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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
March 16, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

John R. Hagerty
609-984-1936

 
Indictment Charges Ocean County Family with Using Various Scams to Accumulate Wealth and with Laundering Thousands of Dollars Through Atlantic City Casinos

TRENTON -Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice, announced that the Division of Criminal Justice has charged four members of an Ocean County family with operating a sophisticated criminal enterprise which illegally obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and luxury merchandise by employing various mortgage, real estate, bank fraud, and identity theft schemes. It is charged that the family members then used Atlantic City casinos to launder the illegally obtained cash.

According to Criminal Justice Director McKoy, a 28-count State Grand Jury indictment charged Antwan Issa (father), 62, Robert Issa (Antwan’s son), 41, Roger Issa (Antwan’s son), 30, and Rita Issa (Roger’s wife), 35, all formerly of 400 Carter Ave., Pt. Pleasant Beach, Ocean County, with the crimes of racketeering conspiracy (first degree), racketeering (first degree), money laundering (first degree), theft by deception (2nd degree), identity theft (2nd degree), use of personal identifying information of another (2nd degree), uttering a forged instrument (3rd degree), possession of forgery devices (3rd degree), theft by unlawful taking (3rd degree), receiving stolen property (3rd degree), forgery (4th degree), and falsifying records (4th degree). Antwan and Robert Issa are currently incarcerated in federal prison on parole violations, while Roger and Rita Issa remain in custody in the Monmouth and Ocean County jail respectively after being arrested on state charges.

The State Grand Jury indictment charges that from November, 2002 through March, 2004, the Issa family engaged in a racketeering conspiracy to accumulate wealth through various financial schemes, including mortgage and real estate fraud, bank fraud, theft by deception, and identity theft.

The indictment alleges that the Issa’s devised various financial schemes and that each family member assumed specific roles to successfully perpetrate the illegal activity. The indictment charges that among various creative schemes devised to steal money, the Issa’s created a non-existent bank, complete with telephone numbers answered by family members to verify the issuance of fraudulent checks; assumed false identities of various persons, including other family members; purchased legitimate travelers checks using bogus bank checks; the purchase of expensive luxury items, again using bogus bank checks; and the laundering of thousands of dollars is stolen monies through several Atlantic City casinos.

The indictment charges that in November, 2002, Robert, Roger, and Rita Issa assumed the identity of a relative, Dolly Issa, and sold Dolly’s residential property without her knowledge. As a result of the sale, the Issa’s obtained $87,947 from the sale of the property located at 130 Tamarack Drive, Wayne, Passaic County. The indictment charges that a second real estate fraud occurred when Robert Issa posed as a financial expert, befriended a doctor under the guise of providing assistance to obtain a loan, and then used the doctor’s financial and personal information to fraudulently apply for and obtain a $450,000 mortgage purportedly to purchase a Toms River, Ocean County, residence. It is charged that a portion of the proceeds of the Toms River real estate purchase were laundered through an Atlantic City casino.

Additional counts in the indictment charge that in January, 2004, Robert Issa made arrangements to rent space at a Neptune City, Monmouth County, storefront to open a Bank United branch - Bank United is a nonexistent bank. Using the guise of the bank, it is alleged that “official” Bank United checks were printed and then used to purchase valid AAA VISA Travelers checks. The VISA Travelers checks, in combination with fraudulent Bank United checks, were used in February and March to purchase two Rolex watches valued at $43,000 and a 4.85 carat diamond necklace and a 2.5 carat diamond bracelet priced at $11,000. Additionally, it is charged that Rita Issa deposited $55,000 at the Borgata Casino while Roger Issa deposited $61,000 in VISA Travelers checks at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino (all alleged to be purchased with bogus Bank United checks). After minimal gaming activity, the Issa’s withdrew the balance of the monies in cash.

Yet other charges contained in the grand jury indictment allege that Robert and Rita Issa opened various bank accounts at Commerce Bank by depositing minimal amounts of money drawn on fraudulent Bank United checks and, through a series of deposits and withdrawals, stole more than $142,600 in Commerce Bank funds. Additionally, it is charged that in November, 2003, Robert Issa (under an assumed name) rented a furnished home in South Brunswick, Middlesex County, and stole the household furnishings, including a large freezer, a large-screen television, china and a computer system.

The investigation resulted in the March 3, 2004, arrest of Roger and Rita Issa at their 400 Carter Avenue, Pt. Pleasant Beach residence by U.S. Marshals. Antwan and Robert Issa were subsequently arrested for violating federal parole. A search warrant of the 400 Carter Avenue residence uncovered various forms of false identification, jewelry items, check books, and other forged and/or false documents related to the various alleged financial scams. Also seized was a late model stolen Cadillac.

Director McKoy noted that on June 2, the Division of Criminal Justice - Civil Forfeiture Bureau, filed forfeiture proceedings seeking to obtain the proceeds of the alleged illegal activity, including more than $70,000 in cash, various items of jewelry, antique coins, and assorted electronic equipment seized as part of the investigation.

The State Grand Jury indictment was handed-up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Neil H. Shuster on March 15. The case has been assigned to the Atlantic County Superior Court for trial. An indictment is merely a charge; the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The investigation was coordinated by Deputy Attorney’s General Andrew Butchko and Kerry Menchen assigned to the Division of Criminal Justice - Casino Prosecutions Bureau. The investigation was conducted by the Dover Township Police Department and New Jersey State Police detectives assigned to the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Additional information, along with a copy of the State Grand Jury indictment, is available via the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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