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Friday, February 28, 2014

Revisions to CBO’s Projection of Potential Output Since 2007 - CBO

Revisions to CBO’s Projection of Potential Output Since 2007 - CBO

Presentation on Federal Health Care Spending at Williams College - CBO

Presentation on Federal Health Care Spending at Williams College - CBO

Federal Health Care Spending: Why Is It Growing? What Could Be Done About It? - CBO

Federal Health Care Spending: Why Is It Growing? What Could Be Done About It? - CBO

Ukraine Facing Financial Instability But IMF May Help Soon - SPIEGEL ONLINE

With rapidly shrinking currency reserves and a capital flight problem, Ukraine faces an uncertain financial future. The IMF plans to send a "fact-finding mission" to Kiev next week, but will it be enough?



Ukraine Facing Financial Instability But IMF May Help Soon - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Sen. Paul’s Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Sen. Paul’s Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Feb 28, 2014
Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following statement in reaction to the developing situation in Ukraine:
"We live in an interconnected world and the United States has a vital role in the stability of that world. The United States should make it abundantly clear to Russia that we expect them to honor the December 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Russia, and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their commitment 'to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.' Russia should also be reminded that stability and territorial integrity go hand in hand with prosperity. Economic incentives align against Russian military involvement in Ukraine. Russia, which has begun to experience the benefits of expanded trade with World Trade Organization accession, should think long and hard about honoring their treaty obligations and fostering the stability that creates prosperity for its citizens. Most importantly, Russian intervention in Ukraine would be dangerous for both nations, and for the rest of the world," Sen. Paul said.
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Tonawanda Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

FBI Buffalo Division Press Release:

Tonawanda Man Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • Western District of New York(716) 843-5700
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Dennis Henneman, 74, of Tonawanda, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio to possession of child pornography. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant downloaded child pornography from the Internet. Henneman possessed a hard drive and laptop computer containing images of child pornography. A forensic analysis of the computer and external hard drives revealed more than 600 images of child pornography stored on the devices. Some of the images were of children less than 12 years old, and some contained depictions of violence.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Sentencing will be scheduled before Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Robbery

FBI Buffalo Division Press Release:

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Robbery

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • Western District of New York(716) 843-5700
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Michael Bland, 18, of Buffalo, New York, pleaded guilty to bank robbery before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000,00 fine, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Catherine Baumgarten, who is handling the case, stated that Bland robbed three M&T Banks located at 1300 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, 750 Main Street in Niagara Falls, and 1877 Main Street in Buffalo between August 21, 2013 and September 4, 2013.
The indictments are the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda; and the Niagara Falls Police Department, under the direction of Chief Bryan DalPorto.
Sentencing scheduled for June 16, 2014, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.

Connecticut Man Sentenced in Connection with Tax-Free Property Exchange Business

FBI Boston Division Press Release:

Connecticut Man Sentenced in Connection with Tax-Free Property Exchange Business

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • District of Massachusetts(617) 748-3100
BOSTON—A Connecticut man who victimized exchangors in Massachusetts was sentenced yesterday for his role in a mail and wire fraud scheme involving a tax-free property exchange business.
Daniel E. Carpenter, 59, of Simsbury, Connecticut, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole to 36 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $100,000 fine. In June 2008, Carpenter was convicted of 19 counts of mail and wire fraud following a 13-day jury trial.
Carpenter was charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with his handling of money entrusted to him by clients who engaged in tax-deferred real estate exchange transactions from August to December 2000. Under the relevant federal tax code provision, sellers of investment real estate were permitted to defer capital gains taxes on sale proceeds, provided they purchased a like property within six months and did not take possession of the sale proceeds during the interim. Carpenter owned a company, Benistar, which acted as an intermediary for these exchanges, holding clients’ money pursuant to escrow agreements until they purchased a replacement property. Carpenter, through Benistar, marketed his services as a qualified intermediary using materially false and misleading statements in marketing materials and contracts. The documents omitted critical information about Carpenter’s risky investment strategy, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of the safety and security of the funds and representing that Benistar would “invest” the exchangors’ money in low-yield “escrow” accounts for the exchangors’ benefit at established financial institutions. Carpenter obtained millions of dollars from clients engaged in these property exchanges and, without telling them, used their money to trade in high-risk stock options in an attempt to earn substantial profits for himself and Benistar, even as the exchangors’ earnings were capped at the modest rates of return reflected in the agreements.
Carpenter’s high-risk strategy was unsuccessful, and he lost more than $9 million of the exchangors’ money. As Carpenter’s options trading losses mounted, Benistar’s available funds fell millions of dollars short of the sums needed to repay clients as they redeemed their escrow funds. Carpenter’s actual use of the escrow funds came to light when clients who needed to complete their property exchanges discovered their money was gone.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by First Assistant United States Attorney Jack W. Pirozzolo.

