January 29, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 29


January 27, 2023

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Four Indicted for $16 Million Money Laundering Scheme

Four Indicted for $16 Million Money Laundering Scheme

On March 23, 2022, an indictment was unsealed in the Western District of Arkansas, charging four men for their involvement in wire fraud and money laundering schemes involving fake investment offerings amounting to an alleged $16 million.

According to court documents, the four men allegedly engaged in an investment fraud scheme between 2013 and 2021 in which they falsely represented the nature of their investment offerings and promised large returns, which they could not and did not yield. The indictment also alleges that two of the defendants encouraged victims to send their funds to bank accounts controlled by the other two defendants, and then transferred the money through a complex series of accounts worldwide.

The defendants were charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. One defendant was further charged with money laundering. If convicted, the men will face up to 20 years in prison for each count. The additional count of money laundering carries an additional sentence of up to 10 years.

The DOJ press release can be found here.

California Man Pleads Guilty To Stealing Government COVID-19 Relief Funds

On March 18, 2022, a California man pleaded guilty in the Central District of California to misappropriating COVID-19 relief funds obtained through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Under the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, CARES Act health care providers who were financially harmed by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are granted federal funds to provide care to patients suffering from COVID-19. According to court documents, the defendant admitted he owned a hospice agency in North Hollywood that was never operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet he received approximately $89,162 designated for the medical treatment and care of COVID-19 patients. The defendant admitted he misappropriated the CARES Act funds by spending them for his personal use and then transferring the funds to family members, including one family member in Armenia, rather than using the funds in any way related to the pandemic relief efforts as required.

As part of his guilty plea, the defendant further admitted that he submitted five Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) on behalf of his hospice agency and four other entities he controlled. As a result of his fraudulent applications, the SBA disbursed approximately $428,100 in EIDL funds to the man, which he used for his benefit against EIDL requirements.

The man pleaded guilty to three counts of theft of government property and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, facing up to 10 years in prison for each count.

The DOJ press release can be found here.

New Jersey Man Convicted for Fraudulently Obtaining US Visas for Chinese Government Employees

On March 23, 2022, a New Jersey man was convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit visa fraud for his participation in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain United States visas for Chinese government employees.

According to court documents, the defendant was involved in a scheme to fraudulently obtain J-1 research scholar visas for employees of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to allow them to covertly work for the PRC government while in the United States. The defendant operated an office of the China Association for the International Exchange of Personnel (CAIEP), an agency of the PRC government, in New Jersey that seeks to recruit US scientists, academics, engineers, and other experts for the PRC.

The J-1 research scholar program allows foreign nationals to visit the United States to conduct research at a corporate research facility, library, museum, university, or other research institution. The defendant allegedly worked to obtain a J-1 research scholar visa for a prospective employee based on the false representation that the employee would conduct research at a United States university, to conceal unlawful work of another employee who was present in the United States on a J-1 visa sponsored by a US university. The two employees represented to the US government that they were entering the US for the primary purpose of conducting research at US universities, but their actual purpose consisted of working for the CAIEP. The defendant reported the employee’s arrival to the United States to the US universities, procured a local driver’s license for her and disguised her CAIEP salary as a subsidy for research scholar living expenses to make her presence as a research scholar appear legitimate.

As a result of his conviction, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years; he is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release can be found here.

UPS To Pay $5.3 Million for False Claims Act Allegations

On March 21, 2022, the DOJ announced that United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) agreed to pay approximately $5.3 million to settle allegations that the company falsely reported information about the transfer of U.S. mail to foreign posts or other intended recipients under contracts with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA).

UPS was engaged by USPS to pick up U.S. mail at various locations and deliver it to its international and domestic destinations. As a condition of payment, UPS was required to submit electronic scans to USPS to report when the mail was delivered, and there were specified penalties for mail that was delivered late or to the wrong location. The settlement resolves allegations that scans submitted by UPS were falsified times and that UPS, in fact, transferred possession of the mail.

According to DOJ, this is the fifth civil settlement involving air carrier liability for false delivery scans under the USPS International Commercial Air Contracts, pursuant to which the United States has recovered more than $70 million.

The DOJ press release can be found here.

© 2023 ArentFox Schiff LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 87

About this Author

D. Jacques Smith Attorney Litigation ArentFox Schiff Washington DC
Partner and Complex Litigation Practice Co-Leader

Jacques focuses his practice on government investigations and enforcement. Recognized as one of the top False Claims Act practitioners in the country, his clients largely encompass all branches of health care and life sciences. He has more than 30 years of experience handling jury, bench, and administrative trials in a variety of civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. Jacques excels at handling complex commercial disputes and internal investigations and responding to government inquiries. 

Jacques is...

Randall A. Brater Litigation Attorney ArentFox Schiff Washington DC

Randy routinely litigates high-stakes matters in state and federal courts, including preliminary injunctions, motions practice, jury and bench trials, arbitrations, and mediation.

Randy often handles matters related to investigations and the False Claims Act, municipal bond finance, and trademark litigation. Randy also has represented agricultural chemical manufacturers in numerous data compensation disputes arising under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), environmental actions under CERCLA, employment, trade secret...

Mattie Bowden Attorney Complex Litigation ArentFox Schiff Washington DC

Mattie has experience in a wide variety of complex litigation matters, including representing and advising regulated entities and trade associations in litigation related to regulatory registrations for biotechnical and agricultural products; and representing medical providers in disputes with commercial payers. Mattie represents clients in state and federal court, and in many phases of litigation, including discovery, motion practice, and appeals.

Previous Work

Prior to joining Arent Fox, Mattie drafted briefs,...

Rebecca W. Foreman Litigation Attorney ArentFox Schiff Washington DC

Rebecca has been involved in litigation in health care reimbursement disputes, commercial real estate, and complex torts, as well as government investigations involving health care fraud under the False Claims Act. She counsels health care providers on commercial payer disputes, particularly issues arising under ERISA and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, and also has experience representing clients in the fashion and luxury goods industry.

Previous Work

Prior to joining ArentFox Schiff, Rebecca clerked for Chief...