Thursday, September 23, 2021

Man Sentenced to 35+ Years for Pornographic Images of Six-Year-Olds

 A Grand Prairie man who sexually exploited two six-year-old girls has been sentenced to 430 months in federal prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.

Juan Navarro, Jr., 38, pleaded guilty in January to sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman.

In plea papers, Mr. Navarro admitted that in 2019, he enticed a female child into engaging in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images of such conduct. He also admitted that he stored multiple sexually explicit images of children on his cell phone.  

According to court documents, the investigation began when Yahoo reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that one of their email clients had uploaded child pornography. Law enforcement traced the email account in question to Mr. Navarro.

During a search of his residence, agents found a Samsung Galaxy phone containing multiple images of child pornography, including several images of little girls that appeared to have been created on the phone. In interviews with law enforcement, Mr. Navarro admitted that he sometimes emailed himself child porn, but initially denied knowing the girls.

However, the children’s mother confirmed that her daughters knew Mr. Navarro, and recognized the seat of his car in the images of her daughters, who have since received appropriate psychological and medical care.

“My girls are not physically here, but I am. I’m hear so my voice can be their voice and the voice of all of those other innocent victims,” their mother testified at sentencing. “We need our voices to be heard.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office and the Grand Prairie Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandie Wade prosecuted the case.

Shelton Doctor Charged with Selling Prescriptions for Cash, Health Care Fraud

 Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, and Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), announced that Dr. DAVID CIANCIMINO, 62, of Trumbull, was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint charging him with health care fraud and controlled substances offenses related to the illegal distribution of prescription medication.

Ciancimino appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Spector and was released on a $500,000 bond.

As alleged in court documents and statements made in court, Ciancimino has been a sole practitioner practicing psychiatry and neurology/psychiatry from an office located at 4 Corporate Drive in Shelton.  Since October 2020, law enforcement has been investigating Ciancimino’s prescribing practices of various benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, and stimulants, such as Adderall.  The investigation, which has included the use of federal task force officers acting in an undercover capacity, revealed that Ciancimino was providing prescriptions for Adderall or Xanax to numerous individuals in exchange for $200 in cash, typically with little to no medical examination of his patients.  Many of Ciancimino’s patients used Medicaid to pay for the prescriptions Ciancimino wrote for them.

It is alleged that between July 2020 to September 2021, Ciancimino deposited approximately $356,000 in cash into his bank account.  Ciancimino also received dozens of payments of $200 through his Venmo account.

Ciancimino is charged with making false statements relating to health care matters, health care fraud, and distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and not for legitimate medical purpose.

Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  Charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation is being conducted by the DEA New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and HHS-OIG’s Office of Investigations, with the assistance of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection – Drug Control Division and the Middlebury Police Department.  The DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad includes personnel from the DEA and the Bristol, East Windsor, Glastonbury, Hamden, Manchester, New Britain, Newington, Watertown and West Haven Police Departments.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather L. Cherry.

Former Nassau County Fire Rescue Employee Sentenced To More Than 7 Years In Federal Prison For Receiving Child Sexual Abuse Images And Videos Over The Internet


Jacksonville, Florida –Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Robert Arthur Ginder (35, Callahan) to seven years and six months in federal prison for receipt of child sex abuse images. The Court also ordered Ginder to serve a 10-year term of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.

Ginder had pleaded guilty on April 22, 2021.

According to court documents, an investigation was initiated by law enforcement agents after they had gained access to an online cloud platform and a group chat in which users actively distributed images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. The agents observed that, when any user joined the group chat, various members of the group would share numerous image and video files depicting child exploitation . 

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified Ginder’s residence as the source of the internet protocol (IP) addresses used by this particular account on the cloud platform and, further, determined that Ginder worked for Nassau County Fire Rescue as a logistics officer.

On October 20, 2020, HSI agents executed a federal search warrant at Ginder’s residence and authorities arrested Ginder later that day. Ginder admitted to receiving a link to the cloud platform and joining the group chat of the online cloud platform that contained child exploitation material. He also admitted to viewing and sharing child exploitation materials using the cloud platform. Ginder acknowledged that he had received an image depicting the sexual abuse of a child from this cloud platform over the internet.

A subsequent search and forensic review of Ginder’s electronic devices revealed that Ginder’s cellphone contained thousands of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children. 

“The sexual exploitation of children has no place in our communities,” said HSI Jacksonville Assistant Special Agent in Charge K. Jim Phillips. “HSI special agents and our partners at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office will continue to pursue anyone involved in the production, distribution or possession of child pornography, or who target children in our communities in any way.”

This case was investigated by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington.

This is another case 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.

Individual Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse Of A Minor In Indian Country

 MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Jeffrey Denton Sumka, 27, entered a guilty plea to one count of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in Indian Country, in violation of 18 United States Code Sections 2243(a)(1), 2246(2)(A), 1151, and 1153, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 15 years, a fine of $250,000.00, a term of supervised release of not more than 5 years, and a special assessment in the amount of $100.00.

The Indictment alleged that on or about May of 2017 a twelve-year-old female met the defendant, who supplied the female with illegal drugs, and she then had sex with the defendant at least ten times.  The relationship continued until the female was fifteen years old, and in 2020, at the age of 15, the female became pregnant and had the defendant’s child, which was confirmed with DNA testing.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Muscogee Creek Nation Lighthorse Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Honorable Kimberley West, U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Morgan Muzljakovich represented the United States.

U.S. Attorney Seeking Victims Advertised on CityXGuide.com

 The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas is seeking individuals who were trafficked on CityXGuide, a commercial sex website shut down by the federal government in June 2020, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. 

Prosecutors are requesting that victims — who are afforded rights under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CRVA) and may be eligible for restitution — visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/united-states-v-wilhan-martono-cityxguide to submit their information.

The U.S. Attorney’s questionnaire will allow victims to outline any physical or mental health injuries they sustained as a result of human trafficking (information that is critically important to request court-ordered victim compensation at sentencing) and to share their thoughts on the sentence the judge should impose CityXGuide owner Wilhan Martono.

Mr. Martono, 47, was arrested on June 19, 2020, the same day his websites were seized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  He pleaded guilty on Aug. 24, 2021 to one count of promotion of prostitution and reckless disregard of sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to engage in interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises - facilitating prostitution.  His plea is the first ever entered under the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), a 2018 law that allows the federal government to prosecute websites that facilitate sex trafficking.

In plea papers, Mr. Martono admitted that he created, owned, and operated CityXGuide and a suite of related websites.  He registered the domain names for several of the sites on April 8, 2018 — just one day after the feds shut down Backpage.com, then the internet’s leading source of commercial sex advertisements. Like Backpage, Mr. Martono’s sites allowed users, including traffickers, to post hundreds of thousands of commercial sex advertisements worldwide.

Mr. Martono admitted that he turned a blind eye to the illegal sex trafficking occurring on CityXGuide.  Despite receiving numerous emails from federal, state, and local law enforcement informing him that CityXGuide and its companion websites were being used to facilitate sex trafficking and child exploitation, he continued to operate those sites in the United States and around the world.  In court documents, prosecutors estimated that Mr. Martono netted more than $21 million off his websites, which users described as “taking over from where Backpage left off.”

Law enforcement has already identified numerous trafficking victims in CityXGuide advertisements, including a 13-year-old Jane Doe identified in North Texas in November 2019 and a 16-year-old Jane Doe identified in North Texas in March 2020.  Prosecutors are now seeking to notify all survivors of sex trafficking who were advertised on CityXGuide.

