Two former Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers were charged in a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday with drug conspiracy, weapons offenses, robbery, obstruction of justice and falsification of records in federal investigations.
A federal grand jury indicted Karl Emmett Newman, 49, of Kentwood, Louisiana, and Johnny Jacob Domingue, 27, of Maurepas, Louisiana on Oct. 7.
Newman is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone, one count of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, two counts of unlawful conversion of property by a government officer or employee, two counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation and one count of obstruction of justice.
Domingue is charged with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation. Newman was originally charged on May 13, 2016, in a now-unsealed indictment, and was arrested on that date.
Domingue was arrested on a now-unsealed criminal complaint on May 12, 2016.
In addition to serving as DEA task force officers, Newman and Domingue previously served as deputies with the Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless and proven guilty,
Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged a former north Alabama physician, who was the nation’s highest Medicare prescriber of opioid painkillers at the height of his practice, with illegally prescribing controlled substances and with a health care fraud involving $9.5 million in unneeded and unused urine tests, officials announced Friday.
Federal charges were filed against Shelinder Aggarwal, 48, of Huntsville, Alabama, with one count of distributing a controlled substance outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose in July 2012.
He was also charged with one count of conspiring to execute a health care fraud scheme against Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama between Jan. 1, 2011, and March 31, 2013.
Prosecutors also filed a plea agreement with Aggarwal in which he agrees that he will plead guilty to the charges and forfeit his former clinic on Turner Street Southwest in Huntsville, along with $6.7 million.
The agreement stipulates a 15-year prison sentence, according to officials.
Click here to read: Plea Agreement
Aggarwal earlier repaid $2.8 million to Medicare and $45,843 to Blue Cross following audits, according to his plea agreement.
Aggarwal surrendered his Alabama medical license in 2013, along with his Alabama and federal Drug Enforcement Administration certificates to prescribe controlled substances, after the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners initiated an investigation.
“Shelinder Aggarwal treated his medical license like a license to deal opiate drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “He also defrauded Medicare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of more than $9 million dollars by performing drug tests he never used to treat his patients. Thanks to this prosecution, Aggarwal is no longer a drug dealer masquerading as a doctor. ”
Adding, “His pill mill is closed, he must repay the money he stole from health insurers and he will serve time for his crimes. I am grateful to our prosecutors and the investigators who brought this individual to justice.”
Aggarwal was a pain management doctor who operated Chronic Pain Care Services in Huntsville. His medical practice was a pill mill, according to the charges and plea agreement.
To read the charges click here: Federal Charges
The documents state that in 2012, about 80 to 145 patients a day visited Aggarwal’s clinic, with Aggarwal seeing the majority of the patients and writing all prescriptions. Initial patient visits typically lasted five minutes or less, and follow-ups two minutes or less.
The documents state that Aggarwal did not obtain prior medical records for his patients, did not treat patients with anything other than controlled substances, often asked patients what medications they wanted and filled their requests, prescribed controlled substances to patients who he knew were using illegal drugs and did not take appropriate measures to ensure that patients did not divert or abuse controlled substances.
The plea agreement summarizes an interaction with a patient, which was captured on video.
In it, Aggarwal notes that the DEA viewed him as the “biggest pill-pusher in North Alabama” and that many of his patients were “dropping like flies, they are all dying.”
The documents cite the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program for Alabama, which tracks the dispensing of controlled substances, as well as Medicare data, to document Aggarwal’s prescribing practices.
According to the Drug Monitoring Program, Alabama pharmacies filled about 110,013 of Aggarwal’s prescriptions for controlled substances in 2012. That would equal about 423 prescriptions per day if he worked five days a week, and resulted in about 12.3 million pills.
The Drug Monitoring Program rated Aggarwal as the highest prescriber of controlled substances filled in Alabama in 2012, with the next highest prescriber writing a third as many prescriptions.
Medicare data shows Aggarwal was the highest prescriber in the United States of Schedule II controlled substances under Medicare in 2012. Schedule II substances include the opioid painkillers oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone and morphine.
As to Aggarwal’s health care fraud scheme, he is charged with requiring patients to undergo unreasonable and unnecessary urine drug tests that he did not need or use in their treatment.
