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.

Former CEO And President Of Real Estate Investment Company Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $1.6 Million And Evading Taxes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ROCKWELL GAJWANI pled guilty today to one count of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion in connection with embezzling over $1.6 million from the Manhattan-based real estate investment company for which he had served as chief executive officer and president. As part of his plea, GAJWANI agreed to pay $1,975,068.04 in restitution and $1,612,841 in forfeiture. GAJWANI pled guilty before United States District Judge Loretta A. Preska.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As he admitted today, for years Rockwell Gajwani siphoned money from his employer’s accounts, lining his own pockets with more than $1.6 million. Instead of working diligently as his company’s CEO, Gajwani put his efforts into concealing his crimes and hiding his ill-gotten gains from the IRS. Thanks to the dedicated work of the Postal Inspection Service and the IRS, Gajwani will now be held to account for his crimes.”

According to the Complaint, the Indictment, and other statements made in open court:

From October 2011 through March 2013, GAJWANI was the chief executive officer and president of a real estate investment company based in Manhattan (the “Manhattan Real Estate Company”). During this period, GAJWANI took more than $1.6 million in company funds to which he was not entitled by, among other means, making wire transfers from the company’s bank account to his personal bank account, writing company checks to himself, and making cash withdrawals from the company’s bank account.

To accomplish this scheme, among other means, GAJWANI took steps to conceal his true salary and to conceal from the Manhattan Real Estate Company’s parent company (the “Parent Company”) the amount of money he had taken from the Manhattan Real Estate Company’s bank account.

Beginning in late 2012, the director of accounting for the Manhattan Real Estate Company (the “Director of Accounting”) asked GAJWANI for details regarding GAJWANI’s compensation on more than one occasion, and GAJWANI repeatedly said he would get such details to her, but failed to do so. On another occasion, in connection with a request from the Parent Company for financial information, GAJWANI told the Director of Accounting not to provide that information to the Parent Company. To further conceal the funds he had taken from the Manhattan Real Estate Company, GAJWANI directed employees of the Manhattan Real Estate Company to lump the compensation of all employees together in accounting materials provided to the Parent Company, so that GAJWANI’s compensation would not be listed separately from the aggregate figure. GAJWANI also directed certain employees of the Manhattan Real Estate Company not to communicate with employees of the Parent Company.

Over the course of his employment, GAJWANI wrote himself over $940,000 in checks from the Manhattan Real Estate Company’s bank account, and wired over $1.7 million to his personal bank account. Although some of these funds were purportedly for expenses, by the end of his employment GAJWANI had taken over $1.6 million more from the Manhattan Real Estate Company’s bank account than he was entitled to under his employment agreement.

GAJWANI also concealed his fraud on the Manhattan Real Estate Company. Specifically, on two occasions in May 2012, wrote checks to an employee of the Manhattan Real Estate Company (“Employee-2”) from the company’s bank account. wrote “expenses” in the memo line of each check, although neither check was meant to pay company expenses, and instructed Employee-2 to write a check in return directly to GAJWANI himself. Employee-2 did so on both occasions. In this manner, was able to secure over $30,000 in payments that GAJWANI appeared to receive from Employee-2 but in reality were funds GAJWANI had taken from the Manhattan Real Estate Company.

In addition to defrauding the Manhattan Real Estate Company, GAJWANI did not file tax returns or pay taxes for his legitimate salary or for the money he had secured through fraud. Ultimately, in July 2015, after he learned of a criminal investigation, GAJWANI filed tax returns for calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013. Each of those returns included false representations. For tax year 2011, the federal income tax return that GAJWANI filed understated GAJWANI’s actual income by more than $480,000, and included over $85,000 in false, impermissible tax deductions. For tax year 2012, the federal income tax return that GAJWANI filed included over $260,000 in false, impermissible tax deductions. For tax year 2013, the federal income tax return that GAJWANI filed underreported GAJWANI’s actual income by $270,000.

* * *

GAJWANI, 53, of Darien, Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and three counts of tax evasion, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the Judge. As part of his plea, GAJWANI agreed to pay $1,975,068.04 in restitution and $1,612,841.04 in forfeiture.

GAJWANI is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Preska on September 12, 2017, at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative efforts of law enforcement personnel at U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Cohen and Andrew D. Beaty are in charge of the prosecution.