FBI Undercover Operation Nets Seven Defendants in Securities Kicback Scheme

FBI Boston Division Press Release:

FBI Undercover Operation Nets Seven Defendants in Securities Kicback Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • District of Massachusetts(617) 748-3100
BOSTON—Federal charges have been filed in U.S. District Court in Boston against seven individuals alleged to have been involved in a microcap stock kickback scheme.
According to the charges, the schemes involved secret kickbacks to an investment fund representative in exchange for having the investment fund buy stock in certain companies. The kickbacks were to be concealed through the use of sham consulting agreements. What the defendants did not know was that the purported investment fund representative was actually an undercover government agent.
The charges follow a lengthy investigation focusing on preventing fraud in the microcap stock markets. Microcap companies are small publicly traded companies whose stock often trades at pennies per share. Fraud in the microcap stock market is of increasing concern to regulators as such markets tend to be fertile grounds for fraud and abuse. This is, in part, because accurate information about microcap stocks may be difficult for the average investor to find, since many microcap companies do not file financial reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz stated, “Secret deals like the ones alleged today harm hard working Americans who invest their savings in the financial markets. Illegal kickbacks undermine fair competition and ultimately destabilize financial markets. For the sake of the investing public, it is critical to protect the integrity of the financial markets and promote fair play by combatting the types of illegal agreements alleged in these cases.”
“Market manipulators should know that our law enforcement team has a proven track record of high-returns in rooting out fund representatives, CEOs, traders, fund managers, equities analysts, lawyers, and publicists who illegally tilt the playing field against honest investors,” said Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau Investigation’s Boston Division. “The FBI’s undercover investigation of the illegal manipulation of microcap stocks has resulted in the conviction of 15 people to date and those who believe they can get away with manipulating the markets should be running scared.”
The following individuals have been charged:
  • Shmuel Shneibalg, 43, formerly of Brooklyn, New York (president and chief operating officer of Safetek International, Inc.), charged with mail fraud and wire fraud
  • Gerard Haryman, 70, of Lake Worth, Florida (consultant for, and investor in, A Clean Slate Inc.), charged with mail fraud and wire fraud
  • Ronald Lawrence Schuman, 58, of Palm City, Florida (president and chief executive officer of Connectyx Technologies Corp.), charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud
  • Barry Hawk, 45, of Woodmere, New York (president and chief executive officer of Arctic Enterprises Inc. and Strategic Rare Earth Metals Inc.), charged with wire fraud
  • Hadi Aboukhater, 42, of Haymarket, Virginia (in the business of finding funding for public companies), charged with wire fraud
  • Sandip Shah, 40, of Chino, California (stock promoter), charged with wire fraud
  • Shailesh Shah, 47, of Chino, California (President and Chief Executive Officer of SOHM Inc. and Costas, Inc.), charged with mail fraud and wire fraud.
If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each count. The initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Boston have not yet been scheduled.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and FBI Special Agent in Charge Lisi made the announcement today. U.S. Attorney Ortiz expressed appreciation for the significant assistance her office received from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The criminal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah E. Walters, Ryan M. DiSantis, and Mark Balthazard of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit, and Trial Attorney Alexander H. Berlin of the U.S. Department of Justice.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch and, with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: www.stopfraud.gov.

California Man Sentenced to 14 Years on Robberies

FBI Boston Division Press Release:

California Man Sentenced to 14 Years on Robberies

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • District of New Hampshire(603) 225-1552
CONCORD, NH—Delano Nelson, 50, of Compton, California, was sentenced in United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to armed robbery charges, announced United States Attorney John P. Kacavas.
In October and November 2011, the defendant committed the armed robbery of Hannoush Jewelers in Manchester and Kay Jewelers in Tilton. In July 2012, he was apprehended in Compton, California, and indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2012. Walter Williams, also of Compton, California, and Shyloe Johnson of Sanbornton, New Hampshire, previously pled guilty and were sentenced for their participation in the robberies.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Manchester Police Department, and the Tilton Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Helen White Fitzgibbon.

