Criminal Justice News

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sarasota Ponzi Schemer Marian Morgan Found Guilty on All Charges

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TAMPA, FL—U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that a federal jury today found Marian I. Morgan (57, Sarasota) guilty of 22 separate charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, interstate/foreign transportation of stolen funds, money laundering, and filing false tax returns. Morgan faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge (count 1), 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud charge (counts 2-8), 10 years in federal prison for each interstate/foreign transportation of stolen funds (counts 9-13), 10 years in federal prison for each money laundering charge (counts 14-19) and three years in federal prison for each charge of filing a false tax return (counts 20-22). Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 20, 2011.

Marian I. Morgan was originally indicted on December 17, 2009. She was subsequently charged by a superseding indictment on May 31, 2011. Her husband, John Morgan was also indicted. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges on June 21, 2011.

According to the evidence presented during the seventeen days of trial, Marian and John Morgan, who resided in Sarasota, Florida, were principals of a company named Morgan European Holdings from about 2005 to 2009. They promoted sham “high yield/prime bank note” investment programs through the company, promising investors that they would receive returns of 200-300 percent in three months and that their principal funds would be held safe in an escrow account in Denmark. Evidence at trial, however, showed that the Morgans spent approximately $11 million of investor money on themselves soon after investors wired the funds to the escrow account. The Morgans purchased luxury automobiles, a waterfront mansion, and numerous luxury items with investor funds. When investors inquired about the status of their investments, Marian I. Morgan sent repeated “lulling” communications, assuring the investors that their funds were safe in the escrow account. Between 2005 and 2009, the evidence showed that the Morgans took in over $28 million in investor funds and returned some funds in the form of Ponzi payments.

In June 2009, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an enforcement action in the Middle District of Florida against the Morgans and others alleging investment fraud. The evidence at trial showed that in response to the SEC action, Marian I. Morgan told investors to lie to SEC and not cooperate with the agency. When she and her husband fled the United States and did not return as ordered for a hearing in that case on July 16, 2009, United States District Judge Richard Lazzara issued a warrant for their arrest. The Morgans were arrested in August 2009 in the island nation of Sri Lanka after attempting to pass a forged financial instrument and were returned by federal agents to the United States in December 2009.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation. The Danish National Police also cooperated in the investigation of this case. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cherie L. Krigsman and Robert T. Monk.

CBP Cincinnati Seizes $5.3 Million Worth of Counterfeit Merchandise During ‘Operation Summers End’

Cincinnati — U.S. Customs and Border Protection has just concluded an extremely successful Intellectual Property Rights enforcement operation. Operation Summers End ran from Sept. 19-23, seizing hundreds of counterfeit items being imported into the United States. CBP officers assigned to the DHL hub, with the support of Import Specialists from Cleveland, have been targeting and seizing arriving parcels containing IPR violations. 

As a result of the five-day special operation conducted by CBP staff at the DHL hub, 289 seizures of intellectual property rights-infringing merchandise were initiated. The total manufacturers’ suggested retail price on items seized, if they had been legitimate, during Operation Summers End was $5,390,671.73.

“The American consumer should get what they pay for,” said David Murphy, CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago. “Our officers and import specialists, working in close coordination with DHL have made this operation a success. CBP is committed to protecting our nation from not only bad people and bad things but anything that can cause harm to our citizens or our economic competitiveness, including the importation of counterfeit merchandise.”

Stopping the flow of fake goods is a priority for the U.S. government, and CBP has designated IPR enforcement as a Priority Trade Issue. Importation of counterfeit merchandise can cause significant revenue loss, hurt the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people. These products range from electrical articles such as curling iron and hair dryers that can catch fire or shock consumers, to fitness equipment, to pirated DVDs, to personal care items such as makeup that may contain harmful bacteria, to clothing, hats and handbags.

For more information on IPR issues, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site.

CBP officers and agriculture specialists are stationed at the express consignment facilities located throughout the country. CBP constantly conducts enforcement operations on international parcels and on the lookout for any type of contraband or prohibited items being shipped to the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Port Arthur Man Sentenced for Armed Robbery Spree

BEAUMONT, TX—A 38-year-old Port Arthur, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for his role in a crime spree targeting area businesses in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Marcus Darnell Lee pleaded guilty on May 23, 2011, to charges of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and possession of a firearm during a during a crime of violence and was sentenced to 288 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone.

According to information presented in court, the crime spree began on Aug. 26, 2010, when Lee, Donte Ramone Burton, Howard James White, and others, conspired and committed a series of armed robberies of local businesses in Port Arthur and the surrounding area. During the commission of each robbery, the group took money and other items of value from these businesses by entering each business and directing the employees at gunpoint to surrender the business proceeds. In furtherance of the conspiracy, the group brandished firearms, used actual and threatened force, and violence, in order to compel the employees to surrender the property. Approximately 11 businesses were robbed in furtherance of the conspiracy, including, but not limited to: Gulfway Food Mart, Troy’s convenience store, Pakco #3 convenience store, Speedy Mart, Sunrise Grocery, and Amuny’s Liquor store. Lee participated in at least 10 of these robberies. At least one firearm was brandished during, and in furtherance of, the commission of every robbery. All of the businesses that were victims of the crime ring were engaged in interstate commerce. Further, the armed robbery of each business obstructed, delayed, and affected each business’ ability to operate in interstate commerce. Specifically, several businesses invested money to enhance the security features of their store, others closed at an earlier hour, and most saw a decline in business overall. The amount of business proceeds taken throughout the course of the conspiracy was in excess of $20,000. Lee’s role in the conspiracy was to collect money from the cash registers and other areas during each robbery and would then distribute the proceeds after the robbery. Prior to initiating each robbery, the group determined who would fill each role in the robbery. Once the robbery was complete, the group would allocate the proceeds between the participants.

Howard White pleaded guilty on June 14, 2011 to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and is currently awaiting sentencing.

Donte Ramone Burton is awaiting trial.

The case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

This case is being investigated by the Port Arthur Police Department, FBI, and ATF, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.

Twenty South Florida Residents Charged in $40 Million Bank and Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Real Estate Industry Professionals and Bankers Among Those Charged

MIAMI—Twenty individuals, including numerous licensed real estate industry professionals, have been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud in connection with their alleged participation in a $40 million mortgage fraud scheme. According to the indictment, from March 2006 through June 2008, the defendants conspired to submit false loan applications and related documents to multiple banks for the purpose of obtaining approximately $40 million in mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). This resulted in approximately $20 million in losses to the banks.

The indictment was announced today by Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office; Michael K. Fithen, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service (USSS); Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC-OIG); and James K. Loftus, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), along with members of the Federal-State Mortgage Fraud Strike Force.

The 25-count indictment charges the following defendants: Alina Rubi, 45, of Miami (mortgage broker); Camilo Garcia, 39, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Sylvia M. Zagales, 48, of Miami Lakes, Fla., (title agent); Ivette Carreno, 34, of Miami (bank manager); Pedro Rubi, 42, of Miami (mortgage broker); Dianelys Garcia, 37, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Luis Pardo Dieguez, 51, of Miami (realtor); Galia Fernandez, Jr., 50, of Miami (mortgage broker and realtor); Sheena Eizmendiz, 36, of Miami; Ivis R. Hernandez, 41, of Miami (realtor); Jose Raul Hernandez, 52, of Miami (realtor); Yovanis Obregon Jimenez, 38, of Key Largo (real estate appraiser); Jose Manuel Pardo, 49, of Miami (realtor); Sandra M. Rodriguez, 50, of Miami, Mayra Martinez Suarez, 46, of Miami (mortgage broker); Laura E. Diaz, 57, of Hialeah, Fla.; Juan R. Prieto, 49, of Miami (realtor); Flavia E. Perez, 52, of Miami (mortgage broker); Jose Antonio Diaz, 75, of Miami, and Johny Hernandez, 25, of Miami (mortgage broker).

The defendants are variously charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud (count 1); bank fraud (counts 2-21); receipt of gifts for procuring loans (counts 22 and 23); and providing gifts for procuring loans (count 24 and 25). The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of real property and money derived from the fraud. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison on each count.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer stated, “Even by South Florida fraud standards, today’s prosecution is shocking. Never before have we seen so many real estate and bank industry professionals charged in a single indictment. In addition, the defendants’ $40 million fraud spanned two years and resulted in $20 million in actual losses to the victim banks. Our commitment to stomp out mortgage fraud is unwavering. We will continue to prosecute all those involved in fraud, from straw buyers and sellers, all the way up the chain to corrupt bank officials and mortgage brokers.”

“Combating mortgage fraud continues to be a priority due to the impact of lending and the housing market on the nation’s economy,” said Special Agent in Charge Gillies. “This is a warning to those in the mortgage industry who think they can get away with creating phony documents to line their pockets with stolen loan proceeds. The FBI will continue to work with its federal, state and local law enforcement and regulatory partners to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.”

“The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General is pleased to join the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and our law enforcement colleagues in announcing these indictments today. We are committed to our partnerships with federal, state, and local law enforcement to address mortgage fraud cases throughout the country. The American people need to be assured that their government is working to ensure integrity in the financial services and housing industries and that those involved in criminal misconduct that undermines that integrity will be held accountable,” said Inspector General Rymer.

Miami-Dade Police Director Loftus added, “Though we are pleased with the outcome of this investigation, we recognize that the indictment of this organization is only a small part of a systemic, ongoing criminal enterprise. We will remain vigilant in our pursuit of these offenders.”

