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Former PD Employee Indicted for Fraud, ID Theft

   TAMPA, Fla. -- 9/22/2015 - United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III recently announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Tonia Bright with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, and four counts of aggravated identity theft related to her involvement in a stolen identity refund fraud (SIRF) scheme.
   If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, five years in federal prison on each of the computer intrusion offenses, and a 2-year term of imprisonment for each aggravated identity theft count that would be served consecutively to the sentence imposed on the other counts
    The indictment also notifies Bright that the United States intends to seek a forfeiture money judgment equal to the proceeds of the offenses.
    According to the indictment, Bright was a civilian employee of the Tampa Police Department (TPD) working as a community service officer in the District 3 station. As part of her duties, Bright took reports from citizens related to incidents not requiring the response of a sworn police officer. In this capacity, she had access to local, state, and federal law enforcement databases, including the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computerized index. Her use of these databases was restricted to the performance of her authorized duties.
    As part of the conspiracy, Bright allegedly accessed the personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals using a variety of sources, including NCIC, despite having no legitimate law enforcement purpose for doing so. She then provided the stolen PII to others, including Tampa resident Rita Girven, knowing that the information would be used to commit crimes. Girven and others used the stolen PII to electronically file, and cause others to file, fraudulent federal income tax returns claiming tax refunds that they were not entitled to. The fraudulently obtained tax refunds were deposited onto reloadable debit cards, issued in the conspirators’ names and the names of others, including the identity theft victims’ names. Girven and others then used the debit cards at retail establishments and ATMs to withdraw the funds and shared in the proceeds.
    Girven previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 20, 2015.
    An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
    The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the Tampa Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.
   Source: Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Undiagnosed Disease Network Portal Launched

   (NIH) - 9/20/2015 - The Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN), a clinical research initiative of the National Institutes of Health, has opened an online patient application portal called the UDN Gateway. Introduction of this application system sets the stage for the network to advance its core mission: to diagnose patients who suffer from conditions that even skilled physicians have been unable to diagnose despite extensive clinical investigation. These diseases are difficult for doctors to diagnose because they are rarely seen, have not previously been described or are unrecognized forms of more common diseases. 
   The new system streamlines the application process. All applications for the UDN will go through the Gateway, rather through individual clinical sites in the network. The Gateway replaces what had previously been a paper-and-mail application process for the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP), which is now part of the UDN.
   “Although undiagnosed conditions present an array of challenges for clinicians, once identified, they may lead to treatments for individual patients. They also may lead to new, generalizable medical insights,” said James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIH’s Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI), which provides financial support and joint leadership for the network via the NIH Common Fund. “The UDN Gateway will provide patients and their families access to the nation’s leading diagnostic teams and sophisticated diagnostic tools.”
   The UDN grew out of both the success of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Since its 2008 launch, the UDP has reviewed more than 3,100 applications from patients around the world. More than 800 patients have been enrolled for a one-week evaluation. While approximately 25 percent of those have received some level of clinical, molecular or biochemical diagnosis, many patients remain undiagnosed.
   By adding six additional clinical sites to the original NIH UDP, the UDN will broaden its diagnostic expertise while expanding the opportunity for patients to participate. These additional clinical sites are:
   -- Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
   -- Duke Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, with Columbia University, New York City.
   -- Harvard Teaching Hospitals (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital    Massachusetts General Hospital), Boston.
   -- Stanford Medical Center, Stanford, California.
   -- University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center.
   -- Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.    By the summer of 2017, each new clinical site will accept about 50 patients per year. The network has also brought on board two DNA sequencing facilities. One is at the Baylor College of Medicine, and the other is at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, with Illumina in San Diego.
   The broader geographic distribution of sites in the UDN is intended to better serve patients. To support this collaboration on undiagnosed diseases, the UDN Coordinating Center at Harvard Medical School Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) created the UDN Gateway as a centralized online application site.
   “The Gateway is an important part of the infrastructure that we are establishing for the UDN,” said Rachel Ramoni, D.M.D., Ph.D. “Our goal is to match 21st century medicine with 21st century technology by creating a comprehensive and streamlined online application process.” Dr. Ramoni serves as executive director and a principal investigator of the UDN Coordinating Center at DBMI.
   Those who are accepted will be seen by researchers and physicians from a wide array of medical specialties and may have their DNA sequenced to detect variations in genes that may underpin their disorders.
   “The UDN aims to improve the level of diagnosis and care for patients with undiagnosed diseases,” said Anastasia Wise, Ph.D., program director, NHGRI Division of Genomic Medicine and co-coordinator for the NIH Common Fund's Undiagnosed Diseases Network. “Based upon the experience of the NIH UDP, we know that the need and potential are great. The UDN Gateway will expand our ability to connect with patients who may benefit from the UDN. We want to make it as easy as possible for patients and their families to apply to participate in the network.”
For access to the UDN Gateway, go to
For more information about the UDN, including related funding announcements, visit
  Souce: National Institutes of Health.

