News and Press Releases

International Fugitives Sentenced To 66 Months In Prison For Asset Tracing Scheme

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2014

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Elaine White, 70, formerly a resident of Toronto, Canada, and her husband, Cullen Johnson, 65, were both sentenced yesterday to a term of 66 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for their role in an international asset tracing scheme.  In addition, both White and Johnson were ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,021,738.60.

            Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia,  Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office, and Kathryn Keneally, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.

            Johnson and White pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to engage in money laundering on Sept. 26 and Oct. 7, 2013, respectively.  According to court documents, starting in 2006, Johnson and White owned and/or operated an asset location business called “Internal Affairs,” “World Solutions” and then “Occipital.”  Clients seeking to locate funds that had been stolen from them or who believed that relatives or former spouses had hidden money or were otherwise trying to trace lost, missing or stolen assets, hired White and Johnson to investigate the location of such assets. White and Johnson then produced reports of information to such clients, which purported to contain financial and other information subject to the clients’ requests.  Johnson was a former Toronto Police Department detective and White was a private investigator in Toronto.

            According to court records, rather than providing valid information, White and Johnson provided the client-victims with fabricated banking records, purporting to show that the assets or money that clients sought had been moved from one banking institution to another in locations such as Monaco, Greece, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Latin America and the Caribbean.  For additional payments, White and Johnson claimed that they could continue to trace the funds to their final destination.  On any occasion where the client-victims determined that the information provided by the defendants was false, the defendants claimed that the information was valid and accused the client-victims or their representatives of improperly trying to collect the funds.

            Further, court documents also state that, in or about 2009, White and Johnson were charged by the Ontario Provincial Police in Canada with crimes related to this asset tracing fraud.  The couple fled Canada, traveling first to the Bahamas, and then to the Turks & Caicos Islands, where they continued to operate this fraudulent asset tracing business on U.S. and Canadian victims.  The couple claimed to client-victims that they had been wrongfully charged due to their discovery of government corruption in Canada and the hiding of Canadian funds by politicians and officials in offshore banks.  The couple resided there until they were apprehended by Turks & Caicos authorities.  All told, the couple solicited more than $1,000,000 from U.S. and Canadian victims, including about $500,000, which they wired to one of their co-conspirators.

            Additionally, on Jan. 15, 2014, Juliet Bickford, a resident of Hampton Roads, Va., entered a guilty plea before Magistrate Judge Tommy Miller to one count of filing a false 2011 tax return relating to a false medical deduction.  As part of the statement of facts submitted in connection with the guilty plea, Bickford admitted to receiving and spending funds she received from Johnson and White.  Bickford did not report any of these funds on her tax returns.  She also agreed to pay restitution of $10,000 to the victims of the scheme.  Her sentencing has been scheduled for May 6, 2014.

            This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian J. Samuels and Lisa R. McKeel and Trial Attorney Jed Silversmith of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

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.  More information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/tax.

 

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