Search This Blog

Monday, January 30, 2017

Design, Measure, and Improve Your Customer Experience With The Customer Experience Book

In the race for the next customer, businesses have access to a mind-boggling array of technology ranging from social media to artificial intelligence and Big Data. These tools seem to offer businesses the opportunity to understand their customers like never before. Are they helping, though? Businesses now know more about their customers but are they missing something deeper? The Customer Experience Book: How to Design, Measure, and Improve Customer Experience in Your Business believes that we are.



Design, Measure, and Improve Your Customer Experience With The Customer Experience Book

Find Your Perfect Biz Event During Microsoft National Entrepreneurship Week

Some business events tend to cater to only specific types of businesses.
But there’s something for almost every business during Microsoft’s National Entrepreneurship Week. Taking place during the week of February 25, it includes events around the country and even online. So no matter where you or your business is located or what your business is looking for in an event, you can probably find something that’s of interest.


Find Your Perfect Biz Event During Microsoft National Entrepreneurship Week

10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Businesses

Have you ever wondered if there’s one most important technique or approach most small business owners use for success? There’s not! But there are some essential ingredients that go into building almost every successful small business. You can see some of those essential ingredients by checking out the list of tips from members of our small business community below.



10 Essential Ingredients of Successful Businesses

This Wine Company is Taking on Anheuser-Busch (Watch)

This Wine Company is Taking on Anheuser-Busch (Watch)

10 Tips to Protect Your Business and Customers on Data Privacy Day

Having information about clients and customers is important, but ensuring that private information remains secure might be just as vital to the health of a small business. That’s according to data professionals and others who are marking this year’s Data Privacy Day on January 28.
Many small businesses are not well prepared for the tricks that hackers use to extract data from their information systems or to deal with the fallout from such an occurrence, according to Bindu Sundaresan, a senior security professional for AT&T.


10 Tips to Protect Your Business and Customers on Data Privacy Day

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Four School Bus Company Owners Convicted for Bid Rigging and Mail Fraud Conspiracies Involving Puerto Rico Public School Bus Services

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Four School Bus Company Owners Convicted for Bid Rigging and Mail Fraud Conspiracies Involving Puerto Rico Public School Bus Services

Following a week-long trial, a federal jury in Puerto Rico convicted four individuals for participating in bid rigging and fraud conspiracies at an auction for public school bus transportation services in Puerto Rico’s Caguas municipality, the Department of Justice announced.
Gavino Rivera Herrera, Luciano Vega Martínez, Alfonso Gonzalez Nevarez and René Garay Rodríguez were found guilty today in the U.S. District Court of the District of Puerto Rico, in San Juan, for conspiring to rig bids and allocate the market for public school bus transportation contracts in the municipality of Caguas from approximately August 2013 until May 2015.  Each individual was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud for defrauding the municipality of Caguas to fraudulently obtain contracts for school bus transportation services.  Sentencing is set for May 30, 2017.
“These defendants enriched themselves at the expense of Puerto Rico schools and have been held accountable by a jury of their peers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brent Snyder of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The division will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that school districts and other consumers benefit from competitive markets.”  
“These convictions should serve as a reminder that Federal law enforcement agencies intend to vigorously prosecute those who manipulate government bidding processes to enrich themselves illegally,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico.  “Federal law enforcement agencies will continue their ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute these crimes, in order to promote and protect free and fair competition in the marketplace.”
“The defendants’ actions in depriving the citizens of Caguas of the right to choose what is best for the transportation of their schoolchildren, while also putting the defendants’ own financial interests above those of equally deserving Puerto Rican business owners, were particularly harmful during these difficult economic times.” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Leff of the FBI’s San Juan Division.  “The FBI is grateful for its partnership with the Antitrust Division and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General for their endless dedication to protecting the rights of all businesses, large and small, to compete in a fair marketplace.”
“Today's action demonstrated that these business owners willfully and intentionally sought to enrich themselves at the expense of students and taxpayers.  That is unacceptable,” said Special Agent in Charge Yessyka Santana of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southeastern Regional Office.  “The Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue anyone who games the system for their own selfish purpose and protect these vital funds from this type of calculated plunder.”
According to evidence presented at trial, the four school bus company owners and other co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by agreeing during meetings and communications to allocate contracts for transportation routes awarded by the municipality of Caguas.  Trial evidence showed that the conspirators submitted fraudulent certifications and received award letters by certified mail in connection with their conspiracy to defraud the Municipality of Caguas.
The defendants were convicted of bid rigging and market allocation in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine for individuals.  The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.  They were also convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of mail fraud.  Each count of mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.   
Today’s conviction arose from a federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct in Puerto Rico’s school bus transportation services industry.  This investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section, the District of Puerto Rico U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI’s Puerto Rico Field Office and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General.  Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section at 202-307-6694, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html or call the FBI’s Puerto Rico Field Office at 787-754-6000.

