Last Updated Friday, October 30, 2020, at 8:53 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 30, 2020
I. New Mexico Men Charged with Sexual Abuse of a Minor in Navajo Nation
Jeremiah Elijah Jim, 40, of Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, was arraigned in federal court on Oct. 6 on an indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and abusive sexual contact of a minor in Indian Country. His co-defendant, Bryan Bull, 39, of Shiprock, New Mexico, appeared in federal court on Sept. 21 for arraignment on the same charges.
Both men are enrolled members of the Navajo Nation. A federal grand jury charged Jim and Bull on Sept. 10 with four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of abusive sexual contact of a minor. The men are further charged in each count with aiding and abetting in the abuse.
According to the indictment, between June 3 and June 4, 2019, Jim and Bull allegedly threatened the then-14-year-old victim with serious bodily injury and sexually assaulted him. The charged offenses took place in Shiprock, New Mexico, in San Juan County on the Navajo Nation. Bull and Jim are currently in custody pending trial. If convicted, each defendant faces up to life in prison.
II. Holistic Wellness Business Founder Charged in Ponzi Scheme
The founder of a Nashville-based holistic wellness business was charged on October 23, 2020 with operating a Ponzi scheme, in which he duped dozens of patients, financial institutions and investors out of nearly $700,000. The charges were announced on October 26, 2020 by the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Don Cochran. Howard L. Young, 75, of Nashville, was charged in a criminal Information with four counts of bank fraud; six counts of wire fraud; and aggravated identity theft.
According to the charging documents, in 2015, Young allegedly founded Integrative Medical Services (IMS), purportedly a holistic wellness business. Young also held himself out to hold a Doctor of Naturopathy, even though he did not hold a Medical Doctorate, nor did he have a medical license.
As early as 2017, Young began soliciting cancer patients, investors and employees, telling them that he had obtained a $2 million grant from Vanderbilt University to study cancer patients and other patients with chronic medical conditions. Young claimed he was awarded this grant because he had cured himself of cancer using naturopathic methods.
Young also promised that, as part of the study, patients would receive nutritional supplements, blood testing, nutrition and exercise coaching, gym memberships, massages, and acupuncture. In fact, Vanderbilt had not awarded any grants to Young or IMS.
Young’s representations that IMS had a grant from Vanderbilt were false and was intended to induce patients to apply for and obtain credit and loan accounts at Synchrony Bank, MetaBank, and Cross River Bank; to induce investors to give him funds for his fraudulent scheme; and to induce employees to help him solicit additional patients to participate in his fraudulent scheme.
III. California Woman Indicted on Drug and Gun Charges
On October 26, 2020, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Amy Campos, 37, of Bakersfield, charging her with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The announcement of the charges was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor W. Scott.
According to court documents, on July 28, 2019, Campos possessed a Glock 27 .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Additionally, on February 15, 2019, she possessed in excess of 50 grams of methamphetamine.
Campos had previously been convicted twice for possession for sale of a controlled substance, twice for felon in possession of a firearm, once for felon in possession of ammunition, and she had another conviction for second degree burglary, as well as one for possession for sale of a narcotic.
These prior convictions prohibited Campos from possessing either a firearm or ammunition. If convicted, Campos faces up to life in prison and a $10 million fine.
IV. Postal Employee Charged for Destroying Mail
An employee of the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been charged for willfully obstructing the passage of mail. The announcement of the charges was made on October 26, 2020 by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman. DeShawn Bojgere, 30, of, Louisville has been charged with the delay or destruction of mail.
According to the criminal complaint, sometime between October 5 and October 15, 2020, Bojgere discarded a large quantity of mail in a construction dumpster in Louisville.
When it was found, the discarded mail included approximately 111 general election absentee ballots from the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office being mailed to voters to be filled out, as well as approximately 69 mixed class pieces of flat rate mail, 320 second class pieces of mail, and two national election campaign flyers from a political party in Florida.
An analysis of the mail revealed it was from a single route for one scheduled delivery day. Bojgere admitted to special agents with the USPS that he was responsible for discarding the mail in the construction dumpster. Copies of the mail were made to retain as evidence, while all of the recovered mail was placed back in the mail stream for delivery to its intended recipients.
Bojgere is no longer employed by USPS. If convicted, Bojgere faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and one year of supervised release after serving the sentence.
V. Investigation into Violent White Supremacist Gang Leads to RICO Indictment, Additional Charges
On October 26, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska Bryan Schroder announced that additional charges have been brought in a superseding indictment against members and associates of a white supremacist gang known as the 1488s. The 1488s have been charged as a criminal organization that was involved in narcotics distribution, arson, obstruction of justice, and acts of violence including murder, assault, and kidnapping.
Two new defendants were added to the recently unsealed superseding indictment. Felicia King, 55, of Wasilla, Alaska, was charged with accessory after the fact for her role in the August 2017 beating, kidnapping, and murder of Michael Staton, a/k/a “Steak Knife.” Justin Eaton, a/k/a “Skulls,” 45, of Anchorage, Alaska, who had been previously charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, was charged with RICO conspiracy, kidnapping and assault for his role in April 2, 2017, beating of a former 1488 member.
Original defendants Filthy Fuhrer, (formerly Timothy Lobdell), 42; Roy Naughton, a/k/a “Thumper,” 40; Glen Baldwin, a/k/a “Glen Dog,” 37; Craig King, a/k/a “Oakie,” 53; and Colter O’Dell, 26, were all charged in a RICO Conspiracy.
Fuhrer and Naughton also face additional charges for federal kidnapping, as well as kidnapping and Assault in Aid of Racketeering for incidents occurring in April and July of 2017. In the original indictment, Fuhrer, Naughton, Baldwin, King, O’Dell, and Beau Cook, 32, were charged with murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, assault in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit assault and kidnapping in aid of racketeering.
Two others, Nicholas M. Kozorra, aka “Beast,” 29, and Dustin J. Clowers, 34, previously pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in unsealed court documents. Additionally, Cook has pled guilty to kidnapping for his role in the Staton homicide.
VI. Colorado Man Charged with Smuggling Cocaine into the U.S. via Newark Airport
On October 26, 2020, a Colorado man made his initial appearance on charges that he smuggled approximately two kilograms of cocaine into the United States. The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito announced the charges the same day.
Leandre Kemont Jefferson, 23, of Denver, was arrested on October 23, 2020. He is charged by complaint with one count of importation of controlled substances and appear ed via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, on Oct. 23, 2020, Jefferson arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport aboard a flight from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
During a screening, law enforcement officers discovered that Jefferson possessed approximately two kilograms of cocaine concealed inside 12 vacuum packed bags, which were themselves wrapped in foil, and which was further concealed inside of clothing. If convicted, Jefferson faces at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, as well as a $5 million fine.
VII. Pennsylvania Man Indicted for Evading $2.7 Million Tax Payment
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced on October 27, 2020 that Ivan Rempel, 76, of Camp Hill had been indicted on September 30, 2020 by a federal grand jury on one count of tax evasion and nine counts of failure to pay and account for employment taxes.