According to the documents, the tests he ran depended not on patients’ treatment, but on how much he could bill for tests. Aggarwal often ignored urine test results showing patients were using illegal drugs, the documents state.
Between January 2011 and March 2013, urine drug tests accounted for about 80 percent of paid claims Aggarwal submitted to Medicare and Blue Cross, for a total reimbursement of $9.5 million.
According to his charges and plea agreement, “Aggarwal’s primary motivation for testing patients’ urine specimens, and submitting those claims for payment, was financial gain.”
(TV News Report)
Federal authorities have arrested a former captain with Alaska Airlines on federal charges of piloting a plane with passengers while under the influence of alcohol.
David Hans Arntson, 60, a resident of Newport Beach, was arrested Wednesday morning and was arraigned on the felony charge in federal court in Los Angeles, officials announced today.
Arntson was released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to appear for an arraignment on Feb. 10.
“Those in command of passenger jets, or any other form of public transportation, have an obligation to serve the public in the safest and most responsible way possible,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives.”
The charge of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S.District Court, Arntson was the pilot of two Alaska Airlines flights on June 20, 2014.
The first flight was from San Diego International Airport to Portland, Oregon. He then flew a plane from Portland, Oregon, to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
After landing at John Wayne Airport, Arntson was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by Alaska Airlines.
A technician for Alaska Airlines performed two tests on Arntson and received results that the pilot had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent. After the technician informed Alaska Airlines of the test results, it removed Arntson from all safety-sensitive duties.
According to federal law, a person operating a “common carrier,” such as a commercial airliner, is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol when his or her blood alcohol content is 0.10 percent or higher.
Arntson’s co-pilot on the two flights on June 20 remembered seeing the drug tester when the plane landed at John Wayne Airport and recalled Arntson say “I bet it’s for me,” according to the complaint.
Following the June 20, 2014, incident, Arntson retired from Alaska Airlines.
Arntson is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General investigated Arntson.
BY RAUL HERNANDEZ
The feds found another “sophisticated cross-border super tunnel” and “seized control” of it after a six-moth investigation, a U.S. Department of Justice press release recently stated.
“The tunnel, approximately eight football fields in length, stretches from a warehouse in Tijuana to the Otay Center Warehouse, located at 2587 Otay Center Drive in San Diego. The passageway is believed to be equipped with lighting, electricity and a rail system and is one of the largest tunnels uncovered along the southern border in recent years,” according to the press release.
This is the eighth large tunnel discovered since 2006. Architects and engineers designed it and a small army of unemployed Mexicans are doing the digging, according to the feds.
Is anybody surprised at what billions of dollars in drug profits can buy?
What I am surprised, quite frankly, is that the folks who brought us “Fast and Furious” didn’t find a gift shop or a mercado down in the tunnel for travelers to buy those last minute gifts before heading to L.A. and Chicago or mid-western chicken farms.
The tunnels are getting more sophisticated.
Eventually, the Mexicans will construct a subway system under San Diego with the schedules of departures to U.S. cities posted at the entrance.
Life Along the Border
Having lived in El Paso for decades and covered the border for 15 years with two newspapers , I know a little bit about how things work on U.S./Mexico border. Simply put, it’s an endless game of cat and mouse.
The best way to win the game is a relentless, 27/7 pursuit of drug kingpins like they did in Colombia with Pablo Escobar along with seizing property and other assets bought with drug money.
Mexico has taken a step in the right direction in doing so. The Mexican military is in hot pursuit.
The headlines Friday on a news report: Mexico Gov’t Warns El Chapo He Will Be Stripped of Everything
BUT, the report states the Mexican government stopped short of saying they would seized Chapo’s billions.
El Chapo’s Successor
CNN reported last week that the sons of Chapo’s right-hand man, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, were being groomed to run the Sinaloa Cartel if Chapo is captured and killed. But two of Zambada’s sons were extradited to the U.S.
Mexico is allowing the U.S. to extradite more of these criminals who usually end up at the supermax federal prison in Colorado being entombed and forgotten for the rest of their lives.
