Criminal Justice News

Thursday, February 28, 2019

South Park Man Charged with Possessing and Distributing Child Pornography


PITTSBURGH, PA- An Allegheny County resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of possession and distribution of materials depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The two-count Indictment, returned on February 26, named Michael Moran, 60, South Park, PA.

According to Indictment, from on or about August 16, 2018 through on or about September 2, 2018, Moran distributed visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and on October 24, 2018, Moran possessed images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of minors. A number of the images Moran distributed, as well some of the videos and images he possessed, depicted the sexual exploitation of minors under the age of twelve.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Moran remains in custody pending the resolution of state charges.

Assistant United States Attorney Christy C. Wiegand is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jury Convicts Overland Park Woman in Heroin Conspiracy


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Overland Park, Kan., woman has been convicted by a federal trial jury for her role in a multi-defendant drug-trafficking conspiracy with ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico.

Christine Little Wood, 61, was found guilty of participating in a conspiracy to distribute heroin from Jan. 1, 2010, to April 18, 2017, and of participating in a money-laundering conspiracy. In addition to the criminal conspiracies, Little Wood was found guilty of using a cell phone to aid the drug-trafficking conspiracy and of maintaining a residence for the distribution and use of heroin.

In addition to Little Wood, 20 co-defendants have pleaded guilty and three have been sentenced in this case. Dennis McLallen, 66, and his wife, and Pamela Gaddy-McLallen, 65, both of Overland Park, were in direct contact with Mexico-based heroin and methamphetamine suppliers and Kansas City-based suppliers. They received multi-ounce levels of black tar heroin from their suppliers, which they and other conspirators repackaged into ounce and gram levels for distribution by Little Wood and others.

McLallen admitted that he was responsible for the distribution of more than 10 kilograms of heroin. Conspirators distributed at least 500 ounces (more than 14 kilograms) of heroin, with an average sale price of $1,700 per ounce, for a total of $850,000.

In September 2016, investigators searched vehicles and residences and seized heroin, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, more than $200,000 in bulk cash, a load vehicle with hidden compartments, drug ledgers, drug packaging, drug scales, firearms, ammunition, a bullet proof vest, and various other drug trafficking related items. Little Wood’s son, a co-defendant in this case, distributed and used heroin in her residence.

McLallen and Gaddy-McLallen each pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracies and to a conspiracy to use firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking. McLallen was sentenced on April 18, 2018, to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Gaddy-McLallen died of natural causes while awaiting sentencing.

Co-defendant Kevin Fletcher,30, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced to nine years and two months in federal prison without parole. Co-defendant Sterling Cline, 38, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole. Several co-defendants remain fugitives from justice.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for about four hours before returning the guilty verdicts to U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, ending a trial that began Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.
Under federal statutes, Little Wood is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Rhoades and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean T. Foley. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI and the Jackson County Drug Task Force.

Dominican National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Distribute Fentanyl


Defendant faces 10 year mandatory minimum sentence

BOSTON – A Dominican national pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to his role in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl.

Sergio Manuel Lara-Suarez, a/k/a Sergio Manuel Lara-Juarez, 42, a Dominican national residing in Lawrence, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl; five counts of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl; and two counts of distribution of fentanyl. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for May 16, 2019. Lara-Suarez was charged by superseding indictment in November 2018.

Between September 2017 and March 2018, Lara-Suarez conspired with others to distribute significant quantities of fentanyl or a mixture containing both fentanyl and heroin to undercover law enforcement officers. During that period, Lara-Suarez met with undercover agents 11 times and sold them over 430 grams of fentanyl. Lara-Suarez has been in state custody since August 2018.

The charge of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, a minimum of five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of distribution of 40 grams or more of fentanyl carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and no greater than 40 years in prison, at least four years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of distribution of fentanyl carries a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $1 million. Lara-Suarez will be subject to deportation proceedings. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Estes of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case