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Showing posts from April, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announce Settlement of Lawsuit Against USDA by Native American Farmers

WASHINGTON –Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the approval by the U.S. District Court of the settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against USDA by Native American farmers alleging discrimination by USDA. The court’s approval of the settlement ends litigation concerning discrimination complaints from Native Americans generally covering the period 1981-1999.

“The settlement approved by the court Thursday will allow USDA and the Native American farmers involved in the lawsuit to move forward and focus on the future,” said Attorney General Holder. “Under the process established in this agreement, Native American farmers who believe they suffered discrimination will have their claims heard. The Department of Justice is proud to partner with USDA in the agency’s effort to ensure fair and equitable treatment of its clients."

“The Keepseagle settlement approved by the court marks just one more step toward our goal of en…

Weekly Address: Taxpayer Subsidies for Oil Companies are Neither Right, nor Smart, and They Should End

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WASHINGTON – As oil and gas companies make tens of billions in profits and the government scours the budget for savings, President Obama called on Congress to stop handing them $4 billion annually in taxpayer subsidies. America’s oil production last year reached its highest level since 2003, but we need to invest in the energy of the future, instead of subsidizing the energy of the past.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Washington, DC

After the worst recession since the Great Depression, our economy is growing again, and we’ve gained almost 2 million private sector jobs over the last 13 months. But I also know that a lot of folks aren’t feeling as positive as some of those statistics might suggest. It’s still too hard to find a job. And even if you have a job, chances are you’re having a tougher time paying the rising costs of everything from groceries to gas. In some places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying up…

The Royal Wedding

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I have to say the Royal Wedding of Prince William and now Princess Catherine was a very well put together occasion. I think the talk of the town was how well dressed Kate Middleton was in her dress. Many people say that her dress was one of the better dresses for any wedding because of how "not slutty" it looked. Many celebrities who get married are too busy putting on dresses that make them look like they should not even be getting married. Thankfully Princess Catherine has set a new standard for how wedding dresses should look.

Good luck Kate and William. I hope you have a long and happy marriage.

FBI Washington Field Office Receives Pentagon Stone Commemorating Response on September 11

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Washington Field Office, together with the Joint Force Headquarters Military District of Washington, hosted a ceremony to commemorate the permanent placement of a piece of stone recovered from the Pentagon following September 11, 2001.

The limestone block, weighing 800-pounds, presented to the Washington Field Office was part of a large stone block that was recovered from the west façade of the Pentagon, where a group of terrorists crashed a plane into the building nearly ten years ago. The stone was removed from the Pentagon and taken to Fort McNair, where the Joint Force Headquarters for the Military District of Washington had the stone cut into pieces for the purpose of presenting them to agencies that assisted in the September 11 response and recovery efforts.

"The relationship we share with the Military District of Washington, Arlington County Fire, and other first responders was formed long before that fateful day…

U.S. Commerce Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Conclude Productive South Korea Meetings

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and the congressional delegation today concluded their three-day trip to Seoul with a visit to the Demilitarized Zone –the border between South and North Korea – and lunch with U.S troops and their families at Yongsan Garrison to thank them for their service. The group also met with leaders of South Korea’s Democratic Party and Grand National Party at Korea’s National Assembly to discuss the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS).

“Over the last few days we have had the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits that KORUS will bring to the economies of both the U.S. and Korea,” Locke said. “There is great demand for U.S. products -- from made-in-America cell phone components to life-saving medical equipment. This agreement will increase mutually beneficial trade, strengthen our economies and create jobs in both of our countries.”
Locke also visited Seoul National University Hospital for a demonstration of Varian Medical Systems’ (Palo Alto, Calif.) …

FTC Sends Refund Checks to Victims of "Wal-Mart Shopping Spree" Scam

This week, an administrator working for the Federal Trade Commission began mailing checks to more than 172,000 consumers nationwide who were defrauded by a scam in which consumers were falsely promised free gifts such as shopping sprees, movie passes, and gas vouchers and wrongfully paid monthly fees for “program memberships” in discount buying and travel clubs. Consumers who were victims of the “Wal-Mart Shopping Spree” scam will receive a total of more than $3 million in refunds. These are legitimate checks, and the FTC urges consumers to cash them.