As part of the scheme, brother and sister team, Alina Rubi and Camilo Garcia used Ivette Carreno, then a manager at Regions Bank, to obtain approval of nearly 200 fraud-based HELOCs. Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia and his wife, Dianelys Garcia, and other co-defendants prepared false documents, such as proof of employment, tax returns, and property deeds, to support loan applications that were replete with false statements. Other co-defendants, such as Pedro Rubi, Luis Pardo Dieguez, and Ivis Hernandez, prepared mortgage and HELOC loan applications on behalf of unqualified borrowers and buyers. The loan applications and related documents, which were submitted to lenders, contained numerous false statements regarding the borrowers’ and buyers’ employment, income, deposits, assets, liabilities, and other information necessary for lenders to assess their qualifications to borrow money. Some of the false statements included misrepresentations that the borrowers were doctors, dentists, engineers, or engaged in other high-paying professions, with false yearly incomes, sometimes exceeding $300,000. In many instances, the unqualified buyers lied about property ownership, in that they did not even own the properties for which they received the equity lines of credit. On some occasions, the defendants used the HELOC proceeds to later purchase the very properties for which they had obtained the HELOC loans.

Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia, Pedro Rubi, Luis Pardo Dieguez, and Galia Fernandez recruited individuals, and paid others to recruit individuals, to fraudulently obtain mortgage and HELOC loans on the properties. Among the individuals recruited to act as unqualified buyers and borrowers were defendants and co-conspirators Sheena Eizmendiz, Yovanis Obregon Jimenez, Jose Manuel Pardo, Sandra M. Rodriguez, Mayra Martinez Suarez, Laura Diaz, Juan Prieto, Flavia Perez, Jose Antonio Diaz, and Johny Hernandez.

To further the fraud scheme, Alina Rubi, Camilo Garcia, and other co-defendants used Silvia Zagales, a title agent, and her company, the Title Services Group, to divide and disburse, among the defendants, millions of dollars in loan proceeds. As part of the closing procedure, Zagales prepared and submitted to lenders documents that falsely stated, among other things, that borrowers supplied their own funds at the closing of the sale transactions; that she had sufficient loan proceeds and cash-to-close funds to cover the disbursements approved by the lender; and that good faith deposits had been provided by borrowers. Zagales and her co-conspirators fraudulently disbursed the loan proceeds to the sellers and others. In some instances, Zagales used the loan proceeds to satisfy the buyers’ cash-to-close obligations, and would often pocket seller proceeds through another company that she owned and operated. In addition, to conceal the fraud and to conduct multiple mortgage loan and HELOC closings with the same properties, Zagales and her co-defendants, in some cases, failed to timely record, and falsely recorded, mortgage deeds and mortgage documentation with State of Florida authorities.

This law enforcement action is sponsored by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated, and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.

U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, the FDIC, and the Miami-Dade Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Cruz.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Couple Charged in Comerica Bank Robbery

GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Adam Quincy Jones, using the alias Matthew Thomas Jones, and Tammy Jo Jones were charged in federal court today with armed bank robbery, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced. The charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years’ imprisonment, supervised release of five years, a $250,000 fine, and restitution.

The affidavit supporting the complaint alleges that on Wednesday September 28, 2011 the Comerica Bank branch located at 857 Four Mile Road, NW, Comstock Park, Michigan was robbed of approximately $75,000 by a then-unknown male armed with a handgun. After locking the bank employees in the vault, the man fled on a bicycle to a waiting rental truck. The driver of the truck, later identified as Tammy Jo Jones, refused to stop for officers and led them on a chase through Grand Rapids. Currency was thrown from the vehicle from Burlingame, SW to Clyde Park Road along 44th Street, along Clyde Park to Burton and along Century Avenue. The chase ended near the intersection of Hall Street and Grandville Avenue. Both occupants of the truck were arrested. The male passenger has been identified as Adam Quincy Jones.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office advise that anyone who has come into possession of money thrown from the vehicle should turn the evidence in to the FBI or Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

The case is being investigated by the FBI as well as the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. The initial appearance of the defendants has been scheduled for 3:30 before Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody.

The charges in a complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

CBP arrests an Undocumented Alien at Pleasure Boat Marina

Had re-entered after a prior deportation in 2010; faces criminal prosecution

Fajardo, Puerto Rico – U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents arrested an undocumented alien from the Dominican Republic working on a large vessel docked at the Puerto Del Rey Marina.

Joselo Ruiz-Batista, 25, made an initial appearance today before U. S. District Court Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin for alleged violation to Title 8 United States Code, Section 1325, improper entry of alien, a misdemeanor.

CBP field operations officer and Border Patrol agents conducting vessel inspections encountered Mr. Ruiz-Batista, who admitted being illegally present in the island.

Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents verified immigration databases and found that Mr. Ruiz – Batista had been removed to the Dominican Republic in 2010.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Evelyn Canals.If convicted Mr. Ruiz-Batista faces a fine or imprisonment of not more than six months.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hogsett Announces Sentencing of Virginia Man for Receiving Child Pornography Involving Indiana Minor

INDIANAPOLIS—United States Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett announced today that Jimmy Lee Cook, 42, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was sentenced to 160 months of imprisonment for receiving child pornography involving a young Indiana girl. This followed an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Indiana and Virginia, the Kokomo Police Department, the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

During a guilty plea and sentencing hearing today, Cook admitted that in 2010, between January and July, he used a computer to receive through the Internet child pornography videos of a young girl in Indiana engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Cook used Internet chat rooms to entice the victim to engage in the conduct.

The investigation began when the Kokomo Police Department received a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The tip, which resulted from information provided by a video-sharing website, led to the identification of the Indiana victim. The Kokomo Police Department then jointly worked the investigation with the FBI in Indiana, along with help from its state and local law enforcement partners in the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Working with Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children and the FBI both here and in Virginia, the investigators executed a federal search warrant at Cook’s tent in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was homeless and living in the parking lot of a church, and had been using open wireless connections at local restaurants and a library. Cook was arrested without incident at that time.

During the search of Cook’s tent, the investigators found numerous images and videos of child pornography, many of which involved very young minors. Lt. Donald Whitehead of Kokomo Police Department, who is also a task force officer with the FBI, obtained a confession from Cook following the search. Cook admitted that he knew one of the minor victims was a young girl living in Indiana and he admitted to enticing her to produce the videos.

In explaining the sentence, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson stated that a high sentence was appropriate to deter others from engaging in such conduct and to protect the public from future crimes by Cook. The court emphasized that the criminal conduct involved repeated communications with a preteen girl and the encouragement of the sexual exploitation.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota, who prosecuted the case for the government, Cook was sentenced to 160 months of imprisonment, to be followed by supervised release for the remainder of his life. He was ordered to forfeit all of his computer equipment.

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 projectsafechildhood.gov.

Robbery of Bank of the West Branch in Denver

The Denver Police Department and the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force (RMSSTF) are investigating a bank robbery.

Bank of the West
2970 Quebec Street
Denver, Colorado
09/27/2011, 9:12 a.m.

The suspect is described as a black male, 40 to 45 years of age, approximately 6’0” to 6’1” in height, approximately 180 to 190 pounds, and has a medium build.

The suspect entered the bank, presented a demanded note, and fled.

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 the bank robbery above, 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).

Wanted by the FBI: Murder Anniversary of Tom Wales

Mollie Halpern: He was a father, a friend to many, and a community leader, but the life of Thomas Crane Wales was cut short a decade ago next month.

Russell E. Fox: It’s naturally a time when we all want to honor his memory.

Halpern: I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau, and this is Wanted by the FBI. A reward of up to $1 million is being offered for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the person responsible for the murder of Wales. Supervisory Special Agent Russell Fox says Wales, an assistant United States attorney in Seattle, was in his basement home office when…

Fox: He was shot multiple times through a basement window.

Halpern: A Makarov pistol with a replacement barrel was used to murder Wales. This type of barrel is stainless steel, giving it a silver color, and may even have a threaded end to attach a silencer.

Fox: This is a distinctive weapon; it certainly could be something that someone might recall.

Halpern: The FBI and our law enforcement partners need your help closing this case.

Fox: We’re encouraging the public to come forward with any information they have. That could be the piece that we’re looking for to help us break this case.

Halpern: Dial 1-800-CALL-FBI or send an anonymous tip to FBI.gov.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Huntsville-Area Man Sentenced to Prison for Receipt of Child Pornography Conviction

HOUSTON—Jeremiah Reece Evesson, 23, a Huntsville resident, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas to 210 months in federal prison without parole for receipt of child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Evesson’s arrest and subsequent conviction is the result of an investigation conducted by the Conroe office of the FBI. In April 2009, while using a file-sharing program to search for child pornography, an undercover FBI agent in Maryland saw that a computer, later associated with Evesson, had numerous images and video files depicting child pornography available for sharing. The agent downloaded 38 files and, when reviewed, all files contained child pornography. The computer was traced to Evesson at his home address in Huntsville and the matter was transferred to the Conroe FBI office to continue the investigation.

On June 5, 2009, FBI agents from the Conroe office executed a federal search warrant at Evesson’s residence and seized several hard drives, a Compaq desktop computer, and 15 CDs which contained thousands of images containing child pornography, including bondage and anal penetration of young boys by adult males. Agents also found a number of e-mails to and from Evesson with photos attached which depicted child pornography.

Evesson was arrested in the San Antonio area in September 2010 and has been in federal custody without bond since then. At the time of his arrest, Evesson had another computer in his possession which also contained child pornography.

