Task Force Surge Results in 14 Charged with Financial Crimes
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Fourteen individuals have been charged in a coordinated effort by the Newport News Financial Crimes Task Force, a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement to combat financial crimes on the Virginia Peninsula. The charges cover a wide range of crimes, including bank and mortgage fraud, aggravated identity theft, embezzlement and illegal kickbacks.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Keith A. Fixel, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement.
“Our office prosecutes financial crimes from Wall Street to Main Street, and this task force is aimed at tackling fraud taking place in our own backyard,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “These fraud schemes – often aimed at our local banks and businesses – directly affect the financial well-being of the Peninsula’s economy.”
“Initiatives like the Newport News Financial Crimes Task Force were created to crack down on white-collar crimes occurring in the Newport News and the Peninsula region,” said Inspector in Charge Fixel. “The partnership we have built with area law enforcement, financial institutions and retail merchants have really helped us to identify and prosecute fraud-related activities with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers.”
Created in July 2010, the Newport News Financial Fraud Task Force is comprised of agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, IRS-CID and other federal agencies along with dedicated officers from the police departments of Newport News, Hampton, James City County, York County and Gloucester. Partners of the task force include Tidewater area financial institutions, credit card companies and the National White Collar Crime Center. Financial crimes with a federal nexus are brought to the attention of the task force by local law enforcement, and members of the task force investigate and refer appropriate cases to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution.
The following individuals were charged in a concentrated phase of the task force’s efforts:
- Kathy H. Shackelford, 45, of Gloucester, Va., was indicted on Sept. 12, 2011, and accused of using her position as head teller at Colonial Virginia Bank to embezzle money from customer accounts and a bank cash drawer from June 2010 to September 2010.
- Lisa Easter Harvey, 41, of Poquoson, Va., was charged in an 11-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of embezzling money from the Bellwood Tender Care Daycare Center in Newport News, Va., where she has served as the as the center’s bookkeeper for more than 13 years. The fraud allegedly took place from March 2008 to August 2010.
- Ali Mustafa Ansari, 35, of Ruckersville, Va., was charged in an eight-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of diverting and embezzling funds from Hampton-based Laser & Plasma Technologies LLC. Ansari served as the company’s director of operations and allegedly engaged in the scheme from September 2010 through January 2011.
- Marlene Rivera Leon, 24, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, was charged in a 14-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of participating in a conspiracy in October and November 2010 to use counterfeit checks to fraudulently obtain cash from BB&T, Townebank and other financial institutions.
- James R. Peterson, 55, of Newport News, Va., was charged through a one-count criminal information filed on Sept. 13, 2011, accusing him of soliciting and accepting a kickback from June 2006 to August 2006. Peterson was a procurement operations manager for Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Inc., and allegedly received the kickback in return for providing a firm with favorable treatment in a federal contract.
- Laverne Thomas, 56, of Newport News, Va., was charged by a one-count criminal information filed on Sept. 15, 2011, that alleges she conspired with others from December 2005 to March 2006 to fraudulently obtain a mortgage loan in the name of a straw purchaser in return for proceeds from the sale of the home.
- Jovan Hyman, 29 and Angela Puryear, 49, both of Norfolk, Va., were charged in a 19-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of participating in a conspiracy from the fall of 2009 through December 2010 that used counterfeit checks, stolen debit cards and PIN numbers, and other bank account information to steal from banks in Tidewater and individuals whose financial information had been compromised.
- Elias Sedale Jones, 26, of Newport News, Va., was charged in a 19-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of defrauding financial institutions throughout Tidewater from June to November 2010 by using counterfeit checks purporting to be from area businesses or bank accounts previously opened by conspirators at local financial institutions.
- Eric Joyce, 43, of Chesapeake, Va., was charged in a 12-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of creating and using counterfeit business checks and attempting to cash them at various Food Lion stores throughout Tidewater from May through June 2010.
- Widney Jesus Lores Garcia, 34 and Alexander Menendez, 32, both of Newport News, Va., were charged in a 12-count indictment on Sept. 13, 2011, of creating or purchasing gift, credit, or debit cards and re-encoding the cards with stolen financial account information. The re-encoded cards were then used to make fraudulent purchases of goods and services in June 2011.
- Al Jolson Snowden, Jr., 55, of Norfolk, Va., was indicted on Sept. 12, 2011, of making 180 false reimbursement claims over a period from 2008 – 2011 for travel he allegedly did not complete to receive medical treatment at the Hampton VA Medical Center.
- Andrea Moltke, 40, of Hampton, Va., was charged through a one-count criminal information filed on Sept. 7, 2011, with making a false declaration in the course of a bankruptcy proceeding. The criminal information alleges that Moltke failed to list various assets on a bankruptcy petition filed on September 13, 2010.
This particular operation was led by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and conducted by the Newport News Financial Crimes Task Force. Managing Assistant United States Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick, Assistant United States Attorney Brian J. Samuels, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Fred G. Medick and Jerome Maiatico are prosecuting the cases on behalf of the United States.
Criminal indictments and informations are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.