In this 2008 case, known as Universal Premium Services, Inc., the court banned Brian K. McGregor, the architect of the scheme, from telemarketing and selling program memberships. McGregor and Membership Services Direct, Inc., also known as Continuity Partners, Inc., were ordered to pay $28.2 million.
The amount of money consumers receive from the redress administrator will vary, depending on how much they lost in the sca…

Man Convicted of Trying to Burglarize Paris Hilton’s House

VAN NUYS – A Redlands man was found guilty today of trying to break into Paris Hilton’s Hollywood Hills home last August, the District Attorney’s office announced.

The jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Nathan Lee Parada, 32, guilty of one felony count of attempted first-degree residential burglary with a person present, said Deputy District Attorney Kaveh Faturechi.

Parada was arrested about 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2010 after Hilton phoned police to report someone outside her house.

Parada faces up to three years in state prison when he is sentenced June 29 by Judge Michael Kellogg.

Israeli wanted for fraud on INTERPOL warrant deported

NEW YORK - An Israeli national wanted for fraud in his native country was deported this week by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Moshe Sussman, 31, was flown to Tel Aviv, Israel, on a commercial flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Upon his arrival in Tel Aviv, ICE ERO officers transferred him to the custody of Israeli law enforcement authorities.

Sussman is wanted in Israel on financial fraud charges totaling $1.9 million. He was taken into custody at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., by ICE ERO fugitive operations and the U.S. Marshals Service on March 17.

"This removal will allow Israeli authorities to proceed with prosecution of a crime alleged to have occurred in their country. We are resolute in our commitment to identify, arrest and remove those individuals who falsely believe they can escape legal issues in their home country by hiding in ours," said Chris Shanahan, fiel…

17 indicted and arrested in Puerto Rico for failing to register as sex offenders

SAN JUAN - A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted 17 convicted sex offenders who failed to register with the Puerto Rico authorities after traveling to Puerto Rico from the continental United States.

The indictment stemmed from a multi-agency investigation led by the U.S. Marshals Service, in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), the San Juan Municipal Police and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.

Following is the list of 17 defendants, their conviction date, and the state they were convicted:

Tomas Papote-Mercado - convicted in September 2004 in Pennsylvania
Irvin Baez-Amadeo - convicted in October 2000 in Massachusetts
Hector M. González-Rodríguez - convicted in April 2002 in New Hampshire
Mario Albino-Oliveras, aka Mayito - convicted in March 1998 in Massachusetts
German Rodríguez-Vázquez - convicted in March 2009 in Florida
Felipe Martín…

Former Texas Representative “Jim” Solis Admits to Role in Limas Extortion Scheme

BROWNSVILLE, TE—Former Texas representative Jose Santiago “Jim” Solis, has been convicted of aiding and abetting the extortion by former state district judge Abel Corral Limas, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Solis, 47, of Harlingen, Texas, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information today before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen. The criminal information which charges Solis with aiding and abetting extortion by former state judge Abel Corral Limas, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2 (The “Hobbs Act”) was filed early this morning, April 29, 2011, in Brownsville, Texas.

Solis, a life-long resident of Harlingen, has practiced law in south Texas for many years, focusing primarily in personal injury cases. Solis served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 38, for seven terms—retiring from the Legislature in 2007.

At today’s hearing, Solis admitted his part in former Judge Limas’ use of…

The Timken Company To Pay $120,000 To Settle EEOC Gender And Disability Discrimination Suit

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Canton, Ohio-headquartered manufacturer The Timken Company will pay $120,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex and disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit (EEOC v. The Timken Company, Civil Action No. 1:10 CV 113), filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, the EEOC charged that in July 2007, Timken denied a full-time position to part-time employee Carmen Halloran, who worked at the company’s Randleman, N.C., facility. At the time she applied for the full-time position, Halloran had worked at the Randleman facility as a part-time process associate for four years. The EEOC alleged that the company refused to hire Halloran because one or more managers for the company believed that Halloran, who is the mother of a disabled child, would be unable to work full time and care for her disabled child. The EEOC alleged that although Timken…

ICE arrests airline employees for involvement in international drug smuggling

DETROIT - Federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 12 individuals today for their role in two drug smuggling operations out of U.S. airports. All of the individuals have been charged with drug trafficking and related charges to include conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and illegal importation of narcotics.

"Today's arrests and charges close a major vulnerability at the airport," said ICE Director John Morton. "We can't have people working in and around aircraft exploiting their positions for criminal ends. Airplanes are for lawful travel not drug dealing. For those on the inside thinking about abusing their access to planes for money, think again. We are watching. We are looking. Whether it takes months or years, whether the trail leads to Detroit, Houston, or Montego Bay, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you, we will put you in jail."

The investigation …

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES CONVICTION OF LONDELL SQUIRE FOR MURDER OF PARTY BOAT PROMOTER

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced a guilty verdict against LONDELL SQUIRE, 23, for the 2009 murder of Omar Trent, a party promoter on a boat anchored at South Street Seaport. A jury found SQUIRE guilty of Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree. On May 17, 2011, SQUIRE will be sentenced in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"The defendant made a calculated decision to shoot and kill Mr. Trent," District Attorney Vance said. "I commend the jury for its careful attention and service in this case."

As proven at trial, on August 22, 2009, Omar Trent was at a party on a boat docked at the South Street Seaport when several fights broke out and caused many of the 400 guests to rush off the boat. SQUIRE also ran off of the boat, but went to his car to retrieve his gun. He was heading back toward the boat when he encountered Trent, whom he recognized as having been involved in the fight. Aft…

Dillard's Sued By EEOC For Retaliation

HOUSTON – Dillard’s, a major department store chain, violated federal law by firing a business manager as retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Shontel Mayfield worked at the Dillard’s store in the Central Mall in Port Arthur, Texas. In September 2008, Mayfield complied with a Jefferson County mandatory evacuation order and evacuated the area in advance of Hurricane Ike. Mayfield returned to Jefferson County consistent with the directives of the county’s “disaster declarations.” After Mayfield returned to work on Sept. 24, she was called into the store manager’s office the next day and advised by the store manager and the assistant store manager / operations manager that she was being fired for the stated reason of “excessive absenteeism.”

On her termination paperwork, Mayfield was accused of having “failed to maintain verbal communication concerning her…

Former U.S. Probation Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights and Sex Abuse Charges

WASHINGTON– Mark John Walker, 52, of Eugene, Ore., pleaded guilty today to charges related to his engaging in sexual contact or aggravated sexual abuse with female offenders who were under his direct supervision as a federal probation officer from 2006 to 2009. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2011 before Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline, who is a visiting judge from Alaska.

As a U.S. Probation Officer, Walker supervised offenders who were serving probation or supervised release terms imposed by a federal judge, including offenders with vulnerable backgrounds involving sexual abuse, mental illness and drug addiction. Walker had the power to recommend that offenders who violated their conditions of probation or supervised release be incarcerated or otherwise sanctioned. Under the U.S. Constitution and federal law, law enforcement officials cannot use their authority to willfully sexually assault individuals under their control.

While exercising his authority as a pr…

Three Sentenced for Involvement in Civil Rights Conspiracy and Cover-Up in Connection with Cross-Burning in Athens, Louisiana

WASHINGTON –Jeremy Matthew Moro, 33, and Joshua James Moro, 23, have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter following their January 2011, guilty pleas to conspiring to violate the civil rights of an interracial couple by burning a cross near their home in Athens, La., in October 2008. Sonya Marie Hart, 31, was sentenced today following her January 2011, guilty plea to withholding information from the FBI regarding the defendants’ attempt to cover-up the cross-burning. The Moros’ cousin, Daniel Danforth, was previously convicted by a federal jury for organizing, carrying out, and attempting to cover up the same cross-burning.

