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Today's Date: U.S. Attorney News Feed
Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Charges
Court Feed News | 2006/11/28 02:54

WASHINGTON — Joseph Kuzlik, of Ohio, pleaded guilty today to federal civil rights charges for his role in violating the civil rights of an interracial family in Cleveland. He also pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators. Sentencing has been set for Feb. 23, 2007. On Oct. 26, 2006, David Fredericy, another individual charged in the case, entered a guilty plea to the same charges.

Kuzlik pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges for his role in using force and threats of force to interfere with federally protected housing rights of the victims because of their race. The indictment in this case alleges that Kuzlik and Fredericy conspired to engage in a series of acts intended to threaten and intimidate African-American residents in their neighborhood. The indictment charges, among other acts, that the defendants placed mercury, a toxic substance, on the family’s porch. As part of his guilty plea, Kuzlik admitted that he did so for the purpose of intimidating the family because they were an interracial family, and that he and his co-defendant were attempting to drive the family out of the neighborhood. Kuzlik also admitted to lying to federal investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency that was initially charged with cleaning up the mercury and investigating the incident, because of an agreement he had with Fredericy to keep their actions secret.

“Today’s plea sends a clear message that bias-motivated acts of violence are intolerable and will be prosecuted aggressively by the Justice Department consistent with federal law,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is a tragedy that crimes such as this occur at all in our nation, but we will not relent in our efforts to protect and defend the civil rights afforded by our Constitution and laws.”

U.S. Attorney Gregory White of the Northern District of Ohio said, “Today’s guilty plea is the result of a joint effort by the FBI, the Cleveland Police Department and the EPA and demonstrates the commitment of both state and federal law enforcement authorities to protecting every citizen’s basic right to live in and enjoy his or her own home without fear of racial intimidation. We must all work together, as a community, to prevent this type of conduct from recurring.”

The maximum potential penalties on the conspiracy and civil rights charges are 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release following any period of incarceration, per count. The maximum term of imprisonment for the false statements charge is five years. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann C. Rowland and Trial Attorney Kristy L. Parker of the Civil Rights Division.

Prosecuting the perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since 2001, the Civil Rights Division has charged 161 defendants in 103 cases of bias-motivated crimes.



Spitzer cautions against easing corporate reforms
Headline News | 2006/11/27 03:12

Many of the efforts to soften the corporate accountability reforms of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act are being pushed by the same corporations that employed questionable accounting and business practices before the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms, New York state attorney general and governor-elect Eliot Spitzer said in an interview with the Financial Times published Monday.

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson  accused Sarbanes-Oxley of raising the cost of doing business in America, citing declining share sales since 2002 as one example of its impact, and recommended legislative tweaks to the Act, especially to the internal control structure requirements of Section 404. Spitzer said Monday that individual corporations are responsible for their own poor performances, and that corporate accountability and ethics will strengthen US markets in the long run.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been an object of criticism since its passage in the wake of the Enron debacle and other high-profile corporate scandals. Rep. Michael Oxley, one of the law's co-sponsors, said last year that the legislation was "rushed" and included "excessive" corporate reforms. A GAO report earlier this year noted that an increasing number of small businesses are going private in order to avoid disproportionately higher costs of complying with the law, prompting several senators to urge regulators to find ways to make it less onerous for smaller companies to comply.



11th Defendant Pleads Guilty in Tax Promotion Fraud
Court Feed News | 2006/11/27 02:49

Over the past several years, Justice Department prosecutors in concert with IRS agents have aggressively worked to identify and prosecute tax cheats and promoters of tax fraud schemes. Increased efforts to stop fraud have resulted in numerous federal injunctions to stop the sale of bogus tax advice; court orders for the IRS to obtain records of offshore credit cards used by the people who transfer assets overseas to evade their tax obligations; and lengthy prison sentences for individuals who engage in fraudulent behavior.

Today the Justice Department announced that Lanny R. White of Orem, Utah pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to commit mail and wire fraud, in connection with the promotion of a tax and investment fraud scheme. White is the 11th defendant who promoted a trust scheme that defrauded the IRS of more than $5 million in tax revenue.

Other convictions in this case include:

*In March 2004, Orem, Utah attorney Todd Cannon pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Cannon admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury almost $3 million in lost tax revenue. Cannon also admitted that he allowed his fellow conspirators to fraudulently use and invest over $1 million of client funds for purposes other than those promised to the clients. As a condition of his guilty plea, Cannon agreed to surrender his law license.

