Last Updated Friday, June 18, 2021, at 7:18 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, June 18, 2021
I. Oklahoman Charged after Threatening, Then Using a Car to Assault a Woman
On June 14, 2021, a resident of Muscogee, Oklahoma, was charged with assault in U.S. District Court for repeatedly rear-ending a woman’s car with his automobile during a 2018 domestic violence incident. The charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Clint Johnson.
Ted Roosevelt Yargee, 59, was charged by Criminal Complaint with assault with a dangerous weapon for a violent incident in Indian Country. The alleged crime occurred within the Muscogee Nation Reservation. The U.S. federal government and the Muscogee Nation have jurisdiction over all cases that occur on the reservation involving Native American victims or defendants.
On October 20, 2018, Yargee followed the woman to a QuikTrip gas station in Tulsa. According to court documents, Yargee used his vehicle to ram the back of her vehicle at the station. He then blocked the victim’s driver side door with his vehicle, making it difficult to exit her own., and made multiple demands of the woman. He then followed her out of the QuikTrip and continued to threaten her and smash into her car. At one point, he was witnessed brandishing a baseball bat.
II. Georgia Couple Charged with CARES Act Fraud
On June 14, 2021, two people from Columbus, GA were taken into custody after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging them both with wire fraud and theft of government property related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Curtis Porch, 48, and Dereen Porch, 43, both of Columbus, GA, were taken into custody earlier today on a four-count indictment on Wednesday, June 9, charging them with three counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly submitted fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in June and July 2020, seeking CARES Act money for shell companies that suffered no losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government alleges that the companies cited by the couple were either noon-existent, never conducted business, or existed on paper only. The fraudulent applications meant the couple was able to steal more than $364,000 from the SBA.
III. Pennsylvania Man Arrested for Assault on Law Enforcement During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach
A Pennsylvania man was arrested June 11, 2021 for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress, in order to count the electoral votes related to the presidential election. Robert Morss, 27, of Glenshaw, PA, is charged with numerous federal offenses that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States.
Morss made his initial appearance in the Western District of Pennsylvania on June 11 and was ordered detained. Morss is accused of organizing the “Shield Wall” to attack Capitol Police officers and to do so repeatedly.
According to court documents and video footage, on Jan. 6, Morss was on the lower west terrace of the U.S. Capitol, where he led an assault on police and organized support from other rioters. Just after 2 p.m., Morss could be seen unsuccessfully trying to push through a fence separating the crowd from the Capitol while officers repeatedly asked the crowd to back up.
After being asked to back up, Morss grabbed an officer’s baton and tried to rip it away. He is seen again attempting to rip items away from officers, including a metal fencing barricade and a helmet visor. At 2:57 p.m., Morss is later seen in surveillance footage at the entrance of the tunnel to the Capitol.
In surveillance footage, Morss is seen directly confronting officers, grabbing away their shields and passing the stolen shields back into the crowd. Around 3:07 p.m., Morss yelled, “Hey everyone with a shield, back up and organize! Make a shield wall! Organize right now and make a shield wall.”
IV. Former Pittsburgh Water Supervisor Charged with Violating Clean Water Act
A former supervisor for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) has been charged in federal court with conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act. The charge was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Stephen R. Kaufman. The one-count criminal Information, filed on Friday, June 11, 2021, named James Paprocki, 51, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the sole defendant.
According to the Information, Paprocki was a supervisor at the PWSA’s drinking water plant located in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania. At various points between 2010 and 2017, Paprocki and another supervisor at the plant directed PWSA employees to discharge clarifier sludge into the Allegheny in violation of PWSA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit. Clarifier sludge is generated when raw water is converted into potable drinking water.
Under the terms of the NPDES permit, the sludge had to be sent to Alcosan’s treatment facility. In 2015, PWSA obtained an Industrial User permit. Under the terms of the Industrial User permit, PWSA was authorized to send up to one million gallons of clarifier sludge per day to ALCOSAN’s waste treatment facility. PWSA was also required to report the daily volume of sludge and install flow meters at various locations in the Aspinwall Plant to monitor the amount of sludge.
These amounts had to be included in reports that PWSA was required to file with ALCOSAN. A number of the flow meters became inoperable and Paprocki and others employed at the plant began to estimate the amount sludge sent to ALCOSAN.
V. Seven Indicted on Federal Charges, Including Gun Felonies
Seven defendants now face felony firearms charges after indictments by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia on June 14. Those facing charges incllude the following: Matthew Ryan Gordon, 31, of Brunswick, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Fentanyl, and Heroin; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; Charles Walker, 53, of Savannah, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Cocaine; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; Kenneth Mitchell, 29, of Savannah, charged with Possession of with Intent to Distribute BMDP (bath salts); Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; Joe Welcome, 33, of Pooler, Ga., charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Damario Antron Williams, 35, of Augusta, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Bryan Heyward, 20, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and, Leaa Jones, 23, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.
Agencies investigating these cases include the ATF; the FBI; the Savannah Police Department; the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office; the Chatham County Police Department; the Glynn County Police Department; and the Brunswick Police Department. Under federal law, it is illegal for an individual to possess a firearm if he or she falls into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon; being an illegal alien; or unlawful user of a controlled substance.
Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to purchase – firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, also is a federal offense.
VI. Georgia Man Charged with Disrupting a Delta Flight Resulting in Diversion to Oklahoma City
On June 14, 2021, Stephon Jamar Duncan, of Atlanta, Georgia, was charged in federal court with one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants. The charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, Robert J. Troester, on June 15.
According to the Complaint, on June 11, 2021, Duncan caused a disturbance on Delta Flight #1730, which forced the flight to be diverted to Oklahoma City. If Duncan is convicted of these charges, he could face as much as 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release.
The case is the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office and the Oklahoma City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matt Dillon and Travis Smith are prosecuting the case.
VII. Former Mountain View Resident Christopher Doyon Apprehended in Mexico and Returned to the U.S.
Christopher Doyon appeared in federal court for the first time on June 15, 2021, to face an indictment charging him with failure to appear. The arrest was announced on June 15 by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, Stephanie M. Hinds, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair.
According to the indictment, which was filed on September 21, 2011, Doyon, 56, formerly of Mountain View, California and now a resident of Mexico City, Mexico, failed to appear at a February 2, 2012, status conference after being placed on pretrial release in a 2011 criminal case. The status conference was set when Doyon was ordered to appear before U.S. District Judge Lowell D. Jensen in United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Doyon was indicted, for conspiracy to cause intentional damage to a protected computer and intentional damage to a protected computer, aiding and abetting. According to that 2011 indictment, Doyon participated in a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against Santa Cruz County’s computer servers on Dec. 16, 2010, that caused Santa Cruz County’s website to go offline, which means he attempted to render Santa Cruz County’s computers unavailable to legitimate users by saturating the target computers or networks with external communication requests.
The indictment further alleges that the People’s Liberation Front (PLF) coordinated and executed the attack. The PLF is associated with other hacking groups such as Anonymous.
VIII. 73-Year-Old Charged with Manufacturing “Ghost Guns”
On June 15, 2021, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today against William Scott Simms, 73. Simms is charged with selling illegally manufactured and unregistered firearms, equipped with suppressors, and destined for a Mexican drug cartel. The indictment was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Jennifer Lowery.
Simms made his initial appearance following his May 28 arrest, where he was ordered into custody pending further criminal proceedings. He is expected to appear again soon before a U.S. magistrate judge on the charges contained in the indictment.
According to the details in the indictment, Simms is charged with aiding and abetting the attempt to illegally export a silencer, possession of 11 unregistered firearms, and possession of an unregistered silencer. Simms allegedly planned to sell illegally manufactured and unregistered firearm suppressors.
The alleged recipients were members of a Mexican drug cartel seeking to purchase weapons to be illegally exported into Mexico. The indictment further allege Simms illegally manufactured 11 fully automatic firearms to be sold for $10,000 each. He allegedly manufactured the machine guns without any identifying serial numbers, commonly known as “ghost guns” because they are more difficult to trace.
IX. New Jersey Woman Charged with Defrauding Senior Victims
On June 16, 2021, a woman was charged for her role in fraudulently obtaining money from elderly victims and not advising the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of the substantial amount of money she earned from the scheme.
The indictment announcement was made by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig. Victoria Crosby, 44, of Atlantic City, has been charged by criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud, one count of concealing information affecting a continued right to payment by the SSA, one count of health care fraud and one count of making a false statement, representation or document to HUD. Crosby made her initial appearance by videoconference June 16 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sharon A. King.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Crosby and several others used prepaid cellular phones to contact victims whose spouses or other family members had recently died. Many, if not most, of the victims were 70 or older. Crosby and others used fictitious names and purported to be employees of either a retirement benefit office or a life insurance company in order to conduct their scheme.
They told the victims that life insurance policies obtained by their deceased family member and for which they were the beneficiary, were behind in heir payments, and the victims had to pay thousands of dollars to correct the underpayment.
X. New Jersey Man Charged in Tax Evasion, Kickback Scheme
On June 17, 2021, a man from Passaic County, New Jersey, was arrested for his role in a kickback tax evasion scheme related to his role as plan administrator of two union-related employee benefit plans. The charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Rachael A. Honig. Jose Santa Maria, aka “Joe,” of North Haledon, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with five counts of tax evasion, one count of paying kickbacks related to an employee benefit plan, and one count of making false statements in relation to an employee benefit plan. Santa Maria appeared later the same day before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, since at least 2013, Santa Maria served as the plan administrator, through Company-1, for a health fund and a training fund related to a labor union. At the same time, Santa Maria was employed by Individual-1, who served as counsel for the two union funds. The president of Company-1 was related to Individual-1. From 2013 through 2019, Santa Maria derived approximately $750,000 in income from Company-1, which was paid by the two union funds.
He did not report any of the income to the IRS or pay the associated income taxes. Santa Maria also unlawfully paid at least $50,000 to Individual-1, through payments from Company-1 to Company-2, which was owned by Individual-1. These unlawful payments were designed to maintain Santa Maria’s position as the plan administrator to the funds and vice president of Company -1. Company-1 also received insurance commissions, which Santa Maria caused to not be reported, as required, on filings with the IRS and Department of Labor, for the union health fund.