Former Social Security Administrative Law Judge Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Role in $550 Million Social Security Fraud Scheme

Friday, August 25, 2017

A former social security administrative law judge (ALJ) was sentenced today to four years in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.

David Black Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, who also ordered Daugherty to pay restitution of over $93 million to the SSA and HHS. Daugherty pleaded guilty in May 2017 to two counts of receiving illegal gratuities.

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, beginning in 2004, Daugherty, as an ALJ assigned to the SSA’s Huntington, W. Va., hearing office, sought out pending disability cases in which Kentucky attorney Eric Christopher Conn represented claimants and reassigned those cases to himself. Daugherty then contacted Conn and identified the cases he intended to decide the following month and further solicited Conn to provide medical documentation supporting either physical or mental disability determinations. Without exception, Daugherty awarded disability benefits to individuals represented by Conn – in some instances, without first holding a hearing. As a result of Daugherty’s awarding disability benefits to claimants represented by Conn, Conn paid Daugherty an average of approximately $8,000 per month in cash, until approximately April 2011. All told, Daugherty received more than $609,000 in cash from Conn for deciding approximately 3,149 cases.

As a result of the scheme, Conn, Daugherty, and their co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants based upon cases Daugherty approved for which he received payment from Conn.

Daugherty was indicted last year, along with Conn and Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist. The defendants were charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the scheme.

Conn pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities, and was sentenced in absentia on July 14 to 12 years in prison. Conn absconded from court ordered-electronic monitoring on June 2, and is considered a fugitive. He remains under indictment. On June 12, Adkins was convicted after a jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. Adkins is scheduled to be sentenced on September 22.

The SSA-OIG, FBI, IRS-CI and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case, with previous co-counsel including Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri and Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Compounding Pharmacy Sales Representative Pleads Guilty to Prescription Fraud Conspiracy

Thursday, August 17, 2017

TUSCALOOSA – A sales representative for a Haleyville, Ala.-based compounding pharmacy pleaded guilty today in federal court to participating in a conspiracy to generate prescriptions and defraud health care insurers and prescription drug administrators out of tens of millions of dollars in 2015.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, Defense Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge James E. Dorsey announced the plea.

BRIDGET McCUNE, 41, of Destin, Fla., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud and to conspiring to solicit and receive kickbacks in return for referring prescriptions under Medicare and TRICARE, a U.S. Department of Defense health care program. McCune also pleaded guilty to four counts of health care fraud, and to two counts of money laundering for spending proceeds of the crimes. She remains out on bond pending sentencing, which is not yet scheduled.

McCune worked for Northside Pharmacy, an Alabama company doing business as Global Compounding Pharmacy. Global’s compounding and shipping facility was in Haleyville. The pharmacy did its prescription processing, billing and customer service at its “call center” in Clearwater, Fla.

Global hired sales representatives, including McCune, who were located in various states and were responsible for generating prescriptions from physicians and other prescribers. To bill insurance providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Medicare and TRICARE, for these prescriptions, Global contracted to enter the pharmacy networks of their third-party administrators, known as “pharmacy benefit managers” or “PBMs. These PBMs included Prime Therapeutics, Express Scripts Incorporated and CVS/Caremark.

McCune’s plea agreement with the government describes a conspiracy at Global that centered on generating and billing PBMs for fraudulent, often high-reimbursement prescriptions. To generate prescriptions, Global hired sales representatives who were married or related to doctors and other prescribers. Global also encouraged sales representatives to volunteer at doctors’ offices where they would review patient files and push Global’s products to patients. Global executives also frequently instructed employees to obtain high-reimbursing prescriptions that Global would fill and bill for reimbursement. The plea agreement describes a Global executive instructing sales representatives to obtain certain prescriptions and, shortly after, McCune obtained those prescriptions for herself and her dependents.

When billing, Global engaged in various fraudulent practices, including splitting drug quantities to evade PBM billing safeguards and automatically refilling and billing for prescriptions regardless of patient need, according to court documents. Global routinely waived co-pays to encourage patients to accept unnecessary medications and refills.

As part McCune’s plea, she agrees to forfeit $401,628 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity.

Global paid McCune a base salary plus a monthly commission for prescriptions that she obtained, according to court documents.

McCune began as a sales representative for Global’s Florida region in September 2014, working from Destin. Global promoted her to national field trainer in January 2015, but she also continued to function as a sales representative until she left the company in July 2016. McCune had a “close familial relationship” with a Florida physician, according to her plea agreement, and the “overwhelming majority of prescriptions she obtained” were issued under her family member’s signature.

At the same time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama charged McCune, it separately charged another Global sales representative, KELLEY NORRIS, also known as KELLEY NORRIS-HARTLEY, 41, of Tuscaloosa. Norris faces the charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud, as well as charges of health care fraud for submitting fraudulent prescription reimbursement claims to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Norris also entered a plea agreement with the government.

The charges against McCune and Norris followed charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in May against Global sales representative Robin Gary Lowry, 49, of Columbus, Miss. Lowry was charged with conspiracy to defraud BCBS of Alabama and Prime Therapeutics. She also faced three counts of health care fraud for submitting fraudulent claims for payment to BCBS of Alabama.

Lowry pleaded guilty to the charges in June. She is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 7.

FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation investigated the cases, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chinelo Dike-Minor and Nicole Grosnoff are prosecuting.

CEO Indicted For Wire Fraud And Aggravated Identity Theft

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Zheng Geng, a/k/a “Jason Geng”, age 59, of Vienna, Virginia, on charges related to a scheme to defraud the United States. The indictment was returned on August 9, 2017, and unsealed today upon the arrest of Geng. Geng is the Chief Executive Officer of Xigen LLC (Xigen), which has offices in Maryland and Virginia.

The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Inspector General Paul Martin of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Office of Inspector General; Inspector General Allison Lerner of the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGiulio of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Gordon Thompson of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

According to the six-count indictment, Geng devised a scheme between 2005 to 2016 to defraud the United States by submitting false and fraudulent grant applications under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The SBIR program aims to stimulate United States technological innovation. A further aim is to foster and encourage participation in technical innovation by socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses that in some instances are at least 51-percent owned and controlled by women. Geng prepared materially fraudulent proposals for awards, subsequent reports, and related communications under the programs.

To support the applications, Geng submitted endorsements for his grant applications using the identities of people without their permission, or misrepresenting their positions within Xigen. In addition, he submitted endorsements that misrepresented active affiliations with various universities including, Harvard University Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and budgeted funds for subcontractors without their knowledge and without providing them with budgeted funds. With this false information, the United States government approved SBIR program awards and grants through the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Institutes of Health and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The awards totaled over $1.8 million.

According to court documents, Geng used the rewarded funds for his own personal use and the use of his family members and associates.

“The NASA Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate those who undermine and defraud NASA programs and operations,” said Inspector General Martin. “The NASA OIG appreciates the efforts of the entire investigative and prosecution team during this multi-year investigation, and we look forward to continued cooperation with our law enforcement partners in this and related matters.”

Allison Lerner, Inspector General for the National Science Foundation said, “The SBIR program is a valuable tool for advancing promising new technologies. My office will continue to vigorously pursue attempts to defraud scarce research dollars intended to promote economic growth through innovative SBIR investments.”

“The United States Department of Health and Human services provides research grant funds to qualified small businesses; we cannot tolerate the theft of taxpayer funds meant for honest research projects” said Nick DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge for the Inspector General’s Office of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Geng faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for wire fraud and a 2-year mandatory minimum consecutive sentence for each of the aggravated identity theft charges.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the NASA Office of Inspector General, the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General, the HHS Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phil Selden and Jennifer Sykes, who are prosecuting the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Salem who also helped investigate this case.

Contact ELIZABETH MORSE at (410) 209-4885

www.justice.gov/usao/md       

Marshall County physician indicted on health care fraud charges

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A physician with a pain management clinic in McMechen, West Virginia, was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Wheeling on June 6, 2017 on health care fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud charges, Acting United States Attorney Betsy Steinfeld Jividen announced.

