Criminal Justice News

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Federal Arrest Warrant and Search Warrant Served in Firearms Theft Case

February 28, 2010 - SAGINAW, Mich. — Special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and detectives from the Saginaw County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) on February 22, 2010, arrested an individual identified as Joshua BRUFF of Owosso, Mich, for alleged violations of federal firearms laws. ATF Agents, SCSO detectives, investigators from the Michigan State Police and officers from the Owosso Police Department immediately served a federal search warrant at BRUFF'S residence located in Owosso, Mich. This arrest and search warrants were served as part of a joint investigation by ATF and SCSO after it was uncovered that BRUFF was allegedly stealing firearms and other items from his employer, Bare's Sporting Goods in St. Charles, Mich. Bare's is a federal firearms licensee (FFL).

This investigation is a cooperative effort between ATF and the SCSO. The following items were seized pursuant to the federal search warrant: 17 long guns, three handguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and miscellaneous documents. Agents and detectives are comparing serial numbers of these firearms to those reported stolen from Bare's to determine the status of these firearms.

BRUFF is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Flint, Mich. for his initial appearance on a criminal complaint which charges him with disposing of and selling a stolen firearm in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 922(j). If convicted of this charge, BRUFF faces up to 10 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.

ATF and the SCSO are seeking the public’s assistance in this matter. If you are an area FFL who purchased firearms from BRUFF, please call the ATF Flint Field Office at 810-341-5710 or the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Bureau at 989-790-5447.

A complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Trial cannot be held on felony charges in a complaint. When the investigation is completed a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment. This case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Flint, Michigan.

ATF Offers $5,000 Reward in Gun Store Burglary

20 Firearms Stolen From Licensed Dealer

February 28, 2010 - BALTIMORE — Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Theresa R. Stoop of the Baltimore Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), today announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the burglary of The Bank, a federally licensed firearms (FFL) dealer, located at 323 St. John Street, Havre de Grace, Maryland.

On September 3, 2009, after regular business hours, someone forcibly broke into and entered the gun dealer’s business and stole 20 firearms including pistols and revolvers.

“We take this crime very seriously,” said SAC Stoop. “There are 20 firearms on the street, with the strong potential of being sold to or used by other criminals. Firearms trafficking is a serious offense which results in significant federal prison time for the person or persons responsible.” The burglary is being investigated by ATF’s Firearms Trafficking Team (FTT), the Harford County Sheriff’s Department, the Havre de Grace Police Department and the Aberdeen Police Department. Anyone with information about this crime may report it to the following agencies:

•ATF Baltimore Field Office: (443) 965-2154
•ATF Gun Hotline: (800) ATF-GUNS or (800) 283-4867
•Havre de Grace Police Department: (410) 939-2121

All information will be treated confidentially and the callers will remain anonymous upon request.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Union Executive with Extortion and Illegal Labor Payments

February 26, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, MARJORIE FRANZMAN, the Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Regional Office of the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General ("DOLOIG"), and RALPH GERCHAK, District Director of the New York Office of the Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, announced that WARREN JOSEPH ANNUNZIATA, an executive of Local 91 of the United Craft and Industrial Workers' Union ("Local 91"), was arrested today on an Indictment charging him with extortion and receiving unlawful labor payments in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act, which prohibits payments from regulated industries to union officials. ANNUNZIATA, 75, of Roslyn Heights, New York was arrested this morning at his residence by DOL agents. He is expected to be arraigned on the Indictment this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge THEODORE H. KATZ in Manhattan federal court.

According to the Indictment unsealed today:

Local 91 is a union that represents approximately 2,000 individuals, including bus drivers and bus escorts who work for companies that contract with the New York City Department of Education to provide students with school bus transportation to public schools throughout New York City. ANNUNZIATA was previously the President and Executive Director of Local 91, and is currently the union's Pension Fund Administrator, in which capacity he oversees pension and benefit funds holding over $85 million in assets.

From approximately 1992 through 2009, ANNUNZIATA used his position as a high-ranking Local 91 official to solicit and collect cash payments totaling over $500,000 from various bus company owners whose employees were members of Local 91. If convicted of the two counts alleged in the Indictment, ANNUNZIATA faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the extortion charge and a maximum of five years in prison on the unlawful labor payments charge. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

The case has been assigned to United States District Judge COLEEN McMAHON.

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the DOL in the investigation of this case. He also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its role. Mr. BHARARA said that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office's Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney ELIE HONIG is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Dealer Responsible for Largest Grain Brokerage Failure in Missouri History Sentenced to Prison for Mail Fraud

February 26, 2010 - ST. LOUIS, MO—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Cathy M. Gieseker was sentenced to 108 months in prison for mail fraud and a wide-ranging fraud scheme involving $27 million in proceeds from the sale of farm commodities. Gieseker was also ordered to forfeit millions of dollars in personal property and real estate.

Gieseker operated a “Ponzi” scheme whereby payments to farmers for grain sales were paid through monies gained through the subsequent sale of grain supplied by other farmers, despite the fact that insufficient funds were generated to pay all farmers the promised rates. Ultimately, the scheme collapsed in February 2009 with scores of farmers left with no grain and no payments for their crops.

Gieseker operated a grain trucking and marketing company from her residence in Martinsburg, Missouri. Between October 2002 and February 2009, in addition to transporting grain, Cathy Gieseker began to market grain on behalf of farmers. In this capacity she quoted above-market prices to farmers and represented that she had contracts from Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to guarantee the prices. During the course of this scheme, Gieseker delivered and sold virtually all of the grain at ADM. However, Gieseker did not hold contracts that guaranteed the above-market prices she had quoted farmers from ADM. Instead, she sold all of her grain at the “spot price” (local cash price for immediate settlement and delivery) and used the proceeds from subsequent grain transactions to pay the above-market prices she had previously promised other farmers. In this manner, Gieseker defrauded approximately 180 farmers out of at least $27 million in proceeds from grain sales she made on their behalf. Most of the proceeds went to pay other farmers who had previously been quoted above-market prices, but Gieseker also used a substantial portion of these proceeds on automobiles, gifts to family and friends and an expensive hobby of acquiring and showing livestock.

“I don’t know why people think they can get away with ponzi schemes when they always eventually collapse,” said Roland J. Corvington, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in St. Louis. “Nevertheless, there will continue to be people who take advantage of unsuspecting victims who do not question something that is too good to be true.”

CATHY M. GEISEKER, Martinsburg, Missouri, pleaded guilty last November to one felony count of mail fraud. She appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge Charles A. Shaw in St. Louis.

Additionally, Gieseker agreed to the forfeiture of four parcels of property in Martinsburg, Missouri; one property in Rush Hill, Missouri and 22 vehicles consisting of multiple semi tractors, trailers, vehicles and ATVs.

This case was investigated by the St. Charles Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Assistant United States Attorney Tom Albus handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Houma Man Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges

February 26, 2010 - NEW ORLEANS—ROBERT KIM ISTRE, 55, of Houma, Louisiana, pled guilty in federal court today before U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon to felonies involving the sexual exploitation of children, announced U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

According to documents filed in federal court, ISTRE knowingly used his computer to search for, download, and save images of child pornography. On July 30, 2009, special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a federal search warrant and seized a personal computer and several DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes from the defendant’s residence in Houma, Louisiana. A subsequent computer forensic search of ISTREs computer revealed that he was in possession of approximately 10,000 images and 300 videos depicting the sexual victimization of children.

ISTRE faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years' imprisonment and a maximum of twenty (20) years. In addition, ISTRE will be placed on supervised release for a period of not less than five (5) years and up to life and will be required to register as a sex offender. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for May 27, 2010.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba.

