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Sunday, January 15, 2017

So Long, Twitter Dashboard -- We Hardly Knew You

TweetDeck it wasn’t and now, Twitter Dashboard is toast.



So Long, Twitter Dashboard -- We Hardly Knew You

Agencies Making Progress to Connect America

From the #USDA:


Laying cable to bring broadband to rural communities.
Laying cable to bring broadband to rural communities.
Over the last eight years, our agencies have worked to expand the availability and adoption of broadband in recognition of the increasingly important role that the Internet is playing in every facet of society.
Recognizing the opportunity to marshal resources across the entire federal government, President Obama in March 2015 created the Broadband Opportunity Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce, which in August 2015 identified a series of executive actions that could be taken through existing agency programs, missions, and budgets to increase broadband deployment, competition, and adoption.
Today, we are pleased to report that the 25 participating agencies have made considerable progress toward completing their commitments. These actions further the goals of modernizing federal programs to expand program support for broadband investments; empowering communities with tools and resources to attract broadband investment and promote meaningful use; promoting increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to federal assets; and improving data collection, analysis, and research on broadband.
Agencies have completed 15 of the 36 action items and have made significant progress toward finishing most of the others. Among the completed tasks include the release of guidance in January 2016 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to its HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Housing Trust Fund, and Community Development Block Grant recipients clarifying that program funds can be used for broadband installation infrastructure and service delivery.  Meanwhile, the Treasury Department clarified that broadband infrastructure and related activities are eligible for the New Market Tax Credit Program and Community Reinvestment Act community development consideration in certain circumstances, expanding options for communities seeking investment sources for broadband projects.
One of the principal objectives in creating the Council was to institutionalize agency consideration of broadband into their broader missions.  Consistent with this goal, agencies also have launched a number of new projects — not included in the Council’s original report — designed in a manner that furthers broadband deployment and adoption.  These include efforts such as the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA’s Cool and Connected program, HUD’s ConnectHome program, and the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities program among many others, which are described in the report.
As we move forward, we are confident that these efforts to ensure that broadband availability is an embedded element of these agencies’ policymaking will continue on through the coordination efforts of the Broadband Interagency Working Group, which will be led by NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS). As part of these efforts, NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program will hold a webinar on January 18 featuring speakers from NTIA, RUS and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to discuss the Council’s progress and work.
We are proud of the work that the Council has done to expand the reach and use of broadband and are confident that the agencies involved will continue to carry on this important work with the enthusiasm, dedication and expertise needed to ensure its success for the benefit of all Americans.

Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot: 60 Percent of Marketers Still Don't Measure Their Marketing in Any Way

HubSpot is as well known for its inbound marketing content as they are for the platform they’ve built for companies to execute marketing strategies. But recently they’ve created a new online site focused more on content for C-Level executives at Fortune 1000 organizations.
Sam Mallikarjunan, Principal Marketing Strategist at HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS) and editor of ThinkGrowth.org (formally known as ReadThink.com), discusses how the site differs from the content HubSpot is best known for, why they built the site on Medium and how it’s helping them compete with established management brands like Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan, the role “skimmable” content and audio podcasts is playing in reaching execs, and how even in today’s digital marketing world most marketers still aren’t measuring the impact of their activities on ROI.


Sam Mallikarjunan of HubSpot: 60 Percent of Marketers Still Don't Measure Their Marketing in Any Way

Open Data Summer Camp Plans Gaining STEAM for 2017

From the #USDA:


Students learning about benefits of urban and community agriculture
Last summer students learned about a wide range of benefits of urban and community agriculture from USDA staff, researchers and educators at the University of the District of Columbia.
USDA and the Governance Lab at New York University (GovLab) are teaming up again to design and deliver a “summer camp” in 2017 for middle- and high-school students that focuses on using Open Data related to Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Math (STEAM).
The Open Data STEAM Summer Camp program, begun in 2016, is an immersive two-week project-based and team-focused learning experience for students in the Washington, D.C. area. The program aims to help these students build familiarity and hands-on competence with the approaches, tools and analytical techniques relevant to harnessing the power of open data on critical issues related to food and agriculture.
In preparation for 2017, an Open House will be held on from 4-6 pm on Friday March 14 on the patio of USDA’s Whitten Building at 1400 Independence Ave. SW. Interested parents, students, and both current and potential partners are encouraged to attend.
Agricultural work in the future will be increasingly driven by data, so there is strong support at USDA for encouraging students to master data skills. Experience-driven learning opportunities help them develop an interest in working with data as well as confidence in doing so. The guiding principle has been simple: if such interest, excitement and confidence can be kindled, the odds go up that these students will make course and career choices touching on data and agriculture.
“As more government data becomes available, we need citizens to be able to use it effectively,” says GovLab Director Beth Noveck.” The USDA Open Data summer program is a great opportunity to test and validate a curriculum and pedagogy that can get youth excited about working responsibly with data.”
Last year, student projects harnessed actual USDA-provided data sets as well as original research to focus on issues of urban agriculture, urban forestry and food safety.
Urban Forestry—Student teams used open data to map the trees planted in Washington, DC, and then to analyze the benefits of those trees in helping to prevent flood and storm damage, boosting energy savings through moderation of local temperatures and reducing pollution.
Urban Agriculture—Teams looked at the ways in which community gardens impact “food deserts” in local neighborhoods, as well as how they substantially reduce the distance food has to travel from farm to table, that, in turn, helps to reduce both pollution and the loss of food nutrient value.
Food Safety—Teams focused on identifying what can easily be done in the home to present food-borne illness as well as on the policy approaches that are most effective in assuring the safe operation of restaurants and food trucks.
In support of these efforts, on-site faculty provided ready guidance on the kinds of questions that can be addressed with data, on the challenges of gathering data through interviews and surveys, and on the techniques for presenting compelling arguments based on data. All students got to work extensively with Excel, Tableau, Illustrator and ESRI’s Collector application for creating GIS maps.
Last summer, students and parents were clearly excited by the experience provided at the summer camp. Yes, the program was hard work; but the confidence that comes with the mastery of data and narratives based on data made it all worthwhile.
Read more about the camp last summer and other educational opportunities for youth on the USDA Blog.
Middle- and high-school students who participated in the 2016 Open Data STEAM Summer Camp
Some of the middle- and high-school students who participated in the 2016 Open Data STEAM Summer Camp.

5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating

We live in a business world that’s largely ruled by automation. As a result, you’re losing time and money if you’re manually doing something that your competition is streamlining through automation. But are you aware of the various marketing tasks that your competitors are already automating?



5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating

Renault under investigation for emissions cheating - Jan. 13, 2017

Renault is the latest automaker to be embroiled in an emissions cheating scandal.



French prosecutors said Friday that they are investigating Renault for possible cheating that may have damaged the public's health. Three judges have been assigned the case.



Renault under investigation for emissions cheating - Jan. 13, 2017

JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon hopeful for better economy under Trump - Jan. 13, 2017

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon seems hopeful that better times for the economy lie ahead under President-elect Donald Trump.



The bank reported better than expected profit for the fourth quarter Friday. And in its earnings release, Dimon suggested more good news could be coming for banks -- and for Americans -- in the months ahead.



JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon hopeful for better economy under Trump - Jan. 13, 2017

These 8 men are richer than 3.6 billion people combined - Jan. 15, 2017

Eight men now control as much wealth as the world's poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International.



The men -- Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg -- are collectively worth $426 billion, the anti-poverty group said on Sunday.



These 8 men are richer than 3.6 billion people combined - Jan. 15, 2017

The Most Effective Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks

Okay, I’m going to start with a question.
What would happen if a hacker decided to launch a cyber attack against your business? Would they be successful? Would they easily gain access to your company’s sensitive information? Or would their attempt fall flat?


The Most Effective Ways To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks

Trump Bump Extends to Small Business Lending, Biz2Credit Reports

According to Biz2Credit the “Trump Bump” is extending beyond the stock market to small business lending. In its recent report, Biz2Credit says that lending at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) and institutional lenders finished the year strong, improving to post-recession highs in December 2016. And President elect Donald Trump is being given at least part of the credit.



Trump Bump Extends to Small Business Lending, Biz2Credit Reports

Bank of America Reports Fourth-Quarter 2016 Financial Results | Bank of America Newsroom

Bank of America Reports Fourth-Quarter 2016 Financial Results | Bank of America Newsroom

Investment Bank Director Sentenced For Insider Trading

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Investment Bank Director Sentenced For Insider Trading

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that STEVEN MCCLATCHEY, a director at an investment bank in Manhattan (the “Investment Bank”), was sentenced today to five months in prison on securities fraud and wire fraud charges in connection with his provision of inside information used to trade in the stock of several companies. MCCLATCHEY pled guilty on July 12, 2016, and was sentenced today by United States District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.

According to the Complaint, Information, and statements made during court proceedings:

From in or about February 2014 through in or about September 2015, MCCLATCHEY and Gary Pusey participated in a scheme to commit insider trading in advance of and in connection with more than 10 separate mergers and acquisitions. MCCLATCHEY and Pusey were close friends who owned boats docked in a Long Island marina and who spent most Saturdays on their boats, at the marina, or playing pool and watching sports in MCCLATCHEY’s garage.

MCCLATCHEY learned about the deals as part of his employment with the Investment Bank, which generally advised either (i) the company to be acquired in the transaction; (ii) the acquiring company; or (iii) a company that ultimately lost a bid to acquire the company involved in the transaction.

Having learned the inside information about these impending transactions, MCCLATCHEY, in breach of fiduciary duties and other duties of trust and confidence owed to the Investment Bank and its clients, tipped Pusey so that Pusey could use the information to trade and with the expectation that Pusey would confer a benefit upon MCCLATCHEY. Among the benefits that MCCLATCHEY received as part of the insider trading scheme were thousands of dollars of cash payments by Pusey and the provision of home renovation services.

Pusey used the Inside Information that he received from MCCLATCHEY to make profitable trades in, among other securities: Forest Oil Corporation, Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Zygo Corporation, Pepco Holdings, Inc., Measurement Specialties, Inc., Entropic Communications, Inc., PetSmart, Inc., Emulex Corporation, Omnicare, Inc., and TECO Energy, Inc. Pusey reaped approximately $76,000 in ill-gotten gains from this scheme.

* * *

In addition to the prison sentence, MCCLATCHEY, 58, was sentenced to two years of supervised release. The Court further ordered that MCCLATCHEY forfeit $76,000 and pay a fine of $10,000.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and thanked the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission for its assistance.

The charges were brought in connection with the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visitwww.StopFraud.gov.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein is in charge of the prosecution.

Montana Couple Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the United States

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Montana Couple Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the United States

A Montana couple pleaded guilty today in federal court in Missoula, Montana to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo, head of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, and U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter for the District of Montana.

According to the government’s offer of proof, Peggy DeYoung and John DeYoung, both 71, have not filed an individual income tax return since 1998. From 2007 through 2011, Peggy DeYoung earned income through her ownership interest in two companies that own Southern California mobile home parks. The DeYoungs also enlisted the services of Joseph Hill of Creative Consulting Group to establish a number of purported trusts. The DeYoungs opened bank accounts in the names of those trusts using fabricated taxpayer identification numbers and paid personal expenses from the accounts. The plea agreement specifies that the DeYoungs caused the U.S. Treasury a tax loss of $376,350.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 21. The DeYoungs face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and U.S. Attorney Cotter thanked special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Spraker and Trial Attorney Rebecca Sable of the Tax Division, who are prosecuting the case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

Champaign Man Sentenced for Bank Robberies in East Central Illinois and Indiana

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Champaign Man Sentenced for Bank Robberies in East Central Illinois and Indiana

Urbana, Ill. – A Champaign, Ill., man, Darryl S. Coleman, 30, of the 1200 block of Joanne Lane, has been ordered to serve a total of 137 months (11 years, 5 months) in federal prison for bank robberies in east central Illinois and northwestern Indiana that occurred in October and November 2015.

Coleman appeared yesterday before U.S. District Judge Colin S. Bruce, in Urbana. Judge Bruce ordered that Coleman serve 115 months in prison for the bank robberies at First Financial Bank, Champaign, on Oct. 28, 2015; First Bank in Rantoul on Nov. 10; First Midwest Bank, Danville, on Nov. 17; and, attempted robbery of the Farmers-Merchants National Bank in Paxton, Ill., on Dec. 1, 2015. Judge Bruce ordered that a portion of Coleman’s sentence, 22 months, be served consecutive to the sentence ordered in Indiana.

On June 16, 2016, Coleman was sentenced in the Northern District of Indiana to 63 months in federal prison for robberies of the Horizon Bank in Portage, Ind., on Nov. 2, 2015, and the First State Bank of Porter in Chesterton, Ind. on Nov. 24, 2015.

Coleman was also ordered to pay restitution in the total amount of $20,986; restitution of $9,930 for the Illinois bank robberies, and $11,056 for the bank robberies in Indiana.

Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller prosecuted the case in the Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division. The charges were investigated by the FBI and the Champaign, Danville, Rantoul and Paxton Police Departments in east central Illinois.

Coleman has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest on Jan. 25, 2016.Coleman pled guilty to the bank robberies in Illinois in September 2016; he entered his plea of guilty to the Indiana bank robberies in March 2016.

Salinas Resident Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison For Bank Robbery

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Salinas Resident Sentenced To Four And A Half Years In Prison For Bank Robbery

SAN JOSE – Jose Lemus was sentenced today to serve 54 months in prison for his role in an armed bank robbery, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The sentence, handed down today by the Honorable Lucy H. Koh, District Judge, follows a guilty plea in which Lemus admitted robbing the Castroville, Calif., branch of a federally-insured bank.
Lemus, 23, of Salinas, pleaded guilty on September 21, 2016, to one count of armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting.  According to the plea agreement, on August 22, 2011, Lemus entered the Castroville branch of the bank with another man who was carrying a loaded semi-automatic handgun.  Lemus and the other man both wore masks.   Lemus admitted that while the other man remained in the lobby and pointed the handgun at customers and employees, Lemus jumped over the partition door that separated the lobby area from the tellers.  Lemus went from teller station to teller station gathering money and placing it into a backpack.  Lemus acknowledged that he and the other robber absconded with approximately $44,000 of the bank’s money.
On August 18, 2016, Lemus was charged in a one-count information with armed bank robbery, aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2213 (a), (d), and 2.  Pursuant to his plea agreement, Lemus pleaded guilty to the charge. 
In addition to the prison term, Judge Koh also ordered Lemus to pay $42, 930.01 in restitution and to serve five years of supervised release.  Lemus currently is in custody on state charges and will begin serving his sentence after the conclusion of his current state prison term. 
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Meyer, Jeffrey Backhus, and Claudia Quiroz are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Ryka Bargi, Jessica Meegan, and Nina Burney Williams.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.  The investigation was assisted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking and criminal organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Wichita Man Pleads Guilty In Armed Robbery

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wichita Man Pleads Guilty In Armed Robbery

WICHITA, KAN. B A Wichita man pleaded guilty Tuesday of brandishing or aiding and abetting another robber who brandished a firearm during a bank robbery, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Andre Bryant, 30, Wichita, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting or brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence. In his plea, he admitted that on June 13, 2016, he and co-defendants robbed the Carson Bank at 4461 E. Douglas in Wichita. Two individuals who were disguised entered the bank, one of them brandishing a firearm. They demanded and received money before fleeing. The money they received contained a global positioning device that police used to track Bryant and the co-defendants and arrest them.

