NJ Office of The Attorney General 2014 Annual Report


Embed or link this publication


New Jereseu Office of The Attorney General 2006 Annual Report

Popular Pages

p. 1

2014 Annual Report John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey


p. 2

This page was intentionally left blank


p. 3

OAG Annual Report Overview Dear Governor Christie, members of the State Legislature and citizens of New Jersey: Greetings. At the Office of the Attorney General, we have a unique role as both New Jersey’s lead law enforcement agency and its chief provider of legal representation to state government. That is, we are a large, multi-faceted crime-fighting agency and a major law firm rolled into one. Our essential mission includes making neighborhoods safer by combating drug dealing, gun violence, gang activity and other criminal threats. It includes prosecuting public corruption and financial crime. It includes preserving civil rights and protecting consumers and investors. But the mission does not end there. We license and regulate the alcoholic beverage industry. We ensure the integrity of New Jersey’s legalized casino gaming and horse racing industries. And we work to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians on our streets and roads. We are responsible for the custody, care and post-custodial supervision of juvenile offenders. We handle, literally, tens of thousands of litigation matters each year that protect children, safeguard the State’s financial assets, preserve our natural resources, ensure the integrity of elections and defend the actions of state government. We assist crime victims, provide emergency management services, work to protect our state from the threat of terror, and handle many other responsibilities as well. One of the nation’s most diverse and populous states, New Jersey is also a hub of national and international commerce, air travel and shipping. It is a center for manufacturing, education, health care, sports and entertainment. And it is a global vacation destination. Against this backdrop, it is not hyperbole to suggest the work of our office is indispensable, and touches the lives of millions of people daily. At the Office of the Attorney General –which oversees the Department of Law and Public Safety -- we have an incredibly dedicated work force made up of civilian personnel and sworn law enforcement members that is guided by the highest standards of integrity, performance and public service. Each day we work hard to improve the quality of life throughout our state, and each day we achieve results that make a difference. For a fuller view of our office and its work, I invite you to explore the pages that follow, and to visit the individual websites of our various Divisions and Commissions. At the Office of the Attorney General, we are proud of our accomplishments. However, we also recognize that the office’s mission is a continuum. The work is never really done, and there is always much more to learn. With that in mind, we are working each day to address traditional public safety issues, identify and effectively address emerging crime trends and, above all, keep our state safe. It is our privilege to serve the citizens of New Jersey. John J. Hoffman Acting Attorney General I


p. 4

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety II


p. 5

Table of Contents Division of Criminal Justice................................................................... 2 Division of State Police........................................................................ 14 Division of Law..................................................................................... 22 Division of Consumer Affairs .............................................................. 28 Division on Civil Rights ........................................................................ 34 Division of Highway Traffic Safety ....................................................... 40 Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control............................................... 44 Division of Gaming Enforcement ....................................................... 48 Juvenile Justice Commission .............................................................. 56 Racing Commission............................................................................. 62 State Athletic Control Board................................................................ 68 1


p. 6

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety Division of Criminal Justice


