Six Miami-Area Residents Plead Guilty to Mortgage Fraud Scheme Involving Four Condominium Developments

Six Miami-area residents, including three former loan officers, pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida this week to participating in a fraudulent scheme designed to enrich real estate developers by selling condominium units to straw buyers.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Phyllis Robinson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG) in Miami and Acting Inspector General Michael P. Stephens of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) made the announcement.

Today, Leidy Masvidal, 42, of Miami, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke to conspiring to commit bank fraud.   Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24, 2014.   Alfredo Jesus Chacon, 48, of Orange Park, Florida, and Francisco Martos, 63, and Dorian Wong Magarino, 49, both of Miami, also pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro.   Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2014.

On May 14, 2014, Tania Masvidal, 49, and Douglas Ponce, 40, both of Miami, each pleaded guilty before Judge Cooke to conspiring to commit bank fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 30, 2014.

According to the defendants’ plea agreements and other court documents, the defendants participated in a scheme to pay straw buyers to submit false loan applications to lending institutions to purchase condominiums owned by co-conspirators.   Leidy Masvidal and Tania Masvidal used a mortgage brokerage they owned, EZY Mortgage Inc., to arrange financing for the purchases.   Because the straw buyers were not credit-worthy, the Masvidals secured loans in their names by submitting to lending institutions loan applications and other fraudulent documents containing false statements about the buyers’ income, employment and assets, and falsely stating that the buyers intended to reside in the properties.   Additionally, the Masvidals enabled their co-conspirators to secretly fund the buyers’ obligations to pay money at closing (known as “cash to close” obligations) by establishing shell corporations, which the co-conspirators used to funnel cash from conspirators to the escrow account used at closing, as well as paying the straw buyers.   The co-conspirators compensated the Masvidals for their role in the scheme by sending kickback payments taken from the loan proceeds to the Masvidals’ shell corporations for every straw buyer identified.

According to admissions in court records, Martos was a former loan officer at a mortgage company known as State Lending who helped secure financing for straw buyers in exchange for kickbacks by procuring false employment documents and by including false information in buyers’ loan applications. Chacon and Ponce recruited straw buyers to purchase properties owned by co-conspirators in exchange for kickbacks paid from the sales proceeds.   Chacon also allowed a company that he controlled to be used as a false employer for the straw buyers.  Magarino accepted payments to act as one of Chacon’s straw buyers and recruited other straw buyers into the scheme.   For the properties in which Margarino acted as the straw buyer, he represented to the lender that he personally met his cash-to-close obligations when in fact he knowingly paid these costs with funds supplied by conspirators.

Many of the straw buyers defaulted on their loans after the conspirators stopped making their mortgage payments on their behalf, causing millions of dollars in losses to lenders.

On March 31, 2014, Luis Mendez, Stavroula Mendez, Luis Michael Mendez, Lazaro Mendez, Marie Mendez, Wilkie Perez and Enrique Angulo were indicted in the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in this scheme.   They have pleaded not guilty and trial is currently set for Sept. 8, 2014.   The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by HUD-OIG and FHFA-OIG.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Gary A. Winters and Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Navy Petty Officer Based in Japan Charged in International Bribery Scandal

A fourth U.S. Navy official has been charged in a complaint unsealed today with accepting cash, luxury travel and consumer electronics from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal U.S. Navy information.
Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement.
Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug, 27, who enlisted in the Navy in September 2006, was arrested on April 16, 2014, in San Diego by special agents with NCIS and Defense Criminal Investigative Service.   Layug made his initial appearance today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford in the Southern District of California.
According to the complaint, Layug received bribes in return for sending sensitive U.S. Navy information to employees of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor.   GDMA CEO Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, of Malaysia, had previously been charged with conspiring to bribe U.S. Navy officials, and GDMA executive Alex Wisidagama, 40, of Singapore, pleaded guilty on March 18, 2014, to defrauding the U.S. Navy.   Two other senior Navy officials – Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41 – have been charged separately with bribery conspiracies involving Francis and have pleaded not guilty.   On Dec. 17, 2013, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44, pleaded guilty to bribery charges for regularly tipping off Francis to the status of the government’s investigation into GDMA.
According to the complaint, Layug worked secretly on behalf of GDMA by providing classified ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel expenses, and consumer electronics.   Court records allege that Layug used his position as a logistics specialist at a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, to gain access to U.S. Navy ship schedules – some of which were classified – and other internal information, and provided this information to GDMA’s vice president of global operations.   In exchange, court records allege, GDMA provided Layug with regular payments, some of which were delivered in envelopes of cash.   The complaint alleges that on May 21, 2012, the vice president of global operations instructed a GDMA accountant that “at the end of each month, we will be providing an allowance to Mr. Dan Layug.   Total of US $1000.   You may pay him the equivalent in Yen.   He will come by the office at the end of each month to see you.”
Court records allege that, in addition to his monthly “allowance,” Layug sought consumer electronics from GDMA.   In an email on March 9, 2012, Layug asked the vice president of global operations “what are the chances of getting the new Ipad 3 [sic]?   Please let me know.”   In another email exchange on May 28, 2013, Layug asked the vice president of global operations for a “bucket list” of items including a high end camera, an iPhone5 cellular phone, a Samsung S4 cellular phone, and an iPad Mini.   Shortly after sending his “bucket list” to the vice president of global operations, Layug stated in an email that “the camera is awesome bro!   Thanks a lot!   Been a while since I had a new gadget!”
In addition to consumer electronics, GDMA allegedly provided Layug and his friends with rooms at luxury hotels throughout Asia.
According to court documents, Layug allegedly undertook steps to conceal his bribery relationship with GDMA by, among other things, describing classified ship schedules using the code word “golf schedules” and opening a bank account in the name of his infant daughter into which he deposited portions of his “allowance.”
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California, Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Wade Weems, on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed to be not guilty unless and until proven guilty.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline , or call (800) 424-9098.

Former Employee of Navy Contractor Pleads Guilty in International Navy Bribery Scandal

Alex Wisidagama, a citizen of Singapore formerly employed by Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in a scheme to overbill the U.S. Navy for ship husbanding services.   Wisidagama’s plea is the second in an expanding investigation into acts of alleged fraud and bribery committed by GDMA and several United States Navy officers and personnel.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler of the Southern District of California.   The plea is subject to acceptance by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.   Sentencing is set for June 13, 2014, before Judge Sammartino.
Wisidagama, who was arrested in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2013, served as the general manager of global government contracts for GDMA, which was owned and operated by his cousin, Leonard Glenn Francis .   GDMA was a multi-national corporation with headquarters in Singapore and operating locations in other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States.   GDMA provided the U.S. Navy with hundreds of millions of dollars in husbanding services, which involve the coordinating, scheduling and procurement of items and services required by ships and submarines when they arrive at port.   These services included providing tugboats; paying port authority and customs fees; furnishing security and transportation; supplying provisions, fuel and water; and removing trash and collecting liquid waste.
In his plea agreement, Wisidagama admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Navy in different ways.   Wisidagama and other GDMA employees generated bills charging the U.S. Navy for port tariffs that were far greater than the tariffs that GDMA actually paid.   In some cases, Wisidagama and others created fictitious port authorities for ports visited by U.S. Navy ships, and in other cases, Wisidagama and GDMA created fake invoices from legitimate port authorities purporting to bill the U.S. Navy at inflated tariff rates.   Wisidagama and GDMA also overbilled the U.S. Navy for fuel by creating fraudulent invoices which represented that GDMA acquired fuel at the same cost that it charged the U.S. Navy when in fact GDMA sold the fuel to the U.S. Navy for far more than it actually paid.   Wisidagama and GDMA also defrauded the U.S. Navy on the provision of incidental items by creating fake price quotes purportedly from other vendors to make it appear that the other vendors’ offering prices were greater than GDMA’s prices.
Wisidagama is the second defendant to plead guilty as part of this investigation.   On Dec. 17, 2013, former NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery after admitting to providing Francis with sensitive law enforcement information in exchange for things of value such as cash, travel accommodations, lavish dinners, and prostitutes.   In addition to Beliveau and Wisidagama, Francis and U.S. Navy Commanders Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luis Sanchez have been charged as part of a bribery and fraud scheme designed to defraud the U.S. Navy.   The charges against Misiewicz, Sanchez and Francis are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.   Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Royal Thai Police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in Singapore.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California, Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Wade Weems, on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.