Businessman Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge For Conspiring to Take and Sell State Department Vehicles

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Businessman Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge For Conspiring to Take and Sell State Department Vehicles

Defendant Admits Sharing Proceeds with State Department Vehicles

          WASHINGTON – The manager of an auto restoration and collision center pled guilty today to charges that he conspired with others to sell vehicles that were brought to the business by the U.S. Department of State, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Steve A. Linick, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State, and Timothy R. Slater, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

          James Ratcliffe, 67, of Fairfax Station, Va., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and wire fraud. The charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a potential range of 18 to 24 months of incarceration and a fine of $4,000 to $40,000. The plea agreement calls for Ratcliffe to pay $416,020 in restitution and an equal amount in a forfeiture money judgment.

          The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for May 3, 2017.

          According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, Ratcliffe is the manager of the Car Collision Center, located in Springfield, Va. He and the owner of the Collision Center, who is identified in court documents as “Person A,” also have a license to sell automobiles in Virginia under the name of Collector’s Auto Restoration.

          Through the Car Collision Center, Ratcliffe and others performed legitimate work on vehicles for government agencies, including the U.S. Department of State. Vehicles that came to the Collision Center from the State Department were delivered by State Department employees. The Collision Center provided estimates for the work requested, and, if approved, employees of the Collision Center prepared work tickets, performed the work, and billed the State Department.

            Apart from legitimate work for the State Department, Ratcliffe admitted in the statement of offense that he conspired with a State Department employee, identified in court documents as “Person B,” who worked in the Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division, to misappropriate and sell vehicles and other State Department property. This employee was responsible for the acquisition, repair, and maintenance of armored vehicles. “Person B” also was involved in record-keeping with respect to the State Department’s armored vehicles.

            According to the statement of offense, on at least two occasions in 2011 and 2012, “Person B” caused truckloads of State Department tires and wheels to be delivered to the Collision Center. “Person B” told Ratcliffe that he could sell them and keep the proceeds. Ratcliffe kept the full proceeds of his sales, which amounted to at least $7,500.

            Also, beginning in or before June 2011, and continuing through at least November 2013, “Person B” and Ratcliffe took a Hummer and 12 Chevrolet Suburbans from the State Department motor pool; these vehicles were unarmored. They agreed that Ratcliffe would sell the vehicles and split the proceeds with “Person B.” Ratcliffe typically sold the misappropriated vehicles for at or near market prices. The total sales price of the misappropriated vehicles was $408,520, according to the statement of offense. Ratcliffe and “Person A” kept the majority of these proceeds for their personal benefit and the remainder went to “Person B.” Additionally, in 2015, “Person B” provided Ratcliffe with two unarmored Suburbans that Ratcliffe kept at his place of business or home. The base price of these vehicles was $48,200 each, for a total of $96,400. The two vehicles were recovered during a law enforcement investigation of the criminal activities.

            All told, the value of the property that Ratcliffe misappropriated through the schemes was at least $512,420.

            In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Phillips, Inspector General Linick, and Special Agent in Charge Slater commended the work of those who are investigating the case from the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Inspector General, as well as the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Hertzfeld, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Vesna Harasic-Yaksic, and Paralegal Specialist Jessica Mundi. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Marston, who is prosecuting the matter.

Louisville Physician Convicted Of Unlawful Distribution Of Controlled Substances And Health Care Fraud

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Kentucky

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 26, 2017

Louisville Physician Convicted Of Unlawful Distribution Of Controlled Substances And Health Care Fraud

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr., today announced the conviction of a Louisville physician, in United States District Court, before Chief District Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., on multiple charges including unlawful distribution of controlled substances and health care fraud.

