Browsing monthly archive

May 2023

United States Files Civil Action to Collect Unpaid Civil Penalties and Reclamation Fee Debts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
United States Files Civil Action to Collect Unpaid Civil Penalties and Reclamation Fee Debts
Complaint Names 13 Coal Companies Owned or Operated by James Justice III
The Justice Department today announced the filing of a civil action against James C. Justice III and 13 coal companies he owns or operates seeking to collect unpaid civil penalties previously assessed by the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), as well as Abandoned Mine Land (AML) reclamation fee and audit debts.

“Our environmental laws serve to protect communities against adverse effects of industrial activities including surface coal mining operations,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Through this suit, the Justice Department seeks to deliver accountability for defendants’ repeated violations of the law and to recover the penalties .. […]

Justice Department Secures Over $3 Million Redlining Settlement Involving ESSA Bank & Trust in Philadelphia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Justice Department Secures Over $3 Million Redlining Settlement Involving ESSA Bank & Trust in Philadelphia
The Justice Department announced today that ESSA Bank & Trust (ESSA) has agreed to pay over $3 million to resolve allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of lending discrimination by redlining majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in and around Philadelphia. Redlining is an illegal practice in which lenders avoid providing credit services to individuals living in communities of color because of the race, color or national origin of the residents in those communities.

The complaint filed in federal court today alleges that from at least 2017 to 2021, ESSA failed to provide mortgage lending services and did not serve the credit needs of majority-Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

“For too long, residents of communities of color have been unlawfully denied equal access to credit.. […]

Court Permanently Bars Five Defendants From Promoting Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust Tax Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Court Permanently Bars Five Defendants From Promoting Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust Tax Scheme
Court Also Orders Multiple Parties to Disgorge $1.5 Million in Alleged Ill-Gotten Gains
On May 23, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri permanently barred Rhonda Eickhoff from organizing, promoting, selling or marketing a tax scheme involving the use of charitable remainder annuity trusts (CRATs).

On May 17, the court likewise permanently barred John Eickhoff Jr. and Hoffman Associates LLC from organizing, promoting, selling or marketing a tax scheme involving the use of CRATs. In addition, the court ordered Hoffman Associates LLC, the company allegedly used to promote the scheme, to disgorge $1.1 million and John Eickhoff Jr. to disgorge $400,000. The court previously entered injunctions against defendants John William Gray II and Damon Thomas Eisma stemming from their roles in this scheme. Each defendant agreed.. […]

Former Texas Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Sentenced for Using Excessive Force

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Former Texas Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Sentenced for Using Excessive Force
A former Van Zandt County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy was sentenced today to 44 months in prison for violating an arrestee’s civil rights by using excessive force against him.

According to court documents, Steven “Craig” Shelton, 62, previously pleaded guilty and admitted that on or about Sept. 21, 2021, while acting as the Chief Deputy and second-in-command of the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, he repeatedly struck a handcuffed and compliant arrestee in the face. Shelton admitted that his acts, which occurred in front of several other officers in the Rolling Oaks area of Wills Point, Texas, caused bodily injury to the arrestee. Shelton admitted that he hit the arrestee because Shelton was frustrated, even though Shelton knew that there was no legitimate, law enforcement need to use force against the arrestee.

“This defendant abused his autho.. […]

Two Nigerian Nationals Previously Extradited from the United Kingdom Plead Guilty to International Fraud Scheme that Defrauded Elderly U.S. Victims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Two Nigerian Nationals Previously Extradited from the United Kingdom Plead Guilty to International Fraud Scheme that Defrauded Elderly U.S. Victims
Two Nigerian nationals who were extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom pleaded guilty to operating a transnational inheritance fraud scheme.

According to court documents, Jerry Chucks Ozor, 43, and Iheanyichukwu Jonathan Abraham, 44, were part of a group of fraudsters that sent personalized letters to elderly victims in the United States, falsely claiming that the sender was a representative of a bank in Spain and that the recipient was entitled to receive a multimillion-dollar inheritance left for the recipient by a family member who had died years before in Spain. Victims were told that before they could receive their purported inheritance, they were required to send money for delivery fees, taxes, and payments to avoid questioning from government authorities. Victims sen.. […]

Detroit Medical Center, Vanguard Health Systems, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation Agree to Pay Over $29 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Detroit Medical Center, Vanguard Health Systems, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation Agree to Pay Over $29 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
VHS of Michigan Inc., doing business as, The Detroit Medical Center Inc. (DMC), Vanguard Health Systems Inc. (Vanguard), and Tenet Healthcare Corporation (Tenet), has agreed to pay $29,744,065 to the government to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by providing kickbacks to certain referring physicians.

DMC operates hospitals in and around Detroit, including Sinai Grace Hospital and Harper University Hospital. In October 2013, Tenet acquired Vanguard owned-and-operated hospitals and outpatient facilities, including DMC.

