Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020, at 4:32 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 25, 2020
I. Chicago Tech Exec Charged with Illegally Exporting Computer Equipment to Pakistan
On September 21, 2020, a Chicago-area resident who owns a Pakistani technology company was indicted for allegedly illegally exporting computer equipment from the United States to a nuclear research agency of the Pakistani government. Obaidullah Syed owned Pakistan-based Business System International PVT. LTD. (BSI), and BSI USA, based in Chicago. The companies provided high-performance computing platforms, servers, and software application solutions.
According to the indictment, from 2006 to 2015, Syed and BSI conspired with company employees in Pakistan to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting computer equipment from the United States to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission without obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, according to the indictment, was a Pakistani government agency responsible for “the design, fabrication, and testing of high explosives and nuclear weapons parts, uranium mining and enrichment, and the development of solid-fueled ballistic missiles.”
The indictment charges Syed, 65, of Northbrook, and Business System International with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and foreign trade regulations, and one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Syed was arrested on September 16, 2020 and remains in federal custody after a September 21, 2020 detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman in Chicago.
II. Albuquerque Woman Charged with Drug Trafficking, Firearms Possession
On September 18, 2020, Jordan Wright, 31, of Albuquerque made an appearance in federal court, where she was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 19, Wright allegedly used cell phone calls and text messages to coordinate arrangements to sell two ounces of methamphetamine. She also allegedly provided her backpack and a handgun as collateral during the transaction.
At the time of her arrest, she allegedly possessed two baggies containing methamphetamine. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel A. Hurtado is prosecuting the case as part of the Department of Justice’s Operation Legend, a coordinated federal and local law enforcement initiative to fight gun and dangerous crime.
III. New Orleans Man Charged with Hobbs Act Robberies, Possession, and Brandishing of a Firearm during a Crime of Violence
U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that Jarrell Fox, (Fox), 29, of New Orleans, was charged on September 18, 2020 in an eight-count Indictment with four Hobbs Act Robberies, three counts of Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, and one count of Possession of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence. The federal indictment alleges that Fox committed the armed robberies of four businesses located in the New Orleans East and Mid-City areas of New Orleans while either brandishing or possessing a firearm.
If convicted of the Hobbs Act Robbery violations, Fox faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, a period of up to 3 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment (MSA) of $100.00.
If convicted of Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, he faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of 7 years to life in prison, up to a $250,000.00 fine, up to 5 years supervised release, and a $100 MSA.
If convicted of Possessing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, Fox faces a mandatory consecutive sentence of 5 years to life imprisonment, up to a $250,000.00 fine, up to 5 years supervised release, and a $100 MSA.
IV. Louisiana Couple Indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Mail Fraud
On September 21, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Peter G. Strasser announced that on September 19, 2020, William Lewis, 41, and Jill Lewis, 40, both of Slidell, Louisiana, were charged in a two-count indictment for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud.
According to Court documents, beginning on or before January 31, 2014 through in or around January 2016, the defendants conspired to submit numerous false insurance claims for reimbursement to the United States Postal Service (USPS), causing the USPS to mail checks to William and Jill Lewis for approximately $42,000. For example, William and Jill Lewis falsely represented to the USPS that they had sent expensive jewelry and other items through the mail and that the USPS lost the items.
In connection with the false claims, William and Jill Lewis submitted forged invoices from retailers to the USPS to support the reimbursement amounts. The false claims and forged documents caused the USPS to send the reimbursement checks to the defendants through the mail.
In addition, on or about September 29, 2015, the defendants submitted a false claim to the USPS, fraudulently representing that William Lewis purchased an Omega watch in the amount of approximately $4,999 and that the USPS lost the watch in the mail.
This false and fraudulent claim for reimbursement caused the USPS to send a $4,999 reimbursement check to Lewis that he deposited in his bank account. If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and restitution to the USPS for approximately $42,000.
V. Alleged Southern California Narcotics Traffickers Among Those Charged in International Crackdown Targeting Darknet Dealers
As part of an international effort to disrupt narcotics trafficking on the darknet, members of the Los Angeles Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (JCODE) Task Force announced on September 22, 2020 several cases brought as a result of Operation DisrupTor. The cases charge members of a Southern California drug trafficking organization who allegedly distributed methamphetamine and other illicit narcotics to thousands of customers in at least 35 states and numerous countries around the world.
An alleged methamphetamine trafficker who was a key supplier to the Los Angeles-based organization is being sought after being charged last week with possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. Earlier this year, five other members of the narcotics ring were arrested on federal charges, and authorities made substantial seizures of narcotics and cryptocurrency.
Andres Bermudez, 37, of Palmdale, who allegedly was a key supplier of methamphetamine to the “Stealthgod” crew, was named in a criminal complaint filed on September 18. An affidavit in this case outlines how Bermudez allegedly supplied methamphetamine to the “Stealthgod” drug trafficking organization and details negotiations involving transactions of 30 pounds and 40 pounds of methamphetamine. Bermudez is currently a fugitive being sought by federal authorities.
The five defendants arrested on federal charges are:
- Teresa McGrath, 34, of Sunland-Tujunga, who allegedly delivered dozens of narcotics-laden packages to a post office in Sunland;
- Rane Melkom, 35, of Sunland-Tujunga, who shared a residence with McGrath where authorities seized more than 50 pounds of methamphetamine, nearly 15 pounds of MDMA, approximately 30,000 Adderall pills, cash, and three loaded handguns;
- Mark Chavez, 41, of downtown Los Angeles, whose bedroom yielded nearly 40 pounds of methamphetamine and two handguns during a search in February;
- Matthew Ick, 51, of downtown Los Angeles, who is linked in court papers to a narcotics shipment to the organization; and
- Thomas Olayvar, 43, of downtown Los Angeles, who allegedly was involved in the shipment of narcotics through the United States Postal Service.
VI. Two Active-Duty Marines Charged in Indictment Alleging Drug Trafficking Conspiracy After Fellow Marine’s Fatal Drug Overdose
Two active-duty U.S. Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton were arrested September 22, 2020 on a federal grand jury indictment charging one Marine and three civilians with conspiring to distribute narcotics – including oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl – to civilians and members of the Marine Corps, one of whom suffered a fatal drug overdose in May. The second Marine is charged in the indictment with being an accessory after the fact.
The 14-count superseding indictment charges five defendants:
- Jordan Nicholas McCormick, 26, of Palmdale, the lead defendant and the conspiracy’s alleged supplier who provided LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl to co-conspirators;
- Gustavo Jaciel Solis, 24, of Sylmar, who allegedly distributed McCormick’s drugs to civilians and military personnel;
- Anthony Ruben Whisenant, 20, a lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, who allegedly distributed narcotics to active service members, including an active-duty Marine who died after ingesting an oxycodone pill laced with fentanyl purchased from Solis;
- Jessica Sarah Perez, 23, of Pacoima, who allegedly distributed narcotics including fentanyl and cocaine to the conspiracy’s civilian customers; and
- Ryan Douglas White, 22, a lance corporal in the United States Marine Corps, who is charged with being an accessory after the fact for allegedly attempting to hinder law enforcement’s apprehension of Whisenant and Solis.
According to the indictment, the conspiracy lasted from November 2019 to September 2020 and involved multiple sales of fentanyl-laced oxycodone to an undercover buyer, often for amounts exceeding $1,000 per buy.
On May 22, Solis sold 10 pills of oxycodone laced with fentanyl to an active-duty Marine who died of a drug overdose in the early morning hours of May 23, the indictment alleges. In addition to the conspiracy charge, McCormick, Solis, Whisenant and Perez face charges of distribution of narcotics, including fentanyl. McCormick and Solis are also charged with possessing firearms in furtherance of drug crimes.
VII. Wisconsin Men Indicted for Firearm Straw Buying Conspiracy and Possession of Firearms
On September 23, 2020, Matthew D. Krueger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that Jonathan Griffin, 28; Jason Spinks, 37; Shakie Davis, 25; and Treon Dennis, 36, all of Fond du Lac, were indicted with conspiracy to make a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer and possession of firearms by felons.
According o the indictment, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) identified that Fond du Lac area felons Griffin, Spinks, Davis, and Dennis sold heroin in the area and used their heroin distribution network to recruit one of their heroin customers to purchase eleven firearms for them over an eight-month period.
Three of the eleven firearms were recovered at crime scenes in the Chicago area shortly after they were purchased. If convicted of the conspiracy to make a false statement to a licensed firearms dealer and possession of firearms by felons, Griffin, Spinks, Davis and Dennis would face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
VIII. Human Resources Manager Charged with Defrauding Employer, Including Through COVID-19 Testing Scheme
Douglas Wold, 48, of Meridian, Idaho, was indicted on September 10, 2020, by a federal grand jury sitting in Boise on eleven counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering. The announcement of the indictment was made by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho Bart M. Davis.
According to court records, Wold worked as a Human Resources Manager for Fry Foods, Inc. in Ontario, Oregon. The indictment alleges that from at least May 2020 through August 2020, Wold caused fraudulent payroll checks to be issued, which Wold then deposited into bank accounts in his control.
The indictment also alleged that Wold arranged for COVID-19 testing for Fry Foods’ employees at their Weiser, Idaho facilities in May 2020. Wold issued a fraudulent invoice to Fry Foods in the name of his business, Hala Lallo Health, for $39,995 when, in fact, the testing was provided by another entity and at a materially lower cost. When Fry Foods paid Hala Lallo Health for the testing, Wold deposited the funds into a bank account he controlled.
IX. Indiana Man Charged with Mail Fraud an Attempted Bank Fraud
On September 23, 2020, Da’Ione Fields, 23 of Gary, Indiana, was charged by way of an indictment with two counts of mail fraud and one count of attempted bank fraud. The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Thomas L. Kirsch.
According to documents in the case, while working as a contract security guard for a senior living facility in Munster, Indiana, Fields is alleged to have, from October 18, 2019 to about December 3, 2019, engaged in a scheme to defraud the facility of more than $280,000. The Indictment alleges that on two occasions Fields completed a USPS Change of Address form to redirect the facility’s mail to Fields’ residential address in Gary, Indiana.
Between October 18 and November 22, 2019, Mr. Fields cashed approximately 31 insurance reimbursement and other checks payable to the facility totaling over $220,000. On November 21, 2019, Fields opened a corporate account at a bank in Gary, misrepresenting himself as an authorized representative of the facility and depositing 6 more checks totaling over $60,000.
X. Pennsylvania Man Indicted for Trafficking Firearms to St. Lucia
On September 23, 2020, First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Thomas Harris Jr., 27, of Croydon, Pennsylvania, had been arrested and charged by indictment with multiple firearms trafficking offenses stemming from his scheme to sell almost 40 guns to a buyer on the island of St. Lucia.
Specifically, the defendant is charged with making false statements to a federal firearm licensee, dealing in firearms without a license, delivery of firearms to a common carrier without written notice, and smuggling goods from the United States.
The Indictment alleges that Harris purchased approximately 38 firearms in 12 transactions at two Bucks County, PA, gun shops between April 20, 2019, and February 15, 2020, and provided a false address as his place of residence on the required federal forms that he completed during each transaction.
It is further alleged that the defendant then illegally trafficked, and attempted to traffic, the guns to St. Lucia, a sovereign island nation in the West Indies, even though he is not licensed to deal in firearms nor is he license dto export them as required by law. He also allegedly failed to notify the shipping company he used that his shipments contained firearms, as required by law.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2020
I. Woman Charged for Throwing Lit Device at Washington, DC Police Officer
On September 11, 2020. Alanna Rogers, 26, of Baltimore, Maryland, was arraigned yesterday in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on a criminal complaint charging her with felony assault on a police officer while armed and misdemeanor rioting based on her throwing a firework at police officers, burning the trousers of one police official, during a declared riot that took place on August 30 and carried over to August 31, 2020.
The announcement was made by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Michael R. Sherwin. Although Rogers was not charged when initially arrested on August 31, these charges are based on additional investigative work by the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
At Rogers’ arraignment, the Honorable Judge Sean C. Staples found probable cause for the charges and agreed with the government that a presumption in favor of detention applied in this case.
The court released Rogers, however, after finding that the presumption was rebutted by her lack of criminal history. The court ordered Rogers to stay away from the 800 and 900 blocks of Sixteenth Street, N.W., and not to possess fireworks.
II. Missouri Man Charged with Illegal Firearms, Drug Trafficking
On September 11, 2020, Daniel Dewayne Gregg, 57, of Bates City, Missouri, was charged in federal court after law enforcement officers seized nearly two dozen firearms and illegal drugs from his residence. Gregg was then charged in a two-count criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. The federal criminal complaint charges Gregg with one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the complaint, law enforcement officers identified Gregg as a major supplier of methamphetamine trafficking following several controlled drug purchases. Officers executed a search warrant at Gregg’s residence on Friday, Sept. 11, and placed him under arrest.
Gregg told officers that he had been dealing crystal methamphetamine continuously for at least the past six months. Gregg stated that he was a kilogram-level dealer of crystal methamphetamine and had sold, at a conservative minimum, at least 12 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine per month for the past six months. Officers also searched Gregg’s vehicle and found 151.6 grams of methamphetamine, 436.5 grams of marijuana, and 207 prescription pills in unlabeled pill bottles.
Officers also found methamphetamine inside a fanny pack. They found a loaded Smith and Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol on top of the fanny pack. Gregg told officers he had the firearm because he had been threatened by individuals wanting to do him harm, the affidavit says, and Gregg stated he had the firearm in case those individuals came to his residence to harm him.
III. Ohio Felon Charged with Illegal Firearm Possession
On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman announced that Andrew Kmon Williams, 23, of Youngstown, Ohio, was charged in federal court via criminal complaint as a felon in possession of firearms. Williams was charged as a firearms offender under Operation Red-Zone, a combined federal, state and local partnership to reduce gun violence over the Labor Day weekend.
According to the complaint, police identified Williams while driving a vehicle that was suspected in a previous felonious assault incident. During a search of the vehicle, law enforcement agents seized two 9mm pistols. Williams later admitted to knowing that the firearms were in the vehicle, even though he is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous felony conviction for possession of heroin.
IV. Florida Man Charged with Production of Child Pornography and Enticement of a Minor
On September 14, 2020, a 39-year-old New Port Ritchey, Florida, man was arrested and charged with production of child pornography and enticement of a minor. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. Samuel Aaron Leonard was arrested July 2, 2020, in Vancouver, Washington, just outside the home of the 14 year-old girl he had spent months enticing online for sexual abuse.
Leonard had allegedly communicated with the girl on a number of social media platforms and represented to the girl that he was 20 years old. Leonard made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Tacoma the same day.
According to the criminal complaint, Leonard contacted the girl via a social media platform around April 1, 2020. Over the next few months, Leonard communicated with the girl on various social media sites and sent her a cell phone so that they could communicate by text and telephone.
Unbeknownst to the girl, Leonard had installed tracking and surveillance software in the phone so that he could monitor her location and read her texts and emails. Leonard turned the conversations with the girl to a sexual nature and convinced her to send various sexually explicit photos.
The investigation revealed that Leonard had traveled from Florida to the Vancouver area via bus and was within a short bike ride of the girl’s home. When the officer, posing as the girl, revealed that the girl’s guardian had taken the phone Leonard sent to her, Leonard said he would get her a new one.
Police surveilled Leonard as he took a newly purchased phone, hid it in a package, and tossed the package over the fence to the girl’s backyard. Leonard was arrested shortly afterward. If convicted, Leonard faces at least 15 years and up to 40 years in prison.
V. Two Alleged Hackers Charged with Defacing Websites Following Killing of Qasem Soleimani
On September 15, 2020, two alleged computer hackers were indicted in the District of Massachusetts on charges of damaging multiple websites across the United States as retaliation for United States military action in January 2020 that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
Behzad Mohammadzadeh, a/k/a Mrb3hz4d”, believed to be about 19 and a national of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Marwan Abusrour, a/k/a Mrwn007), believed to be 25 and a stateless national of the Palestinian Authority, were charged in an indictment unsealed September 15, 2020, on one count of conspiring to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and one count of intentionally damaging a protected computer.
The defendants are believed to be living in Iran and the Palestinian Authority and are wanted by United States authorities. According to the indictment, Mohammadzadeh has publicly claimed to have personally defaced more than 1,100 websites around the world with pro-Iranian and pro-hacker messages, which he began in 2018 and continues through the present day.
Abusrour is a self-described spammer and black hat hacker who has publicly claimed to have defaced at least 337 websites around the world since June 6, 2016, continuing through at least July 2020. The two allegedly started working together on or about Dec. 26, 2019, when Abusrour began providing Mahammadzadeh with access to compromised websites.
On or about Jan. 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a statement that the United States military had “taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.” The statement explained that the “strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans” and described briefly General Soleimani’s past actions and future plans. The United States’ responsibility for General Soleimani’s death was widely publicized.
VI. Florida Man Arrested on Bank Fraud and Related Charges
Florida man was arrested earlier this month in Wisconsin on charges of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, in September 2019, Kamori Dontae Keys, 26, and several co-conspirators engaged in a bank fraud scheme that targeted bank customers residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Florence, South Carolina.
During the scheme, Keys and his co-conspirators unlawfully obtained the customers’ bank account information and then withdrew their funds in the Eastern District of North Carolina via cash withdrawals and point of sale transactions, thereby causing an approximate loss of over $45,000 to the victim bank.
Keys has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, Bank Fraud/Aiding and Abetting, and Aggravated Identity Theft/Aiding and Abetting. If convicted of the charges, Keys faces up to 24 months in prison on the aggravated identity theft count, and up to 30 years in prison on the bank fraud counts.
VII. Rosebud Women Indicted on Child Abuse Charges
On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced that two Rosebud, South Dakota, women had been indicted by a federal grand jury for Child Abuse, and one of the women additionally charged for Assault With a Dangerous Weapon. Samantha Taylor Jones, 27, and Valarie Jean Crazy Bull, 63, were both indicted on September 9, 2020.
They both appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on September 11, 2020 and pled not guilty to the Indictment. If convicted, both women face up to 15 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Restitution may also be ordered for Child Abuse. In addition, the woman charged with Assault With a Dangerous Weapon faces up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
According to the indictment, on August 11, 2019, Jones and Crazy Bull abused, exposed, tortured, tormented, and cruelly punished a child. The Indictment further alleges that Crazy Bull assaulted an individual with an umbrella with intent to do bodily harm.
VIII. Chicago Man Arrested on Drug Charge for Allegedly Dealing Heroin and Fentanyl
On September 15, 2020, a Chicago man was arrested on a federal drug charge for allegedly selling wholesale quantities of heroin and fentanyl in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. William Townsend, 40, of Chicago, is charged with distribution of a controlled substance.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago accuses Townsend of distributing the heroin and fentanyl to two suspected drug traffickers. The sales occurred in a residential building in Chicago, according to the complaint. During the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately $469,000 in cash and approximately a kilogram of suspected heroin.
Townsend was arrested on Sept. 10, 2020. He appeared September 14, 2020, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey I. Cummings in Chicago, where he was ordered to remain detained in federal custody.
The complaint and arrest were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen Totten, Matthew Kutcher, and Edward A. Liva, Jr., represent the government.
IX. Portland Man Charged in June Arson at Portland Police Precinct
On September 16, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams announced that Gavaughn Gaquez Streeter-Hillerich, 22, was charged by criminal complaint with two counts of using fire to maliciously damage and attempt to damage a building housing the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct and various private businesses on June 26, 2020.
According to court documents, in the early morning hours of June 26, 2020, a group of demonstrators were present near the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct on NE Emerson Street in Portland. The precinct is located in a city-owned building containing multiple private businesses. Streeter-Hillerich was seen in video footage intentionally setting a large dumpster on fire near the building’s northwest exterior corner.
The fire was set on top of the dumpster, which had been pushed up against plywood affixed to the building to protect windows and prevent break-ins. Officers used fire extinguishers to try and extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived.
The fire caused damage to the building and, were it allowed to spread, would have threatened the safety of 15 police personnel and four individuals in custody inside the building. Video evidence of the fire submitted by a private citizen led investigators to identify Streeter-Hillerich and bring charges in this case.
X. South Dakota Woman Charged with Theft of Government Funds, False Statement, and Concealment of Information from SSI Program
The U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced on September 17, 2020, that a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Theft of Government Funds, False Statement, and Concealment of Information from SSI Program. Amber Lynn Roggenkamp, 40, was indicted on September 1, 2020, and she appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on September 15, 2020, where she pled not guilty to the Indictment.
According to the indictment, on the Theft of Government charge, it is alleged that between on or about February 6, 2017, and September 30, 2019, Roggenkamp willfully and knowingly embezzled, stole, and purloined money from Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Roggenkamp lied to the Social Security Administration in order to obtain SSI benefits for her son.
