Monday, April 30, 2018

Three Southwest Kansas Men Convicted of Plotting to Bomb Somali Immigrants in Garden City

WASHINGTON – Three men from the southwest Kansas area were convicted today on charges of conspiring to detonate a bomb at an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants lived, announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division John Gore; Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers; U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister; and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Kansas City Division Special Agent in Charge Darrin E. Jones.

After a four-week trial, a federal jury convicted Patrick Eugene Stein, 49, of Wright, Kansas, Curtis Allen, 50, of Liberal, Kansas, and Gavin Wright, 49, of Beaver County, Oklahoma, on one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy to violate the housing rights of their intended victims. Both conspiracies stemmed from the defendants’ plot to blow up the apartment complex in an effort to kill the Somali Muslim immigrants who lived there.  The jury also convicted defendant Wright of lying to the FBI.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that the defendants plotted, over the course of several months, to attack an apartment complex that contained a mosque at 312 W. Mary Street in Garden City, Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and worshipped. Evidence during trial established that the defendants held numerous meetings to plan the attack and took significant steps – including making and testing explosives – toward implementing their plan.  During an eight-month-long FBI investigation, a confidential source, whom the government credited for thwarting the attack and saving the lives of innocent victims, recorded numerous conversations during which the defendants discussed and refined their plan. As the plan solidified, the defendants discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would be sure to level the building and kill its occupants.

During the course of the investigation, defendant Stein also met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a black market arms dealer, in an effort to obtain a bomb. During one of the meetings, Stein took the agent to see the apartment building that the defendants were planning to destroy.

At their sentencing hearing on June 27, the defendants will face up to life in federal prison.

“The Department of Justice is resolute every day in fighting terrorist threats to the United States, both foreign and domestic," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That's not just illegal—it's immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it. Today's verdict is a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes, and I want to thank everyone who helped bring the defendants to justice—the dedicated professionals with our National Security and Civil Rights Divisions, our United States Attorney's office in Kansas, the FBI, and our state and local partners. Law enforcement saved lives in this case."

“We are fortunate that law enforcement agents thwarted the defendants’ plan to bomb and shoot innocent, peaceful Muslim immigrants,” said U.S. Attorney McAllister. “The jury’s verdicts are a vindication of outstanding investigative work and prosecution. Terrorists, whether they be foreign or domestic, must be stopped and punished according to the law. Today’s verdicts are a victory for the rule of law, civil rights, and national security.”

“As law enforcement, we are charged with and have an obligation to take action and protect the public whenever an individual expresses a desire to commit violence,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Darrin E. Jones of the Kansas City Division.  “Allowing an individual intent on killing people to proceed without a government response is not an option and will never be an option.  Law enforcement, working with our partners, must continue to detect, disrupt and deter attacks to our nation, against our citizens and our freedom.   The dedication and efforts of the FBI Agents and law enforcement officers who worked tirelessly to investigate and build this case was apparent throughout the trial. Today's verdict emphasizes their commitment to keeping all of our communities safe and from harm.”

Gore, Demers, McAllister, and Jones commended the following law enforcement agencies and prosecutors for their exceptional and exemplary efforts investigating and prosecuting this important case: the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and National Security Division. The case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi and Trial Attorneys Risa Berkower and Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division and supported by Trial Attorney David Cora of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Appellate Attorney Danielle Tarin of the Office of Law and Policy.

Former Brevard County Pastor Sentenced To Seven Years For Receiving Child Pornography

Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced Daniel Dale Barton, Sr. (57, Brevard County) to seven years in federal prison for receipt of child pornography. The court also ordered him to serve a 10-year term of supervised release and to forfeit a laptop computer, which was used in committing the offense. Barton pleaded guilty on February 7, 2018.

According to court documents, on March 2, 2017, an FBI Task Force Agent identified an Internet Protocol (IP) address that was being used to distribute images of child pornography. The agent downloaded child pornography images directly from the suspect’s computer and traced the IP address to a church located in Brevard County, Florida. On April 24, 2017, the agent executed a search warrant at the church, where she encountered Barton. Barton stated that he worked as a pastor for the church. He also admitted that he had used the church’s internet and his personal computer to search for and view child pornography.

Specifically, Barton used peer-to-peer software to download images of child pornography and masturbated to those images. Barton stated that he had been viewing child pornography since he was a kid, felt guilty about viewing these images, and indicated that he had recently deleted them. A forensic analysis of Barton’s laptop computer revealed over 2,000 images of prepubescent girls engaged in the lascivious exhibition of genitals, which Barton had deleted from his computer.   

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda.

Israeli-Moroccan Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge in International Business E-Mail Compromise Scheme

Fraud Scam Defrauded Companies of Millions of Dollars

WASHINGTON – Harry Meir Mimoun Amar, a resident and citizen of Israel and Morocco, pled guilty today to taking part in an international conspiracy to trick mid-level corporate employees into wiring millions of dollars to bank accounts under the control of those in the criminal enterprise.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Amar, 39, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. Amar has agreed to pay $273,321 in restitution and $49,503 in a forfeiture money judgment. Amar will be subject to deportation proceedings. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly set a sentencing hearing in the case for Aug. 16, 2018.

 Amar was among 17 people arrested in early 2017 following a multi-year investigative effort by federal and international law enforcement agencies to target multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering schemes perpetrated by a transnational organized crime network. Amar was arrested on March 1, 2017 in Israel and consented to his extradition to the United States. He has remained in custody since his arrest.

Amar was charged along with three others arrested last year with participating in one particular fraud scheme, which is known as a business e-mail compromise, or “BEC” scheme. The cases against the other three individuals remain pending.

According to a statement of offense submitted at today’s plea hearing, Amar and others used the Internet and primarily U.S.-based electronic communications to target mid-sized and large companies and impersonate executive-level employees in e-mail communications with mid-level employees. These mid-level employees were led to believe they were being entrusted to handle a large financial transaction, such as a “secret” corporate acquisition. The employees were instructed to initiate wire transfers from the company’s corporate bank accounts to bank accounts controlled by members of the criminal enterprise. Once the funds were transferred, the money was quickly wire transferred out of the reach of the target corporation into accounts located in the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere, with the funds ultimately being delivered to co-conspirators located in Europe and elsewhere.

 In his guilty plea, Amar admitted taking part in the scheme from approximately January 2014 until August 2014, working with co-conspirators who were operating in other countries, including Turkey and Bulgaria. The statement of offense ties Amar to false representations made to four companies from Germany, Spain, Finland and Portugal. According to the statement of offense, the scheme generated $1,093,557 in U.S. dollars. Amar personally received $49,503 of the proceeds.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge McNamara commended the work of those who are investigating the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Israeli National Police, the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior, Main Directorate Border Police, and Sofia Interpol. They acknowledged the efforts of those who are handling the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including Paralegal Specialists Brittany Phillips and Elizabeth Swienc, former Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms, and Litigation Technology Specialist Jeanie Latimore-Brown.

Finally, they commended the work of former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Atkinson and David Last, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas, of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Marando and David Kent, of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.