DOJ – West Virginia

DOJ - Department of Justice
DOJ - Department of Justice
  • Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force Takedown Results in Charges Against 60 Individuals, Including 53 Medical Professionals
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – Attorney General William P. Barr, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar III together with multiple law enforcement partners, today announced enforcement actions involving 60 charged defendants across 11 federal districts, including 31 doctors, 7 pharmacists, 8 nurse practitioners, and 7 other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in the illegal prescribing and distributing of opioids and other dangerous narcotics and for health care fraud schemes.  In addition, HHS announced today that since June 2018, it has excluded over 2,000 individuals from participation in Medicare, Medicaid, and all other Federal health care programs, which includes more than 650 providers excluded for conduct related to opioid diversion and abuse.  Since July 2017, DEA has issued 31 immediate suspension orders, 129 orders to show cause, and received 1386 surrenders for cause nationwide for violations of the Controlled Substances Act.  “The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “But the Department of Justice is doing its part to help end this crisis. One of the Department's most promising new initiatives is the Criminal Division's Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which began its work in December. Just four months later, this team of federal agents and 12 prosecutors has charged 60 defendants for alleged crimes related to millions of prescriptions. I am grateful to the Criminal Division, their U.S. Attorney partners, and to the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-16
    1 week ago
  • Roanoke Tax Return Preparer Pleads Guilty to Aiding in the Preparation of False Tax Returns
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – A tax return preparer formerly of Roanoke, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns and filing a false personal tax return, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen for the Western District of Virginia. According to court documents, Saint Julien Pierre owned and operated a tax return preparation business, JP Tax Services LLC, in Roanoke, Virginia. Pierre aided and assisted in the preparation of 2013 and 2014 tax returns that falsely claimed energy-related credits and illegitimate itemized deductions, in order to fraudulently increase his clients’ refunds. Pierre also filed a false 2013 tax return for himself, on which he fraudulently reported that he was entitled to the same fuel tax credit he falsely claimed on his clients’ returns. “As this case indicates, the Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting tax fraud, including bogus refund, credit, and deduction schemes,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “No preparation fee, commission, or refund earned through fraudulent means is worth a felony conviction and the possibility of a prison sentence.”   Pierre faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison for each count of preparing false tax returns and three years in prison for the false tax return count. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.  Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Cullen thanked special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-10
    2 weeks ago
  • Four More Defendants Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy that Trafficked Crystal Ice, Oxycodone and Other Drugs into Virginia from Georgia
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – Four members of a drug distribution organization that trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from Georgia into Southwest Virginia were sentenced recently in federal court on drug conspiracy charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced. In a hearing last week, Timothy Terrell Peek, 34, of Union Point, Georgia, was sentenced to 108 months’ incarceration.  He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and alprazolam. Also in recent weeks, Douglas Michael Urnick, 36, of Coeburn, Va., was sentenced to 24 months’ incarceration; Dale August Leichtenberg, 39, of Saint Charles, Va., was sentenced to 5 months’ incarceration; and Rebecca Owens, 58, of Big Stone Gap, Va., was sentenced to a period of three years’ probation.  Each defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, to include methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, and alprazolam. “In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from fatal drug overdoses—more than the total number of U.S. troops killed during the Vietnam War,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.  “Heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription opioids are the leading causes of this death epidemic, which has also devastated the Western District of Virginia.  As U.S. Attorney, I am committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to target individuals and organizations primarily responsible for importing, distributing, and unlawfully prescribing these deadly substances and sending them to federal prison.  We are also committed to meaningful prevention and recovery ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-08
    2 weeks ago
  • Indivior Inc. Indicted for Fraudulently Marketing Prescription Opioid
    WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury sitting in Abingdon, Virginia, has indicted Indivior Inc. (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.) and Indivior PLC (Indivior) for engaging in an illicit nationwide scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone Film, an opioid drug used in the treatment of opioid addiction, the Department of Justice announced. According to the indictment, Indivior obtained billions of dollars in revenue from Suboxone Film prescriptions by deceiving health care providers and health care benefit programs into believing that Suboxone Film was safer, less divertible, and less abusable than other opioid-addiction treatment drugs. Indivior also is alleged to have sought to boost profits by using a “Here to Help” program to connect opioid-addicted patients to doctors the company knew were prescribing opioids at high rates and in a clinically unwarranted manner.  “The deadly opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities and families across our nation,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio of the Department of Justice. “The Department of Justice intends to hold accountable those who are in position to know the harm opioid abuse inflicts, but instead choose to profit illegally from the pain of others.  Manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and doctors should all be on notice that they must follow the law and act responsibly.”   “Opioid addiction is a national epidemic. The indictment alleges that, rather than marketing its opioid-addiction drug responsibly, Indivior promoted it with a disregard for the truth about its safety and despite known risks of diversion and abuse,” said Assistant Attorney ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-08
    2 weeks ago
  • Pair Indicted on Visa Fraud Charge
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury has charged a pair of Culpeper residents for staging an armed robbery to become eligible to apply for, and obtain, a U-Visa, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today. On March 27, 2019, a federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville charged Sarai Veronica Solorzano Figueroa, 35, a citizen of Honduras living in Culpeper, Va., and Enna Perez Santos, 33, a citizen of El Salvador also living in Culpeper, with one count each of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. The indictment was unsealed yesterday following the initial appearances of both defendants. “This alleged visa-fraud scheme, in addition to violating federal immigration laws, put law-enforcement officers and the surrounding community at risk,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “The Department of Justice remains committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to prosecute fraudulent immigration and preserve the rule of law.” “You should not expect to use lies and deceit to exploit the system,” said Special Agent in Charge Raymond Villanueva of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. “This kind of fraud to obtain a designated visa reserved for the victims of criminals is exceptionally perverse, and I commend the HSI special agents, our local partners, and the U.S. Attorney for the extensive work involved to bring this case to court.” According to the indictment, in or about September 2018, Figueroa and Santos devised a scheme to stage an armed robbery and kidnapping at their place of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-08
    2 weeks ago
  • National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Event Set for April 7 in Charlottesville
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – In commemoration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Jefferson Area Victim Assistance Coalition will host a Community Day on Sunday, April 7 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at IX Park in Charlottesville. This event is planned as a way to highlight recovery and other resources available to crime victims in the Greater Jefferson Area, provide the community with information about law-enforcement, emphasize prevention education, and foster the ties between law-enforcement and the communities they serve. Sunday’s event is free and family-friendly with interactive demonstrations and information available from dozens of federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies and service providers. There will be plenty for kids, and adults, to see and do, including police motorcycles, firetrucks, police cars, K9 officers, activities, games, food, and more. Additionally, there will be information available about local community groups, service providers, drug prevention tips, exhibitions, and more. A particular area of focus is crimes against the elderly. Information will be available from the United States Attorney’s Office that focuses on schemes directed at seniors, such as phone scams, healthcare scams, frauds involving grandchildren, and IRS imposter scams. Additional information will be available offering tips to keep seniors safe from falling victim to these frauds, as well as information about what to do if an elder person believes they have been a victim of fraud. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will have information available regarding Project Safe Neighborhoods, (PSN) and identity theft prevention programs. PSN, the centerpiece of DOJ’s violent ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-04-04
