2012 New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Annual Report

 

Embed or link this publication

Description

2012 New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Annual Report

Popular Pages


p. 1

2012 Annual Report John J. Hoffman Acting Attorney General of New Jersey

[close]

p. 2

This page was intentionally left blank

[close]

p. 3

OAG Annual Report Overview Dear Governor Christie, members of the State Legislature and citizens of New Jersey: It is my privilege to serve you, and to lead the Department of Law and Public Safety’s multifaceted efforts to protect New Jersey residents. At the Department of Law and Public Safety, our mission is broad-based. It includes everything from safeguarding consumers and ensuring the integrity of New Jersey’s casino gaming industry, to combating insurance fraud and – most critically – protecting our citizens from such threats as terrorism, gang activity, drug dealing, human trafficking, child pornography, gun violence and other crime. But the mission does not end there. The department also is responsible for protecting motorists and pedestrians, preserving civil rights, regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages, and helping young people who’ve become involved with the juvenile justice system to become productive, law-abiding citizens. Our mission further includes patrolling New Jersey’s roadways and waterways, ensuring the integrity of the horse racing industry, overseeing contractors and licensed professionals, and – as was underscored last October, when Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the state – leading New Jersey’s emergency response efforts. We live in a state that is home to 8 million people, and which welcomes millions more each day to travel, work, study, and vacation here. It is not a stretch to say that, in one way or another, our department’s work has the potential to touch all of these lives. That is a significant responsibility, and one we approach with the utmost dedication and professionalism. As a Department, our daily focus is on getting the job done through action, innovation, collaboration and, above all, a commitment to making a difference. Two significant efforts in 2012 illustrate this commitment – the Department’s response to Superstorm Sandy, and our work in combating gun violence through such efforts as the Passaic Corridor Initiative and the launch of our statewide gun buyback campaign. It is true that Superstorm Sandy was a historic and devastating hurricane. It is true that the property lost and the natural resources destroyed by the storm will take many years to restore. But it is also true that, as difficult as it is to imagine, Sandy could have been much, much worse. The fact that it wasn’t is largely due to the leadership of Governor Christie, as well the resolve and bravery of the people of New Jersey. However, it’s also a credit to the hard work of many employees of the Department of Law and Public Safety – particularly the New Jersey State Police, who led our response efforts through the Office of Emergency Management. As the storm made landfall on October 29, many planning strategies – strategies born from the hard lessons of Hurricane Irene the year before – were already kicking in. These strategies turned out to be vital in mitigating the potential damage from Sandy. It is something of a cliché, but it happens to be true that “extraordinary people rise to the challenge of extraordinary events.” We certainly saw that in our Department during and after Sandy. Whether operating behind the scenes handling logistics, or in the field rescuing shivering, I

[close]

