Last Updated Friday, October 15, 2021, at 11:36 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, October 15, 2021
I. Maryland Nuclear Engineer and Spouse Arrested on Espionage-Related Charges
On October 10, 2021, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, a couple from Annapolis, Maryland, were arrested by the FBI and the NCIS in Jefferson County, West Virginia, on Saturday, Oct. 9. They had their initial appearances on Oct. 12, in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia. For almost a year, Jonathan Toebbe, 42, aided by his wife, Diana, 45, sold information known as Restricted Data concerning the design of nuclear-powered warships to a person who was an undercover FBI agent, but who they believed was a representative of an unnamed foreign power.
The Toebbes have now been charged in a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Atomic Energy Act. Jonathan Toebbe is an employee of the Department of the Navy who served as a nuclear engineer and was assigned to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, also known as Naval Reactors. He held an active national security clearance through the U.S. Department of Defense, giving him access to Restricted Data.
Toebbe worked with and had access to information concerning naval nuclear propulsion including information related to military sensitive design elements, operating parameters, and performance characteristics of the reactors for nuclear powered warships. According to the affidavit supporting the complaint, on April 1, 2020, Jonathan Toebbe sent a package to a foreign government, listing a return address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, containing a sample of Restricted Data and instructions for establishing a covert relationship to purchase additional Restricted Data.
It is also alleged that, thereafter, Toebbe began corresponding via encrypted email with an individual whom he believed to be a representative of the same foreign government, but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. Jonathan Toebbe continued this correspondence for several months, which led to an agreement to sell Restricted Data in exchange for thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.
II. Seven Indicted for Illegal Firearms Possession, Drugs
Seven defendants face federal charges including drug trafficking and illegal possession firearms as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a collaboration among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the ATF and the FBI, in an ongoing effort to reduce violent crime by targeting those who illegally possess firearms.
The charges were the result of separate indictments by a grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia, while recent actions in U.S. District Court include guilty pleas and criminal sentences.
Defendants named in federal indictments from the October 2021 term of the U.S. District Court grand jury include:Dwight Eady, 39, of Milan, Ga., who was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon; Darren Nathaniel Mathis, 35, of Savannah, was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Tommy Greene, 34, of Savannah, was charged with the Possession with Intent to Distribute Eutylone (Bath Salts) and Methamphetamine, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; Derek Hayes, 50, of Savannah, was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of Cocaine; Rasheen Dyshawn Stephens, 30, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Jonathan R. White, 24, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; and Kenya Leon Parker, 33, of Savannah, charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon The cases are being prosecuted for the United States by several Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including Henry W. Syms Jr., Patricia G. Rhodes, Tania D. Groover, Joshua S. Bearden, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Darron J. Hubbard.
III. Police Officer Indicted on Federal Bank Fraud Charge Involving COVID-Related PPP Loans
A Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer was indicted October 12, 2021, on a federal bank fraud charge stemming from a scheme in which he received $18,345 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing D. Phillips, made the announcement on Oct. 12. Roberto Adams, 34, was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
He was arrested on Aug. 13, 2021, following the filing of a criminal complaint in the case and remains free on personal recognizance pending further proceedings. The indictment includes a forfeiture count seeking an $18,345 money judgment.
According to the indictment, Adams made false and fraudulent claims last year to take advantage of the CARES Act, a federal law that is designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of relief provided by the CARES Act is the authorization of forgivable loans to small businesses for job retention and certain other expenses through the PPP.
The PPP allows qualifying small businesses and other organizations to receive loans with a maturity of two years and an interest rate of one percent. Businesses must use PPP loan proceeds for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. The PPP allows the interest and principal to be forgiven if businesses spend the proceeds on these expenses within a set timeframe and use at least a certain percentage of the loan towards payroll expenses.
IV. Texas Man Faces Federal Indictment After Threatening Doctor Who Publicly Advocated for COVID-19 Vaccine
On October 12, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron, announced that a federal grand jury had returned an indictment charging Scott Eli Harris, 51, of Aubrey, Texas for the federal charge of transmitting a threat via interstate communication. The charge is related to a threatening message sent to a Maryland medical doctor, who publicly advocated for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The indictment was returned on September 29, 2021, and unsealed Oct. 12 upon Harris’ arrest. Scott appeared on October 13, 2021, in U.S. District Court in Plano, Texas. If he is convicted in a court of law, Harris faces up to five years in federal prison.
The one-count indictment alleges that, on July 12, 2020, Harris sent a threat from his cell phone to the Maryland doctor who had been a vocal advocate of the Covid-19 vaccine. Harris’ alleged threats included violent statements including “Never going to take your wonder drug. My 12 gauge promises I won’t.… I can’t wait for the shooting to start.”
V. Lake County Felon Indicted for Illegal Firearm Possession and Destruction of Aircraft
On October 13, 2021, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Wendell Doyle Goney, 51, Mount Dora, Florida, with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and destruction of aircraft. If he is convicted of both counts, Goney faces up to 30 years in federal prison. The indictment also notifies Goney that the United States intends to forfeit a rifle and ammunition allegedly used in the commission of the offenses.
According to the indictment, on July 11, 2021, deputies from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary at a 10-acre business property in Mount Dora. Deputies deployed a law enforcement drone to assist with the outdoor search, only to have the drone destroyed by gunfire from a neighboring property.
When deputies responded to that location, they confronted Goney, who acknowledged that he had just shot down the drone with a .22 caliber rifle because he felt that drones had been “harassing” him. Goney also admitted to the deputies that he could not lawfully possess a firearm because he has 29 prior felony convictions in Florida. As a convicted felon, Goney is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law.
VI. Munhall Woman Charged with Filing Fraudulent Applications for Pandemic-Relief Funds
On October 13, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Stephen R. Kaufman, announced the indictment of Jaime Jones, 45, of Munhall, PA, by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh. The indictment charged Jones with wire fraud. The twelve-count Indictment, returned on Sept. 28, 2021, and unsealed today following her arrest, named Jones as the sole defendant. If she is convicted in a court of law, Jones faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
According to Indictment, from May 2020 to September 2020, Jones filed fraudulent applications on behalf of herself and others for pandemic-relief funding through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. As part of these fraudulent applications, Jones made numerous misrepresentations about whether particular businesses existed, the number of people employed by particular businesses, among other things, in an attempt to maximize the funding they received.
VII. Five Charged in Firearm Trafficking Conspiracy
On October 13, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming, Bob Murray, announced that the U.S. District Court had completed arraignment hearings and set a trial date for five defendants charged by indictment with conspiracy to make false statements during the purchase of firearms and to unlawfully transport and transfer firearms outside of the state of Wyoming.
The co-conspirators charged in the indictment include Sherwin J. Williams, 26, of Lancaster, California, Tierra Holland, 33, and Darwin Francisco Thomas, 33, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Dexter Alfred Thomas, 31, of Gardena, California, and Phillip Martin Flores, of Las Vegas, Nevada. The trial is set for January 18, 2022.
VIII. Logan County Man Charged with Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon
On October 13, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, Michael A. Bennett, announced that a federal grand jury in Bowling Green, Kentucky had just returned an indictment charging Albert Tyler, 60, of Russellville, KY, with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. Officially, Tyler is charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. If he is convicted in a court of law, Tyler faces up to 10 years in prison.
According to court documents, on or about July 19, 2021, Tyler possessed two handguns, even though he had previously been convicted of multiple felonies in Logan Circuit Court, including a conviction for third-degree burglary and two convictions for first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.
IX. Bakersfield Man Indicted for Unlawful Possession of Ammunition
On October 14, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, Phillip A. Talbert, announced that Raylon Thijay Randle, 24, of Bakersfield, had been charged by a federal grand jury with being a felon in possession of ammunition, If he is convicted in a court of law, Randle faces as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court documents, on Aug. 19, 2021, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle in which Randle was a passenger and discovered that he possessed a 9 mm handgun loaded with 31 rounds of ammunition. Randle cannot lawfully possess firearms or ammunition because he was convicted of first-degree burglary in 2016 and of being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2018.
X. Dodge County Man Indicted on Firearm Charges and for Impersonating a Federal Officer
In Minneapolis federal court on October 14, 2021, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against a Dodge County man for impersonating a federal officer. There were also several other counts, as a felon in possession of firearms, felon in possession of explosives, possession of unregistered firearms, and possession of an unauthorized badge. The indictment was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, W. Anders Folk.
According to the indictment, on August 17, 2021, the FBI received a tip that Reyel Devon Simmons, 52, of Dodge County, MN, was impersonating a federal agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The investigation revealed that Simmons used the false name “Rey Reeves,” and routinely held himself out as a federal agent on social media.
Simmons, who had nearly 10,000 followers on TikTok, used a profile photo that showed him wearing law enforcement gear and made several posts displaying law enforcement equipment, badges, and firearms. He also commonly, explicitly, and implicitly referred to himself as a federal agent. Simmons is not, and has never been, employed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.