only those companies. As Bueno allegedly explained, they would then “own all the dogs on the track.” Nevins, Bueno and Revis worked to conceal the nature of the bribe payments by either kicking back to Nevins a portion of the payments made to their consulting company, or by asking their consulting company’s clients to pay Nevins for sham training classes related to federal contracting.

The indictment also alleges that, after complaining about not being paid by Revis and Bueno for his participation in the scheme, Nevins used his official position at the VA to extort approximately $10,000 from an undercover FBI agent, telling the agent that “the train don’t go without me. You know what I mean? I’m the engine. I’m the caboose. I’m the engine room.” Nevins also allegedly told the undercover FBI agent “this is a business and businessmen need to get paid . . . . so I can have my Christmas, you know what I’m saying?”

The indictment alleges that the conspirators attempted to rig the process related to two contracts, both of which related to medical equipment and not to the construction of any VA facilities. The first contract related to the procurement of LC bead particle embolization products by a VA hospital in Salt Lake City and the second related to the procurement of durable medical equipment for VA facilities located throughout the region.

“Corruption in the government procurement process has consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “Here the defendant participated in manipulating the bid process so that a specific company could prevail. That is wrong, it is criminal, and there will be swift consequences for anyone that engages in such behavior.”

“Dwane Nevins’ scheme attempted to take advantage of the system serving our veterans and hurt small businesses,” said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. “The FBI thanks the multi-agency investigative team and the USAO for holding Nevins and his cohorts accountable for their criminal activities.”

Gregg Hirstein, Special Agent in Charge, VA Office of Inspector General, said, “This case should serve as a deterrent to any government employees tempted to unlawfully profit from their position of public trust. The VA Office of Inspector General will always vigorously pursue allegations of corruption by VA officials because our nations veterans deserve to be served by a workforce of the highest integrity.”

“Taking bribes is an egregious form of corruption that violates the public’s trust and deprives eligible businesses opportunities to compete fairly for Federal contracting opportunities,” said SBA OIG’s Western Region Special Agent-in-Charge Weston King. “SBA OIG and its law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue individuals that seek personal gain in their service as public officials. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their leadership and dedication throughout this investigation.”

Dwane Nevins is scheduled to be sentenced on December 20, 2019. He faces a maximum of 65 years’ imprisonment. Anthony Bueno is scheduled to be sentenced on January 7, 2020. Robert Revis is scheduled to be sentenced on January 24, 2020.

The case was jointly investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.

The defendant is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Bryan D. Fields and Hetal J. Doshi.

Financial Fraud: Dana Q. Roush Guilty Of a Conspiracy To Commit Mail Fraud And Equity Skimming

Dana Q. Roush Guilty Of A Conspiracy To Commit Mail Fraud And Equity Skimming

Greenville Business Owner Convicted in Federal Court of Conspiracy to Defraud

Greenville, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Dana Q. Roush, age 38, of Greenville, was found guilty of a conspiracy to commit mail fraud and equity skimming. A federal jury returned guilty verdicts late Wednesday evening after an hour and a half of deliberation. United States District Judge Timothy M. Cain of Anderson received the verdicts and will sentence Dana Roush and her husband Michael “Bubba” Roush,” who pleaded guilty to the mail fraud conspiracy prior to trial, after reviewing a Presentence Investigation Report which will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Dana and Bubba Roush owned and operated Kingdom Connected Investments, LLC (“KCI”). They marketed their company as a Christian organization and promised to create “win-win” situations for home sellers and buyers. They sought homeowners who often owed more on their home than the property was worth, and buyers who lacked good credit and thus could not obtain a conventional mortgage.

KCI promised to relieve the homeowner from the burdens of mortgage payments by “buying” the home and placing a buyer in the home who would rent-to-own. KCI promised to make all the sellers’ mortgage payments. KCI misled sellers to believe that they would be immediately removed from the property’s title and that they were no longer responsible for the original loan.

KCI promised buyers an easy road to homeownership. In exchange for the down payment (typically 10 percent of the purchase price), the buyers were told that they were renting-to-own and building up equity. KCI further concealed from the buyers that a third party—the seller—had an existing mortgage on the property that KCI was responsible for paying.

Rather than using the down payments and rents received from the buyers to pay the sellers’ mortgage payments, Bubba and Dana Roush used the money for personal expenses and to expand their real estate business.

The sellers, many of whom believed they were off the title and note, received foreclosure notices. They learned that KCI, despite having a renter in the home, had stopped paying on the mortgage. Buyers often learned they had no real ownership interest when the home was purchased by a third-party at a foreclosure sale and the new owner started eviction proceedings.

Victims of the scheme suffered myriad injuries including loss of money, dreams, and ruined credit. Special Agent Matt Jacobson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that KCI received $2.6 million from buyers and only paid $1.4 million in mortgage payments. Approximately 130 properties were involved in the scam, and Agent Jacobson testified that in only two instances did a buyer actually become a homeowner and a seller not face foreclosure and ruined credit.

“Protecting South Carolinians from financial fraud is one of our top priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “Dana and Bubba Roush lined their own pockets by preying on distressed homeowners and families hoping to achieve the American dream of home ownership. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals like the Roushes who make false representations to enrich themselves at the expense of others.”

“This verdict is the result of excellent work by FBI Special Agents, prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office and investigators from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I commend them all. These schemes, based on absolute greed, prey on the vulnerable by perverting trust. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to track down such schemes and bring those responsible to justice,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jody Norris.

In addition to the FBI, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD OIG) participated in the investigation. Nadine E. Gurley, Special Agent in Charge at HUD, stated “HUD OIG is dedicated to protecting HUD from individuals seeking to defraud the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program. HUD OIG will continue to partner with other federal, state and local authorities to ensure that corrupt individuals do not use their positions to enrich themselves at the government’s expense. We remain steadfast in working with the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue any unscrupulous individuals who attempt to defraud our programs for their own personal enrichment.”

The maximum sentence the Roushes face is imprisonment for 20 years, a fine of $250,000, and supervised release for three years. Special Assistant United States Attorney Ian Conits and Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office prosecuted the case on behalf of the Government.

Financial Fraud: Compounding Pharmacy Have Agreed To Resolve a Lawsuit Alleging That They Violated The False Claims Act

Compounding Pharmacy Have Agreed To Resolve A Lawsuit Alleging That They Violated The False Claims Act

Compounding Pharmacy, Two of Its Executives, and Private Equity Firm Agree to Pay $21.36 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

The Department of Justice announced today that compounding pharmacy Diabetic Care Rx LLC, or Patient Care America (PCA), PCA’s Chief Executive Officer Patrick Smith, PCA’s former Vice President of Operations Matthew Smith, and private equity firm Riordan, Lewis & Haden Inc. (RLH) have agreed to resolve a lawsuit alleging that they violated the False Claims Act through their involvement in a kickback scheme to generate referrals of prescriptions for expensive pain creams, scar creams, and vitamins, regardless of patient need, which were reimbursed by TRICARE, the federal health care program for military members and their families. PCA and RLH have agreed to pay $21,050,000, Patrick Smith has agreed to pay at least $300,000, and Matthew Smith has agreed to pay at least $12,788. These settlement amounts were based on defendants’ ability to pay.

“Kickback schemes taint decision-making and cause taxpayer-funded health care programs to pay for items or services that patients may not need,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will hold accountable health care providers involved in such schemes designed to induce referrals of prescriptions that are reimbursed by federal health care programs.”

“The prosecution and resolution of this case demonstrates the U.S. Attorney’s Office continuing commitment to hold all responsible parties to account for the submission of claims to federal health care programs that are tainted by unlawful kickback arrangements,” said United States Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan. “Kickback schemes lead to unnecessary medical services and drive up the cost of health care for all.”

“This settlement sends a clear message about the Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCIS) and its law enforcement partners’ unwavering commitment to protect the integrity of TRICARE, the Department of Defense’s health care program which serves to protect our U.S. military, their family members, and military retirees,” said Special Agent in Charge Cyndy Bruce of the DCIS Southeast Field Office. “Health care providers who manipulate and abuse the TRICARE program in order to seek financial gain by submitting false claims and demonstrating a lack of regard for TRICARE patients and the health care plan which is charged to provide their medical care, will be diligently investigated and held accountable for their actions.”