“H1N1 Bandit” Arrested

On Thursday, February 25, 2010, at approximately 1:53 p.m., the Aurora Police Department and the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force responded to an attempted bank robbery of the Key Bank, 4090 S. Parker Road in Aurora, Colorado. The robber was wearing a long black trench coat and black watch cap.

Later the same day, Denver Police Officers from District 3 contacted a man in the 120 block of North Garfield Street in Denver. The Denver Officers found the man wearing a black trench coat and a black watch cap.

Upon investigation, the Denver Officers determined the man was armed with a shotgun under his trench coat and possessed a robbery demand note in his coat pocket. Responding agents from the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force identified the man as the robber from the attempted bank robbery earlier in Aurora.

The investigation has determined that ARTHUR DEWEY BITTNER, 52 years of age, DOB 08-19-1957, may be the "H1N1 Bandit" responsible for a series of bank robberies. BITTNER was arrested and jailed in the Denver City Jail. He will be charged with bank robbery and will appear before a United States Magistrate Judge for an initial appearance. The H1N1 Bandit is responsible for three bank robberies and two attempted bank robberies, which are listed below:

• 12/10/2009, Wells Fargo Bank at 2500 E 2nd Ave in Denver

• 12/16/2009, U.S. Bank at 444 17th Street in Denver

• 12/30/2009, Key Bank at 3000 S Peoria Street in Aurora

• 02/19/2010, Vectra Bank at 401 E. Speer Blvd in Denver (attempted bank robbery)

• 02/25/2010, Key Bank at 4090 S. Parker Rd in Aurora (attempted bank robbery)

No photographs will be released.

Bank robbery is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence for each offense and increases if a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of the crime.

The FBI continues to provide financial institutions with the best practices for security to make them less vulnerable to robberies.

If anyone has any information on these bank robberies, or any bank robbery, please call the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171, or you can remain anonymous and earn up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) by calling CRIMESTOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).

American Heroes Radio 100th Anniversary Show Update

American Heroes Radio will broadcast its 100th show, tonight, February 26, 2010, at 1700 hours Pacific. Guest for the Anniversary Show will include:

Former USMC Major Richard Botkin; Private Investigator Jimmie Mesis; former San Francisco Police Department Detective Linda Flanders, former Deputy Sheriff Brian Kinnard; former marine and Howard County Police Department police officer James H. Lilley; Vietnam Veteran Arthur Wiknik; former St. Louis County Police Department law enforcement official Ken Dye; the son of Colonel James R. Haun, a World War II fighter pilot; attorney and former police officer Sean Rogers; Senior Sergeant Martin Katz, Broward County Sheriff’s Office (ret.); Special Agent Bob Hamer, Federal Bureau of Investigation (ret.); Vietnam Veteran and former New York Police Department police officer Joe Sanchez; Vietnam Veteran and retired New York Police Department Detective Alan Sheppard; Retire New York State Correction Officer Al Bermudez Pereira; retired Sergeant Gregory Allen Doyle, Upland Police Department; Lieutenant Art Adkins Gainesville Police Department; Dr. Andrew J. Harvey, retired police captain, educator and author; Detective Don Howell, Huntington Beach Police Department (ret.); and, Captain Frank Root, Arizona Department of Public Safety (ret.).

Listen Live

FBI versus the Klan

February 26, 2010 - Ninety-five years ago this month—in February 1915—the D.W. Griffith movie later titled The Birth of a Nation premiered in a Los Angeles theater. Though considered progressive in its technique and style, the film had a decidedly backwards plot that glorified a short-lived, post-Civil War white supremacist group called the Ku Klux Klan. The movie’s broad release in March provoked riots and even bloodshed nationwide.

It also revived interest in the KKK, leading to the birth of several new local groups that summer and fall. Many more followed, mostly in southern states at first. Some of these groups focused on supporting the U.S. effort in World War I, but most wallowed in a toxic mix of secrecy, racism, and violence.

As the Klan grew, it attracted the attention of the young Bureau. Created just a few years earlier—in July 1908—the Bureau of Investigation (as the organization was known then) had few federal laws to combat the KKK in these formative days. Cross burnings and lynchings, for example, were local issues. But under its general domestic security responsibilities, the Bureau was able to start gathering information and intelligence on the Klan and its activities. And wherever possible, we looked for federal violations and shared information with state and local law enforcement for its cases.

Our early files show that Bureau cases and intelligence efforts were already beginning to mount in the years before 1920. A few examples:

In Birmingham, a middle-aged African-American—who fled north to avoid serving in the war—was arrested for draft dodging in May 1918 when he returned to persuade his white teenage girlfriend to marry him. A Bureau agent looking into the matter discovered that the local KKK had gotten wind of the interracial affair and was organizing to lynch the man. The agent came up with a novel solution to resolve the draft-dodging issue and to protect the man from harm: he escorted the evader to a military camp and ensured that he was quickly inducted.

In June 1918, a Mobile agent named G.C. Outlaw learned that Ed Rhone—the leader of an African-American group called the Knights of Labor—was worried by the abduction of another labor leader by reputed Klansmen. “This uneasiness of the Knights of Labor,” our agent noted, “is the first direct result of the Ku Klux activities.” Agent Outlaw investigated and assured Rhone we would protect him from any possible harm.

At the request of a Bureau agent in Tampa, a representative of the American Protective League—a group of citizen volunteers who helped investigate domestic issues like draft evasion during World War I—convinced an area Klan group to disband in August 1918.

World War I effectively came to an end with the signing of a ceasefire in November 1918, but the KKK was just getting started. Pro-war oriented Klan groups either folded or began to coalesce around a focus on racial and religious prejudice. Teaming up with advertising executive Edward Clarke Young, the head of the Atlanta Klan—William Simmons—would oversee a rapid rise in KKK membership in the 1920s.

Gang Member Sentenced to 23 Years for Second Degree Murder in Sacaton

February 26, 2010 - PHOENIX, AZ—Raymond Jackson, 22, of Sacaton, Ariz., was sentenced here to 23 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Martone for killing.

The facts showed that on June 6, 2009, Jackson was drinking beer and arguing with his male victim about their previous time in prison and who was the most “bad.” Jackson insisted he was “more bad” because he had previously served “more time.” The two continued to argue about who was stronger and tougher based upon their gang affiliations. The victim then left the scene, indicating that he was going to get his friends and return.

Jackson followed the victim, ran up to him, and shot the victim one time in the chest. The victim died at the scene.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Gila River Police Department and the FBI. The prosecution was handled by Sharon Sexton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix, Ariz.

Hyperion Bank Branch Robbed

February 26, 2010 - The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department are seeking the public's assistance to identify and locate the subject responsible for the robbery of the Hyperion Bank branch located at 199 West Girard Avenue earlier today.

At approximately 1:00 p.m., an unidentified subject entered the bank and presented a threatening demand note to a teller. The subject indicated he was armed with a gun, and is described as a white male in his 30’s, 5’6” to 5'7" tall, medium build, unshaven or scruffy facial hair, wearing a black knit ski cap, dark-colored jacket, and grey hooded sweatshirt under the jacket. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the subject fled the area of the bank on foot.

This subject is considered armed and dangerous, and anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or the Philadelphia Police Department. There may be a reward for information leading to this subject's identification and arrest, and tipsters can remain anonymous.

For information about this and other bank robberies, commercial business robberies, and fugitives, please visit

Former Fuel Purchaser Arrested for Defrauding Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.

February 26, 2010 - Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Miami Field Office, announced the arrest of defendant Jamil Murni, 60, of Houston, Texas, on an indictment charging him with nine counts of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, and one count of money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957. Defendant Murni will appear in federal court in Texas before facing charges in Miami.

