Results tagged “U.S. Attorney” from The Court Reporter

LA Doctor Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Medicare of $11 million

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A Los Angeles-area doctor pleaded guilty today to defrauding Medicare of over $11 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putten, 66, of Ladera Heights, admitted to getting patients for his medical clinic, Greater South Bay Medical Group, which was located in Carson, and his nursing home from street-level patient recruiters or "marketers," state federal officials.

The marketers illegally solicited patients with Medicare benefits for the expensive, highly-specialized power wheelchairs and other medical equipment that patients did not need, according to federal authorities.

The marketers worked for the operators of fraudulent DME Supply companies, including Van Putten's  co-defendants Charles Agbu, a church pastor and his daughter Obiageli Agbu who both operated Bonfee Inc., doing business as "Bonfee Medical Supplies," and Ibon Inc., which were located in Carson.

Van Putten admitted that operators of DME Supply paid him cash kickbacks to write prescriptions for power wheelchairs that were not needed, according to federal officials.

Charles Agbu and Obiageli will go on trial in February.

Co-defendants Dr. Emmanuel Ayodele; Alejandro Maciel and Candalaria Estrada have been charged for their roles in the alleged conspiracy, according to federal prosecutors.

Van Putten is facing up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in March.

Man Gets 20 Years For Using Unsuspecting People to Smuggle Thousands of Pounds of Marijuana

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EL PASO, TEXAS -- A 38-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for his role in taking advantage of unsuspecting drivers to smuggle more than 6,600 pounds of marijuana from Juarez, Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez ordered Jesus Chavez to pay $141,629 as restitution to his victims.

From March 2010 through June 2011, Chavez would target unsuspecting people and their vehicles in Juarez, get copies of keys to those vehicles and then placed duffle bags loaded with marijuana inside the trunks of the vehicles.

After the unsuspecting persons drove the vehicle into the U.S. and parked, members of this organization would retrieve the marijuana using the vehicle keys  in their possession, say federal authorities.
"The sentencing of Jesus Chavez represents the FBI's commitment to working alongside our law enforcement partners here in El Paso to aggressively investigate drug-related crimes. We will continue our pursuit of offenders such as Chavez in an effort to bring justice for the victims, as well as providing peace of mind to our community," stated FBI El Paso Division Special Agent in "Charge Mark Morgan.

Chavez's co-defendant, 30-year-old Carlos Gomez whom authorities believe is in Mexico, remains a fugitive in this case.

"EWOK" Convicted of Drug Trafficking by Texas Federal Jury

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MCALLEN, TEXAS -- A Brownsville, Texas man who was a former bodyguard for Hector Manuel Saucedo-Gamboa a now-deceased Gulf Cartel boss, was convicted of cocaine trafficking conspiracy, federal authorities announced today.
Edgar Hinojosa, 35, is a fugitive from justice after he failed to appear in court for the third day of trial on Friday, federal officials stated.
Evidence indicated that Hinojosa headed an narcotics organization responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Brownsville to Houston, according to federal authorities.
Hinojosa, also known as EWOK, is facing a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life behind bars, say federal officials.

Santa Fe Springs Company Admits to Illegally Distributing Human Growth Hormone

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LOS ANGELES - A Santa Fe Springs company and its president pleaded guilty today to federal charges related to the illegal distribution of human growth hormone, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

DNP International Company Inc. President David Ji, 50, admitted that his company distributed an unapproved drug containing somatropin - a human growth hormone product - which hasn't been approved for distribution by the FDA because the version of the drug being distributed by DNP was manufactured in China, according federal authorities.

DNP and Ji will be sentenced on Dec. 10 and Ji is facing up to 10 years in federal prison, according to federal prosecutors.

South El Monte Man Agrees to Plead Guilty to a $2.5 Million Mortgage Scam

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LOS ANGELES -- A South El Monte man, who duped 200 distressed homeowners into giving him $15,000 each to eliminate mortgage debts via a "secret process," agreed on Tuesday to plea  guilty to a federal mail fraud charge, according to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

The scam fleeced homeowners who were left with worthless paperwork of $2.5 million, federal prosecutors allege.

Ernesto Diaz, 57, who worked as a realtor, has agreed to cooperate in an ongoing investigation against his company, Crown Point Education, Inc, which had offices in Montebello and El Monte, federal authorities stated.

Federal prosecutors stated that Diaz joined the Crown Point scheme in March 2010 after the company had been in business for a year, the U.S. Attorney's office stated.

Diaz and others held seminars and promised distressed homeowners that in exchange for $15,000 per property, Crown Point would eliminate the homeowners mortgages within six to eight months through a secret process that involved sending packets of documents to lenders, according to prosecutors.

Diaz, however, failed to tell distressed homeowners that earlier Crown Point clients - including Diaz's own brother - had lost their houses to foreclosure and been evicted from their houses.

The claims made to distressed homeowners were based on discredited "Sovereign Citizen" claims that the mortgages are invalid because the banks did not actually lend the money used to fund mortgages, according to federal prosecutors.

Diaz is facing up to 20 years in federal prison and is schedule to be in court on Sept. 13.



Two Southern California Men Tried to Dupe Undercover FBI Agent

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WASHINGTON - Two Southern California investment advisors were convicted today of high-yield investment fraud for trying to con a wealthy investor of $1 billion - the investor turned out to be a part of an undercover FBI team, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

"Undercover operations are an integral part of our efforts to stop financial fraudsters before they wipe out the life savings of innocent victims. Based on today's verdict, the defendants will not pay a heavy price for their conduct," Assistant Attorney General  Lanny Breuer stated  in a press release.

The Santa Ana jury convicted William Ferry, a former stock broker and investment advisor, and Dennis J. Clinton, a former real estate investment manager, of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud, federal authorities stated.

Ferry, 70, of Newport Beach, and Clinton, 64, of San Diego, face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on  each fraud count and will be sentenced in February.

"Bucket List" Elderly Men Who Conspired to Buy Weapons Going to Prison

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GAINSVILLE,  GEORGIA -- Two elderly men who compiled a "Bucket List" of government officials, politicians, corporate leaders and media people who needed to be "taken out" were sentenced to federal prison on Wednesday for conspiring to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer, according to federal prosecutors.

From March and April 2011, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Georgia and Dan Roberts, 68, of Toccoa, Georgia,  met with each other and others to discuss forming a self-described "covert group," its purposes, and their need to get weapons, the U.S. Attorney General stated.

Thomas and Roberts were both sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of the criminal charges, according to prosecutors.

"These defendants didn't just talk about killing government officials and law enforcement officers, they purchased equipment, including a silencer and what they thought were explosive devices, to carry out their plans," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian stated in a press release.

Thomas compiled what he called a "Bucket List" that listed government employees and others, including members of the media, to be "taken out"  to "make the country right again," according to federal prosecutors.

Thomas also talked about the need to get more weapons, ammunition, food and survival gear, and the need to set up a silent means of assassinating people,  federal  authorities stated.

On April 30, 2011, the plan came to light after Thomas met a person he believed could get weapons  for the covert group. This person who is on active duty military reported the activities of the covert group to military personnel after he was concerned about a potential attack, say federal authorities.

Thomas provided a handwritten list to the active duty military serviceman that included 28 items including firearms, silencers, and explosives, according to federal prosecutors.

Thomas made the following statements during meetings with others:

"There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that's highly, highly illegal. Murder.  That's f***ing illegal, but it's got to be done."

"Who is the primary topics, targets? DOJ. Everybody is DOJ. That includes judges, ATF, IRS, and the hierarchy thereof...I could shoot ATF and IRS all day long."

The case was investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes agents from the FBI, Federal Protective Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.



DEA Seizes $150 Million In Terrorist-Related Laundering Scheme

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The DEA announced today that they have seized $150 million in connection with a Hizballah-related money laundering scheme.

The DEA stated that the evidence indicated that the massive international scheme in which entities linked to Hizballah, including the now defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank, used the U.S. financial system to launder narcotics trafficking and other criminal proceeds through West Africa and back into London.

According to the complaint, the affidavit in support of the seizure warrants and other documents filed in the case: From about January 2007 to early 2011, at least $329 million was transferred by wire from the Lebanese Canadian Bank and other financial institutions to the U.S. for the purchase of used cars that were then shipped to West Africa.

Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds  of narcotics trafficking, were funneled to Lebanon through Hizballah-controlled money laundering channels, the DEA stated in a press release.

