Former Pacific Gas And Electric Company Employee Pleads Guilty To $1.4 Million+ Fraud Kickback Conspiracy – August 31, 2020
Ronald Schoenfeld, while employed at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), conspired to obtain contracts from PG&E for his cousin’s transportation business in exchange for kickbacks from that business worth approximately 2.5% of the value of the contracts. Schoenfeld concealed from PG&E his familial relationship with his co-conspirator from PG&E, provided confidential information to his co-conspirator, and, at times, directly intervened in the consideration of contracts between PG&E and his co-conspirator’s business, all contrary to PG&E’s policies.
From March 2007 through February 2015, PG&E paid at least $82.1 million to the business operated by Schoenfeld’s cousin for services it provided pursuant to PG&E contracts. During the same period, Schoenfeld’s co-conspirator paid him at least $1,476,000 in kickbacks for his role in the conspiracy.
Former Financial Manager Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $654,000+ From Employer – August 28, 2020
Brandy Okey fraudulently pocketed more than $650,000 as chief financial officer when she embezzled from the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority box office sales at Expo Square.
In her position with Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, Okey was responsible for accounting and financial management. Okey admitted that she used her access to the Expo Square box office cash collections to take cash funds. She then deposited a portion of the embezzled cash funds into personal bank accounts for her own use. Okey further used a portion of the cash funds to directly pay for personal expenses without depositing the funds. In order to conceal her scheme, Okey shredded the original deposit slips or prepared new slips showing a lower deposit amount. To further hide her scheme, Okey admitted that she did not accurately record box office collections on TCPFA financial statements. The fraudulent statements were emailed to the company’s Board of Directors.
Head of New York Medical Clinics Sentenced To Prison For Multimillion-Dollar Money Laundering And Health Care Kickbacks Scheme – August 28, 2020
Failure of Chicago Bank Was A Result Of Employee Embezzlement Of Over $90 Million – Four Former Employees Charged – August 28, 2020
University of Virginia Researcher Charged With Theft of Trade Secrets And Computer Intrusion – August 28, 2020
Haizhou Hu, a Chinese national conducting research at the University of Virginia, was arrested today and charged via criminal complaint with a pair of federal crimes. Hu is charged with accessing a computer without authorization, or exceeding authorization to obtain information from a protected computer and theft of trade secrets.
Investigators first became aware of Hu, who is in the United States conducting research studying bio-mimics and fluid dynamics at the University of Virginia, on August 25, 2020 when he attempted to board a flight to China at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. A routine screening conducted by authorities revealed that Hu was alleged to be in possession of bio-inspired research simulation software code that he was not authorized to possess, and which represented the result of years of research and resources in its development by members of the University of Virginia academic community.
Former Office Manager / Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to $238,000 Of Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft – August 28, 2020
Sherry Thomas was employed as the office manager and bookkeeper for the Carbon River Coal Corporation, from the 1980s until January 2019. While working there, rather than paying the appropriate expenses and taxes for the Corporation, Thomas engaged in a scheme to defraud the corporation of its funds. Specifically, between July 18, 2013 and November 21, 2018, Thomas wrote 173 checks to herself, from the corporation’s accounts, totaling $238,052.23, and deposited them into her personal account. In writing the checks, Thomas forged the signature stamp of the Vice President of the Corporation, without his permission.
Chicago Highway Commissioner Charged With Pocketing $280,000+ In Kickbacks Over 8 Years – August 27, 2020
The Commissioner of the Bloomingdale Township Road District received kickbacks from the owner of an excavation company in exchange for approving hundreds of thousands of dollars in invoices for purported road work, most of which was never performed, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
The indictment accuses Commissioner ROBERT CZERNEK of receiving more than $280,000 in kickbacks from DEBRA FAZIO, the owner of Bloomingdale-based Bulldog Earth Movers Inc. (BEM), and MARIO GIANNINI, a BEM employee. In exchange for the secret kickbacks, Czernek used his official position to approve and cause the approval for payment of stone delivery, dump leveling, and storm sewer invoices submitted by BEM to Bloomingdale Township. Czernek approved the invoices knowing that much of the work and services had not actually been performed by BEM. The fraud scheme spanned eight years and resulted in Bloomingdale Township issuing checks totaling more than $700,000 to BEM.
