Thursday, December 26, 2013

Texas Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime for Punching and Breaking Jaw of 79-year-old African American Man

Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, has been charged with a federal hate crime related to a racially-motivated assault of a 79-year-old African American man, announced   Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels of the Civil Rights Division along with U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI.

“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of entire communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuels.   “As always, the Civil Rights Division will work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted, and that justice is done.”

The criminal complaint was filed under seal Dec. 24, 2013, and unsealed today upon Barrett's arrest.   He is expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy at 10:00 a.m. CST.

The complaint charges Barrett, of Katy, Texas, with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.   According to the complaint, on Nov. 24, 2013, Barrett attacked the elderly man because of the man’s race and color in what Barrett called a “knockout.”

“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson.   “Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law.”

Barrett allegedly recorded himself on his cell phone attacking the man and showed the video to others.   The complaint alleges Barrett made several videos, one in which he identifies himself and another in which he makes a racial slur.   In addition, Barrett had allegedly been working up the “courage” to play the “knockout game” for approximately a week.

The “knockout game” is an assault in which an assailant aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with one punch.   According to the complaint, the conduct has been called by other names and there have been similar incidents dating as far back as 1992.

According to the complaint, Barrett comments in a video that “the plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?”   The complaint further alleges Barrett claims he would not hit “defenseless people” just moments before punching the elderly man in the face.   Barrett allegedly hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground.   Barrett then laughed and said “knockout,” as he ran to his vehicle and fled, according to allegations.   The complaint indicates the victim suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the attack.

“It is unimaginable in this day and age that one could be drawn to violently attack another based on the color of their skin,” said Special Agent in Charge Morris.   “We remind all citizens that we are protected under the law from such racially motivated attacks, and encourage everyone to report such crimes to the FBI.”

If convicted, Barrett faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI in cooperation with the Fulshear and Katy, Texas, Police Departments as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration.   The case is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Saeed Mody and Olimpia Michel and Assistant United States Attorneys Ruben R. Perez and Joe Magliolo in cooperation with Ft. Bend County District Attorney John Healey.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.   A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty through due process of law.

Monday, December 23, 2013

U.S. Marshals and Sheriff’s Office Sweep Pensacola Streets;

Over 79 Arrested; Guns, Drugs, Counterfeit Money Seized

Pensacola, FL – In a joint effort, the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office hit the streets of Escambia County the past week in the second phase of an earlier round-up initiated two weeks ago, capturing some of Escambia’s more elusive and violent fugitives. Deputy Marshals from Tallahassee, Panama City, Tampa and Pensacola worked with Sheriff’s deputies from the ECSO Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Team and arrested 92 wanted felons in a street-level sweep dubbed as Operation Reindeer Games. The Task Force identified approximately 120 of Escambia’s more dangerous fugitives who were wanted on various charges including murder, attempted murder, sexual battery, assault, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, strangulation, possession of firearms and other weapon offenses as well as numerous narcotics violations. At the end of the week, the population of Escambia County Jail swelled as a result of the multi-agency fugitive round-up and others found themselves in local jails in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties; as well as other parts of Florida and Alabama. Of the 92 criminals who went to jail, 12 fugitives surrendered to jails after learning they were being sought on warrants. Although the operation’s aim was to find fugitives, others were arrested on probable cause arrests of which several included harboring a fugitive or obstruction of justice when trying to conceal the fugitives’ locations. In just four days over 115 warrants were served, three firearms seized, over 1000 grams of various drugs and $240 in counterfeit bills were confiscated, a stolen car was recovered and three active meth labs were shutdown.

This sweep is the latest but not the last one as a part of Sheriff David Morgan’s objective to crackdown on violent offenders with the help of the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force. The shared goal is to try and help make the people in the community feel safer. The sweep was by in large successful because of the assistance of Special Deputy Marshal Task Force Officers from Escambia, Bay, Leon, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton County Sheriff’s Offices, Panama City and Tallahassee Police Departments, Florida Department of Corrections and Special Agents from the ATF and FBI.

Some Highlighted cases from Operation Reindeer Games:

    Eddie McGee – Charged with 1st Degree Homicide. McGee was wanted out of Atlanta, GA and was believed to be hiding out in Pensacola. The US Marshals in Atlanta identified possible locations and asked the Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force for assistance. McGee was wanted in association with a homicide that took place June 14th, 2013, that occurred at Hidden Cove Circle, Gwinnett County, Norcross, Georgia. On that day, officers arrived on a scene of a reported shots fired call. Gwinnett Officers found the victim dead of a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Gwinnett Homicide investigators determined during their investigation that McGee was a suspect along with Norman Griffith who is also in custody relating to the murder. According to police reports they had arranged to purchase cocaine from the victim.

    Douglas White – Charged with Child Cruelty and Abuse. When Marshals and officers attempted to arrest White inside of a trailer, White then took a two-year old whom White stuffed in a plastic tub and covered with clothing and blankets to hide the child to keep it quiet. White then secreted himself in a larger plastic tub beside the child and covered himself under a blanket. White and the child were located and White was subsequently tased by FRFTF members as he attempted to avoid arrest. The child is also the victim of the original crime in which the child was admitted to an Emergency Room for stitches due to injuries reportedly inflicted by White. White also had an active child abuse case with Department of Children and Family services for an assault on a 5 year old child. White was charged additionally with Child Cruelty and Resisting Arrest.

    Jermaine Beasley – Charged with Attempted Homicide, Armed Robbery. Beasley is a suspect in a random street robbery and shooting that occurred at Gadsden and “Y” Streets in Pensacola on November 19 of this year.

    Latasha Griggs - Charged with Possession of Cocaine and Marijuana. Griggs arrest resulted in the seizure of 126 grams of cocaine and marijuana which also led to the arrest of Tequilla Stallworth who was arrested and charged with Grand Theft Auto, Possession of Counterfeit US Currency.

    Casey Blackmon – Charged with Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon and Felony Battery by Strangulation. Escambia County Sheriff’s reports state that Blackmon was involved in an argument with his reported girlfriend that resulted in him allegedly choking her, punching and smacking her in the face, then held her down kneeing her in the stomach (police report reflects that she stated she is pregnant and Blackmon was aware of that) and then attempted to tase her with some type of taser device.

    Keith Rogers – Charged with Armed Robbery with a Firearm and Aggravated Battery with a Firearm. Rogers was wanted in connection with a home invasion robber that took place on October 10th of this year at the Oakwood Terrace Apartment complex. According to victim and witness statements, Rogers and another man approached the victim and Rogers pistol whipped the man and then the two suspects dragged him into his apartment and robbed him before fleeing. Rogers has 6 prior firearm related arrests.

In Fiscal year 2013, US Deputy Marshals and their task forces arrested over 74,000 State and local fugitives combined, clearing almost 95,000 warrants from state and local jurisdictions. Of those violent fugitives arrested, over 4,000 were for homicide and over 5,000 of them were gang members.

Crime Stoppers Tip Leads To Another Arrest

Sex Offender Finally Back Behind Bars

Dallas, TX – Bruno Keith Carmona, 32, was arrested this morning by the United States Marshals Service North Texas Fugitive Task Force (NTFTF) in Dallas, TX. An arrest warrant was issued pursuant to an investigation by the Bexar County Adult Probation Office, where it is alleged that Carmona failed to report and absconded from supervision and an additional arrest warrant was issued pursuant to an investigation by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), where it is alleged that Carmona failed to comply with sex offender registration.

On December 11, 2013, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force (LSFTF) initiated an investigation in the search for Carmona. Subsequent to the investigation, task force officers discovered that Carmona had previously fled from San Antonio, TX to Dallas, TX. The LSFTF then contacted the NTFTF in Dallas, TX for assistance in locating and apprehending Carmona. On December 17, 2013, task force officers received a Crime Stoppers tip that Carmona was hiding out with his girlfriend at a residence in the 600 block of Rayenell Avenue in Dallas, TX. This morning, task force officers conducted a brief surveillance, entered the residence, identified themselves, made contact with Carmona, and took him into custody without incident.