“The criminal actions of George Kudmani contributed to untold suffering and hardships for patients and their families in his care,” stated U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “A physician takes an oath to do no harm, yet in this case Dr. Kudmani recklessly prescribed drugs to those suffering from opioid use disorders with no legitimate medical purpose. We thank the DEA, Louisville Metro Police Department, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the FBI for the persistence and hard work that led to today’s conviction.”

Following a seven-day trial, the jury deliberated approximately nine hours before finding the former physician, George Kudmani, 71, guilty on 26 of 29 charges. Sentencing is scheduled before Chief Judge McKinley on June 6, 2017 at 11 a.m., in Louisville.

The jury found Kudmani guilty of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances, not for a legitimate medical purpose and beyond the bounds of a professional medical practice between July 2009 and September 2012. The controlled substances prescribed were Oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance, and Hydrocodone, a schedule III controlled substance.

Further, Kudmani was convicted of committing health care fraud for falsely and fraudulently billing Kentucky Medicaid (Passport) by submitting claims for medically unnecessary Transvaginal Ultrasounds (TVS), TVSs not performed, and billing for TVS reports that were never prepared for patients, between January 2009 and September 2012.

Kudmani operated an obstetrician/gynecological medical practice located at 9702 Stonestreet Road, in Louisville, Kentucky from December of 1980 until 2012. The practice did not employ any other individual with medical training. A typical first-time patient would pay $75 for a gynecological exam, and each visit thereafter, the patient would typically pay $35 in cash and receive a Schedule II-V controlled substance prescription without a physical examination. Patients testified to paying cash and being prescribed controlled substances for years.

Kudmani faces a maximum potential penalty of no more than 30 years in prison, a fine of $13,750,000, and a 3-year period of supervised release.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Ansari and Lettricea Jefferson-Webb, assisted by paralegal Lori Cracknell and was investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Kentucky Medical Fraud Control Unit and Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).

Owner of Offshore Brokerage Firm Sentenced to Prison for Role in International Money Laundering

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Owner of Offshore Brokerage Firm Sentenced to Prison for Role in International Money Laundering

A Canadian citizen and permanent resident of Costa Rica was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for his role in an international money laundering conspiracy in connection with international “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme.  
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division made the announcement. 
Michael J. Randles, 49, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia.  In October 2016, Randles pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea agreement, Randles controlled and operated an offshore brokerage and money laundering platform located in San Jose, Costa Rica, that went by various names, including Moneyline Brokers, Sandias Azucaradas, and Trinity Asset Services (collectively Moneyline) with his co-conspirator Harold Bailey Gallison II.  Randles admitted that the purpose of Moneyline was to trade securities, primarily microcap or “penny stocks,” through U.S. and offshore accounts.  While managing Moneyline’s Costa Rica office, Randles exercised authority over banking and financial transactions; operated Moneyline’s unregistered securities business in Europe; and opened U.S. and offshore brokerage and bank accounts, including in Europe and elsewhere, that were used to facilitate the conspiracy.  Randles admitted that Moneyline often did business under the names of various shell companies to conceal both the true source and ownership of the securities and the flow of the funds.  
Further, in connection with his plea, Randles admitted that Moneyline laundered approximately $1 million in proceeds from the pump and dump of the Colorado-based company Bryn Resources Inc.  While Bryn Resources purported to be engaged in the mining and exploration of precious metals in Canada, in reality, Bryn was a shell company with no or nominal operations or assets.  During the promotion of Bryn Resources, over 3.5 million shares of the company were liquidated through Moneyline accounts, generating the proceeds that were laundered through Moneyline accounts in the United States and overseas.
Three of Randles’s co-conspirators, Gallison, Ann Marie Hiskey and Roger G. Coleman, previously pleaded guilty in the case.  Gallison was sentenced to serve 216 months in prison; Hiskey and Coleman were each sentenced to two years’ probation.
FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case.  Senior Trial Attorney N. Nathan Dimock and Trial Attorney Michael O’Neill of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Grace L. Hill of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.  The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.  

Co-owner of Chicago Medical Transport Company Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Overbilling Illinois Medicaid $4.7 Million

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Co-owner of Chicago Medical Transport Company Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Overbilling Illinois Medicaid $4.7 Million

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Chicago man has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraudulent overbilling an estimated $4.7 million to Illinois’ Medicaid program for non-emergency medical transport. Gregory D. Toran, 68, of Hazel Crest, Ill., was also ordered to pay $4.7 million in restitution. U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough, who sentenced Toran on Jan. 23, allowed Toran to remain on bond until the federal Bureau of Prisons directs him to self-report to a prison facility to begin his prison sentence.

