A Reston man has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for a bank fraud and identity theft scheme where he created fake COVID-19 stimulus checks, the Department of Justice announced yesterday (Wednesday).
Jonathan Drew, 39, was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria yesterday by Senior U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga. His 70-month prison sentence is significantly less than the maximum of 32 years that he faced for charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
He pleaded guilty to the charges on April 14.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh announced the sentencing. He was joined by Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis, Loudoun County Sheriff Michael Chapman, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, and Daniel A. Adame, the inspector in charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division.
“In addition to causing financial harm to the individuals from whom he stole checks and credit cards, the defendant’s sweeping criminal conduct also inflicted emotional harm and distress to his identity theft victims,” Parekh said in a statement. “As this case demonstrates, we are determined to hold accountable those who seek to illegally enrich themselves by defrauding and stealing from our residents.”
According to the DOJ news release, Drew stole the identities of more than 150 people between December 2019 and August 2020:
According to court documents, between approximately December 2019 and August 2020, Jonathan Drew, 39, stole U.S. mail addressed to more than 150 individuals in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. The mail Drew stole included bank statements, credit cards, credit card statements, W-2 forms, and more than $700,000 in checks, including a COVID-19 stimulus payment and checks Drew used to create counterfeit checks.
According to court documents, Drew used the stolen stimulus check to create counterfeit stimulus checks ranging from $1,200 to $2,400, and he negotiated his own authentically issued stimulus check twice. Drew also used the personally identifiable information of several individuals without authorization to lease an apartment; open bank accounts; and attempt to conduct fraudulent transactions through counterfeit checks, forged checks, unauthorized use of credit cards, and wire transfers.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Olivia Zhu and Roberta O. Roberts, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell L. Carlberg.
Attorney General Merrick Garland established a COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force with the Department of Justice and other government agencies on May 17 to investigate and prosecute crimes related to the pandemic and the various relief programs created to address its economic impact.
The DOJ says people can stay alert for fraud involving COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, unemployment benefits, and taxes by not responding to unsolicited phone calls or emails and avoiding sharing personal or health information with anyone other than trusted medical professionals.
Anyone who thinks they might be a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the DOJ National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or submitting a National Center for Disaster Fraud complaint form.
Photo via Google Maps
A Sterling man allegedly used four corporations — including two in Reston and Herndon — in a $21 million H-1B visa fraud conspiracy.
According to court documents, Ashish Sawhney, 48, used the corporations to submit fraudulent applications for H-1B work visas. He was arrested yesterday (Thursday) on charges of conspiracy to commit visa fraud. Two of the companies include Value Software Products, Inc. in Herndon and Business Pointers Inc. in Reston.
Court documents indicate Sawhney allegedly used the companies to provide information technology staff and software development services. Authorities believe the Sterling man submitted applications for H-1B visas, which stated that the foreign workers would fill jobs that did not exist at the time of filing.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Sawhney’s companies may have generated $21 million in gross profits from 2011 to 2016. The indictment also stated Sawhney, who is an Indian national, attempted to naturalize as a U.S. citizen by submitting an application with false statements.
Here’s more from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:
The case is being investigated by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, which is comprised of multiple agencies including the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security that coordinate investigations into fraudulent immigration documents.
If convicted, Sawhney faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He was charged with two counts of conspiracy, three counts of inducing an alien to come to the U.S. for commercial advantage or personal gain, and one count of attempted naturalization fraud.
Photo via Google Maps
A Herndon man who was the former procurement director for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. pled guilty to a bribery conspiracy yesterday (Monday).
According to court documents, Jeffrey Donahue, 42, received cash payments and other items — including the promise of a job — amounting to $1 million from Nadeem Ansari, a Haymarket resident, in return for steering PBGC contracts to Ansari’s company.
Nearly five years ago, Donahue offered to help Ansari’s new company win a $55 million contract in exchange for a future job with the company. The Herndon resident helped Ansari complete the proposal process, including the disclosure of labor pricing estimates. When the company did not win the contract, Donahue helped Ansari write bid protest.
Here’s more from the U.S. Department of Justice on the case:
In 2016, Donahue proposed a second arrangement with Ansari in which Donahue would receive up to $125,000 from Ansari and his company in exchange for steering a contract to Ansari’s company. PBGC awarded the contract to Ansari’s company, which resulted in payments to the company totaling approximately $3.29 million. Donahue steered the contract by, among other things, providing sensitive, non-public information and work product to Ansari; providing guidance for contract pricing; and adjusting the terms of the contract to align with the qualifications of the company’s personnel. Donahue received at least $48,000 in cash, plus additional gifts. Donahue and Ansari also took steps to conceal the scheme and their communications with each other, including using separate, dedicated cellular telephones and e-mail accounts and communicating through encrypted software.
Ansari also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to bribe a public official. Sentencing for both men is set for Sept. 11.
The PBGC is a federally-chartered corporation that aims to protect retirement security through single-employer and multi-employer plans.
Photo via PBGC/Facebook
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Triple Canopy Inc., a Reston-based government contractor, has agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that the company submitted false claims for payment to the Department of Defense for unqualified security guards stationed in Iraq.
According to a DOJ press release, the allegations stem from Triple Canopy’s one-year contract with the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq (JCC-I), an entity established to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Under the 2009 contract, Triple Canopy was required to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase, the second largest air base in Iraq.
The government’s complaint in intervention alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for security guards who could not pass contractually required firearms proficiency tests. The tests were designed by the Army to ensure that the guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel were capable of firing their assigned weapons safely and accurately. The government further alleges that Triple Canopy concealed the guards’ inability to satisfy the firearms testing requirements by creating false test scorecards that Triple Canopy was required to maintain for government review, in an effort to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards.