p. 7

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. Under the Act, the powers of the Attorney General relating to the detection, interdiction and prosecution of criminal activities are exercised through the Division of Criminal Justice. In addition to its direct law enforcement operations, the Division provides oversight and coordination within New Jersey’s vast law enforcement community. The Division’s mission 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. For more information about the Division visit www.nj.gov/oag/dcj. the Division seized 26 kilograms of cocaine – worth more than $750,000 – plus two handguns and more than $500,000 cash. To date, four defendants have pleaded guilty. One defendant was sentenced to 16 years in state prison. Three others were expected to be sentenced to state prison terms ranging from five-to-10- years. Operation Family Affair: The Division indicted seven members of a violent, Trentonbased drug ring for attempted murder, racketeering and heroin distribution offenses. Two of the defendants, Mark Fletcher and Keith Journigan, were charged with attempted murder after Fletcher ordered Journigan to shoot a rival drug dealer on the streets in Trenton. Journigan did in fact shoot the intended victim, who survived. Just 10 days after the shooting occurred, the Division arrested Fletcher and Journigan on the attempted murder charges. The defendants also were charged with distributing heroin and cocaine. Operation Sex, Money, Murder: The Division indicted the leading members of the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods street gang in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Following a two-month trial, Carl Holdren, a leader of the gang, was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree racketeering, two counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Holdren received an aggregate sentence of life imprisonment plus 40 years in state prison, with 92½ years of parole ineligibility. Another gang leader, Valdo Thompson, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, firstdegree racketeering, two counts of firstdegree attempted murder and two counts of first- degree conspiracy to commit murder. Thompson received an aggregate sentence of 40 years in state prison. State v. Nikita Cardwell: Nikita Cardwell, a former Senior Corrections Officer, was convicted at trial for conspiring to smuggle contraband to an inmate. While working as an officer at Northern State prison, Cardwell took bribes in return for smuggling cellphones into the prison for inmates. Cardwell was convicted by a jury of second-degree official misconduct and bribery offenses, and was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including five years without parole. 3 Overview In 2014, the Division of Criminal Justice made New Jersey residents safer by obtaining more state grand jury indictments and more accusations – thereby charging more criminal defendants – than in any year since 2009. The Division also recovered millions of dollars in taxpayer money that had been stolen by thieves of all stripes, including dozens who absconded with funds intended for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. The list of offenders successfully investigated, prosecuted, convicted and, in many cases, sentenced as a result of Division efforts in 2014 was extensive, and included carjackers, gun runners, human traffickers, the perpetrators of insurance fraud, sexual predators and many more. Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau Highlights Narcotics and Weapons Cases Operation Next Day Air: The Division indicted 15 defendants who ran a narcotics trafficking ring that used the U.S. Mail and other parcel services to deliver dozens of kilograms of cocaine from California to New Jersey. The defendants included brothers Andrew and Kemar Davis, who were charged as leaders of the narcotics trafficking conspiracy. Andrew Davis directed the ring from Jamaica. In total,


p. 8

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety State v. Eugene Braswell: Eugene Braswell, a former Senior State Corrections Officer, was convicted by guilty plea of first-degree cocaine distribution for smuggling 22 kilograms of cocaine from Texas into New Jersey. Braswell was sentenced to 15 years in state prison, including five years without parole. Braswell forfeited his job as a corrections officer, received a lifetime ban from public employment and forfeited his state pension. Operation Wetlands: The Division indicted 13 defendants who operated a drug trafficking ring in Jersey City. Two of the organization’s leaders, David Gilliens and Dempsey Collins, pleaded guilty to first-degree charges of leading a narcotics trafficking network. Both were sentenced to 20 years in state prison. Another defendant, Kwadir Felton, was convicted by a jury on all counts, including aggravated assault, firearms possession and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Felton was sentenced to 16 years in state prison, including six years without parole. State v. Vincent Esposito, et al.: The Division indicted Esposito – a practicing doctor and former Madison borough councilman – and pharmacist Srinivasa Raju on charges of conspiring to prescribe thousands of oxycodone pills to individuals without a medical examination and without medical need. Esposito pleaded guilty to a second-degree narcotics distribution charge, which can be reduced to a third-degree charge upon sentencing. Raju similarly faces second-degree narcotics distribution charges. State v. Denise Nagrodski: The Division charged Nagrodski in November 2014 with attempting to hire a hit man to murder her daughter’s ex-boyfriend and two other victims. Nagrodski twice met with an undercover Trooper from the State Police Violent Organized Crime Control South Bureau, whom she believed was a hit man. She provided the Trooper with $1,000, photos of the intended victims and a handdrawn map of the victims’ residences. Nagrodski faces three counts of first-degree attempted murder, each of which carries a sentence of 10-to-20 years in state prison. State v. George Spyropolous: The Division arrested and indicted Spyropolous, the manager of the Tick Tock Diner, for attempting to hire a hit man to torture and murder his uncle, who owned the diner. After being introduced to an undercover police officer posing as the hit man, Spyropolous provided the purported hit man with a revolver, $3,000 cash, a map to the uncle’s house and photographs of the uncle. Spyropolous pleaded guilty to firstdegree conspiracy to commit murder, and in September 2014 was sentenced to eight years in state prison, including more than six years without parole. Operation Fistful: In a major organized crime takedown, the Division charged 11 defendants – including high-ranking made members and associates of the Genovese Organized Crime Family – with racketeering, conspiracy, loansharking, money laundering, illegal gambling and other charges. The defendants included Charles “Chuckie” Tuzzo, a Genovese “capo,” and Vito Alberti, a Genovese soldier. The Division charged that the defendants utilized a network of licensed and unlicensed check cashing businesses to conduct massive loansharking, gambling, forgery and money laundering schemes, which generated over $10 million in criminal proceeds for the mafia. The defendants face multiple charges, including first-degree racketeering, which carries a potential sentence of 10-to-20 years in state prison. Murder, Murder-for-Hire, Organized Crime State v. Yusuf Ibrahim: Ibrahim was indicted in April 2014 on two counts of first-degree murder and other charges after he shot two victims at point-blank range, cut off their heads and hands, and buried the remains in a remote area of Atlantic County in 2013. After a search, the headless bodies were recovered in a shallow grave, and the heads and hands were recovered in a separate grave nearby. Ibrahim was apprehended shortly thereafter. He faces a sentence of 30 years to life in state prison. In a separate case, Ibrahim pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and faces a sentence of up to 20 years, with an 85 percent period of parole ineligibility. 4


