Fourth Individual in NYPA Big-Rigging Scandal Comes Forward, Faces up to Three Years and $250,000

Washington, D.C.-  The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has recently come under multilateral investigation over allegations of bid rigging, tax fraud, and market fixture.  The DOJ, IRS, and New York Inspector General are all working jointly in this case and have subsequently made their fourth indivdual charge.  John Simonlacaj (White Plains, NY) has confessed to aiding the NYPA in filing false tax returns and now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The original article is reproduced below with its link following.


Fourth Individual Charged in Ongoing New York Power Authority Procurement Fraud Investigation

The Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Inspector General, which are all conducting a joint federal and state investigation into bid-rigging, fraud and tax-related offenses in the award of contracts at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), announced today that a Westchester County, New York, resident pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.

According to the one-count felony charge filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in White Plains, New York, John Simonlacaj caused another individual to file a Form 1040 for the tax year 2010 that substantially understated that individual’s taxable income.  Simonlacaj pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Our investigation into bid rigging and fraud by companies supplying the New York Power Authority has uncovered a variety of criminal activity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse, head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “Filing a false tax return is a serious offense and we are pleased to have worked with our partners in law enforcement to prosecute the criminal violation.”

“We say many times the FBI won’t stop until we find everyone responsible for their roles in a criminal investigation,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office.  “These charges prove our tenacity in digging until we hit the bottom of the pile and uncover anyone who had a part in criminal wrongdoing.”

“Today’s plea marks yet another defendant admitting guilt following a bid rigging investigation that began at the state level. My office and those of my federal law enforcement partners, will continue to follow the evidence wherever it may lead,” said New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

“Mr. Simonlacaj is now held accountable for his role in filing a false tax return,” said Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen of the IRS Criminal Investigation New York Field Office.  “Towards pursuing its goal of ensuring that that everyone pays their fair share of taxes, IRS Criminal Investigation remains committed to this ongoing investigation.”

The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office with the assistance of the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and the New York State Office of the Inspector General.  NYPA is cooperating with the investigation.  Anyone with information on bid rigging or other anticompetitive conducted related to the award or performance of municipal and state contracts should contact the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit http://www.just

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PTC Inc. Subsidiaries Agree to Pay More Than $14 Million to Resolve Foreign Bribery Charges

Two subsidiaries of Massachusetts software company PTC Inc. entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay a $14.54 million penalty today to resolve the government’s investigation into whether the companies improperly provided recreational travel to Chinese government officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

According to admissions made in the resolution documents, Parametric Technology (Shanghai) Software Company Ltd. and Parametric Technology (Hong Kong) Ltd. (collectively, PTC China), through local business partners, arranged and paid for employees of various Chinese state-owned enterprises to travel to the United States, ostensibly for training at PTC Inc.’s headquarters in Massachusetts, but primarily for recreational travel to other parts of the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii.  PTC China paid a total of more than $1 million through its business partners to fund these trips, while during the same time period, PTC China entered into more than $13 million in contracts with the Chinese state-owned entities.  Company employees typically accompanied the Chinese officials on these trips.  PTC China admitted that the cost of these recreational trips was routinely hidden within the price of PTC China’s software sales to the Chinese state-owned entities whose employees went on the trips.

As part of the non-prosecution agreement, PTC China agreed to pay the criminal penalty, to continue to cooperate with the department, to enhance its compliance program and to periodically report to the department on the implementation of its enhanced compliance program.  The department reached this resolution based on a number of factors.  Among other factors, PTC China did not receive voluntary disclosure credit or full cooperation credit because, at the time of its initial disclosure, it failed to disclose relevant facts that it had learned in connection with a prior internal investigation and did not disclose those facts until the department uncovered additional information independently and brought them to PTC China’s attention.  By the conclusion of the investigation, however, the companies had provided to the department all relevant facts known to them, including information about individuals involved in the FCPA misconduct.

