orlando_florida_fedex_936771_hFedEx, one of the country’s largest courier service providers, is facing serious drug-trafficking charges after a federal grand jury indicted the company, saying it knowingly shipped prescription drugs without prescription for illegal online pharmacies.

According to the indictment, FedEx knew it was shipping prescription drugs for illegal pharmacies for over 10 years. The California-based courier company even went so far as to set up special “credit policies” in an effort to protect the online pharmacies it conducted business with.  Authorities accuse FedEx of setting up these policies to make their clients — illegal online pharmacies — feel more secure and comfortable spending money with them.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been warning FedEx to change its business practices for more than a decade — warnings which the DEA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and members of Congress say were largely ignored.

More specifically, the indictment claims FedEx earned over $820 million in revenue by shipping potentially dangerous and often addictive prescription drugs for illegal online pharmacies. If the courier company is found guilty, it could be subject to a fine in excess of $1.6 billion.

This indictment comes just a year after similar charges were placed against UPS. Ultimately, UPS settled with a $40 million fine and agreed to change its business practices to stop prescription drugs from flowing through its system.

FedEx claims they are doing nothing wrong, citing that each time a list of illegal pharmacies is sent from the DEA, they immediately turn off shipping for those respective companies.

“We have repeatedly requested that the government provide us a list of online pharmacies engaging in illegal activity,” said FedEx senior vice president for marketing and communications Patrick Fitzgerald. “Whenever DEA provides us a list of pharmacies engaging in illegal activity, we will turn off shipping for those companies immediately. So far the government has declined to provide such a list.

FedEx also points out the ramifications of this case. Fitzgerald noted that FedEx is a “transportation company” and not “law enforcement.” Is it the courier’s legal responsibility to ensure each and every package is free of illegal material? This is a question that remains up for debate, but the outcome of this case could spur changes throughout the entire shipping/courier industry.

FedEx executives have been summoned to appear in front of a federal court in San Francisco on July 29.

Photoxpress_1072993Federal prosecutors last week charged a Broward County, Florida banker with a felony count of wire fraud. Authorities believe the banker fed some $20 millions from investors to Scott Rothstein’s ponzi scheme just months before it collapsed.

The Broward County banker, 70-year-old Frank Preve of Coral Springs, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted.

Rothstein was an attorney working for a Fort Lauderdale law firm. During the course of his massive $1.2 billion ponzi scam, Rothstein allegedly sold bogus legal settlements to clients, claiming they would be rewarded with huge returns — a practice commonly used in ponzi schemes to attract new investors. Investors would be sold on the false promises of receiving steep returns on their original investment. While some of the early investors may receive their promised return, the structure of a ponzi scam prevents any sustainable or lasting success among investors, which ultimately leads to the system’s downfall with clients losing their investment.

As the scam was coming to a close, Rothstein needed additional funding to keep investors satisfied, at which point he allegedly consulted with Frank Preve. Federal prosecutors say Preve became aware that Rothstein was depleting investors’ funds in various trust accounts held at the Toronto Dominion Bank in Fort Lauderdale. Rather than warning investors about this critical risk, though, Preve allegedly encouraged investors to dump more money into Rothstein’s scam — just months before it toppled over.

Preve was charged by information rather than indictment, which suggests he will plead guilty to wire fraud charges. Peeve’s attorney, Ramon Rasco, made a statement following the news of his client’s arrest, saying Preve intends to “enter a plea agreement with the government,” and that “he is cooperating with the government and doing everything in his powers to help investors.”

Levin and Prevé fueled Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme with the false sense of security they gave investors,” Eric Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami regional office, said in a statement. “They promised to safeguard investors’ assets, but gave Rothstein money with nothing to show for it.”

“Levin and Prevé sold promissory notes and created a feeder fund to funnel investor capital to Rothstein, ultimately becoming his largest source of capital,” according to the SEC complaint.

Rothstein left a trail of wake following the collapse of his ponzi scheme, destroying his law firm of 70 employees and leading to the subsequent arrest of several dozen other individuals whom were believed to play a role in the scam.

bright_light_blur_2884_h (1)There are more fireworks set off on July Fourth than any other day of the year. Rather than shooting them into the night sky, however, a 20-year-man allegedly fired them at Santa Cruz police officers.