This settlement resolves a lawsuit pursued by the United States against PCA for allegedly paying kickbacks to outside “marketers” to target military members and their families for prescriptions for compounded creams and vitamins, which were formulated to ensure the highest possible reimbursement from TRICARE. The United States alleged that the marketers paid telemedicine doctors who prescribed the creams and vitamins without seeing the patients, or in some cases, even speaking to them. The settlement also resolves the United States’ allegations that PCA and a marketer routinely jointly paid the copayments owed by patients referred by the marketer, without any verification of the patients’ financial needs, and then disguised the payments as coming from a sham charitable organization, which was affiliated with the marketer. Finally, the settlement resolves the United States’ allegations that PCA continued to claim reimbursement for prescriptions referred by the marketers despite regularly receiving complaints from patients that revealed the prescriptions were being generated without patient consent or a valid patient-prescriber relationship. RLH, the private equity firm that managed PCA on behalf of its investors, allegedly knew of and agreed to the plan to pay outside marketers to generate the prescriptions and financed the kickback payments to the marketers. Patrick Smith and Matthew Smith were executives of PCA who allegedly executed the scheme.

The lawsuit resolved by the settlement was originally filed under the whistleblower (or “qui tam”) provisions of the False Claims Act by Marisela Medrano and Ada Lopez, two former employees of PCA. The qui tam provisions permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. The False Claims Act authorizes the United States to intervene and take over such lawsuits, which the United States did here, in part. The share to be awarded in this case has not been determined yet.

This civil settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch (Fraud Section), the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Medrano and Lopez v. Diabetic Care Rx LLC, d/b/a Patient Care America, et al., No. 15-CV-62617 (S.D. Fla.). The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Financial Fraud: Group Of 25 Individuals Charges In Healthcare Fraud Schemes

Group Of 25 Individuals Charges In Healthcare Fraud Schemes

25 Southern California Defendants Face Federal Charges Alleging Fraud Schemes that Cost Health Care Programs Millions of Dollars

LOS ANGELES – A local health care fraud enforcement action has resulted in federal charges against of 25 Southern California defendants for their alleged involvement in healthcare fraud schemes that fraudulently sought over $150 million from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as private insurers and union health benefit plans. Fourteen of those charged in federal court in Los Angeles and Santa Ana are doctors or medical professionals.

The charges announced today target schemes billing Medicare, Medicaid and other health care plans for services, testing and prescriptions that were not medically necessary or not actually provided to beneficiaries.

The cases announced today are the result of investigations being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG); the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Amtrak Office of Inspector General; the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General; the California Department of Insurance; and the California Department of Justice.

The criminal cases have been brought by the United States Attorney’s Office and prosecutors in the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Justice Department who work with law enforcement partners under the aegis of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

“Corruption drains dollars from private insurers and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “This office will continue to hold accountable anyone – including medical professionals – who seeks to bilk our nation’s health care system.”

“Today’s action shows that our ability to detect and prosecute health care fraud grows more sophisticated with each passing day,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice is using every tool at our disposal to target the medical professionals and others who place their personal greed above the public good.”

“Sticking taxpayers with a bill for unnecessary healthcare services will never be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy B. DeFrancesca of the U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agency will tirelessly pursue physicians and others who threaten the integrity of Federal healthcare programs.”

“Health care fraud schemes cheat American taxpayers and healthcare programs out of millions of dollars,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division. “With the assistance of the public, the FBI and partner agencies will continue to combat this unscrupulous criminal activity that seeks to financially exploit our healthcare system.”

“Criminal activity that drives up medical costs for Californians at the expense of vulnerable communities will not be tolerated,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The California Department of Justice will continue to seek opportunities to work with our federal partners to not only prevent wrongdoing, but also target fraudsters and hold them accountable.”

A total of 10 cases are being announced today. Those charged are:

Dr. Ronald Weaver, 70, of Pacific Palisades; Sara Soulati, 49, of Santa Monica; Dr. John Weaver, 75, of Alhambra; Dr. Ronald Carlish, 78, of Pacific Palisades; Dr. Howard Elkin, 68, of Whittier; Dr. Wolfgang Scheele, 79, of Los Angeles; and Dr. Nagesh Shetty, 74 of Huntington Beach, who were charged for their alleged participation in an approximately $135 million scheme to defraud Medicare through medically unnecessary cardiac treatments and testing through Global Cardio Care of Inglewood. This case is being prosecuted by DOJ Trial Attorneys Emily Z. Culbertson and Alexandra Michael.

Navid Vahedi, 40, of Los Angeles; Vahedi’s pharmacy, Fusion Rx Compounding Pharmacy; and Joseph S. Kieffer, 39, a marketer, of Los Angeles, who were charged in a fraud and kickback scheme. Vahedi and Kieffer, allegedly paid commissions to marketers and some patients to obtain medically unnecessary compounded drugs to allow Fusion Rx to bill health care providers for those compounded drugs, many of which were reimbursed at rates much higher than average medications. To encourage patients to continue seeking the compounded drugs, Fusion Rx allegedly failed to collect copayments from patients. However, to avoid the scheme being uncovered in an audit, they also allegedly directed Fusion Rx staff to use gift cards to pay the patients’ copayments for them so that it would appear they made the required copayments. This conduct allegedly resulted in approximately $17 million in losses to health care providers, while the defendants spent substantial sums of money on themselves, including Vahedi’s purchase of a 1963 Ford Mustang Cobra. Also charged in a related case was Joshua Pearson, 40, a marketer, of St. George, Utah, for his alleged receipt of illegal kickbacks from Fusion Rx, Vahedi and Kieffer for patient referrals for compounded drugs (Pearson is a 26th defendant in the cases being announced today). The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ashwin Janakiram and Alexander Schwab of the Major Frauds Section and Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Galatzan of the Asset Forfeiture Section.

Hilda Haroutunian, 59, of Sun Valley; Dr. Keyvan Amirikhorheh, 60, of Seal Beach; Lorraine Watson, 56, a physician’s assistant, of Valley Village; Noem Sarkisyan, 63, of North Hollywood; and Edmond Sarkisyan, 40, a medical assistant, of North Hollywood, who were charged for their alleged participation in an approximately $10 million scheme to defraud the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment (Family PACT) program administered by Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program, through fraudulent claims for family planning services, testing and prescriptions for non-existent patients submitted through Los Angeles Community Clinic and associated diagnostic testing laboratories and pharmacies. The case is being prosecuted by DOJ Trial Attorney Alexis D. Gregorian.

Amir Friedman, 54, an anesthesiologist, of Calabasas, who is charged for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud and Travel Act violations involving approximately $800,000 in kickbacks for compounded pharmaceutical drugs involving New Age Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Beverly Hills. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashwin Janakiram.

Susan H. Poon, 54, a chiropractor who resides in Dana Point, who was arrested today after a federal grand jury charged her in an approximately $2 million scheme to defraud Anthem, Aetna, and other Blue Cross Blue Shield Association affiliates, including the Teamsters Western Region and Local 177 health care plans. Through this scheme, Poon allegedly submitted false and fraudulent claims for chiropractic services never provided, medical diagnoses never given, and office visits that never occurred. Poon also allegedly submitted false and fraudulent prescriptions to a provider of durable medical equipment that relied on those false prescriptions in its reimbursement claims. Employees and employee-dependents of the United Parcel Service and Costco Wholesale Corporation, who allegedly never received the claimed services or sought the claimed medical equipment, were named as patients in Poon’s false claims and prescriptions. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel S. Lim of the Santa Ana Branch Office.

Antonio Olivera, 78, of Downey; Emelita Cephass, 57, of Downey; and Martin Canter, 70, of Rancho Palos Verdes, who were charged for their alleged participation in a hospice kickback scheme. Olivera was also charged for his alleged participation in a scheme to defraud Medicare. Both schemes involve Mhiramarc Management LLC, a hospice located in Downey. In a separate case, hospice owner John O’Brien was charged with health care fraud conspiracy for his alleged role in the fraud scheme. The cases are being handled by DOJ Trial Attorney Justin P. Givens.

