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The Investigation Highlights are updated weekly.

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May 4, 2021

Former IRS Employee Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography [1]

On February 9, 2021, in the Western District of Washington, former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Information Technology Specialist Rene Jacobs pled guilty to possession of child pornography.

According to the court documents, beginning no later than December 2019 through February 2020, from his home in Renton, Washington, Jacobs received, distributed, and possessed tens of thousands of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual conduct. On February 21, 2020, Federal law enforcement seized from Jacobs’ home several digital devices containing pornography videos and images of minors under 12 years of age. Each of these visual depictions had been mailed, shipped, or transported by computer via interstate or foreign commerce.

At sentencing, Jacobs could receive up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Additionally, Jacobs must register as a sex offender in each jurisdiction he resides, works, or attends school. This investigation was worked jointly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: W.D. Wash., Plea Acceptance, February 9, 2021; W.D. Wash., Crim. Compl., March 16, 2020; and W.D. Wash., Plea Agr., January 25, 2021.


  • California Woman Arrested for Million Dollar Pandemic Relief Loans Scheme [1]

    On February 3, 2021, in the Northern District of California, Christina Burden was charged by criminal complaint with bank fraud in connection with a scheme to illegally obtain more than $4.6 million in pandemic relief loans. Burden was arrested on February 5, 2021.

    According to the court documents, between April 2020 through June 2020, Burden submitted 10 fraudulent applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, and one fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL) application. Burden created four companies that did not appear to engage in a legitimate business or have employees, and listed herself as the companies’ authorized representative. Moreover, the loan applications falsely affirmed the companies’ dates of existence and falsely claimed that the companies employed upwards of 89 people with monthly payroll expenses of more than $700,000, using fictitious Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax forms and falsified bank statements. None of the companies paid payroll taxes or submitted any payroll tax forms to the IRS. Because of these fraudulent applications, Burden received $1,143,191 in pandemic relief funds.
    • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: DOJ Press Release, February 5, 2021; and N.D. Cal., Crim. Compl., February 3, 2021.


    • IRS Employee Charged with Tax Fraud [1]

      On February 25, 2021, in the Western District of Tennessee, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Examiner Linda Williams was indicted for filing false tax returns.

      According to the court documents, Williams, while employed by the IRS, prepared and electronically filed income tax returns for herself, friends, and family, and received preparation fees for her services. Williams intentionally included materially false deductions in IRS Forms 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns, for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 that she knew the taxpayers were not entitled to claim. In total, Williams prepared and filed returns claiming more than $500,000 in false deductions.

      If convicted, Williams could be sentenced to up to three years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a $100 special assessment fee.
      • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available document: W.D. Tenn., Indict., February 25, 2021.


      • Man Sentenced for Wire Fraud for His Role in Theft of Economic Impact Payments [1]

        On February 24, 2021, in the Eastern District of Texas, James Mwanza was sentenced for wire fraud. Mwanza devised a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and obtain money by filing fraudulent tax returns. Mwanza was indicted on June 18, 2020, for wire fraud, theft of Government money, and aggravated identity theft. He pled guilty on November 19, 2020.

        According to the court documents, between approximately January 2020 through April 2020, Mwanza presented himself as a tax preparer and unlawfully obtained, from his employer and other sources, individuals’ means of identification, which included their names, birth dates, and Social Security Numbers. Additionally, Mwanza illegally obtained IRS Electronic Filing Numbers assigned to tax preparation firms not affiliated with him. Mwanza used the information he obtained to electronically file tax returns and claim false tax refunds totaling $7,814. The filing of the false tax returns also triggered the issuance of Economic Impact Payments totaling $3,400, which he retained.

        Mwanza was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, ordered to pay $5,800 in restitution, and a $100 assessment fee.
        • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D. Tex., Indict., June 18, 2020, and E.D. Tex., Judg., February 24, 2021.


        • Former IRS Employee Pleads Guilty to Filing Fraudulent Tax Returns [1]

          On March 8, 2021, in the District of Maryland, former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Management Analyst Sheila Faine Miles waived indictment and pled guilty to filing false, fictitious, and fraudulent tax returns.

          According to the court documents, around January 2017 through May 2018, Miles knowingly filed fraudulent tax returns for Tax Year 2016 in an attempt to defraud the IRS of $1,433,619 in refund claims. Miles filed an IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for the salary she earned while employed at the IRS as a Management Analyst for the Office of Chief Counsel and requested a refund of $7,608. Miles also filed an additional IRS Form 1040 that did not include her IRS salary or a legitimate income source and requested a refund of $600,120.

