Last Updated Friday, April 16, 2021, at 1:06 PM
Every Friday, The Criminal Lawyer Group publishes a digest of the latest federal prosecutions nationally. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country.
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FRIDAY, April 16, 2021
I. Texas Man Indicted for Fraudulent Online Sales of Purported Native American-Made Goods
On April 12, 2021, a federal grand jury based in San Antonio indicted a Kingwood man for selling allegedly fraudulent Native American-made goods on the internet. The charges were announced that day by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District, Ashley C. Hoff, along with several other law enforcement officials. The indictment charges Kevin Charles Kowalis, 58, with four counts of mail fraud and four counts of misrepresentation of Indian goods under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
According to the indictment, it has been alleged that from January 23, 2020, to July 15, 2020, Kowalis fraudulently marketed and sold on eBay.com pieces of jewelry he received from a manufacturer in the Philippines who is in no way associated or shares an affiliation with any federally recognized Native American tribe. The indictment alleges that Kowalis described the items for sale on eBay as “Native American Indian Handmade,” “Zuni,” “Navajo,” and “genuine Indian handcrafted” and received payment for the jewelry using PayPal.com.
As further alleged in the indictment, once he received payment, Kowalis shipped the jewelry to the customer using the U.S. Postal Service. Each parcel contained counterfeit Native American-style jewelry to a purchaser in San Antonio. If convicted, Kowalis faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and up to an additional five years in prison for misrepresenting Native American goods.
II. Charleston Man Indicted for Allegedly Failing to Pay Employment Taxes and Personal Income Taxes
An indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on April 12, 2021, charging Jay Fisher, of Charleston, Ill., with 21 counts of tax fraud, for allegedly failing to report and pay federal employment taxes and personal income taxes. Fisher is scheduled to make his initial court appearance in federal court on April 19, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. The court hearing will take place in Urbana, via videoconference, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long.
According to the indictment, Jay Fisher was responsible for Financial Logic Inc. and was therefore legally required to file a Form 941 and remit employment taxes for every one of his employees. Those taxes include federal income tax, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes. The indictment alleges that between 2015 and 2018, Fisher failed to pay more than $300,000 in employment taxes owed on behalf of employees.
In addition to employment taxes, the indictment alleges that Fisher failed to file and pay his own income taxes. If convicted, Fisher faces up to five years in prison for each of the 16 counts of failure to pay employment taxes.
III. Massachusetts Man Arrested on Child Exploitation Charges
A man from Fall Rover, MA, Charles Eugene Schnitzlein III, 34, was charged via criminal complaint in Boston federal court on April 13, 2021, in connection with travelling to New Hampshire to attempt to have sex with a teenage girl. The criminal complaint charges Schnitzlein with traveling travelling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a person under 18 years of age. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
The charging documents allege that Schnitzlein used a messaging application to communicate with an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl and devised a plan to meet the purported child to have sex. On April 9, 2021, Schnitzlein allegedly drove from Fall River to a mall in Nashua, NH, to meet with the undercover officer posing as a teenage girl.
On his way to the meet up meet-up location, Schnitzlein allegedly stopped to purchase condoms, flowers, soda, and candy for the encounter. Officers arrested Schnitzlein when he arrived. During an interview with law enforcement, Schnitzlein admitted that he had traveled from Fall River to meet the purported 13-year-old girl and that he had booked a hotel room in Nashua, N.H., so he could have sex with the girl.
IV. Newark Man Arrested for Bank Robbery
A Union County, NJ, a man was arrested April 13, 2021, for robbing a bank in Rutherford, NJ. The announcement of the charges was made by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig. Senenca Wilson, aka “Seneca Wilson,” 42, of Clark, New Jersey, was arrested, April and charged by complaint with one count of bank robbery. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
According to court documents and statements, on April 7, 2021, Wilson entered Victim Bank-1 in Rutherford, wearing a thin windbreaker over a dark t-shirt with a white logo. Wilson was also wearing a dark New York Yankees baseball cap, sunglasses, a neck gaiter over his face, and a glove on his left hand. Once inside the bank, Wilson handed the teller a note demanding money with no straps on the bills. The teller put currency into a white plastic bag that Wilson provided, and Wilson then walked out of the bank with he the bag of cash.
Moments later, a doorbell camera on a nearby residence recorded Wilson running south down the sidewalk away from Victim Bank-1. Seconds later, a car registered to Wilson was seen driving away from the area, and the Yankees baseball cap that Wilson wore during the robbery was found by law enforcement in a nearby recycling bin. If convicted, Wilson faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.
V. CPB Officer Charged with Using Unreasonable Force at Calexico Port of Entry
On April 14, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Marcos Valenzuela was charged in an indictment with using unreasonable force on an individual from Mexico who had applied for admission to the United States. The indictment alleges that Valenzuela encountered the individual, identified only as “J.L.,” on August 16, 2019, while on duty at the Calexico West Port of Entry.
During the inspection, Valenzuela allegedly deprived the individual of their Constitutional right not to be subjected to unreasonable force. The indictment also alleges that Valenzuela’s actions resulted in bodily injury to the person seeking admission into the U.S.
Valenzuela was arraigned on the Indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro on April 14, and he is also scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino on May 21, 2021, for a motion hearing. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Christopher P. Tenorio.
VI. Wyoming Man Charged with Possession of Child Porn
On April 14, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Murray announced that Kyle Doussett, 49, of Casper, WY, had been indicted by a federal grand jury on March 25, 2021, for one count of possession of child pornography. The Indictment alleges that on January 2, 2021, Doussett possessed a cell phone containing digital images depicting prepubescent minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Doussett appeared before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin on April 5, 2021, and pleaded not guilty to the charge in the Indictment. A jury trial has been set for May 24, 2021, in Cheyenne before Federal District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson. If he is convicted, Doussett faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and special assessments of $100, $5,000, and $17,000, as well as mandatory restitution of $3,000 per requesting victim and five years to the life of the supervised release.
VII. New Jersey Man Indicted For Attempting To Hire A Hitman On Dark Net To Murder A 14-Year Old Child
A Camden County, New Jersey, man, John Michael Musbach, 31, of Haddonfield, who was under investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office for child pornography-related offenses, was indicted April 14, 2021, for allegedly paying $20,000 in bitcoin to have the 14-year-old child victim murdered. The indictment was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig.
Based on court documents and statements made in this case, Musbach began communicating with the victim, who was 13 years old at the time, during the summer of 2015. He communicated via an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) website. Musbach began using those IRC conversations to request and receive sexually explicit videos and photographs of the minor victim, as well as to send to the victim sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself.
In September of 2015, the victim’s parents discovered the nature of Musbach’s communications with the victim and notified local law enforcement officers in the State of New York, where the victim resided.
Officers began investigating Musbach’s conduct and called Musbach to notify him that he was under investigation for his online sexual contact with the victim and that he was to stay away from the victim. Upon identifying Musbach as a resident of Atlantic County, New Jersey, New York law enforcement officers reached out to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office (ACPO), which continued the investigation. Musbach was subsequently arrested by ACPD officers on March 31, 2016.