Tuesday, September 30, 2014

4 Members of International Computer Hacking Ring Indicted for Stealing Apache Helicopter Training Software + Gaming Technology

Four members of an international computer hacking ring have been charged with breaking into computer networks of prominent technology companies and the U.S. Army and stealing more than $100 million in intellectual property and other proprietary data. Two of the charged members have already pleaded guilty. The alleged cyber theft included software and data related to the Xbox One gaming console and Xbox Live online gaming system; popular games such as “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and “Gears of War 3”;  and proprietary software used to train military helicopter pilots.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office made the announcement.

“As the indictment charges, the members of this international hacking ring stole trade secret data used in high-tech American products, ranging from software that trains U.S. soldiers to fly Apache helicopters to Xbox games that entertain millions around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “The American economy is driven by innovation. But American innovation is only valuable when it can be protected. Today’s guilty pleas show that we will protect America’s intellectual property from hackers, whether they hack from here or from abroad.”

“Electronic breaking and entering of computer networks and the digital looting of identities and intellectual property have become much too common,” said U.S. Attorney Oberly. “These are not harmless crimes, and those who commit them should not believe they are safely beyond our reach.”

Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana, were charged in an 18-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Delaware on April 23, 2014, and unsealed earlier today. The charges in the indictment include conspiracies to commit computer fraud, copyright infringement, wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and theft of trade secrets. The defendants are also charged with individual counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access, copyright infringement and wire fraud.

Pokora and Nesheiwat pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement and are scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 13, 2015. Pokora was arrested on March 28, 2014, while attempting to enter the United States at the Lewiston, New York, Port of Entry. Pokora’s plea is believed to be the first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information.

According to the superseding indictment and other court records, from January 2011 to March 2014, the four men and others located in the United States and abroad allegedly hacked into the computer networks of Microsoft Corporation, Epic Games Inc., Valve Corporation, Zombie Studios and the U.S. Army. The defendants and others allegedly obtained access to the victims’ computer networks through methods including SQL injection and the use of stolen usernames and passwords of company employees and their software development partners. Once inside the victims’ computer networks, the conspirators accessed and stole unreleased software, software source code, trade secrets, copyrighted and pre-release works and other confidential and proprietary information. Members of the conspiracy also allegedly stole financial and other sensitive information relating to the companies – but not their customers – and certain employees of such companies.

Specifically, the data cyber-theft allegedly included source code, technical specifications and related information for Microsoft’s then-unreleased Xbox One gaming console; intellectual property and proprietary data related to Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online multi-player gaming and media-delivery system; Apache helicopter simulator software developed by Zombie Studios for the U.S. Army; a pre-release version of Epic’s video game, “Gears of War 3;” and a pre-release version of Activision’s video game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.”  The defendants also allegedly conspired to use, share and sell the stolen information.

The value of the intellectual property and other data that the defendants stole, as well as the costs associated with the victims’ responses to the conduct, is estimated to range between $100 million and $200 million. To date, the United States has seized over $620,000 in cash and other proceeds related to the charged conduct.

In addition to those charged in the United States, an Australian citizen has been charged under Australian law for his alleged role in the conspiracy.

Derrick Dawon Burns Charged and Arrested for Making Bomb and Violence Threats Against Southern Illinois University

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced that Derrick Dawon Burns, 21, of Chicago, Illinois, was charged in a previously-sealed criminal complaint on September 25, 2014, with eight federal charges stemming from a series of bomb and violence threats directed toward Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (SIUC), students, faculty and staff on October 10, 2012, October 15, 2012, December 6, 2012, and October 1, 2013.

“I am proud of the unflagging investigative efforts performed by the federal and state law enforcement agencies working jointly on this case. These types of threats carry immensely dangerous consequences for all involved. You can be certain that my office and law enforcement never once failed to take these threats seriously or to give up the fight to apprehend the person we believe is responsible. Instilling anger, fear and disruption at a major university is something the people of Southern Illinois should not have to condone.” said United States Attorney Wigginton.

After authorities arrested Burns in Chicago, he had his initial appearance in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where the criminal complaint was unsealed. Burns is being held without bond pending a detention hearing set for Wednesday, October 1, 2014, in Chicago.

Each of the eight federal charges carry maximum penalties of ten years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

Monday, September 29, 2014

2 Campaign Workers Admit to Buying Votes in Primary Elections

Two campaign workers pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Texas for paying voters to vote in two 2012 elections in Hidalgo County, Texas, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Veronica Saldivar, 42, of Donna, Texas, pleaded guilty today to one count of vote-buying before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane of the Southern District of Texas and is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 8, 2014.  Belinda Solis, 39, also of Donna, pleaded guilty on Sept. 25, 2014, to one count of vote-buying before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez of the Southern District of Texas and is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 11, 2014.

According to Saldivar’s plea agreement, a primary election was held on May 29, 2012, in Donna for the presidential election, and various state, county, and local offices, including the office of a county commissioner for Hidalgo County.  Saldivar assisted in the campaign to elect a candidate to the office of county commissioner.  In the course of that work, she paid voters with cash and cocaine for voting in this primary election and for voting for a specific candidate for a county commissioner position.