On the False Statement charge, the Indictment alleges that, on or about July 12, 2019, Roggenkamp knowingly and willfully made false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representations during a SSI non-medical review. Roggenkamp also failed to accurately report her household resources, including the balance of her savings account.
On the Concealment of Information from SSI Program charge, the Indictment alleges that on or about September 28, 2017, Roggenkamp failed to disclose a large deposit to her savings account, as a way to continue to receive and spend SSI benefits payments intended for the benefit of the minor child for whom she served as representative payee.
If convicted, Roggenkamp faces up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and up to $300 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020
I. U.S. Attorney Announces Arrest of a North Dakota Man for Second Degree Murder
On September 5, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Drew Wrigley announced that a federal grand jury has indicted Christopher Lewis Gillette, 34, of Twin Buttes, for felony Second Degree Murder; Assault with Dangerous Weapon; Assault with Intent to Commit Murder; Assault with Dangerous Weapon; Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury; and Use of Firearm in Relation to Felony Crime of Violence.
The indictment alleges that on August 14, 2020, Christopher Gillette shot two individuals at a residence located on the Fort Berthold Reservation, killing one adult male and critically wounding the other. This case is being investigated by the FBI and the case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Lunberg has been assigned the case.
II. Florida Elementary School Teacher Arrested, Charged With Distribution Of Child Sexual Abuse Videos
On September 8, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Maria Chapa Lopez announced that Thomas Lester Hazouri, Jr., 40, of Jacksonville Beach, has been arrested and charged by federal criminal complaint with distributing child pornography. If convicted, Hazouri faces from five to 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and a potential life term of supervised release.
Hazouri has been detained pending a hearing scheduled for September 11, 2020. According to the complaint, MediaLab, the company that hosts the Kik online messaging application (app) notified the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that one of its users, identified by user name “mybfsgaynotme,” had uploaded suspected child sexual abuse videos on March 26, 2020, using an account whose subscriber information included the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Further investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office revealed the IP address used to distribute these videos on Kik resolved to the residence of Thomas Lester Hazouri, Jr. in Jacksonville Beach. The JSO determined that Hazouri was a second grade teacher assigned to Mayport Elementary School in Jacksonville.
On August 6, 2020, JSO detectives and other personnel executed a search warrant at Hazouri’s residence and seized an Apple iPhone XR, as well as two laptop computers. On August 27, 2020, JSO and the FBI confirmed that on March 26, 2020, the Kik user of the “mybfsgaynotme” account distributed at least four videos depicting child sex abuse to several other Kik users.
III. Texas Man Charged with Making Threat During University Zoom Lecture
On September 8, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan Patrick announced that a 19-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Richmond, Texas is set to appear in federal court on allegations he made a bomb threat against University of Houston (UH).
Ibraheem Ahmed Al Bayati is charged with making threats or conveying false information to destroy by means of fire or explosives and making a threat over interstate commerce. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 2 p.m.
According to the charging documents, Al Bayati identified himself as Abu Qital al Jihadi al Mansur and joined a UH student lecture via Zoom on Sept. 2, 2020. Shortly thereafter, he allegedly interrupted the lecture and said “what does any of this have to do with the fact that UH is about to get bombed in a few days? He then allegedly uttered an Arabic a phrase meaning, the “Islamic State will remain.” Al Bayati then allegedly held up his index finger and repeated the phrase. He left the call to the gasps of students, according to the charges.
The complaint further notes that Al Bayati’s reference to the “Islamic State” is a reference to ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), the foreign terrorist organization.
IV. Kyle Man Indicted for Sexual Abuse of a Minor
The U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced on September 8, 2020 that a Kyle, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for two counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor. Verlin Old Horse, age 19, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.
If convicted, Old Horse faces between 30 years and life in prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, 5 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The charges relate to Old Horse engaging in sexual acts with a female, who had not attained the age of 12 years, between October 12, 2019, and December 9, 2019. The investigation is being conducted by the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety and the FBI.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Poppen is prosecuting the case. Old Horse was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.
V. Six Face Federal Charges for Crimes Committed During South Carolina Protests
On September 8, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced that six people face federal charges for participating in actions including arson, inciting riots, and other civil disorder in Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina, on May 30 and 31, 2020.
Following George Floyd’s death in Minnesota on May 25, 2020, protestors in Columbia and Charleston joined to peacefully demonstrate against racism and the use of excessive force by law enforcement. While most several participants exercised their First Amendment rights in a lawful manner, several others engaged in violent criminal acts and threatened public safety, including assaulting citizens and law enforcement officers and vandalizing and destroying public and private property.
Over the previous week, federal law enforcement authorities in the District of South Carolina have charged six individuals for crimes committed during demonstrations throughout South Carolina. Those charges include arson, inciting a riot, and civil disorders.
Some of those defendants have agreed to plead guilty to the charged crimes. According to public documents filed with the federal district court, the following defendants have recently been charged with, or agreed to plead guilty to, the following federal crimes:
- Abraham Jenkins, 26, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to civil disorders related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020.
- Kelsey Jackson, 28, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to arson of a Charleston Police Department patrol car on May 30, 2020.
- Tearra Guthrie, 23, of Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to civil disorders related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020.
- Orlando King, 31, of North Charleston, has agreed to plead guilty to a violation of the Anti-Riot Act related to the violence and destruction on May 30, 2020, and to being a felon in possession of a firearm stemming from an unrelated incident on April 25, 2020.