Potential victims include minors who were advertised on Cityxguide.com or a related website (including Cityxguide.net, Cityxguide.co, Cityxguide.be, Bodyrubshop.com, CAPleasures.com, or Backpage.co), as well as adults subjected to force, threats of force, fraud, and/or coercion at the time they were advertised on CityXGuide or a related website. 

Under the CVRA, victims are entitled to timely notice of public court proceedings, the right to be treated with respect for their dignity and privacy, and the right to be reasonably heard at any sentencing proceeding.  

The North Texas Trafficking Task Force conducted the investigation, led by Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Office, the United States Secret Service, and the Colleyville Police Department, with assistance from HSI’s El Paso and San Jose Field Offices as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Assistant United States Attorneys Sid Mody, Rebekah Ricketts, and John de la Garza are prosecuting the case.

Ruston Man Receives 20 Year Sentence for Possession of Methamphetamine and a Firearm

 MONROE, La. - Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that Gerald Thompson, 37, of Ruston, Louisiana, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Terry A. Doughty to 240 months (20 years) in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for illegally possessing drugs and a firearm.

The charges in this case are the result of a search warrant which was executed at Thompson’s residence in Ruston on March 12, 2020. Law enforcement agents entered the residence and found approximately 417 grams of methamphetamine, oxycodone tablets, and a large amount of cash in a safe in Thompson’s bedroom. Agents also found an ounce of methamphetamine on his person and a pistol and ammunition next to his bed.

Thompson’s girlfriend and three minor children were present in the residence when agents executed the search warrant. His girlfriend admitted to law enforcement agents that Thompson was her methamphetamine supplier.

The total amount of methamphetamine that was seized and considered as relevant conduct in this case was 733 grams. Thompson pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime on March 10, 2021.

The DEA, ATF, Louisiana State Police, and Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Moody prosecuted the case.

Promising Strategies for Strengthening Police Department Wellness Programs: Findings and Recommendations from the Officer Safety and Wellness Technical Assistance Project


 

Maumelle Man Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Flight Attendant En Route to Little Rock

       LITTLE ROCK – A Maumelle man has pleaded guilty to assaulting a flight attendant. Leon Anderson, 40, entered his guilty plea Wednesday afternoon before United States District Judge James M. Moody, Jr.

      On October 6, 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Anderson with one count of abusive sexual contact on an aircraft. Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to a Superseding Information charging him with one count of interference with a flight attendant.

      Anderson was a passenger on PSA Airlines flight 5686 from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Little Rock on February 11, 2020. Prior to takeoff, a flight attendant was walking through the aisle of the plane when a passenger grabbed his leg. Startled, the flight attendant turned around, and the passenger—Anderson—apologized and said it was a mistake. Moments later, Anderson put one arm around the flight attendant’s shoulder and attempted to put a hand around his waist while apologizing again. The flight attendant told Anderson he did not need to apologize further.

      The flight attendant continued his duties, but Anderson made inappropriate, sexual comments to the flight attendant and ultimately grabbed the flight attendant two more times in a sexual manner. The flight attendant notified the captain, who notified law enforcement.

      Judge Moody will sentence Anderson at a later date. Anderson’s crime is punishable by not more than 20 years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000, and not more than three years supervised release. The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kristin Bryant and Benecia Moore.

Defendants Charged in Connection with Multi-State Racketeering Conspiracy Involving the Forced Labor of Mexican Agricultural H-2A Workers

 A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Florida has returned a six-count indictment against three defendants for their alleged roles in a federal racketeering conspiracy that victimized Mexican H-2A workers who, between 2015 and 2017, had worked in the United States harvesting fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products.

The indictment alleges that from 2015 through 2017, the defendants participated in running a labor contracting company for H-2A agricultural workers called Los Villatoros Harvesting (LVH), which functioned as a criminal enterprise. LVH subjected multiple Mexican H-2A agricultural workers employed in Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia and North Carolina to forced labor. LVH also harbored H-2A workers in the United States after their visas had expired for financial gain and committed visa fraud and fraud in foreign labor contracting.

The indictment charges Bladimir Moreno, a permanent resident of the United States and citizen of Mexico who owned and managed LVH, and Christina Gamez, a citizen of the United States who worked for LVH as a bookkeeper, manager and supervisor, with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, conspiracy to commit forced labor, forced labor, and conspiracy to obstruct proceedings before departments, agencies and committees. Guadalupe Mendes Mendoza, a citizen of Mexico who worked as a manager and supervisor for LVH, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct proceedings before agencies.

The indictment alleges that the defendants charged with committing the RICO conspiracy operated LVH as a criminal scheme. They obtained hundreds of hours of physically demanding agricultural labor from the victimized H-2A workers through coercive means, such as imposing debts on workers; confiscating the workers’ passports; subjecting workers to crowded, unsanitary and degrading living conditions, as well as to yelling and verbal abuse; threatening workers with arrest, jailtime and deportation; isolating workers and limiting their ability to interact with anyone other than LVH employees; and suggesting to workers that if they failed to comply with the defendants’ demands, they or their family members could be physically harmed.

This case was investigated by the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force (to include the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office), with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Murray and Trial Attorneys Avner Shapiro and Maryam Zhuravitsky of the Civil Rights Division.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

Individual Pleads Guilty To Assault With A Dangerous Weapon In Indian Country And Discharge Of Firearm In Relation To A Crime Of Violence

 MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Shylow Shane Young, 37, entered a guilty plea to one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country, in violation of 18 United States Code Sections 113(a)(3), 1151 and 1153, punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine of $250,000.00, a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years, and a special assessment in the amount of $100.00, and to one count of Use, Carry, Brandish, and Discharge of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 United States Code Section 924(c)(1)(A)(i)(ii)(iii), punishable by a term imprisonment of  not less than 10 years in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence, a fine of $250,000.00, a term of supervised release of not more than 3 years, and a special assessment in the amount of $100.00.

The Indictment alleged that on or about September 5, 2020, officers of the Sallisaw Police Department responded to a trespass call at a horse barn in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, where they discovered the defendant and repeatedly instructed him to leave.  The defendant refused to do so, and the police informed him that he was under arrest.  During the arrest the defendant began physically resisting arrest and engaged in an extended physical confrontation, during which, the defendant grabbed one of the officer’s firearms and discharged a round which travelled through the officer’s holster and caused bodily injury to an assisting officer after ricocheting off the ground.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Sallisaw Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Honorable Kimberley West, U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, in Muskogee, accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Bucca represented the United States.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Two Dominican Nationals Plead Guilty to Trafficking Fentanyl

 BOSTON – Two Dominican nationals previously residing in Lawrence pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to distribute hundreds of grams of fentanyl in Lawrence.

Jose Manuel Carmona-Mercedes, 32, and Gabriel Carmona-Pimentel, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, distribution of fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel scheduled sentencing for Jan. 12, 2022. The brothers were indicted in December 2020.