    3 weeks ago
  • Officials from More Than a Dozen Agencies across Western Virginia Announce Results of Operation Triple Beam
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Acting United States Marshal Brad Sellers were joined by officials from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies throughout the Roanoke Valley today in announcing the results of Operation Triple Beam, an intensive law enforcement operation that recently came to a successful conclusion. Operation Triple Beam brought together federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in an effort to reduce crime in the Roanoke area by identifying and arresting violent fugitives, targeting unlawful gun possession and narcotics trafficking, and collecting intelligence to allow for the systematic removal of individuals who have committed and are committing crimes in the city of Roanoke. “Over the past two months, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in the Roanoke Valley worked collaboratively to apprehend wanted fugitives and target individuals engaged in drug trafficking and potentially violent activities,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “The results of Operation Triple Beam speak for themselves—over 200 fugitives were arrested and nearly 50 guns and half a million dollars of illegal narcotics were taken off the streets.  I am grateful for the leadership of Marshal Sellers and his team and the commitment of our numerous federal, state, and local partners in this critical public-safety initiative.” “Operation Triple Beam was a unified event, within the Roanoke valley law enforcement community, aimed at reducing those elements that contribute to violent crime rates,” said Acting U.S. Marshal Sellers. “Our success is directly attributable to the cohesive support of our area’s law enforcement ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-31
    4 weeks ago
  • Ohio Man Pleads Guilty To 29 Federal Hate Crimes For August 2017 Car Attack at Rally In Charlottesville
    WASHINGTON – James Alex Fields Jr., 21, the Ohio man who drove his car into a diverse crowd of counter-protestors on Aug. 12, 2017, killing one woman and injuring dozens, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to 29 counts of violating the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 249. The charges included one count of a hate crime act that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer, and 28 counts of hate crime acts that caused bodily injury and involved an attempt to kill other people within the crowd. Each of the 29 counts carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Attorney General William P. Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband, and Special Agent in Charge David Archey of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement. “In the aftermath of the mass murder in New Zealand earlier this month, we are reminded that a diverse and pluralistic community such as ours can have zero tolerance for violence on the basis of race, religion, or association with people of other races and religions,” Attorney General William P. Barr said. “Prosecuting hate crimes is a priority for me as Attorney General. The defendant in this case has pled guilty to 29 hate crimes which he committed by driving his car into a crowd of protesters. These hate crimes are also acts ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-26
    4 weeks ago
  • Grayson County Woman Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Troutdale, Va. woman, who worked as a Consumer Directed Services Facilitator (CDSF) to assist elderly and disabled Virginia Medicaid recipients, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to healthcare fraud, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced. Crystal Michelle Smith, 50, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of health care fraud. At sentencing, she faces up to ten years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. “Protecting federal health-care programs and their beneficiaries from fraud, waste, and abuse is among the top priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We will continue to work closely with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate individuals and entities, like this defendant, who abuse the trust of these programs and the people they are supposed to serve.”   “We will continue to work closely with our federal partners to root our provider fraud because it weakens this important program for those who truly need it,” said Attorney General Mark R. Herring. According to information presented at yesterday’s guilty plea by Special Assistant United States Attorney and Virginia Assistant Attorney General Janine M. Myatt, Smith entered into a provider agreement with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) and received payments from 2011 to 2018. The payments were for services provided to Medicaid recipients through Virginia Medicaid’s Commonwealth Coordinated Care Plus Waiver Program, formerly known as the Elderly or Disabled with Consumer Direction ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-25
    1 month ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts 12 Members of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG)
    Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg has indicted 12 members of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), a Mexican-based criminal organization considered by the Department of Justice to be one of the five most dangerous transnational organizations in the world, on federal drug conspiracy charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today. “CJNG is one of the most dangerous drug cartels in the world, and its members and associates are actively operating in the Shenandoah Valley and Southside Virginia,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “Dismantling organized drug activity and staunching the flow of deadly substances like heroin and cocaine into our communities are among my top priorities as U.S. attorney.  I am grateful that our federal, state, and local partners share this goal and for their hard work during the course of this investigation.”  “This investigation demonstrates the extensive reach of Mexican drug cartels and the dangers posed by their presence and activities in the Western District of Virginia and across the Commonwealth,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of DEA Washington Field Division. “The DEA will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to hold these powerful cartels accountable for the destruction they cause.” In an indictment returned under seal on March 5, 2019, and unsealed today following the initial court appearance of two defendants, the grand jury charges: Ramon Carillo-Ruvalcaba, a.k.a. “The Barber” one count ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-24
    1 month ago
  • Former Virginia State Police Special Agent Convicted of Bribery, Obstruction of Justice, and Lying to the FBI Following Five Day Jury Trial
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – Shade Carlton Workman, 46, a Virginia State Police Special Agent, who was recently the commander of the Tazewell County High Intensity Drug Task Force, was convicted on Friday, March 22, 2019, following a five-day jury trial, of federal bribery, obstruction of justice, and making a false statement to a federal agent, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.  The jury acquitted him of an additional charge of obstruction of justice and one count of using a facility of interstate commerce to commit a federal crime. According to the evidence presented at trial, Workman, the former commander of the Tazewell County High Intensity Drug Task Force (HIDTA), a specialized multi-agency drug-enforcement unit partially funded through the National Office of Drug Control Policy, unlawfully solicited and received sexual favors from female confidential informants in exchange for agreeing to assist them with pending criminal charges.  The evidence further showed that when these female confidential informants expressed their reluctance about having sex with him, Workman regularly threatened and implied that they would face lengthy prison terms and extended separation from their children.  When the FBI interviewed Workman during the summer of 2018, he falsely denied having inappropriate or sexual relationships with confidential informants.  Although Workman had deleted text messages evidencing inappropriate sexual relationships with informants from his Virginia State Police-issued phone—and had directed multiple informants to do the same—the FBI was able to recover a large number of text messages, which the government presented at trial.  “This defendant, who had sworn ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-24
    1 month ago
  • Woman Who Temporarily Lived in a Charlottesville Hotel Indicted on Obstruction and False Statement Charges
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville has charged a woman who had lived in Charlottesville with multiple counts of making false statements, obstruction, and harboring a fugitive after she allegedly lied to agents with the U.S. Marshals Service regarding the whereabouts of a convicted sex offender. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Acting United States Marshal Richard “Brad” Sellers made the announcement today. In an indictment returned under seal on March 13, 2019 and unsealed today following her initial court appearance and arraignment, Janna Rebecca Smith, a.k.a. “Rabbit,” 43, is charged with three counts of making false statements, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of harboring or concealing a person for whose arrest she knew a warrant had been issued. “Making a false statement to a federal agent is a serious crime and one that this office will vigorously prosecute,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We will also investigate and prosecute individuals who unlawfully impede the United States Marshals Service in the performance of their duties, including by harboring fugitives or registered sex offenders.”  “Lying to federal officials during the course of their investigation cannot and will not be tolerated,” Acting U.S. Marshal Sellers said today. “These charges illustrate an alleged blatant disregard for the rule of law, that deserve the prosecutorial attention they are getting. Our Deputy Marshals, along with our fugitive task force officers, do their utmost best to make our communities safer on a daily ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-24