          Subsequently, Miles filed IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and claimed a refund of $833,499. To support her fraudulent claims, Miles submitted numerous frivolous mortgage documents, as well as Uniform Commercial Code filings.

          At sentencing, Miles faces up to five years’ imprisonment, a three-year period of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a special assessment fee of $100.
          • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: D. Md., Waiver of Indict., March 8, 2021; D. Md., Plea Agr., March 8, 2021; and D. Md., Plea Agr. Correction, March 8, 2021.


          • March 29, 2021

            Medical Practice Employee Sentenced for Impersonating an IRS Employee, Aggravated Identity Theft, Tax and Bank Fraud [1]

            On January 6, 2021, in the District of Oregon, Anndrea Jacobs was sentenced for filing false tax returns, false impersonation of an employee of the United States, and aggravated identity theft in connection with her former employment at a medical practice in La Grande, Oregon. In addition, by an amended judgment dated January 11, 2021, Jacobs was sentenced for bank fraud in connection with her former employment at a dental practice in Hood River, Oregon. In September 2018, Jacobs was indicted for numerous Federal offenses, including the impersonation of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employee.

            According to the court documents, Jacobs was involved in a scheme to defraud a former employer by embezzling approximately $1 million between January 2011 and December 2015. In order to conceal her embezzlement activity, Jacobs created false entries in the business books and records that overstated the business’ expenses and estimated tax payments. Then Jacobs convinced her former employer to grant her limited Power of Attorney to handle the employer’s collection action with the IRS. Jacobs changed her employer’s contact information with the IRS to her own and diverted all IRS correspondence and communications to herself. Jacobs then created a fictitious identity as an IRS Taxpayer Advocate, established a phone number and a voicemail account for the fictitious identity, provided her employer with a fictitious IRS tax case number, and purported to assist her employer with the IRS tax collection issues while impersonating an IRS employee.

            While on pre-trial release for the aforementioned offenses, from approximately August 2019 through October 2019, Jacobs stole checks from the dental practice in Hood River, Oregon, valued at more than $22,000. On June 9, 2020, Jacobs was indicted for bank fraud.

            Jacobs was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $1,207,537, and a special assessment of $400. This investigation was worked jointly by TIGTA, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

            • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: D. Or., Amended Judg., January 11, 2021; D. Or., Judg., January 6, 2021; D. Or., Indict., June 9, 2020; and D. Or., Indict., September 12, 2018.


            • Washington Man Sentenced in Scheme to Obstruct the IRS [1]

              On January 11, 2021, in the District of Oregon, Theron Marrs was sentenced for tax evasion. Marrs was initially indicted on July 18, 2017, for obstructing the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws, tax evasion, and filing false Federal tax returns.

              According to the court documents, Marrs was a resident of Bend, Oregon, from 2005 through July 2015, and has been a resident of Camas, Washington, since August 2015. Marrs was involved in several businesses, including debt elimination, multilevel marketing, and tax advice. He owned and operated the website livingfreeandclear.com, through which he sold and promoted abusive tax avoidance schemes.

              Prior to 2010, Marrs had a history of timely filing his Federal income tax returns. However, from about February 2011, until the date of his indictment, Marrs corruptly endeavored to obstruct and impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue laws and willfully attempted to evade and defeat the payment of Federal income tax through a variety of acts.

              As part of his scheme, Marrs attempted to evade the payment of more than $265,000 owed for taxes by concealing and attempting to conceal income, assets, and financial transactions from the IRS using businesses and nominee entities. In furtherance of this scheme, and as part of his efforts to impede and obstruct the IRS, Marrs sent IRS employees false payment instruments, including fraudulent bills of exchange, bonds, money orders, and checks, attempting to mislead the IRS into accepting such items as payment for his Federal income tax due.

              Additionally, Marrs sent IRS employees threatening and harassing correspondence, filed bogus and retaliatory lawsuits against IRS employees, and attempted to file a criminal complaint against IRS employees. He also filed frivolous documents with the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, and filed a false Uniform Commercial Code lien. For Calendar Years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010, Marrs willfully filed, under the penalties of perjury, false individual Federal tax returns with the IRS, in which he claimed minimal income for each of these years, ranging from $0 to approximately $5,515, while at the same time claiming tax refunds totaling approximately $122,348.

              Marrs was sentenced to five years’ probation, and ordered to pay $264,187.69 in restitution and a $100 assessment fee.

              • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: D. Or., Indict., filed July 18, 2017; D. Or., Judg., January 11, 2021; and D. Or., Superseding Indict., filed April 18, 2018.


              • Maryland Man Detained Pending Trial for Tweeting His Intent to Blow Up IRS Headquarters [1]

                On January 25, 2021, in the District of Maryland, Cody Mohr was ordered detained pending trial for tweeting several messages indicating his intent to blow up the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

                According to the court documents, on January 15, 2021, Mohr of Columbia, Maryland, tweeted several messages stating his intent to blow up the IRS’s headquarters building. The tweets indicated he was announcing his intention so that IRS employees would have the chance to escape alive. He spoke about ways to obtain firearms and how to build semi-automatic rifles. Other tweets indicated that he was focused on thinking about ways to kill Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. In another tweet, Mohr stated that it would be “cool” to drive 80 miles per hour into a million people.

                Mohr admitted that he owns three firearms. Due to the nature of Mohr’s tweets and that he owns and has access to firearms, he was remanded into custody pending trial.

                If convicted, Mohr could receive up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

                • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: D. Md., Order, January 22, 2021; D. Md., Aff., January 20, 2021; and D. Md., Order, January 25, 2021.


                • IRS Special Agent Charged with Identity Theft and Wire Fraud [1]

                  On January 22, 2021, in the Eastern District of New York, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent Bryan Cho was indicted for making false statements, possessing a false foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, and wire fraud. Cho, who has been employed with IRS-CI since 2008, used information he obtained during the course of his official duties to engage in various unlawful activities.

                  According to the court documents, in or about 2018, law enforcement agents in South Korea learned that public officials who worked at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and National Tax Service paid Cho bribes in exchange for information Cho obtained through his employment with IRS-CI. In 2018, while Cho was visiting Asia for personal reasons, law enforcement agents from South Korea contacted Cho and sought to question him about his knowledge of and participation in the alleged bribery scheme.

                  During the course of his employment, Cho worked on an investigation through which he obtained identifying information for an individual described as “John Doe.” The investigation was eventually closed, but Cho retained items he obtained during the investigation and used John Doe’s identifying information to create false identification documents and open a corporate entity overseas in John Doe’s name. The fraudulent documents included purported identification cards for the Philippines and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the name of John Doe, but bearing photos of Cho, and a purported passport in the name of John Doe for the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

                  Cho later made false statements during a background investigation, including denying that he possessed any foreign identification documents. Cho also denied any contacts with foreign officials, even though law enforcement officials from South Korea had communications with him regarding allegations that the South Korean government personnel had paid bribes to Cho in exchange for information about ongoing U.S. criminal investigations.

                  Cho also submitted multiple false documents in connection with the purchase of a co-op apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, including forged tax returns and bank statements that inflated his income and assets to secure the co-op board’s approval for the purchase, and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign bank account associated with an entity he created using John Doe’s identity to fund the purchase.

                  Cho, deemed a potential flight risk, was remanded to custody. If convicted, Cho could receive more than 20 years’ imprisonment.

                  • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D.N.Y., Indict., January 22, 2021; and E.D.N.Y., Arraignment, January 26, 2021.


                  • New York Man Sentenced for Bribing an IRS Revenue Agent [1]

                    On February 4, 2021, in the Eastern District of New York, Mohammad Sayeem was sentenced for bribery of a public official. Sayeem was indicted on September 17, 2020, for intentionally offering something of value to a public official acting on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with intent to influence one or more official acts.

                    According to the court documents, the IRS initiated an audit in early 2019 to determine if Sayeem underreported certain taxable income. Between June 17, 2019 and February 19, 2020, Sayeem and an IRS revenue agent met on three occasions at Sayeem’s residence. During these meetings, Sayeem made escalating overtures to the revenue agent concerning an illegal disposition of the audit. Specifically, on February 19, 2020, Sayeem offered to give the revenue agent a Michael Kors wristwatch and $1,500 in cash in exchange for the revenue agent to falsely certify that Sayeem did not have any tax liability due to the IRS. However, based on the results of the audit, Sayeem owed approximately $30,000 to the IRS. After Sayeem received fictitious documentation reflecting the tax liability was eliminated, he gave the revenue agent the wristwatch and cash.

                    Sayeem was sentenced to 18 months’ supervised release, including six months’ home incarceration, and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000 and a $100 assessment.

                    • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D.N.Y., Indict., filed September 17, 2020; E.D.N.Y., Letter, filed September 23, 2020; and E.D.N.Y., Judg., filed February 4, 2021.


                    • February 27, 2021

                      Georgia Mother and Daughter Indicted for Defrauding the IRS [1]

                      On December 9, 2020, in the Middle District of Georgia, Jacqueline Bosby and her daughter Jataryia Thomas were indicted for wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the submission of a false application to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant.

                      According to the court documents, between approximately July 2014 through January 2016, an entity called Express Home Program Inc., doing business as CASH Prosperity Campaign Inc. (CASH), applied for and was awarded a grant for $50,000 from the IRS’s VITA Program. Bosby identified herself as the Chief Executive Officer and Financial Administrator for CASH, while Thomas identified herself as the Chief Financial Officer of CASH. Thomas submitted two separate claims for funds totaling $50,000. Upon IRS review, it was discovered that Bosby and Thomas provided false information in their VITA grant application, and failed to disclose their mother-daughter relationship. During the review, Bosby and Thomas also submitted fabricated receipts and volunteer logs to the IRS to support the retention of the funds that had been obtained.

                      If convicted, Bosby and Thomas could individually receive a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1 million.

                      • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available document: M.D. Ga., Indict, December 9, 2020.


                      • Telemarketing Call Center Owner and Director Pleads Guilty in Transnational Fraud Scheme [1]

                        On November 30, 2020, in the Eastern District of New York, Ajay Sharma, owner and director of an India-based telemarketing call center, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent scheme directed at thousands of United States citizens.

                        According to the court documents, from approximately January 2018 through September 2018, Sharma organized and led a telemarketing scheme through his telemarketing company, APS Technology. Operating from India, Sharma’s company targeted victims in the United States and falsely claimed to represent the Internal Revenue Service, among other Federal agencies. The victims were informed that they owed a sum of money to the United States Government and that they would be arrested if the debts were not promptly paid. After the victims wired payments to bank accounts opened for the purposes of the scheme, the funds were withdrawn and laundered through additional bank accounts. The scheme is estimated to have netted more than $2 million from victims across the United States.

                        At sentencing, Sharma could receive up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $2.5 million, and forfeiture of $1 million.

                        • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available document: E.D.N.Y. Indict, January 17, 2019, E.D.N.Y. Change of Plea, November 30, 2020, and E.D.N.Y. press release, November 30, 2020.


                        • Tax Preparer Sentenced to Two Years’ Imprisonment for Tax Fraud [1]

                          On December 14, 2020, in the Northern District of Georgia, tax preparer Stanley Everage was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Everage was initially indicted on February 19, 2019, for aiding the filing of a false tax return and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

                          According to the court documents, beginning in 2010 and continuing until 2016, Everage, Chief Executive Officer of a tax preparation business, conspired to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by preparing and filing fraudulent tax returns for his clients. Without the knowledge and consent of his clients, Everage knowingly added false income information such as wages, fictitious businesses, and erroneous tax credits to his clients’ tax returns. As part of the conspiracy, Everage kept a portion of the fraudulent tax refunds for himself and paid the balance to his clients. Upon learning the IRS froze several of his clients’ tax returns, Everage furthered the conspiracy by filing a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Everage falsely informed TIGTA that all of the information within the tax returns came from his clients.

                          Everage was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $110,840 in restitution. This investigation was worked jointly by TIGTA and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

                          • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: N.D. Ga., Judg., December 14, 2020; N.D. Ga., Indict., February 19, 2019; and N.D. Ga., Mins., December 14, 2020.


                          • January 27, 2021

                            Former Michigan Health Care Consultant Sentenced for Fraud and Tax Evasion [1]

                            On October 27, 2020, in the Eastern District of Michigan, Sonja Emery pled guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. Emery was initially charged in an 11-count indictment on April 10, 2018, for mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, and corrupt endeavor to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

                            According to the 11-count indictment, between approximately May 2011 and October 2015, Emery undertook extensive efforts to evade and defeat the assessment and payment of Federal income tax due by her. In some instances, Emery provided her employers with different names and false Social Security Numbers on her tax forms so that the IRS would not be able to link her with the income she earned. Twice in 2011 and once in 2012, Emery filed false IRS Forms W-4, Employee’s Withholding Certificate, with her employers, claiming to be exempt from Federal income tax withholding. In January 2012, the IRS began collection proceedings against Emery, ultimately issuing notices of levy to her employers. Emery obtained an Internet-based fax number and used it to transmit a forged IRS form that fraudulently declared a much lower tax debt. Emery then falsely informed the employer she had satisfied that debt and provided yet another false document to substantiate this claim.

                            Emery was sentenced to 65 months’ incarceration for mail and wire fraud, 60 months’ incarceration for tax evasion, three years’ supervised release, ordered to pay restitution of more than $2.9 million, and a $200 special assessment fee.

                            • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D. Mich. Indict. April 10, 2018, E.D. Mich. Superseding Indict. October 2, 2018, E.D. Mich. Plea Agreement February 18, 2020, and E.D. Mich. Judgment October 27, 2020.


                            • Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud for His Role in Theft of Economic Impact Payments [1]

                              On November 19, 2020, in the Eastern District of Texas, James Mwanza pled guilty to wire fraud. Mwanza devised a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and obtain money by filing fraudulent tax returns. Mwanza was indicted on June 18, 2020 for wire fraud, theft of Government money, and aggravated identity theft.

                              According to the court documents, between approximately January 2020 through about April 2020, Mwanza presented himself as a tax preparer and unlawfully obtained from his employer and other sources personal identification information of individuals, which included their names, dates of birth, and Social Security Numbers. Mwanza also unlawfully obtained IRS Electronic Filing Numbers assigned to tax preparation firms not affiliated with him, to electronically file the returns and claim false tax refunds totaling $7,814. The filing of the false tax returns also triggered the issuance of Economic Impact Payments totaling $3,400.

                              If convicted, Mwanza could receive a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

                              • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D. Tex., Indict., June 18, 2020, and E.D. Tex., Change of Plea, November 19, 2020.


                              • Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Clients Out of $4,000,000 [1]

                                On November 13, 2020, in the Central District of California, Edgardo Montalban was charged with aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Montalban devised a scheme to defraud taxpayers of their money.

                                According to the court documents, beginning in or before 2013 continuing through September 2020, Montalban presented himself as an accountant and tax preparer and instructed his clients to invest in a non-existent Federal grant program. Montalban told his clients that if they paid him in cash the amount of taxes their dormant companies owed, the Federal Government would issue them grants many times larger. Montalban used counterfeit U.S. Treasury checks as props to entice and obtain the cash from his clients. After Montalban had his clients pay him, he made up excuses as to why their Treasury checks had been delayed, and tricked the victims into paying him more money to receive the non-existent checks. Montalban defrauded his clients out of approximately $4,000,000.

                                At sentencing, Montalban could receive a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000.

                                • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: C.D. Cal., Information, November 13, 2020, and C.D. Cal., Plea Agr., November 13, 2020.


                                • Former Fresno IRS Employee Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Wire Fraud, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Tax Fraud [1]

                                  On December 8, 2020, in the Eastern District of California, former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax examiner Marcela Heredia was sentenced to six years in prison for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and making and subscribing a false return. Heredia was indicted on April 6, 2017, for devising a scheme to defraud the IRS and taxpayers by submitting fraudulent income tax returns.

                                  According to the court documents, beginning around February 2011 and continuing through September 2013, Heredia worked at the IRS and at a transitional living center where young adults reside. Heredia told residents at the transitional living center that she was an IRS employee who could prepare their individual tax returns. Rather than completing tax returns as agreed, Heredia told the residents they did not earn enough income to file a tax return. Without their knowledge, Heredia then used the residents’ personal identifying information, to include full names and Social Security Numbers, to file fraudulent individual tax returns with the IRS. The tax returns contained false employers, education expenses, wages, and dependents. On each fraudulent tax return, Heredia indicated the IRS should send the refunds to her. In the individual tax returns submitted to the IRS, Heredia falsely claimed more than $20,000 in refunds.

                                  Heredia was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $39,905, and a special assessment fee of $1,200.

                                  • [1] The facts in this case narrative come from the following publicly available documents: E.D. Cal., J., December 8, 2020, and E.D. Cal., Indict., April 6, 2017.



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