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Friday, April 29, 2011

Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department announced today that Johnny Mathis, 47, of Lecompte, La., pleaded guilty to two federal crimes for shooting at the home of three Hispanic men living across the street from him because of the victims’ race and national origin.

Mathis pleaded guilty to criminal interference with the right to fair housing and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Mathis admitted that, on June 15, 2008, he shot at the victims’ home because the victims were Mexican. When the defendant began shooting at their home, the victims fled into the woods behind their residence. Mathis then entered the home with his firearm. All three victims survived the shooting unharmed.

“The defendant targeted his neighbors with violence because of their race and national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Acts of violence like this one have no place in our country, and the department will vigorously prosecute those who engage in such conduct.”

“Everyone, regardless of race, national origin or religion, etc., has the right to feel secure in their homes and free from violence,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Stephanie A. Finley. “That’s pretty basic. Our office will protect that right for all people residing in this district and will continue to prosecute these types of crimes.”

Sentencing is scheduled for July 28, 2011. Mathis faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a fine of $ 250,000, or both, on the fair housing charge. He also faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison for the firearm charge, which must run consecutively to any term imposed on the fair housing charge.

The case was investigated by the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana and by Nicole Lee Ndumele, a Trial Attorney in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Three Sentenced for Involvement in Civil Rights Conspiracy and Cover-Up in Connection with Cross-Burning in Athens, Louisiana

WASHINGTON—Jeremy Matthew Moro, 33, and Joshua James Moro, 23, have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter following their January 2011, guilty pleas to conspiring to violate the civil rights of an interracial couple by burning a cross near their home in Athens, La., in October 2008. Sonya Marie Hart, 31, was sentenced today following her January 2011, guilty plea to withholding information from the FBI regarding the defendants’ attempt to cover-up the cross-burning. The Moros’ cousin, Daniel Danforth, was previously convicted by a federal jury for organizing, carrying out, and attempting to cover up the same cross-burning.

Jeremy Moro was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release; Joshua Moro was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release; Sonya Hart was sentenced to three years of supervised probation. The defendants’ co-conspirator, Daniel Danforth, was previously sentenced to 48 months in prison for his role in the cross-burning and attempted cover-up.

During their guilty pleas in January 2011, Joshua and Jeremy Moro admitted that in October 2008, they and Danforth agreed to build, erect and burn a cross near the home of another cousin, her African American boyfriend (now husband), her 11-year-old son, and their grandmother who was believed to approve of the cousin’s interracial relationship. Joshua Moro admitted that he offered Danforth diesel fuel to use to burn the cross and that, later that evening, he sent a text message to see if Danforth and Jeremy Moro still needed the diesel to burn the cross. Jeremy Moro admitted that he helped Danforth find an accelerant, transport the cross to an area near the victims’ homes, and that he watched Danforth light the cross on fire because Danforth was upset about the presence of the African American man living with their cousin. Hart admitted that she affirmatively withheld information from the FBI in connection with the investigation into the cross-burning and attempted cover-up.

Evidence during Danforth’s trial in January 2010 showed that in the days following the cross-burning, Danforth, Jeremy Moro, and Sonya Hart agreed to remove the burned cross when they learned that the FBI was going to investigate the matter. With Jeremy Moro’s and Hart’s assistance, Danforth removed the cross, disassembled it and hid it in the woods. The evidence also showed that Joshua Moro, Jeremy Moro and Sonya Hart lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury during the investigation into the cross-burning.

“The defendants used an unmistakable symbol of hate to threaten a member of their own family simply because of her boyfriend’s race,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Incidents of this kind have no place in this country, and they are a reminder of the civil rights challenges we still face in 2011.”

“Cross burnings have historically been symbols of intense hatred of others based on their race. There is no place in our communities for this kind of activity,” said Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. “ Everyone should feel comfortable to live in their communities without fear of violence because they are different or because of their race. Every citizen has this right. We hope that these sentences send a message that these kinds of acts are serious and have serious consequences.”

This case was investigated by the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick for the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Erin Aslan from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The Dangerous Side of Online Romance Scams

The IC3 is warning the public to be wary of romance scams in which scammers target individuals who search for companionship or romance online. Someone you know may be "dating" someone online who may appear to be decent and honest. However, be forewarned: the online contact could be a criminal sitting in a cyber café with a well-rehearsed script that scammers have used repeatedly and successfully. Scammers search chat rooms, dating sites, and social networking sites looking for victims. The principal group of victims is over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled, but all demographics are at risk.

Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their "undying love." These criminals also use stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes. Scammers also ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing. These are all lies intended to take money from unsuspecting victims.