p. 4

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety exhausted victims from rushing floodwaters, our emergency response personnel did an incredible job of reacting to this statewide catastrophe. Unfortunately, the storm that brought out the best in our people also brought out the worst in others outside of state government and law enforcement. As a result, the Department was called on to deal with many acts of greed and opportunism carried out by people seemingly bent on exploiting the tragedy of Sandy for profit. Throughout the storm and its aftermath, our Division of Consumer Affairs helped New Jersey residents avoid being the victims of price-gouging, storm-related home repair scams and other attempts to take advantage of them by providing easily accessible “consumer tips” and by aggressively investigating consumer complaints. As of the end of December, we had filed lawsuits against 24 New Jersey businesses – including 11 gas stations and 13 hotels – for price gouging. Another linchpin effort in 2012 was our multi-pronged strategy to combat gun violence through such programs as the Passaic Corridor Initiative and a campaign of gun buybacks that we launched in December. On December 5, our office announced that numerous arrests and gun seizures had been made as a result of the Passaic River Corridor Initiative. The Corridor Initiative is a new partnership in which our State Police work collaboratively with local and county law enforcement agencies in Essex, Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties, as well as federal authorities, to prevent violence, solve crimes and seize guns by sharing intelligence about crime patterns and criminals operating along a broad corridor extending from Newark to Paterson. In an eightmonth span in 2012, the Corridor Initiative resulted in 405 arrests and the seizure of upwards of 100 firearms. This specifically-targeted effort dovetailed well with the ongoing efforts of our State Police Intelligence Section, which seized a total of 335 guns for the year by targeting weapons traffickers, particularly those operating in urban environments. At the same time we were pursuing a proactive, enforcement-driven effort to reduce gun violence, we also began a campaign of gun buybacks aimed at getting firearms off the street before they could be used to maim or kill an innocent person. Our first gun buyback event was held in Camden County on December 14 and 15. It took more than 1,100 deadly firearms out of circulation in Camden city and the surrounding municipalities. Many of these guns were illegal to own because of unlawfully high magazine capacities, or because they’d been sawed off or otherwise modified. This gun buyback came in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. mass shooting tragedy – although it was planned previously – and would set the stage for a highly successful effort to save lives across New Jersey by getting guns out of circulation. We in the Department of Law and Public Safety are dedicated to serving the public, and are proud of the work we do each day. In the pages that follow, you will read about more of the Department’s keynote accomplishments for 2012. I urge you to also visit the Web sites of our individual Divisions and Commissions to learn more about our mission, and our work on behalf of New Jersey citizens. John J. Hoffman Acting Attorney General II

[close]

p. 5

Table of Contents Division of Criminal Justice................................................................... 2 Division of State Police........................................................................ 12 Division of Law..................................................................................... 22 Division of Consumer Affairs .............................................................. 26 Division on Civil Rights ........................................................................ 32 Division of Highway Traffic Safety ....................................................... 36 Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control............................................... 40 Division of Gaming Enforcement ....................................................... 44 Racing Commission............................................................................. 50 Juvenile Justice Commission .............................................................. 54 State Athletic Control Board................................................................ 60 1

[close]

p. 6

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Elie Honig Director Division of Criminal Justice New Jersey’s unified, integrated system of law enforcement is unique in the nation. The Criminal Justice Act of 1970 designated the Attorney General as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the State. The Division of Criminal Justice has the original jurisdiction of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute criminal offenses of statewide significance. In addition to its direct law enforcement operations, it provides oversight and coordination within New Jersey’s vast law enforcement community. The mission of the Division of Criminal Justice is to protect the residents of New Jersey by helping to coordinate and enhance the operations and policies of law enforcement at all levels – state, county and municipal. More information about the Division is available at www.nj.gov/oag/dcj. 2

[close]

