More charges filed in fraud and kickback scheme

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Texas


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, June 27, 2022

McALLEN, Texas ‐ A 56-year-old woman has been taken into custody on charges related to a healthcare fraud and kickback scheme, announced Jennifer B. Lowery.

Nora Alaniz, South Padre Island, is set to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker at 10 a.m. today. Previously charged was Dr. Tajul Shams Chowdhury, 72, McAllen. He will again appear on the charges in the superseding indictment in the near future.

The 16-count superseding indictment returned June 21 charges Alaniz and Chowdhury with conspiracy to pay and receive illegal kickbacks in exchange for the referral of prescriptions for compound drugs.

Alaniz is a registered nurse and the former owner of a home health care company located in Hidalgo County, according to the charges, while Chowdhury is a physician who also previously operated a medical clinic in Edinburg.

Alaniz allegedly received kickbacks disguised as employee salaries from a local pharmacy. In turn, she paid Chowdhury and employees of his medical clinic for the referrals.

The superseding indictment alleges Chowdhury wrote prescriptions and referred them to the pharmacy. As a result of the illegal kickback scheme, the pharmacy received more than $300,000 from healthcare benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid from January to July 2017, according to the charges.

The indictment further alleges Alaniz received over $70,000 in kickbacks.

Chowdhury and five others were originally charged July 15, 2021, for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, multiple counts of healthcare fraud, illegal kickback conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Four have already pleaded guilty in relation to the charges in the original indictment.

If convicted o  the new charges, Chowdhury and Alaniz face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

U.S. Postal Service – Office of Inspector General (OIG), FBI, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Department of Labor – OIG, Veterans Affairs – OIG, Texas Health and Human Services and the Department of Health and Human Services – OIG, Texas Attorney General’s Office – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Texas Department of Insurance conducted the investigation. The South Padre Island Police Department provided assistance with the arrest. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Swartz is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law

Fort Stockton Man Found Guilty of Child Endangerment

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Western District of Texas


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, June 24, 2022

PECOS – A federal jury convicted a Fort Stockton man this week of one count of endangerment of a child.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on February 5, 2022, Big Bend National Park Rangers found an abandoned vehicle belonging to Hector Flores Jr., 48, located in a very remote part of Big Bend National Park about 20 miles from the Mexican border.  Birth certificates for Flores and a nine-year-old child were found in the vehicle.  Evidence in the area suggested the nine-year-old was with Flores.  Park Rangers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel initiated a search. 

Further investigation revealed Flores withdrew the child from school on January 4 and did not enroll the child in a new school.  Around January 28, 2022, a camera recorded Flores’ vehicle entering Big Bend National Park.  Flores’ vehicle was found in an area that offers no food, water or shelter. On February 14, 2022, Mexican authorities located Flores and the child in Mexico and detained Flores but returned the child to the U.S.  The child reported to authorities that they ran out of food and had not eaten for four days.  In addition, the weather from January 28 to February 13 included subfreezing temperatures and heavy rains. 

U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff of the Western District of Texas and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey, El Paso Field Office, made the announcement.

The FBI and the Big Bend National Park Service, with valuable assistance from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott V. Greenbaum and William Calve are prosecuting the case.

Galazio of Albion – Good NEWS and Bad NEWS

Written by John Face

Photos by John Face

June 26, 2022

Well let’s address the elephant in the room as my story title shows, Galazio most likely will not open this week, for sure they will not be open as they previously stated. Tonight’s training exercise/soft opening went very well but they continue to wait for final inspections.

Maggie Hare, co-owner with her husband Chef Sean is frustrated, but sadly this is what you do when you follow the rules. She said they will once again announce on Facebook when they can tell us when they plan on opening. They are hoping that after tonight’s training run the decision could be sooner than later.

Customers enjoy their dinner.
Staff working and training as the evening wears on.

Now with a review. I will say right now I have never been exposed much to Greek food, so I was really looking forward to this night. The open house menu selection offered some tasty food.

They offered patrons either Greek Salad or Cesar Salad as the appetizer. Between what my dinner guests at my table ordered and myself we all saw the different selections. I chose the Greek Salad as the ingredients sounded great. Fresh cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, red onions, topped with kalamata olives, capers, feta cheese, a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil. One word for this. Yum.

The Main Entree was a choice of three different dishes. Chicken Souvlaki Platter, Gyro Platter and Prasinos Platter. I decided on the Prasinos as it sounded delicious offering farm fresh grilled vegetables, served with warm Pita, a selection of spreads, Greek fries and choice of side. I went with Rice Pilaf as my side. As I stated earlier all the different selections came to our table. There was a definite trend at the table, the food was amazing. For dessert we had two choices, Baklava or cheesecake. I went with the cheesecake covered with caramel that was amazing, though I heard the Baklava was delicious as well

Now our service was good. They are learning skills and this evening was perfect for them. Even if there were mistakes, though I heard of none nor saw any, the staff had a very forgiving customer base. They were learning, we knew it and they did very well. I spoke with several of the customers and not one had any complaints, and all loved the food. Chef Sean and his staff knocked it out of the park from the kitchen, and Maggie had her front-end staff in the groove.

