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June 13, 2016

California Man Sentenced to 32 Months in Prison for Conspiring to Violate U.S. Sanctions Against Syria

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 4:42 am

Amin al-Baroudi, 50, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, formerly of Irvine, California, was sentenced today to 32 months in prison for conspiring to export U.S.-origin goods from the United States to Syria in violation of sanctions imposed on Syria by the U.S. government.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Director Douglas Hassebrock of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement.

Baroudi pleaded guilty on Jan. 15, 2016.  According to court documents, Baroudi admitted that from at least December 2011 through March 2013, he and his co-conspirators exported U.S. tactical equipment to Syria for the purpose of supplying and arming Ahrar al-Sham and other insurgent groups in Syria whose stated goal is to overthrow the Assad government and install an Islamic state.  Ahrar al-Sham frequently fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusrah, which has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization and operates as al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.

According to court documents, Baroudi and his co-conspirators purchased tens of thousands of dollars of goods from companies and vendors in the United States, consisting largely of tactical equipment such as sniper rifle scopes, night vision rifle scopes, night vision goggles, laser bore sighters, speed loaders and bullet proof vests.  Baroudi and his co-conspirators traveled with the goods aboard commercial flights to Turkey and then transported the goods into Syria or provided them to others for transport.  Baroudi made two such trips in February and March of 2013.

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November 4, 2014

United States Reaches Settlement with Hyundai And Kia in a Historic Greenhouse Gas Enforcement Case

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 7:01 am

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a historic settlement with the automakers Hyundai and Kia that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on their sale of close to 1.2 million vehicles that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA.

The automakers will pay a $100 million civil penalty, the largest in Clean Air Act history, to resolve violations concerning the testing and certification of vehicles sold in America and spend approximately $50 million on measures to prevent any future violations.  Hyundai and Kia will also forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits that the companies previously claimed, which are estimated to be worth over $200 million.  Automakers earn greenhouse gas emissions credits for building vehicles with lower emissions than required by law.  These credits can be used to offset emissions from less fuel efficient vehicle models or sold or traded to other automakers for the same purpose.  The greenhouse gas emissions that the forfeited credits would have allowed are equal to the emissions from powering more than 433,000 homes for a year.

“This unprecedented resolution with Hyundai and Kia underscores the Justice Department’s firm commitment to safeguarding American consumers, ensuring fairness in every  marketplace, protecting the environment, and relentlessly pursuing companies that make misrepresentations and violate the law,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.  “This type of conduct quite simply will not be tolerated.  And the Justice Department will never rest or waver in our determination to take action against any company that engages in such activities – whenever and wherever they are uncovered.”

“Greenhouse gas emission laws protect the public from the dangers of climate change, and today’s action reinforces EPA’s commitment to see those laws through,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  “Businesses that play by the rules shouldn’t have to compete with those breaking the law.  This settlement upholds the integrity of the nation’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas programs and supports all Americans who want to save fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact.”

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Bio-Rad Laboratories Resolves Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Investigation and Agrees to Pay $14.35 Million Penalty

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 6:58 am

A California-based medical diagnostics and life sciences manufacturing and sales company, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. (Bio-Rad), has agreed to pay a $14.35 million penalty to resolve allegations that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by falsifying its books and records and failing to implement adequate internal controls in connection with sales it made in Russia.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.

“Public companies that cook their books and hide improper payments foster corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The department pursues corruption from all angles, including the falsification of records and failure to implement adequate internal controls.   The department also gives credit to companies, like Bio-Rad, who self-disclose, cooperate and remediate their violations of the FCPA.”

“The FBI remains committed to identifying and investigating violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” said Special Agent in Charge Johnson.  “This action demonstrates the benefits of self-disclosure, cooperation, and subsequent remediation by companies.”