In a related matter, PTC Inc. reached a settlement today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under which it agreed to pay $11,858,000 in disgorgement plus $1.764 million in prejudgment interest.  Thus, the approximately $28 million in combined penalty and disgorgement far exceeds the $13 million in contracts associated with the improper payments.

The FBI’s Boston Field Office investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Aisling O’Shea of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Massachusetts and the SEC also provided assistance during the investigation.

MCC Construction Company Agrees to Pay Nearly $1.8 Million for Conspiring to Illegally Obtain Federal Contracts Meant for Small, Disadvantaged Businesses

The Justice Department announced today that MCC Construction Company (MCC) has agreed to pay $1,769,294 in criminal penalties and forfeiture for conspiring to commit fraud on the United States by illegally obtaining government contracts that were intended for small, disadvantaged businesses.

The court agreement was announced today by Assistant Attorney General William J. Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson of the Small Business Administration (SBA), Inspector General Carol Fortine Ochoa of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Special Agent in Charge Brian J. Reihms of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Central Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU).

“This conspiracy defrauded the government and denied small, disadvantaged businesses the opportunity to compete to do business with the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Baer.  “We will continue to work with U.S. Attorney Phillips and his talented colleagues to protect the integrity of the government contracting process.”

“This prosecution shows that there will be consequences for companies that violate federal contracting rules meant to assist small, disadvantaged businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Phillips.  “MCC Construction Company secured millions of dollars in contracts by hiding behind two small businesses that did not perform labor on the projects.  Its conduct took away opportunities that could have gone to companies that truly are socially and economically disadvantaged and deserving of the work.”

“An uneven marketplace is created when businesses engage in illegal backroom deals to fraudulently obtain government contracts, placing competitors at an unfair disadvantage,” said Assistant Director in Charge Abbate.  “In this case, the FBI and our partners moved to protect the American taxpayer and ensure the integrity of the process.  Together, we will continue to work to protect federal contract opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses within our communities from unlawful conduct.”

“Fraudulently passing work through eligible small businesses to a large business does not provide taxpayers the best value and certainly does not support the role of small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation,” said Inspector General Gustafson.  “In fact, it subverts the purpose of SBA’s preferential contracting programs and harms the small businesses the programs are designed to assist.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their leadership and dedication to serving justice.”

“We will continue our work on behalf of taxpayers and legitimate small business owners to expose and punish nationwide small business fraud schemes such as this,” said Inspector General Ochoa.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to working with our partner agencies to combat fraud impacting the Department of Defense’s vital programs and operations and maintain the integrity of the procurement system,” said Special Agent in Charge Reihms.

“This settlement is a testament to our steadfast and continued commitment to working closely with our law enforcement partners in rooting out this type of activity,” said Director Robey.

MCC was a construction management company and general contractor headquartered in Colorado.

A criminal information was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging MCC with one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to commit major fraud on the United States.  MCC waived the requirement of being charged by way of federal indictment, agreed to the filing of the information and accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.  U.S. District Judge Ketanji B. Jackson accepted the company’s guilty plea today.  The plea agreement is subject to the court’s approval at a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 15, 2016.

According to court documents, MCC conspired with two companies that were eligible to receive federal government contracts set aside for small, disadvantaged businesses with the understanding that MCC would, illegally, perform all of the work.  In so doing, MCC was able to win 27 government contracts worth over $70 million from 2008 to 2011.  The scope and duration of the scheme resulted in a significant number of opportunities lost to legitimate small and disadvantaged businesses.

Under the illegal agreement, the companies awarded these government contracts were allowed to keep 3 percent of the value of the contracts for allowing MCC to use the companies small business status to win the contracts.

Court documents state that MCC violated the provisions of the SBA 8(a) program.  The SBA 8(a) development program is designed to award contracts to businesses that are owned by “one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”  To qualify for the 8(a) program, a business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen (or citizens) of good character who meet the SBA’s definition of socially and economically disadvantaged.  The firm must also be a small business (as defined by the SBA) and show a reasonable potential for success.  Participants in the 8(a) program are subject to regulatory and contractual limits.  Also, under the program, the disadvantaged business is required to perform a certain percentage of the work.  For the types of contracts under investigation here, the SBA 8(a)-certified companies were required to perform 15 percent or more of the work with its own employees.

