Little Crimes earn Prison Sentences too – Just ask David Liptak

January 22, 2015

DAVID LIPTAK, 50, of Milford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in Bridgeport to 10 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling $108,000 from his employer. LIPTAK also was Embezzlementordered to pay full restitution and a fine of $3,000.

According to court documents and statements made in court, LIPTAK was employed by Consolidated Management Group (“CMG”) of Westport.  CMG provided management services to condominium associations, including managing the bank accounts and expenses of the associations. From approximately June 2008 to March 2012, LIPTAK embezzled approximately $108,000 from CMG.

On May 14, 2014, LIPTAK pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of money obtained by fraud.  He was ordered to report to prison on February 23, 2015.


Geoffrey W. Nehrenz indicted for role in Ponzi Scheme

January 22, 2015

An eight-count federal indictment has been returned charging a Uniontown man for his role operating a Ponzi scheme in which 19 investors were defrauded out of approximately $5.5 million, law enforcement officials said.

Ponzi SchemeGeoffrey W. Nehrenz, 36, faces one count of securities fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of fraud by an investment advisor, and two counts of money laundering.

“This defendant took advantage of people who trusted him and used their hard-earned money to fund his lifestyle,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

“Geoffrey Nehrenz callously preyed on the desires of 19 individuals to make wise investments and duped them out of millions,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to root out fraudsters like Mr. Nehrenz.”

“Promoters of Ponzi schemes prey upon trusting investors and then steal their hard-earned money. Investors should be wary that programs promising unbelievable returns on investments should be looked at carefully,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Remember the old cliché: ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.’”

Between October 2009 and September 2013, Nehrenz promoted and sold investment contracts to clients through Keystone Capital Management, LLC (“KCM”) an investment adviser company located in Uniontown, which is an Ohio limited liability company registered as an investment adviser firm, but not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nehrenz was the managing member, president, and chief executive officer of KCM, according to the indictment.

Nehrenz induced 19 clients to invest in Keystone by promoting KCM’s ability to generate positive investment returns in equity markets while mitigating risk. He falsely represented to potential clients that their funds would be pooled, invested during the day in large- and mid-capitalization, publicly traded U.S. securities exclusively, and converted to cash overnight. Rather than investing the funds, Nehrenz used client money to pay his personal expenses, to pay business expenses to promote and prolong his investment scheme, and to make speculative, high-risk trades with domestic and overseas private placement vehicles without his clients’ authority, transactions known as “side pocket investments,” according to the indictment.

Nehrenz induced at least 19 clients to invest approximately $7 million into his hedge fund, resulting in losses to his clients in the amount of approximately $5.5 million.


Mortgage Fraud – Emeka Udeze Sentenced to Prison

January 21, 2015

Emeka Udeze, age 39, of Bowie, Maryland, was sentenced to 37 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Judge Messitte also entered an order that Udeze pay restitution and forfeit $2,098,378, the amount of actual losses suffered by the mortgage lenders as the result of the minimum of 20 transactions Udeke brokered in furtherance of the fraud schemes.

Mortgage Fraud 1According to his plea and court documents, Udeze was a licensed mortgage broker who worked at various companies, including Newgate Mortgage, owned by co-defendant Shola Risikat Balogun, and EWA Mortgage. Udeze also registered a Maryland company called E&T Consulting, Inc., which he claimed was established to provide general services.

Udeze admitted that in both schemes, he submitted fraudulent mortgage loan applications for buyers, inflating the buyer’s income and creating bogus employment information in an effort to qualify these individuals for loans that they otherwise were unqualified to secure. In some cases, no mortgage payments were made and the property went swiftly into default. In other cases, the borrowers attempted to make mortgage payments for a period of time until they could no longer make payments.

