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Two Local New Jersey Men Arraigned In Reverse Mortgage Scheme

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Mahwah NJ, A Passaic County, New Jersey, man and a Bergen County, New Jersey, man have been arraigned for their respective roles in a reverse mortgage scheme that took advantage of several elderly homeowners, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Rafael Peralta, 46, of Clifton, New Jersey, and Philip Puccio Jr., 40, of Mahwah, New Jersey, were indicted Feb. 8, 2019, by a federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and six counts of bank fraud. They were arraigned March 15, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court.

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Teaneck Man Charged With Embezzlement from an Employee Retirement Plan

Teaneck NJ, The trustee of a pension fund has been indicted for embezzling from an employee benefits plan and failing to file annual reports for the plan, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Howard Preschel, 62, of Teaneck, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with 10 counts of embezzlement from an employee benefit plan and three counts of failure to file an annual report. He surrendered on March 12, 2019, and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Clark III. Preschel was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

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Three Bronx Men Charged In Conspiracy To Distribute Heroin And Fentanyl in New Jersey

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NEWARK NJ , Three New York men have been charged for their participation in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl after they were arrested at a heroin mill in Bronx, New York, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Jhan Carlos Capellan Maldonado, 30, Jose Antonio Vasquez Pena a/k/a “Tono,” 46, and Dilson Vasquez Genao, 22, all of Bronx, are charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute approximately 100 grams of more of suspected heroin and fentanyl. Maldonado appeared March 6, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson, and was detained. Pena and Genao appeared last week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer and were detained.

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Couple Charged In Moving Company Customer Extortion Plot

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Haledon NJ, A Hewlett, New York, man and a Haledon, New Jersey, woman appeared in federal court today on fraud charges for allegedly extorting customers of their moving company, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Lior Atiyas, 42, a/k/a “David Cohen,” and Lola Larios 36, a/k/a “Michelle Jacobs,” are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They both made their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court.

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Fort Lee Insurance Broker Admits Health Care Fraud

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Fort Lee NJ, An insurance broker with an office in Fort Lee, New Jersey, today admitted defrauding Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Lawrence Ackerman, 54, a resident of Old Tappan, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court to a superseding information charging him with one count of health care fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Ackerman was the chief operating officer of Atlantic Business Associates (ABA) and Atlantic Medical Associates (AMA), two “shell” companies through which he marketed health insurance nationally to people who were not his employees and therefore ineligible for health coverage. During the month of January 2011, he delivered $481,500 in health care benefits to ineligible participants.

The count of health care fraud to which Ackerman pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Ackerman was originally charged in a two-count indictment with conspiracy to defraud Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of $5.6 million and the welfare fund of Local 2326 of $1 million in fraudulent health care claims. Under terms of the plea agreement, Ackerman will be responsible for making full restitution to Horizon and to the union’s benefit plan for their losses. Sentencing is scheduled for March 20, 2019.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Mikulka; agents of the Office of Employee Benefit Security Act (EBSA), under the direction of Regional Director Darren Cohen; and agents of the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), under the supervision of Regional Director Andriana Vamvakas.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sammi Malek of the Narcotics/OCDETF unit in Newark.

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Former Midland Park Man Arrested In Kansas On Charges Of Running $900,000 Ponzi Scheme

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Midland Park NJ,  A former Bergen County, New Jersey, man was arrested today in Park City, Kansas, on charges that he defrauded at least 20 people by soliciting investments in what he claimed were highly successful financial instruments, but which was actually a Ponzi scheme, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Thomas Lanzana, 51, formerly of Midland Park, New Jersey, and now residing in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, was charged by complaint with one count each of wire fraud and commodities fraud. He is scheduled to have his initial court appearance today in Wichita federal court.

According to the criminal complaint:

As early as 2013, Lanzana fraudulently solicited approximately $900,000 from at least 20 customers to invest in algorithm-based trading pools in foreign currency derivatives (forex) and other financial instruments. He falsely claimed to prospective customers that he was a successful forex trader. Lanzana allegedly took several steps to keep his customers’ trust: he sent them false account statements; he posted false monthly account statements to his companies’ websites showing balances, some in excess of $800,000, for forex trading accounts that did not exist; and he sent false tax documents to customers reporting earnings that did not exist.

Lanzana misappropriated at least $350,000 in customer funds, using some to repay earlier investors in the manner of a Ponzi scheme, and to pay for his personal expenses, including purchases on Amazon, payments to a luxury car dealer and a jewelry retailer, and golf expenses.

The count of mail fraud with which Lanzana is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss caused by the scheme. The count of commodities fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, or twice the gross gain or loss.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of John R. Tafur, with the investigation leading to the arrest. He also thanked the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Enforcement for its role in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David W. Feder of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cyber Crime Unit.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Secaucus Women Charged With “Slavery”

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Secaucus NJ, A Secaucus, New Jersey, woman was arraigned today on charges of holding a Sri Lankan national against her will and for years forcing the victim to work without pay as a domestic servant, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Alia Imad Faleh Al Hunaity, a/k/a “Alia Al Qaterneh,” 43, of Secaucus, New Jersey, was indicted Dec. 4, 2018, on charges of forced labor, alien harboring, and marriage fraud. She was arraigned today before U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler in Camden federal court and entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. She remains free on $150,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Hunaity brought the victim to the United States on a temporary visa in 2009 for the victim to perform domestic services. Hunaity caused the victim to overstay the victim’s visa, and the victim remained in the United States illegally, living exclusively with Hunaity for more than nine years. Hunaity forced the victim to work without pay, and limited the victim’s interactions with the outside world. In 2018, Hunaity forced the victim to marry Hunaity for the purpose of obtaining legal residence for the victim so that the victim could continue to work without pay for Hunaity.

Hunaity was arrested on Sept.19, 2018, and made her initial appearance that day before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

The forced labor charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and the alien harboring and marriage fraud charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The charges subject Hunaity to a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to others, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, with the investigation leading to the indictment.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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New York Man Sentenced To Five Years In Prison For Robbing Fort Lee, and Hasbrouck Heights Banks

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hasbrouck Heights NJ,  A Manhattan man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for robbing banks in Jackson Township, Fort Lee, and Hasbrouck Heights, as well as attempting to burglarize a fourth bank in Englewood between December 2013 and February 2017, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

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Atlantic County Therapist Charged With Hiring a Hitman

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CAMDEN NJ, A Somers Point, New Jersey, woman has been charged with planning the assault of a North Attleboro, Massachusetts, man, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Diane Sylvia, 58, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence. She is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court.

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U.S. Attorney’s Office And Law Enforcement Partners Seize 352 Firearms In Fiscal Year 2018

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Newark NJ, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today that the District of New Jersey seized 352 firearms as part of criminal prosecutions in Fiscal Year 2018.

The District of New Jersey worked jointly with its law enforcement partners, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and numerous agencies of the State of New Jersey.

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