In addition to the prison term, the court imposed a $2,500 fine and has ordered Evesson to serve a life term of supervised release during which he must comply with a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet or face revocation and yet another prison term. The court has further ordered Evesson to register as a sex offender.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, 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, 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 projectsafechildhood.gov.

Defendant Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Narcotic Violations

LOS ANGELES – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced that Jose Adelmo Ayala was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison on Sept. 26 by United States District Judge Steven V. Wilson. Ayala was arrested as part of a 2010 ATF investigation dubbed “Operation Temple Street,” and pled guilty to distribution of methamphetamine.

Ayala, 28, North Hollywood, was one of 12 suspects investigated during the ATF led investigation into illegal firearm and narcotic crimes in the area. During the course of the investigation, ATF was notified by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), that Ayala was suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of a 14 year old female in an unrelated investigation. The kidnapping investigation concluded with ATF and LAPD arresting Ayala in July 2010. Ayala was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping and aggravated assault charges in California State court in April 2011.

“The law abiding citizens of this community are safer because of Ayala’s sentencing, which will ensure the incarceration of a dangerous criminal for the rest of his life,” said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge ATF Los Angeles Field Division. “ATF and LAPD will continue to combat violent crime together to ensure the public’s safety.”

Ayala is the first of the 12 defendants from Operation Temple Street to be sentenced in both federal and state court. Eleven of the remaining defendants are being criminally prosecuted in state court for various firearm and narcotic violations.

Operation Neighborhood Watch Completed in Shelby County, Ohio

Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Join Forces to Protect our Communities

Sidney OH – The United States Marshals Service in the Southern District of Ohio, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, Jackson Center Police Department, State of Ohio Adult Parole Authority and the Shelby County Adult Probation, conducted a joint law enforcement compliance operation designed to verify the current residences of offenders living in Shelby County Ohio.

On September 27 – September 28, 2011, Deputy Sheriffs, Deputy U.S. Marshals, Adult Parole and Probation Officers, along with officers from Jackson Center Police, teamed up to verify the residences of 107 registered sex offenders. Sex offenders registered as living in the county were checked to verify that they were living were they registered. This initiative is a collaborative law enforcement effort that is designed to keep the public safe by ensuring that these offenders are complying with sex offender registration obligations and residing where they have reported.

In Shelby County, 4 offenders were found to be out of compliance and were arrested. In addition, one subject was arrested for probation violation for being in possession of drug paraphernalia and having prohibited pornography. Investigations will be continuing on 3 additional sex offenders who may be out of compliance with their registration requirements.

Senior Inspector Bill Taylor of the Dayton United States Marshals Office said, “Most law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to conduct an operation like this alone. By combining the resources of several agencies we have accomplished our main task, which was insuring the convicted sex offenders were in compliance with the law and living where they have reported. We have arrested several offenders who were not in compliance and made our communities safer.

In addition to the arrests made for being non-compliant and for probation violation, one offender was found to be sending and receiving sexually explicit material over the internet. The alleged victim in this case is a minor believed to be living in another country. This investigation will be ongoing and could result in several federal violations."

To search for sex offenders in Shelby County and learn more about your local Sheriff’s office efforts, please visit http://www.shelbycountysheriff.com and click on the tab indicated as “Shelby County Sex Offenders Registry”.

If you reside outside of the county, you can also conduct your own sex offender search. One of the most important programs in the State of Attorney General's office is eSORN, Ohio's Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification, one of the nation's preeminent applications for locating and tracking registered sex offenders. You are encouraged to take advantage of the many tools on this website to protect yourself and those you care about. Here, you will find information about how to sign up to receive automated messages when a sex offender moves near a location you care about (your daycare provider, home, work, etc.) and how to submit tips to investigators on offenders within the system. The site also features information on the "Most Wanted" fugitives and persons who have failed to register. You can search the database records by county and name. This database is linked to all 88 Ohio County Sheriff's offices and all 32 correctional facility records offices of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. eSORN provides one location for all Ohio law enforcement officials to freely share information on registered sex offenders. Also available on this website is a concise breakdown of the various changes to Ohio's SORN law. Each sex offender who is legally required to register must provide the county sheriff with his or her name and address, his or her classification, the offense(s) for which he or she was convicted and have a picture taken and be fingerprinted. The sheriff's office must then provide the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation with that information to store and to post on eSORN. For more details, please visit: www.esorn.ag.state.oh.us.

The U.S. Marshals Service is the lead law enforcement agency responsible for investigating sex offender registration violations and related offenses in connection with violations of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was enacted July 27, 2006. As part of this Act, the U.S. Marshals Service has been directed to assist state, local, tribal and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of non-compliant and fugitive sex offenders. Offenders that are found residing out of state can be charged federally and often those charges carry more severe penalties. To ensure the safety of children across the country, the U.S. Marshals Service implemented an aggressive enforcement strategy. Since the law was enacted the Untied States Marshals Service has arrested 9,160 fugitives for Sex Offenses, Failure to Register and Failure to Comply with Sex Offenders Registration Requirements.