- Karlos Gibson-Brown, 24, of Columbia, has agreed to plead guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition for a riot-related incident on May 31, 2020.
- Marcello Woods, 28, of Columbia, has been charged with destroying a Columbia Police Department vehicle by means of fire for riot-related conduct on May 30, 2020.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina continues to evaluate other cases for potential federal prosecution.
VI. Whitewood Man Charged with Unlawful Possession of Firearm
The U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced on September 8, 2020 that a Whitewood, South Dakota, man was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person. Travis Longfox, 28, was charged on February 19, 2020, and he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on September 2, 2020, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
If convicted, Parsons faces up to 10 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, and a $100 assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The charge relates to Longfox, previously convicted of a felony and prohibited from possessing firearms, possessing a Kel-Tec .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol in July 2019 at Rapid City. The charge is merely an accusation and Longfox is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.
VII. Grand Jury Indicts Illinois Man for Production of Child Pornography
On September 8, 2020, a federal grand jury indicted Timothy Lloyd Blaney, 57, of Pevely, Illinois for production of child pornography. According to court documents, between October 1, 2019 and August 14, 2020, Blaney sexually abused a four-year old child and produced visual depictions of that abuse.
Blaney was an acquaintance of the child’s family. If convicted, Blaney faces from 15 years to life in prison and/or a fine of no more than $250,000.
Law enforcement is requesting community assistance in identifying further victims. Anyone with information is asked to please contact the St. Louis Federal Bureau of Investigation. “The majority of child sex abuse is perpetrated by individuals known to the victim or the victim’s family,” said Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn of the FBI’s St. Louis Division.
“In this instance, the young victim fortunately knew to tell her parents what happened. This highlights the importance of parents engaging early with their children about appropriate boundaries.” The FBI and Pevely Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson is handling the case.
VIII. Former Macomb County Prosecutor Charged with Obstruction of Justice
On September 9, 2020, an Information was filed in federal court charging former elected Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith with obstruction of justice for attempting to get a friend and two of his assistant prosecutors to make false statements to federal law enforcement officers and a federal grand jury in a federal criminal investigation of Smith’s own criminal conduct.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider announced the charges. Schneider was joined in the announcement by Steven D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the FBI.
Former Prosecutor Eric Smith, 53, of Macomb Township, was charged with obstruction of justice, a felony that carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. The charge was based on an FBI investigation revealing that, between 2012 and 2020, Smith conducted two fraud schemes to steal approximately $75,000 in cash from his political campaign fund to use for personal expenses.
Then, when he became aware of a federal grand jury investigation in 2019, Smith began a campaign of a different sort, imploring witnesses to lie and commit perjury on his behalf to federal authorities and a federal grand jury.
IX. Grand Jury Indicts Two for Carjacking and Weapons Violations
U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced on Friday, September 4, 2020 that Richard Jones, 22, and Kahliq Williams, 20, both of New Orleans, LA, are charged in a six-count indictment. Counts 1 and 3 of the indictment charges Jones and Williams for their alleged participation in the carjacking of a man on Eastern Street in New Orleans, LA on April 16, 2020, and the burglary of C&S Gun Parlor in Covington, LA on April 17, 2020.
In Count 4, Williams is charged with an additional carjacking, which took place on May 19, 2020, in the 7600 block of Trapier Avenue in New Orleans, LA. Count 6 charges Jones with being a felon in possession of a firearm on May 22, 2020, the date of his arrest. Finally, in Counts 2 and 5, both Jones and Williams are charged with using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
In Counts 1 and 4 of the indictment, Jones and Williams are charged with carjacking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 2119. If convicted, both face up to 15 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000.00, a period of 3 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00. In Counts 2 and 5, Jones and Williams are charged with using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of Title 18, United States Section, 924(c)(1).
If convicted of that, both face between seven years and life in prison, to be run consecutive to any other sentence imposed, a fine up to $250,000.00, a period of 5 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00. In Count 3, Jones and Williams are charged with burglary of a federal firearm licensee in violation of Title 18 United States Code Section 922(u).
If convicted of that charge, both face up to 10 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, up to 3 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00. Finally, in Count 6, Jones is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, which means he also faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, a period of 3 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00.
X. Grand Jury Returns Indictment Against Wisconsin Man
A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned an indictment yesterday against Kevin Shibilski, 59, of Merrill, Wisconsin. Shibilski is charged with storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit. In his capacity as the CEO of 5R Processors, Ltd., a Wisconsin company involved in the recycling of electronic waste from corporate and institutional clients and from manufacturers that participate in a manufacture-take-back program.
The indictment alleges that Shibilski illegally stored and disposed of broken and crushed glass from cathode ray tubes that was hazardous due to lead-toxicity. The indictment charges Shibilski with eight counts of wire fraud by taking in over $5.76 million from clients, but failing to recycle over 8.3 million pounds of their crushed glass from cathode ray tubes with lead in them.
They instead stockpiled it at 5R Processors’ warehouses in Wisconsin and Tennessee. The indictment also alleges that Shibilski conspired to defraud the United States by the nonpayment and evasion of more than $850,000 in employment and income taxes for 5R Processors and its nominee entities.
If convicted, Shibilski faces up to five years in prison on the charge of storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit, 20 years on each wire fraud charge, and up to five years on the tax charge.
