Tuesday, September 24, 2013

El Salvadorian National Convicted for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender and Unlawful Reentry

Alexandria, VA – Nelson Anibal Alas Carabantes, 38, was sentenced to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for unlawful reentry into the United States after being deported and after having been convicted of an aggravated felony. Alas Carabantes will also serve 10 years of supervised release for failure to register as a sex offender.

M. Yvonne Evans, Field Office Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Washington Field Office, and Robert Mathieson, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia (E/VA), made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Liam O’Grady.

Field Office Director Evans stated, “ICE will continue to use immigration enforcement to target recidivist offenders and abusers of our immigration system. Our commitment to partnerships with other law enforcement agencies targeting these individuals only serves to strengthen our efforts.” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for E/VA John O. Bolen exclaimed, “This is yet another fine example of the absolute commitment the U.S. Marshals Service has in working jointly to protect our communities from sexual predators.”

Alas Carabantes pleaded guilty to both counts on June 12. According to court documents, Alas Carabantes is a native and citizen of El Salvador who unlawfully entered the United States after being ordered removed as an aggravated felon. In 1994, Alas Carabantes was convicted in the Circuit Court of Pinellas County, Florida for lewd, lascivious acts with a child under the age of 16 and was required to register as a violent sex offender. Law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals, ICE, and law enforcement investigators in Texas, Florida, and Virginia helped capture Alas Carabantes after a six month manhunt. Alas Carabantes was also previously convicted for throwing a deadly missile, and assault and battery. Alas Carabantes was also convicted in El Salvador for illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to three years.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Marshals Service and ICE ERO.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dominican National Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison in Puerto Rican Identity Trafficking Scheme

A Dominican national was sentenced today to serve 42 months in prison for her role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Rosa E. Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico; Acting Director John Sandweg of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); Director Gregory B. Starr of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS); and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Chief Richard Weber.
Arelis Abreu-Ramos, formerly of Philadelphia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí in the District of Puerto Rico.  In addition to Abreu-Ramos’s prison term, Judge Gelpí ordered her removal from the United States to the Dominican Republic after the completion of her sentence. 
On June 13, 2013, Abreu-Ramos pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit human smuggling for financial gain.
Abreu-Ramos was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2012.  To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 42 defendants have pleaded guilty.
Court documents allege that individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico (Savarona suppliers), obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents.  Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States (identity brokers) allegedly solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set.  The superseding indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from the Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls.  The conspirators are charged with using text messages, money transfer services, and express, priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.
Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation.  Their customers generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses.  Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.
According to court documents, various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, Ill.; DeKalb, Ill.; Aurora, Ill.; Seymour, Ind.; Columbus, Ind.; Indianapolis; Hartford, Conn.; Clewiston, Fla.; Lilburn, Ga.; Norcross, Ga.; Salisbury, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Salem, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Burlington, N.C.; Hickory, N.C.; Hazelton, Pa.; Philadelphia; Houston; Abingdon, Va.; Albertville, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.
Abreu-Ramos admitted that she operated as an identity broker in the Philadelphia area, and that she was a manager and supervisor in the conspiracy.  According to court documents, in June 2011, an unauthorized alien in Arlington, Va., applied for a U.S. passport using legitimate Puerto Rico identity documents that had been supplied by Abreu-Ramos.  Law enforcement agents uncovered the fraudulent application and prevented the issuance of the U.S. passport. 
Abreu-Ramos is the 29th defendant to be sentenced in this case.
The charges are the result of Operation Island Express, an ongoing, nationally-coordinated investigation led by the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Chicago Office and USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices in Chicago, in coordination with the ICE-HSI San Juan Office and the DSS Resident Office in Puerto Rico.  The Illinois Secretary of State Police; Elgin, Ill., Police Department; Seymour, Ind., Police Department; and Indiana State Police provided substantial assistance.  The ICE-HSI Assistant Attaché office in the Dominican Republic and International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2) as well as various ICE, USPIS, DSS and IRS-CI offices around the country provided invaluable support.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys James S. Yoon, Hope S. Olds, Courtney B. Schaefer and Christina Giffin of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, with the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, and the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.  The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana, District of Connecticut, District of Massachusetts, District of Nebraska, Middle District of North Carolina, Southern District of Ohio, Middle District of Pennsylvania, District of Rhode Island, Southern District of Texas and Western District of Virginia provided substantial assistance.
Potential victims and the public may obtain information about the case at: www.justice.gov/criminal/vns/caseup/beltrerj.html .  Anyone who believes their identity may have been compromised in relation to this investigation may contact the ICE toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) and its online tip form at www.ice.gov/tipline .  Anyone who may have information about particular crimes in this case should also report it to the ICE tip line or website.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New York Army National Guard aviation unit helps stop drugs

By Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
New York Air National Guard
Click photo for screen-resolution image
RENSSELAER, N.Y. (9/16/13) - Counterdrug Soldiers with New York Army National Guard's Detachment 2, A-Company, 1-224th Aviation Security & Support Battalion are helping New York State fight illicit drugs, and with harvest season here, the search for marijuana plants is in full gear.

The unit, based in Latham, flies the UH-72A Lakota, supporting Counterdrug's mission and local law enforcement agencies in keeping drugs off the streets in New York State.

"The aircraft seats about five people in the back," said a pilot with the unit. "It also has a great open cockpit and cabin so aerial reconnaissance is very easy in this aircraft because of the good panoramic view that we have."

The helicopter is also equipped with forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras, giving pilots the ability to see clearly in both day and night, as well as a search light capable of lighting up a football field.
"We support local law enforcement, whether it be local sheriffs, the Drug Enforcement Administration, state police ... any type of law enforcement agency that gives a request through the Counterdrug office, we can support for a number of things."

While the unit has the ability to support local law enforcement agencies with just about any kind of aerial reconnaissance missions, its primary mission during harvest season is eradication.

"This is when you can really start to see the plants," said the pilot. "We'll pick up a law enforcement agent (LEA) and bring them up in their respective jurisdiction areas. We go around to either points they are familiar with or points they have gotten tips from, and we basically just look on the ground for marijuana."

With the aircraft's camera capabilities, they can zoom in on a plant to see exactly what it is, and the infrared capability also helps to spot marijuana plants.

"If we see it, we either mark it for eradication at a later time or we talk to (law enforcement agents) on the ground and lead them to where it is. (The LEAs) will then pull it and destroy it."

While the crews may not find what they're looking for during some missions, other missions make up for that. One day a mission could produce nothing, and the very next day, the crew will find exactly what they've been looking for and sometimes more.

"A lot of people are moving their plants inside," said another pilot. "But when we do find fields of marijuana, just like that, someone's annual income is gone."

The support the aviation unit has given law enforcement hasn't gone unnoticed.

"They really appreciate us coming out to aid in their role to keep their counties clean," said the pilot. "We're helping them keep drugs off the street and out of schools, and they love when we are able to come out. It's a very good relationship."

Aviation is just one of Counterdrug's many programs to keep drugs off the street. According to the National Guard Bureau's Counterdrug Web site, aircrews, using both fixed-wing and rotary-wing assets, have supported law enforcement Counterdrug operations nationwide with aerial observation, photo imagery, full motion video and interagency communications since 1991.

As of Aug. 23, New York Counterdrug Task Force as a whole has supported in the seizure of more than 8,300 pounds of drugs over the fiscal year. Drugs seized include cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine. Of that, 3,036 pounds of cultivated marijuana was destroyed with Counterdrug's help, with a street value of more than $12.5 million.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

U.S. Marshals Task Force Captures Murder Suspect

Gainesville, FL - The U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force (FRFTF) apprehended Larry Whitehead Jr. Sunday morning in Hampton, Virginia after a two month investigation that spanned three separate states. Whitehead was wanted on an outstanding Alachua County arrest warrant charging him with first-degree murder, armed burglary, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon which was issued after Whitehead was identified by Gainesville Police as the person responsible for the shooting death of a man at Southern Pines Apartments in southwest Gainesville on 7/14/2013. Whitehead fled from the scene after the murder leaving his whereabouts unknown.

The search for Whitehead was immediately submitted to the FRFTF by Task Force members at the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and shortly after was deemed a Major Case investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service, making Whitehead's capture a high priority. Using the U.S. Marshals' nationwide network of fugitive investigators, FRFTF members in Gainesville directed the investigation to Virginia, New York and then back to Virginia where Whitehead was ultimately captured this morning at a house in Hampton.

During the course of the investigation, FRFTF members in Gainesville worked with Task Force members from the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force in Virginia and the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force in New York and developed information which caused the search to extend to Long Island, New York. Last week, U.S. Marshals confirmed Whitehead was in New York after locating an air mattress and clothes belonging to Whitehead in an attic of a house where Whitehead had been hiding. Task Force members in Gainesville suspected Whitehead would attempt to return to Virginia and began focusing on key locations there as well as various modes of transportation between New York and Virginia including buses.

This morning, Task Force members in Gainesville developed information that Whitehead had returned to Virginia late last night and was now possibly hiding at a house in Hampton. Task Force members in Gainesville immediately began coordinating with Task Force members in Virginia who initiated surveillance at this house. Task Force members located Whitehead inside the house a short time later and placed him under arrest. Whitehead was booked into the Hampton City Jail with no bond.

U.S. Marshal Ed Spooner of the Northern District of Florida stated that the arrest of Larry Whitehead highlights the great cooperation between the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force and local law enforcement agencies, including the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, to track down and apprehend fugitives wanted for violent crimes. U.S. Marshal Spooner also noted the outstanding work by the three Task Forces in Florida, Virginia, and New York.

Greensboro Marshals Arrest Hit and Run Suspect

Pilot Mountain, NC – This morning at 10:25 AM, Candy Renee Maynor, a 27 year old white female was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force (JFTF). Maynor was wanted by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for Felony Hit and Run Causing Serious Bodily Injury. This warrant stemmed from a hit and run collision that occurred on August 28th off of NC Highway 89 near Mt. Airy. It’s alleged that Maynor was traveling east on NC Highway 89 and crossed the center line colliding with a motorcycle. The motorcycle rolled over ejecting the driver and the passenger. Both occupants of the motorcycle were seriously injured and were transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem. Maynor was later identified after abandoning her vehicle. The current status of both victims is unknown.

Members of the JFTF located Maynor at 438 Cook Road and placed her in custody. Maynor was transported to the Surry County Detention Center and was given a $5000.00 bond.

The U.S. Marshals Joint Fugitive Task Force for the Middle District of North Carolina is comprised of investigators from the U.S. Marshals Service, Chapel Hill Police Department, Durham Police Department, Greensboro Police Department, High Point Police Department, Winston Salem Police Department, Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Probation and Parole Division and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My educational journey: What drives me

by Senior Airman Duquann Hinton

9/10/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -Michael Jordan

"The best revenge is massive success." -Frank Sinatra

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." -Theodore Roosevelt

"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile." -Roger Staubach

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." -Henry Ford

A little over a decade ago, I officially dropped out of high school; however, I became disengaged well before then. In fact, I stopped regular attendance in school after my first year in junior high school. I grew to believe that the streets were the only education I needed and would have preferred standing on the corner getting intoxicated to studying for a mid-term. I was in a situation with no windows, a situation with no alternative views that I was willing to endorse ... and I was having fun. I was a misfit amongst a group of misfits and we became family; brothers and sisters in a struggle in which (un)silent resistance was the median through which we affirmed and made known our collective voice; through the joys, understandings, and pleasures of friendship and the shared revolt against our parents and society as a whole.

My educational motivation began with a minute spark, a desire to change my life after realizing that my lifestyle, at that time, was creating a pattern that would eventuate in my demise. I decided that I wanted to live -- that I wanted to ensure that my future children, if I decided to have some, would not have to inherit artifacts of my bad decisions. Initially, I wanted to join the military. Although I did not know anyone in any of the branches, I had a general sense of what the military was. There was something about the structure, culture and traditions of the military that spoke to my soul. However, my mother and the rest of my family were strongly against such an idea. Therefore, guided by my mother and an educational counselor, I acquired a General Education Diploma and enrolled into college. After getting accepted into the Forensic Psychology bachelor's degree program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I began my first day of college just to realize that things were moving a bit too fast in the classroom. My years out of school had finally caught up with me. The professors used words that I was not familiar with and it seemed as if I was the only student who was not "getting it." My initial decision was to go home and never come back because college was too hard. However, I was fortunate enough to have been a part of the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (SEEK) program. SEEK is an initiative whose purpose is to provide comprehensive academic support to assist capable students who otherwise might not be able to attend college due to their educational and financial circumstances.

During their first year of College, all SEEK students are mandated to attend a couple of hours of tutoring every week. I can recall spending hours in the tutoring lab daily in efforts to get ahold of the various concepts that were explored in each class with my favorite tutor Paul, who was my preferred tutor because he made incessant efforts to stretch his students beyond their intellectual comfort zones. My family and friends also made the task of adjusting to college easier for me. At this point in time, I had developed a very strong, close relationship with my mother. Apart from financially backing me, she supported every academic decision I made and even helped me make a few. My mother would come to every ceremony, induction and speaking engagement that I had. I had an intelligent, beautiful and sweet girlfriend (my first real one), Sutana Riley, who attended York College. I can recall sitting up late hours with Sutana at her mother's house, taking turns typing out papers of mine that I had written by hand because I typed too slow. She would also help me with my history homework. I would eventually marry Sutana. To date, we have been married a little over three years. During midterms and finals, my mother, girlfriend and older sister would listen to me read all of my papers. Oftentimes, my sister would take my writings outside with her to read to her friends.

At this point, I was doing exceptionally well. However, to a certain extent I still did not feel as if I "belonged" in an academic community. After years in the street, I was accustomed to interacting with other people in a particular manner. For example, someone who is too friendly or open can easily become a victim in the street. To survive, one had to be tough, laugh and smile little, and be as unapproachable as possible. This coping mechanism transferred over to my early undergraduate career. Therefore, my interactions with faculty and other students were minimal at best. Again, this is where SEEK came in to the rescue. In the John Jay SEEK department, every student gets a counselor whom they are supposed to meet with regularly. Of course I was wary about doing this; however, my counselor, Dr. Erica King-Toler, was determined that I follow this requirement. In fact, she would literally chase me down in the hallways, asking me why I had neglected to come by her office. I would always come up with an excuse until the day that I ran out of excuses and she guided me to her office to talk. In many ways, those talks in her office humanized the college experience for me, dismantling many of the fantasies, myths and falsities that I held about academia in general, and what an academic looked like (socially, physically and psychologically) in particular.

With the help of Paul, SEEK and my family, in a few years' time, I transformed from an uncertain college student who was well under the curve into one of John Jay College's finest. In fact, by the end of my third year, I was 21 and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, a Chi Alpha Epsilon member, and I had been on the Dean's List for two consecutive years. I had (and still have) a number of mentors whose guidance and advice was/is invaluable (I love you all--Dr. Kinshasa, Dr. Toler, Dr. Alford, Dr. Lee, Dr. Adams ...). I had received an assortment of other honors, awards and scholarships. I had addressed audiences of youth at numerous venues, speaking to the power, vitality and viability of gaining an education, sharing my "story" and map to college. In addition, I had presented original research at a number of academic conferences. I had grown into a devoted, emerging scholar. In fact, I applied to and was accepted into a couple of doctoral programs. Ultimately, I decided to attend the Social Personality Psychology program at the Graduate Center, CUNY and I remained there for the next two and a half years.

During my first two years in this doctoral program, I went on about my academic career with the same dedication and tenacity that I had grown to implement during my time at John Jay College. However, guided largely by Audre Lorde, a feminist writer who once wrote "if I didn't define myself for myself I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive," I began to evaluate my life and realized that I was unhappy and unfulfilled. My mentors all had fantasies for me to become an academic and I shared (and still do) their dreams in this respect. However, we diverged in terms of the contexts in which I would actualize this sort of accomplishment. I wanted to be a part of the military and my mentors wanted me to remain a civilian. Up to this point, I was accomplishing all of the achievements that they wanted for me to the exclusion of one of my strong desires. After a while, however, I ultimately decided to pursue my dream of using my talents in service to my country and have not looked back since.

