Criminal Justice News

Friday, March 23, 2018

Frisco Man in Custody on Federal Charges Stemming from a Murder-For-Hire Plot

DALLAS — Eskandar Molavi, 69, of Frisco, Texas, is in federal custody following his arrest Friday, March 16, 2018 on federal charges stemming from a murder-for-hire plot to have his former business partner kidnapped and possibly killed. The announcement was made this afternoon by Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

Molavi is charged with one count of solicitation of kidnapping and one count of attempted kidnapping. He made his initial appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Renee Harris Toliver. A detention hearing was held today and Molavi was ordered detained pending trial.

According to the criminal complaint affidavit filed in the case, Molavi approached a man, whom Molavi believed to be a pilot for a Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO), about kidnapping his former business partner, later identified as H.M., and forcing him to sign over a gas station that Molavi lost to H.M. in civil court. Molavi told the man that if the business partner did not sign the business over, he wanted him flown to Mexico and murdered. 

On March 6, 2018, according to the affidavit, the individual Molavi contacted had an unplanned meeting with Molavi in Frisco, Texas. At the meeting, Molavi again asserted that he wanted H.M. kidnapped and forced to sign over the gas station. The man told Molavi that a man known as “D.J.,” also known as “Iceman,” would be in town, and would be the individual that would carry out the kidnapping/extortion scheme. The individual referred to as D.J. or Iceman was, in fact, an FBI agent.

On March 13, 2018, the FBI agent met with Molavi in Dallas, Texas. During the course of the meeting, Molavi told the agent about his dispute with H.M.; inquired about what services the agent could provide and the cost of such services. Molavi ultimately agreed to pay the agent $20,000 to kidnap H.M. and force him to sign over the business. Molavi provided the agent with H.M.’s true name, home address, business address, and information related to the location of the school that H.M.’s daughter attended. Molavi also told the agent that if H.M. did not sign over the business, that the agent should kill H.M. The agent told Molavi that the price for murder was $50,000.

After the meeting, Molavi asked the individual he originally contacted if he would be able to get him a gun and a silencer in the event that the agent was unsuccessful in getting H.M. to sign over the business.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a U.S. magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the case to a federal grand jury for indictment. If convicted, however, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after a review of the federal sentencing guidelines and factors unique to the case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.

Long Beach Man Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Grand Jury

Jackson, Miss. – David Hawthorne, 36, of Long Beach, pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to making false declarations before a federal grand jury, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Freeze.

On December 8, 2015, Hawthorne appeared before a federal grand jury in Jackson and proceeded to offer false testimony regarding having traveled with another individual to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the purpose of purchasing an expensive boat. He testified to the federal grand jury in great detail about this supposed trip with his companion. However, no such trip ever took place. This meant that the bill of sale reflecting the purchase of the boat in south Florida, which was provided by his companion to the FBI, was in fact fraudulent. In pleading guilty, Hawthorne admitted to Judge Wingate that his testimony before the federal grand jury was in fact false.

Hawthorne will be sentenced by Judge Wingate in Jackson on June 8, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Hurst praised the investigative work conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Golden who prosecuted the case.

Buffalo Man Pleads Guilty To Cocaine Conspiracy

BUFFALO, N.Y.--U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Archie Phillips, 45, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $10,000,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Adler, who is handling the case, stated that between December 2012 and March 12, 2013, the defendant shipped kilogram bricks of cocaine from Houston, Texas to Buffalo, NY for distribution. Co-conspirators, including Beverly Fields, would then package cash proceeds from the cocaine distribution and ship the currency from the Buffalo area to the defendant in Houston. The defendant utilized a storage locker in Houston, to store some of the drug proceeds. In March 2013, DEA Special Agents found $284,980 in cash in plastic bags stored in the locker.

Beverly Fields has been convicted and is awaiting sentencing.

One of the defendant’s customers was Tyshawn Bradley, who was convicted of multiple charges including conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine within 1000 feet of the Perry Housing Projects.

The plea is the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons; and the United States Marshals Service, under the direction of Charles Salina.