CBP Arrests Cruise Ship Passengers after attempt to transport cocaine at San Juan Seaport

San Juan, Puerto Rico – Sunday morning, during a random inspection of passengers arriving from St. Christopher – Nevis, on board the cruise ship “Carnival Victory”, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a passenger who was attempting to transport cocaine into the United States inside his back pack.

CBP Officers arrested Carl Peterkin, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen, after finding approximately 1,694 grams of cocaine inside a back pack that he was carrying. His brother, Mr. Steven Peterkin, 23, was also arrested on conspiracy charges.

The custody of both passengers was transferred to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

“CBP officers are always vigilant of criminals who try to engage in illicit activities and elude detection,” stated Marcelino Borges, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Laredo Deputy Constable Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe

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LAREDO, TX—A Webb County Constable Precinct One deputy has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to use his official capacity to protect loads of cocaine, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Eduardo Garcia, aka Eddie Garcia, pleaded guilty late this morning to count one of the indictment charging him with a violation of the Hobbs Act. U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott Hacker accepted Garcia’s guilty plea and is expected to file a report and recommendation with Senior U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen recommending the plea be accepted and the defendant convicted of the federal felony offense.

At today’s hearing, Garcia admitted to having accepted bribes in the amount of $500 on two separate occasions in October and November 2008 to use his official capacity as a certified peace officer to provide a protective escort for a vehicle he believed to be carrying at least one kilogram of cocaine.

The United States informed the court the investigation conducted by special agents of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could in fact prove that in 1989, Garcia began his career as a peace officer and was certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in 1993, thus sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of Texas and of the United States. In 2006 through 2011, Garcia worked as a deputy constable assigned to the mental health unit and operating a prison transport van, among other duties.

In September 2008, in an unrelated investigation, DEA agents sought to purchase cocaine from a suspected supplier through the use of a confidential source (CS). During an undercover operation in furtherance of this unrelated investigation, the CS received a call from Garcia. Garcia told the CS that he had seen the CS driving in the area and warned him that there were several “uglies”—or undercover federal law enforcement vehicles—in the area and identified one vehicle in particular. That vehicle was in fact a law enforcement vehicle engaged in support of the undercover operation.

At the conclusion of the operation, the CS told DEA and FBI agents that in 2007 and 2008 Garcia had provided escort for cocaine loads run by the CS from South Laredo to North Laredo. As part of the escort service, Garcia would identify potential legitimate law enforcement vehicles in the area. This information prompted the investigation of Garcia.

On Sept. 19, 2008, the CS contacted Garcia. During the recorded conversation, the CS discussed problems he was having with his cocaine supplier but also asked about Garcia’s work schedule. Garcia was unaware that the CS was working with federal agents. Over the course of the following three weeks the CS and Garcia has several more conversations which ultimately lead to Garcia agreeing to escort a vehicle he believed would be carrying a kilogram of cocaine in exchange for payment on Oct. 20, 2008. The following day, Oct. 21, the CS received a telephone call from Garcia confirming that he would be available on Oct. 22, to conduct the escort.

On Oct. 22, 2008, at the predetermined time, Garcia driving a white law enforcement van equipped with front grill emergency lights met with and followed the “load vehicle,” driven by the CS from a gas station located on Loop 20 in south Laredo to the parking lot of a hospital just off of Loop 20 North carrying a “sham” kilogram of cocaine. At the conclusion of the escort, the CS paid the defendant $500 in cash. Garcia was wearing his law enforcement badge on his belt. A firearm was not visible.

On Nov. 18, 2008, the CS again contacted Garcia about escorting “one brick,” or one kilogram of cocaine. Garcia again agreed. That day, Garcia, driving his personal vehicle, followed behind the “load” vehicle which he believed to be carrying approximately one kilogram of cocaine from a gas station near the intersection of Loop 20 and Highway 359 in Laredo, Texas. During the escort, Garcia called the CS to warn him about a suspicious vehicle, a reference to a law enforcement vehicle, in the area and advised him to exit Loop 20. The CS continued to drive the pre-planned route along Loop 20 north to the parking lot of a hospital. Garcia followed in his vehicle. At the conclusion of the escort, Garcia met the CS in the hospital parking lot and received another $500 in cash for his service.

On each occasion, the “load” vehicle was in fact carrying a sham kilogram of what appeared to be cocaine and was under surveillance of investigating agents.

Garcia faces a maximum punishment of 20 years’ incarceration without parole and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is expected to be set for late fall of this year. Garcia has been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.