p. 7

Division of Criminal Justice Overview Bold new strategies targeting gun violence, human trafficking and other crimes against the vulnerable, including child pornography, were a hallmark of the Division of Criminal Justice in 2012. The Division worked with newly-formed State Police Weapons Trafficking Units to seize 335 guns and charge numerous defendants with possessing and trafficking illegal firearms. The Division also charged numerous defendants with distributing child pornography. The Attorney General’s Office issued a new, statewide law enforcement directive to increase investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking, and to rescue the victims of such crimes. Meanwhile, the Division continued to pursue with vigor such longstanding priorities as prosecuting public corruption and combating gangs and organized crime. The Division charged more than 900 new defendants in 2012, obtaining indictments and convictions in several major public corruption cases. It prosecuted members of street gangs and drug networks, and secured lengthy prison sentences for individuals who committed acts of violence. The Division prosecuted defendants, including doctors and pharmacists, involved in the black market distribution of narcotic painkillers. In addition, the Division prosecuted whitecollar crime cases in which investors, lenders and clients lost huge sums as a result of fraudulent schemes. The Division prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including the trial of Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, who was sentenced to life in prison for killing his infant daughter by tossing her from a bridge into the Raritan River in February 2010. involved in the illegal sale and possession of guns. For the year, the Division’s Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau filed indictments against 57 defendants for illegal gun trafficking and possession. The Division will be indicting additional defendants arrested in 2012 by the State Police Intelligence Section, which formed new Weapons Trafficking Units, doubling the number of detectives assigned to these cases and seizing 335 firearms – more than three times the number of guns seized in each of the previous two years. Human Trafficking: New Anti-Crime Initiatives Gun Violence: In May, the Attorney General’s Office announced a new anti-gun-violence initiative involving the collaborative efforts of both the Division of Criminal Justice and State Police. The initiative is designed to aggressively target gun violence through strategic investigations focused on seizing guns in violent areas, disrupting weapons trafficking into those areas, and prosecuting criminals In July, the Attorney General’s Office issued a new statewide law enforcement directive to increase investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking crimes in New Jersey, identify and rescue human trafficking victims, provide comprehensive services to victims, and train police to recognize telltale indicators of human trafficking when investigating other offenses. Also announced was the formation of a Human Trafficking Unit within the Division of Criminal Justice, with additional staff assigned to those crimes. The unit will increase the capability of the Division to perform proactive, long-term sex and labor trafficking investigations with local, county, state and federal partners. It will also lead efforts to train law enforcement, monitor such cases, and provide services to human trafficking victims. In October, detectives of the Division’s Human Trafficking Unit and members of the FBI Human Trafficking Task Force in Atlantic City arrested a Ventnor man, Marc A. Branch, on a first-degree charge of human trafficking for allegedly operating a male prostitution ring from his apartment, in which young men, including one or more minors, allegedly were induced to use heroin and cocaine, and were prostituted to male clients. In December, a client of Branch who allegedly engaged in sexual acts with a minor was arrested. A number of other human trafficking investigations were opened in 2012. Child Pornography: Stepped-up child pornography enforcement was a priority in 2012, and the Division’s Computer Analysis & Technology Unit worked closely with the State Police Digital Technology Investigation Unit, as well as the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, to increase related investigations 3

[close]

p. 8

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety and prosecutions. In April, the Division charged 26 individuals with distribution and possession of child pornography as a result of the multi-agency “Operation Watchdog” investigation led by New Jersey State Police. The defendants arrested included an Audubon man who lived in a residence above a daycare center, a Folsom man who allegedly took photos while sexually assaulting a juvenile, and the former public works administrator for the municipality of Morristown. The Division of Criminal Justice is moving forward to indict those defendants. The Division’s Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau secured a six-year prison sentence in July for John A. Dziegiel of Holmdel, who was convicted at trial of distributing child pornography online. In December, Gavin Swiatek, a former biochemistry instructor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, pleaded guilty to using a computer in his university office to share videos of child pornography on the Internet. He faces a five-year prison sentence. In September, the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau took a guilty plea from a Camden County woman, Rachael L. Baker, who admitted having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old boy and photographing the boy and an 8-year-old girl engaged in a sex act. She faces 10 years in prison, including 8 ½ years without parole. She admitted she told the girl to perform oral sex on the boy, and took a cell phone photo at the request of codefendant Gary T. Cramer, who faces pending first- and second-degree charges. Prosecuting Public Corruption Assemblyman Schroeder Indicted: The Division’s Corruption Bureau filed 40 new cases against 48 defendants in 2012. A state grand jury indicted New Jersey Assemblyman Robert G. Schroeder and four of his companies in December on charges he stole $1.8 million from individual lenders and wrote $3.4 million in bad checks. Prosecution of North Bergen Public Works Officials: The Bureau also indicted Timothy J. Grossi, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) in North Bergen, for allegedly ordering employees to work on political campaigns and do personal chores at his home, and the homes of others, while being paid by the township. Previously, DPW Superintendent James Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct, admitting he directed DPW employees to perform hundreds of hours of chores at his home and to work on campaigns. Wiley faces five to 10 years in prison. DPW supervisors Troy Bunero and Francis Longo were also indicted. Atlantic City Anti-Crime Efforts: Insurance Broker Sentenced for Theft from Perth Amboy City, BOE: 4 The Division’s Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau is playing a critical role in the Atlantic City Violent Crime Task Force, in partnership with the New Jersey State Police Street Gangs Unit, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Atlantic City Police Department, the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Parole Board. The mission of the Task Force, which was established under the State’s Clean & Safe initiative for Atlantic City, is to target organized criminal groups operating throughout the city and beyond, emphasizing long-term investigations aimed at dismantling criminal organizations. Since its launch in late 2011, the Task Force has participated in the arrest of hundreds of suspects in and around Atlantic City on charges ranging from narcotics and weapons offenses to homicide. Francis X. Gartland, a Maryland insurance broker, was sentenced in December to 15 years in prison, including 7 ½ years without parole, as a result of a Bureau prosecution for stealing nearly $2.6 million from the Perth Amboy Board of Education by submitting fraudulent bills, and stealing $216,495 from the City of Perth Amboy by collecting payments for a non-existent “wellness program” for employees. Former Engineering Firm Executive Indicted on Pay-to-Play-Related Charges: Thomas Rospos, the former executive vice president for Birdsall Services Group, a large Monmouth County-based engineering firm, was indicted in December in a scheme in which the firm fraudulently avoided New

