Last Updated Friday, August 20, 2021, at 6:03 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.
Unless otherwise disclosed, none of the defendants mentioned in these summaries are clients of our firm.
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FRIDAY, August 20, 2021
I. Rhode Island Man Charged in Food Supplier Fraud Scheme, Assault on Federal Agents
On August 16, 2021, a man from Providence, RI was arrested. The arrest occurred nine days after he allegedly eluded arrest by using his own vehicle to ram federal law enforcement vehicles. In the process, he tried to run down an FBI agent and task force officer in the process. The arrest and the charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, Richard B. Myrus.
According to charging documents, it is alleged that Paul Diogenes, a/k/a Paul Dejullio, 49, created a fictitious catering company and listing his alias as president, to obtain credit from food distributors to purchase more than $831,769 in product, including hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of lobster, sea bass, shrimp, scallops, filet, rib eye steak, and wild boar.
Diogenes is also alleged to have used stolen identities and banking information from several well-known businesses and restaurants to obtain funds to pay for some of these products. Court documents allege that Diogenes then resold much of the fraudulently obtained food products, in some instances to the same businesses whose banking information he allegedly used to pay food suppliers.
II. North Carolina Man and Woman Charged with Child Sex Trafficking in Myrtle Beach
On August 16, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina M. Rhett DeHart, announced today that Johnny Thomas, 34, of Durham, and Becca Mills, 25, of Whispering Pines, have been charged in a criminal complaint for their roles in alleged child sex trafficking and coercion and enticement of minors in the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina.
According to Court records, Thomas and Mills posted commercial sex ads for minors and took the minors to locations in Myrtle Beach and Fayetteville, NC, where the minors engaged in commercial sexual encounters with others. Mills also participated in many of the sexual encounters, and Thomas engaged in sexual acts with one of the minors on at least two occasions.
Court records also demonstrate that Mills told one of the minors that if the minor did what she was told, Thomas would not hurt her. According to the complaint, Thomas told at least one of the minors several times that if she did not perform commercial sex acts, he would sell her to someone worse who would chain her up to a bed, shoot her full of heroin, and do bad things to her such as slice off her toes and body parts. If convicted, both Defendants face as much as life in prison.
III. Six Indicted for Violating the Federal Controlled Substances Act
On August 13, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane A. Evans, announced that Eric Rodriguez, Quan Lewis, Chris Harisreitinger, Greg Trahan, Travis Gibson, and Ryan Moreau had all been charged in a 7-count superseding indictment by a Federal Grand Jury with narcotics trafficking offenses, including conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.
According to the indictment, the accused distributed large amounts of methamphetamine throughout Jefferson Parish and surrounding areas for over a year. If convicted, Rodriguez and Lewis each face at least ten years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, and at least five years of supervised release, as well as a $100 mandatory special assessment for each count in which they are charged.
IV. Four Charged with Abducting Man and Holding Him for Ransom
Four men were arrested on August 14, 2021, for their alleged roles in abducting a man from a Camden, NJ street, beating him and then holding him captive while trying to extort $100,000 from the victim’s family.
The arrests and charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig on August 16, 2021. Melvin Severino, 25, of Scranton, Pennsylvania; Welber Antonio Jesus, 24, and Yoandry Rodriguez, 21, both of Camden; and Cesar Alexander Batista Alcantara, 23, of Yonkers, NY, were each charged by complaint with kidnapping. The defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon A. King in Camden federal court on Aug. 17, 2021.
According to documents filed in this case, the victim was walking down a street in Camden on the night of Aug. 12, 2021, when at least two individuals approached him from behind, covered his head, assaulted him and put him into a vehicle. The assailants drove the victim to a Camden residence where they restrained him and continued to beat him with a hard object the victim could not see.
After several hours, the kidnappers removed the head covering and took photographs and video footage of the bloodied and beaten victim with the victim’s cell phone. The kidnappers sent those images to the victim’s family, and threatened to kill the victim if family members did not pay them over $100,000. In the early morning hours of Aug. 14, the FBI, along with local law enforcement in New Jersey and New York, located the victim and all four defendants in a Camden residence.
The FBI apprehended the defendants and took the victim to Cooper University Hospital for medical treatment.
V. Nine Arrested in Sex Trafficking Operation
On August 17, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, Dennis R. Holmes, announced that several state and federal law enforcement agencies had conducted a joint sex trafficking operation during the 2021 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. That operation ran from August 6, 2021 and continued through August 12, 2021. That operation led to charges and the arrest of each of the following:
➤ Alec Walker Daniel, 22, of Rapid City, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Alexander Wayne Basaldu, 35, of Rapid City, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Jesse James Young, 36, of Rapid City, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Joshua Robert Lehmann, 34, of Rapid City, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Christopher Thomas Dahl, 28, of Wolcott, NY: Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking of a Minor
➤ Stephen Gregory Fontenot, 39, of Black Hawk, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Anthony James Kemp, 54, of Spearfish, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ James Dean Hanapel, 20, of Ellsworth AFB, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
➤ Clayton John Paulson, 36, of Spearfish, SD: Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet
If any of the above defendants are convicted, they each face from 10 years to life in prison, from five years to life of supervised release; $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund; and a $5,000 assessment if not indigent. Restitution may also be ordered.