THREE FORMER RABOBANK TRADERS CHARGED WITH MANIPULATING YEN LIBOR

WASHINGTON — Two former Coöperatieve Centrale  Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank) Japanese Yen derivatives traders and  the trader responsible for setting Rabobank’s Yen London InterBank Offered Rate  (LIBOR) were charged as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into the  manipulation of LIBOR.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the  Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brent  Snyder of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Assistant Director in  Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the  announcement.

Earlier today, a U.S. Magistrate  Judge sitting in the Southern District of New York signed a criminal complaint  charging Paul Robson of the United Kingdom, Paul Thompson of Australia, and Tetsuya  Motomura of Japan with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud as well  as substantive counts of wire fraud.  All  are former employees of Rabobank, which on Oct. 29, 2013, entered into a  deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice as part of the  department’s LIBOR investigation and agreed to pay a $325 million penalty.  Each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison  for each count upon conviction.

“Today, less than three months  after Rabobank admitted its involvement in the manipulation of LIBOR, we have charged  three of its senior traders with participating in this global fraud scheme,”  said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “As alleged, these three  traders – working from Japan, Singapore and the U.K. – deliberately submitted  what they called ‘obscenely high’ or ‘silly low’ LIBOR rates in order to  benefit their own trading positions.  The illegal  manipulation of this cornerstone benchmark rate undermines the integrity  of the markets; it harms those who are relying on what they expect to be an  honest benchmark; and it has ripple effects that extend far beyond the trading  at issue here.  The Justice Department has now charged eight individuals  and reached resolutions with four multi-national banks as part of our ongoing  and industry-wide LIBOR probe and, alongside our law enforcement and regulatory  partners both here and abroad, we remain committed to continuing to root out  this misconduct.”

“The  conspirators charged today conspired to rig the interest rates used by  derivative products throughout the financial industry to benefit their own  trading books,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Snyder. “Today’s charges  demonstrate the department’s commitment to hold individuals accountable for  schemes that undermine the integrity of markets that rely on competition to  flourish.”

“Manipulation  of benchmark rates that are routinely referenced by financial products around  the world erodes the integrity of our financial markets,” said Assistant  Director in Charge Parlave.  “The charges  against these individuals represent another step in our ongoing efforts to find  and stop those who hide behind complex corporate and securities fraud schemes.  I commend the Special Agents, forensic  accountants and analysts as well as the prosecutors for the significant time  and resources they committed to investigating this case.”

According to the complaint,  LIBOR is an average interest rate, calculated based on submissions from leading  banks around the world, reflecting the rates those banks believe they would be  charged if borrowing from other banks.   LIBOR is published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), a trade  association based in London.  At the time  relevant to the criminal complaint, LIBOR was calculated for 10 currencies at  15 borrowing periods, known as maturities, ranging from overnight to one  year.  The published LIBOR “fix” for Yen  LIBOR at a specific maturity is the result of a calculation based upon  submissions from a panel of 16 banks, including Rabobank.

LIBOR serves as the primary  benchmark for short-term interest rates globally and is used as a reference  rate for many interest rate contracts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans  and other consumer lending products.  The  Bank of International Settlements estimated that as of the second half of 2009,  outstanding interest rate contracts were valued at approximately $450 trillion.

According to allegations in the complaint,  all three defendants traded in derivative products that referenced Yen  LIBOR.  Robson worked  as a senior trader at Rabobank’s Money Markets and Short Term Forwards desk in  London; Thompson was Rabobank’s head of Money Market and Derivatives Trading  Northeast Asia and worked in Singapore; and Motomura was a senior trader at  Rabobank’s Tokyo desk who supervised money market and derivative traders employed  at Rabobank’s Tokyo desk.  In addition to  trading derivative products that referenced Yen LIBOR, Robson also served as  Rabobank’s primary submitter of Yen LIBOR to the BBA.

Robson, Thompson and Motomura  each entered into derivatives contracts containing Yen LIBOR as a price  component.  The  profit and loss that flowed from those contracts was directly affected by the  relevant Yen LIBOR on certain dates.  If  the relevant Yen LIBOR moved in the direction favorable to the defendants’  positions, Rabobank and the defendants benefitted at the expense of the  counterparties.   When LIBOR moved in the opposite direction, the defendants and  Rabobank stood to lose money to their counterparties.

The complaint alleges that from about May 2006 to at least  January 2011, Robson, Thompson, Motomura and others agreed to make false and  fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions for the benefit of their trading positions.  According to the allegations, sometimes  Robson submitted rates at a specific level requested by a co-defendant and  consistent with the co-defendant’s trading positions.  Other times, Robson made a higher or lower  Yen LIBOR submission consistent with the direction requested by a co-defendant  and consistent with the co-defendant’s trading positions.  On those occasions, Robson’s manipulated Yen  LIBOR submissions were to the detriment of, among others, Rabobank’s  counterparties to derivative contracts.

In addition to allegedly manipulating Rabobank’s Yen LIBOR  submissions, Robson, on occasion and on behalf of one or more co-defendants,  coordinated his Yen LIBOR submission with the trader responsible for making Yen  LIBOR submissions at another Yen LIBOR panel bank.  At times, Robson allegedly submitted Yen  LIBOR at a level requested by the other trader, and, at other times, that trader  submitted Yen LIBOR at a level requested by Robson.

As alleged  in the complaint, Thompson, Motomura and another Rabobank trader described in  the complaint as Trader-R made requests of Robson for Yen LIBOR submissions  through electronic chats and email exchanges.   For example, on May 19, 2006, after Thompson informed Robson that his  net exposure for his 3-month fixes was 125 billion Yen, he requested by email  that Robson “sneak your 3m libor down a cheeky 1 or 2 bp” because “it will make  a bit of diff for me.”  On or about May  19, 2006, Robson responded: “No prob mate I mark it low.”

On Sept. 21, 2007, Trader-R  asked Robson by email, “where do you think today’s libors are?  If you can I would like 1mth higher  today.”  Robson responded, “bookies  reckon .85,” to which Trader-R replied, “I have some fixings in 1mth so would  appreciate if you can put it higher mate.”   Robson answered, “no prob mate let me know your level.”  After Trader-R asked for “0.90% for 1mth,”  Robson confirmed, “sure no prob[ ] I’ll probably get a few phone calls but no  worries mate… there’s bigger crooks in the market than us guys!”

As another example, on Aug. 4,  2008, in a Bloomberg chat, Motomura asked Robson, “Please set today’s 6mth  LIBOR at 0.96 I have chunky fixing.”  To this, Robson responded, “no  worries mate.”
The complaint alleges that  Robson accommodated the requests of his co-defendants.  For example, on Sept. 21, 2007, after Robson  received a request from Trader-R for a high 1 month Yen LIBOR, Rabobank  submitted a 1-month Yen LIBOR rate of 0.90, which was 7 basis points higher  than the previous day and 5 basis points above where Robson said that “bookies”  predicted it, and which moved Rabobank’s submission from the middle to the  highest of the panel.

According  to court documents, the defendants were also aware that they were making false  or fraudulent Yen LIBOR submissions.  For  example, on May 10, 2006, Robson admitted in an email that “it must be pretty  embarrasing to set such a low libor.  I  was very embarrased to set my 6 mth – but wanted to help thomo [Thompson].  tomorrow it will be more like 33 from  me.”  At times, Robson referred to the  submissions that he submitted on behalf of his co-defendants as “ridiculously  high” and “obscenely high,” and acknowledged that his submissions would be so  out of line with the other Yen LIBOR panel banks that he might receive a phone  call about them from the BBA or Thomson Reuters.

A criminal complaint is a formal  accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.   A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The investigation is being  conducted by special agents, forensic accountants, and intelligence analysts in  the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  The  prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorneys Carol L. Sipperly, Brian Young  and Alexander H. Berlin of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial  Attorneys Ludovic C. Ghesquiere and Michael T. Koenig of the Antitrust  Division.  Former Deputy Chief Glenn Leon  and Senior Counsel Rebecca Rohr of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, along  with Assistant Chief Elizabeth Prewitt and Trial Attorneys Eric Schleef and  Richard Powers of the Antitrust Division, have also provided valuable  assistance.  The Criminal Division’s  Office of International Affairs has provided assistance in this matter as well.

The broader investigation  relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates has required, and has greatly  benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various  enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.  The Justice Department acknowledges and  expresses its deep appreciation for this assistance.  In particular, the Commodity Futures Trading  Commission’s Division of Enforcement referred this matter to the department  and, along with the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, has played a major role  in the LIBOR investigation.  The department  has worked closely with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service and the Dutch  Central Bank in the investigation of Rabobank.   Various agencies and enforcement authorities from other nations are also  participating in different aspects of the broader investigation relating to  LIBOR and other benchmark rates, and the department is grateful for their  cooperation and assistance.  In  particular, the Securities and Exchange Commission has played a significant  role in the LIBOR series of investigations, and the department expresses its  appreciation to the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office for its assistance  and ongoing cooperation.

This prosecution is  part of efforts underway by President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud  Enforcement Task Force.  President Obama established the interagency  Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and  proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  The task  force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies,  regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement  who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil  enforcement resources.  The task force is working to improve efforts  across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to  investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and  effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat  discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for  victims of financial crimes.  For more  information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.

NCIS Agent Pleads Guilty in International Navy Bribery Scandal

A special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) pleaded guilty today to participating in a massive international fraud and bribery scheme, admitting he shared with a foreign Navy contractor confidential information about ongoing criminal probes into the contractor’s billing practices in exchange for prostitutes, cash and luxury travel.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Adler of the Southern District of California.    The plea is subject to acceptance by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.   Sentencing is set for March 9, 2014, before Judge Sammartino.
Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr., 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and bribery, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.    In his plea agreement, Beliveau acknowledged that he regularly searched confidential NCIS databases for reports of investigations related to the contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).    Beliveau admitted that, over the course of years, he helped Francis avoid multiple criminal investigations by providing copies of these reports plus advice and counsel on how to respond to, stall and thwart the NCIS probes.    This duplicity began while Beliveau was stationed in Singapore and continued for more than a year after Beliveau returned to the NCIS office in Quantico, Va.
Beliveau is one of five Navy officials and civilian contractors who are implicated so far in the widening corruption case involving hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts.    In addition to Beliveau and Francis, also charged are U.S. Navy Commanders Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luis Sanchez and GDMA executive Alex Wisidagama.    The charges against Francis, Misiewicz, Sanchez and Wisidagama are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
“Today, John Beliveau has admitted to accepting lavish gifts in exchange for revealing sensitive law enforcement information to a primary target of this massive bribery investigation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman.  “For nearly two years, Beliveau deliberately leaked the names of cooperating witnesses, reports of witness interviews, and plans for future investigative steps.  Through his corrupt conduct, Beliveau helped the target of the investigation evade the reach of law enforcement, and cost the U.S. Navy millions of dollars.  Thanks to the Navy’s extensive cooperation and assistance, and the hard work of the NCIS and DCIS agents assigned to this ongoing investigation, we have now been able to hold him to account.”
“Instead of doing his job, John Beliveau was leaking confidential details of investigations to the target himself,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy. “This is an audacious violation of law for a decorated federal agent who valued personal pleasure over loyalty to his colleagues, the U.S. Navy and ultimately his own country. His admissions are a troubling reminder that corruption may exist even among those entrusted with protecting our citizens and upholding our laws.”
“John Beliveau’s reprehensible actions, providing sensitive information to the targets of ongoing fraud investigations and accepting bribes, tragically tarnished his NCIS badge,” said NCIS Director Traver.   “Nevertheless, the tireless and dedicated work of NCIS and DCIS effectively brought this to a halt, and these agencies continue to vigilantly protect Department of Navy personnel and resources.”
“Today’s guilty plea of former NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau is part of an ongoing joint effort by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and our enforcement partners to identify, investigate and bring to justice those seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of U.S. taxpayers,” said Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Burch.    “While the conduct of a vast majority of those in the U.S. Navy and law enforcement community is beyond reproach, we will vigorously pursue those individuals who put the safety and security of U.S. Navy personnel at risk.   The conduct of former Special Agent Beliveau is reprehensible and today’s guilty plea demonstrates the Defense Criminal Investigative Service will continue to pursue allegations of fraud and corruption that puts the Warfighter at risk.”
Among the law enforcement-sensitive information provided by Beliveau to Francis were the identities of the subjects of the investigations; information about witnesses, including identifying information about cooperating witnesses and their testimony; the particular aspects of GDMA’s billings that were of concern to the investigations; the fact that the investigations had obtained numerous email accounts and the identities of those accounts; the reports to prosecutors and their interactions with the investigations; and planned future investigative activities.
According to information provided in court, when authorities became aware of Beliveau’s duplicity, they began tracking Beliveau’s efforts to misappropriate information from the criminal investigation and then provide it to Francis.   Soon after that, Francis came to San Diego from Singapore for a meeting with Navy brass, where Francis was arrested.   Beliveau was taken into custody the same day in Virginia.
All told, Beliveau leaked information to Francis about criminal investigations into GDMA’s overbilling scheme that cost the Navy at least $7 million in fraudulent overpayments for “husbanding” services such as food, fuel and other supplies and services to the ships, according to the plea agreement.
In return for leaks of internal NCIS information and advice from Beliveau, Francis allegedly provided the agent with envelopes containing cash on at least five occasions, along with luxury travel from Virginia to Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand, the plea agreement stated.   On many occasions, beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2012 while Beliveau was posted in Singapore, Francis allegedly provided the NCIS agent with prostitutes, lavish dinners, entertainment and alcohol at high-end nightclubs.   The tab for each of these outings routinely ran into the thousands of dollars.
According to court records, in April of 2012 Beliveau complained to Francis, saying, “You give whores more money than you give me,” and, “I can be your best friend or worst enemy.”
Court records state that Beliveau and Francis tried to hide their illicit activity by employing techniques that Beliveau had learned from his specialized training as a law enforcement agent.   These steps included deleting emails, changing email accounts, creating covert email accounts shared by Beliveau and Francis, not transferring funds through the normal banking channels and using Skype chat and calls to transmit information.
This ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.   Significant assistance was provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and the DOJ Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the Royal Thai Police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau Singapore.   This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California and Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, as well as Special Trial Attorney Wade Weems on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.
Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tipline at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DoD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline , or call (800) 424-9098.