FRIDAY, September 04, 2020
I. Texas Man Charged with Assisting a Meth Trafficker’s Prison Escape
A Plainview man was charged on August 31, 2020 with assisting a meth trafficker’s prison escape. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox. Juan Anthony Cordero, 25, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service’s North Texas Fugitive Task Force (NTFTF) on August 29, 2020, and he made his initial appearance in court August 31, 2020.
According to the criminal complaint, Cordero spoke with Mark Lucio, a prisoner in federal custody at the Bailey County Jail to allegedly plan and assist with his escape. Mr. Lucio was in federal custody following his June 3rd guilty plea for possession to distribute methamphetamine and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
On August 28, 2020, Cordero was seen on a video call with Lucio allegedly discussing the details of a prison escape that was to occur the next day. Cordero and Lucio allegedly discussed the time for the escape and the vehicle Cordero would be driving.
On the morning of August 29, 2020, Lucio called Cordero minutes before the planned prison escape was to take place to advise Mr. Cordero with last minute instructions. Mr. Lucio made his escape through a sally port door at the Bailey County Jail and ran to Mr. Cordero’s car and they fled the area together.
Shortly after the escape, the Hale County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the NTFTF to be on the lookout for Cordero’s vehicle. Deputies with the Hale County Sheriff’s Office located Cordero’s car in Plainview, Texas. NTFTF members, along with deputies with the Hale County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety made contact with Cordero at the residence, where he admitted to helping Mr. Lucio escape from the Bailey County Jail.
II. New Mexico Man Faces Federal Assault Charges for Allegedly Beating his Brother with a Baseball Bat
On August 31, 2020, Mark Anthony Hill, 32, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation residing in Smith Lake, New Mexico, appeared in Albuquerque federal court on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury in Navajo Country. A U.S. magistrate judge ordered him held in custody pending trial.
According to the complaint, Hill committed the alleged assault on Aug. 23 in McKinley County, New Mexico. Hill allegedly got into an argument with his brother while drinking alcohol. Hill allegedly struck the victim with his fists and knocked him to the ground.
Hill then allegedly retrieved a baseball bat and struck the victim in the head and torso causing serious injuries, including fractures to the victim’s skull and jaw, a dislocated shoulder and a torn left ear. The Navajo Nation Department of Criminal Investigations arrested Hill on Aug. 26, 2020. If convicted, Hill faces up to 10 years in prison on each assault charge.
III. Massachusetts Man Charged with Assaulting Officer with Vehicle
On August 31, 2020, a Brockton, Massachusetts man was arrested and charged in connection with assaulting an officer while fleeing a motor vehicle stop. The defendant’s vehicle allegedly dragged the officer for several feet as the defendant fled the scene, eventually crashing head-on into a guardrail on Route 24 at approximately 100 miles per hour, and running across travel lanes of Route 24 before he was apprehended and placed under arrest.
Tykeam Jackson, 25, was arrested August 28, 2020 and charged by criminal complaint with one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding a federal officer. Following an initial appearance, Jackson was detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Sept. 4, 2020.
As alleged in the charging documents, during the afternoon of July 27, 2020, a deputized federal law enforcement officer stopped Jackson for speeding on Route 28 in Avon and instructed Jackson to exit his vehicle. Instead, Jackson allegedly accelerated the vehicle with such force that the officer was dragged for several feet and thrown to the ground.
Jackson then sped away, ignored traffic signals, and drove into oncoming traffic, eventually travelling at a speed of approximately 100 miles per hour in the breakdown lane of Route 24. After attempting to cross all three travel lanes, Jackson lost control of the vehicle and crashed head-on into the guardrail.
He allegedly exited the vehicle, ran across the travel lanes of Route 24, and was almost struck several times by oncoming traffic. A Massachusetts state trooper subsequently found Jackson running into and obstructing traffic on a nearby heavily-traveled roadway and placed him under arrest.
IV. Individuals Allegedly Involved in Deadly Police Chase Indicted on Drug, Gun Charges
On August 31, 2020, a federal grand jury charged the two individuals allegedly involved in an August 7, 2020 chase through Cincinnati that resulted in the deaths of two bystanders in Newport, Ky. The indictment was returned August 26, 2020 and unsealed August 31.
Mason Meyer, 28, and Kirsten Johnson, 22, both of Cincinnati, are charged with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
In addition, Meyer is charged with illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. In Campbell County, Ky., Meyer is charged with two counts of murder, endangerment, and fleeing and evading. According to court documents, officials with the ATF, Cincinnati Police and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force were surveilling Meyer in Cincinnati on Aug. 7 when Meyer drove away.
Cincinnati Police officers attempted to stop Meyer when he fled, causing a police chase through Cincinnati and into Covington and Newport, Ky. Local court documents detail that Meyer’s vehicle struck and killed a couple dining on the patio of Press on Monmouth in Newport, Ky. Two other pedestrians were struck and suffered minor injuries.
V. South Dakota Man Charged with Assaulting a Federal Officer
On August 31, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced that a Mission, South Dakota, man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Assaulting, Resisting, and Impeding a Federal Officer. Dayton Thin Elk, a/k/a Dayton Haukaas, 24, was indicted on July 16, 2020. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on August 28, 2020 and pled not guilty to the nidictment.
The indictment alleges that on April 27, 2020, in Todd County, South Dakota, Thin Elk did forcibly assault, oppose, impede, intimidate, and interfere with multiple law enforcement officers who were employed by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.
