SEC Obtains Final Judgments Against Investment Adviser and CEO for Failure to Disclose Fees to Clients

U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23847 / May 26, 2017
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Momentum Investment Partners LLC (D/B/A Avatar Investment Management) and Ronald J. Fernandes, No. 16-cv-00832 -VLB (D. Conn. filed May 31, 2016)

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it obtained final judgments by consent against Connecticut-based investment adviser Momentum Investment Partners LLC (doing business as Avatar Investment Management) (“Avatar”), and its CEO, Ronald J. Fernandes, for failing to disclose to some of Avatar’s advisory clients certain fees they were being charged. Among other things, the judgments order the defendants to pay a total of over $230,000.

On May 31, 2016, the Commission filed a complaint in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut, alleging that Avatar and Fernandes failed to disclose material conflicts of interest in connection with investments Avatar made in new mutual funds that it created and managed. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Avatar and Fernandes failed to disclose that moving clients’ assets into these newly-created mutual funds would increase the clients’ total advisory fees paid to Avatar without changing the clients’ investment strategy. The complaint alleges that between May 2013 and March 2014, Avatar’s clients paid almost $111,000 in additional fees, including approximately $61,000 that was ultimately paid to Avatar, for no additional services.

The final judgments, entered by the Honorable Vanessa L. Bryant of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on May 26, 2017, permanently enjoin Avatar and Fernandes from violating Sections 206(1) and 206(2) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”), Avatar from violating Sections 204, 206(4) and 207 of the Advisers Act and Rules 204-1 and 206(4)-7 thereunder, and Fernandes from aiding and abetting violations of Sections 204, 206(4) and 207 of the Advisers Act and Rules 204-1 and 206(4)-7 thereunder. The judgments also order the defendants to disgorge, on a joint and several basis, $61,275.52 in ill-gotten gains plus $7,400.85 in prejudgment interest, for a total of $68,676.37, and order Avatar to pay a civil penalty of $125,000 and Fernandes to pay a civil penalty of $40,000. The defendants neither admit nor deny the allegations in the SEC’s complaint.

Birmingham CPA Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison, Must Repay $11 Million Embezzled

Friday, June 16, 2017

BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Birmingham man to eight years in prison and ordered him to repay $10.9 million he embezzled from the Shelby County scrap metal brokerage where he was chief financial officer, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger Stanton.

U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced THOMAS L HINSON JR., 70, on five counts of wire fraud for depositing checks stolen from Strickland Trading Inc. into the account of Strickland Trading Company, LLC, a company Hinson formed to carry out his embezzlement. Hinson pleaded guilty to the charges in March. He must report to prison July 31.

Along with the millions in restitution that Hinson must pay, he also must forfeit his interest in properties in Huntsville, Birmingham, Virginia Beach, Va., Lutz, Fla., and Sevierville, Tenn.

Hinson “abused his position as Chief Financial Officer of Strickland Trading, Inc., and violated his long-running friendships with Strickland Trading’s principals, to perpetuate a nine years long scheme to defraud,” the government states in its sentencing memorandum.

The company’s principals and employees suffered substantial financial hardship because of Hinson’s long-term crime, the memorandum says.

The five wire fraud counts Hinson pleaded guilty to represent five of the more than 225 checks totaling more than $11.2 million that were intended for Strickland Trading Inc., but which Hinson deposited into his Strickland Trading Company, LLC, account, between April 2007 and April 2016. He used the money he embezzled over the years to pay expenses and purchase real estate, automobiles, and other assets for himself, his family, and friends.

According to the court documents, Hinson conducted his scheme as follows:

Hinson was a certified public accountant in private practice who worked for Strickland Trading Inc. from 1991 to April 2016. In 2000, he began working as Strickland Trading Inc.’s CFO. In April 2007, Hinson filed documents with the State of Alabama creating Strickland Trading Company, LLC, and provided the name and address of a friend in Madison County as its organizer so he could conceal his own association with the new company.

Using the similarity in the names of the two companies, Hinson took checks mailed to Strickland Trading Inc. by its customers and deposited the checks into his Strickland Trading Company, LLC, account for his personal use. He made false entries in the financial records of Strickland Trading Inc., prepared false financial statements and made other false representations to Strickland Trading Inc. corporate officers to conceal his embezzlement.

The FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin prosecuted.

US Seeks Approximately $540 Million From Conspiracy Involving Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund

Thursday, June 15, 2017

LOS ANGELES – The Justice Department today filed civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of approximately $540 million in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

Combined with civil forfeiture complaints filed in July 2016 that seek more than $1 billion, and civil forfeiture complaints filed last week that seek approximately $100 million in assets, this case represents the largest action brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Assets now subject to forfeiture in this case total almost $1.7 billion.

The complaints filed today seek the forfeiture of Red Granite Pictures’ interest in the movies “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home,” a condominium in New York City worth nearly $5 million, diamond jewelry, artworks by Picasso and Basquiat, and a $260 million megayacht called The Equanimity.

According to the complaints, from 2009 through 2015, more than $4.5 billion in funds belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates. 1MDB was created by the government of Malaysia to promote economic development in Malaysia through global partnerships and foreign direct investment, and its funds were intended to be used for improving the well-being of the Malaysian people.

“These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia, but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “The misappropriation of 1MDB funds was accomplished with an extravagant web of lies and bogus transactions that were brought to light by the dedicated attorneys and law enforcement agents who continue to work on this matter. We simply will not allow the United States to be a place where corrupt individuals can expect to hide assets and lavishly spend money that should be used for the benefit of citizens of other nations.”

“The Criminal Division is steadfast in our efforts to protect the security, safety, and integrity of the American financial system from all manner of abuse, including by kleptocrats seeking to hide their ill-gotten or stolen wealth,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco. “Today’s complaints reveal another chapter of this multi-year, multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme, bringing the total identified stolen proceeds to $4.5 billion. This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people. We are unwavering in our commitment to ensure the United States is not a safe haven for corrupt individuals and kleptocrats to hide their ill-gotten wealth or money, and that recovered assets be returned to the victims from which they were taken.”

As alleged in the complaints, the members of the conspiracy – which included officials at 1MDB, their relatives and other associates – diverted more than $4.5 billion in 1MDB funds. Using fraudulent documents and representations, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the funds through a series of complex transactions and shell companies with bank accounts located in the United States and abroad. These transactions allegedly served to conceal the origin, source and ownership of the funds, and ultimately passed through U.S. financial institutions to then be used to acquire and invest in assets located in the United States and overseas.

The complaints filed today allege that in 2014, the co-conspirators misappropriated approximately $850 million in 1MDB funds under the guise of repurchasing certain options that had been given in connection with a guarantee of 2012 bonds. As the complaints allege, 1MDB had borrowed a total of $1.225 billion from a syndicate of banks to fund the buy-back of the options. The complaints allege that approximately $850 million was instead diverted to several offshore shell entities. From there, the complaints allege, the funds stolen in 2014, in addition to money stolen in prior years, were used, among other things, to purchase the 300-foot luxury yacht valued at over $260 million, certain movie rights, high-end properties, tens of millions of dollars of jewelry and artwork. A portion of the diverted loan proceeds were also allegedly used in an elaborate, Ponzi-like scheme to create the false appearance that an earlier 1MDB investment had been profitable.

“Today’s filing serves as a reminder of the important role that the FBI plays in rooting out international corruption. When corrupt foreign officials launder funds through the United States in furtherance of their criminal activity, the FBI works tirelessly to help hold those officials accountable, and recover the misappropriated funds,” said Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “I applaud all my colleagues and our international partners who have worked to help recover an immense amount of funds taken from the Malaysian people, who are the victims of this abhorrent case of kleptocracy.”

“Today’s announcement is the result of untangling a global labyrinth of multi-layered financial transactions allegedly used to divert billions of dollars from the people of Malaysia and fund the co-conspirators’ lavish lifestyles,” said Deputy Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation. “The IRS is proud to partner with other law enforcement agencies and share its world-renowned financial investigative expertise in this complex financial investigation. It’s important for the world to see, that when people use the American financial system for corruption, the IRS will take notice.”

As alleged in the earlier complaints, in 2009, 1MDB officials and their associates embezzled approximately $1 billion that was supposed to be invested to exploit energy concessions purportedly owned by a foreign partner. Instead, the funds allegedly were transferred through shell companies and were used to acquire a number of assets. The complaints also allege that the co-conspirators misappropriated close to $1.4 billion in funds raised through the bond offerings in 2012, and more than $1.2 billion following another bond offering in 2013.

