Wednesday, April 28, 2010
SACRAMENTO—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Marc M. Keyser, 66, of Sacramento, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, by U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. in Sacramento. Calling him a danger to the community, Judge Damrell ordered Keyser remanded into custody to commence serving his prison sentence. A further hearing is set to determine the restitution owed by Keyser for the costs of responding to the hoax letter.
Keyser was convicted by a jury on September 17, 2009 of three counts of committing an anthrax hoax and two counts of mailing threatening communications. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Wagner and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean Hobler.
Evidence presented at trial established that in January 2007, Keyser mailed a package to the Sacramento News & Review, promoting a book that he had written about potential anthrax attacks in the United States by terrorists. The package included a copy of the book on CD, a note offering to discuss publication of excerpts of the book, and a cylindrical aerosol canister labeled “Anthrax.” The mailing resulted in the evacuation of the building and a full law enforcement and hazmat response. An investigating FBI special agent interviewed Keyser at that time, informed him of the consequences of the mailing, and specifically admonished him that he risked prosecution under the hoax mailings statute if he sent any similar mailings in the future.
According to court documents, including Keyser’s own testimony at trial, in late October 2008 Keyser mailed over 100 packages that contained a CD with excerpts of a new book on terrorism that was labeled in large print “Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror” and a small sugar packet that had been re-labeled with a bio-hazard symbol and the words “Anthrax sample.” Most of the packages had no information indicating that the CD contained a book. The mailings were sent to various newspapers and other media companies, officials, and retail outlets nationwide, causing police, fire, and hazmat teams to respond to emergency calls in many states.
The counts on which Keyser was convicted relate to a mailing received by Congressman George Radanovich’s office in Modesto, California and mailings received at McDonald’s and Starbucks restaurants in Sacramento. An employee of Congressman Radanovich’s office testified during the trial that following receipt of Keyser’s mailing, police, fire department, and hazmat personnel responded to the scene, and two employees were transported to the hospital for medical screening.
Keyser stated to investigating agents that he intended the mailings to be “provocative” and that he hoped the controversy and “buzz” generated by news reports about the mailings would heighten awareness of anthrax vulnerability and spur sales of his book. The jury acquitted Keyser on eight other counts in the indictment.
In sentencing Keyser, Judge Damrell told Keyser that “you want attention more than anything, you crave it. The attention you get is more important than the effect you have on others.”
U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated, “Hoaxes like these hurt our national security, draining critical resources from investigation of and preparation for real threats against our homeland. Today’s sentence sends a strong message to anyone considering imitating Mr. Keyser’s fake anthrax packages—there are real consequences for those who behave like terrorists.”
Parole has been abolished in the federal system, and Keyser will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the prison time imposed today.
at 7:00 AM
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
SACRAMENTO — U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced William T. Bridge, 43, of Cambria, Calif., to 21 months in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release, $1,057,700.90 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and a $60,000 fine for multiple counts of filing false tax returns and paying kickbacks in connection with real estate loan transactions. Bridge pleaded guilty on June 16, 2008.
This case is the product of a joint investigation by the FBI and the IRS - Criminal Investigation.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurel Loomis Rimon, who prosecuted the case, Bridge admitted that on his 2003 - 2006 federal tax returns, he willfully failed to report more than $3.8 million he had earned as a licensed real estate mortgage broker doing business as The Loan Center in San Francisco. In completing his tax returns, Bridge reported only the compensation he earned as part of the “yield-spread premium” that was reported by the lending institutions themselves to the IRS, and did not report his full commission, which involved substantially more money.
During the same time, Bridge was paying thousands of dollars in kickbacks to John Ngo, an employee of Long Beach Mortgage (formerly a subsidiary of Washington Mutual Bank) to process what he knew were fraudulent loans application packages to be secured by residential properties located in the Sacramento and Stockton areas. Ngo pleaded guilty on Dec. 17, 2007 to perjury, admitting that he had falsely denied to the Grand Jury that he had received these kickbacks. He is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 9, 2010.
Paul Bridge, William’s brother, was also a loan broker at The Loan Center and was charged with paying kickbacks. He pleaded guilty on June 16, 2008 and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 26, 2010.
Trial is scheduled to begin on June 15, 2010 in the case against Joel Blanford, a former account executive at Long Beach Mortgage, who is charged in this investigation with mail fraud in connection with the submission of fraudulent loan applications.
U.S. Attorney Wagner stated, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office continues its pledge to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute the industry insiders who manipulate the mortgage loan process for their own financial gain.”
at 2:55 PM
Monday, April 19, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO—Lily C. Aspillera pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion in federal court today, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced.
