Last Updated Friday, January 22, 2021, at 8:41 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.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a federal crime, we are here to help.  The attorneys at The Criminal Lawyer Group are some of the nation’s top-ranked attorneys in their field and their experience defending criminal defendants in federal courts is exemplary.

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FRIDAY, January 22, 2021

I. Wisconsin Man Indicted for Cyberstalking, Possession of Ammunition

On January 15, 2021, Matthew D. Krueger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that three days earlier, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Jon E. Janikowski, 36, Winneconne, Wisconsin. The indictment alleges that Janikowski engaged in cyberstalking and illegally possessed ammunition. 

According to the cyberstalking charge, Janikowski allegedly intended to “harass and intimidate another person” using a computer or “electronic communication system of interstate commerce” and that he engaged in a “course of conduct that placed that person in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily injury.”

The indictment also alleges that Janikowski, a felon, possessed ammunition. If convicted of the cyberstalking charge, Janikowski faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of the ammunition charge, he’s looking at up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

Janikowski was arraigned in Federal court in Green Bay on January 15, 2021, at which time the indictment was unsealed. Janikowski will be detained pending trial at the Winnebago County Jail.

II. New Mexico County Commissioner Charged for Breaching U.S. Capitol

A New Mexico County commissioner was charged on January 17, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for breaching the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021. Couy Griffin of New Mexico was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 17, with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry.

As alleged in the charging documents, on Jan. 9, 2021, law enforcement received a tip that Griffin, an Otero County, New Mexico, Commissioner, was present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and had posted videos to his Facebook page indicating that he intended to return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2021, and “plant our flag” on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. 

An investigation into Griffin revealed that he is the founder of an organization called “Cowboys for Trump,” and that following the incident at the U.S. Capitol, Griffin posted a video to the Cowboys for Trump Facebook page in which he stated that he “climbed up on the top of the Capitol building and . . . had a first row first-row seat.”

III. Kentucky Man Arrested and Charged in Federal Court for Actions at the U.S. Capitol

On January 16, 2021, a Kentucky man was arrested and charged in connection with the riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, during which he joined a crowd of individuals who unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol and disrupted the conduct of business by the United 

States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Chad Barrett Jones, 42, of Cox Creek, Kentucky, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of assault on a federal officer, one for certain acts during a civil disorder, one for the destruction of government property, one for obstruction of an official proceeding, one for unlawful entry to restricted building or grounds, and one for violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

 Jones was arrested in Louisville, and his initial appearance occurred on Jan. 19, 2021, before Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay of the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

The affidavit in support of the criminal complaint alleges that video footage from inside the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, shows Jones in a red hooded jacket and gray skullcap among an aggressive crowd trying to breach a barricaded door to the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway that connects to the House of Representatives chambers.  

Members of the crowd were shouting and gesticulating at the Capitol Police officers guarding the door.  Seconds after the officers began moving toward the adjacent wall as other officers in tactical gear arrived, Jones forcefully struck the door’s glass panels at least 10 ten times with a long, wood flagpole, the affidavit alleges.  

The affidavit also alleges that chants of “Break it down!” could be heard and that a U.S. Capitol Police officer inside the Speakers’ Lobby, facing the door with a gun raised, can be seen at the side of the video in the close vicinity of the doorway.

IV. Minnesota Man Charged with Possession of Unregistered Firearm

On January 19. 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, Erica H. MacDonald, announced a federal criminal complaint against Dayton Sauke, 22, charging him with possessing an unregistered firearm. Sauke was taken into federal custody on January 15, 2021, and made his initial appearance the same day before Magistrate Judge David T. Schultz in U.S. District Court.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, on July 30, 2020, the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office received information that Sauke was selling narcotics and manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license. Beginning on December 6, 2020, law enforcement agents monitored Sauke’s Snapchat account. 

Sauke made numerous posts consistent with manufacturing and dealing firearms without a license, as well as using and dealing drugs. Between December 6, 2020, and January 12, 2021, Sauke posted pictures of a short-barreled shotgun and made several threatening posts about killing law enforcement and politicians. 

On January 15, 2021, two undercover ATF agents met with Sauke and purchased from him a privately made firearm for $1,500. Sauke discussed with the undercover agents the cost for of manufacturing additional firearms. During the conversation, Sauke showed the photos of firearms the undercover agents could purchase and said he had a “sawed-off shotgun” in his car. 

The undercover agents agreed to purchase two additional firearms from Sauke and paid him $900 toward the purchases. Once the purchase was complete, Sauke was taken into custody.

V. Texas Man Charged with $5 Million COVID-Relief Fraud

On January 19, 2021, Samuel Yates, 32, of Maud, Texas, was charged with allegedly filing bank loan applications fraudulently, seeking more than $5 million dollars in forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA under the CARES Act. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. 

Yates was charged with two counts of wire fraud, and the indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Texarkana, Texas, on Jan. 14, 2021. According to court documents, Yates allegedly made two fraudulent applications to two different lenders for loans guaranteed by the SBA for COVID-19 relief through the PPP.  

In the application submitted to the first lender, Yates allegedly sought $5 million in PPP loan proceeds by fraudulently claiming to have over 400 employees with an average monthly payroll of more than $2 million.  In the second application, Yates claimed to employ over 100 individuals and was able to obtain a loan of over $500,000. 

With each application, Yates submitted a list of purported employees that he obtained from a publicly available random name generator on the internet. He also submitted forged tax documents with each application.

VI. New Charges Filed Against Tennessee State Senator, Two Others in Fraud and Money Laundering Case

On January 19, 2021, Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson, 40, along with two other co-defendants, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the unsealing of the new federal criminal complaint today.

According to information presented in Court, the Healthcare Institute (“THI”) is a post-secondary educational provider located in Memphis, Tennessee. It purports to provide training programs for jobs in the healthcare field, including certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, and licensed practical nurse. It was founded in January 2015 as a Tennessee for-profit LLC, with Katrina Robinson as director. 

THI received more than $10,000 in federal funds each year between 2015 and 2019. During that period, Robinson is alleged to have stolen, converted, and intentionally misapplied the property of THI for her own use. As a result, on July 30, 2020, she was indicted in Case No. 2:20-cr-20147-SHL, which is currently pending trial in the U.S. District Court.

VII. Oil Company Employee Indicted For Illegal Discharge, False Statements

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Peter G. Strasser announced that a grand jury indicted Patrick Huse, 40, of Perkinston, Mississippi, for criminal conduct related to oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the eight-count Indictment, Huse engaged in criminal conduct on an oil platform known as Main Pass 310A (MP-310A). In July 2015, workers on MP-310A noticed a sheen on the surface of the surface of the water surrounding the platform, which meant that the platform was discharging oil or other hazardous substances into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The workers alerted Huse, who was a Person-In-Charge (PIC) on MP-310A. The workers told Huse they believed the sheen was the result of sand buildup in filtration equipment on MP-310A. Rather than shutting in the platform to repair or replace the filtration equipment, Huse ordered certain wells closed but otherwise kept the platform operating. 

This caused further sheening. The sheening continued for another four days until a worker finally activated an emergency shutdown device to stop the sheening. Huse then instructed the workers to lie to federal regulators about the reason for the emergency shutdown.

VIII. Two Indicted on Fraud Charges Involving SBA Disaster Funds

A Lawrence man and a Methuen man were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in connection with a scheme involving the use of stolen identities to fraudulently obtain Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and to launder the funds. 

Darwyn Joseph, 24, of Lawrence, and Ramon Joseph Cruz, Jr., 24, of Methuen, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts of wire fraud and aiding, and abetting, and one count of aggravated identity theft. The defendants were charged by with a criminal complaint and arrested in December 2020.

According to the charging documents, the defendants were involved in a conspiracy to use stolen identity information of U.S. citizens to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Specifically, Joseph and Cruz used stolen identity information of U.S. citizens to open fraudulent bank accounts, which were then linked to other fraudulent bank accounts set up to receive the SBA funds. 

Joseph and Cruz also received through the mail some of the debit cards associated with fraudulent bank accounts into which SBA funds were deposited and then laundered those funds by using them to purchase large numbers of iPhones for re-sale resale. Joseph and Cruz also wired some of the funds to the Dominican Republic in furtherance of the scheme. 

It is alleged that over $452,000 in SBA funds were fraudulently obtained in connection with this scheme. Approximately $250,000 of this money was used to purchase iPhones in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

IX. Two Massachusetts Residents Charged in Connection with Capitol Breach

A Massachusetts man and woman were arrested on January 19, 2021, and charged in connection with unlawfully entering the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Mark Sahady, 46, of Malden, and Suzanne Ianni, 59, of Natick, were each charged by criminal complaint with one count of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and another for disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

Sahady and Ianni made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Boston that afternoon. According to the criminal complaint, Sahady is the vice president of an organization called “Super Happy Fun America,” which allegedly purports to advocate for the “straight community.” 

Beginning on approximately Nov. 16, 2020, Sahady tweeted statements exhibiting a belief that the presidential election was stolen and that people need to gather in D.C. on January 6, 2021, to respond. Photos posted on a Twitter account connected to Super Happy Fun America show Sahady on a bus with other individuals with the caption, “Bus 1 of 11 coming to Washington DC. See you there!” 

According to the criminal complaint, Ianni is also involved with “Super Happy Fun America.” The complaint alleges that Ianni organized buses for Super Fun Happy America to transport individuals to Washington D.C. for the January 6, 2021 event. Photographs show Sahady and Ianni standing next to each other inside the U.S. Capitol during the breach.

X. Connecticut Man Charged with Assaulting an Officer During U.S. Capitol Breach

A Connecticut man was charged January 19, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with assaulting an officer during the breach of the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.  

He was presented in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today, before appearing in Washington D.C.,  Patrick Edward McCaughey III was charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees; civil disorder; entering restricted building or grounds; and , and violent entry or disorderly conduct.

As alleged in the charging documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, a video posted to YouTube captured a large group of rioters attempting to break through the line of uniformed law enforcement officers who were in place to prevent rioters from entering the lower west terrace door of the United States Capitol. 

In the front line of rioters an individual, who has subsequently been identified as McCaughey can be seen using a clear police riot shield to physically push against the left side of an officer’s body. The officer was pinned between the clear police riot shield being held by McCaughey and the lower west terrace door. The officer appeared to be loudly crying out in pain. 

As the officer was being pinned to the door by McCaughey, a separate rioter was violently ripping off the officer’s gas mask, exposing the officer’s bloodied mouth. As McCaughey was using the riot shield to push against the officer, numerous other rioters behind and around McCaughey appeared to add to the weight against the officer.