VI. Wisconsin Man Charged with Gun Crimes
A man from Madison, Wisconsin was charged on August 11, 2021 with gun crimes. The charges were contained in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Madison. Everything was announced on Aug. 17 by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin Timothy M. O’Shea. The indictment was unsealed following Bond’s arrest by FBI agents on August 13 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Bond made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee August 16, and he will also appear at a detention hearing on Aug. 19. A date has not been set for his initial appearance in Wisconsin.
According to the indictment, Randy X. Bond, 36, has been charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. As alleged in the indictment, between April 10 and April 26, 2021, Bond possessed a Glock 43 caliber pistol.
The second count of the indictment charges him with unlawfully possessing the firearm knowing that he was subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking, and threatening an intimate partner. If convicted, Bond faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each charge.
VII. Vermont Man Charged as a Felon In Possession of Firearms
On August 17, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont made the announcement that Eric Grenier, 39, of Brandon, Vermont, had appeared today in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge that he possessed firearms as a convicted felon. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Doyle ordered that Grenier be held without bail pending trial, which has not yet been scheduled.
According to the criminal complaint, on August 13, 2021, state and federal law enforcement authorities executed a state-court-based search warrant at Grenier’s home in Brandon, where agents seized two rifles, two pistols, and an assortment of ammunition, from Grenier’s locked bedroom. Because Grenier has three felony convictions in Vermont for burglary and cultivating marijuana, he is prohibited by federal law from possessing any firearms.
According to court records, an officer with the Brandon police department obtained the warrant to look for and seize a handgun which Grenier allegedly displayed during an altercation with a neighbor in July.
VIII. Suburban Chicago Prescription Wholesaler Indicted for Allegedly Re-Selling Diverted Drugs to Pharmacies
According to a federal indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago on August 18, 2021, the owner of a suburban Chicago prescription drug wholesale distribution company purchased more than $57 million worth of diverted, unregulated prescription drugs and re-sold them to unsuspecting pharmacies and other wholesalers, According to the indictment, Gurucharan Dua allegedly used his Plainfield, Ill.-based distribution company to knowingly obtain wholesale amounts of the diverted prescription drugs at discounted prices from unlicensed suppliers.
In addition, upon receipt of the diverted drugs, Dua directed his employees to clean the bottles to fraudulently make the drugs appear to be from a regulated prescription drug distribution chain, the indictment alleges Dua then knowingly sold the diverted prescription drugs to unsuspecting pharmacies and other wholesalers, falsely representing to them that his company had acquired the prescription drugs from a licensed source in a regulated supply chain, the indictment states.
Among the charges, it is alleged that, from 2011 to 2017, Dua purchased approximately $57.2 million worth of diverted prescription drugs that he later re-sold to the pharmacies and wholesalers.
IX. Three Charged in Fraud Schemes Targeting Home Improvement Retailers
Federal arrest warrants were executed ton August 18, 2021, against two people on charges that they allegedly participated in a large-scale conspiracy to defraud Home Depot stores in at least three New England states.
A third person alleged to have taken part in the scheme is being sought by law enforcement. Based on court documents, it is alleged that Samuel Machuca, a/k/a Ithier Batista-Rodriguez, a/k/a Angel Garcia-Sanchez, 50, of Attleboro, MA, Luiyi Taveras-Garcia, 33, of Providence, Rhode Island, and Abel Bier Romero, 28, of Cranston, used stolen personal identifying information and stolen or fraudulently created business credit accounts to purchase more than $600,000 in building, roofing, electrical, plumbing and other contractor supplies from Home Depot stores in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
The arrest warrants and charges were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, Richard B Myrus. The announcement came after more than $30,000 dollars’ worth of construction materials allegedly obtained fraudulently were recovered by federal agents from a garage in Cranston, RI, earlier that same day.
According to court documents, since November 2020, several individuals have contacted Home Depot customer service and “Pro desks” in the three New England states, placing orders for various construction and contractor supplies. The orders were paid for with fraudulently created or stolen credit account information, including names, credit card numbers, security codes, and phone numbers.
X. Michigan Man Indicted for Traveling to Wisconsin to Have Sex with a 15-Year-Old
On August 18, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Richard G. Frohling, announced that Scott D. Sundberg, 42, of Ishpeming, Michigan, had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Milwaukee following his August 13, 2021, arrest by state and federal authorities.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, Sundberg began exchanging instant messages with an individual whom he believed to be the parent of a 15-year-old girl living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The complaint alleged that Sundberg expressed repeated interest in engaging in sexual activity with the 15-year-old and also sent pornographic images of children engaged in explicit sexual activity.
It is alleged that Sundberg had been communicating with a law enforcement agent working as a part of Operation Kick Boxer, a collaborative effort involving the Milwaukee Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. Sundberg was arrested upon his arrival in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.