In another scheme, scammers ask victims to receive funds in the form of a cashier's check, money order, or wire transfer, claiming they are out of the country and unable to cash the instruments or receive the funds directly. The scammers ask victims to redirect the funds to them or to an associate to whom they purportedly owe money. In a similar scheme, scammers ask victims to reship packages instead of redirecting funds. In these examples, victims risk losing money and may incur other expenses, such as bank fees and penalties, and in some instances face prosecution.

Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, or injured, or in one instance, deceased. IC3 complainants most often report the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, England, and Canada as the location of the scammers. If you are planning to meet someone in person that you have met online, the IC3 recommends using caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country, and, at the very least:

•Do not travel alone.
•Read all travel advisories associated with the countries you will visit. Travel advisories are available at http://travel.state.gov/.
•Contact the United States Embassy in the country you plan to visit.

Even though it seems to be contrary to the thought of starting a new romance, do not be afraid to check a new acquaintance's story online. Remember, like most fraudulent schemes, scammers use whatever personal information you provide to quickly paint themselves as your perfect match. If your new friend’s story is repeated through numerous complaints and articles on the Internet, it is time to apply common sense over your feelings. To obtain more information on romance scams and other types of online schemes, visit www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of scam should promptly report it to the IC3's website at www.IC3.gov.

Prison guard accused of torturing prisoners deported to Brazil

ALEXANDRIA, La. - A man wanted for torturing prisoners in Brazil in 2005 was deported on Tuesday and turned over to Brazilian authorities Wednesday morning by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Helio Nogueira-Santos, 44, a citizen of Brazil, was transported via commercial airline and turned over to authorities April 27 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In October 2003, Nogueira-Santos, worked as a jailer at Francisco Floriano De Paula Penitentiary, located in the city of Govemador Valadares, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. He allegedly tortured insurgent prisoners, causing grave bodily injuries to some prisoners, and causing the death of a prisoner.

"ICE works closely with our international law enforcement partners to identify, locate and deport aliens who are wanted in their home countries for allegedly committing heinous crimes," said Philip Miller, field office director of ICE ERO in New Orleans. "We will not allow criminal aliens to use the United States as a safe haven from their crimes." Miller oversees a five-state area comprised of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Nogueira-Santos illegally entered the United States on June 27, 2004, at or near Hidalgo, Texas, without being admitted or paroled by an immigration officer. ICE fugitive operations officers arrested Nogueira-Santos after an investigation revealed his location in the United States.

The removal was coordinated with the following ICE programs: the ICE Office of International Police Affairs, ICE Attaché Brazil, ICE Flight Operations, and the ICE Office of Chief Counsel in New Orleans.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Founder and President of Rhode Island & Georgia Based Technology Firm Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million Dollar Naval Kickback Scheme

More Than 9 Million Dollars in Kickbacks Paid to Naval Civilian Contract Officer and Others

PROVIDENCE, RI—The founder and president of a technology services company located in Rhode Island and Georgia pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Providence to bribing a public official in a kickback scheme netting more than $9 million of naval funds, it was announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

Anjan Dutta-Gupta, 58, of Roswell, GA, founder and president of Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow (ASFT), pleaded guilty to paying bribes to a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with the United States Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), who maintained offices in Newport, R.I and Washington, D.C., and to others, to ensure payment and additional funding to existing Naval contracts and work orders for work purportedly to be performed at ASFT.

According to information presented in court and in court documents, from about 1996 through January 2011, at least $8,000,000 was paid by ASFT (largely through its subcontractors) to a co-defendant in this case, Ralph Mariano, 52, of Arlington, VA, a civilian program manager and senior systems engineer with NAVSEA, to Mariano’s family members and to a Senior Vice President at ASFT. In addition, at least $1,200,000 was paid to subcontractors based on inflated invoices and funneled back to SIC, a corporation owned by Dutta-Gupta.

In exchange for Dutta-Gupta and ASFT’s kickbacks of millions of dollars from 1996 through 2011, according to court documents, Mariano took steps to ensure that ASFT received payment on invoices submitted, and that additional funds were added to existing ASFT contracts when needed. In his position as program manager, Mariano regularly instructed Navy contracting officers to add funding to ASFT contracts and delivery orders.

In addition, according to court documents, Mariano completed numerous Funding Certification forms when he added funds to the ASFT contracts. Through these and other mechanisms, Mariano was able to utilize his position as a program manager with the NAVSEA to add millions of dollars to existing ASFT contracts. In exchange, defendant Dutta-Gupta agreed to make regular payments to Mariano.

Anjan Dutta-Gupta is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi on December 9, 2011. Dutta-Gupta faces up to 15 years in federal prison, and a fine of $250,000 or three times the value of the bribe payments – whichever is greater.

Ralph Mariano, charged by way of a Criminal Complaint with participating in the kickback scheme, is awaiting trial.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee H. Vilker and Andrew J. Reich.

This matter was investigated by agents from the Defense Criminal Services, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigations.