New Jersey Plastic Surgeon Sentenced To Prison For Evading Taxes

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Morris County, New Jersey, Plastic Surgeon Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Evading Taxes On More Than $5 Million In Income

NEWARK, N.J. – A plastic surgeon with a practice in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for fraudulently diverting millions in corporate earnings for his personal use, costing the United States nearly $3 million in tax revenue between 2006 and 2010, U.S Attorney Paul Fishman announced.

David Evdokimow, 56, of Harding Township, New Jersey, was previously convicted of all eight counts of a superseding indictment charging him with one count of conspiring to defraud the United States, four counts of personal income tax evasion and three counts of corporate tax evasion. He was convicted following three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman, who imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to the superseding indictment and evidence at trial:

Evdokimow ran his medical practice through a corporation called De’Omilia Plastic Surgery P.C. (De’Omilia). He conspired with others to conceal millions of dollars of taxable income from the IRS by forming shell corporations and then having trusted associates open bank accounts for those corporations. Evdokimow then convinced these associates to give him their signatures or signature stamps so that he had full access to the shell company bank accounts while at the same time being able to conceal his connection to those accounts. He and the other conspirators then funneled millions of dollars in De’Omilia income into the bank accounts of the shell corporations and falsely claimed that these transfers were legitimate business expenses. Evdokimow also used bank accounts in the name of De’Omilia to pay his personal expenses, and falsely claimed those were business expenses too.

Evdokimow used the shell corporation and De’Omilia bank accounts to pay for more than $5.8 million in personal expenses, including designer apparel, jewelry, vacations, artwork, and multiple residences, all of which he falsely claimed as business expenses.

Evdokimow also opened accounts at several banks in order to cash checks received directly from patients for professional medical services. Between 2009 and 2011, Evdokimow cashed more than $360,000 in checks from patients, which he failed to report on his federal income tax returns.

Evdokimow was convicted of concealing more than $5.8 million in income from tax years 2006 to 2010. By concealing this income, Evdokimow evaded paying almost $3 million in taxes during that period.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Evdokimow to one year of supervised release and fined $96,000. He previously paid the taxes owed.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Murphy and Justin Herring of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Founder of Non-Profit Charged with Bribing Former Prince George’s County Official in Exchange for Grant Funds

A Maryland man has been charged with bribery and making false statements as part of an alleged scheme to obtain government grants for a charitable organization of which he was the founder. The  case was brought via a criminal complaint filed by the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. It alleges that the defendant made three annual payments of $5000 each to a member of the Prince George’s County Council to secure annual grants of $25,000 for the Salvadoran Business Caucus, which claimed to award scholarships to high school and college students.
The agent affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint describes conversations  that allegedly occurred between the council member and  the defendant in sufficient detail as to indicate that tape recordings of the conversations exist.
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Greenbelt, Maryland – A criminal complaint has been filed charging

, of Rockville, Maryland, late yesterday with bribery and making false statements in connection with a scheme to engage in bribery in order to influence a public official in the performance of his official duties in Prince George’s County. Ayala’s initial appearance is scheduled today at 1:45 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Acting Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

According to affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Ayala was an accountant and founder of Ayala and Associates Public Accountants in Washington, D.C. Ayala was also the founder of the Salvadoran Business Caucus, a non-profit organization also known as the Caucus Salvadoreno Empresarial, Inc. (CSE). CSE’s website stated that CSE awarded scholarships to high school and college students.

The affidavit alleges that Ayala paid bribes to former Prince George’s County Council Member Will Campos in exchange for grant funding. Specifically, the affidavit alleges that Ayala paid Campos $5,000 for each of County fiscal years 2012 through 2015, in exchange for $25,000 in grants to CSE in each of those years. For example, on August 13, 2014, Campos met with Ayala for lunch in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, Ayala asked Campos what would happen after Campos left his position on the County Council and assumed his position within the Maryland General Assembly. According to the affidavit, Ayala advised, “The arrangement is still on,” and Campos asked if Ayala had anything for Campos. Ayala asked Campos to give him two weeks, and “I [Ayala] call you and I’ll say let’s, let’s have a drink and you know what it’s for.” Campos asked for $5,000, “like last time,” and Ayala agreed.

