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Friday, December 30, 2011

Six Indicted For Fresno And Madera County Methamphetamine Distribution Ring

DEC 22 - FRESNO, Calif. — Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that a federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment today charging Desidoro Sanchez Solorzano, 34, of Madera; Jose Antonio Sanchez Reyes, 24, of Clovis; Eliodoro Cerato Martinez, 28, of Madera; Omar Guerro Hernandez, 22, of Madera; Carlos Giovanni Baez Rosa, 32, of Fresno; and Enrique Zarate, 35, of Fresno, with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

According to the indictment, between October 31 and December 1, 2011, the six defendants conspired to distribute methamphetamine in Madera and Fresno Counties. An affidavit filed in the case asserts that Solorzano obtained methamphetamine from Mexico and arranged for Reyes, Martinez, and Rosa to deliver drugs and drug proceeds at his behest and sold drugs to Hernandez.

As a result of the investigation, agents seized more than $182,000 in drug proceeds, more than 40 pounds of methamphetamine, and two pounds of cocaine.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. The Fresno Methamphetamine Task Force is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative (HIDTA), consisting of law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; California Highway Patrol; Fresno Police Department; and the Sheriff’s departments of Fresno, Madera and Merced Counties. Assistant United States Attorney Kathleen A. Servatius is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison, a $10 million fine, and a five-year term of supervised release. If convicted, the actual sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Challenge Academy honors mentor at cadet graduation ceremony

Richard York of Plymouth, Wis., was recognized by the Wisconsin National Guard's Challenge Academy for his service as a mentor for two previous class graduates — Albert Rendon of Plymouth, and Samuel Puchalla of Kiel.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, awarded York the Department of Military Affairs Commendation Medal in recognition of his unwavering support and commitment to his cadets during the Class 27 graduation ceremony Dec. 17 at Mauston High School.

The Challenge Academy is a residential alternative education program based at Fort McCoy, Wis., for high school dropouts and habitual truants. The Challenge Academy uses a structured, quasi-military style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets’ academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline. Cadets attend the program under the premise of changing their life’s course and developing new, healthy habits during the 22-week residential portion of the program. When the residential portion of the program concludes, mentors from around the state assist graduates in their home communities to help ensure the changes made at Fort McCoy continue as they return to their home communities.

 For more information about the Challenge Academy, visit their website or call 608-343-1937.

Double Trouble

Las Cruces, NM - On December 28, 2011, Deputy U.S. Marshals and the Las Cruces Police Officers apprehended murder suspects Armando and Mando Lopez. The twin brothers are Norteno gang members wanted out of Los Banos, California for a double homicide that occurred at a night club in Los Banos on August 7.

Both Armando and Mando Lopez have lengthy criminal histories including numerous weapons charges, possession of controlled substances and charges relating to their involvement in a criminal street gang. The brothers are among other suspects that are accused of murdering two Mongol outlaw motorcycle gang members in Los Banos, California. Investigators with the Marshals Service worked closely with the Las Cruces Police Department and were able to determine the brothers were living at a residence in Las Cruces and it is believed the pair have been in the Las Cruces area since November. Both were apprehended separately without incident on Wednesday evening by the Las Cruces Police Department SWAT unit and the United States Marshals Service. The brothers will be booked into the Dona Ana County Detention Center awaiting extradition back to California.

Conrad E. Candelaria, United States Marshal for the District of New Mexico “the Marshals Service is built upon a foundation of generations of Deputy U.S. Marshals that relentlessly pursue and investigate the whereabouts of hardened criminal fugitives and it is this ‘relentless’ pursuit that allows justice to prevail and in this apprehension, these violent and career criminals will answer to the crimes they have committed.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Warrior spirit restores stolen Christmas

by Capt. Cathleen Snow
 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs 

12/28/2011 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Christmas spirit was stolen away from a deployed Airman serving in Afghanistan when his home in south Florida was burglarized and all of his kids' Christmas presents taken from beneath the tree days before Christmas. 

As a combat-search-and-rescue helicopter crew chief, Staff Sgt. Kristopher Castillobrock, deployed from the 920th Rescue Wing here, received the news from home after a day of launching life-saving missions out of Kandahar Airfield to rescue injured service members.  

Feeling helpless and unable to provide comfort and security to his wife and three kids from afar, Castillobrock went to his first sergeant at the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Master Sgt. Matt English, who immediately mobilized the warrior spirit to help.

"Unfortunately, when these tragedies happen around the holidays, we are especially affected by the loss," said Col. Robert Ament, the 920th RQW vice commander. 

When the tragic news was reported back to the 920th RQW here, Airmen and key spouses of Airmen pulled together to return Christmas to the young family. While the family is safe, wing members not only mobilized an effort to resupply the gifts, but they took their support to a higher level to restore the family's sense of security.  

"We've contacted the 482nd Fighter Wing and (U.S. AirForce Southern Command) (both located near Miami) and fellow Airmen are heading to the burglarized home to repair the break-in damage and look into installing an alarm system," Ament said.  

The family expressed their gratitude for all of the support and said the children were excited that "the Air Force was going to help them." They also expressed gratitude for English's help in coordinating police assistance so the family could return to the home to get clothing without being afraid.  

Santa Clause is expected to head back to the family's home for a second go-round of present delivery very soon.