Here is what is in store for those sent to the Colorado supermax or ADX.
The Super Tunnels
It’s no secret: There are tunnels that have been found, others that are in the works, and those that have yet been discovered.
Also the Mexicans have figured out that the sonar radar being used by the federal agents to detect tunnels along the border can only go so far into the earth to pick up sound. So the Mexican are digging deeper tunnels and using a rail system and elevators to move out dirt faster.
If there was an Olympics for tunnel making, the Mexicans would take home all the gold medals. They would be the Jamaican bobsled team of tunnel building.
The guy who engineered and built Chapo’s tunnel so he could escape the second time was able to pinpoint the exact spot where to find his cell at the Mexican prison and dig up.
BTW: The DEA allegedly knew of “potential” ops to free Chapo Guzman, documents reveal, according to Press TV.
Check out Chapo’s custom made tunnel.
(Vice News Report)
Building a Wall to Keep Out the Mexicans
Political candidates love score points by running to the border for photo ops, looking for holes and scapegoats to blame for America’s problems and offering simplistic solutions to complex problems.
Chief among them is billionaire buffoon turned politician, Donald Trump, who wants to build a “Huuuuge” wall to keep out the Mexican “rapists, murders and other criminals” from entering the country.
The ignorant and misinformed who support Trump’s political babbling and attend his political pep rallies feel good when they hear that building a “huuuuge” wall would solve the immigration problem along with deporting millions to Mexico.
However, rounding up and deporting millions of brown people, some who are children who have lived in the U.S. for years, would make ISIS the least of America’s worries.
More amazing than the tunnels the Mexicans are building is how easy it is to dupe the masses into believing that the immigration problem will be solved overnight.
Quote Charlie Chaplin: “Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.”
Here are the facts about Trump’s immigration plan from Fact Check.Org:
Republican Donald Trump’s immigration plan includes several statements that stray from the facts:
- He said “birthright citizenship” is the “biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” Actually, research indicates the biggest draw is economic opportunity.
- He claimed taxpayers have paid “hundreds of billions” in health care, education, welfare and more for illegal immigration from Mexico. But the Congressional Budget Office found the net financial impact of illegal immigration on state and local budgets was “most likely modest.”
- Trump says the “incarcerated alien population” was responsible for “3 million arrests.” The 2011 report he cites says there were 1.7 million arrests, including some that didn’t result in convictions or even prosecutions.
- He said border crossing cards and NAFTA visas are “major” sources of visa overstays, but we could find no data to support this. The most recent estimate showed border crossing cards made up 4 percent to 12 percent of those who violated the terms of a legal entry. And very few NAFTA visas are issued in comparison with other visas.
Look Who We Caught, “So Far” — Applause, Applause
Twenty-two people were arrested and seized 22 tons of marijuana, “so far,” the Oct. 22 press release said.
“We see a super tunnel open for business once every year or so,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Just when traffickers think they’re ready to move, we put them out of business. We continue to make good on our promise to relentlessly pursue and shut down any tunnel as soon as it opens.”
The newly-completed tunnel was discovered as a result of a six-month investigation by the Tunnel Task Force, which includes agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Border Patrol.
“Federal agents on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force have once again taken down a sophisticated cross border drug smuggling tunnel that was fully operational under the San Diego-Tijuana border,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego. “The success of this investigation is yet another example of our commitment to secure the border while combating the increasingly dangerous underground smuggling activity.”
Applause, applause, applause.
Federal chest thumping and slinging political BS to win elections aren’t going to stop or slow down the digging and smuggling or the trafficking in human beings.
The Snitch Who Discovered the latest Super Tunnel
The press release gave details about how the latest San Diego tunnel was discovered — a snitch!
An undercover agent was introduced to Isaias Enriquez Acosta, of Tijuana, who was apparently the supervisor or tunnel project manager. This triggered the investigation in May.
The agent offered Acosta to help transport and store drugs for the defendants, the complaint said. The undercover agent also helped transport buckets filled with dirt away from the tunnel warehouse, the feds said in the criminal complaint.
(NOTE: Did you catch that? The agent also “helped transport buckets filled with dirt away from the tunnel warehouse.” Shouldn’t that have triggered a red flag that someone who is willing to do dirt-bucket duty might now be someone who could be trusted with storing drugs.)