[close]

p. 9

Division of Criminal Justice Jersey’s Pay-to-Play Act by disguising illegal corporate political contributions as personal contributions of employees. Previously, Birdsall’s former marketing director, Philip Angarone, pleaded guilty in the scheme. He faces up to 364 days in jail. In June, the former Superintendent for Special Services at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC), Kevin Keogh, pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to have subordinate employees complete repairs or improvements at his private residence while on duty. He faces five years in prison. Previously, Chester Mazza, the former Assistant Superintendent for Special Services, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree theft. Two other PVSC officials have been indicted. In July, former Director of the New Jersey Division of Taxation Robert K. Thompson, and former Assistant Deputy Director David M. Gavin, were found guilty of official misconduct in a bench trial for accepting lavish gifts from a state contractor while continuing to take official action on the company’s contracts. The Division sought jail and prison sentences, but the judge imposed probation. mother, Virginia Lisay, were charged by complaint with stealing $565,772 from the two school districts by authorizing payments to fictitious bus companies for transportation services that were never provided. Contractor, Hoboken Official Who Looked Other Way, Get Prison Terms for $1 Million Parking Meter Coin Theft: In April, Brian A. Petaccio, a Toms River contractor whose company, United Textile Fabricators, collected coins from parking meters for the City of Hoboken, was sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing more than $1 million in parking revenues. John P. Corea, the former director of the Hoboken Parking Utility, was sentenced in April to seven years in prison for official misconduct, admitting he knew Petaccio had stolen revenues, but did not stop him or alert the city. State Troopers Prosecuted for Involvement in Unlawful High-Speed Escort: Fighting Gangs & Organized Crime In July, the Bureau filed complaints charging Sgt. 1st Class Nadir Nassry of the State Police with third-degree tampering with public records and fourth-degree falsifying records. Also charged was Trooper Joseph Ventrella, who was accused of fourth-degree falsifying records. The two Troopers were charged in connection with their alleged participation in an unauthorized escort of a high-speed sports car caravan to Atlantic City in March 2012. Nassry ultimately pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree falsifying or tampering offense and forfeited his job. Ventrella waived indictment, was charged by accusation with a fourth-degree falsifying or tampering offense, and was permitted to enter a Pre-Trial Intervention program. He also forfeited his job. The Division’s Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau filed charges in more than 120 new cases involving more than 285 defendants in 2012. The Bureau filed charges against violent gang members and drug dealers in three major investigations in Camden, Perth Amboy and Paterson. Camden Heroin-Dealing Ring Smashed Transportation Supervisor, Mother Charged with Theft of $565,772: In October, the former Transportation Supervisor for the Hazlet and Piscataway School Districts, Michelle Pumilia, and her In May, charges were announced against 28 alleged members of a drug network with ties to the Ñetas street gang that was dealing heroin in Camden. Another 13 alleged drug dealers from outside the network were also charged in Operation Billboard, an investigation led by the Division, with assistance from the Camden Police Department, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, State Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The alleged leader of the ring, Noel Gonzalez, was charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, a first-degree crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Gonzalez and 27 others were also charged with first-degree racketeering. 5