 "'These things we do, that others may live,'" Ament said. "For the 920th Rescue Wing, this isn't just a motto -- it's a mission we live by, both at home station and abroad."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sterling Woman Indicted in Murder-for-Hire Plot

ALEXANDRIA, VA—A federal grand jury has charged Ann Jenene Cinnamon, a/k/a Ann Jenene Greer, 41, of Sterling, Va., with allegedly hiring a hit man to kill her boyfriend’s “mistress.”

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

Cinnamon was indicted today with murder-for-hire and solicitation of murder, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 and five years in prison, respectively, if convicted.

According to court records, in August 2011 Cinnamon allegedly contacted a man she had met on a social dating site seeking to hire someone to murder an individual that she described as her boyfriend’s “mistress.” From that time through October 2011, Cinnamon is accused of taking steps to carry out the murder, including offering to pay $500 to the hit man, paying $100 as a down payment, planning her alibi, and providing information about her boyfriend so that he could be followed to the “mistress’ ” residence.

Court records indicate that the man she contacted brought the request to the attention of the FBI, and his interaction with the defendant was closely monitored by law enforcement. Cinnamon was arrested by the FBI on Oct. 20, 2011, following a meeting she had with the man in a Great Falls shopping center, where they allegedly further discussed the murder plot and the plan for payment.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Fahey is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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 http://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 https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

Bloods Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

WASHINGTON – Kerry Pettus, aka “Lil Kerry,” 23, of Nashville, Tenn., pleaded guilty to charges related to his membership in the Bloods gang criminal enterprise , Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry E. Martin announced today.

Pettus pleaded guilty on Dec. 21, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger in the Middle District of Tennessee to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

According to court documents, Pettus and other Bloods gang members and associates agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, narcotics trafficking and bribery on behalf of the Bloods gang.  Pettus and numerous Bloods gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout the Middle District of Tennessee, including Shelby Park, Cedar Hill Park and the Galaxy Star Drug Awareness and Gang Prevention Center in Nashville, to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary actions against fellow gang members, discuss acts of violence against rival gang members and initiate or “jump in” new members by beating them for a period of time, among other things.

Pettus admitted to being a Bloods member and to engaging in multiple acts in support of the criminal enterprise, including: possessing firearms, shooting rival gang members, possessing crack cocaine with the intent to sell it and receiving fraudulent documentation of court-ordered community service hours from Lonnie Greenlee, co-founder of the Galaxy Star Drug Awareness and Gang Prevention Center, in exchange for money. These acts occurred at various times from March until May 2010.

Twenty-four co-defendants have pleaded guilty for their participation in the criminal enterprise. Pettus is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16, 2012. The plea agreement states that the appropriate sentence is a term of 20 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department; the Gallatin, Tenn., Police Department; with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Davidson County, Tenn., District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scarlett Singleton of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Cody L. Skipper of the Organized Crime and Gang Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Private Security Guard Convicted for Role in Providing Security for Drug Transaction

WASHINGTON – A former private security guard was convicted by a federal jury yesterday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for his role in providing security for a drug transaction, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodriguez-Velez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Joseph S. Campbell of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office.

Ricardo Amaro-Santiago, 39, was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, attempting to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug transaction. Amaro-Santiago was charged in an indictment unsealed on Oct. 6, 2010, along with 89 law enforcement officers in Puerto Rico and 44 other individuals, as part of the FBI undercover operation known as Guard Shack.

According to the indictment and information presented in court, in May 2010, Amaro-Santiago provided security for what he believed was an illegal drug deal, but which in fact was part of the undercover FBI operation. According to information presented at trial, Amaro-Santiago was employed as a private security guard, but posed as a Puerto Rico police officer during the transaction. Information presented at trial also revealed that Amaro-Santiago was brought into the scheme by a co-defendant who was a police officer of Puerto Rico.

In return for the security he provided, Amaro-Santiago received a cash payment of $1,000.

U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi scheduled sentencing for April 2012. At sentencing, Diaz faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Marquest J. Meeks and Tracee Plowell of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The case was investigated by the FBI. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico also participated in the investigation and prosecution of this case.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pittsburgh Crips Gang Members Sentenced to Prison for Racketeering Charges

WASHINGTON – Two members of the Pittsburgh Crips criminal enterprise were sentenced yesterday in federal court to 154 and 120 months in prison, respectively, on charges of conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Terrance Clark, 22, aka “Doo Wop,” was sentenced to 154 months in prison and three years of supervised release and Lamon Street, 20, aka “M-Dot,” was sentenced to 120 months in prison and three years of supervised release.   Clark and Street each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering conspiracy earlier this year. 

According to the guilty plea, Clark, Street and others participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included multiple acts involving gun point robberies; attempted murders; drug distribution, including cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; and obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.

According to court documents, Clark was a member of the Northview Heights/ Fineview Crips, a criminal street gang operating out of the Northview Heights public housing facility in the Northside neighborhood, and in the nearby Fineview neighborhood.  The gang had been operating in Northside since 2002, when in 2003 it formed an alliance with the Brighton Place Crips to expand the gang’s drug trafficking territory and increase the gang’s capability for violence.   Street was a member of the Brighton Place Crips, a criminal street gang that controlled an area of Brighton Place and Morrison Street, also known as the Mad Cave, and Federal Street in the Northside area of Pittsburgh.

The Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains exclusive control over drug trafficking in these neighborhoods through continuous violence and intimidation of rivals and witnesses.  Members of the gang support each other through payment of attorneys’ fees, bond, jail commissary accounts and support of incarcerated members’ families.  

In addition, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains an ongoing feud with the Manchester Original Gangsters, a criminal street gang located in the Manchester area of the Northside Section of Pittsburgh.   Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang members identify themselves by wearing blue, using Crips gang hand signals, and using phrases such as “Cuz,” “C-Safe,” “Loc,” and “G.K.”  Members and associates of the enterprise obtained greater authority and prestige within the enterprise based upon their reputation for violence and their ability to obtain and sell a steady supply of illegal drugs.

According to court documents, Clark and Street each acted as a “hustler” or distributor of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine for the gang.   Clark also acted as a “soldier” or enforcer for the gang, providing protection for the enterprise through the commission of violent crimes.

Also yesterday, co-defendant Hosea Ghafoor was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Clark, Street and Ghafoor are among 26 defendants charged in February 2010 with being members of, and conducting racketeering activity through, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang.  This prosecution resulted from a Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force investigation that began in 2005.  To date, all members of the Brighton Place/ Northview Heights Crips who were charged in this indictment have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles A. Eberle and Troy Rivetti of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kevin L. Rosenberg of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.  The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; the Allegheny County, Penn., Police Department; and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.

Massachusetts Man Sentenced to 166 Months in Prison for Arson of African-American Church

BOSTON – A Springfield, Mass., man was sentenced to prison today in federal court for civil rights charges stemming from the arson of a predominantly African-American church in retaliation for the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States, announced the Department of Justice.   Michael Jacques, 27, was sentenced in Boston by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to 166 months in prison, followed by four years of supervised release.   Jacques was also ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution.  

The sentencing was announced by Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen M. Ortiz; Guy Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – Boston Field Division; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Field Office; Colonel Marian J. McGovern, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni; and Springfield Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet.

On April 14, 2011, following a jury trial, Jacques was found guilty of conspiracy against civil rights, damage or destruction of religious property and use of fire to commit a felony for his involvement in the church arson.  

According to evidence presented at Jacques’s trial, in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2008, within hours of President Barack Obama being elected, Jacques and his co-conspirators agreed to burn down, and did burn down, the Macedonia Church of God in Christ’s newly constructed building where religious services were to be held for its predominantly African-American congregation.   The building was approximately 75 percent completed at the time of the fire, which destroyed nearly the entire structure, leaving only the metal superstructure and a small portion of the front corner intact.     

“This sentence sends a powerful message that racial violence and intimidation have no place in our society,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez.  “The department will continue to use every tool in its law enforcement arsenal to prosecute acts of hate like this one.”

“As evidenced in this case, hate crimes victimize not only individuals but entire communities,” said U.S. Attorney Ortiz.  “We remain committed to protecting our communities from violence motivated by bigotry and prejudice, and ensuring that justice is served to victims.   I hope that today’s sentence sends a strong message that we will bring all of our resources to bear in order to protect the civil liberties of every citizen.”

 Jacques’s co-conspirators, Benjamin Haskell and Thomas Gleason, pleaded guilty to civil rights charges on June 16, and June 22, 2010, respectively.   Haskell was sentenced to nine years in prison on Nov. 1, 2010.   Gleason is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2012.

The case was investigated by the ATF in Springfield; the FBI in Springfield; the Massachusetts State Police; the Springfield Police Department and the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office.   It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul H. Smyth and Kevin O’Regan of U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield and Nicole Lee Ndumele, Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division.

Gila River Man Sentenced to 230 Months in Prison for Murder

PHOENIX—Raymond Herman French, 41, of Sacaton, Ariz., was sentenced yesterday by Judge Frederick J. Martone to 230 months’ imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release. French pleaded guilty on May 31, 2011, to the crime of second-degree murder.

French murdered the victim, Jeffrey Thomas, on January 22, 2011, when he shot the victim with a firearm. The victim died as a result of the injury. The crime occurred on the Gila River Indian Community.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Gila River Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Heather H. Belt, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Leupp Man Sentenced to Over 18 Years for Brutal Rape

PHOENIX, AZ—David Karl Wilson, Jr. 42, of Leupp, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 220 months in the Bureau of Prisons. Wilson pleaded guilty on August 30, 2011 to aggravated sexual abuse.

The defendant met the adult female victim while both were traveling to Flagstaff from the Navajo reservation. The victim agreed to accept a ride from the defendant back to her home, but on the way back, the defendant drove off the main road and violently sexually assaulted the victim. The victim was injured so severely that she required major surgery.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Dyanne C. Greer and Melissa Karlen, Assistant U.S. Attorney’s, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Six Plead Guilty in 3000+ Pound Marijuana Case

Fugitive Sought

HOUSTON—A total of six men have entered guilty pleas in a case involving the smuggling of more than a ton of marijuana concealed in pallets of watermelons, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Humberto Reyes, 51, of Houston, and Victor Pena, 30, of Roma, Texas, entered their pleas today to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana before United States District Judge David Hittner, while Orlando Ramirez, 41, Lauro Cisneros, 27, both of Roma, Texas; Leonel Pena, 34, of Houston; and Roel Reyna, 47, of Rio Grande City, Texas, pleaded guilty last Friday.

Beginning in June 2011, these men began transporting marijuana via tractor trailer and concealed in pallets of watermelons from McAllen, Texas, to a warehouse in Houston. Once the marijuana reached the warehouse, they would unload the pallets, remove the marijuana and load the marijuana into other vehicles to be delivered for sale.

At their respective plea hearings, the government described how agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted surveillance of the warehouse on July 28, 2011. At that time, Leonel Pena, Victor Pena and Cisneros unloaded pallets of watermelons from a tractor trailer, while Ramirez conducted countersurveillance in the area around the warehouse. Once the pallets were unloaded and the warehouse doors secured, agents observed Reyes and Roel Reyna drive past the warehouse at a slow rate of speed as Reyna was showing Reyes the location. Reyes returned to the warehouse later in a white panel van which he pulled into the warehouse. Agents then followed the van as it left the warehouse and stopped it a short time later. Agents discovered 84 bales of marijuana inside, while a search of the warehouse resulted in the seizure of an additional 53 bales of marijuana. The total weight of the marijuana seized was 3,158 pounds.

All of the defendants have been in custody since their arrests where they will remain pending their sentencing hearings. Judge Hittner has set sentencing for March 13, 2012, at which time they each face a minimum of 10 years and maximum of life in federal prison and a maximum $8 million fine. A seventh defendant, Agapito Lopez, 45, of Roma, Texas, remains a fugitive and a photo of him as attached. Anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to contact DEA at 713-693-3000. He is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

The case was investigated by the DEA, FBI and the Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard D. Hanes as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Paul Hardy Receives Life Sentence

NEW ORLEANS, LA—PAUL HARDY, age 44, a resident of New Orleans, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Helen Ginger Berrigan to life in prison for the 1994 murder of Kim Marie Groves. Groves had filed a complaint against former New Orleans Police Officer Len Davis with the then-Internal Affairs Division of the New Orleans Police Department. When Davis found out about Ms. Groves’s complaint, he contacted HARDY and told him that he wanted the woman killed. Davis used police resources to find Ms. Groves and, once she was located, Davis apprised HARDY of her whereabouts. HARDY shot Ms. Groves once in the head at about 11:00 p.m. on October 13, 1994, in the 1400 block of Alabo Street in the Lower Ninth Ward. Ms. Groves died on the scene.

Both Davis and HARDY were tried for civil rights murder in April and May of 1996, and the jury convicted them and recommended the death sentence for both. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, however, affirmed the convictions in 1999 but remanded the case for new penalty hearings. The second penalty hearing against Davis was conducted a month before Hurricane Katrina struck and the jury once again recommended the death penalty for Davis. His sentence is being appealed.

In the meantime, Judge Berrigan ruled that HARDY was mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death penalty, resulting in the mandatory life sentence that was imposed today.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael E. McMahon.

Reward of $20,000 Offered in “Geezer Bandit” Investigation

Latest Robbery in San Luis Obispo, California, Friday, December 2, 2011

The San Diego and Los Angeles FBI Offices, San Diego Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, San Luis Obispo Police Department, and several other local law enforcement agencies are seeking the public’s assistance to identify and arrest the individual dubbed the “Geezer Bandit.”

The “Geezer Bandit” is believed to be responsible for 16 bank robberies dating back to August 28, 2009. The first robbery in this series was in Santee, California (San Diego County) and the latest on Friday, December 2, 2011, in San Luis Obispo, California. Eleven of the 16 robberies in the “Geezer Bandit” series have occurred in San Diego County with the most recent San Diego robbery on Friday, September 30, 2011. On Friday, December 2, 2011, at approximately 5:39 p.m., the Bank of America, located at 1105 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, California, was robbed by an unknown male believed to be the “Geezer Bandit.”

During this robbery, the robber approached the victim teller carrying what has been described as a day planner. The day planner was tucked beneath his right arm. The robber held documents in his hand that made it appear that he was there to conduct a legitimate banking transaction. Once the robber reached the teller counter, he placed the day planner on the teller counter. He passed a demand note and made a verbal demand for cash. At the same time the robber opened the day planner and pulled out a revolver handgun and white plastic bag. The robber pointed the revolver at the teller and threatened to shoot her, if she did not comply with his demands. The teller complied with his demands and provided money that was placed into the white plastic bag. The plastic bag and revolver were placed inside of the day planner.

After exiting the bank, a security dye-pack received by the robber exploded, causing the robber to drop the day planner. Smoke and red dye from the dye-pack covered the robber and money. Surveillance video shows the robber drop to his knees in an attempt to gather some of the money and his belongings. After gathering what he could, the robber sprinted away across the bank parking lot. Witnesses reported seeing a white BMW, possibly a 5-Series, flee the area of the bank robbery. It is not known if this vehicle is connected to the robbery.

During this robbery, the robber was wearing a white shirt with a black necktie, black pants, glasses, and a blue baseball cap. The robber was described as someone who appeared to be an elderly white male, but may have been wearing a synthetic-like mask and gloves to conceal his true physical characteristics. Evidence collected at the scene is being processed by the FBI Laboratory at Quantico, Virginia.

