Friday, July 31, 2015

Green Bay Man Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation of Minor Children

James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on July 30, 2015, Joseph J. Valdez (age: 29) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was sentenced by Chief District Judge William C. Griesbach to 15 years in federal prison for sexual exploitation of a child in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 2251(a). Upon his release the defendant will be on federal supervised release for 20 years and will have to register as a sex offender in the jurisdiction in which he resides.  

Valdez used his cellular telephone to exchange texts and instant messages with hundreds, if not thousands, of underage girls across the country and in Canada. Often, Valdez held himself out as a modeling agent to entice the minors to send him naked photographs of themselves. He would then threaten to send these photographs to the girls’ school administrators, parents, or threaten to release them on the internet with their home address accompanying the photographs. In response, many of the teen girls sent Valdez increasingly more graphic and sexually explicit photographs. Some of the minors threatened suicide in an attempt to stop the cycle of blackmail, though Valdez continued making further demands undeterred.

Valdez was previously convicted of sending obscene email messages to a minor in 2009, in Kewaunee County Circuit Court, following a prosecution by the State of Wisconsin. He received a sentence of probation which he violated approximately a year later by electronically corresponding with a minor. 

In pronouncing sentence, Chief Judge Griesbach noted the reprehensible nature of Valdez’s crime, as well as the lifelong effects that his sexual exploitation will have on an untold number of victims. The court noted Valdez’s “continuous pattern of exploiting children” and declared his actions “horrendous and not to be tolerated.”

The case was investigated by the Seymour Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel R. Humble.

Prominent Basketball Trainer Sentenced to 4+ Years in Prison for Fraud

Defendant Used Association with High Wealth Individuals to Solicit Investments

A 62-year-old Redmond, Washington man who trained high profile basketball players and at one time worked for the Seattle Supersonics was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 50 months in prison for fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  STEPHEN BRUCE GORDON pleaded guilty in April 2015, admitting he defrauded approximately thirty victims of more than $4 million through a variety of interrelated schemes, each of which was based on lies.  At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez acknowledged Gordon’s contributions to the basketball community but said, “he used the game and his connections to people in it to take money from his victims…in his wake, he left financial ruin.”

“This defendant spun a web of lies, going so far as to have an associate impersonate government officials and a wealthy businessman to lull his victims,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “Mr. Gordon traded on a well of goodwill in the community, but he poisoned that well with his lies and now has to live with the consequences of his actions.”

According to the plea agreement and other records filed in the case, between 2007 and 2013, GORDON solicited investments for a variety of schemes ranging from bringing an NBA franchise to Seattle, to supporting an Australian basketball league, to investing in Section 8 housing in the Southeast United States.  GORDON employed a variety of lies to make his schemes seem legitimate and traded on his relationship with a prominent tech billionaire, and other respected professionals to make it appear he had significant backing for his proposed businesses.  When investors started to get nervous about the money they had placed with GORDON, he paid an associate $29,000 to make telephone calls to various investors pretending to be a wealthy technology company executive, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and even former Attorney General Eric Holder.  The calls were designed to “put off” or “lull” investors whose investments had been used to repay prior investors as part of the defendant’s Ponzi scheme.

In their sentencing memo prosecutors noted that GORDON’s “schemes all preyed on the relationships and trust that Gordon had meticulously established with his victims.  The defendant may not have set out to create a scheme to get rich.  He simply started telling small lies when early investments failed.  At any point, he could have stopped the fraud.  He never did.  Small lies became big lies, and tens of thousands of dollars in losses became millions.”

Judge Martinez ordered GORDON into custody to immediately begin serving his sentence.  GORDON is responsible for $4,009,143 in restitution to his victims.

The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.

Ferguson “Peacemaker” To Speak at Kansas Civil Rights Symposium

TOPEKA, KAN. - A federal peacemaker who spent months working with community and police in Ferguson, Mo., will be a featured speaker at the U.S. Attorney’s Kansas Civil Rights Symposium in Topeka.

The symposium is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 in the auditorium of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site at 1515 SE Monroe in Topeka. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required.

Rita Valenciano, a conciliation specialist with the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service (CRS), will speak on how the agency works to build stronger relationships between police departments and communities. She was a member of the CRS team that went to Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown in August 2014.

“Rita and other representatives of the Community Relations Service are our peacemakers,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “They don’t investigate or prosecute. They work to build mutual understanding.”

Registration is still open for the symposium, but seating is limited to 100.  The symposium annually attracts law enforcement officers and civil rights leaders from across Kansas. Other topics will include human trafficking and a presentation on the Americans with Disabilities Act by Anthony Fadale, ADA Coordinator for the State of Kansas.