Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

BANK ROBBER FROM HATTIESBURG PLEADS GUILTY AFTER MULTI STATE BANK ROBBERY SPREE

Gulfport, Miss. – Clifford Randell Montague, 53, of Hattiesburg, pled guilty Friday before U.S. District Sul Ozerden to bank robbery, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

On February 23, 2019, Montague robbed a credit union in Gautier, Mississippi, by handing a teller a note threatening to shoot if she did not put money in a bag. Montague went on to rob a bank in Pace, Florida, on March 4, and another bank in Ellisville, Mississippi on March 18. Each time, Montague used a note. He was stopped in Memphis, Tennessee, driving a stolen car from Florida and confessed to FBI agents. read here

MULTIPLE ARIZONA RESIDENTS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR USING THE DARK WEB TO DISTRIBUTE HEROIN, METHAMPHETAMINE, AND COCAINE THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Last week, Kevin Dean McCoy, 28, of Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to 15 years in prison. Silvester Ruelas, 50, of Peoria, Ariz., was previously sentenced to 20 years in prison. Two other co-defendants, Amber Worrell and Peggy Gomez, were sentenced to 10 years in prison and 5 years in prison, respectively. All four defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and launder proceeds from drug distribution.

Between 2015 and 2017, the defendants used the vendor name “Iceman21” to advertise and sell heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine on various dark web marketplaces, including AlphaBay, Hansa, and Dream Market. The investigation revealed that the defendants were using the United States Postal Service to ship drugs from the Phoenix metropolitan area to locations throughout the United States. During the investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service seized parcels containing illegal drugs that were en route to Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas. To conceal and launder proceeds they generated through drug distribution, the defendants used encrypted technology, sold cryptocurrency through peer-to-peer exchangers, and created bank accounts for non-existent businesses. During the investigation, law enforcement officials seized a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XL ring, numerous gold, silver, and platinum bars, and an extensive collection of firearms, including a Texas Weapons System AK-47, a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun, and a .50 caliber Bohica sniper rifle. read here

MICHIGAN MAN SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 16 YEARS FOR DRUG AND FIREARMS CHARGES

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Nicholas J. Mathis, of Warren, Michigan, was sentenced today to 195 months incarceration for drug distribution and firearms charges, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Mathis, age 24, pled guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to Possess With the Intent to Distribute and Distribute Controlled Substances,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession With the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine within 1000 Feet of a Protected Location,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession With the Intent to Distribute Heroin within 1000 Feet of a Protected Location,” one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession With the Intent to Distribute Fentanyl within 1000 Feet of a Protected Location,” and one count of “Aiding and Abetting Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime” in May 2019. read here

LEADER OF BRONX DRUG DISTRIBUTION ORGANIZATION SENTENCED TO MORE THAN 18 YEARS IN PRISON

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MIGUEL RAMIREZ was sentenced today to 218 months in prison for leading a drug trafficking conspiracy that operated in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. RAMIREZ pled guilty on October 22, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods, who imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Miguel Ramirez led a violent street gang in the Bronx for years, supervising its day-to-day sales of heroin and crack cocaine. Now, Ramirez will spend more than 18 years in prison for his ‘leadership’ skills.” read here

MORGAN COUNTY MAN SENTENCED FOR FAILING TO UPDATE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Justin David Peters, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, was sentenced today to 18 months incarceration for failing to update his sex offender registry, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Peters, age 26, pled guilty to one count of “Failure to Register” in April 2019. Peters, having previously been convicted of possession of child pornography in Berkeley County Circuit Court, admitted to traveling to Florida without updating his sex offender registration as required by law. The crime occurred from June to September 2018. read here

VAN ZANDT COUNTY MAN GUILTY OF DRUG TRAFFICKING IN EAST TEXAS

TYLER, Texas – A 55-year-old Canton, Texas man has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. DeSarno.

Andrew Mark Harris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.

According to information presented in court, on July 14, 2018, Harris was stopped for a traffic violation in Van Zandt County, Texas, and found to be in possession of 1.4 grams of methamphetamine. During the investigation, Harris admitted to being responsible for the distribution of between 50 and 200 grams of methamphetamine. Harris was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 22, 2019 and charged with federal drug trafficking violations. read here

FORMER NFL PLAYER CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL FIREARMS AFTER BEING TASERED WHILE RESISTING ARREST

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A former Kansas City Chiefs football player, who was tasered twice while struggling with officers and resisting arrest, was charged in federal court today with illegally possessing firearms.

Saousoalii P. Siavii, Jr., also known as “Junior,” 40, of Independence, Missouri, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., with three counts of being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms. Siavii remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Today’s federal criminal complaint alleges that Siavii, an unlawful user of illegal drugs, has been arrested on three occasions in which he was in possession of both illegal drugs and loaded firearms. Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who is an unlawful drug user to be in possession of any firearms or ammunition. read here

ROGERSVILLE BUSINESS OWNER INDICTED FOR $4 MILLION FRAUD SCHEME, FAILURE TO PAY TAXES

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Rogersville, Missouri business owner has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a $4 million scheme to defraud his customers and his failure to pay federal income and employment taxes.

Michael David Dismer, 51, was charged in a 28-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday, Aug. 22. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon Dismer’s arrest and initial court appearance.

Dismer has operated at least eight different businesses (most recently, Worldwide Construction, Inc., and Lakeland Marine Builders, LLC, at Stockton, Missouri) that built large boats, barges, and tugboats for customers around the world since 1993. The federal indictment alleges that Dismer engaged in a $4 million scheme to defraud 22 customers of his boat-building businesses from 2013 to 2018. read here

IOWA SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

DES MOINES, IA – United States Attorney Mark Krickbaum announced on August 22, 2019, Robert Milton Kimber II, age 46, was sentenced by United States District Senior Judge James E. Gritzner for Possession of Child Pornography. Kimber was sentenced to 189 months in prison to be followed by a term of supervised release of seven years. Kimber was ordered to pay $2,000 to each victim seeking restitution.

The investigation began in 2018 when multiple online service providers sent the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children multiple Cyber Tip Line reports indicating Kimber was sending child pornography to other persons using the internet. A subsequent law enforcement investigation showed in early 2018 Kimber sent and received child pornography on multiple internet platforms and engaged in a sexually explicit chat online with a person who indicated she was only 13 years old. Kimber solicited and received a sexually explicit picture from that person. Later in 2018, police seized a cellular phone that stored videos and images of child pornography from the defendant. Kimber is a registered sex offender since his conviction in the Iowa District Court for Polk County in 1993 for assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. read here

FORMER CHESAPEAKE SHERIFF’S DEPUTY SENTENCED FOR CORRUPTION

NORFOLK, Va. – A former Chesapeake Sheriff’s deputy was sentenced today to two and a half years in prison for conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right.

According to court documents, Jenis Leroy Plummer, Jr., 34, of Norfolk, used his official position as Chesapeake Sheriff’s Deputy to smuggle heroin, cocaine, cell phones, e-cigarettes and other contraband into the Chesapeake City Jail. In exchange, conspirators gave Plummer over $6,500 in cash. From July 2017 through January 2019, Plummer knowingly and intentionally conspired with an inmate in the Chesapeake City Jail to engage in this scheme. On numerous occasions throughout the conspiracy, Plummer contacted the inmate’s girlfriend and arranged to meet her at various locations in Hampton Roads to pick up the contraband. At these meetings, the inmate’s girlfriend gave Plummer the illicit contraband in blue latex gloves. Plummer then smuggled the contraband into the jail and delivered the items to the inmate. read here

MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES EXTRADITION OF KOSOVAR MAN FOR SECURITIES FRAUD OFFENSES

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ruth M. Mendonça, Acting Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the extradition of YMER SHAHINI in connection with alleged securities fraud offenses relating to a scheme to defraud shareholders of a publicly traded company and the investing public. SHAHINI was taken into custody by Kosovar authorities in Pristina, Kosovo, on June 11, 2019, and extradited to the United States pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and the Republic of Kosovo, which went into effect on June 13, 2019. SHAHINI arrived in the United States on Friday, August 23, 2019, was presented that same day before United States Magistrate Gabriel W. Gorenstein, and was ordered detained. An arraignment and initial conference are scheduled before United States District Judge P. Kevin Castel on September 10, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Ymer Shahini played a vital role in a multimillion-dollar fraud, knowingly serving as a straw man to conceal beneficial ownership of stock. Now, with the invaluable assistance of the Kosovo Ministry of Justice and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, Shahini is in the U.S. and facing justice in federal court in our District.” read here

ASHEVILLE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FIRST DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED SEXUAL ABUSE RESULTING IN DEATH

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Derek Shawn Pendergraft, 22, of Asheville, N.C., has pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death. U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Carleton Metcalf accepted Pendergraft’s guilty plea in federal court in Asheville.

