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FBI News Round-Up

Recent News Reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigations:

  1. Riverside Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Crushing Charge for Severely Injuring Puppy Then Posting Videos of the Animal on Social Media
  2. Four Arrested in Sixteen-Defendant Oath Keeper Conspiracy Case for Activities Leading to U.S. Capitol Breach
  3. Insurance Broker Sentenced for $3.8 Million Fraud Scheme
  4. Delaware Man Sentenced to Over Seven Years for Defrauding Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Lenovo, and APC Out of More than $3.5 million in Computer Hardware
  5. Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Charges After Using Dating App to Target Gay Men
  6. Former Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Council Member Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud
  7. New York Couple Indicted for Romance Fraud Scam

By Daniel Webster, dWeb.News Publisher

Riverside Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Crushing Charge for Severely Injuring Puppy Then Posting Videos of the Animal on Social Media

Angel Ramos-Corrales FBI

LOS ANGELES – A Riverside County man pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge for inflicting severe injuries on a puppy – including slitting its throat – then posting videos of the suffering animal on his social media accounts.

Angel Ramos-Corrales, 19, of Riverside, pleaded guilty to one felony count of animal crushing.

According to his plea agreement, on February 13, Ramos-Corrales assaulted his pet dog, whom he named “Canelo,” inflicting severe injuries to the puppy’s head and torso, causing skull and rib fractures. The dog’s injuries caused it to continuously fall headfirst, and Ramos-Corrales recorded a video of the injured puppy and posted it on his Instagram account.

On the same day, Ramos-Corrales slit Canelo’s throat by approximately 4.4 centimeters (1.7 inches), causing the dog to bleed significantly and lapse into unconsciousness. While Canelo was lying on a bathroom floor, Ramos-Corrales recorded a video of the puppy and posted it on his Snapchat account, according to the plea agreement. On the video, Ramos-Corrales makes a series of statements, including “I’m cold-hearted,” and then callously kicks the still-alive Canelo.

After law enforcement arrived at Ramos-Corrales’ residence, Riverside County Department of Animal Services took custody of Canelo and a veterinarian determined that the dog was still alive, but later euthanized Canelo because of the severity of the dog’s injuries.

United States District Judge John F. Walter has scheduled an August 16 sentencing hearing, at which time Ramos-Corrales will face a statutory maximum sentence of seven years in federal prison.

The FBI investigated this matter and received substantial assistance from the Riverside Police Department. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office received the initial referral from the Riverside Police Department, and, after reviewing the matter and conferring with the United States Attorney’s Office, a decision was made that federal prosecutors would file the case.

Assistant United States Attorney Julius J. Nam of the Riverside Branch Office is prosecuting this

Four Arrested in Sixteen-Defendant Oath Keeper Conspiracy Case for Activities Leading to U.S. Capitol Breach

Fourth Superseding Indictment Identifies Additional Conspirators, Alleges Obstruction and Assault on Law Enforcement

WASHINGTON — Three Florida men and one Alabama man were arrested for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Joseph Hackett, 50, of Sarasota, Florida; Jason Dolan, 44, of Wellington, Florida; William Isaacs, 21, of Kissimmee, Florida; and Jonathan Walden, 46, of Birmingham, Alabama, are charged with federal offenses that include conspiracy, among other charges, related to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Dolan was arrested on Thursday, May 27, and Isaacs self-surrendered the same day. Hackett was arrested on Friday, May 28. Walden was arrested today, June 3. Hackett, Dolan, Isaacs and Walden are the latest four of 16 defendants to be arrested in this case.

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants agreed to plan and participate in an operation to interfere with the certification of the electoral college vote by coordinating in advance with others, using websites and social media to recruit participants, and traveling to Washington, D.C., with paramilitary gear and supplies including firearms, tactical vests with plates, helmets and radio equipment. As early as Jan. 3, Hackett, Dolan and Isaacs joined an invitation-only encrypted Signal group message titled, “OK FL DC OP Jan 6”.

Sometime before Jan. 5, Walden sent a message to co-defendant Joshua James expressing his interest in joining the quick reaction force team. His message to James reads, “I am interested in the QRF team in D.C. I am a former Firefighter, EMT-B and have a K-9 trained for security patrol (82 ib. German Shepherd named “Warrior”) I have a Jump Bag with Trauma supplies and have ALL the necessary 2A gear that the situation may require. PLEASE ADVISE. As soon as I hear from you I can hit the road and join up! Jonathan Walden,” followed by a phone number.

