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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 26, 2001

Kesha Handy
Public Affairs Specialist
Phone: 713/567-9335
Fax: 713/718-3390
E-Mail:
usatty.txs@usdoj.gov
or
Patrice Warren
Phone: 713/567-9334 Fax: 713/718-3389

MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR INCOME TAX FRAUD

Edward F. Gallagher III
Phone: 713/567-9343

(HOUSTON) U. S. Attorney Michael T. Shelby announced that Slava Tretchikova, 43, Houston, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas to ten months imprisonment for filing fraudulent income tax returns for 1994 and 1995. Elena Tretchikova, 38, was also sentenced for the same returns and received three years probation.

Slava Tretchikov and his wife, Elena Tretchikova, pled guilty May 3, 2001, and admitted that they owned and operated a number of chiropractic clinics, two law offices, and several check cashing businesses in Houston. Proceeds from their insurance claims were cashed through the check cashing businesses and not reported as income to the IRS. The couple also accepted kickbacks from law offices relating to insurance settlements from automobile accidents. They used their check cashing businesses to cash the insurance settlement checks and used the proceeds to pay lawyers and the sources from which the accident cases were acquired. The couple failed to report over $618,000 in income from checks run through the check cashing businesses which does not include the kickbacks paid to attorneys.

Six other related cases have been prosecuted. Stanley Stein, 49, Los Angeles, pled guilty on November 15, 2001, to two separate charges of money laundering conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes. The conspiracies, one in Houston and one in Los Angeles, involved the laundering of mail fraud proceeds from personal injury claims paid by insurance companies arising from staged and solicited automobile accidents. Stein, a non-lawyer, ran several law offices in Houston and Los Angeles between 1993 and 1997 which were used to process and file fraudulent insurance claims that paid out over $ 4.3 million to his law offices and to claimants. Stein conspired with others to reach agreements with various chiropractic clinics to kickback 50% of the medical proceeds to the law office in return for patient referrals. Stein admitted that he engaged in a series of financial transactions, including transporting illegally obtained funds between Houston and Los Angeles, in amounts greater than $10,000, which involved proceeds of the mail fraud. Stein is scheduled to be sentenced on February 11, 2002, and faces up to twenty (20) years imprisonment and fines up to $500,000.

On December 7, 2001, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon entered a default judgment on behalf of State Farm Insurance in excess of $26,000,000 against four defendants, two charged in related criminal cases. Stein, whose criminal case is described above, was accessed a $16,803,660 judgment and Michael Giventer, 42, Miami, Florida, who previously pled guilty to income tax offenses, was accessed $14,403,660.

Semyon Vesterman, 52, pled guilty on November 8, 2001, to subscribing to a fraudulent income tax return for the year 1998. Vesterman admitted that he failed to report over $80,000 in proceeds from settlement checks sent to his medical clinics from various law offices in Houston. Vesterman will also be sentenced on February 11, 2002, and he faces up to three (3) years imprisonment and fines up to $250,000.

Victor Cuevas, 34, a citizen of Guatemala currently in State custody in Austin, Texas, pled guilty on July 30, 2001, to money laundering conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore. The conspiracy involved the laundering of mail fraud proceeds from personal injury claims paid by insurance companies arising from staged automobile accidents. Cuevas worked with law offices and chiropractic clinics in Houston and Austin between 1993 and 1998 and used the proceeds from insurance settlement checks to pay kickbacks between law offices and chiropractic clinics. The settlement checks were diverted through a check cashing business in Houston. The specific charges relate to nine settlement checks received from various insurers totaling $26,720 which Cuevas transported from Austin to Houston and cashed through a local check cashing business. Cuevas faces up to twenty (20) years imprisonment and fines up to $500,000 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 4, 2002.

Philip Salkinder, 45, Bal Harbor, Florida, former owner of several local Houston based chiropractic clinics, pled guilty to income tax evasion for tax years 1994 and 1995 before U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes. Salkinder admitted that he diverted proceeds from insurance claims through a check cashing business and did not report the income to the IRS. He was sentenced on June 18, 2001, to five (5) years probation, fined $40,000, and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.

Giventer, identified above, also a former owner of several local Houston based chiropractic clinics, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon on March 9, 2001, to filing fraudulent income tax returns for tax years 1994 and 1995. Giventer diverted cash earned from the insurance claims through check cashing businesses which was not reported as income to the IRS. Giventer was sentenced on October 12, 2001 to five (5) years probation.

Roman Spektor, 54, Studio City, California, pled guilty to money laundering conspiracy on June 18, 2001, before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. Spektor, who is not an attorney, set up several law offices in Houston to file personal injury claims with insurance companies arising from auto accidents. Many of the claims were for medical services not provided to patients and were fraudulent in nature. The insurance companies used the U.S. mail to forward checks to Spektor which were later cashed at check cashing businesses to disguise and conceal the source and nature of the money. Spektor has agreed to forfeit $25,000 to the U.S. Government and faces up to twenty (20) years imprisonment and fines up to $500,000 when sentenced on January 22, 2002.

This three-year investigation continues and is being handled by the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Edward F. Gallagher of the Organized Crime Strike Force with assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office Strike Force in Los Angeles, California, and the Travis County District Attorney's Office in Austin.


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