Former Siemens Executive Pleads Guilty To Role in $100 Million Foreign Bribery Scheme

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The former Technical Manager of the Major Projects division of Siemens Business Services GmbH & Co. OGH (SBS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Siemens AG), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials to secure, implement and enforce a $1 billion contract to create national identity cards.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.

Eberhard Reichert, 78, of Munich, Germany, was employed by Siemens AG from 1964 until 2001.  Beginning in approximately 1990, Reichert was the Technical Manager of the Major Projects division of SBS.  Reichert pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to one count of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud.  Reichert was arraigned last December on a three-count indictment filed in December 2011 charging him and seven other individuals.  He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote of the Southern District of New York, who accepted his plea today.

“Far too often, companies pay bribes as part of their business plan, upsetting what should be a level playing field and harming companies that play by the rules,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “In this case, one of the largest public companies in the world paid staggeringly large bribes to officials at the uppermost levels of the government of Argentina to secure a billion-dollar contract.  Eberhard Reichert’s conviction demonstrates the Criminal Division’s commitment to bringing both companies and corrupt individuals to justice, wherever they may reside and regardless of how long they may attempt to avoid arrest.”

“Eberhard Reichert tried to sidestep laws designed to root corruption out of the government contracting process,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “As he admitted in Manhattan federal court today, Reichert helped to conceal tens of millions of dollars in bribes that were paid to unfairly secure a lucrative contract from the Argentine government.  Today’s plea should be a warning to others that our office is committed to bringing corrupt criminals to justice, no matter how long they run from the law.”

In 1998, the government of Argentina awarded to a subsidiary of Siemens AG a contract worth approximately $1 billion to create state-of-the-art national identity cards (the Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI project).  The Argentine government terminated the DNI project in 2001.  In connection with his guilty plea, Reichert admitted that he engaged in a decade-long scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials in connection with the DNI project, which was worth more than $1 billion to Siemens.  Reichert admitted that he and his co-conspirators concealed the illicit payments through various means, including using shell companies associated with intermediaries to disguise and launder the funds.

Reichert also admitted that he used a $27 million contract between a Siemens entity and a company called MFast Consulting AG that purported to be for consulting services to conceal bribes to Argentine officials.

In 2008, Siemens AG, a German entity, pleaded guilty to violating the books and records provisions of the FCPA; Siemens Argentina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA; and Siemens Bangladesh Limited and Siemens S.A. – Venezuela each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA.  As part of the plea agreements, the Siemens companies paid a total of $450 million in criminal fines.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also brought a civil case against Siemens AG alleging that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.  In resolving the SEC case, Siemens AG paid $350 million in disgorgement of wrongful profits.  The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also resolved similar charges with Siemens AG that resulted in a fine of $800 million.  In August 2009, following these corporate resolutions with U.S. and German authorities, Siemens AG withdrew its claim to the more than $200 million arbitration award.

The FBI’s International Corruption Squad in Washington, D.C. is investigating the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael Culhane Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor of the Southern District of New York.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the SEC, Croatian authorities and the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also provided significant assistance.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Los Angeles Dentist Charged in Health Care Fraud Scheme

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Los Angeles, California-based dentist was charged in an indictment unsealed on Monday for his alleged participation in a health care fraud and identity theft scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office and Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Benjamin Rosenberg, D.D.S., 58, of Los Angeles, was charged with six counts of health care fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Rosenberg was arrested yesterday morning and made his initial court appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth of the Central District of California.

The indictment alleges that Rosenberg billed various insurance companies, including Medicaid-funded Denti-Cal, for dental procedures that were never provided.  Rosenberg allegedly billed the insurance companies by using patients’ identification without their permission.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Los Angeles Field Offices.  Trial Attorney Emily Culbertson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.

Real Estate Investor Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Rigging Bids at Northern California Public Foreclosure Auctions

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A real estate investor was sentenced today for his role in conspiracies to rig bids at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Northern California, the Department of Justice announced.

Michael Marr was charged on Nov. 19, 2014, in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California.  He was convicted on June 2, 2017, of conspiring to rig bids at foreclosure auctions in Alameda and Contra Costa County.  Today, Marr was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and to serve 3 years of supervised release.  In addition to his term of imprisonment, Marr was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $1,397,061.59.

“Michael Marr was a driving force behind a multi-year conspiracy to corrupt the public foreclosure auction process through a system of illegal payoffs,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of that crime.”