In the first scheme, from at least 2006 through at least December 2008, Udeze, Balogun, Daniel Ofei and others contacted individuals who wished to purchase homes. The buyers, who typically had moderate to low incomes, provided the conspirators with accurate income and employment information. Udeze and others then submitted fraudulent loan applications on behalf of the buyers, inflated the buyer=s income and created bogus employment information in an effort to secure the loan. Udeze, Balogun and others collected origination fees, commissions, yield spread premiums and broker=s fees from each loan that closed. In all, Newgate Mortgage was responsible for originating nearly 100 fraudulent transactions, causing millions of dollars of losses to lending institutions.

In a separate scheme, from May 2009 to January 2010, Udeze conspired with Bonnie Kreamer, Nieshia Williams and Rhonda Scott to arrange for individuals to buy and sell real estate so they could improperly obtain money from the transactions. The co-conspirators used many fraudulent techniques, including: short sales in which the property would be sold for a higher price than the seller was aware of; sales of properties not owned by the seller; multiple sales of the same property at the same time; the seller and/or buyer were shown different settlement statements and the conspirators used the difference in sales price to enrich themselves; and money that should have been paid to lien holders was instead disbursed to the co-conspirators, including shell companies created by Udeze and others in order to disguise that the money was really for their benefit. This fraud scheme involved at least 25 victims, including lenders, sellers and buyers of real estate, title insurance companies and lien holders, who incurred losses of over $3 million.

Bonnie Kathleen Kreamer, a/k/a Bonnie Meehan, age 49, of Riva, Maryland; Shola Risikat Balogun, age 48, of Upper Marlboro; Rhonda Scott, age 53, of Oxon Hill, Maryland; Daniel Ofei, age 40, of Bowie, Maryland; Nieshia Williams, age 35, of Fort Washington, Maryland; Gregory Green, age 50, of Waldorf, Maryland; and Demetrius Peete, age 47, of Manassas, Virginia, each previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the fraud schemes. Kreamer, who was responsible for the daily operations at Sanford Title, was sentenced on to 51 months in prison, and ordered to pay restitution of $2,499,048 to the victims and forfeit $4.8 million. Scott was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $2.7 million and pay restitution of $703,000. Balogun, who organized the mortgage fraud scheme involving Newgate Mortgage, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution and forfeit $1,352,378. Ofei, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $5,950,000. Williams was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $3.1 million and pay restitution of $1,445,593. Peete was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $394,908 and forfeit $1.5 million. Green was sentenced to three months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $404,596.


Medicare Fraud Scheme – Dr. Mansour Sanjar and Dr. Cyrus Sajadi sentence to Prison in $97 Million scheme

January 21, 2015

The two physician owners of a Houston-area mental health clinic were sentenced to 148 months and 120 months respectively for their roles in a $97 million Medicare fraud scheme. A group home owner who sent residents to the clinic in exchange for kickbacks was also sentenced to 54 months in prison for her role.

medicare fraud“Doctors are not only bound by oath to serve the health of their patients, they are bound by duty to serve as gatekeepers for Medicare spending,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “In this case, without the criminal participation of Drs. Sanjar and Sajadi, this fraud simply could not have happened.”

Physicians Mansour Sanjar, 81, and Cyrus Sajadi, 67, the owners of Spectrum Care P.A., a community mental health clinic, were each convicted following a jury trial on March 12, 2014, of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, as well as related counts of health care fraud and paying illegal kickbacks. Chandra Nunn, 36, a group home owner, was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, as well as related counts of receiving illegal kickbacks. In addition to the prison sentences, U.S. District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas ordered Sanjar and Sajadi to pay $8,058,612.39 in restitution, and Nunn to pay $1,885,667.41 in restitution. Co-defendants Adam Main, Shokoufeh Hakimi, Sharonda Holmes and Shawn Manney were also convicted and are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, Sanjar and Sajadi orchestrated and executed a scheme to defraud Medicare beginning in 2006 and continuing until their arrest in December 2011. Sanjar and Sajadi owned Spectrum, which purportedly provided partial hospitalization program (PHP) services. A PHP is a form of intensive outpatient treatment for severe mental illness. The Medicare beneficiaries for whom Spectrum billed Medicare for PHP services did not qualify for or need PHP services.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Sanjar and Sajadi signed admission documents and progress notes certifying that patients qualified for PHP services, when in fact, the patients did not qualify for or need PHP services. Sanjar and Sajadi also billed Medicare for PHP services when the beneficiaries were actually watching movies, coloring and playing games, which are not activities covered by Medicare.