[close]

p. 10

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Leader, Members and Associates of Violent Drug Ring in Perth Amboy Indicted: In August, the Division indicted the alleged leader and 29 members and associates of a violent Perth-Amboy-based drug ring linked to the Ñetas street gang. The ring trafficked heroin and crack cocaine in Middlesex County and in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. The indictment stemmed from Operation New Era Taking Action, a joint investigation by the Division, Perth Amboy Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The alleged ring leader, Danni Rivera, was charged with leading a narcotics trafficking network, and he and 29 other defendants were charged with first-degree racketeering. “Operation Dismayed” Busts Heroin Mills in Paterson: In November, charges were announced against the alleged ringleader and 16 codefendants in the takedown of a major drug network in Paterson that was distributing millions of dollars in heroin out of a series of processing mills and stash houses. The arrests stemmed from Operation Dismayed, a six-month investigation by the Division, Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. DEA, and State Police. Detectives seized three kilos of bulk heroin, another kilo of heroin packaged in glassine envelopes for individual sale, and about $255,000 in cash. The bulk heroin could have sold for more than $1 million once cut and packaged for street sale. The network is believed to have supplied multiple kilos of heroin per week to suppliers and large-scale dealers in northern New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The alleged ringleader, Segundo Garcia, was charged with the crime of leader of a narcotics trafficking network. sentenced to 20 years in prison – including 10 years without parole – for selling an AK-47 assault rifle and two handguns to an informant. Reynel “Mito” Delvalle pleaded guilty to first-degree racketeering in December, admitting he distributed large quantities of heroin in Camden and sold an M-1 assault rifle to an undercover officer. He faces 14 years in prison, including 12 years of parole ineligibility. Delvalle was one of 28 defendants indicted in Operation Jumpstart, an investigation by the Division, State Police, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. DEA and other members of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Joint Camden Task Force. In August, a Camden man, Damir Lea, was sentenced to 11 years in prison – including nine years without parole – for his role in a narcotics ring in South Camden with ties to the Bloods that was dealing cocaine, heroin and PCP. He admitted he distributed drugs and beat up a man in jail because he believed the man was a witness for the state. Lea and 13 other defendants, including the alleged leader of the ring, Kyle Ogletree, were indicted in Operation City Wide. Operation Pandora Targets Oxycontin Ring: In June, Mohamed Hassanain, pleaded guilty to leading a Newark-based drug ring that sold 40,000 OxyContin and Percocet pills per week, mostly to a distribution ring in the Bronx, N.Y. He faces a 15-year prison sentence. Hassanain and 18 other ring members were indicted in Operation Pandora, an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division. Physician Charged with Writing Illegal Prescriptions: Gang Members and Other Violent Criminals Get Lengthy Prison Terms: The Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau also obtained convictions in ongoing prosecutions that put gang members and violent criminals in prison for lengthy sentences. In May, a New Brunswick man, Antonio Powell, was 6 In February Vincent Esposito, a doctor and ex-councilman in Madison, Morris County, was arrested by the Division in an investigation by the U.S. DEA. He was charged with second-degree conspiracy and distribution of a CDS for allegedly writing prescriptions for the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone for individuals he never treated or examined. Esposito and a pharmacist who allegedly conspired with him have since been indicted. In December,

