Saturday, June 29, 2013

Texas Top 10 Fugitive Arrested

U.S. Marshals led-Fugitive Task Force arrests El Paso native in California

El Paso, TX - Rico Torres, 33, of El Paso, Texas, was arrested today by the U.S. Marshals led-Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force in Corona, California without incident. The El Paso based Lone Star Fugitive Task Force in conjunction with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Criminal Investigation Division, were tipped to Torres’s location anonymously leading Texas investigators to collaborate with their California counterparts.

The Texas task force determined through the course of their local investigation that Torres was using an assumed name of a prisoner presently serving a sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The tip indicated that Torres was currently located in a home in the 2100 block of Garretson Circle in Corona, located southeast of Los Angeles.

Torres was charged by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in 2011 based on allegations that Torres manufactured and delivered controlled substances. In 2012, the Texas Department of Public Safety added Torres as a Texas Top 10 Most Wanted fugitive. A reward of up to $10,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest of Torres, a documented gang member with an extensive violent criminal history.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force is currently conducting a separate investigation to determine if family or associates of Torres may have assisted Torres to elude apprehension and evade law enforcement.

Torres will remain in detention in Riverside County, California pending his extradition to Texas.

Robert Almonte, the United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, states “The task force is grateful for the valuable assistance provided by the public in an effort to arrest one of the Texas Most Wanted. We all have a stake in removing fugitives from our communities to prevent potential crime.”

Members of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force:

    El Paso Police Department
    El Paso Sheriff’s Office
    Homeland Security Investigations
    Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    United States Border Patrol
    Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Office of the Inspector General
    Texas Department of Public Safety
    El Paso District Attorney’s Office
    United States Marshals Service.

International Ecstasy Smuggler Suspect Arrested in the Netherlands, Extradited to Puerto Rico

Juan, PR - The U.S. Marshals Service led Puerto Rico Violent Offenders Fugitive Task Force extradited Julio Rosario-Laccen on Saturday to Puerto Rico from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Rosario-Laccen was arrested by the Dutch Police pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant for allegedly conspiring with others to possess with the intent to distribute, thousands of high-grade pills containing a detectible amount of Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as MDMA or Ecstasy.

After an extensive undercover operation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration multiple transactions were coordinated that included illicit Ecstasy narcotic sales to Puerto Rico. It is alleged this international Ecstasy operation was organized with a clandestine production laboratory that also supplied other buyers in adjacent European countries.

A U.S. Magistrate Judge in the district of Puerto Rico issued the official arrest warrant for Rosario-Laccen
after a federal grand jury issued a criminal indictment against him in June 2012. In conjunction with the Dutch and St. Maarten officials, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Marshals Service escorted Rosario-Laccen to Puerto Rico without incident.

Rosario-Laccen was transported to the Bureau of Prisons Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo
pending trial and further proceedings.

"This was a substantial capture of an alleged international narcotics smuggler. The cooperative and collaborative efforts of federal and international law enforcement agencies, facilitates the capture of international criminals that continue the attempt to spread the epidemic of illicit narcotics in our communities and internationally," said Orlando Rivera, U.S. Marshal for the District of Puerto Rico.

Friday, June 21, 2013

U.S. Marshals Task Force Apprehends Wanted Santa Rosa Fugitives

Milton, FL – The U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force caught up with two Santa Rosa County men, one who is wanted on several weapons charges. Christopher Stephen Ray Cassity was captured in a home he was renting in Milton at about 6:30 a.m. U.S. Marshals and Task Force Officers from Santa Rosa, Escambia and Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office, as well as patrol units from Santa Rosa and Milton Police Department knocked on the front door of the home on the 5800 Block of Stewart Street and called to Cassity to come out. Three other unidentified men exited the house and were detained before Cassity was finally placed under arrest. Cassity is wanted by the Milton Police Department for a warrant that includes Felon in Possession of a Gun or Ammo and Shooting a Missile Into a Dwelling, both felonies. Cassity also had three other misdemeanor charges all related to gun offenses. Cassity was arrested peacefully and is in Santa Rosa County jail being held without bond.