New York Man Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading

   NEW YORK - 9/6/2015 - United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara recently announced that Robert Stewart, the father of former investment bank managing director Sean Stewart, pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to trade on inside information about several mergers and acquisitions announced between 2011 and 2014.
   Robert Stewart was arrested on May 14, 2015, and Sean Stewart surrendered to federal authorities that same day
   Charges against Sean Stewart remain pending before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain. A third member of the charged conspiracy, cooperating witness Richard Cunniffe, pled guilty before Judge Swain on May 12, 2015, and awaits sentencing. Steward is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Swain on November 12.
   “Instead of teaching his son lessons of right and wrong, Robert Stewart worked with him to break the law by trading on nonpublic information and sharing in the benefits with him. Robert Stewart’s criminal actions – to which he has pled guilty today – perpetuate the unfortunate perception that the markets are rigged in favor of those with connections,” Bharara said.
   According to the agreement pursuant to which Robert Stewart entered his plea of guilty today, the underlying criminal complaint filed May 13, 2015, the Superseding Indictment filed July 15, 2015, and statements made during court proceedings:
   In early 2011, Sean Stewart, who at the time held the position of Vice President in the Healthcare Investment Banking Group of a global bank headquartered in Manhattan (“Investment Bank A”), began tipping his father with nonpublic information about upcoming mergers and acquisitions.
   The first of these deals involved the acquisition of Kendle International Inc. (“Kendle”) by INC Research, LLC, which was announced publicly on May 4, 2011
   Sean Stewart worked on the deal, representing Kendle. Robert Steward made about $7,900 in profits on purchases of Kendle stock executed in February and March of 2011 When questioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission about his Kendle trades in May 2013, Robert Stewart reported that he used the proceeds of those trades to pay expenses related to Sean Stewart’s June 2011 wedding.
   The second deal about which Sean Stewart tipped Robert Steward was the acquisition of Kinetic Concepts Inc. (“KCI”) by Apax Partners, announced on July 13, 2011. Although Robert Steward purchased some stock in KCI based on Sean Stewart’s tip, he sold that stock before the acquisition was announced, around the same time that Sean Stewart learned the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority was conducting an inquiry into Robert Steward’s Kendle trading.
   Also around this time, in the spring of 2011, Robert Steward expressed a concern to co-conspirator and cooperating witness Richard Cunniffe that Robert Steward was “too close to the source” to be trading in KCI stock in his own account, and asked Cunniffe to make purchases of KCI call options for Robert Steward in Cunniffe’s brokerage account. Cunniffe agreed to do so, and also mirrored for his own benefit the KCI trades that Robert Steward was directing.
   When the KCI/Apax Partners deal was announced, Robert Steward and Cunniffe reaped profits totaling approximately $107,790. At around this time, Robert Steward told Cunniffe that the source of the KCI tip and the earlier Kendle tip had been Robert’s son Later, around the spring of 2012, Robert Steward clarified for Cunniffe that the son in question was Sean Stewart, who worked on the “sell side” on Wall Street.
   In October 2011, Sean Stewart left Investment Bank A. A few months later, he joined an investment banking advisory firm headquartered in Manhattan (“Investment Bank B”) as a managing director.
   During Sean Stewart’s tenure with Investment Bank B, based on tips concerning nonpublic acquisition-related information supplied by Sean Stewart, Robert Steward had Cunniffe conduct options trading in advance of the public announcements of three more deals: (1) the acquisition of Gen-Probe Inc. by Hologic Inc., announced on April 30, 2012; (2) the acquisition, by tender offer, of Lincare Holdings Inc. (“Lincare”) by Linde AG, announced on July 1, 2012; and (3) the acquisition of CareFusion Corp. (“CareFusion”) by Becton, Dickinson & Co. (“Becton”), announced on October 5, 2014. Investment Bank B represented Hologic Inc. in connection with its acquisition of Gen-Probe Inc.; Linde AG in connection with its acquisition of Lincare; and CareFusion in connection with its acquisition by Becton. The profits that Robert Steward and Cunniffe reaped from illegal insider trading in advance of the announcements of these three deals totaled approximately $1.1 million. In the midst of the scheme, in December 2012, Robert Steward transferred at least $15,000 to Sean Stewart.
   To try to avoid detection for their crimes, Robert Steward and Cunniffe refrained from speaking explicitly about their trading over the phone or e-mail, sometimes using “golf”-related code For example, shortly after the announcement of Lincare’s proposed acquisition by Linde AG, a German company, Robert Steward wrote to Cunniffe that he had seen a news story about the “high cost of golf reservations since a foreign company purchased all-even more expensive than imagined.” Other steps Robert Steward and Cunniffe took to avoid detection included trying to discuss their trading at face-to-face meetings and adopting a profit-splitting mechanism that had Cunniffe paying Robert Steward his portion of the illegal proceeds in small increments, over time, typically in cash.
   In March and April of 2015, Cunniffe recorded meetings he had with Robert Steward During one such meeting, Robert Steward accepted a payment of $2,500 cash from Cunniffe, which was the balance of the proceeds owed to Robert Steward for profitable trading executed in Cunniffe’s account in advance of the CareFusion acquisition announcement. Also during this meeting, Robert Stewart admitted that Sean Stewart once chastised him for failing to make use of a tip, saying, “I can’t believe I handed you this on a silver platter and you didn’t invest in it.”
   Source: Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Photo by Steve Rensberry (c) 2014