On the afternoon of Jan. 6, Walden and others rode in a pair of golf carts toward the Capitol, at times swerving around law enforcement vehicles. After they arrived at 2:33 p.m., Walden and others aggressively berated and taunted law enforcement officers in riot gear guarding the perimeter of the building. At 2:35 p.m., Hackett and Isaacs joined together with others known and unknown to form a column or “stack” of individuals wearing Oath Keepers clothing, patches, insignia and battle gear, each keeping at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them. Dolan joined the stack at the top of the steps and the group collectively and forcibly entered the Capitol.

Hackett, Dolan, Isaacs and Walden are each charged with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, and entering and remaining on restricted grounds. Hackett, Dolan and Isaacs are also charged with destruction of government property and aiding and abetting. Isaacs is also charged with civil disorder and aiding and abetting as well as assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers.

The superseding indictment adds charges for previously arrested defendants, including Joshua James, charged with one count of obstruction of justice and assaulting and interfering with law enforcement in addition to conspiracy, civil disorder and other allegations. As alleged, James deleted evidence of offenses from his cell phone and assaulted Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers who blocked his path into the Capitol Rotunda.

Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson are additionally charged with one count of obstruction of justice for deleting evidence of these offenses from their cell phones.

Donovan Crowl, Jessica Watkins, Sandra Parker, Graydon Young and William Isaacs are jointly charged with one count of interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder and aiding and abetting for helping to push a crowd into MPD riot police officers who had formed a line blocking the hallway that leads from the rotunda north towards the Senate chamber.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Middle District of Florida, Southern District of Florida and Middle District of Alabama.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, as well as the Metropolitan Police Department, with significant assistance provided by the FBI’s Tampa, Miami and Birmingham Field Offices. 

In the first 120 days after Jan. 6, approximately 440 individuals were arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, including over 125 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

The charges contained in any criminal complaint or indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Insurance Broker Sentenced for $3.8 Million Fraud Scheme

A licensed insurance broker and the owner of Benefits Consulting Associates LLC was sentenced to 70 months in prison Wednesday for his role in a scheme to defraud CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield of more than $3.8 million.

On Nov. 8, 2019, following a two-week trial, Tarek Abou-Katwa, aka Dean Addem, 61, of the District of Columbia, was found guilty of one count of health care fraud, three counts of making false statements related to health care matters, seven counts of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud and five counts of identity theft charged in a March 2018 indictment.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Abou-Khatwa was involved in a scheme to defraud CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield by creating fictitious employees and altering years of birth of actual employees by as much as 40 years to lower the average age of insured groups and  fraudulently obtain lower insurance premiums. He then inflated the rates charged to clients and pocketed the difference, which was in excess of $3.6 million. As part of his scheme, Abou-Khatwa also stole the identities of former employees and clients, lowered their ages, and moved them in and out of shell companies in order to obtain the fraudulently lower premiums. When groups controlled by Abou-Khatwa were audited by CareFirst, he created false census reports, false D.C. wage and tax reports, and false paystubs to coverup his fraud.

In addition to the prison sentence, Abou-Katwa was ordered to serve three years of supervised release and pay $3,836,709.34 in restitution and forfeit $8,402,966.73.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips of the District of Columbia; Acting Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Philadelphia Regional Office; and Commissioner Karima Woods of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking made the announcement.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case with the help of the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

Trial Attorney Alexander Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ahmed Baset of the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case. Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Virginia Cheatham and Derrick Williams of the District of Columbia previously handled the prosecution.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

Delaware Man Sentenced to Over Seven Years for Defrauding Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Lenovo, and APC Out of More than $3.5 million in Computer Hardware

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams  announced that Justin David May, 31, of Wilmington, DE was sentenced today to seven years and eight months in prison, five years of supervised release, ordered to pay more than $4 Million in restitution and over $300,000 forfeiture by United States District Judge Joel H. Slomsky, following his guilty pleas in two separate cases to 42 counts of mail fraud, 10 counts of money laundering, three counts of interstate transportation of goods obtained by fraud, and two counts of tax evasion.

The defendant’s convictions stem from from separate schemes he perpetrated in order to defraud Cisco Systems Inc. (“Cisco”), Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”), Lenovo Group Ltd. (“Lenovo”), and APC by Schneider Electric (“APC”) out of computer hardware, by submitting to these manufacturers hundreds of false warranty claims seeking the advance replacement of more than $5 million worth of computer hardware. While not every false claim was successful, most of the claims did deceive the manufacturers, and May successfully defrauded them into shipping more than $3.5 million worth of computer hardware to him and several co-schemers.