Toran owned IBT Transportation, LLC., a non-emergency medical transport company, with Tina Kimbrough, 44, of Berwyn, Ill. In August, Kimbrough was sentenced to 30 months in prison for her role in the scheme. Kimbrough previously pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy with Toran. Kimbrough was also ordered to pay $4 million restitution, due jointly and severally with Toran.

As a result of the scheme, IBT fraudulently overbilled the state’s Medicaid program by an estimated $4.7 million for services not rendered, not rendered to the extent claimed, and for mileage well in excess of miles actually driven. During the period of the conspiracy, from December 2005 to June 2011, IBT billed and was paid claims totaling approximately $7.3 million.

The court found that IBT billed for deceased individuals and individuals who were not transported because they were in the hospital and billed based on dates individuals were approved for transportation, whether they rode or not. At times, IBT billed for more riders than it could physically transport. Further, the court found that although the handbook mileage rules were straightforward that transportation providers could only bill mileage for the first rider, Toran directed billers to incorrectly bill for mileage - from not billing mileage at all, to billing mileage for all riders, and later, every fourth rider.

The charges were investigated by the Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Bureau; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. In addition, the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, which administers Illinois’ Medicaid program, assisted in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory K. Harris and Timothy A. Bass prosecuted the case.

Former Vice President of Maryland Bank Admits to Six-Year Scheme to Steal Over $1.8 Million from Bank Customers

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Former Vice President of Maryland Bank Admits to Six-Year Scheme to Steal Over $1.8 Million from Bank Customers

Baltimore, Maryland – Melissa Strohman, age 54, of Nottingham, Maryland, pleaded guilty in federal court today to wire fraud and bank embezzlement, arising from a six-year scheme to steal over $1.8 million from bank customers at the bank where she worked.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Patti Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge, New York Region, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Office of Inspector General; and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

According to her plea agreement, from April 2010 through July 2016, Strohman was Senior Vice President at a federal savings bank in Maryland, which had branches in Pikesville and Highlandtown. Strohman was responsible for managing the bank’s savings department, including overseeing deposits and Individual Retirement Accounts for every customer. In addition, as the bank’s Bank Secrecy Officer, Strohman was responsible for filing Currency Transaction Reports and Suspicious Activity Reports for any transactions that were deemed to be suspicious or potentially illegal.

Strohman admitted that she used her position of trust at the bank to cause more than 200 unauthorized transfers and withdrawals of funds from six customers’ bank accounts to pay for mortgages, credit card bills and property tax bills associated with Strohman and her family members. Three of the six victim customers were at least 80 years old, and for two of the accounts the customers were deceased.

For example, Strohman used her supervisory override function on the bank’s electronic banking system to facilitate unauthorized transfers between the victim customers’ accounts to accounts associated with Strohman; forged the signature of one victim customer in order to complete an unauthorized transaction from that person’s bank account to an American Express account associated with Strohman; and caused unauthorized transfers of funds between the victim customers’ accounts to replace the monies Strohman stole and to conceal those thefts.

Strohman faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank embezzlement. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Strohman on May 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FDIC Office of Inspector General and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phil Selden and Evan Shea, who are prosecuting the case.

Clinical Psychologist and Owner of Psychological Services Centers Convicted in $25 Million Psychological Testing Scheme Carried Out Through Eight Companies in Four Gulf Coast States

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Clinical Psychologist and Owner of Psychological Services Centers Convicted in $25 Million Psychological Testing Scheme Carried Out Through Eight Companies in Four Gulf Coast States

WASHINGTON –Two owners of psychological services companies, one of whom was a clinical psychologist, were convicted yesterday for their involvement in a $25.2 million Medicare fraud scheme carried out through eight companies at nursing homes in four states in the Southeastern United States.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office and Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office made the announcment.