Homicide Suspects from West Virginia Arrested in Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH –   United States Marshal Cathy J. Jones announces the arrest of Thomas Grantham and James Cross Jr. by the Southern Ohio Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (SOFAST).  Grantham, 35 years of age, and Cross Jr., 32 years of age, are wanted for Murder and Attempted Murder based on charges in West Virginia.  It is alleged that on April 23, 2011, Grantham and Cross Jr. were involved in an argument with two individuals at a nightclub in Martinsburg, WV.  The suspects followed the two individuals out of the club and down the street at which time they stabbed the two individuals. One of the victims died as a result of the wounds.

On the evening of April 27, 2011, SOFAST and United States Marshals from the Northern District of West Virginia developed information that Grantham and Cross Jr. were hiding out in the Elmwood Place neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Task Force Officers and Cincinnati Police’s District 5 officers located the suspects in a residence on Van Kirk Avenue.   The suspects were arrested without incident.

U.S. Marshal Cathy Jones stated, “The diligent investigation conducted by West Virginia law enforcement provided our local task force officers with incredibly accurate information which led to the fugitives' swift and safe arrests”.
  
SOFAST is a multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of the U.S. Marshals, Cincinnati Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, U.S. Department of Agriculture OIG, Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Marshals are the nation’s primary fugitive hunting organization and capture more federal fugitives each year than all other law enforcement agencies combined. 

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals can be found at usmarshals.gov.

Fort Yates Man Pleads Guilty to Assault

BISMARCK—United States Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on April 27, 2011, Joshua C. Luger, 29, of Fort Yates, North Dakota, pleaded guilty in United States District Court to a charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

On October 4, 2010, Luger and the victim were at the Last Chance Saloon in Solen, North Dakota. Outside the bar, Luger confronted the victim, who Luger did not know, and pushed him to the ground. Luger then started using his fists to hit the victim in the head and face. Another patron at the bar intervened and kept Luger away from the victim. As a result of the assault, the victim suffered a broken nose and lost a front tooth.

The charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Indian Affairs - Standing Rock Agency.

Sentencing for Luger has been scheduled for July 18, 2011, in United States District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistant United States Attorney Rick Volk is prosecuting the case.

Former United States Probation Officer Convicted

Mark J. Walker Pleads Guilty to Violating the Civil Rights of Five Female Offenders Under His Supervision

PORTLAND, OR—Mark John Walker, 52, of Eugene, Oregon, pleaded guilty today before Chief United States District Judge Ralph R. Beistline, who is a visiting judge from Alaska. Walker admitted to violating the victims' Constitutional rights to bodily integrity while acting under color of law, by engaging in sexual contact or aggravated sexual abuse with female offenders who were under his direct supervision as a federal probation officer from 2006 to 2009. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. before Chief Judge Beistline.

As a United States Probation Officer, Mark Walker supervised offenders who were serving probation or supervised release terms imposed by a federal judge, including offenders with vulnerable backgrounds involving sexual abuse, mental illness and drug addiction. Walker had the power to recommend that offenders who violated their conditions of probation or supervised release be incarcerated or otherwise sanctioned. Walker was bound by the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, and was responsible for complying with the United States Constitution, as well as all federal, state and local laws.

While exercising his authority as a probation officer, Walker willfully violated the victims' civil rights by kissing them or touching their breasts, buttocks and inner thighs without their consent and in order to gratify his own sexual desires. With one victim, Walker pulled her pants down and forced her to have sexual intercourse with him when he visited her home as part of his official duties. At the time, he was wearing his badge and carrying his government-issued firearm, and the victim was not able to escape. The victims never reported the violations to authorities because they were afraid that no one would believe them and that Walker, as their probation officer, had the power to have them incarcerated or otherwise punished.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties have agreed to recommend that Walker be sentenced to ten years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release where he will be under the supervision of a U.S. Probation Officer. The defendant will also have to register as a sex offender under the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and keep the registration current in any state in which he resides, is employed or is a student. Chief Judge Beistline has the authority to accept or reject the joint sentencing recommendation.

"Law enforcement officials violate the public trust when they abuse the rights of individuals under their supervision," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who abuse their power in this way.

"Federal Probation Officers are entrusted and empowered by law to serve others," said U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. "Our criminal justice system is enhanced every day by their dedicated and loyal service. Walker betrayed his fellow officers and abused his power by sexually abusing the vulnerable people he had sworn to help. These victims have been heard."

"We have a very high standard when it comes to the actions of federal officers," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "This defendant's criminal actions did great harm to women who were already very vulnerable. That is intolerable."

The case has been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Eugene, Oregon. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pamala Holsinger, Hannah Horsley and Craig Gabriel are prosecuting the case with assistance from the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section.