According to U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Rempel was the President and Chief Executive of a warehousing business in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, since the early 1990s and evaded payment of approximately $2.7 million to the IRS. It is alleged that, from 1991 to 2017, Rempel habitually failed to pay to the IRS employment taxes that he withheld from his employees’ paychecks.
Rempel also failed to file required forms with the IRS to account for the employment taxes. The IRS eventually took steps to collect the money from his business and personal bank accounts, when in 2017 they imposed levies on certain accounts.
But, when they tried to collect the money from his bank accounts, Rempel began hiding the money. He took payment from his customers and turned it into cashier checks, which he deposited into other bank accounts and quickly made payroll, then balanced out his bank accounts so that the IRS had no money to collect.
He also began moving money overseas to international bank accounts to avoid paying the employment taxes he was withholding from employees’ paychecks.
VIII. Former Federal Reserve Employee Charged with Wire Fraud in Connection With Alleged Disability Fraud Scheme
On October 28, 2020, Lawrence Rufrano was charged via criminal complaint alleging wire fraud. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David L. Anderson, along with Office of Inspector General for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (FRB OIG) Special Agent in Charge John T. Perez; and Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge Robb Stickley.
Rufrano made an initial federal court appearance before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero that same day. According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Rufrano, 66, of Brisbane, is an attorney who was once employed as a Senior Supervisory Financial Analyst at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Rufrano left his employment due to a purported long-term disability that prevented him from working, and he collected long term disability payments from the Federal Reserve System from approximately January 2014 until March 2019. In October 2014, Rufrano applied for, and was awarded, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
While he was collecting disability benefits, Rufrano claimed that his condition was deteriorating, that he was not working, and that could not hold even a menial job. The FRB OIG initiated an investigation after receiving information that Rufrano had a significant internet presence indicating that he held undisclosed employment.
While he was collecting disability benefits, Rufrano had an obligation to report any employment to both the Social Security Administration and the Federal Reserve System. The complaint alleges that he did not do so, but instead, starting in December 2015, Rufrano concealed employment with three companies, two law firms, and a university.
According to the complaint, one of the law firms paid Rufrano a flat fee of $18,750 per month for his services, while the subsequent law firm paid him $175,000 a year. Rufrano is charged with wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
IX. Texas Man Charged with Defrauding Investors in Oil and Gas Deals
On October 29, 2020, authorities arrested a 55-year-old Houston man on charges of operating a scheme to defraud investors in oil and gas transactions. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick.
A federal grand jury returned the 12-count indictment against Arael Doolittle back on October 22, 2020. He made his initial appearance October 29 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo.
The indictment alleges Doolittle operated Sariel Petroleum LLC and Sariel Enterprises LLC. He is alleged to have taken in excess of $1.2 million from 21 investors under false pretenses through his companies. Doolittle falsely represented he had the necessary pre-existing relationships with major refiners and petroleum product suppliers to purchase fuels for resale to his customers, according to the charges.
The indictment further alleges Doolittle provided falsified documents to the investors to further assure them of the legitimacy of his representations. In all, Doolittle is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived funds.
If convicted on wire fraud, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of any of the other four counts, he faces the same fines and up to 10 years in prison.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020
I. New Jersey Man Arrested for Threatening Federal Judge
A Bergen County, New Jersey man was arrested Oct. 18, 2020, for threatening to injure a federal judge. The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito n October 19, 2020. William Kaetz, 56, of Paramus, New Jersey, was charged by criminal complaint with making an interstate communication containing a threat to injure a person and with threatening to assault and murder a federal judge.
Kaetz made his initial appearance on October 19, 2020 by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor. According to the criminal complaint, on September 24, 2020, Kaetz sent a communication via U.S. Mail to a federal district judge’s house, claiming to have a pending civil matter before the judge and requesting that the judge expedite the case.
Kaetz was interviewed that day by investigators and admitted to being concerned about the status of his pending lawsuit before the judge. He also asked for the judge to be recused and stated that he had acquired the judge’s home address using a paid internet-based service. Kaetz further stated that the excessive delay on his pending case was unacceptable to him.
On September 30, 2020, Kaetz left a voicemail at the judge’s office, stating that he had cases pending before the judge, that the judge should have decided his matters weeks ago, and that he wanted the judge off his cases and off the bench. Kaetz further stated that he would not take “no” for an answer.
On Oct. 18, 2020, Kaetz sent an email to the judge’s personal email account and to others, including the general email address for the U.S. Marshals Service, where he claimed that the judge had been “avoiding and stonewalling” his case, that the judge was a “traitor,” that being a traitor “has a death sentence,” and that “there will come a time to take down those people that fail to do their job.”
If convicted on the charge of making an interstate communication containing a threat to injure a person, Kaetz faces up to five years in prison, while the charge of threatening to assault and murder a federal judge carries up to 10 years in prison. Both charges also carry a maximum $250,000 fine.
II. South Dakota Trio Charged with Robbery and Aggravated Assault that Nearly Resulted in Victim’s Death
On October 19, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced that two men and one woman have been indicted by a federal grand jury for three counts of aggravated assault, maiming, and robbery. Tiffany Bernard, 28, and Randall Delbert Pumpkinseed, 31, were indicted on October 6, 2020.
Each appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes on October 15, 2020 and pled not guilty to the Indictment. Brendon Javon Jacob Rodlund, 31, was indicted on the same day, and he is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes on December 14, 2020, where he is expected to plead not guilty to the Indictment.
The Indictment alleges that, during the night between November 16 and 17, 2015, Rodlund, Bernard, and Pumpkinseed, while aiding and abetting each other, assaulted the victim in an effort to rob them of property and things of value. Each defendant was charged with the following: assault with intent to commit murder; maiming the victim; robbery; assault with a dangerous weapon; assault resulted in serious bodily injury.
If convicted for assault with intent to commit murder and maiming each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison; robbery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years; assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury each carry up to 10 years.
Each count also carries a $250,000 fine, or both fine and imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
III. Three Charged with COVID-19 Relief Fraud
Brandy D. Scaife, 42, Janisha L. Jones, 22, and Sharika L. Carpenter, 42, of Better Days Tax Service, have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. D. Michael Dunavant, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee announced the unsealing of the federal criminal complaint on October 19, 2020.
According to information presented in the complaint, between April 2020 and June 2020, Scaife, Jones, and Carpenter participated in a fraud scheme to obtain more than $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds from the Small Business Administration. Further, the scheme resulted in 401 fraudulently filed applications seeking Economic Injury Disaster loans made available to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Numerous applications were submitted using false information for the purpose of facilitating the fraudulent activity, which brought them approximately $1.1 million in fraudulently obtained funds. If convicted, each defendant faces up to 30 years in prison.
IV. Six Russian GRU Officers Charged with Worldwide Deployment of Destructive Malware and Other Disruptive Actions in Cyberspace
On Oct. 15, 2020, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned an indictment charging six computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Russian Federation (Russia) and officers in Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces.
These GRU hackers and their co-conspirators engaged in computer intrusions and attacks intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize: (1) Ukraine; (2) Georgia; (3) elections in France; (4) efforts to hold Russia accountable for its use of a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on foreign soil; and (5) the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games after Russian athletes were banned from participating under their nation’s flag, as a consequence of Russian government-sponsored doping effort.