Former Bookkeeper Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $708,000+ From Employer – August 27, 2020
Debra McCall, while employed as a bookkeeper for a small local sales company, used her position of trust to steal more than $700,000 from her employer during a three year period. She devised and executed a scheme to embezzle money from her employer’s accounts by using her knowledge of the bookkeeping and accounting software. She created and printed checks drawn on the company’s accounts. She made the checks payable to her boyfriend and forged the manager’s signature on each check. She then canceled the checks in the accounting system and balanced the company’s books by incorporating the amounts she took into other entries to avoid detection. McCall admitted that she stole the money and gambled it away.
Billing – Payroll Clerk Charged With Wire Fraud Over 10 Years – August 27, 2020
From approximately 2006 through on or about April 8, 2020, Sheila Verbrugge was the billing and payroll clerk for Blachowske Truck Line, Inc. In this capacity, her duties included managing Blachowske’s T-Chek account. T-Chek is a system used by Blachowske to pay for various job-related expenses incurred by Blachowske’s truck drivers, such as fuel and truck maintenance. Each week, T-Chek emailed an invoice to Blachowske for that week’s charges. Blachowske then paid the invoice electronically using an automated clearing house payment.
On multiple occasions during the relevant time period (January 2010 – April 2020), Verbrugge falsely and fraudulently issued T-Cheks payable to herself, deposited them into her personal bank account, and then used the funds for her own purposes. She disguised her theft by altering the weekly T-Chek report and deleting her name and location and replaced it with names of Blachowske truck drivers and locations she knew to be associated with those truck drivers. Because of the false information entered, Blachowske paid the T-Chek invoices.
Whiting Indiana Mayor Charged With Stealing $255,000 Of Campaign Funds For Personal Expenditures – August 27, 2020
Joseph Stahura, was the Mayor of Whiting, Indiana since 2004. Mr. Stahura was the Chairman and Treasurer of his campaign committee.
From February 2014 through 2019, Mr. and Mrs. Stahura used approximately $255,000 of campaign funds for personal purposes, while disguising the activity by filing campaign reports with false and misleading information and by omitting material information from the reports. To further defraud, they sought donations from individuals and entities, and held fund raising events to raise money for the campaign fund. Mrs. Stahura transferred money from the campaign fund to the Stahuras’ personal bank account, which then used the funds to pay personal bills, provide support for their daughter and gamble at casinos. To further the scheme, on multiple occasions between 2014 and 2019, Joe Stahura filed false and misleading campaign finance reports with the Board of Elections which omitted information about the personal use of the campaign funds that had been occurring from 2014 through November 2019.
Former President Of International United Auto Workers Charged With Embezzling Union Funds – August 27, 2020
Between June 2014 and June 2018, Dennis Williams served as the President of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Workers of America (UAW). The UAW represents over 400,000 active members and over 580,000 retired members in more than 600 local unions across the United States. Prior to serving as UAW President, Williams was the Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW from June 2010 through June 2014.
Williams conspired with at least six other senior UAW officials in a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle money from the UAW for the personal benefit of Williams and other senior UAW officials. UAW officials concealed hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenditures in the cost of UAW conferences held in Palm Springs, California, Coronado, California, and Missouri. Between 2010 and 2018, former UAW President and co-defendant Gary Jones and other UAW officials submitted fraudulent expense forms seeking reimbursement from the UAW’s Detroit headquarters for expenditures supposedly incurred in connection with UAW leadership and training conferences. In truth, however, Williams and his co-conspirators used the conferences to conceal the hundreds of thousands of dollars in UAW funds spent on lavish entertainment and personal spending for the conspirators.
Texas A&M University Professor Arrested For Concealing His Association With China’s Talents Program – August 24, 2020
Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng allegedly led a team conducting research for NASA. For several years he willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company. The terms of Cheng’s grant prohibited participation, collaboration or coordination with China, any Chinese-owned company or any Chinese University, according to the charges.
China’s Talents Plans are allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.