MCC, along with the two 8(a) companies used to illegally obtain the contracts, engaged in and executed a scheme to defraud the SBA by, among other things:

  • Allowing the two 8(a) companies to retain a guaranteed percentage of each contract for simply obtaining the contracts for MCC;
  • Allowing the two 8(a) companies to perform no labor on these projects;
  • Performing the accounting and government reporting for the two 8(a) companies on certain projects;
  • Falsely representing to the government that MCC employees were in fact employees of the 8(a) companies;
  • Obtaining certain contracts on behalf of the 8(a) companies without first informing those 8(a) companies prior to bidding; and
  • Conspiring with the 8(a) companies to hire straw employees for the 8(a) companies whose labor and salaries were paid for by MCC.

For the contracts obtained through this scheme on which MCC made a profit, MCC’s profit was at least $1,269,294.  The criminal penalty in this case includes a $500,000 fine and a forfeiture money judgment of $1,269,294.

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Inspector General for the SBA, the Inspector General of the U.S. GSA, the DCIS’ Central Field Office, and the MPFU.

New Jersey Pipe Supply Company Owner Sentenced to 32 Months in Prison for Role in Fraud and Bribery Conspiracy in Power Generation Industry

Company Sentenced to Pay a Total of Over $1.7 Million in Fines and Restitution

A New Jersey industrial pipe supply company and its owner were sentenced today for conspiring to commit fraud and pay bribes to a purchasing manager at Consolidated Edison of New York in return for the manager’s efforts to steer contracts to the company, the Department of Justice announced.

Andrew Martingano, of Staten Island, New York, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts of the Southern District of New York to 32 months and a day in prison.  American Pipe Bending and Fabrication Co. Inc. of Edison, New Jersey, was sentenced to pay a $150,000 criminal fine.  Martingano and American Pipe were also sentenced to pay over $1.6 million in restitution, jointly and severally with their co-conspirators, to the victim, Con Ed.  The company and its owner pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud and conspiring to defraud Con Ed on Aug. 15, 2012.

According to court documents, Martingano and others agreed to pay approximately $510,000 in cash bribes to James M. Woodason, a department manager of the purchasing department at Con Ed.  In exchange for the bribes, Woodason steered Con Ed industrial pipe supply contracts to American Pipe by secretly providing Martingano with confidential competitor bid information, thereby causing Con Ed to pay higher, non-competitive prices for materials.  At the time of Woodason’s arrest in August 2010, Woodason had already received approximately $45,000 in cash bribes from Martingano and American Pipe.

The department said the conspiracy took place from approximately January 2009 to August 2010.  In addition, Martingano and American Pipe defrauded Con Ed by requesting a 14 percent price increase and basing that request on a fake email purporting to document a “Steel Mill” price increase that American Pipe was passing on to Con Ed.  These false and fraudulent price increase requests caused actual losses to Con Ed in the amount of approximately $1.4 million and intended losses of approximately $9.4 million.

Con Ed is a regulated utility headquartered in Manhattan.  It provides electric service to approximately 3.2 million customers, and gas service to approximately 1.1 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, New York.  Con Ed received more than $10,000 in federal funding each year between 2003 through 2010, and cooperated with the department’s investigation.

Including Martingano and American Pipe, a total of five individuals and two companies have been charged as part of this investigation and have been ordered to serve a total of more than 16 years in prison and to pay criminal fines and restitution of more than $3 million.

