Last Updated Friday, September 03, 2021, at 12:05 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, September 03, 2021

I. Chicago Man Charged with Making False Statements While Acquiring Firearms

On August 30, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John R. Lausch, Jr., announced that a Chicago man, Stovall Buchanan, had been charged in federal court with making materially false statements in the acquisition of more than 20 firearms. In 2019 and 2020, Buchanan acquired 23 handguns and a rifle from firearms dealers located in suburban Chicago. 

In doing so, he falsely certified on federal forms that he resided at a certain address in Chicago and, in connection with some of the purchases, that he was the actual buyer of the guns, both of which were false.

According to the criminal complaint in this case, which was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Buchanan, 23, resided at a different Chicago address at the time of the purchases, and within months of the sales all but one of the 23 guns were no longer in his possession.  Four of the firearms were later discovered in the possession of other individuals, including one felon who was prohibited by federal law from possessing a gun, the complaint states. 

Buchanan has been charged with making a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm.  If he is convicted in a court of law, Buchanan faces up to ten years in federal prison.  Buchanan made an initial court appearance Aug. 30 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in Chicago.

II. Philadelphia Woman Charged With Straw-Purchasing Nearly 20 Handguns in Rural Pennsylvania

On August 30, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Sharon Jones, 44, of Philadelphia was arrested and charged via indictment with one count of dealing in firearms without a license and six counts of making false statements to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) during the purchase of firearms.

According to the indictment, between July and September 2020, during six separate transactions, the defendant purchased a total of 19 firearms from a FFL on York Road in Warminster, PA, and that, each time, she made false statements during each purchase. Specifically, she allegedly certified on an official Firearm Transaction Record that she was the actual buyer, and that she lived at an address on Hartville Street in Philadelphia. 

According to the Indictment, Jones purchased firearms from manufacturers including Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Sig Sauer, and two .40 caliber Glocks, all for the purpose of reselling them for profit. The defendant was taken into custody and made her initial appearance in federal magistrate court on Aug. 27.

III. South Dakota Man Charged with Burglary, Larceny

On August 30, 2021, the Acting U. S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, Dennis R. Holmes, announced that a man from White River, South Dakota, Kurt Bartlett, had been indicted by a federal grand jury for Third Degree Burglary and Larceny. Bartlett, 27, was indicted on February 8, 2021.  Bartlett appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on August 25, 2021, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges in the indictment. 

If Holmes is convicted of the charges, he faces up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.

According to the details of the indictment, it is alleged that on July 9, 2021, in Mission, SD, Bartlett unlawfully entered a Todd County School District Bus Shop and stole property valued at over $1,000. The investigation is being conducted by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Albertson is prosecuting the case.

IV. Federal Charges Filed in East St. Louis Bank Robbery

As of August 30, 2021, two East St. Louis men now face federal charges for a deadly bank robbery that happened the previous weekend. Jaylan D. Quinn, 22, and Andrew R. Brinkley, 19, have been charged in a two-count criminal complaint for the August 27 armed robbery of the First Bank in East St. Louis that resulted in the murder of security guard Ted Horn.

According to the federal complaint filed Aug. 30, it is alleged that, on August 27, two masked men entered the First Bank located at 350 River Park Drive in East St. Louis. After they approached the tellers, one of the men, who was wearing a white face mask, put a demand note on the counter which read, “I GOT A BOMB STRAPPED TO MY CHEST PUT ALL THE MONEY IN OR EVERYONE DIE.” 

The bank teller gave the man some money, and the two robbers turned away from the counter and headed toward the doors. Ted Horn, 56, of St. Libory, Illinois, was working at the bank that day as a uniformed security guard. Horn moved to intercept the two men before they could leave, but the man wearing the white face mask pushed past Horn and ran out of the bank. 

The second man, the one wearing a black face mask, drew a semi-automatic handgun and shot Horn in the head. The robbers then fled in a white Lexus sedan. Horn was pronounced dead at the scene.

V. Pennsylvania Man Charged with Over $400,000 In COVID-19 Relief Fraud

On August 31, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Bruce D. Brandler, announced that Hayes D. Horner, Jr., 67, of Berwick, Pennsylvania, had been charged in a criminal information with perpetrating a wire fraud scheme to obtain and attempt to obtain over $400,000 in COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. 

The EIDL program is designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Funded by the March 2020 CARES Act, EIDL funds are offered in low-interest rate loans, designated for specific business expenses, such as fixed debts, payroll, and business obligation.

According to the criminal Information, it is alleged that Horner aided co-conspirators in obtaining and attempting to obtain over $400,000 in EIDL funds by opening two bank accounts that received EIDL funds obtained pursuant to fraudulent loan applications made in the names of other, unknowing individuals.  