[close]

p. 11

Division of Criminal Justice William C. Kropinicki, a doctor who had an office in Lawrence, was sentenced to seven years in prison for selling prescriptions for Percocet to a drug dealer in the names of purported patients he never treated or examined. The charges resulted from an investigation by the Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau and the Bordentown City Police Department. Zara, and throwing her from a bridge into the Raritan River in February 2010. He was sentenced in November to life in prison, plus 30 years. He must serve 89 years in prison without possibility of parole. Sixty-Two Year Sentence Imposed for Taking Hostages, Wounding Law Enforcement Officer: Prison Smuggling Ring Busted: In August, former state correction officer Luis S. Roman was sentenced to five years in prison for smuggling pre-paid cell phones, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana into Northern State Prison for a network of inmates who solicited customers and distributed the contraband. A former inmate who was an organizer for the network, Willie Wade, was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison. In July, former state correction officers Ardones Livingston and Latasha Walker were each sentenced to five years in prison for smuggling a cell phone to an inmate at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel. In addition, in June, a Monmouth County man, Dwayne Spears, pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme in which a corrections officer, a Bloods gang leader, and members of the Lucchese crime family allegedly smuggled drugs and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison. Spears faces five years in prison. He was charged in Operation Heat, an investigation that led to the indictment of those engaged in the smuggling scheme as well as numerous members of the New Yorkbased Lucchese crime family. In October, a Salem City man, Lavar Rodgers, was sentenced to 62 years in prison – including nearly 52 years without parole – on multiple charges of attempted murder and kidnapping for an incident in which he held his girlfriend and her three children hostage and fired on law enforcement officers, wounding a county investigator and a police dog. He was convicted at trial in August. Atlantic City Man Sentenced to 25 Years for His Part in Fatal Armed Robbery: Darrick Hudson pleaded guilty in October to aggravated manslaughter for his part in a robbery in 2007 at a gas station on the White Horse Pike in Atlantic City, in which the owner was fatally shot and an attendant was wounded. Hudson was sentenced to 25 years in prison, including 21 years of parole ineligibility. Former MVC Clerks Sentenced for Role in Selling Driver’s Licenses: Specialized Crimes The Specialized Crimes Bureau filed 299 new cases charging 359 defendants in 2012. The Bureau prosecuted several high-profile cases of violent crime. It also prosecuted crimes in the Atlantic City casinos, environmental crimes, unemployment fraud, and individuals who conspired to sell driver’s licenses to unauthorized persons. Working with the Motor Vehicle Commission, the Specialized Crimes Bureau convicted corrupt Motor Vehicle Agency clerks and brokers who were selling driver’s licenses to individuals without the required six points of identification. In 2012, four MVC clerks were sentenced – each to four years in prison – for participating in illegal license brokering rings out of the Lodi, North Bergen, East Orange and Jersey City Motor Vehicle Agencies. A broker in the Lodi ring was also sentenced to four years in prison. Life Sentence for Man Who Killed Infant Daughter: Indictment Charges Unemployment Benefits Scam: In March, the Division announced the indictment of 31 individuals in alleged schemes led by five members of a Newark family to defraud the State of more than $2 million by filing false claims for The Bureau prosecuted Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, who was convicted at trial in September of murder and kidnapping for abducting his 3-month-old daughter, 7

[close]