In late 2019, law enforcement identified Carmona-Mercedes and Carmona-Pimentel as large-scale fentanyl dealers operating in Lawrence. On four occasions in January and February 2020, an undercover officer ordered fentanyl from Carmona-Mercedes. After the undercover officer ordered a quantity of fentanyl and negotiated the price, Carmona-Pimentel or Carmona-Mercedes, or both, would deliver the fentanyl to the undercover officer from a base of operations on Lexington Street in Lawrence. On Feb. 25, 2020, after Carmona-Pimentel delivered 220 grams of fentanyl to the undercover officer, Carmona-Mercedes and Carmona-Pimentel were arrested. A search of the Lexington Street location resulted in the seizure of 850 grams of fentanyl, 300 grams of cutting agents, documents in Carmona-Mercedes and Carmona-Pimentel’s names, plastic baggies commonly used to package drugs for street-level sales, blenders, suspected cut and digital scales.

The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl provides for a sentence of at least 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of distribution of fentanyl provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, at least three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Boston Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Lawrence Police Chief Roy Vasque; and Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Pohl of Mendell’s Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.

Registered sex offender sentenced to 11 years in prison for attempted sexual enticement of 13 year-old and possession of child pornography

 HONOLULU – Senior District Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Neal Both-Magnisi, 39, of Honolulu, Hawaii, to 11 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, for attempting to entice a 13 year-old minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity, and for possessing child pornography today in United States District Court. He will also pay $6,000 in restitution to two identified victims and a $10,000 special assessment pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.

Acting U.S. Attorney Judith A. Philips stated that, according to court documents and information presented in court, Both-Magnisi, a registered sex offender, created a profile on a mobile device application designed for dating. On March 19, 2019, Both-Magnisi used the application to communicate with a user whose profile featured a photograph of a 13 year-old boy, which stated that he was “Younger than you think.” Between March 19 and March 24, 2019, Both-Magnisi engaged in numerous text message and online chat communications with the other user, who represented to Both-Magnisi that he was 13 years old, but who was actually an undercover law enforcement agent. On March 24, 2019, Both-Magnisi arranged to meet the boy in person at a shopping center in Kapolei, Hawaii to engage in sexual activity. Both-Magnisi then traveled to the agreed-upon location and was arrested.

Information provided to the court also reflected that law enforcement agents conducted a search of Both-Magnisi’s home. There, the agents discovered and seized a laptop computer, on which they discovered 93 video files and 224 images of child pornography, some of which appeared to feature children as young as eight years old.

“This prosecution is the successful result of a coordinated effort by several federal and state agencies to fight the threat of child predators using mobile device applications and social media to prey upon children in Hawaii,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Philips. “We are making concerted efforts to protect children, among the most vulnerable members of our community, from predators employing various forms of electronic media.”

“Protecting our keiki is one of our top priorities at Homeland Security Investigations in Honolulu,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon. “I hope this sentence sends a very clear message to everyone in the community that we will track down predators to keep our children safe.”

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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Paris Yates.

Nevada Man Gets 6½ Years in Prison for Travelling to PA to Engage in Sex with a Minor

 PITTSBURGH - A former resident of North Las Vegas, Nevada, has been sentenced in federal court to 78 months’ imprisonment and 10 years’ supervised release on his conviction of Travel With Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti imposed the sentence on Renad Bautista, age 32.

According to information presented to the court, on or about December 5, 2019, until December 9, 2019, Bautista travelled from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh with a motivating purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor whom he had been messaging on social media.

Assistant United States Attorney Heidi M. Grogan prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Mifflin Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Bautista.

Duplin County Drug Trafficker Receives 24 Years in Federal Prison

 WILMINGTON, N.C. – Jeremy Cline, 36, of Duplin County, North Carolina, was sentenced to 288 months in prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. 

According to court documents, evidence presented in court, and other documents, on July 28, 2019, Cline and his girlfriend were stopped by a Sampson County Sheriff’s Deputy for a traffic violation in Clinton, North Carolina. Cline provided the deputy with a false name during the traffic stop.  A records check determined that this person had an outstanding order for arrest. When questioned by law enforcement, Cline admitted that he had given a false name.  Cline also had an order for arrest.  A search of the car led to the discovery of more than 10 grams of methamphetamine.  On October 1, 2019, a Sampson County Sheriff’s Deputy observed Cline speeding on a motorcycle and attempted to stop him.  Cline did not stop and drove through a four way stop and flashing red light in the town of Roseboro. Cline lost control of his motorcycle, wrecked it, and then fled on foot.  Cline was ultimately apprehended in the woods.  Cline had more than $1,800 on his person.  Following an interview of Cline at a later date, law enforcement found that Cline had hidden 3 ounces of methamphetamine and a .40 caliber handgun that he later retrieved.   On October 16, 2019, undercover Duplin County Narcotic Detectives ordered 3 ounces of methamphetamine from Cline.  Subsequently, Cline and his girlfriend were stopped and arrested in the area of Norwood Street in Wallace.  Law enforcement recovered the methamphetamine on the floorboard.  On June 28, 2021, while Cline was awaiting sentencing in this case, a New Hanover County Detention Officer intercepted a letter that was addressed to Cline.  A test of the letter revealed that it had been soaked in LSD.

During the investigation, law enforcement was able to determine that Cline was responsible for possessing with the intent to distribute and distributing 30 kilograms of methamphetamine.  Cline had prior convictions for felony burglary and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

This is part of operation Fighting Jelly Fish which is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launders, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Duplin, New Hanover and Sampson County Sheriff’s Offices investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Severo  prosecuted the case.

Takedown Dismantles Drug Trafficking Organization Based in Parkersburg

 Four Arrested on Federal Criminal Complaints; Eleven Arrested on State Criminal Complaints

Six Federal Search Warrants Executed

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston announced today the arrests of four individuals for their roles in a drug trafficking organization (DTO) responsible for distributing methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and marijuana in Parkersburg and elsewhere. The takedown is the result of a nearly year-long investigation, dubbed “Long Time Coming,” led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Parkersburg Violent Crimes and Narcotics Task Force (PNTF).

Four individuals were arrested on federal criminal complaints, 11 individuals were arrested on state criminal complaints, and six federal search warrants were executed in Parkersburg during today’s takedown. 

Charged in three separate federal criminal complaints with conspiracy to distribute quantities of methamphetamine are: Carlo Ramsey, 56; Robert Sanders, Jr., 29; and Ambera Roberts, 34, all of Parkersburg. Charged in a federal criminal complaint with  possession with intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine and fentanyl is Floyd D. Ramsey, 41, of Chicago, Illinois.  The defendants have been detained pending their upcoming detention hearings in federal court.

“Drug trafficking organizations put our communities in harm’s way,” said Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston.  “I applaud the diligent work of our law enforcement partners whose efforts put long-standing drug dealers in Parkersburg out of business.  The arrest of these individuals demonstrates our commitment to keeping highly addictive and dangerous drugs from destroying lives.”

“The individuals arrested today have been slinging poison in this community for too long,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Erek Davodowich, from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Louisville Division.  The dedicated men and women of DEA, working alongside our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts, remain committed to pursuing those who threaten the health and safety of our communities with violence and dangerous drugs, and bringing them to justice.”

“It is our hope that today's arrests will significantly impact the distribution of illegal drugs in the Wood County area,” said Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Lefebure. “This investigation and the subsequent arrests resulted from a collaborative effort between federal and State law enforcement agencies.  The Wood County Prosecutor's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia remain committed to prosecuting those individuals who bring and sell illegal drugs into our communities."

The investigation was conducted by the DEA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the PNTF, the Parkersburg Police Department, the West Virginia State Police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Vienna Police Department,  the Williamstown Police Department, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department, the Boyd County (KY) Sheriff’s Department, the Russell (KY) Police Department and the Raceland (KY) Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy B. Wolfe is handling the prosecution.