According to the indictment, defendant Murni was a Commodity Manager for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. In that position, defendant Murni was responsible for negotiating fuel prices and deliveries for Royal Caribbean. From late 2003 through late 2006, however, defendant Murni devised a scheme to defraud his employer of over $600,000.

According to court documents, in 2003, defendant Murni registered “Sea Fuels Trading” as a fictitious name with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations. He then opened and maintained a bank account in the name of Sea Fuels Trading. On December 19, 2003, defendant Murni applied to have Sea Fuels Trading become a fuel provider for Royal Caribbean. In that application, defendant Murni fraudulently concealed his ownership of the company. Royal Caribbean subsequently approved Sea Fuels Trading as a fuel vendor and paid defendant Murni’s company money at a rate greater than would have been paid to a legitimate fuel vendor.

An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. The matter is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney H. Ron Davidson.


Wichita Woman Pleads Guilty to Bribery

February 26, 2010 - WICHITA, KS—Alicia Bell, 36, Wichita, Kansas, has pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch said today.

Bell admitted that while working as a bondsman agent from 2005 to 2008, she paid Wichita city employee and co-defendant Kaylene J. “Katie” Pottorff to alter data in the computerized records system of the Wichita Municipal Court. The changes were made to ensure the court did not collect forfeitures of certain bonds from Bell’s employer, AAA Bail Bonds.

Bell is set for sentencing May 13, 2010. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Co-defendants Pottorff and Jessie Garland are scheduled for jury trial May 11, 2010.

Welch commended the Wichita Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for their work on the case.

Three Indicted for Fraud in Connection with Counterfeit Art Sales

Defendants Charged with Selling Counterfeit Clementine Hunter Paintings

February 26, 2010 - ALEXANDRIA, LA—Three individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury for selling non-authentic paintings falsely attributed to Clementine Hunter, Acting United States Attorney William J. Flanagan announced today.

WILLIAM TOYE, age 78, of Baton Rouge; BERYL ANN TOYE, age 68, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and ROBERT E. LUCKY, JR., age 62, of New Orleans, Louisiana, were named in a four-count indictment which charges all three defendants with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Clementine Hunter was an African-American folk artist who lived in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Ms. Hunter began painting in the late 1930's and continued to paint until a few days before her death on January 1, 1988. The value of Ms. Hunter’s paintings vary and are actively sold on the open art market.

The indictment alleges that beginning sometime in 2000 and continuing until September 30, 2009, the defendants conspired to defraud several collectors of Ms. Hunter’s paintings by misrepresenting the authenticity and origin of the paintings that LUCKY sold on behalf of the TOYES. The indictment also alleges that the defendants committed three counts of mail fraud in furtherance of the conspiracy.

If convicted of conspiracy, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, a $250,000 fine or both.

All defendants have been ordered to appear for arraignment on March 17, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., before United States Magistrate Judge James D. Kirk.

An indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Alexandria Resident Agency, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander C. Van Hook and Cytheria D. Jernigan.

Individuals with information concerning this investigation are encouraged to contact Special Agent Randolph J. Deaton at the FBI in Alexandria at 318-443-5097.

North Carolina Drug Dealer Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison

February 26, 2010 - CHARLESTON, WV—A North Carolina drug dealer was sentenced to 188 months in prison today for drug conspiracy and for witness intimidation. Hugo Santamaria, 30, of Monroe, North Carolina, was convicted on November 19, 2009, of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and two counts of witness intimidation. The conviction stems from a long term investigation by members of the Central West Virginia Drug and Violent Crime Task Force in Summersville, West Virginia.

According to trial witnesses, Santamaria supplied individuals in Nicholas, Preston, and Monongalia Counties with cocaine and marijuana from 2001 until June 2006. On March 15, 2006, task force agents executed a search warrant at a residence in Birch River, West Virginia where they recovered approximately one kilogram of cocaine, cash, packaging and weighing paraphernalia and numerous firearms. Also present at the residence were Zackary Scott Bergdorf, 34, of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, James Lewis Frame, 34, of Birch River and Roger Dale Skaggs, 52, also of Birch River. Bergdorf, Frame, and Skaggs pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in 2007 and identified Santamaria as their supplier of marijuana and cocaine.

Santamaria was also found guilty of two counts of witness intimidation for making threats against individuals and/or their family members which he believed would cooperate with authorities or would testify against him at trial.

Investigators lost track of Santamaria shortly after he threatened a witness on February 28, 2007. However, on June 1, 2007, border patrol officers arrested Santamaria at the Port of Entry at Presidio, Texas when he was caught smuggling approximately 216 pounds of marijuana into the United States.

United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. presided over the proceedings.

Lincoln County Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Firearms

February 26, 2010 - CHARLESTON, WV—Joshua David Weddington, 29, of Alkol, West Virginia, was sentenced today to three years in prison, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release for stealing firearms. Weddington previously pled guilty to the federal gun charge in November 2009. On November 2, 2008, Weddington stole 13 firearms from a residence in Sias, Lincoln County, West Virginia. As part of his plea agreement, Weddington stipulated that he also stole seven firearms from residences in Culloden and Yawkey, West Virginia. In addition to his term of imprisonment, Weddington was ordered to pay over $4,700 in restitution to the victims of his crime.

The West Virginia State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston handled the prosecution. United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. presided over the proceedings.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Theft from School

Charter School Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft of Over $600,000 from School

February 25, 2010 - NEW ORLEANS, LA—KELLY A. THOMPSON, age 39, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, pled guilty in federal court today before United States District Judge Carl J. Barbier to theft of federal funds, announced United States Attorney Jim Letten.

According to the documents filed today in court, THOMPSON was employed at Langston Hughes Academy Charter School as the Business and Human Resources Manager/Financial Manager beginning approximately July 1, 2008 until approximately November 6, 2009. THOMPSON admitted that in her position at Langston Hughes Academy Charter School, she would make cash withdrawals while acting in her capacity as Business and Human Resources Manager/Financial Manager and then manipulated the school’s record in order to conceal the thefts. The amount of loss to Langston Hughes Academy Charter School is approximately $660,000.

THOMPSON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of ten (10) years, a fine of $250,000, and up to three (3) years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment. Sentencing is set for May 20, 2010.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney James R. Mann.

Murder for Hire

Indictment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Charge of Use of Interstate Facilities in the Commission of a Murder-for-Hire

February 25, 2010 - United States Attorney David R. Dugas announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging TAMMY L. COPELAND, age 34, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, with the use of interstate facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire.

A Criminal Complaint was filed on February 17, 2010, alleging that COPELAND attempted to hire someone to kill her ex-husband who lives in Canada. The indictment alleges that COPELAND used a federally insured credit union and a telephone, and caused another to use a telephone, facilities of interstate commerce, with the intent that the murder be committed in violation of Louisiana law (Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:30.1—second degree murder; 14:28.1—solicitation for murder; and 14:27 and 14:30:2—attempted second degree murder) as consideration for the receipt of $5,000 in United States currency.

If convicted, COPELAND could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Piedrahita.

NOTE: An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by the defendant. The defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until and unless she is proven guilty at trial.

Federal Inmate Sentenced for Possession of a Weapon

February 25, 2010 - INDIANAPOLIS—John C. Mabery, 28, an inmate at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex, was sentenced to 24 months in prison today by U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney following his guilty plea to possessing a weapon. The sentence will be served consecutive to his current sentence. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Prisons.

On March 21, 2009, a metal detector in the recreation area of the institution activated as Mabery passed through. Mabery was asked to pass through the detector a second time, and again the alarm was activated. Mabery was subjected to a search, and officers located a homemade weapon inside Mabery’s clothing. The weapon was a metal object, approximately 8½ inches in length, sharpened to a point, and had cloth attached to the opposite end to serve as a handle.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Warden, who prosecuted the case for the government, Judge McKinney also imposed two years supervised release following Mabery’s release from prison.

Abbeville's Most Wanted Captured in Virginia

February 25, 2010 - Lafayette, LA – The Abbeville Police Department and U.S. Marshals are pleased to announce the arrest of Jamaal Diggs. Diggs was Wanted by the Abbeville Police Department for Second Degree Murder and Louisiana Probation and Parole for Probation Violation. It is alleged that Diggs killed D’Jacquaney Mitchel in broad daylight in Abbeville on December 10, 2009. On December 15, 2009 the Abbeville Police Department requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals and since then, the Abbeville PD, the U.S. Marshals, and Louisiana Probation and Parole (and multiple other agencies) have worked tirelessly on this investigation. The Abbeville Police Department and US Marshals have run down numerous local leads and US Marshals in Houston, Dallas, and San Francisco contributed to this investigation as well. Ultimately, it was the US Marshals Capital Area Regional Task Force in Richmond, Virginia along with U.S. Marshals in Newport News, VA that arrested Diggs. Diggs was arrested a little after 1:00 p.m. CST without incident and will be housed in Newport News, VA until he is extradited back to Abbeville.

Tommy Hancock, the United States Marshal for the Western District of Louisiana, said, “The coordinated effort of all law enforcement to bring dangerous criminals to justice ensures that the streets and neighborhoods of Louisiana are a safer place to raise our children.”

The Western District of Louisiana’s Fugitive Task Force (WDLA) in Lafayette is a team comprised of full-time law enforcement officers from the Lafayette City Marshals, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lafayette Police Department, and St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office. Further, WDLA calls upon part-time TFO’s throughout its eight parish area. In 2009 WDLA in Lafayette closed approximately 600 Warrants, most of which were violent felony offenses. US Marshals Task Forces throughout the United States arrested more than 73,000 state and local fugitives on felony charges.

Kiln Resident Sentenced for Child Pornography Offense

February 25, 2010 - GULFPORT, MS—Aaron Brensike, age 64, of Kiln, Mississippi, was sentenced in federal court today by U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola to serve 87 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Donald R. Burkhalter and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen announced today. Brensike was also ordered to pay a $12,500 fine and to forfeit two computers.

Brensike pled guilty in October, 2009 to an indictment charging him with the transfer of obscene material to minors. Brensike admitted to engaging in sexually explicit chats and sending obscene photos over the Internet to someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl, who in reality was an individual providing assistance to the FBI.

“This prosecution is a continuing effort by this office to remove people like Brensike from civil society,” said U.S. Attorney Burkhalter.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Golden and Annette Williams

Iowa Men Indicted for Clean Air Act Violations

February 25, 2010 - WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury in Des Moines, Iowa, has returned an indictment charging Robert Joe Knapp, the owner of Equitable L.P.; and Russell William Coco, the supervisor for Knapp, with committing violations of the Clean Air Act while they were overseeing the demolition and renovation of The Equitable Building, the Justice Department announced.

The indictment describes a more than two-year-long operation in which several floors of The Equitable Building, located in downtown Des Moines, were illegally demolished while still containing large amounts of asbestos. The indictment goes on to allege that asbestos that was removed from the building during the demolition and renovation project was removed illegally, placed into open dumpsters and improperly disposed of in a landfill.

The eleven-count indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Clean Air Act. The defendants are also charged with violating the Clean Air Act’s "work-practice standards" intended to prevent releases of asbestos and failing to give notice prior to renovation and demolition.

The conspiracy and substantive Clean Air Act counts of the indictment each carry a maximum possible term of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Congress and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have determined that asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant. Congress has found that medical science has established no minimum level of exposure to asbestos fibers which is considered safe to exposed persons.

The allegations in the indictment are mere accusations and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by special agents of the EPA and inspectors for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Iowa and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

Cleveland Man Charged in Robberies of Three Banks

February 25, 2010 - Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, today announced that a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against John W. Mann, age 46, of Cleveland, Ohio, in connection with the recent robberies of three Cleveland banks. The three-count indictment alleges that Mann used force, violence and intimidation to rob the Key Bank at 2047 West 25th Street of $4,415.00 on December 4, 2009, the Fifth Third Bank at 3885 Rocky River Drive of $3,979.00 on January 16, 2010, and the Charter One Bank at 17411 Lorain Avenue of $2,580.00 on January 27, 2010.

The sentence in this case will be determined by the Court after consideration of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which depend upon a number of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the unique characteristics of the violation. In all case the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

The case was presented to the grand jury by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph P. Schmitz following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cleveland Police Department.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Corruption Probe

Solon Resident Charged in Cuyahoga County Corruption Probe

February 25, 2010 - William J. Edwards, First Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI; and Jose A. Gonzalez, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, today announced that a one-count Information was filed charging Nicholas A. Zavarella, age 59, of Solon, Ohio, in connection with the Cuyahoga County public corruption investigation.

The Information charges Zavarella with participating in a bribery conspiracy that involved Zavarella providing masonry work valued at approximately $25,000 over a period of six years on the residence of PO1 in part because of PO1’s official position and with the expectation that PO1 would be willing to perform official acts for Defendant’s benefit when specific opportunities arose. The information charges that PO1 helped a relative of Zavarella obtain a County job and two teaching jobs. In addition, PO1 made inquiries on a County construction job in which Zavarella expected to obtain a subcontract.

Former Grady Hospital Emergency Room Doctor Convicted of Child Exploitation Crimes

February 25, 2010 - ATLANTA, GA—A federal jury today returned guilty verdicts against DR. ADAM WAYNE LEBOWITZ, 50, of Decatur, Georgia, on one count of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to coerce and entice a minor to engage in unlawful sex acts. The jury found him not guilty on another count of producing child pornography.

Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the verdicts, “If not for the diligence of a mother and her son, and the quick work of county and federal law enforcement, this doctor could still be preying upon young victims. As a doctor, this defendant was responsible for protecting the health and safety of children, but instead endangered the physical and emotional safety of children by exploiting them. He will no longer be able to do that behind the bars of a federal prison.”

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, “Dr. Lebowitz had a bright career wherein he had committed himself to helping others. Dr. Lebowitz forfeited that career by instead engaging in acts that exploited minor children and further acts that, without law enforcement intervention, would have exploited and victimized a minor child. This is a very unfortunate case but one that should serve as an example to parents that predators come from all walks of life and that parents must remain vigilant in order to play a role in proactively protecting their children.”

Coweta County Sheriff Michael Yeager said, “The Coweta County Sheriff's Office appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney's Office and all agencies involved in bringing this case forward. Hopefully a very long period of incarceration will follow so no one else will encounter this individual.”

Clayton County Police Chief Timothy Robinson said, “I am proud to have our agency working closely with the FBI and the Safe Child Task Force. Because of the hard work, dedication and collaboration of these agencies, another child predator is off of our streets. It is just another example of how communities benefit from Multi-Jurisdictional Task Forces.”

According to Acting United States Attorney Yates, and the evidence presented in court: LEBOWITZ came to the attention of law enforcement officers at the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office on October 26, 2006, afer a victim, a 15-year-old boy, received a series of e-mails on the MySpace website, and sexually graphic instant messages on the AOL website, from LEBOWITZ. The victim’s mother contacted the sheriff’s office and reported these online messages sent by LEBOWITZ to her son. The sheriff's office then began an undercover investigation of LEBOWITZ that culminated in his arrest in the driveway of the victim’s home on November 2, 2006. Evidence at trial showed LEBOWITZ had planned to transport the victim to LEBOWITZ’s home in Decatur, Georgia, and had multiple condoms and sexual lubricants inside his vehicle at the time of his arrest.