Rodney Hesson, Psy.D, 47, of Slidell, Louisiana, licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Nursing Home Psychological Service of Louisiana LLC, Nursing Home Psychological Service of Mississippi LLC, Nursing Home Psychological Services of Florida LLC and Nursing Home Psychological Service of Alabama LLC (collectively NHPS), and Gertrude Parker, 63, of Slidell, Louisiana, owner of Psychological Care Services of Louisiana, Psychological Care Services of Mississippi, Psychological Care Services of Alabama and Psychological Care Services of Florida (collectively PCS), were convicted following a seven-day jury trial in the Eastern District of Lousiana. They were each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to make false statements related to health care matters. The jury verdict included a money judgment of $8,956,278, as well as forfeiture of Hesson’s home and at least $525,629 in seized currency. A sentencing hearing for both defendants is set for May 4, 2017, before U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Barbier of the Eastern District of Louisiana.

According to evidence presented at trial, the defendants’ companies contracted with nursing homes in Alabama, Florida, Lousiana and Mississippi to allow NHPS and PCS clinical psychologists to provide psychological services to nursing home residents. Hesson and Parker caused these companies to bill Medicare for hours of psychological testing services that these nursing home residents did not need or in some instances did not receive. Between 2009 and 2015, NHPS and PCS submitted over $25.2 million in claims to Medicare, a significant amount of these claims being fraudulent. Medicare paid more than $13.5 million on the fraudulent claims.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Senior Litigiation Counsel John Michelich and Trial Attorneys Katherine Raut and Katherine Payerle of the Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 3,000 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $11 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.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Disbarred Winter Park Attorney Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Clients And Banks Of $2.7 Million

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Disbarred Winter Park Attorney Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Clients And Banks Of $2.7 Million

Orlando, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Julie W. Kronhaus (52, Winter Park) has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the wire fraud count and up to 30 years’ imprisonment for the bank fraud count. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, from June 2009 to February 17, 2015, Kronhaus, who was a licensed attorney and Certified Public Accountant in Florida, defrauded her clients and banks of approximately $2.7 million. As part of her practice, Kronhaus would act as a trustee for her clients and also hold their money in various bank accounts depending on the purpose of trust. Instead of using the funds for the purpose intended by her clients, Kronhaus would divert the money into her law firm’s bank accounts and pay for her personal expenses.
In addition, Kronhaus engaged in a check kiting scheme where she would write checks with accounts that had insufficient funds. She would deposit the worthless checks into her trust account at another bank to give the appearance that there were sufficient funds in the account. She then issued checks from her trust account to her clients, taking advantage of the bank’s float time.
This case was investigated by the Seminole Financial Crimes Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney James D. Mandolfo.

Waltham Financial Advisor to Plead Guilty to Securities Fraud

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waltham Financial Advisor to Plead Guilty to Securities Fraud

BOSTON – A Waltham-based financial advisor has agreed to plead guilty in connection with defrauding his clients by engaging in a multi-year “cherry-picking” scheme.

Michael J. Breton, 52, the managing partner of an investment advisory firm, Strategic Capital Management, LLC (SCM), was charged in an Information with securities fraud.

It is alleged that from 2011 through at least July 2016, Breton, using a master brokerage account, regularly purchased shares in publicly-traded companies the day that those companies announced earnings from the previous quarter. Breton allegedly purchased shares in those companies shortly before the earnings announcements and then allocated the shares after the earnings announcements. Thus, Breton allocated the shares to one of his accounts or to the client accounts after knowing whether the company had announced positive or negative news about its earnings, which determined whether the trade was likely to be profitable in the short term. Throughout the scheme, Breton allocated more profitable trades to himself and allocated unprofitable trades to his clients, thereby stealing more than $1.3 million in potential profits from his clients.

“Investment advisory clients, by necessity, entrust their advisors with great discretion over their life savings,” said Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb. “As today’s charges demonstrate, when advisors abuse that trust—by stealing from their very own clients—they will be held criminally accountable.”

“Motivated by greed, Mr. Breton used his clients’ trust against them,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “By making the conscious decision to place his own interests above theirs, his behavior undermined the financial security of hard-working individuals. The FBI will do everything it can to protect investors, while rooting out fraud like this.”

The securities fraud statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 25 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $5 million. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Breton has agreed to plead guilty to securities fraud and pay forfeiture of $1,326,696. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has agreed to recommend a sentence of no greater than three years in prison.

The Securities and Exchange Commission today filed a parallel civil action. Breton has agreed to partially resolve the SEC’s claims by, among other things, agreeing to the entry of an SEC order permanently barring him from working in the securities industry.

