Two Defendants Charged in Theft from Seminole Tribe
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 03, 2013|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announced the return of a 10-count indictment charging defendants Frank Excel Marley III, 39, of Miramar and Maria Hassun, 66, of Miami, with unjustly enriching themselves by stealing from the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Specifically, both defendants are charged with one count of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud; in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 1349, as well as nine counts of theft from an Indian Tribe, in violation of Title 18, U.S.C., §§ 1163 and 2.
According to the indictment, the defendants sought to enrich themselves unlawfully by defrauding the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The indictment states that from approximately October, 2006, through on or about March 3, 2011, the defendants did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree to knowingly and with intent to defraud, devise and intend to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, that is, approximately $1,033,605, by means of the United States mails and wire communications.
It is alleged that defendant Frank Excel Marley III, an attorney who was retained by the Seminole Tribe, proposed to the tribe that they undertake a project to open radio stations at the Brighton and Big Cypress Reservations. It is further alleged that Marley retained outside law firms and vendors to assist in accomplishing the radio project and instructed co-defendant Maria Hassun, his administrative assistant, to increase the charges invoiced to the tribe by inflating the amount of his billable hours and billing the tribe for travel, conferences, phone calls and meetings that did not occur. The defendants submitted the monthly invoices by e-mail, United States mail and fax to the tribe for work purportedly done by the Marley Firm each month, which included inflated and falsified charges for the costs that had purportedly been incurred by third party consultants and law firms retained by Marley to assist him with the radio project and other matters on behalf of the tribe.
If convicted, the defendants face a possible maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for the conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud count and five years in prison for each count of theft from an Indian tribe.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and thanked the Seminole Tribe of Florida for their cooperation and assistance with the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Karadbil.