Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Owner and a Former Executive of Indicted Video Relay Services Company Plead
Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program
WASHINGTON – John T.C. Yeh, the owner of Viable Communications Inc., and his
brother, Joseph Yeh, the former vice president for corporate strategy and
second in charge for Viable, pleaded guilty today to engaging in a
conspiracy to defraud the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Video
Relay Service (VRS) program, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A.
Breuer of the Criminal Division and John G. Perren, Acting Assistant
Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
John Yeh, 63, and Joseph Yeh, 65, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge
Joel A. Pisano in Trenton, N.J., to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. John
and Joseph Yeh were indicted on Nov. 19, 2009, along with Anthony Mowl,
Viable’s former assistant vice president of business development; Donald
Tropp, Viable’s former human resources manager; and the Viable corporate
entity. The defendants are alleged to have submitted a total of
approximately $55 million in VRS claims to the FCC.
In pleading guilty, John and Joseph Yeh admitted that beginning in
approximately fall 2007, they conspired with others to pay individuals to
make fraudulent VRS phone calls using Viable’s VRS service. According to the
pleas, John and Joseph Yeh paid Mowl and Tropp, who then would pay others to
make the fraudulent phone calls using Viable’s VRS service. Viable then
submitted the fraudulent call minutes to the FCC and was paid approximately
$390 per hour for all VRS calls that Viable processed.
According to the indictment, VRS is an online video translation service that
allows people with hearing disabilities to communicate with hearing
individuals through the use of interpreters and Web cameras. A person with a
hearing disability who wants to communicate with a hearing person can do so
by contacting a VRS provider through an audio and video Internet connection.
The VRS provider, in turn, employs a video interpreter to view and interpret
the hearing disabled person’s signed conversation and relay the signed
conversation orally to a hearing person. VRS is funded by fees assessed by
telecommunications providers to telephone customers, and is provided at no
cost to the VRS user.
At sentencing, scheduled for Feb. 9, 2011, John and Joseph Yeh each face a
maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and mandatory
restitution and forfeiture.
Mowl and Tropp pleaded guilty in January 2010 to one count of conspiracy to
commit mail fraud. Co-defendant Viable is awaiting trial on the charges in
the indictment. An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is
presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a
In addition to the indictment charging the Yehs, Mowl, Tropp and Viable,
five other indictments were unsealed on Nov. 19, 2009, charging an
additional 22 people with engaging in a scheme to steal millions of dollars
from the FCC’s VRS program. The indictments charge owners and employees of
the following six companies with engaging in a scheme to defraud the FCC’s
Viable Communications Inc. of Rockville, Md.;
Master Communications LLC of Las Vegas;
KL Communications LLC of Phoenix;
Mascom LLC of Austin, Texas;
Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Interpreting Services Inc. (DHIS) of New York and
Innovative Communication Services for the Deaf Corp. (ICSD) of Miami Lakes,
Deaf Studio 29 of Huntington Beach, Calif.
These cases are being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Hank Bond Walther and Trial
Attorneys Brigham Cannon and Robert Zink of the Criminal Division’s Fraud
Section, with the investigative assistance of the FBI’s Washington Field
Office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FCC Office of Inspector