Dr. Roland F. Chalifoux, Jr., age 57, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, was indicted on eleven counts of “Health Care Fraud for Travel Dates,” seven counts of “Mail Fraud,” four counts of “Wire Fraud,” and four counts of “Health Care Fraud.” The crimes are alleged to have occurred from 2008 to June 2017 in Marshall County and elsewhere in the Northern District of West Virginia.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the West Virginia Insurance Fraud Investigation Unit are investigating.

An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Short Hills, New Jersey, Investment Manager Sentenced To 33 Months In Prison For $675,000 Ponzi Scheme

Thursday, July 27, 2017

NEWARK, N.J. – An investment manager with an office in Short Hills, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for that he fraudulently inducing investments, concealing investment losses, and diverting more than $675,000 in investor money for his own use, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Mark Moskowitz, 48, of Short Hills, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Judge Hayden imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

In a separate legal proceeding, the N.J. Bureau of Securities ordered Moskowitz and his trading company, Edge Trading LLC, to pay a $1 million civil penalty for selling unregistered fraudulent securities and misusing investors’ funds for personal expenses.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Moskowitz controlled an investment fund under the names Edge Trading Partners L.P. and Edge Trading LLC (Edge Trading). In addition to touting his investment skill and experience, Moskowitz concealed losses from investors and falsely told them that Edge Trading was growing year after year. Based on these misrepresentations, investors continued to entrust additional funds to Moskowitz and left previous investments under his control.

Edge Trading was an investment fund that Moskowitz created and operated, starting in or around 2012. Moskowitz told investors that Edge Trading was invested in U.S. and foreign equities, futures contracts, and option contracts and that the fund’s investments continued to show positive returns. In reality, Moskowitz redirected investor money to his personal use, which he concealed from the investors.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hayden sentenced Moskowitz to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution and forfeiture of $694,577.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked the N.J. Bureau of Securities in the State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and Acting Bureau Chief Amy Kopleton, for its assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: David Holman Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Newark

New Jersey Man Sentenced To 39 Months In Prison For Defrauding Investors

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

NEWARK, N.J. – A North Caldwell, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 39 months in prison for fraudulently using more than $550,000 in investment funds that he solicited to purchase and sell consumer products in bulk, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Michael Esposito, 45, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud. Judge Martini imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From August 2013 through February 2017, Esposito was the president of numerous entities that purported to purchase consumer products in bulk from manufacturers for resale to wholesalers and retailers. Esposito told potential investors that he could purchase consumer goods – such as soda and bottled water – at substantial discounts, and that he had buyers ready to purchase the products at a significant profit.

In return for providing the funds necessary to purchase the products, Esposito promised the victim investors a large percentage of the profits. However, Esposito used the funds for his personal expenses and to pay other investors in order to make it appear the money was properly used. Esposito admitted that his actions resulted in losses of more than $550,000.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martini sentenced Esposito to three years of supervised release. Restitution will be determined at a late date.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked investigators with the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Sarah Devlin of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Brooke M. Barnett Esq., Newark

Three Sentenced for Roles in Healthcare Conspiracy

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Deborah Branch, Bryan Harr, Melissa Harr Will All Serve Time in Federal Prison

Abingdon, VIRGINIA – Three Bristol, Virginia residents, who were previously convicted of healthcare fraud, were sentenced today in Federal Court, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Nick DiGiulio, Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Regional Office for U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General announced.

Deborah Branch, 65, was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison. In a pair of separate hearings today, Bryan Harr, 41, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and Melissa Harr, 49, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison. The three previously pled guilty to federal healthcare conspiracy charges. Branch additionally pled guilty to wire fraud.