May’s fraud schemes involved the registration of false domain names and the creation of false e-mail addresses, which were used to submit the false warranty claims. After first obtaining legitimate serial numbers for Cisco computer hardware, Microsoft Surface tablets, Lenovo Thinkpads, and APC Smart-UPS that he did not own, the defendant contacted the companies, using false identities and the false email addresses he had created, and claimed to be the owner of a piece of computer hardware that was supposedly broken. May knew how to explain the supposed problem in such a way that the item in question could not be fixed through trouble shooting and would instead require a replacement. May promised to return the supposedly broken item as soon as he received the advance replacement, and he gave false addresses to which the replacement items could be shipped, including many addresses in Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware. After picking up the hardware, May sold most of it through eBay or to various computer equipment resellers, and he never returned any of the supposedly broken items, because he never owned them in the first place.

The primary victim of the defendant’s fraud schemes was Cisco. With respect to Cisco, May personally submitted 267 false warranty claims, while co-schemers based in Texas submitted another 101 false warranty claims. Out of these 368 total false warranty claims, May and his co-schemers were successful on at least 252 occasions, and between April 12, 2016 and April 3, 2017, May and his co-schemers deceived Cisco into shipping Cisco hardware worth almost $3.5 million. May laundered the proceeds he obtained from the Cisco scheme by cashing checks he received from the computer equipment resellers at a check cashing business rather than depositing them in his bank account, and he used some of the proceeds to buy a new BMW.

With respect to Microsoft, May and a Singapore-based co-schemer were responsible for the submission of 227 false warranty claims to Microsoft, and they were successful on 139 of these false claims, which induced Microsoft into shipping to May a total of 139 Microsoft Surface tablets with a retail value of $364,761.

With respect to Lenovo, May personally submitted at least 216 separate false warranty claims, and as to each he claimed that his Lenovo ThinkPad hard drive had failed. These false warranty claims were successful on 193 occasions, and May caused Lenovo to ship to him 193 separate “replacement” hard drives, with a retail value of $143,000. May sold all of these hard drives through an eBay store he operated.

With respect to APC, May induced APC to ship at least three of its uninterruptable power supply products, with a retail value of at least $11,400 through the submission of false warranty claims.

While May earned hundreds of thousands of dollars through his illegal fraud scheme, he failed to pay any income tax on that money, and instead he evaded the payment of at least $52,000 in federal income taxes.

“Warranties are designed to make consumers whole by replacing faulty products, not to be exploited by scammers looking to turn an illegal profit,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “Warranty fraud is not a victimless crime, rather, companies which support employment for thousands of workers stand to lose millions of dollars, which was the case here. The defendant’s scheme caused real harm, which is why he will now spend many years behind bars as punishment for his actions. I would like to thank the FBI and IRS for their dedication and partnership in this matter.”

“May and his co-conspirators undermined the warranty process which exists to support honest consumers. They profited from this complex scheme while defrauding these companies and the federal government,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Through the hard work and collaborative efforts of the FBI and IRS, this sentencing sends the message to those who seek to make a profit through fraud and deception, that this conduct bears significant consequences.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation will painstakingly investigate cases when individuals have taken property that belongs to others,” Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue to be persistent in our mission to take apart these illicit schemes and bring the criminals who run them to justice.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Hate Crime Charges After Using Dating App to Target Gay Men

A Dallas man pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to federal hate crime charges, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Daniel Jenkins, 22, pleaded guilty to one hate crime count, one hate crime conspiracy count, kidnapping, carjacking, and one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence. He is the last of four defendants to plead guilty to charges stemming from a scheme that targeted gay men on the dating app Grindr.

“These defendants brutalized multiple victims, singling them out due to their sexual orientation. We cannot allow this sort of violence to fester unchecked,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting hate crimes. In the meantime, we urge dating app users to remain vigilant. Unfortunately, predators often lurk online.”

“The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division are committed to confronting the scourge of hate-based violence gripping communities across our nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We denounce hate-based violence in all of its forms, including violence targeting individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We will continue to diligently investigate and prosecute violent, bias-motivated crimes to the fullest extent. As noted by Attorney General Garland, we stand ready to use every tool in our arsenal to address the rise in hate and we will work to hold perpetrators of hate-motivated violence accountable.”

“Investigating hate crimes is one of the FBI’s highest priorities because of the devastating impact they have on families and communities. We are committed to the pursuit of offenders and holding them accountable for perpetrating these harmful crimes,” said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. “No one should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe. We will continue working with our law enforcement and community partners to detect and prevent violent incidents motivated by hate or bias. We also urge the public to report any suspected hate crimes to the FBI and local law enforcement.”