The evidence at trial showed that the defendant conspired with others to rig bids to obtain hundreds of properties sold at foreclosure auctions.  The conspirators designated the winning bidders to obtain selected properties at the public auctions, and negotiated payoffs among themselves in return for not competing with one another.  They subsequently conducted private auctions among themselves at or near the courthouse steps where the public auctions were held, awarding the properties to the conspirators who submitted the highest bids in those private auctions.

As the CEO of Community Fund, LLC and Community Realty Property Management Inc., Marr sent multiple employees to the foreclosure auctions to rig bids on his behalf.  As part of the conspiracies, Marr’s agents purchased several hundred properties through the bid-rigging conspiracies and were owed payoffs on hundreds more.

When real estate properties are sold at public auctions, the proceeds are used to pay off the mortgage and other debt attached to the property, with the remaining proceeds paid to the homeowner.

The sentence is a result of an ongoing investigation into bid rigging at public real estate foreclosure auctions in California’s San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Office.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at 415-934-5300 or call the FBI tip line at 415-553-7400.

Immigration Attorney Sentenced to More Than Six Years in Prison for Fraud Scheme and Identity Theft in Relation to Visa Applications

Friday, March 9, 2018

An Indianapolis, Indiana immigration attorney was sentenced today to 75 months in prison for defrauding the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and more than 250 of his clients by filing fraudulent visa applications and reaping approximately $750,000 in illegitimate fees.  Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge James M. Gibbons of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Chicago made the announcement.

Joel Paul, 45, of Fishers, Indiana, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson of the Southern District of Indiana.  In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Magnus-Stinson sentenced Paul to serve three years of supervised release, and ordered that he pay up to $750,000 in restitution to his victims.  In November 2017, Paul pleaded guilty to one count each of mail fraud, immigration document fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to submit fraudulent U-visa applications.

“Immigration fraud undermines not only the public’s faith in our institutions and the legal profession, it also jeopardizes public safety and compromises national security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Attorneys who commit such egregious fraud on our legal system and their own clients will be held accountable.”

“Immigration fraud presents a serious threat to the national security of our country,” said Special Agent in Charge Gibbons. “Illegal schemes like this not only undermine the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system, but they create potential security vulnerabilities while also cheating deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve.”

As part of his plea agreement, Paul admitted that from 2013 to 2017, he submitted more than 250 false Applications for Advance Permission to Enter as a Nonimmigrant on behalf of his clients and without their knowledge.  Those applications falsely asserted that Paul’s clients had been victims of a crime and had provided substantial assistance to law enforcement in investigating the crime.  With approximately 200 of the false applications, Paul submitted unauthorized copies of a certification he had obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of Indiana in 2013, using the certification without the USAO’s knowledge to falsely claim that the applicant had provided substantial assistance in a criminal prosecution.  In total, Paul charged his clients approximately $3,000 per application.

HSI investigated the case with the assistance of USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate.  Trial Attorneys Molly Gaston, Peter M. Nothstein and Amanda Vaughn of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case.

Three Miami-Area Home Health Agency Owners Charged for Role in Health Care Fraud Scheme

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Three Miami, Florida-area home health agency owners were charged in an indictment unsealed yesterday for their alleged participation in a health care fraud scheme involving a now-defunct home health agency in Miami.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Robert F. Lasky of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office made the announcement.

Ailin Consuelo Rodriguez Sigler, 39; Zoila C. Rios, 57; and Tomas A. Rodriguez, 66, were charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, and three counts of health care fraud.  Sigler, Rios and Rodriguez were arrested yesterday morning and appeared yesterday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes.

The indictment alleges that from approximately January 2011 through November 2014, Sigler, Rios and Rodriguez, owners of Florida Patient Care Corp. of Miami, Florida, were involved in a fraudulent scheme whereby they agreed with the owners and operators of multiple home health therapy staffing companies and others to bill Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary, not eligible for Medicare reimbursement, or were never provided.

According to the indictment, Sigler, Rios, Rodriguez and their co-conspirators allegedly caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health therapy care, and physical and occupational therapy services purportedly provided by Florida Patient Care Corp.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  Fraud Section Trial Attorney Yisel Valdes is prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Former Employee of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan Sentenced to Prison for Soliciting Approximately $320,000 in Bribes From Contractors

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A former employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) based in Afghanistan was sentenced today to 100 months in prison for soliciting approximately $320,000 in bribes from Afghan contractors in return for his assistance in U.S. government contracts.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress of the Central District of Illinois; Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox of the FBI’s Springfield, Illinois Field Office; Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko; Special Agent in Charge Michael Mentavlos of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Southwest Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) made the announcement.