According to Solis’s plea agreement, a general election was held on Nov. 6, 2012, in Donna, for the presidential election and various state, county, and local offices, including the Donna School Board.  Solis assisted in the campaign to elect a slate of four candidates to the Donna School Board.  In the course of that work, she paid voters cash for voting in the election and for voting for specific Donna School Board candidates.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Guilty Plea in Illegal Wagering and Money Laundering Operation

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced that FRANK FRABBIELE, 79, of Abita Springs, Louisiana pleaded guilty today to a two-count Bill of Information, charging him with the transmission of wagering information and money laundering.

According to court documents, beginning not later than January 2008 and continuing until April 9, 2014,FRABBIELE operated a gambling operation in which he took bets and wagers on football, basketball, and baseball games. In the course of conducting his gambling operation, FRABBIELE used a “pay-per-head” betting website based in Costa Rica to track, record, and register bets and clients, to which FRABBIELEpaid a per-client fee. FRABBIELE’S relationship with the website caused information to be transmitted by wire from Abita Springs to Costa Rica for the purposes of assisting in placing bets on football, baseball, and basketball. On or about November 15, 2012, FRABBIELE alsocommitted money laundering by depositing $20,000 cash, representing the proceeds of the gambling operation, into a bank account.

FRABBIELE faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 years in prison, three years of supervised release after any term of imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for January 14, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan.

Former Sheriff Indicted in Vehicle Purchase Scheme

A grand jury indicted former Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen and two owners of Blakey Auto Plex, LLC, U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced.

Former Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry C. Deen, 66, of Benton, La., Clinton E. Blakey, 40, of Shreveport, La., and Clifton D. Blakey, 35, of Benton, La., were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit federal program theft, one count of federal program theft, and one count of failure to file IRS Tax Form 8300. According to the indictment, starting in January 2012, Deen is accused of conspiring with Clinton Blakey and Clifton Blakey, co-owners of Blakey Auto Plex, LLC (BAP), to retain control and gain ownership of a white four-door 2009 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ that was owned by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office. They are also accused of attempting to unlawfully enrich themselves through the conspiracy, and did this in part by undervaluing the vehicle at $21,375 when it was traded in to BAP by the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office in May of 2012. The indictment also charges Clinton Blakey and Clifton Blakey with failing to file a Form 8300 in connection with $21,000 paid to BAP in July 2012. A Form 8300 is required to be filed when anyone engages in a trade or business who, in the course of such trade or business, receives more than $10,000 in a transaction or in two or more related transactions.

The defendants face five years in prison and one year of supervised release for the conspiracy count and 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release for the theft count. Clinton Blakey and Clifton Blakey face five years in prison and one year of supervised release for the Form 8300 count. They also face a $250,000 fine for each count and forfeiture of the proceeds traceable to and property involved in the offenses.

$47 Million Dollars to be Spent on 60 National Civilian Disarmament Centers

The Venezuelan government is investing $47 million to build dozens of new disarmament centers for civilians to surrender their weapons, President Nicolas Maduro announced Sunday.

“We are building peace from within, and for that, you need disarmament,” the president said at an event commemorating the International Day of Peace in the capital, Caracas, BBC reported. “Let us chase after the dream, after the utopia, the utopia of a Venezuela in peace,” he said, describing the disarmament as part of “the movement of peace and life.”

“Disarmament must come from the conscience of the youth,” Mr. Maduro said, Breitbart News reported.

Mr. Maduro said his government would invest $47 million and create 60 new disarmament centers. He also approved a $39 million plan to put 2,000 new patrols on the streets of the most dangerous neighborhoods.

Venezuela has the second-highest peacetime murder rate in the world after Honduras, and most of those murders are committed using firearms, BBC reported. Venezuela banned private gun ownership in 2012 and extended the ban again in 2013 after a spike in murders.

Earlier this year, many demonstrators took part in a series of mass anti-government protests demanding measures to improve the economy. Opposition activists have accused the Venezuelan government of widespread corruption and hypocrisy, BBC reported.

Thanks to Jessica Chasmar.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Leon Eddie Mondy, Former Acting Pembroke Township Supervisor, Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Township Accounts for Gambling

A former acting Pembroke Township Supervisor, Leon Eddie Mondy, pled guilty to defrauding township accounts of more than $60,000 from August 2012 to May 2013. Mondy entered his open plea of guilty to one count of wire fraud in an appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015, in Peoria, before Chief U.S. District Judge James E. Shadid.

Mondy, 35, of St. Anne, Ill., admitted that during the time he was serving as the acting Pembroke Township Supervisor, he withdrew more than $60,000 in cash from various township accounts and spent the money on gambling. Overall, according to court documents, Mondy lost $67,418 from gambling during the same time that he made $66,434 in unauthorized cash withdrawals from Pembroke township accounts.

As township supervisor, Mondy was a signatory and had access to the township’s various bank accounts. Mondy admitted he repeatedly transferred funds between township accounts and withdrew cash from the various accounts under the false pretense that the funds would be used for the benefit of the township. The accounts included Insurance, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, Water, Community Center, Employee Deductions, Senior Nutrition, and Social Security. The cash withdrawals varied from as little as $300 to as much as $3,542.

The charge is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.

The offense of wire fraud carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.