So, we wait a little longer for the opening of this amazing restaurant, but I promise when they open you will not be disappointed. Oh, sorry for no food pictures, I was too busy enjoying eating to take them.

Galazio of Albion Opening This Week – Invitation Only Event Today

Written by John Face

June 26, 2022

As I prepare to attend the soft opening today of the new restaurant Galazio of Albion I am letting you know that I will be sharing the experience later tonight. Today is an invitation only soft opening event that will be strictly enforced. You will not get in without one. Just hang in there, it’s only a few more days.

Maggie and Sean Hare. Maggie claimed she “Looked awful” as they had been working all week to get ready for today. I told her she looked beautiful.

The entire inside of the place looks amazing and those who had been there before will be impressed. More tonight, now here are a few more pictures from my visit last week.

Member of Oath Keepers Indicted for Conspiracy and Other Offenses Related to U.S. Capitol Breach

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

District of Columbia


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, June 24, 2022

Defendant Allegedly Helped Lead Operations Leading Up to Jan. 6

            WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia has returned an indictment, which was unsealed today, charging a member of the Oath Keepers with conspiracy and other charges for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

            Michael Greene, 39, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was arrested in Indiana yesterday. He is being charged for the first time in connection with his actions before, during, and after Jan.6. Greene is expected to make his initial court appearance later today in the Southern District of Indiana.

            Greene was named in a superseding indictment returned June 22, 2022, that also includes seven previously charged defendants: James Beeks, 50, of Orlando, Florida; Donovan Crowl, 51, of Cable, Ohio; William Isaacs, 22, of Kissimmee, Florida; Connie Meggs, 60, of Dunnellon, Florida; Sandra Parker, 64, of Morrow, Ohio; Bernie Parker, 72, of Morrow, Ohio, and Laura Steele, 54, of Thomasville, North Carolina. All previously pleaded not guilty to charges.

            Greene, who also is known as Michael Simmons, was indicted on a total of five charges, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and tampering with documents or proceedings.

            In a separate case, nine additional defendants face charges of seditious conspiracy and other offenses, including Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, 57, of Granbury, Texas, who is the founder and leader of the Oath Keeper. A superseding indictment was unsealed in that case yesterday.

            As alleged in the indictments, the Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. Though the Oath Keepers will accept anyone as members, they explicitly focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement, and first-responder personnel. Members and affiliates of the Oath Keepers were among the individuals and groups who forcibly entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

            According to the indictment, Greene also used the monikers “Whip” and “Whiplash.” He participated in an online meeting on Nov. 9, 2020, in which Rhodes outlined a plan to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. Greene later was chosen by Rhodes to be an operations leader for activities on Jan. 6. Greene, Rhodes, and others made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021. Between Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, 2021, according to the indictment, Greene and others transported firearms, ammunition, and related items to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

            On Jan. 6, Greene and Rhodes departed a hotel in Virginia at approximately 8:30 a.m. and drove to the Capitol area. Each later entered the restricted area of the Capitol grounds and directed co-conspirators to meet them at the Capitol. At 1:42 p.m., Greene sent a text message to an acquaintance stating, “Storming the capital,” along with a photograph that depicted the advancing mob on the west side of the Capitol grounds. Greene communicated with Rhodes and others during the afternoon. At about 3:09 p.m., Greene texted an acquaintance, “Congress evacuated.” After teams of other Oath Keepers entered and exited the Capitol, Greene and Rhodes met them in a plaza outside the building. The indictment alleges that sometime on or after Jan. 6, Greene deleted from his cellphone certain media, files, and communications that showed his involvement in the activities.

            This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Indiana and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country.  

            The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Indianapolis Field Offices, with valuable assistance provided by agents and staff across numerous FBI Field Offices, including those in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia, among other locations.

            In the 17 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 840 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

            Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.

            An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law

Pee Wee T-Ball Park Dedication a Huge Success

Written by John Face

Photos by John Face

June 25, 2022

More than one hundred locals met this morning to officially dedicate the T-Ball Park along with a statue and plaque. The ceremony was to recognize the late Jerry Sacharski a long time Albion teacher, coach and inventor of the game of t-ball. This event was attended by Sacharski’s three sons who all spoke during the event. Mike, Will and Dave were touched at the outpouring of respect given to their late father.

Attendees wait for the start of the ceremony.

Speakers shared stories of their time playing T- Ball or Pee Wee baseball as it is known in Albion. The plaque which is pictured in the photo below tells the story best.

