Criminal Justice News

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Menominee Man Indicted for Aggravated Assault on Menominee Indian Reservation


Matthew D. Krueger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on December 3, 2019, a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment against Kurtis L. Peters, Jr. (age: 22), formerly of Keshena, which is located on the Menominee Indian Reservation.

The indictment charged Peters with Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(6). If convicted, Peters faces a maximum of ten years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of supervised release.

According to the indictment, on or about June 26, 2018, the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence on a state highway within the boundaries of the Menominee Indian Reservation. Peters allegedly lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash and resulting in serious injury to a female passenger.

The Menominee Tribal Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, which Assistant United States Attorney Andrew J. Maier will prosecute.

An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Philadelphia Man Sentenced to a Decade in Prison for Drug Conspiracy


JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A resident of Philadelphia, Pa. has been sentenced in federal court in Johnstown to 10 years (120 months) in prison and three years’ supervised release on his conviction of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson imposed the sentence on Kenneth Watts, 35.

According to information presented to the court, from March 6, 2018, through April 2, 2018, Watts and a co-defendant conspired to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base, heroin, and fentanyl.

Assistant United States Attorney Maureen Sheehan-Balchon prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Mr. Brady commended the Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cambria County Drug Task Force for the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Watts

Nigerian Citizen Extradited to Memphis in Connection with Prosecution of Africa-Based Cybercrime and Business Email Compromise Conspiracy


Memphis, TN – A Nigerian citizen residing in Accra, Ghana, has been extradited to Memphis to stand trial for an indictment charging him with wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, and Special Agent in Charge M.A. Myers of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office made the announcement.

On Aug. 23, 2017, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee indicted Babatunde Martins, 64, and others with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. Following his extradition, Martins’ initial appearance was made today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charmiane G. Claxton for the Western District of Tennessee.

The indictment alleges that various Africa-based co-conspirators committed, or caused to be committed, a series of intrusions into the servers and email systems of a Memphis-based real estate company in June and July 2016. Using sophisticated anonymization techniques, including the use of spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks, the co-conspirators identified large financial transactions, initiated fraudulent email correspondence with relevant business parties and then redirected closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa. Commonly referred to as business-email compromise, or BEC, this aspect of the scheme caused hundreds of thousands in loss to companies and individuals in Memphis.

In addition to BEC, the defendant is also charged with perpetrating romance scams, fraudulent-check scams, gold-buying scams, advance-fee scams and credit card scams. The indictment alleges that the proceeds of these criminal activities, both money and goods, were shipped and/or transferred from the United States to locations in Africa through a complex network of both complicit and unwittingindividuals that had been recruited through the variousInternet scams.The defendant is specifically alleged to have owned and operated a company called AfrioceanLTD that he used in furtherance of these crimes. The defendant, along with his co-conspirators, is believed to have caused millions in loss to victims across the globe.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Five other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme. Two others, Olufalojimi Abegunde, 33, and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 30, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Abegunde receiveda 78-month sentence and Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for their roles in thescheme. Several individuals remain at large.

The FBI led the investigation. The Criminal Division’s Office ofInternational Affairs, as well asthe FBI’s Legal Attaché in Accra, the FBI Transnational Organized Crime of the Eastern Hemisphere Section of the Criminal Investigative Division, the FBI’s Major Cyber Crimes Unit of the Cyber Division, and FBI’s International Organized CrimeInte lligence and Operations Center all provided significant support in this case, as did the U.S. Marshals Service, INTERPOL Washington, the INTERPOL Unit of the Ghana Police Service, the Republic of Ghana’s Office of Attorney General, and Ghana’s Economicand Organised Crime Office.

Senior Trial Attorney Timothy C. Flowers of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra L. Ireland of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee are prosecuting the case, with significant assistance from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

For more information or to view a list of aliases used by members of the conspiracy on dating websites and social media, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/victim-witness-program.