Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

North Carolina Man Is Sentenced To 14 Months For Interfering With Airport Security Screening Personnel

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced Jordan Lee Moore, 31, of Winston Salem, N.C. to 14 months in prison and two years of supervised release on charges of interfering with security screening personnel at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Charlotte Douglas), announced R. Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina

U.S. Attorney Murray is joined in making today’s announcement by John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

According to court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, on March 30, 2017, Moore had two separate altercation incidents involving airport security screening personnel at Charlotte Douglas.  Moore, a then employee of American Airlines, attempted to force his way through the TSA Pre-Check lane, without proper authorization. Court records show that the first incident occurred at approximately 5:25 p.m., during which Moore used threats and racially derogatory terms toward airport security personnel, while they attempted to stop him from advancing through airport security checkpoints.  Moore did not have proper TSA-precheck security designations on his boarding pass.  Because of his conduct, Moore was instructed by airport security personnel and CMPD officers that he could not fly out of Charlotte Douglas Airport and was ordered to leave the airport. Moore used more derogatory terms toward security personnel, before eventually exiting the airport.

According to court records, Moore later returned to Charlotte Douglas Airport that same evening. Around approximately 7:30 p.m., Moore again attempted to pass through a security checkpoint at the airport, when he was approached by an airport security officer who recognized Moore based on information disseminated at the airport stemming from the earlier incident. The security officer asked Moore for his identification and advised Moore he was not permitted to advance through security, because of his previous incident. Court records show that Moore ignored the security officer’s request and proceeded to the baggage screening area. Security officers again told Moore that he was not allowed to return to the airport and asked him to leave.  Moore ignored their orders, used explicit and threatening terms, and continued to proceed through the airport checkpoint. A CMPD officer at the scene then attempted to detain Moore, who refused the officer’s commands and violently resisted arrest.  Moore was eventually arrested and continued acting in a combative nature, even after he was placed in a police car.

In sentencing Moore, Judge Conrad commented on the importance of respecting airport security personnel, the TSA officers, and maintaining proper decorum at the airport.

Moore pleaded guilty to one count of interference with airport security screening personnel and is currently in federal custody.  Moore will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

The FBI and CMPD led the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sanjeev Bhasker and Mike Savage, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.

Seventh Individual Charged in Opa Locka Municipal Corruption Investigation

Charges Include Failure to File Tax Returns

Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced federal charges against Dante Starks arising from his role in the Opa Locka municipal corruption scheme.

“The resulting harm from corruption, extortion and bribery denies law abiding citizens the right to expect honest services from government officials overseeing their business-related issues,” stated U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg.  “Political power and influence must not be bought or sold and those who believe otherwise will be prosecuted by this office with the assistance of our dedicated law enforcement partners.”

“For the public to have confidence in their government, they must be certain that officials - either elected or appointed - will not use their position for personal gain,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “Public corruption remains a top priority for the FBI.  We encourage anyone who may have information about corruption to come forward and report it. This information is vital to our work.”

“Today's announcement demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust,” stated Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-CI. “The tax laws apply to everyone, and each of us is responsible for filing correct and accurate tax returns. Choosing not to file a tax return is a crime; and IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to investigate individuals who ignore their tax responsibilities.”

Starks, 55 of Miami-Dade County, was charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951 (a); conspiracy to commit Federal programs bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371; aiding and abetting Federal programs bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2; and failure to file income tax returns (for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016), in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Section 7203.  If convicted, Starks faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for the Hobbs Act extortion conspiracy, 5 years in prison for the bribery conspiracy, 10 years in prison for each count of aiding and abetting bribery, and 1 year in prison on each of the failure to file charges.  The case against Starks is assigned to U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez (Case No. 18-20313-CR).

Starks is charged with conspiring with former Opa Locka City Commissioner Luis Santiago, former Opa Locka City Manager David Chiverton, and former Opa Locka Assistant Public Works Director Gregory Harris, to use the official positions and authority that Santiago, Chiverton, and Harris had with the City of Opa Locka to solicit, demand, and obtain personal payments from businesses and individuals in exchange for taking official actions, and for directing, pressuring, and advising other city employees to take official actions, to assist and benefit those businesses and individuals in their official dealings with the City of Opa Locka.