 

Former U.S. Army Reserve Captain Pleads Guilty in Nevada to Bribery Scheme

A former U.S. Army Reserve captain pleaded guilty today to accepting more than $90,000 in bribes from contractors while he was deployed to Iraq, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden of the District of Nevada.

Edward William Knotts III, 51, of Gibbon, Neb., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James Mahan in the District of Nevada to a criminal information charging him with one count of bribery. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 8, 2013.

According to court documents, from December 2005 until December 2007, Knotts was stationed at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, as a contracting officer’s representative for contracts between the U.S. Army and local contractors to provide services to support the operations at Camp Buehring and another U.S. camp in Kuwait.

In November 2006, Knotts entered into an agreement with a Kuwait-based corporation to receive a monthly fee from the corporation in return for providing confidential bidding information about U.S. Army contracts.  Between November 2006 and November 2007, the corporation paid him approximately $31,500 in cash.  In June 2007, a representative of the corporation paid Knotts $40,000 at a hotel room in Las Vegas in return for his promise to provide confidential bid information and in anticipation of the corporation hiring him.  Knotts received another similar cash payment of $20,000 in August 2008 in a different Las Vegas hotel.

This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Litigation Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Former FEMA Executive Pleads Guilty to Federal Conflict of Interest Charge Defendant Sought Job From Company That Did Work for FEMA

WASHINGTON—Timothy W. Cannon, 63, the former director of human resources at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), pleaded guilty today to a charge of conflict of interest for negotiating employment with a polling and consulting services company that had a multi-million-dollar contract with FEMA, supervised by Cannon.

The plea occurred before the Honorable Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Sentencing is scheduled for April 9, 2013. The charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison.

The guilty plea was announced by Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; Debra Evans Smith, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Christopher Cherry, Special Agent in Charge of the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General for the National Capital Region; and Mike Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General’s Washington Field Office.

According to the government’s evidence, from July 2007 through February 2009, Cannon was the director of FEMA’s Human Capital Division. In 2007, Cannon had discussions with a firm, identified in court papers as “Company A,” about FEMA hiring the firm to provide consulting services on human resources matters at FEMA. The work would be done through a project that would eventually be called the “BEST Workforce Initiative.”