ICE arrests airline employees for involvement in international drug smuggling

DETROIT - Federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 12 individuals today for their role in two drug smuggling operations out of U.S. airports. All of the individuals have been charged with drug trafficking and related charges to include conspiracy, possession with intent to distribute and illegal importation of narcotics.

"Today's arrests and charges close a major vulnerability at the airport," said ICE Director John Morton. "We can't have people working in and around aircraft exploiting their positions for criminal ends. Airplanes are for lawful travel not drug dealing. For those on the inside thinking about abusing their access to planes for money, think again. We are watching. We are looking. Whether it takes months or years, whether the trail leads to Detroit, Houston, or Montego Bay, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you, we will put you in jail."

The investigation called, "Operation Excess Baggage," began in January 2010 when HSI special agents from the ICE's attaché office in Kingston, Jamaica, contacted Detroit-based HSI special agents to alert them of a seizure by Jamaican Customs of approximately 53 pounds of marijuana. The seizure was discovered in a suitcase on Northwest Airlines (now Delta) flight # 2321 which was bound for Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) from Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The suitcase was tagged with a Northwest Airlines baggage tag, bearing the name of an uninvolved passenger. Agents suspected that additional baggage containing narcotics might still be on the aircraft destined for Detroit.

HSI special agents in Detroit immediately notified U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at DTW. HSI agents, along with CBP officers, seized an additional five suitcases containing nearly 16 kilograms of cocaine and close to 130 kilograms of marijuana. Preliminary investigative findings suggested internal involvement of employees of Delta/Northwest.

During a March 18, 2010 surveillance operation, agents seized an additional 45 pounds of marijuana from two Delta/Northwest employees at DTW. It is alleged that these individuals were participants in a separate smuggling operation between Houston and Detroit. A separate Houston-based investigation was then launched.

Earlier this month, 12 sealed complaints for individuals known to have been participants in these narcotics smuggling conspiracies were issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Ten were issued for current or former Delta/Northwest employees stationed at DTW or at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas. Two additional warrants were issued for individuals involved in the scheme who were not airline employees.

The Jamaican/Detroit trafficking operation suspects have been charged with importation of controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and conspiracy:

Glenford Stephens, 48;
Kevin Jernigan, 50;
Cordell Coke, 37;
Huram Josephs, 41;
Rex Lee, 27; and
Christopher Bradley, 38.
The Houston/Detroit trafficking operation are being charged with possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and conspiracy:

Clifford Skinner, 38;
Kelvin Atwater, 40;
LaDale Callaway, 39; and
Yohanis Watson, 37.
Two additional suspects, who are not airline employees, have been charged with distribution and conspiracy for their connection to the Houston/Detroit smuggling operation:

Floyd Adams, 42; and
Cher Denton, 38.
HSI Agents arrested all of the suspects Thursday morning.

If convicted of the charges, the penalties are driven by the drug amounts. Penalties involving the shipment of cocaine and marijuana range from 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000,000 for cocaine, along with five years to 40 years in prison for marijuana.

In the case of the marijuana shipment from Houston to Detroit, the penalty for less than 50 kilograms of marijuana is up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Texas CBP Officers Seize $2.2M in Marijuana

Del Rio, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Del Rio port of entry maintained their vigilance this week and seized more than a ton of marijuana hidden in a commercial truck.

The seizure occurred on April 26 at the Del Rio International Bridge. A CBP officer referred a 1996 Kenworth tractor hauling a manifested shipment of concrete block driven by a 37-year-old male Mexican citizen from Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico for a secondary examination. In secondary, CBP officers conducted an intensive examination of the tractor trailer and discovered 400 packages within the shipment that contained 2,285 pounds of alleged marijuana. The marijuana has an estimated street value of $2.2 million.

No immediate arrests were made; however an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agents remains ongoing.

“This is the largest seizure of marijuana so far in Fiscal Year 2011 made by CBP officers at the Del Rio port of entry and underscores the importance of maintaining a robust border security enforcement posture,” said Michael Perez, CBP Port Director, Del Rio.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

$5000 Reward Offered for Information Leading to the Arrest and Conviction of the Watsonville Take-Over Bank Robbery Suspects

FBI agents and Watsonville Police Detectives are seeking the public's assistance in learning the identity of at least three unidentified men responsible for the take-over bank robbery in Watsonville, CA on April 22, 2011. Bay Federal Credit Union is offering a reward of up to $5,000* in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.

The bank robbers entered the Bay Federal Credit Union, which is located in the middle of a shopping center at the 2000 block of Freedom Blvd at about 1:15 p.m. The suspects brandished semi-automatic handguns, forced employees and customers to comply with their demands and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Witnesses described the suspects as two males, possibly Hispanic or light-skinned African American. Both were wearing dark "hoodie" pull-over sweatshirts and as they left the scene, one suspect fired a round back into the credit union. No one was injured.