Witnesses from previous robberies have described the “Geezer Bandit” as follows:

■Sex: Male
■Race: White
■Age: Approximately 60-70 years old
■Height: Approximately 5’10” to 6’0” tall
■Weight: Approximately 190 to 200 lbs.
■Build: Average
■Clothing: Navy-colored blazer, navy or black-colored baseball cap, dark-colored pants, and possibly wearing a mask and rubber gloves
■Weapon: Revolver handgun that he carries in his left hand
■Miscellaneous: Possibly wearing a synthetic mask and gloves to hide true physical characteristics

Anyone with information concerning the “Geezer Bandit” is asked to contact their local FBI Office or local law enforcement agency: FBI San Diego (858) 565-1255 or FBI Los Angeles (310) 477-6565.

FBI Media Contacts:
FBI Los Angeles—Public Affairs Specialist, Laura Eimiller, (310) 996-3343
FBI San Diego—Special Agent, Darrell Foxworth, (858) 499-7810
The “Geezer Bandit” should be considered armed and dangerous.

Former Des Moines Police Officers Indicted for Civil Rights Violations and Obstruction of Justice

DES MOINES, IA—A federal grand jury in Des Moines, Iowa, returned an indictment today charging two former Des Moines Police Department Officers, Mersed Dautovic and John Mailander, with violations of federal criminal laws related to an incident involving an alleged assault against a civilian on Sept. 13, 2008, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt.

Count one of the indictment charges Dautovic with a criminal civil rights violation for allegedly assaulting a man during a routine traffic stop. Specifically, the indictment charges that Dautovic physically assaulted the man with a baton, resulting in bodily injury to the victim. Count two of the indictment charges both Dautovic and Mailander with obstructing justice by falsifying a written statement about the incident.

Upon conviction, the civil rights count in the indictment carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The obstruction count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. On December 20, 2011, Mersed Dautovic was arrested and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer. A detention hearing as been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21, 2011, and trial has been scheduled for January 30, 2011.

This case is being investigated by the Des Moines Division of the FBI, and is being jointly prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

ICE deports convicted Rwandan to serve sentence for role in 1994 genocide

DETROIT — A convicted human rights violator, wanted by Rwandan authorities to serve a 19-year prison sentence for a murder conviction, was deported to Rwanda on Tuesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

An arrest warrant issued by Rwanda's Gacaca Courts, which have jurisdiction over genocide related trials, indicated that during the 1994 genocide, Marie Claire Mukeshimana, 43, acting with a purpose to murder, removed a child from a school in Save, Rwanda, and that her actions resulted in the death of the child. Mukeshimana was sentenced in 2009 before fleeing the country.

Mukeshimana was removed to Rwanda on a government charter flight. She arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, on Dec. 21. Upon arrival in Kigali, ICE ERO agents turned Mukeshimana over to the custody of the Rwandan National Police (International Police).

Mukeshimana attempted to enter the United States last year on a travel visa but was denied entry. She was placed in removal proceedings and has remained in ICE custody since then. In June, an immigration judge ordered her removed from the United States to Rwanda, a decision which was upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals on Nov. 15, 2011.

"ICE is committed to rooting out human rights violators like Mukeshimana who flee their countries in order to evade justice," said ICE Director John Morton. "While this removal cannot undo the pain Mukeshimana caused, we hope that the family of the victim will receive closure knowing that justice will be served."

ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) investigates human rights violators, including those who have participated in war crimes and acts of genocide, torture, extra-judicial killings, and violations of religious freedom, who seek to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States. These individuals may assume fraudulent identities to enter the country, seeking to blend into communities inside the United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) or complete the agency's online tip form. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE's confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.

ICE HSI has more than 200 active investigations and is pursuing over 1,900 leads and removal cases involving suspects from approximately 95 different countries. These cases are predominantly focused on Central and South America, Haiti, the former Yugoslavia and Africa. They represent cases in various stages of investigation, prosecution or removal proceedings.

Man Charged with Murder of Fellow Inmate at USP Canaan

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today the filing of charges against Allen Archie Hurley, age 46, currently incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary Canaan.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the Indictment charges that on or about April 25, 2010, Hurley, with malice aforethought, did unlawfully kill Joseph O’Kane, by stabbing him approximately 92 times, at the United States Penitentiary Canaan. The second count alleges that Hurley, an inmate at a USP-Canaan possessed a prohibited object, that is, a sharpened weapon commonly known as a “shiv” or “shank.”

If convicted of the charges, Hurley faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Prisons. Prosecution has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney John Gurganus.

Member of Plainfield, New Jersey G-Shine Bloods Sentenced to 188 Months in Prison for Selling Crack

NEWARK, NJ—A member of the Plainfield, N.J., set of the G-Shine Bloods criminal street gang was sentenced today to 188 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Marcus Williams, a/k/a “Twin,” 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on June 22, 2011, to one count of distribution of crack cocaine. Judge Wigenton also imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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

In August 2010 Williams sold crack cocaine to an FBI confidential informant for approximately $1,500 in a residential apartment in Plainfield. Williams was arrested on Jan. 25, 2011, and ultimately released on bail on Feb. 28, 2011. In early May 2011, Williams violated the terms of his pre-trial release by removing his electronic bracelet and absconding from his third-party custodian. On May 23, 2011, Williams was arrested for violating the terms of his bail and remanded into federal custody.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wigenton sentenced Williams to serve five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark, and the FBI Violent Crimes Criminal Enterprise Task Force assigned to the Safe Streets Task Force; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office; the New Jersey State Police; and the Plainfield Police Department for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rodney Villazor of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Narcotics/Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Stephen Dratch Esq., Livingston, New Jersey

U.S. Bureau of Prisons Employee Pleads Guilty in Florida to Sexual Abuse of a Ward

WASHINGTON—Bureau of Prisons employee Jack Chris Jackson, 45, pleaded guilty today to the charge of sexual abuse of a ward, announced the Department of Justice.

During the plea proceedings, Jackson admitted to having a sexual relationship with an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) in Miami that spanned more than a year ending in the summer of 2011. This inmate was in Jackson’s custodial and supervisory authority at FCI. Jackson also admitted to having sexual relations with other inmates at FCI.

“We will not tolerate corrections officers engaging in this behavior with institutionalized persons,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute individuals who abuse their position and authority in this manner.”

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer added, “This correction officer abused his official position to engage in sexual relationships with his wards. This conduct is an intolerable breach of trust that not only endangers the safety of inmates but also compromises prison security. Our office will prosecute all official corruption cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

Jackson faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for March 19, 2012.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Rhee Osborne of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Henry Leventis of the Civil Rights Division.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Visalia Couple Sentenced to 21 and 15 Years for Producing Child Pornography

FRESNO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that today United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced Visalia couple Terry Lee Schneider II, 28, to 21 years in prison and Nicole Jean Schneider, 30, to 15 years in prison for producing child pornography. Both defendants were also both sentenced to 15-year terms of supervised release after their release from custody.

According to court documents, the Schneiders were found to have videotaped a 3-year-old minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct in September 2005. Terry Lee Schneider II pleaded guilty on September 30, 2011 and Nicole Jean Schneider pleaded guilty on September 23, 2011. Both have been in federal custody since September 29, 2010.

U.S. Attorney Wagner said: “The production of child pornography is a crime that makes victims of some of the most vulnerable people in society—children. The sentences imposed in this case reflect the seriousness of the crime. In the last year, this office indicted a record number of cases involving child pornography, and we will continue to emphasize the prosecution of child exploitation cases.”

This case was the result of an extensive investigation by the Fresno office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Visalia Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Brian W. Enos and Grant B. Rabenn prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC mobilizes federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.

Defendant charged with alleged participation in the murder and attempted murder of 2 ICE special agents is extradited from Mexico to the United States

WASHINGTON — Julian Zapata Espinoza, also known as "Piolin," has been extradited from Mexico to the United States to face charges for his alleged participation in the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila on Feb. 15, 2011, in Mexico.

The charges and extradition were announced today by ICE Director John Morton; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, Justice Department's Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., District of Columbia; and FBI Assistant Director Kevin Perkins, Criminal Investigative Division.

"The extradition and charges filed against Zapata Espinoza is an important step in bringing Jaime and Victor's alleged shooters to justice," said ICE Director Morton. "All of us at ICE are encouraged by today's action and appreciate the unwavering work and support of all our law enforcement partners in this case. Our hearts and prayers continue to go out to Jaime's family and his close colleagues within the ICE community. ICE will continue to see that Jaime and Victor's work is done by continuing our efforts with all involved in working on this case."

On April 19, 2011, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a four-count indictment against Zapata Espinoza, charging him with one count of murder of an officer or employee of the United States, for the murder of ICE Special Agent Zapata; one count of attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States and one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person, both for the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Avila; and one count of using, carrying, brandishing and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

"Julian Zapata Espinoza ("Piolin") allegedly participated in the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "The indictment unsealed today, and the successful extradition of Piolin to the United States, reflect the Justice Department's vigorous and determined efforts to seek justice for Agents Zapata and Avila. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in Mexico to hold violent criminals accountable."

"This prosecution exemplifies our unwavering effort to prosecute those who committed this heinous offense against U.S. law enforcement agents," said U.S. Attorney Machen. "We will not rest until those responsible for the murder of Agent Zapata and the wounding of Agent Avila are brought to justice."

"The extradition of Julian Zapata Espinoza to face charges in the U.S. is a significant development in the ongoing investigation into the murder of Special Agent Jaime Zapata and attack on Special Agent Victor Avila," said FBI Assistant Director Perkins. "This extradition would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of all involved in this case. The FBI, DHS and the Department of Justice will continue its pursuit of justice for the Zapata family."

The indictment was unsealed today, when Zapata Espinoza made his initial appearance before U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the District of Columbia. Zapata Espinoza was ordered detained without bail. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2012.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, with substantial assistance from ICE; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; and the U.S. Marshals Service. The investigation was also coordinated with the assistance of the Government of Mexico.

The case is being prosecuted by the Organized Crime and Gang Section and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs Section of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. The Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department's Criminal Division provided substantial assistance.

An indictment is a formal charging document and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Final Defendant in UW Horticulture Center Arson Pleads Guilty

Student who Built Fire Bomb, Drove Getaway Car Faces Seven-Year Sentence

The final participant in the 2001 arson of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. JUSTIN SOLONDZ, 32, entered a guilty plea this morning to conspiracy and arson. Under the terms of the plea agreement, both the prosecutors and the defense will recommend a seven-year prison term. Judge Ronald B. Leighton can impose any sentence allowed by law. Judge Leighton scheduled sentencing for March 16, 2012.