Acting U.S. Attorney Weinreb and FBI SAC Shaw made the announcement today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office received valuable assistance from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sarah E. Walters, Chief of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit, is prosecuting the case.

Middlesex County, New Jersey, Man Gets Over Three Years In Jail For Particpating In International $200 Million Credit Card Scam

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Middlesex County, New Jersey, Man Gets Over Three Years In Jail For Particpating In International $200 Million Credit Card Scam

TRENTON, N.J. – An Iselin, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for his role in one of the largest credit card fraud schemes ever charged by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Babar Qureshi, 63, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to Count One of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Judge Thompson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Qureshi was originally charged in February 2013 as part of a conspiracy to fabricate more than 7,000 false identities to obtain tens of thousands of credit cards. The scheme involved a three-step process in which the defendants would make up a false identity by creating fraudulent identification documents and a fraudulent credit profile with the major credit bureaus; pump up the credit of the false identity by providing false information about that identity’s creditworthiness to those credit bureaus; and finally, run up large loans.
The scope of the criminal fraud enterprise required Qureshi and other conspirators to construct an elaborate network of false identities. Across the country, the conspirators maintained more than 1,800 “drop addresses,” including houses, apartments and post office boxes, which they used as the mailing addresses of the false identities.
Qureshi’s role in the conspiracy was to take the phony cards and charge large amounts at complicit merchants, who would then pay him a portion of the charge. He used phony bank accounts to conceal his involvement and receive proceeds from the fraud, which he used for personal expenses, including his mortgage.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Thompson sentenced Qureshi to five years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Cyber Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked postal inspectors under the direction of Inspector in Charge James V. Buthorn, the U.S. Secret Service, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Mark McKevitt, and the U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, for their roles in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Shapiro and Deputy Chief Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Sarah Devlin of the Assert Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
Defense counsel: Alexander Spiro Esq., New York

Dallas County Man Sentenced for Jacksonville Bank Burglary

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Dallas County Man Sentenced for Jacksonville Bank Burglary

TYLER, Texas – A 33-year-old Dallas man has been sentenced to federal prison for burglarizing a bank in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.

Calvin Lee Browning pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, 2016, to bank burglary and was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Catharina Haynes. Browning was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $58,376.75.

According to information presented in court, on Feb. 9, 2016, Browning and three others broke into the Jacksonville branch of Austin Bank early in the morning before the bank had opened for business. Three of the individuals were dropped off at the bank while the other waited nearby with a getaway car. After disabling the bank’s surveillance cameras and security system, the defendants stole more than $30,000 from the bank’s automated teller machine cash drawers. They then left the bank, returned to the getaway car and left the area. A local patrol unit attempted a traffic stop and a high speed chase ensued. During the chase, all four men bailed out of the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. One individual was apprehended at the scene and the others were arrested later

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jacksonville Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan.

GoDaddy, Happy Fox Introduce New Tools for Online Businesses

When building a business website, there are so many different things you have to consider. You’ll need to consider your design, mobile friendliness, help chat features and more.
This week, businesses got a few new tools to help build those websites and other digital features from companies like GoDaddy and HappyFox. You can read about these updates and more below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.


GoDaddy, Happy Fox Introduce New Tools for Online Businesses

Sridhar Vembu of Zoho: Call From a $10 Customer Is as Important to Me as One From a Million-Dollar One

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an analyst function for Zoho, makers of a multitude of business apps for businesses of all sizes. It was a day long event where company executives laid out the future direction of their products, services and corporate strategy.  And even as larger enterprises are using their apps at an accelerating rate, Zoho CEO and cofounder Sridhar Vembu says it’s as important as ever to make sure they remain focused on serving the small business market that has powered the company’s growth to this point.
Below is an edited transcript of my conversation with Vembu.  To see the full conversation watch the video above. Click here for a few of my analyst takeaways from the event.


Sridhar Vembu of Zoho: Call From a $10 Customer Is as Important to Me as One From a Million-Dollar One

Making Deal Flow More Helpful

As the new year starts, I am starting to reengage with co-investors, as well as reaching out to accelerators and other investors with whom I have not had a relationship with in the past. Those two efforts have highlighted to me how difficult it is for investors to find appropriate deal flow, and how good some people are at matching founders and investors.
Hearing about companies looking for financing is not difficult for investors – there are numerous websites and accelerators these days, and those funding companies are interconnected in ways far greater than ever before. What’s difficult is learning about companies that fit one’s investor profile.


