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Thursday, December 31, 2015

FBI Reports Decrease in Bank Robberies Throughout the Northern California District for 2015

FBI San Francisco Division #News Release:

FBI Reports Decrease in Bank Robberies Throughout the Northern California District for 2015

FBI San FranciscoDecember 30, 2015
  • Public Affairs Specialist Michele Ernst(415) 553-7590
The FBI is announcing that for the second year in a row, there is an overall decrease in the number of bank robberies throughout the Northern California District in 2015. Over the past year, there have been 102 bank robberies compared to 152 in 2014 and 229 in 2013.
The credit is due to the teamwork and partnerships between the FBI, local law enforcement agencies, and the community. Some of the high profile robbers captured this past year include the apprehension and arrest of Darius Gilbert, who had become known as the Clean Cut Bandit. Gilbert is believed to be connected to at least seven robberies throughout the Bay Area last spring. He was captured and arrested in June.
In October, the FBI arrested Samuel Campbell, who was wanted for a bank robbery in Clearlake. Campbell had fled the state, but FBI agents working with Clearlake Police were able to track him down to Flint, Michigan and arrest him there.
Also this past fall, the FBI working with the San Francisco Police Department arrested Richard Laurence Stewart who had become known as the Straw Hat Bandit. Stewart was indicted for robbing four banks in San Francisco.
The FBI is thankful to the community for its help in providing tips and assisting law enforcement in bringing these criminals to justice. As we look to the New Year, the FBI continues to seek information about outstanding bank robbers wanted in the Northern California district.
  • The FBI is currently seeking a man known as the Droopy Face Bandit. He is believed to be responsible for as many as 10 robberies in San Francisco dating back to 2007. He appears to be targeting banks in predominantly Asian neighborhoods throughout San Francisco, including Chinatown and the Clement Street area. In each case, he has used a note to demand money from the tellers and has led them to believe that he possessed a weapon. A reward of up to $5,000 is available for information that leads to the apprehension and prosecution of this robber.
  • The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrests and prosecutions of any or all of the individuals who are responsible for a takeover bank robbery in Greenfield. The robbery happened on June 12, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 560 Walnut Avenue in Greenfield. Three armed individuals entered the bank and threatened employees and customers. A fourth suspect remained in a getaway vehicle, which was described as a green van. The suspects wore mask and hooded sweatshirts.
  • The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrests and prosecutions of an individual who is responsible for a takeover bank robbery in Felton. The robbery happened on July 13, 2015 at the Liberty Bank located at 6230 Highway 9. A Caucasian adult male, approximately 5’10”-6’0” and possibly left handed, entered the bank, and threatened employees and customers with a handgun. He wore sunglasses, a white dress shirt, and white hat. He also carried a large backpack, which he used to carry the stolen money. During the robbery, he forced hostages into a vault area.
  • The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrests and prosecutions of any or all of the individuals who are responsible for a violent bank robbery in Salinas. This robbery happened on the evening of November 9, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Bank located at 1903 Natividad Road. Three men burst into the bank and violently took customers and employees hostage and threatened their lives. The men were armed and reported to be Hispanic. They were wearing hooded sweatshirts, bright yellow construction safety vests, tinted glasses, and painter’s masks. The robbers fled in a dark colored sedan, possibly a Honda. Investigators believe there may have been additional people in the getaway vehicle.
  • The FBI is seeking information about the identities of two men who robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Campbell. The robbery happened on November 21, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Bank at 1790 South Bascom Avenue. Two male suspects armed with guns entered the bank and demanded everyone get on the floor. The suspects wore black hooded sweatshirts and masks covering their nose and mouth. One of the suspects forced bank employees to open the vault. Money from the vault was placed into a black bag and what was described as a blue re-useable grocery bag. The suspects fled to a waiting white VW Jetta, which was occupied by one or two more suspects. The VW was later found abandoned on Kuehnis Drive (the street directly behind the bank). Witnesses saw the suspects get out of the VW and get into a green pickup truck. The green truck was later located a short distance away on Phantom Avenue. Both vehicles were determined to be stolen.
  • The FBI is seeking information about the identity of a suspect who robbed the U.S. Bank located in the Safeway store on San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. It happened shortly after 10:30 a.m. on December 28, 2015. The suspect wore sunglasses, a baseball hat, a grey puff jacket, and a slight beard (which was possibly fake). The suspect passed a teller a note that demanded money and threatened that he/she had a gun. The suspect was then seen driving away in a silver/white sedan.
All of these suspects in each of these cases should be considered armed and dangerous
The FBI is asking anyone with information about his identity or whereabouts to come forward and contact the San Francisco FBI Office at: (415) 553-7400.