Mark E. Miller, 49, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard H. Mills of the Central District of Illinois, who also ordered Miller to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence and forfeit $180,000 and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Miller previously pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with seeking and receiving bribes.

As part of his guilty plea, Miller admitted that he worked for the USACE from 2005 until 2015, including in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012, and maintained a residence in Springfield during that time.  From February 2009 to October 2011, Miller was assigned to a military base, Camp Clark, in eastern Afghanistan.  He was the site manager and a contracting officer representative for a number of construction projects in Afghanistan.

On Dec. 10, 2009, the USACE awarded a contract worth approximately $2.9 million to an Afghan construction company for the construction of a road from eastern Afghanistan to the Pakistani border.  This contract later increased in value to approximately $8,142,300.  Miller oversaw the work of the Afghan company on this road project, including verifying that the company performed the work called for by the contract and, if so, authorizing progress payments to the company by the USACE, he admitted.

Also as part of his guilty plea, Miller admitted that, in the course of overseeing the contract with the Afghan company, he solicited from the owners of the company approximately $280,000 in bribes in return for making things easier for the company on the road project, including making sure the contract moved along and was not terminated.  He further admitted that, after the contract was no longer active, he solicited an additional $40,000 in bribes in return for the possibility of future contract work and other benefits.

This matter was investigated by the FBI, DCIS, SIGAR and Army CID-MPFU, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Fort Worth Division.  Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris of the Central District of Illinois are prosecuting the case.

Biloxi Physician Convicted for Role in $3 Million Compounding Pharmacy Fraud Scheme

Monday, March 5, 2018

A federal jury found a Biloxi, Mississippi physician guilty Friday for his role in an approximately $3 million compounding pharmacy fraud scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. of the Southern District of Mississippi; Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze of the FBI’s Jackson, Mississippi, Field Division and Acting Special Agent in Charge Ted Magee of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.

Albert Diaz, M.D., 78, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense a controlled substance, four counts of distributing and dispensing a controlled substance, one count of conspiracy to falsify records in a federal investigation and five counts of falsification of records in a federal investigation following a five-day trial.  Sentencing has been scheduled for May 22, 2018 before U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett of the Southern District of Mississippi, who presided over the trial.

“Communities place extraordinary trust in medical professionals,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “It is therefore particularly egregious when a physician compromises that trust, as Albert Diaz did when he played a pivotal role in causing millions of dollars in loss to our country’s health care programs.  The prosecution of Albert Diaz exemplifies the Criminal Division’s commitment to holding those involved in fraud schemes accountable for their actions.”

“When individuals defraud our military’s healthcare system TRICARE, harming the health and welfare of our men and women in uniform, they will be met with swift prosecution, severe punishment and the loss of their illicit gains,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst. “I applaud the tireless and determined work of these investigators and prosecutors in securing justice in this case.  Justice prevailed and justice will continue to roll.”

“In the past five years, health care fraud schemes have cost Mississippi taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Special Agent in Charge Freeze.  “Today’s verdict should send a strong message that the FBI will continue to expose and investigate those who exploit our health care system at the expense of the taxpayer, and especially physicians who contribute to addiction by prescribing unnecessary controlled substances.”

“The jury found Dr. Albert Diaz guilty of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, which sent a message to all criminals seeking to defraud insurance companies – we’re on to you and will hold you responsible for your crimes,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Magee.  “Dr. Diaz’s scheme to steal from TRICARE and other insurance companies not only cost the American taxpayers, but put the lives of his patients in danger.”

According to evidence presented at trial, between October 2014 and December 2015, Diaz participated in a scheme to defraud TRICARE and other insurance companies by prescribing medically unnecessary compounded medications, some of which included ketamine, a controlled substance, to individuals he had not examined.  The evidence further demonstrated that, based on the prescriptions signed by Diaz, Advantage Pharmacy in Hattiesburg, Mississippi dispensed these medically unnecessary compounded medications and sought and received reimbursement from TRICARE and other insurance companies totaling more than $3 million. The trial evidence further demonstrated that in response to a TRICARE audit, Diaz falsified patient records to make it appear as though he had examined patients before prescribing the medications.