A short while later around 10 a.m., the Task Force apprehended 19 year-old Camrin Zan Bass also from Milton while he worked on a work crew clearing roadside debris in Blackwater State Park. Bass was arrested without incident alongside the road located near to a residence at 11266 Bob Pitts Road. Bass is currently out on bond and being monitored by the Sheriff’s Office pending charges for stabbing a man then pushing him into a fire earlier this year. The Task Force arrested on Santa Rosa warrants for felony charges relating to Burglary, Larceny and Dealing in Stolen Property. Bass was also brought to Santa Rosa County Jail and is being held on a $20,000 bond.

Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Nomination of Jim Comey as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Attorney General Eric Holder today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s nomination of Jim Comey to be Director of the FBI:

“As an extraordinarily dedicated public servant, a talented national security and law enforcement executive, and a principled leader with extensive experience in government and the private sector, Jim Comey is uniquely qualified to serve as the next Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I’ve known Jim for almost 20 years, and have always found him to be a person willing to try new methods and innovative tools – while adhering to our most treasured values – in keeping the American people safe.  He is a seasoned prosecutor – and former United States Attorney – whose impeccable judgment has set him apart from his peers.  He is a proven leader – and former Deputy Attorney General – whose formidable intellect, indisputable integrity, and unwavering dedication to the rule of law will undoubtedly serve him well as FBI Director.

"Above all, Jim is, and has always been, a faithful servant of the American people.  I am confident that he will be a superb FBI Director, providing the strong and steady leadership that the Bureau’s extraordinary men and women deserve.  I applaud the President’s decision to nominate Jim Comey and I look forward to working closely with him, upon his confirmation, to continue protecting the American people from financial fraud, violent crime and terrorism.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Four Kentucky Individuals Sentenced for Roles in Kidapping and Assaulting a Harlan County Man

Four Harlan County, Ky., relatives were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove for their roles in kidnapping and assaulting Kevin Pennington, a gay man.  David Jason Jenkins, known as Jason, 39, received 30 years in prison, Anthony Ray Jenkins, 22, 17 years in prison, Mable Ashley Jenkins, known as Ashley, 20, 100 months in prison and Alexis LeeAnn Jenkins, 20, 8 years in prison. 

In October 2012, a federal jury in London, Ky., convicted Jason Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins of kidnapping and conspiracy charges related to the April 4, 2011 assault of Pennington.  The jury acquitted the men of violating the sexual orientation provision of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  Testimony at trial established that the two men, who are cousins, carried out the crime with help from their relatives - Ashley Jenkins and Alexis Jenkins, who both pleaded guilty prior to trial to aiding and abetting kidnapping and aiding and abetting the hate crime assault against Pennington.  Both women testified against the defendants.  The women’s guilty pleas to federal hate crime charges constituted the first federal convictions in the nation under the sexual orientation provision of the Matthew Shepard James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The evidence at trial established that the four relatives planned in advance of the assault to kidnap Pennington, take him to a remote location and beat him to death.  After luring Pennington by false pretenses into a truck driven by Anthony Jenkins, the group drove Pennington up a deserted mountain road into Kingdom Come State Park, where they dragged Pennington into the road and beat him.  

The evidence also established that Pennington escaped while the two men were searching in the back of the truck for a tire iron to use to kill Pennington.  Pennington ran off the road and threw himself over a ledge, where he hid behind a rock until the group finally gave up searching for him and drove away.  Pennington staggered part-way down the mountain, where he found a ranger shack, broke a window and called 911.  

Ashley and Alexis Jenkins both testified that they and the men had agreed in advance to lure Pennington into the truck, drive him to a deserted area and beat him because of his sexual orientation.   The women also testified that during the beating, they all used anti-gay slurs and that the group intended to kill Pennington.
 “As the court’s sentence shows, this was a vicious criminal act.  The Department of Justice will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to vindicate the rights of victims of violent crimes,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division.  “The Department will also continue to use the Shepard Byrd Act to vigorously investigate hate crimes allegations and work with our state and local law enforcement partners in their efforts to identify these crimes.”