    1 month ago
  • Danville Man Sentenced on Wire Fraud, Identity Theft, Student Loan Fraud Charges
    Danville, VIRGINIA – A Danville resident, who committed federal student loan fraud by enrolling dozens of individuals in online universities for personal financial gain, was sentenced yesterday in federal court to more than nine years in prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Tyrone Dwayne Young, 30, was sentenced yesterday to 111 months in federal prison.  The Court, also ordered Young to pay restitution of more than $1.1 million to the United States Department of Education and eight institutions of higher education, including Strayer University, Capella University, Post University, the University of Phoenix, Derry University, Kaplan University, Argosy University and Liberty University based in Lynchburg.  The Court’s sentencing orders follow Young’s guilty plea on November 1, 2018, to one count of wire fraud, one count of student loan fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft, the latter of which carries a mandatory sentence of two years. According to information presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Kari Munro, beginning in or about May 2016, Young started using the personal identifiers of family members and friends to enroll them as students in online universities.  Working through Department of Education and university websites, he created fraudulent student profiles to enroll his victims in online courses of study for the purpose of obtaining federal student loans in their names.  His victims never completed their courses of study and eventually failed or were withdrawn, in most instances after student loan funds for their educational programs had been disbursed.  Young tracked ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-03-05
    2 months ago
  • Pair of Mexican Nationals Sentenced in Large Scale Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy
    Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A pair of Mexican nationals associated with one of the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg for illegally distributing large amounts of cocaine in and around the Winchester area, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.                                                                                                         Blas Rodriguez-Avila, a.k.a. “Kiko” a.k.a. “Flaco,” 28, was sentenced Wednesday, February 27, 2019 to 156 months in prison. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and one count of receiving and possessing a firearm while an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States.   Hector Manuel Naal-Huchin, a.k.a. “Yuca,” 32, was sentenced Wednesday, February 27, 2019 to 130 months in prison. The defendant previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. “These defendants were part of a drug cartel that is responsible for distributing thousands of grams of cocaine in the Shenandoah Valley,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners throughout the region to dismantle these drug-trafficking organizations and send their members to federal prison.” “DEA and our partners work hard every day to ensure the safety of our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Jesse R. Fong.  “Following this case through to sentencing shows our commitment to hold accountable those who jeopardize ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-28
    2 months ago
  • Danville Man Convicted in Spree of Seven Armed Robberies Throughout Virginia
    Lynchburg, VIRGINIA – A Danville man was convicted yesterday following a three-day jury trial of committing seven robberies and other charges related to numerous armed robberies of businesses in Danville, Bedford and Rocky Mount, Virginia and in Prospect Hill, North Carolina. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen made the announcement today as part of the Western District of Virginia’s ongoing Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative to reduce violent crime. A jury sitting in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg convicted Justin Lee Stallings, 33, yesterday of six counts of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery, six counts of using a firearm in commission of a Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of being a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to prosecute those who commit acts of violence in our communities,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.  “Individuals, like Mr. Stallings, who unlawfully possess firearms and who use firearms to commit other violent acts, face very lengthy terms in federal prison.  I am grateful for the leadership of the FBI in our PSN and anti-violence initiatives in the Southside and greater-Roanoke regions, as well as for the hard work of our local law-enforcement partners.”   “Residents of Danville, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of North Carolina, are safer today as a result of Mr. Stallings' federal trial conviction in the Western District of Virginia.  This successful investigation represents a collaborative effort by ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-28
    2 months ago
  • Waynesboro Man Faces Mandatory 10-Year Prison Sentence on Federal Meth Charges
    Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A Waynesboro man, who expected to find thousands of grams of pure methamphetamine in a car tire being shipped from New Mexico instead found nothing thanks to the work of law enforcement, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to a pair of drug charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Miguel Angel Moreno, 22, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty recently in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of attempting to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of up to life. Moreno also faces a possible $10,000,000 fine. “Crystal methamphetamine is an incredibly dangerous and addictive drug,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to stanch the flow of this substance into the Shenandoah Valley and aggressively prosecute organizations and individuals who distribute it.”  “Our message to drug traffickers and their accomplices is clear: individuals attempting to bring dangerous and deadly substances into our neighborhoods will be found,” said ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner. “We will not sit back and allow this poison to infiltrate the communities we call home.” According to evidence presented at Moreno’s guilty plea hearing last week ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-24
    2 months ago
  • Opinion: The Grave Threats of White Supremacy and Far-Right Extremism
    New York Times Opinion (Published February 22, 2019) By Thomas T. Cullen, United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Last week, federal agents in Maryland arrested a United States Coast Guard officer and said he was plotting to assassinate Democratic members of Congress, prominent television journalists and others. The officer, Lt. Christopher Hasson, apparently inspired by a right-wing Norwegian terrorist who slaughtered 77 people in 2011, stockpiled firearms and ammunition and researched locations around Washington to launch his attacks, according to investigators. Fortunately, the F.B.I. arrested him before he could act. This frightening case is just one of several recent reminders that white supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. Regrettably, over the past 25 years, law enforcement, at both the federal and state levels, has been slow to respond. This is in part because of the limited number of enforcement tools available to prosecutors. But there are steps that can be taken to help the police and prosecutors address this growing threat — including, on the federal level, a domestic terrorism law. In 2017, hate crimes, generally defined as criminal acts motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, or gender, increased by about 17 percent nationally, to 7,175 from 6,121 (the number of police agencies reporting crimes also rose, by about 6 percent); in my state, Virginia, they were up by nearly 50 percent, to 202 from 137. Killings committed by individuals and groups associated with far-right extremist groups have ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-24
    2 months ago
  • Former Virginia Tech Professor Found Guilty of Grant Fraud, False Statements, Obstruction
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – A former Virginia Tech professor studying artificial sweeteners was found guilty last week of conspiring to commit federal grant fraud, making false statements and obstruction by falsification, First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar announced today. Chief Judge Michael F. Urbanski of the Western District of Virginia released his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law February 20, 2019 in which he found Yiheng Percival Zhang, 47, of Blacksburg, Va., guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction by falsification. The ruling comes following a September 2018 bench trial in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. “This verdict shows our commitment to hold individuals accountable who seek to fraudulently obtain federal funds.  Mr. Zhang used his position of prominence to unlawfully seek money from federal grant programs and will now pay for it,” FAUSA Bubar said today. “I am proud of our team of investigators and prosecutors that worked tirelessly to ensure that tax payer dollars are not being misused.”  “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)  and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants are intended to promote scientific innovation in the private sector by providing capital to entrepreneurial teams at a very early stage when the technological risk associated with their ideas generally precludes private sector funding,” said Allison Lerner, Inspector General for the National Science Foundation (NSF). “The NSF Office of Inspector General remains committed to ensuring the integrity of the SBIR/STTR programs ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-24
    2 months ago
  • Traveling Nurse Who Worked in Roanoke Sentenced for Tampering with Fentanyl