Upon my arrival here at Tinker AFB, after basic military training and technical school, I immediately began to garner all of the information that I needed to go back to school. With the help of my supervision and the education center, I completed my CDCs in half of the allotted time, completed the requirements for my CCAF and completed a master's degree in Human Relations at the University of Oklahoma with a 4.0 GPA. I have done all of these things during the two and a half years that I have been in the Air Force. Part of what drives me to push so hard at such a rapid speed is that I am always thinking about where I would have been had I joined the military sooner. However, I have no regrets. I have made countless mistakes. I have said the wrong things, been in the wrong places, and done the wrong things at the wrong times. I have not always received every award or scholarship that I have competed for. I have received a few unsatisfactory grades. I would not change anything, though. My life experiences, the good and the bad, have all come together to make me who I am today. Furthermore, it is these life experiences that energize me.

It is always tough and anxiety-provoking for me to describe what it is that drives me to pursue education with the tenacity and drive that I employ. Considering the whimsical unpredictability of life, with all of its twists and turns, at times, it is hard to step back and reflect about what it is that compels me. It is imperative, however, for me to do so because it forces me to remember my roots and my initial purposes; all of which are at once humbling and pride-invoking.

Sexual assault earns Airman demotion, discharge, brig sentence

by Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/10/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Airman Basic Alexander Rowe, 726th Air Control Squadron, was found guilty of forcible sodomy Aug. 16.

After a three-day court martial, Rowe was sentenced to two years confinement, demotion to E-1, a dishonorable discharge with forfeiture of all pay and allowances. He is being transferred to Naval consolidated brig, Miramar, Calif.

"On March 10th, Rowe was in a hotel room with several other Airmen who he had provided alcohol to," said Capt. Andrea Hunwick, 366th Judge advocate chief of installation law and prosecutor for the case. "The victim was an Airman 1st Class who drank excessively to the point of throwing up on himself, passing out in the shower and falling asleep in his own vomit. When he woke up the next morning, he was (being sexually assaulted)."

In the eyes of the legal system, minimal physical force is required to be considered forcible sodomy if the victim is under the influence, Hunwick said.

"By law, if someone is intoxicated the only force necessary to complete the offense is the force necessary to overcome their will," Hunwick said.

Upon thoroughly researching the case, prosecutors discovered the defendant's sexual assault history.

"We found a victim in 2008 who had alleged sex assault against Rowe, but the case really didn't go anywhere because the victim was discharged for using marijuana," Hunwick said. "So, the investigation was essentially dropped."

Uncovering the alleged victim from 2008 proved to be an essential piece to the case, in more ways than one.

"It was very beneficial finding this individual because it showed a pattern in Rowe's behavior, and provided the original victim a sense of closure," said Capt. Jeanhei Dabbagh, 366th JA chief of military justice. "I really think justice was served in this case."

For those involved in a trial like this, the serious impact sexual crimes have on the victims is evident.

"It's especially stressful preparing for these trials because these cases affect real people," said Hunwick. "This current victim was very much affected by what happened to him, he wants to get out of the Air Force and has needed to receive therapy. You want to make sure they get the justice they're after."

Hunwick and her team said this trial can shine a light on the relationship between alcohol and sexual assault.

"I want Airmen to understand alcohol is legally not a defense to any crime to include sex-assault," she said. "Legally, it does not matter how drunk you were, if you sexually-assault someone, you're going to be treated like any reasonable, sober person would be treated. Intoxication is simply not a defense."

In addition, the JA team said it is paramount for individuals to understand what can be considered a crime.

"Regardless of how one perceives a sexual act - minor touching, or even sexual intercourse - such an act done without consent is a crime," explained Dabbagh.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Jerome County Idaho Sheriff’s Office to Resolve the Employment Rights of Army National Guard Member

The Depatment of Justice and U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson for the District of Idaho announced today that they reached an agreement with the Jerome County, Id., Sheriff’s Office to resolve the allegations that Jerome County violated the employment rights of Idaho Army National Guard Member Mervin Jones while he was recuperating from a knee injury that he sustained while performing military service.

