#AceNewsReport – July.29: Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton, Jr. has sentenced John Robert Cooney (54, Orlando) to 12 years in federal prison for receiving images of children being sexually abused using an online social media application (app). The court also ordered Cooney to register as a sex offender and forfeit the electronic devices that he used to commit this offence….
#AceDailyNews reports on another case as part of ‘ Project Safe Childhood’ that according to court documents, on July 7, 2020, Cooney, a former attorney and therapist, received images depicting children as young as 1-2 years old being subjected to sadistic sexual abuse using a popular online messaging app he pleaded guilty on March 15, 2021……
On August 21, 2020: Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Cooney’s home and seized several computers and electronic devices. A forensic review of Cooney’s devices revealed more than 1,800 images and 2,400 videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children. In addition to receiving these images, Cooney was also trading and exchanging online cloud storage links to collections of child sexual abuse materials with other users on this mobile app.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Daniels.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
#AceNewsReport – July.17: Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters. The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to homeoprophylaxis immunizations and fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) #COVID19 vaccination record cards.
#AceDailyNews reports that a California-licensed homeopathic doctor was arrested today for her alleged scheme to sell homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets and to falsify COVID-19 vaccination cards by making it appear that customers had received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Moderna vaccine.
“This defendant allegedly defrauded and endangered the public by preying on fears and spreading misinformation about FDA-authorized vaccinations, while also peddling fake treatments that put people’s lives at risk.
Even worse, the defendant allegedly created counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards and instructed her customers to falsely mark that they had received a vaccine, allowing them to circumvent efforts to contain the spread of the disease,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from fraudsters during this national emergency. This commitment is evident in this prosecution as well as in the ongoing work of the Department and our agency partners in the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force established by the Attorney General earlier this year.”
According to court documents, in April 2021, an individual submitted a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) hotline stating that family members purchased from Mazi COVID-19 homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets. The complainant stated that the family members had told her/him that Mazi stated that the pellets contained the COVID-19 virus and would create an antibody response in the immune system. The complainant reported that her/his family did not receive injections of any of the three FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. However, in connection with the delivery of the homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets, Mazi sent COVID-19 Vaccination Record cards, with Moderna listed, to the complainant family. Mazi allegedly instructed the complainant family to mark the cards to falsely state that they received the Moderna vaccine on the date that they ingested the COVID-19 homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets.
“Steering through the challenges presented by COVID-19 requires trust and reliance on our medical professionals to provide sage information and guidance,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California. “According to the complaint, instead of disseminating valid remedies and information, Juli Mazi profited from unlawfully peddling unapproved remedies, stirring up false fears, and generating fake proof of vaccinations. We will act to protect trust in the medical developments that are enabling us to emerge from the problems presented by the pandemic.”
According to court documents, Mazi offered homeoprophylaxis immunizations for childhood illnesses that she falsely claimed would satisfy the immunization requirements for California schools, and falsified immunization cards that were submitted by parents to California schools. Homeoprophylaxis involves the exposure of an individual to dilute amounts of a disease, purportedly to stimulate the immune system and confer immunity. Mazi is alleged to have falsely claimed that orally ingesting pellets with small amounts of COVID-19 would result in full lifelong immunity from COVID-19.
“This doctor violated the all-important trust the public extends to healthcare professionals — at a time when integrity is needed the most,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agency will continue to investigate such fraudsters who recklessly endanger the public’s health during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.”
The affidavit alleges that Mazi used the COVID-19 pandemic to expand the pre-existing immunization scheme by selling immunization pellets that she fraudulently claimed, in written documents and consensually monitored recordings, would provide “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” Mazi explained that the pellets contained a “very minute amount of this [COVID-19] disease” that can result in “infectious symptoms” of COVID-19 or “automatically flag the immune system’s attention, inducing immunity.” To encourage customers to purchase the pellets, Mazi allegedly exploited disinformation and fear by falsely claiming that the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain “toxic ingredients.” Mazi further stated that her customers could provide the pellets to children for COVID-19 immunity, and that the “dose is actually the same for babies.”
“Spreading inaccurate or false medical information about COVID-19 for personal gain, as the complaint alleges, is dangerous and only seeds skepticism among the public,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. “As the government continues to work to provide current and accurate information to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the FBI will continue to pursue those who attempt to fraudulently profit from spreading misinformation and providing false documentation.”
Mazi also provided CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards to her customers with instructions on how to fraudulently complete the cards to falsely make it appear as if a customer had received two doses of the Moderna vaccine. As part of her scheme, Mazi provided customers with specific Moderna vaccine lot numbers to enter onto the cards and with instruction on how to select the purported dates on which they had received the Moderna vaccines to evade suspicion.
HHS-OIG’s San Francisco Regional Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Sridhar Babu Kaza of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section’s National Rapid Response Strike Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.
The case was brought in coordination with the Health Care Fraud Unit’s COVID-19 Interagency Working Group, which is chaired by the National Rapid Response Strike Force and organizes efforts to address illegal activity involving health care programs during the pandemic.
The Fraud Section leads the Health Care Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 federal districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
In May, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
#AceNewsReport – July.13: According to court documents, Lorraine Chalavoutis, 64, of Greenlawn, New York, conspired to mail fraudulent prize notices to thousands of victims throughout the United States between December 2010 and July 2016.
#AceDailyNews reports that a Long Island woman pleaded guilty today to participating in a scheme to mail fraudulent prize notices that led recipients, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, to believe that they could claim large cash prizes in exchange for a modest fee. None of the victims who submitted fees, which in total exceeded $30 million, received a substantial cash prize.
The mailings appeared to be personally addressed to thousands of individuals whose names were on consumer lists obtained by Chalavoutis and her primary co-conspirators, Shaun Sullivan and Tully Lovisa. Chalavoutis created various shell companies for the purported senders of the mailings, and hid her co-conspirators’ involvement in the business by using straw owners. Lovisa and Sullivan both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and are awaiting sentencing. In separate cases, several other defendants have also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with the scheme.
“Those who knowingly facilitate fraud schemes, including individuals who play administrative roles in setting up and maintaining the criminal operations, bear responsibility for the harm caused to victims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting elderly and vulnerable Americans and to prosecuting individuals who perpetrate and knowingly enable such schemes.”
“With today’s plea, Chalavoutis has admitted her role in a nefarious and fraudulent scheme to enrich herself by tricking elderly and vulnerable victims into believing they had won a cash prize that they could collect after paying her modest fees,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis for the Eastern District of New York. “Protecting the community from those who commit fraud to deliberately prey on the false hopes of the vulnerable remains a priority of this office and the Department of Justice.”
“Today’s plea is an example of the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to bring those to justice who prey on vulnerable adults through the distribution of bogus solicitations, luring the unsuspecting ‘prize winner’ to send money in an effort to steal not only their money, but in many cases their independence,” said Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, New York Division.
Chalavoutis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Daniel Zytnick and Timothy Finley of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are prosecuting the case.
#AceNewsReport – July.11: In the same case, two additional Peruvian co-conspirators pleaded guilty and two others were extradited to the Southern District of Florida to face prosecution for their roles in the scheme.
#AceDailyNews DOJ Press Release reports that two Co-Conspirators Plead Guilty and Another Two are Extradited to the United States to Face Charges with a Peruvian national who has been sentenced to 90 months in prison for operating a series of call centers in Peru that defrauded Spanish-speaking U.S. residents by falsely threatening them with arrest, deportation and other legal consequences.
According to court documents, Omar Cuzcano Marroquin, 32, of Lima, Peru, was sentenced for conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud through a series of Peruvian call centers that used false statements and threats to obtain money from Spanish-speaking individuals across the United States. Cuzcano and others falsely told victims that they were required to accept and pay for English-language courses and other educational products and that failure to do so placed them in legal jeopardy.
Cuzcano admitted that he and his employees falsely claimed to be lawyers, court officials, federal agents and representatives of a so-called “minor crimes court,” which does not exist. The callers falsely threatened victims with court proceedings, negative marks on their credit reports, imprisonment and immigration consequences if they did not immediately pay for the purportedly delivered products and settlement fees. Between April 2011 and July 2019, thousands of U.S. victims made payments based on calls from their call centers. Cuzcano and his co-conspirators collected millions of dollars from victims.
“The Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch will steadfastly pursue and prosecute transnational criminals who defraud vulnerable U.S. consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The defendants in this case brazenly defrauded recent immigrants by falsely promising free products to improve their English. In reality, the defendants were luring their victims into a trap of intimidation and fear, leaving them far worse off – with substantial financial losses and, often, emotional scars from these crimes. Today’s sentence demonstrates that defendants who prey upon U.S. consumers from abroad will not do so with impunity.”
“Today’s sentence serves not only as just punishment for this defendant but also as notice to others who seek to prey on vulnerable victims in the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida. “Know that the Justice Department and its partners will aggressively investigate such criminal activity. Wherever you are, we will find you and hold you accountable.”
“In this international telemarketing scheme, deceptive scare tactics were used to threaten thousands of vulnerable U.S. consumers into purchasing undelivered products by falsely purporting to use America’s legal system against them and coercing them out of millions of dollars,” said Inspector in Charge Joseph Cronin of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Miami Division. “Today’s sentencing hopefully brings relief to U.S. residents who were victimized by this transnational fraudulent scheme. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, along with the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, are committed to holding individuals who use the U.S. Mail to defraud consumers accountable.”
Two of Cuzcano’s co-defendants also recently pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme. Henrry Adrian Milla Campuzano, 37, of Lima, Peru, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud earlier today. According to court documents, Milla was the owner and operator of fraudulent call centers located in Peru called “Latinos en Accion” and “Accion Latino,” which similarly extorted immigrants in the U.S. by falsely identifying themselves as private company lawyers and court or immigrations officials.
Another co-defendant, Fernan Huerta Haro, 34, of Lima, Peru, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud on June 11. According to court documents, Huerta owned and operated call centers called “Camino Al Progreso” and “Neshuer Corporation” in Peru. In pleading guilty, Huerta admitted that, from 2011 until his 2019 arrest, he and his employees threatened and defrauded many Spanish-speaking recent immigrants to the United States as part of the scheme.
Milla and Huerta will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. this fall, and both face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Judge Scola will determine their sentences after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Cuzcano, Milla and Huerta were part of a group of five defendants who were arrested on July 2, 2019, by Peruvian authorities based on a U.S. extradition request, and each has remained incarcerated since that time. The defendants were extradited to the Southern District of Florida on Oct. 23, 2020. All five defendants have now been convicted of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. Two additional indicted co-defendants in the case – Carlos Alberto Espinoza Huerta and Josmell Arturo Espinoza Huerta – evaded arrest at the time of their five co-defendants’ arrests in Peru. They were eventually located and arrested by Peruvian law enforcement, were extradited to the United States on June 25 and are being detained at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Phil Toomajian and Max Goldman of the Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case. The Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and the Peruvian National Police provided critical assistance.
#AceNewsReport – July.10: Bilal Al-Rayanni, who was living in Helena-West Helena, pleaded guilty to one count of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation.
Migrant went from Arkansas to Yemen to provide support and material to al-#Qaeda, then went back: Helena man pleads guilty in terror case,” by Neal Earley, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 8, 2021:
Al-Rayanni, also known as Bilal Kassim Alawdi, was originally indicted on allegations of providing a false name while applying for a passport. Later, a superseding indictment was filed alleging that Al-Rayanni had provided support and material to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as Ansar al-Shari’a….
Al-Rayanni told federal investigators that his father illegally purchased a U.S. visa from a man named “Kassim Alawdi” and used that name to obtain a passport for him in 1992 and to renew it in 2002, 2008 and 2019.
According to an indictment, Al-Rayanni traveled to Yemen for three months in 2014 and provided support and material to Al-Qaida, knowing the group was engaged in terrorism….
#AceNewsReport – July.09: Karlsson induced victims to purchase shares in the scheme called “Eastern Metal Securities” using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and other online payment platforms. Karlsson promised victims astronomical returns tied to the price of gold. Instead, the funds provided by victims were transferred to Karlsson’s personal bank accounts, and he then used proceeds to purchase expensive homes, a racehorse and a resort in Thailand. Karlsson’s fraud targeted financially insecure investors, causing severe financial hardship for many of them. Meanwhile, Karlsson went to great lengths to prolong his scheme, including rebranding, offering updates and account statements that provided assurances to the victims of the states of their assets, and offering explanations for the payout delays – including falsely claiming to be working with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
#AceDailyNews reports over IRS-CI Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit who investigated the case into Cryptocurrency Fraudster Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 47, who pleaded guilty on March 4. & according to court documents, Karlsson ran an investment fraud scheme from 2011 until his arrest in Thailand in June 2019.
As part of the sentence, Karlsson was also ordered to forfeit a Thai resort and various other properties and accounts, and issued a money judgment in the amount of $16,263,820. The United States is seeking restitution on behalf of Karlsson’s victims: A restitution order is expected to be entered by the court within 90 days. Victims of Roger Karlsson and Eastern Metal Securities who have not been in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are encouraged to submit information as soon as possible. Additional information for victims and a victim form are available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/united-states-vs-roger-karlsson-and-eastern-metal-securities.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds of the Northern District of California; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Darrell J. Waldon of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C., Field Office made the announcement.
IRS-CI Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit investigated the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Thailand, the IRS-CI Attaché Office in Hong Kong and the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division provided significant assistance. The SEC’s New York Regional Office also provided substantial support.
Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office handled the forfeiture proceedings, and Victim Specialist Maria Sunga provided support. Law clerks and interns Seamus Lynch, John Paul, Kate Kaplan and Edward Percarpio also provided essential assistance in support of the sentencing.
#AceNewsReport – July.03: The results of the operation were announced by Homeland Security Investigations Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Kansas City, James Wright. He was joined by Heartland Anti-Trafficking Rescue Taskforce partners from across the region in making the announcement.
#AceDailyNews reports that the HSI operation nets 82 arrests and 31 rescued from human trafficking operation that took place June 17 -26, 2021 in Wichita, Kansas, Independence and Missouri
The enforcement operation resulted in the arrest of 82 individuals who will be charged with crimes related to soliciting prostitution, commercial sex trafficking, sodomy, narcotics violations, felony assault on a police officer, sex offender registry violations and outstanding warrants.
HSI Kansas City along with, HSI Wichita, Wichita Police Department, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kansas Highway Patrol, Health and Human Services, United States Marshal’s Service, Platte County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hutchinson Police Department conducted the operation.
The defendants in this case are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial where the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats: One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify and apprehend offenders, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.
#AceNewsReport – July.01: Today’s announcement demonstrates the culmination of extremely well-coordinated, diligent and tireless efforts by the FBI and our law enforcement partners working on the Procurement Collusion Strike Force to root out collusion that targets U.S. taxpayer dollars funding contracts overseas,” said Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
#AceDailyNews says a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Belgium-based Seris Security NV (Seris) and three executives for their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for defense-related security services, including a multimillion-dollar contract issued in 2020 to provide security services to the U.S. Department of Defense for military bases and installations in Belgium.
This is the second charge and first indictment involving an international conspiracy obtained by the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) and follows G4S Secure Solution NV’s (G4S) agreement to plead guilty in the investigation.
“The companies and individuals indicted are alleged to have rigged bids submitted to the U.S. Department of Defense and others, and abused the public trust placed in them as providers of security services at critical locations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “We are committed to prosecuting procurement collusion that victimizes U.S. government agencies, wherever it occurs, and we are determined to hold those who seek to exploit U.S. government programs accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to protecting the integrity of the Department of Defense procurement system,” said Deputy Director Paul K. Sternal of DCIS. “This indictment demonstrates our resolve, alongside Department of Justice and Procurement Collusion Strike Force partners, to bring those who corrupt the competitive DoD contracting process and endanger U.S. national security to justice.”
The indictment, returned in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charges former G4S Chief Executive Officer Jean Paul Van Avermaet; Seris Security NV (Seris); former Seris Chief Executive Officer Danny Vandormael; and former Seris Director of Guarding & Monitoring Peter Verpoort with conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for contracts for the provision of security services that protect the national security interests of the United States in Belgium. All of the defendants worked in Belgium and are Belgian nationals.
According to the indictment, the charged individuals, on behalf of their companies, along with other co-conspirators, participated in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers for contracts to provide security services in Belgium, including contracts for the U.S. Department of Defense and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Those services included protecting military buildings and installations via the physical presence of guards, mobile monitoring and electronic surveillance. As part of the conspiracy, the conspirators agreed in advance which company would win certain security services contracts, and the price that each would bid for the contracts. As a result, the government received non-competitive and inflated bids, and was deprived of a competitive bidding process. The charged conspiracy began as early as spring 2019 and continued until as late as summer 2020.
The defendants are each charged with a violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals and a $100 million fine for corporations. The maximum fine for a Sherman Act charge may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
The Antitrust Division’s New York Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated with the assistance of the FBI’s International Corruption Unit New York Field Office, the DCIS’ New York Resident Agency and the Transnational Operations Field Office, the U.S. Army CID’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit, and other PCSF partners in Europe. Special thanks to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State for their assistance.
In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the PCSF, a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, the Strike Force expanded its footprint with the launch of PCSF: Global, which is designed to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute collusive schemes that target government spending outside of the United States.