The FBI, IRS-CI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other government agencies investigated the case.  Trial Attorneys Kate Payerle and Jared Hasten of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Helen Wall of the Southern District of Mississippi are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.

Transport Logistics International Inc. Agrees to Pay $2 Million Penalty to Resolve Foreign Bribery Case

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Transport Logistics International Inc. (TLI), a Maryland-based company that provides services for the transportation of nuclear materials to customers in the United States and abroad, agreed to resolve criminal charges in connection with a scheme that involved the bribery of an official at a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and to pay a $2 million criminal penalty.  Three individuals have been charged for their alleged roles in the bribery scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning of the District of Maryland, Principal Deputy Inspector General April G. Stephenson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General (DOE-OIG) and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.

TLI entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Department in connection with a criminal information filed in the District of Maryland charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  In the DPA, TLI and the Department agreed that, because of the company’s financial inability to pay the penalty calculated under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the appropriate criminal penalty is $2 million.  As part of the agreement, TLI also committed to cooperate fully with the Department’s ongoing investigation, and to continue to implement a compliance and ethics program designed to prevent and detect violations of the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws throughout its operations.  In reaching the resolution with the Department, TLI received full credit for its substantial cooperation with the Department’s investigation and for engaging in remedial measures, including terminating the employment of all employees engaged in the misconduct.

“Bribery of foreign officials not only distorts markets and undermines democratic institutions; it can also pervert the incentives of those who are in a position to safeguard the public, as it did in this case involving the transportation of nuclear material,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Today’s resolution, along with the related charges against the corporate executives and the Russian official in this matter, underscore the Department’s continued commitment to holding both companies and individuals accountable for their roles in corruption-related crimes and for breaching the public’s trust.”

“The Department of Energy remains committed to ensuring the integrity of our contractors and subcontractors, as well as providing the nation transparency, accountability, and security when it comes to safe and reliable transport of sensitive materials,” said Principal Deputy Inspector General Stephenson.  “We appreciate the efforts of the FBI, the Justice Department’s FCPA Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in pursuing this matter and will continue to work collaboratively with them to aggressively investigate those who seek to defraud Department programs.”

“Today’s charges reflect the determination and ability of the FBI to investigate and prosecute companies that engage in foreign corrupt business practices, regardless of how sophisticated or far-flung the scheme may be,” said Assistant Director in Charge Vale.  “No entity is above the law and those that try to perpetrate a similar scheme will be pursued by the FBI.”

According to admissions and court documents, beginning in at least 2004 and continuing until at least 2014, TLI conspired with others to corruptly pay more than $1.7 million to offshore bank accounts associated with shell companies, at the direction of, and for the benefit of, Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation.  The bribe payments were made to help TLI secure improper business advantages and obtain and retain business with TENEX.   In order to effectuate and conceal the bribe payments, TLI executives and others caused fake invoices to be prepared, purportedly from TENEX to TLI, that described services that were never provided.  TLI then wired payments for those purported services to shell companies in Latvia, Cyprus and Switzerland to further the bribery scheme.

On June 17, 2015, TLI co-president Daren Condrey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud.  On Aug. 31, 2015, Mikerin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering involving violations of the FCPA, and Mikerin was sentenced to 48 months in prison on Dec. 15, 2015.  On Jan. 12, an 11-count indictment was unsealed against TLI co-president Mark Lambert, which charged Lambert with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two counts of wire fraud and one count of international promotion money laundering.  The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The cases against TLI and Lambert are assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the District of Maryland.

The case is being investigated by DOE-OIG and the FBI.  Assistant Chiefs Ephraim Wernick and Christopher J. Cestaro and Trial Attorney Derek J. Ettinger of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys David I. Salem and Michael T. Packard of the District of Maryland, are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter.  The Department also thanks its law enforcement colleagues in Switzerland, Latvia and Cyprus for providing valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Former CEO of Tennessee-Based Telemarketing Company Pleads Guilty to Misrepresenting Health Insurance Plans

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The former owner and chief executive officer of a Nashville, Tennessee-based telemarketing company pleaded guilty this morning to overseeing a fraudulent scheme in which limited-benefit health plans were sold to consumers as traditional health insurance, and to violating a federal court order that in 2010 froze his assets and shut down the company, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee.