Witnesses observed a late model, Black Nissan Altima leaving the scene.

This investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI and Watsonville Police Department. Anybody with information as to the identity or whereabouts of these suspects is urged to call 911. These suspects should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

The FBI can be reached 24 hours a day at 415-553-7400. All calls are confidential. The Watsonville Police Department Tip Line is 831-768-3354 or the Watsonville Police Investigations Bureau can be reached at 831-768-3350.

Bank surveillance photos are available and attached to this press release.

Members of the media should call Public Affairs Specialist Julianne Sohn, FBI San Francisco at 415-553-7450.

* A reward is paid for original information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of a criminal suspect. Bay Federal Credit Union (BFCU), in its sole discretion, will decide who is entitled to a reward and in what amount. BFCU may pay only a portion of the maximum reward offered, up to $5,000. The decision will be based primarily upon law enforcement's evaluation of the value of the information provided. When there are multiple claimants, the reward will be shared in amounts determined by BFCU. BFCU associates are not eligible for the reward. This reward offer is good for one year from the date it is first offered, unless extended by BFCU.

U.S. Border Patrol Confiscates Cocaine, Crystal Meth Hidden in Engine Firewall

San Diego — U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a 55-year-old male naturalized United States citizen yesterday near San Clemente, Calif. for smuggling more than 15 pounds of cocaine and nearly three pounds of crystal methamphetamine in a black 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup truck.

At approximately 2:15 p.m., agents on patrol near the I-5 Border Patrol checkpoint conducted a vehicle stop on the pickup truck. During the stop, agents became suspicious of the man’s nervous demeanor.

A Border Patrol K-9 team was summoned and performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle which resulted in a positive alert to the vehicle’s dashboard.

Agents searched the vehicle and discovered 10 cellophane-wrapped bundles concealed behind the firewall of the engine compartment. Eight bundles contained a total of 15.65 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $156,500. Two bundles contained a total of 2.87 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $51,660.

The suspected drug smuggler and narcotics were taken into custody and subsequently turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The vehicle was seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

To prevent illicit smuggling of humans, drugs and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our nation’s borders.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

MPD Officer Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge In Attempted Burglary of Apartment in Northwest Washington

Used Police Radio to Monitor Communications in Hopes of Avoiding Detection

WASHINGTON—Jennifer Green, 28, a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer who had been assigned to the Fourth Police District, pleaded guilty today to a felony charge of attempted second degree burglary, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Green entered her guilty plea this morning before the Honorable Robert E. Morin in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. As part of the plea agreement, Green is resigning from the police department. Sentencing is scheduled for July 6, 2011. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine.

Green began work in September 2005 as an MPD officer. According to information provided to the court, on March 4, 2011, she met with a cooperating witness at a nightclub in the District, where they discussed plans to steal money and drugs from an apartment known to the cooperating witness. Following their plans, the cooperating witness picked Green up the next evening, and they drove to an apartment building near Georgia Avenue and Quincy Street NW.

Green, who was off-duty, brought her police-issued radio with her, which she monitored for police communications. The cooperating witness entered the apartment building, armed with a crowbar, and indicated that he was going to break into the apartment believed to have cash and drugs. Green acted as a lookout in the car, listening to her police radio to help ensure they would avoid detection. The cooperating witness returned to the car a short while later, and stated that he had forcibly entered the apartment and stolen money and drugs from inside. The cooperating witness handed the money to the defendant. She counted the money and kept more than half of it as her share of the proceeds of the burglary. Green was arrested that evening.

In announcing today’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of MPD’s Internal Affairs Division, which investigated the case. He also thanked the FBI’s Washington Field Office for its assistance. U.S. Attorney Machen also commended the staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Maggie McCabe and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan Haray and Mona Sahaf, for their work prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas CBP Officers Seize Nearly $237,000 in Cocaine

Brownsville, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Gateway International Bridge over the weekend discovered cocaine valued at approximately $236,800 concealed within a Nissan Sentra.

On April 23, at Gateway International Bridge, a primary CBP officer encountered a 1988 Nissan Sentra driven by a 57-year-old male Mexico citizen residing in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The primary CBP officer referred the Nissan for a secondary examination. In secondary, CBP officers discovered three packages hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers removed the packages, which had a combined total weight of 3.34 kilograms or 7.4 pounds of alleged cocaine.

The alleged cocaine from this seizure has an estimated street value of approximately $236,800. CBP officers turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations special agents for further investigation. CBP officers seized the narcotics and the vehicle.

“CBP officers’ observational skills were instrumental in the interception of these dangerous narcotics. The streets of our communities are safer as a result of the work our CBP officers do on a daily basis,” said Michael Freeman, CBP port director, Brownsville.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Wakpala Man Sentenced on Sexual Abuse Charge

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Wakpala man charged with Aggravated Sexual Abuse was sentenced on April 25, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann in Aberdeen. Walter S. Chasing Hawk, Jr., age 40, was sentenced to 720 months’ custody with no period of supervised release.