“This case shows that fraud committed against our federal and state health care benefit programs is more than just simple theft of government money, there is a sinister side to the greed that fuels the criminal acts of defendants like these,” Acting United States Attorney Mountcastle said today. “This type of greed brings physical and emotional devastation upon the innocent, vulnerable victims for whom essential services are denied, simply to satiate the greed of these defendants. In this case, children were forced to live in filth in a room without electricity. The United States Attorney’s Office, and our partners at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Health and Human Services and others, will continue to aggressively pursue fraudsters, like Branch and the Harrs, whose criminal actions bring harm to vulnerable victims.”

“Anyone who diverts public funds for their private benefit is stealing from all of us and undermining an important system that provides thousands of Virginians with needed medical services,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “A situation where people steal that money at the expense of their own disabled child is even more horrifying and unacceptable, and I’m glad to see these criminals brought to justice today. My award-winning Medicaid Fraud Unit and I will be relentless in holding accountable those who try to take advantage of our health care system.”

“It is shocking to imagine parents who would for many years neglect their disabled child and allow him to suffer horribly while they worked to steal taxpayer money meant to pay for the child’s much needed care,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGiulio of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “We are satisfied that justice was served today, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to jail heartless criminals who prey on beneficiaries and our health care system.”

According to evidence presented at previous hearings, Bryan Harr Sr. and his wife, Melissa Harr, hired Branch to work with one of their children, who suffers from intellectual and physical disabilities and who qualifies for services paid for by Virginia Medicaid, including personal assistance, respite and residential support services. These services are available to qualified individuals pursuant to Virginia Medicaid’s Intellectual Disability (ID) waiver program. The ID waiver program is designed to provide critical services that enable a recipient to remain at home instead of being placed in an institution. Recipients or their guardians are permitted to hire workers of their own choosing to provide these services, which are paid for by Virginia Medicaid. Branch was paid through two different Virginia Medicaid contractors: Public Partnerships, LLC and ResCare (formerly known as Creative Family Solutions).

From January 2010 until September 2015, Branch, with the knowledge of Melissa Harr and Bryan Harr Sr., submitted time sheets claiming Branch was providing services for Harr’s disabled son when she was not. In exchange for assisting Branch in being paid for work she did not do, Branch paid the Harrs approximately $200 every two weeks. Virginia Medicaid’s Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) paid out $350,641.02 to the contractors based on these time sheets, of which $207,854.43 was paid to Branch. More importantly, the Harr’s disabled son did not receive the services he legitimately needed pursuant to the ID waiver program.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Bristol Virginia Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney Janine M. Myatt, a Virginia Assistant Attorney General, prosecuted the case for the United States.

Employee Of New Jersey-Based Trucking Company Gets 33 Months In Prison For Stealing More Than $3 Million From Her Employer

Monday, July 24, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. – A former employee of a New Jersey based-trucking company was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for stealing more than $3 million by issuing company checks for her own benefit, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Tracey Perrigan, 55, of Sparta, Tennessee, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to Count One of an indictment charging her with wire fraud. Judge Sheridan imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Perrigan was an employee of a company identified in the indictment as “Company A,” the corporate parent of several subsidiary trucking, rigging, and transportation companies. Company A was headquartered in Oceanside, New York, and had a Branchburg, New Jersey, facility where Perrigan worked.

Company A used the “Comchek” system, which enables clients to authorize and monitor fuel and repair expenditures by drivers in remote locations. As part of her duties, Perrigan was responsible for authorizing Comcheks drawn on Company A’s bank account. From March 2007 through August 2015, Perrigan diverted $3.25 million from her employer to an entity identified as “Company B,” a trucking and towing company based in Tennessee that she owned with another person. Company B never conducted any business with Company A.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Perrigan to three years of supervised release. Perrigan must also pay restitution of $3,251,419.65.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Carol Gillen Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

Former Employee Of Commercial Supply Company Admits Fraud, False Testimony Before Grand Jury

Monday, July 24, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. – A former salesman at Bayway Lumber, a Linden, New Jersey, company that sold commercial and industrial products to numerous public and private entities, today admitted his role in a scheme to defraud customers and lying to a federal grand jury, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Adam Martignetti, 43, of South River, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to Counts 1 and 6 of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false declarations before a grand jury.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Martignetti admitted that from 2011 through 2013 he conspired with others to defraud certain Bayway Lumber customers by providing free items to customers’ employees and then recouping the cost of the items (plus additional revenue for Bayway Lumber) by overbilling and fraudulently billing the customers. Martignetti also admitted to supplying lower-quality, less expensive plywood to a customer, but charging for the more expensive, higher-quality plywood the customer had ordered.

