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Examples of Public Corruption Investigations - Fiscal Year 2016

The following examples of Public Corruption Investigations are written from public record documents on file in the courts within the judicial district where the cases were prosecuted.

Town Commissioner Sentenced for Tax Evasion  
On September 28, 2016, in Central Islip, New York, Frederick Ippolito, the former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner of Planning and Development, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $548,487 in restitution. Ippolito pleaded guilty on January 26, 2016, to tax evasion. According to court documents, from 2008 to 2013, Ippolito received over $2 million in consulting fees from Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving, Inc., of Old Bethpage, New York, as well as from a principal of that company. Ippolito evaded taxes on that income by willfully failing to report it on his personal tax returns or the returns of entities he controlled.

Former City of Chicago Transportation Official Sentenced for Corruption
On August 29, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois, John Bills, former assistant transportation commissioner for the city of Chicago, was sentenced to 120 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $2,032,959 for his role in a corruption scheme involving the city’s red-light camera contracts. Bills was convicted by jury trial in January 2016 on nine counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, three counts of bribery, and three counts of filing false tax returns. In May 2003, Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. was awarded a contract to install cameras that automatically record and ticket drivers who run red lights. From approximately 2003 to 2011, Bills used his influence to expand Redflex’s business with the city, resulting in millions of dollars in contracts for the installation of hundreds of red-light cameras. In exchange for his efforts, Redflex provided Bills with cash and personal benefits. While some of the benefits were given directly to Bills, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash was funneled to him through a friend, Martin O’Malley. Redflex hired O’Malley as a contractor and paid him lavish bonuses as new cameras were added in Chicago. O’Malley testified at trial that he often stuffed the bonus money into envelopes and gave it to Bills during meals in Chicago restaurants. In addition, O’Malley testified that he used some of the bonus money to purchase and pay all expenses for a condo in Arizona that Bills used as his own. O’Malley is scheduled to be sentenced in September. When a third conspirator, Karen Finley, became CEO of Redflex, O’Malley’s commissions escalated and Bills assisted Redflex in being awarded a “sole-source” contract for additional cameras. As the city began the process of issuing a second RFP in 2007, Bills, in his capacity as a non-voting, advisory member of the 2007 evaluation committee, assisted in ensuring that the RFP favored Redflex. Finley is scheduled to be sentenced in November.

Former Head of Foundation Sentenced for Bribing Then-Ambassador and President of United Nations General Assembly
On July 29, 2016, in Manhattan, New York, Shiwei Yan, a/k/a “Sheri Yan,” the co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Global Sustainability Foundation, was sentenced to 20 in months in prison and two years of supervised release. Yan was fined $12,500 and ordered to forfeit $300,000. Yan pleaded guilty in January 2016. According to court documents, starting in approximately April 2012, Yan, along with co-defendant Heidi Hong Piao, a/k/a “Heidi Park” (“Piao”), arranged for more than $800,000 in bribe payments to John W. Ashe (“Ashe”), the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda (“Antigua”) to the United Nations (“UN”) and 68th President of the UN General Assembly. Yan and Piao paid the bribes to Ashe in exchange for official actions by Ashe and one or more other Antiguan officials to benefit several Chinese businessmen. Piao pleaded guilty for her participation in the scheme and her sentencing is scheduled.

Former Head of Foundation Sentenced for Bribing Then-Ambassador and President of United Nations General Assembly
On July 29, 2016, in Manhattan, New York, Shiwei Yan, a/k/a “Sheri Yan,” the co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Global Sustainability Foundation, was sentenced to 20 in months in prison and two years of supervised release. Yan was fined $12,500 and ordered to forfeit $300,000. Yan pleaded guilty in January 2016. According to court documents, starting in approximately April 2012, Yan, along with co-defendant Heidi Hong Piao, a/k/a “Heidi Park” (“Piao”), arranged for more than $800,000 in bribe payments to John W. Ashe (“Ashe”), the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda (“Antigua”) to the United Nations (“UN”) and 68th President of the UN General Assembly. Yan and Piao paid the bribes to Ashe in exchange for official actions by Ashe and one or more other Antiguan officials to benefit several Chinese businessmen. Piao pleaded guilty for her participation in the scheme and her sentencing is scheduled.

