Last edited on Friday, February 18, 2022, at 6:20 PM.
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Friday, February 18, 2022
Eight Charged in Manhattan for Distributing Fentanyl Resulting in Death
On Feb. 16, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, along with several prominent state and federal law enforcement officials, announced the unsealing of a Superseding Indictment today charging Jesus Cabrera, Michael Amaya, and Alberto Concepcion, with participating in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl that resulted in the August 25, 2021, death of Malik Rahman in the Bronx, New York.
In addition, Humberto Borges, Frankie Capellan, and at least two others were also charged in the Superseding Indictment as participants in the conspiracy. The defendants arrested Feb. 16 were presented in U.S. District Court the same day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.
As alleged, all the defendants operated a network for the distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs, and they continued to sell countless doses of fentanyl throughout the Bronx. As alleged, glassines stamped with the defendants’ logo were found at the scene of multiple overdoses over the past year.
Indictment Returned on Off-the-Books Compensation Scheme
On Feb. 16, the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, Jr., announced the indictment of four interior construction companies, their owners, and a manager, for a conspiracy to evade more than $1.7 million in workers’ compensation insurance premiums over five years by creating a $20 million, off-the-books, cash payroll.
According to the indictment, Solomon Feder, 35, Chaim Leifer, 43, their companies Big Apple Designers, Inc. and Velocity Framers USA, Inc., as well as manager Moshe “Moses” Weinberger, 31, colluded with Carlos Santander, 46, and others, to issue checks made payable to Santander’s two companies, CIS Enterprises Corp., and CIS Construction LLC. Santander then cashed the checks at commercial check cashing businesses and paid Big Apple and Velocity workers with envelopes of cash – enabling the companies to underreport their true payrolls to the New York State Insurance Fund (“NYSIF”) and avoid paying required premiums.
According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, Feder and Leifer owned interior construction companies Big Apple and Velocity Framers and employed Weinberger to manage the companies’ day-to-day operations. From January 2016 to December 2020, they colluded with Santander and others to issue checks made payable to Santander’s companies. Santander then cashed those checks – totaling approximately $20 million – at a commercial check cashing business.
Investment Firm Founder and CIO Faces Fraud, Obstruction Charges
On Feb. 17, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, announced that James Velissaris, the founder and former chief investment officer of Infinity Q Capital Management, a New York-City-based investment advisory firm that ran a mutual fund and a hedge fund that claimed to have approximately $3 billion in assets under management, was charged with securities fraud and obstruction of justice for orchestrating a scheme to lie to investors and falsify documents.
Velissaris made false and misleading statements to investors and others concerning Infinity Q’s process for valuing certain over the counter (OTC) derivative positions that made up a substantial portion of the holdings of the mutual and hedge funds, and fraudulently mismarked those securities in ways that did not reflect their fair value. Velissaris committed the mismarking scheme to inflate the value of the investment funds as reported to investors, to attract and retain capital, and to increase his own compensation.
To avoid detection of the scheme, Velissaris provided both Infinity Q’s auditor and the SEC with falsified or altered documents, including providing the auditor with altered term sheets that served to provide fabricated support for the fraudulently inflated values.
Nearly a Dozen Gang Members Facing COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Fraud
A criminal complaint was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court on Feb. 17, charging eleven people, including Romean Brown, Tyrek Clarke, Kennith Desir, Stephan Dorminvil, Kai Heyward, and Christopher Topey with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The charges were brought based on an elaborate scheme to obtain millions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits funded, in whole or in part, by COVID-19 pandemic assistance programs, as passed under then CARES Act. The announcement of the arrests and the charges was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, and several prominent law enforcement officials.
According to the complaint, the defendants are all members or associates of the Brooklyn-based Woo gang. Between March 2020 and October 2021, the defendants used the personally identifiable information of more than 800 victims to submit nearly 1,000 claims to the New York State Department of Labor for unemployment insurance benefits funded, in whole or in part, by COVID-19 pandemic assistance programs.
During the period of the charged conspiracy, the defendants posted photos of themselves on social media flashing gang signs, standing in front of luxury vehicles, and holding stacks of cash. Several of the defendants appeared in a music video entitled “Trappin’,” which was posted to YouTube on May 8, 2021. The lyrics of the song include, “Unemployment got us workin’ a lot,” a reference to the defendants’ fraudulent scheme.