Last Updated Friday, November 19, 2021, at 12:55 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.

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, November 19, 2021

Fraud and Money Laundering

As usual, fraud and money laundering were major subjects among the latest federally charged criminal cases from this week. For example, in one case, Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares was extradited from Guatemala to the U.S. on Nov. 15on an indictment filed in Brooklyn federal court, charging him and his brother, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Linares with money laundering offenses.

The charges stem from the brothers’ roles in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving the Brazil-based global construction conglomerate, Odebrecht S.A. (Odebrecht).  Luis Martinelli Linares was arraigned Nov. 16 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcia M. Henry. The extradition was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, along with several prominent law enforcement officials.

On December 21, 2016, Odebrecht pled guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for its involvement in the bribery and money laundering scheme. That scheme involved the payment of more than $700 million in bribes to government officials, public servants, political parties, and others in Panama and other countries around the world to obtain and retain business for the company.  

The Linares brothers are alleged to have conspired with others to launder approximately $28 million in bribe payments made by and at the direction of Odebrecht to a then high-ranking Panama government official who happened to be a close relative.

Cashing Someone Else’s Social Security Check

Of course, as we all know, corruption isn’t limited to government officials or foreign entities. One example of that is the case in Louisiana in which a New Orleans woman, Catherine Campbell, 68, was indicted on Nov. 12 for Theft of Government Funds. 
According to the indictment in this case, beginning in December 2010 and continuing through the end of 2020, Williams collected Social Security checks meant for a deceased relative. In all, Williams allegedly fraudulently received more than $61,000 this way. 

This week also featured an indictment against a career Postal Worker for delaying or destroying mail. The single-count indictment was brought against Sierra Hudson, 34, of New Orleans, who was employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier and worked out of the Central Center Station in New Orleans.
According to the indictment, Hudson allegedly hid, destroyed, detained, and/or delayed more than 1,200 pieces of First-Class mail, including postcards and political mail pieces between May and July of 2020. In addition, according to the indictment, Hudson also hid, detained, and delayed at least two First-Class letters, 535 advertising flyers, and 20 small nonprofit parcels in the trunk of her personal vehicle.

Firearms Charges Are Still Common

While many people tend to scream loudly about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, firearms crimes continue to be a major component of new criminal cases these days. One example is a New Orleans man, Nelson Raymond, 28, who was indicted on Nov. 15 for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. 

The charge was announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane Evans. If he is convicted of the charge, Raymond faces up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release after the completion of his prison term.  

A day or two later, on November 17, 2021, a Charlotte, NC man, Thomas Evans Kelly, 28, was arrested and later appeared in federal court, charged with the straw purchase of several guns, as well as for dealing in firearms without a federal license. 

The arrest and the charge were announced by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, William T. Stetzer. Kelly was released on bond after the hearing, but if he is convicted in a court of law, he faces up to 15 years in prison and up to a half million dollars in fines.

Criminal Courts Protect Civil Rights

The very next day, Daniel Andrew McGee, 22, from Springfield, Oregon, was charged via criminal complaint with a hate crime after he allegedly tried to kill the victim, whom he knew was a gay man.

According to the complaint, McGee and his victim met using Grindr, a social media and networking application for gay men. After they agreed to meet on July 5, 2021, McGee entered the victim’s apartment, where he began to assault him with a wooden club for several minutes, ignoring the victim’s pleas to stop. He continued to assault the victim for a long while. As a result, the victim received life-threatening injuries and was subsequently transported to a nearby hospital.

Further investigation concluded that McGee searched the internet for graphically violent anti-gay images and videos of anti-gay attacks. Investigators also found that McGee also searched online for information on getting away with murder and how murderers avoid capture. 

McGee was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 15, just before he made his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in federal court, where he was ordered detained pending further proceedings. The announcement of the charges was made by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Scott Erik Asphaug, along with Assistant Attorney General Kristen M. Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. 

Criminal Courts are Protecting the Children

Also featured in the federal criminal courts this week dealt with a professor from the University of Michigan, Stephen Shipps, 68, of Ann Arbor, being charged with one count transporting a minor girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual conduct. The announcement of the charges was made on Nov. 16, by the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Saima Mohsin.

According to court filings, from 1989 to 2019, Shipps was employed by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance as a violin professor. He also served as the director of the Strings Preparatory Program, which offered instruction to young musicians from elementary school through high school-age. 

Shipps retired from the University of Michigan in February 2019, but he also served on the faculties of Indiana University, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, as well as the Banff Centre in Canada, and summer music programs in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the United Kingdom. 

Allegedly, in February and March of 2002, as well as in June and July of 2002, Shipps knowingly transported a minor girl, who was under 18 years old, across state lines, with the intent to have sex with her. Shipps pled guilty to the charges Nov. 16, so he now faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on February17, 2022. 

Protecting Children from Sexual Predators

The very same day (Nov. 16), a new case was filed against a Massachusetts man, Hector Acevedo, 31, of Jamaica Plain, charging him with allegedly soliciting a minor for sex. At the same time, the man was already on probation for state charges of a similar type. Acevedo was arrested on Oct. 20 on the federal charge and has been in federal custody since then. He will make an initial appearance in Boston federal court iat a date yet to be scheduled.

According to the charging documents in this case, Acevedo is registered as a Level 3 sex offender, after he was convicted in Suffolk County Superior Court for a number of child and sexual exploitation offenses including trafficking of a person for sexual servitude, extortion by threat of injury, posing or exhibiting a child in state of nudity or sexual conduct, dissemination of matter harmful to minors, dissemination of child pornography and purchase or possession of child pornography.

And, Of Course, There are Fraud Cases

This week also featured the unsealing of an indictment charging 29 alleged members of an international group that allegedly specializes in money laundering for several Mexican Drug Cartels, including the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Over the past week or so, law enforcement officials from the federal, state, and local jurisdictions, have arrested at least 21 defendants located in California cities, such as San Diego, Bakersfield, and Calexico. 

According to the newly unsealed indictment and other court documents, this money laundering organization, based in California’s Imperial Valley, secured contracts with several Mexican drug trafficking organizations to sell drugs from Mexico to cities throughout the United States. Once the launderers signed a contract, they communicated using burner phones, and deposited most of the money into phony business bank accounts.

Protecting the Law Enforcement Community

This past Thursday, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota, Dennis R. Holmes, announced that a man from Eagle Butte had been indicted by a federal grand jury for the charge of Assaulting, Resisting, and Impeding a Federal Officer. Joseph Elsey, 26, was indicted on Nov. 9, and he made his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on November 12, 2021, where he pled not guilty to the charges in the indictment.

According to the indictment, it is alleged that, on Oct. 26, 2020, near Eagle Butte, Elsey assaulted a federal officer using shod feet as a weapon, as the officer was performing her official duties. The case is being investigated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Law Enforcement Services, and the case is being prosecuted by AUSA Carl Thunem. 

If he is convicted, Elsey faces as much as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as three years of supervised release and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.