Making Deal Flow More Helpful

What's the Oldest Business in Your State? (Infographic)

Think your small business has staying power? It might. But it probably isn’t quite as impressive as some of the small businesses included on an infographic created by Busy Beaver Button Co.



What's the Oldest Business in Your State? (Infographic)

UnitedHealth Group - United Health Foundation Awards Milwaukee Area Technical College $2.3 Million Grant to Expand Nursing School Capacity

MILWAUKEE (Jan. 26, 2017) — 

A $2.3 million grant from United Health Foundation will enable the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to double the size of its registered nursing program over the next three years and help address the state's nursing shortage.


UnitedHealth Group - United Health Foundation Awards Milwaukee Area Technical College $2.3 Million Grant to Expand Nursing School Capacity

Centiment Introduces Marketing Research for Your Business

Whether it is a new product launch, choosing a color scheme for an existing item or determining the best music for a campaign, market intelligence is invaluable but until now very expensive. The company that is making it affordable is Centiment. How affordable? Well, the company says you can create a survey and start collecting audience data beginning as low as $50.



Centiment Introduces Marketing Research for Your Business

Amgen Receives Positive CHMP Opinion For ABP 501 (Biosimilar Adalimumab) For The Treatment Of Certain Inflammatory Diseases

First Adalimumab Biosimilar Candidate Recommended for EMA Approval



Amgen - Investors - RSS Content

What is an Office Potluck?

For any small business, team work can make all the difference between success and failure. That’s because collaborative teams excel at dividing responsibilities and working towards the same goal. Realizing this, most businesses are focusing on team building exercises that can bring teams closer.
A simple yet effective team building activity is a potluck. It can be organized by anyone without costing a penny to the company.


What is an Office Potluck?

Pfizer Receives Positive CHMP Opinion in Europe for XELJANZ® (tofacitinib citrate) for the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Active Rheumatoid Arthritis | Pfizer Pharmaceutical News and Media | Pfizer: the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) announced today that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) adopted a positive opinion recommending XELJANZ® (tofacitinib citrate) 5 mg twice daily (BID) for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The CHMP’s opinion will now be sent to the European Commission (EC) for final decision. If approved, XELJANZ in combination with methotrexate (MTX) will be indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe active RA in adult patients who have responded inadequately to, or who are intolerant to one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. XELJANZ can be given as monotherapy in case of intolerance to MTX or when treatment with MTX is inappropriate.



Pfizer Receives Positive CHMP Opinion in Europe for XELJANZ® (tofacitinib citrate) for the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Active Rheumatoid Arthritis | Pfizer Pharmaceutical News and Media | Pfizer: the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company

Has Your Business Figured Out the Next Big Thing?

Every so often, especially in tech, there comes an idea or set of ideas that everyone promises will totally revolutionize, well, everything. Sometimes they’re right (blogs, social media, smartphones) and sometimes they’re not (QR codes, Google Glass, etc.).



Has Your Business Figured Out the Next Big Thing?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Your So-Called Secrets Are Out -- Time to Upgrade Your Banking Security

Your mother’s maiden name is probably not a secret. Neither, necessarily, is your high school mascot or the size of your car payment. But some banks and brokerages still pretend this is information only you would know, and that could be putting your money at risk.
So-called security questions long ago outlived their usefulness, since they can be hard for the right people to remember and easy for the wrong people to guess or steal.


Your So-Called Secrets Are Out -- Time to Upgrade Your Banking Security

12 Unusual Ways to Promote a Job Opening that Work

Are you really reaching your target audience on the same three websites? We asked 10 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
“What is an unusual but successful platform for posting a job description?”


12 Unusual Ways to Promote a Job Opening that Work

Why Did This CEO Strap Himself to a Windmill? (Watch)

Would you ever consider strapping yourself to a windmill?



Why Did This CEO Strap Himself to a Windmill? (Watch)

What Is Postage Insurance and When Is It Necessary?

Whether your shipping vintage table lighters from a recent eBay sale or a technology component to an important client across the country, postage insurance may be something you  want to consider. Because without it, you might end up paying a heavy price.



What Is Postage Insurance and When Is It Necessary?