Former Employee Pleads Guilty To Sabotaging Cisco’s Network With Damages Costing $2.4 Million – August 26, 2020
According to the plea agreement, Sudhish Ramesh admitted to intentionally accessing Cisco Systems’ cloud infrastructure that was hosted by Amazon Web Services without Cisco’s permission on September 24, 2018. Ramesh worked for Cisco and resigned in approximately April 2018. During his unauthorized access, Ramesh admitted that he deployed a code from his Google Cloud Project account that resulted in the deletion of 456 virtual machines for Cisco’s WebEx Teams application, which provided video meetings, video messaging, file sharing, and other collaboration tools. He further admitted that he acted recklessly in deploying the code, and consciously disregarded the substantial risk that his conduct could harm to Cisco. As a result of Ramesh’s conduct, over 16,000 WebEx Teams accounts were shut down for up to two weeks, and caused Cisco to spend approximately $1,400,000 in employee time to restore the damage to the application and refund over $1,000,000 to affected customers. No customer data was compromised as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
Former Chief Financial Officer Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $3 Million – August 25, 2020
Timothy Semones admitted that, in 2017 and 2018, he was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of ETA Compute, Inc. Semones worked remotely. As part of his duties as CFO, Semones had access to ETA’s Wells Fargo Bank business checking account and had the ability to make online transfers of funds from this account.
Semones was in the process of designing and building an approximate 7,000 square foot home. Between October 2017 and November 2018, Semones made nine online transfers of funds, totaling $3 million, from ETA’s Wells Fargo Bank business checking account to personal bank accounts over which he had access and control. Semones used the misappropriated funds to pay construction costs for his new home, and to pay off the balance of a line of credit used to build the residence.
In November 2018, when ETA’s Chief Executive Officer confronted Semones about the low balance of funds in ETA’s Wells Fargo Bank business checking account, Semones made false statements about the location and balance of funds. Further, Semones emailed falsified Wells Fargo Bank records – that made it appear that ETA’s bank account had $1.5 million more than it actually did – to ETA’s Chief Executive Officer.
Former DoD Employee Sentenced For Public Corruption – August 25, 2020
Jeffery Parsons was sentenced to one year in prison for conspiring to accept illegal gratuities on account of official actions and conspiring to sell government property without authority.
According to court documents, Parsons was a civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. In November 2009, Parsons began working as an Environmental Protection Specialist at Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, California (SIAD). He later held the same position at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Lemoore, California (NASL). In his official positions at SIAD and NASL, Parsons’ responsibilities included the disposition of hazardous materials such as batteries, fuel and oil.
In October 2012, Parsons, his wife, and their associate Travis Wong agreed that Parsons would use his authority at SIAD to allow Wong to sell valuable materials from the installation and that, in return, Wong would pay Parsons and his wife a portion of his proceeds from the sales. After Parsons transferred to NASL, Parsons, his wife, and Wong continued their illegal scheme. Just as Parsons had done at SIAD, he abused his authority at NASL by allowing Wong to sell materials removed from the U.S. Navy base. Once again, Wong paid Parsons and his wife a portion of his proceeds from the sales. In total, Wong received approximately $314,000 from selling government property, and he paid Parsons and his wife approximately $56,000. Wong made the illegal payments by checks payable to a company registered to Parsons’ wife, as well as checks payable to Parsons’ daughter.
Former Employee / Comptroller Pleads Guilty To Embezzling Over $7 Million+ From His Employer Over 10 Years – August 25, 2020
According to the court documents, from 2007 to 2019, Jack Jagtiani served as the comptroller of Dan-Gulf Shipping, Inc., a Metairie-based freight forwarding company. In that capacity, Jagtiani had the authority to manage the payroll and other accounts for Dan-Gulf. Jagtiani admitted that he used his authority to pay himself excessive salaries and benefits from 2009 through early 2019. In total, JAGTIANI defrauded Dan-Gulf and its business partners of over $7,000,000.00.
Russian National Arrested For Conspiracy To Introduce Malware Into A Company’s Computer Network With Help Of Employee – August 25, 2020
Egor Kriuchkov, a citizen of Russia, was charged in a complaint with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer. He was arrested on Aug. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles.
According to the complaint and statements made in court, from about July 15, 2020 to about Aug. 22, 2020, Kriuchkov conspired with associates to recruit an employee of a company to introduce malware designed to damage or do other unwanted actions on a computer system / network. The malware would supposedly provide Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators with access to the company’s system. After the malware was introduced, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators would extract data from the network and then threaten to make the information public, unless the company paid their ransom demand.
Kriuchkov entered the United States using his Russian passport and a tourist visa. He contacted and met with the employee numerous times to discuss the conspiracy. Kriuchkov promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred.
UPS Driver Arrested For Freeway Shooting / Sniper Incidents – August 22, 2020
A UPS employee suspected in a rash of shootings that began in May on Interstate 5 in Oregon was arrested Thursday, authorities said.
Kenneth Ayers, was taken into custody in connection with a freeway shooting. He faces a slew of charges, including attempted murder, second-degree assault, and multiple counts each of reckless endangering, criminal mischief and unlawful use of a weapon.
Authorities believe Ayers is responsible for shooting more than a dozen vehicles on the busy freeway in Douglas, Josephine and Jackson counties. During Wednesday’s incident in Jackson County, a female motorist was shot while traveling north on the interstate that traverses California, Oregon and Washington.
Former Navy Warehouse Manager Who Stole $2.5 Million Worth of Goods from the U.S. Navy Sentenced To Prison – August 24, 2020
Herbert Gutierrez, former warehouse manager at the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) Warehouse in San Diego and 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, was sentenced in federal court today to 24 months in custody for stealing more than $2.5 million worth of goods from the Navy warehouse where he worked.
Gutierrez began stealing from the warehouse for his own personal gain a few months after he started working there. For approximately nine months, between July 2018 and April 2019, Gutierrez advertised items from the warehouse for sale online, including through such websites as eBay, and then allowed private individuals into the MSC warehouse yard during work hours and after hours to take the government property, load it onto trucks, and haul it away.
Former Company Controller Who Embezzled $2.8 Million From His Employer Sentenced To Prison – August 24, 2020
From October 2015 to June 2018, Sean Talaee worked as the controller overseeing the accounting and tax payments of Printograph, Inc., a commercial printing company that does business as GotPrint.com. During this time period, Printograph made a series of periodic estimated tax payments based on the company’s expected gross income, deductions, and credits for each year. Talaee enabled these estimated tax payments by bringing company checks to Printograph’s president and sole owner – who had signing authority for the company’s bank account – for her signature prior to their submission to the IRS.
On at least eight separate occasions, Talaee obtained company checks from Printograph’s president but instead inserted his own taxpayer information when filling out the IRS voucher forms that accompanied the estimated tax payments. By using his own information – and not the company’s – Talaee was able to claim the estimated tax payments for himself and caused the IRS to credit the payments to his own personal account, thereby embezzling the funds from Printograph and effectively laundering the embezzled proceeds through the IRS.
During the course of the scheme, Talaee embezzled $2.8 million from his employer and falsely claimed estimated tax payments in that amount for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. These estimated tax payments allowed Talaee to receive a total of $2,778,994 in fraudulent tax refunds for these years, court papers state. Talaee failed to report the embezzled money as income for these tax years, causing a total tax loss of $740,085.
Employee For Charity Organization Sentenced To Prison For Embezzling Over $450,000 – August 24, 2020
Christina Short worked for over 16 years as the financial coordinator for the ZTA Foundation, which is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. ZTA Foundation raises money for scholarships and educational opportunities for ZTA students and alumni, as well as for breast cancer awareness. As financial coordinator, she was responsible for receiving donations in the mail, depositing them in the Foundation’s bank account, and ensuring that the donations are accounted for in the Foundation’s financial ledgers.
For over six years, beginning in 2012 and continuing until she was terminated in November 2018, Short perpetrated a scheme to steal donations and deposit them into her own personal bank accounts. In all, she stole 816 donations on nearly 500 separate occasions for a total of $450,874.48. She used the money she stole primarily for personal expenses, such as restaurants, clothing, youth sports, and vacations.
New Jersey Transit Systems Supervisor Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $2.1 Million – August 21, 2020
Richard Schade was a supervisor for the New Jersey Transit System (NJTS). Schade was a facilities supervisor when he stole $2.1 million from NJTS by setting up four fake companies and approving payments to them for services such as landscaping and maintenance at NJTS properties.
Former Employee Pleads Guilty To Stealing Company Property And Selling It On Ebay – August 21, 2020
Laura Barnett was an employee of Perrigo, a global consumer self-care company that manufactures over-the-counter and branded products. Barnett worked as a Maintenance Repair and Operations Coordinator in Perrigo’s Allegan maintenance department. She was responsible for ordering and processing parts used in the manufacturing facilities. Barnett used her position to gain access to equipment, parts, and supplies that the company used to operate packing machinery. She stole more than 470 items of equipment, parts, and supplies worth approximately $413,903.38 and sold the items on eBay.
Former Army Special Forces Officer Charged In Russian Espionage Conspiracy – August 21, 2020
From December 1996 to January 2011, Peter Debbins, a former member of the U.S. Army, allegedly conspired with agents of a Russian intelligence service. During that time, Debbins periodically visited Russia and met with Russian intelligence agents. In 1997, Debbins was assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents and signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve Russia.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Debbins allegedly provided the Russian intelligence agents with information that he obtained as a member of the U.S. Army, including information about his chemical and Special Forces units. In 2008, after leaving active duty service, Debbins disclosed to the Russian intelligence agents classified information about his previous activities while deployed with the Special Forces. Debbins also provided the Russian intelligence agents with the names of, and information about, his former Special Forces team members so that the agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service.
Former Employee (CFO) Sentenced To Federal Prison For Embezzling Over $825,000 Over 7 Years – August 20, 2020
Between 2009 and 2016, Michael Greutman embezzled over $825,000 from his employer, a family-owned business in Shalimar, Florida. Greutman worked as the Chief Financial Officer and stole money by making unauthorized online payments on his personal credit cards with employer funds, using corporate credit cards for unauthorized personal purchases, and transferring company funds to his personal bank accounts. He used his position to create false documentation and manipulate accounting records to cover up his scheme.
Customs And Border Protection Officer Charged With Bribery – August 20, 2002
Oziel Cantu worked at the Pharr Port of Entry and assisted an individual smuggle cocaine that was concealed in a vehicle. He allegedly instructed an individual to use a certain inspection lane at a specified time, so he could allow the vehicle to pass through inspection.
Cantu allegedly believed that individual had ties to a drug trafficking organization. However, that person was actually an undercover officer.
Authorities took Cantu into custody after arriving to accept the $15,000 payment, according to the complaint.
Former Energy Company Employee Sentenced For Using Company Credit Card For $850,000+ Of Personal Use For 10 Years – August 20, 2020
James Burke was employed as the bookkeeper at Rustex. From approximately May 2010 to approximately August 2018, Burke made unauthorized charges on company credit cards for personal expenses. He then paid those unauthorized personal charges from Rustex’s bank account.
For example, Burke accessed Rustex’s American Express account Aug. 7, 2015, to pay the July 2015 statement totaling $32,198.70. This amount included a personal dental charge of $1,954 which he had made using another employee’s company-issued credit card. He paid the outstanding credit card bill with money from Rustex’s bank account.
Former Chief Security Officer For Uber Charged With Obstruction Of Justice – August 20, 2020
Between April 2015 and November 2017, Joseph Sullivan served as Uber’s Chief Security Officer. During this time, two hackers contacted Sullivan by email and demanded a six-figure payment in exchange for silence. The hackers ultimately revealed that they had accessed and downloaded an Uber database containing personally identifying information, or PII, associated with approximately 57 million Uber users and drivers. The database included the drivers’ license numbers for approximately 600,000 people who drove for Uber. The criminal complaint alleges that Sullivan took deliberate steps to conceal, deflect, and mislead the Federal Trade Commission about the breach.
Former Office Manager Pleads Guilty To Stealing Approximately $420,000 In Company Funds – August 20, 2020
Tammy Fox served as the Office Manager for Explosive Professionals Midwest, Incorporated, also known as ExPro Midwest.
From January, 2011 through February, 2018 Fox schemed to steal approximately $420,000 from the company. During that time, Fox issued approximately 215 unauthorized ExPro Midwest checks to herself, which she deposited into her personal bank account. Fox forged the signature of one of the owners of ExPro Midwest to those unauthorized checks. Fox spent the stolen funds on personal items and services such as clothing, automobile payments, rent payments, as well as making numerous cash withdrawals. Fox also issued unauthorized ExPro Midwest company checks to a close personal friend, and deposited those checks into her personal bank account as well. Fox also used the ExPro Midwest corporate credit card to make unauthorized purchases of personal items, such as airline tickets, general retail items, clothing, and sporting goods. As Office Manager, Fox caused the company to pay the monthly ExPro Midwest corporate credit card bills, knowing that her unauthorized personal charges were contained in the billings. In order to conceal her fraud scheme, Fox altered the company’s internal financial records, which she then sent to the company’s outside accountants.