p. 9

Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Operation No Boundaries: The Division convicted by guilty plea five defendants in an international human trafficking case, including ringleader Jose Cruz RomeroFlores. The defendants operated a human trafficking ring that used fraud and coercion to lure young women from Mexico into the United States, where they were put to work as prostitutes in a network of brothels located in Lakewood, Ocean County, and elsewhere. State v. Mark Branch, et al.: Defendant Mark Branch, who previously had been indicted on charges of first-degree human trafficking and other offenses, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in state prison in 2014. Branch ran a male prostitution ring and used narcotics and threats of violence to coerce numerous young men, some of whom were minors, to act as prostitutes. Branch further attempted to tamper with witnesses against him. Codefendant Francis Forvour, who pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking, was sentenced to four years in state prison. Birdsall was also subject to $3.6 million in criminal and civil forfeitures and penalties, and was barred from public contracting for 10 years. State v. Lawrence Durr: The Division indicted Lawrence Durr – a longtime mayor, committeeman and planning board member in Chesterfield Township, Burlington County – on official misconduct charges for entering an undisclosed deal to sell transferable development rights on a large farm to a developer, and then using his official positions to advance the developer’s plan to build a major residential and commercial project. Durr allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit benefits through the arrangement. State v. Kevin Mulligan: Former Knowlton Township school board business administrator Kevin Mulligan was convicted by guilty plea in 2014 for embezzling approximately $70,000 from the school district. Mulligan stole the money by writing fraudulent checks against the school district’s bank accounts – checks made payable to himself or to others to whom Mulligan owed money. Mulligan pleaded guilty to second-degree official misconduct and was sentenced to three years in state prison. He also was required to make full restitution to the state, was banned from public employment and required to forfeit his public pension. State v. Michael Mattia: The Division charged and convicted by guilty plea Michael Mattia, a former Acting Major with the New Jersey State Police. From 2011 through 2013, while he was on active duty with State Police, Mattia stole more than $55,000 from a bank account controlled by the Troop B Health & Welfare Fund. Mattia pleaded guilty to third-degree theft by unlawful taking and was sentenced to a two-year probation term. He also was ordered to make full restitution, and was permanently barred from public employment. State v. Logan Holt: Holt, an inspector with the Atlantic City Department of Licenses and Inspections, was charged and convicted by guilty plea of taking cash bribes and accepting sexual favors from licensee taxi cab drivers. Holt pleaded guilty to official misconduct and bribery charges, and was sentenced to five years in state prison, including two years without parole. 5 Corruption State v. Birdsall Services Group: In 2014 the Division continued its prosecution of Birdsall Services Group – including the company’s CEO and six other top executives – for conspiring to circumvent the state’s Pay-to-Play Act by disguising illegal corporate political contributions as the personal contributions of firm employees. Under the scheme, Birdsall and its executives used Birdsall employees to make political contributions to candidates in amounts under the $300 reportable threshold. The firm and its executives then illegally reimbursed the employees through purported bonus payments and other means. Overall, Birdsall – which held millions of dollars in state contracts for engineering services prior to its bankruptcy – made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to public officials and candidates. Beyond the seven executives who were indicted, two former Birdsall employees have pleaded guilty. Further, Birdsall, as a corporate entity, pleaded guilty to a firstdegree money laundering charge, and to a second-degree charge of making false representations in government contracting.


p. 10

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety State v. Rigo Rodriguez: The Division continued its prosecution of Rigo Rodriguez, a Paterson City Councilman, and two other defendants for orchestrating a complex ballot and election fraud scheme. The defendants were charged with having ballots submitted as votes for people who, in fact, never received or cast their ballots. Rodriguez and his wife were admitted to Pre-Trial Intervention, conditioned on their agreement to a lifetime ban on holding public office or employment. degree money laundering and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison. Lieberman also forfeited $3 million, to be used to repay victims or their survivors, and permanently forfeited her law license. State v. Anthony White: The Division tried and convicted defendant Anthony White for stealing more than $200,000 from a victim in Atlantic City through fraud and extortion. White convinced a victim to invest the $200,000 in a purported entertainment production company, assuring the victim that he owned the company and that she would realize a 25 percent profit. Ultimately, White resorted to threats against the victim to obtain money. A trial jury found White guilty of second-degree theft by deception, second-degree theft by extortion, and third-degree terroristic threats. White was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, and must pay full restitution. State v. Derek Bethea: The Division tried and convicted Bethea for unlawfully placing bets at craps games in various Atlantic City casinos after the winning number had already been determined. The jury convicted Bethea on all counts of swindling and cheating at casino gaming. Bethea, who had twice before been convicted on similar cheating charges, was sentenced to 17 years in state prison. Specialized Crimes Bureau Operation Jacked: Working with New Jersey State Police, the Division arrested 32 defendants who ran an international carjacking and car theft ring that trafficked high-end cars from New Jersey and New York to West Africa. In the takedown, the Division arrested the entire hierarchy of the operation – from carjackers to wheel men, and from shippers to ultimate buyers. The defendants would target and steal luxury cars, then sell these vehicles through an established chain, culminating in the cars being shipped from various ports to West Africa, where they commanded more than American face value. During the operation, the Division seized more than 180 stolen vehicles, collectively worth over $8 million. As of this writing, five of the defendants have been convicted by guilty plea with various sentences imposed, including a sentence of 12 years in state prison (with five years of parole ineligibility.) The remaining 26 defendants are under indictment on charges of first- degree racketeering, first-degree money laundering and first- degree carjacking. State v. Barbara Lieberman: The Division charged prominent Atlantic County elder law attorney Barbara Lieberman with preying on senior citizen victims and stealing their assets. Lieberman, who purported to run an elder care business, obtained powers of attorney from her elderly victims and then siphoned off their life savings. The stolen money was used to pay for personal expenses – including luxury autos and homes. Lieberman and three co-defendants stole more than $3 million from at least 10 identified victims, many of whom died in sub-standard housing after losing their life savings. Lieberman pleaded guilty to first- Atlantic City Task Force State v. Donald Capriotti, et al: Task Force detectives arrested convicted felons Donald Capriotti and his wife Chinyere Gardner after executing a search warrant at their home and seizing cocaine, as well as two loaded guns. Gardner was on parole at the time of the arrest after serving a nine-year sentence for the death of her infant child, who died from starvation as a result of neglect. Capriotti recently had completed parole related to a first-degree manslaughter conviction. In the wake of the raid of his home and his arrest, Capriotti pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of an assault firearm. He was sentenced to18 years in state prison, 6