If convicted, Thin Elk faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
VI. Foreign National Arrested at Pensacola International Airport Pleads Guilty to National Security Offenses
On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe announced that Colin Fisher, a citizen of the United Kingdom, pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) and attempted smuggling in relation to exporting power generating equipment to Iran.
Fisher was arrested by federal agents when he arrived in Pensacola from the United Arab Emirates earlier this month to consummate the illegal transaction and get equipment for a buyer in Iran.
Fisher, 45, admitted in Pensacola District Court that from October 1, 2017, to August 7, 2020, he worked to violate the Iranian embargo by attempting to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine and parts from the United States for delivery to an end user in Iran.
This included participating in fraudulent invoicing and using coded language with conspirators to communicate about the illegal transactions. Despite these efforts, law enforcement authorities discovered the plan and were able to seize the turbine before its transatlantic journey to the end user in Iran, a conspirator in Iran who is linked to an Iranian energy company.
The intercepted turbine, which was valued at half a million dollars, could be used to provide needed energy to the oil fields of Iran.
VII. Las Vegas Man Indicted for Scheme to Target Church Funds
Oluremi Akinleye, 40, of Las Vegas, made his initial appearance in federal court on September 1, 2020 for his role in a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain money from accounts held by members of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. The charges were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada Nicholas A. Trutanich and FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment on August 25, 2020, which was unsealed September 1, 2020. It charged Akinleye with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of wire fraud, one count of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices, and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Akinleye was arrested on August 28, 2020. A jury trial has been set before U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro for November 2, 2020. According to court documents, from November 2017 to July 2018, Akinleye and his co-conspirators conspired to steal money from accounts held by members of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.
Both funds provide financial services to members of the religious community, including ministers. As part of the scheme, Akinleye and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained the names and personal identifying information of certain account holders.
Akinleye then used that information to impersonate those individuals, making withdrawals and transfers from their accounts. Through this scheme, Akinleye and his co-conspirators attempted to fraudulently obtain over $400,000 from the two funds.
VIII. Texas Men, Including Church Pastor, Indicted on Child Pornography Violations
Two men from North Texas have been charged with child exploitation crimes in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox today. David Pettigrew, 48, of Denison, Texas, and Chad Michael Rider, 46, of Anna, Texas have been charged in an indictment returned by a grand jury with conspiring to sexually exploit children (also referred to as production of child pornography).
Pettigrew was additionally charged with transporting child pornography. Both men have entered “not guilty” pleas to the charges. Pettigrew came to the attention of law enforcement officials through referrals sent by two electronic surveillance providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Those referrals identified a computer user who uploaded suspected child pornography onto their online platforms. On August 6, 2020, Homeland Security Investigations agents executed federal search warrants at Pettigrew’s residence and the Denison Church of the Nazarene, after which, agents arrested Pettigrew.
Agents executed a search warrant at Rider’s residence on August 21, 2020. Until recently, Pettigrew had served as pastor of the Denison Church of the Nazarene. Rider is a resident of Anna, Texas. If convicted, Pettigrew and Rider face a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison.
IX. Two Charged with Murder for Alleged Roles in Death of Postal Employee, Face Federal Drug Charges with Third Defendant
On September 2, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the district of South Carolina Peter M. McCoy, Jr. announced that Trevor Raekwon Seward, 22, and Jerome Terrell Davis, 28, both of Andrews, SC have been charged in a six-count federal indictment for their alleged roles in the September 23, 2019, murder of postal employee Irene Pressley, 64, along her mail route in rural Williamsburg County.
A third defendant, Ricky Jesus Barajas, 28, of Santa Rosa, California, was charged alongside Seward and Davis for a drug conspiracy, and Barajas and Davis were charged for use of a communication facility to commit a drug offense on the date of the murder.
Pressley, who was found dead in her vehicle near her mail route in Andrews the afternoon of September 23, 2019, had worked with the Postal Service for more than two decades. The federal charges come after an extensive joint federal, state, and local investigation involving more than 70 law enforcement officers.
Seward and Davis were initially arrested in the weeks following September 23 on state charges related to Pressley’s murder. According to documents filed with the state court upon their arrest, just after 3 p.m. September 2, 2020, Seward and Davis allegedly shot Pressley multiple times with a semi-automatic weapon in an attempt to steal a package containing marijuana.
Additionally, numerous shell casings were found at the scene of the shooting and forensic laboratory results from the United States Postal Inspection Service indicated at least one fingerprint on a mail parcel that connected Seward to the murder.
If convicted, Seward and Davis face a sentence of no less than life in federal prison, and Barajas faces a maximum possible penalty of five years in federal prison. No final decision has been made regarding whether the Government will seek the death penalty.
X. Florida Business Owner Arrested And Charged With COVID Relief Fraud
On September 2, 2020, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Maria Chapa Lopez announced the arrest and unsealing of a criminal complaint charging Casey David Crowther, 35, of Fort Myers with making a false statement to a lending institution. If convicted, Crowther faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.
According to the complaint, Crowther sought and received more than $2 million in a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan through an application to an insured financial institution on behalf of his company, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. Crowther submitted a loan application that included false and misleading statements concerning what the PPP funds would be used for, specifically that the PPP funds would only be used for business-related purposes, to retain workers, and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utilities payments.