The investigation was part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.

Please note: A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Butler Man Pleads Guilty in Fentanyl/Heroin Distribution Scheme

 PITTSBURGH - Dwayne Smallwood was convicted of conspiring to distribute, and distributing, fentanyl and heroin in Butler, Pennsylvania, between 2017 and 2020, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

Smallwood, age 43, formerly of Butler and Philadelphia, pled guilty before United States District Judge Robert J. Colville. Judge Colville scheduled sentencing to occur on February 3, 2022, at 11:30 a.m.

The law provides for a maximum sentence of up to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorneys Yvonne M. Saadi and Craig W. Haller are prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.

The Pennsylvania State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Butler County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force led the investigation leading to the convictions in this case.

Detroit man admits to drug charge

 CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Stewart Jenkins, of Detroit, Michigan, has admitted to a cocaine charge, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Jenkins, 49, pleaded guilty today to one count of “Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base.” Jenkins admitted to having cocaine base, also known as “crack,” in September 2020 in Monongalia County.

Jenkins faces up to 20 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher L. Bauer is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The Mon Metro Drug Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, and the West Virginia State Police investigated.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael John Aloi presided.

Monongalia County woman sentenced for role in drug distribution operation

 CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Ashley Johnson, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was sentenced today to 18 months of incarceration for her role in methamphetamine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin drug distribution operation, Acting United States Attorney Randolph J. Bernard announced.

Johnson, age 34, pled guilty in April 2021 to one count of “Unlawful Use of Communication Facility.” Johnson admitted to using a phone to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine base, also known as “crack,” cocaine hydrochloride, also known as “coke,” fentanyl, and heroin in April 2020 in Monongalia County.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zelda E. Wesley and Sarah E. Wagner prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. The FBI's Northern West Virginia Drug Task Force in partnership with the Mon Metro Drug Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative, investigated.  The Task Forces have members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; West Virginia State Police; Monongalia County Sheriff's Office; and, the Morgantown, WVU, Granville and Star City Police Departments.  The investigation was also assisted by the following law enforcement partners:  the Monongalia County Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI in Houston, Texas; the Houston Police Department's Multi Agency Gang Initiative; the United States Postal Inspection Service in Houston; and, the FBI and DEA in Los Angeles, California.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. 

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh presided.

Individual Pleads Guilty To Possession With Intent To Distribute Methamphetamine And Possession Of Firearm In Furtherance Of Drug Trafficking

 MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma announced that Timothy Allen Stacy, II, 33, entered a guilty plea to one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 United States Code Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B), punishable by a term of imprisonment that may not be less than 5 years and not more than 40 years, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of Title 18 or $5,000,000.00, or both, a term of supervised release to be determined by the court, and a special assessment in the amount of $100.00, and one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 United States Code Sections 924(c)(1)(A) and 924(c)(1)(B)(i), punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years, a fine of up to $250,000.00, a term of supervised release to be determined by the court, and a special assessment in the amount of $100.00.

The Indictment charged defendant with crimes stemming from an incident on January 5, 2021 where officers were dispatched to a convenience store in Henryetta, Oklahoma regarding a male in a Jeep trying to run over a female.  The defendant was found sitting in his Jeep in front of the store and told the officer that he was fighting with his girlfriend and trying to get her back in the vehicle.  Upon the defendant’s exit from his Jeep, the police officer observed a loaded pistol magazine fall to the floorboard.  A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed several firearms, to include a shotgun with  a modified barrel of less than 18 inches, over 100 rounds of ammunition of various calibers, two notebooks/journals, scales, baggies and a bag that contained a white crystal-like substance.  That crystal-like substance tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed 43.03 grams.  At the plea, the defendant admitted that he intended to sell or distribute the methamphetamine and that he possessed the numerous weapons to provide protection for his drugs and money.

The charges arose from an investigation by the Henryetta Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Honorable Scott Palk, U.S. District Judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, accepted the plea and ordered the completion of a presentence investigation report.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edith Singer represented the United States.

Local High School Janitor Sentenced To 60 Years In Federal Prison For Secretly Filming Students In Girls’ Bathroom

 Orlando, Florida – United States District Judge Wendy W. Berger has sentenced Derremy Jerrell Walker (31, Sanford) to 60 years in federal prison for two counts of using, or attempting to use, children to produce sexually explicit videos. A federal jury had found Walker guilty of the offenses on June 29, 2021. Walker was also ordered to serve a lifetime term of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.

According to evidence admitted during the trial and at sentencing, Walker was a contracted janitor at Oviedo High School in November 2019 when two 15-year-old female students discovered an actively recording cellphone hidden under the sink in a student bathroom stall. The girls took the phone to school administrators, who contacted the Oviedo Police Department.

Forensic analysis of the cellphone revealed that Walker had placed the phone in the same location on two prior dates in November 2019, each time creating a one-hour video of students in that stall. On the date the girls found the phone, it had been recording for approximately 15 minutes before they discovered it. In each of the three instances, Walker had angled the cellphone’s camera in an effort to capture images of the genitalia of those in the stall. School administrators and law enforcement officials were able to identify 8 of the 12 students unknowingly captured in the videos that Walker recorded.   

Further analysis revealed that Walker had also set up a surreptitious cellphone camera to record in the school’s faculty bathroom earlier that month.

“Mr. Walker did more than just produce horror; he stole the innocence and trust of these young victims. We are pleased with the sentence handed down in this case and will continue efforts to protect the children in our communities from sexual exploitation and abuse,” said FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson.

This case was investigated by the Oviedo Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn P. Napier.

Alleged Drug Cartel Leader Charged

SAN DIEGO – A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed in San Diego today against alleged Mexican cartel leader Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela in connection with his drug trafficking activities. Valenzuela Valenzuela was also the target of sanctions imposed today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The indictment, returned on September 28, 2018, charges Valenzuela Valenzuela with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances Intended for Importation, Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, and Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. On September 28, 2018, the Clerk of the Court issued a sealed warrant for his arrest. Valenzuela Valenzuela remains a fugitive.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) identified Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Please see https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0367.

Based in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Valenzuela Valenzuela is alleged to be a Sinaloa Cartel plaza boss who traffics fentanyl and other drugs and operates at the direction of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada Garcia (a.k.a. “El Mayo”). Valenzuela Valenzuela allegedly leads a poly-drug smuggling organization responsible for the transportation and importation of multi-ton quantities of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl, from Mexico into the United States.

In addition to Valenzuela Valenzuela, OFAC also designated seven other Mexican nationals for providing material assistance to Valenzuela Valenzuela. Specifically, the individuals include Valenzuela Valenzuela’s right-hand man, Leonardo Pineda Armenta, who is responsible for directing operations for him, and six cartel lieutenants who ultimately report to Valenzuela Valenzuela: Gilberto Martinez Renteria, Jaime Humberto Gonzalez Higuera, Jorge Damian Roman Figueroa, Luis Alberto Carrillo Jimenez, Meliton Rochin Hurtado, and Miguel Raymundo Marrufo Cabrera. Additionally, OFAC designated two companies in Mexico for being owned or controlled by Rochin Hurtado and Marrufo Cabrera.  Specifically, they are Acuaindustria Narciso Mendoza, S.C. de R.L. de C.V. and Club Indios Rojos de Juarez, S.A. de C.V.

“This indictment and the Treasury Department sanctions announced today demonstrate that the Department of Justice, along with its law enforcement partners, will continue to target Sinaloa Cartel kingpins who import massive amounts of illegal drugs into the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy S. Grossman. Grossman praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton, the DEA case agents and all law enforcement partners for their excellent work on this case.

Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman also thanked Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Enforcement Operations and the Office of International Affairs, and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for their ongoing assistance in this investigation.

“The DEA will continue to put forth extensive resources to target members of the Sinaloa Cartel, such as Sergio Valenzuela-Valenzuela, who allegedly flood our country with their poisonous drugs,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “This indictment, along with the recent OFAC designation of Valenzuela-Valenzuela and his Sinaloa Cartel associates, is testament that DEA’s targeted financial operations against this cartel are working and will negatively impact their operations.”

This prosecution is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Strike Force Initiative, which provides for the establishment of permanent multi-agency task force teams that work side-by-side in the same location. This co-located model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton.

DEFENDANT                                                                                          Case Number: 18CR04222-DMS

Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, aka Gigio                                                      Age: 52           Sinaloa, Mexico

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances for Purpose of Unlawful Importation, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 959, 960 and 963; Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

Conspiracy to Import Controlled Substances, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 952, 960 and 963. Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Term of custody including a mandatory minimum 10 years and up to life imprisonment, $10 million fine and five years supervised release.

AGENCIES

Drug Enforcement Administration

Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations

Customs and Border Protection Office of Border Patrol

United States Marshals Service

Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces

Department of Justice, Office of Enforcement Operations

Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs

Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control

Oceanside Police Department

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department

National City Police Department

Chula Vista Police Department

San Diego Police Department

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office

San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center

Interpol 

*An indictment or complaint is not evidence that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant is presumed innocent until the Government meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

New London Man Who Received Cocaine Mailed from Puerto Rico Pleads Guilty

 Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Joshua W. McCallister, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division, today announced that RAUL ROBLES, 38, of New London, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to a narcotics trafficking offense stemming from his role in a conspiracy in which cocaine was mailed through the U.S. Postal Service from Puerto Rico to southeastern Connecticut.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in August 2020, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Narcotics and Bulk Cash Trafficking Task Force in Connecticut intercepted a suspicious package that was destined for a location in Puerto Rico.  A court-authorized search of the package revealed $158,900 in cash.  Investigators established a connection between Robles and the seized package, and learned that Robles’ New London residence had received approximately 25 parcels from Puerto Rico since September 2019.

Investigators continued to monitor USPS deliveries of parcels mailed from Puerto Rico to Robles’ residence, including multiple parcels addressed to names of individuals who did not reside there.  A court-authorized search of one parcel that had been mailed to a fictitious individual at Robles’ residence revealed approximately one kilogram of cocaine. 

Robles was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on April 9, 2021.

Robles pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.  Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for December 14, 2021, at which time Robles faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years.

Robles is released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Narcotics and Bulk Cash Trafficking Task Force, with assistance from the New London and Town of Groton Police Departments.  The Task Force includes members from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service – Office of the Inspector General, the Connecticut Army National Guard, and the Hartford, New Britain, Meriden and Town of Groton Police Departments.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Konstantin Lantsman.

Endicott Sex Offender Sentenced for Failing to Register Email Accounts

 SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Thomas J. Redeker, age 73, of Endicott, New York was sentenced today to 10 months in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, for failing to update his sex offender registration by maintaining unregistered email accounts.

The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and United States Marshal David L. McNulty.

Redeker was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. In addition to the term of imprisonment for failing to update his sex offender registration, Redeker was sentenced to an 8-month consecutive term of imprisonment for violating the conditions of his supervised release by committing new criminal conduct, failing to answer truthfully questions from his probation officer, and possessing an undisclosed internet capable device.

As part of his previously entered plea agreement, Redeker admitted that in 2004 he was convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York of production of child pornography and crossing a state line to engage in a sexual act with a person under the age of 12. Those convictions required Redeker to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and to keep that registration current with personal identifying information, including email accounts. Redeker admitted that although he maintained registration as a sex offender in the State of New York, he did not register three email accounts that he created despite knowing he has an obligation under the law to do so.

This case was investigated by the United States Marshals Service Sex Offender Investigation Branch with assistance from the United States Probation Office for the Northern District of New York, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Gadarian.

Baltimore Career Offender Sentenced to Life in Prison for His Role in the Murder of a Baltimore Woman Believed to be a Witness in a Federal Case

 Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced Clifton Mosley, age 43, of Baltimore, Maryland to four life terms in federal prison for two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness and one count each of witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder, related to the murder of Latrina Ashburne, age 41, on May 27, 2016.  Mosley was also convicted of a federal marijuana distribution charge for which he was sentenced to a concurrent five-year sentence.

A federal jury in Baltimore convicted Mosley and co-defendant, Davon Carter, age 41, also of Baltimore, on January 29, 2020, after a three-week trial.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department.

“Clifton Mosley and Davon Carter not only attempted to disrupt our justice system, they also took the life of an innocent woman from Baltimore. The loss of Latrina Ashburne is a tragedy and a deep loss to her family and to the community, and those responsible will now spend the remainder of their lives in federal prison,” said Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “As demonstrated by this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement team will never cease to aggressively pursue and hold accountable those who attempt to harm or intimidate witnesses.”

According to the evidence presented at their three-week trial, Carter and Mosley conspired to kill a witness who had provided information to law enforcement about a good friend of Carter’s, Matthew Hightower. In June 2015, Hightower was charged federally in a health care fraud scheme.  While on release in the health care fraud case, the federal grand jury began investigating crimes of violence for which Hightower was implicated, including the murder of David Wutoh. In July or August 2015, Hightower learned the identity of the health care fraud whistleblower (the witness) who also had incriminating information against him relating to the Wutoh murder. Contrary to his release conditions, he began communicating with witnesses who had been in the grand jury.  All the while, Carter and Mosley remained in frequent and regular contact with Hightower.

On April 19, 2016, the grand jury returned a sealed superseding indictment against Hightower charging both Hightower and Harry Crawford with extortion and using interstate facilities for extortion resulting in the death (murder) of David Wutoh. Ten days later, the government filed a motion requesting revocation of Hightower’s release conditions based on the new charges and his prohibited contact with grand jury witnesses. The motion was granted on May 4, 2016 and Hightower was detained. Hightower was ultimately convicted of extortion resulting in Wutoh’s murder by a federal jury on September 22, 2016, after a seven-day trial and was sentenced to 380 months in federal prison. 

The evidence at trial proved that on May 27, 2016, Ms. Ashburne was murdered in the early morning as she got into her car outside the home she shared with her mother in the 2900 block of Rosalind Avenue in Baltimore’s Cylburn neighborhood. A neighbor reported that an unknown male approached and shot Ms. Ashburne in the upper body as she tried to run. She was not robbed. At the time, the police also released a video they said showed the suspect running away from the scene.     

The witness targeted by Hightower lived next door to Ms. Ashburne, the murder victim. The witness contacted law enforcement to report the murder and that she believed she was the intended target. The investigation showed that Mosley’s phone was in the area at the time of the murder and in contact with Carter’s phone. In addition, vehicles owned by the mother of Carter’s girlfriend and by Hightower were captured on surveillance video driving slowly through the area as if the driver were looking for someone. The evidence at trial established that Carter and Mosley each drove one of the vehicles and that the two men were in contact with one another both the night before the murder and in the early morning hours before the shooting.  The evidence at trial also showed that Mosley searched a public court database on May 26 in a possible effort to confirm a court appearance for the witness on May 27, therefore, giving an approximate time when the witness would leave her home the morning of the shooting. Ms. Ashburne left her home at or about the same anticipated time, resulting in her mistaken execution.

Davon Carter was previously sentenced to four life terms in federal prison for two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness and one count each of witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder on May 20, 2021. 

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the HHS-OIG, the FBI, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Baltimore Police Department, and the ATF for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Kim Oldham, who are prosecuting the case and also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judson T. Mihok and Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, who prosecuted the Hightower case, for their assistance.

Mounds Man Found Guilty of First Degree Murder in Indian Country

  A jury today convicted a 31-year-old Mounds man for shooting and killing an acquaintance the day the two rekindled an old friendship.

“A federal jury evaluated compelling evidence presented by federal prosecutors and found Kyle Sago guilty of murdering Daniel Morgan. I am thankful for exemplary performance by Assistant U.S Attorneys Ross Lenhardt and Aaron Jolly during the three-day trial,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “As evidenced by two murder convictions in two trials this week, my office and our partners at the FBI and Tulsa Police Department have demonstrated we will uphold the law and fight for justice on behalf of victims of gun violence and their families.”

Kyle Quentin Sago, 31, was found guilty of first degree murder in Indian Country, two counts of felon in possession of ammunition; and causing death by using and discharging a firearm in the commission of first degree murder.

On July 25, 2020, Officers from the Tulsa Police Department were notified of a shooting that occurred within the Muscogee Nation reservation. A witness, victim Daniel Morgan’s girlfriend, identified Kyle Sago as having fired the shots that killed the victim.

At trial, Morgan’s girlfriend explained that she woke up at about 3:30 pm the day of the crime and saw Sago visiting with the victim. Morgan introduced Sago as a good friend. She noticed burns on Sago’s arms. Morgan explained that he had saved Sago years ago from a fire at a meth lab. She said the two continued to exchange stories and visited.

After Sago left, the victim lay down for a nap because he had been working the night prior. Morgan’s girlfriend then heard multiple Facebook Messenger calls to the victim’s phone while he was asleep.  She noted that Kyle Sago initiated the calls.

The witness stated that Sago soon returned to the residence in a white sedan When she stepped outside, he demanded to speak with Morgan about "business" and she should wake him.

When Morgan walked outside, the witness stated that she heard multiple gunshots. She moved to the door and witnessed Sago shoot at Morgan approximately four more times from the white sedan as the victim retreated around to the side of the house.

Other witnesses called 911 and ran to assist. Morgan’s girlfriend also assisted and called the victim’s mother. She further cooperated with authorities in identifying Sago as the shooter. Daniel Morgan sustained 4 gunshot wounds and died at the scene.

Several witnesses who saw the crime occur confirmed the suspect shot from the same white sedan and continued to drive and fire at the victim as he ran for cover.

Law enforcement testified that during their investigation, they recovered three spent 9mm shell cases from the street near where Sago was located when he shot Morgan. Officers later discovered two spent 9mm shell cases inside Sago’s white sedan and located nine spent 9mm shell cases in the backyard of Sago’s home. The Tulsa Police Department’s crime lab verified the cases found in the victim’s car and at his home matched the 3 shell cases found at the scene of the crime.

After the United States rested its case, Sago took the stand and testified that he and Morgan had been friends since Sago was 15 and he had previously lived with Morgan for one year. He noted that he had reached out to Morgan approximately two months prior to the crime and the two had exchanged messages, agreeing to meet. The day of the murder, Sago admitted that after the initial meeting, he had tried to contact Morgan via Messenger multiple times and told Morgan’s girlfriend to have the victim come outside. He stated that Morgan looked angry, threw down his cell phone, and started walking to the car. He stated that he felt threatened as Morgan approached and fired at the victim to protect himself.

In closing, lead federal prosecutor Ross Lenhardt thanked the jury for their service to the community and to the family and friends who had attended the trial. He then debunked the defendant’s claim of self defense by reviewing the evidence. He reminded the jury that Sago took time to get gas before the shooting, continuously checked up on the victim via Messenger, took his firearm with him when he returned to the home, confirmed his target was present, asked for the victim to come out of the house, and hid his firearm until Morgan got close enough to fire at him. Sago paused… then continued firing at the victim as he ran for cover with his back exposed and hunched over. Sago shot again, and again, and again and again. Sago then hid the gun, his phone, and his car to hinder the investigation. Lenhardt stated the evidence showed that Sago acted with premeditation, and therefore, the jury must find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder.

The jury deliberated for two hours then returned guilty verdicts on all counts.

The FBI and Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ross E. Lenhardt and Aaron M. Jolly prosecuted the case. Mr. Lenhardt is a prosecutor from the Western District of Pennsylvania. He volunteered to assist prosecution efforts here in the Northern District of Oklahoma due to increased jurisdictional responsibilities regarding crimes involving Native American victims or defendants and that occur within the Muscogee Nation and Cherokee Nation Reservations.

Federal Employee Who Accessed Child Pornography Aboard Government Research Vessel Sentenced to Federal Prison

 EUGENE, Ore.—A federal government employee who accessed and possessed child pornography while working aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientific research vessel was sentenced to federal prison today.

Johnny Dale Hale, 44, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution to his victims.

According to court documents, in late 2016, Hale, a decorated veteran, was working as a crew member aboard the Bell M. Shimada, a NOAA scientific research vessel.  On or about November 15, 2016, the vessel was experiencing technical connectivity issues and the information technology team began running diagnostics. While troubleshooting, an electronics technician discovered two new folders on the ship’s server containing what he believed to be child pornography.

Diagnostics showed that Hale’s unique employee access card was associated with the time and date the folders were initially accessed. Additionally, Hale used two different vessel workstations to access the server at the exact time the folders were created. The vessel’s senior security engineer alerted the U.S. Department of Commerce to the discovery.

Special agents and a forensic analyst reviewed the suspect folders and discovered 109 pornographic web links and confirmed the presence of child pornography. Approximately 33 images of child pornography were in one of the suspect folders, with images from at least four series of photographs of previously-identified child pornography victims.

On June 21, 2017, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned an indictment charging Hale with possession of child pornography. On April 23, 2021, he pleaded guilty to that charge.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. McLaren prosecuted the case.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, child victims suffer re-victimization each time the image of their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.org.

Brooklyn Residents Plead Guilty To Conspiring To Commit Arson In Connection With Burning Of NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit Vehicle

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that COREY SMITH and ELAINE CARBERRY pled guilty to conspiring to burn a marked New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Homeless Outreach Unit van in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York, New York, in July 2020.  SMITH and CARBERRY pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman, to whom the case is assigned. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss stated: “As they admitted in court today, Corey Smith and Elaine Carberry committed arson, deliberately setting fire to an NYPD van, then minutes later returning to the vehicle and – once again using an accelerant – ensuring its complete destruction.  Now Smith and Carberry await sentencing for their willful and wanton destruction of a law enforcement vehicle that had been used for outreach to homeless New Yorkers.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and other documents filed in federal court, as well as statements made in public court proceedings:

On July 15, 2020, shortly after 4:30 a.m., SMITH and CARBERRY set a marked NYPD Homeless Outreach Unit van (“NYPD Van”) on the northwest corner of 12th Street and University Place on fire using ignitable liquid.  More specifically, as surveillance footage shows, as SMITH walked by the NYPD Van, CARBERRY handed SMITH a bottle filled with ignitable liquid and SMITH attempted to set fire to the NYPD Van.  After seeing that the NYPD Van was not fully engulfed in flames, CARBERRY again handed SMITH the bottle of ignitable liquid and SMITH circled back to the NYPD Van with more accelerant, and set it ablaze once more, thereby assuring the complete destruction of the NYPD Van. 

An analysis of the materials found in the NYPD Van confirmed the presence of an accelerant.  The Fire Department of the City of New York (“FDNY”) ultimately confirmed that the fire was deliberately set as an act of arson, resulting in the complete destruction of the NYPD Van. 

*                *                *

CARBERRY, 37, and SMITH, 25, both of Brooklyn, New York, each pled guilty to one count of conspiring to commit arson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.  In connection with their guilty pleas, both defendants admitted their roles in the arson.  CARBERRY is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Liman on January 5, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.  SMITH is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Liman on January 11, 2022, at 2:00 p.m.

The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Arson and Explosion Task Force of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the NYPD, and the FDNY. 

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Christy Slavik is in charge of the prosecution.

Bronx Gang Member Convicted Of Shooting 12-Year-Old In Playground

 Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a jury returned a guilty verdict today against NICHOLAS JOSEPH, a/k/a “Gotti,” a/k/a “Finesse,” on five counts in a Superseding Indictment, including charges of racketeering conspiracy, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, and firearms offenses.  JOSEPH is scheduled to be sentenced on January 5, 2022, by U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who presided over the seven-day trial. 

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Nicholas Joseph participated in a violent gang for years and carried out a shooting in a playground next to an elementary school, seriously injuring a 12-year-old child.  Now convicted of his crimes, Joseph will no longer be able to inflict harm on the people of this city.  We continue our daily work with our law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe by vigorously investigating and prosecuting acts of gang violence.”

According to the Superseding Indictment and the evidence at trial:

Between in or about 2014 and in or about December 2020, JOSEPH was a member and associate of the Castle Hill Crew, a racketeering enterprise that operated principally in the Castle Hill Houses in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx.  In order to enrich the enterprise, preserve and protect the power of the enterprise, and enhance its criminal operations, Castle Hill Crew members and associates committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence, including murder; distributed and possessed with intent to distribute narcotics; engaged in fraud; and obtained, possessed, and used firearms.

On or about November 19, 2015, JOSEPH and others stabbed a rival gang member in the head and back.

On or about April 28, 2017, JOSEPH shot at rival gang members in the vicinity of the Story Playground in the Bronx, New York, during which a 12-year-old child playing basketball in the park was injured.

In addition, on or about July 10, 2020, and in or around November 2020 and December 2020, JOSEPH illegally possessed firearms and ammunition. 

 *                      *                      *

JOSEPH, 23, was convicted on five counts: (1) racketeering conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years; (2) attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years; (3) using and carrying a firearm during, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory consecutive prison term of 10 years and a maximum prison term of life; and (4) two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, each of which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York City Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the New York City Department of Investigation.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew K. Chan, Celia V. Cohen, Emily A. Johnson, and Justin V. Rodriguez, and paralegal specialist Victoria Bosah, are in charge of the prosecution.

Grand Jury Returns Indictments Charging 2 Afghan Evacuees with Crimes While at Fort McCoy & Wisconsin Residents with Gun & Drug Crimes

 MADISON, WIS. - A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today.  You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Two Afghan Evacuees Charged with Crimes

In unrelated cases, two individuals have been charged with crimes while at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.  Bahrullah Noori, 20, is charged with attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor using force against that person, and with three counts of engaging in a sexual act with a minor, with one count alleging the use of force.  The indictment alleges that that the victims had not attained the age of 16 years and were at least four years younger than the defendant.

Mohammad Haroon Imaad, 32, is charged with assaulting his spouse by strangling and suffocating her.  The indictment alleges that the assault occurred on September 7, 2021. 

Noori and Imaad were charged previously in complaints filed in U.S. District Court.  They made initial appearances in Madison on September 16 and are being detained at the Dane County Jail.  Noori and Imaad are scheduled for arraignment tomorrow, September 23, at 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., respectively, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker. 

If convicted, Noori faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 30 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the charges alleging use of force, and a maximum penalty of 15 years on the other two charges.  Imaad faces a maximum penalty of 10 years.  The charges against them are the result of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort McCoy Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Taylor Kraus is handling the Noori prosecution and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Corey is handling the Imaad prosecution.

Five Charged with Gun Crimes

In unrelated cases, four individuals have been charged with gun crimes and a fifth individual with drug and gun crimes. These cases are brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition, and violent crimes and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.  

James Gillaum, 33, Madison, Wisconsin is charged with being a felon in possession of a loaded handgun.  The indictment alleges that he possessed the loaded handgun on August 22, 2021.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.  The charge is the result of an investigation by the Madison Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the prosecution.

Anthony Brooks, 29, Middleton, Wisconsin is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The indictment alleges that he possessed a 9mm handgun on July 19, 2021.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.  The charge is the result of an investigation by the Madison Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Schlipper is handling the prosecution.

David Barber, 36, Beloit, Wisconsin is charged with being a felon in possession of a loaded handgun and ammunition.  The indictment alleges that he possessed a loaded .45 caliber handgun and ammunition on December 20, 2020.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.  The charge is the result of an investigation by the Beloit Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan is handling the prosecution.

Joshua K. Breidel, 33, La Crosse, Wisconsin is charged with 3 counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The indictment alleges that he possessed a handgun on March 27, 2021, that he possessed a handgun and ammunition on August 4, 2021, and that he possessed a handgun and ammunition on August 5, 2021.  If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each charge.  The charges are the result of an investigation by the La Crosse Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Anderson is handling the prosecution.

Benjamin T. Devine, 34, Holmen, Wisconsin is charged with two counts of distributing 50 grams of more of methamphetamine, one count of possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, and with being a felon in possession of a handgun and ammunition.  The indictment alleges that he distributed methamphetamine on August 5 and 16, 2021, and that he possessed methamphetamine for distribution and a .22 caliber handgun and ammunition on August 16.  If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on each drug charge, and a maximum of 10 years on the gun charge.  The charges are the result of an investigation by the La Crosse, Onalaska, and Prairie du Chief Police Departments, La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Anderson is handling the prosecution.

Man Charged with Drug Crime Involving Heroin

Matthew Jackson, 28, Ashland, Wisconsin is charged with possessing 100 grams or more of heroin with intent to distribute.  The indictment alleges that he possessed the heroin on May 24, 2021. 

If convicted, Jackson faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison.  The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Sawyer County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Hayward Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Schlipper is handling the prosecution. 

Madison Man Charged with Attempting to Distribute Fentanyl

Jason Jordan, 36, Madison, Wisconsin is charged with two counts of attempting to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl.  The indictment alleges that he attempted to distribute fentanyl on January 20 and February 23, 2021.

If convicted, Jordan faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on each charge.  The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Dane County Narcotics Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner is handling the prosecution.

Two Charged with Distributing Methamphetamine

Saige T. Marten, 28, Boyd, Wisconsin, and Samantha K. Fristoe, 30, Owen, Wisconsin, are charged with distributing 50 grams of more of methamphetamine on June 7, 2021.  The indictment also charges Marten with possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine for distribution on June 14, 2021.

If convicted, Marten and Fristoe each face a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on the distribution charge, and Marten also faces that penalty of the charge of possession with intent to distribute.

The charges against them are the result of an investigation by the West Central Drug Task Force; Altoona and Eau Claire Police Departments; Chippewa, Clark, and Rusk County Sheriffs’ Offices; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Anderson is handling the prosecution.

Two Brockton Men Plead Guilty to Wide-Ranging Drug Trafficking Conspiracy

 Defendants conspired with others to traffic fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and other drugs throughout Southeastern Massachusetts

BOSTON – Two Brockton men pleaded guilty to their roles in a wide-ranging drug trafficking conspiracy reaching from Boston to Brockton to Cape Cod.

Cody Goncalves, 28, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base, oxycodone and marijuana; possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin; possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base and marijuana; being a felon in possession of ammunition; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for Feb. 2, 2022.

Jermaine Gonsalves, 34, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base, oxycodone and marijuana. Judge Gorton scheduled sentencing for Feb. 3, 2022.

According to court documents, in the fall of 2018, law enforcement began investigating a violent Brockton drug crew headed by Djuna Goncalves, Cody Goncalves’s brother. The investigation revealed that the Goncalves brothers worked with others, including Jermaine Gonsalves, to distribute large quantities of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, cocaine base and marijuana throughout southeastern Massachusetts from a base of operations on Addison Avenue in Brockton. The investigation also targeted several Boston-based drug suppliers to the Goncalves brothers. Agents seized large quantities of heroin, fentanyl, cash and a loaded firearm from Cody Goncalves, who had previously been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and who had distributed drugs while on pre-trial release from a state drug charge. In addition, a loaded firearm and drugs were seized from a residence tied to Jermaine Gonsalves, who had previously been convicted in U.S. District Court in Boston of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base.

In December 2018, Cody Goncalves and Jermaine Gonsalves were indicted along with 15 others as part of the drug trafficking conspiracy. Of the 17 defendants charged in the indictment, nine have been sentenced. Cody Goncalves and Jermaine Gonsalves are the 12th and 13th defendants to plead guilty in the case, respectively.

The charges of possession with intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base and marijuana, and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, provide for a sentence of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $5 million. The charge of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, 400 grams or more of fentanyl, cocaine, cocaine base, oxycodone and marijuana provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, at least four years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $10 million. The charge of being a felon in possession of ammunition provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime provides for a mandatory sentence of five years to be served consecutively to the sentence for the drug trafficking offense and up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Matthew B. Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New England Division; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Pohl and Alathea E. Porter of Mendell’s Narcotics & Money Laundering Unit are prosecuting the case.

The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.

The detailed contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Chesapeake Man Sentenced for Interstate Methamphetamine Conspiracy

 NORFOLK, Va. – A Chesapeake man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

According to court documents, on May 20, 2020, an Arizona State Trooper stopped Jeremy Wayne Johnson, 45, and his passenger on Interstate 17 near Mayer, Arizona, because Johnson was speeding and texting on his phone while driving. During the stop, Johnson provided a false name and claimed he had lost his driver’s license. At the time, Johnson was carrying on him a loaded Ruger pistol, along with methamphetamine inside his vehicle. Johnson admitted during a Mirandized interview that he and his passenger drove from Virginia Beach to Phoenix, Arizona to purchase methamphetamine. The day before they planned to return to Virginia, Johnson purchased two pounds of methamphetamine from a drug dealer at a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Johnson and his passenger were transporting the narcotics to Virginia Beach for resale when they were stopped.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C.; and Paul Neudigate, Chief of Virginia Beach Police, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Darryl Mitchell prosecuted the case.

Tulsa “Peeping Tom” Pleads Guilty to Numerous Sex Crimes, Including Those Targeting Minor Victims

 A Tulsa man who broke into three homes, attempted to sexually assault two victims, and later solicited a 16-year old for child pornography, pleaded guilty today in federal court.

”Jesse Moore roamed Tulsa’s neighborhoods and terrorized his victims. He peered inside windows, broke into homes, and targeted at least two victims for sexual assault. Then while awaiting trial, he coerced a minor into sending him sexually explicit photographs and videos,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “This dangerous criminal no longer poses a threat to our community thanks to dedicated work of Tulsa Police Detectives and federal prosecutor Joel-lyn McCormick.”

“The acts this person committed against the citizens of Tulsa are horrific and incomprehensible. Had intervention not occurred, this criminal behavior would have only worsened. I am very proud of the work done by Tulsa Police Officers involved with bringing this predator to justice, and thankful for the efforts of the United States Attorney's Office for prosecuting Moore,” said Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin. “While this arrest will not eliminate the trauma these families endured, I hope that putting this man behind bars provides them with a bit of closure.”

In a blind plea, Jesse Thomas Moore, 19, admitted to the following charges: lewd acts with a child under 16 in Indian Country; three counts of burglary in the first degree in Indian Country; attempted sexual abuse by threat in Indian Country; Coercion and Enticement of a Minor; Attempted Production of Child Pornography; and Attempted Receipt of Child Pornography.  Moore is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2021.

On May 5, 2020, Moore broke into a home on South Florence Avenue where a child was sleeping. Once inside, Moore entered the victim’s room and started to masturbate. He then tried to get the minor to go to the bathroom with him. When the victim resisted, he slung ejaculate toward the victim then left the residence.

On Nov. 8, 2020, he broke into a home on South Urbana Place with intent to commit a lewd act with a child. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., he entered the backyard of the residence and entered the home through the back door. When the child saw Moore, he screamed. Moore then fled the home. The mother of the child told investigators Moore had been in her back yard and looked into her windows at other times starting in October 2020.

On Dec. 13, 2020, Moore also broke into a home on South Evanston Avenue. Once inside, he discovered the victim and a male sleeping in a bedroom. He began touching the victim, causing her to awaken. He then threatened the victim by stating, “Get the f*** up and don’t say anything or I’ll f***ing kill you.” Moore forced the woman to the living room where he attempted to rape her. As Moore covered her mouth, the victim bit his right hand, causing him to let go and flee the scene. 

Video obtained by officers showed Moore stepping onto the front porch, unscrewing the porch light then entering the South Evanston residence at 6:36 a.m. Then video showed Moore exiting the residence at 7:18 a.m., after the attempted rape. The crime occurred after multiple Peeping Tom incidents earlier in the week at the same residence by Moore.

The defendant was eventually arrested and charged for the crimes.

While in custody awaiting trial for charges related to the “Peeping Tom” incidents, Moore began accessing the program JailATM by means of a stationary kiosk or portable smart pad in order to video chat or message with a 16-year-old female whom he referred to as his girlfriend.

 

During conversations that occurred from Aug. 1, 2021, to Aug. 19, 2021, Moore repeatedly pressured the minor for sexually explicit video and images of herself and to engage in sexually explicit behavior while the two video chatted. The minor attempted to send some pre-recorded videos. Moore received at least one video while others were auto rejected by the system. Moore repeatedly told the minor to figure out how to send the videos differently, like she did before, so they would not be rejected. During one video chat, Moore was able to convince the minor to engage in sexually explicit behavior.

Moore is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The Tulsa Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn A. McCormick is prosecuting the case.