*In March 2004, Dr. Lance Hatch, a Walla Walla, Washington chiropractor, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the IRS. Hatch admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury more than $3 million in lost tax revenue.

*In April 2004, Valencia, California attorneys Martin Arnoldini and Jerrold Boschma each pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Arnoldini and Boschma admitted their actions caused a loss of federal tax revenue totaling approximately $3.6 million and also admitted to participating in fraudulent investment schemes, which led to clients losing approximately $1.3 million. As a condition of their guilty pleas, Arnoldini, who held an advanced degree in tax law, and Boschma agreed to surrender their law licenses.

*In April 2004, David J. Orr of Salt Lake City, Utah pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Orr admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury between $5 million and $10 million in lost tax revenue. Orr also admitted that he obtained between $5 million and $7 million from clients by misrepresenting his investment experience and the safety and expected return on the investments he marketed. Orr further admitted causing client assets to be commingled and misappropriated.

*In April 2004, Sandy, Utah attorney Michael Behunin pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Behunin admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury between $950,000 and $1.5 million in lost tax revenue. Behunin also admitted to participating in a fraudulent railroad bond investment scheme, causing clients to lose between $350,000 and $450,000. As a condition of his guilty plea, Behunin agreed to surrender his law license.

*In February 2005, R. Scot Stokes of Henderson, Nevada pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Stokes admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury between $7 million and $10 million. Stokes also admitted participating in fraudulent investment schemes that caused customers to lose between $2.5 million and $5 million.

*In March 2005, former IRS Revenue Agent Marissa Hyde of Overland, Kansas, who pleaded guilty in August 2004 to a felony charge of interfering with the administration of the internal revenue laws, was sentenced to 3 months in federal prison, 3 months home confinement, and was fined $5,000. Hyde admitted using her previous employment as an IRS revenue agent to give the trust scheme an appearance of legitimacy.

*In April 2005, Edward T. Woodger of Sandy, Utah pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the IRS. Woodger admitted that his actions cost the federal treasury more than $7 million. Woodger also admitted participating as the “offshore money man” in fraudulent investment schemes, that caused customers to lose between $2.5 million and $5 million.

*In February 2006, Max C. Lloyd, a Midvale, Utah CPA licensed in California was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false federal income tax return. Lloyd previously pleaded guilty to the felony charge in October 2005.



Self-proclaimed CPA Pleads Guilty
Court Feed News | 2006/11/27 02:47

WASHINGTON - Lanny R. White of Orem, Utah pleaded guilty in Salt Lake City federal district court to a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit mail and wire fraud, in connection with the promotion of a tax and investment fraud scheme, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.

In April 2003, White, David J. Orr, attorneys Todd R. Cannon and Michael Behunin, and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Max Lloyd were indicted for promoting and selling a fraudulent trust scheme to over 300 clients that defrauded the United States of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Today's guilty plea brings the number of individuals who have pleaded guilty in this case to 11, including four attorneys and one certified public accountant. “People who hold themselves out as licensed professionals and help others evade taxes do more than damage the reputation of honest professionals,” said Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “By defrauding the federal Treasury, they harm all honest taxpayers. The Department of Justice is working vigorously to prosecute these tax fraud promoters.”

According to the plea agreement, White admitted that from 1993 to 2004, he and his co-conspirators—using the names Advanta Strategies, World Contractual Services, Rockwell Services, CornerStone West, Ventures Limited, and Whiven Financial—marketed and sold a fraudulent trust scheme to over 300 clients through seminars, promotional materials, and opinion letters. White and his co-conspirators falsely represented to clients that by placing their businesses and assets into the names of trusts, the clients could lawfully eliminate or substantially reduce their income tax liabilities.

“Those who promote the use of abusive trusts and tax schemes for the purpose of evading taxes harm our system of taxation, harm many of their investors and are engaging in criminal activity,” said Nancy Jardini, IRS Chief, Criminal Investigations. ”We will continue to shut down fraudulent tax schemes and hold the promoters of these schemes accountable for their actions.”

White admitted that, as part of his role in the conspiracy, he falsely claimed to be a licensed CPA and used his brother's CPA license numbers, without his brother's knowledge. White also admitted to preparing opinion letters that falsely assured the legality of the tax benefits of the fraudulent trust scheme and that he promoted the scheme at offshore seminars hosted by the “Institute of Global Prosperity.” Several individuals associated with Global Prosperity have been convicted of felony tax charges in the Western District of Washington. White acknowledged that his actions, which resulted in the filing of more than 2,000 false and fraudulent federal income and trust tax returns, caused a loss of federal tax revenue totaling between $7 million and $10 million.

