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United States of America v. Joseph Bella
Case Number: 1:20-cr-00104
Judge: Richard J. Arcara
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Erie County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Buffalo
Description: Buffalo, New York criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, being a drug user in possession of a firearm, and wire fraud.
On April 23, 2020, investigators executed a search warrant atJ oseph Bella’s residence and recovered drug paraphernalia and quantities of cocaine, MDMA, and marijuana. Investigators also recovered a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition. At that time, Bella, age 50, of Buffalo, New York, was an unlawful user of controlled substances, including marijuana and cocaine.
In addition, Bella defrauded a Salt Lake City, Utah, corporation (Victim) that developed and manufactured COVID-19 test kits, by falsely representing that his company, Medcor Staffing, Inc., was laboratory certified to perform high-complexity molecular testing, that Medcor was an “end-user” of the tests, and that Medcor would not attempt to resell them. As a result, the Victim sold Bella 5,000 COVID-19 tests that he could not safely and accurately process, could not provide end-user support for, and, in fact, intended to re-sell at a substantial mark-up.
In March 2020, Bella advertised on his personal Facebook account that he was selling “FDA approved COVID-19 Test Kits.” In April 2020, Bella communicated with an undercover federal agent by telephone, text message, and email, falsely telling the agent that he had 50,000 COVID-19 tests for sale; that the COVID-19 tests were being stored in a warehouse in San Diego, California at -20 degrees Celsius; that Medcor was an “exclusive licensed reseller” of the tests; and that Medcor employed doctors and scientists to answer customers' questions. Bella attempted to sell the tests to the agent for $30 per test, or more, after fraudulently obtaining the tests for only $8 apiece.
Bella also fraudulently obtained a loan from the Small Business Association under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, which is designed to provide low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses to help them meet financial obligations and operating expenses in the event of a disaster. At Bella’s direction, a subordinate submitted a falsified application for a loan under the EIDL Program for another business Bella owns called BuyMyCard, a purchaser and re-seller of gift cards. The application grossly inflated BuyMyCard’s annual revenue, grossly underreported BuyMyCard’s annual expenses, and falsely stated that Bella was not subject to formal criminal charges at the time of the application. As a result of the falsified application, the SBA approved and funded a $149,900 loan to BuyMyCard under the EIDL Program.
The sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Scarpino; Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, under the direction of Brian Manaher; U.S. Border Patrol, under the direction of Patrol Agent in Charge Jeffrey T. Wilson; the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Ketty Larco-Ward of the Boston Division; the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. DeVito, New York Field Division; and Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
18:922G.F 18:924(a)(2) UNLAWFUL TRANSPORT OF FIREARMS, ETC.
Outcome: Defendant is committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons for a term of 37 months on counts one, five, and thirteen in case 21-CR-31 to run concurrent to each other, and 4 months on each of counts three and six in case 20-CR-104, to run concurrent to each other but consecutive to the counts in case 21-CR-31, plus one month consecutive to all counts pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3147 for a total of 42 months' imprisonment. The cost of incarceration fee is waived. Upon release from imprisonment, Defendant shall be placed on Supervised Release for a term of Three (3) years on all counts of conviction with all terms of supervised release to run concurrently. See Judgment for standard, mandatory and special conditions of Supervised Release. Fines waived. Restitution in the amount of $253,347 in case 21-CR-31. Special Assessment of $500 due immediately.