Criminal Justice News

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Wilkinsburg Man Sentenced to Almost 6 Years in Prison for Robbing Local Dollar General and PNC Bank

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A former resident of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court to a term of imprisonment of five years and 10 months, to be followed by three years of supervised release, on charges of bank robbery and Hobbs Act robbery, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Senior United States District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab imposed the sentence on Lamont Gates, 65.

According to information presented to the court, on October 5, 2017, armed with a knife, Gates robbed the Dollar General store located on Penn Ave. in Wilkinsburg. Gates took approximately $310 before fleeing the store. One week later, on October 12, 2017, Gates entered the PNC Bank, also on Penn Avenue, and advised the teller that it was a stick-up. He demanded $20 bills. Gates reached through the metal bars on the teller counter in an attempt to grab either the teller or money. He then threatened to blow the teller’s head off and reached for an object with a black handle in his back pocket. The teller gave Gates approximately $2,060, including bait money.

A few minutes later, Gates was observed in the parking lot of the beer distributor one block away from the PNC Bank. After a brief chase, officers arrested Gates. Officers recovered $1,940 (in $20 bills) from Gates. It appears that he had already purchased a few items from the beer distributor. No weapons were recovered. Gates confessed to the Dollar General robbery.

Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wilkinsburg Police Department conducted the investigation leading to the prosecution of Lamont Gates.

Court Sentences Former Wilmington Trust Chief Credit Officer and Controller to Imprisonment

WILMINGTON, Del.  – David C. Weiss, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that the Honorable Richard G. Andrews sentenced former Wilmington Trust Chief Credit Officer William North, age 59, to 54 months’ imprisonment and a $100,000.00 fine.  Judge Andrews also sentenced former Wilmington Trust Controller Kevyn Rakowski, age 65, to 36 months’ imprisonment.

The sentencing hearings of North and Rakowski followed those of Robert Harra, age 69, the Bank’s former President; and David Gibson, the Bank’s former Chief Financial Officer, age 61.  On Monday, December 17, 2018, Judge Andrews sentenced both Harra and Gibson to 72 months imprisonment and a fine of $300,000.00.  The Court also ordered all four Defendants to agree to a ban from the banking industry and to surrender to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons by February 19, 2019.

A federal jury convicted each of the Defendants in May 2018, following a two-month trial.  The jury returned guilty verdicts on sixteen counts of the Third Superseding Indictment, including conspiracy, as well as fifteen fraud, false statements, and false entries offenses.  The jury also convicted Gibson on three additional counts of making false certifications in financial reports.

At trial, the government proved that the defendants conspired to falsely report the Bank’s amount of past due loans to regulators, investors, and the public.  The government presented evidence that the Defendants caused the Bank to underreport approximately $300 million in past due loans in the Third and Fourth Quarters of 2009 in Call Reports and Monthly Regulatory Reports filed with the Federal Reserve and in Securities Filings with the Securities Exchange Commission.  The Bank used the false Securities Filings to raise $287 million in a February 2010 stock sale.

When the Bank finally began reporting its past due loan information correctly in the Third Quarter of 2010, it recognized losses of over $370 million and its share price plummeted.  On November 1, 2010, M&T Bank announced that it had acquired Wilmington Trust at a sharply-discounted price.  The Wall Street Journal referred to the acquisition as “one of the biggest banking firesales in history.”  Over 700 Wilmington Trust employees lost their jobs as a result of the merger.

U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss stated, “Today’s sentencing hearings are the culmination of the multi-year investigation and trial of four of the top officers of the Wilmington Trust Corporation.  This landmark prosecution of the Bank’s President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Credit Officer, and Controller sends a clear message that top corporate bankers cannot lie to their regulators and the public about important disclosures that affect the safety and soundness of banks and impact the decision of investors to buy or sell stock.  The Defendants’ actions contributed to the downfall of an important Delaware institution, causing hundreds of employees to lose their jobs and investors to lose hundreds of millions of dollars when the Bank’s stock price collapsed.  The sentences imposed by the Court appropriately punish the Defendants for their serious criminal conduct and strongly encourage other corporate executives to follow the law.  I am grateful to the prosecution team and our investigative partners for their steadfast commitment to this case and their unyielding efforts in bringing the Defendants to justice.”

"The FBI applauds the sentencings as an affirmation of holding corporate executives to the same standard of accountability under the law as other criminals," said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson.  "The FBI and its law enforcement partners here in Delaware will aggressively investigate crimes which take place in the corporate suites of banks and companies and hold those executives responsible for their actions when they betray their fiduciary responsibilities to their clients and investors."

"TARP was created to stabilize banks, not to fund banks to engage in risky lending and then commit fraud to cover up bad loans,” said Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Christy Goldsmith Romero. “Once again, SIGTARP’s investigation has revealed bank executives—like Wilmington Trust’s former President, former chief financial officer, former chief credit officer, and former controller sentenced to prison—who criminally concealed hundreds of millions in past due loans resulting from risky aggressive growth in the years leading up to the financial crisis.  Once again, courts are bringing justice through prison sentences for these crimes.  I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Attorney David Weiss, his dedicated team of prosecutors, and our other law enforcement partners that stood fast with SIGTARP to uncover the evidence and take this case to trial.”

“The sentences handed down in this case are direct results of the excellent partnership IRS-CI, our law enforcement partners, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has in combating violations of federal law and ensuring public trust,” said Guy Ficco, Special Agent in Charge IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Philadelphia Field Office.

“These sentencings send a clear warning that bank executives who deliberately deceive regulators by submitting false and misleading information will be held accountable and brought to justice for their actions. I am proud of our agents and their federal law enforcement partners, whose hard work and persistence ultimately led to these outcomes,” stated Mark Bialek, Inspector General, Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (FRB-CFPB OIG).

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert F. Kravetz, Lesley F. Wolf, and Jamie M. McCall, and investigated by the FBI, SIGTARP, IRS-CI, and FRB-CFPB OIG.

Former Blackwater Employee Found Guilty of Murder in Fatal 2007 Shooting at Nisur Square in Iraq Jury Finds Nicholas Slatten Guilty of Killing Aspiring Doctor

            WASHINGTON - Nicholas Slatten, 35, a former security guard for Blackwater USA, was found guilty today of the federal offense of first-degree murder in the killing of Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, one of 14 unarmed civilians who were killed in a shooting by Blackwater guards that took place at Nisur Square in Bagdhad on Sept. 16, 2007.

            The jury verdict, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’sWashington Field Office’s Criminal Division.

            Slatten remains held pending his sentencing by the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth. No sentencing date was set. The murder charge calls for a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

            Slatten, formerly of Sparta, Tenn., initially was found guilty of the murder charge in October 2014, following a trial in the same courtroom. Three other former guards for Blackwater USA also were found guilty in that trial, of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and other charges. Slatten subsequently was sentenced in April 2015 to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole; the co-defendants were each sentenced to 30 years and one day in prison.

            The defendants appealed the convictions. In August 2017, the District of Columbia Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed Slatten’s conviction. The appeals court also ordered Slatten’s three co-defendants -- Paul Alvin Slough, Evan Shawn Liberty, and Dustin Laurent Heard -- to be re-sentenced for their roles in the crime. Slough, Liberty and Heard remain in custody and their re-sentencing proceedings remain pending before Judge Lamberth.

            Slatten initially was retried on the murder charge last summer but a mistrial was declared on Sept. 5, 2018, after that jury was unable to reach a verdict. The current trial began on Nov. 5, 2018, and the jury reached the guilty verdict on its fifth day of deliberations.

            During the trial, the government presented testimony from 34 witnesses, including four who came to the United States to testify from Iraq.

            According to the government’s evidence, at approximately noon on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007, several Blackwater security contractors, including Slatten and his former co-defendants, opened fire in and around Nisur Square, a busy traffic circle in the heart of Baghdad.

            When they stopped shooting, 14 Iraqi civilians were dead. Those killed included 10 men, two women, and two boys, ages 9 and 11. Another 18 victims were injured. According to the evidence, Slatten was the first to fire, without provocation, killing Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, an aspiring doctor, who was driving his mother to an appointment.

            Slatten was among 19 Blackwater security contractors assigned to a convoy of four heavily-armed trucks known as a Tactical Support Team, using the call sign “Raven 23.” Shortly before noon, Raven 23 learned that a car bomb had detonated in central Baghdad near a location where a U.S official was being escorted by a Blackwater personal security detail team. Raven 23 team members promptly reported to their convoy vehicles, and the convoy drove to a secured checkpoint between the Green Zone and Red Zone.

            Once there, in disregard of an order from Blackwater’s command, the team’s shift leader directed Raven 23 to leave the Green Zone and establish a blockade in Nisur Square, a busy traffic circle that was immediately adjacent to the Green Zone. All told, seven of the 19 members of Raven 23 fired their weapons.

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior and the Iraqi National Police provided cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

            The retrial of the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys T. Patrick Martin, Fernando Campoamor-Sanchez, and Karen Seifert, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Hughes, all of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.