The press release continues: The enforcement action that led to the shutting of the tunnel last night was triggered by a meeting at a San Diego restaurant between the undercover agent and the defendants.
At that meeting, the defendants and the undercover agent discussed the logistics for moving loads of marijuana from the tunnel warehouse to another warehouse, the complaint said.
This was an indication that a load was about to be moved through the tunnel from Mexico to the U.S. Officials. It is believed this was the first time the tunnel was used to move a significant quantity of drugs.
Enriquez was arrested at a nearby hotel and about 30 agents made other arrests.
In the front room of the Otay Center Warehouse, agents found a hole in the floor about 3-feet in diameter which led to a shaft descending approximately 32 feet down into the ground.
The shaft connected to an underground tunnel leading towards the U.S.-Mexico border. Agents saw plastic-wrapped marijuana bundles stacked inside the tunnel.
Catching a Rat
A DEA agent in a recent TV interview I watched said: “You don’t send a swan into the sewer to catch a rat. You send a bigger rat.”
The “Fast and Furious” folks relied on a bigger rat – the undercover agent – to catch the tunnel rats since their millions in wiring the border with technology including the sonar equipment is apparently not working as effectively.
A lone undercover agent discovered the existence of the super tunnel.
How to Stop a lot of the Drug and Human Trafficking
In April, I wrote that the U.S. has to think outside the bureaucracy box to cut down on the increase in drug and illegal immigrant smuggling.
I believe that the federal government should set up a Mexican Crime Stoppers program where substantial rewards like $5,000 to $10,000 or much more are given for information on drug smuggling or immigrant-smuggling coyotes that leads to their arrest and conviction.
Or, rewards can be paid for tips that lead to the seizure of a large quantity of drugs.
How it might work
A Mexican national would be able to call to U.S. authorities from Mexico with the information about drug trafficking, illegal immigration or other crimes. After a conviction against a defendant or drugs are seized, the person would be given a secret location in Mexico where he would meet with a DEA agent or a Mexican federal official.
The drop-off location could be secured by Mexican Marines who would be a few blocks away.
The person would give a bogus name and the code number that he or she was given when he first called the Mexican Crime Stoppers Program to the DEA agent and Mexican official who would meet with him. They would give the informant the cash.
The Mexican Crime Stoppers Program would have a very small staff of American and Mexican law enforcement officers based in a secret location in the U.S., preferably inside a military base.
When Mexican citizens start to make a substantial amount of money by supplying, anonymous information to the Mexican Crime Stoppers program, there will be a drop in drug trafficking and immigrant smuggling, less money will be spent on “Drug Tunnel Task Forces” which would save taxpayers millions of dollars, and the Mexican economy will be given a shot in the arm if the program is successful and sizable rewards are given.
That might mean the creation of more jobs in Mexico so many Mexicans won’t have to leave their country to find work.
The tunnels used to smuggle drugs, illegal immigrants, criminals, possibly armed terrorists, would either be shut down or it would be extremely difficult to dig one without being detected.
Also the Crime Stoppers Program would create an atmosphere of distrust or suspicion.
Mexico’s poverty would be a motivating factor for many people to call the Mexican Crime Stoppers program. The word would spread that tens of thousands of dollars are being paid for turning in drug dealers, tunnel construction and coyotes.
Billboards and radio announcements would help spread the word about the Crime Stoppers cash.
Also, quite frankly, many law-abiding Mexicans are fed up with the narco traffickers and the violent crimes that has ravaged border cities and caused a lot of suffering. So many will gladly call and offer crime-stopping tips for some serious cash.
The Tunneling Continues
The “Fast and Furious” folks seem to have a few large rats in their crime-fighting arsenal to send into the sewer. But there seems to be no shortage of swans — one bad idea after another.
Meanwhile, let’s just build a “huuuuge” wall and make speeches and use it for political photo ops after the wall is completed while Mexican criminals keep digging more tunnels along the border and thinking about more creative ways to get narcotics to U.S. cities to satisfy the never-ending demand for drugs by American consumers.