Horner allegedly withdrew over $58,000 in fraudulently obtained EIDL funds and attempted unsuccessfully to wire approximately $165,000 in fraudulently obtained EIDL funds to other accounts under the control of his coconspirators.  Investigators seized over $100,000 in fraudulently obtained EIDL funds from a bank account under Horner’s control. 

The case was investigated by the FBI, and the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Phillip J. Caraballo, is prosecuting the case.

VI. Vermont Man Charged with Robbing Convenience Store at Knifepoint

On August 31, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Joey Miles Sherwood, 31, of Center Rutland, Vermont, had been arrested the day before in the August 1, 2021 knifepoint robbery of the Cumberland Farms convenience store in Wallingford, Vermont.  Sherwood made his initial appearance Aug. 31, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle, after he was charged by Criminal Complaint with Interference with Commerce by Robbery.  

Sherwood is currently being detained, and the government has requested his detention continue pending trial. According to court records, on August 1, 2021, Sherwood is alleged to have entered the Cumberland Farms convenience store in Wallingford, retrieved a soda from a drink cooler, approached the cashier, and asked for two packs of cigarettes.  

As the cashier rang up the sale, Sherwood allegedly produced a knife and demanded money.  The robbery netted $156 in cash and $21 in merchandise.  Sherwood is the suspect in five additional knifepoint robberies of convenience stores in Rutland and Addison counties that occurred in July and August of 2021.

VII. Former EDA Director Indicted on Federal Fraud Charges

Last week, a federal grand jury in Charlottesville returned an indictment last week charging the former executive director of the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of the Town of Front Royal and the County of Warren, Virginia, Jennifer Rae McDonald, with wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. 

According to the indictment, which was returned under seal last Wednesday and unsealed Aug. 31, McDonald, 44, of Front Royal, Virginia, was the executive director of the EDA from April 2008 until December 2018. From June 3, 2014, to on or about December 20, 2018, McDonald devised and participated in a scheme to defraud the EDA to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.

McDonald, through her position as executive director at the EDA, had access to funds belonging to the EDA and the indictment alleges that she used EDA funds to pay on debt owed by her, other individuals, and LLCs she controlled, to purchase real property for which she often earned commissions as a real estate agent, and to purchase real property in the name of an LLC she controlled. 

McDonald is charged with 16 counts of money laundering, 10 counts of bank fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The defendant made her initial court appearance Aug. 31 and was released pending trial.

VIII. Active-duty Sailor, Former Navy Colleague Charged with Conspiracy to Traffic Guns from Georgia to New Jersey

On August 31, 2021, announced that Elijah Isaiah Boykin, 25, of Palmetto, Georgia, and Elijah Keashon Barnes, 21, of Newark, New Jersey, had been indicted by a federal grand jury on June 15, 2021 for conspiracy to make false statements, three counts of making false statements to federally licensed firearms dealers, and one count of unlawful transfer of firearms. 

Boykin was an active-duty U.S. Navy Sailor and he and Barnes served together in the U.S. Navy until June 2020, when Barnes was discharged following his confinement for repeated violations of military law.

According to the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Kurt R. Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court, it is alleged that, between April 2020 and August 2020, Boykin purchased more than two dozen firearms from federally licensed firearms dealers in Georgia and Virginia.  

The total purchase price exceeded $17,000 and was spread over eight transactions.  On each occasion, Boykin signed paperwork stating that he was the actual purchaser of the guns but paid using a credit card belonging to co-defendant Barnes. To date, at least six firearms purchased by Boykin have been recovered in the city of Newark or a nearby township.

IX. Pennsylvania Man Indicted for Drug Trafficking

On September 2, 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Jeffrey Christopher Cerrato, 21, of Oxford, Pennsylvania, had been indicted on September 1, 2021, by a federal grand jury for drug trafficking offenses.  According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the indictment alleges that on January 14, 2021, in York County, Pennsylvania, Cerrato possessed approximately one pound of meth with the intent to distribute. 

The matter was investigated by the York City Police Department, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Miovas, Jr. is prosecuting the case. This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  

The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, local and tribal level, to reduce crime.

X. Harrisburg Man Indicted for Drug Trafficking, Firearms Offenses

On September 2, 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Omar Tollinchi-Torres, 42, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 1 for drug trafficking and firearms offenses. According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the indictment alleges that on March 30, 2021, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, Tollinchi-Torres attempted to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine.

The indictment further alleges that Tollinchi-Torres was in possession of a Glock model 23 .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol during and in relation to the attempted drug trafficking offense. This matter was investigated by the Pennsylvania State Police, along with United States Postal Inspectors.