The department’s complaint alleged that the Jerome County Sheriff’s Office violated the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) by failing to properly reemploy and subsequently terminating Jones following his service with the Idaho Army National Guard.  The complaint states that Jones began working for the Jerome County Sheriff’s Office as a correctional deputy in 2002.  By 2007, he had been promoted through the ranks to corporal.  During his employment with the sheriff’s office, Jones suffered a knee injury while deployed to Iraq in 2004, which Jones later aggravated in 2008 during a weekend training event with his guard unit.  The complaint alleges that in 2009, while Jones was still recuperating from multiple knee surgeries, the sheriff’s office forced  him to complete Family Medical Leave Act paperwork even though his leave was protected under USERRA, denied him light duty work to accommodate his physical limitations caused by the knee injury, attempted to subject him to an unlawful “fitness for duty” evaluation and physical fitness test before allowing him to return to work, and terminated his employment during the period of time permitted by USERRA to recover from an injury incurred in the line of duty. The settlement reached is a compromise to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation.

Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that service members who leave their civilian jobs to serve in the military be reemployed promptly by their civilian employers in the positions they would have held if their employment had not been interrupted by military service or in positions of comparable seniority, pay and status.  In addition, USERRA requires employers to accommodate service members who are injured in the line of duty, and allows service members who are recuperating from such an injury up to two years to obtain reemployment without facing termination by their civilian employers. 

Under the terms of the agreement, which was filed as a consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, Jerome County has agreed to pay $150,000, which includes $75,000 in lost wages, to Jones.  Jerome County has also agreed to provide a letter that requests Jones’ return to the state employment eligibility register maintained by the Idaho Division of Human Resources.
“This settlement demonstrates our commitment to vigorous enforcement of the laws that protect the employment rights of our servicemembers,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department is pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with Jerome County to resolve this matter without the need for contested litigation.”

“USERRA affords military members who leave their civilian careers behind for significant periods of time to serve our country certain protections against unjust terminations,” said U.S. Attorney Olson.  “It is important that all veterans and especially those veterans who are injured serving their country, have the opportunity to return to civilian life and their careers free from worry about termination without cause.”

The case stems from a referral by the United States Department of Labor following an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.  This case is being handled by the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My educational journey: You can never have too much education

by Tech. Sgt. Treverly S. Ford

9/4/2013 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- My educational journey began before I joined the military. As a teen mother, I was determined to finish college; I wanted to be a role model for my son. I managed to complete a year and a half of college before being a full time student, working full time and being a mother began to be too much to handle.

Having grown up as an Army brat, I knew the military was a great alternative -- so I joined. My first four years in the military, I didn't take any classes. It wasn't until my third assignment that I found my inspiration: a fellow Airman. My coworker, who also was a good friend, was taking classes. I immediately became motivated to begin taking classes again. Because of the classes I took before joining the Air Force, I needed only three classes to receive my Community College of the Air Force degree. I took the three classes and, in 2006, I was awarded my CCAF degree in dental assisting. From there I just kept going. I continued taking two classes through distance learning every semester until I finished my bachelor's degree. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Management Studies from University of Maryland University College in 2009.

My journey didn't end there. After a year-and-a-half break, I found a school that caught my eye while attending one of the education fairs the Education Office sponsored. Western International University offered everything I wanted in a master's degree program, so I began taking classes in 2010. This time around I decided I would take classes slowly. The same year I started taking classes, I began having some personal issues and I ended up taking an eight month break. Determined to finish, I started taking two classes at a time so I could finish my degree. In May 2013, I attended my college graduation. I can now say I have completed my Master of Arts in Innovative Leadership. Through all this, my main goal was to be a good role model for my children. I finally feel like I have accomplished that. However, my educational journey isn't quite over yet; I plan to get a certification in Human Resource Management. You can never have too much education.

Two Romanian Nationals Sentenced to Prison for Scheme to Steal Payment Card Data

Adrian-Tiberiu Oprea, 29, of Constanta, Romania, and Iulian Dolan, 28, of Craiova, Romania, were sentenced today to serve 15 years and seven years in prison, respectively, for participating in an international, multimillion-dollar scheme to remotely hack into and steal payment card data from hundreds of U.S. merchants’ computers, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas of the District of New Hampshire; and Holly Fraumeni, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Manchester, N.H., Resident Office.

On May 7, 2013, Oprea, who was extradited to the United States from Romania, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.  On Sept. 17, 2012, Dolan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

 Court documents state that, from approximately 2009 to 2011, Oprea conspired with Dolan and Cezar Butu, 27, of Ploiesti, Romania, to hack into hundreds of computers located in the United States to steal credit, debit and payment account numbers and associated data (collectively “payment card data”) that belonged to U.S. cardholders.

According to court documents, Oprea and Dolan remotely hacked into hundreds of U.S. merchants’ point-of-sale (POS) or “check out” computer systems, where customers’ payment card data was electronically stored.  Specifically, Oprea, who was the leader of the scheme, and Dolan, who was his trusted aide, first used the Internet to identify U.S.-based vulnerable POS systems.  After identifying a vulnerable system, Oprea and Dolan would gain access and install software programs called “keystroke loggers” (or “sniffers”) onto the POS systems.  These programs would record, and then store, all of the data that was keyed into or swiped through the merchants’ POS systems, including customers’ payment card data.

Oprea and Dolan retrieved the card data and then electronically transferred it to various electronic storage locations (“dump sites”) that Oprea had set up.  Oprea later attempted to use the stolen payment card data to make unauthorized charges on, or transfers of funds from, the accounts.  He also attempted to transfer the stolen payment card data to other co-conspirators for them to use in a similar manner.  During the course of the conspiracies, the co-conspirators hacked into several hundred U.S. merchants’ POS systems, including 250 Subway restaurant franchises, and stole payment card data belonging to more than 100,000 U.S. cardholders.  Their criminal conduct caused losses of at least $17.5 million in unauthorized charges and remediation expenses.

 The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, with assistance from the New Hampshire State Police and Romanian authorities.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire.  Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tried To Run, But Couldn’t Run Far Enough

Sexual Predator From San Antonio Arrested In L.A.

San Antonio, TX – Barry Dewayne Smith, 50, was arrested yesterday by the United States Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force (PSW RFTF) in Los Angeles, CA. An arrest warrant was issued for Smith, pursuant to an investigation by the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD), on charges for sexual assault of a child.

In July of this year, the United States Marshals Service Lone Star Fugitive Task Force Cold Case Squad (LSFTF CCS) was contacted by SAPD for assistance in the search for Smith. Task force officers initiated an investigation and discovered that Smith had previously fled from San Antonio, TX to Inglewood, CA. The LSFTF CCS contacted the PSW RFTF for assistance in locating and apprehending Williams. Yesterday afternoon, members of the PSW RFTF determined through investigative efforts that Smith was employed in Los Angeles, CA. Task force officers conducted a brief surveillance and later observed Smith at a local convenience store. Task force officers approached Smith, identified themselves, and arrested him without incident.

Smith is currently being held in custody at the Orange County Jail awaiting extradition to San Antonio.

On June 27, 2012, Smith was formally indicted by a Grand Jury in Bexar County on allegations of sexually assaulting a 15 year old female. A warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued the same day. Shortly after the alleged incident, Smith assumed the name Muhummad Raashad Ali before fleeing San Antonio, TX to Inglewood, CA. Due to the collaborative efforts of the LSFTF CCS and the PSW RFTF, Smith will be extradited to San Antonio to face charges for sexual assault of a child.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, stated, “I am thoroughly impressed with the investigative skills, persistence, and determination of our new Lone Star Fugitive Task Force Cold Case Squad.

Along with the collaborative efforts of the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, another sexual predator can prey on children no more. He tried to run, he tried to hide, he even changed his name, but he was captured and he will be held accountable for his actions.

Members of the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force:

    New Braunfels Police Department
    San Antonio Police Department
    San Antonio Independent School District Police Department
    Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
    Comal County Sheriff’s Office
    Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office
    Bexar County District Attorney’s Office
    Texas Office of The Attorney General
    Texas Department of Public Safety
    Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Office of the Inspector General
    U.S. Marshals Service