Their computer attacks used some of the world’s most destructive malware to date, including: KillDisk and Industroyer, which each caused blackouts in Ukraine; NotPetya, which caused nearly $1 billion in losses to the three victims identified in the indictment alone; and Olympic Destroyer, which disrupted thousands of computers used to support the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and false registration of a domain name.
According to the indictment, beginning in or around November 2015 and continuing until at least in or around October 2019, the defendants and their co-conspirators deployed destructive malware and took other disruptive actions, for the strategic benefit of Russia, through unauthorized access to victim computers (hacking).
V. Five Alleged MS-13 Members Charged for Participation in Violent Racketeering Conspiracy
On October 19, 2020, a federal grand jury returned an eleventh superseding indictment, charging five men in connection with a conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13. The eleventh superseding indictment adds a new defendant charged with a racketeering conspiracy related to his membership in MS-13, including a double homicide and drug trafficking.
Charged in the 10-count superseding indictment are Junior Noe Alvarado-Requeno, a/k/a “Insolente” and “Trankilo,” 23, of Landover, Maryland; Luis Arnoldo Flores-Reyes, a/k/a “Maloso” and “Lobo,” 39, of Arlington, Virginia; Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, a/k/a “Reaper,” 38, of Long Branch, New Jersey; Jairo Arnaldo Jacome, a/k/a “Abuelo,” 38, of Langley Park, Maryland; and Brayan Alexander Contreras-Avalos, a/k/a “Anonimo,” “Malia,” and “Humilde,” 20, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
The 11th superseding indictment was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, along with a number of law enforcement officials, on October 20, 2020. MS-13 is a national and international gang composed primarily of immigrants or descendants from El Salvador. Branches or “cliques” of MS-13, one of the largest street gangs in the United States, operate throughout Maryland.
Throughout this conspiracy, members of MS-13 were expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang from rival gang members and other persons, by any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence. More specifically, the 11th superseding indictment charges that in June 2016, Alvarado-Requeno and other high-ranking MS-13 members planned with and directed other members and associates of MS-13 to search for and murder gang rivals known as “chavalas” in and around Hyattsville, Maryland.
On June 8, 2016, Alvarado-Requeno directed Contreras-Avalos and lower-ranking members of MS-13 to murder two individuals who were believed to be members of the rival 18th Street gang. Pursuant to this plan and as directed by Alvarado-Requeno, Contreras-Avalos, and other MS-13 members and associates stabbed the two victims to death.
VI. Postal Worker Charged for Alleged Theft of Mail
A Miami Beach postal carrier has been charged with theft of mail and deprivation of the right to vote. The charges were announced on October 19, 2020 by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, Southern Area Field Office (USPS-OIG).
According to a criminal complaint affidavit, Crystal Nicole Myrie, 31, of Tamarac, Florida, stole a vote-by-mail ballot, approximately 36 political flyers, gift cards and pre-paid debit cards, and other articles of mail instead of delivering them to the intended recipients located within her official postal route.
The stolen mail was discovered in the backseat of Myrie’s personal vehicle on October 16, 2020. Myrie had her initial appearance in federal court on October 19, 2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes.
VII. West Virginia, Virginia Residents Indicted for Drug Trafficking Operation
Seven people are facing charges in aa drug trafficking conspiracy announced by the U.S. Attorney Bill Powell. Those named in the 16-count indictment are facing charges of distributing controlled substances in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties from October 2019 to April 2020.
Those charged include Michael Pierre Christian, 43; Misty Rose Jackson, 33; Justin Clinton, 25; Stephon Robert Christian, 26; and Shane Lee Dirting, 54; all of Martinsburg, West Virginia; Charles Jackson, 52, of Winchester, Virginia; and Jaime Renee Coddington, 34, of Falling Waters, West Virginia
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Omps-Botteicher is prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI; the Department of Homeland Security Investigations; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the West Virginia State Police; the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, a HIDTA-funded initiative; and the West Virginia Air National Guard investigated.
VIII. Miami Lawyer Charged with Bank Robbery
Miami lawyer Aaron Patrick Honaker, 41, has been charged with committing a series of bank robberies and attempted bank robberies in South Florida over the past three weeks. The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Ariana Fajardo Orshan, along with FBI Miami Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro.
The criminal complaint charges Honaker with robbing $1050 from an Aventura bank on October 3, 2020 and robbing $800 from a Coral Gables bank on October 10, 2020. It also charges him with attempting to rob four banks in Coral Gables around that same time.
According to the allegations made in the complaint affidavit, Honaker followed a consistent approach during the six robbery attempts, two of which were successful: he would enter each bank alone, walk up to a teller window, and ask the teller for assistance in making a withdrawal.
Honaker would pass a note to the bank teller that contained hand-written instructions and warnings, such as “[d]on’t touch the alarm or call the police,” “empty all of your $50s and $100s and put it in an envelope,” and “[k]eep calm, and give me all the money in the drawer, I have a gun.” Honaker would take his note with him on the way out of the bank, says the affidavit.
FBI Miami issued law enforcement bulletins containing descriptions and bank surveillance images of the robber. According to the complaint, on October 20, officers spotted a man matching the FBI bulletin descriptions who appeared to be casing the area around a Coral Gables bank. Officers approached the man and identified him as Honaker.
IX. Charlotte Man Charged with Cyberstalking
On October 22, 2020, a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte, N.C. returned a criminal indictment charging Amir Salvatore Khayyat, 27, of Charlotte, with cyberstalking and making interstate threats, for sending his victim hundreds of harassing and threatening emails and voicemails. The charges were announced by Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
According to the indictment, in 2017, Khayyat met the victim, identified in court documents as “Jane Doe.” Jane Doe is a licensed clinical psychologist and a credentialed mental health service provider, who met Khayyat in her professional capacity. As alleged in the indictment, from April 2019 to October 2020, Khayyat engaged in an extensive cyberstalking and threats campaign targeting Jane Doe.
For approximately 18 months, Khayyat allegedly sent Jane Doe hundreds of harassing emails, including unsolicited sexual imagery, from multiple email addresses, and left numerous harassing voicemails on Jane Doe’s office phone line. Many of the harassing emails and voicemails contained express or implicit threats to harm Jane Doe and law enforcement officers.
The indictment further alleges that Khayyat continued to harass and threaten Jane Doe even after she obtained a state court order forbidding Khayyat from communicating with her.
X. Oregon Man Charged with Civil Disorder
On October 21, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams announced that a Portland, Oregon man has been charged with Civil Disorder and Theft of Government Property during protest activities in Portland. Jeffrey Richard Singer, 33, is charged in an two-count indictment with Civil Disorder and, in a separate incident, Theft of Government Property.
According to the court record, on the evening of October 4, 2020, Singer was one of a number of individuals protesting near Portland City Hall in Downtown Portland. Singer charged at two officers with his shoulder lowered. He slammed into the officers, causing one of them to stagger backwards from the force of the impact and injuring that officer’s hands.