Jeremy Moro was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release; Joshua Moro was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release; Sonya Hart was sentenced to three years of supervised probation. The defendants’ co-conspirator, Daniel Danforth, was previously se…

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Guilty Plea of Donald Longueuil to Insider Trading Charges

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that DONALD LONGUEUIL pled guilty today to conspiracy and securities fraud charges arising from an insider trading scheme in which he obtained and traded on material, nonpublic information. LONGUEUIL participated in this scheme while working as a research analyst and a portfolio manager at two different hedge funds. During his plea allocution and in his plea agreement, LONGUEUIL admitted that, upon reading of the Government's investigation in the press, he destroyed and disposed of a flash drive and hard drives relevant to his securities fraud conviction. LONGUEUIL pled guilty before U.S. District Judge JED S. RAKOFF.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "Less than three months after being arrested on insider trading charges, Donald Longueuil has pled guilty. He is the latest example of a privileged professional who thought he was above the law and found out the hard way he sur…

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Congressional Delegation Meet with Korean President Lee to Discuss U.S.-Korea Commercial Relationship

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and members of Congress met today with the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-Bak at the Blue House. Locke, who is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to build support for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), reinforced the importance of the bilateral commercial relationship as part of the two countries’ historic alliance and emphasized the importance of KORUS in spurring economic growth in both the U.S. and Korea.
“Korea is a vital ally, a strong friend, and an important economic partner,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “KORUS is a win-win for both the U.S. and Korea. This agreement will strengthen our partnership and take it to the next level, by lowering tariffs and creating a more level playing field for businesses in both countries.”The congressional delegation consists of four members from the U.S. House of Representatives – Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and D…

Mary Lee Reinking Was Sentenced for Mortgage Fraud

DAVENPORT, IA—Today, Mary Lee Reinking of Clinton, IA, a former mortgage broker with Crow Valley Mortgage in Bettendorf, Iowa, was sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Jarvey to five years' probation, including one-year home confinement, in connection with Reinking's previous guilty plea to one count of wire fraud. Reinking also was ordered to pay $97,343 in restitution.

Reinking and Natalie Long, another broker employed at Crow Valley Mortgage, assisted Darryl Hannken and Robert Herdrich in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders Argent Mortgage and New Century Mortgage in connection with loans to purchase two rental properties in Davenport, Iowa. Reinking and Long, aware that Hanneken and Herdrich would divert some of the loan proceeds to their own pockets without lender knowledge, facilitated the scheme by acting as broker for Herdrich and Hanneken. Reinking and Long also submitted false information concerning the income and financial assets of Herdrich and Hannek…

FBI Arrests Husband and Wife Business Owners on Katrina-Related Fraud Charges

Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Jackson Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Scott Dennis, U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General - Southern Region (SBA-OIG), joined in announcing the following arrests:

VICTOR PLANETTA, age 57, and EILEEN PLANETTA, age 53, residents of Slidell, Louisiana, were arrested by Special Agents of the FBI, with assistance from officers of the Slidell, LA Police Department, at approximately 6:00 p.m., on April 26, 2011, pursuant to arrest warrants issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Following their arrests, the PLANETTAs were transported to Mississippi and held in the Stone County, MS Jail, pending their initial court appearance.

The PLANETTAs were indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of Mississippi on charges that they conspired to defraud the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) by making mat…

US Labor Department secures court ruling requiring Texas-based Henry’s Turkey Service to pay $1.76 million to workers at Iowa processing plant

DES MOINES, Iowa – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a partial summary judgment requiring Hill Country Farms, doing business as Henry’s Turkey Service, and president Kenneth Henry to pay more than $1.76 million in back wages and liquidated damages for violating the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  The judgment partially resolves a lawsuit filed by the Labor Department following an investigation by the Des Moines District Office of its Wage and Hour Division. 

The judgment, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Davenport, concluded that the defendants willfully violated the FLSA by failing to properly pay 31 workers with disabilities.  Henry’s Turkey Service supplied the workers to the West Liberty Foods turkey processing plant in West Liberty, where most worked on the plant’s processing line

“Working on a poultry processing line is a particularly difficult and dangerous j…

HCS Boss Ridiculed Maternity Leave as ‘Vacation,’ Fired Employee Seven Days After C-Section, Federal Agency Charges

