Last Updated Friday, January 21, 2022, at 4:54 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.
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FRIDAY, January 21, 2022
Vermont Man Charged with Bank Robbery
The first case in our roundup is a traditional bank robbery case, which was brought by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont on Jan. 18, which is when he announced that Samuel Colby, 39, of Springfield had been arrested the day before for the Jan. 8 robbery of the 802 Credit Union, also in Springfield.
A criminal complaint was also filed the same day in United States District Court, and Colby is expected to have his initial appearance this afternoon. The United States has requested that Colby remain detained pending trial.
According to court records, Colby was the suspect in a string of five robberies that occurred in Springfield and Westminster between Jan. 6 and Jan. 14, 2022, including the robbery of the 802 Credit Union. These robberies were reported by victims as involving a firearm or threat of a firearm.
A search of Colby’s vehicle on Jan. 14 resulted in the seizure of a BB gun that looks like a semi-automatic pistol. During a same-day search of Colby’s residence, law enforcement found a scrap of paper that appears to match the paper used for a demand note presented by the suspect at the 802 Credit Union robbery.
Foundation Exec Charged with Embezzlement
The next case is a case in which a former Executive Vice President for the T.J. Martell Foundation now faces charges of embezzlement for her role in a fraud scheme targeting the foundation’s cancer research group.
The criminal Information, in this case, which was filed Jan. 18 by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, charges Melissa Goodwin, 55, of Nashville, Tennessee, with wire fraud in relation to a. scheme in which she embezzled over $3.7 million from the T.J. Martell Foundation, which is the music industry’s leading foundation for funding innovative medical research focused on finding treatments and cures for cancer.
The Foundation raises money for cancer research by soliciting in-kind donations from celebrities and then auctioning off those donations for a profit. Goodwin had been employed at the Foundation since 2005 and was the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Foundation from 2018 until July 2020.
According to the criminal Information, between July 2018 and June 2020, Goodwin allegedly purchased approximately $3.96 million in tickets from online ticket vendors Ticketmaster, Stubhub, Primesport, and On-Location, using a Foundation credit card she had obtained in her own name. These tickets were not for a legitimate Foundation purpose.
The tickets were for musical concerts such as Lady Gaga and Celine Dion, and some were to sporting events, such as Super Bowl LIV, which was scheduled to take place in Miami, Florida, on Feb. 2, 2020.Goodwin provided these tickets to an individual in New York City who owned and operated a charity auction business. This business conducted auctions for clients, offering consignment items such as event tickets and sports memorabilia to the clients for use in their auctions.
As part of the scheme, Goodwin led this individual to believe that she had acquired the tickets at no cost or at a discounted rate. Goodwin also used the Foundation’s credit card to purchase other items that were not for legitimate Foundation purposes, such as expensive and rare alcohols, plane tickets, and hotel stays. She then used the Foundation’s bank accounts to pay the credit card charges.
On Jan. 18, a Southfield resident named Mykia King, 29, pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft arising out of a pandemic-related unemployment insurance fraud scheme. The case and the guilty plea were announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Dawn N. Ison, as well as Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General and Special Agent in Charge John Marengoy of the Secret Service’s Detroit Field Office.
King, 29, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud arising out of her submission of 34 fraudulent claims for pandemic unemployment assistance. She also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft, which reflected the fact that she used stolen personal identifying information to further her unemployment assistance fraud scheme.
According to the plea agreement, King filed approximately 34 fraudulent UI claims seeking pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) benefits to which she was not entitled. These fraudulent claims were submitted in the names of multiple individuals without those individuals’ authorization or consent.
According to the plea documents, one such fraudulent claim was submitted in the name of a victim whose initials were T.R. King filed a fraudulent PUA claim using T.R.’s name and social security number on June 5, 2020. King was not lawfully in possession of T.R.’s social security number and was not authorized to file a PUA claim on T.R.’s behalf.
The claim used King’s street address, albeit with a different apartment number. The system requested an Identity Verification (IDV), and King uploaded an adulterated Michigan driver’s license bearing T.R.’s name as proof of identification. Benefits were paid on King’s fraudulent T.R. claim on approximately June 23 and 24, 2020.
King accessed the fraudulently obtained benefits by using a Bank of America debit card issued for the T.R. claim at ATMs in the Detroit Metro area on approximately June 25–30, July 1–2, July 6, and July 10–11, 2020, obtaining approximately $11,880. This fraudulent use of T.R.’s identifying information in furtherance of her fraud scheme gave rise to the aggravated identity theft charge to which King pleaded guilty.
Man Pleads Guilty to Child Porn
On Jan. 17, Johnny William Kyte, Jr., 62, of Elkton, Maryland, pled guilty to a charge of production of child pornography. The guilty plea agreement was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron; along with Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; the Cecil County State’s Attorney James Dellmyer; and Chief Carolyn Rogers of the Elkton Police Department.
According to his guilty plea, on September 10, 2020, the Elkton Police Department responded to a complaint reporting that images of child pornography had been located within Kyte’s residence. Kyte resided at his Elkton, Maryland residence for over 20 years. However, at the time that the complaint was reported, Kyte was not residing at his residence as he was serving a 36-month jail sentence for a third-degree sex offense at the Cecil County Detention Center.
After the execution of several search warrants, the Elkton Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations discovered numerous digital devices controlled and owned by Kyte that contained images of child pornography. The devices included a 1 Terabyte USB external hard drive and a 128 Megabyte SD card.
Louisiana Man Enters a Guilty Plea to Heroin Trafficking
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane A. Evans, announced that Jimmelle Pines, 41, from Hammond, Louisiana, had pled guilty on Jan. 13, charging him with possessing with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of a mixture or substance containing heroin. As a result of the guilty plea, Pines now faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000,000.00, a period of supervised release of at least 5 years, and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
According to court records, Pines was arrested on Nov. 5, 2020, at his grandmother’s property in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. At the time, Pines possessed approximately 1.575 kilograms of heroin that he intended to sell. In October 2020, officers working with the Ponchatoula Police Department and federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations received credible information that Pines stored large quantities of heroin in immobile cars parked on his grandmother’s property in Ponchatoula.
Honduran Woman Faces Illegal Re-Entry Charge
On Jan. 18, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane Evans, announced that Olga Marina Estrada-Barahona, 44, was charged on Jan. 14 in a one-count indictment for illegal reentry of a removed alien.
According to the indictment, Estrada-Barahona reentered the United States after she was previously deported on January 25, 2006. If she is convicted in court, Estrada-Barahona faces up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, up to a one-year term of supervised release, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.
Vermont Man Charged with Trafficking Meth
On Jan. 20, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Quenton Dodson, 33, of South Burlington, Vermont, has been charged by criminal complaint in federal court with one count of distribution of methamphetamine.
According to the complaint, Dodson has been investigated by the Burlington Police Department for quite some time, and it is ongoing. When he was arrested at his home on Friday, police found more than $10,000 in cash, some of which was used to purchase meth from someone working with police.
Police also found additional quantities of suspected methamphetamine, crack cocaine, fentanyl, and other drug-related paraphernalia. Police also found a loaded 40 caliber handgun. Dodson was initially charged with state offenses, and at his arraignment in Chittenden Superior Court on Tuesday, Dodson was ordered released on conditions.