#AceNewsReport – June.30: Based on the evidence presented at trial, Chanu, who was employed as a precious metals trader at Deutsche Bank in Singapore and, later in London, engaged in a scheme to defraud other traders on the Commodity Exchange Inc., which was a public exchange.
DOJ: A former commodities trader was sentenced Monday to 12 months and a day in prison for a scheme to commit wire fraud affecting a financial institution: Cedric Chanu, 42, of France and the United Arab Emirates, was convicted by a federal jury on Sept. 25, 2020.
The defendant, together with James Vorley and other Deutsche Bank traders, defrauded other market participants through a deceptive trading practice known as “spoofing.” Specifically, Chanu placed fraudulent orders that he did not intend to execute in order to create the false appearance of supply and demand and to induce other traders to transact at prices, quantities, and times that they otherwise would not have traded. Vorley was sentenced on June 21, also to 12 months and a day in prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI’s New York Field Office investigated the case.
Deputy Chief Brian Young, Acting Principal Assistant Chief Avi Perry, and Trial Attorney Leslie S. Garthwaite of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.
#AceNewsReport – June.29: While Biden has been signaling weakness to Iran over the nuke deal, this development bears watching. Predictably, Iran accused the U.S. government of “working with Israel and Saudi Arabia to repress Iran’s freedom of expression.”
“Promoting terrorism” was cited as a reason for the asset seizure. Also seized was “a Palestinian-directed broadcast and an Arabic-language religious and cultural channel….the web domain of Iran’s Al-Alam news network and that of Al-Masirah, a Yemeni TV station controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi insurgency.”
Iran has become increasingly aggressive and openly hostile to America, making overt demands about a nuclear deal which would involve the dropping of all sanctions. The hardline, murderous incoming Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has also “declared that Iran will not agree to restrictions on its ballistic missile development or its support for terrorism throughout the region as a condition to the resumption of the nuclear deal.”
“US takes down Iran-linked news sites, alleges disinformation,” by Isabel Debre and Eric Tuck, Washington Post,June 23, 2021:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — American authorities seized a range of Iran’s state-linked news website domains they accused of spreading disinformation, the U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday, a move that appeared to be a far-reaching crackdown on Iranian media amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
The Justice Department said 33 of the seized websites were used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union, which was singled out by the U.S. government last October for what officials described as efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord among American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. T
The U.S. says three other seized websites were operated by the Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group, Kata’ib Hizballah, which more than a decade ago was designated a foreign terrorist organization. The group is separate from the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group whose news websites remained operational.
The website domains are owned by U.S. companies, but despite the sanctions, neither the IRTVU nor KH obtained the required licenses from the U.S. government before using the domain names, according to the Justice Department.
#AceNewsReport – June.25: “Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardised and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division”
#AceDailyNews says …..Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for delivering classified national defense information to aid a foreign government:
As part of her March 26 guilty plea, Thompson admitted that she believed that the classified national defense information that she was passing to a Lebanese national would be provided to Lebanese Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organisation.
That Thompson passed our nation’s sensitive secrets to someone whom she knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made her betrayal all the more serious. Thompson’s sentence should stand as a clear warning to all clearance holders that violations of their oath to this country will not be taken lightly, especially when they put lives at risk.”
“The defendant’s decision to aid a foreign terrorist organization was a betrayal that endangered the lives of the very American men and women on the battlefield who had served beside her for more than a decade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “Let today’s sentence serve notice that there are serious consequences for anyone who betrays this country by compromising national defense information.”
“This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those entrusted with national defense information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed onto a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson put our national defense in danger. The men and women of the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to defeat hostile intelligence activities targeting the United States and to hold those who assist our adversaries accountable.”
“Thompson was entrusted with highly sensitive information, and she chose to betray her country by providing classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Today’s significant sentencing shows the dedicated work of the FBI, the U.S. Intelligence Community and our global partners to work swiftly and diligently to safeguard our national security information and hold accountable those who break our nation’s trust.”
According to court documents, Thompson worked as a contract linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility where she was entrusted with a Top-Secret government security clearance. Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator. Thompson learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hezbollah.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq, the United States launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq targeting Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted co-conspirator began asking Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood “them” to be Lebanese Hezbollah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government. Thompson used several techniques to pass this information on to the unindicted co-conspirator, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah military commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets; at least 10 U.S. targets; and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hezbollah.
Today’s sentencing was the result of the significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI Washington Field Office.
National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cummings for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case.
#AceNewsReport – June.24: The superseding indictment charged Sezgin Baran Korkmaz with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding:
DOJ: A Turkish businessman was arrested in Austria on June 19, at the request of the U.S: This arrest followed a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 28, which was unsealed today.
According to the superseding indictment, Korkmaz laundered over $133 million in fraud proceeds through bank accounts that he controlled in Turkey and Luxembourg. The proceeds allegedly related to a scheme by Jacob Kingston, Isaiah Kingston, and Levon Termendzhyan to defraud the U.S. Treasury by filing false claims for over $1 billion in refundable renewable fuel tax credits for the production and sale of biodiesel by their company, Washakie Renewable Energy LLC, in Plymouth, Utah.
Korkmaz and his co-conspirators allegedly used proceeds from the fraud to acquire the Turkish airline Borajet, hotels in Turkey and Switzerland, a yacht named the Queen Anne, and a villa and apartment on the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.
The indictment further charges Korkmaz with 10 counts of wire fraud. As alleged, Korkmaz devised a scheme to defraud Jacob Kingston and Isaiah Kingston by falsely representing that he could provide them with protection, through unnamed government officials, from a federal grand jury investigation and civil lawsuits.
The United States will seek to extradite Korkmaz to the United States so that he can appear before U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish of the District of Utah to face these charges. If convicted, Korkmaz faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy count, 20 years in prison for each of the wire fraud counts, and five years in prison for the obstruction count. Judge Parrish will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Andrea T. Martinez for the District of Utah made the announcement.