p. 11

Division of Criminal Justice including 10 years without parole. Gardner pleaded guilty to first-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and was sentenced to seven years in state prison, including five years without parole. State v. Eduardo Colon-Lopez: As a result of a successful undercover operation by the Task Force, the Division arrested Eduardo Colon-Lopez, of Philadelphia, on a first-degree charge of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. Colon-Lopez attempted to sell a single kilogram of cocaine – approximately $40,000 worth – to an undercover New Jersey State Trooper in the parking lot of the Deptford Mall in Gloucester County in September 2014. At this writing, Colon-Lopez faces a sentence of between 10 and 20 years in state prison. Environmental Crimes Labor Crimes Prisoner Unemployment Insurance Fraud Cases: The Division indicted 14 defendants for stealing a total of more than $200,000 in unemployment insurance benefits from the State while they were serving time in county jails and ineligible to receive such benefits. In each case, the defendants fraudulently certified via the Internet, or by phone, that they were “physically able to work” and “available to go to work immediately.” Each of the defendants was charged with thirddegree theft by deception. At this writing, four have pleaded guilty. Operation Labor Day: The Division charged 31 defendants who orchestrated a massive scheme to steal more than $2 million in unemployment benefits from the state. To date, 27 of the defendants have been convicted, including Janice Allen and her daughter Janice Dilligard, who were convicted at trial in 2014 for their roles in the scheme. Both Allen and Dilligard were sentenced to 15 years in state prison with five years of parole ineligibility. The Division also convicted by guilty plea 25 other co-defendants who participated in the scheme, with sentences ranging from probation to five years in state prison. State v. Jeanette Rodriguez: The Division indicted a former Department of Labor employee who stole more than $21,000 in unemployment benefits by using her access to the Department’s computer system to redirect benefits from unemployment claims to her own bank account. At this writing Rodriguez faces charges of second- degree official misconduct and third-degree theft. State v. Harry Mansmann and William Mowell: Two top officials with the East Orange Water Commission, Harry Mansmann and William Mowell, were indicted for official misconduct, violations of the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act, and other offenses for conspiring to falsify official water test results by shutting down contaminated wells prior to testing. The defendants also were charged with unlawful discharge of contaminated water into the Passaic River. Mansmann passed away during the pendency of the case, and Mowell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of official misconduct, as well as violations of the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act and the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act. Mowell was sentenced to three years in state prison. State v. William Muzzio: The Division indicted and convicted William Muzzio by guilty plea on charges of second-degree unlawful release of a toxic pollutant and thirddegree violation of the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act. While performing unlicensed asbestos abatement work, Muzzio released hazardous asbestos dust and debris at a daycare center in Union Township. He was sentenced to five years in state prison. Motor Vehicle Commission Crimes Operation Facial Scrub: In 2013 and 2014, the Division charged a total of 140 defendants with identity theft, forgery and document fraud as part of an investigation nicknamed Operation Facial Scrub. Using high-tech facial recognition software the Division, together with the Motor Vehicle Commission and New Jersey State Police, identified individuals who had applied for and obtained driver’s licenses under false names. Numerous defendants who had fraudulently obtained licenses had extensive records, including DUI convictions and convictions for various criminal offenses, including sex crimes. Several possessed valid commercial driver’s licenses under their fraudulent names. State v. Christopher Alcantara, et al: The Division indicted four defendants who operated a private auto inspection business in Paterson for fraudulently using data simulators to generate false results for motor vehicle inspections. 7


p. 12

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety The defendants took illicit payments from customers in return for using the devices to generate passing results for vehicles that had failed emissions inspections. The defendants were charged with conspiracy, seconddegree computer crimes and third-degree tampering with public records. Operation Tidalwave: Wesley Starr, an employee of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, was charged with official misconduct in 2014 as a result of the investigation nicknamed Operation Tidal Wave. Starr processed and issued upwards of 400 fraudulent state vehicle titles for 29 businesses and/or individuals through “brokers” who charged a fee. The scheme resulted in nine separate indictments charging 15 people. All defendants pleaded guilty. Starr was sentenced to four years in state prison with two years of parole ineligibility. in investor funds from the business. Fagan used the stolen money to fund an extravagant personal lifestyle, and was charged with second-degree counts of corporate misconduct, theft and money laundering. State v. Brian Lyles, et al: Defendants Brian Lyles, Sasha Cortes, BKL Property Management LLC and VIP Title Agency LLC were charged in an indictment with firstdegree conspiracy and money laundering, and with second-degree theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official. The charges were related to a complex mortgage fraud utilizing a short sale scheme to defraud lenders. Cortes entered a guilty plea and faced five years in state prison. Another defendant, a Jersey City firefighter, forfeited his public employment as a condition of his guilty plea. Lyles was scheduled for trial in 2015. State v. Randy Schneider: Randy Schneider, an investment broker, was convicted by guilty plea of second-degree theft charges for stealing nearly $1 million from two elderly clients. During a sevenyear stretch, Schneider stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients by taking cash, interest payments and bonds belonging to them. Schneider was sentenced to six years in state prison and ordered to pay full restitution to his victims. State v. Bronthie Charles, et al: Acting on a referral from TD Bank Corporate Security, the Division indicted Bronthie Charles, a TD Bank teller, and six others on charges of second-degree conspiracy, theft by deception and identity theft for their roles in a ring that used account information from customers of TD Bank to steal more than $150,000 from several bank locations. Five defendants, including Charles, have pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing. State v. Philip Kossoy: Defendant Philip Kossoy, who owned a mold remediation business in Monmouth County, was charged with engaging in a scheme to disguise and conceal income to defraud the State out of more than $900,000 in taxes. Kossoy pleaded guilty to third- degree charges of theft by deception and was sentenced to 364 days in county jail plus two years of probation. Kossoy also paid more than $900,000 in state taxes due, and was required to pay a $200,000 anti-money-laundering penalty. Financial & Cyber Crimes State v. Daryl Turner and Robyn Bernstein: The Division indicted and convicted defendants Daryl Turner and Robyn Bernstein on charges of defrauding hundreds of victims out of $3 million total by offering false vacation packages and promotions. The defendants owned and operated travel club companies that collected fees from victims for non-existent promotional trips and discount vacations. Turner pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception and was sentenced to seven years in state prison, plus approximately $2.6 million in restitution to his victims. Bernstein also pleaded guilty to theft by deception, and was sentenced to probation plus forfeiture of the family’s home and numerous bank accounts. Superstorm Sandy FEMA Fraud Cases: The Division charged 20 defendants with filing false applications to collect federal relief funds in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The defendants fraudulently collected Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relief funds by submitting applications in which they either falsely claimed that stormdamaged homes were their primary homes – a requirement under the federal relief program – or made other false claims. In total, the defendants stole or attempted to steal more than $590,000 in Sandy relief funds. State v. Thomas Fagan: Thomas Fagan, CEO of Energex Systems, Inc., a large biotech firm based in Bergen County, was indicted for allegedly stealing more than $230,000 8


p. 13

Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crime Operation Predator Alert I and II: Working with federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the Division arrested a total of 28 defendants on charges of distributing and possessing child pornography via Internet file-sharing programs. These cases marked the first major utilization of New Jersey’s new, strengthened child pornography laws, which went into effect in August 2013. Operation Watchdog: The Division arrested 27 defendants on child-pornography-related charges including distribution of child pornography online. All defendants were charged by indictment or accusation and, as of this writing, 14 have pleaded guilty. For example, defendant Bernard Cahill was charged by indictment with offenses including aggravated sexual assault, photographing a child in a prohibited sexual act, and distribution of child pornography, among other offenses. While investigating Cahill’s sharing of child pornography images online, investigators discovered that Cahill had sexually assaulted an underage girl, and had created sexually explicit images of the assault. Cahill pleaded guilty to second-degree counts of sexual assault and distribution of child pornography, and faces up to 14 years in state prison. Another defendant, John Kondes, pleaded guilty to offering child pornography on the Internet. During Kondes’ arrest, detectives seized more than 90,000 images and videos. State v. Gary Cramer, et al: The Division tried and convicted defendant Gary Cramer on all charges, including two counts of firstdegree aggravated sexual assault, six counts of second-degree child endangerment, and other charges. Cramer directed a woman – who was convicted by guilty plea before trial – to initiate sexual activities with two children, ages 8 and 13, and to send him photographs of the sexual acts. Cramer was sentenced to 55 years in state prison, including 38 years without the possibility of parole. The codefendant was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including eight-and-a-half years of parole ineligibility. Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Operation Ray Scam: In October 2014, seven medical practitioners were arrested for allegedly taking illegal kickbacks worth approximately $200,000 from Diagnostic Imaging Affiliates (DIA) in exchange for patient referrals to the company’s testing facilities. In the five-year period between 2008 to 2013, the doctors allegedly made more than 20,000 referrals to DIA centers, which resulted in payments of millions of dollars from private insurance carriers and the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The seven arrests made in October were part of Operation RayScam, which the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor launched in June 2014 when its Medicaid Fraud Control Unit charged Rehan “Ray” Zuberi, of Boonton Township – the owner of DIA – for his alleged role as the leader of a criminal enterprise that provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks to medical practitioners in exchange for patient referrals to his testing facilities. Under Zuberi’s direction, DIA allegedly paid kickbacks to chiropractors and physicians in return for patient referrals to DIA testing centers for expensive diagnostic tests (e.g., MRIs and PET scans). These alleged kickbacks were paid using checks from “shell” corporations created by the Zuberi enterprise and gift cards/certificates. Under state law, medical practitioners are not permitted to accept a benefit in exchange for a referral. DIA is an umbrella corporation that manages numerous subsidiary diagnostic imaging facilities, which are located in northern and central New Jersey. 12 Indicted in Auto Accident “Runners” Scheme: In May 2014, OIFP obtained a 45-count indictment charging 12 defendants – including an attorney, a physician and two chiropractors – with various offenses for their alleged roles in a scheme in which illegal “runners” were used to recruit auto accident victims as patients. Among those indicted were two alleged ringleaders who controlled the chiropractic facilities, and two licensed chiropractors. Also indicted were a physician and a lawyer, both of whom allegedly made illegal payments to the ringleaders to have accident victims referred to them as clients. Anhuar Bandy, 50, and 9