Police were responding to a fire on the 200 block of First Avenue around 9:45 p.m. Friday night, which was believed to have been caused by the use of illegal fireworks. While the police were attempting to clear an intersection, someone in the crowd of spectators threw burst-style fireworks at the officers’ feet.

According to a police report, the fireworks exploded within 5 yards of the officers. The officers suffered only temporarily hearing loss from the incident.

Witnesses in the large crowd at the 200 block of First Avenue identified the fireworks-throwing perpetrator as Nathan Hansel of Ben Lomond, whom was arrested on site and charged with one felony count of suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

Fireworks have become a growing problem in Santa Cruz, as the region’s exceptionally dry climate creates the perfect climate for wildfires and house fires. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that more house fires occur on July Fourth than any other day of the year, causing dozens of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.

In an effort to protect the public, the use of unauthorized fireworks remains illegal in Santa Cruz; however, that’s not stopping some residents from bringing them across state lines. Mike Venezio of the Santa Cruz Fire Department notes that the use of fireworks has increased over the years, causing tree fire, brush fires and house fires.

Each year there’s more and more that are coming in, all over the city, all over our county.  And those are the ones that go up in the air, catch trees on fire, brush,” said Battalion Chief Mike Venezio.

The Santa Cruz Fire Department believes illegal fireworks are also to blame for a neighborhood fire that destroyed 3 vehicles. Thanks to a prompt response by the fire department, crews were able to contain the fires and prevent them from spreading to nearby homes and structures.

“[Fireworks] Caught the tree on fire and then dropped down in what appears to be a convertible, caught that vehicle on fire and two others along with it,” said Venezio.

Note: the use of illegal fireworks in Santa Cruz is punishable with a maximum fine of $700.

dragon-slayer-01A joint operation involving jurisdictions from Prince William, Fairfax, Stafford, Manassas and Manassas Park led to the arrests of 68 individuals along with the seizure of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, prescription medications, ecstasy, handguns, shotguns, rifles, various drug paraphernalia, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

Detectives dubbed the joint operation “Operation Dragon Sting.” Dragon is a slag term used to describe heroin — a powerful opioid analgesic that’s currently classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, making it use, sale, and distribution illegal under federal law. This joint operation aims to target street-level drug dealers by carrying out search warrants issued by the respective municipalities and judges.

Operation Dragon Sting is technically the second phase of the Operation Blue Dragon, which netted law enforcement agencies some 40 arrests last November. The first leg of the operation, Operation Blue Dragon, focused more on heavy dealers and less on street-level dealers.

The 68 individuals arrested in Operation Dragon Sting were offered education about the dangers of drug use and distribution, along with guidance on how to overcome addiction. It’s unclear how many of the 68 arrested individuals took part in the educational program.

According to police reports, search warrants were carried in the 9200 block of Douglas Street in Manassas, 14800 block of Emberdale Drive in Dale City, 1300 block of Bayside Avenue in Woodbridge, 7500 block of Gales Court in Manassas, 4600 block of Central Park Drive in Dale City, 15300 block of Inlet Place in Dumfries, 900 block of Wingfield Road in Woodbridge, 13700 block of Joyce Road in Woodbridge, 2900 block of Fox Lair Drive in Woodbridge, 4100 block of Hoffman Drive in Dale City, 2900 block of Buell Court in Dumfries, 16900 block of Jed Forrest Lane in Woodbridge, Maryanne Avenue in Stafford, 2000 block of Youngs Drive in Haymarket, 9200 block of Taney Road in Manassas, 3900 block of Laurel Street in Dumfries, 18500 block of Triangle Street in Triangle, and the 3100 block of Oakmont Avenue in Triangle.

Following the 68 arrests made in conjunction with Operation Dragon Sting, police want to remind the public to lock up any and all prescription medications. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 100 people die in the U.S. from prescription overdose each day (source) — a rate that’s tripled since the early 1990s. You can contact the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Take Back Initiative at  1-800-882-9539 to schedule a free pickup of any unused or unwanted prescription medication.

wvudfm-newark-delaware-1943154-lA popular Christian gospel radio host and personality was arrested earlier this month over allegations of child sex crimes.

Police say 35-year-old Caldonia resident John Balyo paid someone to arrange sexual encounters with children. While details remain sketchy at this point, the investigation is believed to be part of a massive crackdown on child sex crimes by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Operation Predator.

Baylo was arrested while attending the Big Ticket Festival, a Christian music festival held in Gaylord. The arrest was performed as a joint-task operation with HSI, Michigan State Police, and the Battle Creek Police Department.

HSI officials released a statement following the radio host’s arrest, saying Baylo paid a defendant, who is the subject of a separate child sex crimes case, to arrange sexual encounters with minor victims.

Federal investigators believe the person whom was hired to arrange sexual encounters with minor victims is 42-year-old Ronald Lee Moser of Battle Creek. Moser allegedly ran a website which offered to arrange sexual encounters for paying customers.

91.3 WCSG, the Christian gospel radio station for which Baylo previously worked, published the following statement on their website:

“This past Friday, the WCSG family was shocked and saddened to learn that WCSG morning show host, John Balyo, was arrested amid allegations which have since been much publicized. On Saturday, WCSG and Cornerstone University ended its affiliation with John.

We sincerely grieve over these recent events, in particular the tragic impact on victims and their parents. The trafficking and exploitation of minors is absolutely deplorable.

The WCSG family is deeply aching and know you may be hurting as well.

We know that no one, absolutely no one, is immune from falling into the darkness of sin. And yet, we have hope. Those who truly follow and live for Jesus Christ know He alone has the power to restore broken lives and broken trust.

So, why haven’t the police released any specific details regarding this case? Being that it’s an open investigation, police need to tread lightly to increase their chances of a conviction. “Further details about the investigation are being withheld pending the defendant’s appearance in court to answer to the charges.” wrote the Battle Creek Police Department in a press release.

Baylo had recently wed earlier this year. There’s been no official statement made by his wife.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault.

sunday-morning-light-1757651-h35-year-old Ingrid I. Morataya of Mesa, Arizona was arrested Monday on charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and aggravated DUI stemming from a deadly automobile accident which killed both the driver and passenger.

Police say Morataya was driving her Toyota FJ Cruiser vehicle last Monday in speeds of excess of 90 mph when, around 5:15 a.m, she slammed into the back of Chevy Malibu that was stopped at a red light. The impact pushed the Malibu into the SUV in front of it, causing it to roll over. A fourth vehicle was struck by the FJ Cruiser, although its driver and passengers received only minor, non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Chevy Malibu, identified as Guadalupe Madril, 37, and passenger Jason Aguilera, 33, were pronounced dead on the scene.

Witnesses said the Toyota Cruiser was the least damaged vehicle at the accident. One witness claimed to have seen the Cruiser’s driver, believed to be Morataya, to get out of the vehicle and perform pushups and jumping jacks. “She skipped right out of there, did some somersaults, very active young lady,” said the witness.

Morataya was taken to the local hospital for treatment of a broken vertebrae, bruising, and other injuries sustained during the accident. Upon her release, police took her into custody, charging the Mesa resident with manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and aggravated DUI.

In any fatal accident, we look for signs of impairment in any of the drivers,” said Sgt. Sean Kelly of the Mesa Police Department. “The driver of the Toyota we’re looking at for possible impairment.”

Court records indicate that Morataya had admitted to smoking marijuana the night before the accident, saying “it could have been laced with something.” Mortaya was convicted of DUI back in 2009. During the initial examination, Mesa police officers also noted signs of impairment in Mortaya.

According to AZCentral.com, police found family members packing Mortaya’s belongings when they visited her home at 6200 block of East Colby Street. Family members claimed Mortaya was preparing to leave the country and return to her home in Guatemala to avoid being arrested. However, Mesa police officers were closely watching over Mortaya during his stay at the hospital. And once doctors gave her the green light to leave, she was immediately arrested and taken into custody.