Chasing Hawk was indicted for Aggravated Sexual Abuse by a federal grand jury in December 2009. Chasing Hawk pled guilty to Count I of a Superseding Indictment in November 2010. Chasing Hawk admitted that between May 1, 1999, and September 30, 1999, he raped a boy under the age of 12 while living in McIntosh, South Dakota. He also admitted that between April 23 and May 20, 2007, while living with his sister in Wakpala, he committed the sexual act of touching a female child who was younger than 12.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Standing Rock Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kelderman prosecuted the case.

Chasing Hawk was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Washington, New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Robbing Five Banks

TRENTON, NJ—A Washington, N.J., man admitted today to robbing five banks between January 29 and March 10, 2011, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Joseph Pennello, 46, pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with five counts of bank robbery, admitting he robbed banks scattered throughout three New Jersey counties. Pennello entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton federal court.

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

During his guilty plea, Pennello admitted to robbing the following banks:

Date  Bank  Amount Stolen 
29-Jan-11 PNC Bank; Washington, N.J.  $2,279 
6-Feb-11 TD Bank; Scotch Plains, N.J.  $2,810 
11-Feb-11 PNC Bank; Hackensack, N.J.  $3,335 
18-Feb-11 Chase Bank; Hackettstown, N.J.  $8,531 
10-Mar-11 Wells Fargo Bank; Rutherford, N.J.  $1,099 

Pennello entered the banks and demanded money from the tellers, either verbally or using notes. During the robbery of the TD Bank in Scotch Plains, Pennello’s note demanded all the money in the teller’s drawer. He also passed a note to a teller at the PNC Bank in Hackensack which read, “This is a robbery. No alarms. No dye-packs. No tracers. No one gets hurts [sic].” At the PNC Bank in Washington, Pennello demanded money from a teller while gesturing toward what appeared to be a firearm concealed on his person.

On March 12, 2011, Pennello walked into a police station and turned himself in to law enforcement officials. The defendant has been in custody since that time.

The charges to which Pennello pleaded guilty each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for August 4, 2011.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark; along with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Washington Township Police Department, Hackettstown Police Department, Hasbrouck Heights Police Department, Rutherford Police Department, Hackensack Police Department and Scotch Plains Police Department for the work leading to the identification and apprehension of the defendant.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronnell L. Wilson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

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Defense counsel: John Yauch Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark, N.J.

Public’s Help Sought in Search for “North Riverside Bandit”

Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is asking for the public’s help in identifying the individual depicted in the attached wanted flyer, who is believed responsible for the armed robbery of the TCF Bank branch, located at 7201 West 24th Street in North Riverside.

The theft occurred on March 23rd of this year, when the robber entered the bank area and approached a teller. He then handed her a demand note written on the back of a deposit ticket. The note claimed that the robber was armed and threatened the teller with harm, if his demands were not met. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money from the teller, the robber fled the bank on foot, disappearing into the passing crowd.

The robber is described as a white/male, 40 -50 years of age, 6’ 0” tall, medium build, black hair with a mustache and beard. He was wearing black framed sunglasses, a blue colored windbreaker and a baseball style cap with a Chicago Blackhawks logo on the front.

No injuries were reported during the theft, which is being investigated jointly by the FBI and the North Riverside Police Department. Anyone recognizing this individual or having any information about this robbery is asked to call the Chicago FBI at (312) 421-6700.

Additional information about this case and other unsolved Chicago area bank robberies, including downloadable photographs, is available on-line at the Bandit Tracker web site, www.bandittrackerchicago.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Additional copies of the attached wanted flyer are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199.

Lucasville Man Sentenced to 138 Months in Prison for Running Large Pot Growing Operation

COLUMBUS—Kevin L. Burton, 50, of Lucasville was sentenced in United States District Court to 138 months' imprisonment for overseeing a marijuana growing operation in southern Ohio that reached into central Ohio and South Carolina. He was also ordered to forfeit $414,109.16 in cash and real estate. He was fined $2,000 and ordered to serve five years under court supervision following his prison time.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Keith L. Bennett, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati (FBI), and Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini announced the sentence handed down today by Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham.

Burton pleaded guilty on December 6, 2010 to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, and one count of money laundering.

Burton grew and distributed marijuana for more than 15 years. He and co-conspirators distributed the marijuana in the Newark, Ohio area and also traveled to South Carolina to distribute it there.

The FBI documented substantial cash expenditures by Burton. Burton acquired real estate during the course of this conspiracy, and utilized much of it as places to grow, clean and store the marijuana. In 2005 and 2006, Burton spent more than $1 million in cash to build two car washes -- one in Lucasville, Ohio and one in Jackson, Ohio.