The FBI’s International Corruption Squads in New York City and Los Angeles, and IRS Criminal Investigation are investigating the case.

Assistant United States Attorneys John Kucera and Christen Sproule of the Asset Forfeiture Section, along with Deputy Chief Woo S. Lee and Trial Attorneys Kyle R. Freeny and Jonathan Baum of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs is providing substantial assistance.

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is led by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered asset to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office. In 2015, the FBI formed International Corruption Squads across the country to address national and international implications of foreign corruption. Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail) or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

A civil forfeiture complaint is merely an allegation that money or property was involved in or represents the proceeds of a crime. These allegations are not proven until a court awards judgment in favor of the United States.

Illinois Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty to Investment Fraud Scheme

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – A Rock Island, Ill., businessman, Todd B. Raufeisen, waived indictment and pled guilty to an information that charged him with defrauding investors in his land development and management projects of approximately $1.7 million. Raufeisen, 56, entered his guilty pleas to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering today before U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow. Sentencing is scheduled on Sept. 14, 2017.

In court documents and statements, Raufeisen admitted that from 2010 to August 2016, he engaged in a scheme that defrauded approximately 22 investors in his development projects and resulted in a loss of approximately $1.7 million. Raufeisen engaged in business under various business names, including RDC Hotel Solutions.

As part of the scheme, Raufeisen promised prospective investors a higher rate of interest than conventional, insured investments and short turnarounds on return of the principle and interest. In exchange for the money invested, Raufeisen promised certain investors that the money would be placed in escrow until needed, would only be used for specific development or management projects, and, if unused, the money would be returned to the investor. In fact, Raufeisen used the investors’ money for personal expenses and to pay previous investors to whom he was indebted.

Further, Raufeisen provided certain investors with promissory notes that promised repayment of invested principle and interest. The notes were purportedly signed and guaranteed by persons who knew nothing of the promissory notes and had not guaranteed repayment to the investors. In fact, Raufeisen admitted that he forged the signatures on the promissory notes.

The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; Federal Bureau of Investigation; and, the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Allegro is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government.

The maximum statutory penalties for the offenses – 20 years in prison for wire fraud; 10 years for money laundering – are provided here for informational purposes, as final sentencing is determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court may also order the defendant to pay restitution to victims of the offenses.

12 Debarred Over Role in Syria Humanitarian Aid Fraud Scheme

May 26, 2017

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of
Inspector General (OIG) announced the debarment of 12 companies and individuals over their participation in a fraud scheme affecting humanitarian aid in Syria. USAID officials made the decision in April barring Orhan Senkardes, the Senkardes Company, and certain related individuals and companies from future business with the
U.S. Government for 5 years.

USAID OIG, which has been investigating corruption in cross-border humanitarian aid programs in Syria since 2015, provided information that led to USAID’s debarment action. “OIG’s pursuit of corrupt actors in Syria and the surrounding region remains as critical as ever as we work to protect life-saving aid programs from fraud, waste, and abuse,” said Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID Inspector General. “I commend our special agents for their tenacity, insight, and continued dedication to our investigative efforts and recognize USAID’s willingness to take decisive action to protect taxpayer resources based on OIG’s work.” The OIG’s investigation is open and ongoing.

USAID’s debarment of the 12 companies and individuals applies across the U.S. Government. OIG’s investigative work contributed to the decision, establishing that Orhan Senkardes, the Senkardes Company, and Mr. Senkardes’ affiliated companies or personnel participated in a procurement fraud scheme with corrupt nongovernmental organization staff, including Luan Meraku, who implemented USAID-funded programs. Further, investigative results revealed that although the Senkardes Company, Selkas, Forvet, and Yigit Motorlu companies were all under Mr. Senkardes’ control, they bid against each other for U.S.-funded procurements under the appearance of fair and open competition. The debarred companies and affiliated individuals are:

  • Senkardes Gida San ve Tic Ltd.
  • Selcuk Benli
  • Forvet
  • Ismet Kalin
  • Selkas
  • Hecran Kalin
  • Yigit Motorlu
  • Zerrin Nalbanoglu
  • Orhan Senkardes
  • Erol Senkardes
  • Luan Meraku
  • Erdal Senkardes

The U.S. Government’s System for Award Management (SAM), www.sam.gov, provides further information on each of the debarred entities and individuals, which are currently excluded from transactions with U.S. Government departments, agencies, and contractors.

To date, OIG’s investigations in Syria and the surrounding region have identified a
network of commercial vendors and nongovernmental organizations employees who
colluded to engage in bid-rigging and multiple kickback schemes related to Syrian
humanitarian aid awards. The investigations to date have led to $239 million in
suspended program funds; 35 agency suspension or debarment decisions; 19 personnel resignations, terminations, or suspensions; and $19.6 million in savings for USAID.

Throughout the course of investigations, OIG coordinates closely with USAID’s Bureau
for Management, Office of Management Policy, Budget, and Performance, Compliance
Division. The division is responsible for making recommendations on potential
suspension and debarment actions to the agency.

Protecting humanitarian operations from organized crime is a top priority for USAID
OIG’s Office of Investigations. In addition to aggressively investigating allegations,
USAID OIG has also published a fraud awareness handbook and is actively engaged in providing fraud awareness training within the industry. The handbook, Compliance and Fraud Prevention: A Pocket Guide for the Middle East Crisis Humanitarian Response, can be found on OIG’s web site.

Anyone with information about suspected fraud, waste, or abuse in USAID programs in Syria and around the world is urged to contact USAID OIG directly.
Telephone
+1 (800) 230-6539 or +1 (202) 712-1023
Email
Syria Investigations Team: syriaoiginv@usaid.gov

General: ig.hotline@usaid.gov

Online, via OIG’s public web site
https://oig.usaid.gov/content/oig-hotline
Information reported to OIG is treated in confidence and OIG protects the identity of
each person providing information to the maximum extent provided by law.
###

Misr Sons Development S.A.E. Agrees to Pay $1.1 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misr Sons Development S.A.E. (Hassan Allam Sons, “HAS”), a construction company with its principal place of business in Cairo, Egypt, has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle allegations that HAS submitted false claims in connection with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts, the Justice Department announced today.

“Contractors who misrepresent their eligibility for government contracts undermine the government procurement process,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda of the Civil Division. “The Justice Department will take action to protect that process and to ensure that taxpayer funds are not misused.”

“USAID Office of Inspector General extensively investigated this matter and thanks the Department of Justice for its tenacity and dedication,” said Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Schofield of USAID Office of Inspector General. “Total settlements on this matter exceed $10 million and demonstrate once again that the United States expects its contractors to execute their awards in accordance with all requisite terms and conditions, whether operating domestically or overseas.”

The settlement concerns USAID-funded contracts for the construction of water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the Arab Republic of Egypt in the 1990s. The contracts were awarded to a joint venture partnership that included Washington Group International Inc. (WGI), Contrack International Inc. (Contrack) and HAS. The United States filed suit under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, alleging that HAS was ineligible to participate in the joint venture but that its participation was concealed from USAID. As a result, HAS and its partners allegedly received USAID-funded contracts to which they were not entitled. The settlement resolves only HAS’ liability. The United States previously settled with Contrack and WGI.

This settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho and the USAID Office of Inspector General.

The case is captioned United States v. Washington Group International Inc. f/k/a/ Morrison Knudsen, Corporation, Contrack International, Inc.; and Misr Sons Development S.A.E. a/k/a Hassan Allam Sons, No. 04-555 (D. Idaho). The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Canadian Man Sentenced to 97 months in Prison for Investment Scheme

 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

FORT WORTH — Ryan Steve Magee, a citizen of Canada, was sentenced this morning by Senior U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means to 97 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2,372,573 in restitution, following his guilty plea in February 2017 to one count of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Magee, 34, was indicted in July 2016 on five counts of wire fraud. Magee was arrested in December 2016, and has remained in custody since his arrest.

According to plea documents filed in his case, Magee was a business man and an active day trader in the U.S. stock market. Beginning in 2011, and continuing until the end of 2013, Magee devised and operated a scheme to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent material pretense and representations. Magee solicited and obtained money from victim investors by making false representations about how their money would be invested, how much of their money would be invested, how much their investment was earning, how much money they had in their account, and by making other false statements.

