An engineer who worked for a defense contractor was sentenced Monday to 60 months in federal prison for selling sensitive satellite information he stole from his employer to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service, according to officials.
Gregory Allen Justice, 50, of Culver City, who worked as an engineer on military and commercial satellite programs, was sentenced by U. S. District Judge George H. Wu.Set featured image
In imposing the sentence, Judge Wu said it was “extremely troubling” that Justice was willing to sell the secrets to the Russians because it is well known that their government “is not friendly to this country.”
Justice plead guilty in May to two counts – attempting to commit economic espionage, and attempting to send restricted information out of the United States in violation the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
When he pleaded guilty, Justice admitted that he stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.
In exchange for providing the trade secrets during a series of meetings over six months in 2016, Justice received $3,500 in cash. Justice “understood that the information he provided would be sent ‘back to Moscow and they will review this,’” according to court documents.
During one meeting with the undercover operative, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facility, and the putative Russian intelligence officer could wear glasses that would allow him to photograph the facility, according to court documents.
In court documents, prosecutors said Justice sent most of the money he received from the undercover operative – and thousands of dollars more – to an “online paramour” he had never met, according to officials.
“This defendant sold out his employer and betrayed his country in exchange for a few thousand dollars,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “His actions posed an imminent threat to our national security. By virtue of the excellent work of the FBI, there was no damage to our security interests, and a person who was willing to sell important information to a foreign power will now serve a considerable amount of time in a federal prison.”
“Unlike a reality television series, selling secrets to a foreign government is not entertaining, but in the wrong hands, threatens national security and puts American lives at risk,” said Danny Kennedy, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Citifinancial agreed to pay $907,000 to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by repossessing 164 cars owned by military service members without first getting the required court orders, federal officials announced Monday.
During the investigation, the Department of Justice learned that CitiFinancial repossessed cars without court orders even when CitiFinancial had evidence in its own records suggesting that a borrower could be a protected servicemember, officials stated.
In several cases, loan servicing notes indicated that CitiFinancial was informed that the borrower was in military service or had received orders to report for military service.
CitiFinancial, nevertheless, continued repossession efforts and eventually succeeded in repossessing the servicemembers’ vehicles, according to authorities.
“Members of our armed forces make extraordinary sacrifices in order to protect and defend our nation, and they should be able to serve actively without fear that their legal rights will be violated,” said Associate Attorney General Rachel L. Brand.
“The men and women who serve in the armed forces deserve to have us protect their backs while they selflessly protect us,” said U.S. Attorney John Parker. “This conduct clearly fell short of that and I’m grateful we were able to repair some of that harm.”
This settlement resolves a suit filed by the department in the Texas and covers vehicle repossessions that occurred between 2007 and 2010.
CitiFinancial Auto Corporation originated and serviced these auto loans until 2010, when operations and assets were sold to Santander Consumer USA, Inc.
In February 2015, the Department entered a settlement with Santander that provides servicemembers with more than $10.5 million in compensation for repossessions that violated federal law.
As part of the investigation of Santander’s repossession practices, the Department learned that CitiFinancial sold Santander the right to collect debts owed by servicemembers after their cars had been repossessed by CitiFinancial.
This agreement further compensates servicemembers for their losses by requiring CitiFinancial to pay $5,000 to each impacted servicemember, in addition to the Santander settlement.
CitiFinancial must also pay $10,000 to one affected servicemember who did not receive partial compensation through the Santander settlement.
In addition, CitiFinancial will pay $500 per account to compensate borrowers for any lost equity, with interest, and must take steps to repair the credit of all affected servicemembers.
An independent settlement administrator will contact servicemembers in the coming months to finalize individual settlements at no cost to the servicemembers.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Federal officials charged a man with using a stun cane during a racially motivated assault of a neighbor, according to officials.
The indictment alleges that Mark Porter shouted racial slurs at the victim and his seven-year-old son, and then struck the victim with a stun cane. The indictment further alleges that the stun cane is a dangerous weapon and that the victim suffered bodily injury.
Porter was charged with using force and the threat of force to injure, intimidate, and interfere with an African-American man because of his race after moving nearby, according to authorities.
“…the defendant yelled ‘n—–,’ said get out of here to [Victim] and [Victim’s] seven-year-old son, and used a stun cane (a Zap Cane) to assault [Victim], resulting in bodily injury,” the indictment alleges.
The Zap Cane is advertised as a cane that contains a stun gun capable of delivering “one million volts”. The indictment classifies the Zap Cane as a “dangerous weapon,” according to Fox News 13 in Salt Lake City.
Porter was arrested in Arizona and will appear in a federal court in Arizona, Fox News reported.
Porter is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. He is facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to officials.
To read the indictment click here: DOJ
A federal grand jury in Little Rock, Arkansas, returned a two-count indictment against Eric Scott Kindley, 49, a former prison transport officer, for crimes related to his sexual assault of a woman in his custody, according to officials.
Kindley is also charged with using his firearm in furtherance of the assault, officials said.
Count One of the indictment charges Kindley with committing civil rights offenses that resulted in bodily injury and includes the use of a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, and aggravated sexual abuse.
Count Two charges Kindley with knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of these crimes of violence.
Kindley was indicted on June 29, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona, for committing similar offenses related to sexual assaults he committed on a different woman in his custody, and as in this indictment, possessing his firearm in furtherance of those assaults.
These indictments stem from Kindley’s arrest in Stockton, California, on June 1, 2017, in connection with a criminal complaint filed in the District of Arizona.
According to arrest paperwork, Kindley operated Group 6, LLC doing business as Special Operations Group, a company that local jails throughout the country hire to transport individuals who have been arrested on out-of-state warrants.
The probable cause affidavit associated with the criminal complaint alleged that from January through May of this year, Kindley engaged in sexual misconduct in his Dodge Caravan with three different female prisoners during three different transports.
The transports were from California to Arizona, Alabama to Arizona, and Mississippi to New Mexico.
In each instance, the victim was handcuffed and restrained, and taken to secluded locations where Kindley sexually assaulted her. All the while, Kindley threatened each victim with his firearm and warned her that he will get away with his conduct because no one will believe her, according to officials.
Following Kindley’s arrest in California, the court ordered that Kindley be taken to Arizona, where he remains in custody.
Kindley faces up to life in prison if convicted of the crimes,
Kindley is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
A Laguna Hills man plead guilty this week to charges of selling misbranded veterinary medications without a prescription, some of which were not approved for use in the United States, according to officials.
Sean Gerson, 49, the owner Vaccination Services, Inc. in Lake Forest, plead guilty in a scheme that netted him at least $2.5 million over the past 15 years, officials said.
Gerson plead guilty to smuggling, introduction into interstate commerce misbranded animal prescription drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a misdemeanor charge of distribution and sale of an unregistered pesticide. Vaccination Services also pleaded guilty today to the same federal charges.
The misbranded drugs – meaning they were sold without a valid prescription from a veterinarian – were Comfortis, an anti-flea medication, and Ciprofloxacin, a powerful antibiotic commonly called “Cipro” that can be used in dogs and cats to treat skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections.
According to court documents, Gerson sold Comfortis that was designed for the South African market and was not approved for distribution in the United States.
Federal law prohibits the importation and sale of veterinary medicines that have not been approved by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency for use in this country.
Gerson used several websites – including fleastuff.com, mydoghasfleas.xyz and fleaandtickstuff.com – to market prescription animal products to buyers without valid prescriptions.
In a plea agreement filed in United States District Court, Gerson admitted that he “knowingly distributed, transported and sold the prescription animal drugs Comfortis and Ciprofloxacin in interstate commerce” to an undercover law enforcement officer in Missouri in August 2016.
Gerson at the time knew that the drug had been smuggled into the United States “because the drugs were foreign-market branded and not approved by the U.S. FDA for entry into the United States.”
Gerson also admitted that he sold foreign market pesticides – animal flea and tick products not approved for sale and distribution in the United States – to an undercover law enforcement officer in Washington in June 2012.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner is scheduled to sentence Gerson and his company on Dec. 11, according to authorities.
n addition, Gerson agreed to the entry of a $2.5 million forfeiture judgment which will require Gerson to forfeit the proceeds of his long-running scheme.
In its plea agreement, Vaccination Services has agreed to pay a $300,000 fine and to be placed on probation for a period of five years.
Gerson was previously convicted of charges related to the illegal sale of pet medications and products.