Assistant United States Attorneys Roberto F. Ramirez and Elizabeth R. Rabe are prosecuting the case.

FBI Releases Name of Hit-and-Run Victim on Blackfeet Reservation

The FBI Salt Lake City is releasing the name of the victim of Sunday’s fatal hit-and-run accident on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. At approximately 1:45 a.m. on September 25, 2011, 29-year old Eugene Jesse Stevens was hit and killed as he walked westbound on Highway 2. The accident occurred between Browning and East Glacier. At this time, it appears Mr. Stevens left his vehicle for an unknown reason and was hit as he was walking near the highway. The driver who hit him left the scene. The FBI issued a news release on September 25, 2011 requesting help from the public. Although the FBI did receive several tips, no arrests have been made. Again, if anyone has any information that may assist the FBI in solving this case, they are asked to contact the FBI office in Shelby, Montana at (406) 424-8411, or the main office in Salt Lake City, Utah at (801) 579-1400.

The FBI Salt Lake City Division is collaborating with the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office, Blackfeet Tribal Police, and the Montana Highway Patrol to solve this case.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two Members of Armed Robbery Crew Sentenced in Connection with Middlesex County Thefts

NEWARK, NJ—Jonah Paul and Rashawn Landin, members of an armed robbery crew that primarily targeted businesses and homes in Middlesex County, were sentenced today to 219 months and 108 months in prison, respectively, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Paul, 23, of Sayreville, N.J., had pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz on April 18, 2011, to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiring to obstruct commerce in connection with his role in robbing four premises from between March 2009 and June 2009, and one count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of the robbery. Landin, 24, of Parlin, also pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shwartz on April 18, 2011. Landin pleaded guilty to one count of an indictment charging him with conspiring to obstruct commerce in connection with his role in robbing a home in May 2009. U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Paul admitted he conspired with Landin and others, including Raffaele Danise, 25, of East Brunswick; Joseph Smith, 39, of South Amboy; Joseph Passalaqua, 56, of East Brunswick; Dustin Groemm, 24, of Perth Amboy; Brian Parolin, 30, of Freehold; Erik Prascak, 22, of Milltown, and Joshua Lally, 24, of Middlesex Township, to rob a number of premises located in New Jersey and New York from March 2009 through June 2009. Specifically, Paul admitted he and certain of his co-conspirators robbed: the Chris Michael’s Steakhouse in Woodbridge, on March 17, 2009; the Ristorante Barolo in New York, N.Y., on May 11, 2009; the home of victims “M.M.” and “P.M.” in Milltown, on May 21, 2009, and the Ritz Diner in Livingston, on June 5, 2009. Landin also admitted he robbed the home of victims “M.M.” and “P.M.” with Paul and other co-conspirators. Each of the robberies was at gunpoint, and in each case, the victims were bound in plastic zip ties while the robberies took place.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Hochberg sentenced Paul to five years and Landin to three years of supervised release. Landin was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $46,578 in restitution. Restitution in Paul’s case will be determined at a later date.

All of the defendants have previously pleaded guilty. Groemm and Parolin were sentenced by Judge Hochberg on June 22, 2011. Groemm was sentenced to 75 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to make restitution of $20,894. Parolin was sentenced to 79 months in prison, three years’ supervised release and fined $3,000. The remaining defendants await sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, for conducting the investigation. He also thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Bruce J. Kaplan, the Woodbridge Police Department, under the direction of Director Robert Hubner, the Sayreville Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Zebrowski, and the Milltown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Ray Geipel, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa M. Colone and Robert Frazer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel:
Jonah Paul: Timothy R. Anderson Esq., Red Bank, N.J.
Rashawn Landin: John P. McGovern Esq., Newark, N.J.

Philadelphia CBP Seize $139K in Undeclared Currency

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Philadelphia — Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than $139,000, most concealed in black socks, from a couple who arrived from Greece Tuesday at Philadelphia International Airport for violating federal currency reporting laws. 

The couple, both U.S. citizens over 70 years of age, and whose names aren’t being released as they weren’t charged criminally, admitted to CBP officers that they possessed only $4,000 between them. Officers explained the federal currency reporting requirements. The couple admitted verbally and in writing that they understood, and then declared in writing that they possessed $6,000.

During a baggage inspection, CBP officers discovered five large, bulky, black socks stuffed with U.S. dollars and Euros and lining the sides of two suitcases. CBP officers also discovered additional loose currency inside their luggage and carry-on bags. CBP officers seized a total of $139,349.38. 

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however federal law requires travelers to declare amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

“Travelers who deliberately refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “The easiest way to hold on to your currency is to honestly declare it.”

The couple were provided with directions to petition for their currency and released.

In addition to narcotics interdiction, CBP routinely conducts random inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items.