Timothy Thomas, 55, of Brentwood, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of contempt before U.S. District Judge David Lawson, sitting by designation in the Middle District of Tennessee.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lawson on June 25.  Thomas was charged in a 15-count indictment filed in October 2014.

According to admissions made as part of his plea, Thomas operated and controlled United Benefits of America (UBA) LLC, which was known at various times as United States Benefits (USB) and Health Care America.  From at least 2007 to 2010, Thomas hired salespeople to sell over the phone so-called “association memberships” created by third-party companies such as International Association of Benefits and Consumer Driven Benefits of America.  These memberships included bundled benefits, such as limited benefit health plans, prescription drug discount cards, accidental death and dismemberment benefits and lifestyle benefits, such as rental car discounts.  Thomas targeted his sales to customers who had been denied traditional health insurance because of preexisting conditions, he admitted.  The sales script used by Thomas attempted to portray the memberships as equal in quality to traditional health insurance, omitting the fact that limited benefit health plans left customers with the vast majority of the financial risk.

Thomas admitted that salespeople working for him made even more flagrant misrepresentations and omissions and used terms such as “deductibles” and “copays” to make customers believe they were buying traditional health insurance.  Customer service employees and the Better Business Bureau routinely notified Thomas about customers complaining that they had been deceived into believing the plans were similar to traditional health insurance.  Thomas oversaw a lax compliance program that was understaffed, with usually one employee monitoring up to 60 or 70 salespeople, and levied only occasional fines to salespersons who misrepresented or omitted key details of the plans.  Despite knowing of the rampant misrepresentations and omissions, Thomas rarely fired salespeople for lying to customers, but routinely fired salespeople for low sales numbers, he admitted.  When in 2009 a local news station, WSMV, ran a critical story on UBA featuring undercover footage of salespeople discussing misleading sales tactics, Thomas did not institute any meaningful changes in business practices.  He merely changed the name of his company from UBA to USB and instructed a subordinate to sign a letter to the Better Business Bureau falsely claiming that the companies had nothing to do with each other.

When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Thomas and his company in August 2010, a federal judge in the Middle District of Tennessee issued an order freezing Thomas’s assets and placing his company into receivership.  Immediately after being informed of the court’s order, Thomas violated it by withdrawing more than $100,000 from a brokerage account and convincing a friend to deposit checks totaling $528,647, constituting proceeds of the scheme, into the friend’s bank account, he admitted.

As part of his plea agreement, Thomas agreed to forfeit $1.5 million, representing the amount he personally gained through the fraudulent scheme.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.  The FTC and Tennessee Division of Insurance provided substantial assistance.  Trial Attorney William E. Johnston of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil VanDevender of the Middle District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case.

Beam Bros. Trucking Inc. and Its Principals Agree to Settle Civil False Claims Act Allegations

Monday, March 12, 2018

Beam Bros. Trucking Inc. (BBT), and its principals Gerald Beam and Garland Beam, have agreed to pay $1,025,000 to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that BBT overcharged the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on contracts to transport mail.  BBT is a trucking company located in Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

“The Department of Justice takes seriously its role in protecting the federal procurement process from false claims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “This settlement demonstrates that we will hold accountable federal contractors engaging in fraud, and will ensure that federal funds are protected from overcharges and abuse.”

“We are gratified to have contributed to this investigation and applaud the exceptional work by the investigative team for both protecting the contracting process and overall program costs,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General.  “Along with our law enforcement partners, the USPS OIG will continue to aggressively investigate those who engage in activities designed to defraud the Postal Service.”

“Contractors working for the federal government are held to the same high ethical standards as full-time employees,” U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito said. “This settlement will return more than $1 million to the USPS.”

USPS contracts with trucking companies, including BBT, to transport mail throughout the United States.  On some contracts, USPS had provided trucking contractors with credit cards, known as Voyager Cards, to pay for fuel.  This settlement resolves allegations that BBT misused Voyager Cards to purchase fuel on contracts that did not allow for their use, resulting in inflated charges in violation of the False Claims Act.

The settlement resolves allegations made in lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act by Bobby Blizzard, a former BBT employee.  The False Claims Act permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and obtain a portion of the government’s recovery.  Mr. Blizzard’s share of the recovery has yet to be determined.

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort between the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, and the USPS, Office of the Inspector General.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the District of New Jersey, is captioned United States ex rel. Doe v. Beam Bros. Trucking, Inc., Civil Action No. 10-657 (D.N.J.).  The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.