New York Bagel Company Owner Sentenced to 3½ Years in Prison for Scamming Prospective Franchisees Out of Over $2 Million

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime News

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division announced that Joseph Smith, 57, formerly of Fishkill, New York, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $2,100,450 in restitution by Unites States District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert for his scheme to defraud prospective franchisees of more than $2.1 million, collectively.

In February 2022, the defendant. the owner of New York Bagel Enterprises, Inc., (“New York Bagel”), which operated in Pennsylvania and other states, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion in connection with this scheme. According to court documents and statements made in court, Smith and Dennis Mason, charged separately, made numerous misrepresentations to individuals interested in buying a New York Bagel franchise. These misrepresentations included: a guarantee that New York Bagel could get financing for the prospective franchisee, the actual costs to open a franchise, the number of franchises that were already open or opening, and the profitability of existing franchises. The defendant and Mason charged prospective franchisees fees ranging between $7,500 and $44,500 to gain rights to open stores. When some prospective franchisees learned of the misrepresentations and demanded their money back, Smith refused to refund these fees. As a result of the fraud, Smith and New York Bagel sold more than 160 franchises and obtained more than $2.1 million in franchise fees.

Further, from 2014 through 2016, Smith deposited more than $1.3 million in franchise fees into New York Bagel bank accounts which he controlled. The defendant spent these funds on personal items unrelated to the business, including rent for his home, travel, car payments for personal vehicles and living expenses. Smith did not file corporate or individual income taxes for these three years or pay the taxes he owed to the IRS.

Mason previously pleaded guilty to related charges and was sentenced to three years in prison in April 2022.

“Individuals seeking to own and operate business franchises are seeking opportunity and financial stability for themselves and their families; they deserve honesty and forthrightness in their business dealings so they can make informed decisions,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Mr. Smith took advantage of his position to swindle millions of dollars from people seeking legitimate business opportunities, and for that crime he will now spend years in prison.”

“While Smith was defrauding investors out of their franchise fees, he also evaded nearly $175,000 in taxes due on that income,” said Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Business owners who pay the IRS their fair share of taxes deserve to compete on a level playing field. Competitors who cut corners and seek to skirt their legal obligations should know they will be investigated and prosecuted.”

“Mr. Smith’s scheme served no purpose other than to mislead and defraud perspective franchisees,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Yury Kruty. “Furthermore, he took steps to hide his earnings from IRS, thus shirking his tax liability. The sentence he received is a victory for all Americans who play by the rules.”

“Joseph Smith peddled what looked like a great opportunity to potential franchisees,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But once they signed on the dotted line, they learned he’d been peddling something else instead. Smith treated their franchise fees like found money. It was a clear-cut case of fraud and this sentence puts him behind bars and provides some justice for his victims. The FBI will always fight to hold crooks like this accountable.”    

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Ignall and Trial Attorney Eric B. Powers of the Department of Justice Tax Division.

Hastings Woman Sentenced for Possessing Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)

Acting United States Attorney Steven Russell announced that Vallen Bateman, 36, of Hastings, Nebraska, was sentenced on June 24, 2022, in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, for possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Chief United States District Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. sentenced Bateman to 66 months’ imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system.  After her release from prison, she will begin a five-year term of supervised release.

On September 28, 2020, law enforcement was serving a federal arrest warrant for John Wizinsky at a residence in Grand Island, following his indictment for distributing methamphetamine.  Wizinsky was arrested and Bateman was also present.  Bateman had an active warrant out of Howard County and was arrested. She admitted to having marijuana in her nearby backpack.  A search of her backpack revealed 80 grams of methamphetamine, a scale, and 13 grams of marijuana. 

Wizinsky was sentenced on July 23, 2021, to 262 months’ imprisonment.  

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Grand Island Police Department and the Central Nebraska Drug and Safe Streets Task Force.

Owasso Man Pleads Guilty to Second-Degree Murder After Fatal Methamphetamine Fueled Auto Collision

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

An Owasso man who drove under the influence of methamphetamine and caused a crash that killed another driver pleaded guilty in federal court, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.

Bradley Wade Wofford, 35, pleaded guilty to second degree felony murder in Indian Country on June 15, 2022.

On June 10, 2019, Wofford was driving a Ford F-150 on U.S. 412 near County Road 4180 when an accident further down the road caused traffic to slow. Wofford failed to follow suit and rear-ended victim Scotty Dilbeck’s Volkswagon, killing him. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol calculated that Wofford had been driving approximately 66 mph when he struck Dilbeck, who was driving 11 mph.

Prior to the collision, Wofford had also been convicted of driving under the influence.

The FBI and Oklahoma Highway Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Buscemi is prosecuting the case.