IRS Criminal Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, and the Department of Defense DCIS are investigating the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is providing significant assistance.
Trial Attorneys Richard Rolwing and Arthur Ewenczyk, and Senior Litigation Counsel John Sullivan of the Justice Department’s Tax Division are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – June.24: On Oct. 22, 2020, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated IRTVU as a Specially Designated National (SDN) for being owned or controlled:
DOJ: Today, pursuant to court orders, the United States to Seize Websites Used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and Kata’ib Hizballah that are Owned and Controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC). SDNs are prohibited from obtaining services, including website and domain services, in the United States without an OFAC license. OFAC’s announcement explained that components of the government of Iran, to include IRTVU and others like it, disguised as news organizations or media outlets, targeted the United States with disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations.
Thirty-three of the websites seized today were operated by IRTVU. The 33 domains are owned by a United States company. IRTVU did not obtain a license from OFAC prior to utilizing the domain names.
Three additional websites seized today were operated by KH. On July 2, 2009, OFAC designated KH an SDN, and the Department of State designated KH a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The announcements described KH as an Iraqi terrorist organization that committed, directed, supported or posed a significant risk of committing acts of violence against Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. OFAC further explained that the IRGC provides lethal support to KH and other Iraqi Shia militia groups who target and kill Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. The three domains operated by KH were owned by a United States company. KH did not obtain a license from OFAC prior to utilizing the domain names.
These website seizures were investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement and the FBI. The National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the seizure.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Special Agent in Charge J.C. (Chris) Hacker, of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Ariel Joshua Leinwand, of the Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement’s Atlanta Office, made the announcement.
The National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section is investigating this matter in coordination with the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and Atlanta Field Office.
#AceNewsReport – June.17: As part of her plan goal to wage violent jihad, Velentzas and her co-defendant Asia Siddiqui researched and taught each other how to construct bombs to be used on American soil against law enforcement and military targets,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “With the sentence imposed by the court, Velentzas has been held accountable for her crimes.
Woman Sentenced to 198 Months in Prison for Teaching and Distributing Information About Weapons of Mass Destruction: Noelle Velentzas, 33, of Queens, was convicted of teaching or distributing information pertaining to the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass destruction in furtherance of a planned federal crime of violence.
Co-defendant Asia Siddiqui pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, 2019 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January 2020.
The Attorney General recently reminded us that we must remain vigilant against threats from international terrorism, and we are grateful for those agents, analysts and prosecutors who were and brought Velentzas to justice before she could carry out her plans.”
“The defendant expressed her support for foreign terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham by learning how to build bombs and other explosive devices and targeting members of law enforcement for terror,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Mark J. Lesko for the Eastern District of New York. “Today’s sentence imposes a just punishment on the defendant for her planned horrific crimes. Counterterrorism and protecting the American people remain among the highest priorities of the Department of Justice, and this Office, together with the FBI, the NYPD and our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners, will continue to exercise extreme vigilance to incapacitate terrorists.”
According to court documents, between approximately 2013 and 2015 Velentzas and her co-defendant planned to build a bomb for use in a terrorist attack in the United States. In furtherance of their plan, the defendants taught each other chemistry and electrical skills directly related to creating explosives and building detonating devices; studied the explosives used in past terrorist attacks including the Boston marathon bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center attack; researched how to make plastic explosives and build car bombs; shopped for and acquired materials to be used in an explosive device; and assessed potential targets of an attack, focusing on law enforcement and military-related targets.
While engaging in these activities, Velentzas repeatedly expressed her support for promoting and waging violent jihad and her desire to commit acts of violence. Velentzas claimed that Osama bin Laden was her hero, and expressed praise for the September 11th attacks as well as Mohammed Shnewer, who was convicted of plotting a terrorist attack against members of the armed services at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
At the time that Velentzas and Siddiqui were arrested in 2015, law enforcement officers searched their residences and found tools of the trade for a terrorist attack, including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, car bomb instructions and jihadist literature, machetes and knives.
The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD and over 50 other federal, state and local agencies, investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Jennifer Burke of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Craig R. Heeren, Jennifer M. Sasso, Josh Hafetz and Jonathan E. Algor of U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York prosecuted the case.
#AceNewsReport – June.13: A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a superseding indictment Thursday charging a U.S. entertainer and businessman and a Malaysian national with orchestrating an unregistered, back-channel campaign beginning in or about 2017 to influence the then-administration of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice both to drop the investigation of Jho Low and others in connection with the international strategic and development company known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and to send a Chinese dissident back to China.
In May 2019, Michel and Low were charged in the District of Columbia for allegedly orchestrating and concealing a foreign and conduit contribution scheme in which they funneled millions of dollars of Low’s money into the U.S. presidential election as purportedly legitimate campaign contributions, all while concealing the true source of the money. According to the indictment, to execute the scheme, Michel received Low’s money and contributed it both personally and through approximately 20 straw donors.
According to the superseding indictment, Low Taek Jho, 39, also known as Jho Low, and Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, 48, are alleged to have conspired with Elliott Broidy, Nickie Lum Davis, and others to engage in undisclosed lobbying campaigns at the direction of Low and the Vice Minister of Public Security for the People’s Republic of China, respectively, both to have the 1MDB embezzlement investigation and forfeiture proceedings involving Low and others dropped and to have a Chinese dissident sent back to China. Michel and Low are also charged with conspiring to commit money laundering related to the foreign influence campaigns. Michel is also charged with witness tampering and conspiracy to make false statements to banks.
If convicted, Low faces a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, per count. If convicted, Michel faces a range of maximum penalties from five to 20 years in prison, per count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kevin O. Driscoll of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Keith A. Bonanno of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Cyber Investigations Office; Assistant Director in Charge Kristi Koons Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office made the announcement.