Peabody Man Sentenced to Seven Years for Heading Identity Theft Ring

FBI Boston Division Press Release:

Peabody Man Sentenced to Seven Years for Heading Identity Theft Ring

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 26, 2014
  • District of Massachusetts(617) 748-3100
BOSTON—A Peabody man was sentenced today for heading an identity theft ring that used the identities of a Florida company’s employees to cause $375,000 in credit card losses at large retail stores.
William Dodge, 46, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro to seven years in prison, three years of supervised release, $375,000 in restitution, and forfeiture of criminal proceeds. In May 2012, Dodge pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
When Dodge was in Florida, he met the benefits administrator for a Florida-based company and obtained from her lists of coworkers’ identity information, such as their names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Dodge traveled to Boston where he and at least five co-conspirators obtained false identity cards bearing Dodge’s or the co-conspirators’ pictures and the Florida company employees’ personal information. The false identity cards looked like Massachusetts drivers’ licenses and allowed the co-conspirators to pose as the employees from the Florida company.
With the false identity cards, Dodge and the co-conspirators posed as the Florida company’s employees at large chain retail stores. When it came time to pay for the merchandise, Dodge and his co-conspirators lacked a working credit card number. So, they pretended to have left their store credit card at home and asked the store to remind them of the number. The stores, taken in by the false identity cards, often complied. If the identity victim had no credit account at the store, Dodge and his co-conspirators applied for a new credit account in the identity victim’s name. Again, the stores, taken in by the false identity cards, often complied. Upon obtaining a new or existing credit card number, Dodge and his co-conspirators used the account to purchase gift cards and other merchandise, such as electronics, that they could resell. The stores lost money, because Dodge and the co-conspirators did not pay the credit bills.
As the group’s ringleader, Dodge directed his co-conspirators’ actions and took about 50 percent of their profits. The conspiracy netted over $375,000 in merchandise and services, with Dodge personally responsible by posing as an identity theft victim for over $212,000 of the losses.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans made the announcement today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office thanks the Florida company for cooperating during the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott L. Garland, formerly of Ortiz’s Cyber Crime Unit and currently of the National Security and Anti-Terrorism Unit.

Serial Bank Robber Sentenced to Nearly Nine Years in Federal Prison

FBI Boston Division Press Release:

Serial Bank Robber Sentenced to Nearly Nine Years in Federal Prison
Scott Niemic of Swansea, Massachusetts, Robbed Five Banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in a Span of 26 Days

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 25, 2014
  • District of Rhode Island(401) 709-5000
PROVIDENCE, RI—Scott Niemic, 36, of Swansea, Massachusetts, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Providence to 105 months in federal prison for committing five “note-job” bank robberies in Rhode Island and Massachuetts in a span of 26 days in March and April 2012. A “note-job” robbery occurs when a note demanding money is passed but no weapon is shown.
At sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Niemic to serve three years’ supervised release upon completion of his prison term. Niemic pleaded guilty on October 9, 2013, to five counts of bank robbery.
Niemic’s sentence was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI; and Warwick Police Chief Colonel Stephen M. McCartney.
At the time of his guilty plea, Niemic admitted to robbing a Plymouth, Massachusetts bank on March 22, 2012, of $4,923; a second bank in Plymouth on March 27 of $3,592; a Warwick, Rhode Island bank on April 3 of $8,100; a Bellingham, Massachusetts bank on April 10 of $5,045; and a Wellesley, Massachusetts bank on April 16 of $5,453.
According to information presented to the court, Niemic entered each of the banks wearing black wrap-around sunglasses and a baseball cap and handed a note to a bank employee that stated that he was armed, that he was demanding money, and that no dye packs were to be included with the cash. In some instances, Niemic verbally told bank employees that he was armed. In four of the robberies, Niemic kept a cell phone to his ear, purporting to be having a conversation with another person.
According to information presented to the court, investigators determined that the note left at the scene of the Warwick robbery on April 3 was written on a piece of paper torn from a receipt for motor vehicle excise taxes paid in Old Town, Maine. The investigation determined that the car was registered to Scott Niemic’s mother and that the defendant, who was living in Swansea, had possession of the vehicle. On April 4, police executed a court authorized search of the vehicle. Among the items seized was a piece of paper that matched the torn paper handed to the bank employee the day before. Police learned that Scott Niemic was also in possession of a second vehicle.
On April 23, 2012, an FBI agent who was a member of the law enforcement team investigating the bank robberies spotted Niemic operating a vehicle on Route 24 in Massachusetts and contacted Massachusetts State Police for assistance. A state trooper attempted to stop Niemic’s vehicle, but Niemic refused to stop, instead fleeing onto the streets of Fall River. Niemic was apprehended after driving at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour and crashing his vehicle. Investigators recovered nearly $8,100 in cash from Niemic’s vehicle.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul F. Daly, Jr.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha acknowledged the cooperation and assistance in the prosecution of this case by the offices of Plymouth County, Massachusetts District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz; Norfolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey; and Worcester County, Massachusetts District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr.
The bank robberies were investigated by the FBI; and the Warwick, Rhode Island; Plymouth, Massachusetts; Bellingham, Massachusetts; and Wellesley, Massachusetts, Police Departments, with the assistance of Swansea and Westport, Massachusetts Police and the Massachusetts State Police.