After Burton learned he was under federal investigation, he stopped his grow operation and advised a number of the people working for him to close down the grow rooms and destroy any marijuana plants. Subsequently, a number of the people who worked for Burton were subpoenaed before the grand jury and some were given immunity. Burton began reaching out to these individuals to warn them to keep his name out of it.

Last year, Burton sold the car wash he had constructed in Jackson, Ohio and laundered the proceeds through several financial transactions in an attempt to conceal the funds from federal investigators.

Sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents arrested Burton on June 15, 2010 based on charges in a federal indictment. Burton has been in custody since his arrest.

A co-defendant, Anna L. Montgomery, 47, of the Newark, Ohio area pleaded guilty on October 13, 2010 to one count of obstruction of justice for helping Burton approach potential witnesses. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 12, 2011 for Montgomery.

Stewart commended the cooperative investigation led by Scioto County Sheriff’s deputy John Koch and FBI Special Agent Brian Carroll, along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Kelley and Robyn Hahnert, who prosecuted the case.

Newport News Man Convicted of Murdering Hardee’s Employee

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Anthony Lee Wainwright, 26, of Newport News, Va., was convicted by a federal jury of murdering an employee of a Newport News Hardee’s restaurant during an armed robbery. Two conspirators – Henry Lee Stapleton, 24, and Michael Johnson Jr., 23, — previously pled guilty to their roles in the robbery and fatal shooting.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Rich Marianos, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; and James D. Fox, Chief of Newport News Police, made the announcement after the jury returned the verdict before United States District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

“Anthony Wainwright brutally murdered a hard–working employee of Hardees Restaurant, whose life centered around her love of both her job and her church. That Wainwright killed Diane Green because she recognized Wainwright from her beloved church makes this killing even more loathsome,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “No prosecution can take back the events of that day, but we hope today’s conviction will provide some measure of closure for Ms. Green’s family.”

“Thanks to the hard work of the dedicated ATF agents and Newport News detectives, those responsible for this murder were brought to justice,” said ATF Acting SAC Marianos. “We too hope that this verdict brings some closure to the Green family. It’s never easy to lose a loved one this way.”

“This incident shocked the community to its roots and this outcome is another positive example of the partnership, teamwork and commitment of our community, local and federal law enforcement, the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Office and the US Attorney’s Office to fight for justice,” said Chief Fox of the Newport News Police Department.

According to the evidence introduced at trial, on Sept. 8, 2007, Wainwright and Stapleton entered a Hardee’s restaurant with firearms intending to commit a robbery. After robbing the employees of money in the cash registers, Wainwright’s do–rag slipped down and revealed his face. Worried he could be identified because he knew the victim from church, Wainwright shot Diane Green one time in the back of the head killing her. Wainwright also injured a second employee who fled from the restaurant. Wainwright and Stapleton fled on foot and were later picked up by Johnson from a location near the Hardee’s restaurant. The three returned to a room at the American Tudor Inn, where they divided up approximately $150 stolen in the robbery.

Today, after five days of testimony from 25 witnesses and the admission of 70 exhibits, a jury found Wainwright guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery, weapons violations, murder with a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and killing of a witness to prevent communication to law enforcement. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on July 22, 2011.

Stapleton pled guilty on Jan. 11, 2011, to interference with commerce by robbery, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and murder with a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and will be sentenced on May 12, 2011. Johnson pled guilty on April 12, 2011, to conspiracy to obstruct, delay and affect commerce by robbery, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, murder with a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and retaliating against a witness. Johnson also pled guilty to a separate indictment charging him with a robbery of the Miller Mart that took place in June, 2006. He will be sentenced on all convictions on July 21, 2011.

This case was investigated by the Newport News Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney’s Howard Zlotnick, Lisa McKeel and Brian J. Samuels, prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.

Trenton Man Pleads Guilty to Leading Network that Trafficked Guns into New Jersey from Virginia to Sell to Gang Members

Admits trafficking approximately 50 guns to Trenton, including an AK-47 assault weapon, and faces 12-14 years in prison in multi-agency investigation led by AG’s Office, State Police, ATF

TRENTON – Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a Trenton man pleaded guilty today to leading a network that trafficked guns to Trenton from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The defendant was linked to guns recovered in connection with several homicide investigations and a narcotics investigation.

According to Director Taylor, Trayle Beasley, 30, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to a first-degree charge of leader of a firearms trafficking network before Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County. In pleading guilty, Beasley admitted that he trafficked approximately 50 guns to Trenton from Virginia, including at least one AK-47 assault weapon. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison. The charge was contained in a May 21, 2010 indictment that also charged a second New Jersey man and three Virginia men.