Evidence presented at trial also showed that Sanjar and Sajadi paid kickbacks to group care home operators and patient recruiters, including Nunn, Holmes and Manney, in exchange for delivering ineligible Medicare beneficiaries to Spectrum. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. According to evidence presented at trial, Spectrum billed Medicare for approximately $97 million in services that were not medically necessary and, in some cases, not provided.


Former VP of Finance Jason A. Green Sentenced to Prison for Fraud against US Foodservice

January 19, 2015

The former Vice President of Finance for the NW Division of US Foodservice was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $496,845 in restitution, announced Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  JASON A. GREEN, 37, of Puyallup, Washington, conspired with his friend, Jimmie Dillingham, to steal from us_foods_logoGREEN’s employer, US Foodservice.  GREEN pleaded guilty to mail fraud, resulting in a loss of nearly half a million dollars to US Foodservice, in November 2013.  In November 2014 Dillingham pleaded guilty to mail fraud and will be sentenced later this year.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton told GREEN, “This offense is serious, it tears at the fabric of society . . . [it is the type of offense that] has a corrosive effect on people who didn’t have your opportunity.  You were blessed.  I can’t see the motivation.”

According to records in the case, beginning in July 2009 and continuing until late 2010, GREEN and Dillingham made up phony invoices indicating that Dillingham’s company had done work for US Foodservice.  GREEN abused his access to payment systems at the company to approve expenditures for work that was never done.  GREEN changed computer codes in the accounting records to conceal the fraud.  In one part of the scheme, the men invented a security company and submitted phony bills for work it allegedly did at a Clark County warehouse.  GREEN used his access to US Foodservice accounts to cancel the contract with a legitimate company and instead steered the business to Dillingham’s company.  The warehouse property was later sold.  After the men submitted the invoices for payment, Dillingham would deposit the checks and share the funds with GREEN.  Both men gambled significant amounts of the embezzled money at area casinos.

In December 2010, the company tried to untangle shortfalls in various accounts and GREEN quit his job when confronted about fraudulent entries in the books.  The company notified law enforcement which began the financial investigation.


John Winston Boone Sentenced to Prison for Website Domain Fraud

January 18, 2015

A Northern California man who defrauded 18 victims by selling website domains that he falsely claimed would generate substantial advertising revenue was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison.

Internet FraudJohn Winston Boone, 51, of Novato, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who called the defendant’s conduct “cruel and callous.”

In addition to the 10-year prison term, Judge Wright ordered Boone to pay $1,219,138 in restitution to the victims, who reside across the United States and in Canada.

During today’s hearing, Judge Wright said Boone “showed a lack of humanity that was so base and so depraved.”

Boone pleaded guilty in November 2013 to two counts of wire fraud, admitting that he engaged in a five-year-long fraud scheme that targeted victims who wanted to own online businesses that would allow them to work from home. Boone offered the websites for sale in advertisements he placed on popular business websites, such as Bizquest.com and BizBen.com. When prospective buyers responded to his ads, Boone sent them phony financial records that falsely showed the websites had generated advertising revenue in the past. As part of his scheme, Boone lied about his employment background and falsely promised to provide training and other assistance in setting up the websites. After the victims paid money, Boone failed to provide any training or other support he promised, and the websites, with one small exception, never generated any income. When victims discovered the scam, Boone ceased all contact with them and he never returned their money.

Boone is a “financial predator, a master manipulator and a pathological liar who will do or say anything to steal money from his victims,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court. Prosecutors also cited Boone’s callous conduct, describing how he defrauded one victim knowing he was disabled, and defrauded another victim knowing he had large medical bills to pay.

