Last Updated Friday, December 03, 2021, at 9:23 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.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a federal crime, we are here to help.  The attorneys at The Criminal Lawyer Group are some of the nation’s top-ranked attorneys in their field and their experience defending criminal defendants in federal courts is exemplary.

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FRIDAY, December 03, 2021

The January 6 Capitol Breach Continues to Loom Large

This week’s most prominent new criminal cases seem to follow several patterns, but there has been no pattern more alarming and more noticeable than cases related to the Capitol Breach that happened back on January 6, 2021, during the waning days of the previous president’s administration. Apparently, there were many people at the Capitol on that day, and it’s taking a while to sort everything out.

In the nearly 11 months since Jan. 6, more than 675 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. That number includes over 210 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

In one of those cases, three men from New York were arrested on Nov. 26 for crimes related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol Breach, which attempted to disrupt a joint session of Congress that was intended to count the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election. Gregory Purdy, 23, of Hopewell Junction, and his uncle, Robert Turner, 39, of Poughkeepsie, have been charged with civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, along with other charges. 

Purdy’s brother, Matthew Purdy, 22, also of Hopewell Junction, has been charged with misdemeanor offenses. Gregory and Matthew Purdy were arrested on Nov. 10, 2021, and Robert Turner was arrested on Nov. 22, 2021. All were released pending further proceedings.

According to documents filed in court in his case, video footage shows Gregory Purdy, his brother Matthew, and his uncle, Robert Turner, actively working with a group standing just outside the U.S. Capitol, opposite a group of police officers who were attempting to protect the building. Based on the footage, at approximately 2:01 p.m., Gregory Purdy and Turner could be seen with a crowd pushing the police line, with both men contacting police. 

Both Purdys and Turner entered the Capitol at approximately 2:13 p.m. and remained there for several minutes, at least. About an hour later, Gregory Purdy could be seen telling officers outside the Capitol, “We’re on the same team. You don’t have to take these orders.”

A Third January 6 Arrest

A couple days following the Purdy arrest, on Nov. 29, 2021, a California man, Edward Badalian, 27, of Los Angeles, was also arrested, this time for conspiracy and several other crimes related to the January 6 Capitol Breach, which disrupted a joint session of Congress as it ascertained and counted the electoral votes related to the presidential election. 

Badalian has been charged in an indictment with conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, tampering with documents or proceedings, and other offenses. The indictment was unsealed Nov. 29 in the District of Columbia. Badalian was arrested on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles and made his initial court appearance in the Central District of California. He was arraigned on Nov. 23.

The day after Badalian was arrested, on Nov. 30, a Rhode Island man, Timothy Desjardins, 35, of Providence, was also arrested after he was charged with assaulting law enforcement with a dangerous weapon and other crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

Desjardins has been charged with engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon, among other charges. The criminal complaint was unsealed yesterday in the District of Columbia. Desjardins is in custody in Rhode Island on unrelated charges and will make his initial court appearance in this case on a date yet to be scheduled.

Protecting Women and Children from Sexual Assault

Sexual predators seemed to be the target of the criminal courts when it came to filing new cases this week. For example, there was a case in the District of South Dakota in which a man was indicted for his failure to register as a sex offender, as required by law. That case was announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, Dennis Holmes. He announced that Jeremiah Jay Swalley, 23 had been indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 9 for his Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
Swalley appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on Nov. 24, 2021 and pled not guilty to the Indictment. If he is convicted in court, he will face up to ten years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, as well as five years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.
Also on December 1, 2021, a Massachusetts man, Robert David Austin, 41, of new Bedford, was arrested and charged with receipt and possession of child pornography.  If he is convicted in court, Austin faces at least five years and up to 20 years in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. 
According to the charging documents, Austin engaged in several groups on a messenger application through which child pornography is disseminated. On Nov. 3, 2021, a search of Austin’s residence revealed child pornography on his cell phone. Further analysis of Austin’s phone identified the messaging application through which Austin engaged in the dissemination of child pornography.

Criminal Courts Dealing a Lot with Firearms Violations

The criminal courts also dealt with many violations of gun laws designed to keep people safe. For example, an Alabama case led to the indictment of 11 people for their roles in a scheme to straw purchase numerous firearms. The indictments were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Prim F. Escalona, along with ATF Special Agent in Charge, Mickey French.