p. 12

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety unemployment benefits. The charges resulted from “Operation Labor Day,” a joint investigation by the Specialized Crimes Bureau and the Department of Labor. from home sellers by diverting proceeds from home sales, and defrauding mortgage companies by falsifying the earnings of loan applicants. They used their firm to steal over $600,000 from sellers in connection with 11 home sales, and defrauded mortgage companies of $641,800. Smith and Betha pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception and third-degree failure to file tax returns. They were each sentenced to five years in prison. Contracting Firm, Principals Indicted in Illegal Asbestos Removal Case: In a high-profile environmental case, Frank J. Rizzo, Michael Kouvaras, and the company they ran, South Street Fillit Recycling, were indicted by the Bureau in June on charges that they unlawfully removed asbestos from the former Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital in Riverside, Burlington County, without a license, using workers who were not trained or equipped to do the job safely. The charges stem from a joint investigation by the Bureau’s Environmental Crimes Unit and the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division. Sentencings, Indictment in Two Tax Fraud Cases: Financial & Computer Crimes In addition to cases involving child pornography and Internet predators, the Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau filed major cases in 2012 targeting financial fraud. Woman, Lawyer Get Long Prison Terms for Home Purchase Fraud Conspiracy: Genilza R. Nunes was charged with leading a scheme to defraud a lender of $431,200 by filing a false loan application to buy a home in Newark in the name of a dead man. She pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced in October to 10 years in prison. Paul DiGiacomo, an attorney who conspired with her, was sentenced in September to seven years in prison. Four defendants were charged with fraudulently obtaining 585 state tax refund checks totaling $435,577. Johnson Coker pleaded guilty to conspiracy and receipt of stolen property, and was sentenced to five years in prison. He admitted he conspired to file false state income tax returns using stolen and fictitious identities to collect refunds. Co-defendant Adebowale Sheba pleaded guilty to two counts of theft by deception, admitting that he used an alias and false employment and earnings information to obtain mortgage loans of $278,950 and $235,000 to buy two homes in Newark. Sheba was sentenced to five years in prison. Ugochukwu H. Madubuike and Taiwo D. Daisi pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme and were sentenced in September to four and five years in prison, respectively. In a separate case, Wayne Dunich Kolb, who operated a tax preparation service, was indicted for stealing nearly $190,000 in checks that small business clients wrote to pay sales taxes or payroll withholding taxes to the State of New Jersey, State of New York and U.S. Government. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison. Prosecution of $2 Million Mortgage Fraud Scam Involving Attorney, Five Co-Defendants: Guilty Pleas in Home Depot Organized Retail Theft Ring: Lawer Mark Bellotti and five co-defendants were charged with fraudulently obtaining mortgage loans totaling more than $2.6 million. Bellotti pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft by deception, and was sentenced in September to five years in prison. Joann Smith and Wayne Betha, who ran a real estate firm, pleaded guilty in July to stealing 8 The Bureau also prosecuted a significant case of organized retail theft. Julio Arriola Suarez pleaded guilty to leading a ring that committed thefts at multiple Home Depot stores per day, stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise by “under-ringing” it through self-checkout areas. Suarez was sentenced in December to four years in state prison. Three other ring members pleaded guilty and were sentenced to jail.

[close]