The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and International Corruption Squad in New York are investigating the case.
Principal Deputy Chief John D. Keller, Deputy Director of Election Crimes Sean F. Mulryne, and Trial Attorney Nicole R. Lockhart of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – June.11: According to court documents, between December 2018 and January 2019, co-defendant Muse Muse coordinated with an individual he believed to be a Somali ISIS fighter to wire funds to be used to purchase airline tickets for travel to Mogadishu, Somalia, where he believed he would meet an ISIS representative:
DOJ: Mohamed Haji, 28, of Lansing, Michigan, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, namely the #IslamicState of Iraq and al-Sham, aka ISIS. In January 2020, his co-defendants Muse Muse and Mohamud Muse pleaded guilty to the same offence.
All three defendants: picked up money to provide Muse Muse the funds to travel to join ISIS, pledged allegiance to ISIS in recorded videos, and submitted their videos to individuals they believed were associated with ISIS. Additionally, throughout the conspiracy, all three defendants participated in numerous discussions regarding traveling overseas to join ISIS and even adopted fighter aliases by which they would be known when fighting for ISIS.
On Jan. 21, 2019, special agents of the FBI and members of its Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) arrested defendant Muse Muse at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, after he checked in for a flight to the first of a series of destinations on his way to Mogadishu with the goal of joining ISIS. Shortly thereafter, his brother Mohamud Muse and cousin Mohamed Haji were arrested as co-conspirators.
Muse, Mohamud Muse and Haji were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. This federal offense required the government to prove that Haji: (1) agreed with one or more individuals to provide material support or resources (which includes personnel) to ISIS, a foreign terrorist organization; (2) knew that ISIS was a designated foreign terrorist organization or had engaged or engages in terrorist activity; and (3) is a U.S. national or some part of the offense occurred in the United States. Haji admitted each of those elements of the crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22 and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge for the Western District of Michigan made the announcement.
The FBI is investigating the case, with valuable assistance provided by the Michigan State Police, Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State University Police Department, Lansing Police Department, Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Airport Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration, Federal Air Marshals, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Trial Attorney David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Clay M. West and Christopher M. O’Connor of the Western District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.
#AceNewsReport _ June.09: According to the Indictment, an earlier-filed criminal complaint, and statements made in court, law enforcement officers approached 22-year-old Ty’ree Dixon on May 17, 2021, as part of an investigation into gang-related violent crime and fraud. When police confronted him, they discovered that Dixon was armed with a Glock 20 and a 10mm semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine, it is alleged.
Alleged Gang Member Charged by Miami Federal Grand Jury with Possession of a Cache of Sophisticated Firearms, including Two “Switch” Enabled Fully Automatic Machine Guns
This case stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.
They also located a large amount of ammunition and several firearms inside Dixon’s residence while executing a search warrant that same day, including three Glock semi-automatic pistols, a Century Arms International AK style pistol, and two pistols that had been converted into machine guns using “switch” devices, according to the allegations. When installed on a handgun, a “switch” (technically called an auto-sear) allows the handgun to expel more than one bullet by a single pull of the trigger, turning the weapon into a fully automatic machine gun, according to statements made in court.
Law enforcement officers arrested Dixon on May 17, and South Florida federal prosecutors charged him by criminal complaint with being a felon in possession of a firearm. On May 21, following a hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O’Sullivan ordered that Dixon be held in a federal detention center without bond pending his trial (pre-trial detention). On June 1, a South Florida grand jury returned an indictment charging Dixon with two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition, and two counts of illegally possessing a machine gun. Dixon faces up to 40 years in federal prison, if convicted. He is scheduled for arraignment in federal magistrate court in Miami on June 16.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Robert Cekada, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Miami Field Office, announced the charges.
A multi-agency gang task force consisting of the Miami Divisions of USSS, FBI, and ATF, as well as the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) and City of Miami Police Department (MPD) investigated the matter.
AUSA Frederic “Fritz” Shadley is prosecuting this case.
In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
Anyone with information related to possible gun crimes is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
Indictments and criminal complaints are mere allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – June.08: A federal grand jury has returned a second superseding indictment that charges a total of 15 Baltimore defendants for their participating in violent racketeering and/or drug conspiracies. Eleven of the defendants, including seven new defendants, are charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy that allegedly resulted in 18 murders, more than 27 attempted murders, carjackings, robberies, assaults, and witness intimidation that occurred between 2015 and November 2020. The second superseding indictment was returned on May 27, 2021 and unsealed late yesterday. Today’s announcement is the first public release related to the investigation and prosecution of members of the Triple C gang.
BALTIMORE: Fifteen Alleged Members and Associates of Baltimore “Triple C” Gang Facing Federal Indictment on Charges Related to Their Participation in Drug Distribution and/or Racketeering Conspiracies, Including 18 Murders and 27 Attempted Murders
More than 50 law enforcement officers participated in the arrests of the three new defendants and the execution of three search warrants on June 2, 2021. The other four new defendants are already in federal custody on other charges.
The second superseding indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner stated, “This violent street gang committed more than 40 homicides and attempted murders in total. This is not about numbers – each of those shootings represents a victim whose family will never see again, or a survivor of a non-fatal shooting who will never be the same. We are determined to root out the sources of violence from our neighborhoods and will continue to work with ATF, BPD and our other law enforcement partners to reduce violent crime and deadly drug dealing and hold accountable those who bring them to our streets.”
“These indictments are the result of relentless investigative efforts between ATF and our law enforcement partners, utilizing crime gun intelligence resources to connect the dots between the many incidents of violence,” said ATF Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Tim Jones. “ATF remains committed in our mission to identify offenders in Baltimore City who are committing murders, shooting, and violence, preventing citizens from living in safe communities.”