According to plea documents and today’s hearing, on July 24, 2018, Pendergraft, who worked at the Pisgah Inn, murdered his co-worker, Sara Ellis, during the perpetration of aggravated sexual abuse. The murder occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway, within the special territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and within the Western District of North Carolina. read here

KANSAS MAN ADMITS HE CRASHED CAR INTO CABELA’S TO STEAL GUNS

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A Kansas man pleaded guilty today to crashing a car into a Cabela’s store in hopes of stealing guns, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said.

Kyle Mendez, 30, Kansas City, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal guns from a licensed firearms dealer and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. In his plea, Mendez admitted he crashed a car into an exterior door of a Cabela’s store in Kansas City, Kan. He and co-defendant Brenda Tosh, 27, Kansas City, Kan., took rifles from a firearms section and loaded them into a shopping cart. When police arrived, Mendez fled from the store while police arrested Tosh. read here

CHARLOTTE WOMAN AND HER MOTHER-IN-LAW ARE SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR SEX TRAFFICKING THREE MINORS

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brianna Leshay Wright, 26, of Charlotte, and her mother-in-law, Tanya Fuentes, 56, of Charlotte, were sentenced today for their respective roles in the sex trafficking of three minor females, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., sentenced Brianna Wright to 120 months in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release. Tanya Fuentes was ordered to serve 24 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

According to filed court documents, statements made in court, and today’s sentencing hearing, between April 28, 2016 and May 8, 2016, Zerrell Fuentes, his wife Brianna Wright, and his mother Tanya Fuentes engaged in the sex trafficking of three minor victims. As Zerrell Fuentes previously admitted in court, while he was in jail on state charges, he recruited three underage victims, via telephone, to engage in prostitution to earn money for his bond. Zerrell Fuentes arranged for Brianna Wright to transport the minor victims from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts. read here

GRAIN VALLEY MAN SENTENCED FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Grain Valley, Missouri, man was sentenced in federal court today for traveling to North Dakota for illicit sex with a 14-year-old child, who was actually an undercover law enforcement officer, while he was under investigation for distributing child pornography over the internet.

Andy Earl Crook, 63, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to 12 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Crook to 10 years of supervised release following incarceration.

On April 25, 2019, Crook pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography, and traveling across state lines to engage in illicit sexual conduct. read here

57-YEAR OLD PEDOPHILE COMMITTED TO FEDERAL CUSTODY AS A SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PERSON

NEW BERN – United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan committed CHARLES TODD STOKES, 57, to the custody of the Attorney General as a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

STOKES, a former elementary school teacher, has a history of sexually molesting prepubescent and post-pubescent boys in the United States and Thailand.  Florida records alleged that between 1994 and 1998, STOKES molested six students or other minors.  STOKES denied the allegations and argued that the allegations were “unsubstantiated.”  Between 1995 and 1997, STOKES, then in his 30s, engaged in sexual behavior “several times” with the 13 to 15-year-old son of a divorced woman he dated and whose family he befriended prior to the parents’ divorce.   The boy’s father filed a complaint with state officials alleging STOKES molested his son, which STOKES denied.  The Florida state case was dismissed.  STOKES admitted at the civil commitment hearing that when questioned by Florida law enforcement authorities and state education officials after the complaint was filed he denied molesting the boy because he deemed it in his “best interest” to do so. read here

FORMER CAMERON HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER PLEADS GUILTY TO USING HIDDEN CAMERA TO PRODUCE CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A former Cameron, Missouri, high school teacher pleaded guilty in federal court today to secretly recording pornographic videos of a teenage victim in his bathroom, and admitted to secretly recording pornographic videos of two other teenage victims.