“Justice imposes a heavy price on those who engage in the sort of gratuitous violence that led to this prosecution,” said Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.  “The defendants’ crimes were brutal and cruel.  They fully deserve the sentences delivered by the Court. The message is clear-our society will not tolerate such horrific conduct. The team of dedicated professionals who investigated and successfully prosecuted this case are to be congratulated for their fine work. We also thank our state and local partners who played an important role in achieving a just result in this matter.”

“We are pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved and that justice has been done,” said Perrye K. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Kentucky.  “We feel the length of the sentences sufficiently reflects the seriousness of these violent acts”

This case was investigated by Special Agents Anthony Sankey and Mike Brown with the FBI and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Angie Cha from the Civil Rights Division.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Dangerous U.S. Marshal's 'Fugitive of the Week' Arrested

Concord, NH – This afternoon, “Fugitive of the Week” Shaun Springer, 28, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force after he was observed by surveillance teams on Sachem Street in Lynn, Massachusetts. Springer was last known to live in Portsmouth, NH, but had fled after learning that a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Portsmouth Police Department on April 7, 2013.

Springer was wanted on outstanding arrest warrants for 2nd degree assault by strangulation issued by the Portsmouth Police Department, along with an arrest warrant issued by the Lynn, Mass. Police Department for assault with intent to murder with a firearm. The Portsmouth Police Department requested the assistance of the U.S. Marshals to locate and arrest Springer. Based on the serious nature of these charges, the fugitive task force made Springer one of their top priorities.

As part of this investigation, Springer was aired as the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force’s weekly feature known as the “Fugitive of the Week” on May 23, 2013. The “Fugitive of the Week” is broadcast on WTPL-FM, WMUR-TV, the Union Leader, the Nashua Telegraph and is prominently featured on the internet. In this particular investigation, the distribution of the “Fugitive of the Week” was greatly expanded to the entire New England region in an effort to get more of the public’s assistance.

Several times during this investigation, we heard from family members, friend and associates that Springer was going to surrender. Springer never did surrender and the search intensified, which ultimately led members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Massachusetts to the area of Sachem Street in Lynn this afternoon. After a period of surveillance, Springer was seen leaving a residence and walking down the street when investigators moved in and made the arrest. Although Springer was unarmed, he was found to be in possession of both heroin and marijuana which will be charged by the Lynn Police Department.

Springer was turned over to the Lynn Police Department on their outstanding arrest warrant for assault with intent to murder with a firearm, as well as the new drug charges. In addition to the Massachusetts warrant, Springer will be charged with being a fugitive from justice on the outstanding N.H. warrant for 2nd degree assault by strangulation. Springer will be held by the Lynn Police Department pending his initial court appearance and eventual return to NH after he clears up his criminal matters in Massachusetts.

U.S. Marshal David Cargill, Jr. said “Another dangerous fugitive was taken off the street today by the U.S. Marshals.” Cargill continued, “I am extremely proud of all of the members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in both Massachusetts and here in NH, without their drive and dedication arrests like these would not be possible.”

Since the inception of the New Hampshire Joint Fugitive Task Force in 2002, these partnerships have resulted in over 5,370 arrests. These arrests have ranged in seriousness from murder, assault, unregistered sex offenders, probation and parole violations and numerous other serious offenses. Nationally the United States Marshals Service fugitive programs are carried out with local law enforcement in 94 district offices, 85 local fugitive task forces, 7 regional task forces, as well as a growing network of offices in foreign countries.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Official Explains Tuition Assistance Quality Assurance Program

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 – To increase stewardship and optimize service members’ educational experiences, Defense Department officials have developed a multifaceted quality assurance program to improve tuition assistance, the assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management said on Capitol Hill today.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, Frederick E. Vollrath said new policies will mandate that all participating institutions sign a memorandum of understanding requiring them to adhere to specific principles of excellence.

“This will help end fraudulent recruitment on our military installations … address other predatory practices by bad academic actors and provide students with personalized, standardized forms outlining costs, financial aid and outcome measures,” Vollrath said.

The memorandum also requires that military students have access to a streamlined tool to compare educational institutions using key measures of affordability and value through the Veterans Affairs Department’s E-benefits portal.

Vollrath told the panel that 3,100 institutions and more than 1,050 subcampuses have signed the memorandum of understanding. He also reported that DOD is part of an interagency team that is finalizing the development and implementation of a centralized complaint system to resolve concerns raised by students receiving tuition assistance.

The departments of Veterans Affairs, Education, Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have access to all complaints as they work to resolve issues, he added.

“Underpinning this effort is the requirement that all post-secondary education participating in the Tuition Assistance Program must be accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,” Vollrath said.

Meanwhile, he said, the Defense Department will continue to provide lifelong learning opportunities through off-duty, voluntary education programs, noting that each year, a third of service members enroll in post-secondary education courses leading to associate’s, bachelor’s and advanced degrees. In fiscal year 2012, more than 286,000 service members enrolled in nearly 875,000 courses, Vollrath reported, and more than 50,000 service members earned degrees or certifications.

“All service members enrolled in the voluntary education programs are nontraditional students, in that they attend school part-time while they are off duty, taking, on average, only three courses per year,” Vollrath said. But military missions, deployments and transfers frequently impinge on the troops’ ability to continue their education, he noted, adding that this often results in breaks of months or, in some cases, years between service members taking courses and completing their degrees.

With that in mind, colleges and universities are delivering more classroom instruction online as well as on military installations around the world, Vollrath added.

“There are no geographical confines,” he said. “Courses are offered aboard ships, submarines and at deployed locations such as Afghanistan -- this is the kind of instruction our service members want.”
Vollrath also said more than 76 percent of the courses taken last year were delivered through distance learning. Still, he stressed, the rigors of military service will not relax strict requirements in place for participating service members.

“Prior to enrolling in courses using tuition assistance, service members must establish an educational goal and a degree plan,” he said. An educational counselor must review tuition assistance requests outlined in the approved degree plan. Service members who either fail or do not complete the course must reimburse the Defense Department for tuition assistance received for that course.

“Service members failing to maintain a 2.0 undergraduate grade-point average or a 3.0 graduate GPA must pay for all courses until they raise their GPA sufficiently,” Vollrath explained. “Our voluntary education program is a key component of the recruitment, readiness and retention of the total force, an all-volunteer force.”

To further illustrate the value of the education program, Vollrath cited an example of retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Eric Combs, who entered the military with a general education development certificate before earning his Community College of the Air Force and bachelor’s degrees with tuition assistance while on active duty. After retirement, he went on to earn his master’s degree in education in 2005.

Upon his retirement, he participated in the Troops to Teachers program and earned acclaim with his selection as the Ohio Teacher of the Year in 2006. He now serves as a principal in the public school system.

“The skills he learned and the education he received while serving in the Air Force ultimately benefited him, the Air Force and the nation,” Vollrath said.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Former Hertford County, N.C., Chief Deputy Pleads Guilty for Assault on Inmate

The Justice Department announced today that Timothy Lassiter, the former chief deputy of the Hertford County, N.C., Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Elizabeth City, N.C., to violating the civil rights of an inmate during a court appearance.

According to information presented to the court, on June 12, 2012, the inmate created a verbal disturbance during a court appearance.  After removing the inmate from the courtroom, Lassiter repeatedly and unjustifiably punched the inmate in his face and body at a time when the inmate was handcuffed and posed no threat to law enforcement.  The inmate was injured as a result of the assault.

“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice works to ensure that no law enforcement officer abuses his power to assault a person in his custody,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Roy L. Austin Jr.  “This assault by a sheriff’s deputy which started in a courtroom – the very place where the constitutional rights of all Americans, including those accused of crimes, are applied and enforced on a daily basis.  This plea demonstrates that the department will vigorously defend the integrity of our legal system.”
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Thomas G. Walker stated, “This deputy’s deliberate abuse of authority undermines the efforts of the vast majority of law enforcement officers who honor their oath to uphold the law.”

“Every citizen has the right to expect law enforcement officers to act legally and in accordance with the Constitution.  Former Chief Deputy Timothy Lassiter's actions were inexcusable.  The charges against him should serve as a reminder that no one is above the law,” said John Strong, the Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.

Lassiter pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.  He faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.  A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 9, 2013.
This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Betsy Biffl and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Toby Lathan.