Criminal Justice News

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Jackson Man Gets 18 Years in Federal Prison under Project EJECT for Illegally Possessing Firearms

Jackson, Miss. –Otha Ray Flowers, 37, of Jackson, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate to 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

The 10 year sentence will be served consecutive to the 8 year sentence Flowers received on December 3, 2019, based on a separate conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Flowers will serve a total of 18 years in federal prison based on his two most recent convictions.

A jury convicted Flowers at the conclusion of a trial on September 18, 2019, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm during his arrest by the FBI on a federal warrant.  On February 13, 2019, an FBI Special Agent and Task Force Officer encountered Flowers exiting his sister’s residence.  When the agents informed Flowers that they were from the FBI and that he was under arrest, Flowers resisted arrest and tossed a loaded firearm that had been in his coat pocket back into his sister’s apartment.  Flowers continued to resist, but he was finally subdued.  The firearm was then recovered from the apartment.  Flowers had been previously convicted in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana for attempted armed robbery; in Hinds County, Mississippi for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; and in Guadalupe County, Texas for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The case was prosecuted and tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Dave Fulcher and Chet Kirkham.

This case is part of Project EJECT, an initiative by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi under the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). EJECT is a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to fighting and reducing violent crime through prosecution, prevention, re-entry and awareness. EJECT stands for "Empower Justice Expel Crime Together." PSN is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

Rochester Man Arrested on Charges of Threatening Congressman

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Rochester, Ill., man has been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with making a threatening communication against U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis. Randall E. Tarr, 64, of the 200 block of E. Mill St., Rochester, Ill., was arrested today and appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins in Springfield.

The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that in the morning of Nov. 25, 2019, Tarr called the Decatur, Ill., office of Congressman Davis and left a profanity-filled voicemail message in which he threatened to shoot the congressman.

According to the affidavit, the voicemail message was forwarded to U.S. Capitol Police, in Washington, D.C. Through caller ID, police identified Tarr as the alleged caller and U.S. Capitol Police contacted the Rochester Police Department to ask officers to make contact with Tarr. Rochester police officers made initial contact with Tarr on Nov. 25, at his residence. According to the affidavit, FBI officers subsequently interviewed Tarr. 

The complaint charges Tarr with one count of communication of a threat to injure a person, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, and one count of making a threat to a federal official, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

During today’s hearing, Judge Schanzle-Haskins appointed the federal public defender to represent Tarr for purposes of determining bond. Tarr was released from custody under conditions, including home detention and location monitoring; prohibited contact with any victims and witnesses; prohibited from consumption of alcohol; and further, that Tarr cooperate in drug and alcohol screening and mental health evaluation. Judge Schanzle-Haskins scheduled the next court appearance for Tarr on Dec. 17, 2019.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crystal Correa is representing the government in the prosecution. The FBI and Rochester Police Department are conducting the investigation.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

7 Charged in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

PITTSBURGH - Seven residents of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The one-count Indictment, returned on December 10 and unsealed today, named:

Martise Smith, 27, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;

Lamont Goodwine, Jr., 31, of Carrick, Pennsylvania;

Raymond Jones, 33, of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania;

Robert Howard, 33, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania;

David Joyner, 24, of McKeesport, Pennsylvania;

Duane Henderson, 30, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and

Mbuitidem Essiet, 23, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

According to Indictment, from in and around June of 2019, and continuing thereafter to in and around December of 2019, the defendants conspired with each other to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant

Assistant United States Attorney Mark V. Gurzo is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

A federally administered Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case. The task force is headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is comprised of members drawn from Homeland Security Investigations, the Allegheny County Police Department, the Stowe Township Police Department, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the Office of the Attorney General, the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office, the North Versailles Police Department, the Allegheny County Port Authority Police Department, the Munhall Police Department, and the Pennsylvania State Police. The OCDETF program supplies critical federal funding and coordination that allows federal and state agencies to work together to successfully identify, investigate, and prosecute major interstate and international drug trafficking organizations and other criminal enterprises.

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