According to the affidavit, on September 23, 2014, Ayala had dinner with Campos at a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland, and discussed the grant money. Specifically, Campos advised that he would push for Ayala to still receive grant money after Campos left office. At the conclusion of the meal, Ayala walked Campos out of the restaurant and allegedly handed Campos an envelope bearing a label for CSE and containing a cashier’s check for half the agreed upon amount. The affidavit alleges that Ayala explained, “I was unable to obtain cash. It’s better like this. This comes from – from a third party who knows me, so it’s better.” Campos joked that Ayala was paying “half now, half later,” and Ayala responded, “I would say that.”

According to the affidavit, on January 8, 2015, Ayala met with Campos at Ayala’s office in Washington, D.C. Ayala reached into his desk and retrieved an envelope. Ayala handed the envelope to Campos, who asked if it was “the rest that we talked about? 2,500?” and Ayala responded, “Yeah.” The affidavit alleges that inside the envelope, Ayala had placed $2,500 in cash.

On January 5, 2017, Ayala was interviewed by federal law enforcement agents. The affidavit alleges that Ayala denied providing anything of value to Campos in exchange for receiving Prince George’s County grant money for CSE. Thereafter, agents showed Ayala still photographs from videos taken while Ayala was making bribe payments to Campos on September 23, 2014 and January 8, 2015.

If convicted, Ayala faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison for bribery, and a maximum of five years in prison for false statements. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, IRS-CI, and Prince Georges County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Windom, Mara Zusman Greenberg, and James A. Crowell IV, who are prosecuting the case.

GrantFraud.Com: Former DHS Employee Inprisoned for Stealing USDA Funds

As part of our effort to track white collar enforcement trends with the new Administration we will be tracking developments in grant fraud enforcement and procurement fraud enforcement over at GrantFraud.Com that is under construction and open.  You may click the title below to see a new USDA grant fraud case filing.  For a variety of reasons that Brad Geyer will be blogging about, we are projecting emboldened grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement moving forward

Former DHS Employee Sentenced to Prison in Scheme to Steal USDA Funds Intended to Feed Hungry Children & Little Rock Man Pleads Guilty in Same Scheme

 

 

 

Assistant Administrator of Riverside General Hospital Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for $116 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

The former assistant administrator of Riverside General Hospital was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for his role in a $116 million Medicare fraud scheme.  To date, 10 individuals have pleaded guilty or been convicted for their involvement in the scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas made the announcement.

Mohammad Khan, 65, of Houston, the assistant administrator who oversaw many of the partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) at Riverside General Hospital, pleaded guilty in February 2012 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and paying illegal kickbacks.  He was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas.  He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,321,200.

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, from January 2008 through February 2012, Khan and others at Riverside General Hospital operated a scheme to defraud Medicare by submitting claims for PHP services that were not medically necessary and, in some cases, never provided.  Prior to Khan’s arrest, Riverside submitted over $116 million in claims to Medicare for PHP services purportedly provided to the recruited beneficiaries, when in fact, the PHP services were medically unnecessary or never provided.  Khan also admitted that he and his co-conspirators paid kickbacks to patient recruiters and to owners and operators of group care homes in exchange for which those individuals delivered ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to the hospital’s PHPs.

Others involved in the fraudulent scheme already have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.  Earnest Gibson III, the former president of Riverside; his son, Earnest Gibson IV, who operated a Riverside PHP; Regina Askew, a patient file auditor and group home operator; and Robert Crane, a patient recruiter, were all convicted after jury trial in November 2014 and await sentencing.  William Bullock, an operator of a Riverside satellite location, as well as Leslie Clark, Robert Ferguson, Waddie McDuffie and Sharonda Holmes, who were involved in paying or receiving kickbacks, also have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, with assistance from Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General, Railroad Retirement Board’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General.  The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Laura M.K. Cordova of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS’s 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.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Thirty-Three Defendants Charged in Massive Criminal Conspiracies Including Allegations of Fraud, Prescription Drug Diversion, and Money Laundering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thirty-two people were arrested yesterday after being charged variously with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit identity theft, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to use a facility of interstate commerce to commit murder-for-hire and conspiracy to engage in the unlicensed wholesale distribution of drugs, announced U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation.  A thirty-third defendant remains at large and is subject to an active arrest warrant.

According to an indictment that was unsealed yesterday, Ara Karapedyan, 45, Mihran Stepanyan, 29, and Artur Stepanyan, 38, were at the center of a nationwide conspiracy—with at least 18 other person—to conduct the affairs of a wide-ranging criminal enterprise through a pattern of racketeering.  This enterprise was fueled by a broad range of criminal activity including unlicensed wholesale drug distribution, money laundering and fraud.  The indictment names 33 defendants in all and describes an enterprise that spanned throughout California as well as in Minnesota, Ohio and Puerto Rico.

One key aspect of the alleged criminal activity described in the indictment was a multi-million dollar prescription drug diversion scheme.  Members and associates of the enterprise are alleged to have procured prescription drugs from unlicensed sources and to have resold the drugs to unknowing customers.  A central figure to these allegations is David Miller, 50.  Miller is alleged to be the owner and operator of a drug wholesaler called Minnesota Independent Cooperative (MIC) that, between 2010 and 2014, bought approximately $157 million of drugs from Mihran Stepanyan and Artur Stepanyan.  Miller and his employees allegedly knew the Stepanyans were not licensed to sell drugs and knew the Stepanyans procured their drugs through unlicensed sources.  Miller and his employees nevertheless purchased the drugs from the Stepanyans’ various companies, including Panda Capital Group, Red Rock Capital, Trans Atlantic Capital, GC National Wholesale, Sky Atlantic Capital and Nationwide Payment Solutions and resold the drugs as legitimate products.

A separate investigation has resulted in another indictment in the Southern District of Ohio charging David Miller, Mihran Stepanyan, Artur Stepanyan and MIC with various crimes arising from their sale of millions of dollars of illicitly-procured drugs.

The indictment also charges Karapedyan and his associates with engaging in the fraudulent unlicensed distribution of drugs.  For instance, from 2013 through 2015, Karapedyan, either personally or through an associate, sold several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of drugs such as Abilify, Liboderm, Cymbalta and Namenda, as well as HIV drugs such as Atripla, Truvada and Isentress and the cancer drug Gleevec.  Likewise, from roughly the latter part of 2014 through early 2015, Karapdyan and his racketeer co-conspirator Maxwell Starsky, 36, sold to another complicit wholesaler more than $1 million in illicitly procured drugs.  Karapedyan also supplied the Stepanyans with drugs.

Hugo Marquez, 41, Eric Figueroa, 29, Arman Zagaryan, 32, and their associates are likewise charged with procuring drugs from unlicensed sources and distributing the drugs to buyers.  According to the indictment, Alexander Soliman, 46, was one of their principal customers.  Between roughly 2012 and 2014, Soliman, through his companies Apex Pharmaceuticals and Maroon Pharma, knowingly purchased illicitly-procured drugs from Marquez, Figueroa and Zagaryan and then re-sold them as legitimate drugs.  During this time period, Marquez, Figueroa, Zargaryan and Soliman engaged in the distribution of more than $20 million worth of drugs.

Another aspect of the alleged criminal activity is a massive check and bank fraud operation.  As part of the enterprise, Karapedyan and his associates, including Asatour Magzanyan, 53, Tigran Sarkisyan, 38, and Hripsime Khachtryan, 41, allegedly used fraudulent identification information to prepare fraudulent tax returns, which were then filed with the government in order to induce the U.S. Treasury to issue tax refund checks.  Karapedyan associate Khachig Geuydjian, 74, allegedly used his unlicensed mail-box business to provide addresses for these fraudulent tax filings.  They and other members and associates of the enterprise then negotiated the tax refund checks using fraudulent identities or through a complicit check cashing business operated by Jean Dukmajian, 61, Karine Dukmajian, 33, and Angela Dukmajian, 26.  In addition to the tax refund scheme, members and associates of the enterprise also engaged in negotiating counterfeit and stolen checks.  In all, from roughly late 2012 to late 2014, Karapedyan and his associates negotiated more than 500 fraudulent checks worth more than $5 million.