Mahyar David Yadidi, 37, a chiropractor who resides in Los Angeles, who was charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud for operating a scheme to defraud the International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Pacific Maritime Association health care benefit plan. Yadidi allegedly defrauded the ILWU-PMA Plan through his chiropractic clinic, San Pedro Philips Chiropractic, by offering kickbacks to patients for attending the clinic and by billing the benefit plan for services that were not rendered to its patients, services that were not medically necessary, and services that were provided by unlicensed employees not qualified to perform them. Yadidi allegedly continued to operate his scheme after he was terminated as an authorized provider by the ILWU-PMA plan. Ivan Semerdjiev, 40, of Irvine, a chiropractor working for Yadidi, and Julian Williams, 44, of San Pedro, a personal trainer working for Yadidi, were also charged in connection with this fraud conspiracy. In total, Yadidi, Semerdjiev and Williams submitted almost $5 million in claims to the ILWU-PMA plan. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alex Wyman.

Darren Hines, 49, a chiropractor who lives in the Harbor City neighborhood of Los Angeles, who was charged with health care fraud for operating a scheme to defraud the International Longshore and Warehouse Union – Pacific Maritime Association health care benefit plan. Hines allegedly defrauded the ILWU-PMA plan through his chiropractic clinic, Advanced Alternative Health, by billing for services not rendered and services being provided by unlicensed employees who were not qualified to perform them, all after Hines was terminated as an authorized provider by the ILWU-PMA plan. Hines allegedly submitted over $500,000 in fraudulent claims over a short period of time. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alex Wyman.

“Health plans are tempting targets for unscrupulous individuals,” said Crisanta Johnson, Los Angeles Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. “When wrongdoers victimize health plans and their participants, EBSA and its fellow enforcement agencies will take prompt, aggressive, and coordinated action to hold them accountable.”

Thomas W. South, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Office of Inspector General, said: “I am proud of the outstanding work of the OPM OIG investigative staff and our law enforcement partners. The OPM OIG has zero tolerance for unethical behavior and we will vigorously investigate cases of fraud and abuse by professionals in the health care industry.”

“An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations of fraud relating to labor unions and their affiliated employee benefit plans. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations,” said Quentin Heiden, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Los Angeles Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.

“Our office, in partnership with our fellow investigative agencies, will continue to comprehensively investigate and bring to justice the people who perpetrate health care fraud,” said Kevin Winters, Amtrak’s Inspector General. “We will remain vigilant in protecting Amtrak employees, retirees, and their dependents, by ensuring our health care dollars are not wasted on fraudulent providers.”

The charges and allegations contained in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The Justice Department’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. There are 15 strike forces operating in 24 federal districts, and, since its inception in March 2007, strike force prosecutors have charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion. In addition, HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General is responsible for identifying and reducing labor racketeering and corruption in employee benefit plans, labor-management relations, and internal union affairs. Through its criminal investigations and collaboration with the Employee Benefits Security Administration and other federal law enforcement partners, the DOL-OIG works diligently to ensure prosecution of individuals involved in wrongdoing related to union affairs.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration is responsible for protecting the retirement, health and other workplace-related benefits of America’s workers and their families. As part of its overall enforcement program, EBSA investigates criminal acts committed against employer- and union-sponsored health and welfare plans in coordination with other law enforcement partners.

Financial Fraud: 29 Individuals Indicted For Drug Conspiracy And Money Laundering

29 Individuals Indicted For Drug Conspiracy And Money Laundering

29 Defendants Indicted For Drug Conspiracy, International Money Laundering, Money Laundering Conspiracy, And/Or Related Charges

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Enrique Pacheco, age 30, of McAlester; Liliana Alvarez Soto, age 22, of Oklahoma City; Leroy Carl Fox, age 40, of McAlester; Matthew Scott Scraper, age 37, of McAlester; Alyssa Mae Syvongsa, age 19, of Tulsa; Shiana Nicole Johnson, age 24, of Ada; Feather Cheyenne Pacheco, age 23, of Tahlequah; Marc Anthony Cox, age 43, of Fort Gibson; Krystal Sue-Ann Mayen, age 30, of Oklahoma City; Kendall Brent Smith, age 50, of Okmulgee; Michael Sean Gunn, age 30, of Alma, Arkansas; Magdalena B. Mallard, age 34, of Fort Smith, Arkansas; Wesley Michael Rollins, age 31, of Tulsa; Jamie Denise McDonald, age 30, of Tulsa; Kami Rai Gill, age 32, of Del City; Joel David Kazmierczak, age 46, of Broken Arrow; Alexandra Tristian Giemausaddle, age 31, of Anadarko; Trina Kay Rose, age 48, of Ada; Cheyenne Grace Alexus Tiger, age 22, of Oklahoma City; and Tina Marshall Stilwell, age 30, of Fort Gibson, were each indicted for Drug Conspiracy, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(A), punishable by not less than 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000,000 fine.

Muskogee residents Jose Miguel Pacheco, age 30; Maricsa Pacheco (Brown), age 29; Lannie Jo Carter, age 18; Daniel Pacheco, age 25; Teodoro Renteria Pacheco, age 55; Randy Eugene Langton, age 61; Tabitha Ann Bryant (Ford), age 37; Ervin Hernandez, age 31; and Christian Jonathan Hernandez, age 30, were also indicted for Drug Conspiracy. All 29 defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, with some of those defendants additionally charged with other crimes, including International Money Laundering, Money Laundering Conspiracy and Distribution or Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Heroin, and/or Cocaine.

The Indictment alleges that beginning on November 4, 2016 and continuing until on or about September 11, 2019, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere, the defendants willfully and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together, and with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to commit offenses against the United States.

The Indictment also alleges that on certain dates from July 16, 2019 through August 8, 2019, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the defendants Enrique Pacheco, Lannie Jo Carter, Shaina Nicole Johnson, Trina Kay Rose, Daniel Pacheco, Maricsa Pacheco and Tabitha Ann Bryant, transmitted, transferred and attempted to transmit and transfer funds, that is United States Currency, by wire transfer from a place in the United States to a place outside the United States, with the intent to promote the carrying on of a specified unlawful activity, that is, the felonious importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(2)(A) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2, punishable by not more than 20 years imprisonment and a fine of the greater of $500,000.00 or two-times the amount of the transaction.

The charges arose from a joint investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office, the Muskogee Police Department, and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, many prominent agencies which are members of the DEA High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force (“HIDTA”), contributed to this investigation, including: the Tulsa Police Department, the Broken Arrow Police Department, the Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police Department, the Miami Police Department, the Moore Police Department, the El Reno Police Department, the Yukon Police Department, the Duncan Police Department, the Norman Police Department, the Choctaw Police Department, the Edmond Police Department, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office, and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation was coordinated by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) of the Eastern District of Oklahoma. OCDETF is an initiative led and coordinated by the Office of the United States Attorney.

United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester said, “Each year hundreds of people in Oklahoma die as a result of drug overdoses. Among the drugs contributing to these tragic deaths are methamphetamine and heroin. This operation, known as operation “Pop Can,” targeted an organization dealing those deadly drugs in the Eastern District and throughout Oklahoma.” Kuester added, “This investigation has been a shining example of how the public benefits when law enforcement agencies collaborate. The scope, duration, and success of this takedown would not have been possible without the participation of the agencies involved.”

“Operation Pop Can has thus far resulted in 25 arrests, and the seizure of over 30 pounds of meth and approximately 5 pounds of heroin. This investigation is yet another, where a contraband phone is smuggled into a DOC facility, and then utilized by an inmate to orchestrate criminal activity spanning across all three Oklahoma Federal Judicial Districts,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Scott. “The success in this case was a direct result of the collaboration between federal, state, and local agencies. It was a combined effort of everyone involved bringing their respective resources together to go after this criminal organization. There is no doubt that the takedown of this group will have a positive effect on our community.”

“The FBI works closely with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to combat organized crime and illegal drug trafficking in Oklahoma. Today’s arrests are a reminder to those who prey on our communities – your criminal activity will not be tolerated and you will be brought to justice,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division.

“The selling of illicit drugs in our communities negatively impacts nearly all aspects of our lives,” said Tamera Cantu, IRS Special Agent In Charge of the Dallas Field Office. “This investigation involves drug traffickers laundering their profits through wire transfers to Mexico. The role of IRS-Criminal Investigation in narcotics cases is to track down these profits and dismantle the drug trafficking organizations. Today’s indictments emphasize our commitment to this role as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to protect people’s security, health and wellbeing by bringing these criminals to justice.”

John Scully, Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said, “Partnering with the Eastern District of the United States Attorney’s Office and our other law enforcement partners on this case, has resulted in multiple arrests and indictments. Those arrests will certainly keep Oklahomans safer and will have a positive impact on the drug epidemic in our communities. These Drug Trafficking Organizations commit violent crimes in order to continue their criminal enterprise and the desire by those addicted, to obtain these illegal drugs drives them to commit related crimes as well. Oklahomans should be proud of the coordinated response by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and these law enforcement agencies, to keep them safe.”

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control Interim Director Bob Cook said, “It takes law enforcement in a cooperative effort with our federal, state and local partners to dismantle these groups that threaten the peace and safety of our communities. OBN is committed in our mission to eradicate criminal drug organizations and fight to protect law abiding citizens.”

Muskogee County Sheriff Rob Frazier said, “Today’s search warrants and arrests represent the continued efforts of the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office to combat illegal drugs and make Muskogee County a safer place for all. This office will continue our strong alliances with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to maximize our efforts against drug distributors in Muskogee County.”

“The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be part of this collaboration”, said Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado. “These arrests are a perfect example of how our communities and the citizens of the Eastern District are safer, when local, state and federal authorities work together to take drug dealers off the streets.”

A grand jury Indictment does not constitute evidence of guilt. A grand jury Indictment is a method of bringing formal charges against the defendant. All defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and may not be found guilty unless evidence establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Financial Fraud: Edvin Ovasapyan, Hakob Kojoyan, Lorik Papyan, and Stephen Silverman Indected For their Roles In An Alleged Scheme To Defraud Purchasers Of Prescription Drugs

Edvin Ovasapyan, Hakob Kojoyan, Lorik Papyan, And Stephen Silverman Indected For Their Roles In An Alleged Scheme To Defraud Purchasers Of Prescription Drugs

Four Defendants Charged In $70 Million Wire Fraud Conspiracy Involving Black Market HIV Medications

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Edvin Ovasapyan, Hakob Kojoyan, Lorik Papyan, and Stephen Silverman for their respective roles in an alleged scheme to defraud purchasers of prescription drugs, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.

The multi-count superseding indictment was returned on September 5, 2019, and unsealed September 10, 2019. It alleges Ovasapyan, 41, of Los Angeles; Kojoyan, 27, of Los Angeles; Papyan, 36, of Los Angeles; and Silverman, 77, of Los Angeles, each played a role in a conspiracy to operate a large-scale clearing house to divert drugs, primarily those used in the treatment of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV”). The superseding indictment describes how Ovasapyan, Kojoyan, and Papyan conspired to acquire large quantities of diverted prescription HIV medications on the black market, and then created false documentation claiming that the medications had been acquired from licensed suppliers. All four defendants allegedly then conspired to sell these diverted prescription drugs to retail pharmacies and wholesalers across the United States. The drugs were sold through a company called Mainspring Distribution, LLC (“Mainspring”), and the defendants provided their customers with false documentation regarding the origin of those drugs. The indictment alleges Silverman, an attorney, was aware of the illicit nature of the operation and assisted his co-defendants by, among other things, agreeing to launder the proceeds of the fraud. Mainspring’s customers were never informed that they were purchasing prescription drugs acquired on the black market. Over the course of the conspiracy, Mainspring earned more than $70,000,000 through sales to its customers. According to the indictment, the defendants also disguised the destination of these funds, routing a portion of Mainspring’s earnings through misleadingly named bank accounts designed to create the appearance of a lawful supply chain.

All four defendants have been charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of § 18 U.S.C. § 1349; conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of § 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful wholesale distribution of drugs, in violation of 18 U.S. C. § 371.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss), and restitution. If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction), and restitution. If convicted of conspiracy to engage in the unlawful wholesale distribution of drugs, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 (or twice the gross gain or loss), and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew F. Dawson and Briggs Matheson are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Patricia Mahoney. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Food and Drug Administration.

Financial Fraud: Kelley Rogers Defrauded Countless Citizens Across The Country Who Sought To Participate In The Political Process

Kelley Rogers Defrauded Countless Citizens Across The Country Who Sought To Participate In The Political Process

Political Consultant Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme Involving Scam PACs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Maryland political consultant pleaded guilty today to wire fraud as a result of his fraudulent scheme to solicit millions of dollars in political contributions through several scam-PACs that he founded and advertised as supporting candidates for office and other political causes.

“Rogers preyed upon his victims political beliefs with the intent of enriching his companies, his business partners, and himself,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Individuals like Rogers, who engage in sophisticated fraud schemes will be held accountable for their actions. We have a long history of investigating and prosecuting fraud cases here in the Eastern District, and we remain committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who choose to engage in fraud activity are held accountable and brought to justice.”

According to court documents, from August 2012 through 2018, Kelley Rogers, 55, of Annapolis, operated multiple PACs, including Conservative StrikeForce (CSF), Conservative Majority Fund, and Tea Party Majority Fund. In that role, Rogers engaged vendors to send e-mail solicitations and make telemarketing phone calls to prospective donors seeking political contributions to his PACs. Rogers approved the text and other content of all solicitations, and determined how CSF spent the contributions individual donors gave in response to the solicitations.

“Rogers defrauded countless citizens across the country who sought to participate in the political process, and instead used the money to benefit himself and to perpetuate his fraudulent scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s guilty plea shows that the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who undermine the integrity of our democratic institutions, including those who commit fraud to line their own pockets along the way.”

During the course of his scheme, Rogers solicited contributions from the general public for his PACs based on materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises. For example, in or around 2013, Rogers, working with an email vendor, represented through CSF that money contributed by donors would be used to support the campaigns of a candidate for Governor and a candidate for Attorney General of Virginia through, among other things, get-out-the-vote efforts and the hiring of attorneys to ensure the integrity of the elections. In or around 2014, Rogers represented that donations to the PAC would be spent on assistance and support for military veterans. In truth and in fact, Rogers never intended to spend, and never actually spent, any of the money raised by Rogers’ PACs on get-out-the-vote efforts or lawyers to protect the integrity of the 2013 Virginia and Attorney General elections, or on assistance and support for military veterans. Instead, Rogers spent nearly all of the money raised from donors to benefit himself, his associates, and his PACs, including by pouring the majority of donor money into the solicitation of more donations.

“Rogers swindled millions of dollars from individuals attempting to participate in our democratic process,” said Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Instead of using donations to provide assistance and support to military veterans, as he advertised, Rogers used the money to benefit himself and his associates. I commend the dedication and hard work of our FBI agents and analysts who investigated this egregious fraud against innocent U.S. citizens.”

In addition to the misrepresentations that Rogers made to donors, Rogers and others fraudulently billed his PACs for services that were not performed, thereby misappropriating donor money that had been contributed to the PACs by individuals across the country. Rogers and his associates also made false statements to the Federal Election Commission about how they were spending PAC money.

Finally, Rogers admitted that he and several others also participated in a scheme to use conduits (“straw donors”) to make contributions to a candidate running to represent a district in the U.S. House of Representatives that exceeded the limits placed on individual campaign contributions under federal law.

As part of his guilty plea, Rogers agreed to pay $491,299 in restitution to victims of his fraud scheme, as well as a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $208,954.

Rogers pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17, 2020. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Brian A. Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen and Trial Attorneys John Taddei and Bill Gullotta of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-270.

Financial Fraud: Shiraaz Sookralli Pled Guilty For Leading A Fraud Scheme

Shiraaz Sookralli Pled Guilty For Leading A Fraud Scheme

Former Salesman of Porsche Dealership Pleads Guilty to Over $3 Million Fraud Scheme Involving Non-Existent Rare Porsche Models

On September 13, 2019, a former salesman for Copans Motorsports d/b/a Champion Porsche, Shiraaz Sookralli, 45, of Plantation, pled guilty for leading a fraud scheme in which he entered into bogus sales orders for the sale of exotic Porsche models to over 30 customers throughout the United States.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Michael J. De Palma, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Gregory Tony, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), made the announcement.

Sookralli pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 (Case No. 19cr60188). He is scheduled for sentencing on November 14, 2019, at 10:00 am before U.S. District Judge Rodney Smith. He faces a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.