“This indictment represents the hard work of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department, and our federal partners in holding criminals accountable for the violence in our city. We will continue to work collaboratively in going after individuals who are committing acts of violence, bringing drugs and guns into our neighborhoods and intimating the citizens of Baltimore.”
The following defendants, all from Baltimore, are charged in the second superseding indictment:
Desmond Butler, a/k/a Dez, age 23; Darell Carter, a/k/a Black Ice, age 24; Correy Cawthorn, a/k/a Fat Correy, age 22; Michael Chester, a/k/a Mikkie, age 22; Darien Coleman, a/k/a DCole, age 20; Gary Creek a/k/a Hov, age 39; Richard Grier, a/k/a Rich Homie, age 20; Robert Harris-Howell, a/k/a Slim, age 29; Dayon Jeter, a/k/a Savage and Day On Geter, age 22; Desean Johnson, a/k/a Boosie, age 23; Raekwon McMann, a/k/a Ray Ray, age 23; Keishonne Moore, a/k/a Keedie, age 23; Rashaud Nesmith, a/k/a Shaud, age 20; Tyeshawn Rivers, a/k/a Shawn, age 21; and Alonzo Tunnell, a/k/a Lo, age 29.
According to the 11-count indictment, from at least 2015 to May 27, 2021, Correy Cawthorn, Desmond Butler, Darrell Carter, Michael Chester, Darien Coleman, Gary Creek, Richard Grier, Dayon Jeter, Raekwon McMann, Rashaud Nesmith and Tyeshawn Rivers were part of the Triple C criminal enterprise. The indictment alleges that Triple C (Cruddy Conniving Crutballs) is a violent street gang that operated throughout Baltimore City, and ran street-level drug distribution “shops” in the Darley Park and Orchard Ridge neighborhoods in east and northeast Baltimore, where they distributed heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, and marijuana, among other controlled substances.
The second superseding indictment further alleges that Triple C members engaged in a pattern of criminal racketeering activity including acts including 18 murders, 27 attempted murders of rival gang members and narcotics dealers, narcotics trafficking, illegal firearms possession, robbery, carjacking, assault and witness intimidation and retaliation. Law enforcement seized 15 firearms that were used and/or possessed by members of the Triple C gang. Members of the gang allegedly earned respect from fellow members and maintained or advanced their position in the gang by engaging in criminal activities in furtherance of the gang, and particularly violent acts directed by Triple C leadership.
The second superseding indictment alleges that Creek founded Triple C as an alternative gang to the “Black Guerilla Family,” and established a hierarchy within the group, positioning Carter and Cawthorn in prominent roles. Creek allegedly took contract murders on behalf of Triple C and ordered other members to fulfill the contract. Triple C rules allegedly included members having access to firearms and providing firearms to members; removing arrested members from social media chats and group text messages to avoid law enforcement recovering the communications on the arrested members’ phones; and sharing members’ locations through their cell phones. The second superseding indictment alleges that Triple C members used over a dozen different firearms to commit acts of violence, often trading with each other or with associates to avoid detection through ballistic evidence.
According to the second superseding indictment, Triple C members routinely used social media websites to enhance the gang’s status and to identify and locate victims. Triple C members and associates posted photographs and rap videos to these social media websites in which they flaunted firearms, the superiority of the gang, and threatened to kill those who stood in the way of the gang. Members also allegedly used the sites to communicate with each other and share information concerning possible retaliation for violent crimes committed by gang members.
As detailed in the second superseding indictment, Triple C members supported rap artists or were burgeoning rap artists themselves, who would support Triple C by including lyrics about the gang in their songs. For example, in one rap artist’s music video on social media, the lyrics included “ain’t no Crip or no Blood, I’m Triple C baby.” Several alleged members and associates of Triple C are in the video dancing and waving firearms during the rap. In addition, gang members allegedly wore clothing touting the gang and warning against “snitching,” and promoted the gang by giving away clothing, such as t-shirts and hats.
Further, the second superseding indictment alleges that Triple C members and associates used social media chats and text messages to discuss, among other things, past criminal acts; the location and activities of other members; rival gangs and drug traffickers; the arrest or incarceration of members; the identities of individuals suspected of cooperating with law enforcement and proposed action to be taken against them; plans regarding the commission of future crimes and drug distribution; and ways to conceal these crimes from law enforcement.
Incarcerated members of Triple C allegedly used jail telephones to disseminate information about arrests and releases of members and associates; to warn of investigations; to publicize the identities of persons believed to be cooperating with law enforcement; to order assaults and murders of enemies of the enterprise; and to request money from Triple C members who were not incarcerated. Knowing the jail calls are recorded, incarcerated Triple C members and associates allegedly made calls using other inmates’ account numbers to conceal their identities.
The second superseding indictment seeks the forfeiture of any property constituting or derived from the racketeering conspiracy and narcotics distribution, including cash, drugs, 16 firearms, 250 rounds of ammunition, and any other proceeds.
If convicted, the 12 defendants charged with racketeering face a maximum of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. The defendants all face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and detectable amounts of fentanyl, heroin, and marijuana; and a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Johnson and Moore each face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed and up to life in federal prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Harris-Howell, Tunnell, Cawthorn, Moore, and Johnson each face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Finally, Harris-Howell faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person. Dayon Jeter, Michael Chester and Darien Coleman were arrested on June 2, 2021 and had initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Chester and Coleman were ordered to be detained pending trail and Jeter has a detention hearing scheduled for June 7, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. Eleven other defendants are already detained on related federal or state charges and will have an initial appearance in the coming weeks. Creek is on pre-trial release and is expected to surrender to federal authorities today for an initial appearance scheduled at 1:00.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
A total of 10 defendants charged in the previous indictments in this case have pleaded guilty. Eight have been sentenced to between three and 17 years in federal prison. Two are awaiting sentencing.
This case was made possible by investigative leads generated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles. For more information on NIBIN, visit https://www.atf.gov/firearms/national-integrated-ballistic-information-network-nibin.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the ATF and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the FBI and the Office of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia C. McLane, who is prosecuting the case.
