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Category Archives: 600 Drug Crimes Victories

State v. Ms. B (DMC No. 11862) – Felony Fraudulent Schemes, (2 Counts) Acquisition of a Dangerous Drug by Fraud & Identity Theft – Reduced to Solicitation Class 6 Open/Misdemeanor with 6 Months Probation and Zero Days in Jail –Maricopa County Superior Court (Case No. CR2013-002734).

Ms. B worked in a Doctor’s office as a medical assistant. She routinely would call in scripts on behalf of clients to various pharmacies. She was pressured into calling in some scripts for a coworker for various opiates. In addition, she called in a prescription for herself for an appetite suppressant. This was all done without the knowledge of the Doctor and in violation of ARS 13-3407, Acquisition of a Dangerous Drug by Fraud. It also qualified as a Fraud Scheme per ARS 13-2310 and Identity Theft per ARS 13-2008.

The Doctor found out about the scheme when she was called by Walgreens and the pharmacist asked if she normally prescribed this many pills (60) in a refill of Tramadol. The Doctor had no idea what the pharmacy was talking about and Phoenix Police Department was contacted. Eventually the Arizona Attorney General’s Healthcare Fraud and Abuse sections became involved, and an Investigator contacted Ms. B. Ms. B was interviewed with her boss/doctor present and she was never read her Miranda rights. She admitted to what had happened. She was then charged with Fraud Schemes, 2 Counts of Acquisition of a Dangerous Drug by Fraud, and ID Theft.

We became involved in the case and we informed the Prosecutor that it was the other coworker who was coercing Ms. B. into calling in prescriptions. The other coworker never cooperated with investigators, and we discovered that she had been convicted of Identity Theft in the state of New Jersey. Ultimately, we presented detailed Mitigation to the Prosecutor and they agreed to offer a plea to a single count of Solicitation, which is a Class 6 Open/Misdemeanor. She received 6 months of Probation and Zero Days in Jail. After 6 months of Probation, she had the case designated a Misdemeanor.

Unfortunately, her conviction qualified under 42 USC 1320(A)(7) and 42 CFR 1001.101(C). This means that Ms. B. was excluded from participation in any capacity (including employment) regarding Medicare, Medicaid and all Federal Healthcare Programs as defined under section 1128 B(F) of the Social Security Act for a minimum statutory period of five years. This includes any state healthcare program which is funded by Federal money. The exclusion had a significant effect on her ability to work in the healthcare field. However, because her conviction was designated a Misdemeanor, she had the ability to challenge the exclusion which was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.

State v. Mr. S (DMC No. 14311) – Felony Money Laundering ($3,000,000 from Drug Sales), Felony RICO/Illegally Conducting an Enterprise, Felony Dangerous Drugs For Sale (Heroin) and Felony Marijuana For Sale – Not Charged – Phoenix Police Department (DR No. 20XX-XXXXXXX0) and Arizona Attorney General Investigated.

The Phoenix Police Department had officers working with the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force (AZFCTF) who were investigating Money Laundering by various drug cartels. They received a tip from the FBI Gang Unit regarding possible Drug Sales and Money Laundering by a local beauty salon. After conducting surveillance, they ultimately pulled over and arrested a person who had 2.5 pounds of heroin in their possession. There was also copies of money transmitter receipts showing large amounts of money consistently being wired into Mexico. The Detectives received different information that this was all occurring out of a beauty salon in Phoenix. The officers then set up surveillance and observed a man and a woman who would constantly answer a specific telephone and talk for about 15 seconds while writing down information. They would then exchange pieces of paper and information with each other. Officers spoke with a customer service agent of OMNEX – the company that services wire transfers in and out of Mexico. The company which actually fulfills the completion of the transaction in and out of Mexico is GIROMEX money transfer services. That service agent was interviewed, and they were able to confirm that it appeared the calls were coming from two separate people who were constantly wiring money into Mexico.

A raid was then executed on the business and a male and female stylist inside the salon were arrested. It turned out they were brother and sister, and there was also an owner, who was arrested, who was also present in the salon. The owner was questioned and admitted that she would receive a list of fictitious names and would create the money transfers which were all sent to Mexico. She also confirmed that the funds were derived from heroin sales. It was estimated that approximately $4 million had been run through the salon.

After the arrests, we were retained by Mr. S (the male hair stylist) in order to see if we could keep him from being charged with any crimes. The owner of the hair salon pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. The other female hair stylist was deported. We were able to work with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to show them that they could not make a case against Mr. S based upon “opinion” that his voice was the person on the phone who constantly called and made wire transfers. Because they had deported his sister to Mexico, they had lost the only other direct witness who could positively confirm Mr. S. as the person making the wire transfers. Ultimately, the Attorney General sent the case back to Detectives to see if they could gather more information. No more information could be found regarding Mr. S’s involvement, and he was never charged with any crimes.

State v. Mr. L (DMC No. 14773) – Felony Illegal Control of an Enterprise (RICO), Felony Money Laundering and Felony Possession of Marijuana for Sale – Not Charged – Scottsdale Police Department Investigated (DR No. 20XX-XXXXXX9).

Mr. L was an independent contractor who was working to sell e-tickets for various sporting and entertainment events.  He worked out of a side office for the owner who also owned a mail and parcel express service. While he was working there selling event tickets, he learned that the owner was running a business known as Arizona Cancer Center. Basically, he would take “donations” of $250 in exchange for an ounce of marijuana.

This owner of Arizona Cancer Center was not licensed with the Dispensary Department/Medical Marijuana Program with the Arizona Department of Heath Services. At some point, the office was raided by Scottsdale PD and HEAT (High Enforcement Arrest Team). All of Mr. L’s computers and e-ticket company information was seized.

We became involved and we immediately contacted the Scottsdale Police Department. We were able to show that Mr. L had no involvement with the co-conspirators. All people involved were being investigated for Illegal Control of an Enterprise (RICO), per A.R.S. 13-2312A; Conspiracy, per A.R.S. 1003A; Possession of Marijuana for Sale, per A.R.S. 13-3405(a)(4); and Money Laundering, per A.R.S. 13-2317. We explained that Mr. L was an independent contractor who never sold any marijuana, and never received any money for the co-defendants selling of marijuana. In addition, we were able to show the authorities that he was a witness, not a co-conspirator. Although, all of the other members of the conspiracy were charged, Mr. L was never charged with any crimes, and has no felony record.

U.S. v. Mr. S (DMC No. 14784) – Federal Money Laundering ($50,000), Federal Bank and Wire Fraud, Federal Arms Trafficking (AK/AR-47s and 50-Caliber Rifles) and Felony Drug Trafficking (Meth, Marijuana) – Not Charged Due to Cooperation Agreement – Pinal County Attorney’s Office, US Attorney’s Office and ATF Investigated.

Mr. S had a female friend who asked to deposit some money into his bank accounts. He agreed and gave her his bank account numbers. Later on, she was contacted by a Pinal County attorney and she was questioned about the deposits. She said that she “sells cars” and that she would share the money with Mr. S. This turned out to be a lie. About one week later, the bank account of Mr. S was frozen, and he received a Forfeiture letter. Approximately $50,000 was deposited into his accounts over an 8-month timeframe.

Additionally, Mr. S had a male friend who would deposit money into the female friend’s account, who would then deposit it into Mr. S’ account. Every time Mr. S then returned an amount of $5,000 to the male friend, Mr. S would receive a $100 payment. It turned out that the male friend was selling drugs and was also running guns into Mexico for various organizations.

Once we became involved, the Pinal County Attorney’s Office had also brought the U.S. Attorney’s Office into the case. An Agent with the ATF also became involved, and we were able to negotiate a cooperation deal which would keep Mr. S from being charged with any crime. The US Attorney’s Office provided a Kastigar Letter and a Proffer Agreement. During the course of cooperation, Mr. S introduced undercover agents to various characters who were selling methamphetamine and guns. Ultimately, people were arrested and Mr. S was never charged with any crimes. In addition, we were able to stop any Forfeiture proceedings regarding the house owned by Mr. S by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. Originally, Mr. S was facing decades in prison if he were to be convicted of all charges. Ultimately, he has no criminal record whatsoever.