Additionally, White acknowledged that he and others conspired to use the U.S. mail and interstate wire communications to obtain over $5 million and property from clients through false and fraudulent misrepresentations. White also admitted to placing clients’ assets in unsound “investments” in international financial markets and other offshore “investing opportunities” that he knew would put the clients’ funds at considerable risk and would never, in fact, pay any return.

White faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and liability for the costs of prosecution. U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart scheduled sentencing for February 26, 2007.



Fla. Court Shuts Down Promotion of Tax Schemes
Lawyer News | 2006/11/23 02:42

A federal court in Tampa, Fla. has permanently barred David Marvin Swanson of Sarasota from promoting an illegal tax fraud scheme that involves sham trusts and limited liability companies, the Justice Department announced today. The court found that Swanson, who uses the business name Dynamic Monetary Strategies, promotes a system of sham trusts called “unincorporated business trust organizations” and limited liability companies on his Web site and in a manual he sells to customers.

According to the court, Swanson “falsely advises his customers that by placing the customers’ assets and income into these trusts the customers can avoid federal income tax.” The court concluded that “in organizing and selling his abusive tax schemes, Swanson made false or fraudulent statements regarding the excludibility of income.”

The order requires Swanson to notify his customers of the injunction and to give the Justice Department a list with his customers’ names, addresses, e-mail addresses, Social Security numbers and telephone numbers.

More information about this case is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax/txdv04111.htm

Jeff Castaldo
Staff Reporter



Gang Members Sentenced to Life for Murders
Court Feed News | 2006/11/22 02:39
Three gang members were sentenced today two consecutive life sentences in federal prison without the possibility of parole for participating in a six-year civil rights conspiracy that led to the assault and murder of African - Americans in Los Angeles, the Justice Department announced.

Gilbert Saldana, Alejandro Martinez and Fernando Cazares—members of the Avenues gang--had been convicted earlier this summer after a jury trial for participating in a to violate the civil rights of African-Americans in the gang’s neighborhood by attacking and sometimes killing the victims. The victims included Christopher Bowser, an African American man who was shot while waiting at a bus stop in Highland Park on December 11, 2000 and Kenneth Kurry Wilson, an African American man who was gunned down while looking for a parking place in Highland Park on April 18, 1999.

Saldana was convicted of being the triggerman in the Wilson murder and is currently serving a life sentence in state prison for another murder. Martinez was convicted of instigating the Wilson murder by using a racial slur and encouraging his fellow gang members to kill Wilson Cazares was convicted of serving as a look-out during the Wilson murder.

A fourth defendant convicted at trial, Porfirio Avila, who is currently serving a life sentence in state court in the murders of Christopher Bowser and another African American man, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Anderson on Dec. 18, 2006. A fifth defendant, Merced Cambero, who is alleged to have been a part of the murders is currently a fugitive.

“Today’s sentences send a clear message that this type of racial violence, which devastates individuals and entire communities, will not be tolerated in this country,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is grateful to the victims and witnesses who had the courage to come forward in this case, despite enormous personal sacrifices demanded by the trial, so that the truth about these horrible crimes could come out.”

“Hate crimes are some of the most disturbing offenses prosecuted by this office,” said Acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona. “These defendants will now spend the rest of their lives in federal prison for the despicable act of trying to rid their neighborhood of African-Americans.”

Thomas P. O'Brien, Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney's Office, said, “This case demonstrates that this office and the Department of Justice will use all tools available to ensure that the citizens of this District are protected from hate crimes, particularly violent hate crimes of the type committed by these defendants. The multiple life sentences imposed today guarantee that these violent, racist killers will never again be free to attack African-American residents of the Highland Park neighborhood just because they are African-American.”

J. Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, said, “Today's sentencing represents the FBI's commitment to the protection of civil rights in the United States, which is listed among the FBI's highest priorities. My office continues to offer a
$20,000 reward for the remaining fugitive charged in the conspiracy, Merced Cambero, so that all of those responsible for these insidious and racist crimes are prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department, under Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

The Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is committed to vigorously enforcing federal criminal civil rights. The overall conviction rate in FY 2006 was 98 percent--the highest conviction rate recorded in the past two decades.



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