Criminal Justice News

Monday, March 31, 2014

Iowa Man Pleads Guilty to Sexually Exploiting 10-year-old Girl

An Iowa man pleaded guilty today in the District of Massachusetts to federal child exploitation charges moments before his jury trial was scheduled to begin this morning.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Acting Inspector in Charge Shelly Binkowski of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) made the announcement.

Joshua Dunfee , 32, of Oxford Junction, Iowa, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to the coercion and enticement of a child to engage in illicit sexual activity and the sexual exploitation of a child to produce child pornography.   Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, 2014.

Dunfee posed as “John” from “Hunt Photography” on Facebook and communicated with a Massachusetts mother who was seeking employment as a model and believed Hunt Photography to be a legitimate business.   In October 2011, Dunfee contacted the mother and told her that Hunt Photography had a client willing to pay $20,000 for a mother-daughter bikini modeling contract.   Dunfee told the mother that in order to apply she would need to audition her daughter for him immediately and persuaded the mother to take her minor daughter out of school.

At Dunfee’s further direction, the mother placed her daughter on webcam for him to view for a 48-minute video call.   During this time, Dunfee was able to see and hear the mother and her minor daughter, but they were unable to see or hear him.   During the “audition,” Dunfee directed via instant messenger that the minor be posed for him—first in a bra and underwear and then completely naked.   Dunfee knew that the girl was a minor.

On Nov. 3, 2011, federal agents executed a search warrant at Dunfee’s residence, where law enforcement had traced the illicit conduct via IP address records.   A forensic examination of Dunfee’s computers (obtained during the execution of the search warrant) revealed various activities consistent with the use of certain platforms to communicate while posing as Hunt Photography, including Facebook, Skype and Windows Live Messenger Chat.

The case was investigated by law enforcement in Massachusetts, the USPIS, the Jones County, Iowa, Sheriff’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police, the Attleboro Police Department and the Department of Justice High Technology Investigative Unit.   Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Iowa.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Herbrina Sanders of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf of the District of Massachusetts’s Major Crimes Unit.

This case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a nationwide initiative created by the Department of Justice in 2006 that is designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse.   Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fingerprint Technology: Cutting Edge Research



NIJ’s Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies (SSBT) Center of Excellence (CoE) has undertaken an evaluation of fingerprint data gathered from traditional two dimensional (2D) contact-based fingerprint devices and techniques versus fingerprint data generated by next-generation three dimensional (3D) contactless fingerprint scanners. The following grant reports provide details on this project:
Additionally, NIJ has also released the following final technical report on fingerprint capture technology:
Mobile Fingerprint Capture (pdf, 43 pages)

Five Individuals Charged with Conspiring to Fraudulently Obtain Union Job for Organized Crime Underboss

Former New York Post Driver Also Charged with Having “No Show” Job

Five men
have been charged in the Eastern District of New York with conspiring to defraud the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers’ Union (NMDU) and Hudson News newsstands to obtain a union card and employment at Hudson News newsstands for the son of the alleged underboss of the Colombo family of La Cosa Nostra.

A criminal complaint was unsealed today charging Benjamin Castellazzo Jr., Rocco Giangregorio, Glenn LaChance, Rocco Miraglia, aka “Irving,” and Anthony Turzio, aka “the Irish Guy,” with mail fraud conspiracy.   The five men were arrested earlier today, and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
In addition, a three-count indictment was unsealed today charging Thomas Leonessa, aka “Tommy Stacks,” with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and theft and embezzlement from employee benefit plans in an unrelated scheme.   The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Brooklyn, N.Y., on March 6, 2014, and relates to Leonessa’s alleged “no show” job as a delivery driver for the New York Post.
The charges were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia of the New York region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and Assistant Director in Charge George C. Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

As alleged in the complaint, the NMDU is an independent union that represents approximately 1,500 employees involved in the newspaper industry in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.   NMDU members deliver newspapers for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and El Diario.   Hudson News, which also employs members of the NMDU, is a retail chain of newsstands mainly located in major transportation hubs, including airports and train stations.