According to the company’s admissions in the agreement, Bio-Rad SNC, a Bio-Rad subsidiary located in France, retained and paid intermediary companies commissions of 15-30 percent purportedly in exchange for various services in connection with certain governmental sales in Russia.  The intermediary companies, however, did not perform these services.  Several high-level managers at Bio-Rad, responsible for overseeing Bio-Rad’s business in Russia, reviewed and approved the commission payments to the intermediary companies despite knowing that the intermediary companies were not performing such services.  These managers knowingly caused the payments to be falsely recorded on Bio-Rad SNC’s and, ultimately, Bio-Rad’s books.  Bio-Rad, through several of its managers, also failed to implement adequate controls, as well as adequate compliance systems, with regard to its Russian operations while knowing that the failure to implement such controls allowed the intermediary companies to be paid significantly above-market commissions for little or no services. (more…)

August 19, 2014

Leader Of $20 Million Fraud Scheme Involving Bogus Prescriptions For Expensive Anti-Psychotics Sentenced To 8 Years In Federal Prison

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

LOS ANGELES – The leader of a $20 million health care fraud scheme based at a Glendale medical clinic was sentenced today to eight years in federal prison for overseeing a plot to fraudulently prescribe expensive anti-psychotic medications and to sell those drugs back to pharmacies through the black market, where the drugs would be billed to the government over and over.

Lianna “Lili” Ovsepian, 33, of Tujunga, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge S. James Otero, who stated that “we can’t have a situation where crime pays.” In addition to the prison term, Judge Otero ordered Ovsepian to pay $9,146,137 in restitution to Medicare and Medi-Cal.

Last November, Ovsepian pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to commit identity theft.

Ovsepian was the manager and owner of Manor Medical Imaging, Inc. in Glendale, which generated thousands of fraudulent prescriptions for unneeded and expensive anti-psychotic medications for “patients” who were typically low-income beneficiaries of the government-funded health care programs Medicare and Medi-Cal, and who did not need those drugs. The prescriptions appeared to be issued by co-conspirator Dr. Kenneth Johnson, who pre-signed thousands of blank prescriptions that were filled out by Ovsepian’s mother-in-law, Nuritsa Grigoryan.

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August 15, 2014

FORMER LAKE FOREST CITY PLANNING COMMISSIONER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 5:19 am

NEWPORT BEACH – A former planning commissioner for the City of Lake Forest is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for possessing child pornography. Jerry Zechmeister, 61, Lake Forest, is charged with two felony counts of possession and control of child pornography. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of threeyears and eight months in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration. He is out of custody on $20,000 bail and is scheduled for continued arraignment tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-1, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

In October 2013, Zechmeister is accused of using his home computers to view and download approximately 160 sexually explicit videos depicting minors under the age of 18 engaging in sexual conduct. Zechmeister is accused of accessing and sharing child pornography on the Internet for approximately seven years.

The Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force (OCCETF), along with special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and detectives from the Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD), began investigating this case. On Oct. 9, 2013, OCCETF investigators arrested Zechmeister at his Lake Forest home.

OCCETF is comprised of members from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Orange County Sheriff’s Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; United States Postal Inspection Service; Huntington Beach Police Department; and NBPD. OCCETF investigates Internet-related crimes against children and crimes involving the possession, production and distribution of child pornography.

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August 8, 2014

California Investment Manager Found Guilty After Trial for Leading $33 Million Fraud Scheme

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

A California investment manager was found guilty in federal district court in Salt Lake City, Utah for his role in a $33 million investment fraud scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen for the District of Utah, Special Agent in Charge Mary Rook of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office and Special Agent in Charge John Collins of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

Robert L. Holloway, 55, was found guilty after a 7-day trial by a federal jury in the District of Utah of four counts of wire fraud and one count of making and subscribing a false income tax return.

Evidence presented at trial established that Holloway operated an investment entity called US Ventures LC, which was founded in 1999. Holloway served as the chief executive officer and managing partner of US Ventures. From October 2005 until at least April 2007, Holloway recruited investors for US Ventures by making false representations about the company, including that US Ventures used proprietary trading software that was consistently profitable, US Ventures generated returns of 0.8 percent per trading day and US Ventures would retain a 30 percent share of investors’ profits as a management fee.