The charges arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation of bid rigging, bribery, fraud and tax-related offenses in the power generation industry.  The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s New York Office, with assistance from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, bribery, tax offenses or fraud in the power generation industry should contact the FBI’s New York Division at 212-384-3720 or the Antitrust Division’s New York Office at 212-335-8000, or visit

Former Idaho Construction Company President Sentenced to Prison for Fraud Scheme

The former president and majority stockholder of a construction company was sentenced to five years in prison today following her plea of guilty to filing a false tax return and her conviction by a jury of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, mail fraud, false statements, interstate transportation of property taken by fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson for the District of Idaho.

Elaine Martin, 69, of Meridian, Idaho, was the president of MarCon Inc., a construction company based in Meridian.  In September 2013, after a 26-day jury trial, Martin was convicted of tax and fraud charges and sentenced to 84 months in prison.  In August 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated Martin’s sentence and her tax conviction and remanded for resentencing and further proceedings on the tax charge.  Today, Martin pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the District of Idaho sentenced her to 60 months in prison on both the tax and fraud charges.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Winmill ordered Martin to pay restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Idaho Department of Transportation in the amount of $131,400.48, costs of prosecution in the amount of $22,859.60 and a forfeiture money judgment of $3,084,038.05, amounts Martin previously paid.

In the plea agreement, Martin admitted that she willfully signed false and fraudulent corporate income tax returns for Marcon Inc. for tax years 2005 and 2006.  Martin also admitted that she caused these tax returns to be false and fraudulent by keeping the unreported income off of the books and that she falsely told an IRS revenue agent, who was conducting a civil audit of Marcon, that all of Marcon’s gross receipts were deposited into its Wells Fargo operating account, when in fact, Martin was diverting and depositing gross receipts into Marcon’s Bank of Cascades account.  Martin withheld the records for Marcon’s Bank of Cascades from the individual who prepared her and Marcon’s tax returns for tax years 2005 and 2006.  Martin admitted that the total tax loss was $73,678.

Martin also admitted to conspiring to defraud the SBA 8(a) Program and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, by submitting fraudulent tax returns and making false statements concerning her finances that caused Marcon to qualify and/or remain eligible for these programs.  Martin further admitted that her behavior affected the award of contracts pursuant to the 8(a) Program and DBE Programs.  For example, Marcon’s status as an Idaho DBE affected how and what DBE goals were set for particular construction projects and helped Marcon maintain a virtual monopoly in its geographic region between 2000 and 2006.  Marcon participated in the SBA 8(a) Program pursuant to direct negotiations with the awarding agency, rather than through fair and open competition.  Martin admitted that during the relevant time period, she would not have been awarded the 33 contracts at issue in the case but for the fraud.

As part of the plea agreement that Martin entered into today, she waived her right to further appeal.

Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Olson thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation, who investigated the case and Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein and former Trial Attorney Katherine Wong of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Patrico of the District of Idaho, who prosecuted the case.

Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.  For more information on the task force, visit

Six Convicted on Business Opportunity Fraud Charges

Verdict Brings Total of 22 Individuals Convicted in Scheme 

A jury in Central Islip, New York, convicted six men yesterday on felony charges of conspiracy and fraud in the sale of candy vending machine business opportunities, the Department of Justice announced.

Edward Morris “Ned” Weaver, 42, of Perrysburg, Ohio, and Lawrence A. Kaplan, 57, of Brooklyn, New York, were convicted of conspiracy, six counts of fraud and one count each of making false statements to federal agents during a related criminal investigation.  Scott M. Doumas, 43, of East Setauket, New York, was convicted of one count of conspiracy and one count of mail fraud.  Richard R. Goldberg, 43, of Bay Shore, New York, and Richard Linick, 73, of Coram, New York, were each convicted of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.  Paul E. Raia, 64, of Brookhaven, New York, was convicted of conspiracy and two counts of wire fraud.

The convictions followed a six-week trial before U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.  Each of the defendants faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the conspiracy count and 25 years in prison on the fraud counts.  Weaver and Kaplan face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the false statements charges.

“These defendants promised their victims the American dream, but knew that what they in fact were offering was a worthless business opportunity,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who seek to scam out of everyday Americans the hard-earned money in their retirement accounts and life savings.”

