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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Oakland Man Sentenced to 121 Months and Ordered to Pay $3.37 Million for Charity Fraud Scheme

OAKLAND – Keith Aaron Vann was sentenced yesterday to 121 months in prison and ordered to pay $3,377,089.64 in restitution for his role in a conspiracy to defraud three Arizona residents into donating millions of dollars to a phony charitable organization, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.

After a four-day trial, a jury convicted Vann on December 17, 2012, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, a separate count of wire fraud, and three counts of money laundering. During the trial, evidence showed that Vann participated in a scheme to defraud the victims, two of whom were Arizona elementary school teachers, of over $3.3 million from their father’s estate by making false representations including, among other things, that an entity known as Global Missions was a non-profit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); that it provided humanitarian aid worldwide, including in Africa; and that donations to Global Missions would be tax deductible. Evidence presented at trial showed that, contrary to these representations, Vann and others used donations to Global Missions to pay for personal trips, jewelry, a down payment on a luxury car, and a $1.25 million home. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Vann posed as Global Missions’ attorney, “James Preston, Esq.” Acting as Preston, Vann told the victims that he had expertise in facilitating tax deductible charitable donations with the IRS.

Vann, 42, of Oakland, California, was charged by indictment on April 16, 2008. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong . Judge Armstrong also sentenced Mr. Vann to a three-year period of supervised release. Vann was immediately remanded into custody following the sentencing hearing.

Wade M. Rhyne is the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case, with the assistance of Legal Assistants Kathleen Turner and Janice Pagsangan, and Paralegal Noble Hughes. The prosecution is the result of a three-year investigation by the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.