Additionally, during the course of US Ventures’ existence, Holloway generated and distributed reports to investors showing false daily returns on their investments. The evidence introduced at trial showed that between October 2005 and April 2007, contrary to the returns shown on the reports Holloway distributed, US Ventures in fact lost more than $10 million in trading and the “profit” figures on the investor reports were entirely fabricated. Holloway and US Ventures also made “profit distributions” to investors that consisted of funds solicited from new investors, not actual profits. US Ventures raised more than $33 million from investors for its trading activities.

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August 6, 2014

Former Fannie Mae Official Sentenced to Federal Prison for Soliciting Kickbacks from Broker who Sold Foreclosed Properties

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

SANTA ANA, California – A former sales associate with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison for taking kickbacks from a real estate broker who sold properties on behalf of the mortgage agency.

Armando Granillo, 45, of Huntington Beach, who worked in the Fannie Mae’s Irvine office, was sentenced by United States District Judge David O. Carter. In addition to his 15 month sentence in federal prison, Granillo was ordered to spend 6 months in a residential reentry center.

Following a two-day trial in March, Granillo was found guilty of three counts of “honest services” wire fraud for soliciting kickbacks while working for Fannie Mae.

As a “real estate owned foreclosure specialist” for Fannie Mae, Granillo reviewed applications submitted by real estate brokers who wanted to list Fannie Mae foreclosure properties, and he had the authority to approve sale offers presented by the brokers. In late 2012, Granillo asked a real estate broker in Tucson to pay a percentage of the commissions the broker earned for selling Fannie Mae foreclosure properties. The broker brought the matter to the attention of federal law enforcement officials and assisting in the investigation.

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August 5, 2014

MIZRAHI BANK CLIENT SENTENCED FOR FILING FALSE TAX RETURN

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

California Resident the Latest in Series of Defendants Prosecuted for Concealing Accounts at Israeli Banks

WASHINGTON – A Beverly Hills, California man was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to serve six months in prison and one year of home confinement for filing a false federal income tax return for tax year 2007, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.

According to court documents, Monajem Hakimijoo aka Manny Hakimi, a U.S. citizen, and his brother maintained an undeclared bank account at Mizrahi Bank in Israel in the name of Kalamar Enterprises, a Turks and Caicos entity that was used to conceal their ownership of the account.  Hakimijoo and his brother used the funds in the Kalamar account as collateral for back-to-back loans obtained from the Los Angeles branch of Mizrahi Bank.  Although Hakimijoo and his brother claimed the interest paid on the back-to-back loans as a business deduction for federal tax purposes, they failed to report the interest income earned in their undeclared account in Israel as income on their tax returns.  In total, Hakimijoo failed to report interest income of approximately $282,000.  The highest balance in the Kalamar Enterprises account was approximately $4.03 million. Hakimijoo has agreed to pay a civil penalty to the IRS in the amount of 50 percent of the highest balance of his one-half interest in the Kalamar account. Hakimijoo is also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.

According to court documents, in March 2013, Hakimijoo was scheduled to be interviewed by Justice Department attorneys and IRS special agents.  Prior to the interview, Hakimijoo, through counsel, provided the attorneys and special agents with copies of his amended tax returns for 2004 and 2005.  When asked if the amended tax returns had been filed with the IRS, Hakimijoo indicated that the returns had been filed.  Shortly thereafter, the IRS determined there was no record of the amended returns being filed with the IRS.  When Hakimijoo was asked to provide copies of cancelled checks to prove that the taxes reflected on the amended returns had been paid, none were provided.

U.S. citizens and residents who have an interest in, or other authority over, a financial account in a foreign country with assets in excess of $10,000 are required to disclose the existence of such account(s) on Schedule B, Part III, of their individual income tax returns.  They must also file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Reports with the U.S. Treasury disclosing the aforementioned financial account(s).