Beasley is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31 by Superior Court Judge Mitchel E. Ostrer. Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice.

The New Jersey State Police – ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and Division of Criminal Justice led the investigation. The task force led by the State Police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives also includes the Trenton Police, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Those agencies worked with the Hamilton Police (Mercer County), East Windsor Police and Eastern Shore (Va.) Drug Task Force, including the Virginia State Police and Northampton and Accomack County Sheriff’s Departments.

The weapons linked to Beasley included the gun used in the gang-related drive-by shooting on June 7, 2009 that killed 13-year-old Tamrah Leonard during a block party in Trenton, and the gun used in the murder of Tracey Crews, 23, inside his home in Trenton on Sept. 12, 2008.

“This is a textbook example of how our partnership with the New Jersey State Police and ATF can eliminate a conduit by which guns are entering New Jersey and going directly into the hands of violent criminals,” said Attorney General Dow. “Multiple guns linked to violent crimes were put into the eTrace system and traced to Beasley, who now faces a lengthy prison sentence.”

“Seventy-five percent of the crime guns in New Jersey come from out of state, and Virginia is the second biggest source state,” said Director Taylor. “Trayle Beasley is precisely the type of defendant we are seeking to take off the street through our efforts to fight illicit gun trafficking.”

“This investigation and prosecution is another endorsement of a statewide strategy that targets gun violence from two directions, focusing upon both the felons who use the guns in their hands and also upon the criminal profiteers who illegally put those guns in their hands,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

“This plea is a clear investigative success for all agencies involved and a win-win for our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew W. Horace of ATF’s Newark Field Division. “It represents one less criminal firearms trafficker, dozens less illegal firearms on our streets terrorizing our communities and a clear message that if you illegally traffick arms into New Jersey, we will investigate you, prosecute you and you will receive a lengthy and appropriate prison sentence.”

Beasley also pleaded guilty today to a charge of unlawful possession of a handgun, which was filed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with an armed robbery in East Windsor in March 2009. He faces a sentence of five years in prison, with three years of parole ineligibility, to be served concurrently with the sentence for the leader charge.

In pleading guilty to the leader charge, Beasley admitted that he solicited individuals in the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where he had lived, to provide him with guns, which he brought to New Jersey to sell illegally.

The case stems from NJ Trace, a first-in-the-nation partnership of the Attorney General’s Office, State Police and ATF to trace crime guns recovered in New Jersey using ATF’s national eTrace system. The Attorney General requires that information on all guns seized by police in New Jersey be entered into eTrace for tracking within 24 hours. In a separate case resulting from the program, Williams James Ivery, 30, was sentenced on April 20 to three years of probation and 364 days in jail for unlawfully disposing of two handguns in New Jersey that he bought in Texas while stationed there in the Army, and mailing a third gun to two men in New Jersey. Deputy Attorney General Cassandra Serentino prosecuted that case.

In the Beasley case, two other men named in the May 21, 2010 indictment have pleaded guilty. Bobby Lee Henderson, 24, of Townsend, Va., and Larry Nottingham, 28, of Eastville, Va., pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon and are scheduled to be sentenced on May 3. They face sentences of probation, in addition to the jail time they have served since their arrests last year.

Charges are pending against Amoi Smith, 21, of Cranbury, and Johnathan Johnson, 28, of Cape Charles, Va. It is alleged that Johnson would either purchase or gather weapons for Beasley or would coordinate meetings for Beasley, during which Beasley would purchase weapons from others in the Eastern Shore. Smith allegedly traveled with Beasley on trips to get guns. The indictment is merely an accusation and those men are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The investigation revealed that Beasley sold guns to drug dealers and gang members in Trenton. He preferred to deal in revolvers because they do not leave shell casings at crime scenes. He was indicted in connection with 12 guns, including eight handguns, two shotguns and two rifles. Five of the guns were seized by the Maryland State Police on Nov. 16, 2008, when they stopped Beasley’s car as he drove through Maryland. Beasley served a one-year prison sentence in Maryland for unlawful possession of those guns. The other seven guns were recovered by police in New Jersey in connection with crimes and traced through the NJ Trace program.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Andrew M. Butchko presented the case to the state grand jury. Attorney General Dow thanked the supervisors and agents of ATF who conducted the investigation, as well as all of the members of the State Police – ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and other participating agencies, including these members of the New Jersey State Police: Detective Sgt. Eric Barlow, Detective Sgt. Brian Duross, Detective Brian Ruane and Detective Marc Friedenberger. She also credited Detective Gary Britton of the Trenton Police, Detective Jeff Dorian of the East Windsor Police, and members of the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force, including Scott Wade of the Virginia State Police, Lt. Timothy Reibel of the Virginia State Police, Detective Steve Lewis of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department, and Detective Wayne Greer of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Department.