There’s been no word yet on whether or not Mortaya has sought legal representation.

M80 explosive devices photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A Chicago Transit Authority mechanic is charged with manufacturing homemade explosives and attempting to sell them to an undercover agent.

The undercover agent, who’s name isn’t being released, told 34-year-old CTA mechanic John Hegarty that he needed the explosives to blow up a restaurant and a car. Officials say Hegarty and the undercover agent met in a parking lot near Hegarty’s home where he sold the undercover agent approximately 700 flash powder explosive devices between August 2012 and May 2014.

He admitted to manufacturing them in his garage in a residential area. The inherent danger is obvious to himself and his neighbors,” said Tom Ahern, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was tipped off in August 2012 by an undercover informant who reportedly saw Hegarty set off some illegal explosives at a party. The informant notified the ATF, and acted as an intermediary to arrange a meeting between an undercover ATF agent and Hegarty.

The undercover agent requested to purchase flash powder — the combustible powder used in the manufacturing of legal fireworks and illegal explosives — from Hegarty. According to police reports, Hegarty sold the undercover agent approximately 700 flash powder explosive devices between August 2012 and May 2014. Most of the deals occurred in the parking lot near Hegarty’s home, although the police report notes that some occurred outside of this area. Hegarty reportedly told the undercover officer to meet him in the parking lot because his neighbors were police officers.

During 2-year-long investigation, the undercover agent used tape records to capture the audio of the transactions as they took place. The complaint alleges that Hegarty sold roughly 700 flash powder explosive devices in 6 six separate transactions for an approximate total of $7,000.

Authorities arrested Hegarty and charged him with distributing an explosive device in furtherance of a federal crime of violence. He was released on a $10,000 bond.

I wouldn’t f— around with the gas tank ’cause fumes could seep out. Any of the eighties will take out a window or take off your finger. If you really want to f— up the guy’s car, I could talk to my guy and have longer fuses made, that way you can get the f— outta town,” Hegarty allegedly told the undercover officer during the recorded transactions.

AMC Theater photo courtesy of Wally Gobetz via Flickr Creative Commons.

Authorities have arrested 20-year-old Manuel Joyne of Bowie Maryland for allegedly setting off half a dozen so-called “bottle bombs” at half a dozen movie theaters in Maryland and Virginia.

A bottle bomb is exactly what it sounds like: an improvised explosive device that consists of an acid and a base liquid stored inside a sealed container. When the two liquids are combined, it creates pressure that gradually builds up to the point where the plastic bottle can no longer sustain it; thus, creating an explosion that sends bits and pieces of plastic shrapnel and chemicals flying into the air.

Over a two-month period, Joyner allegedly placed bottle bombs at 5 different theaters on 6 occasions, resulting in costly evacuations that prompted local police and fire departments. Authorities captured whom they believe is a “person of interest” on one of the theater’s video surveillance cameras. It’s unknown if the person was Joyner.

Joyner was arrested in his home state of Maryland and charged with the manufacturing, possession and detonation of an explosive device. If convicted, Joyner faces a maximum 25-year prison sentence. A PG County judge had initially set Joyner’s bond for $50 million. At a later hearing, however, the judge denied bail altogether.

Following his arrest in Maryland, Joyner was arrested and charged by Virginia authorities for a string of bottle bombs which occurred in movie theaters throughout Va. One of the incidents occurred on May 18, when the remains of two bottles were discovered, both of which contained acid and metal.

When we come to these places, you think about being safe and you don’t think about stuff happening like that,” said Bruce Le, of Largo.

In a statement to the press, authorities said that Joyner had admitted to setting off the bottle bombs in all six movie theater incidents. There’s been no word yet on a motive behind the attack or whether or not Joyner has sought legal representation.

He admitted to his responsibility and involvement in all six incidents,” said Brian Radinsky, PG County fire marshal.

Authorities have also searched Joyner’s home, confiscating evidence which they believe is relevant to the case; however, they did not reveal exactly what was taken during the search. There’s still some belief that Joyner may have been working with an accomplice, so authorities aren’t ruling out the possibility of further arrests being made in connection with the theater bottle bombing incidents.

montana-buck-wildlife-3675652-hCrooks are always coming up with new ways to scam insurance companies, but this is surprising “unique.” Authorities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have arrested 41 people whom they believe to have participated in an elaborate auto insurance scan involving dead deer.