According to evidence presented at trial, managers, sales representatives and operators of “locating companies” associated with Multivend LLC, d/b/a Vendstar, made material misrepresentations about the profits customers would make from bulk candy vending machines. During the telemarketing calls, Vendstar’s sales representatives falsely claimed to operate their own profitable vending machine businesses.

Additional evidence at trial described how Vendstar advertised nationwide in newspapers and on the Internet.  Vendstar sales representatives promised to provide consumers with everything they needed to operate a successful business, including vending machines, an initial supply of candy, assistance in finding locations for the vending machines, training and ongoing customer assistance.  The locating companies who worked with Vendstar to close deals had no special skills, tools or expertise in finding locations and generally placed consumers’ machines wherever they could as quickly as they could, often in businesses that had not consented to housing the machines and that soon demanded that the machines be removed.  The vending machines generated little business and Vendstar’s customers lost all or nearly all of their investments.  The typical customer paid about $10,000 for the business opportunity.

Prior to this trial, 16 other Vendstar managers, Vendstar sales representatives and locating company operators pleaded guilty to federal felony charges for related conduct at Vendstar.  Evidence presented at trial established that from 2005 to 2010, the Vendstar scheme cost consumers $60 million.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their investigative efforts.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Jasperse and Alan Phelps of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud Conspiracies at Georgia Public Foreclosure Auctions

A Georgia real estate investor pleaded guilty today for his role in conspiracies to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in Fulton and DeKalb counties, Georgia.

Morris Podber admitted that he conspired with others not to bid against one another at public real estate foreclosure auctions on selected properties.  After the public foreclosure auctions, Podber admitted that he and his co-conspirators would divvy up the targeted properties in private side auctions, open only to the conspirators.  Podber admitted to conspiring to use the mail to carry out their fraud, which included making and receiving payoffs and diverting money to co-conspirators that should have gone to the mortgage holders and others.

“This is the ninth real estate investor held accountable for bid rigging at public foreclosure auctions in Georgia,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “We will continue to root out anticompetitive conduct at foreclosure auctions and obtain justice for homeowners and lenders.”

According to documents filed with the court, the purpose of the conspiracies was to suppress and restrain competition and divert money to the conspirators that otherwise would have gone to pay off the mortgage and other holders of debt secured by the properties, and, in some cases, the defaulting homeowner.  Podber admitted to participating in a conspiracy in Fulton County from July 2005 until August 2010; and to participating in a conspiracy in DeKalb County from October 2006 to August 2011.

“Incidents of bid rigging at public real estate auctions continue to be an issue in Georgia and elsewhere in the United States, and the FBI would like to remind the public that such matters are violations of federal law,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office.  “The FBI will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division in identifying, investigating and prosecuting those individuals engaged in such activities.”

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, the FBI’s Atlanta Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia.  Anyone with information concerning bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Washington Criminal II Section of the Antitrust Division at 202-598-4000, call the Antitrust Division’s Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.  The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.  With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud.  Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations.  Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants.  For more information about the task force, please visit

SEC Charges Three RMBS Traders With Defrauding Investors



Washington D.C., Sept. 8, 2015 —The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against three traders accused of repeatedly lying to customers relying on them for honest and accurate pricing information about residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).

The SEC alleges that Ross Shapiro, Michael Gramins, and Tyler Peters defrauded customers to illicitly generate millions of dollars in additional revenue for Nomura Securities International, the New York-based brokerage firm where they worked.  They misrepresented the bids and offers being provided to Nomura for RMBS as well as the prices at which Nomura bought and sold RMBS and the spreads the firm earned intermediating RMBS trades.  They also trained, coached, and directed junior traders at the firm to engage in the same misconduct.

In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced criminal charges against Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters, who no longer work at Nomura.

“The alleged misconduct reflects a callous disregard for the integrity and obligations expected of registered securities professionals,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “Not only did these traders lie to their customers, but they created a corrupt culture on Nomura’s trading desk by coaching more junior traders to employ the same deceptive and dishonest trading practices we allege in our complaint.”

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan:

  • The lies and omissions to customers by Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters generated at least $5 million in additional revenue for Nomura, and lies and omissions by the subordinates they trained and coached generated at least $2 million in additional profits for the firm.
  • Nomura determined bonuses for Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters based on several factors including revenue generation.  Nomura paid total compensation of $13.3 million to Shapiro, $5.8 million to Gramins, and $2.9 million to Peters during the years this misconduct was occurring.
  • Customers sought and relied on market price information from these traders because the market for this type of RMBS is opaque and accurate price information is difficult for a customer to determine.  Therefore it was particularly important for the traders to provide honest and accurate information.
  • Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters went so far as to invent phantom third-party sellers and fictional offers when Nomura already owned the bonds the traders were pretending to obtain for potential buyers.

The SEC’s complaint charges Shapiro, Gramins, and Peters with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 as well as Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933.

The SEC separately entered into deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) with three other individuals who have extensively cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and provided enforcement staff with access to critical evidence that otherwise would not have been available.

“The SEC is open to deferring charges based on certain factors, including when cooperators come forward with timely and credible information while candidly acknowledging their own misconduct,” said Michael Osnato, Chief of the SEC’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit.  “The decision to defer charges in this matter reflects the early and sustained assistance provided by these individuals.”

The SEC’s continuing investigation is being conducted by James R. Drabick, Susan Curtin, Rua Kelly, and Celia Moore.  The SEC’s litigation will be led by Ms. Kelly.


A U.S. citizen charged in connection with the operation of a series of fraudulent business opportunities based in Costa Rica was sentenced to prison today in Miami, the Justice Department announced.

John White, aka Gregory Garrett, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz of the Southern District of Florida to serve 70 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  White was also ordered to pay $6,412,006.19 in restitution.  White is one of 12 defendants charged in connection with a series of business opportunity fraud ventures that operated in Costa Rica.  Nine of those other defendants have been convicted in the United States with sentences ranging from three to 16 years in prison and the two remaining defendants are not yet in the custody of the United States.

“The defendants in this scheme promised victims the American dream while knowing they in fact were being ripped off,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “We will continue to prosecute those who would deprive Americans of their savings just so they can make a quick buck.”

White was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 29, 2011, arrested in Costa Rica in 2012, extradited to the United States in 2015 and pleaded guilty on April 29, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with the business opportunity scheme.

As part of his guilty plea, White admitted that from 2005 to 2008, he and his co-conspirators fraudulently induced individuals in the United States to buy business opportunities in USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc., Cards-R-Us Inc., Premier Cards Inc. and The Coffee Man Inc.  White and his co-conspirators claimed that these opportunities would allow purchasers to sell coffee or greeting cards from display racks located at other retail establishments.  The business opportunities cost thousands of dollars each, with most purchasers paying at least $10,000.  Each company operated for several months and after one company closed, the next opened.

White admitted that the conspiracy used various means to make it appear to potential purchasers that the businesses were located entirely in the United States.  The companies used bank accounts, office space and other services in the Southern District of Florida and elsewhere.  In reality, White and his co-conspirators operated out of call centers in Costa Rica.

White admitted that he and his co-conspirators made numerous false statements to potential purchasers of the business opportunities, including that purchasers likely would earn substantial profits; that prior purchasers of the business opportunities were earning substantial profits; that purchasers would sell a guaranteed minimum amount of merchandise, such as greeting cards and beverages; and that the business opportunity worked with locators familiar with the potential purchaser’s area who would secure or had already secured high-traffic locations for the potential purchaser’s merchandise stands.  Potential purchasers also were falsely told that the profits of the companies were based in part on the profits of the business opportunity purchasers, thus creating the false impression that the companies had a stake in the purchasers’ success and in finding good locations.