William Derek Williams, 39, of Cameron, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to producing child pornography. Williams formerly was a high school language arts teacher and more recently a part-time high school multimedia teacher at the time of the alleged offense. read here

214 ARRESTED AS PART OF A COMBINED LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATION “BLUFF CITY BLUES” IN WEST TENNESSEE

Memphis, TN – U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant and U.S. Marshal Jeffrey Holt announced today that a two-week-long joint federal, state and local law enforcement initiative has resulted in the arrests of 214 individuals in West Tennessee. These individuals were arrested on a variety of criminal charges, including homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, arson, drug distribution, illegal gun crimes and failure to register as sex offenders. Operation “Bluff City Blues” was a coordinated violence reduction initiative led by the U.S. Marshals Service that brought together federal, state and local law enforcement partners in an effort to reduce crime in West Tennessee by identifying and arresting violent fugitives, targeting violent gang activity, and collecting intelligence to allow for the systematic removal of individuals who have been charged with committing violent crimes in West Tennessee.

In addition to the arrests, Operation “Bluff City Blues” resulted in the seizure of 28 firearms, approximately 771.9 grams of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and crack, $17,240 in U.S. currency, as well as the recovery of 4 stolen vehicles. read here

FUGITIVE IN “CARD CRACKING” SCHEME ARRESTED IN CALIFORNIA

PROVIDENCE – The final person sought in connection with an alleged bank fraud scheme where members of an alleged conspiracy created and deposited approximately a million dollars worth of bogus checks in banks in Rhode Island and Massachusetts has been arrested in California.

Edmilson Rodriques, 20, of Providence, named in a federal indictment along with six others returned in Providence in April 2019, was found sleeping in a vehicle in a Culver City, California, hotel parking lot on August 19. Inside the vehicle, Culver City Police allegedly located an assortment of driver’s licenses, social security numbers, credit cards, and checks in the name of several individuals other than Rodriguez or the other individual also found inside the vehicle with Rodrigues.

Rodrigues is one of six individuals named in an indictment who are charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud. A seventh individual is charged with conspiracy to commit bank. read here

FEDERAL SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT CHARGES FORMER ATHLETIC TRAINER INTERN WITH ENTICEMENT, PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, CYBER STALKING, AND RELATED OFFENSES

STATESVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Charlotte has returned a 21-count superseding indictment against Frank Darrell Cromwell, 23, of Boone, N.C., charging him with enticement of a minor, production of child pornography, communicating threats, cyberstalking, and related offenses.

Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte, and Chief Dana Crawford of the Boone Police Department, join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

“This individual allegedly tried to gain access to children by obtaining employment in places where he could embed himself with underage boys, including a high school, a summer camp, a middle school, and a behavioral healthcare facility. Protecting our children from predators is one of our highest priorities. I urge parents to have a conversation with their children about the dangers of online communications and social media, where predators can use fake names and profiles to weave a heinous web of lies to lure young and innocent children,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. read here

NEW YORK MAN CHARGED WITH THREATS AGAINST THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

WILLIAMSPORT – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Jesse Allen Blake, age 24, of Waverly, New York, was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 22, 2019, with threats against the President of the United States and mailing a threatening communication.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the indictment alleges that Blake mailed a letter to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 29, 2019, threatening to kill President Trump and blow up the White House, Trump Tower, the Pentagon, and United Nations Headquarters when he was released from prison. At the time he sent the letter, Blake was in custody on state charges at the Bradford County Correctional Facility in Troy, Pennsylvania. read here

OCALA CONVICTED FELON GETS 30 MONTHS IN FEDERAL PRISON AFTER SHOOTING HIMSELF WITH A FIREARM

Ocala, Florida – Senior United States District Judge John Antoon II has sentenced Michael Guell (37, Ocala) to 30 months in federal prison for possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon. Guell had pleaded guilty on May 14, 2019.

According to court documents, on November 28, 2018, Guell was admitted to a hospital in Ocala with gunshot wounds. When detectives from the Ocala Police Department arrived at the hospital, Guell told them that he had been robbed at gunpoint and shot by an unknown assailant. Investigating further, police located Guell’s car and saw ammunition and shell casings through the car’s window. When interviewed a second time, Guell admitted that he had been drinking in his car and had accidentally shot himself. A search of Guell’s vehicle revealed a semi-automatic handgun, 26 rounds of ammunition, and multiple shell casings. At the time, Guell had five prior felony convictions, including possession of a controlled substance, theft by taking, and fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer. As a convicted felon, Guell is prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition under federal law. read here

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