After colliding with the officers, Singer was arrested. In a separate incident on September 19, 2020, a group of individuals were protesting near the Gus Solomon Courthouse in downtown Portland. Singer is alleged to have stolen the U.S. flag from the Court’s flagpole.
Singer made his initial appearance in federal court October 21, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered released pending a two-day jury trial scheduled for December 22, 2020. While on release, he must abide by strict conditions, including a curfew from 8:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2020
I. U.S. Attorney for South Dakota Announces Arrest of a Michigan Man for Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl
On October 11, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Drew Wrigley announced that a federal grand jury had indicted Donald Eugene Green, 53, Southfield, Michigan, for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. The Indictment was unsealed October 12.
That indictment alleges that on July 24, 2020, Green traveled from Chicago, IL, to Minot, ND, via a one-day round-trip ticket on an Amtrak Train. After arriving in Minot, Green, who was carrying a duffle bag, went to the Minot Airport, rented a vehicle, departed, and later returned to the airport.
After returning, the Ward County Narcotics Task Force effected a search of Green’s vehicle, where they discovered that Green’s duffle bag contained 500 grams of Fentanyl. This case is being investigated by the Ward County Narcotics Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the case is being prosecuted by the United
States Attorney’s office, with Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Ensrud assigned to the case.
II. Five Defendants Charged in Methamphetamine Conspiracy
On October 8, 2020, a fourth defendant involved in a meth drug conspiracy was arrested by U.S. Marshals in West Tulsa and made an initial appearance the next day in U.S. District Court. The announcement of the arrest was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma Trent Shores.
Tina Marie Tankersly, 33, of Tulsa, was one of five defendants named in an August 2020 indictment charging all defendants with drug conspiracy and other crimes. Also charged with drug conspiracy were Charles Dean Studie, 36; Albert Douglas Parker, 35; Sydney Daloise Courtney, 28; and Marty Jay Foster, 52, all of Tulsa.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine in the Tulsa area. A fifth defendant, Marty Foster, remains at large and is wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service. The indictment also charged Tankersley and Parker with maintaining a drug involved premises in Tulsa.
Studie is also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Studie and Courtney are also charged with maintaining a drug involved premises at 1622 West 59th Street South in Tulsa.
III. Man Charged with Using Explosive Device to Damage Suburban Chicago Restaurant
A man was arrested on October 9, 2020, on a federal criminal charge for allegedly using an explosive device to damage a suburban Chicago restaurant. Diego Vargas, 24, is charged with one count of maliciously attempting to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive device, according to the indictment, which was unsealed October 8, 2020 in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
The indictment and arrest were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, along with several prominent law enforcement officials. According to the indictment, Vargas allegedly used the explosive device at the Egg Harbor Cafe in Naperville, Ill., on June 1, 2020.
If convicted, Vargas faces at least five years and up tp 20 years in prison. Vargas, whose most recent address is unknown, was arrested Wednesday night. A detention hearing occurred October 9, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Heather K. McShain in Chicago.
IV. California Woman Arrested on Identity Theft Charges Involving Over $500,000 in Fraudulently Obtained COVID-19 Unemployment Relief
On October 9, 2020, a Riverside County woman was arrested on federal charges that she defrauded California’s unemployment insurance system by using stolen personal information obtained from the darknet to fraudulently receive more than a half-million dollars in COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
Cara Marie Kirk-Connell, 32, of Menifee, was named in a federal criminal complaint that charges her with identity theft, mail fraud, and access device fraud. She was expected to make her initial appearance October 13 in U.S. District Court in Riverside.
According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, on September 11, 2020, Murrieta police conducted a traffic stop of Kirk-Connell. A search of the car resulted in the seizure of eight debit cards that contained unemployment benefits in other people’s names, as well as more than $30,000 in cash and several driver’s licenses for other motorists.
When interviewed by police, Kirk-Connell allegedly admitted that she and others would go onto the “dark web” to gather identifying information of others. She allegedly then used this information to apply for unemployment benefits from the California Employment Development Department, which distributes the benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress in March.
The CARES Act expanded unemployment benefits to cover those who were previously ineligible, including business owners, self-employed workers, and independent contractors, who were put out of business or significantly reduced their services because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kirk-Connell also admitted that once she had applied for those benefits in other people’s names, she would have the debit cards sent to an address where she would receive them.
Once received, she would activate them using the victims’ Social Security numbers as well as PINs she had chosen, and then make numerous ATM withdrawals and other expenditures. According to EDD records the identities Kirk-Connell possessed had been used to apply for and authorize approximately $534,149 in COVID-related unemployment benefits, of which nearly $270,000 had already been spent.
V. Two Virginians Charged in Superseding Indictment
A pair of Danville men, Kunta Daniels and Joe Daniels, were indicted by a federal grand jury last week and charged via a superseding indictment with a variety of drug and gun charges. The charges were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Vrginia Daniel P. Bubar, along with Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives of the Washington Field Division Ashan M. Benedict and Danville City Police Chief Scott Booth made the announcement today.
Kunta Daniels, 43, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, one count of distribution of methamphetamine, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin one count of possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and failure to register a firearm under the National Firearms Act.
In addition, Joe Daniels, 60, is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, three counts of distribution of cocaine, and six counts of distribution of methamphetamine.
VI. CEO Charged with Fraud Related to Construction of Military and Humanitarian Projects in Africa
On October 13, 2020, Micheline Pollock was indicted by a federal grand jury for participating in a scheme to defraud the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) in connection with construction contracts for military and humanitarian projects across Africa.
According to the 98-count indictment, Pollock was the CEO of Dover Vantage, a U.S. construction firm that specialized in expeditionary projects in Africa. Between 2011 and 2018, Dover Vantage competed for and won construction contracts for various USACE and NAVFAC projects in Africa, including a maternity ward and a school for the deaf in Togo, and a military aircraft hangar in Niger.
These USACE projects were undertaken in support of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), one of 10 combatant commands within the U.S. Department of Defense. During the tenure of these contracts, Pollock and other individuals at Dover Vantage submitted fraudulent quality control plans with résumés of fictitious employees; fabricated quality control checklists, certifying quality control work that was never performed; fraudulent concrete strength test results; and fraudulent claims for construction that was never performed or that did not adhere to specification.
As a result of the fraudulent conduct, many of the structures constructed by Dover Vantage were so poorly constructed that they collapsed, including the aircraft hangar in Niger and a training facility in Senegal. Most of the other structures constructed by Dover Vantage are now unusable. Pollock’s conduct has required USACE to reissue contracts, repair damaged buildings, and reduce operating capacity.
VII. Former Inmate Arrested in Scheme to Use Drones to Smuggle Contraband into Federal Prison
A Hudson County, New Jersey, man was arrested for conspiring to use drones to smuggle contraband, including tobacco and cell phone chargers, into the federal correctional facility at Fort Dix, and for possessing with the intent to distribute narcotics. The charges were announced on October 13, 2020 by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito. Jason Arteaga Loayza, a/k/a “Juice,” 29, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was charged by complaint in November 2019 with one count of conspiring to smuggle contraband and to defraud the United States and one count of possessing with the intent to distribute a substance containing heroin and fentanyl.
Arteaga was arrested on Oct. 12, 2020, in Vermont by federal marshals. Loayza made his initial appearance on October 14, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate John M. Conroy in Burlington, Vermont, federal court. According to the documents filed in this case, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General (DOJ-OIG), obtained evidence that Arteaga, an inmate at Fort Dix from June 2017 to September 2018, participated in multiple drone deliveries of contraband meant for inmates between October 2018 and April 2019.
On Oct. 30, 2018, Fort Dix officers observed a drone with a fishing line hovering above the rooftop of a housing unit. Underneath the hatch to the rooftop, which had the bolts removed, responding officers recovered a bag that contained tobacco, cell phone chargers, and USB charging cables. In the same area officers found a cell phone that was likely used to coordinate the drone drop, which was in frequent communication with Arteaga leading up to the drop.
An inmate found near the rooftop hatch had wet knees, consistent with being on the wet rooftop to retrieve the contraband package. Arteaga’s iCloud account contained screenshots of google search results for “fort dix weather” in October 2018 and screenshots of live chats with CC-1 taken days before the drop in which the inmate appeared to be inside of Fort Dix and wearing a prison uniform.
VIII. Man Faces Charges for Allegedly Setting Santa Monica Police Vehicle on Fire During Civil Disturbances
An Irvine man was taken into federal custody on October 13, 2020, on charges alleging he set fire to a Santa Monica Police Department car during civil unrest that accompanied widespread protests in late May. Nathan Wilson, 27, is charged in a federal criminal complaint with malicious damage to property owned by an institution or organization receiving federal financial assistance.
Wilson was linked to the May 31 fire that destroyed the unmarked Santa Monica Police car when a witness told law enforcement they had driven Wilson to Santa Monica on that day and they believed he had set fire to a police car.
Publicly available social media posts show that the person who set fire to the police car parked at the loading dock of the Santa Monic Civic Center was wearing certain clothing and accessories, had an American flag bandana over his face, and had a distinctive tattoo of a rifle on his left arm, according to an affidavit filed with the complaint.
The witness directed authorities to one of Wilson’s social media accounts – an Instagram account under the handle “yup_i_eat_crayons” – where Wilson had posted a “selfie” taken in Santa Monica on May 31. In his Instagram selfie, Wilson appeared exactly like the person seen in other social media posts who stoked the fire that destroyed the police car, the affidavit alleges.
In early June, the FBI and the Santa Monica Police Department issued a wanted poster for the person later identified as Wilson. After receiving tips and conducting investigations, law enforcement was not able to identify the perpetrator who caused the fire that destroyed the police car.
IX. Gettysburg Man Charged with Theft of Social Security Benefits
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced on October 13, 2020, that Jeffrey Dixon, 53, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was indicted on September 30, 2020, by a federal grand jury for theft of Social Security benefits totaling more than $30,000 over a two-year period.
The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General. Prosecution is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian T. Haugsby. Up to a maximum penalty of 10 years’ in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs.
X. Three Ohio Men Charged for Unlawfully Possessing Firearms
On October 15, 2020, three Dayton men were charged with gun-related crimes. Davonte Hall, 27, and Demarque Demons, 27, were each charged by a federal grand jury in separate indictments. Hall was charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon.
Demons was charged with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense and possessing heroin with intent to distribute. Edward Clark, 33, was also charged by criminal information with unlawfully possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon. All three are among more than 20 men charged federally with gun crimes in Dayton in the past 90 days.
According to court documents in Clark’s case, investigators with the Regional Agencies Narcotics and Gun Enforcement (RANGE) Task Force found a handgun between a mattress and box spring in Clark’s bedroom while executing a search warrant. The handgun, which had been previously reported stolen, had an extended magazine and was loaded with 22 rounds.
Clark has prior convictions for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and kidnapping. Prior to being disabled by marked police cruisers, Hall drove on a rim of a tire for several miles into oncoming traffic in an attempt to elude law enforcement. Hall’s vehicle was eventually boxed in by law enforcement, and Hall was found to be in custody of pistol with an extended magazine.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2020
I. Chicagoland Man Charged with Conducting Illegal Sports Gambling Business
A Chicago-area man has been charged in federal court with conducting an illegal sports gambling business in the city and suburbs. Gregory Emmett Paloin allegedly conducted an illegal sports bookmaking business from 2015 to 2019, according to a criminal information filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Paloian allegedly operated his business in Chicago, Elmwood Park, and Melrose Park, the information states. The information was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, along with several law enforcement officials. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terry M. Kinney and Ankur Srivastava.
The information charges Paloian, 66, of Elmwood Park, with one count of conducting an illegal gambling business. It seeks forfeiture from Paloian of $274,070 and a 2017 Audi automobile. Arraignment is set for Oct. 7, 2020, at 10:15 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago.
II. New York Man Admits to Traveling to Rhode Island to Engage in Sex with a Minor
A New York man admitted to a federal court judge in Providence, R.I. on October 5, 2020, that after befriending and engaging in sexually explicit communications online with a 15-year-old Rhode Island boy he relocated to Rhode Island and repeatedly engaged in illicit sexual activity with the minor.
Caleb Brown, 24, and the 15-year-old were discovered by Warwick Police in a baseball field dugout in August 2019, after a concerned citizen reported to police that a male was observed living in the dugout with what appeared to be a minor child.
According to information presented to the court, as Warwick officers arrived at the park Brown and the boy began to run away, but were quickly halted. Brown initially identified himself to police as “Clay Connors.”
After placing Brown in a police cruiser, the 15-year-old told police he met Brown online approximately six months prior and that he had been dating Brown for that period of time. The youngster told police that he had been spending nights outside with Brown, while telling his parent’s he was staying at a friend’s house.
Prior to traveling to Rhode Island from Bronx, New York, by bus to meet up with the 15-year-old in July 2019, Brown and the victim engaged in sexually explicit online communications and exchanged sexually explicit images. Officers viewed a steady stream of intimate and sexually explicit text messages between Brown and the boy.
The text messages also revealed discussions of where the two should meet and sleep, and Brown advising the youngster with ways to conceal the true nature of their relationship. Investigators also discovered 12 videos taken by Brown of him engaged in sexual contact with the victim.
III. Luzerne County Men Charged With Fentanyl Trafficking That Resulted In Death
On October 6, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that charges were unsealed the day before for five Luzerne County men, for various fentanyl, cocaine, and tramadol trafficking offenses, including fentanyl dealing that resulted in death. The defendants are:
Edwin Tejeda, age 30, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and the Dominican Republic;
- Jose Raymer Tejeda, age 36, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;
- Emilio Tejeda, age 32, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania;
- James Garris, Jr., age 51, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; and
- James Tindol, Jr., age 37, of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.
Brothers Edwin, Jose Raymer, and Emilio Tejeda were indicted by a federal grand jury on June 30, 2020, with conspiring to traffic cocaine and 400 grams or more of fentanyl, between January 2016 and February 2020. According to U.S. Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Edwin Tejeda and Jose Raymer Tejeda are charged with causing the death of A.V. as a result of that conspiracy.