Martignetti gave a variety of personal items to employees of some of Bayway Lumber’s customers, including Amtrak, the City of Elizabeth, and the Plainfield Board of Education.  These items included a laptop, several iPads, a camera and sound system, patio furniture, and other merchandise. Under the supervision of Robert Dattilo, president and partial owner of Bayway Lumber, Martignetti then overbilled and fraudulently billed those customers. Dattilo kept a running tally of how much Martignetti and others overbilled and fraudulently billed customers, which many at Bayway Lumber referred to as the “Bank,” to ensure that Bayway Lumber recovered the full cost of the free items. Dattilo previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and was sentenced in July 2016 to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $708,386 in restitution.

Martignetti also conspired to provide one Bayway Lumber customer, Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. (Con Edison), with lower-quality wood than it ordered and paid for. When Con Edison ordered graded plywood, a type of plywood graded by mills that had met a certain set of specifications, Martignetti, at Dattilo’s instruction, routinely sent plywood that was of a lower grade or not graded at all, including “reject” plywood, but charged Con Edison for the higher-quality plywood that it ordered.

Martignetti also pleaded guilty to falsely testifying before a federal grand jury while appearing as a witness under oath in March 2013 that he had never given Bayway Lumber items to City of Elizabeth employees for free, and that Elizabeth was never charged for items that were for Elizabeth employees’ personal use.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge to which Martignetti pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of knowingly making false statements before a grand jury guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss associated with the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2017.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents with the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi; the Office of Inspector General, Amtrak, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Waters; and the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara R. Llanes, Chief, General Crimes Unit, of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division, in Newark.

Defense Counsel: Michael Armstrong Esq., Willingboro, New Jersey

Passaic County Man Admits Defrauding Clifton-Based Trucking Company of $900,000

Monday, July 24, 2017

NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man today admitted his role in a scheme to defraud a trucking company out of more than $900,000, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Angel D. Vidal, 25, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to Count 1 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud.

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

Lisa Popewiny, 55, of Clifton, New Jersey, was the payroll clerk at Clifford B. Finkle Jr. Inc., a Clifton-based company that provided transportation and freight services to various public and private entities located in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. From June 2012 to April 2015, Popewiny, Vidal, and his two brothers, Angel Gabriel Vidal, 23, and Miguel Vidal, 23, a former truck driver for the company, engaged in a scheme to defraud the company out of $920,380. On June 26, 2017, Angel Gabriel Vidal pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo to Count 2 of an indictment charging him with wire fraud. On March 30, 2017, Miguel Vidal pleaded guilty to an information charging him with wire fraud. Popewiny is scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 2, 2017.

Popewiny allegedly falsified payroll records in order to generate fraudulent paychecks payable to non-existent employees, including the Vidal brothers. All of the Vidal brothers have admitted to allowing the use of their personal identifying information to generate the fraudulent paychecks. The three men then converted the checks, many of which were deposited into their bank accounts and then funneled out of the accounts in cash. Miguel Vidal admitted to recruiting other individuals to provide their personal information so that Popewiny could allegedly falsely add them to the payroll. Over the course of the scheme, Popewiny allegedly input false hours for at least 12 different individuals. The scheme came to light when owners of the company, in an effort to investigate suspected fraud, distributed the payroll checks to employees – a task normally completed by Popewiny. After all of the payroll checks had been distributed, several paychecks remained unclaimed that turned out to be fraudulently issued.

The charge to which Angel D. Vidal and his brothers pleaded guilty carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 17, 2017.

Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick credited criminal investigators in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and postal inspectors from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cari Fais of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division.

The charges and allegations against Popewiny are merely accusations, and she is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.