Specifically, J.C. and D.C. decided to invest some of their savings with him. At Magee’s direction, D.C. wired $35,000 to Magee’s account on August 12, 2011. After Magee received the money from D.C., he immediately diverted $25,000 for his own personal expenditures. Magee then deposited the remaining $10,000 into his day-trading account located at Interactive Brokers (IB). Magee sent weekly emails to J.C. and D.C. entitled “Trading Update,” which falsely showed the beginning account principal of $35,000 and the daily gains, even though Magee had diverted $25,000 of the investors’ money to his own personal use.

In November 2011, J.C. and D.C. cashed in J.C.’s 401(k) and wired $240,000 to Magee’s account. After Magee received the $240,000, he immediately diverted approximately $160,000 to his personal accounts, transferring only $80,000 into his IB trading account. Magee again sent weekly “Trading Update” emails claiming to have deposited the entire $240,000 in the IB account. Though he lost approximately $75,000 by the end of the month and his trades for November 2011, were a negative 70 percent, Magee listed 200 percent gains in the weekly “Trading Update” emails he sent to J.C. and D.C, between November 16 2011, and November 30, 2011.

On April 10, 2013, in the final “Trading Updates” email Magee sent to J.C. and D.C., Magee claimed their account balance was over $1.3 million. However, Magee’s IB account statement for the time period ending March 31, 2013, showed that Magee’s IB account had a negative cash balance of $9,578. J.C. and D.C. suffered a total loss of approximately $275,000. Between May 2010 and September 2013, other victims of the fraudulent scheme in the United States and Canada suffered a total loss of approximately $2,097,573.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Larson prosecuted.

Doctor And Son Admit Defrauding Medicare, Agree To $1.78 Million Settlement

 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CAMDEN, N.J. – A doctor and his chiropractor son today admitted conspiring to defraud Medicare by using unqualified people to give physical therapy to Medicare recipients, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Robert Claude McGrath D.O., 65, and his son Robert Christopher McGrath, 47, both of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court to separate informations charging them each with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

The McGraths, together with their practice, the Atlantic Spine & Joint Institute, have also agreed to pay $1.78 million as part of a civil settlement to resolve allegations that they illegally billed Medicare for those treatments.

“Elderly patients who need physical therapy deserve properly licensed and supervised caregivers,” Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick said. “Instead, the McGraths for years used unqualified and unsupervised employees to treat their patients, all while fraudulently billing Medicare for the phony services.”

“Patients undergoing physical therapy at the McGraths’ practice sought simply to feel and move better,” said Michael Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “It seems all the defendants sought was to enrich themselves at those patients’ – and U.S. taxpayers’ – expense. Medicare fraud deals a big blow to a critical piece of our health care system. Every dollar lost to bogus billing is a dollar less to use for legitimate treatments and services.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The McGraths owned and operated Atlantic Spine & Joint Institute, a medical practice with offices in Westmont, New Jersey, and Wayne, Pennsylvania. Under Medicare rules, physical therapy had to be provided by Robert Claude McGrath or by a trained physical therapist under his supervision. However, from January 2011 through April 2016, the McGraths sought to defraud Medicare by employing unlicensed, untrained persons to give physical therapy to Medicare patients, at times when Robert Claude McGrath was not even in the office to supervise. They then submitted bills to Medicare fraudulently identifying Robert Claude McGrath as the provider of physical therapy.
The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2017.

“These criminals face serving time in prison as well as paying out a $1.78 million settlement,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Additionally, my agency reserves the right to exclude both father and son from Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs.”

“People trust medical professionals to treat them and not cheat them,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office. “Our office will continue to work with our federal law enforcement partners to pursue and bring to justice those who would exploit this vulnerable population.”

In the related civil settlement, also announced today, the McGraths and Atlantic Spine agreed to pay $1.78 million plus interest to the federal government to resolve allegations that the fraudulent bills submitted under the McGraths’ scheme caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare in violation of the False Claims Act.
The civil settlement resolves certain claims filed by Linda Stevens, a former billing manager at Atlantic Spine, in the District of New Jersey, under the federal False Claims Act. The federal False Claims Act contains a qui tam, or whistleblower, provision that permits whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims against the government, and to share in any recovery. Ms. Stevens will receive approximately $338,200 from the settlement proceeds, along with her attorney’s fees.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Harpster in Philadelphia, special agents from the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Lampert, and special agents from the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge McCormack, with the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. David Walk Jr. and Andrew A. Caffrey III of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit represented the government in the criminal case and the civil case, respectively.