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A traveling nurse, who tampered with vials of fentanyl and replaced the drug with saline, was sentenced last week in federal court to 42 months in prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Joseph Howard, 34, of Ashland, Ky., previously pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer producer that affects interstate commerce, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or serious injury. “Fentanyl and other powerful opioids are being abused at epidemic rates across the country,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “Hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and manufacturers must do everything in their power to track and control every dose of these addictive and often-abused drugs to ensure they are being used in accordance with limited prescribed uses.” “Patients deserve to have confidence that they are receiving the proper treatment from those entrusted with providing their medical care,” said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office.  “As part of the FDA’s comprehensive work to address the opioid epidemic, the agency will continue to hold medical personnel accountable when they take advantage of their unique position and tamper with drugs needed by their patients, especially when such tampering could cause unnecessary pain and suffering.” According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer, Howard worked as a traveling nurse in Roanoke between November 2017 and December 2017. During that time, the defendant ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-20
    2 months ago
  • Two Defendants Sentenced in Drug Conspiracy Investigation
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA –Two members of a drug distribution organization that trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from Georgia into Southwest Virginia were sentenced recently in federal court in Abingdon on drug conspiracy charges.  United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring made the announcement today. “Opioids and crystal methamphetamine are highly addictive and potentially deadly drugs,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to stanch the flow of these substances into Southwest Virginia and prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible for trafficking in them.”    “Reducing the availability of crystal methamphetamine and other drugs in Southwest Virginia remains a high priority for my office.  We work diligently with our law enforcement partners to crack down on those who transport dangerous drugs into the Commonwealth for distribution,” Virginia Attorney General Herring said today.  “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners and will continue to aggressively prosecute those who endanger the lives of our citizens.”  In a hearing last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Christy Marie Doffermyer, 47, of Kingsport, Tenn., was sentenced, to 168 months in federal prison.  Doffermyer previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, as well as heroin and oxycodone.  On February 15, 2019, Timothy Allen Barr, 51, of Coeburn, Va., was sentenced to  41 months in federal ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-20
    2 months ago
  • Husband Sentenced on Federal Charges—Wife to be Sentenced Later in March
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A St. Paul, Virginia man, who illegally possessed more than a dozen firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, was sentenced yesterday to 71 months in federal prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced. Patrick Steven Hyde, 40, previously pleaded guilty to one count of being a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm. Crystal Dione Hyde, 35, Patrick’s wife, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of lying to a federal agent in order to keep her husband out of trouble, will be sentenced on a date to be scheduled in March 2019. “Although the Second Amendment strongly protects an individual’s right to bear arms, it does not allow convicted felons, and other prohibited persons, to possess firearms,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute convicted felons who possess firearms and those who enable them to do so.” According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Kerney-Quillen, on December 17, 2015, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF], Virginia State Police, Russell County Sheriff’s Office, and Wise County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search of the mobile home and outbuilding in St. Paul, Virginia where Steven and Crystal Hyde resided.  During that search, investigators recovered 14 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, two bulletproof vests, and marijuana.  The firearms recovered included five semi-automatic rifles ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-14
    2 months ago
  • Former Blacksburg Doctor Sentenced on Federal Drug Charges
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – The former owner of the Virginia Vein Institute in Blacksburg was sentenced yesterday to 20 months in federal prison resulting from his conviction on nearly 70 federal drug charges for illegally obtaining 3,200 oxycodone pills, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and the Virginia Attorney General’s Office announced. Frank Purpera Jr., 44, of Blacksburg, was convicted following a four-day trial in February 2018 in U.S. District Court in Roanoke on 67 counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, one count of omitting material information required to be kept, and one count of making a false statement. In addition to the 20-month period of incarceration, Purpera was also ordered to pay a fine of $34,000 and a $6,800 special assessment. Evidence presented at trial by Assistant United States Attorneys Randy Ramseyer and Jennie L. M. Waering, and Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special United States Attorney Nicole Terry, established that Purpera obtained 3,200 oxycodone pills and has no record of what happened to those pills. The defendant claimed to law enforcement the pills were used for procedures on his patients, however, further evidence at trial proved this to be untrue. Purpera later claimed to the Department of Health Professions that he gave all of the 3,200 oxycodone pills to his wife.  Evidence presented by the United States during trial showed that it would be outside of the scope of Purpera’s practice to dispense those pills to his wife under the facts and circumstances of the case and, therefore, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-12
    2 months ago
  • Lebanon Doctor Sentenced on Federal Drug Distribution Charges
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A medical doctor who previously practiced in Lebanon, Va. was sentenced today to serve 151 months in federal prison following convictions on federal drug charges. First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar and the Office of the Virginia Attorney General made the announcement. Dr. Dwight L. Bailey, 66, was convicted of 61 federal charges following a two-week jury trial in August of 2018. Evidence presented at trial proved that Bailey, who operated Family Healthcare Associates of Southwest VA and Ridgewood Health Care Clinic, illegally prescribed drugs to his patients. “Dr. Bailey’s scheme to illegally prescribe opioids and other narcotics violated his patients’ trust and preyed on their addiction for his own financial gain.” First Assistant Bubar said today. “His lengthy sentence should send a strong message that our office and our federal and state partners will work tirelessly to prosecute those in healthcare who perpetuate the opioid epidemic by illegally diverting medication to harm their patients and damage the community.”     Additional evidence showed that Baily, and other providers in his office, continually wrote prescriptions for opiates, benzodiazepines, and sleeping pills to patients who were clearly misusing, abusing, and diverting those controlled substances.  Most of the patients at Bailey’s clinic were receiving an opiate and/or a benzodiazepine.  Bailey’s income from his clinic and work at local emergency room topped $750,000 in a single year.  Bailey was convicted of one count of conspiracy to distribute schedule II controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose, one count of conspiracy to ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-06
    3 months ago
  • United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen Offers Condolences to the Virginia State Police As They Mourn Slain Virginia State Trooper Lucas B. Dowell
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen joins the Virginia State Police and law enforcement throughout the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of Virginia State Police Trooper Lucas B. Dowell, a Chilhowie, Virginia native who died in the line of duty Monday, February 4, 2019. “As this terrible incident illustrates, police officers risk their lives every time they put on a uniform,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “Trooper Dowell’s bravery and sacrifice are a sobering reminder of those dangers.  The federal law-enforcement community in Western Virginia mourns the loss of this courageous young man and will honor his legacy.” Trooper Dowell was a member of the Virginia State Police Tactical Team that was assisting the Piedmont Regional Drug Task Force with executing a search warrant at a residence in Cumberland County, Virginia just north of the town of Farmville. According to the Virginia State Police, the tactical team had made entry into the residence shortly before 10 p.m. when an adult male inside the residence began shooting at them, hitting Trooper Dowell. Trooper Dowell was transported to Southside Community Hospital in Farmville where he later died from his injuries. Trooper Dowell becomes the Virginia State Police’s 66th line of duty death. Trooper Dowell graduated from the Virginia State Police’s 122nd Basic Session in November 2014. Since graduation, he has been assigned to the Virginia State Police Appomattox Division. Trooper Dowell is survived by his parents and a sister. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-02-04
    3 months ago
  • Six Members of Drug Trafficking Organization Plead Guilty For Roles in Conspiracy that Brought Methamphetamine from California to Southwest Virginia
