Man Who Escaped Ohio Prison in 1978 Caught in Minnesota, Feds Say

A convicted murderer who escaped from an Ohio prison in 1978 by cutting through cell bars and a fence was captured in Minnesota’s capital, where he had a job delivering newspapers, the U.S. Marshals Service said Friday.

Oscar Juarez, 66, was among Ohio’s most wanted fugitives and evaded being caught while on the run despite being arrested but let go at least seven times in the 1980s.

He was taken into custody Thursday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, at an apartment building on a tree-lined street, said Pete Elliott, the U.S. marshal for northern Ohio. It wasn’t clear how long he had been in Minnesota.

He was living alone in St. Paul under a different name, said Chris Clifford, the supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Minneapolis. Juarez told authorities he’d been living in Minnesota for 20 years, but “we are finding that hard to believe,” Clifford said.

Juarez made an initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate in St. Paul on Friday. He will be held until a hearing next week to determine his identity and argue detention.

He gave the magistrate a different name when he was asked if he understood his rights. But Elliott said there was no doubt it was Juarez, noting his fingerprints were a match and the name he gave was that of a deceased person.

Juarez was arrested at least six times on minor charges in California and once in 1988 in Texas, but he went undetected because he was using fake identities, Elliott said.

“We know if he was in several different states over the years,” Elliott said. “It wasn’t one thing that led us to his doorstep. It was a number of things and good old-fashioned police work.”

He apparently worked as a welder and machine operator, the FBI said in a most wanted advisory.

It appears that Juarez had family in Texas and Ohio and may have picked Minnesota at random, Clifford said.

Juarez was serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a Toledo man after a bar fight in 1975.

He escaped from a state prison in Marion three years later by sawing through prison bars and cutting through a fence, according to the marshals. They say he also put a dummy in his bed and covered it with blankets.

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Couple Arrested for Credit Card Fraud in Lemon Grove

Authorities arrested two people for credit card fraud in Lemon Grove last week.

Lasaro Quijano, 30, and Bunthi Im, 29, were arrested after officers found numerous fraudulent credit and ID cards, meth and other drugs and a stolen handgun. A search of the couple’s vehicle revealed credit card making materials and items purchased with the fraudulent cards.

Lemon Grove Home Depot employees called the Sheriff’s Department after one of the suspects made a purchase with a fake card. The employees then saw him enter a hotel room across the street.
The couple is suspected of conducting numerous similar credit card frauds at Home Depot stores throughout the state.

Quijano and Im were booked into jail on a number of charges including burglary, possession of a forged driver’s license, possession of a stolen handgun, having card making machinery, possession of a counterfeit access card and possession of a controlled substance among other charges.

Their bail is set at $250,000.

The Sheriff’s Financial Crimes Unit is conducting further investigation.

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Financial Fraud

Inside the Investigation of a Las Vegas Construction Boss

When a federal judge sentenced former Las Vegas construction boss Leon Benzer to nearly 16 years in prison in August, it marked a final chapter in a $58 million fraud scheme that took investigators nearly a decade to unravel.

Over a period of many years, Benzer brazenly sought to gain control of numerous condominium homeowners associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area to secure lucrative construction and other contracts for himself and additional conspirators. To date, 44 individuals, including numerous state officials, have been convicted of crimes in connection with the fraud—which has been described as one of the largest public corruption cases in Nevada history.

“This case represented an incredibly complicated financial fraud with a significant public corruption component,” said Special Agent Michael Elliott, who spent nearly eight years working on the investigation from the FBI’s Las Vegas Division. “It involved so many people over so long a period of time, it was like an intricate spider web of crime that kept expanding.”

The scheme was nothing if not grandiose. In attempting to control dozens of Nevada HOAs between approximately 2002 and 2009, Benzer, an attorney, and other conspirators recruited straw buyers to purchase condominiums and then secure positions on HOA boards of directors. Benzer rigged HOA board elections and paid board members to take actions favorable to his interests—including hiring his co-conspirator’s law firm to handle construction-related litigation and awarding profitable construction contracts to Benzer’s company, Silver Lining Construction.

Benzer manipulated and bribed HOA boards in a variety of ways—he often claimed he had local judges and law enforcement in his pocket; in other cases, he fooled unwitting homeowners into thinking his actions were legitimate and they were simply making wise investment choices.

In September 2008, investigators executed a search warrant—one of nine that would take place during the investigation—and found that Benzer was in the process of targeting well over 20 different HOAs for illegal takeovers. “There were boxes and boxes of folders with information about different HOAs,” Elliott said. “He was deliberately attempting to identify board members along with other information to target what he believed were HOAs vulnerable to takeover through bribery, extortion, or whatever illegal means could be used.”