According to the 14-count indictment, between September and December 2020, multiple handguns were purchased by straw purchasers from licensed firearms dealers located in Tuscaloosa County. Adrian Benito Carter, 26, of Tuscaloosa, is charged in 13 counts with being a felon in possession of a firearm, engaging in the business of selling firearms without a license, making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm, and making a false statement for federal firearm licensee records.

Making Sure School Official is Held Accountable

This week’s newest criminal prosecutions included a case announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, involving embezzlement of federal taxpayer funds by a school official with the Phoenixville Area School District (PASD). If he is convicted of the charge in a court proceeding, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

According to the criminal information in this case, Christopher Gehris, 46, of Phoenixville, PA, was the Phoenixville Area School District’s Director of Finance/Business Manager when he allegedly misappropriated funds from PASD bank accounts, directed unauthorized payments to himself, made false entries, and fabricated receipts, all so he could embezzle more than $90,000 in school funds that had been earmarked for student school events, including sporting events, field trips, summer programs and others. 

For the years during the charged alleged conduct, which allegedly occurred between November 2013 and July 2019, the PASD received federal funds to pay for school programming.

Putting a Stop to Real Estate Fraud

This week’s newest criminal cases also include a case in which a DC man and a Maryland woman were indicted on federal charges related to a real estate fraud scheme in which they stole real property and used fake property deeds to do so. The indictment of the two people involved, Jeffrey M. Young-Bey, 65, of Washington, D.C., and Martina Yolanda Jones, 44, of Baltimore, Md., was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew M. Graves, along with Wayne A. Jacobs, who is the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. 

According to the indictment, it is alleged that the scheme produced more than $500,000 in illegal proceeds, mostly due to the theft of real property in D.C. The indictment also lists charges against both defendants for conspiracy, mail fraud, and money laundering, although Young-Bey was also charged with mail fraud, an additional count of money laundering, and five counts of aggravated identity theft. 

Maintaining the Criminal Justice System’s Preoccupation with Drugs

It wouldn’t be a typical week in the federal criminal courts unless there weren’t at least a few cases holding people accountable for their engagement in the illicit drug business. In this week’s case, we have a New Jersey man being hit with charges related to the distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, which were announced on Dec. 1. 

The announcement was made by the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, John C. Gurganus. The indictment, which was originally returned on Nov. 9, 2021, charged Daniel D. Wheeler, 32, of Jersey City, New Jersey, with drug distribution resulting in death and conspiring to do the same. 

According to the indictment, it is alleged that Wheeler conspired to distribute controlled substances throughout the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Those substances included fentanyl and heroin, and their distribution resulted in the death of a person.  The indictment also alleges that Wheeler aided and abetted by another, did distribute heroin and fentanyl on March 31, 2020, which led to the death of another.

The charges were brought as the result of a joint investigation as part of the Heroin Initiative, which is a part of the national initiative known as Project Safe Neighborhoods. Included as part of the initiative are agents from the FBI’s Scranton Office, the Monroe County D.A.’s Office, the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals Service.  AUSA James M. Buchanan has the responsibility for prosecuting the case. 

Indictment for Bad Checks

Finally for this week, we have a classic case in which a woman in Maryland,  Lucy Annette Alexander, age 35, of Maryland and Washington, DC, received an indictment for a federal grand jury on Dec. 1, for seven counts of bank fraud for her role in a scheme involving the use of checks in fraudulent manner at numerous stores throughout the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

According to the indictment, which was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, John C. Gurganus, it has been alleged that between August 2019 and June 2021, Alexander wrote numerous checks at retail store locations, including PetSmart, Sears, Dollar Tree, Weis Markets, MOM’s Organic Market, Giant Food, and many others. It has also been alleged that the JPMorgan Chase bank accounts from which Alexander wrote these checks were already closed and lacked the adequate funds to cover purchases at those retailers. 

In all, it is alleged that Alexander wrote over 200 checks from just one account after it was already closed, but the total amount of fraudulent checks written reached above $200,000.