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today that six individuals who conspired to traffic methamphetamine from California into Southwest Virginia recently pleaded guilty in the United States District Court in Abingdon to federal firearms and methamphetamine distribution charges. “Methamphetamine is a deadly drug that has ravaged numerous communities in Southwest Virginia,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to dismantle the large drug-trafficking organizations mainly responsible for this scourge and stanching the flow of these drugs into our region.”  Justin Hale, 36, and Elizabeth Hale, 38, both of Abingdon, Va., each pleaded guilty on January 23, 2019 to one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of possession with the intent to distribute 500 grams of methamphetamine.   At sentencing, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison. In addition, each defendant faces a possible criminal fine of up to $20 million. Jessica Dixon, 30, and Michael Wesley Kestner, 35, both of Marion, Va., each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. Dixon entered her plea on January 17, 2019. Kestner pleaded guilty on January 31, 2019. At sentencing, they each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-01-31
    3 months ago
  • Defendants in Methamphetamine Conspiracy Sentenced
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Saltville, Va., man, convicted of trafficking a large quantity of methamphetamine in Smyth County, was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 72 months in prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced today. Zachary Blue Carter, 38, was sentenced yesterday to serve 72 months in federal prison.  Carter previously pleaded guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of 100 grams or more of heroin, and one count of maintaining a place for the purpose of distributing or using a controlled substance. “Crystal methamphetamine and heroin are highly addictive drugs that have destroyed countless lives in Southwest Virginia,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners, including the Virginia Attorney General’s office, to target individuals and organizations responsible for bringing these deadly substances into our communities and holding them accountable.” “Overdose deaths from dangerous drugs now surpass fatalities from car crashes each year.  This sad statistic underscores our continued dedication to collaborate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and federal, state, and local law enforcement to crack down on those who transport dangerous drugs into Southwest Virginia for distribution,” Virginia Attorney General Herring said today.  “We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners and will continue to aggressively ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-01-31
    3 months ago
  • California Man Sentenced for Lying to Federal Agents
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A California man, who made threats of violence against then-United States Congressman Tom Garrett, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to serve six months in federal prison, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Eun Soo Lee, 24, of Cypress, California, previously pleaded guilty to a one-count, felony Information charging him with lying to a federal agent. “Although the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to free speech, it does not license threats of harm or violence,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.   “As this case illustrates, the Department of Justice will react swiftly and aggressively to unlawful threats made using social media or other communications platforms.”  In May of 2017, Lee, using a fake Facebook account and virtual private network to hide his identity, made threats against then-Congressman Garrett. Those threats included, but were not limited to: “You’re dead if I ever meet you in real life, fu****.  I’ll fu***** kill you.” When questioned by law enforcement, Lee denied having a Facebook account, denied ever using a fake Facebook account, and denied ever sending messages to then-Congressman Garrett. Notwithstanding Lee’s efforts to hide his identity, investigators traced the messages to Lee, who eventually admitted to sending the threats.  The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Capitol Police, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Orange County (CA) Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.   ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-01-30
    3 months ago
  • Jury Convicts Las Vegas Man of Conspiring to Traffic Methamphetamine
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – The final defendant charged in Operation Leaving Las Vegas, a 32-defendant conspiracy that trafficked methamphetamine and other drugs between Las Vegas and Southwest Virginia, was convicted earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon following a two-day jury trial. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen made the announcement. Kevin Thomas Seigler, 36, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was convicted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 of one count of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and conspiracy to use a communication facility to facilitate a drug-trafficking offense.  “As a result of Operation Leaving Las Vegas, a massive drug-trafficking organization, which operated in Virginia and Nevada, has been dismantled and nearly three dozen of its members are serving lengthy terms in federal prison,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “I am grateful to our federal, state, and local partners for their dedication and commitment to this important investigation over the last three years.  We will continue our joint efforts to reduce the scourge of illegal drugs in Southwest Virginia.”  “ATF is committed to working with our partners to reduce violent crime and keep our communities safe by removing illegal firearms and dangerous drugs from our streets,” said Special Agent in Charge Ashan M. Benedict, ATF Washington Field Division. “We will do everything in our power to dismantle organizations like these and put these individuals behind bars where they belong.” “The successful culmination of this investigation is a prime example of what can be accomplished when federal, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-01-30
    3 months ago
  • Martinsburg, West Virginia Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking, Distributing Fatal Dose of Fentanyl and Evidence Tampering
    Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A Martinsburg, West Virginia, man, who used heroin as a means to control numerous women he trafficked as part of a commercial prostitution ring that operated in the Western District of Virginia, and elsewhere, was convicted this week following a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen made the announcement. Kendall Demarko Wysinger, 42, was convicted on January 14, 2019, of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, one count of interstate transportation for prostitution, one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in death, one count of distribution of fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury, and one count of evidence tampering, following a six-day jury trial. At sentencing, Wysinger faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum statutory penalty of life. “An individual who preyed on vulnerable victims and destroyed numerous lives through opioid distribution and sex trafficking will now spend the better part of his life in federal prison,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We are extremely grateful for the hard work and persistence of the FBI, the Virginia State Police, and our numerous local law-enforcement partners in bringing him to justice.”  “The I-81 Human Trafficking Task Force continues to work vigorously to identify and bring to trial the perpetrators of these heinous crimes; and partner with victim service providers to ensure victims are able to obtain the necessary care to recover and rebuild their lives,” said FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2019-01-15
    3 months ago
  • Wise County Man Pleads Guilty to Lying About Disability
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Wise County man, who claimed to be to be too disabled to work and as a result received over $92,000 in disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to making a false statement, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Jeffrey L. Bates, 59, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of making a false statement. At sentencing, Bates faces a maximum statutory sentence of up to five years in prison. The defendant has also agreed to pay $92,081 in restitution to the Railroad Retirement Board. Bates will be sentenced April 16, 2019. “Protecting government-sponsored benefits programs from fraud and abuse is among our top priorities,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “False statements in connection with these programs, like the ones the defendant admitted to making in this case, are violations of federal law and will result in criminal prosecution.”  According to evidence presented at yesterday’s guilty plea hearing by Special Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Carnell, Bates had been receiving disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board since 2001. In 2015, the Railroad Retirement Board received a hotline complaint stating that Bates was self-employed in the lawn care business. The defendant filled out a form, as required by the Railroad Retirement Board, in 2016, wherein he falsely stated his self-employment status and the earnings he received. The investigation of the case was conducted by the USRRB- OIG. Special Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen Carnell is prosecuting the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-12-13
    4 months ago
  • Salem Man Charged with Stealing Multiple Firearms from Dublin Pawn Shop