Two More Correctional Officers Plead Guilty in Baltimore Jail Racketeering Conspiracy

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:

Two More Correctional Officers Plead Guilty in Baltimore Jail Racketeering Conspiracy
Smuggled Drugs into Baltimore Correctional Facility and One of the Officers Had Sex with BGF Inmates; 11 Correctional Officers Have Pleaded Guilty to Date

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • District of Maryland(410) 209-4800
BALTIMORE—Correctional officer Ebonee Braswell, age 27, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to participating in a racketeering conspiracy arising from the smuggling of drugs and contraband inside the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC). Another correctional officer, Danielle Forrest, age 27, pleaded guilty on February 25 to the conspiracy.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Secretary Gregg Hershberger of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts; and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein.
This case was developed as a result of the efforts of the Maryland Prison Task Force, formed in 2011 with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors. The task force has met regularly for over three years, generating recommendations to reform prison procedures and producing leads that have been pursued by state, local, and federal criminal investigators. The investigation is continuing.
According to court documents, BGF has been the dominant gang at the BCDC, and in several connected facilities, including the Baltimore Central Booking Intake Center (BCBIC), the Women’s Detention Center (which houses many men), and in the Jail Industries Building.
Braswell, a correctional officer at BCDC, admitted that in 2012 and 2013, she helped smuggle contraband, including drugs such as Percocet, into BCDC for further distribution by BGF members. Forrest, a correctional officer at BCDC, admitted that she worked with a BGF leader in 2012 to smuggle contraband, including marijuana, Percocet, and tobacco into BCDC. She was familiar with the drug activities of other correctional officers, including Braswell. At the direction of BGF, Forrest met outside suppliers to obtain the contraband and managed payments for drugs using her Green Dot account. Forrest had sexual relations inside BCDC with two BGF inmates.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander scheduled sentencing for Braswell on June 27, 2014, and for Forrest on June 16, 2014.
Eleven correctional officers have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Two of these correctional officers, Taryn Kirkland, age 23, and Adrena Rice, age 26, both of Baltimore, were sentenced in January 2014, each to 42 months in prison and officer Jasmine Thornton, a/k/a J.T., age 27, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was sentenced to 32 months in prison on February 5, 2014.
BGF leader Tavon White, age 37, BGF commander Steven Loney, age 25; Kenneth Parham, age 24, a BGF member; and Jermaine McFadden, age 25, an associate of BGF, also pleaded guilty to the racketeering enterprise. Parham was sentenced on February 24, 2014, to 151 months in prison and Loney was sentenced on January 14, 2014, to nine years in prison. Tavon White and Jermaine McFadden are awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Rosenstein recognized the efforts of the other members of the Maryland Prison Task Force, including: Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department; United States Marshal Johnny Hughes; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration-Washington Field Division; Tom Carr, Director of the Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; and Dave Engel, Executive Director of the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore Police Department, and Maryland Prison Task Force, for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Robert R. Harding and Ayn B. Ducao, who are prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Former New Castle Resident Indicted on Bank Robbery Charges

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:

Former New Castle Resident Indicted on Bank Robbery Charges

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 27, 2014
  • District of Delaware(302) 573-6277
WILMINGTON, DE—Blair Thomas, Jr., 29, formerly of New Castle, Delaware, was indicted by a federal grand jury today on one count of bank robbery, announced Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware.
According to the indictment, on January 23, 2014, Thomas robbed the M&T Bank located at 4899 Limestone Road in Wilmington of $17,531. The defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $175,000 and a $100.00 special assessment if convicted.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania indicted Thomas on similar charges today.
The case is being investigated by the Wilmington Field Office of the FBI, with the assistance of the Delaware State Police and the Philadelphia Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Special Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth L. Van Pelt is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Indictments are only charges and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

South American Company Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing on Ocean Shipping Services for Cars and Trucks

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:

South American Company Agrees to Plead Guilty to Price Fixing on Ocean Shipping Services for Cars and Trucks
First Charges in the Department’s Antitrust Investigation Involving Ocean Shipping Services; Conspiracy Affected Global Cargo Shipments, Including at Port of Baltimore

