Last Updated Friday, January 15, 2021, at 5:56 AM
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, January 15, 2021
I. Thirteen Charged Following Riot at the U.S. Capitol
Thirteen individuals have been charged so far in federal court in the District of Columbia related to crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. In addition to those who have been charged, additional complaints have been submitted, and investigations are ongoing.
In addition, approximately 40 people have been arrested and charged in DC Superior Court with offenses including, but not limited to, unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes. The federal cases are being prosecuted by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and are being investigated jointly by the FBI; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Marshals Service; the U.S. Capitol Police; and the Metropolitan Police Department.
The ATF and FBI continue to urge the public to report suspected use of explosive devices or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest. Anyone with information can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email [email protected] or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.
II. Man Arrested for Illegally Entering Office of Speaker of the House
On January 8, 2021, Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, was arrested in Bentonville, Arkansas, on multiple criminal charges related to his alleged unlawful activities earlier this week at the U.S. Capitol Building, where he was photographed with his feet up on a desk in the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Barnett was already in custody, and he was expected to make his initial appearance on Jan. 12, 2021, at 3 pm (via Zoom) in federal court in Fayetteville. He will ultimately be extradited to Washington, D.C.
According to court documents, U.S. Capitol Police learned that an individual had entered the restricted office area of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and was photographed with his feet propped up on furniture. Those photos were circulated on numerous news media platforms, which identified the individual as Barnett.
A search of law enforcement databases confirmed that the individual in the news photographs did, in fact, appear to be Barnett. Barnett is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of public money, property, or records.
If convicted, Barnett faces up to one year in prison.
III. Three Men Charged in Connection with Events at U.S. Capitol
Three men were charged on January 9, 2021, in District of Columbia federal court in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Jacob Anthony Chansley, a/k/a. Jake Angeli of Arizona was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Chansley was taken into custody the same day. It is alleged that Chansley was identified as the man seen in media coverage who entered the Capitol building dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white, and blue face paint, shirtless, and tan pants. This individual carried a spear, approximately 6 feet in length, with an American flag tied just below the blade.
In addition, Adam Johnson, 36, of Florida, was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; one count of theft of government property; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Johnson was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson allegedly illegally entered the U.S. Capitol and removed the Speaker of the House’s lectern from where it had been stored on the House side of the Capitol building. A search of open sources led law enforcement to Johnson, who is allegedly seen in a widely circulated photo inside the Capitol carrying the lectern.
A third man, Derrick Evans, 35, of West Virginia, was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds. Evans was taken into custody Friday.
It is alleged that on Jan. 6, 2021, Evans, a recently elected member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, streamed live to his Facebook page a video of himself joining and encouraging a crowd unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol. In the video, Evans is allegedly seen crossing the threshold of the doorway into the U.S. Capitol and shouting, “We’re in, we’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
IV. Two Men Charged in Connection with Events at U.S. Capitol
On January 10, 2021, two men were charged in District of Columbia federal court in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Larry Rendell Brock of Texas was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Brock was arrested on Jan. 10, 2021, in Texas.
It is alleged that Brock was identified as one of the individuals who unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol wearing a green helmet, green tactical vest with patches, black and camo jacket, and beige pants holding a white flex cuff, which is used by law enforcement to restrain and/or detain subjects.
Additionally, Eric Gavelek Munchel of Tennessee was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Munchel was arrested today in Tennessee. Allegedly, Munchel was inside of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Photos depicting his presence show a person who appears to be Munchel carrying plastic restraints, an item in a holster on his right hip, and a cell phone mounted on his chest with the camera facing outward, ostensibly to record events that day.
V. Jamaican Man Charged with Smuggling Cocaine into United States through Newark Airport
A Jamaican man made his initial appearance on January 11, 2021, on charges that he smuggled approximately one kilogram of cocaine into the United States. The announcement of the charge was made by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig. Perez Omar Gibbs, 37, of Jamaica, was arrested on Jan. 9, 2021, and is charged by complaint with one count of importation of controlled substances.
He appeared by videoconference on Jan. 11 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor, where he was remanded without bail.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Gibbs arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport aboard a flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica. Law enforcement officers discovered that Gibbs possessed approximately one kilogram of cocaine concealed inside two bags of coffee and four picture frames.
If convicted, Gibbs faces at least five years and up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
VI. Virgin Islands Man Arrested For Fleeing From Park Rangers After Shots Fired On Buck Island
On January 12, 2021, Aneudis Acevedo, 33, of St. Croix, appeared before Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon, Jr., for an Initial Appearance following his arrest by National Park Service Rangers on charges of Interfering with Agency Functions, Violating a Lawful Order, Disorderly Conduct, and Resisting or Impeding an Officer of the United States.