Former Bank of America Employee Arrested On Wire Fraud, Money Laundering And Embezzlement ($1.5 Million) Charges – August 20, 2020
Waqas Ali was the client relationship manager for Bank of America. Ali allegedly opened a checking account in the name of the victim company without its knowledge or authorization, and between September 2016 and July 2017, fraudulently transferred over $1.5 million from the victim company’s accounts to a fraudulent account.
It is alleged that Ali used over $600,000 of the funds he fraudulently obtained to fund his lifestyle and pay for luxury items, including a Porsche SUV and retail items at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Christian Louboutin and Tag Heuer.
Former Army Soldier Sentenced For Distributing Info on Napalm, IEDs – August 19, 2020
Jarrett Smith joined the Army June 12, 2017. He served as an infantry soldier and was trained in combat and tactical operations. He was transferred to Fort Riley in Kansas July 8, 2019.
The FBI received information that Smith used social media to give out guidance to others on how to construct improvised explosive devices. He spoke to others on social media about wanting to travel to Ukraine to fight with a violent, far-right military group.
On September 20, 2019, from Fort Riley Smith sent a person working undercover for the FBI specific instructions for making an explosive device. Smith also provided a recipe for creating improvised napalm.
U.S. Postal Service Employee Pleads Guilty To Theft Of Mail – August 19, 2020
Between November 2018 and February 2019, Amy Makaros was employed as a mail carrier at a U.S. Post Office. Makaros stole numerous pieces of mail, including greeting cards that contained gift cards or other items of value. When confronted by investigators, Makaros admitted her theft and subsequently surrendered approximately 19 pieces of mail and four gift cards that she had stolen.
Bank Employee Charged For Stealing Social Security Benefits And Bank Embezzlement – August 19, 2020
Materesa Jose, while an employee at Eastern Bank, stole approximately $27,605 from the bank, some of which consisted of Social Security benefits, from September 2017 through July 2018.
Former Tennessee State University Employee Sentenced To Prison For $84,000+ Student Loan Fraud Scheme – August 17, 2020
Renauld Clayton, 32, of Nashville, was indicted in May of last year on charges of student loan fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty in February and admitted that during 2014-2015, while employed in the admissions office of TSU, he obtained the personal identifying information of TSU students and others and applied for student loans in their names. When the funds were received, Clayton diverted the money to his own use and others and deposited more than $60,000 of the funds to bank accounts that he controlled.
Former Human Resources Director Pleads Guilty To Paycheck Theft Scheme – August 17, 2020
Turner-Seila began working for the Oconee County Human Resources department in July 2015. She was promoted to acting HR director in February 2019 and permanent HR director in July 2019. She resigned July 16, 2019, one day after the county discovered a discrepancy in payroll accounts.
As HR director, Turner-Seila used her access to the county’s payroll system to change employees’ direct deposit information to her own personal bank account.
Turner-Seila would alter the separation date of former employees to allow for payroll transfers to be disbursed to her personal bank account. She would then delete the direct deposit information linked to her personal bank account from the system as soon as the unauthorized transfer occurred and then would add the correct separation date for that employee back to the system. From July 6, 2016 to July 5, 2019, Turner-Seila stole $118,451.80 from Oconee County taxpayers.
Puerto Rico Legislator, Wife And Son Indicted For Theft, Bribery, and Fraud – August 17, 2020
A federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 13-count indictment against legislator María Milagros Charbonier-Laureano, who was a member of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, as well as her husband Orlando Montes-Rivera, and their son Orlando Gabriel Montes-Charbonier, and her assistant Frances Acevedo-Ceballos, for their alleged participation in a years-long theft, bribery, and kickback conspiracy.