Bryant is set for sentencing April 10. Both parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of 84 months in federal prison.

Co-defendants Raishat Magill and Elijah Shelton are awaiting trial.

Beall commended the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith for their work on the case.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

Two Businessmen Plead Guilty to Foreign Bribery Charges in Connection with Venezuela Bribery Schemes

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two Businessmen Plead Guilty to Foreign Bribery Charges in Connection with Venezuela Bribery Schemes

HOUSTON – A former general manager and partial owner of a Florida-based energy company and an owner of multiple Texas-based energy companies each pleaded guilty today to foreign bribery charges for their role in a scheme to corruptly secure contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Houston and Special Agent in Charge Richard Goss of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.

Juan Jose Hernandez Comerma (Hernandez), 51, of Weston, Florida, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and one count of violating the FCPA. Charles Quintard Beech III, 46, of Katy, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller of the Southern District of Texas accepted the guilty pleas. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for July 14, 2017.

According to admissions made in connection with Hernandez’s plea, Hernandez conspired with U.S.-based businessmen Abraham Jose Shiera Bastidas (Shiera) and Roberto Enrique Rincon Fernandez (Rincon) to pay bribes and other things of value to PDVSA purchasing analysts. This ensured Shiera’s and Rincon’s companies were placed on PDVSA bidding panels, which enabled the companies to win lucrative energy contracts with PDVSA. As part of their pleas, Shiera and Rincon admitted they worked together to submit bids to provide equipment and services to PDVSA through their various companies. From 2008 until 2012, Hernandez admitted that while general manager and later partial owner of one of Shiera’s companies, he provided recreational travel and entertainment and offered bribes to PDVSA officials, including Alfonzo Eliezer Gravina Munoz (Gravina), on a percentage of contracts the officials helped to award to Shiera’s companies. Rincon, Shiera and Gravina have all also pleaded guilty in the case.

According to admissions made in connection with Beech’s plea, from 2011 to 2012, Beech paid bribes to multiple PDVSA officials, including Gravina, in exchange for their assistance in placing Beech’s companies on PDVSA bidding panels and assisting Beech’s company or companies in receiving payment for previously awarded PDVSA contracts. Beech also admitted that he agreed with others, including PDVSA officials, to engage in financial transactions to conceal the nature, source and ownership of the bribe proceeds.

Including Hernandez and Beech, eight individuals have pleaded guilty as part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the U.S. government into bribery at PDVSA. Shiera and Rincon pleaded guilty before Judge Miller to multiple FCPA charges in March and June of 2016, respectively. Gravina pleaded guilty in December 2015 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and making false statements on his federal income tax return by failing to report the bribe payments he received. As part of their plea agreements, all defendants agreed to forfeit proceeds from their criminal activity.

ICE-HSI is conducting the ongoing investigation with assistance from the FBI and IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) John Pearson and Robert S. Johnson of the Southern District of Texas and Trial Attorneys Aisling O’Shea and Jeremy R. Sanders of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. AUSAs Kristine Rollinson and Vincent Carroll of the Southern District of Texas are handling the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the Swiss Federal Office of Justice also provided assistance.

The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Detroit-Area Neurosurgeon Sentenced to 235 Months in Prison for Role in $2.8 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Detroit-Area Neurosurgeon Sentenced to 235 Months in Prison for Role in $2.8 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

A Detroit-area neurosurgeon was sentenced today to 235 months in prison for his role in $2.8 million health care fraud scheme in which he caused serious bodily harm to patients by performing unnecessary invasive spinal surgeries.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division, Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Region, Special Agent in Charge Glenn R. Ferry of the HHS-OIG Los Angeles Region and Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

Aria O. Sabit M.D., 43, of Birmingham, Michigan, pleaded guilty to four counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, resulting in losses to Medicare, Medicaid and various private insurance companies.

Sabit was a licensed neurosurgeon who owned and operated the Michigan Brain and Spine Physicians Group, which had various locations in the Eastern District of Michigan. In connection with his guilty plea, Sabit admitted that he derived significant profits by convincing patients to undergo spinal fusion surgeries with “instrumentation” (medical devices designed to stabilize and strengthen the spine) that he never performed and billed public and private healthcare benefit programs for those fraudulent services. Sabit further admitted that, in some instances, he operated on patients and dictated in his operative reports – which he knew would later be used to support fraudulent insurance claims – that he had performed spinal fusion with instrumentation, when he had not. Specifically, Sabit fraudulently billed public and private health care programs for instrumentation when, in fact, he used cortical bone dowels made of tissue. Sabit failed to render services in relation to lumbar and thoracic fusion surgeries, including in certain instances, billing for implants that were not provided.

Before moving to moving to Michigan, Sabit was a resident of Ventura, California, and a licensed neurosurgeon in California. Sabit admitted that, in approximately February 2010, while he was on the staff of a California hospital, he became involved with Apex Medical Technologies LLC (Apex), which was owned by another neurosurgeon and three non-physicians. In exchange for the opportunity to invest in Apex and share in its profits, Sabit agreed to convince his hospital to buy spinal implant devices from Apex and to use a substantial number Apex spinal implant devices in his surgical procedures. Sabit further admitted that he and Apex’s co-owners concealed Sabit’s involvement in Apex from the hospitals and surgical centers.

In connection with his guilty plea, Sabit admitted that the financial incentives provided to him by Apex and his co-conspirators caused him to use more spinal implant devices than were medically necessary to treat his patients in order to generate more sales revenue for Apex, which resulted in serious bodily injury to his patients. Sabit also admitted that, on a few occasions, the money he made from using Apex spinal implant devices motivated him either to refer patients for unnecessary spine surgeries or for more complex procedures that they did not need.

The FBI, HHS-OIG and ICE investigated the Michigan case. The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the California case, which was subsequently transferred to the Eastern District of Michigan. The California case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan. Trial Attorney Catherine K. Dick, formerly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, is prosecuting the California case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Regina R. McCullough and Philip A. Ross of the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the Michigan case.

Sabit also is a defendant in two civil False Claims Act cases brought by the Justice Department in the Central District of California. These cases remain pending.

The Criminal Division’s 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 $10 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.

Operator Of Unlawful Bitcoin Exchange Pleads Guilty In Multimillion-Dollar Money Laundering And Fraud Scheme

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 9, 2017

Operator Of Unlawful Bitcoin Exchange Pleads Guilty In Multimillion-Dollar Money Laundering And Fraud Scheme

Three Guilty Pleas to Date in Bitcoin and Bribery Scheme

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANTHONY R. MURGIO pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan to charges associated with operating Coin.mx, an internet-based Bitcoin exchange, through which MURGIO processed more than $10 million in illegal Bitcoin transactions. MURGIO also pled guilty to conspiring to obstruct an examination of the Helping Other People Excel Federal Credit Union (“HOPE FCU”) by the National Credit Union Administration (“NCUA”) in furtherance of the illegal Coin.mx scheme. To date, three individuals involved in the Coin.mx schemes have pled guilty. MURGIO is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nathan on June 16, 2017.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Anthony Murgio took a new age approach to an age-old crime of fraud. As he admitted in his guilty plea today, Murgio used Coin.mx, an internet-based Bitcoin exchange, to process over $10 million in Bitcoin transactions in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws, and then obstructed a regulatory examination to hide his scheme.”