Following the arrest, the sheriff’s office obtained and executed a warrant to search LEBOWITZ’s home. During the search, investigators seized three computers, two of which contained video recordings of LEBOWITZ engaged in sex acts with two young boys. Investigators discovered that these same video recordings were located on a VHS tape found inside his home during the search. Members of the FBI’s “Safe Child Task Force” identified the victims in the video recordings and contacted them. Both victims revealed that LEBOWITZ had recorded himself engaged in graphic sex acts with these victims when both were minors. An examination of LEBOWITZ’s computers, performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), revealed that LEBOWITZ had sent images from his recordings of the two young victims over the Internet. He was indicted on the charges on June 12, 2007, and a superseding indictment was filed on February 9, 2010.

A sentencing date for LEBOWITZ has not yet been set before United States District Judge Richard W. Story. LEBOWITZ faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment as to Count Two of producing pornography, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a maximum sentence of life in prison on Count Three, the attempt to coerce a minor.

This case was investigated by members of the FBI’s “Safe Child Task Force,” the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, the Clayton County Police Department, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) with valuable assistance from U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Computer Forensics Division. Assistance in this case has also been provided by the Coweta County District Attorney’s Office.

Assistant United States Attorneys Richard S. Moultrie, Jr., and Rodney D. Bullard prosecuted the case.

Evanston Man Charged with Transporting Child Pornography

February 25, 2010 - CHICAGO—An Evanston man was arrested and charged today with transporting child pornography via computer after federal agents searched his home and found images of alleged child pornography on a computer in his residence. The defendant, Richard Mann, also known as “Rick Mann,” 53, of Evanston, was charged in a criminal complaint, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mann maintains a public website that identifies him as an actor, voice-over artist, musician and music instructor, who works in area religious schools. The charges contain no allegations that he engaged in any sexual conduct with minors. He appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in U.S. District Court and was ordered to remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

According to the complaint affidavit, Mann used the screen name “Spaniell,” to share files of child pornography with “friends” on a peer-to-peer network. An undercover FBI agent who was “friends” with Spaniell on the network allegedly browsed Spaniell’s shared directories and observed files containing alleged child pornography on Dec. 23, 2009, and again on Feb. 1 and 5, 2010. Some of the files were identified as being part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) “Dalmatian” series of identified victims.

FBI agents subsequently linked the shared files to an Internet account at Mann’s address, according to the affidavit. A preliminary review of a desktop computer found during the search of his residence today allegedly showed 24 gigabytes of files that contained child pornography. In addition, agents found multiple DVDs and CDs that contained at least hundreds of images and videos of minors, including adult men engaged in sexually explicit conduct with prepubescent boys, the complaint alleges.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher McFadden.

Transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Upon conviction, the Court, however, would determine a reasonable sentence to impose considering the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Guilty Mortgage Fraud

Rainbow City Woman Pleads Guilty to Mortgage Application Fraud and Embezzlement

February 25, 2010 - HUNTSVILLE—A 56-year-old Rainbow City woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to charges of bank and mortgage fraud that totaled more than $500,000, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley announced.

ROXANNE SAUNDERS GILLILAND entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith, Jr., to one count of making false statements on a mortgage loan application and three counts of bank fraud. She agreed to forfeit $577,796 to the government as proceeds of illegal activity.

According to GILLILAND’s plea agreement and other court documents, GILLILAND was an employee of Dawson Construction Company in Gadsden and, between March 2005 and October 2008, fraudulently withdrew the $577,796 from personal and business accounts connected to the company. Also, in April 2007, GILLILAND submitted a personal home mortgage application in which she claimed a business account of Dawson Construction as a personal asset in order to obtain a mortgage loan she would have been otherwise ineligible to receive.

“Any individual who commits both bank and mortgage fraud becomes a serious threat to our community. This defendant’s criminal fraud struck at both our local businesses and financial community. It is our mission to deal with these individuals swiftly and decisively in order to deter others from committing similar crimes,” Vance said.

The maximum sentence for counts one through four is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Special agents of the FBI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney is prosecuting for the government.

Texas Gang Members Found Guilty of Multiple Murder, Narcotics, and Firearms Charges

February 25, 2010 - WASHINGTON—The leader of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) in Texas and one of his enforcers were found guilty this afternoon on multiple charges related to their participation in a large scale narcotics and firearms trafficking conspiracy, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. Specifically, the two men were found guilty for their roles in the May 4, 2008 murders of a pregnant female and another bystander.

“Gunning down people in our streets and distributing illegal drugs throughout our communities, these gangs spread violence and addiction wherever they go,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “We will not allow their repugnant acts to go unpunished. Today, a jury of Texas citizens sent a message loud and clear to would-be gang members—we can and we will hold you accountable for your crimes.”

“For more than a week, this jury listened to testimony concerning the movement of a large amount of drugs and guns throughout the state of Texas by members of the Latin Kings criminal organization,” said James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “Not only did this gang pollute the streets of Texas with dangerous drugs, as a result of their heinous actions, two adults, one of whom was pregnant, were brutally murdered with an assault rifle. We are proud that we, along with the hard-working members of the agencies that contributed to this investigation, have brought civilized justice to otherwise uncivilized gang wars. This office is proud to have assisted the Department of Justice’s Gang Unit in the successful prosecution of these criminals.”

Jose Robledo Nava, aka “Chino,” 31, of Lubbock, Texas, and James Johnathan Cole, aka “Blitz,” 19, of Lamesa, Texas, were each found guilty by a federal jury in Lubbock on two counts of using a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and one count of a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. The jury also found Nava guilty on one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms and one count of possession of stolen firearms.

Nava and Cole were found guilty for their involvement in a drive-by shooting in Big Spring, Texas, on May 4, 2008, in which six people were shot with an AK-47 type rifle. According to the evidence presented at trial, the victims included Michael Cardona and Valeria Garcia, who was 26 weeks pregnant at the time of the shooting. Cardona and Garcia ultimately died as a result of their wounds. Evidence presented at trial proved that after the shootings, Nava ordered two of his co-conspirators to destroy the murder weapon.

According to evidence presented at trial, Nava was the Texas state enforcer and representative for the ALKQN. The jury found that Nava and Cole were members of a conspiracy that included Luis Nava, aka “Flaco;” Reynaldo Nava, aka “Rat;” Robert Allen Ramirez, aka “Nesyo;” Marie Chavez, aka “Shorty;” Carol Ann Rivas Nava; Cecily Dominique Juarez; Jesus Martinez, aka “Solid;” David Hellums, aka “Cutthroat;” Eduardo Daniel Mares, aka “Pitt;” Gabriel Lee Gonzales; Michael Conde, aka “Psycho;” John Guzman; Guerrero Olivas, aka “Screech;” Eliseo Perez, aka “Wicked;” Joe Canales, aka “Slick;” and others. The jury found that from 2001 until Dec. 13, 2008, Nava and Cole directly or indirectly agreed to distribute, and possessed with intent to distribute, cocaine and marijuana.

The defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set by the court.

The case was investigated by the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement and Coordination Center; the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the FBI; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the El Paso Intelligence Center; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Police Departments of Lubbock, Midland, Houston, San Antonio and Big Spring, Texas; the Lubbock County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; and the Howard County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office.

Trial Attorneys Cody L. Skipper and Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Williams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas prosecuted the case.

Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in New York to Pay U.S. $2.92 Million to Resolve Fraud Allegations

February 25, 2010 - WASHINGTON – Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, a Long Island, N.Y.-based hospital, has agreed to pay $2.92 million, plus interest, to settle allegations that the hospital defrauded Medicare, the Justice Department announced today.

The government alleged that the hospital fraudulently inflated its charges to Medicare patients to obtain enhanced reimbursement from the federal health care program. In addition to its standard payment system, Medicare provides supplemental reimbursement, called "outlier payments," to hospitals and other health care providers in cases where the cost of care is unusually high. Congress enacted the supplemental outlier payments system to ensure that hospitals possess the incentive to treat inpatients whose care requires unusually high costs. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital inflated its charges to obtain supplemental outlier payments for cases that were not extraordinarily costly and for which outlier payments should not have been paid.

"Conduct like that alleged here drives up the costs of health care for all of us," said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. "The resolution announced today is the most recent in a series of settlements that illustrates the Justice Department's continued commitment to protecting the Medicare Trust Fund from hospitals that knowingly charge more than the law allows."

The suit was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a whistleblower, Tony Kite, in 2005. The United States intervened in the suit in November 2009. Mr. Kite brought his suit under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery. Under the civil settlement announced today, Mr. Kite will receive roughly $613,000, plus interest, out of the settlement proceeds.

"This office is determined to root out any conduct that threatens to undermine the integrity of the federal health care programs," said Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The settlement is the result of a coordinated effort by the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit; the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This settlement is part of the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in that effort is the False Claims Act, which the Justice Department has used to recover approximately $2.3 billion since January 2009 in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 have topped $3 billion. Since 2006, the United States has recovered over $1.2 billion from hospitals that it alleged engaged in outlier fraud.

Convicted Sex Offender Sentenced to 18 Years for Possession of Child Pornography

February 25, 2010 - BIRMINGHAM—A federal judge today sentenced a 27-year-old Columbiana man to 18 years in prison for possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced in conjunction with FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn sentenced JUSTIN BLAKE TIDWELL and directed he be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life after completing his prison term. TIDWELL also must register as a sex offender.

According to the information and TIDWELL’S plea agreement, he possessed more than 600 images of child pornography on a computer between July and August 2009. TIDWELL faced a maximum 20-year sentence because of prior state convictions of sexual abuse.

Court records show TIDWELL possessed images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including that of a girl less than six years old.

“Each child pictured in pornography is a victim when the image is made, and again each time it is viewed,” Vance said. “The availability of pornography on the Internet makes that repeated victimization almost endless. Criminals who create child pornography and those who encourage its production by paying to view it or by passing it around the Internet will be prosecuted,” she said.

“The sentence rendered today should be a warning to all other individuals who may be involved in this kind of activity,” Maley said. “We are watching and we will bring you to justice.”

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Birmingham Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Fortune prosecuted the government’s case.

This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about the national Project Safe Childhood initiative, please visit

International Swine Flu Conference

Washington, D.C. - February 23, 2010 - New-Fields announced today that over a dozen experts from Britain and the United States have confirmed to speak at the International Swine Flu Conference (ISFC) on March 10-12, 2010 at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel in London, United Kingdom.

The announcement came on the heels of the latest statement from the World Health Organization, which said that more than 212 countries and communities have reported cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 and at least 15,921 related deaths as of February 14, 2010. North Africa, Eastern Europe and East Asia continue to show active transmissions of the virus among humans.

Your participation in the ISFC will allow you to know the latest and crucial pandemic prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies designed by international bodies to end the human-to-human transmission of H1N1.

By attending the conference, you will learn from medical experts how to create solid continuity plans to prepare for, respond to, and survive a pandemic. Experts will conduct sessions that cover the following timely topics:

1. Business Continuity Planning
2. Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government Planning
3. Emergency Management Services
4. Law Enforcement Agencies
5. School / University Pandemic Planning
6. Workplace Planning
7. Hospital and Emergency Medical Services
8. Airlines, Travel, Airport, Quarantine and Border Health Services
9. Infectious Medical Waste
10. H1N1: Agriculture Perspective and Interventions

The medical experts who will speak at the conference include:
o Dr. Andrew Hayward, Senior Lecturer, UCL Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology Department of Infection and Population Health
o Dr. Laurence Buckman, Chairman, General Practitioners Committee, British Medical Association
o Dr. Simon Mardel, Clinician, Consultant, WHO Emergency Medicine Leicester Royal Infirmary
o Dr. Christine Bruce, Senior Virologist, Health Protection Agency
o Jim McManus, Joint Director of Public Health, Birmingham City Council
o Dr. Maureen Baker, Pandemic Flu Lead, Royal College of General Practitions
o Dr. Lorraine Doherty, Assistant Director for Public Health, Public Health Agency
o Mrs. Mary-Ellen Lang, Council Business Continuity Officer, The City of Edinburgh Council
o Dr. Stephen Sroka, President, Health Education Consultants
o Russell Price, Chairman, Continuity Forum
o Prof. Nigel Lightfoot, Chief Advisor, Health Protection Agency
o James E.M. Bender, Emergency Manager, Medical HorizonsConsulting, LLC
o Mary Pitcaithly, Chief Executive, Falkirk Council

Seats are limited at the conference. For reservations, you may call 202-536-5000 for prompt assistance. You may also accomplish the registration form found at and fax it to 202-280-1239.

Let us all help in stopping the human-to-human transmission of the H1N1. We look forward to seeing you in London this March for the International Swine Flu Conference.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Three Defendants in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

February 24, 2010 - PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JOSEPH M. DEMAREST JR., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and BRIAN G. PARR, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service ("USSS"), announced today the arrests of three defendants—SHAHEID BILAL, RHONDA PAYNE, and RICHARD BRITT—on charges stemming from a subprime mortgage fraud scheme involving $3 million worth of mortgages on residential properties in and around Orange and East Orange, New Jersey.

According to the five-count Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court:

From 2005 through 2007, the defendants targeted residential properties in Orange and East Orange, New Jersey. To purchase the properties, the defendants submitted mortgage loan applications, in the name of straw purchasers, that contained false information regarding, for example, the applicant's creditworthiness and intention to live in the residence. The defendants recruited such straw purchasers by, among other things, paying them thousands of dollars in fees. The defendants told several of these straw purchasers that they would not have to pay the mortgages because the defendants would make payments for several months, and/or that the defendants would make money to pay the mortgages by renting out the properties. The defendants involved in each transaction distributed the proceeds from the fraudulently obtained home mortgage loans among themselves and their co-conspirators for their personal gain.

The defendants involved in each transaction further profited by renting out the fraudulently mortgaged properties to tenants while failing to make mortgage payments on behalf of the straw purchasers. Certain affected straw purchasers have gone into default on their mortgages, and mortgage lenders have foreclosed on certain properties.

BILAL, 33, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, supervised and coordinated the recruitment of straw purchasers and the preparation of fraudulent loan applications and other documents for submission to the lenders, among other things.

PAYNE, 36, of Queens, New York, recruited straw purchasers to participate in the fraudulent scheme and assisted in the preparation of fraudulent paperwork for submission to the lenders, among other things.

BRITT, 48, of McDonough, Georgia, assisted in the preparation of fraudulent paperwork for submission to the lenders, among other things.

A chart setting forth the charges contained in the Indictment and the maximum potential penalties for each offense is below.

All three defendants were arrested yesterday. This case has been assigned to United States District Judge DENNY CHIN. PAYNE was presented yesterday before United States Magistrate Judge THEODORE H. KATZ in Manhattan federal court;

BILAL and BRITT were presented yesterday before United States Magistrate E. CLAYTON SCOFIELD III in the Northern District of Georgia.

Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the FBI, USSS, FDICOIG, and USPIS. He also thanked the New York State Banking Department for their outstanding work in the investigation.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "In a time when real families are having difficulties obtaining mortgages honestly, it is all the more important to stop schemes to obtain mortgages fraudulently. The money stolen from banks in mortgage fraud schemes is money that could be going to enable working families to buy homes. We will continue to work with our partners at the FBI, the USSS, and the FDIC-OIG, as well as the New York State Banking Department, to bring mortgage fraudsters to justice."

FBI Assistant Director JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR., stated: "Vigorous enforcement to thwart mortgage fraud is an FBI priority. The health of the economy is affected by the vitality of the housing market, and steps to ensure integrity in mortgage financing reduce the risks of failed banks and foreclosed properties."

USSS Special Agent-in-Charge BRIAN G. PARR stated: "Mortgage Fraud continues to be a priority investigative area for the United States Secret Service. Our partnership with the other agencies allows us to maximize our resources to combat this type of fraud."

This prosecution is being handled by the Office's Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant United States Attorney BRIAN A. JACOBS is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Head of the Gulf Carte, Sentenced

Judgment Entered Forfeiting $50 Million of Cardenas-Guillen’s Ill-Gotten Gains to the United States

February 24, 2010 - HOUSTON—The former head of the notorious Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas-Guillen, 42, of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been sentenced to serve 25 years in federal prison without parole and will forfeit to the United States $50 million in proceeds from his illegal enterprise, United States Attorney JosĂ© Angel Moreno announced today. United States District Judge Hilda Tagle handed down the sentence this morning.

Originally indicted in 2000 in the Southern District of Texas, Cardenas-Guillen was extradited in January 2007—one of a total of 15 major drug defendants and others extradited to the United States from Mexico—for prosecution. He has remained in federal custody without bond since then.

“The successful prosecution of Cardenas-Guillen underscores the joint resolve of the United States and Mexico to pursue and prosecute the leadership of the drug trafficking cartels, dismantle their organizations and end the violence and corruption they have spawned,” said Moreno.

While head of the Gulf Cartel, Cardenas-Guillen oversaw a vast drug trafficking empire responsible for the importation of thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana into the United States from Mexico. The drugs smuggled into the country under Cardenas-Guillen’s watch were further distributed to other areas of the country, including Houston and Atlanta, Ga. From July 2000 through September 2001, more than 2000 kilograms of cocaine directly attributable to Cardenas-Guillen was seized by United States law enforcement. The distribution of these vast quantities of cocaine and marijuana generated millions of dollars in drug proceeds which flowed south to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and ultimately into Mexico. Drug ledgers seized in Atlanta in June 2001 indicated that the Gulf Cartel generated more than $41 million in drug proceeds over a three-and-a-half-month period in the Atlanta area alone.

Cardenas-Guillen used violence and intimidation as a means of furthering the goals of his criminal enterprise. In May 1999, Cardenas-Guillen threatened to kill a Cameron County Sheriff’s Deputy who was working in an undercover capacity with ICE after the undercover agent refused to deliver a load of approximately 988 kilograms of marijuana. Later, in November 1999, while traveling in an official vehicle through Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in performance of their official duties, a DEA agent and an FBI agent were surrounded by Cardenas-Guillen and his gang and threatened at gunpoint. Although eventually allowed to leave, the agents were threatened by Cardenas-Guillen and warned not to return.

Today, the court accepted Cardenas-Guillen’s previously entered pleas of guilty to a total of five felony offenses including conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and threatening to assault and murder federal agents. In accordance with the terms of a previously filed plea agreement accepted by the court today, the court sentenced Cardenas-Guillen as to each offense of conviction and ordered all sentences to be served concurrently for a total of 25 years in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons without parole in accordance with the terms. Cardenas-Guillen will serve 25 years for the drug trafficking conspiracy conviction (count one), and the maximum statutory penalty for each of the other four counts of conviction—20 years' imprisonment the money laundering conspiracy conviction (count 17) and five years each as to counts 14, 15, and 16, relating to threats to murder a law enforcement officers.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Tagle fined Cardenas-Guillen $100,000 and further ordered him to serve a supervised release term of five years. Additionally, the court entered a preliminary order of forfeiture imposing a personal money judgment against Cardenas-Guillen in favor of the United States in the amount of $50 million.

Cardenas-Guillen has been in federal custody without bond since his extradition from Mexico to the United States. He will remain in federal custody to serve his sentence.

The three-year investigation which led to the indictment and subsequent arrest and conviction of Cardenas-Guillen was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement with considerable assistance and cooperation from the United States Marshals Service and the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office.

Fugitive from Jardines de Campo Rico Gang Arrested

February 24, 2010 - On February 23, 2010, ALEX ALFREDO TRUJILLO-OJEDA, age 34, also known as, “Alex Cro,” “Cro Cro,” “Viejo,” and “Sarnoso,” was arrested at a residence in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico by the FBI and the Police of Puerto Rico. During the search of this residence, approximately 19 pounds of a substance believed to be marijuana and paraphernalia believed to be used to package illegal drugs were found, along with an AK-47 rifle and several magazines for different types of firearms.

On June 11, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted TRUJILLO-OJEDA and several members of the Jardines de Campo Rico gang with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana; unlawful possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking; and extortion. Since June 12, 2009, TRUJILLO-OJEDA had been a fugitive.

It is believed TRUJILLO-OJEDA was the individual who was second in command of the Jardines de Campo Rico gang. To date, nine fugitives from this gang remain, to include, the leader, MARCELINO SALAZAR-LOPEZ, also known as “Audi.”

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mariana Bauzá and Dina Avila.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of any guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Businessman Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Bankruptcy Fraud

Failed to Pay More Than $2 Million in Back Taxes

Steven Allard, 47, of Scituate, Rhode Island, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison having pled guilty in July 2009 to one count each of tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. The sentence, announced by U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, was imposed by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi.

At the time of his guilty plea, Allard admitted that between March, 2005, and July, 2006, he failed to pay employment taxes to the IRS for two of his companies, Builders Resources, Delaware and Quad, in the amount of $2,139,739. He also admitted that in October and November, 2005, he made false statements in a personal bankruptcy petition and during the bankruptcy creditor’s hearing where he failed to disclose his ownership of property in Warwick, Rhode Island.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation.


At a plea hearing in July 2009, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew J. Reich told the Court the government could prove that Allard operated a number of related companies, including Builders Resources, Inc. - Delaware (BRI-DE); Quad Company, Inc.; Builders Resources, Inc. - Massachusetts (BRI-MA); and Eaglewood Realty, LLC. BRI-MA was in the business of constructing steel commercial buildings.

At the direction of the defendant, income generated from BRI-MA was transferred to other companies controlled by Allard, including BRI-DE, Quad, and Eaglewood. The payroll for construction jobs was paid by BRI-DE and Quad. BRI-DE and Quad were required to pay employment taxes to the IRS on the amount of wages that they paid to their employees. In addition, these companies were required to report employment taxes on an Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, also known as a Form 941.

At the direction of Allard, Form 941s were filed on behalf of BRI-DE reflecting $806,149 in employment taxes due and owed to the IRS for the last quarter of 2005 and the first two quarters of 2006. In addition, Form 941s were filed on behalf of Quad reflecting $1,333,590 in employment taxes due and owed to the IRS for the four quarters of 2005.

At the direction of Allard the taxes were not paid. Instead, the defendant used the funds from BRI-MA for the benefit of creditors of BRI-MA other than the IRS, and for the benefit of himself and his family. He diverted funds from BRI-MA to Eaglewood Realty for the purchase of luxury automobiles.

With respect to the bankruptcy fraud charge, on October 14, 2005, the defendant filed for personal bankruptcy. He received a discharge in bankruptcy in January 2006. In both his bankruptcy petitions, and during the creditor’s hearing, the defendant failed to disclose his ownership of property located at 91 Haven St., Warwick, Rhode Island.