The settlement announced today resolves the government’s allegations that DMC, Vanguard, and Tenet caused the submission of false or fraudulent claims to Medicare. Specifically, the government alleged that from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2017.. […]

Former New Mexico House of Representatives Candidate Charged for Shooting Spree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Former New Mexico House of Representatives Candidate Charged for Shooting Spree
An indictment was unsealed today in the District of New Mexico charging a former candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives for a shooting spree targeting the homes of four elected officials.

According to court documents, Solomon Peña, 40, ran for District 14 of the New Mexico House of Representatives during the November 2022 mid-term elections. After his November 2022 electoral defeat, Peña allegedly organized the shootings on the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two New Mexico state legislators. The shootings, one of which involved a machine gun, were carried out between Dec. 4, 2022, and Jan. 3, with assistance from co-conspirators Demetrio Trujillo, 41; Jose Trujillo, 22; and others.

Before the shootings, Peña visited the homes of at least three Bernalillo County commissioners and allegedly urged them not to certify the elec.. […]

Kansas Man Indicted for Using Guns, Death Threats and Racial Slurs to Intimidate Black People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Kansas Man Indicted for Using Guns, Death Threats and Racial Slurs to Intimidate Black People
A Kansas man was indicted by a federal grand jury for using guns, death threats and racial slurs to intimidate Black people and interfere with multiple federally-protected rights.

The indictment alleges that, on July 27, 2022, Austin Schoemann, 30, of Wichita, brandished a firearm and used racial slurs in order to threaten two Black juveniles, Victims 1 and 2, while they were entering a QuikTrip gasoline station. In addition to intimidating and interfering with the two young men, Schoemann used his firearm to threaten a Black adult, Victim-3, who intervened in support of the juveniles’ federally-protected right to be free from racial discrimination when visiting a gasoline station. The indictment also charges Schoemann with using a firearm during and in relation to these crimes of violence.

The indictment further alleges that beginning in Janua.. […]

Justice Department Highlights Initiatives to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Justice Department Highlights Initiatives to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence
This week, the Justice Department highlighted a series of initiatives aimed at preventing and addressing sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV). With its strong, longstanding commitment to upholding justice and pursuing equality for all, the Justice Department joins its partners across the federal government and communities nationwide to prioritize the safety of all survivors of GBV and lauds the White House’s recent release of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action.

“Gender-based violence violates fundamental human rights, destroys communities, and fosters social inequities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Identifying and preventing these crimes is a top department priority, underscored by this first-ever national plan and the government’s coll.. […]

Bodybuilding Coach Arrested for Child Exploitation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Bodybuilding Coach Arrested for Child Exploitation
A bodybuilding coach was arrested today in Charlottesville, Virginia, for multiple child exploitation offenses.

According to court documents, between 2013 and April 2020, Elliott Simon Atwell, 33, of Charlottesville, allegedly enticed and coerced at least six minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct in order to produce recordings of the conduct. Atwell also allegedly enticed a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity and possessed images of minors – including prepubescent minors and minors under 12 years of age – who were engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Atwell is charged with four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of enticement of a minor, and one count of possession of child pornography. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’.. […]

Director Allison Randall of the Office on Violence Against Women Delivers Remarks at the Launch of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence Federal Interagency Roundtable

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Rosie, and good morning, everyone. As a lifelong advocate and a survivor, I’m honored to be here with all of you and to represent the Department of Justice at the release of the National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action.

At the Department of Justice, we know that sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking are serious violent crimes that make our nation less equal and less just. Only a comprehensive response that is deeply informed by survivors and historically marginalized communities can end gender-based violence.

I travel all over the country meeting with advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and clinicians. They are doing whatever it takes to meet survivors where they are – both figuratively and literally. Just as laid out in this national plan, they are responding to the whole person, the whole community.

A family justice center in Louisiana is offering onsite forensic exams and primary.. […]

Illegal Agents of the PRC Government Charged for PRC-Directed Bribery Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 26, 2023
Illegal Agents of the PRC Government Charged for PRC-Directed Bribery Scheme
John Chen and Lin Feng Allegedly Furthered the PRC Government’s Transnational Repression Campaign Against the Falun Gong by Bribing a Purported IRS Official
A federal court in the Southern District of New York today unsealed a complaint charging two individuals with acting and conspiring to act in the United States as unregistered agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), conspiring to bribe and bribing a public official, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the complaint, John Chen, aka Chen Jun, 70, a Los Angeles resident and former citizen of the PRC, and Lin Feng, a Los Angeles resident and PRC citizen, allegedly participated in a PRC Government-directed scheme targeting U.S.-based practitioners of Falun Gong — a spiritual practice banned in the PRC. Chen and Feng were arrested today in the Central District of California.

“The Chine.. […]

Two Additional Oath Keepers Members Sentenced on Felony Charges Related to U.S. Capitol Breach

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 26, 2023
Two Additional Oath Keepers Members Sentenced on Felony Charges Related to U.S. Capitol Breach
Two members of the Oath Keepers were sentenced today on felony and misdemeanor charges for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Their actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Kenneth Harrelson, 42, of Titusville, Florida, was sentenced to four years in prison followed by two years of supervised release for obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

Jessica Watkins, 40, of Woodstock, Ohio, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, interfering with law enfo.. […]