According to the allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment to which MURGIO pled guilty and statements made during the plea proceeding and other court proceedings:

The Unlawful Bitcoin Exchange

Between 2013 and July 2015, MURGIO knowingly operated Coin.mx, an unlawful internet-based Bitcoin exchange, in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations,including those requiring money services businesses like Coin.mx to meet state licensing and federal registration requirements set forth by the United States Treasury Department. MURGIO and his co-conspirators engaged in substantial efforts to evade detection of their unlawful Bitcoin exchange by operating through a phony front company called “Collectables Club.” MURGIO used Collectables Club to open bank accounts, through which Coin.mx operated, in order to trick financial institutions into believing the unlawful Bitcoin exchange was simply a members-only association of individuals who discussed, bought, and sold collectible items and memorabilia.

In addition to lying to banks to open accounts, MURGIO and his co-conspirators deceived financial institutions by deliberately misidentifying and miscoding Coin.mx customers’ credit and debit card transactions, in violation of bank and credit card company rules and regulations. MURGIO and his co-conspirators also instructed Coin.mx customers to mislead banks about the nature of the credit and debit card transactions the customers executed through Coin.mx. For example, MURGIO and his co-conspirators caused customers to falsely tell the banks that the transactions in which they engaged with Coin.mx were for collectibles items, when in reality they were for Bitcoins. Through the illegal Coin.mx scheme, MURGIO and his co-conspirators caused more than $10 million in Bitcoin-related transactions to be processed illegally through financial institutions.

The Federal Credit Union Scheme
In 2014, in an effort further to evade scrutiny from financial institutions about the nature of the business engaged in by Coin.mx, MURGIO and his co-conspirators gained control of HOPE FCU, a federal credit union in New Jersey with primarily low-income members. After making more than $150,000 in illegal bribes, MURGIO and his co-conspirators took control of HOPE FCU. MURGIO installed various co-conspirators on HOPE FCU’s Board of Directors and transferred Coin.mx’s banking operations to HOPE FCU.

In late 2014, MURGIO and his co-conspirators attempted to obstruct an examination of HOPE FCU by the NCUA in order to perpetuate MURGIO’s control of the credit union. In furtherance of this scheme, MURGIO and others caused numerous misrepresentations to be made to the NCUA, including misrepresentations about the headquarters of the Collectables Club, in an effort to convince the NCUA that the Coin.mx-affiliated board members were eligible to serve on HOPE FCU’s Board of Directors. HOPE FCU was operated as a captive bank by MURGIO and his co-conspirators until the end of 2014.

In October 2015, the NCUA placed HOPE FCU into conservatorship, and subsequently liquidation.

* * *

MURGIO, 33, of Tampa, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and one count of conspiracy to obstruct an examination of a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Two of MURGIO’s co-defendants have been convicted and are awaiting sentence. Jose M. Freundt pled guilty on October 13, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and one count of conspiracy to corruptly make payments to an officer of a financial institution, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; and one count of corruptly making payments to an officer of a financial institution, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Freundt is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nathan on April 13, 2017. Michael J. Murgio pled guilty on October 27, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an examination of a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Nathan on January 27, 2017.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Trial for two additional co-defendants, Trevon Gross and Yuri Lebedev, is scheduled to begin on February 6, 2017. The description of the offense set forth in this release are merely allegations and Gross and Lebedev are innocent until proven guilty.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the Secret Service. He also thanked the NCUA for its assistance with the investigation and prosecution.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eun Young Choi, Daniel S. Noble, and Won S. Shin are in charge of the prosecution.

Brea Man Who Operated Physical Therapy Clinics Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Federal Prison in $3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brea Man Who Operated Physical Therapy Clinics Sentenced to Over 10 Years in Federal Prison in $3 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

