Last Updated Friday, September 17, 2021, at 12:07 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, September 17, 2021
I. SoCal Man Charged with Firearms, Narcotics Trafficking, Including Fentanyl Sale that Led to Fatal OD
On September 13, 2021, a federal grand jury indictment was unsealed. The indictment charges a man from Redondo Beach who allegedly sold counterfeit oxycodone laced with fentanyl that caused a fatal opioid overdose. That man, Marcus Michael Takaya Poydras, 32, is a dual U.S./ Japanese citizen, was arrested September 9 by DEA agents, and the next day, a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Poydras held without bond pending trial, which is currently set for Nov. 2.
The five-count indictment that led to Poydras’ arrest charges him with one count of distributing fentanyl resulting in death, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, and two counts of possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The five charges stem from three separate incidents.
In the first incident, which took place January 22, 2020, Poydras allegedly sold to another drug dealer counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. In the second incident, another drug dealer distributed the counterfeit pills to a 43-year-old victim who later suffered a fatal fentanyl overdose at his residence in Marina del Rey.
As part of that investigation, DEA agents and the LA County Sheriff’s Department executed a federal search warrant at Poydras’ residence on July 14, 2020, where law enforcement officials seized cocaine and a .38-caliber revolver with a serial number that had been obliterated.
II. California Resident Charged in Superseding Indictment for Role in Sim Swap Scam Targeting at Least 40
On September 13, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Duane A. Evans announced that Richard Yuan Li, 21, of Hercules, California, had been charged by a federal grand jury seated in the Eastern District of Louisiana on August 26, 2021, in a four-count Superseding Indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in interstate communication with intent to extort and to commit computer fraud and abuse, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
The charges stem from his role in a SIM Swap scam that targeted at least forty people, including a New Orleans-area physician. According to the Superseding Indictment, a SIM Swap scam is a cellular phone account takeover fraud that results in the routing of a victim’s incoming calls and text messages to a different phone.
Once a perpetrator is able to swap the SIM card, it is likely he is able to obtain access to a victim’s various personal accounts, including email accounts, bank accounts, and cryptocurrency accounts, as well as any other accounts that use two-factor authentication. Li participated in a scheme that involved multiple parts.
III. Seven More Charged for Involvement in Staged Auto Accident Scheme
On September 13, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane A. Evans, announced that on August 26, 2021, an indictment had been returned against Ashley McGowan, 35; Lertrice Johnson, 45; Davienque, 27; Herbert Allen, 36, Troylynn Brown, 34; Dion Ridley, 22; and Jarvis Brown, 29, of New Orleans, Louisiana.
All seven indicted defendants were charged in a four-count federal indictment, and all of them were charged in count one with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. McGowan, L. Johnson, and D. Johnson were charged in count two with Mail Fraud. Allen, T. Brown, Ridley, and J. Brown were charged in counts three and four with Mail Fraud.
If they are convicted in a court of law, all seven faceup to five years in prison for Count one and up to an additional 20 years in prison for Counts two, three and four. They also face a term of supervised release for up to five years, as well as fines as high as $250,000 per count.
IV. Pennsylvania Men Indicted for Conspiracy and Assault on Law Enforcement During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach
Two Pennsylvania men were arrested on September 13, 2021, after they were indicted for various crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining, counting, and certifying the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Marshall Neefe, 25, of Newville, PA was indicted on federal offenses that include conspiracy to obstruct an official federal proceeding, including assaulting, resisting or impeding certain law enforcement officers while using a dangerous weapon; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds; and carrying out an act of physical violence on the Capitol grounds. In all, Neefe faces a total of 10 charges, including seven felonies.
In addition, Charles Bradford Smith, a/k/a Brad Smith, 25, of Shippensburg, PA, was indicted on charges such as conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
Both made their initial appearances in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Smith faces a total of seven charges, including four felonies.
V. Hobart Man Charged with Mail Fraud
On September 14, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Tina L. Nommay, announced that Sergio Gutierrez, 49, of Hobart, Indiana, had been indicted and charged with mail fraud.
According to court documents filed in this case, the indictment alleges that, around or about May 2015 and continued through December 2019, Sergio Gutierrez devised a scheme to defraud the Lake County Auditor’s Office by using other individuals to purchase properties through the Lake County Commissioners’ tax sales when Gutierrez himself was prohibited from doing so.
The scheme enabled Gutierrez to obtain property without paying delinquent property taxes. In addition, as part of that scheme, Gutierrez caused notice to be deposited in the U.S. Mail, which is a violation of federal mail fraud statutes.
VI. New Mexico Man Charged with Sexual Abuse and Assault in Indian Country
On September 8, 2021, an enrolled member of the Isleta Pueblo named Jonathan Jojola, 33, was arraigned in federal court on a two-count indictment charging him with assault of an intimate partner by strangling or suffocating and aggravated sexual abuse. The assault and abuse happened in Indian Country.
According to the indictment, on March 28, 2021, Jojola allegedly engaged in a sexual act with the victim, who was identified in court records as Jane Doe, via the use of force. On March 29, Jojola allegedly assaulted Jane Doe by attempting to strangle and suffocate her. Both incidents allegedly occurred on the Isleta Pueblo in Bernalillo County, New Mexico.