FBI Media Alert: FBI, Sandia Tribal Police Seek Casino Robber

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI Crime News (b)

The FBI and Sandia Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance to identify the individual responsible for a robbery at the Sandia Resort & Casino on Friday, July 1, 2022.

At Approximately 9:15 P.m., an unknown male entered the casino and verbally demanded money from a cashier while threatening that he had a weapon. The robber received an undisclosed sum of money and left the establishment.

Suspect’s Description:

  • Sex: Male
  • Race: White
  • Age: 30s
  • Height: 6’0″ to 6’4″
  • Weight: 180-210 Pounds
  • Clothing: Dark Gray Hooded Sweatshirt, Blue Surgical Mask Over a Blue Gaiter That Covered the Head, Black Baseball Cap, Blue Jeans, Black Tennis Shoes.
  • Other: the Suspect Carried a Dark Backpack with a Strap That Went Over His Right Shoulder.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this suspect.

Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to contact the FBI at (505) 889-1300.

Tips can also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.

Polk Alternative Education Center Mental Health Therapist Sentenced to More Than a Decade in Federal Prison

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI Crime News (b)

The Forty-Four-Year-Old Therapist Pursued a Romantic Relationship with a Fourteen-Year-Old Student

A former mental health therapist and licensed independent social worker who was employed by Polk Alternative Education Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who pursued a romantic relationship with a fourteen-year-old student from 2019 to 2020, was sentenced today to more than eleven years in federal prison.

Miranda Breeden, age 46, from Monticello, Iowa, received the prison term after a July 13, 2021 guilty plea to one count of enticement of a minor.

At the guilty plea, Breeden admitted that between November 2019 and January 2020, she knowingly enticed a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

At the sentencing hearing, evidence was presented that messages between Breeden and the fourteen-year-old victim began in November 2019.  In December 2019, Breeden agreed to purchase a firearm for the teenager and did purchase a firearm at Theisen’s.  Also in December 2019, Breeden took the victim and his minor friend to her parent’s residence in Scotch Grove, Iowa, for an overnight stay where they used a hot tub, smoked marijuana, and discharged firearms.  In January 2020, Breeden checked into at least two hotel rooms with the victim and his minor friends in the Cedar Rapids area, and attempted to check into a third hotel room at the Isle of Capri casino in Davenport, Iowa.  During this same time period, Breeden also rented and stayed in another hotel room with the minor’s brother, and his minor friend.  The investigation revealed that Breeden had sex with the minor victim while in hotel rooms, inside her personal vehicle, and during school hours in her locked office.  During the above described time period, Breeden was employed as the victim’s mental health therapist at the Polk Alternative Education Center in Cedar Rapids.    

At the sentencing hearing, the judge called Breeden’s behavior “horribly egregious” and stated that providing a deadly weapon to a child was both reckless and dangerous.

Breeden was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Breeden was sentenced to 135 months’ imprisonment and fined $100.  She must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after the prison erm.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.  For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

Breeden is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Liz Dupuich and Ashley Corkery and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cedar Rapids Police Department. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 20-CR-65.

Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

FBI Media Alert: FBI Sees Increase in School Hoax Threats in New Mexico, Reminds Public All Threats Taken Seriously

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

The FBI has seen a significant increase in hoax threats to New Mexico schools this year and wants to remind parents and students these types of threats can have serious consequences for the public and the perpetrators.

During the first six months of 2021, two school threats were reported to the Albuquerque FBI Division.

So far this year, approximately 19 have been reported, most of them hoaxes.

The FBI and our law enforcement partners have made at least three arrests in connection with these threats.

“It’s not unusual to see an uptick in hoax threats after a mass shooting in another part of the country,” said Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. “The FBI takes every threat seriously and those who post or send these threats can receive up to five years in federal prison, or they can face state or local charges.”

Issuing a threat—even over social media, via text message, or through email—is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications).

Even hoax threats disrupt school and waste law enforcement resources.

At the same time, anyone who sees anything suspicious, or knows of a person planning to commit violence, should immediately contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The FBI in New Mexico, through its Guardian Squad, works closely with other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to receive, analyze, and quickly respond to tips about threats to public safety.

More information on hoax threats and the FBI’s “Think Before You Post” campaign can be found at: https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/hoax-threats-awareness-100518

FBI El Paso Has Initiated an Assault on a Federal Officer Investigation Into Yesterday’s Officer-Involved Shooting Incident

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime News

EL PASO, TX— On June 29, a law enforcement shooting occurred during a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), enforcement action in the 1900 block of Zaragoza Road in East El Paso.

29-year-old, Luis Angel Garcia was shot and later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. The second subject, a 28-year-old El Paso man, who fled the scene, was later taken into custody by the El Paso Police Department.