According to court documents, in the late afternoon of January 10, 2021, shots were fired on Buck Island after a fight occurred on the beach. Immediately after the shots were fired, Acevedo fled the scene in his boat at a high rate of speed while carrying several passengers. He fled from a National Park Service boat, disobeying multiple orders directing him to stop.
Ultimately, the United States Coast Guard assisted and took Acevedo into custody, although, by that point, the boat passengers were no longer there. A subsequent search of Acevedo’s boat yielded a loaded firearm, a small amount of marijuana, and five cell phones.
VII. Massachusetts Man Arrested on Charges Arising from Fraudulent Tax Returns
A Salem man was arrested on January 12, 2021, and charged in connection with a fraudulent tax return scheme. Roosevelt Fernandez, 41, was charged by with a criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Fernandez made an initial appearance on Jan. 12 before Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy.
According to the charging documents, Fernandez used the identities of various individuals to submit fraudulent state and federal tax returns. A number of these returns included fraudulent W-2 Forms purportedly issued by employers for whom the named taxpayer did not work.
Various fraudulent refunds were deposited into an account in the name of Soluciones Multi Service Multi-Service, an entity controlled by Fernandez. It is further alleged that a May 2020 fraudulent Economic Income Payment – stimulus authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) – was deposited into this same account.
Fernandez was allegedly depicted on ATM surveillance footage depositing another fraudulent tax refund check into this account. The investigation uncovered approximately 40 fraudulent tax returns totaling requested refunds that exceed $600,000.
VIII. Illinois Man Indicted on Child Pornography Charges
A man from Rockford, Illinois, was indicted on January 12, 2021, by a federal grand jury on charges of producing child pornography and committing felony sex offenses while he was required to register as a sex offender. Gary Wilson, 50, was charged with four counts of producing child pornography via the internet and one count of committing a felony offense involving a minor when he was required to be registered as a sex offender.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. The Rockford Police Department assisted in the investigation. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Love.
According to the indictment, between June 2018 and April 2019, Wilson knowingly enticed four minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct and then transmitting the depiction via the internet.
The indictment also alleges that the production of child pornography by Wilson occurred while he was required to be registered as a sex offender.
IX. Researcher Charged with Theft of Trade Secrets from New Jersey-based Pharma Company
A former director of medical and scientific affairs at a New Jersey pharmaceutical company was arrested on January 13, 2021, on charges of stealing and illegally transmitting trade secrets. The announcement of the charges was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig. Shafat A. Quadri, 57, of North Potomac, Maryland, is charged via complaint with one count of theft of trade secrets and one count of unauthorized transmission of trade secrets.
He made his initial appearance by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor the same day and was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond. According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court, “Company 1” is based in New Jersey and is among the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
They create vaccines, medicines, and consumer healthcare products. Company 1 is incorporated in New Jersey and maintains email servers in New Jersey. In October 2019, Company 1 contacted the FBI to report suspicious activity by Quadri, who had been employed there since 2015 as director of medical and scientific affairs, immune -oncology.
Company 1’s global immuno-oncology department specializes in research and development related to the diagnosis and treatment of more than 30 cancer types with biopharmaceutical products. Quadri had access to the sensitive intellectual property of the company, including research and other trade secrets.
He remained at the company through Sept. 30, 2019. Company 1 reported that an internal investigation revealed that before he left in September 2019, Quadri copied and removed thousands of files containing Company 1’s proprietary information, including research protocols, compound data, and strategic plans.
Quadri used unauthorized USB devices and personal email accounts to copy, transfer, and retain proprietary info from Company 1. Some documents that were copied and removed were outside of Quadri’s area of work responsibility. Quadri was not authorized to keep or transfer any sensitive or proprietary documents.
X. MIT Professor Arrested and Charged with Grant Fraud
A professor and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was were charged and arrested n January 14, 2021, in connection with failing to disclose contracts, appointments, and awards from various entities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Gang Chen, 56, was charged by with a criminal complaint with wire fraud, failing to file a foreign bank account report (FBAR), and making a false statement in a tax return. Chen made an initial appearance the same day before Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell.
According to charging documents, Chen is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China. He is a professor and researcher at MIT, where he serves as Director of the MIT Pappalardo Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory and Director of the Solid-State Solar Thermal Energy Conversion Center (S3TEC). Since approximately 2013, Chen’s research at MIT has been funded by more than $19 million in grants awarded by various U.S. federal agencies.
Since 2012, Chen has allegedly held various appointments with the PRC designed to promote the PRC’s technological and scientific development by providing advice and expertise – sometimes directly to PRC government officials – and often in exchange for financial compensation.
This includes acting as an “overseas expert” for the PRC government at the request of the PRC Consulate Office in New York and serving as a member of at least two PRC Talent Programs. Since 2013, Chen allegedly received approximately $29 million of foreign funding, including $19 million from the PRC’s Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech).