Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Portland Woman Pleads Guilty to Mailing Bomb Threats



Bangor, Maine:  United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced that Nina Michalski, 61, of Portland, Maine, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to sending bomb threats through the mail.

According to court records, between October 2016 and February 2017, Michalski sent three letters from Maine to religious congregations in California.  These letters indicated that a bomb had been planted or would be planted in the congregations’ facilities.

Michalski faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.  She will be sentenced after the completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Contra Costa County, California Sheriff’s Office, the Walnut Creek, California Police Department, and the San Ramon, California Police Department.

Justice Department Launches Initiative to Fight Sexual Harassment in the Workplace



The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division today announced a second initiative to combat sexual harassment; the effort announced today—the Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Initiative (SHWI)—focuses on workplace sexual harassment in the public sector.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against state and local government employers. The law prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Sexual harassment is among the conduct prohibited by the law because it is a form of sex discrimination. 

The Justice Department will also announce its first enforcement action brought under the SHWI. The Justice Department will file a lawsuit against the City of Houston, alleging that the Houston Fire Department (HFD) discriminated against two female firefighters on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII when it allowed them to be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.

As part of the Initiative, the Justice Department will continue to bring sex discrimination claims against state and local government employers with a renewed emphasis on sexual harassment charges. The Department will also work to develop effective remedial measures that can be used to hold public sector employers accountable where Title VII violations have been found, including identifying changes to existing employer practices and policies that will result in safe work environments.

Through the Initiative, the Department will also conduct outreach to state and local government employers that centers around five critical areas: (1) creating trusted and safe avenues for employees to report sexual harassment; (2) ensuring management support for anti-discrimination policies and practices; (3) implementing accountability measures to ensure the timely and effective resolution of sexual harassment complaints; (4) adopting comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures that include regular, tailored, and interactive training for employees; and (5) providing safeguards against retaliation for persons who report sexual harassment and for employees who support them.

“All Americans are entitled to work with dignity in a place that is free of sexual harassment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore for the Civil Rights Division, in announcing the Initiative. “Through enforcement actions, effective remedial measures, and outreach, the Justice Department—under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ leadership—will fight to eliminate sexual harassment among public sector employers.”

The creation of this Initiative reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws and an expansion of the Civil Rights Division’s efforts to eradicate sexual harassment under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In October 2017, the Justice Department announced the Civil Rights Division’s first initiative to combat sexual harassment, the Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative. In 2017, the Justice Department recovered more than $1 million in damages for victims of harassment in housing. Many instances of sexual harassment in housing continue to go unreported. The Justice Department’s investigations frequently uncover sexual harassment that has been ongoing for years or decades and identify numerous victims who never reported the conduct to federal authorities.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division, its enforcement of Title VII and other civil rights laws it enforces is available on its Web sites at http://www.justice.gov/crt/ and http://www.justice.gov/crt/emp.

Serial Bank Robber Gets 15 Year Sentence



Defendant with Long and Violent Criminal History Committed Bank Robberies while on Federal Supervision for Drug Trafficking

A 50-year-old serial bank robber was sentenced February 26, 2018 in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 years in prison and five years of supervised release for armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. VINCENT L. FIELDS, 50, of Tacoma was arrested March 22, 2017 following a bank robbery in Renton.   FIELDS tried to avoid a car-to-car search following the robbery by fleeing from police at a high rate of speed.  FIELDS crashed his car into another driver and fled on foot but was ultimately taken into custody.  U.S. District Judge James L. Robart imposed the sentence.

According to records filed in the case, FIELDS began his bank robbery spree in February of 2017, robbing a Tacoma Wells Fargo branch on February 15 and a University Place Key Bank on February 21.  On March 7 he robbed a Wells Fargo branch in University Place and attempted to rob a different Wells Fargo branch on March 9, 2017.  On March 22, 2017, FIELDS brandished a distinctive submachine style gun at a teller and demanded cash.  The quick thinking teller included a GPS tracking device with the cash.  Law enforcement was able to trace FIELDS’ movements and caught up with him stopped at a Renton intersection.  That’s when FIELDS took off traveling in the wrong lane of travel, striking another car before being taken into custody.  The gun and the cash were recovered.

 FIELDS was still on federal supervision for a 2012 drug trafficking conviction.  FIELDS has a prior federal conviction for trafficking crack cocaine and state convictions from 1995 for second degree murder and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Renton Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi.