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Maryland Man Sentenced to Prison for Fraudulent Scheme to Solicit Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Contributions to Scam-Pacs


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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 17, 2020

Maryland Man Sentenced to Prison for Fraudulent Scheme to Solicit Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Contributions to Scam-Pacs

A Maryland political consultant was sentenced to three years in prison today followed by three years of supervised release for fraudulently soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions through several scam political action committees (PACs) that he founded and advertised as supporting candidates for office and other political causes. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Kelley Rogers, 56, of Annapolis, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.  In addition to the prison sentence, Rogers was ordered to pay $491,299 in restitution and to forfeit at least $208,954 in proceeds obtained from his offense. 

According to admissions Rogers made in connection with his guilty plea, from August 2012 through 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, the defendant operated multiple PACs, including Conservative StrikeForce (CSF), Conservative Majority Fund and Tea Party Majority Fund.  In that role, the defendant engaged vendors to send e-mail solicitations and make telemarketing phone calls to prospective donors seeking political contributions to his PACs.  Rogers approved the text and other content of all solicitations, and determined how CSF spent the contributions individual donors gave in response to the solicitations.

During the course of his scheme, Rogers solicited contributions from the general public for his PACs based on materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.  For example, in or around 2013, Rogers, working with an email vendor, represented through CSF that money contributed by donors would be used to support the campaigns of a candidate for governor and a candidate for attorney general of Virginia through, among other things, get-out-the-vote efforts and the hiring of attorneys to ensure the integrity of the elections.  In or around 2014, Rogers represented that donations to the PAC would be spent on assistance and support for military veterans.  In truth and in fact, the defendant never intended to spend, and never actually spent, any of the money raised by Rogers’s PACs on get-out-the-vote efforts or lawyers to protect the integrity of the 2013 Virginia and Attorney General elections, or on assistance and support for military veterans.  Instead, the defendant spent nearly all of the money raised from donors to benefit himself, his associates, and his PACs, including by pouring the majority of donor money into the solicitation of more donations.

In addition to the misrepresentations that Rogers made to donors, Rogers and others fraudulently billed his PACs for services that were not performed, thereby misappropriating donor money that had been contributed to the PACs by individuals across the country.  Rogers and his associates also made false statements to the Federal Election Commission about how they were spending PAC money. 

Finally, Rogers admitted that he and several others also participated in a scheme to use conduits (straw donors) to make contributions to a candidate running to represent a district in the United States House of Representatives that exceeded the limits placed on individual campaign contributions under federal law.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case.  Trial Attorneys Bill Gullotta and John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.  Former PIN attorney Molly Gaston provided significant assistance in the case. 

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.  




Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Fraudulent Scheme to Solicit Millions of Dollars in Contributions to Scam-Pacs

A Maryland political consultant pleaded guilty today to wire fraud as a result of his fraudulent scheme to solicit millions of dollars in political contributions through several scam-PACs that he founded and advertised as supporting candidates for office and other political causes.  

Kelley Rogers, 55, of Annapolis, Maryland, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17, 2020, before Judge O’Grady.

“Rogers defrauded countless citizens across the country who sought to participate in the political process, and instead used the money to benefit himself and to perpetuate his fraudulent scheme,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Today’s guilty plea shows that the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who undermine the integrity of our democratic institutions, including those who commit fraud to line their own pockets along the way.” 



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“Rogers preyed upon his victims political beliefs with the intent of enriching his companies, his business partners, and himself,” said U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia.  “Individuals like Rogers, who engage in sophisticated fraud schemes will be held accountable for their actions.  We have a long history of investigating and prosecuting fraud cases here in the Eastern District, and we remain committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who choose to engage in fraud activity are held accountable and brought to justice.”

“Rogers swindled millions of dollars from individuals attempting to participate in our democratic process,” said Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  “Instead of using donations to provide assistance and support to military veterans, as he advertised, Rogers used the money to benefit himself and his associates.  I commend the dedication and hard work of our FBI agents and analysts who investigated this egregious fraud against innocent U.S. citizens.”




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According to admissions Rogers made in connection with his guilty plea, from August 2012 through 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, the defendant operated multiple PACs, including Conservative StrikeForce (CSF), Conservative Majority Fund, and Tea Party Majority Fund.  In that role, the defendant engaged vendors to send e-mail solicitations and make telemarketing phone calls to prospective donors seeking political contributions to his PACs.  Rogers approved the text and other content of all solicitations, and determined how CSF spent the contributions individual donors gave in response to the solicitations. 

During the course of his scheme, Rogers solicited contributions from the general public for his PACs based on materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.  For example, in or around 2013, Rogers, working with an email vendor, represented through CSF that money contributed by donors would be used to support the campaigns of a candidate for Governor and a candidate for Attorney General of Virginia through, among other things, get-out-the-vote efforts and the hiring of attorneys to ensure the integrity of the elections.  In or around 2014, Rogers represented that donations to the PAC would be spent on assistance and support for military veterans.  In truth and in fact, the defendant never intended to spend, and never actually spent, any of the money raised by Rogers’ PACs on get-out-the-vote efforts or lawyers to protect the integrity of the 2013 Virginia and Attorney General elections, or on assistance and support for military veterans.  Instead, the defendant spent nearly all of the money raised from donors to benefit himself, his associates, and his PACs, including by pouring the majority of donor money into the solicitation of more donations. 



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In addition to the misrepresentations that Rogers made to donors, Rogers and others fraudulently billed his PACs for services that were not performed, thereby misappropriating donor money that had been contributed to the PACs by individuals across the country.  Rogers and his associates also made false statements to the Federal Election Commission about how they were spending PAC money. 

Finally, Rogers admitted that he and several others also participated in a scheme to use conduits (“straw donors”) to make contributions to a candidate running to represent a district in the United States House of Representatives that exceeded the limits placed on individual campaign contributions under federal law. 



    
   
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As part of his guilty plea, Rogers agreed to pay $491,299.00 in restitution to victims of his fraud scheme, as well as a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $208,954.00. 

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case.  Trial Attorneys John Taddei and Bill Gullotta of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.  Former PIN attorney Molly Gaston provided significant assistance in the case.





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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 16, 2019

Couple Who Worked at Local Research Institute for 10 Years Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets, Wire Fraud

A former Dublin, Ohio, couple has been charged with crimes related to stealing exosome-related trade secrets concerning the research, identification and treatment of a range of pediatric medical conditions announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of National Security, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio, Assistant Director John Brown of the Counterintelligence division and FBI Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham of the Cincinnati division.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital devoted years of work and its own money to researching exosomes in order to promote honorable medical advances,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said.  “The hospital’s Research Institute took reasonable measures to keep its trade secrets secret.  I commend the cooperation of Nationwide Children’s throughout this investigation.”

“The theft of trade secrets is a growing threat that severely impacts our economy and our national security,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Todd Wickerham.  “The FBI is committed to investigating these cases and working with all of our partners to protect intellectual property.”


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According to the indictment, Yu Zhou, 49, and Li Chen, 46, currently of San Diego, California, conspired to, attempted to and did steal scientific trade secrets related to exosomes and exosome isolation from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute for their own personal financial gain.

The defendants were arrested in July and the case was unsealed today at the defendants’ arraignments in federal court in Columbus at 2pm before U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison.

Zhou and Chen are spouses who worked in separate medical research labs at the Research Institute for 10 years each (Zhou from 2007 until 2017 and Chen from 2008 until 2018).  Exosomes play a key role in the research, identification and treatment of a range of medical conditions, including necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition found in premature babies), liver fibrosis and liver cancer.


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The husband and wife allegedly founded a company in China in 2015 without the hospital’s knowledge.  While Zhou and Chen continued to be employed by Nationwide Children’s, they marketed products and services related to exosome isolation through their Chinese company.

The indictment also alleges that in 2017, Zhou and Chen helped co-found an American biotechnology company.  As of 2019, the company’s website advertises multiple products and services related to exosome isolation, including a kit that was developed from a trade secret created at a Nationwide Children’s research lab.

Zhou and Chen allegedly used the hospital’s Research Institute resources and equipment to conduct the exosome research necessary for their unauthorized, outside work.

In November 2017, Zhou and Chen allegedly received more than $876,000 and stock related to an asset purchase agreement involving the American biotechnology company.  It is also alleged Zhou entered into a stock purchase agreement with that same company under which he would receive $450,000.



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Zhou resigned from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, effective Nov. 10, 2017.  On Jan. 31, 2018, Chen resigned from her position at the research institute.

Before his official last day of employment with the research institute, Zhou allegedly participated in a press release announcing the American company’s plans to market and distribute “proprietary exosome isolation systems” from its headquarters in Central Ohio.

Conspiring to, attempting to and committing theft of trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Conspiring to, attempting to and committing wire fraud carries a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys S. Courter Shimeall, Peter Glenn-Applegate and J. Michael Marous and National Security Division trial attorney Matthew J. McKenzie, who are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.










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