Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Meth trafficking, firearms send Billings man to prison

BILLINGS—A Billings man was sentenced today to 13 years in prison and five years of supervised release after a traffic stop ultimately led to his conviction on methamphetamine trafficking and firearms crimes, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Fred Lewis Cutsinger, 32, pleaded guilty in August to possession with intent to distribute meth and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Cutsinger was wanted on a warrant from Utah when he was arrested in Butte in November 2018 in an unrelated case. Prior to his November 2018 arrest, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper in Jefferson County made a traffic stop in August 2018 of a truck being driven erratically on the interstate. Cutsinger and his girlfriend were in the truck. Both provided false identification and inconsistent stories. The girlfriend was arrested and the truck was impounded pending a search warrant. Cutsinger was released. Although the Utah warrant was active, the trooper did not realize at the time that Cutsinger had provided false identification.

During a search of the truck, law enforcement found methamphetamine and two stolen firearms. Prior to the August 2018 traffic stop, the Billings drug task force received information from a number of sources describing Cutsinger as a drug supplier and seller.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI Transnational Organized Crime West task force.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, the USDOJ’s initiative to reduce violent crime. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, violent crime in Montana increased by 36% from 2013 through 2018. Through these initiatives, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.


Russell Delano Miley-Cruz Sentenced For School Shooting Threat

            Russell Delano Miley-Cruz, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for transmitting a school shooting threat about Parma High School.  He was also ordered to reimburse the Parma Police Department for overtime hours incurred responding to this hoax threat.

            “Posting threats to disrupt a school day is unlawful conduct under any circumstances, but especially where, like here, the defendant was in another state and then lied about his conduct to law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Ensuring the safety of students, faculty, and school employees is a top priority for law enforcement in Northern Ohio.  This defendant deserves every day of this 18 month sentence of imprisonment.”

            “Making threats to commit a school shooting are not taken lightly by law enforcement as evidenced by this sentence handed down today,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith. “Miley-Cruz induced fear in school personnel, students and their parents at Parma High School and wasted valuable law enforcement resources, and then he lied about being involved.  Law enforcement would like to remind people to #thinkbeforeyoupost, hoax threats will be prosecuted.”

            “After an exhaustive investigation conducted by members of the Parma Police Department as well as the FBI, we are hoping he receives a sentence which will send a message to others that this is not acceptable and this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” said Parma Police Chief Joseph M. Bobak.

            According to evidence presented at sentencing, on April 11, 2018, Miley-Cruz, using the screenname “djravetastic,” sent a Snapchat message to a student he believed attended Parma High School, which stated: “Don’t go to Parma High School tomorrow friend, we are about to shoot that shit up alright man?  Don’t tell the cops and you will be fine.”  Miley-Cruz claimed to have received the threat himself and was merely forwarding it to the student.  Five minutes later, Miley-Cruz sent the student another Snapchat message and told her to tell her friends “because it could save lives,” and added that two of his friends got the same message in Ohio and Tennessee, respectfully.  Miley-Cruz sent multiple Snapchat messages urging the student to share the threat with her friends.  The student shared the message containing the threat with a friend who then shared it via Snapchat.  Thereafter, the threat spread among Parma High School students.  The following day, April 12, 2018, approximately 1200 students called out of school with only 340 students attending out of 1553 total Parma High School students. 

            Prior to transmitting the threat, Miley-Cruz created an account on a virtual private network (VPN) site for encrypted communications.  On April 10, 2018, a day before he transmitted the threat, Miley-Cruz searched for and installed an application on his phone that allowed him to mask and manipulate his caller ID to reflect a different phone number than his own.  Approximately an hour later, Miley-Cruz received a text from a fake phone number. On April 10, 2018, Miley-Cruz searched “How to share other people’s snaps” and clicked on an article titled “Update: how to send other people’s snaps on snapchat.”  Miley-Cruz visited the same article three times within three hours.  On April 11, 2018, Miley-Cruz installed an application on his phone that deletes internet search history.  Approximately three minutes later, Miley-Cruz search for “Snap History Eraser” and “Snapchat Message Eraser.”

            During the investigation, Miley-Cruz provided a fake phone number to the Parma Police, denied knowing anyone who lived in Parma, and denied any knowledge of a school shooting threat to students at Parma High School.  Within minutes after speaking with a Parma Police Detective, Miley-Cruz called the Detective back, claiming to have received another school shooting threat.  This threat, like the original threat, came from a fake phone number.  Finally, Miley-Cruz created a fake Facebook profile utilizing an actual Parma High School student’s image and commented on local media stories taking credit for the school shooting threat.

            This case was investigated by the Parma Police Department, the Scranton, Pennsylvania Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John C. Hanley and Robert J. Patton.

Camden Man Admits Role In Drug Trafficking Organization

CAMDEN, N.J. – A member of a drug-trafficking organization today admitted his role in a conspiracy to distribute heroin in Camden, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

David Velez, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.

Eleven other members – Ronnie Lopez, Nelson Salcedo, Paul Salcedo, Waldemar Garcia, William Carrillo, Elisa Rivera, Ramon Velez, Naeem Sadler, Jasmin Velez, Jameel Byng, and Kaliel Johnson – have previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the drug-trafficking conspiracy in the 500 block of Pine Street in Camden. Charges against six other defendants in this case remain pending.

The guilty pleas in this case reflect that the various members of the drug-trafficking organization sold heroin, crack cocaine and powder cocaine in and around the City of Camden.

According to documents filed in this case and other cases and statements made in court:

An investigation led by the FBI used surveillance tactics, confidential informants, consensual recordings, over 40 controlled drug purchases, record checks, a GPS vehicle tracker, and several court-authorized wiretaps to uncover the operations of the Camden drug-trafficking organization.

The count to which Velez pleaded guilty carries a mandatory penalty of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison, and a $5 million fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 20, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI’s South Jersey Violent Offender and Gang Task Force, South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster; the Camden County Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Wysocki; the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer; the Camden County Sherriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Gilbert L. Wilson; the Cherry Hill Police Department, under the direction of Chief William P. Monaghan; and the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance.

This case is being conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). 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.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara A. Aliabadi and Patrick C. Askin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

The charges and allegations against the other defendants are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defense counsel: Mark Catanzaro Esq., Mount Holly, New Jersey