"Our relentless pursuit of global criminal networks showed that the U.S. banking system was exploited to launder drug trafficking funds through West Africa and into Lebanon," DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart  stated in a press release.  "DEA and our partners are attacking these groups and their financial infrastructure, while establishing clear links between drug trafficking proceeds and terrorist funding."


Nursing Home Owner Who Stole from Medicare was Sentenced to 20 Years.

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ROME, GA - A man who conspired with his wife to defraud the Medicare and Georgia Medicaid programs by billing them for "worthless services" in the operation of three nursing homes was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

George D. Houser, 64, was convicted after a bench trial in April.

Federal officials stated that Houser kept an unsanitary, filthy, rodent and insect infested  homes that were under staffed.

Medicare and Medicaid paid Houser more than $32.9 million between July 2004 and September 2007 for food, medical care, and other services for nursing home residents, according to federal prosecutors.

"Criminals don't need to be lip readers to get this message. Provide horrendous care, while at the same time wallowing in luxury, and you will be punished--severely,"Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General for the Atlanta region, stated in a press release. "Working with other law enforcement agencies, we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these taxpayer-funded, worthless services cases."

During the trial, evidence indicated that a shortage of staff started when Houser began writing bad paychecks to his employees, which resulted in staff resignations.  Houser also withheld health insurance payments to his workers, leaving many with unpaid medical bills.

The roof at two of the nursing homes were so leaky that employees used 55-gallon barrels and plastic sheeting to catch and divert the rainwater.  The leaks got worse over time but Houser never replaced the roofs or repaired or replaced broken air conditioning and heating units, according to prosecutors.

Also fiberglass ceilings tiles would become saturated with water until they fell out of the ceiling, occasionally on residents' beds. The residents kept their windows open to vent the foul odors in the homes,  but flies and other insects along with rodents easily entered the homes through ill-fitting screens and doors.

The insect problems was made worse by mounds of rotting garbage, which piled up around the dumpster near the homes because Houser failed to pay the trash collection services.

The moisture and humidity in the homes resulted in mold and mildew growth, according to federal officials.

Houser also failed to pay vendors which lead to food suppliers and vendors of pharmacy and clinical laboratory services,  medical waste disposal, trash disposal and nursing supplies stopping their goods and services, say federal authorities.

The nursing home suffered continuous food shortages, and employees spent their own money to buy milk, bread and other groceries so that residents didn't starve,federal  prosecutors allege. Also employees bought nursing supplies and cleaning supplies for the residents, and some took the residents laundry to laundromats or their own homes to be cleaned.

The homes' workers were rarely reimbursed by Houser for buying supplies, according to federal authorities.

One nursing home resident testified in court that residents used to pass the time by making bets on which service or utility would be cut off for nonpayment.

Houser's wife, Rhonda Washington Houser, pleaded guilty to felony medical care fraud in December 2011, and her sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.


Baltimore Cops Receive Sentences in Federal Court for Tow Truck Scam

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BALTIMORE - Federal prosecutors stated that the last of more than 50 police officers involved in a towing extortion scheme was sentenced today to more than three years behind bars .

Officer Kelvin Quade Manrich, 43, and  other  officers were arranging for Majestic,   a car repair company, rather than a city-authorized company to tow vehicles from accident scenes and make repairs, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The company was owned by brothers Hernan Moreno, 32, and Edwin Mejia, 29, who paid Manrich $300 for each vehicle sent to Majestic, say federal officials.

Manrich would persuade accident victims to allow their cars to be towed or taken to Majestic by telling victims that Majestic could tow the car, provide repair services, help with the insurance claim, assist in getting a rental car and waive the deductible on the owner's insurance, federal officials stated.

Moreno and Mejia have pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Fourteen police officers including Manrich have pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy, one officer pleaded guilty in state court, federal authorities stated. Another officer was convicted by a federal jury after a six day trial.

The officers received between eight and 42 months in prison.

Memphis Man Sentenced to 40 years in Prison for Robbing Two Banks

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MEMPHIS-- A man who robbed two banks on the same day and used an assault rifle to fire at a police officer who tried to arrest him was sentenced this week to 40 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors.