U.S. Department of JusticeFebruary 27, 2014
  • Office of Public Affairs(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
WASHINGTON—Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores S.A. (CSAV), a Chilean corporation, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay an $8.9 million criminal fine for its involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers, and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo, such as cars and trucks, to and from the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today.
According to a one-count felony charge filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, CSAV engaged in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by allocating customers and routes, rigging bids, and fixing prices for the sale of international ocean shipping services of roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere, including the Port of Baltimore. CSAV participated in the conspiracy from at least January 2000 to September 2012. CSAV has also agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreement is subject to court approval.
Roll-on, roll-off cargo is non-containerized cargo that can be both rolled onto and rolled off of an ocean-going vessel. Examples of this cargo include new and used cars and trucks, as well as construction, mining, and agricultural equipment.
“Today’s charges are the first to be filed in the Antitrust Division’s investigation into bid rigging and price fixing of ocean shipping services,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “Because of the growth in the automobile ocean shipping industry over the past 40 years, the conspiracy substantially affected interstate and foreign commerce. Prosecuting international price-fixing conspiracies remains a top priority for the division.”
According to the charge, CSAV and its co-conspirators carried out the conspiracy by, among other things, agreeing—during meetings and communications—on prices, allocating customers, agreeing to refrain from bidding against one another, and exchanging customer pricing information. The department said the companies then charged fees in accordance with those agreements for international ocean shipping services for certain roll-on, roll-off cargo to and from the United States and elsewhere at collusive and non-competitive prices.
CSAV is charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of a $100 million criminal fine for corporations. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.
Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price fixing, bid rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the international ocean shipping industry, which is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section and the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, along with assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Internal Affairs, Washington Field Office/Special Investigations Unit. Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section at 202-307-6694, visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html, or call the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office at 410-265-8080.

Final Defendant in Scheme to Distribute Untaxed Cigarettes Exiled to 15 Years in Prison on Gun and Drug Charges

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:

Final Defendant in Scheme to Distribute Untaxed Cigarettes Exiled to 15 Years in Prison on Gun and Drug Charges
Conspired with Former Prince George’s County Police Officer to Distribute Drugs and Untaxed Cigarettes

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeFebruary 26, 2014
  • District of Maryland(410) 209-4800
GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Mirza Kunjundzic, age 33, of Woodbridge, Virginia, to 15 year in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, after Kunjundzic pleaded guilty late yesterday to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Kunjundzic, who was scheduled to go to trial on March 4, 2014, was the last of nine defendants to plead guilty to charges related to a scheme involving the transport and distribution of untaxed cigarettes.
The guilty plea and sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
According to Kunjundzic’s plea agreement, between July 2009 to January 2010, Kunjundzic and former Prince George’s County Police officer Sinisa Simic transported and distributed untaxed cigarettes in Maryland, Virginia, and elsewhere. As part of the conspiracy, Simic used his official authority as a Prince George’s County Police officer to ensure the safe transport and distribution of the untaxed cigarettes in exchange for cash payments from a source and an undercover agent working with the FBI . During November 2009, law enforcement intercepted conversations on Simic’s cellular phone that indicated that Simic and Kunjundzic both wanted Kunjundzic to be armed while they were protecting the contraband cigarettes during transportation and distribution. Simic subsequently obtained a 50-caliber handgun for Kunjundzic, which was recovered at Simic’s residence at the time of his arrest, along with a 9mm handgun. On December 2, 2009, Simic and Kunjundzic transported 80 cases of contraband cigarettes to New Jersey in exchange for $3,400 paid by the undercover agent.
Kunjundzic and Simic also distributed cocaine to the undercover agent and source. For example, on October 7, 2009, Kunjundzic and Simic delivered 114.5 grams of cocaine to the undercover agent, who paid them $6,520 for the cocaine and to transport and protect a delivery of contraband cigarettes. A portion of the cocaine was secreted in the shipment of contraband cigarettes. On October 22, 2009, Kunjundzic and Simic delivered 244.3 grams of crack cocaine to the undercover agent and on and November 12, 2009, they delivered 268.2 grams of crack cocaine, for which they were paid $13,800 and $4,000, respectively, for the crack cocaine and to transport contraband cigarettes. Simic was armed during each of the transactions.
Simic and Kunjundzic continued to deliver contraband and be paid for the protection of those deliveries until January 26, 2010. In total, they provided protection for eight shipments of contraband between September 9, 2009 and January 26, 2010. They were paid a total of $52,120, including the payments for the cost of the cocaine purchased by the undercover agent.
Former Prince George’s County Police officer Sinisa Simic, age 29, of Woodbridge, Virginia, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their work in these investigations. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell, IV and A. David Copperthite, who prosecuted the case. Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Vogt, and Mr. Kelly expressed their appreciation to Prince George’s County Chief Mark A. Magaw for the assistance that he and his department provided.