            SANTA ANA, California – A Brea man who operated rehabilitation clinics in Walnut, Torrance and Los Angeles and defrauded Medicare out of approximately $3 million by billing for unneeded or unnecessary services has been sentenced to 121 months in federal prison.
            Simon Hong (who is also known as Seong Wook Hong), 55, was sentenced yesterday afternoon by United States District Judge David O. Carter. At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Judge Carter ordered Hong remanded into custody.
            Hong was found guilty in October of eight counts of healthcare fraud, nine counts of illegal kickbacks related to healthcare referrals and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
            Hong owned physical therapy clinics operated by companies called Hong’s Medical Management, Inc., CMH Practice Solution, and HK Practice and Solution, Inc. As part of the scheme, Hong recruited Medicare beneficiaries and provided uncovered services like massage and acupuncture for them. Even though the beneficiaries did not receive actual physical therapy, Hong’s co-conspirators billed Medicare for physical therapy, and then funneled 56 percent of the reimbursement funds back to Hong.
            Through this scheme Hong and his co-conspirators billed Medicare from the spring of 2009 until November 2013 and received approximately $2,929,775 in reimbursements, of which Hong received approximately $1,640,674. During today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Carter ordered Hong to pay $2,929,775 in restitution.
            “This defendant stole nearly $3 million in federal money earmarked for those with serious medical needs,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This lengthy sentence accurately reflects the scope of the harm caused by the defendant to American taxpayers and legitimate Medicare beneficiaries. My office will continue to bring prosecutions against criminals causing harm to federal programs.”
            Hong is one of 10 defendants who were charged in 2015 and early 2016 for healthcare fraud related to physical therapy. Eight others have pled guilty, and one, David Y. Kim, 54, of Los Angeles, remains a fugitive. Those previously convicted in the investigation are:
  • Joseff Sales, 39, of Buena Park, a co-owner and operator of Rehab Dynamics, who pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and one count of illegal kickbacks, and was sentenced last year to 51 months in prison;
  • Danniel Goyena, 39, of Buena Park, a co-owner and operator of Rehab Dynamics, who pleaded guilty to two counts of healthcare fraud and was sentenced last year to 51 months in prison;
  • Marlon Sonco, 39, of Sylmar, who pleaded guilty in June 2015 to conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 23;
  • Eddieson Legaspi, 40, of Lomita, an employee of Rehab Dynamics, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and also was sentenced yesterday to 15 months;
  • Ohun Kwon, 50, of Fullerton, the owner/operator of E.K. Medical Management, which referred patients to Rehab Dynamics, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and was sentenced last year to 27 months in federal prison;
  • Leovigildo Sayat, 39, of Torrance, an employee of RSG Rehab, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and was sentenced last year to two years in prison;
  • Byong Chun “David” Min, 68, of Irvine, co-owner/operator of Glory Rehab Team, which operated as Dream Hospital in Orange County, who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud and illegal kickbacks, also was sentenced yesterday to 45 months in prison; and
  • Jason S. Min, 35, of Irvine, David Min’s son, who was the other owner/operator of Glory Rehab, pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 6.
            “Mr. Hong and his co-defendants spent years defrauding the Medicare system at the expense of taxpayers and legitimate healthcare recipients,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Agents and prosecutors worked very diligently on this case to identify and charge multiple defendants in order to hold them responsible for their actions.”
            “Medicare provides legitimate health care services for millions of older Americans,” said Christian J. Schrank, HHS OIG Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Fraudulently billing the program for therapies never provided will cost Mr. Hong years in prison. As this sentencing shows, not just providers, but business owners who are partners in these schemes, will pay a price. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will pursue all those involved in stealing from the Medicare trust fund.”
            In a separate case, Hong pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit health care fraud in another scheme involving occupational and physical therapy services that were never provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare suffered losses of approximately $2.4 million in relation to this scheme. Hong is scheduled to be sentenced in this case in Los Angeles federal court by United States District Judge George Wu on March 6.
            “For almost six years since May 2009, [Hong] participated in or orchestrated schemes to defraud Medicare that led to at least $5.3 million in actual losses to Medicare and potentially over $20 million in intended losses to Medicare, a program that can hardly afford them,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed in relation to today’s sentencing. “He directed numerous others in executing the schemes, perverting the legitimate physical therapy services process at every turn, from patient enrollment to billing to record keeping.”
            The investigation in these cases was conducted by the FBI and HHS-OIG. The prosecutions are being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Byron J. McLain and Sarah Heidel of the Major Frauds Section.