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.

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

 

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.

Medicare Advantage Organization & Former COO to Pay $32.5 Million

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Freedom Health Inc., a Tampa, Florida-based provider of managed care services, and its related corporate entities (collectively “Freedom Health”), agreed to pay $31,695,593 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by engaging in illegal schemes to maximize their payment from the government in connection with their Medicare Advantage plans, the Justice Department announced today. In addition, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Freedom Health Siddhartha Pagidipati, has agreed to pay $750,000 to resolve his alleged role in one of these schemes.

“When entering into agreements with managed care providers, the government requests information from those providers to ensure that patients are afforded the appropriate level of care,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s result sends a clear message to the managed care industry that the United States will hold managed care plan providers responsible when they fail to provide truthful information.”

The government alleged that Freedom Health submitted or caused others to submit unsupported diagnosis codes to CMS, which resulted in inflated reimbursements from 2008 to 2013 in connection with two of their Medicare Advantage plans operating in Florida. It also alleged that Freedom Health made material misrepresentations to CMS regarding the scope and content of its network of providers (physicians, specialists and hospitals) in its application to CMS in 2008 to expand in 2009 into new counties in Florida and in other states. The government’s settlement with Mr. Pagidipati resolves his alleged role in this latter scheme.

“Medicare Advantage plans play an increasingly important role in our nation’s health care market,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow. “This settlement underscores our Office’s commitment to civil health care fraud enforcement.”

“Medicare Advantage insurers must play by the rules and provide Medicare with accurate information about their provider networks and their patients’ health,” said Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “OIG will investigate and hold managed care organizations accountable for fraud. Moving forward, the innovative CIA reduces the risks to patients and taxpayers by focusing on compliance issues unique to Medicare Advantage plans.”

The allegations resolved by these settlements were brought in a lawsuit under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the Federal False Claims Act and the Florida False Claims Act. These statutes permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to receive a share of any recovery. The whistleblower in this action is Darren D. Sewell, who was a former employee of Freedom Health. The whistleblower’s share in this case has not yet been determined.

The corporate entities related to Freedom and which were part of today’s settlements are: Optimum HealthCare Inc., America’s 1st Choice Holdings of Florida LLC, Liberty Acquisition Group LLC, Health Management Services of USA LLC, Global TPA LLC, America’s 1st Choice Holdings of North Carolina LLC, America’s 1st Choice Holdings of South Carolina LLC, America’s 1st Choice Insurance Company of North Carolina Inc. and America’s 1st Choice Health Plans Inc.

Today’s settlements were the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, The U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Middle District of Florida, HHS-OIG and the Florida Office of the Attorney General.

The claims resolved by the settlements are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. The case is captioned United States ex rel. Sewell v. Freedom Health, Inc., et al., Case No. 8:09-cv-1625 (M.D. Fla.).

Houston Man Faces Twenty Years in Prison for His Role in $6.5 Million Diamond Fraud Scheme

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DALLAS — A Houston man, Christopher Arnold Jiongo, appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D Stickney and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Jiongo, 55, faces a maximum statutory penalty of twenty years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. He will remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for September 11, 2017, before U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey. Co-defendants Craig Allen Otteson, 64, of McKinney and Jay Bruce Heimburger, 58, of Dallas, are scheduled for trial July 17, 2017.

According to plea documents filed in the case, Otteson acted as the Managing Member and Chief Compliance Officer of Stonebridge Advisors, LLC, located on Belt Line road in Dallas. Stonebridge Advisors was involved as the Managing Partner of Worldwide Diamond Ventures, L.P., located at 6029 Belt Line in Dallas, and it acted as the General Partner of Worldwide Diamond. Heimburger acted as a Principal Partner of Worldwide Diamond, and he was also listed as the registered agent and Director of JBH Securities, Inc. located on San Rafael in Dallas. JBH Securities was primarily involved in the business of providing investment advice. Worldwide Diamond was primarily involved in the business of buying and reselling diamonds on the international market. On October 1, 2013, Worldwide Diamond filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of Texas.

During the summer of 2011 through November 2011, Jiongo drafted $50,000 diamond notes which were later used as investment vehicles to generate investment funds. Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger represented that all investment funds would be used to buy and resell diamonds and that every dollar invested would always be fully secured by the cash and diamond inventory of Worldwide Diamond. Sometime in the summer of 2011, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger realized that the original business plan was not working out as planned and that the defendants therefore could not honor the original promises and representations made to investors. Jiongo, Otteson, and Heimburger then engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by fraudulently concealing from investors that investor funds were being used for unauthorized purposes unrelated to the purchase and resale of diamonds. These unauthorized purposes included making several loans totaling approximately $2.4 million to third parties and to Global Reach Industries Limited for purposes not disclosed to or authorized by the investors. Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger also fraudulently concealed from Worldwide Diamond investors that defendants planned to make an unauthorized $1 million loan of investor funds to Global Reach Industries Limited, a company established and controlled by defendant Jiongo.

During July 2011, Jiongo, Otteson and Heimburger all agreed to fraudulently wire transfer $400,000 of investor funds into several bank accounts designated by Jiongo. In August 2011, all three defendants agreed that defendant Jiongo would cause another $600,000 of investor funds to be wire transferred directly into a trust account controlled by Jiongo.

As a result of this scheme to defraud during the period from about 2011 through 2012, documents reflect that millions of dollars were fraudulently collected from Worldwide Diamond investors.

This case is one of several felony prosecutions of bankruptcy-related crimes generated by the Bankruptcy Fraud Initiative in the Northern District of Texas. Of the 26 defendants charged as part of that initiative – 17 have been convicted, 1 resulted in a mistrial and 8 are pending trial.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jarvis is in charge of the prosecution.

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.

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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.

Former CEO Pleads Guilty to Investment Fraud Scheme

Department of JusticeU.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, May 22, 2017
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former chief executive officer of an investment company pleaded guilty today to her role in an investment fraud scheme involving foreign exchange currency.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Angelina Lazar, 54, a Canadian citizen from Windsor, Ontario, was the Chairman and CEO of Charismatic Exchange, Inc., an investment firm in Las Vegas. From May 2005 through February 2007, Lazar solicited individuals to invest money in foreign exchange currency funds she managed. As part of the scheme, Lazar guaranteed investors a monthly return of 20 percent or more. However, Lazar falsely represented her experience, her success rate, how funds would be invested, and how funds were ultimately spent. For example, Lazar told investors her company used special software program to facilitate and enhance her ability to successfully trade foreign currencies. In truth, Lazar did not possess the software nor did her company ever purchase it. Likewise, Lazar showed investors trading reports that purportedly validated executed foreign currency trades resulting in significant profits. In fact, the trading reports represented only simulated currency trades and no money was actually invested. As a result of her fraudulent conduct, victim investors suffered at least $20,000 in losses.
As part of her plea agreement, Lazar will be immediately deported from the United States to Canada.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea and announced the sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:09-cr-175.