San Diego Genetics Laboratory Pays $4 Million to Settle Federal Kickback Allegations in Connection with Patient Referrals

FBI San Diego Division #News Release:

San Diego Genetics Laboratory Pays $4 Million to Settle Federal Kickback Allegations in Connection with Patient Referrals

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 30, 2015
  • Southern District of California(619) 557-5610
SAN DIEGO—United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today that a San Diego-based medical diagnostic laboratory, Pathway Genomics Corporation, has paid $4,036,622.74 in a civil settlement to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying improper kickbacks to physicians and physician groups in exchange for patient referrals.
Pathway provides analysis of genetic testing kits for a variety of purposes within the field of clinical genomics, including tests that analyze the risk for certain genetic diseases and tests concerning the responsiveness of certain medications. These tests are performed on a patient’s saliva sample, typically collected by a physician and mailed to Pathway’s laboratory for analysis.
To ensure that health care providers remain motivated solely by their patients’ medical needs, the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and False Claims Act prohibit offering, paying, soliciting or receiving money or items of value to induce referral of goods or services covered by federally funded health care programs.
The settlement resolves allegations that Pathway induced health care providers to refer Pathway genetic testing kits and services, and then received government reimbursement for those tests in violation of the law. As alleged, Pathway offered physicians and medical groups reimbursements of up to $20 for each saliva kit they collected and submitted to Pathway for testing. The United States alleges that individual physicians received as much as $13,534 in reimbursements from Pathway and that most of the physicians had never ordered these costly genetic tests before enrolling in Pathway’s reimbursement program. It is further alleged that, as its referrals increased, Pathway billed the high costs of these laboratory analyses to federal health care programs such as Medicare and TRICARE. Pathway has since voluntarily discontinued its physician reimbursement program.
“Kickbacks to health care providers in exchange for patient referrals undermine the medical judgment of physicians and exploit the trust of patients,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy. “Kickback arrangements with physicians also place vital taxpayer funds at risk. As this settlement demonstrates, this office will continue to aggressively combat fraud against federal health care programs.”
“While genomic testing is a valuable and relatively recent medical tool, when specialized laboratories pay for referrals they aren’t breaking any new ground but rather engaging in the same old kickback schemes,” said Chris Schrank, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Southern California Region. “Federal law enforcement will not let new technologies deter them from bringing violators to justice.”
“The defendants allowed greed to corrupt their trusted relationship with their patients and ultimately affect patient care decisions,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “Today’s settlement should make it abundantly clear that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not allow kickbacks and bribes to influence patient care decisions.”
The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally brought by a whistleblower in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. The Act permits private parties to sue, on behalf of the government, companies and individuals who have falsely claimed federal funds and to share in any recovery. The whistleblower in this case, former Pathway employee Monique Gipson, will receive $686,225.
The case is captioned United States, et al. ex rel. Gipson v. Pathway Genomics, 14-cv-1919-LABJLB (S.D. Cal.).
This matter was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Keehn and forensic staff of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in coordination with Special Agents of the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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FBI and San Diego Police Department Seek the Public’s Assistance to Identify Chase Bank Robber

FBI San Diego Division #News Release:

FBI and San Diego Police Department Seek the Public’s Assistance to Identify Chase Bank Robber

FBI San DiegoDecember 28, 2015
  • Darrell Foxworth(858) 320-8302
The FBI and the San Diego Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the unknown male responsible for robbing the Chase Bank branch located at 101 West Broadway, San Diego, California, on Saturday, December 26, 2015.
On Saturday, December 26, 2015, at approximately 11:59 a.m. the Chase Bank branch located at 101 West Broadway, San Diego, California, was robbed by an unknown male. During this robbery, the unknown male (hereinafter referred to as the robber) passed a demand note to the teller demanding cash. The robber also made a verbal demand for money and threatened to use a bomb if he did not receive any money. After receiving a sum of money from the teller, the robber fled the bank headed eastbound on foot. No injuries were reported as a result of the robbery.
Witnesses describe the robber as follows:
Sex: Male
Race: Black
Age: Approximately 45-55 years old
Weight: Approximately 175 to 185 pounds
Height: 5’9” to 5’10” tall
Build: Medium
Clothing: Dark navy blue clothing and a blue stocking cap with “California” on the front
San Diego Bank Robbery Suspect, Photo 1 of 3 (12/28/15)  San Diego Bank Robbery Suspect, Photo 2 of 3 (12/28/15)
San Diego Bank Robbery Suspect, Photo 3 of 3 (12/28/15)
Anyone with information concerning this robbery is asked to contact the FBI at telephone number (858) 320-1800 or San Diego Crime Stoppers at (888) 540-8477. To view photographs of other wanted San Diego bank robbers, please visit