VII. Louisiana Doctor Indicted for Illegally Dispensing One Million Plus Opioid Doses, plus $5.1 Million Fraud Scheme
On September 14, 2021, it was announced that, back on August 26, 2021, a federal grand jury in New Orleans, Louisiana, returned an indictment charging a Louisiana physician, Adrian Dexter Talbot, M.D., 55, of Slidell, Louisiana, for his role in distributing more than 1.2 million doses of Schedule II controlled substances, including oxycodone and morphine, outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
The indictment also charges him with maintaining his clinic for the purpose of illegally distributing controlled substances. The current indictment also charges Dr. Talbot with defrauding health care benefit programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, of more than $5.1 million, given that the opioid prescriptions were filled using health insurance benefits.
According to court documents, Dr. Talbot owned and operated a medical clinic located in Slidell, LA that accepted cash payments from individuals seeking prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances. In 2015, Talbot took a full-time job in Pineville, Louisiana, and although he was no longer physically present at the Slidell clinic, he pre-signed prescriptions to be distributed to individuals there without seeing them or conducting examinations of those individuals.
In 2016, Talbot hired another practitioner who also pre-signed prescriptions to be distributed in the same manner at the Slidell clinic. With Talbot’s knowledge, individuals were filling prescriptions that were issued outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. At the same time, they used their insurance benefits to pay for them, thus causing health care benefit programs to be fraudulently billed.
VIII. Three Former U.S. Intel and Military Personnel Agree to Resolve Criminal Charges for Their Provision of Hacking-Related Services to a Foreign Government
On September 14, 2021, it was announced that two U.S. citizens, Marc Baier, 49, and Ryan Adams, 34, and a former U.S. citizen, Daniel Gericke, 40, had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) on Sept 7. All three were former employees of the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) or the U.S. military, and the DPA restricts their future activities and employment and requires the payment of $1,685,000 in penalties, to resolve a Department of Justice investigation regarding violations of U.S. export control, computer fraud and access device fraud laws.
The Department filed the DPA Sept. 14, along with a criminal information alleging that the defendants conspired to violate such laws. According to court documents, the defendants worked as senior managers at a United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)-based company (U.A.E. CO) that supported and carried out computer network exploitation (CNE) operations (i.e., “hacking”) for the benefit of the U.A.E government between 2016 and 2019.
Despite being informed on several occasions that their work for U.A.E. CO, under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), constituted a “defense service” requiring a license from the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), the defendants proceeded to provide such services without a license, including providing support and direction in the creation of sophisticated “zero-click” computer hacking and intelligence gathering systems. Those included some capable of compromising a device without any action by the target.
IX. Three Texans Charged with Fraud, Money Laundering Related to Conspiracies Targeting Youth Meal Programs
On September 15, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Stephen R. Kaufman, announced that three Texas residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of mail and wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
The three-count Indictment, returned on August 25, 2021, and unsealed Sept 14, names Charles Simpson, 43, of Southlake, Texas, Tanisha Jackson, 49, and Paige Jackson, 29, both of Lancaster, Texas, as defendants. Charles Simpson and Paige Jackson were arrested Sept. 14 in the Dallas area and made their initial appearances the same day in the Northern District of Texas. Tanisha Jackson remains at large.
According to the Indictment, Simpson, Tanisha Jackson, and Paige Jackson controlled and operated HOIN, Inc. (“HOIN”), a Texas-based non-profit organization. The defendants allegedly caused HOIN (a/k/a “Helping Others in Need”) to enroll as a “sponsor” in two programs funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) for the purpose of providing meals to underprivileged youth—the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (“CACFP”) and the Summer Food Service Program (“SFSP”) (collectively, “the feeding programs”).
CACFP funded after-school meal service during the school year, while SFSP operated in the summer months. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (“PADOE”) administered the USDA-funded feeding programs.
X. Previously Deported Alien Charged with Illegal Re-Entry, Gun Possession, and Drug Offenses
On September 16, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Bruce D. Brandler, made the announcement that a federal grand jury in Harrisburg charged Anthony Rodriguez-Ortiz, 33, yesterday with illegal re-entry into the United States by a previously deported alien, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, illegal alien in possession of a firearm, possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances, and distribution of controlled substances.
According to Brandler, Rodriguez-Ortiz was previously deported from the United States to the Dominican Republic back in December of 2013. The indictment alleges that he illegally reentered the United States again sometime after December 2013 and was found in York County, Pennsylvania, after eluding immigration officers.
The indictment also alleges that, when encountered, he was found to be an illegal alien and convicted felon, and that he was in possession of both a firearm and fentanyl. He is also alleged to have sold fentanyl on two previous occasions.
XI. Pennsylvania Man Charged with Drug Trafficking and Firearm Offenses
On September 15, 2021, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Bruce D. Brandler, announced that Aaron Walter Gray, 36, of Frackville, Pennsylvania, had been indicted by a federal grand jury the day before for drug trafficking and firearms offenses. According to the indictment, Gray is charged with possessing quantities of meth, heroin, and fentanyl, with the intent to distribute.
He is also charged with possessing a pistol with an obliterated serial number in furtherance of trafficking heroin. Gray is also charged with possessing two additional firearms and a quantity of ammunition while knowing that he had previously been convicted of a felony.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James M. Buchanan is prosecuting the case, as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction initiatives. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders works together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a particular community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.