Archive · Fresno

Neutered: The Rise and Fall of the Dog Pound Gang

 

INTERNATIONAL SHOPPING SPREE IN FRESNO

TaxReturns

Running prostitutes and fighting turf wars is the sweaty blue-collar stuff of gang business. Maybe that’s why Special Agent Smith’s affidavit suggests that some Dog Pound gangsters prefer the white-collar side of crime.

Stuff like identity theft, bogus income tax returns and sham credit cards.

Smith’s affidavit described how a “trash cover” was key to Operation Dog Track’s investigation into DPG’s alleged fraudulent activities.

A trash cover, Smith wrote, begins when a resident puts out his trash bins for the weekly collection. Detectives ask the solid waste vendor to collect separately the garbage of a suspect and take it to a secure location. “Once at this location, the investigators sift through the refuse for items of evidentiary value,” Smith wrote.

Operation Dog Track did trash covers at two residences in Madera. Smith wrote that more than 200 credit cards were found from companies such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Capital One Visa, Walmart Visa, Chase Bank Visa and Citibank Mastercard.

Smith wrote that the names on these cards include Kenneth Wharry, Kenneth Johnson and Nastasha Parks – defendants in the feds’ criminal complaint.

“Also located in the trash were a large amount of shredded credit cards, blank W-2 forms and several Money Gram receipts for money transferred to the Ukraine, China and within the United States,” Smith wrote.

How did the alleged scam work?

Smith wrote about events of the afternoon and evening of February 24, 2016 allegedly involving Wharry and Kenneth Johnson, among others. The first phone call in Smith’s affidavit was at 1:13 p.m.

“Wharry called and asked Kenneth Johnson if he wants to go with him to hit some banks and make some money,” Smith wrote. “Kenneth Johnson said, ‘Yep.’ Wharry told Kenneth Johnson he’s going to put some (credit cards) in his name and some in Kenneth Johnson’s name. Kenneth Johnson said ‘alright.’ Wharry then told Kenneth Johnson they will go shopping in the Bay Area when their done. Kenneth Johnson said, ‘alright.’”

Off they went, stopping at a long string of businesses, banks and residences. One of their alleged destinations was the intersection of Fresno Street and Van Ness Avenue in Downtown Fresno. Wells Fargo Bank is on the northeast corner. Bank of the West is on the northwest corner.

Kenneth Johnson went into Wells Fargo while Wharry went into Bank of the West, Smith wrote.

Next up, Smith wrote, was the Wells Fargo branch in Fig Garden Village in Northeast Fresno. Wharry got out of a Chevy Tahoe, went into the bank, then came out. That’s when Kenneth Johnson got out of the Tahoe, went into the bank, and later came out, Smith wrote.

By this time, it was around 5 p.m. Smith wrote that Kenneth Johnson, Wharry and another person headed to Fig Garden Village’s Deli Delicious for a meal.

Shortly after 9 p.m. that day, Smith wrote, Wharry and his Chevy Tahoe had returned to a house in Madera. “This is Wharry’s address along with his pregnant girlfriend Parks,” Smith wrote.

Smith wrote that, according to Fresno police detectives, the suspects have allegedly used different methods to obtain stolen prepaid Visa and American Express cards and stolen account numbers.

“The suspects will then place stolen account numbers on the cards and manufacture the cards by embossing the suspects name on the front of the card,” Smith wrote. “The bank teller swipes the suspect’s card which is either approved or declined for a cash advance. I believe the suspects went into the several Wells Fargo banks and the Bank of the West and obtained $500 cash advances by using the stolen accounts.”

Agents later contacted a security specialist with Wells Fargo. Follow-up investigations “determined that all of the fraudulent access cards used for cash advances on this day by Kenneth Johnson and Wharry were used with stolen credit card accounts,” Smith wrote.

On March 1, 2016, Smith wrote, Kiandre Johnson (not to be confused with Kenneth Johnson) called Parks. The topic: A tax return Parks allegedly prepared for another Dog Pound gangster.

Smith wrote that Parks allegedly is involved in the preparation of fraudulent tax returns.

“I also believe Parks is involved in the preparation of tax returns for active ‘Dog Pound’ gang members, as well as their associates,” Smith wrote. “Further, I know Parks will also prepare tax returns for associates and use false information in order to maximize the amount of their return. Parks will then have the tax return deposited into an online account. I have learned from a prior investigation that Parks would keep 50 percent of the tax return and provide it to members of the Dog Pound gang.”

Smith’s affidavit is chock full of interesting tidbits. He alleges that Parks does tax returns for Dog Pound prostitutes. He alleges that an office in the 4700 block of West Spruce Avenue in Northwest Fresno is a “front” for the Dog Pound gangsters’ money-laundering operations. He alleges that Wharry and Parks sometimes have a heck of a time getting certain Dog Pound gangsters to pay their share once the gangsters get possession of fraudulent tax refund checks. He alleges that Dog Pound gangsters have a fondness for hitting Wells Fargo branches whenever they need cash advances on fraudulent credit cards.

Smith’s affidavit also reads like a long stroll through consumer heaven. Dog Pound gangsters apparently are loyal customers at shoe and clothing stores throughout Central and Northern California.

The money has to come from somewhere. Smith in his affidavit wrote that it came in large part from fraud.

Smith in his affidavit records this alleged exchange of text messages between Nastasha Parks and Marvin Larry, both defendants in the feds’ Dog Pound Gangsters complaint:

“Parks: What was her last name again look her up on fb.”

“Larry: First Name: (spelled out – I’ve withheld it). Last Name: (spelled out – I’ve withheld it). Country: Ukraine. City: Kiev.”

“Parks: Okay got it.”

“Larry: I sent that to your email.”

Parks: Okay.”

Smith adds in his affidavit: “I believe Larry is Parks’s source for the stolen credit card numbers which appear to be acquired by Larry from a source in the Ukraine.”

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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