Allard, who is on unsecured bond in the amount of $50,000, was ordered by the Court to surrender himself to begin serving his sentence on March 17, 2010. Allard will remain on supervised release for three years upon his release from prison.

Longview Man Sentenced for Dealing Methamphetamine

February 24, 2010 - TYLER, TX—U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that a 33-year-old Longview, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for federal drug violations in the Eastern District of Texas.

TIMOTHY ALAN CRUM, 33, of Longview, pleaded guilty on July 9, 2009, to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis. Crum also agreed to a judgment of $10,000.

According to information presented in court, since February 2004, Crum was part of a drug conspiracy ring distributing methamphetamine to others in the Longview, Texas area. A federal grand jury returned a 17-count indictment on Feb. 4, 2009, charging 19 individuals, including Crum, with federal drug trafficking crimes.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the East Texas HIDTA Violent Crimes Task Force, the Gregg County CODE Unit, the Gregg County Sheriff's Office, the Longview Police Department, the Gregg County District Attorney's Office, and the Kilgore Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard L. Moore.

Tomah Man Pleads Guilty to Robbing Union Center Bank

February 24, 2010 - MADISON, WI—Stephen P. Sinnott, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Richard Molinaro, 36, Tomah, Wis., pled guilty today before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb to robbing the Farmers State Bank, Union Center, Wis., on December 9, 2008.

Molinaro faces maximum penalties of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Molinaro will be sentenced at 12:40 p.m. on April 26, 2010.

Molinaro admitted today that he and another man robbed the Farmers State Bank and that his accomplice carried a handgun during the robbery.

Molinaro's guilty plea followed an investigation by the Union Center Police Department, Juneau County Sheriff's Department, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O'Shea.

Bank Officer Pleads Guilty to Misapplying Bank Funds

February 24, 2010 - MADISON, WI—Stephen P. Sinnott, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Margaret L. Hajdas, 39, Necedah, Wis., pled guilty this afternoon before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb to willfully misapplying money and credit of the Necedah Bank in Necedah. Hajdas faces maximum penalties of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Hajdas will be sentenced at 1 p.m. on May 5, 2010.

Hajdas admitted that she misapplied the money and credit of the Necedah Bank between 2005 and 2008 while working as a Bank Vice President. Pursuant to her guilty plea, Hajdas agreed that her criminal conduct involved $33,400 and agreed to pay the Necedah Bank this amount in restitution.

The charge followed an investigation by the Juneau County Sheriff's Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution of this case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O'Shea.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca Endorses Chris Lancaster For Assembly

February 24, 2010 - Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca today endorsed Businessman Chris Lancaster for State Assembly in the 59th District. "I have known Chris Lancaster for many years. He is a common sense leader and a decisive problem-solver who will get things done for the people of the 59th Assembly District," said Sheriff Baca.

Chris Lancaster understands the importance of public safety," continued Baca. "He will be a strong advocate for Law Enforcement at the State Capitol. Chris has the integrity and leadership qualities to be a very effective State Assemblyman. He has my full support."

"I am truly honored to earn the support of California's most respected and effective Sheriff," declared Lancaster. "His endorsement is a major boost for my State Assembly campaign."

The 59th Assembly District includes portions of both Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, including the all or part of the communities of Apple Valley, Arcadia, Bradbury, Claremont, Glendora, Hesperia, Highland, La Crescenta, La Verne, Monrovia, Redlands, San Bernardino, San Dimas and Sierra Madre.

Court in Texas Bars 12 Sub-Promoters of Alleged $30 Million Scam Involving Tax Credits Based on Fictitious Methane Production at Landfills

Texas and Louisiana Residents Allegedly Sold Over $5 Million of False Tax Credits to Customers Across Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana

February 24, 2010 - WASHINGTON - A federal judge in Beaumont, Texas, has permanently barred 12 people from promoting an alleged tax fraud scheme involving bogus income tax credits, the Justice Department announced today. The twelve are among 32 defendants named in a civil injunction lawsuit who allegedly helped customers claim more than $30 million in bogus federal income tax credits designed for producers of fuel from non-conventional sources. The court order was signed by Judge Marcia A. Crone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the government complaint in the case, originally filed in Florida, the scheme involved claiming tax credits based on the purported recovery and sale of methane from landfills in Puerto Rico, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Connecticut. In fact, the complaint states, no methane was produced or sold, although some of the defendants allegedly created fictitious business records to falsely document the purported production and sales.

The twelve people barred are Silas Anderson of San Antonio, Texas; Ursa Bookman of Camden, Texas.; Joann Spooner of Port Author, Texas.; Carlos Metoyer, of Lake Charles, La.; Cleven Harper, Gloria Toren and Edward Trotty of Lufkin, Texas.; Jacqueline Levias and Jackie E. Mayfield of Orange, Texas; and Yusef A. Muhammed, Denise White and Craig D. Johnson of Beaumont, Texas. All consented to be enjoined without admitting wrongdoing.

The government suit alleges that George Calvert and Gregory Guido of Florida, who have been previously enjoined, concocted the scheme and promoted it through tax preparers who acted as subpromoters. The tax preparers allegedly sold interests in the fictitious methane production facilities to thousands of customers in at least 14 states across the country and prepared income tax returns for customers claiming tax credits based on the fictitious methane sales.

A total of 23 of the 32 defendants have now been barred, including, in addition to those named above, David Berger of Studio City, Calif. and Elizabeth and Louis Powell of Carthage, Texas., as well as Robert Anderson of Bloomington, Ill. Anderson also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and mail fraud in a related federal criminal case in June 2009. The injunction case is still pending against the remaining nine defendants.

John DiCicco, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division, thanked Shana Starnes, the Justice Department trial attorney who is handling the case, and Jean Lane, a revenue agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s Small Business/Self-Employed Division, who conducted the investigation.

In the past decade, the Justice Department has obtained injunctions against more than 445 tax return preparers and tax fraud promoters. Information about the Justice Department’s Tax Division and its efforts to enjoin unscrupulous tax return preparers and tax fraud promoters is available on the Justice Department Web site.

FBI Arrests Serial Bank Robber Steven Gregory Gass, Dubbed the “Old Man Bandit”

February 24, 2010 - Steven Gregory Gass, age 55, dubbed the “Old Man Bandit,” was arrested around noon today in Miami Springs, Florida by the FBI. Gass is believed to be responsible for multiple bank robberies in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Collier counties since 2005. Gass has been the subject of a coordinated investigation involving the following law enforcement agencies:

Boca Raton Police Department
Boynton Beach Police Department
Broward Sherriff’s Office
Coral Gables Police Department
Delray Beach Police Department
Doral Police Department
FBI Miami
FBI Tampa
Greenacres Police Department
Hollywood Police Department
Miami-Dade Police Department
Miami Police Department
Naples Police Department
Palm Beach Gardens Police Department
Palm Beach Sherriff’s Office
Pinecrest Police Department

Gass has been charged with robbing Bank of America in Hollywood, Florida in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2113. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

According to the complaint affidavit, on June 25, 2009, defendant Gass robbed the Bank of America located at 3900 South Ocean Drive, Hollywood, Florida. Gass allegedly approached a teller and handed the teller a demand note stating that it was a robbery, that he wanted large bills, and that the teller had five seconds to comply. Gass was seen leaving the bank in a dark green, 1990's era, Chevrolet Suburban.

A number of police departments released compilations of the bank robbery surveillance videos and photographs of robberies that had recently occurred in the tri-county area. A tip was received identifying the robber as Gass and he was positively identified by tellers at Bank of America. Another witness confirmed that Gass was driving a green Suburban at the time of the second robbery.

Gass is currently being held at the Broward County Jail and will appear at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow before a federal magistrate judge in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for his initial appearance.

A complaint is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.