In addition to the fraudulent unlicensed distribution of drugs and negotiating fraudulent checks, Karapedyan, the Stepanyans, Miller and others are charged with conspiring to launder money in an effort to promote their criminal activities and to conceal proceeds collected from their criminal activities.  For example, a description of Miller’s activity between 2012 through 2014, wherein he attempted to hide the fact he was paying the Stepanyans for drugs is alleged in the indictment.  The indictment further alleges Miller made the payments to the Stepanyans’ company GC National Wholesale through companies in Puerto Rico he controlled, such as B&Y Wholesalers and FMC Distributors.  The payments were for sales of drugs that the Stepanyans actually delivered to Miller’s company MIC.  Similarly, the indictment includes allegations Karapedyan and Starsky also arranged payments for more than $1 million of illicitly-procured drugs through a shell company.  In addition, Karapedyan also allegedly laundered money for the Stepanyans.  According to the indictment, in 2013, the Stepanyans transferred more than $1 million in proceeds derived from MIC to Karapedyan, who caused the money to be withdrawn as cash.

Furthermore, in addition to the foregoing, defendants Karapedyan and Gevork Ter-Mkrtchyan are charged with conspiring to use a facility of interstate commerce to commit murder-for-hire.  According to the indictment, these defendants made several attempts to find a person who would be willing to kill someone who had angered Ter-Mkrtchyan.  Although the defendants paid $1,500 for the hit, it was never carried out.

According to the indictment, a significant portion of the criminal activity took place in the Northern District of California.  For example, one delivery of drugs took place in the Northern District of California and many of the checks were negotiated in the Northern District as well.  In addition, much of the proceeds from the check and the drug schemes were laundered through the Northern District of California, where Karapedyan and his associates regularly picked up large amounts of cash.  In addition, Miller’s company, MIC, posted fraudulent information relating to the origins of the drugs he sold via a website.  The website was maintained by an Internet service provider in the Northern District of California.  Furthermore, Karapedyan made numerous calls to the Northern District of California in order to find individuals willing to perform the hit he sought.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.   All the defendants except Miller were arrested yesterday.  Miller remains at large and is the subject of an active arrest warrant.

In sum, the indictment includes seven counts as follows: count One, RICO conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (maximum term of imprisonment, life or 20 years); Count Two, conspiracy to commit identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §  1028(f) (maximum term of imprisonment, 15 years); Count Three, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1029(b)(2) (maximum term of imprisonment, 5 years); Count Four, conspiracy to commit mail, wire, and bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349; Count Five, conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) (maximum term of imprisonment, 20 years); Count Six, conspiracy to use interstate facility to commit murder-for-hire, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958); Count Seven, conspiracy to engage in unlicensed wholesale distribution of drugs, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (maximum term of imprisonment, 5 years).

The following charges apply as against the following defendants are: Ara Karapedyan on Counts one through seven, Mihran Stepanyan on counts one through five and seven, Artur Stepanyan on counts one through five and seven, Gevork Ter-Mkrtchyan on counts 1-7, Khachig Geuydjian on counts one through five, Arman Petrosyan on counts one through five, Lanna Karapedyan on counts one through five, Maxwell Starsky on counts one through five and seven, Sevak Gharghani on counts one through five and seven, Jean Dukmajian, on counts one through five, Karine Dukmajian on counts one through five, Angela Dukmajian on counts one through five, Arman Danielian count one, four, five and seven, Asatour Magzanyan conts one through five, Tigran Sarkisyan counts one through five, Hripsime Khachtryan counts one through five, Loui Artin on counts one through five, Hugo Marquez on counts one through five and seven, Arman Zargaryan on counts one through five and seven, Dmitriy Kustov on counts two through four, Michael Inman on counts two through four, Araxia Nazaryian on counts two five and seven, Alexander Soliman on counts four, five and seven, Cheryl Barndt on counts four, five and seven, Eric Figueroa on counts four, five and seven, Marc Asheghian on counts four, five and seven, Michael Asheghian on counts four, five and seven, David Milleron cunts one through five and seven, James Russoon on counts four, five and seven, Jeannette Couch counts four, five and seven, Marie Polichetti counts four, five and seven, Bernardo Guillen counts four, five and seven, Javier Ramirez on counts four and seven.

Additional periods of supervised release, fines and special assessments also could be imposed.  Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Thirty-one defendants appeared before the Honorable Victor B. Kenton and Michael R. Wilner in the Central District of California on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, to be advised of the charges against them and to determine conditions of release.  Some of those hearings have been continued at the request of the defendants.  Specifically, the bail hearing for Eric Figueroa has been continued to Friday, May 8, 2015, and the hearings for Hugo Marquez and Michael Inman have been continued to Monday, May 11, 2015, before the Honorable Michael R. Wilner.  In addition, Karapedyan will appear on Friday, May 8, 2015, before the Honorable Victor B. Kenton.

