Last Defendant Sentenced In Massive International Telecommunications Fraud Case
Fraud Extended to United Kingdom, Spain, Lebanon, France and the United Arab Emirates
DALLAS — Thomas Francis Quinn, 76, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis to 84 months in federal prison, and then remanded into federal custody, for his role in a conspiracy to defraud two British telecommunications companies of more than $60 million. Quinn, a U.S. citizen who resided in France and maintained residences in other foreign countries, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Quinn was the last defendant convicted in the case to be sentenced. Today’s announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Other defendants convicted and sentenced in the case are:
Michael Signoretto, 74, of Dallas. Following a two-week trial, Signoretto was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. He was sentenced in June 2012 to 84 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $50,700,400 in restitution.
Steven Roy Jamieson, 55, of Plano, Texas. Jamieson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $63,693,178 in restitution.
Robert William Moore, 48, a United Kingdom citizen, who resided in Poland and Dubai. Moore pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud. He was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison.
Jeffrey John Hemmer, 48, of Dallas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $63,693,178 in restitution.
David William Price, a U.K. citizen, is charged in the conspiracy, but remains a fugitive.
According to evidence presented at trial, including voluminous bank/financial records from multiple countries and intercepted telephone communications, as well as documents filed in the case, the defendants ran a conspiracy to defraud two British telecommunications companies, British Telecom (BT) and MCI (now Verizon) out of more than $60 million.
The conspirators committed the fraud by purchasing a London business, London Digital Limited (LDL), that had pre-existing contracts and favorable credit terms with BT and MCI. Over an 18-month period from late 2003 to June 2005, the conspirators used LDL to quickly buy increasing amounts of “air time” from the telecom companies that they would sell at a loss to other wholesale companies, and then, when they were doing more than $20 million per month in business, put their London company into bankruptcy and walked away with three months’ worth of revenues that should have been paid to the telecom companies.
The conspirators also created two shell companies, Nationwide Call Company (NCC) in Dallas and FOCOS Electronics in Marbella, Spain, to covertly move the proceeds of their fraud to Aston Rothbury, a private “bank” in London operated by a convicted money launderer. From London, the conspirators had their fraud proceeds directed to three bank accounts in Beirut, Lebanon, and from there the funds were disbursed to accounts in numerous countries, including France, Kenya, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, the United States, and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. As part of their plan to keep the fraud secret, the conspirators utilized fake passports, spoke about the fraud on prepaid “bat phones” and referred to each other with predetermined code names.
In late 2005, the victim companies brought a federal civil action in Hammond, Indiana, in an attempt to uncover the truth of what was behind the suspicious bankruptcy of LDL. As part of the federal case, the victim companies took the deposition of Jeffrey Hemmer on four occasions between late 2005 and late 2008. Behind the scenes, Quinn and his co-conspirators waged a prolonged effort to obstruct this federal civil case in order to prevent the victims from exposing the criminal conspiracy and everyone involved in it. Starting with a meeting of the conspirators in a Paris hotel, there was a concerted effort to get Hemmer to lie under oath in the Indiana proceedings or “take a vacation” – the conspirators’ code for fleeing the United States – so that he could not give deposition testimony. On four occasions between July and December 2008, Signoretto dropped four packages containing thousands of dollars at the concierge desk and valet stand at a downtown Dallas hotel, for pickup by Hemmer. Unbeknownst to the conspirators, however, Hemmer had begun cooperating with the FBI and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation agents investigating the LDL case. Beginning with consensual recordings of Hemmer’s telephone calls, the investigating agents eventually obtained court-ordered wiretap interceptions of the telephones of Jamieson and Signoretto. These intercepted calls clearly implicated Quinn and his co-conspirators in the effort to obstruct the Indiana federal case, as well as the underlying LDL fraud.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov
Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and the FBI investigated. Criminal Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Errin Martin and Stephen Fahey prosecuted.