U.S. v. Mr. T (DMC No.14567) – Federal Felony Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering ($175,000), Felony Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (5kg of Steroids/383,000 Dosage Units), Felony Conspiracy to Import a Controlled Substance, and Related Forfeiture Issues – Reduced to 1 Count Conspiracy with Intent to Distribute Steroids with Probation and 7 Months of Incarceration and  Forfeiture Amount Reduced from $175,000 to $25,000 – United States District Court, District of Arizona (Case No. CR-15-01044-002-PHX-DLR).

Investigators in Phoenix became aware of seizures of packages at the Port of Entry in San Francisco, which were destined for Phoenix and contained both anabolic steroids and synthetic male hormones. One package contained 400 tablets of counterfeit Cialis, and 200 tablets of counterfeit Viagra. Although they are not controlled substances, they are frequently used in conjunction with anabolic steroids to counter impotency.

An investigation unwound in which Mr. T and his co-defendant were seen on a weekly basis traveling to a commercial warehouse in Phoenix. They would then go to various post offices and postal stores to mail parcels to destinations outside of Arizona. The Agents confirmed that the packages contained anabolic steroids and other controlled substances. Investigators also discovered that Mr. T and the co-defendant would travel to multiple Safeway stores and Fry’s stores that advertised Western Union services. They would do multiple wire transfers for $925. Any Western Union money transfer over $999 requires identification. By keeping the number under $999, they were able to avoid detection per that requirement.

During the investigations with the Postal Inspectors, they discovered that over a three-year period Mr. T had sent wire transfers to Israel and China totaling more than $75,000. Other wire transfers were discovered and eventually an arrest warrant was issued. Mr. T was found to be holding $25,000 in cash, over 300,000 dosage units of steroids, and multiple pieces of equipment for manufacturing steroids from analog chemical components. Agents seized approximately $125,000 of Mr. T’s cash, along with a Toyota Prius.

We became involved in the case and began working with the Assistant U.S. Attorney and the investigating Agents. Mr. T demonstrated a complete acceptance of responsibility through cooperation with Agents, whereby they were provided information on sources of steroids that come in from different countries including Israel, Turkey, Moldovia, Bosnia, and China. Ultimately, the Assistant US Attorney agreed to extend an offer which included 1 year in prison.

Mr. T was ultimately charged with Felony Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, per 18 U.S.C. 1956(h); Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance – 5kg of Steroids/383,000 Dosage Units, per 21 U.S.C. 846; Felony Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, per 21 U.S.C. 963; and a Forfeiture Action was filed regarding $175,00 in cash and a Toyota Prius, per 18 U.S.C. 981, 21 U.S.C 853 and 881, and 28 U.S.C. 2461(c). At the time of Sentencing, we were able to present significant mitigation to the Judge and have the sentence reduced to a mere 7 months. In addition, at the Forfeiture Proceedings involving this case, the amount was reduced from $175,000 down to $25,000, thereby saving Mr. T approximately $150,000 of his money. Potentially, Mr. T could have spent well over a decade in prison if there had been no mitigation and cooperation proffered in his case.

U.S. v. Ms. G (DMC No. 14158) – Federal Felony Mortgage Fraud ($1,100,000), Federal Felony Bank and Wire Fraud, Felony Fraudulent Schemes, and Felony Forgery – Not Charged – Large National Bank Investigated.

Ms. G and her husband were going to purchase a large house for approx. $1,000,000. The appraisal information was sent from the loan originator, and the loan originator specifically asked if any funds were going to be pulled from a retirement account, to which Ms. G and her husband said “no.” Ultimately, discrepancies were found in the closing documents, and in order to close on the house, Ms. G had the house purchased in her husband’s name only. This was accomplished through a Special Warranty Deed signed by the husband “as a married man as his sole and separate property.” Ms. G signed a Disclaimer Deed disclaiming any interest in the property. Also, they both signed a Warranty Deed conveying property from husband’s sole and separate property to husband and wife.

The potential problem was that the Disclaimer Deed signed by Ms. G indicated that none of her assets or community assets were used in the purchase of the home. This is not accurate as a joint check was used for the purchase. In addition, the intent was always to use community assets to buy the home. After the closing, the bank discovered discrepancies and began investigating. A potential concern was that Forgery was committed, along with allegations of Fraudulent Schemes, and Mortgage Fraud per Arizona Revised Statue 13-2320. Lastly, a  potential for Federal Bank and Wire Fraud was also possible due to the federal loan documents which were signed.