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Identity Theft, Fake Hospice Nurse Treated More Than 200 Patients

Imagine the emotional difficulty of arranging in-home hospice care for a terminally ill family member. Now imagine learning after the fact that your loved one had been cared for not by a nurse but by a medical imposter.

That is exactly what happened in more than 200 cases in the Dallas/Fort Worth area over nearly a three-year period when a woman who had stolen the identity of a registered nurse used those credentials to gain employment with multiple hospice companies.

“Jada Necole Antoine had absolutely no nursing experience or medical training,” said Special Agent Brian Marlow, who investigated the case out of the FBI’s Dallas Division. “The thought of having someone who is not a nurse taking care of your parent or loved one is not only criminal, it is morally outrageous.”

The Bureau’s investigation began in 2013 as a result of a local traffic stop in Texas. When the patrol officer asked for identification, Antoine produced her own driver’s license, and it turned out there was a warrant for her arrest on another matter. She also had other identification in the car—including documents belonging to the victim nurse—along with a number of medical records.

That information was forwarded to the Medicare Fraud Strike Force team in Texas, which consists of the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Texas State Attorney General’s office, and local law enforcement.

The strike force is part of a larger, nationwide effort aimed at combating health care fraud and abuse.

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Woman sentenced for stealing grandmother’s SSA benefits

A Birmingham woman was sentenced after pleading guilty to stealing social security benefits awarded to her grandmother—for more than two decades after she died.

Wendi D. Baldwin, 41, was sentenced to six months in prison and also six months of in-home detention, according to a news release from Joyce White Vance, the U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s northern district.

She pled guilty February to one count of theft of government property.

The benefits were deposited into Baldwin and her grandmother’s shared bank account from Jan. 1992 until July 2013, according to the plea agreement.

Her grandmother died in 1991.

The Social Security Administration became aware of the theft when it could not reach Baldwin’s grandmother after several attempts.

She was also ordered to forfeit $30,934 to the government and pay that much to the SSA

According to the release, Baldwin stole more than $155,000 in social security benefits, but the statute of limitations only allowed the government to recover five years’ worth of benefits.

A Birmingham woman was sentenced after pleading guilty to stealing social security benefits awarded to her grandmother—for more than two decades after she died.

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Police officer impersonator arrested on Capitol Grounds

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — A 54-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for impersonating a federal police officer on Capitol Grounds, Capitol police said.

Police arrested Darryl Sharp, 54, who has been arrested three times this year on Capitol Grounds. Sharp was previously arrested for unlawful entry at the Hart Senate Office Building and then was later arrested for simple assault on an officer.

Sharp was found yelling at the staff, demanding paperwork and claiming to be a federal police officer inside the Rayburn House Office Building, police said. All attempts to confirm Sharp’s claim of employment turned out negative.

Currently there is no stay-away order against Sharp, Capitol police said. Police say, Sharp was on the grounds earlier Tuesday morning as well.

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Shoplifting incident leads to felony identity theft charges

BELTON TX Aug 26 2015 — A Killeen woman was arraigned Thursday on a charge of fraudulent use of identifying information.

Jodi Marie Schimek, 28, of Killeen, was arrested Wednesday after police responded to 1400 Lowes Boulevard in Killeen.

According to an arrest affidavit, Schimek was caught on in-store cameras shoplifting at the location and, when police arrived, Schimek handed officers a New York driver’s license with another woman’s name.

Apparently not knowing the woman was Schimek, police said in the affidavit they arrested her and took her to the Killeen jail.

Later that day, the affidavit said, a New York woman called the Bell County Jail “and advised that a female who verbally identified herself as (name withheld) called and advised that a female in the Killeen jail was using her name and information and that a closer check by jail staff of the driver’s license provided by the female did not match the female in custody.”

The affidavit said the New York female identified herself and told jail staff she had not been to Texas for years and that Schimek did not have permission to use her ID.

Police later spoke with Schimek who admitted that she and the New York woman had been friends for years and that she previously had used the ID to buy cigarettes.

Schimek was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin, who gave her a $50,000 bond.

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7-11 clerks busted in alleged $82,000 lottery scam

SAN ANTONIO – Two gas station clerks are in hot water, accused of stealing thousands of dollars in a fake lottery scam.

Police said two employees at a northeast-side 7-11 cashed out thousands of dollars in lottery tickets. The only problem? They were all fake.

Derreain Cosby, 31, and Sarah Ramirez, 28, were arrested Tuesday night on theft charges.

According to arrest warrants, the two clerks at the Interstate 35 and Eisenhauer 7-11 cashed out more than $82,000 in fake lottery tickets.

Investigators said each time they would pretend a customer came in with a winning lottery ticket and they would pocket the money.

Police said this happened daily over a period of five months before a manager caught on.

Investigators said they also have video surveillance of the two in action.

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Financial Fraud

The Hair Show That Never Was
Two criminals were sentenced for a scheme that involved enlisting young women at shopping malls and other places to participate in a “hair show,” gaining access to their bank accounts, depositing phony checks in the accounts, and withdrawing funds before the banks realized the fraud.

Tamira Fonville’s job might be described as “recruiter.” For a time, she profited substantially by enlisting college-age women to participate in a hair show. The problem was, there never was any show, and everything about Fonville’s line of work was a fraud.

She and her partner—both of whom are now in prison—regularly traveled the Interstate 95 corridor from New York to Washington, D.C., visiting shopping malls and other places where young women were known to spend time.

Using a series of phony names, Fonville would interest the women in the hair show, offering to pay for their services. But to pay them, she said, she needed their debit card numbers and access to their accounts.

With that access, she would not simply clean out their accounts. Instead, her partner and mastermind of the scam, Ricardo Falana, would deposit bogus checks into the legitimate accounts, and then immediately begin withdrawing funds before the bank realized the fraud.

“It was a crazy, hit or miss scheme,” said Special Agent Sean Norman, who investigated the case from the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But they did it at such a high volume that they made a lot of money for several years. There was approximately $600,000 in actual losses to banks and other financial institutions.”

On a typical recruiting trip, Fonville might talk with 20 or 30 women and would follow up with text messages using disposable phones whose numbers could not be traced. If she ended up with three or four willing participants, that was enough.

“Some took the hair show bait and handed over their debit cards and PINs,” Norman said. “Others who were skeptical got a different pitch,” he explained. “They were told: ‘I can make money appear in your account. You will get some money, I will get some money, and the bank won’t lose anything.’”

With access to legitimate accounts not tied to him, Falana deposited forged checks of up to $10,000 and then withdrew money before the bank realized the checks were bad. Many of the victims were coached to tell bank investigators that their debit cards had been stolen and their PINs were written on the cards.

“The majority of the account holders knew they were doing something fraudulent,” Norman said. “They thought they were going to get something out of it, but they got nothing.”

For a time, the money rolled in, and Fonville “got addicted to the lifestyle,” Norman said. According to court documents, between 2008 and 2013, Fonville personally benefited from the scheme to the tune of more than $230,000. She used some of the proceeds to pay for plastic surgery, the car loan on her $30,000 Chevrolet Camaro, and the $2,100 monthly rent on her New York apartment. She would later tell investigators she viewed the scam as a career.

Fonville also fraudulently obtained food stamps, Medicaid, and benefits from a New York child care program, and she received deferments on almost $100,000 in student loans because she claimed she had no income. But then she lied on her car loan application, stating she was an employee of Mesa Airlines and had a salary of $65,000 per year.

Eventually, some of the women whose accounts had been used came forward and told the truth. Norman was able to trace withdrawn funds to Fonville and Falana, and Falana was identified on surveillance video depositing what turned out to be bogus checks. Norman also used E-ZPass toll receipts to link the pair’s recruiting trips to account holders and subsequent fraudulent transactions on their accounts.

“After the pieces all fit together,” said Norman, who is a certified public account and specializes in financial fraud investigations, “their actions were highly predictable.”

Fonville was arrested in August 2014. She pled guilty the following month to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud and was sentenced in April to 15 months in prison. Falana pled guilty to similar bank fraud charges in October 2014 and in February received an 80-month sentence.

In the end, Norman said, “they blew all the money and had nothing to show for it.”

- Press release

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12 Alleged Gang Members Charged in Fake Money Order Scheme

Twelve alleged gang members face fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges in connection with a federal indictment accusing them in a money order scheme at banks in the New York area and along the East Coast, authorities said Tuesday.

Eight of the 12 suspects were arrested early Tuesday during a raid at the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville by Department of Homeland Security agents, U.S. Postal Inspectors and NYPD, officials say.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the case suggests that “members of street gangs, like the Van Dyke Money Gang, have expanded their criminal repertoire to include white collar crimes like bank fraud and identity theft.”

“Today’s arrests dismantle a gang that allegedly used bank fraud and identity theft to line their pockets with cash using a scheme that cost New York banks over $1.5 million dollars,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Raymond J. Parmer Jr. added in a press release.

According to the indictment, the defendants fraudulently obtained blank postal and Western Union money orders and printed a specific dollar amount, usually under $1,000 on them. They allegedly recruited bank account holders and used their accounts to deposit the fake orders.

The defendants, allegedly members of the Van Dyke Money Gang, then withdrew the money from those accounts; they used more than 350 accounts for those purposes, the indictment alleges.

The scheme defrauded New York-area banks, as well as ones along the East Coast from Boston to Washington, D.C., out more than $1 million, authorities said.

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