p. 13

Division of Criminal Justice Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Insurance Brokerage Employee Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Millions: The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) opened 463 new cases in 2012. The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s False Claims Act (FCA) group recovered approximately $46.7 million in restitution, penalties and interest through settlements in FCA cases. The False Claims Act group handles state FCA cases and participates in national cases through the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU). These civil cases arise when a plaintiff-claimant alleges that an individual or corporate defendant knowingly presented false claims to a State Medicaid program. Through its collaboration with NAMFCU, OIFP’s FCA group quadrupled the amount of recoveries as compared to 2011. In fact, since 1992, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has reached settlements totaling almost $146 million for the New Jersey Medicaid Program in False Claims Act cases. The $46.7 million recovered in 2012 represents the largest amount of funds recouped in a single year in the past 20 years. OIFP case highlights for 2012 include: Kelly Roetto was sentenced in December to seven years in prison for stealing several million dollars entrusted to the insurance brokerage for which she worked. The brokerage would arrange for its clients, small and medium-sized businesses, to finance the cost of their insurance policies. The brokerage used premium finance companies to provide the financing. As comptroller for the brokerage, Roetto was responsible for arranging this financing and forwarding the borrowed funds from the brokerage’s bank accounts to the insurance carriers or their agents. In pleading guilty, Roetto admitted she used her position to steal between $3.8 million and $5 million of financed proceeds. Owner of Defunct Counseling Center Gets Prison for Medicaid Fraud: Chiropractic Partners Receive Seven-Year Prison Terms: Christopher Montana and Fernando Barrese, two chiropractors, were sentenced in December to seven-year prison terms. They were partners in a number of chiropractic clinics across North Jersey. They pleaded guilty to accepting cash kickbacks for referring approximately 100 of their patients for other services, and for failing to report a combined total of more than $1 million dollars in income on their tax returns. The defendants were ordered to pay a total of $200,000 in restitution to 15 insurance carriers. Barrese was ordered to pay $240,451 in back taxes, penalties and interest to the Division of Taxation. Montana was ordered to pay $71,032 in back taxes, penalties and interest. Rostislav Vilshteyn, the owner of a now-defunct Newark mental health and substance abuse counseling center, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted at trial in February of defrauding the Medicaid program. The jury determined that he submitted Medicaid claims for counseling services for numerous Medicaid beneficiaries, even though the services either had not been provided or had not been provided to the extent claimed. He was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution. “Runner” Who Solicited Car Accident Victims Gets Three-Year Sentence: A man who illegally acted as a “runner” by soliciting patients for a chiropractor and an attorney was sentenced to three years prison in May. In pleading guilty, Jimmy Tovar admitted he was paid more than $50,000 in 2010 for soliciting people who had been in car accidents for treatment at a chiropractic clinic, and for referring them to an attorney. 9

[close]

p. 14

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Other Initiatives Domestic Violence Training for Police: In November, the Division launched a new on-line training program to help ensure that New Jersey police officers are thoroughly trained to respond to domestic violence incidents, investigate domestic violence offenses, and assist victims by protecting them and referring them for services. The program, which is available free of cost to all New Jersey police departments, will enable officers to meet the annual training requirement of the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The training program – created by attorneys in the Division of Criminal Justice Prosecutors Supervision Bureau, in consultation with police and the Training Bureau of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness – covers the legal requirements of the Act related to handling domestic violence. It also covers a wide range of practical information that officers need to recognize the tell-tale signs of domestic violence, and to handle the challenges they routinely face in responding to domestic violence calls, as well as those involving abuse of the elderly and disabled. By allowing officers to obtain training inhouse with complete flexibility regarding scheduling, the program will save police departments time and money. providing ineffective assistance of counsel – is a new rule of Constitutional law that is not entitled to retroactive application on collateral review. The effect of this decision was to eliminate challenges to guilty pleas in over 200 cases pending across the state in the aftermath of Padilla. State v. J.A.C.: In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that sexually explicit instant messages sent by a minor-victim to adults some two years after the sexual assaults at issue constituted “sexual conduct” under the Rape Shield Law. The Court held that the prejudicial nature of the specific content of those communications outweighed their probative value and their admission would have invaded the victim’s privacy. The Court also noted the “chilling effect” that admission of the electronic messages would have on children considering coming forward and reporting abuse. State v. Ates: The Appellate Division held that the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act permits the interception of telephone calls between individuals outside of New Jersey, so long as the listening post was in New Jersey. The court found that the interception of out-ofstate calls was lawfully permitted by the Wiretap Act and federal wiretap law because the law enforcement officials and the listening post were physically in New Jersey at the time of the intercept. Appellate Bureau Victories: The Division’s Appellate Bureau had significant victories that continued to shape state law in key areas related to law enforcement. Among the successful cases: State v. Harris: In this case, the Supreme Court held that weapons seized pursuant to a domestic violence search warrant issued under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act can provide the basis for a separate criminal prosecution relating to the possession of those weapons. State v. Gaitan: The Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky – that defense attorneys must advise their clients of the immigration consequences of guilty pleas, or risk 10

[close]

p. 15

Division of Criminal Justice 11

[close]

Comments

no comments yet