AceNewsReport – June.06: The Trickbot Group operated in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Suriname, and primarily targeted victim computers belonging to businesses, entities, and individuals, including those in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere in the United States. Targets included hospitals, schools, public utilities, and governments. Witte, who previously resided in Paramaribo, Suriname, was arrested on Feb. 6, in Miami, Florida.
A Latvian national was arraigned in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, today on multiple charges stemming from her alleged role in a transnational cybercrime organization responsible for creating and deploying a computer banking trojan and ransomware suite of malware known as “Trickbot.”
Alla Witte, aka Max, 55, is charged in 19 counts of a 47-count indictment, which accuses her of participating in a criminal organization referred to as the “Trickbot Group,” which deployed the Trickbot malware.
“This indictment demonstrates the broad reach of the Department of Justice’s Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Trickbot infected millions of victim computers worldwide and was used to harvest banking credentials and deliver ransomware. The defendant is accused of working with others in the transnational criminal organization to develop and deploy a digital suite of malware tools used to target businesses and individuals all over the world for theft and ransom. These charges serve as a warning to would-be cybercriminals that the Department of Justice, through the Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force and alongside our partners, will use all the tools at our disposal to disrupt the cybercriminal ecosystem.”
“The Trickbot malware was designed to steal the personal and financial information of millions of people around the world, thereby causing extensive financial harm and inflicting significant damage to critical infrastructure within the United States and abroad,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan of the Northern District of Ohio. “Federal law enforcement, along with assistance provided by international partners, continue to fight and disrupt ransomware and malware where feasible. We are united in our efforts to hold transnational hackers accountable for their actions.”
“Witte and her associates are accused of infecting tens of millions of computers worldwide, in an effort to steal financial information to ultimately siphon off millions of dollars through compromised computer systems,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office. “Cyber intrusions and malware infections take significant time, expertise, and investigative effort, but the FBI will ensure these hackers are held accountable, no matter where they reside or how anonymous they think they are.”
The indictment alleges that beginning in November 2015, Witte and others stole money and confidential information from unsuspecting victims, including businesses and their financial institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Russia through the use of the Trickbot malware.
Witte and her co-conspirators allegedly worked together to infect victim computers with the Trickbot malware designed to capture online banking login credentials and harvest other personal information, including credit card numbers, emails, passwords, dates of birth, social security numbers and addresses. Witte and others also allegedly captured login credentials and other stolen personal information to gain access to online bank accounts, execute unauthorized electronic funds transfers and launder the money through U.S. and foreign beneficiary accounts.
According to the indictment, Witte worked as a malware developer for the Trickbot Group and wrote code related to the control, deployment, and payments of ransomware. The ransomware informed victims that their computer was encrypted, and that they would need to purchase special software through a Bitcoin address controlled by the Trickbot Group to decrypt their files. In addition, Witte allegedly provided code to the Trickbot Group that monitored and tracked authorized users of the malware and developed tools and protocols to store stolen login credentials.
Witte is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft; one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud affecting a financial institution; eight counts of bank fraud affecting a financial institution; eight counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The defendant was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge William H. Baughman Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft; 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; 30 years in prison for each substantive bank fraud count; a two-year mandatory sentence for each aggravated identity theft count, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence; and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI’s Cleveland Office investigated the case.
Senior Counsel C.S. Heath of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Riedl and Duncan T. Brown of the Northern District of Ohio are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of the Department of Justice’s Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, which was created to combat the growing number of ransomware and digital extortion attacks. As part of the Task Force, the Criminal Division, working with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, prioritizes the disruption, investigation, and prosecution of ransomware and digital extortion activity by tracking and dismantling the development and deployment of malware, identifying the cybercriminals responsible, and holding those individuals accountable for their crimes. The department, through the Task Force, also strategically targets the ransomware criminal ecosystem as a whole and collaborates with domestic and foreign government agencies as well as private sector partners to combat this significant criminal threat.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – June.05: According to court documents, Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal hate crime and two other charges in connection with his involvement in a scheme to target gay men for violent crimes, announced Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah, and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the Dallas Field Office. Jenkins is the last of four defendants to plead guilty to charges stemming from the scheme.
TEXAS: A Dallas man pleaded guilty yesterday to federal hate crime charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas: Jenkins pleaded guilty to one hate crime count, one count of conspiracy to commit hate crimes, kidnapping, and carjacking, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
“The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division are committed to confronting the scourge of hate-based violence gripping communities across our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We denounce hate-based violence in all of its forms, including violence targeting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We will continue to diligently investigate and prosecute violent, bias-motivated crimes to the fullest extent. As noted by Attorney General Garland, we stand ready to use every tool in our arsenal to address the rise in hate and we will work to hold perpetrators of hate-motivated violence accountable.”
“These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah of the Northern District of Texas. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online.”
“Investigating hate crimes is one of the FBI’s highest priorities because of the devastating impact they have on families and communities,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “We are committed to the pursuit of offenders and holding them accountable for perpetrating these harmful crimes. No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe. We will continue working with our law enforcement and community partners to detect and prevent violent incidents motivated by hate or bias. We also urge the public to report any suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.”
According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017. Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators held victims against their will; pointed a handgun at victims and took their personal property, including their vehicles; and traveled to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts. Jenkins further admitted that he and his co-conspirators physically injured at least one victim and taunted the victims based upon the co-conspirators’ perception of the men’s sexual orientation.
In March 2019, Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with this case. In December 2019, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges in connection with this case. Sentencing for these three defendants is set for June 23.
Daniel Jenkins’ sentencing is set for Oct. 6. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, Jenkins faces a sentence of up to 26 years in prison.
The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the federal investigation; a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department. Special Litigation Counsel Rose E. Gibson and Trial Attorney Kathryn Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.