How did the dead deer come into play? Officials say auto body shop owner Ronald Galati Sr. encouraged his customers to stage accident scenes using dead deer carcasses so they would be financially compensated. Since deer collisions are considered “no fault” accidents, insurance companies aren’t legally allowed to raise drivers’ premiums; thus, the customers who participated in the scam were given huge checks by their insurance companies without paying a higher premium.

According to the Philadelphia Police Department, Ronald Galati Sr. ran a $5 million insurance scam from his auto body shop, convincing customers to participate in the scam. When investigators searched the auto body shop, they discovered numerous dead deer carcasses, parts, fur and blood, all of which they believe were intended to be used to stage automobile accident scenes. Those involved in the scam would allegedly stage elaborate scenes to make it appear as if the vehicle struck a deer, at which point an insurance adjuster would check out the scene and assume it was authentic since it contained parts of a deer.

Drivers who were participating in the scam allegedly paid Galati Sr. in exchange for his assistance on staging the scene and creating fake repair bills. Among the 41 charges include Galati Sr.’s wife, two children, several insurance adjusters, a Philadelphia official and a local police officer.

They actually kept deer carcasses at their shop and would pour deer blood over cars and they would simulate accidents and take photographs that they called Hollywood photos,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Galati Sr.’s attorney, Anthony Voci, could not be reached for a comment regarding the alleged dead deer auto insurance scam.

Deer collisions are a serious problem in the U.S. According to the Insurance Journal, there were an estimated 1.23 million deer-related automobile collisions between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.  These collisions result in the deaths of approximately 200 people annually and cost $4 billion in property damage.  A deer’s natural reaction to headlights is to freeze, which makes them a standing target for vehicles traveling in excess of 60 mph on the highways. In addition, deer are often spooked across roads by predators, increasing the risk of an automobile collision.

Khalifa performing at Under the Influence of Music Tour 2012 in Toronto via Wikimedia Commons.

Cameron Jibril Thomaz, who’s better known as hip-hop/rap superstar ‘Wiz Khalifa‘, was arrested on the morning of May 25 for possession of marijuana while attempting to fly from El Paso to Dallas, Texas.

According to reports, a Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA) agent at the El Paso airport pulled the 26-year-old rapper aside for a pat down because Khalifa failed to provide proper identification. Upon searching Khalifa, the TSA agent discovered a small “canister” with a green, leafy substance that was believed to be marijuana.

Khalifa was in El Paso, Texas to headline at a music festival the Saturday prior to his arrest. It’s unknown why he was heading to the Dallas.

The TSA worker held Khalifa until the El Paso police arrived and took him into custody on a single charge of misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Soon after being taken into custody, Khalifa tweeted a photo of himself sitting in an El Paso jail cell along with the caption: “I wanna drop 28 Grams but they got me locced up. Soon as I get out, the tapes comin out. XXXX that,” Note: “28 Grams” is the name of Khalifa’s upcoming album. The album was scheduled for release on May 25, 2014, but it was pushed back due to Khalifa’s arrest.

Khalifa followed up by tweeting the following from his Twitter account: “They’re tryna figure out how many grams I had. “How ironic.” Several media agencies report the star was taking advantage of his arrest to bring more attention to his upcoming album.

So, how much marijuana was Khalifa holding during the time of his arrest? According to police reports, Khalifa has roughly 0.5 grams of marijuana on his person’s while attempting to travel through the El Paso airport.

Khalifa posted his $300 bail and was released from the El Paso jail. Other than the rap star’s tweets, there’s been no official comment on Khalifa’s marijuana arrest.

Khalifa isn’t a newcomer to marijuana possession charges. In 2012, the rap star was arrested twice for possession of marijuana: one incident occurring in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and other occurring in Nashville, Tennessee. Two years prior, in 2010, Khalifa was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana during his “Waken Bake” tour at East Carolina University.