As the Indictment alleges, although Starks was not an official or employee of the City of Opa Locka, he was closely associated with and had great influence over Santiago.  Starks also had and exercised significant influence over numerous other city officials and employees, including Chiverton and Harris, and he regularly used that significant influence to pressure and advise city officials and employees to take official actions on matters relating to occupational licenses, code enforcement citations and fines, liens, water service and billing, zoning, and city contracting.

Working together, Santiago and Starks solicited and obtained illegal payments from businesses and individuals in Opa Locka.  In exchange for these illegal personal payments,  Santiago, with the assistance of Starks, would take official actions on behalf of the paying businesses and individuals, and would also work with Starks to direct, pressure, and advise Chiverton, Harris, and other City of Opa Locka employees to take official actions on behalf of those businesses and individuals.  These official actions included, but were not limited to, issuing occupational licenses; waiving, removing, and settling code enforcement matters and liens; initiating, restoring and continuing water service; reducing and eliminating water service billing balances; assisting with zoning issues; and assisting with obtaining city contracts.

Starks also is charged with participating in a conspiracy with Santiago and others to receive bribes in exchange for ensuring that a particular company received a city contract.   According to the Indictment, in April 2015, the City of Opa Locka published a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) seeking bids from licensed and experienced towing firms seeking multi-year non-exclusive contracts to provide Opa Locka with citywide towing services.  Shortly after this RFP was published, then-City Commissioner Santiago and Starks met with Raul Sosa Sr. (“Sosa Sr.”), who agreed to pay them a $10,000 bribe to ensure that the company Sosa Sr. was associated with, referred to as the “Towing Company,” was selected as one of the companies receiving a city towing contract.During this meeting, Sosa Sr. paid the first installment of the bribe and designated his son, Raul Sosa Jr. (“Sosa Jr.”), the Towing Company’s manager, as the person who would work with Santiago and Starks to carry out the illegal arrangement.

The Indictment further alleges that Starks arranged for Opa Locka’s Purchasing Director to assemble and prepare the Towing Company’s bid package.  After this bid was submitted, Starks violated the city’s purchasing Cone of Silence rule by contacting a member of the city’s committee evaluating the towing bids and directing that individual to rank the Towing Company as the number one company.  While this process was ongoing, Sosa Jr. made additional partial payments of the agreed $10,000 bribe.  To complete the illegal arrangement, at the June 24, 2015, City Commission meeting, Santiago used his position as a City Commissioner to vote in favor of the resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into towing contracts with the Towing Company and three other companies.  The final installment of the bribe was paid after the City Commission voted to award a contract to the Towing Company.

In addition, Starks was charged in the Indictment with failing to file federal income tax returns for tax years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Related cases arising from the Opa Locka corruption investigation are the following:

Santiago previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right (Case No. 16-20971-CR).  Santiago was sentenced to 51 months in prison.

Chiverton previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right (Case No. 16-20596-CR).  Chiverton was sentenced to 38 months in prison.

Harris previously pled guilty to conspiring to commit Federal programs bribery and Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right (Case No. 16-20589-CR-BLOOM).  Harris was the first defendant to plead guilty to charges arising from this investigation, and received a sentence of probation.

Sosa Sr. and Sosa Jr. have been charged by Indictment with conspiracy to commit Federal programs bribery and substantive counts of Federal programs bribery (Case No. 18-20256-CR).  Their case is pending before U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez.

Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force and IRS-CI in this matter.  Mr. Greenberg thanked the Miami-Dade Police Department and Hialeah Police Department for their assistance.   This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward N. Stamm and Maurice Johnson.

An Indictment merely contains allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Oakdale prisoner sentenced to 51 months for assaulting fellow inmate

LAKE CHARLES, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that an Oakdale inmate was sentenced Tuesday to four years and three months in prison for assaulting another inmate.

Frank Quinton Gaitor, 49, of Washington County, Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter on one count of assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and must pay $18,513.93 restitution. According to the February 7, 2018 guilty plea, Gaitor assaulted and intentionally struck a fellow inmate on January 2, 2016 at the Federal Correctional Center in Oakdale, Louisiana. The assault left the inmate with serious bodily injuries.

The FBI and U.S. Bureau of Prisons conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Ayo and Jamilla A. Bynog prosecuted the case.