In March 2008, the chief executive officer of Company A e-mailed another Company A employee, stating Cannon “said he has done everything to get a job at [Company A] because he believes so much in our products…said he wants to do a real good job at FEMA and that mabye [sic] he would try again….” On April 22, 2008, Company A’s CEO e-mailed another Company A employee that “…if [Cannon] gets us a big deal at FEMA…i [sic] think we should hire him…because he will be a ‘client’ hire…which might be good[.]” Later in the same e-mail chain, Company A’s CEO asked, “[I]s the ink dry yet on our deal with fema [sic] [?]” The Company A employee replied, “[N]o might be mid-May.” Company A’s CEO then stated, “[W]e should wait of course to see if we win a big quality deal here[.]”

On August 12, 2008, Company A was hired to administer the BEST Workforce Initiative at FEMA. The contract was valued at approximately $6 million over five years.

On November 18, 2008, a Company A employee advised Company A’s CEO in an e-mail, “I talked to Tim today. He asked for a job.” Company A’s CEO then stated, “What about ethics…are we okay with all of that…he is a significant client…am sure you know the rules…gee he seems like a winner to me…I don’t think these guys are as expensive as one might think…and he has a military background[.]”

In December 2008 and January 2009, Cannon requested additional funding for the BEST Workforce Initiative. On January 6, 2009, in an e-mail to a Company A employee, Cannon stated, “[A]h yes, I got another 500k put on the contract. Cool huh?”

On January 12, 2009, Cannon had an employment interview with Company A in Washington, D.C. On February 9, 2009, Company A sent an employment offer letter by e-mail to Cannon. The letter offered Cannon “the opportunity to join [Company A] as a Partner with our Government Division in Washington, D.C.” and guaranteed him a minimum annual salary of $175,000 for the first two years of employment. Cannon responded to the e-mail the same day, stating, “I am very excited about joining [Company A] and I look forward to working with you….” Following Cannon’s acceptance of Company A’s employment offer, Cannon continued to oversee and work on the BEST Workforce Initiative at FEMA.

Cannon retired from FEMA effective on February 27, 2009. On his public financial disclosure report, known as Form SF-278, Cannon indicated that he did not have any agreements or arrangements for “future employment” and he specifically did not list his future employment with Company A. On February 27, 2009, Cannon requested that Company A provide him with an offer letter dated after February 27, 2009, so that it would falsely appear that Cannon received Company A’s employment offer after he had resigned from FEMA. On March 2, 2009, Company A sent an updated version of the offer letter, with the new date of March 2, 2009, to Cannon. Cannon signed this updated version of the offer letter on March 3, 2009, and returned it to Company A.

In March 2009, a Company A employee voiced concerns internally about Cannon’s hiring. In addition, on March 25, 2009, a Company A employee stated in an e-mail to another Company A employee, “Well, I just got a call from and am getting more red flags about Tim Cannon. Apparently, word is getting around about his departure and joining [Company A]. There is speculation among is [sic] co-workers that this is improper. They are pretty mad. This may get in the way of future business with FEMA….This, plus the bankruptcy, plus appearance of ethics violations, both on [Company A] and FEMA side. This is not good….I think we are getting too many sign[s], and I do not think this will work.” On March 26, 2009, Company A informed Cannon that Company A’s offer of employment was being withdrawn. Company A told Cannon that he did not meet the background check requirements.

Later, on September 17, 2009, Cannon sent an e-mail to Company A’s CEO advising that Cannon had joined a consulting firm and asking to have lunch. Company A’s CEO forwarded that e-mail to other Company A employees stating, “This is a guy that was our sponsor at FEMA…he is so [Company A] gung ho…when he was applying we broke some of the rules of the U.S. Gov on the ‘how’ we do it…so we had to let him go….”

In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Attorney General Breuer, Acting Assistant Director in Charge Smith, Special Agent in Charge Cherry, and Special Agent in Charge Dawson commended the outstanding investigative work of agents of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Floyd Martinez of the GSA OIG and agents of the DHS OIG, as well as agents and auditors of other federal investigative agencies that assisted with this case. They also praised the efforts of members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Criminal Division Fraud Section, including Paralegal Specialists Diane Hayes and Nicole Wattelet; Legal Assistant Jamasee Lucas; Information Technology Specialist Joshua Ellen; forensic accountants in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section; and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Johnson, Trial Attorney Brian Young, and former Trial Attorney James Graham, who have prosecuted the case.