As alleged in the indictment against White and others, the companies employed various types of sales representatives, including fronters, closers and references.  A fronter spoke to potential purchasers when the prospective purchasers initially contacted the company in response to an advertisement.  A closer subsequently spoke to potential purchasers to close deals and references spoke to potential purchasers about the financial success they had purportedly experienced since purchasing one of the business opportunities.  The companies also employed locators, who were typically characterized by the sales representatives as third parties who worked with the companies to find high-traffic locations for the prospective purchaser’s merchandise display racks.  White admitted that he worked as a fronter and reference using aliases.

“This international and domestic investigation shows the Postal Inspection Service’s resolve to protect Americans from business opportunity scams,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Ronald Verrochio of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Miami Division.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer commended the investigative efforts of USPIS.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alan Phelps of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.

After Nearly 20 Years, International Fugitive in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme Apprehended in Greece and Extradited to United States to Serve Prison Sentence

WASHINGTON – A former New York businessman, who disappeared the same day a federal jury sitting in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, began deliberating in his tax evasion and fraud trial, was caught while in Greece more than 18 years after his conviction, and appeared in federal court in the District of New Jersey on Friday, July 17, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Gideon Misulovin, 58, whose last known address was in New York City, was extradited from Greece to the United States to serve his 10-year prison sentence.  He has been incarcerated in the United States since his return on July 16.

On March 7, 1996, a jury convicted Misulovin of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the ascertainment and collection of more than $6.5 million in federal motor fuel excise taxes, wire fraud and money laundering stemming from a scheme to conceal the unpaid diesel fuel excise taxes from state and federal tax authorities.

During trial, Misulovin was free on $500,000 bail and attended each day of the trial.  He failed to appear in court March 4, 1996, for the parties’ closing arguments.  U.S. Senior District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise of the District of New Jersey in Newark issued a warrant for his arrest.  On June 25, 1997, Judge Debevoise sentenced Misulovin in absentia to serve 10 years in prison and a three-year term of supervised release, and to pay a $150,000 fine.  The court also ordered Misulovin to pay restitution in the amount of $200,000 to the United States and $100,000 to the state of New Jersey.

The evidence at trial established that from 1988 through Jan. 31, 1993, Misulovin and his co-conspirators sold untaxed diesel fuel in a series of paper transactions using wholesale companies.  Some of the companies were shams and called “burn” or “butterfly” companies.  As part of the scheme, the sham company would assume the federal and state tax liability and then vanish, allowing the conspirators to keep the excise taxes they collected from truck stops and service stations.

The case, part of a then-nationwide motor fuel excise tax enforcement effort, was investigated jointly by the Motor Fuel Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey.  In an effort to infiltrate the bootleg gasoline industry, task force agents set up an undercover business called RLJ Management that competed directly with the defendants’ operation.

At the conclusion of the undercover operation, in November 1992, federal agents seized Misulovin’s assets, including approximately $70,000 in cash from his residence and $277,000 from his business bank account.

Misulovin’s co-defendant and co-conspirator, Arnold Zeidenfeld, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty prior to trial and testified for the government.  Gurmit Singh and Manbir Singh, of Matawan, New Jersey, who operated truck stops in southern New Jersey, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme.

In August 2014, based on an Interpol Red Notice, Misulovin was detained in a Greek airport using an alias and traveling with an Israeli passport.  He was subsequently arrested pursuant to a U.S. request for a provisional arrest, and after contested extradition proceedings, was found extraditable in 2015.

The task force included attorneys from the Tax Division and agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation and Examination Divisions, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the New Jersey State Department of Taxation and Finance.  Seth D. Uram, formerly a Trial Attorney in the Tax Division and now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Portland, Oregon, and Trial Attorney Charles A. O’Reilly of the Tax Division prosecuted the case.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI’s New Jersey Field Office and the Greek Ministry of Justice for their assistance in apprehending and extraditing Misulovin.  Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey for their substantial assistance.