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Friday, August 19, 2011

Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments

MADISON, WI—A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments yesterday. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Two Madison Residents Charged with Gun Crimes
Travis Talley, 28, Madison, Wis., is charged with three counts of unlawfully possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. The indictment alleges that from August 2, 2010 to November 3, 2010, Talley unlawfully possessed two .45 caliber pistols, a .40 caliber pistol, and ammunition. Ashley Wire, 24, Madison, is charged with three counts of making a false statement on a federally required form. The indictment alleges that on July 31, August 27, and November 1, 2010, she falsely stated on a Firearms Transaction Record that she was the actual buyer of a firearm, when in fact she was not.

If convicted, Talley faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each count, and Wire faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on each count. The charges against them are the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Madison Police Department. The prosecution of this case has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter M. Jarosz.

Three Face Crack Cocaine Charges
Ryan K. Cook, 20, Madison, Wis.; Calvin T. Balentine, 29, Chicago; and Basil D. Greene, 21, Madison, face multiple charges regarding the distribution of crack cocaine in the Madison area. Greene is charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that he possessed crack cocaine and a .45 caliber firearm on March 17, 2011. Greene is also charged with distributing crack cocaine on July 15 and August 2, 2011 and with using a telephone on those dates to facilitate the commission of a felony, specifically the distribution of crack cocaine.

Balentine is charged with possessing crack cocaine with intent to distribute on August 1, 2011, and with using a telephone on August 3 and 4, 2011, to facilitate the commission of a felony, specifically the distribution of crack cocaine. Greene and Balentine were originally charged with conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court on August 8, 2011.

Cook is charged with distributing crack cocaine on April 4, 12 and 20, 2011. The indictment alleges that the amount he distributed on April 4 was 28 grams or more. Cook is also charged in a separate indictment returned by the grand jury yesterday with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. The indictment alleges that he possessed the firearm on August 5, 2011.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each drug count. Cook faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in federal prison on the count involving 28 grams or more of crack cocaine. The telephone counts carry a maximum penalty of four years in federal prison, and the firearms counts have a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charges against them are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dane County Narcotics and Gang Task Force, Drug Enforcement Administration, Rock County Safe Streets Task Force (comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Beloit Police Department, and Rock County Sheriff’s Department), Wisconsin State Patrol, Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff’s Department, University of Wisconsin Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The prosecution of this case has been assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Reinhard.

Six Indicted for Marijuana Grow Operation
Six men have been charged in a four-count indictment with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, to possess marijuana with intent to distribute, and to distribute marijuana. They are also charged with manufacturing 1,000 or more marijuana plants, and with possessing marijuana within intent to distribute. The defendants allegedly cultivated a large marijuana grow operation in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin.

The individuals charged are:

1. Jose Esqueda-Garcia, 19, a citizen of Mexico;
2. Norberto Burciago, 40, St. Paul, Minn.;
3. Cesar Omar Tinoco, 21, a citizen of Mexico;
4. Moises Lopez-Ontiveros, 21, a citizen of Mexico;
5. Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros, 24, a citizen of Mexico; and
6. Abraham Ramirez, 29, a citizen of Mexico.

Moises Lopez-Ontiveros and Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros are brothers.

The indictment alleges that Norberto Burciago transported supplies, groceries, and other items necessary for the grow operation to the other five defendants, who were camped at a remote site within the forest for the purpose of tending to, caring for, protecting, and ultimately harvesting over 9,000 marijuana plants that had been secretly planted on U.S. Forest Service land.

The indictment also charges Jose Esqueda-Garcia, Cesar Omar Tinoco, Moises Lopez-Ontiveros, Jorge Lopez-Ontiveros, and Abraham Ramirez with possessing firearms during and in relation to drug trafficking crimes. The indictment alleges that on August 10, 2011, they possessed three rifles and three handguns.

If convicted, each defendant faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the three marijuana counts. The firearms count carries a penalty of not less than five years, to be served consecutive to any other penalty imposed. The charges against these individuals are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation; Ashland County Sheriff’s Department; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Forest Service; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Northwest Area Crime Unit (comprised of Sawyer, Douglas and Washburn County Sheriffs’ Departments and Superior Police Department); U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission. The prosecution of the case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

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