Former Housing Authority Director Sentenced for Receiving $1.5 Million in Bribes
On July 15, 2016, in Hartford, Connecticut, Michael Siwek, of North Haven, was sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution of $1,503,096 and back taxes, penalties and interest totaling more than $363,000. On September 4, 2014, Siwek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a program receiving federal funds, bribery and tax evasion. According to court documents, Siwek was the executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority (“WHHA”), an agency that received federal funding. From approximately February 2007 through February 2012, Siwek received approximately $1.5 million in payments from individuals in exchange for the awarding of business and contracts with the WHHA and entities that the WHHA controlled. Siwek received these bribes through wire transfers and check payments to himself individually, and to Four Star Development Company LLC, a limited liability corporation that he controlled. Siwek also received payments that were characterized as “loans,” but which were not subject to any terms or conditions typically associated with commercial loans. In addition, Siwek did not report these payments to the IRS, and filed false tax returns that underreported his income and tax liability.

Former School Principal Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery
On June 1, 2016, in Detroit, Michigan, Kenyetta Wilbourn Snapp was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $58,050 to the Educational Achievement Authority (EAA) and $26,233 to the IRS. Snapp previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery and federal income tax evasion. According to court documents, Snapp was a former (“EAA”) principal of Denby High School and later of Mumford High School. Snapp selected Making a Difference Everyday (“M.A.D.E.”), a company owned by co-defendant Glynis Thornton, as the after-school tutoring vendor for the schools. In exchange, Thornton paid Snapp monetary kickbacks totaling approximately $58,000. Thornton disguised payments by issuing checks to a M.A.D.E. employee’s company, rather than paying Snapp directly. The M.A.D.E. employee would then deposit and withdraw the money and give it to Snapp. Snapp also failed to report the kickback payments as income during taxable year 2012.

Colorado Regional Transportation District Supervisor Sentenced for Accepting Bribes in Connection with His Official Duties
On May 19, 2016, in Denver, Colorado, Kenneth P. Hardin, of Aurora, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years supervised release and ordered to pay a $4,000 forfeiture money judgment. Hardin was found guilty of three counts of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. According to court documents, Hardin was an employee of the Regional Transportation District in Colorado (“RTD”), holding the position of Senior Manager of RTD’s Civil Rights Division. Hardin’s duties included directing and managing the operations of RTD’s Civil Rights Division, which was responsible for furthering civil rights goals through regulatory compliance, complaint investigation, community outreach, and programmatic strategy development. The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program is one of the programs that fell under the umbrella of RTD’s Civil Rights Division. Hardin also served as RTD’s Diversity Officer. RTD receives money from federal grants. Hardin corruptly solicited and accepted money on three occasions in 2014 from a person intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with RTD business involving more than $5,000.

Former U.S House Speaker John Hastert Sentenced
On April 27, 2016, in Chicago, Illinois, John Dennis Hastert, of Plano, was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Hastert previously pleaded guilty to illegally structuring cash withdrawals in order to evade financial reporting requirements. According to court documents, in 2010 Hastert agreed to pay another individual $3.5 million to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against the other individual. From approximately 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts he controlled and provided it to the other individual. In July 2012, Hastert began withdrawing cash in increments less than $10,000 to evade currency transaction reporting requirements. Hastert withdrew $952,000 in amounts under $10,000 in separate transactions on at least 106 occasions.

Former Tennessee Airport Official Sentenced for Fraud and Bribery Scheme   
On April 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, John T. Howard was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Howard was also ordered to pay restitution of $1,405,876 and to forfeit the proceeds of his crime. Howard previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, soliciting and receiving a bribe and money laundering.  According to court documents, Howard, who had been an Assistant Vice President of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (“MNAA”), conspired with certain MNAA contractors to submit fraudulent invoices to MNAA for construction and repair work that they had not performed, overseen, or verified. Howard also asked a contractor to purchase more than $49,000 in airline tickets to Las Vegas for players, coaches, and others affiliated with a youth basketball organization run by Howard, in return for awarding an MNAA cleaning job to this contractor.