Trumbull Man Sentenced to Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

FBI New Haven Division #News Release:

Trumbull Man Sentenced to Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 29, 2015
  • District of Connecticut(203) 821-3700
The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that MOHAMMED N. ISLAM, also known as “Tanveer,” 39, of Trumbull, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 14 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in a mortgage fraud scheme that involved dozens of properties in Fairfield County.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between 2006 and 2013, ISLAM participated in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that involved the purchase of numerous single and multi-family properties, primarily in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford. During the scheme, ISLAM and his co-conspirators provided materially false information to mortgage lenders, including false verifications of mortgage applicants’ income, false verifications of down payments for real estate transactions and false HUD-1 Forms.
ISLAM recruited and directed the actions of several “straw buyers,” or individuals who fraudulently applied for and obtained mortgage loans but did not have an actual financial investment or stake in the mortgage loan transactions. In fact, ISLAM was the intended owner of the property, managed the property and collected all of the rents from the property. Many of these properties ended up in foreclosure, or in short sale transactions.
Through this scheme, lenders suffered losses of more than $8 million.
ISLAM was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,141,817.
On March 12, 2014, ISLAM pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Housing Finance Agency—Office of Inspector General. The criminal case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Cherry and Avi Perry, and the parallel civil forfeiture cases are being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie G. Turbert.
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Blue Springs Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery Conspiracy

FBI Kansas City Division #News Release:

Blue Springs Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 29, 2015
  • Western District of Missouri(816) 426-3122
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Blue Springs, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to commit several armed robberies at restaurants in the metropolitan area.
Isiah G. Etienne, 20, of Blue Springs, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to participating in the robbery conspiracy, to committing robbery and to using a firearm in a crime of violence while aiding and abetting another person.
Co-defendants Jeremy Hunter, also known as “Heat,” 25, and Renargo L. Martin, 46, both of Kansas City, Mo., and Mikah M. Labayen, 20, of Blue Springs, have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and to related charges.
By pleading guilty today, Etienne admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to rob several fast food restaurants in the Kansas City area in the fall of 2014. Etienne and Labayen were employed at a Chipotle restaurant in Blue Springs. Using their knowledge of procedures commonly used by such establishments, conspirators would wait until the end of a business day, and then rob restaurants by waiting until an employee opened a door to take trash out of the premises. They rushed the door to gain access, and then forced the manager or shift supervisor to give them access to the restaurant’s safe. Conspirators threatened restaurant employees with an assault rifle in order to force their cooperation.
Etienne admitted that he robbed a Chipotle restaurant in Lee’s Summit, Mo., on Nov. 3, 2014, taking $1,600; a Burger King restaurant in Independence, Mo., on Nov. 10, 2014, taking $914 and again on Nov. 30, 2014, taking $565; and a Chipotle restaurant in Blue Springs on Nov. 16, 2014, taking $6,800.
Following these robberies, Etienne and Labayen were captured after an attempted robbery of a motel.
Hunter admitted that he participated in one of the robberies, and loaned his assault rifle to co-conspirators to use in several other robberies in exchange for part of the proceeds. Martin admitted that he drove Hunter to the Blue Springs Chipotle on Nov. 16, 2014. Hunter and Martin were given access to that restaurant’s back door by Labayen, an employee of the restaurant. Armed with his assault rifle, Hunter forced the restaurant employees to the ground as he kicked the door into the manager’s office. Once in the manager’s office, Hunter ordered the supervisor to open the safe and put all the money into a green duffle bag.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Etienne is subject to a sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Edwards. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Lee’s Summit, Mo., Police Department, the Blue Springs, Mo., Police Department and the FBI.
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Wyoming Woman Sentenced to Prison for Theft from Health Care Clinic and Non-Profit

FBI Denver Division #News Release:

Wyoming Woman Sentenced to Prison for Theft from Health Care Clinic and Non-Profit

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 29, 2015
  • District of Wyoming(307) 772-2124
CHEYENNE—U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Crofts announced today that thirty-seven year old Sheridan, Wyoming, resident Alecia Rae Bolton was sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal to serve fifty-one (51) months in prison for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. In addition, Judge Freudenthal ordered Bolton to pay approximately $86,000 in restitution to the victims of her fraud.
These charges arose from Bolton’s theft of approximately $23,000 from the Sheridan chapter of Trout Unlimited and approximately $63,000 from her former employer Cedars Health Clinics between February 2014 and April 2015. Specifically, as the volunteer treasurer of the Little Big Horn Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Bolton wrote unauthorized checks from the group’s checking account to pay her personal expenses. To accomplish and conceal this fraud, Bolton forged the signatures of other Trout Unlimited officers on various checks. As an office employee and accounts receivable manager for Cedars Health Clinics, Bolton stole patient payments made to the clinic by depositing checks and transferring electronic payments into accounts she controlled. In addition to stealing patient payments, Defendant Bolton stole Cedars’ money by writing unauthorized checks from the clinic’s bank account. In doing so, Bolton forged the signature of another Cedars’ employee on the unauthorized checks.
This case was investigated by the Sheridan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Heimann.
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Former Bank Vice President is Sentenced to More Than Three Years for Fraud

FBI Buffalo Division #News Release:

Former Bank Vice President is Sentenced to More Than Three Years for Fraud

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeDecember 30, 2015
  • Western District of New York(716) 843-5700
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Michael Whipple, 43, of Williamsville, NY, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford to 39 months’ incarceration, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,332,397. In addition, the defendant will be placed on supervised release for a period of three years once released from incarceration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross, who is handling the case, stated that between 2008 and November 2013, Whipple, an M&T Bank Vice President, devised a scheme to defraud the bank involving creation and origination of fraudulent “funding loans.” These loans were created in the names of entities which were credit worthy, or made by the defendant to appear credit worthy. The proceeds were then given to entities of Whipple’s choosing.
As part of the scheme, Whipple forged signatures on loan documentation related to the origination of many of the “funding loans” and had mail diverted to locations other than the credit worthy clients’ addresses to avoid detection. When customers questioned the defendant regarding irregularities in their loan accounts, Whipple told them it was a mistake or a bank error and promised to correct the problem. These problems were never corrected as the defendant stated they would be and he subsequently covered the irregularities up through the creation of new funding loans.
In addition, the defendant caused official checks drawn on M&T Bank to be created to fund the fraudulently originated loans. Similar to a Ponzi scheme, the defendant used some of the proceeds from the fraudulent loans to make payments on the previously obtained fraudulent loans in order to avoid detection by the bank and the customers whose credit was fraudulently used.
At the time the scheme was discovered, there were at least 12 funding loans fraudulently created by Whipple. As a result of the defendant’s actions, M&T Bank suffered a loss of $5,332,397.
The sentencing is a culmination of an investigation by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Shantelle P. Kitchen, Special Agent in Charge, New York Field Office.
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Toy company WolVol is blaming its China-based manufacturer for the defect, saying they produced a faulty batch of the toys.

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UnitedHealthcare and Optum Support People Affected by Tornadoes in Mississippi

From UnitedHealth Group:

UnitedHealthcare and Optum Support People Affected by Tornadoes in Mississippi
  • Assistance for UnitedHealthcare plan participants whose access to care or prescriptions may have been affected
  • Free emotional-support help line from Optum open to anyone

JACKSON, Miss. (Dec. 29, 2015) — 
UnitedHealthcare and Optum, the health benefits and services companies of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), are taking immediate action to help people in Mississippi who may be affected by the recent storms and tornadoes.
This includes assisting health plan participants who may need to make alternate arrangements to ensure continuity of care or access to early prescription refills, and a free emotional-support line to help people in affected communities.
  • Help Finding a Network Care Provider, Early Refills: Plan participants who need help finding a care provider in the UnitedHealthcare network or obtaining early prescription refills can call customer care at the number located on the back of their medical ID card.

    For plan participants who may have misplaced their medical ID card, call 866-633-2446, 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. (in the local time zone), Monday through Friday. People enrolled in employer-sponsored and individual health plans who have a smartphone can download the free Health4Me app, which provides instant access to their ID card, network care providers, their personal health benefits and more. The Health4Me app is available as a free download at the Apple iTunes App Store and the Android Market on Google Play.

  • Free Help Line: Optum, a leading health and behavioral health services company, is offering a free emotional-support help line.

    The toll-free number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary. The service is free of charge and open to anyone. Specially trained Optum mental health specialists help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

    Along with the toll-free help line, emotional-support resources and information are available online
About UnitedHealth GroupUnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

Honest Tea will remove Donald Trump quote from bottle caps - Dec. 30, 2015

Honest Tea is saying bye to Donald Trump.

The beverage company said it would remove a Trump quote that was printed on some of its bottle caps because it had "run its course."

Honest Tea will remove Donald Trump quote from bottle caps - Dec. 30, 2015