Between June 2009 and October 2009, Miraglia, who was a foreman at the New York Daily News – as well as an associate of the Colombo organized crime family and the son of a deceased soldier in the Colombo family – conspired with officials of the NMDU and with Turzio, an employee of El Diario, to get an NMDU union card for Castellazzo Jr. and place him in a job at Hudson News.   Castellazzo Jr. is the son of Benjamin Castellazzo, the alleged underboss of the Colombo family.   Giangregorio and LaChance, who are business agents for the NMDU, also participated on this scheme.

As alleged in the indictment, Leonessa was employed by the New York Post to deliver newspapers by truck from a New York Post warehouse in the Bronx, N.Y., to New Jersey.   He was also a member of the NMDU, which maintained offices, including offices for its welfare and pension funds, in Queens, N.Y.   From about December 2010 to about September 2011, Leonessa had a “no show job” – a job for which he was paid wages and benefits for services he did not perform – at the New York Post.   When Leonessa did not complete his required deliveries, he was nevertheless, based on his fraudulent representations, paid wages by the New York Post and accorded benefits from employee pension and welfare funds managed by the NMDU.

Leonessa is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The charges in the complaint and indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the FBI, with assistance from the New York City Police Department, the New York County District Attorney’s Office and Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Allon Lifshitz.

10th Street Gang Member Pleads Guilty to RICO Conspiracy Involving a Murder; Five Others Also Plead Guilty to RICO Conspiracy



Buffalo, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that 10th Street Gang member Miguel Moscoso, 23, of Buffalo, N.Y., pleaded guilty to Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The defendant murdered Christian Portes, a member of the rival 7th Street Gang, on June 13, 2009 at the corner of Whitney Place and Maryland Street. Moscoso faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In addition, five other members of the 10th St. Gang pleaded guilty to Racketeering charges. Defendants Matthew Deynes, 32, David Deynes, 32, Charles Watkins, 32, and Nourooz Ali, 30, all of Buffalo, face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Defendants Desmond Ford, 32, also of Buffalo, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that between 2000 and 2010, the defendants were members of the 10th Street Gang. As a part of their involvement in the gang, the defendants, along with other members and associates of the gang, committed violence, possessed firearms, and sold marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, and other controlled substances on the West Side of Buffalo.

The defendants are among 44 10th Street Gang members and associates charged in this case. A total of 37 have been convicted.

The pleas are the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Frank Christiano.

Matthew Deynes and David Deynes will be sentenced on July 18, 2014; Desmond Ford will be sentenced on July 24, 2014; Charles Watkins will be sentenced on July 25, 2014; Nourooz Ali, will be sentenced on July 28, 2014, and Miguel Moscoso will be sentenced on July 30, 2014 at 12:30 p.m., all before Judge Arcara.

Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the Community Relations Service Transgender Law Enforcement Training

Thank you, Director Lum, for that warm welcome. I am very pleased to be with you this morning to help kick off the Community Relations Service’s new Transgender Law Enforcement Training.

This training has been in the works for some time now.  For the last several years, the Justice Department at various levels has engaged in a constructive dialogue, animated by common aspirations and common concerns, with LGBT leaders throughout the country.  And one of the many ideas we’ve received finds its manifestation in today’s gathering:  a transgender law enforcement cultural professionalism training.
 
It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue.  Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement.  We know that such experiences have undermined the confidence transgender victims have in our justice system:  they’ve sown seeds of distrust; they’ve created fear where there should be reassurance; and they’ve led victims of crime to think twice about seeking the assistance of or cooperating with law enforcement.

By helping us turn the page on these painful experiences, today’s training will help lay a stronger foundation of trust between LGBT communities that are disproportionately the victims of hate violence — particularly the transgender community – and those who are charged with the awesome responsibility of protecting and serving.

And there is no better DOJ component to take the lead in this effort than CRS.  Under both the Attorney General’s and Grande’s leadership, CRS has redoubled its dedication to its mission under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act:  to help communities prevent and respond to hate violence, and to build stronger communities in the process.

