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Today's Date: U.S. Attorney News Feed
DOJ busts insulation service companies
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/06 01:25

Two Long Island, N.Y. insulation service companies and an owner of the companies pleaded guilty today to conspiring to rig bids on the supply of maintenance and insulation services to New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYPH) and Mount Sinai Medical Center (Mount Sinai), the Department of Justice announced.

Michael Theodorobeakos of Upper Saddle River, N.J., and two maintenance and insulation companies he co-owned – Monosis Inc. (Monosis) and STU Associates Inc. (STU) – pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan for rigging bids to NYPH and Mount Sinai. Between approximately 2000 and September 2005, NYPH and Mount Sinai purchased substantial quantities of maintenance and insulation services from Theodorobeakos, Monosis, STU and co-conspirators. Theodorobeakos and the co-conspirators attempted to create the appearance that NYPH and Mount Sinai were awarding contracts based on competitive bids, when, in fact, they frequently were not.

"The Antitrust Division is committed to protecting the competitive market for Americans," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division. "We will continue to apprehend and bring to justice those who rig bids and thereby deprive the public of the benefits afforded by a truly competitive bidding process." As part of the conspiracy, the indictment charges that Theodorobeakos, Monosis, STU and the co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by:

Designating which company would submit the low bid and which company would submit a higher, complementary bid;

Creating the illusion of a competitive bidding process by using each other's letterhead to submit high, non-competitive bids; and

Providing and being aware of kickbacks to co-conspirators in order to frustrate and subvert the competitive bidding policies of NYPH and Mount Sinai.

The bid rigging crime with which Theodorobeakos is charged carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine for an individual. Monosis and STU face a maximum fine of $100 million. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victim of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

This charge arose from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation of fraud, bribery, tax-related offenses and bidding irregularities in the award of maintenance and service contracts to the engineering departments of Mount Sinai and NYPH. The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division's New York Field Office with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.



Alleged faux beau pleads not guilty in check fraud
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/05 18:32

A disbarred lawyer who police say scammed women in Illinois and eight other states out of more than $1 million pleaded not guilty today for allegedly cashing bogus checks here.

Hillard Jay Quint, 42, entered his plea when he appeared before Cook County Judge Diane Cannon in the Criminal Courts building. He is charged with identity theft and four counts of deceptive practice for allegedly cashing $16,000 in checks written on a closed bank account under the alias Matt Goldstein.

At the brief hearing, Quint, dressed in a tan jail outfit, told the judge he cannot afford an attorney. He is being held without bond pending trial.

Quint was arrested Feb. 23 at his Gold Coast apartment. While in Chicago, police say he represented himself as a wealthy CEO from California while dating women he met through online services.

Authorities allege Quint dated at least eight women in Chicago and scammed $24,000 from three of them.

Belmont Area detective Cindy Serafini said Wednesday the investigation into the alleged fraud was ongoing, and more charges were possible.

Quint is scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing on May 14.



Jackson-Hewitt accused of tax fraud schemes
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/05 15:54

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice have filed suit against five Jackson Hewitt franchises, seeking an injunction to bar the companies from preparing tax returns and alleging that all five corporations were involved in fraudulent tax return preparation including the filing of exaggerated claims and the use fake W-2 forms. The government, which filed lawsuits Tuesday in Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Raleigh, further alleged  that as a result of the fraudulent activity the US Treasury took a loss of over $70 million. The suits also claim that the corporations, owners, and employees received kickbacks for helping costumers file the fraudulent returns.

Speaking about the lawsuits, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson stated that:

I am deeply disturbed by the allegation that a major franchisee of the nation's second-largest tax preparation firm is intentionally preparing improper tax returns with inflated refunds. I'm particularly concerned that many taxpayers of modest means could actually end up owing the government thousands of dollars if they claimed an improper refund.

The five corporations named as defendants are Chicago Suit: Smart Tax, Inc. of Chicago; Ask Tax, Inc.; Atlanta Suit: Smart Tax of Georgia, Inc.; Detroit Suit: So Far, Inc.; and Raleigh Suit: Smart Tax of North Carolina, Inc.; all Jackson Hewitt Tax Service franchises. The suits also name Farrukh Sohail, who wholly or partially owns each of the five corporations, as co-defendant.



Hartford Man Pleads Guilty To Sex-Trafficking Ring
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/05 07:40

Brian Forbes of Hartford, Conn., pleaded guilty to six counts related to his role in a sex-trafficking ring. Forbes is the ninth of ten defendants to plead guilty to federal charges in this case. In his plea agreement, Forbes has admitted to placing three juveniles in prostitution and compelling two adults into prostitution through force, fraud or coercion.

On Aug. 8, 2006, Forbes, along with nine other co-defendants, was charged in a 64-count superseding indictment related to the operation of a trafficking ring in Connecticut. Forbes was also charged, along with and two of his co-defendants, with sex trafficking minors and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Today, Forbes pleaded guilty to three counts of sex trafficking of minors; two counts of sex trafficking adult women through force, fraud or coercion; and conspiracy to use interstate facilities to promote prostitution. Forbes faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

"This sex trafficking case, like many others, involved the repeated victimization of American citizens," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "All too often, these crimes occur right in our own backyards. The Justice Department will remain dedicated to prosecuting this form of modern-day slavery."

"Women and girls being forced to commit sexual acts against their will and under the threat of violence is a brutal crime," said Kevin J. O'Connor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. "Federal law enforcement is committed to vigorously prosecuting those who engage in human trafficking, especially when minors are victimized."

Human trafficking prosecutions are a top priority of the President of the United States and the Department of Justice. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court.  In fiscal year 2006, the Department obtained a record high number of defendants charged and defendants convicted in human trafficking prosecutions.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Hartford and Windsor Police Departments, and the Internal Revenue Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Genco and Special Litigation Counsel Andrew J. Kline of the Civil Rights Division's Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.



The UK Hacker facing extradition to US
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/04 22:46

The UK hacker behind unprecedented cyberattacks on US military and NASA computer systems in late 2001 and early 2002 lost an appeal Tuesday in the UK High Court to avoid extradition to the US. Last May, a UK judge recommended extradition for Gary McKinnon to face criminal charges in a US court as a cyber-terrorist, allegedly causing $700,000 in damages. UK Home Secretary John Reid quickly approved the extradition recommendation.

McKinnon will apply to have his case heard before the UK House of Lords as one last chance to avoid extradition. If extradited and convicted in US courts, McKinnon may face serving his entire sentence in US prisons because of the cyber-terrorist charges. McKinnon admits that he hacked into US computer systems seeking evidence that the US concealed evidence of UFOs and other "hidden technology," but claims the level of damages asserted by the US is "ridiculous."



Hicks unlikely to break gag order: lawyer
Lawyer Blog News | 2007/04/04 10:23

Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks will not speak to the media in violation of a court order, Hicks' lawyer said Wednesday. Despite statements by Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock that Australia cannot enforce the gag order once Hicks returns to the country, Hicks' lawyer told Australia's ABC News that Hicks is not interested in speaking to the media. According to his lawyer, Hicks "is focused on getting home...to be close to his family."

Hicks submitted an application Monday to be transferred to a prison near his home in South Australia to serve the remainder of his nine-month sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of supporting terrorism last week. The Australian government is awaiting formal documentation from US authorities to move Hicks from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Once this information is received, the Australian federal government can approach the state government in South Australia to move the process forward, including assessing security requirements and a potential control order.



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