According to his signed factual proffer and other court documents, in 2017, Sookralli opened a shell corporation with a name bearing a close resemblance to both Champion Porsche and another corporate affiliate of the dealership. After forming the shell corporation, Sookralli opened a bank account in the shell corporation’s name. Sookralli then entered into bogus sales orders with customers for the unauthorized sales of non-existent future exotic Porsche models. The majority of the vehicles were rare, highly sought-after, Carrera 911 models. The defendant required deposits from his victims in the form of, wire transfers, bank checks, and cash that he later deposited into his shell company’s bank account. The buyers relied on Sookralli’s longtime employment at Champion Porsche, title as “Vice President of Marketing,” representations that he or she would receive a yet-to-be-built Porsche vehicle, and the seemingly legitimate bank account for wiring deposits to Sookralli. Champion Porsche did not authorize Sookralli to conduct these transactions.

To further his scheme, Sookralli typically provided the customers with signed false and fraudulent purchase orders, sham vehicle build sheets showing the specifications of the customers’ vehicle, as well as other false and fraudulent documents. Sookralli often communicated with customers using email and other wire communications. Some customers sent Sookralli payments using the United States mails and interstate bank wire transfers. During this same fraud scheme, Sookralli defrauded another victim with whom he had agreed to sell, “on consignment,” a certain Porsche vehicle for the victim. Once the defendant sold the car, he kept the money for himself.

Throughout the conspiracy, customers wired or otherwise transferred approximately $3,000,000 to Sookralli which he used for his personal benefit. As set forth in the court documents, the defendant used the money for extravagant expenditures including luxury vehicles, jewelry, nightclubs, and restaurants. Sookralli also funneled amounts in excess of $10,000 at a time from his shell company account to bank accounts he controlled.

Prior to executing the fraud scheme involving the bogus sales orders for the Porsche vehicles, in or around 2014 through 2016, Sookralli opened a separate “shell” company named Color Pro Motorsport. Through that company, Sookralli embezzled additional money from Champion Porsche.

After Champion Porsche uncovered Sookralli’s fraud scheme, it contacted his victims and began its cooperation with the criminal investigation. All of Sookralli’s victims with valid claims were made whole by Champion.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, IRS-CI, and BSO in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz.

Financial Fraud: GEORGE PHILLIP TIGER Plead Guilty To Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds

George Phillip Tiger Plead Guilty To Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds

Tiger Enters Guilty Plea To Federal Bribery Charge

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Bristow, Oklahoma, resident GEORGE PHILLIP TIGER, age 69, entered a guilty plea today to Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B), punishable by not more than 10 years imprisonment, up to a $250,000.00 fine, or both.

Tiger, the former Principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was an agent of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town (AQTT) from September 26, 2017 through December 4, 2018. His duties included serving as the Chairman of the Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board. The AQTT formed the EDA to identify, plan, initiate and develop tribal economic and industrial activities on behalf of the AQTT. The AQTT is an Indian tribal government and organization that received federal assistance in excess of $10,000.00 during any one-year period from January 1, 2012 through the date of the indictment. The AQTT is headquartered in Wetumka, Oklahoma.

The Indictment to which Tiger entered his guilty plea alleged that from on or about September 26, 2017 through on or about February 15, 2019, in the Eastern District of Oklahoma and elsewhere, Defendant George Phillip Tiger did corruptly solicit, demand, accept and agree to accept a thing of value from persons known to the Grand Jury, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a transaction or series of transactions of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town (AQTT) involving $5,000.00 or more.

“Mr. Tiger took advantage of the position of trust he had been given by the people of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town. Instead of acting in the best interests of those he was appointed to serve, Tiger sought out and received unlawful profit for himself,” said United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester. “This office and the agencies who have been involved in this investigation are committed to identifying, investigating, and prosecuting those who corrupt the positions of trust and authority they hold.”

“While serving as an appointed official for the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Tiger repeatedly exploited his position by soliciting and accepting bribes related to Tribal business. This plea reinforces the message that law enforcement will not tolerate tribal officials who engage in corrupt activity for personal financial gain at the expense of the people they serve,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division.

“This case demonstrates the commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), along with our law enforcement partners, to aggressively pursue those who damage the economic health of Tribal organizations and their business entities that support critical national security programs funded by the Department of Defense (DoD),” said Michael Mentavlos, Special Agent-in-Charge of the DCIS Southwest Field Office. “DCIS will continue to investigate corruption and fraud that affects the DoD through the exploitation of Small Business Programs designed to help disadvantaged groups.”

“The IRS is committed to devoting all resources necessary to assist our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in evaluating financial aspects of criminal investigations,” said Tamera Cantu, IRS Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Office. “Today’s guilty plea underscores that commitment, not only to our law enforcement partners, but to the taxpayers and citizens who rely on us to uphold and enforce the law.”

The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service, Small Business Administration – Office of Inspector General, General Services Administration – Office of Inspector General, Army Criminal Investigations Division, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service participated in the investigation that lead to the Indictment.

The Honorable Kimberly E. West, Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report. The defendant was allowed to remain free on a personal recognizance bond pending a sentencing hearing.

Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Horn, Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Heatherman, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Courtney Jordan represented the United States at the plea hearing.

Health Care Fraud: Philip Esformes Sentenced For Role In Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme

Philip Esformes Sentenced For Role In Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme

South Florida Health Care Facility Owner Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Role in Largest Health Care Fraud Scheme Ever Charged by The Department of Justice

A federal district judge sentenced a south Florida health care facility owner to 20 years in prison today after being found guilty in the largest health care fraud scheme charged by the U.S. Justice Department. The case involves a decades-long scheme of kickbacks and money laundering in connection with fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services deemed medically unnecessary.

Philip Esformes, 50, of Miami Beach, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola of the Southern District of Florida, who also sentenced Esformes to three years supervised release. A hearing to determine restitution and forfeiture has been scheduled for Nov. 21.

After an eight-week jury trial, Esformes was found guilty in April 2019 of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of receipt of kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, four counts of payment of kickbacks in connection with a federal health care program, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, nine counts of money laundering, two counts of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and one count of obstruction of justice

“For nearly two decades, Philip Esformes bankrolled his lavish lifestyle with taxpayer dollars, paying bribes with impunity and robbing Medicare and Medicaid by billing for services that people did not need or get,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski. “It is a credit to the tenacity of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners that the man behind one of the biggest health care frauds in history will be spending 20 years in prison.”

“Philip Esformes will now spend years in prison for orchestrating a kick-back and money laundering scheme that defrauded America’s health care system out of millions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan of the Southern District of Florida. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida remains committed to working with our partners at the Department’s Criminal Division, the FBI and HHS-OIG to root out health care fraud and protect taxpayer dollars for patient care.”

“Philip Esformes is a man driven by almost unbounded greed,” said Deputy Special Agent in Charge Denise M. Stemen of the FBI’s Miami Field Office. “The illicit road Esformes took to satisfy his greediness led to millions in fraudulent health care claims, the largest amount ever charged by the Department of Justice. Along that road, Esformes cycled patients through his facilities in poor condition where they received inadequate or unnecessary treatment, then improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid. Taking his despicable conduct further, he bribed doctors and regulators to advance his criminal conduct and even bribed a college official in exchange for gaining admission for his son to that university. The FBI and its partners are constantly investigating health care fraudsters, big and small, who steal money from taxpayers at the expense of patients in need of quality medical care.”

“Healthcare fraud is a hidden tax costing billions of dollars every year and, as in this case, too often threatens the very health of vulnerable patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG). “Esformes – who provided shoddy medical care – stands convicted of fraud and is now paying the price. We continue working tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to protect people in government health programs.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, between January 1998 and July 2016, Esformes led an extensive health care fraud conspiracy involving a network of assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities he owned. Esformes bribed physicians to admit patients into his facilities. Then, he cycled the patients through his facilities where they often failed to receive appropriate medical services or received medically unnecessary services billed to Medicare and Medicaid. Several witnesses testified to the poor conditions in the facilities and the inadequate care patients receive.

Esformes concealed the poor conditions and scheme from authorities by bribing an employee of a Florida state regulator for advance notice of surprise inspections scheduled to take place at his facilities. The evidence further showed Esformes used his criminal proceeds to make a series of extravagant purchases, including luxury automobiles and a $360,000 watch. Esformes also used criminal proceeds to bribe the basketball coach at the University of Pennsylvania in exchange for his assistance in gaining admission for his son into the university.