The three also are charged varyingly with 19 counts of trafficking fentanyl and tramadol during the course of the conspiracy, and with maintaining a drug premises. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of two Wilkes-Barre properties, two firearms and ammunition, as well as over $25,000 seized by law enforcement.
The defendants all await trial. The indictment remained under seal until Edwin Tejeda was apprehended while traveling to the United States from the Dominican Republic. James Garris, Jr., was charged in an information on June 3, 2020, with delivering fentanyl that resulted in death.
Garris pleaded guilty to that charge on July 7, 2020, and awaits sentencing. James Tindol, Jr. also was charged in an information on March 4, 2020, with delivering fentanyl that resulted in death.
IV. John McAfee Indicted for Tax Evasion
An indictment was unsealed on October 6, 2020, charging John David McAfee with tax evasion and willful failure to file tax returns. The indictment was announced October 6 by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, along with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee D. Michael Dunavant. The June 15, 2020 indictment was unsealed following McAfee’s arrest in Spain where he is pending extradition.
According to the indictment, John McAfee earned millions of dollars in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary. From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources.
The indictment does not allege that during these years McAfee received any income or had any connection with the anti-virus company bearing his name. According to the indictment, McAfee allegedly evaded his tax liability by directing his income to be paid into bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts in the names of nominees. The indictment further alleges McAfee attempted to evade the IRS by concealing assets, including real property, a vehicle, and a yacht, in the names of others.
If convicted, McAfee faces up to five years in prison on each count of tax evasion and up to one year in prison on each count of willful failure to file a tax return. McAfee also faces a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.
V. Indiana Man Charged With Illegally Selling Dozens of Guns in the Chicago Area
An indictment was unsealed on October 6, 2020, charging John On October 6, 2020, an Indiana man was charged with a federal firearm offense for allegedly illegally selling dozens of handguns and assault rifles in the Chicago area. Wayne Adam Tucker, 55, of Albion, Indiana, is charged with one count of dealing firearms without a license, and one count of distribution of a controlled substance.
A criminal complaint unsealed October 5, 2020 in Chicago federal court accuses Tucker of selling 39 guns on four occasions from April 2019 to February 2020. Three of the alleged sales occurred in south suburban Dolton, while one deal was allegedly conducted in Hammond, Indiana. Tucker made an initial court appearance October 6, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole, who ordered Tucker released on home detention pending trial.
The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Cooke represents the government.
Unbeknownst to Tucker, the buyer in all of the deals was confidentially working on behalf of law enforcement, according to the complaint. Tucker was arrested Sunday, October 4, 2020. According to the complaint, Tucker carried out the four unlicensed sales of firearms to the confidential source on April 28, 2019, Aug. 17, 2019, Nov. 16, 2019, and Feb. 8, 2020.
In setting up the deals, Tucker explained to the confidential source that he had several people supplying him with firearms that had been purchased at gun shows in Indiana, the complaint states. The drug charge accuses Tucker of selling approximately a pound of marijuana to the confidential source during the February transaction.
VI. North Carolina Man Arrested on Naturalization Fraud Charges
On October 6, 2020, a Duplin County man was arrested on naturalization fraud charges and had an initial appearance on October 5, 2020 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers II in Raleigh, North Carolina. A federal grand jury had returned an indictment charging Fidel Santibanez-Jaimes, 54, a naturalized citizen of the U.S., born in Mexico and residing in Duplin County, with naturalization fraud. Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement.
According to the indictment, Santibanez-Jaimes knowingly failed to disclose during his naturalization proceedings that he had committed the crime of felony possession of marijuana and failure to appear in court. Santibanez-Jaimes was thereafter naturalized as a United States citizen.
Overall, Santibanez-Jaimes is charged in an 8-count indictment with naturalization fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison per count, a $250,000 fine per count, a term of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and the revocation of his citizenship.
VII. Texan Charged with Importing Meth Inside Tacos
A 30-year-old resident of Laredo was indicted on October 6, 2020, for allegedly importing 1.26 kilograms of meth into the United States. The indictment was that day announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick.
The Laredo grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Nicolas Castro Jr. for conspiracy and importing meth into the United States. He is expected appear for his arraignment before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
The criminal complaint originally filed in the case alleges that on Sept. 8, Castro attempted to enter the United States at the Gateway to the Americas Bridge in Laredo. Upon his arrival, authorities inspected his belongings which included a plastic bag containing tacos and chips, according to the charges.
A K-9 allegedly alerted to the presence of narcotics within the bag. According to the charges, the contents of the tacos subsequently tested positive for meth and weighed a total of 1.26 kilograms. If convicted, Castro faces up to life in prison as well as a possible $10 million fine.
VIII. Four New Jersey Men Arrested in Scheme to Steal Mail, Commit Credit Card Fraud and Defraud the U.S.
Four men from Union County, New Jersey were arrested October 6, 2020 for their roles in a conspiracy to steal mail and possess stolen mail, including credit cards and pandemic relief credit cards, fraudulently use the stolen credit cards without authorization, and defraud the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito made the announcement. Jarid Brooks, 27, Justin Brooks, 21, Kyjuan Hutchins, 21, and Kyle Williams, 35, all of Vauxhall, New Jersey, are charged by complaint with conspiracy. They are scheduled to appear by this afternoon by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from July 2019 to August 2020, Williams allegedly stole credit cards from the U.S. mail in the course of his employment for the U.S. Postal Service, provided those credit cards to Jarid Brooks, Justin Brooks, and Hutchins, and the defendants thereafter fraudulently activated those credit cards and then used those credit cards to make and attempt to make purchases without the cardholders’ authorization, including buying gift cards and electronics.
The investigation to date has revealed that the victims have incurred over approximately $80,000 in intended and actual loss from fraudulent purchases made using their stolen credit cards. The defendants also schemed to fraudulently use over $11,000 of funds pre-loaded onto Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury and sent in the U.S. mail pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that were stolen from the mail.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge.
IX. Rockstar Burgers Owner Among Defendants Indicted For $1.7 Million Drug-Trafficking Conspiracy
The owner of the Rockstar Burgers restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, is among 18 defendants indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to distribute more than 150 kilograms of methamphetamine and more than 10 kilograms of heroin, valued at more than $1.7 million. Most of the defendants are also charged with illegally possessing firearms.
Those indicted include Rockstar Burgers owner Brian Douglas Smith, 42, Kamel Mahgub Elburki, 32, Ashley Brooke Clevenger, 38, Rachel Gale Simpson, 37, Daniel Jessie Ruiz, 36, Matthew John Fabulae, 31, and Ian Lee Cook, 27, all of Kansas City, Mo.; Cory Matthew Jobe, 28, of Independence, Mo.; Mary Ruth Craft, 42, of Gladstone, Mo.; Tayler Charles Jones, 26, of Liberty, Mo.; Ashley Anne Fries, 23, of Riverside, Mo.; Justin Ren’e Ramirez, 24, of Bolivar, Mo.; James Russell Schroeder, 47, of Marshfield, Mo.; Michael Paul Lambert, 43, of Hartville, Mo.; Seth Alan Turbyfill, 31, of Chillicothe, Mo; Amy Leann Nieman, 49, of Moorseville, Mo.; and Richard Dean Saettone II, 39, and Megan Elizabeth (Lawson) Jackson, 27, addresses unknown, were charged in a 25-count superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 30, 2020.
