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Federal Government
Feds Expand NC Immigration Fraud Task Force PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Monday, 20 August 2018 08:59
RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announced his office is partnering with Homeland Security Investigations and other top-tier law enforcement agencies to pursue benefit fraud investigations and prosecutions. 
 
Established in April 2006, these task forces, known as DBFTFs focus their efforts on detecting, deterring and disrupting both benefit fraud and document fraud. Investigators from a variety of agencies with expertise in different aspects of document and benefit fraud collaborate with U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country to formulate a comprehensive approach in targeting the criminal organizations and the beneficiaries behind these fraudulent schemes.
 
“Immigration benefit fraud harms everyone who seeks to enter the United States lawfully by cluttering the system with fraudulent applications,” said Homeland Security Resident Agent in Charge Brian Padian. “Benefit fraud wastes government resources better spent on adjudicating legitimate applications. Document and benefit fraud task forces allow HSI/ICE to partner with federal, state, and local agencies to combat immigration fraud, protect the integrity of the immigration system, and punish those who profit from promoting fraudulent schemes.”
 
ICE partners with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Labor, Social Security Administration, and various state and local law enforcement agencies on these task forces.
 
“This task force expansion is another example of a DHS-wide effort to combat fraud” said Roxroy Collins, USCIS Atlanta District, Fraud Detection and National Security Chief. “Immigration fraud undermines the integrity and fairness of our immigration system and can provide dangerous individuals access to our country. Together with our DHS colleagues, we are committed to holding those accountable that commit fraud to enter or remain in the United States as well as on those who prey on immigrants with the false promise of services and benefits.”
 
“Passport and visa fraud are potential threats to our national security. United States passports and visas are among the most
coveted documents in the world. Terrorists and criminals could use fraudulent passports and visas to enter the United States to commit acts of violence. Travel document fraud makes the United States more vulnerable to crime and terrorism, plain and simple,” said David Monroe, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
 
Supporting these DBFTFs is ICE’s Forensic Document Laboratory, the only federal crime laboratory dedicated to the forensic examination of travel and identity documents, and its Cyber Crimes Center, and USCIS’ Office of Fraud Detection and National Security.
 
DBFTFs currently operate in 17 major cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Saint Paul, San Francisco, Tampa, Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia, and now Raleigh, North Carolina.
 
During the 2017 fiscal year alone, Homeland Security Investigations initiated more than 601 criminal investigations that resulted in 459 indictments and 445 criminal arrests, along with 254 convictions and seizures totaling $5,911,875.
 
Document fraud refers to the manufacture, sale, or use of counterfeit identity documents such as fake driver’s licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards or passports – for immigration fraud or other criminal activity. Document fraud also involves efforts to obtain genuine identity documents through fraudulent means and often supports the crime of benefit fraud.
Benefit fraud refers to the misrepresentation or omission of material facts on applications to obtain immigration benefits the beneficiary is not entitled to, such as U.S. citizenship, adjustment of status, employment, or visas. Because these benefits provide the ability to freely enter, work or reside in this country, they are highly valued by illegal aliens, terrorists, and other criminals.
 
Using fake documents and making false statements to obtain government benefits and vote in the United States is a threat to national security and undermines the principles, integrity, and fairness of all government institutions, programs, and our national immigration system. The coordinated interagency efforts of the DBFTF in Raleigh, North Carolina, will help prevent future abuses, while enabling the identification of criminals who make false statements, and utilize and manufacture false documentation.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 August 2018 09:02
 
Tunisian Man Who Swore Allegiance To ISIS Gets Two Years In Federal Prison For Tax Fraud PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:52
Houcine Ghoul was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge James C Dever III, to serve 24 months imprisonment, followed by deportation, for attempted unlawful procurement of naturalization and making a false statements on his tax return. Ghoul pleaded guilty to these charges on November 13, 2017.
 
Ghoul a citizen of Tunisia, entered the U.S. in 2001 on a tourist visa. After overstaying his visa, Ghoul married a U.S. citizen, whom he later divorced, and obtained status as a legal permanent resident.
 
The investigation into Ghoul conduct began in April 2014 when Ghoul posted a photo online that explicitly displayed support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization. This photo displayed an individual holding a sign with the Arabic phrase, “The victory of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” and then below this in English was written, “ISIS,” and “N. Carolina, USA.” The investigation later discovered that the individual holding the sign was merely an unwitting participant asked to hold the sign while Ghoul  posed him in order to take the photo.
 
The photo later appeared in an online propaganda video posted by others in an attempt to display the worldwide support for ISIS. Though he did not use his actual name or identity for the online accounts he used in regard to such conduct, Ghoul provided a self-description within the account: “Extremist, terrorist, tough, brain-washed, radical, I love explosions, booby trapping, beheading the enemy, and am among the supporters of establishing the religion with the sword.”
 
In December of 2014, Ghoul submitted an application for U.S. citizenship, and, in February 2017, Ghoul was interviewed in relation to his application. During this interview, Ghoul made a number of false statements. He falsely claimed that he had in no way associated with or been a member of any terrorist organization. He falsely claimed that he had never advocated for the overthrow of a government. He falsely claimed that he had never committed any offenses for which he had not been arrested. He falsely claimed that he had not married someone for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. He falsely claimed that he had made other misrepresentations in order to obtain public benefits.
 
All of these statements were false because Ghoul had sworn allegiance to ISIS and had been an active supporter of ISIS both online and in person, had explicitly advocated for the overthrow of the United States through violence, had unlawfully assisted in the sale of narcotics, had entered into a sham marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship, and had assisted in providing lies to the State of North Carolina in order to obtain childcare benefits.
 