“Contractors must be held accountable for their actions, especially when the safety of government personnel is at stake,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the release. “This settlement should remind contractors of the high value we place on safeguarding our personnel abroad.”
The government’s claims are based on a whistleblower suit initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. The suit was filed in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Virginia under a provision of the False Claims Act that allows private persons to file suit on behalf of the United States. Under the False Claims Act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower, also called the relator, to go forward alone. The government intervened in the suit in June 2012.
The False Claims Act also provides the whistleblower a share of the government’s recovery. As part of the resolution, the whistleblower will receive approximately $500,000.
Triple Canopy is now a Constellis company.
A 36-year-old Herndon man was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of threatening to murder officials, officers and employees of the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. State Department, as well as Virginia law enforcement officers.
William Lewis Weaver II is charged with two counts of threatening to assault and murder federal officials, officers and employees, as well as three counts of transmitting in interstate commerce a communication containing threats to injure the person of another. The indictment alleges that between Aug. 23 and Sept. 16, Weaver used a Twitter account to post tweets that threatened to murder a number of government officials, including specific threats involving bombs and a shotgun.
According to the affidavit (read in full), officers from the Herndon Police Department visited Weaver at his residence at least twice to ask him about his tweets.
Records received from CIA’s police department, which has law enforcement authority with respect to its facilities, indicate that on or before June 17, 2017, @WillWeaver2 posted at least one tweet that was directed at the CIA and the National Security Agency. The communication(s) was/were concerning in nature and resulted in the City of Herndon Police Department conducting a welfare check of WEAVER at his residence in Herndon, Virginia. During this meeting, WEAVER did not deny that he owns or controls @WillWeaver2, indicated that he had been intoxicated when he posted the tweet(s) in question, and did not intend to hurt anyone unless they came to his house.
The U.S. Department of State says Weaver had applied for a passport twice since February 2016, and was denied each time. One of his tweets in question read: “@StateDept You have about 2 weeks 2 get my passport 2 me before the devices set off and the shotgun blasts start. Tick-tock goes the clock.”
Other tweets that sparked investigation were directed toward the CIA, including two on the same day that read “Logic continues to dictate that bombing the cia, and shotgunning them as they line up outside the gate at work in the morn is my conclusion” and “They all line up at those gates like ducks at the county fair shooting gallery, haha. All that evil just a few shotgun blasts away from gone.”
After a federal officer visited Weaver’s home on Sept. 14, he posted a series of expletive-laden tweets over two days that included threats toward the CIA, NSA, police and military. He also allegedly visited a store in Sterling on Sept. 15 and attempted to purchase a shotgun and ammunition, which he tweeted would be for “home defence” because he “can’t trust police anymore.”
Weaver’s Twitter account has since been suspended.
A Nokesville man who worked as the controller for Reston’s NCI Inc. has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison for embezzling about $19.4 million from the information technology company.
Jon Frank, 48, pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge in June. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
From 2007 until January 2017, he used his position to initiate transfers of approximately more than $19 million from the company’s bank account to his personal accounts. He created false documents to make it appear that the money was being sent as reimbursement to another company that was administering the health insurance plan for Frank’s employer. Relying upon his knowledge and the altered documents, he was able to mislead the individuals performing audits of the company’s financial records. Frank spent the money on expensive automobiles and real estate, among other things.
In addition to his prison sentence, Frank has been ordered to pay the full amount — $19,440,331 — back in restitution.
Frank’s sentence was handed down Friday morning by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly prosecuted the case.
Two women, including one from Reston, were sentenced to prison Friday for their support of foreign terrorist organization al-Shabaab.
Muna Osman Jama, 36, was arrested in 2014 on charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She was found guilty in a 2016 trial.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Jama and 46-year-old Hinda Osman Dhirane of Washington state were sentenced Friday in Alexandria to 12 and 11 years, respectively.
According to court documents, Jama and Dhirane sent money to financiers of al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya, which they referred to respectively as the “Hargeisa side” and the “Nairobi side.” The defendants also organized what was called a “Group of Fifteen,” which included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada, as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota. The “Group of Fifteen” met regularly in a private chatroom that Jama established to organize and track monthly payment of money to the “Hargeisa side,” which was used to finance al-Shabaab military operations in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, and the “Nairobi side,” which was used to fund two al-Shabaab safehouses. One of the safehouses was used by al-Shabaab to store weapons and to prepare for attacks. The other was used to treat al-Shabaab fighters who had been wounded in battle.
Phone calls and other communication between the “Group of Fifteen” that was monitored by the government made up a substantial part of the case against the women. The recordings, the press release states, “demonstrated that the women had close connections with al-Shabaab leadership and were privy to non-public, inside information concerning al-Shabaab activities.”
The women were also recorded as they laughed while the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi was taking place, and about the Boston Marathon bombing before it was known who committed that attack, according to the Department of Justice.
A Reston woman accused of sending money to a Somalian terrorist group is standing trial in federal court in Alexandria this week.
Muna Osman Jama, 36, was arrested in Reston in 2014. She was one of several people charged with providing material support to al-Shabaab, “a designated foreign terrorist organization that is conducting an insurgency campaign in Somalia,” U.S. Department of Justice officials said.
Authorities said Osman Jama and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 44, of Kent, Wash., funneled small amounts of money to the group, which became affiliated with Al-Qaeda in 2012.
The trial is expected to take two weeks.