Indeed, one of CRS’ core strengths lies in its singular ability to convene parties who are in conflict and get them to work together.  It’s a skill CRS has been exercising for nearly 50 years, since it was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  That’s thousands of cases resolved; thousands of disputes mediated; and thousands of peaceful outcomes obtained across this nation by the dedicated efforts of CRS conciliators.
Today’s launch of the Transgender Law Enforcement Training is yet another important step in the right direction.  It’s what the pursuit of justice can look like in the 21st century.

Let me close by saying that as someone who has been privileged to work with law enforcement for most of my career -- first as a federal prosecutor in a U.S. Attorney's Office, then as an attorney in the California Attorney General's Office, and now as part of the Department’s leadership – I have a deep appreciation and admiration for those who take on the extremely difficult duties of serving in law enforcement.  Theirs is not an easy task and for most, excellence is their yardstick.

Today’s training will help these dedicated women and men in uniform achieve that goal of excellence in service.  That is why I’m so grateful to all of you who are here to help make today’s session a success.

It’s now my great pleasure to introduce another dedicated law enforcement leader, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole.

Dyess Airmen witness effects of drunk driving

by Senior Airman Shannon Hall
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


3/27/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group witnessed the effects of drunk driving firsthand during their quarterly Comprehensive Airman Fitness event here March 21.

CAF events help Airmen, their families and Air Force civilians be more resilient and assist them in dealing with stressors of military life. The domains that are highlighted include mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness. This quarter Team Dyess is concentrating on the mental domain, which promotes good decision making and involves being aware of how personal beliefs and values can affect behavior.

This particular event hosted by the 317th AG focused on making good decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

The event began with Airmen selected from each of the 317th Airlift Group squadrons consuming a limited number of alcoholic beverages in a controlled environment. The Airmen were then timed on how accurately they could drive a gator through a closed course without knocking over traffic cones and barriers.

The 7th Bomb Wing Safety office assisted with the demonstration, by controlling and monitoring the course, and by providing a member of the safety office to remain in the gator with drivers at all times. The 7th Security Forces Squadron, 7th Medical Group and several members from Dyess Against Drunk Driving were also present to ensure everyone's safety during the educational event.

"The event was aimed at demonstrating the effects of four to five drinks, and that although a person may not outwardly appear to be intoxicated, they still have the potential of being impaired," said Maj. Donald Sellars, 317th AG chief executive officer.

"Every one of the impaired drivers experienced reduced driving skills that resulted in numerous cones and barriers being knocked over," Sellars said. "Some members did better than others, but the important thing to remember is that a few drinks does not affect all people equally, nor does it affect the same person the same way in all situations."

Other Airmen put on impairment goggles, also known as drunk goggles, and drove the course to experience the effects of drunk driving, as the goggles simulate intoxication by limiting the senses when worn.

"What I learned today was that drinking something with a low alcohol content, like cider, can impair my driving skills drastically," said Airman 1st Class Teara Sapp, 40th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and driver participant. "I've lost a friend to drunk driving, so getting to witness this firsthand really demonstrated to me the effects that alcohol can have on your driving ability, without the person being aware that they possibly could be intoxicated."

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 28 people die a day due to drunk driving; that's more than 10,000 people a year. By conducting this event, Airmen were able to get more of a hands-on learning experience, as opposed to listening to briefings.

"I think events like these are more useful than regular briefings because it brings the situations into a more real-world setting," Sapp said. "It's not sitting in a room listening to briefings and watching slideshows. It's actually showing you, in real time, the effects that alcohol can have on you and how much it can impair your driving abilities. It made me realize that even if someone seems sober or they haven't had that much to drink it may be enough to put them over the limit."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Minnesota Woman Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking for Holding Victim in Forced Labor in Restaurant

Tieu Tran, 59, of Mankato, Minn., pleaded guilty late yesterday to one count of forced labor trafficking in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the Justice Department announced today.  Tran is the former owner and manager of Nails By Jordan, a nail salon located in Mankato.
 
According to evidence presented in court proceedings and documents, in 2008, Tran recruited a woman from Vietnam to travel to the United States using false promises of legal immigration status and a high-paying job.  In reality, Tran smuggled the victim and two other Vietnamese nationals across the southern U.S.-Mexico border, imposed a significant debt upon the victim and forced the victim to pay down the smuggling debt by working at Tran’s son’s Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Saigon, in Mankato. 
 