According to documents previously filed in the federal case in Los Angeles, Gerson pleaded guilty in Texas in 2014 to state charges of delivery of a dangerous drug, specifically a prescription drug called Clenbuterol.
In a related case, Judge Klausner in June ordered a South African veterinarian to pay a fine of $5,000 and forfeit to the United States $145,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of making false statements in relation to unapproved pet medications he shipped to Gerson.
Craig Mostert sent the foreign-market drugs to Gerson and significantly understated the value of the products in a series of shipments between 2008 and 2017.
The last of five defendants charged with using credit and debit cards obtained from a series of cyberattacks on U.S. companies was sentenced this week to 33 months in federal prison, according to officials.
The thefts resulted in an estimated $5 million in losses and caused one company to go out of business, authorities said.
Dmitry Fedoseev, 34, a Russian national who resides in Koreatown, was sentenced after pleading guilty in March to possession of credit and debit cards and aggravated identity theft.
Three other Russian nationals and another Eastern European immigrant who monetized the information obtained from the cyberattacks by making fraudulent purchases, selling the purchased goods and transferring money to others involved in the fraudulent scheme were previously sentenced to federal prison.
They are the following defendants:
- Siarhei Patapau, 26, of the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, a native of Belarus, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison
- Timur Safin, 29, of Burbank, who was sentenced to three years
- Kristina Gerasimova, 22, of the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, who was sentenced to one year and one day in prison
- Fedoseev’s ex-wife, Irina Fedoseeva, 33, who was sentenced to 14 months.
The five defendants admitted to making fraudulent purchases with the cards after cyberattacks on two healthcare administrators in December 2015 and February 2016.
Due to their federal felony convictions, all five defendants have or will be deported from the United States.
According to court documents filed in two separate cases, the five defendants conspired with computer hackers, some of whom are believed to be in Russia.
The hackers staged attacks that included:
- July 2014 intrusion into an airline’s computer system in which the hackers fraudulently funded pre-paid credit cards in the amount of $900,000
- December 2015 hack into the system of a healthcare administrator that allowed the cybercriminals to reactivate a dormant dependent care account and order the production of numerous debit cards that were used to make approximately $550,000 in fraudulent purchases; and
- February 2016 attack on another healthcare administrator that allowed the intruders to order the production of debit cards linked to reactivated accounts that were used to make approximately $3.5 million in fraudulent purchases.
The computer hackers directed the pilfered debit and credit cards to be sent to the five defendants charged in Los Angeles and other co-conspirators.
Members of the conspiracy then used the unauthorized cards to make cash withdrawals, purchase money orders and make purchases at retail outlets such as Apple, Best Buy, Home Depot and Target.
For example, Safin admitted in court that he used a number of the pre-paid credit cards to withdraw approximately $5,074 at ATMs throughout Los Angeles County and to purchase money orders totaling $19,420.
He used debit cards obtained from the healthcare administrators to make at least $225,000 in fraudulent purchases.
When they were arrested last year, Fedoseev and Fedoseeva possessed more than 519 unauthorized credit, debit and gift cards and $29,300 in cash. Patapau was found with approximately 525 credit and debit cards in other people’s names.
A federal jury found a U.S. postal worker guilty for his role in a stolen identity refund fraud conspiracy, according to officials.
According to evidence presented at trial, Harold Coley, 52, worked as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and his postal route was in Columbus, Georgia.
U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land scheduled sentencing for Dec. 19. Coley is facing up to 10 years in prison for the conspiracy count, up to 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud and up to 5 years in prison for each count of embezzlement of the mail.
In 2012, Coley was recruited by Keshia Lanier to participate in stolen identity tax refund conspiracy. Coley collected addresses on his route, including many that did not exist or related to vacant buildings, and provided them to Lanier and others for the purpose of filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Lanier obtained many of the stolen identities from Tamika Floyd who worked for the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The stolen identities primarily belonged to 16 and 17 year-olds.
Lanier and others directed the IRS to mail the tax refund checks to the addresses Coley provided.
In exchange for cash, Coley intercepted the fraudulently obtained refund checks and provided them to Lanier and others.
In total, Coley’s co-conspirators directed over 1,600 refund checks claiming more than $2.5 million to addresses on his postal route.
Lanier and Floyd were previously sentenced to 15 years and more than seven years in prison for their roles in the scheme.