Former County Chief Deputy Auditor Sentenced for Embezzling Government Funds, Tax Fraud and Wire Fraud
On March 2, 2016, in South Bend, Indiana, Mary Ray, of LaPorte, was sentenced to 84 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit $137,249 and pay $801,315 in restitution. On Sept. 17, 2015, Ray was convicted of two counts of theft of government monies, two counts of making false statements on a tax return and seven counts of wire fraud. According to court documents, from September 2011 through December 2012, while she served as chief deputy auditor for LaPorte County, Ray embezzled more than $150,000 from county coffers and underreported her income on her U.S. Individual Tax Returns by failing to report the embezzled funds. Ray also defrauded her father-in-law, an 86-year-old disabled veteran, out of more than $600,000 in funds that he entrusted her to oversee. Ray used the illegally-obtained funds to gamble at casinos.  

Connecticut Man Sentenced for Bribing Housing Authority Official
On Feb. 26, 2016, in Hartford, Connecticut, Andrew Ross, of New Haven, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and three years of supervised release. Restitution will be determined at a later date. On Sept. 3, 2015, Ross pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a program receiving federal funds. According to court documents, Ross paid nearly $350,000 in bribes to Michael Siwek, the former executive director of the West Haven Housing Authority (WHHA) in exchange for government contracts and business. As part of his duties, Siwek had substantial discretion over awarding WHHA business and contracts. Siwek also owned and controlled Four Star Development Company, LLC (“Four Star”). Between January 2007 and February 2012, Ross, who controlled business entities that received WHHA business and contracts for financial and consulting services, made approximately $349,500 in corrupt payments to Siwek and Four Star. In total, Siwek received approximately $1.5 million in bribes from individuals who received business with the WHHA and the entities that the WHHA controlled. On Sept. 4, 2014, Siwek pleaded guilty to related charges. He awaits sentencing.

Former County Sheriff Sentenced for Stealing Public Money, Money Laundering
On Feb. 25, 2016, in Springfield, Missouri, Joseph “Joey” Edward Kyle, of Ozark, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, ordered to pay $50,290 in restitution to Christian County and forfeit to the government a money judgment of $71,640. Kyle must also disclose and surrender any and all property that was purchased with county funds. On May 20, 2015, Kyle pleaded guilty to embezzling from Christian County and participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. According to court documents, Kyle resigned his office as sheriff of Christian County. Kyle embezzled $50,290 from Christian County by submitting 22 fraudulent invoices and purchase orders to the county for goods and services that were never provided between Jan. 1, 2011, and Oct. 14, 2014. Kyle also admitted that he received $21,350 from another person, identified as “Subject #2” in court documents, for his role in promoting an investment fraud scheme. Kyle referred potential investors, distributed promotional materials, served as a personal reference and recommended that victims invest money in Subject #2’s companies. In reality, Kyle did not invest his personal funds in Subject #2’s companies.

Former State Senator Leland Yee and Three Others Sentenced on Racketeering Conspiracy Charges
On Feb. 24, 2016, in San Francisco, California, former State Senator Leland Yee was sentenced to 60 months’ in prison, three years of supervised release, fined $20,000, and forfeiture of certain property. Co-conspirator, Keith Jackson was also sentenced to 108 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and forfeiture of certain property. On July 1, 2015, Yee and Jackson pleaded guilty to using the Leland Yee for Mayor 2011 campaign and the Leland Yee for Secretary of State 2014 campaign to conduct RICO crimes.  According to government filings, the conspiracy involved three different, but related, areas of criminal activity: (1) honest services fraud in which he exchanged official acts for money, (2) a weapons trafficking conspiracy, and (3) money laundering. In November of 2012 Yee devised extortion schemes in which planned to obtain campaign contributions by leveraging his Senate committee vote on an upcoming decision to dissolve the California State Athletic Commission. Yee requested campaign contributions from individuals interested in keeping the Commission alive. In the second scheme, Yee was prepared to vote for or against pending legislation on workers compensation for professional athletes playing in California depending on which competing interest gave him the most money. Keith Jackson participated in the RICO conspiracy with Yee. Jackson accepted cash and checks for bribes and committed wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to illegally import firearms and ammunition from the Philippines. Brandon Jamelle Jackson and Marlon Sullivan also were also sentenced, to 54 months and 66 months, respectively, for their respective roles in a separate, but related, conspiracy.  