Plaque honoring Pee Wee baseball and Jerry Sacharski
The Sacharski brothers Left to right: Mike, Will and Dave
Pee Wee ball player Mitch Lutzke acted as moderator

Event organizer Linda Kolmodin, stressed to this writer to make mention of Janet Domingo’s work as co chair. “It is because of Janets hard work that this all came together. Without her we may not be here”‘ she said.

Janet Domingo speaks
Pee Wee ball player John Sims shares his stories
Waverly Short Pee Wee baseball player talks

Left, Linda Kolmodin with Janet Domingo right
Short and Sims unveil plaque

The statues unveiling was well received by the crowd and the Sacharskis.

The furure of Pee Wee, or T-Ball in Albion had their chance to pose with the statue.

Current T-Ball players in Albion. Some day they will appreciate what was started here in Albion 67 years ago today.

Train Victim Identified

PRESS RELEASE

ADPS has identified the individual struck and killed by the train last night as Trevon Estelle, 25 years old, from Albion. We are continuing to investigate the circumstances leading up to the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det Billy Lazarus at 517-629-7854.

Haadsma July Coffee Hours in Springfield and Albion 

Haadsma_Header
STATE REPRESENTATIVE JIM HAADSMA (517) 373-0555
JimHaadsma@house.mi.gov
Haadsma.housedems.com
Who: State Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek)  
What: State Rep. Haadsma will be holding coffee hours in Springfield and Albion to meet with constituents. 
When: Saturday, July 2, 9-11 a.m. Mr. Don’s Restaurant, 341 N. 20th St., Springfield
Saturday, July 2, 1-2:30 p.m. Stirling Books and Brew, 119 N. Superior St., Albion 
Background: State Rep. Haadsma hosts coffee hours on the first Saturday of the month to give residents the opportunity to discuss the most important issues happening at the state Capitol and around the community. 

Train Pedestrian Accident in Albion

June 24, 2022

PRESS RELEASE

On Friday, June 24, 2022, at approximately 12:30 AM, an ADPS officer was approached by the Conductor of a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train that had stopped near Clinton St. They advised the officer they had just struck a person lying on the tracks behind the Shell station. Officers immediately checked the area and located the victim, who had already died from the injuries sustained from being struck by the train. At this time, it is unclear as to why the person was lying on the railroad tracks, and we have not yet positively identified the individual. Additional information will release when it becomes available. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Billy Lazarus at 517-629-7854.

Chief Scott Kipp

Albion Public Safety

Police Shooting Update – Suspect Name Released – Video Exists

Written by John Face

June 23, 2022

Albion Department of Public Safety (ADPS) Chief Scott Kipp has released the name of the suspect in last night’s officer involved shooting here in Albion. Jason Elliotte Dodds, 42, of Albion is alleged to have raised his hand with a gun in it and an officer shot him. This information comes from the press release Chief Kipp sent out last night that is shown below. Dodds was transported to the hospital and succumbed to his injuries a short time later. The location of the shooting is the 700 block of North Eaton Street.

All this writer asks from the public now is calm as we go on this fact-finding process. There are several people this morning that are hurting, from the suspects family and one of our own ADPS police officers who must deal with this shooting. Let us not make assumptions by using second hand and often false information from the public, some of which is well intentioned while others are trying to sow discord and create trouble in town.

City Watch can confirm from ADPS that body cam video of the situation does exist and is being reviewed by the Michigan State Police investigators.

As always City Watch will do its best to keep you updated.

PRESS RELEASE:

Earlier today, ADPS received information from family members that a relative was having psychological issues and was taking psychological medication and drinking, which caused him to be irrational. The family was concerned because this subject had told them he wanted to kill another relative with whom he had been in a fight a few weeks earlier. At 5:20 PM, ADPS put out information to all its officers, the Marshall Police Department, and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, hoping we could locate the individual and get him help. Unfortunately, we only had information that he may be in the Marshall area.

At approximately 6:30 PM, 3 ADPS officers, two of whom are Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) certified officers, responded to a report of an unwanted subject on the porch of the relative who had been threatened in the 700 block of N Eaton St., attempting to break in. The relative the individual was looking for, fled out the residence’s back door as the subject broke into the front door. Upon arrival, officers entered the porch to find the entrance to the house open. The officers confronted the individual, who quickly turned toward the officers and started to raise the gun. The officers ordered the subject to drop the gun multiple times as he raised it toward them. An officer fired, striking the individual, who then fell to the floor. ADPS Officers immediately began first aid and CPR until ambulance crews arrived and transported the individual to the hospital. The individual’s gun was recovered and turned over to the Michigan State Police. ADPS has requested the Michigan State Police investigate the shooting.  The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Chief Scott Kipp

Albion Public Safety

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