Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sentencing of Maryland deaf services CEO for mail fraud will be in June

From The Gazette in Maryland:

The sentencing of John T.C. Yeh (pictured), founder and former CEO of Rockville deaf services company Viable, and his brother, former Viable executive Joseph Yeh, has been delayed from this month to June 6, according to federal court documents.

The Yehs in October pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. In November 2009, they were among 26 people nationwide to be charged in an indictment with conspiring to defraud the Federal Communications Commission's Video Relay Service program, which helps deaf people communicate, by billing the government for millions of dollars in illegitimate calls.

The Yehs each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Paul Kemp, a partner with Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger in Rockville who is representing John Yeh, and Stanley Reed, a principal with Lerch, Early and Brewer in Bethesda who is representing Joseph Yeh, could not be reached for comment Monday.

At least a dozen defendants, including former Viable executives Anthony Mowl and Donald Tropp, have pleaded guilty in the case. Tropp is expected to be sentenced in July, according to court documents.

John Yeh is expected to be sentenced before any of the others who have pleaded guilty, said Christopher A. Hostage, a Rockville attorney representing Tropp.

Marc Velasquez Verson of Lake Oswego, Ore., was the latest defendant to enter a guilty plea in the case last month, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Verson also is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6 in the Trenton court.

Snap!VRS of Pearl River, N.Y., a video relay service company, agreed to acquire Viable in August 2009. Company officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

Shortly after the Yehs pleaded guilty to the mail fraud count, Snap!VRS executives said in a statement that the Yehs and others who were indicted on similar charges had not had "any involvement with Viable for over a year."

"While we are disappointed with the acts of some individuals ... ensuring that people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have access to relay services remains of utmost importance to Snap!VRS," executives said.

In court documents filed last fall, the Yehs said they were unemployed.

John Yeh has long been involved with organizations that advocate for the deaf community, such as the National Asian Deaf Congress and National Deaf Business Institute. He was a trustee of Gallaudet University, a Washington, D.C., institution that specializes in education for deaf people, for more than a decade. Deaf Life, a monthly national magazine founded in 1987, honored him as Deaf Person of the Year in 2008.

A previous business that John Yeh formed, software engineering and integration company Integrated Microcomputer Systems, in Rockville with the help of his brothers, reached $40 million in revenue in 1995 before he sold it in 1996.