p. 14

New Jersey Office of The Attorney General • Department of Law & Public Safety his brother, Karim Bandy, 53, both of Colts Neck, allegedly received millions of dollars in illegal payments by referring the patients to medical and legal service providers. Among the others indicted were: Dr. Mark Schwartz, of Park Ridge, owner of MLS Medical in Park Ridge; David Walker, of Rockaway, a personal injury lawyer; Alexandra Gallegos, of Piscataway, a paralegal; Edward Formisano, of Roxbury, a chiropractor and purported owner of chiropractic facilities in Plainfield, Lakewood, Jersey City, and Perth Amboy and Louis Brown, of Rahway, a chiropractor and purported owner of chiropractic facilities in New Brunswick, Dover and North Plainfield. The 12 defendants were variously charged with racketeering, conspiracy, criminal use of runners and other offenses. Karim Bandy also was charged with firstdegree money laundering. Insurance Administrator Sentenced to Seven Years: A third-party insurance administrator was sentenced to seven years in state prison in January 2014 after being convicted at trial of stealing nearly $500,000 in health care coverage for hundreds of employees and their families. Catarina Young, 48, of Metuchen, was convicted prior to sentencing of seconddegree theft by unlawful taking and seconddegree misapplication of entrusted property or property of a government or financial institution. Her conviction came after a five-week jury trial in Middlesex County. At the time the crimes occurred, Young was a partial owner of the now-defunct Elite Benefits Corp. Elite administered insurance plans on behalf of third-parties, including the Multi-Skilled Employees & Employer Welfare Trust Fund, an organization consisting of several union employers and hundreds of employees. By convicting Young, a Middlesex County trial jury determined that between Nov. 17, 2003 and Dec. 26, 2006, Young – as fiduciary of the Fund – deposited into her personal bank accounts 86 checks and 16 wire transfers totaling $462,341 that belonged to the Fund. She subsequently used the stolen proceeds for her own purposes. Those stolen proceeds were supposed to be used to obtain health insurance coverage and prescription coverage from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Benecard, respectively. By stealing the funds, Young caused cancellation of a health insurance plan that insured more than 1,000 working people and their families. Barn Owner Pleads Guilty to SandyRelated Fraud: A Monmouth County resident pleaded guilty in 2014 to filing a fraudulent insurance claim for property damages related to Superstorm Sandy. Farouk Soliman, 74, of Little Silver, pleaded guilty on March 24 to third-degree insurance fraud before Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney in Ocean County. Under a plea agreement, Soliman was to serve 364 days of county jail time as a condition of probation. In pleading guilty, Soliman admitted that in November 2012, he submitted a fraudulent claim to Pacific Specialty Insurance Company for a barn he claimed was destroyed as a result of Superstorm Sandy. An OIFP investigation determined that, prior to Superstorm Sandy, the barn had been condemned as structurally unsafe by the local municipality. Soliman admitted his fraudulent insurance claim was an attempt to recoup the cost of hiring a local demolition firm to raze the condemned barn. Nurse Indicted for Health Insurance Fraud: A Monmouth County woman was indicted in April for allegedly trying to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars by submitting more than 100 fraudulent invoices to her insurance company for reimbursement of medical services never received. Donna Dzienisiewski, 40, of Middletown, was charged with multiple counts of health care claims fraud, theft by deception, identity theft and falsifying records. The indictment alleges that between March 18, 2011 and March 12, 2013, Dzienisiewski submitted 107 claims to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey indicating she had incurred approximately $502,740 in reimbursable expenses for health care. The indictment 10


p. 15

Division of Criminal Justice alleged that Dzienisiewski failed to even visit the doctor relative to most of her insurance claims. The indictment further alleged that, in an attempt to support her fraud, Dzienisiewski stole a doctor’s identity, placing his name, address, telephone number, fax number and tax identification number on each of the claims for reimbursement. At the time of her alleged offenses, Dzienisiewski was working as a registered nurse, although her profession had no relation to the crimes charged in the indictment. Car Salesman Gets Five-Year Prison Term for Insurance Fraud: A South Jersey car salesman was sentenced to five years in state prison in December 2014 for trying to defraud two insurance companies out of more than $130,000 by reporting luxury vehicles stolen, even though he knew the vehicles had already been shipped to China. In addition to the five-year prison term defendant Steven Shore, of Pennsauken, also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $68,220. Shore was sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of seconddegree insurance fraud and second-degree conspiracy. At his plea, Shore admitted knowing the two luxury cars – both Porsches -- had been shipped overseas prior to reporting them stolen. In the first instance, Shore unlawfully pocketed $68,220 from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company by creating the false impression that a black 2013 Porsche Cayenne he owned had been stolen. An investigation determined that Shore bought the Porsche on Oct. 3, 2012 and purchased insurance on it the next day. The following month, Shore falsely notified the Pennsauken Police Department that the Porsche had been stolen from outside his home, and subsequently filed an insurance claim. On Dec. 17, 2012, Liberty Mutual paid Shore $68,220, after the car was declared a total loss. An investigation determined the Porsche had been shipped to China in October 2012, before Shore reported it stolen. In the second fraud, Shore and a co-conspirator, Michele Yorgan, tried to steal $63,457 from Travelers Insurance Company by creating the false impression another 2013 Porsche Cayenne, purportedly belonging to Yorgan, had been stolen. Travelers denied Yorgan’s insurance claim and referred the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. Yorgan was sentenced earlier in the year to three years in state prison. She had previously pleaded guilty to seconddegree insurance fraud, second-degree conspiracy, and other related crimes. Appellate Bureau State v. Gamble, 218 N.J. 412 (2014): In this case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed applicability of the protective-search doctrine as applied to automobiles, and agreed with the State that the requirements of the automobile exception do not apply under such circumstances. When the police have a reasonable and articulable suspicion during a lawful motor-vehicle stop that the vehicle contains a dangerous weapon, under the protective-search doctrine they can immediately conduct a limited sweep or frisk of the vehicle in those places where a weapon may be placed or hidden. State v. Ates, 217 N.J. 53 (2014): In this matter the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of New Jersey’s Wiretap Act under the federal and state constitutions. The Court ruled that the Act allows law enforcement officers to intercept conversations involving people who may be located outside of New Jersey, as long as the listening post is located within state boundaries. State v. Williams, 218 N.J. 576 (2014): The Supreme Court held that to be guilty of first-degree robbery in a simulated deadly-weapon case, the victim must have an actual and reasonable belief that defendant threatened the immediate use of such a weapon. The fact finder makes this determination by applying a totalityof-the-circumstances standard, which includes considering the nature of any verbal threat, defendant’s conduct, his dress and any other relevant factors. The Court applied that standard in this case and found that defendant’s words, conduct and clothing provided sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to convict the defendant of first-degree robbery. 11



no comments yet