During the plea proceedings, Tran admitted to compelling the victim to work long hours without paying her as promised, using a scheme, plan and pattern of non-violent coercion.  This included manipulation of debts, isolation and verbal intimidation to hold the victim in fear, knowing that the victim was without legal status and money, did not have the ability to speak English, feared losing her family home in Vietnam to creditors and had nowhere else to turn for subsistence.
 
“This defendant preyed on vulnerable victims and exploited them for her profit,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “Traffickers routinely use schemes of non-violent coercion to exploit victims by manipulating the victims’ debts, fears of immigration consequences, linguistic isolation and other vulnerabilities.  The Civil Rights Division is committed to seeking justice on behalf of victims of human trafficking and to holding human traffickers accountable”
 
“Human trafficking degrades the dignity of humanity and strikes at the heart of individual equality and freedom,” said U.S. Attorney Andy Luger for the District of Minnesota.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota will aggressively prosecute those who seek to capitalize on human frailty through such conduct.”
 
The FBI, in conjunction with its law enforcement partners, remains steadfast in its commitment to eradicate human trafficking,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Warrener of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office.  “Human trafficking is an insidious crime which impacts not only its victims, but society as a whole.  Detecting and bringing to justice those who perpetrate these schemes will always be a top priority for law enforcement.   
  
Tran faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  As part of her plea agreement, Tran agreed to nullify all debts imposed upon the victim, as well as similar debts imposed upon seven other individuals believed to be under similar circumstances.
 
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney William Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Steinkamp of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.

U.S. Marshals Task Force Arrests Lancaster Shooting Suspect in York



Harrisburg, PA – United States Marshal Martin J. Pane announced today that the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Task Force arrested Joshua Rojas, a 29-year old man, in York, Pennsylvania.

Rojas was being sought for a shooting that occurred on March 8, 2014 in Manheim Township. It is alleged that Rojas shot at his victim after getting into a verbal argument. The victim was struck multiple times in the lower body and was taken to Lancaster General Hospital for treatment of his wounds. On March 8, an arrest warrant was issued charging Rojas with:

    Aggravated Assault
    Criminal Conspiracy (Aggravated Assault)
    Recklessly Endangering Another Person

At the request of the Manheim Township Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania began investigating the whereabouts of Rojas. U.S. Marshals developed information which indicated Rojas may have fled to the York area. U.S. Marshals in Reading sent an investigative lead to Harrisburg-based U.S. Marshals in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Earlier today, Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force Officers located Rojas in the 600 block of West King Street. The fugitive was apprehended after attempting to elude law enforcement. Rojas was turned over to the Manheim Township Police Department for processing.

United States Marshal Pane stated, “The coordination and cooperation demonstrated by law enforcement in this case ensured that an extremely dangerous and unpredictable fugitive was taken off the streets. It is our top priority to arrest violent offenders, especially those who have no regard for human life. It is my hope that the victim’s family will find some measure of comfort knowing that the alleged attacker has been brought to justice.”

The USMS worked jointly in this investigation with personnel from the Pennsylvania State Police, York City Police Department, York County District Attorney’s Office, and the York County Sheriff’s Department. These agencies are participating members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Additional assistance was provided by the Manheim Township Police Department.

The concept of all USMS-led fugitive task forces is to seek out and arrest the nation’s most dangerous offenders.

Requesting Public’s Assistance on Cold Case Homicide



Lafayette, LA – Wilmar Omar Fernandez-Ramirez, AKA: Omar Ramirez is Wanted by the Lafayette Police Department for a homicide that occurred during the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day (November 28, 2013). Upon issuing the Warrant Lafayette Police delegated apprehension authority to the U.S. Marshals Violent Offender Task Force. Since the homicide, Ramirez has disappeared.

Ramirez is a thirty-year-old, 5’5”, 160 pound Hispanic male believed to be from Guatemala. Prior to the homicide, Ramirez was living in an apartment complex on the South Side of Lafayette.

Anyone with information as to Ramirez’s whereabouts is urged to call the US Marshals at (337) 281-8236. A cash award is available for information leading to Ramirez’s arrest and all callers can remain anonymous.