We were able to show although Ms. G did not sign the document indicating the property was purchased with separate funds of the spouse, that it must be read in conjunction with the other documents signed by Ms. G at the same time. Specifically, that Mr. G. received title through the Special Warranty Deed the day before the Disclaimer Deed, and that he signed the Warranty Deed at the same time as the Disclaimer Deed, thereby suggesting that they were meant to function together to promote the buyers’ intent (as outlined in both the purchase contract and the loan pre-qualification form).

We were able to show that none of the documents were indicative of any intent to defraud. The only real issue had to do with community property issues down the road should they become divorced. Initially, Ms. G was facing the potential of multiple years in prison, but we were able to convince the bank not to turn this into a criminal matter and get the authorities involved.

State v. Mr. D (DMC No. 13039) – Felony Money Laundering ($1,100), Felony Conspiracy to Commit Sale or Transportation of Narcotics; Felony Sale or Transportation of Marijuana, Felony Use of a Wire Communication or Electronic Communication Device in a Drug Related Transaction and (3 Counts) Felony Aggravated Assault – Reduced to Facilitation, Assisting a Criminal Street Gang and Class 6 Aggravated Assault – All with Probation and a Total of 1 Year in DOC– Maricopa County Superior Court (Case No. CR2015-105571 and CR2015-114161).

The Phoenix Police Department was conducting an investigation into the North Side Mexican Brown Pride 21st Street Gang (MBP 21). This was done after they observed numerous hand to hand drug transactions between various gang members. The police had also documented purchases of heroin, rifles, shotguns and/or stolen vehicles between some of the gang members. At that point, they initiated a traffic stop in connection to an armed robbery suspect and discovered a stolen vehicle and $1,100 in cash. Upon questioning the driver, he stated that Mr. D had sold him some marijuana.

When Mr. D was detained, he admitted to selling marijuana to the juvenile just prior to the traffic stop. He was ultimately charged with Felony Money Laundering, Felony Conspiracy to Commit Sale or Transportation of Narcotic Drugs and Felony Use of a Wire Communication or Electronic Communication Device in a Drug Related Transaction.

Approximately 11 months after this incident with the police, he was also contacted regarding a claim by his then girlfriend that he had assaulted her. The allegations were that he pushed her onto a bed, held a hand over her mouth and grabbed her neck, which caused her air supply to be cut off for approximately 30 seconds. The girlfriend also claimed that he grabbed her by the throat a second time, kept her from leaving the apartment, and that he punched her in the arm. He was charged with 2 Counts of Aggravated Assault for the choking, and 1 Count of Misdemeanor Assault.

We became involved and were able to wrap up all the charges while Mr. D was being held as non-bondable for approximately 5 months in the county jail. We wrapped up the case with 1-year prison sentence, with credit for the 5 months he had already served. In addition, he received a two-month early kickout at the prison, which meant he spent another 5 months in custody before being released. He originally was facing a potential of over 15 years in prison if he were to be convicted of all charges and sentenced consecutively.

State v. Ms. H (DMC No. 13022) – Felony Money Laundering ($162,622), Felony Possession of Marijuana and Felony Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – Reduced to Solicitation and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, both Class 6 Open/Misdemeanors with Probation and Zero Days in Jail – Yavapai County Superior Court (Case No. CR2015-00506).

Ms. H was riding as a passenger in her husband’s truck along the I-40 when they were observed by a Yavapai County Sheriff’s Deputy. The deputy stated that the truck’s temporary license plate was flopping up and down, and that several items that were on the dashboard and the windshield of the truck were causing an obstructed view. Based upon this very questionable observation, the officer stopped Ms. H and her husband. When stopped, Ms. H’s husband stated that he borrowed the truck from a friend. The officer then claimed he smelled an odor of marijuana.

Ms. H’s husband said they were traveling from Kansas to Las Vegas, and when asked about the marijuana, he said he had an eighth of an ounce and a medical marijuana card. It was then discovered that he had an extraditable felony warrant out of Maricopa County for Possession of Marijuana and he was placed under arrest. The officer then began to question Ms. H and search the vehicle.