The indictment was unsealed and made public October 7, 2020 upon the arrests and initial court appearances of several defendants, including Smith. This superseding indictment replaces the original indictment returned on Dec. 12, 2019 and includes eight additional defendants and additional charges.
The indictment alleges that all 18 defendants participated in a conspiracy from Jan. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2020, to distribute more than 150 kilograms of meth and more than 10 kilograms of heroin. All 18 defendants are also charged in a money-laundering conspiracy involving the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
X. Massachusetts Man Indicted for Child Enticement and Child Pornography Offenses
A Plainville man was indicted on October 6, 2020 by a federal grand jury in Boston on child enticement and child pornography offenses. David Cerasuolo, 47, was indicted on one count of attempted enticement of a minor, one count of attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor and one count of possession of child pornography.
Cerasuolo was arrested and charged by criminal complaint in July 2020. United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement.
According to charging documents, Cerasuolo used chat applications to engage in conversations with an individual he believed to be a 13-year-old girl but was actually an undercover federal agent. During these conversations, Cerasuolo attempted to entice the 13-year-old to engage in sexual activity and sent her several photographs of himself, including one displaying his genitalia.
He was also found in possession of child pornography. If convicted on the charge of enticement of a minor, Cerasuolo faces between 10 years and up to life in prison, between five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. The charge of transfer of obscene material to a minor provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of possession of child pornography could cost him up to 20 years in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
FRIDAY, October 02, 2020
I. North Carolina Man Charged with Fraudulently Seeking Over $6 Million in COVID Relief Funds
A North Carolina man was charged on September 29, 2020 with fraudulently seeking over $6 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program. The charges were announced by the Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert J. Higdon Jr. Tristan Bishop Pan, 38, of Garner, is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
The unsealed indictment alleges that Pan perpetrated a scheme to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally insured banks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the allegations, Pan submitted numerous fraudulent PPP loan applications, including some made on behalf of entities named Pan Insurance Agency, White Walker, Khaleesi, and The Night’s Watch.
The indictment further alleges that, in support of the fraudulent PPP loan applications, Pan made false statements about the companies’ employees and payroll expenses. The PPP loan applications were allegedly supported by fake documents, including falsified tax filings.
In all, Pan allegedly submitted fourteen PPP loan applications seeking over $6.1 million and received more than $1.7 million in benefits following approval of the Pan Insurance Agency and White Walker PPP loan applications. The government was able to seize some of the allegedly fraudulent loan benefits.
II. Former State Senator and Gaming Executive Indicted for Federal Campaign Finance Law Violations
On September 29, 2020, a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of Indiana returned an indictment charging a former Indiana state senator and a gaming executive with violations of federal campaign finance laws, false statements, and falsification of Federal Election Commission (FEC) records in connection with a series of illegal corporate contributions and conduit contributions they made to fund the congressional campaign of the former state politician.
The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Childress of the Southern District of Indiana, and Acting Assistant Director James A. Dawson of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Darryl Brent Waltz, 47, of Greenwood, Indiana, was charged with one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions, false statements and to falsification of FEC records, one count of making and receiving conduit contributions, one count of falsifying FEC records, and two counts of making false statements related to a scheme to route contributions through conduit donors to his 2016 congressional campaign, in violation of federal campaign finance law.
In addition, John S. Keeler, 71, of Indianapolis, was charged with one count of conspiracy to make illegal corporate contributions, false statements and to falsify FEC records, one count of making illegal corporate contributions, one count of falsification of FEC records, and one count of making false statements related to a scheme to make corporate contributions to Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign, in violation of federal campaign finance law.
According to the indictment, Waltz, a former Indiana state senator, was a candidate in the 2016 primary election for the office of the U.S. Representative for Indiana’s Ninth District. Keeler, the vice president and general counsel of what was then known as New Centaur LLC arranged with Kelley Rogers, a Maryland-based political consultant for the 2016 Waltz congressional campaign, to cause New Centaur LLC to transfer thousands of dollars from its accounts to Rogers, who then contributed that money to Waltz’s 2016 congressional campaign.
To conceal the illegal corporate contributions, Keeler and Rogers agreed that Rogers would create phony invoices and agreements that purported to reflect services to be performed for New Centaur LLC, by Rogers. Upon receiving the payments from New Centaur LLC, Rogers recruited several straw donors, including Waltz, to each contribute $2,700 to Waltz’s campaign, the maximum permitted under federal law at the time.
The straw donors were reimbursed by Rogers using the money from New Centaur LLC. Rogers also transferred a large portion of the New Centaur LLC money to Waltz, who recruited additional straw donors to each donate $2,700 to his campaign. Waltz either reimbursed or paid these straw donors in advance.
Waltz and Keeler concealed these illegal contributions from campaign officials, causing them to unwittingly file materially false reports with the Federal Election Commission.
III. Florida Lawyer Charged with Fraud Related to 1 Global Capital Investment Scheme
A Florida attorney and former outside counsel for 1 Global Capital LLC (1 Global), has been charged today with conspiring to commit wire fraud and securities fraud in connection with an investment fraud scheme that as alleged impacted more than 3,600 investors in 42 different states, and involved him personally and fraudulently raising more than $100 million from investors.
Andrew Dale Ledbetter, 78, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is charged in an information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles of the Southern District of Florida.
According to the allegations in the information, 1 Global was a commercial lending business based in Hallandale Beach, Florida, that made the equivalent of “pay day” loans with high interest rates to small businesses, termed merchant cash advance loans (MCAs). To fund these loans, 1 Global obtained funds from investors nationwide, offering short-term investment contracts that promised to “place” the investors’ money onto MCAs.
The investors would supposedly receive a proportionate share of the principal and interest payments as the loans were repaid. 1 Global raised money using investment advisors and other intermediaries, with promises to these advisors of significant commissions.
In many cases, according to court documents, the commissions were not fully disclosed to investors. Ledbetter was an attorney licensed in the State of Florida who worked at Law Firm #1 and acted in a fundraising capacity at 1 Global beginning in or around 2015.
IV. Former CFO of Boston Grand Prix Indicted in Fraud and Tax Scheme
The former CFO of the Boston Grand Prix was arrested today on charges that he failed to report income that he received from serving as executive with the Boston Grand Prix organization on his federal tax returns and for a scheme to defraud equipment and small business financing companies.
John F. Casey, 56, of Ipswich, was indicted on eight counts of wire fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, three counts of money laundering and three counts of filing false tax returns. Casey was arrested September 29, 2020 and made an initial appearance later that day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald J. Cabell.
As alleged in the indictment, Casey became the CFO of the Boston Grand Prix in January 2015. The Boston Grand Prix organization made payments to or on behalf of Casey totaling approximately $308,292 in 2015 and $601,073 in 2016 which Casey failed to include in the gross income he claimed on his personal tax returns for those years. The indictment also alleges that Casey owned an ice rink in Peabody between October 2013 and June 1, 2016.