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ronald A. Cimino of the department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr.for the Central District of California thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, Senior Litigation Counsel John E. Sullivan and Assistant Chief Elizabeth C. Hadden for the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra A. Brown for the Central District of California, who assisted with the prosecution. (more…)

July 25, 2014

Four Defendants Indicted For Their Participation in Orange County-Based Loan Modification Scam Targeting Distressed Homeowners

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:09 am

LOS ANGELES – Federal agents this morning arrested three defendants who worked at Orange County businesses that allegedly offered bogus loan modification programs to financially distressed homeowners. As a result of the fraudulent scheme allegedly run out of U.S. Homeowners Relief and several related entities, hundreds of financially distressed homeowners across the United States lost millions of dollars, and many victims also lost their homes in subsequent foreclosure proceedings.

The three defendants taken into custody this morning were among four defendants named in a federal indictment following an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) and IRS - Criminal Investigation.

According to the indictment, the four defendants operated a series of telemarketing “boiler rooms” that pitched loan modification services to distressed homeowners in the wake of the financial collapse in 2008. The defendants operated offices in Irvine, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Garden Grove and Westminster under a series of company names from late 2008 to early 2010. Initially called Greenleaf Modify, they subsequently used the names U.S. Homeowners Relief, Waypoint Law Group and, finally, American Lending Review. The defendants would shut down each company name once their businesses attracted too many consumer complaints at the Better Business Bureau or attracted attention from state regulators such as the California Department of Justice.

The defendants and their associates used a consistent sales pitch throughout the scheme. According to the indictment, their advertising materials and telemarketers promised distressed mortgage holders that after paying advance fees ranging from about $1,450 to approximately $4,200, homeowners were highly likely to obtain a long-term modification to their current mortgage obligation, meaning they would have a lower monthly payment, an interest rate reduced to as low as 2 percent, and/or a reduction of principal. Many consumers were falsely told that their up-front money would be refunded if the promised loan modification failed to materialize.

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Orange County Man Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Banks And S.B.A. By Illegally Obtaining Commercial Loans Worth More Than $10 Million

Filed under: Federal Crimes Defense Attorney — fayarfa @ 12:06 am

SANTA ANA, California – An Orange County businessman has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a series of fraud schemes that include one in which he worked with his criminal defense attorney to fraudulently apply for millions of dollars in loans backed by the Small Business Administration.

Donald Keith Goff, 66, of Laguna Niguel, pleaded guilty late yesterday to three felony counts – mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud – for leading a group of conspirators in a series of complex, multi-million dollar fraud schemes. In one scheme, Goff admitted that he and his criminal defense attorney conducted a scam after Goff had already been indicted by a federal grand jury in the prior fraud.

According to court documents and his admissions in court, Goff orchestrated a scheme in 2006 and 2007 to defraud Grand Pacific Financing Corporation (GPFC), which provided a $4.5 million loan to finance the purchase of a gas station business in Fountain Valley. Goff was unable to obtain the loan himself as a result of his poor credit rating, history of being sued by creditors and failure to pay judgments. To obtain the loan, Goff created a shell corporation and recruited an unemployed truck driver to act as a “straw buyer” who posed as the owner of the shell company and applied for the loan in the corporation’s name. As part of the scheme, Goff and a co-conspirator included false information in the loan application regarding the straw buyer’s experience and assets. In addition, Goff and a co-conspirator bribed an escrow agent to falsely advise the bank that a $600,000 equity down payment had been used for the purchase, when in fact no down payment was made. During this scheme, Goff worked with his wife, Melanie Goff; his step-daughter, Monty Brown; a business associate named Leon Draper; and others.

Later in 2007, after obtaining the loan from GPFC and gaining control of the Fountain Valley gas station business, Goff orchestrated a scheme to defraud Nara Bank. In this fraud, Goff formed another shell corporation, installed his wife as owner and had the new shell corporation “buy” the gas station business. Goff then had his wife and step-daughter apply to Nara Bank for a loan to “refinance” the supposed debt one shell company owed the other, without disclosing to the bank that they controlled both companies. Nara Bank was provided false information regarding his wife’s credit history and a $600,000 deposit supposedly put down on the purchase.  When the deal closed, more than one-third of the $1.4 million in loan proceeds were transferred to a bank account the Goffs controlled.

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