Tag Archives: Fraud

Suburban lawyer guilty of helping clients cheat way into asylum

(CHICAGO) A federal jury convicted a suburban immigration lawyer Monday who was accused during a weeks-long trial of helping clients cheat their way into asylum in the United States.

The jury found Robert Dekelaita, 53, guilty of conspiracy to commit asylum fraud, procuring perjury during asylum interviews and two counts of knowingly offering false statements in asylum applications, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

A sentencing hearing has been set for Aug. 3, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Dekelaita’s supporters have filled the Dirksen Federal Courthouse ever since his trial began in mid-April. They tearfully embraced the Glenview man after his conviction, as he left U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly’s courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrianna Kastanek told jurors at the start of the trial that Dekelaita told his clients to lie about persecution in Iraq and make up stories about rapes and executions by Islamic militants. She said his scheme lasted about 10 years. He was indicted in September 2014.

Dekelaita’s lawyers said his clients who helped the government build its case are in the United States illegally and were out to protect themselves.

Schaumburg real estate executive pleads guilty to tax evasion

(CHICAGO) A northwest suburban real estate appraisal executive pleaded guilty Wednesday to failing to pay more than half a million dollars in income taxes.

William Daddono, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully attempting to evade and defeat the payment of federal income tax, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.

Daddono, owner of Schaumburg-based Advanced Appraisal Group and American Appraisal Consultants, admitted in the plea agreement that he failed to pay taxes on more than $1.92 million from 2005 to 2010, prosecutors said.

He tried to conceal his earnings in a corporate account under the name of a defunct business he previously owned, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. His unpaid taxes amounted to more than $550,000.

Daddono, who lives in Palatine, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman June 10 for a sentencing hearing, prosecutors said. His conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of either $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Former county deputy and clerk get probation in ticket-fixing fraud

(CHICAGO) A former Cook County sheriff’s deputy and a former Cook County circuit court clerk employee were sentenced to probation Friday for their roles in a scheme to bilk a couple out of $2,000 while promising to help get a traffic case thrown out.

Jaime Baez, 62, was given two years probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery before Cook County Judge Maura Slattery Boyle, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Benjamin Maldonado, 53, was given a year probation following his plea to a theft charge.

The judge ordered Baez to pay a $269 fine; Maldonado has to pay $654.

Both men worked at the Daley Center at the time of the 2010 incident. Baez was a sheriff’s deputy and Maldonado was a clerk in the circuit court clerk’s office.

Maldonado and Baez took $2,000 from a man who was seeking legal representation after being charged with driving without a license. That man and his wife had previously dealt with Baez and contacted him for a legal referral, prosecutors said.

Baez ended up “referring” the couple to Maldonado, who is not an attorney. But he boasted that they should consider the case “won” and told the couple he would also use his connections to “clear up” the man’s driving record, prosecutors said.

The couple paid Maldonado $1,000 at that first meeting. They gave Baez $500 and gave Maldonado the remaining money at the next court date.

But Maldonado left and never came into the courtroom, where the victim was told he could be jailed for his offenses.

When the couple contacted Maldonado to express their concerns a few days later, Maldonado assured them he had “fixed everything” and that the man would not be required to show up to court, prosecutors said.

The man took Maldonado’s advice and did not attend court. Five days later, a Chicago Police officer came to the couple’s home with a warrant for the man’s arrest. Maldonado assured the man’s wife he’d take care of the arrest, prosecutors said.

Later that day, Baez told the woman she shouldn’t be telling anyone that she had paid them to help with the traffic case.

When the couple next went to court at the Daley Center, Maldonado told the man to refer to him as his translator and not his lawyer, prosecutors said.

Maldonado also allegedly told the man to tell the judge he had missed court because he was visiting his mother, who was ill.

Several weeks later, the man was arrested again for driving without a license.

When he appeared in bond court he found out that Maldonado had not “fixed” his driving history when his record still showed four prior convictions.

Lockport pharmacist accused of $2.4M health care fraud scheme

(LOCKPORT) A southwest suburban pharmacist has been indicted in a $2.4 million fraud scheme that involved bogus insurance claims, identity theft, swapping out prescription drugs for supplements, and selling counterfeit Viagra, federal authorities said Tuesday.

Walter Beich, owner and pharmacist at Corwin Pharmacy in Lockport, was charged in a 12-count indictment returned last week by a federal grand jury, a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The indictment alleges Beich defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and United Healthcare out of $2.4 million by filing fraudulent claims for prescription drugs, the statement said.

Beich filed the claims for drugs that were either not dispensed to customers, or were switched out for less-expensive supplements, the statement said. Authorities also claim Beich dispensed a foreign-sourced drug to customers who had been prescribed Viagra.

Beich had his employees create fake prescriptions made to look like a physician had called them in over the phone, the statement said. The indictment also said Beich filled customers’ prescriptions with physician samples, then billed insurance companies as though he had obtained the medications through normal commercial channels.

Corwin Pharmacy had been in business for more than 50 years when it shut down in November 2014 after filing for bankruptcy, according to published reports. Its website was blank as of Tuesday evening.

Beich, 61, is charged with health care fraud and aggravated identity theft for using names and identifying information of patients and physicians, the statement said. He will next appear in court June 26.

The fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution, the statement said. Federal authorities are also seeking a $2.4 million forfeiture in the case.

Feds went to Chinatown looking for food — and fraud

(CHICAGO) First, federal agents dined at several of celebrity chef Tony Hu’s Chinatown restaurants.

Then they returned in October with a warrant — hoping to feast on evidence of tax fraud, according to court records.

The FBI suspected Hu’s restaurants had been dodging taxes by underreporting gross receipts. And it laid out its allegations in a 110-page court record filed last fall as it sought to raid nine of Hu’s eateries around Chicago, as well as Hu’s South Michigan Avenue condominium. The raid went down Oct. 24.

But the details only came to light this week in previously sealed records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Hu, also identified in the documents as Hu Xiaojun and sometimes referred to as the unofficial “Mayor of Chinatown,” has not been charged criminally in connection with the raid, records show. He could not be reached for comment Monday. Multiple people said Hu is in China and is not expected to return to Chicago until next month. 

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the “underlying investigation.”

Hu is an appointed member of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks who has owned several Chicago-area restaurants through his Tony Gourmet Group, including Lao Sze Chuan. The FBI targeted that chain’s locations in Chinatown, Uptown and Downers Grove in its raid, the records show. It also sought permission to search Chinatown-area restaurants Lao Beijing, Lao Shanghai, Lao You Ju, Lao Ma La, Lao Hunan and Lao Yunnan.

Before raiding the restaurants, the feds tailed Hu in his black Mercedes-Benz as he drove to Chinatown from his South Michigan Avenue condo, according to a search warrant application. FBI agents also dined at Hu’s restaurants more than a year before the raid to get a closer look at its computer systems and standard receipts, the records show.

But agents also scoured bank records and emails documenting the restaurants’ sales, the records show. And the investigators said the numbers they found often didn’t match the amounts submitted on the restaurants’ tax forms.

For example, a manager’s spreadsheet emailed to Hu indicated Lao Sze Chuan’s Downers Grove location took in as much as $1.066 million in 2009, agents said, but the restaurant only reported $656,866 on its annual tax return for that year.

The Chicago restaurants’ average monthly bank deposits in 2013 and 2014 also tended to be higher than the receipts documented on tax forms, investigators wrote. They said the average monthly deposit for Lao Sze Chuan’s Chinatown location was $230,812, but the average monthly receipt reported to the government was $214,995. 

And the average monthly deposit for Lao You Ju in Chinatown was $94,330, agents wrote, but the average monthly receipt reported on its tax forms was $82,468.

Federal agents told a judge they wanted to search Hu’s restaurants for accounting records going back to 2011, as well as records of computer and Internet use.

Records show they walked away from at least one of his eateries with a computer and various banking records.

Mike Madigan: He’s Slim Shady. Yes, the Real Slim Shady. All you other Slim Shadys are just imitating

by Dan Proft

Responding to the news that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had confirmed what Illinois residents know to be true which is that their state government is organized as a conspiracy to defraud them, House Speaker Mike Madigan said, the SEC won’t let me be or let me be me so let me see…it’s Blagojevich’s fault.

The original Slim Shady actually said, “There are no victims here. Nobody’s lost any money.”

$2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds sold under false pretenses between the years 2005-2009, according to the SEC, but, according to the most powerful man in Illinois politics, there’s nothing to see here.

Others disagree.

George S. Canellos, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said, “Time after time, Illinois failed to inform its bond investors about the risk to its financial condition posed by the structural underfunding of its pension system.”

Elaine Greenberg, Chief of the SEC’s Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, added, “Regardless of the funding methodology they choose, municipal issuers must provide accurate and complete pension disclosures including the effects of material changes to their pension plans.”

Rich Miller, publisher of the Capitol Fax newsletter, correctly observed, “Fraud is fraud, and bond buyers could’ve received a higher interest rate had it not been for that fraud. So, yes, there were some victims.”

One does not need a Series 7 license to recognize that when a private sector operator commits securities fraud it is quite a serious matter.  There are a number of corporate executives playing catch with Red in the prison yard who wish they could live in Mike Madigan’s world without consequences when it comes to obeying the law and stewarding other people’s money.

Anyone surprised by Mike Madigan’s care-free attitude should not be. What, is his Attorney General daughter going to investigate and pursue enforcement of state securities laws? 

Expect Lisa Madigan to exercise precisely the same vigor in this specific instance as she has offered in pursuing public corruption generally during her whisper-quiet decade as Illinois’ chief law enforcement official.

Mike Madigan figured out long ago that command control of state government means never having to say you’re sorry.

And so his offense pile up.

A 2011 Crain’s investigation found that Madigan “cost taxpayers nearly half-a-billion dollars by blocking repeated efforts to restructure McCormick Place bonds and finance a much-needed second hotel at the convention center.”

From 2005-2010, as the state was defrauding municipal bond investors with false information, Mike Madigan stopped five McCormick Place refinancing bills in Springfield, ignoring declining interest rates that would have saved Illinois taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments.

Illinois announced on April 2 it will return to the municipal bond market to sell $800 million of tax-exempt and taxable general interest bonds.

Caveat emptor.