The FBI El Paso Evidence Recovery Team with the assistance of El Paso County Sheriff’s Office processed multiple crime scenes until the early morning hours.

The FBI has transitioned into the lead investigative agency into yesterday’s shooting incident. The investigation remains ongoing and therefore no further information can be provided at this time.

The FBI’s El Paso Violent Crimes Task Force and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office are jointly investigating this incident along with the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas.

South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Charges for Actions During January Six Capitol Breach

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime News

            WASHINGTON – A South Carolina man pleaded guilty today to two felony charges for his actions during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His and others’ actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

            George Amos Tenney III, 35, of Anderson, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding. According to court documents, in December 2020, Tenney made plans to travel to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. He sent a Facebook message on Dec. 28, 2020, that stated, among other things, “It’s starting to look like we may siege the capital building and congress if the electoral votes don’t go right.”

            On Jan. 6, Tenney illegally entered the Capitol Building. He moved to the area inside the Rotunda Doors, arriving there at approximately 2:24 p.m. Rioters had amassed outside the doors and were struggling against the police officers attempting to secure the building. Tenney tried to open the Rotunda Doors to allow the rioters inside, and he had contact with multiple federal employees while doing so. He succeeded in opening one of the doors.  A police officer who was outside tried to push them closed, and Tenney resisted, pushing against the door to try to keep it open. An employee of the House Sergeant at Arms then ran towards Tenney, pushing him aside in an effort to close the door. Tenney grabbed the employee by the shoulder. He and other rioters surrounded the employee, and a heated conversation began. A rioter from outside the doors forced his way inside and pushed the employee of the House Sergeant at Arms away.

            Tenney, meanwhile, continued to stand in the doorway, and locked arms with a Capitol Police officer who was just outside the doors. He and the officer moved inside, towards the Rotunda. Tenney pushed away the officer’s hand. While in the Rotunda, he yelled, “Stand up, Patriots, stand up!” He then returned to the Rotunda Doors, where he assisted rioters entering the building, patting them on the back and helping them move forward. When another Capitol Police officer entered the area, Tenney pushed him to the side. Tenney ultimately had to be pulled back inside so that the Rotunda Doors could be closed to keep other rioters from entering. He then retreated to the Rotunda and exited the Capitol through a window at approximately 2:32 p.m.

            Tenney was arrested on June 29, 2021, in Anderson, South Carolina. He is to be sentenced on Oct. 20, 2022. He faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison in prison on the civil disorder charge and up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge. The charges also carry potential financial penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

            The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.

            The FBI’s Columbia, South Carolina Field Office investigated the case, with valuable assistance from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department

            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.

Michigan Man Arrested for Actions on Lower West Terrace During January Six Capitol Breach

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)

            WASHINGTON — A Michigan man was arrested today on felony and misdemeanor charges for his actions during 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.

            Luke Michael Lints, 27, of Traverse City, Michigan, is charged in a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia with civil disorder, a felony, and related misdemeanor offenses. He was arrested in Traverse City. He is to make his initial court appearance today in the Western District of Michigan.

            According to court documents, on Jan. 6, Lints was among rioters who repeatedly engaged in violence against law enforcement officers guarding the Capitol. Lints participated in the confrontation with law enforcement officers in the Lower West Terrace and tunnel areas of the Capitol. He entered the tunnel on the Lower West Terrace at approximately 3:10 p.m., making his way towards the front of the police line. He held a police shield and pushed back against law enforcement officers. At one point, Lints used a police shield to prevent a law enforcement officer from closing a door to protect himself from the rioters. Lints also was part of the crowd directly outside the tunnel as a Metropolitan Police Department officer was being assaulted by rioters.

            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 the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Detroit Field Office and its Traverse City Resident Agency, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which identified Lints as #261 on its seeking information photos. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.

            In the 17 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 800 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.

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

Convicted Felon Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Illegal Possession of Firearms

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)

EVANSVILLE – Matthew Allen Green, 39, of Evansville, was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

According to court documents, on November 10, 2020, law enforcement officers stopped a truck driven by Green after observing multiple traffic violations. Green was the sole occupant of the truck. During the investigation, officers discovered a loaded revolver inside the truck and a loaded semi-automatic pistol on Green’s person. Green is prohibited from lawfully possessing firearms due to multiple prior felony convictions, including trafficking in a controlled substance (fentanyl) in Henderson County, Kentucky and robbery in Vanderburgh County, Indiana.

Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding made the announcement.

The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force and Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also provided valuable assistance. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young following the defendant’s guilty plea.  As part of the sentence, Judge Young ordered that the defendant be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 2 years following his release from prison.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristian R. Mukoski who prosecuted this case.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.