Press Release

For Immediate Release
August 24, 2007

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI’S TOP TEN NEWS STORIES
FOR THE WEEK ENDING AUGUST 24, 2007

1.         San Antonio: U.S. Army Major, Wife, Sister Indicted in Procurement Fraud

Major John Cockerham, Jr., his wife, Melissa Cockerham, and his sister, Carolyn Blake, were indicted on bribery, money laundering, obstruction charges, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government arising out of the major’s service as an army contracting officer in Kuwait. Cockerham allegedly guaranteed that a contractor would receive a contract in return for the payment of money.  Cockerham and others accepted $9.6 million in bribe payments on Cockerham’s behalf through bid-rigging schemes. Full Story

2.         Detroit:  Man Sentenced for Civil Rights Violation

Michail Aronov was sentenced to 90 months in prison and over $1 million in restitution for his role as one of the ringleaders in a conspiracy to force Eastern European women to work as exotic dancers in strip clubs. Aronov was convicted for conspiring to violate the civil rights of the dancers through involuntary servitude, as well as immigration and money laundering conspiracies. Full Story

3.         New York: Guilty Pleas in Oil-for-Food Case

David B. Chalmers and two corporations that he operated pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud related to the payment of secret illegal surcharges to the former Government of Iraq in connection with the purchase of crude oil in the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Ludmil Dionissiev, who helped facilitate the export of the oil, pleaded guilty to smuggling charges.  Chalmers faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment as well as millions of dollars in fines and restitution. Full Story

4.         New Orleans: Former Head of Film Commission Charged With Bribery

While serving as Director of the Louisiana Film Commission, Mark S. Smith approved fraudulently inflated movie budgets submitted by a film production company in order for the film company to receive state credits. Smith, in return, accepted cash bribes. Smith was charged with Conspiracy and Bribery in Connection with a Program Receiving Federal Funds. Full Story

5.         San Juan: Individual Arrested for Destruction of Energy Facility

Angel Colon-Vargas was arrested in Seattle, Washington by FBI Agents for destroying an electrical tower owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.  The tower collapsed as a result of the removal of aluminum beams which supported the corner beams of the tower.  A short time afterwards, Colon-Vargas traveled to Seattle to live with relatives. Full Story

6.         Portland: Seattle Attorney Found Guilty in Online Child Sexual Exploitation Case

Seattle attorney, William Brook Knowles, was found guilty of “Enticement and Coercion of a Minor” and “Travel with Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct with a Minor” as a result of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online predators. The defendant entered an AOL chat room and began corresponding with an undercover FBI Agent posing as a 14-year-old girl. Full Story

7.         New York: Textron Inc. Agrees to Pay Fine in Connection With Payment of Kickbacks by Its Subsidiaries

Textron Inc. has acknowledged responsibility for the actions of several of its French subsidiaries which paid kickbacks between 2000 and 2003 to the Iraqi government in order to obtain contracts with the Iraqi ministries. Textron Inc. has agreed to pay a fine in the amount of $1.15 million as part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the UN “Oil for Food” Program. Full Story

8.         New Haven: Guilty Plea in Internet “Phishing” Scheme

Michael Dolan pleaded guilty to participating in an elaborate “phishing” scheme that targeted and victimized AOL subscribers.  Through the “phishing” schemes, the AOL subscribers unknowingly would submit their personal information - name, social security number, and other information – to Dolan which he then used to make online purchases and to produce counterfeit debit cards. Full Story
 
9.         Columbia: Indictment in Sex Trafficking Case

Three Mexican nationals were indicted for conspiring to bring Mexican women, at least one of which was 14 years old, into South Carolina for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex. The indictment also charges them with various immigration violations including harboring of illegal aliens.  The Attorney General has made the prosecution of human trafficking crimes a top priority. Full Story

10.   Buffalo: Sting Snags Heroin Network

The Safe Street Task Force executed 18 federal arrest warrants and 9 federal search warrants culminating a two-year investigation into illegal drug trafficking and related crimes. This investigation centered around the “Pedro Antonetty Crew,” operating on the west side of Buffalo. Members of this distribution criminal enterprise sold large quantities of heroin in Western New York and have been involved in acts of violence. Full Story

 



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