Boone displayed predatory conduct, according to the government’s sentencing papers. After a victim sued him for return of her $60,000 down payment, Boone counter-sued her for the full amount of the $100,000 bogus contract and won, and then harassed her for payment with the knowledge that she suffered from panic attacks.

“For 30 years, nothing has deterred him – not criminal investigation or prosecution, not civil judgments, and not distraught victims,” according to prosecutors, who described the defendant as “extraordinarily charismatic and manipulative, while lacking any conscience.”


Noah L. Myers Guilty of “Cherry-Picking” Securities fraud – Investment Advisor Unethical and Illegal Activity

January 16, 2015

NOAH L. MYERS, 43 was sentenced to 40 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for defrauding investment clients in a “cherry-picking” securities scheme.  MYERS also was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

securities fraud“Investors have a right to the fair and ethical management of their savings,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly.  “The sentence imposed today serves as ample warning that money managers who breach their clients trust in violation of federal securities laws will be prosecuted and risk losing their freedom and ill-gotten gains.  We thank the FBI and the SEC for their efforts in uncovering this cherry-picking scheme.”

“Cherry-picking” is a fraudulent securities trading practice in which the responsible individual executes trades without assigning those trades to a particular trading account until the individual determines whether or not the trade has become profitable or suffered losses.  The responsible individual then allocates the profitable trades to favored accounts – often the individual’s own account – and assigns unprofitable trades to disfavored client accounts.

According to court documents and statements made in court, MYERS was the sole owner of MiddleCove Capital, LLC (“MiddleCove”), a Connecticut limited liability company with its principal place of business in the Centerbrook section of Essex.  MiddleCove had been registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as an investment adviser since 2008, and MYERS was the portfolio manager and managed a number of client accounts with assets of approximately $129 million.  MiddleCove used Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. (“Schwab”) to trade securities and as the custodian of the investments held in client accounts.  As part of the trading arrangement with Schwab, MYERS was permitted to place block purchases and sales of securities through a master account with Schwab and then, later in the day, allocate the purchases and sales to various accounts, including his personal accounts and various client accounts, all held by Schwab.

Between April 2009 and November 2010, MYERS engaged in “cherry-picking” at MiddleCove by purchasing the leveraged exchange traded fund (ETF) ProShares UltraShort Financials, otherwise known by its ticker symbol “SKF,” as well as other securities.  MYERS then disproportionately allocated trades that had appreciated in value during the course of the day to his personal and business accounts and allocated trades that had depreciated in value during the day to the accounts of his advisory clients.  As a result, MYERS gained as his clients suffered commensurate trading losses.

For example, in August 2009, on the nine days when MYERS purchased SKF in block trades in the master account and the security was sold as a day trade, MYERS allocated between 9 percent and 32 percent of the profitable block trades to his personal accounts.  On three of those days he allocated between 27 percent and 31 percent of the profitable day trades to his personal accounts.

In addition, on September 2, 2009, MYERS purchased SKF in a block trade in the master account and, after the investment increased in value, sold the shares in a day trade and allocated more than 31 percent of the investment to his personal accounts.  In sharp contrast, MYERS undertook four additional block purchases in the master account of SKF on September 3, 4, 16 and 28, 2009.  On each of these days, when the SKF investment declined in value by the close of trading, MYERS allocated no more than 5 percent of the block trade to his personal accounts and instead allocated the remaining 95 percent of the shares to his clients’ accounts.

In filings with the SEC in April 2009 and March 2010, MYERS and MiddleCove represented that batched trades would be allocated fairly and not unduly favor MYERS or MiddleCove.

On January 16, 2013, the SEC issued an order revoking the registration of MiddleCove as an investment adviser and barred MYERS from the securities industry.  MYERS also was ordered to pay $462,022 disgorgement, $26,096 in prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty of $300,000.

On October 20, 2014, MYERS waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of security fraud.