Articles Tagged with wire fraud

After a two-week trial in federal court in the Southern District of Florida a well-known and highly respected South Florida attorney faces decades in prison after being convicted of multiple counts of federal crimes.

James M. Schneider, who is 77 years old, is now awaiting sentencing for the crimes he was convicted of earlier this month which could easily amount to a lifetime in prison due to his age. A U.S. District Judge is set to sentence Schneider on Feb. 14, 2019.

In October, 2017, Schneider was charged with multiple counts of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud. At sentencing, he now faces a maximum statutory sentence of twenty-five years for each count of the securities fraud and conspiracy counts, and ten years each for money laundering and the conspiracy to commit money laundering counts, as well as a fine up to $250,000 or double the proceeds of the scheme as to each.

Former Corrections Officer Jerry St. Fleur, 26, was sentenced to over four years in a federal prison after agreeing to a plea deal for charges of identity theft and wire fraud. Over sixty thousand dollars that was proceeds from his scheme will also be forfeited. He faced up to twenty years in federal prison before submitting to the guilty plea.

But in 2014, St. Fleur was not alone when it came to officers from Florida’s Department of Corrections being arrested, accepting guilty pleas and being sentenced for their crimes.

St. Fleur was the third employee of Florida Correctional Institutions to be sent to federal prison for their transgressions. Just one month earlier, former juvenile probation officer Corey A. Coley was sentenced to more than seven years for identity theft and filing false tax returns and just two months prior to that resolution, former federal corrections Officer Michael J. Garland was sentenced to two years after he pleaded guilty for charges of bribery and smuggling contraband into a federal prison.

In this latest case St. Fleur’s guilty plea was established based on charges that he stole the identities of existing and former inmates who either served or were serving time at the Zephyrhills Correctional Facility. He used the data to file more than one hundred eighty bogus tax returns requesting refunds in an amount that exceeded one half million dollars

St. Fleur was arrested this past May on five separate counts of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft by using his authority to acquire birth dates and Social Security numbers that he matched up to the names of inmates currently serving their sentences at the facility. He was also charged with using the FDOC database to acquire the same information for inmates who previously were incarcerated there. He would use the former and present inmate’s personal identifying information (PII) to file the phony returns

After filing the fraudulent tax returns he directed payment to be deposited to debit cards that was held by accomplices who took part in his scheme.

The charges against St. Fleur of identity theft and wire fraud are both federal crimes which were investigated by the FBI and IRS. Locally, the investigation was assisted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office leading to St. Fleur’s arrest and subsequent guilty plea and sentence. It was prosecuted by Matthew Jackson, Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.

The Coley case resulted with him receiving a sentence of more than seven years in federal prison for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as conspiracy. He was also ordered to return $671,023. That amount was the minimum monetary quantity calculated to be what he and his three accomplices obtained through the scheme. His co-conspirators also received significant punishments.

Albert E. Moore, Jr. was sentenced to more than six years, Tigi Moore received a four year sentence and Mattie Philon received the shortest sentence of two years in federal prison.

The case against Garland concluded with a two year prison sentence and the forfeiture of $4,200 which was the amount traced as being the financial proceeds of his crimes.

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A New York City woman pleaded guilty last week to fraud in a fundraising scheme, claiming to be the aunt of one of the children killed in the Newtown, Conn. Massacre last December. At the time of her arrest she was also charged with lying to FBI agents and potentially faces federal charges that include interstate transportation of stolen property, access device fraud and wire fraud.

Nouel Alba, 37, of the Bronx was arrested by FBI agents after she tried to solicit people into making donations by writing in a Facebook post that she was the aunt of Noah Pozner, one of the Newtown students that were killed in the now well-publicized attack. She used Facebook as her means to beseech anyone to donate money only a few hours after the horrific incident occurred. She reportedly was asking for donations to assist in paying for the child’s funeral. Twenty young children and six adults were gunned down on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

According to U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis’s office Alba instructed unaware victims to send money to a Pay Pal account that she controlled. The messages were posted under the screen name of Victorian Glam Fairys, a Facebook page that has since been taken down by the Social Media Network.

The day after the shootings, she began imploring for donations. She posted that these donations were “to be used for my brother and other families.”

Another post stated “Reality set in when they asked for photos and if our loved ones had any marks on their body. A part of me regrets having to be the one to identify my nephew’s body; I couldn’t help but to hold my nephew in my arms and then give my brother and sister-in-law the bad news.”

She went as far as emailing the Sandy Hook PTA on Dec. 16, and received replies from two of the officers from that organization which she deceptively used to falsify a link to the school with potential contributors.

Alba also used text messaging to communicate with other prospective donors. She said that President Obama “hugged us and even cried with us.” in one of them. In yet another, she typed: “I’m a mess. Not looking forward to seeking that casket; 11 gun shot in his little body; I can’t bare the pain, the fear he went through. We always promised to protect him and the one time we needed to be there we weren’t there to protect him.”

She was interviewed by CNN after the charges were filed and claimed that she was set up. After the televised interview when she was contacted by FBI Special Agents Jillian Guerrera and Milan Kosanovic she maintained that she never made any posts whatsoever on the Facebook page and had no idea that any funds were being transferred into her Pay Pal account.
According to Court records, all the donations which totaled in excess of $5000.00 have been returned.

Last Thursday she admitted in federal court that she was indeed guilty of the charges brought against her. She pleaded guilty to wire fraud as well as making false statements to FBI agents. A conviction of wire fraud can carry a maximum sentence of twenty years while the false statement sentence could yield a term of up to five years. Nonetheless, an initial calculation of her suggested sentencing guidelines asks for her to obtain a term of incarceration not to exceed six months, according to A.U.S.A. Jonathan Francis.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel asked her in federal court: “Is it true that in December 2012 you used Facebook, email and other kinds of electronic communication to falsely claim to be related to a victim; and you elicited donations from people?”

“Yeah,” she replied with apparent indifference.

She’ll be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Shea on August 29 in Hartford Conn.

To read the latest official FBI press release dealing with this case, click here.
You can also read a previous article from my Florida blog posted last December by clicking here.

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