Wichita (WIBW) - The man behind busting a major foreclosure rescue scam and a woman whose dedication even while on maternity leave led to a major drug bust will receive Guardian of Justice awards from the U.S. Attorneys office.
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Detective Karrina Brasser and Edward Walsh, senior bankruptcy analyst with the U.S. Trustee’s office, were announced Tuesday as the recipients. U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch will present the awards at a ceremony Wednesday during the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Fall Conference in Hutchinson.
Brasser led an investigation that resulted in more than two dozen defendants being convicted on federal charges and overturned a drug trafficking operation that in 2006 and 2007 distributed more than 24,000 pills of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA or Ecstasy. The investigation uncovered the drug organization’s operations in Texas, California, Missouri and Kansas.
Brasser started the investigation in 2005 and 2006 while she was working undercover with the Sheriff’s office. She began by making undercover buys from dealers at the low levels of the organization. After joining the Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, she continued the investigation.
As a result of her work with other investigators, two federal criminal cases were filed in January 2008 – US v. Du Le and US v. Nhon Lu – leading to the conviction of 27 defendants.
“Karrina Brasser’s dedication and perseverance are what make her an outstanding law enforcement officer,” Welch said.
Walsh is being recognized as the driving force behind a case that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called one of the Justice Department’s most important prosecutions of a foreclosure rescue scam.
He worked with Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney on the prosecution of Isaac Yass and Robert Blechman on charges of operating a scheme to prevent foreclosures by making fraudulent filings in federal bankruptcy court.
In January 2009, a jury convicted Yass and Blechman on charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy. During trial, Walsh took the stand and guided jurors through the complicated scam.
Yass and Blechman operated a fraudulent service called Stopco falsely claiming to be able to save homeowners who were behind on their mortgage from losing their homes. They solicited homeowners who were going through foreclosure. For a fee, they filed fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in federal bankruptcy courts in Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City, Kan., as well as Maryland and Tennessee. The petitions were filed in the name of nonexistent individuals with businesses that claimed to be part owners of properties that were in foreclosure. The result was an automatic stay in foreclosures, halting further actions by creditors against the properties – but only until the fraud was discovered.
Walsh worked for months leading up to trial putting the case together, identifying witnesses and exhibits. He flew to Los Angeles to assist agents in a search of the defendants’ business and homes. He assisted in the interview of the defendant Yass, and he assisted in searching and seizing from Yass’ office and business more than $600,000 in assets that were used as evidence to convict Yass and to obtain a preliminary order of forfeiture against the defendants for more than $1.9 million.
“Without Ed’s involvement, this case could not have been successfully prosecuted,” Hathaway said.
Guardian of Justice awards are given annually to federal and state or local law enforcement officers in recognition of outstanding service provided in the prosecution of significant cases by the United States Attorney’s office. The awards are the highest recognition given to a member of the law enforcement community by the United States Attorney’s office. Nominations for the awards come from prosecuting attorneys who worked with the nominees.