Also, in 2015 and 2016, Ghoul filed tax returns in which he underreported his income by at least $90,000, thereby avoiding the payment of income tax.
Mr. Higdon complimented law enforcement’s tireless efforts: “Without the constant vigilance of our law enforcement partners, insidious threats such as this would never come to light until too late. Our country, our state, and every tax-paying citizen has been a victim of this defendant’s conduct. Thankfully, further victimization has come to an end and his violent rhetoric will no longer be a threat hiding within the Eastern District of North Carolina.”
 
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Jason Kellhofer represented the government in this case.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:57
 
Feds Indict 12 On Drugs And Weapons Charges PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:00
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that “Operation Nor’easter,” a heroin and opioid centered Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation headed up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation resulted in the indictment of twelve (12) defendants for outstanding federal charges in a coordinated warrant enforcement operation. In addition, several defendants related to this operation were found to be in the custody of the State of North Carolina. Federal detainers have been filed against those subjects.
 
This operation was conducted as part of the Eastern District’s Take Back North Carolina Initiative designed to focus federal resources on the alarming level of opioid use and the deaths associated with it. This initiative is bringing the full weight of the federal court system in the fight against crime in Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrell, and Gatescounties in partnership with District Attorneys’ Offices and federal, state, and local law enforcement.
 
The following individuals were charged by way of Criminal Indictment. The individual charges for each defendant are contained in the parenthesis following the personal information.
 
• Rasheen Jerome Arnold 24, of Edenton, NC (Felon in Possession of Firearm; Possession of Stolen Firearm)
• Alvin Johnson, 41, Pasquotank County, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base) (crack)
• Samuel Rawlins, 39, Elizabeth City, NC, (Possession of Firearm by Felon)
• Devon Lee, 36, Perquimans County, NC, (Conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine)
• Willie Person, 54, Grandy, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base) (crack)
• Glenn Mitchell, 49, Edenton, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and heroin)
• Clarence Chestnutt, 40, Hertford, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine)
• John James Taylor, 37, Elizabeth City, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and heroin; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; possession of a firearm by felon)
• Nathan Lamonte Silver, 44, Elizabeth City, NC, (Hobbs Act robbery)
• Mykel Levant Davis, 37, Elizabeth City, NC, (Possession of firearm by felon)
• Marvin Johnson, 41, Elizabeth City, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute heroin)
• Ross Domina Spruill, 33, Dare county, NC, (Possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base) (crack)
 
The cases are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation along the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives, (ATF), the United States Marshal Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office, Chowan County Sheriff’s Office, Elizabeth City Police Department, Edenton Police Department, Perquimans County Sheriff’s Office, Camden County Sheriff’s Office, Currituck County Sheriff’s Office, Dare County Sheriff’s Office, Tyrell County Sheriff’s Office, Gates County Sheriff’s Office, Manteo Police Department, North Carolina First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and the United States Probation Office.
 
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:03
 
Wilson County Drug Dealer Gets 30-Year Federal Sentence PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 16 August 2018 08:49
Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III sentenced Sean Trent Barnes, 44, from Lucama, North Carolina, to 360 months in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
 
Barnes was named in a 10-count Indictment filed on May 17, 2017. On August 21, 2017, Barnes pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams of More of Methamphetamine.
 
The investigation revealed that Barnes distributed marijuana and crystal methamphetamine in the Wilson and Johnston County, North Carolina, area for more than 20 years. Barnes stored ounce quantities of crystal methamphetamine and distributed it from a home he shared with his girlfriend and her nine-year-old son in Lucama, North Carolina. He also stored methamphetamine and firearms at his father’s home in Lucama.
 
The methamphetamine supplied to Barnes was imported into the United States from Mexico. Barnes recruited a homeless methamphetamine addict to live in his home and provided him with methamphetamine in exchange for distributing methamphetamine for Barnes. Numerous other individuals also sold methamphetamine for Barnes. In May 2016, the Wilson Police Department (WPD) and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) initiated an investigation into Barnes drug activities based upon information provided by a confidential informant (CI). Subsequently, the WPD, WCSO and assisting law enforcement agencies utilized the CI to make controlled purchases from BARNES, seized methamphetamine from BARNES, and obtained historical statements from government witnesses.
 
On June 28, 2016, the CI negotiated with Barnes to purchase two ounces of methamphetamine at a location near the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. While enroute to deliver the methamphetamine to the CI, law enforcement authorities conducted a traffic stop of Barnes on Interstate 95 South in Johnston County. Barnes and his passenger were arrested after authorities located 43 grams of methamphetamine in the trunk of Barnes car. A subsequent search of Barnes’ home in Lucama found an additional 5.2 grams of methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia.
 
From the investigation, law enforcement determined Barnes trafficked 623.7 grams of actual methamphetamine and 756.5 grams of marijuana from 2013 to September 7, 2016. Barnes was a leader or organizer of an otherwise extensive criminal activity that involved five or more participants. BARNES also possessed firearms in furtherance of his methamphetamine-trafficking activities. While Barnes maintained premises from which he distributed methamphetamine, the premises from which he distributed methamphetamine served as his primary residence and the primary residence of his father.
 
U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon commented: “Sean Trent Barnes has been poisoning the streets of Wilson County for more than two decades. But now, with the imposition of a 30 year sentence, those communities can begin to recover from the effects of his crime. The Court’s lengthy sentence gives these communities that opportunity and we are very pleased that the United States Justice Department could play a role in achieving that result. I want to commend the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wilson Police Department, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol for their excellent work in this case.”
 
The case is a federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) criminal matter and was investigated by the Wilson Police Department, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Brad Knott prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2018 08:57
 
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