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke has charged a Salem man with stealing multiple firearms from a federal firearms licensee in Dublin, Virginia. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Washington Field Division made the announcement. The federal grand jury has charged DeAngelo Ramsey, 19, with one count of burglary of a federal firearms licensee and one count of possession and concealment of stolen firearms. “We are committed to working with the ATF and our state and local partners to prosecute individuals who unlawfully obtain, possess, or transfer firearms,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “Procuring firearms through theft or fraud is a serious offense and one that will result in a federal prison sentence.”   “ATF takes the theft of firearms very seriously. Too often, stolen firearms are used to commit violent crimes, usually in the same community where they were stolen,” said Thomas L. Chittum, III, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division. “Thankfully, the aggressive response from law enforcement lead to recovery of the firearms stolen in this case, before they ended up on the streets or in the hands of other criminals.” According to the indictment, in the early morning hours of November 24, 2018, Ramsey broke into a retail pizza business adjacent to Dublin Pawn, doing business as E.S. Ramey ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-12-12
    4 months ago
  • Eighteen Charged in Federal Drug Indictment
    Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – Federal, state, and local officials announced today the arrests of 19 individuals on federal drug-trafficking, firearms, and other charges resulting from a months-long, multi-agency investigation. "The modern opioid epidemic is one of the most vexing problems faced by law enforcement and public-health officials,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “As U.S. Attorney, I am committed to prosecuting individuals and organizations who distribute Fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine and working with our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners to stanch the flow of these deadly drugs into Western Virginia.  But while I firmly believe that vigorous enforcement is critical to addressing this epidemic, we also support meaningful treatment initiatives for those suffering from drug addictions and targeted outreach to prevent others from having their lives destroyed by these deadly substances.”    “ATF is committed to ridding American streets of crime, not just in large cities but also in the rural areas that are often hit hardest by the scourge of illegal firearms and drugs. This investigation is a great example of how we work with our law enforcement partners to dismantle criminal organizations and protect the communities they infest. It should serve as a reminder to others that no matter where you are, if you commit a federal crime, we will do everything we can to put you behind bars,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas L. Chittum III, ATF Washington Field Division. The indictment, returned under seal by a federal grand jury December 4, 2018 and unsealed yesterday, charges 18 ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-12-12
    4 months ago
  • Husband and Wife Sentenced on Federal Health Care Fraud Charges
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A husband and wife, who enriched themselves by defrauding the Virginia Medicaid program, were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court on federal health care fraud and related charges, United States Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced. Dennis Gowin, 67, of Dillwyn, Va., was sentenced earlier this week to twelve months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $210,593, and a fine of $5,500. Gowin previously pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud, one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information, and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon. Cheryl Gowin, 65, also of Dillwyn, was sentenced earlier this week to three years of probation with the first six-months on house arrest, three years of supervised release, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $210,593, and a $2,000 fine. She previously pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable healthcare information. “Health-care fraud, in its various forms, costs the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars every year and substantially reduces the quality of care for those who need it most,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners, including the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, to prosecute those who exploit our health-care system and, in so doing, violate the public’s trust.”  “The Gowins ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-12-05
    5 months ago
  • California Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Riot
    CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA – An associate of a violent extremist group the “Rise Above Movement” [RAM] pleaded guilty today to federal conspiracy-to-riot charges after admitting to traveling across the country to commit acts of violence at the torch-lit march on the University of Virginia grounds on August 11, 2017 and the Unite the Right Rally on August 12, 2017.  United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen, Special Agent in Charges Adam S. Lee of the FBI’s Richmond Division, and Virginia State Police Colonel Gary T. Settle made the announcement. Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, Calif., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute. At sentencing, White faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. White, Benjamin Daley, Thomas Gillen, and Michael Miselis were indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2018 and charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots statute and one count of traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to incite a riot. Federal charges remain pending against Daley, Gillen, and Miselis. “As Mr. White has acknowledged as part of his guilty plea, he and members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM) traveled to the ‘Unite the Right’ Rally in Charlottesville in order to engage in riotous conduct,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “Although the First Amendment protects the rights of individuals and groups to assemble and protest peacefully, it does ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-29
    5 months ago
  • North Carolina Man Indicted on a Federal Charge
    Danville, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury sitting in the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville has indicted a North Carolina man on a federal charge of violating a protective order. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Lee of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today. Carl Ray Kennedy, 51, of Randleman, N.C., was charged today in a federal indictment with one count of traveling in interstate commerce from North Carolina to Virginia with the intent to engage in conduct that would violate a Family Abuse protective order issued in May 2018 by the Pittsylvania County, Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. “As today’s indictment indicates, the Department of Justice will use all available tools to prosecute individuals who travel in interstate commerce in violation of state protective orders,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “We are grateful for the hard work and diligence of the FBI, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, and the Danville Police Department in resolving this dangerous situation and bringing the defendant to justice.”  According to the indictment, on June 3, 2018, Kennedy traveled from North Carolina to Virginia with the intent to engage in conduct that would violate a protective order in place since May 2018. The protective order prohibited all contact and communication (except for limited email contact) between the defendant and victim. Kennedy subsequently engaged in personal and physical contact and communication with the victim and, during the offense, used a dangerous weapon. The investigation of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-27
    5 months ago
  • Five Defendants Plead Guilty in Drug Conspiracy Investigation
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – Five members of a drug distribution organization that trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and other drugs from Georgia into Southwest Virginia pleaded guilty recently in federal court to federal drug conspiracy charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced. Christy Marie Doffermyer, 47, of Kingsport, Tenn., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, as well as distributing heroin and oxycodone.  At sentencing, Doffermyer faces a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Timothy Terrell Peek, 34, of Greensboro, Ga., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, as well as distributing heroin, oxycodone, cocaine, and alprazolam.  At sentencing, Peek faces a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Audrea Augusta Woodward, 50, of Big Stone Gap, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and distributing oxycodone.  At sentencing, Woodward faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million. Timothy Allen Barr, 51, of Coeburn, Va., and Paul Thomas Jones, 25, of Big Stone Gap, Va., pleaded guilty ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-15
    5 months ago
  • Duffield Man Sentenced for Manufacturing Marijuana, Felon in Possession of a Firearm
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A federal judge yesterday sentenced a Duffield man, who was on supervised release for a previous federal conviction after serving a lengthy state prison sentence for arson, to a total of 14 years in federal prison for marijuana and illegal firearms charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today. Claude Gene Sloan, 76, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to one count of manufacturing and possessing with the intent to distribute more than 100 marijuana plants, one count of distribution of marijuana, and one count of being a previously convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm.  In 2000, Sloan was convicted of manufacturing marijuana.  He was released from federal prison in 2014 and was on federal supervised release at the time of these offenses. “As this case illustrates, we are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to target violent and recidivist offenders within specific communities and send them to federal prison,” U.S. Attorney Cullen said today.  “We are particularly grateful for the hard work of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and the Southwest Drug Task Force in making their community safer.” Evidence was presented at sentencing that Sloan began growing and selling marijuana within two years of his last release from prison.  In addition, an audio recording was introduced in which Sloan asked another person to burn down Sloan’s neighbor’s home. United States District Court Judge James P. Jones imposed a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 12 years on the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-14