In pleading guilty, Aspillera admitted that while employed as an executive assistant at major professional services firm Ernst & Young (E&Y), she engaged in a scheme through which she embezzled between $1 million and $2.5 million from the accounts of an E&Y client identified as “K.K.” Aspillera admitted to accomplishing her scheme through various unauthorized means, including: (1) writing more than $1 million worth of checks that were drawn on K.K.’s accounts payable to herself and to “Cash”; (2) writing checks drawn on K.K.’s accounts payable to two of K.K.’s employees for amounts greater than they were due, then having those employees cash the checks and give the excess cash back to Aspillera, falsely telling those employees that the cash they were bringing back was so she could pay other employees; (3) writing checks drawn on K.K.’s accounts to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Aspillera’s and her family members’ American Express bills; and (4) writing checks drawn on K.K.’s accounts for Aspillera’s benefit, including a $150,000 check to Aspillera’s sister-in-law that she used as a downpayment on a house that Aspillera then moved into and checks to pay car payments for two BMWs. Aspillera admitted to making several false statements to her supervisors and taking several steps to conceal her scheme during its course.
Aspillera also admitted that she willfully evaded a large part of the federal income tax due and owing by understating the joint taxable income on her federal income tax returns for calendar years 2005 through 2008. The income she failed to report consisted of the monies she converted to her own use by the means set forth above.
Aspillera, 66, of San Francisco, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 12, 2009. She was charged with nine counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, and four counts of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7201. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Aspillera pled guilty to all 13 counts.
Aspillera is out of custody on a $100,000 bond secured by property. The sentencing of Aspillera is scheduled for July 23, 2010, before Judge Illston in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7201, is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and restitution. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Doug Sprague is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal assistant Rayneisha Booth. The prosecution is the result of a one-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
at 2:40 PM
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that Marvin Chavelle Epps, 23, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty today before Senior United States District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. to one count of sex trafficking of a minor.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, which is composed of Sacramento City Police detectives and FBI special agents targeting child prostitution in the greater Sacramento area.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Laurel D. White, who is prosecuting the case, for approximately three weeks in October 2008, Epps acted as the pimp for a 16-year-old Solano County minor, using the Internet to solicit sex dates in a North Sacramento Motel.
Court documents show that the minor victim said that she originally met Epps in September 2008 on the social networking site MySpace. During their MySpace communications, Epps promoted himself to her as a pimp and encouraged her to come to Sacramento where she could work for him. He told her that he would pay for a bus or train ticket for her to come to Sacramento. He claimed he had been in the prostitution “game for five almost six years now.”
Once the minor came to Sacramento, Epps began to post prostitution related advertisements for her on a website that offers escort, massage, strip club, and other sex-related services. The minor reported that Epps took sexually provocative pictures of her, which he used for the Internet ads. She told law enforcement that she gave him all the money she earned from her prostitution activity.
Epps is scheduled to be sentenced on July 26, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. For a violation of sex trafficking of a minor, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to the maximum of life in prison, a potential fine of up to $250,000, a life term of supervised release, and an order of restitution to his victim. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. Epps has agreed to forfeit the camera and computer he used in furtherance of his sex trafficking activity.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC mobilizes federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.
Monday, April 12, 2010
On April 11, 2010, shortly before 1:30 a.m., Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the report of a drive-by shooting at an apartment complex in the 6600 block of Sunnyslope Drive. No one at the complex was struck by the gunfire.
A California Highway Patrol officer also responded to the area and spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle and attempted to stop it when it turned into a mobile home park in the 7400 block of Stockton Boulevard. The driver of the suspect vehicle refused to stop and the passenger fired, what appeared to be a semi-automatic rifle, at the CHP officer. The bullets missed the officer. The suspect vehicle fled from the mobile home park and drove onto Highway 99 with the CHP officer in pursuit.
During the freeway pursuit, the passenger in the vehicle continued to fire at the CHP officer. Once again, the officer was not struck. However, one of the suspect’s bullets struck a minivan driving on Highway 99 near Florin Road. A four-year-old passenger in the vehicle suffered a minor injury from flying debris caused by the bullet. Paramedics treated the child at the scene; the child was not hospitalized.
A short time later, a Sacramento Police Department officer located the suspect vehicle, and a subject (later identified as 23-year-old Sacramento-resident Pedro Pantoja) armed with a handgun, in the parking lot of a motel on Massie Court. A semi-automatic rifle was recovered inside the vehicle. Several other subjects were detained from a room at the motel. One of the subjects was later identified as 26-year-old Elk Grove-resident Jesus Montano. Montano was subsequently identified as the driver of the suspect vehicle. Pantoja was identified as the passenger in the vehicle and the shooting suspect. Both suspects, who are validated gang members, were arrested. They will be booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on multiple felony charges including attempted murder.
at 12:57 PM
Friday, April 9, 2010
United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Nicholas Summerlin and Angelica Parson, both 22, recently of Roseville, charging them with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The indictment also charges Summerlin with two counts of criminal copyright infringement.
This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the FBI’s Cyber Squad.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Matthew D. Segal of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Unit, who is prosecuting the case, the indictment alleges that Summerlin and Parson sold illegal copies of Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection 3, Microsoft Office 2007, and Rosetta Stone language software. According to the indictment, each defendant received a cease-and-desist letter from Rosetta Stone, but nonetheless continued selling pirated software. The indictment alleges that in 330 separate transactions between October 27, 2008 and October 21, 2009, Summerlin sold software with a combined retail value of no less than $561,430.
If convicted of the charges, Summerlin and Parson face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
at 3:24 PM