Travelers are encouraged visit CBP’s Travel website to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Help Spread the Word: Bells Across America Will Ring To Honor Fallen Firefighters

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EMMITSBURG, MD – For the first time in the 30year history of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend the bells of the Memorial Chapel will ring on Sunday, October 16 to honor the fallen. As part of this tribute, fire departments and places of worship and other community organizations will join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, the first nationwide remembrance for firefighters who died in the line of duty.

The NFFF created the website, www.bellsacrossamerica.com which explains the program. A letter of invitation, frequently asked questions about the program and a response form are all available on the website. Fire department representatives are encouraged to work with their clergy and community leaders to decide what type of remembrance is best. Some suggestions include: ringing chapel bells, a moment of silence, a brief prayer, a hymn, tolling a ceremonial bell by members of the Fire Department, or any combination of these. The remembrance can occur at any time on Sunday, October 16.

“When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, the sadness resonates through an entire community. Through Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, everyone across the country has the opportunity to pay tribute to the lives of these brave men and women who willingly take risks to protect and serve their communities,” said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

In addition to Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, departments and individuals can add the National Fallen Firefighters Tribute Widget to their website, blog or Facebook page. The widget is a small box that will appear on the site, continually scrolling the names of firefighters honored in Emmitsburg.

The photos of seven firefighters who will be honored are rotated each day for one week leading up to Memorial Weekend. Go to http://weekend.firehero.org/widget to copy and embed the widget.

The Fire Hero Network will be in full operation during Memorial Weekend. The Candlelight Service and Memorial Service will again be televised and sent around the world via satellite and the Internet. Departments can be a part of the network by streaming the events on your department's website. (http://weekend.firehero.org/media/live.html) The NFFF invites all departments to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to encourage local news media to do the same.

In addition, there will be a Fire Hero Radio webcast from Memorial Weekend and continuous updates on social media, including the Foundation's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/NationalFallenFirefightersFoundation) and Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/NFFF_News)

For more information about the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, go to weekend.firehero.org.

About the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF)
The United States Congress created the NFFF to lead a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the nonprofit foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers. The NFFF also works closely with the U.S. Fire Administration to help prevent and reduce line of duty deaths and injuries. For more information on the Foundation and its programs, contact us at 301-447-1365 or visit firehero.org.

Arkansas Cell Leader of Sophisticated, Violent Fraudulent Document Ring Sentenced

RICHMOND, VA—Diego Cortez-Angel, 28, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for his role in a racketeering conspiracy. Further, the defendant is illegally within the United States and will be deported following the service of his prison sentence. Cortez-Angel was the leader of an Arkansas cell of a highly sophisticated and violent fraudulent document trafficking organization based in Mexico, with cells in 19 cities within the United States and 11 states, including three cells in Virginia.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, made the announcement after sentencing by Chief United States District Judge James R. Spencer.

According to the indictment, Israel Cruz Millan, a/k/a “El Muerto,” 28, of Raleigh, N.C., managed the organization’s operations in the United States, overseeing 19 cells in 11 states, including three in Virginia, that produced high-quality false identification cards distributed to illegal aliens. In each city where the organization operated, Millan placed a cell manager to supervise a number of “runners,” the lower level members of the organization who distributed business cards advertising the organization’s services and helped facilitate transactions with customers. The cost of fraudulent documents varied depending on the location, with counterfeit Resident Alien and Social Security cards typically selling from $150 to $200. Each cell allegedly maintained detailed sales records and divided the proceeds between the runner, the cell manager, and the upper level managers in Mexico. The indictment states that from January 2008 through November 2010, members of the organization wired more than $1 million to Mexico.

The indictment alleges that members of the organization sought to drive competitors from their territory by posing as customers in search of fraudulent documents and then attacking the competitors when they arrived to make a sale. These attacks allegedly included binding the victims’ hands, feet and mouth; repeatedly beating them; and threatening them with death if they continued to sell false identification documents in the area. It is charged that the victims were left bound at the scene of the attack, and the indictment states that at least one victim died from the beatings.

Cruz Millan is accused of tightly controlling the organization’s activities by keeping in regular contact with cell managers about fraudulent document inventory, bi-weekly sales reports and the presence of any rival document vendors. The indictment alleges that members of the organization who violated internal rules imposed by Millan were subject to discipline, including shaving eyebrows, wearing weights, beatings, and other violent acts.

In entering a guilty plea to the racketeering conspiracy charge, Diego Cortez-Angel admitted being the supervisor of a cell located in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Twenty-seven members of the organization were originally arrested on Nov. 18, 2010. To date, 22 of those arrested have pled guilty in this case. Five defendants remain pending for trial, which has been scheduled for Oct. 17, 2011.

The investigation was led by the Norfolk office of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which falls under the Washington, D.C., office. ICE HSI received assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia Police, and Chesterfield County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Gill and Angela Mastandrea-Miller and Trial Attorney Addison Thompson, of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.