    5 months ago
  • Atlanta Man Sentenced for Threatening Charlottesville-Area Schools
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A federal judge here sentenced an Atlanta man today to 12 months and one-day in federal prison as a result of his October 2017 posting of threatening messages against Charlottesville-area schools that caused Charlottesville City Schools to go into a modified lockdown for two days, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Michael Anthony Townes, 48, was arrested May 20, 2018 in Georgia via a federal criminal complaint. On August 20, 2018, he pled guilty to a felony indictment of one count of making threats to injure another person sent in interstate commerce. “The defendant’s threatening communications terrified students, parents, and teachers in the Charlottesville community,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “I am grateful for the diligence and hard work of the FBI in finding this defendant and bringing him to justice.  As this and other recent cases illustrate, the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who use the Internet and social media to threaten violence against any individual or group.  This type of activity is not protected by the First Amendment, and those who engage in it will be held accountable.” According to a statement of facts signed by the defendant and filed with the court by Special Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Swartz, on or about October 10, 2017, Townes, while physically located in Atlanta, Georgia, posted a series of comments on the internet site Yahoo News. Those comments included but were not limited to: “@Terry not until I pull off ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-12
    5 months ago
  • Danville Man Sentenced on Federal Drug and Gun Charges
    Danville, VIRGINIA – A federal court today sentenced Keemo Jonathan Lee, a Danville man who previously pleaded guilty to a series of federal drug and gun charges related to the sale of cocaine, heroin and illegal firearms, to 37 months in federal prison. United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen made the announcement as part of the Western District of Virginia’s ongoing Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative to reduce violent crime. Lee, 23, pleaded guilty on August 7, 2018, to three counts of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, two counts of distribution and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, and two counts of the sale of a firearm to a prohibited person. “As this prosecution indicates, we are committed to working with our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners through our Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative to reduce violent crime in Danville,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.  “We have made progress towards this goal over the past several months, but will continue our coordinated assault until we achieve a significant and lasting reduction.” According to a statement of facts read into the record at a previous hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Rachel Swartz, should the matter have gone to trial the United States would have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that on multiple occasions, officers with the Danville Police Department, utilizing a confidential source, made controlled purchases of cocaine, heroin, and illegal firearms from Lee. One such controlled purchase, on June 29, 2017, was conducted at a gas ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-07
    6 months ago
  • California Man Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Agents
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A California man, who made threats of violence against Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett, pleaded guilty yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to one count of lying to federal agents, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Eun Soo Lee, 24, of Cypress, California, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday to a one-count felony Information charging him with lying to a federal agent. “We must not mistake threats of violence for free speech,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “Although the First Amendment protects the right to express political views, its protections do not extend to communications that threaten the safety and well-being of any person, elected official or otherwise.” According to evidence presented at yesterday’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer, in May of 2017, Lee, using a fake Facebook account and virtual private network to hide his identity, made threats against Congressman Garrett. Those threats included, but were not limited to: “You’re dead if I ever meet you in real life, fu****.  I’ll fu***** kill you.” When questioned by law enforcement, Lee denied having a Facebook account, denied ever using a fake Facebook accounts, and denied ever sending messages to Congressman Garrett. Notwithstanding Lee’s efforts to hide his identity, investigators traced the messages to Lee, who eventually admitted to sending the threats.  United States District Judge James P. Jones will sentence Lee on January 30, 2019 at 2:30 p.m.  ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-11-06
    6 months ago
  • United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen Appoints Dedicated Official to Answer Western District of Virginia Election Complaints
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today that Assistant United States Matthew Miller will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2018 general election. AUSA Miller has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Western District of Virginia, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington. “The right to vote in free and fair elections is the bedrock of our democratic system of government,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.  “The Department of Justice and this U.S. attorney’s office will not tolerate efforts, by any individuals or groups, to infringe on or interfere with this fundamental right through intimidation, voter-suppression tactics, or fraud.  Our District Election Officer and the FBI will be standing by in the coming days to respond to any credible complaints of unlawful activity.” The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on Election Day. Federal law protects against such ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • Roanoke Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison For Enticment, Receipt, And Possession of Child Pornography
    ROANOKE – A Roanoke, Virginia man was sentenced to 360 months in prison today, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for enticement of a minor, receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen for the Western District of Virginia made the announcement. Scott Curtiss Pieritz, 57, pleaded guilty on June 19, before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski of the Western District of Virginia to one count of enticement of a minor, one count of receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, in July 2017, law enforcement agents were notified that Pieritz, who had a duty to register as a sex offender as a result of three prior child pornography convictions, was using social media applications to communicate with minors and ask them for nude images of themselves. Forensic examination of Pieritz’s electronic devices seized pursuant to a search warrant confirmed that he was in possession of numerous images and videos of child pornography, had used applications such as Omegle and Musical.ly to entice minors to produce and send him child pornography, and had posed as a minor online. At times, Pieritz also exchanged money and gifts for child pornography images from minors. At the time of his arrest, Pieritz was employed as a cashier and dishwasher at K&W Cafeteria, in Roanoke. The ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • Roanoke Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison For Enticement, Receipt, And Possession of Child Pornography
    ROANOKE – A Roanoke, Virginia man was sentenced to 360 months in prison today, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for enticement of a minor, receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen for the Western District of Virginia made the announcement. Scott Curtiss Pieritz, 57, pleaded guilty on June 19, before Chief U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski of the Western District of Virginia to one count of enticement of a minor, one count of receipt or attempted receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, in July 2017, law enforcement agents were notified that Pieritz, who had a duty to register as a sex offender as a result of three prior child pornography convictions, was using social media applications to communicate with minors and ask them for nude images of themselves. Forensic examination of Pieritz’s electronic devices seized pursuant to a search warrant confirmed that he was in possession of numerous images and videos of child pornography, had used applications such as Omegle and Musical.ly to entice minors to produce and send him child pornography, and had posed as a minor online. At times, Pieritz also exchanged money and gifts for child pornography images from minors. At the time of his arrest, Pieritz was employed as a cashier and dishwasher at K&W Cafeteria, in Roanoke. The ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • Two Danville Men Plead Guilty to Child Pornography Charge
    Danville, VIRGINIA – A pair of Danville men pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Danville to a charge of production of child pornography, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Today in District Court, Matthew Ceasar Ferguson, 22, and Joshua Malik Coleman, 22, both of Danville, each pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography. At sentencing, each faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years’ incarceration. “Protecting children from sexual exploitation is among our top priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen.  “I am grateful for the dedication and commitment of our federal, state, and local partners in bringing these two sexual predators to justice.” According to a statement of facts entered into the record during today’s guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Heather L. Carlton, on October 22, 2016, Ferguson contacted Victim A, a juvenile female who was 15-years-old at the time, via Facebook Messenger. Ferguson informed Victim A that he and his cousin, Joshua Coleman, had alcohol, and asked if Victim A wanted to hang out. Victim A agreed. Although they knew each other, Victim A had never socialized with Ferguson or Coleman prior to October 22, 2016. Coleman picked up Victim A and drove her to his house in Danville, made alcoholic drinks for her from multiple bottles of different alcohols, and all three, Victim A, Coleman, and Ferguson, smoked K-2, a synthetic form of marijuana. At some point, Victim A passed ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-24
    6 months ago
  • Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Set for Saturday, October 27, 2018
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced that the United States Attorney’s Office is proud to partner with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Western Virginia Water Authority to collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for safe destruction on Saturday, October 27, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 13 area locations in the Roanoke Valley, and many more locations throughout the district.  The public is invited to bring unused, unwanted, and expired medications to this free and anonymous event that is part of the DEA’s nationwide prescription drug “Take-Back” program that seeks to prevent prescription pill abuse, theft, and environmental concerns. “Properly disposing of unused and expired medications is an important part of making our communities safer,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today.  “This initiative provides an opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and prevent accidental ingestion by children in your homes.  It also helps reduce the risk of abuse and misuse of prescription drugs.  We can all be a part of combatting the opioid epidemic by keeping our own homes free from unwanted and expired medications.” This is the Roanoke Valley’s 16th take-back event.  To date, over 307,000 pounds of prescription medications have been turned in across the Commonwealth, including over 30,000 pounds at the last event in April 2018, with the Roanoke-area collection sites being one of the largest collection locations in the state.   This Saturday ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-22
    6 months ago
  • Buena Vista Man Sentenced on Federal Child Pornography Charge
    Lynchburg, VIRGINIA – A 32-year-old Buena Vista man, who was studying to become a youth pastor, was sentenced yesterday to 78 months in federal prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to possession of child pornography and attempting to send obscene material to a child under 16 years of age, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced. Christopher Collins, 32, pleaded guilty on May 16, 2018, to offenses relating to his communications with an undercover officer posing as a 13-year old girl and the recovery from Collins’ digital devices of child pornography images. In addition to 78 months of incarceration, Collins was also sentenced yesterday to five years of supervised release and will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. “The Department of Justice is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners to prosecute individuals who exploit children through, among other reprehensible acts, child pornography,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today. “Each and every time these types of images are shared online, children are victimized.  Accordingly, these cases are among the most important that we do as federal prosecutors, and we will make every effort to vindicate the interests of these vulnerable victims and protect them from further harm.”  In November 2016, the defendant, who used the screen name “NavyGuy4Yng” contacted an undercover officer.  He sent pictures of his penis and a masturbation video to the officer and told the officer that his screen name on another website was “PastorGreg.”  In ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-18
    6 months ago
  • AUSA Heather L. Carlton Named Federal Prosecutor of the Year by Virginia Gang Investigators Association
    VIRGINA BEACH, VIRGINIA –Assistant United States Attorney Heather L. Carlton was honored Tuesday at the Virginia Gang Investigators Association’s 20th Annual Gang Conference in being named the Federal Prosecutor of the Year. AUSA Carlton was presented the award during a ceremony in Virginia Beach featuring law-enforcement leaders from across Virginia, including more than 500 gang investigators. For more than 25 years, the Virginia Gang Investigators Association has been the premier law-enforcement association for training and up-to-date information on the latest trends and prevention techniques.  “I am thrilled that the VGIA has honored Heather Carlton with this award,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.  “Thanks in large part to her initiative and leadership—as well as the hard work of our federal, state, and local law-enforcement partners—we are making significant strides towards reducing violence in Danville.  Nearly 20 alleged gang members are no longer operating on the streets of this community, and Heather and her task force partners are continuing their efforts to achieve a meaningful and lasting reduction in violent crime there.”  The Virginia Gang Association recognized AUSA Carlton for her work on the Rollin 60s and Milla Bloods racketeering indictments out of Danville, Virginia. The two indictments, returned in June 2018, charged 18 alleged gang members and associates from the City of Danville with crimes ranging from murder to drug distribution to obstruction of justice. At the time, U.S. Attorney Cullen called it “the largest and most significant federal prosecution of organized gang activity in the Western District of Virginia in at ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-17
    6 months ago
  • U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen Announces Progress in Making our Communities Safer Through Project Safe Neighborhoods
    Roanoke, VIRGINIA – One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  Throughout the past year, the United States Attorney’s Office has partnered with all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make the communities and neighborhoods of the Western District of Virginia safer for everyone. “Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs.  I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face.  Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives, and restore safety to our communities.” “Reducing violent crime through the PSN initiative is my top priority,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “With the assistance of our ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-09
    7 months ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts Four From California for Conspiracy to Violate Riots Statute
    Charlottesville, VIRGINIA – A federal grand jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville has returned an indictment charging four California men with conspiring to violate the federal riots statue, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced today. The four defendants, Benjamin Drake Daley, 25, of Redondo Beach Calif., Thomas Walter Gillen, 24, of Redondo Beach, Calif., Michael Paul Miselis, 29, of Lawndale, Calif., and Cole Evan White, 24, of Clayton, Calif., were arrested on federal criminal complaints in the early morning hours of October 2, 2018.  The indictment returned today charges each defendant with one count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots act and one count of traveling in interstate commerce from California to Charlottesville, Virginia with the intent to incite a riot, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on in a riot, to commit an act of violence in furtherance of a riot, or aid or abet any person inciting and participating in or carrying on in a riot. According to the indictment, beginning as early as March 2017, Daley, Gillen, Miselis, and White began associating with a white-supremacist organization that eventually became known as the “Rise Above Movement” or “RAM.” RAM openly identified as “alt-right” and “nationalist” and its members and associates frequently posted photographs and videos of themselves engaging in physical training and mixed martial arts street-fighting techniques, along with references to their alt-right and nationalist beliefs and ideology. The indictment alleges that RAM members and ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-09
    7 months ago
  • Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty to Healthcare Fraud and Wire Fraud
    Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A former psychiatrist who previously worked in Lebanon, Virginia pleaded guilty last week to healthcare fraud and wire fraud, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced. Alfredo Cervantes, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of wire fraud. As a condition of his guilty plea, Cervantes, whose medical license and DEA registration were revoked in 2015, agreed never to practice medicine again.  “Protecting the health and safety of patients, as well as the integrity of our health-care system, is a priority of the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated.   “We will continue to investigate and prosecute physicians who violate the sacred trust placed in them by their patients, the public, and health-care officials.  I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services in bringing this doctor to justice.” “This was a violation of the law and of the duty of care that this doctor owed to one of his patients,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Cervantes’ stole from taxpayers and his unethical behavior could have jeopardized the health and welfare of a person in his care. I appreciate all the hard work done by my Medicaid Fraud Unit, the HHS Inspector General, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to put a stop to this unlawful and unethical conduct.” “Protecting patients from harm and the Medicare and Medicaid Programs from fraudulent billings ... read more
    Source: DOJ – West VirginiaPublished on 2018-10-08
    7 months ago