Further, Ter-Mkrtchyan has requested a hearing in which the government will be required to prove his identity, i.e., that he is the individual named in the indictment.  That hearing will occur on Friday, May 8, 2015, before the Honorable Victor B. Kenton.

The remaining 26 defendants have been ordered to appear before the Honorable Jacqueline Scott Corley in the Northern District of California. Alexander Soliman, Araxia Nazaryian and Asatour Magzanyan will appear on May 12, 2015.  Cheryl Barndt, Marc Asheghian, Michael Asheghian, Hripsime Khachtryan, Bernardo Guillen, Javier Ramirez, Jean Dukmajian, Karine Dukmajian, Angela Dukmajian, Khachig Geuydjian and Arman Zargaryan will appear on May 20, 2015.  Jeannette Couch, Loui Artin, Dmitriy Kustov, Marie Polichetti, Arman Danielian, Lanna Karapedyan, Sevak Gharghani, Arman Petrosyan and Maxwell Starsky will appear on May 22, 2015.

Mihran Stepanyan, Artur Stepanyan and Tigran Sarkisyan are being transported to the Northern District of California by the U.S. Marshal Service and will make court appearances after their arrival.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Damali A. Taylor, David Countryman and W.S. Wilson Leung are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lance Libatique, Ponly Tu, Daniel Charlier-Smith.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.

Doctor Admits Taking Bribes In Test-Referral Scheme With NJ Clinical Lab

NEWARK, N.J. – A Middlesex County doctor with practices in Jersey City, New Jersey, today admitted accepting bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Anthony DelPiano, 53, of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.

Including DelPiano, 35 people – 24 of them doctors – have pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies. The investigation has to date recovered more than $10.5 million through forfeiture.

According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court:

DelPiano admitted he accepted bribes in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS and was paid approximately $2,300 per month. DelPiano’s referrals generated at least $1,752,603.24 in lab business for BLS.

On April 9, 2013, federal agents arrested David Nicoll, 40, of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, Scott Nicoll, 33, of Wayne, New Jersey, a senior BLS employee and David Nicoll’s brother, and Craig Nordman, 35, of Whippany, New Jersey, a BLS employee and the CEO of Advantech Sales LLC – one of several entities used by BLS to make illegal payments. They were charged by federal complaint with the bribery conspiracy, along with the BLS company and Frank Santangelo, 44, of Boonton, New Jersey. In June 2013, David and Scott Nicoll, Nordman and four other associates of BLS pleaded guilty to charges related to their involvement. Santangelo, a doctor, pleaded guilty in August 2013 to charges relating to his role in the scheme

The bribery count to which DelPiano pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 12, 2015. As part of his guilty plea, DelPiano must forfeit $204,475, representing the total bribe monies received from BLS.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric Welling; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; IRS– Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph N. Minish, Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven, and Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $635 million in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.

15-046

Former New Jersey Chiropractor Sentenced to Prison for Fraud

A man formerly of Neptune, New Jersey, was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to serve 54 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced.

In February 2014, a jury convicted David Moleski, a pilot and former chiropractor, of 14 counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede Internal Revenue laws and three counts of submitting false claims for tax refunds.  Moleski was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson, who also ordered that Moleski pay a $10,000 fine and, as a condition of release, $48,199 in restitution.

According to the evidence presented in court, Moleski submitted three false tax returns in 2009 for tax years 2006 through 2008 that collectively requested more than $1.3 million in income tax refunds to which he was not entitled.  Prior to filing these returns, Moleski failed to file tax returns from 1999 through 2005, even though he was legally required to file.  When the IRS assessed taxes for those years and began collecting, Moleski obstructed the collection efforts and demanded that a third-party financial institution not comply with an IRS levy.  In addition, Moleski attempted to pay credit card bills and other debts with fake financial instruments that claimed to draw on an account at the U.S. Treasury that did not actually exist.  For instance, Moleski sent a fake financial instrument for $500,000 in alleged payment of a mortgage debt.

The case was investigated by special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation.  Trial Attorneys Tino M. Lisella and Yael T. Epstein of the Tax Division prosecuted the case, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.