According to the allegations in the indictment, from early 2017 until July 2020, Charbonier, Montes, Montes-Charbonier, and Acevedo executed a scheme to defraud the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico by engaging in a theft, bribery, and kickback scheme. In early 2017, Charbonier inflated her assistant Acevedo’s salary from $800 on a bi-weekly, after-tax basis to $2,100; this amount increased to nearly $2,900 by September 2019. Out of every inflated paycheck, it was agreed that Acevedo would keep a portion, and kick back between $1,000 and $1,500 to Charbonier, Montes, and Montes-Charbonier.
Former CIA Officer Arrested And Charged With Espionage Over 10 Years – August 17, 2020
Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, was arrested on Aug. 14, 2020, on a charge that he conspired with a relative of his who also was a former CIA officer to communicate classified information up to the Top Secret level to intelligence officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
According to court documents, Ma and his relative (identified as co-conspirator #1) conspired with each other and multiple PRC intelligence officials to communicate classified national defense information over the course of a decade. The scheme began with three days of meetings in Hong Kong in March 2001 during which the two former CIA officers provided information to the foreign intelligence service about the CIA’s personnel, operations, and methods of concealing communications. Part of the meeting was captured on videotape, including a portion where Ma can be seen receiving and counting $50,000 in cash for the secrets they provided.
Church Treasurer Sentenced To Prison For Stealing $487,000 + From Church – August 17, 2020
From at least 2012 until approximately December 2018, Robert Adkins was the treasurer for the Antioch Baptist Church. As treasurer, Adkins had access to the church’s checking account and was authorized to sign checks from that account on behalf of the church. While serving as treasurer, Adkins wrote and signed checks on the church’s account for his own benefit. Those checks went to pay personal creditors as well as for personal items. Adkins wrote the checks without the church membership’s knowledge or approval, and without the knowledge or approval of any church board member. Adkins would then mail the checks to pay his personal creditors. Adkins wrote approximately $487,488.92 in unauthorized checks on the church’s account for his personal use.
Former Human Resources Director Pleads Guilty To Stealing $118,000 In Employee Paycheck Scheme – August 17, 2020
The former human resources director for Oconee County, Georgia has admitted to stealing taxpayer money in a complicated paycheck scheme.
Sherry Turner-Seila was employed as the Human Resources Director for Oconee County. As such, she was one of the few employees with access to the County’s payroll system, which transferred funds directly from the county bank account to the bank accounts of county employees. From July 6, 2016 to July 5, 2019, Turner-Seila concocted a scheme where she would use that access to temporarily change a former employee’s direct deposit information to her own personal bank account’s direct deposit information. In all, Turner-Seila stole $118,451.80 from Oconee County taxpayers.
Navy IT Chief Charged With Sharing Classified Information With A Russian National – August 12, 2020
Chief Information Systems Technician Charles T. Briggs has been held in pre-trial confinement since August 2019.
Assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Briggs is accused of obtaining an email containing classified information from a government computer in January 2019 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (STRATCOM), and then sending it to a Russian national.
Briggs is also charged with making a false official statement in April 2018 after he allegedly wrote “NO” on a security clearance questionnaire in response to a question about whether he had maintained a “close and continuing relationship” with anyone that was not a U.S. citizen.
Briggs also faces violations that he allegedly failed to report a month-long trip to Serbia in November and December 2018.
Briggs also failed to report foreign connections to Russian and Italian nationals to his security manager from May 2017 to January 2019.
Briggs is also charged with possessing a digital image of child sexual abuse in July 2018, and for attempting to view such material from June 2018 to December 2018.
Former Employee Of 20 Years Given Probation And Ordered To Repay $520,000K For Embezzlement Scheme – August 10, 2020
Traci Kunz had worked for Swanson Interior Design Group, a prominent commercial and residential interior design firm based in Palm Desert, for more than 20 years when she was confronted with the embezzlement allegations.
Allegedly, Kunz diverted customer payments made to the company to her own bank account between 2013 and 2016. The company’s owner, Kim Swanson, discovered the theft while analyzing the company’s books in May 2016. Kunz left the company soon after.
Kunz was given 5 years of probation, and ordered to make $5,000 a month payments to the Swanson to Interior Design Group, until she pays back the approximately $520,000 she stole. Kunz had already made about $250,000 in payments prior to sentencing, leaving about $280,000 remaining to be paid.