The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office reorganized its health care practice in 2010 and created a stand-along Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since that time, the office has recovered more than $1.33 billion in health care and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, and other statutes.

Defense counsel:
Robert Christopher McGrath and Atlantic Spine & Joint Institute: Riza I. Dagli Esq., Roseland, New Jersey.
Robert Claude McGrath: Perry Primavera Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey
Counsel for Relator Linda Stevens: Brian J. McCormick Jr., Philadelphia

 

Southern CA Resident Sentenced 34 Months in Prison For Bank Fraud Conspiracy

 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Inman was sentenced to 34 months in prison for his role in a bank fraud conspiracy, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The sentence was handed down June 7, 2017, by the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, U.S. District Judge, following a guilty plea in which Inman admitted he participated in a scheme to steal checks, open fraudulent bank accounts, write fraudulent checks, and deposit stolen and fraudulent checks as part of a bank fraud scheme.

Inman, 55, of Los Angeles, Calif., pleaded guilty on February 8, 2017, to participating in the bank fraud conspiracy. According to the plea agreement, Inman admitted that beginning in January of 2013, he agreed with at least one other person to commit bank fraud. The plea agreement describes a number of transactions in which Inman stole high value cashier’s checks from the victim and he and his co-conspirators used the stolen identity of the victim to write and deposit fraudulent checks. For example, in January of 2013, members of Inman’s conspiracy opened a bank account in the name of the victim and, in February of 2013, a co-conspirator deposited into the account a stolen $99,000 cashier’s check that had been made out to the victim. Similarly, Inman admitted that in June of 2013, co-conspirators opened another two fraudulent accounts and deposited a $99,000 check. Further, Inman admitted participating in a scheme in which people were provided checks drawn on the fraudulent bank accounts.

A grand jury indicted Inman on February 11, 2016, charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Inman pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Breyer sentenced Inman to pay $198,000 in restitution to the victim and to forfeit $198,000. Judge Breyer ordered the defendant to begin serving his sentence on or before August 2, 2017.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marc Price Wolf and Claudia A. Quiroz are prosecuting the case with assistance from Kevin Costello, Yanira Osorio, and Lance Libatique. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Virginia Man Admits to Falsely Certifying Bridge Inspection Vehicles

Friday, May 26, 2017

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that CAROL “CASEY” SMITH, 56, of Chester, Virginia, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in Bridgeport to a federal charge related to his false certification of bridge inspection vehicles.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Under Bridge Inspection (“UBI”) vehicles are vehicles that contain a moveable boom with a platform. The vehicles are used to conduct inspections of bridges by positioning the vehicle on top of the bridge and, using the boom, lifting a platform carrying inspectors alongside or beneath a bridge deck. “Company A” rents or leases bridge access equipment, including UBI vehicles, to engineering companies and government agencies for use on bridge inspection and bridge maintenance projects. Company A’s UBI vehicles travel on interstate highways to job locations throughout the U.S. Company A has several locations, including one in Connecticut.

SMITH was the president and chief surveyor for Virginia-based Martin Enterprizes, Inc. (“MEI”). Between January 2012 and January 2015, SMITH falsely represented that he, as the chief surveyor for MEI, examined the UBI vehicles in Company A’s fleet on an annual basis. During that time, SMITH created 165 Certificates of Unit Text/Examination of Material Handling Device (the “Certificate of Inspection”) for UBI vehicles in Company A’s fleet. As part of the Certificate of Inspection, SMITH verified that he personally examined the specified UBI vehicle and that the UBI vehicle met federal requirements. SMITH also issued 165 annual stickers representing that he had inspected the UBI Vehicles, and he knew that an employee or employees of Company A would affix the stickers to the UBI vehicles, and that those UBI vehicles would be driven on interstate highways and used on jobs throughout the U.S., including Connecticut.

Between 2012 and 2015, in exchange for the Certificates of Inspection for the UBI vehicles, as well as other vehicles in its fleet, Company A paid SMITH a total of $76,400.

SMITH pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. A sentencing date is not scheduled.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy V. Gifford.