Between October 2014 and October 2016, Casey obtained over $743,000 in funds from equipment financing companies, purportedly for the purchase of equipment for the ice rink. In addition, in August 2016, more than two months after he sold the Peabody rink, Casey obtained over $145,000 in small business loans for the rink business.
To secure the financing, Casey allegedly submitted materially false documents and information, including fake invoices for the equipment, bank records purporting to show deposits into Casey’s accounts related to the Peabody rink, falsely inflated personal and corporate tax returns, and personal financial statements falsely claiming ownership and value of various assets.
Casey also allegedly submitted a fake Deed of Sale containing a forged signature in support of one of his loan applications. Relying on Casey’s false statements, the financing companies provided funding to Casey in amounts and on terms they otherwise would not have made. Most of the funds provided by the victim companies were never repaid.
V. North Carolina Man Charged With Fraudulently Seeking Over $6 Million in Covid Relief Funds
A man from Garner, North Carolina was charged with fraudulently seeking over $6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The announcement of the charge was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert J. Higdon Jr. Tristan Bishop Pan, 38, of Garner, is charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions.
The indictment alleges that Pan perpetrated a scheme to submit fraudulent PPP loan applications to federally insured banks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. According to the allegations, Pan submitted numerous fraudulent PPP loan applications, including on behalf of entities named Pan Insurance Agency, White Walker, Khaleesi, and The Night’s Watch.
The indictment alleges that, in support of the fraudulent PPP loan applications, Pan made false statements about the companies’ employees and payroll expenses. The PPP loan applications were supported by fake documents, including falsified tax filings, according to the indictment.
Pan allegedly submitted fourteen PPP loan applications seeking over $6.1 million and received more than $1.7 million in benefits following approval of the Pan Insurance Agency and White Walker PPP loan applications. The government was able to seize some of the allegedly fraudulent loan benefits.
VI. Federal Carjacking, Firearm Charges Filed Against Man for Allegedly Stealing Vehicle at Gunpoint in Chicago
A federal grand jury has indicted a man on carjacking and firearm charges for allegedly stealing a vehicle at gunpoint in Chicago. According to the indictment, on the afternoon of May 27, 2020, Elias Quinones-Figueroa, 19, of Chicago forcibly took a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe sport-utility vehicle from a victim in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago, according to an indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Quinones-Figueroa allegedly brandished a handgun during the carjacking.
The indictment charges Quinones-Figueroa with one count of carjacking and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Quinones-Figueroa was taken into federal custody on Sept. 25, and later that day, he pleaded not guilty at a federal court in Chicago.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sunil R. Harjani scheduled a detention hearing for October 1, 2020. If convicted, Quinones-Figueroa faces up to 25 years in prison for the carjacking charge, while the firearm charge carries a mandatory minimum of seven years in prison, which must run consecutively to the carjacking sentence.
VII. Oregon Resident Accused of Interfering with Police Making Arrests During Civil Disorder in Portland
On September 28, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District f Oregon Billy J. Williams announced that a Portland, Oregon resident has been charged with jumping onto the back of a police officer who was arresting someone, as the officer was engaged in lawful crowd dispersal during a civil disorder event. A federal grand jury in Portland, Oregon has returned a one-count indictment charging Meganne Elizabeth Englich-Mills, 24, with Civil Disorder.
According to court documents, during the evening hours of September 5, 2020, a crowd of people attempted to march to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct located at 737 SE 106th avenue from Ventura Park. When the crowd encountered law enforcement officers, multiple fire bombs and commercial grade fireworks were thrown by the crowd towards law enforcement, resulting in injury to both law enforcement and community members.
The assembly was declared a riot and the crowd received multiple warning to disperse from the area. The crowd refused to disperse and people in the crowd began throwing rocks at law enforcement and lit several fires in the streets using dumpsters, garbage cans and wooden pallets.
VIII. Former Illinois Postal Employee Charged with Stealing Mail
A federal grand jury for the Southern District of Illinois has returned an indictment charging Tia M. Taylor, 27, of Alton, Illinois, with one count of theft of mail by a postal service employee. The indictment charges that in July 2020, Taylor stole four packages addressed to Godfrey residents from the Godfrey post office, where she worked as a clerk. The arraignment for Taylor will be held on Oct. 8, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Taylor is the second postal employee charged this month with stealing mail in the Southern District of Illinois. Athens A. Shorey, 33, of Cobden, Illinois, was indicted earlier this month with taking mail from the Carbondale post office back in May.
IX. Multi-Agency Investigation Results In Charges Against 6 For Drug Trafficking Crimes
U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that several individuals have been arrested and charged for their alleged roles in a criminal enterprise involving narcotics distribution, money laundering, and gun violence in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes.
In a recently unsealed indictment, Jordan J. Shanholtzer, aka “Two-3,” 33, formerly of Anchorage,; Matthew W. Moi, aka “Matt Matt,” 35, formerly of Anchorage; Kenneth A. Ford, aka “Keyes,” 29, of Anchorage; Myrick A. Elliott, 34, of Anchorage; Isaiah M. Roderick, aka “Izzy,” 21, of Anchorage; and Marvin Nelson, aka “Unc,” aka “Old School,” 55, of Itta Bena, Mississippi have been charged with a drug and money laundering conspiracy.
Shanholtzer was also charged with directing a continuing criminal enterprise and Moi was charged with using a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and killing in furtherance of continuing criminal enterprise.
According to the indictment, from about January 2017 through October 2, 2019, Shanholtzer allegedly managed a continuing criminal enterprise that was responsible for distributing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine in Alaska.
According to the indictment, over the course of the conspiracy, Shanholtzer relocated from Anchorage to Arizona and later Florida, while continuing to direct the enterprise in Alaska. The indictment alleges that Moi was responsible for the operational management in Alaska.
Shanholtzer is alleged to have directed members of the enterprise, including Nelson, to package and mail shipments of 3 and 10 kilograms of methamphetamine and or heroin from Los Angeles, California to Alaska. According to the indictment, Shanholtzer and Moi also worked with other conspirators to launder the proceeds of their drug sales, which amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
X. Indictment for Federal Firearms Offense Relating to Shooting at Vermont Recreation Area
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced on September 28, 2020 that Brian Warner, 47, of Addison County, Vermont had been arrested on September 24, 2020. A federal grand jury indicted Warner for possessing a firearm having been previously convicted of a felony. According to court records, the charge in the Indictment relates to Warner’s possession of a firearm at the Texas Falls Recreation Area in Hancock, Vermont, on or about August 1, 2020. Warner shot his girlfriend in the leg with the firearm, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a high-capacity magazine.
Law enforcement learned of Warner’s unlawful possession of the pistol after his girlfriend sought medical treatment for her gunshot wound. Warner was at the time prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law due to his felony record. Warner pleaded not guilty to the Indictment at his arraignment before Chief U.S. District Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford on September 25, 2020. Warner remains in custody pending a detention hearing, which was scheduled for September 30, 2020. If convicted, Warner faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.