According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Mr. Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr, a social media dating platform used primarily by gay men, to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017.

Mr. Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators held victims against their will; pointed a handgun at victims and took their personal property, including their vehicles; and traveled to local ATMs to withdraw cash from the victims’ accounts. He further admitted that he and his co-conspirators physically injured at least one victim and taunted the victims based upon the co-conspirators’ perception of the men’s sexual orientation.

In March 2019, Mr. Jenkin’s co-conspirator Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and kidnapping charges in connection with this case. In December 2019, Daryl Henry and Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime and other charges in connection with this case. Sentencing for these three defendants is set for June 23.

Mr. Jenkins’ sentencing is set for Oct. 6. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, he faces a sentence of up to 26 years in prison.

The FBI’s Dallas Field Office conducted the federal investigation; a separate criminal investigation is being conducted by the Dallas Police Department. Special Litigation Counsel Rose E. Gibson, Trial Attorney Kathryn Gilbert of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.

Former Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Council Member Sentenced to Prison for Wire Fraud

Jackson, Miss. – A former member of the Tribal Council for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians   was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for wire fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca of the Southern District of Mississippi and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

According to court documents, Randy Lamar Anderson, 46, of Conehatta, admitted to forging hotel bills and receipts, and submitting those documents to the Tribal government in claims for reimbursement for official business travel. The total loss to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians was calculated at over $12,500.

An original indictment returned by a federal grand jury in February 2019 first charged the former elected lawmaker with defrauding the Tribal government (one count of theft and two counts of wire fraud).  A superseding indictment, returned by the federal grand jury in November 2019, alleged that Anderson, while subject to the conditions of his release on bond, committed additional crimes against other Members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians residing in the Conehatta community on Reservation lands, and attempted to deter them from reporting his criminal conduct.

Since the original indictment issued, Anderson’s term on the Tribal Council expired, and Anderson did not run for reelection to the Council.

On December 7, 2020, Anderson pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Today, Chief Judge Daniel P. Jordan III sentenced Anderson to 24 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $12,501.31.

“As long as public corruption continues to be an issue in our State, I can promise you that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be here to root it out, prosecute it, and ensure that justice is done.  I want to personally thank the agencies involved for working with us to catch those who violate our corruption laws,” said Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca.

Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca commended the work of the Special Agents with the FBI’s Jackson Division who investigated the case.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Theodore Cooperstein and Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Payne.

New York Couple Indicted for Romance Fraud Scam

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging a New York City man and woman with wire and mail fraud as part of a social media scheme that defrauded elderly victims out of over $660,000.

“The defendants allegedly impersonated military servicemembers, diplomats, and others to deprive elderly victims of their retirement savings,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Working with our law enforcement partners, EDVA will aggressively pursue the perpetrators of scams that prey on vulnerable members of our communities.”

According to the indictment, from at least September 2019 through April 2021, Linda Mbimadong, 29, and Richard Broni, 31, along with other unnamed co-conspirators, targeted elderly victims on social media and email by impersonating romantic love interests, diplomats, military personnel, and more. The pair, and other co-conspirators, tricked victims into mailing them cashier’s checks, wiring funds, and sending Apple computer products and other items of value.

According to the indictment, Victim #1 was a 78-year-old man who lost $580,000 to the scheme. He had set up an iFlirt account, an online dating application, on his cell phone for the purpose of communicating with women. A member of the conspiracy began communicating with him on the app as part of the scheme to defraud, transitioning the conversations to Google Hangouts and text messages around September 2019. Victim #2 was a 74-year-old woman who lost approximately $80,000 to the scheme from her retirement savings. A member of the conspiracy contacted Victim #2 on Facebook and transitioned the conversation with her to email and text messages around March 2021.

Posing as a young widow who had inherited gold bars, or as a diplomat assisting people in dire straits overseas, Mbimadong, Broni, and other co-conspirators allegedly tricked elderly victims into sending the conspirators large sums of money. Victims were also allegedly directed to purchase brand new Apple MacBooks and mail them to a conspirator. Mbimadong and Broni allegedly received cashier’s checks and wires directly from victims, which they allegedly deposited and shared among the co-conspirators.

Mbimadong and Broni are charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Additionally, Mbimadong is charged with making false statements to law enforcement during the investigation. If convicted of the conspiracy or fraud charges, they both face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. If convicted of the false statement charge, Mbimadong faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Amelia Medina are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:21-cr-98.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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