Discovered inside the vehicle, was three jars filled with marijuana that totaled 3.3 ounces. In addition, there was a purse which contained $75,000 in cash; a backpack which contained $86,000 in cash; and Ms. H’s purse which contained $37,000 in cash. This totaled $162,000. Ms. H and her husband were placed under arrest, and their 5-year old and 10-month old children were turned over to DCS workers

During questioning, Ms. H’s husband said that he was the one selling marijuana, and that his wife had no knowledge. Ms. H admitted to knowing there was marijuana in the bag and that she knew she had $37,000 in her purse. We were able to argue that the stop was a pretext stop (most likely as a result of a confidential informant), and that due to the fact English was a second language, her interrogation could have been misconstrued, plus the fact that her husband had stated that she had no knowledge. Because of all of this, we were able to secure a plea to 1 Count of Facilitation to Commit Money Laundering and 1 Count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, both as Class 6 Open/Misdemeanors. This included Probation with zero days in jail. Also included was an agreement to forfeit the $162,000 and the 2012 Chevy Silverado which they were driving at the time. Originally Ms. H was facing well over a decade in prison if convicted of all charges and sentenced to the maximum, instead she successfully completed probation and only has a misdemeanor on her record.

State v. Mr. W (DMC No. 13884) – Felony Money Laundering ($14,000), Felony Transportation of Marijuana For Sale and Felony Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – Reduced to Facilitation Class 6 Open/Misdemeanor with Probation and 2 Days in Jail – Navajo County Superior Court (Case No. CR2015-00846).

A Sergeant with the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office claimed that he was on the side of the road doing paperwork when he saw a car drive by with beads and a triangular air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. He claimed that it was obstructing the driver’s view, so he then followed and pulled over the driver and the two passengers. The Sheriff’s Sergeant claimed that he smelled marijuana, and then did a search, and found a backpack containing three jars of marijuana and a glass pipe. When the three co-defendants were questioned, they all began blaming each other. Eventually, a deal was struck where one of the co-defendants told the Sergeant that Mr. W was also driving a different car that contained marijuana and a large amount of cash. That co-defendant was then released from custody.

When Mr. W was driving down the road, another officer received a radio call asking to stop a car matching Mr. W’s description. Mr. W was stopped, he was not Mirandized, and a search took place of his vehicle. A container with green residue of marijuana was contained in his backpack, along with $14,000 in cash. Mr. W had a medical marijuana card from California and the amount of marijuana found was well within the legal amounts authorized by the AMMA. Once we became involved in the case, we were able to show the Prosecutor that the stop was very questionable. After interviewing the arresting Officer, he could not even remember whether he saw any driving violations or why he was instructed to stop Mr. W. Because of the threat to file a Motion to Suppress All Evidence, the Prosecutor agreed to instead offer a Facilitation plea to a Class 6 Open/Misdemeanor Distribution with only two days in jail. Mr. W was even allowed to do the jail time in the state of Kansas (where he was from). Although he was initially facing a potential of 10 years or more in prison if convicted of all counts and sentenced to consecutive terms, he ended up ultimately completing probation and having only a misdemeanor on his record.

Mr. K was driving on the I-40 when a Mohave County Sheriff’s Deputy stated that he was following a truck too closely. He also claimed he was traveling 80 in a 70 miles per hour zone. After Mr. K was pulled over, the Deputy had a dog circle his vehicle. The Deputy claimed the dog alerted to drugs. Eventually, Mr. K stated he had money in the car. As the Deputy began searching the car, he was about to cut off the locks to a toolbox when Mr. K said “you can’t do that.“ A search warrant was never obtained because they couldn’t get one at that time.

Once the locks were cut off the toolbox, $20,000 in cash was found inside. Mr. K told Officers that it was investors’ money for dirt bikes that were in San Diego. After the locks were cut, Mr. K asked multiple times “is this legal.” Because the money was all twenty-dollar bills wrapped in Ziploc baggies, Mr. K was arrested for Money Laundering and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. When Officers began questioning him, he stated “do I need a lawyer because I don’t want to incriminate myself.” He also said “I believe I should talk to a lawyer.” However, Officers continued to question him relentlessly.

We ultimately filed a Motion to Dismiss for both Illegal Search and Seizure, and Violation of Right to Counsel. These Motions were filed on September 21, 2017.  By October 10, 2017, the Prosecutor filed a Motion to Dismiss all charges.

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