In 2011, Carmona was convicted and sentenced to 3 months in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Intermediate Sanction Facility for committing indecency with a child by sexual contact. He was also ordered to serve an additional 10 years of probation upon his release. In July 2012, Carmona allegedly violated the conditions of his probation by failing to report and absconding from supervision. A warrant was issued for Carmona’s arrest soon after. In May of this year, an additional warrant was issued for Carmona’s arrest on allegations involving failure to comply with sex offender registration. Just 2 days ago, the Texas Department of Public Safety added Carmona to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offender list and a $3,000 cash reward was offered for information leading to his capture. Carmona was arrested this morning after a tip was provided through Crime Stoppers.

Carmona is currently being held in custody at the Dallas County Jail awaiting extradition to Bexar County.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, stated, “Another job well done, another sexual predator behind bars, and another Crime Stoppers tip that led to the arrest.”

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
    Immigration & Customs Enforcement – Office of Detention & Removal
    U.S. Marshals Service

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trinidad and Tobago Woman Sentenced for Her Role in Kidnapping Scheme

A woman from Trinidad and Tobago was sentenced today to serve 20 years in prison for her role in the 2005 kidnapping of naturalized U.S. citizen Balram “Balo” Maharaj, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

Doreen Alexander, 47, of Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the District of Columbia.   Alexander pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2013, to conspiracy to commit hostage taking, a lesser included offense under count one of the indictment, which charged conspiracy to commit hostage taking that resulted in death.   Judge Sullivan also sentenced Alexander to serve five years of supervised release to follow her prison term.

Alexander was the last charged co-conspirator involved in the kidnapping of Maharaj, Alexander’s former boyfriend and the father of one of her sons.  The other 12 co-conspirators were previously extradited and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

According to court documents, Alexander initiated the April 2005 kidnapping of Maharaj and provided information that allowed the kidnappers to identify, locate and track Maharaj.  Alexander alerted the kidnappers to Maharaj’s visits to Trinidad and Tobago; gave them information on his wealth, which was used to calculate the ransom; and reassured the kidnappers that they had the right man after the ransom negotiations went awry.   Maharaj died as a result of the kidnapping.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Division Extraterritorial Squad with the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and the FBI’s Legal Attache’s Office in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  Special assistance was further provided by the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service Anti-Kidnapping Squad and Homicide Bureau.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorneys Matthew C. Singer and Teresa A. Wallbaum of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sovereign Skies Program: Nighttime flight operations

12/6/2013 - A Dominican Republic air force A-29 pilot inspects his aircraft for a nighttime flight as part of an exercise to detect and track illegal drug traffic Dec. 4, 2013. The exercise is part of the Sovereign Skies Program, an initiative between the U.S., Colombian, and Dominican Republic air forces to share best-practices on procedures to detect, track and intercept illegal drugs moving north from South America. Since the program’s inception, the number of aircraft and sea vessels suspected to traffic drugs through the Dominican Republic dropped from more than 100 annually to nearly zero. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Justin Brockhoff/Released)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Former Medical Doctor Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Engaging in Illicit Sexual Conduct with Minors in Kenya

A former medical doctor was sentenced today to serve 20 years in prison for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors in Kenya.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr., and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

John D. Ott, 68, pleaded guilty in May 2013 before the Honorable Reggie B. Walton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.   Upon completion of his prison term, Ott will be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life.   In addition, he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to court documents and proceedings, Ott was a former medical doctor who worked for non-governmental organizations and hospitals in Kenya.  Court records show that Ott also started an orphanage in Kenya.  Ott admitted that between approximately January 2004 and September 2012, he engaged in illicit sexual conduct in Muhuru Bay, Sori and Kendu Bay, Kenya, with at least 14 minors, who ranged in age from approximately nine to 17 years old when the illicit sexual conduct began.  Ott admitted that he frequently paid for schooling and provided other financial support, including housing, for minors with whom he engaged in illicit conduct.

Ott has been in federal custody since he was arrested in December 2012, following his deportation from Tanzania.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.  Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs as well as by personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Keith A. Becker of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari Redbord of the District of Columbia.

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 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and 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