Altogether, the evidence established that Esformes personally benefited from the fraud and received in excess of $37 million.

Esformes’s coconspirator, physician’s assistant Arnaldo Carmouze, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced on April 10, 2019, to 80 months in prison and was ordered to pay $12,590,761 in restitution. Co-conspirator Odette Barcha also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute. Barcha was sentenced on April 3 to 15 months in prison and three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $704,516.00 in restitution.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, with assistance from Florida Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The case was prosecuted by Fraud Section Acting Health Care Fraud Chief Allan Medina and Assistant Chief Drew Bradylyons, and Trial Attorneys Elizabeth Young, James Hayes and Jeremy Sanders, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Shipley and Dan Bernstein of the Southern District of Florida. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Lehr, Nalina Sombuntham and Daren Grove of the Southern District of Florida handled the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $14 billion.

Financial Fraud: Jonathan Chang Convicted Of Four Counts Of Wire Fraud And Three Counts Of Money Laundering

Jonathan Chang Convicted Of Four Counts Of Wire Fraud And Three Counts Of Money Laundering

Cupertino Man Convicted Of Embezzling More Than $7.5 Million In Donated Funds

Jonathan Chang misappropriated religious donations and church funds

SAN JOSE – A federal jury convicted Jonathan Chang of four counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The verdict follows a four-week trial before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, United States District Judge.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that Jonathan Chang, 63, of Cupertino, Calif., engaged in a scheme to defraud a wealthy donor of money intended to support the Home of Christ 4 Christian Church (HOC4), located in Saratoga, Calif. Chang, who served as an “elder” responsible for managing the finances of the church, furthered his scheme by establishing charitable organizations with names similar to the church. He then directed more than $6 million from the donor to his own organizations rather than to the HOC4. In addition, Chang embezzled approximately $900,000 from HOC4-related bank accounts in his scheme to defraud.

The jury concluded that Chang solicited funds from the wealthy donor for the stated purpose of acquiring a new HOC4 building (church house) and purported missionary work. In response to Chang’s requests, the donor provided $2.25 million in one-time donations, a $3 million loan to acquire the new building, and approximately $1.5 million total in monthly donations. Chang did not use the funds as directed and authorized by the donor. Instead, he commonly used the funds for personal enrichment. For example, Chang used the funds to buy a number of houses in the Bay Area, purchase luxury vehicles, obtain 15 timeshare interests, invest in commercial real estate, and pay for his health insurance and athletic club dues. The evidence also showed that Chang purchased a home in Fremont with the donor’s funds and then leased the house to one of the donor’s companies, thereby collecting rent on a house that was purchased with funds the donor earmarked for religious purposes. Similarly, Chang purchased another home with donor funds that were designated for religious purposes, but ultimately rented the home to one of his children. In total, between 2004 and January 2016, Chang obtained more than $7.5 million in funds from the donor and HOC4.

Chang also concealed the proceeds of his scheme to defraud by committing money laundering. The evidence at trial demonstrated Chang created fraudulent entities to conceal the wire fraud scheme and forwarded the funds to a variety of other bank accounts he controlled before spending the money on personal purchases.

On February 4, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Chang and his wife, Grace Chang, 60, charging each with one count of conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; four counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h); and three counts of money laundering, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 1956(a). The jury found Jonathan Chang guilty of all the wire fraud and money laundering counts. The jury did not reach a verdict as to the two charged conspiracy counts, nor did the jury reach a verdict as to the counts filed against Grace Chang.

Jonathan Chang faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. He also face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B). Additional periods of supervised release, fines and restitution may apply. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Jonathan and Grace Chang are scheduled to appear before Judge Davila on September 17, 2019 for a status conference.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick R. Delahunty and Sarah E. Griswold are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Susan Kreider. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Financial Fraud: Mark Gregory Jackson Sentenced For Conspiring To Commit Wire Fraud

Mark Gregory Jackson Sentenced For Conspiring To Commit Wire Fraud

Little Rock Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Million-Dollar Equipment Flipping Scheme

LITTLE ROCK—A Little Rock man was sentenced for orchestrating a scheme that defrauded a government program intended help non-profits, municipal agencies, and disadvantaged businesses. Mark Gregory Jackson, Sr., 62, of Little Rock, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Brian S. Miller.

Judge Miller also sentenced Jackson to three years of supervised release following his term of imprisonment. Jackson and co-conspirators Jimmy Don Winemiller, Jr., 54, and Don “Terrell” Stephens, Jr., 40, also of Little Rock, all pleaded guilty in July 2018 to conspiring to commit wire fraud. Judge Miller ordered Jackson to forfeit over $1 million and pay up to $350,000 to settle related tax deficiencies. Last October, Judge Miller sentenced Stephens to 30 days in jail and ordered him to forfeit over $125,000. This March, Judge Miller sentenced Winemiller to 20 months’ imprisonment and ordered him to forfeit nearly $275,000.

The scheme targeted the Federal Surplus Property Donation Program, which allowed qualifying non-profits, municipal agencies, and disadvantaged businesses to acquire government surplus at special below-market rates. Recipients are required to demonstrate a legitimate need for the surplus, and they must agree not to sell, lease, or rent it.

Jackson operated through his construction business, Kingridge Enterprises, Inc. He gained access to the program by falsely claiming his disadvantaged nephew owned and operated Kingridge. In truth, the nephew never worked for Kingridge, drew no salary, exercised zero control, and lived over 100 miles away from its Little Rock headquarters.

Once in the program, Jackson gave false justifications to acquire surplus, which was usually construction equipment. After obtaining the construction equipment under these false pretenses, Jackson sold the equipment at steep markups. To conceal the fraud, Jackson made buyers sign sham “joint venture” contracts, and he attempted to hide the activity from investigators.

A 2013 deal illustrated the scheme. On October 1, 2013, an out-of-state equipment dealer wired Winemiller $20,000 for a CAT 621B Scraper. Upon receipt, Winemiller paid Jackson $18,500. On October 2, Jackson, through his construction business, successfully requested donation of the CAT 621B Scraper for just $12,000 by falsely claiming Kingridge needed it for a “$1.1 Million Dollar Corp [sic] Engineer Project.” Over four years, Jackson unlawfully flipped more than 100 pieces of equipment through deals like this, making over $1 million in the process.

Cody Hiland, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Mo Myers, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the FBI, Don Abram, Special Agent in Charge for the Central Region of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Association, and Jamie Willemin, Special Agent in Charge for the Southwest Region of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. General Services Administration, announced today’s sentencing. Assistant United States Attorney Alexander D. Morgan prosecuted the case for the United States following a multi-year investigation by FBI-Memphis, SBA-OIG, and GSA-OIG.

Financial Fraud: Three Men Arrested In Connection With A Scheme In Which They Allegedly Stole Money

Three Men Arrested In Connection With A Scheme In Which They Allegedly Stole Money

Three Men Arrested in SNAP Food Stamp Benefits Theft Scheme

Conducted Hundreds of Fraudulent Transactions at National Superstores; Defendants also Used Fraudulent Electronic Benefits Transfer Machine

CAMDEN, N.J. – Three men were arrested today in connection with a scheme in which they allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds using fraudulently procured electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Luciano Estevez, 50, and Jose Garcia, 52, both of Camden; and Juan Melo, 56, of Woodlynne, New Jersey, are charged by separate complaints with one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count each of defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court. A fourth defendant, Octavio Rodriguez, 50, of Pennsauken, New Jersey, is charged with the same crimes and remains at large.

SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, is a program administered by the USDA to assist low-income individuals and families with the purchase of groceries and food items. SNAP recipients receive EBT cards, similar to commercial debit cards, to make food purchases. Retailers authorized to accept SNAP benefits have EBT terminals to process the food purchases. Food purchases are made by swiping the EBT card at the terminal, and having customers enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN). The EBT terminal verifies the PIN, determines whether the customer’s account balance is sufficient to cover the proposed transaction, and informs the retailer whether the transaction should be authorized or denied. The amount of the purchase is deducted electronically from the SNAP benefits reserved for the customer and the purchase amount is credited to the retailer’s designated bank account.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Estevez, Rodriguez, Garcia, Melo, and others allegedly targeted low-income individuals who possessed or had access to EBT cards, and unlawfully purchased the cards from these individuals in exchange for cash and controlled substances. Two confidential sources working with law enforcement engaged in 43 controlled transactions involving EBT cards totaling more than $40,500, which they exchanged for cash and controlled substances, including prescription opioids and narcotics.

The defendants used the unlawfully procured EBT cards to purchase bulk goods and food items from large national superstores. These goods and food items were then resold in small convenience and grocery stores owned or affiliated with the defendants or their associates, resulting in a profit for the defendants. Hundreds of EBT cards fraudulently procured by the defendants were used at these superstores, resulting in the misappropriation of approximately $150,000 in government funds.

Estevez also unlawfully procured an EBT terminal registered to a superstore in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to use at his small grocery store in Camden, which was not registered as a lawful SNAP merchant in the USDA program. Estevez was able to unlawfully receive through this terminal approximately $110,000 in SNAP funds.

The conspiracy count with which all four defendants are charged carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Estevez, Rodriguez, and Garcia each are each charged with a SNAP fraud offense in which the value of the trafficked benefits exceeded $5,000, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Melo is charged with a SNAP fraud offense in which the value of the trafficked benefits is less than $5,000, but greater than $100, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI Philadelphia Field Office, South Jersey Resident Agency, both under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster in Philadelphia; the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Bethanne M. Dinkins; the Camden County Police Department, under the direction of Chief J. Scott Thomson; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo; the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, the N.J. State Police; the N.J. Department of Treasury and the National Guard, with the investigation leading to the arrests.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina O. Hud of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Camden.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

Health Care Fraud: Seven Defendants Convicted For They Role In Yhe $200 Million Kickback Scheme

Seven Defendants Convicted For They Role In Yhe $200 Million Kickback Scheme

USAO Seeking $17M in Money Judgments Against Defendants Convicted in Forest Park Trial

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking more than $17 million in money judgments against the seven defendants convicted in the Forest Park Medical Center bribery trial in April, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

Each defendant played a role in the $200 million kickback scheme, designed to induce doctors to steer lucrative patients – particularly those with high-reimbursing, out-of-network private insurance – to the now defunct hospital. The majority of the kickbacks, which totaled more than $40 million, were disguised as consulting fees or “marketing money” doled as a percentage of surgeries each doctor referred to Forest Park.

Hospital manager Alan Beauchamp, who testified for the government, admitted that Forest Park “bought surgeries,” and then “papered it up to make it look good.”

“Patients trust medical professionals to make healthcare based on the patients’ best interests. Instead, these defendants allowed their greed to dictate their recommendations as to how and where patients were treated,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox said today.

Prosecutors filed motions for entry of a forfeiture money judgement against six of the seven convicted defendants Tuesday afternoon:

From Wilton McPherson “Mac” Burt, Forest Park’s managing partner, the government is seeking $4,560,852.33. Mr. Burt was found guilty on 10 of 12 counts, including one count of conspiracy, two counts of paying kickbacks, six counts of commercial bribery in violation of the Travel Act, and one count of money laundering, and now faces up to 65 years in federal prison.

From Jackson Jacob, owner of the shell companies through which some of the bribes were routed, the government is seeking $526,102.13. Mr. Jacob was found guilty on four of 14 counts, including conspiracy and three counts of paying kickbacks, and now faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

From Michael Bassem Rimlawi, a spinal surgeon, the government is seeking $8,130,000.00. (A portion of that money would be jointly and severally liable with his partner, Dr. Doug Won.) Dr. Rimlawi was found guilty on three of four counts, including conspiracy and two counts of receiving kickbacks, and now faces up to 15 years in federal prison

From Shawn Mark Henry, a spinal surgeon who invested in FMPC, the government is seeking $840,000.00. Dr. Henry was found guilty on three of three counts, including conspiracy, commercial bribery, and money laundering, and now faces up to 30 years in federal prison.

From Mrugeshkumar Shah, a pain management doctor, the government is seeking $67,850.00. Dr. Shah was found guilty on four of four counts, including conspiracy, two counts of paying kickbacks, and one count of commercial bribery, and now faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

From Iris Kathleen Forrest, a nurse who recruited and preauthorized worker’s comp requests, the government is seeking $463,600.00. Ms. Forrest was convicted on two of two counts, including conspiracy and paying kickbacks, and now faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Prosecutors had previously filed a motion for entry of a forfeiture money judgement against Dr. Douglas Sung Won, who is currently facing bankruptcy proceedings:

From Dr. Won, a spinal surgeon who partnered with Dr. Rimlawi, the government is seeking $9,122,500.00. (A portion of that money would be jointly and severally liable with Dr. Rimlawi.) Dr. Won was found guilty on one of two counts, conspiracy, and now faces up to 5 years in federal prison.

The government is also seeking $8,255,000.00 from Dr. Wade Neal Barker, one of Forest Park’s founding doctors, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay and receive healthcare bribes and kickbacks as well as aiding and abetting commercial bribery before trial and agreed to testify for the prosecution.

In total, the government is seeking $17,355,904.46 from the defendants convicted at trial, plus an additional $8,255,000.00 from Dr. Barker, for an overall total of $25,610,904.46 to date.

In this case, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture money judgements based on proceeds traceable to the defendants’ crimes of conviction. In addition to any forfeiture ordered by the Court, the Forest Park defendants may be required to pay mandatory restitution to the victim insurance companies – an amount that will likely far exceed the amount sought in the money judgements.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Defense – Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Tindall is handling the money judgements. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Wirmani, Kate Pfeifle, Marcus Busch, and Gail Hayworth are also prosecuting the case.

Financial Fraud: Brandon Sazue Indicted For Embezzlement And Theft From An Indian Tribal Organization

Brandon Sazue Indicted For Embezzlement And Theft From An Indian Tribal Organization

Former Tribal Chair Indicted for Embezzlement & Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization and Aiding and Abetting

Defendants Prosecuted as Part of The Guardians Project, a Federal Law Enforcement Initiative to Combat Corruption, Fraud, and Abuse in South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced today that a former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe councilmember and chair was indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzlement & theft from an Indian tribal organization, and aiding and abetting.

Brandon Sazue, age 45, of Chamberlain, South Dakota, was indicted on August 6, 2019. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno on August 9, 2019, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.

According to the Indictment, in about March 2014 through February 2019, Roland Robert Hawk Sr., Francine Maria Middletent, Roxanne Lynette Sazue, Jacquelyn Ernestine Pease, and Brandon Sazue embezzled, stole, willfully misapplied, willfully permitted to misapplied, and converted to their own use over $1,000 of monies, funds, credit, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. During times relevant to each defendant’s case, Brandon Sazue served as Chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Hawk served as the elected Treasurer of the tribe, Roxanne Sazue was also Chair, and Middletent was an elected councilperson. When not serving in their respective leadership positions, all defendants, except for Brandon Sazue, worked for Hawk in the tribe’s finance office. In their respective leadership roles and employment positions, the defendants had the access and opportunity to the funds that were embezzled from the tribe.

The maximum penalties for each defendant upon conviction are as follows: 5 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine; 3 years of supervised release; $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund; and restitution may be ordered.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.

Hawk Sr. was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Defendants Pease, Middletent, Roxanne Sauze, and Brandon Sazue were released on bond. A trial date has been set for September 10, 2019.

The case was brought pursuant to the Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between participating agencies, to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota’s Indian country communities. The Guardians Project is another step of federal law enforcement’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination, and positive action on behalf of tribal communities. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the participating agencies include: Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; U.S. Postal Inspector Service; U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

For additional information about the Guardians Project, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (605) 330-4400. To report a suspected crime, please contact law enforcement at the federal agency’s locally listed telephone number.

Financial Fraud: Jeffrey Morrow And Richard M. Owen Pleaded Guilty To Multiple Financial Crimes

Jeffrey Morrow And Richard M. Owen Pleaded Guilty To Multiple Financial Crimes

Managers of Local Gold Dealer Plead Guilty to Money Laundering

SAN DIEGO ­­– Global Gold Exchange, LLC and its managers, Jeffrey Morrow and Richard M. Owen, pleaded guilty in federal court today to multiple financial crimes, admitting that they laundered money through their unlicensed money transmitting business by falsely reporting cash transactions as sales of “gold” and other precious metals.