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – HCS Medical Staffing, Inc. violated federal law by discriminating against a pregnant employee and then firing her while she was on maternity leave, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed here today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, (EEOC v. HCS Medical Staffing, Inc., Case No. 2:11-cv-00402), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Charles Sisson, owner of the Milwaukee medical staffing company, engaged in escalating negative comments about the upcoming maternity leave of HCS bookkeeper Roxy Leger. Sisson’s statements allegedly included insisting that Leger’s pregnancy was a joke, describing her maternity leave as “vacation,” and insisting that maternity leave should be no longer than two days. The EEOC contends that Sisson then terminated Leger, who had no prior negative comments on her work performance, seven days after she gave birth as she recovered from the delivery of her baby by Caesarean s…

North Carolina Bank Agrees to Pay $400,000 in Restitution to Victims of Investment Fraud Scheme It Failed to Detect and Report

WASHINGTON – CommunityONE Bank N.A., based in Asheboro, N.C., with 45 offices throughout the state, has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice related to its failure to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina. The bank has agreed to pay $400,000 toward restitution to victims of a third-party ponzi scheme that operated through accounts maintained at the bank.

The criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina charges CommunityONE Bank with failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. CommunityONE Bank waived indictment and accepted and acknowledged responsibility for its conduct. The deferred prosecution agreement, also filed today, recognizes that the bank has committed to…

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Guilty Plea of Craig Drimal to Insider Trading Charges

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CRAIG DRIMAL pled guilty today to conspiracy and securities fraud charges arising from a scheme in which he obtained and traded on material, nonpublic information, including information misappropriated from the law firm of Ropes & Gray. DRIMAL pled guilty before U.S. District Judge RICHARD J. SULLIVAN.

According to the Indictment, a Complaint previously filed in this case, and statements made during today’s guilty plea proceeding:

In 2007 and 2008, CRAIG DRIMAL obtained material, nonpublic information ("Inside Information") from ZVI GOFFER about several mergers and acquisitions of public companies, and traded based on that Inside Information. The Inside Information included information provided by two Ropes & Gray attorneys, ARTHUR CUTILLO and BRIEN SANTARLAS, regarding the potential acquisition of 3Com Corporation ("3Com") and the potential acquisition of Axcan …

Former Humanitarian Workers Each Sentenced to 142 Months in Prison for Defrauding Usaid of $1.9 Million

WASHINGTON – Two former humanitarian aid workers were each sentenced today to 142 months in prison for defrauding the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of approximately $1.9 million that was intended to assist impoverished people and towns in Liberia.

The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia and Donald A. Gambatesa, Inspector General of USAID.

Joe O. Bondo, 39, and Morris B. Fahnbulleh, 41, both of Monrovia, Liberia, were each convicted by a jury in November 2010 of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and four false claims counts. Bondo was also convicted of two counts of witness tampering. Fahnbulleh was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton of the District of Columbia also ordered Bondo and Fahnbull…

Last of 10 Las Vegas Defendants Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Emissions Test Records

WASHINGTON – Wajdi Waked, 25, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty today before Judge Philip M. Pro of the U.S. District Court in Nevada, to one count of violating the Clean Air Act by falsifying emissions test results.

A grand jury in Las Vegas indicted Waked in January of 2010. Waked was one of nine other defendants, all at different testing locations, accused of similarly submitting false tests to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NDMV). The cases came to the attention of Nevada authorities in 2008 when the NDMV hired a contractor to build a vehicle identification database to find possible emissions testing fraud. NDMV discovered that in 2008 alone, there were over 4,000 false vehicle emissions certificates issued in Las Vegas. The database allows investigators to check the vehicle identification number that the emissions tester enters against the vehicle actually tested. Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County is required by the EPA to have emissions testing because the area i…

Trenton Man Pleads Guilty to Leading Network that Trafficked Guns into New Jersey from Virginia to Sell to Gang Members

TRENTON –Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a Trenton man pleaded guilty today to leading a network that trafficked guns to Trenton from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The defendant was linked to guns recovered in connection with several homicide investigations and a narcotics investigation.

According to Director Taylor, Trayle Beasley, 30, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of leader of a firearms trafficking network before Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County. In pleading guilty, Beasley admitted that he trafficked approximately 50 guns to Trenton from Virginia, including at least one AK-47 assault weapon. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison. The charge was contained in a May 21, 2010 indictment that also charged a second New Jersey man and three Virginia men.

Beasley is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31 by Superior Court Judge Mitchel E. Ostrer. D…

Three Miami-Area Medical Professionals Each Sentenced to Prison for Roles in $23 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – Two Miami-area medical assistants and a physician assistant were sentenced to prison today for their roles in a $23 million Medicare fraud scheme involving HIV infusion therapy, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Jose Diaz, a 62-year old physician assistant, Lisandra Aguilera, a 40-year old medical assistant, and Estrella Rodriguez, a 43-year old medical assistant, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard to 54 months, 70 months and 57 months in prison, respectively. The defendants each previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud for their roles in an HIV infusion fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Diaz, Aguilera and Rodriguez each worked at Metro Med of Hialeah Corp. (Metro Med). In 2003, Metro Med began operating as an HIV infusion clinic that purportedly provided injection and infusion therapies to HIV positive Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, the injection and infusion the…

NYPD OFFICER PLEADS GUILTY TO ARMED ROBBERY CONSPIRACY AND NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING

Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, Emmanuel Tavarez pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, and the use of a firearm in relation to these crimes for his participation in multiple armed robberies of narcotics traffickers in the New York City metropolitan area and elsewhere while he was employed as a police officer in the New York City Police Department. The guilty plea proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky. When sentenced by United States District Judge Sandra L. Townes, Tavarez faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The conviction was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

As alleged in the indictment and other court filings by the government, Tavarez participated in a violent robbery crew responsible for more than 100 armed robberies of narcotics traffickers that netted more than 250 kilograms of cocaine and $1 million in d…

FTC Returns $1.5 Million to Consumers from Mortgage Lender

On April 22, 2011, an administrator working for the Federal Trade Commission mailed 3,162 refund checks to borrowers allegedly harmed by Golden Empire Mortgage, Inc. and Howard D. Kootstra. The refund checks stem from a lawsuit the FTC filed against Golden Empire and Kootstra, alleging that they illegally charged Hispanic consumers higher prices for mortgage loans than non-Hispanic white consumers – price disparities that could not be explained by the applicants’ credit characteristics or underwriting risk. A settlement order imposed a $5.5 million judgment that was suspended when the defendants paid $1.5 million for consumer redress. The settlement order bars the defendants from discriminating on the basis of national origin in credit transactions and requires Golden Empire to establish and maintain a policy that restricts loan originators’ pricing discretion, a fair lending monitoring program, a program to ensure the accuracy and completeness of their data, and empl…

Palm Beach County man charged with attempting to import illegal catch from the Bahamas

MIAMI - A Bahamian national residing in Palm Beach County, Fla., was arrested Wednesday on a warrant issued as a result a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), North Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

According to the indictment, on or about Feb. 19, Van Bodden-Martinez attempted to import spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), queen conch (Strombus gigus), and yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), all of which had been harvested without first acquiring a permit to engage in fishing and in violation of the possession limits for each of the species set forth in the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

In a separate count of the indictment, the government is also pursuing the forfeiture of the illegal catch. According to the allegations of the indictment, approximately 45 spiny …

Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 1983 Alhambra Murder

ALHAMBRA – A man who fled the United States after a murder and jewel theft in Alhambra nearly 30 years ago was sentenced today to up to life in prison for his crimes.

A Superior Court jury in Alhambra last November convicted 55-year-old Ninh Kim Nguyen of first-degree murder and grand theft. Trial Judge Laura Priver sentenced him today to 31-years-to-life on the murder charge and two years for the theft.

Deputy District Attorney Stacie Mayoras said the jury convicted Nguyen of fatally stabbing Bui Khuyen, 45, on Aug. 5, 1983, and stealing her jewelry. The crimes occurred at the victim’s apartment on North Fifth Street in Alhambra.

Nguyen, 29 at the time and the reported boyfriend of an acquaintance of the victim’s, was investigated early on as a potential suspect. A felony complaint for extradition charging him with the murder was filed by the District Attorney’s office on Aug. 12, 1983.

Nguyen fled the United States shortly after the murder and returned to Southeast Asia. In 1993, th…