August 20 LAWFUEL – Best of the net for law news, legal news, law …

August 20 LAWFUEL – Best of the net for law news, legal news, law articlesMarcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division, United States
Department of Justice; Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue
Service, Criminal Investigation; William Sims, Special Agent in Charge, United
States Secret Service; and Broward County Sheriff Kenneth C. Jenne, announced today
that a grand jury sitting in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, returned a fifty-three (53)
count Indictment charging defendants, Samantha Johnson (“S. Johnson”), Scott Warren Johnson (“S.W. Johnson”), Mary Jo Bellavia-Sabag, Shelia Darlene Henry, Christie M. Eker, Lawrence Joel Bochner, Danielle Messano, and Yizhac Sabag, with conspiring to defraud owners of residential properties located in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

All of the defendants named in the Indictment, except defendant Messano, are
charged with violations in addition to the conspiracy count. Defendant S. Johnson
also faces twenty (20) counts of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United
States Code, Section 1341; two (2) counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Section 1343; thirteen (13) counts of money laundering, in
violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i); one (1) count
of filing a false tax return, in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section
7206(1); and two (2) counts of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26, United States
Code, Section 7201. Defendant S.W. Johnson, in addition to the conspiracy count,
faces two (2) counts of money laundering and one (1) count of filing a false tax
return. Defendant Bellavia-Sabag also is charged with fifteen (15) counts of mail
fraud, two (2) counts of wire fraud, seventeen (17) counts of money laundering, and
two (2) counts of filing false tax returns. Defendant Henry faces also four (4)
counts of money laundering. Defendant Eker is charged also with one (1) count of
money laundering and two (2) counts of false tax returns. Defendants Bochner and
Sabag face also separate counts of mail fraud and money laundering.

If convicted on the conspiracy count, the defendants face a statutory maximum
sentence of five (5) years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. If convicted on
the mail fraud or wire fraud counts, the defendants charged with those counts face
a statutory maximum sentence of twenty (20) years in prison and a fine of up to
$250,000. If convicted on the money laundering counts, the defendants charged with
those counts face a maximum statutory sentence of twenty (20) years in prison and a
fine of up to at least $500,000. If convicted on the tax evasion and false tax
return counts, the defendants charged with those counts face a maximum statutory
sentence of five (5) years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine and a statutory
sentence of three (3) years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, respectively.

According to the Indictment, S. Johnson and Bellavia-Sabag, licensed mortgage
brokers, orchestrated primarily out of Broward County a scheme whereby they
fraudulently deeded residential properties in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to
themselves, their aliases, and their nominee corporations. Fraudulent, and in some
cases forged, quitclaim deeds were recorded in the public records in an effort to
further the scheme. S. Johnson and Bellavia-Sabag obtained money from the scheme
by selling the fraudulently obtained properties to unsuspecting third parties or
obtaining loans secured by the properties which ultimately ended up in default.
According to the Indictment, S. Johnson, Bellavia-Sabag, and others obtained in
excess of $3 million in property and funds from their victims. A large portion of
the illegally derived income never was reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Internal Revenue Service,
United States Secret Service, and Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The case is
being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tom Lanigan and Trial Attorney
William J. Lovett, Tax Division, United States Department of Justice.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls
. Related court documents and information may be
found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at
www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on
.