As part of their guilty pleas, the defendants agreed to forfeit approximately $2 million in assets involved in the money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting business.

Special Agents from IRS-Criminal Investigation’s Financial Investigations and Border Crimes Task Force worked with FBI agents and the United States Postal Inspection Service during the multi-year investigation to unravel millions of dollars in suspicious transactions taking place at the San Diego-based office and bank accounts of Global Gold Exchange, or GGEX. GGEX also pleaded guilty to mail fraud, while Owen also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition.

As detailed in the plea agreements entered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt, GGEX unlawfully laundered cash and funds from a variety of sources – both lawful and unlawful – and fraudulently documented the transactions as “a complete gold transaction.” In sum, GGEX and its managers admitted operating “as an informal money transfer system engaged in facilitating the transfer of money domestically and internationally outside of the conventional financial institutions system, and did so without regard for the source, destination, purpose, or legality of the funds transmitted.”

Between 2017 and 2018, GGEX and managers Morrow and Owen admitted that they and others employed various money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting techniques to conduct unlawful transactions through GGEX and GGEX’s bank accounts, including:

-Transacting with a “local cartel out of Mexico;”

-Falsifying invoices for sales of gold, when in reality it was the receipt of a large cash deposit, and returned by check after GGEX took a 10 percent fee;

-Agreeing with “clients” to tell law enforcement or tax authorities that the transactions were sales/purchases of precious metals; and

-Advising clients to mail GGEX parcels filled with heavy substances to mimic the weight of gold to falsely document the nature of GGEX’s transactions.

“Global Gold Exchange and its managers attempted to operate as a one-stop-shop for money laundering,” said United States Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. “The package of guilty pleas entered today makes clear that the United States will pursue and prosecute any individual, asset, or business attempting to launder the proceeds of crimes, or that threaten the integrity of our financial system.”

“Criminal organizations are becoming increasingly dependent on individuals and businesses who offer their expertise and services to assist in laundering illegal proceeds,” said Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner. “Today’s plea should send a clear message to these individuals and businesses that they will be held accountable and face the consequences.”

“Global Gold Exchange and its managers Jeffrey Morrow and Richard M. Owen accepted money from all sources regardless of lawfulness,” said Nichole Cooper, Los Angeles Division Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service. “They then subverted conventional financial institution systems by using fraudulent invoices, directing clients to mislead law enforcement, and labeling it ‘a complete gold transaction.’ The result of this plea agreement shows the US Postal Inspection Service and its federal partners bring justice to those who seek to hide their crimes from the law.”

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Financial Investigations and Border Crimes Task Force, a partnership targeting unlawful transactions through the financial system. The task force brings together the combined expertise of federal, state, and local law enforcement including IRS-CI, California Franchise Tax Board, United States Postal Inspection Service, and the San Diego Police Department. FBI and United States Postal Inspection Service partnered with the FIBC in this coordinated investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Silva.

Sentencing is scheduled to occur on October 16, 2019. Owen faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Morrow faces a maximum of five years in prison. GGEX faces a maximum of five years probation.

DEFENDANTS Case Number 19-CR-2936-CAB

Global Gold Exchange, LLC

Richard M. Owen San Diego, CA Age: 49

Jeffrey Morrow San Diego, CA Age: 44

SUMMARY OF CHARGES*

Money Laundering – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1956

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and $500,000 fine

Operation of Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1960

Maximum penalty: Five years in prison and $250,000 fine

Mail Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1341

Maximum penalty: Thirty years in prison and $1 million fine

Unlawful Possession of Firearm – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 922(g)

Maximum penalty: Ten years in prison and $250,000 fine

AGENCIES

IRS Criminal Investigations and the Financial Investigations and Border Crimes Task Force

Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States Postal Inspection Service

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Financial Fraud: Scott Roix And His Companies Agree To Pay To Resolve Allegations That Violated The False Claims Act

Scott Roix And His Companies Agree To Pay To Resolve Allegations That Violated The False Claims Act

Telemarketer And His Companies Agree To Pay $2.5 Million To Settle Allegations That They Operated Telemedicine Schemes Involving Illegal Kickbacks And Unnecessary Prescriptions

United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez and U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey for the Eastern District of Tennessee announce that Scott Roix, together with several entities through which he ran his telemarketing business, including HealthRight, LLC; Health Savings Solutions, LLC; Vici Marketing, LLC; and Vici Marketing Group, LLC (hereinafter collectively referred to as “marketing companies”), have agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations that Roix and these marketing companies violated the False Claims Act by causing the submission of false claims to federal healthcare programs in connection with telemedicine health care fraud schemes.

The government alleged that: (1) Roix and his marketing companies fraudulently obtained insurance coverage information from consumers across the country to arrange for them to receive prescription pain creams and other similar products, (2) these prescriptions were not medically necessary and did not arise from a valid doctor-patient relationship, and (3) Roix and his marketing companies sold these prescriptions to pharmacies under the guise of marketing services, and the payments solicited were based on the volume and value of the prescriptions.

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting TRICARE and other federal health care programs from improper practices that harm our nation’s healthcare programs,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “Those who generate prescriptions for profit and violate the Anti-Kickback Statute will be held accountable.”

“Prescriptions and other medical services resulting from kickbacks undermine the integrity of our health care system,” said U.S. Attorney Overbey. “Telemedicine is a valuable service for our citizens, but it must not be abused. We will take action against individuals who break the law to make a profit at the expense of our federal healthcare programs and ultimately at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

“Telemarketing fraud is a major threat to the integrity of the Medicare program,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta. “Unscrupulous companies collect patient information then sell it to pharmacies and other medical providers in exchange for kickbacks.”

U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Cleevely, Eastern Area Field Office, stated, “The U.S. Postal Service spends billions of dollars per year in workers compensation-related costs, most of which are legitimate. However, when medical providers or companies choose to flout the rules and profit illegally, special agents with the USPS OIG will work with our law enforcement partners to hold them responsible. To report fraud or other criminal activity involving the Postal Service, contact our special agents at www.uspsoig.gov or 888-USPS-OIG.”

“This settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our law enforcement partners to ensure that individuals do not unjustly enrich themselves by abusing the Department of Defense TRICARE program. DCIS protects the integrity of DoD programs by rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse which diverts American taxpayer dollars intended to support our Warfighters,” said Special Agent in Charge, Cyndy Bruce, Southeast Field Office.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates the commitment of the Office of Personnel Management Office of the Inspector General and our law enforcement partners at the Department of Justice to ensuring that federal health care programs, including the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, are protected from fraud and abuse,” said Thomas W. South, the OPM Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. “I am immensely proud of the work our office has done to not only safeguard taxpayer dollars, but also protect the health and wellbeing of federal employees, annuitants, and their families.”

“This settlement emphasizes the collaborative effort by the FBI and our law enforcement partners to target those individuals who cheat the system and destroy public trust in our federally funded healthcare programs,” said Michael F. McPherson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Tampa Division.

The settlement resolves allegations that, beginning in September 2014, Health Savings Solutions, at the direction of Roix, received payments from Oldsmar Pharmacy that were based on the value and volume of prescriptions solicited by Health Savings Solutions in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, and the False Claims Act. These allegations were brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims, and to receive a share of any recovery. The qui tam case against Roix and Health Savings Solutions was filed by Jennifer Silva and Jessica Robertson and is captioned: United States ex rel. Silva, et al. v. Vici Marketing, LLC, et al., Middle District of Florida (Case No. 8:15-cv-444-T-33TGW). Ms. Silva and Ms. Robertson will receive $287,500 of the settlement.

The settlement also resolves allegations that, from June 2015 through October 2018, HealthRight, at the direction of Roix, received payments from Synergy Pharmacy that were based on the value and volume of prescriptions solicited by HealthRight on behalf of Synergy Pharmacy. These allegations were also the subject of a criminal case captioned United States v. Scott Roix, et al., Eastern District of Tennessee (Case No. 2:18-cr-133), in which Roix and HealthRight pleaded guilty in September 2018.

This investigation was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorneys’ Office of the Eastern District of Tennessee and the Middle District of Florida. It was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Dykes, Michael Kenneth, and Jessica Sievert, with support from HHS-OIG, OPM-OIG, USPS-OIG, DOD-DCIS, and FBI.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.