On Dec. 9, 2009, Philip Thompson, 27, of Memphis who was armed with an assault rifle  robbed the Trust One Bank.  About 15 minutes later, Thompson who was now armed with a black handgun robbed the Cadence Bank,  prosecutors stated.

Thompson's vehicle was spotted by officers. He refused to stop his truck, firing 12 shots with an assault rifle at a police officer, federal officials stated.

He was later arrested. 

Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club Members Indicted for Various Crimes

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MICHIGAN -- Thirty-nine members and associates of the Devils Diciples motorcycle club, including the national president and vice president, were named in federal indictments charging them with participating in numerous crimes, including drug trafficking and weapons charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


According to the federal indictment, the Devils Diciples is a criminal enterprise with its national headquarters in Clinton Township, Mich.   The Devils Diciples operates regional chapters located in cities throughout Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere.   The Devils Diciples engage in criminal activities for financial gain, including distribution of narcotics, theft, transportation and sale of stolen motorcycles, conducting illegal gambling businesses, robbery, extortion and acts of violence.


"Removing violent criminal organizations from our community is essential to attaining the quality of life we expect and deserve," U.S. Attorney McQuade stated in a press release. "Federal law enforcement is using all legal tools available to prosecute violent criminal enterprises like this one."

United Technologies Pleads Guilty to Helping Chinese Army

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BRIDGEPORT, CT - A United Technologies subsidiary pleaded guilty Thursday to helping China develop a  new attack helicopter and agreed to pay more than $75 million to the federal government, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Pratt and Whitney Canada Corp, a Canadian subsidiary of the Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies, pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Act and making false statements in connection with its illegal export to China of U.S.-origin military software used in the development of China's first modern military attack helicopter, the Z-10, federal officials stated.

The Z-10 helicopter is in production and some deliveries have been made to the People's Liberation Army of China in 2009 and 2010, according to federal authorities. The primary mission of the Z-10 is anti-armor and battlefield interdiction. Weapons of the Z-10 have included 30 mm cannons, anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets.

Santa Ana Attorney Sentenced To Prison for Investment Scam

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SANTA ANA -- An Orange County attorney was sentenced today to more than seven years for stealing more than $25 million stemming from an investment scheme, according to federal authorities.


Jeanne Rowzee, 53, of Irvine and her "cohorts bilked scores of investors with empty promises," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. stated.  "Rowzee played a key role in this scheme by promising huge returns on investments and pretending to be an experienced securities fraud admitting that she helped bilk victims who thought they were investing in public investments in private entities (PIPE's) and money market programs."


Rowzee  and her co-defendant James Halstead, 65, of Tustin, promised returns of 25 percent to 35 percent every three or four months, according to federal officials.


Halstead was sentenced two years ago to 10 years in federal prison.


About 140 investors suffered more than $20 million in losses.


The victims' money was never invested. Halstead and Rowzee instead

used the money to make Ponzi payments to some investors and to support their lavish lifestyles, federal officials state.

According to court documents, Halstead used $191,005 of victim-investors'

money to buy a Ferrari, more than $1 million to purchase a home for himself in the Las Vegas area, and $162,350 to buy a Porsche.



In Other Courthouses This Week

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LOS ANGELES-- The FBI along with the U.S. Attorney's Office filed charges on Thursday  against 12 defendants for narcotics and firearms violations as part of an Inland Empire investigation known as Operation Squeeze Play.

Law enforcement officials initiated an investigation into criminal activities of  several San Bernardino based criminal gangs including the California Garden Crips and the Delmann Heights Bloods.

SANTA ANA--  A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday against the former chief financial officer of an Irvine-based technology company. He is charged with participating in a fraud scheme to embezzle approximately $16 million from Trustin Technology.

Jean Joseph Ibrahim, 33, formerly of Rancho Santa Margarita, was returned to California Thursday. He was arrested last month when he came back to the U.S. through New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

HOUSTON-- Former Houston Police Officer Leslie Aikens, 46, has been sentenced on Wednesday to more than 15  years  after he was convicted by a jury on Nov. 15, 2011 to aiding and abetting possession of a controlled substance by providing an escort for narcotics through the Houston area in his police department vehicle.

The 19-year-veteran  accepted a $2,000 bribe to provide the protection for the vehicle he believed to be transporting seven kilograms of cocaine.

Jurors saw a video recording which detailed the transaction.

The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at