Government Contractor Sentenced for Accepting Kickbacks and Tax Evasion
On Feb. 17, 2016, in West Palm Beach, Florida, Victor Villalobos, of Enterprise, Alabama, was sentenced to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $542,562 in restitution to the IRS. In addition, Villalobos is permanently debarred from federal government contracting. According to court documents, Villalobos worked for a federal prime contractor at Fort Rucker, Alabama. In 2009, Villalobos approached Maxim Silinsky, a Florida-based subcontractor for this company, and solicited illegal kickbacks. Between June 2009 and February 2015, Villalobos received more than $1.9 million in kickback payments. Villalobos attempted to conceal his receipt of the kickbacks by forming nominee entities and opening nominee bank accounts. Villalobos also evaded paying income taxes on the kickback payments by causing false federal income tax returns to be filed with the IRS. Co-conspirators Silinsky and Trevor Smith were previously sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison and 18 months in prison respectively for their roles in the scheme.

Former New York City Police Department Detective Sentenced  
On Jan. 21, 2016, in Central Islip, New York, Rafael Astacio, of Copiague, was sentenced to 72 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $200,000 forfeiture money judgment and restitution of $1.8 million. Previously, Astacio, a former detective with the New York City Police Department, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property and filing a fraudulent tax return. According to court documents, between 2010 and 2012, Astacio was a member of a burglary crew that committed approximately three dozen commercial burglaries and ten residential burglaries stealing approximately $8,000,000 in cash and property. Astacio personally participated in six of the commercial burglaries and five residential burglaries stealing more than $5.3 million in cash and property. Astacio used his position with the NYPD to locate potential burglary targets’ home addresses.

Former Executive Sentenced for Conspiracy to Bribe Panamanian Officials
On Dec. 16, 2015, in San Francisco, California, Vicente Eduardo Garcia, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced to 22 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Garcia previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to pay $85,965 plus prejudgment interest. According to court documents, in late 2009, Garcia, a regional director of a technology company, conspired with others to bribe three Panamanian government officials to secure a multimillion-dollar contract for his employer. The conspirators used sham contracts and false invoices to disguise the true nature of the bribes. Garcia personally received over $85,000 in kickbacks for arranging the bribes.

GSA Official Jailed for Accepting Bribes, Stealing Property and Falsifying Tax Returns
On Oct. 23, 2015, in San Diego, California, Timothy Francis Cashman, a Building Manager for the General Services Administration (“GSA”), was sentenced to 16 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $50,057 in restitution. Cashman was sentenced for accepting bribes and stealing property owned by the United States and filing a false tax return. According to court documents, Cashman used his position with GSA for his personal enrichment. Over a number of years, Cashman provided favorable treatment relating to the awarding of GSA contracts in exchange for cash and services to his personal residence. All the income Cashman received was concealed from the IRS on his federal tax return. In addition to accepting bribes, Cashman improperly obtained thousands of dollars in valuable United States Government building materials for his own benefit by causing GSA contractors and others to remove and transport such materials away from GSA facilities where he could sell or use them without the knowledge of GSA. In total, 11 individuals have been apprehended and pleaded guilty in related corruption investigations.

Former Louisiana County Supervisor Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery
On Oct. 1, 2015, in Gulfport, Mississippi, former Harrison County supervisor Kim Savant, of Gulfport, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. Savant previously pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with his role as a board member of the Harrison County Utility Authority. Savant admitted that, from January 2011 through January 2013, while he was a supervisor for Harrison County and a member of the board of the Harrison County Utility Authority, he conspired with the owner of a company that performed work for the utility authority and accepted bribe payments in the amount of $1,500 per month in exchange for his official actions such as voting on the awarding of contracts, payments, emergency work, and other items.


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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 28-Nov-2016