“This was a dangerous and cowardly crime. This defendant and his group damaged the environment far more than their activism ever protected it,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “Not only did the UW blaze destroy endangered plants and important research, it posed a very real danger to the firefighters dedicated to fighting it. I commend the agents who tracked Mr. Solondz and brought him to justice.”

According to the plea agreement, SOLONDZ built the firebombs in a “clean room” behind an Olympia residence, transported them to Seattle, and remained in the car as a getaway driver during the arson. The plea agreement details how SOLONDZ left the country in 2005, and when he learned of arrests in the arson case, decided to stay abroad, traveling under a false name. In early 2009, SOLONDZ was arrested by Chinese authorities for manufacturing drugs. He was returned to the United States in July 2011, in the custody of the FBI.

The UW fire bombing was part of a string of 17 arsons across the west by the radical groups the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The arson spree caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. In all, 15 people have been convicted of crimes related to a string of fires across the western United States investigated under “Operation Backfire.” All those connected with the UW arson have been ordered to share in restitution to the University of Washington and the State of Washington totaling $6,092,649.

Three other defendants, Jennifer Kolar, of Seattle, Washington; Lacey Phillabaum, of Spokane, Washington; and Briana Waters, of Oakland, California, have each pleaded guilty to the arson. Kolar was sentenced to a 60-month term of imprisonment for the UW Center for Urban Horticulture and other arsons. Phillabaum was sentenced to a 36-month term of imprisonment. Waters will be sentenced June 22, 2012. Under the terms of her plea agreement, both sides will recommend 48 months in prison. Waters served more than two-and-a-half years in prison following her conviction for the arson in 2008. That conviction was overturned in 2010. Waters entered a guilty plea in June 2011.

In addition to the defendants who have been convicted, the leader of the arson cell, and the fifth participant in the UW Center for Urban Horticulture arson, William C. Rodgers, 40, of Prescott, Arizona, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle in connection with the case. However, Rodgers committed suicide in December 2005, while being held in the Coconino County Jail in Prescott, Arizona.

This case is the result of a 10-year investigation by law enforcement. The Seattle Fire Department battled the blaze. Participating in the extensive investigation were the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Eugene Police Department, the Oregon State Police, the University of Washington Police Department, and other state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Friedman and Thomas Woods.

Three Persons Charged in Child Sexual Exploitation and Interstate Prostitution Case

Michael Malcom, age 55, from Humboldt, Iowa; Ashley Prince, age 21, from Fort Dodge, Iowa; and Nikki Fawcett, age 23, from Fort Dodge, have been charged with child sexual exploitation and other charges. The charges are contained in an indictment unsealed December 19, 2011, in United States District Court in Sioux City.

The indictment alleges that, between 2007 and 2010, Malcom, Prince, and Fawcett employed, used, persuaded, induced, and enticed one or more minors under the age of 18 to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of this conduct. The Indictment alleges that Malcom and Prince conspired to sexually exploit children, and it alleges that Malcom and Fawcett transported persons across a state line, including a person under 18, with the intent that these persons engage in prostitution.

If convicted, Malcom faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison, $1,250,000 in fines, $500 in special assessments, and at least five years and up to life on supervised release following any imprisonment. If convicted, Prince faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 60 years’ imprisonment, $500,000 in fines, $200 in special assessments, and at least five years and up to life on supervised release following any imprisonment. If convicted, Fawcett faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison, $750,000 in fines, $300 in special assessments, and at least five years and up to life on supervised release following any imprisonment.

Malcom, Prince, and Fawcett appeared December 19, 2011, in federal court in Sioux City and were released on bond. Their next appearance for trial is set for February 6, 2012.

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Tremmel and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Fort Dodge Police Department, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fremont, Nebraska, Police Department.

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 United States Attorneys’ 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is CR 11-3057.

Australian Man Sentenced to 22 Months in Prison for Accepting Payment as Reward for Steering $15 Million in U.S.-Funded Contracts in Afghanistan

Defendant Accepted $10,000 and Sought $190,000

WASHINGTON—A former senior construction manager who worked as an agent for an intergovernmental organization was sentenced today to 22 months in prison for seeking $190,000 in payments as a reward for steering U.S.-funded contracts in Afghanistan.

The sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Inspector General Michael G. Carroll; Acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) Steven J Trent, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Neil P. Campbell, 62, of Queensland, Australia, pleaded guilty in October 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of accepting an illegal payment as an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. He was sentenced by the Honorable Rosemary M. Collyer Campbell was originally charged on Aug. 19, 2010. He was arrested in New Delhi, India, in October 2010, and extradited to the United States in February 2011. The defendant will get credit toward his sentence for the time he already served.

Campbell also agreed in his plea to forfeiture of $10,000, which represents the illegal payment he received. Upon completion of his prison term, Campbell will be placed on two years of supervised release.

According to court records, beginning in January 2009, Campbell worked in Afghanistan as a contractor and acted as an agent for the International Organization on Migration (IOM). The IOM has received more than $260 million from USAID since 2002 to construct hospitals, schools and other facilities.

Campbell admitted that in July 2010, while in Afghanistan, he solicited a one-time cash payment of $190,000 from a subcontractor in Afghanistan as a reward for funneling more than $15 million in reconstruction projects to that subcontractor to build a hospital and a provincial teaching college. In August 2010, Campbell met an undercover USAID investigator posing as the subcontractor’s representative and accepted a $10,000 cash payment. Campbell counted the money and requested that the remaining funds come to him in one payment. In October 2010, Campbell traveled to New Delhi, India, where he believed he would be receiving the remaining $180,000. He was arrested at the New Delhi International Airport by agents of the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation.

“This Australian citizen was sentenced to 22 months in prison because of his dishonesty and greed,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Mr. Campbell tried to extract kickbacks while handing out U.S. taxpayer dollars meant to build a hospital and a school in Afghanistan. His prison sentence should serve as a warning to anyone around the world tempted to divert funds from U.S. contracts for personal gain.”

“Mr. Campbell solicited nearly $200,000 in illegal payments in exchange for steering reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “These crimes undermine the good works of our international organizations. We will not permit corruption to be a tool for gaining U.S.-funded contracts in any part of the world, and we will continue the fight to root our fraud and graft wherever we find them.”

“Today’s sentencing serves an example that anyone who abuses their position by engaging in illegal activities while working on projects funded by USAID will be aggressively investigated and held accountable for their actions,” said Acting Inspector General Carroll.

“Mr. Campbell corrupted the process of awarding contracts to build a hospital and a college in a country in desperate need of both. The message of this case is clear: SIGAR and our investigative partners will bring to justice anyone, from any country, who abuses the U.S. reconstruction mission,” Acting Special Inspector General Trent.

“This case is another example that fraud and corruption will not be tolerated, and those responsible for such illegal acts will be held accountable,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “The FBI continues to work with our federal partners to combat corruption and contract fraud against U.S. interests, even if those acts occur on foreign soil.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew C. Solomon of the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Ryan S. Faulconer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Substantial assistance was provided by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Vasu B. Muthyala, the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché and the Judicial Attaché Office in Kabul. The case is being investigated by the USAID Office of Inspector General, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI’s Washington Field Office and members of the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).

The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Charged in Cleveland for Assaulting Practitioners of the Amish Religion

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that a federal grand jury in Cleveland returned a seven-count indictment charging 10 men and two women, all residents of Ohio, with federal crimes arising out of a series of religiously-motivated assaults on practitioners of the Amish religion.   The indictment addresses five separate assaults that occurred between September through November 2011.   In each assault, defendants forcibly removed beard and head hair from the victims with whom they had ongoing religious disputes.   As set forth in the indictment, the manner in which Amish men wear their beards and Amish women wear their hair are symbols of their faith.

 “Every American has the right to worship in the manner of his or her choosing without fear of violent interference,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez.   “The Civil Rights Division will aggressively investigate allegations of religiously motivated violence.”

 “For nearly 500 years, people have come to this land so that they could pray however and to whomever they wished,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven M. Dettelbach.   “Violent attempts to attack this most basic freedom have no place in our country.”          

 “One of our most fundamental rights is freedom of religion,” said Stephen Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI – Cleveland Field Office.   “The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to protecting this fundamental right against those who would use violence and intimidation to attack it.”

The indictment charges Samuel Mullet Sr., Johnny S. Mullet, Daniel S. Mullet, Levi F. Miller, Eli M. Miller, Emanuel Shrock, Lester Miller, Raymond Miller, Freeman Burkholder, Anna Miller and Linda Shrock with conspiracy to violate the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person, and Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1512, which prohibits obstruction of justice, including witness tampering and the destruction or concealment of evidence.    The indictment also charges various groups of defendants with each separate assault, and charges Samuel Mullet Sr., Lester Mullet, Levi Miller and Lester Miller with concealing or attempting to conceal various items of tangible evidence, including a camera, photographs and an over-the-counter medication that was allegedly placed in the drink of one of the assault victims.  

According to the indictment, Samuel Mullet Sr. is the Bishop of the Amish community in Bergholz, Ohio, while the remaining defendants are all members of that community.   Mullet Sr. exerted control over the Bergholz community by taking the wives of other men into his home, and by overseeing various means of disciplining community members, including corporal punishment.   As a result of religious disputes with other members of the Ohio Amish community, the defendants planned and carried out a series of assaults on their perceived religious enemies.   The assaults involved the use of hired drivers, either by the defendants or the alleged victims, because practitioners of the Amish religion do not operate motor vehicles.   The assaults all entailed using scissors and battery-powered clippers to forcibly cut or shave the beard hair of the male victims and the head hair of the female victims.   During each assault, the defendants restrained and held down the victims.   During some of the assaults, the defendants injured individuals who attempted to intervene to protect or rescue the victims.   Following the attacks, some of the defendants participated in discussions about concealing photographs and other evidence of the assaults.

The maximum potential penalty for the conspiracy count is five years in prison.   The maximum penalty for the hate crime charges is life in prison.   The maximum penalty for the obstruction charge is 20 years in prison.   

This case is being investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Getz and Bridget M. Brennan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and Deputy Chief Kristy Parker of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.  

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation.   All defendants are presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.