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Tuesday, July 5 2022
Edition: Weekly | Monthly
Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

MAN CHARGED IN DEATHS OF THREE SMUGGLED CHINESE MIGRANTS

SAN DIEGO – Neil Edwin Valera, a U.S. citizen who resides in Tijuana, was arraigned in federal court today in connection with the deaths of three Chinese migrants, including a mother and her 15-year-old son, who were found in the trunk of Valera’s BMW two days after he crossed into the United States through the San Ysidro Port of Entry in the same car.

Valera, a truck driver from El Paso, Texas, was taken into custody at the downtown bus station on Saturday. He was charged via complaint with Encouraging Aliens to Enter Resulting in Death and Bringing in Aliens without Presentation for Financial Gain. read here

SUBURBAN MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS IN PRISON FOR SHARING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY AND SEXUALLY ASSAULTING A MINOR

CHICAGO — A suburban man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for sharing sexually explicit images of children and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl he met online.

Using the screen name “darkangle25,” MATTHEW SMITH, 51, of Burbank, shared sexually explicit images and videos of children on the Kik online messaging application. Some of the images depicted underage girls being sexually abused. Smith also sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 2015 after chatting online and luring her to his home.

Smith pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal child pornography charges. U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle on Aug. 30, 2019, sentenced Smith to 15 years in prison, to be followed by ten years of supervised release. read here

KENTUCKY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING MAIL PARCELS CONTAINING MEDICATION INTENDED FOR VETERANS

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – An Ashland, Kentucky man pled guilty to illegally stealing and rifling through mail parcels intended for veterans, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Michael Lawrence Collins, 48, was a truck driver for a company who contracted with the United States Postal Service to transport mail between Post Office facilities. Collins gained access to the mail by virtue of his employment as a contract truck driver.

“A despicable crime – stealing critical medications intended for those who served our Nation,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Collins was stealing pain medication for his own personal use that was intended for veterans in the Huntington area. Collins was supposed to deliver the mail, not steal the mail. I appreciate the work of the United States Postal Inspection Service to catch Collins so that veterans in the Huntington area will once again get their much needed medications.” read here

AMERICAN CITIZEN, AN ALLEGED ISIS SNIPER AND WEAPONS INSTRUCTOR, INDITED FOR PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIS

A five-count indictment was filed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, also known as “Suleiman Al-Amriki” and “Suleiman Al-Kazakhi,” with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS; providing material support to ISIS in the form of personnel, training, expert advice and assistance and weapons; receipt of military-type training from ISIS; and obstruction of justice. If convicted, Asainov faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Asainov will be arraigned at a later date. read here

HUNTINGTON MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SIX COUNTS OF ILLEGALLY ACCESSING VETERANS’ MEDICAL RECORDS

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man pled guilty to illegally accessing the medical records of six veterans, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Jeffrey Miller, 39, an employee of the Veterans Benefits Administration in Huntington, pled guilty to six counts of unauthorized access of a computer.

“This is a very serious matter. Medical records are protected information and the expectation and right of privacy is paramount,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Federal law requires employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration to protect the medical records of our veterans. Anyone that improperly accesses, uses or exploits veterans’ medical records will be held accountable.”

Miller admitted that he illegally accessed the medical records of six veterans between January and May of 2018. Miller further admitted that he took a picture of the medical records of former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, and then sent the picture to an acquaintance. read here

RENO MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

RENO, Nev. – A Reno resident who was on parole when he downloaded over two thousand images and videos of child pornography was sentenced today to 6 ½ years in federal prison, announced United States Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

David Guilmette, 37, pleaded guilty in March 2018, to one count of receipt of child pornography. Guilmette has a felony conviction for attempted sexual assault of a child. In addition to the prison term, United States District Chief Judge Miranda Du sentenced Guilmette to lifetime supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). read here

NURSE PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG THEFT AND TAMPERING

Katie Louise Boll, age 31, from Manchester, Iowa, a nurse who took hydrocodone and morphine from patients, pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Boll was convicted of one count of acquiring controlled substances by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge, and one count of tampering with a consumer product. read here

NURSE WHO STOLE PAIN MEDICATION FROM HER ELDERLY PATIENTS AT TWO AREA NURSING HOMES SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON

An Iowa licensed practical nurse (LPN) who stole pain medications from her elderly and vulnerable patients at two Waterloo-area nursing homes was sentenced August 29, 2019, to more than a year in federal prison.

Lacey Staveley, age 36, from Evansdale, Iowa, received the prison term after an October 15, 2018, guilty plea to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge and one count of false statements relating to health care matters. On May 2, 2019, Staveley also pled guilty to one count of contempt of court. read here

MEXICAN CITIZEN PLEADS GUILTY TO IMPORTING METH

LAREDO, Texas – A 57-year old Mexican citizen faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and importation of more than 50 kilograms of methamphetamine, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

On July 12, 2019, Oscar Javier Villagomez-Palacios attempted entry into the United States at the Lincoln Juarez Bridge #1 in Laredo, driving an Audi Q5. During a secondary inspection, a narcotics detection dog alerted to the presence of an odor emitting from the tires of the vehicle. Authorities conducted an X-ray examination and discovered anomalies in all four tires. Further inspection revealed non-factory compartments around the rim of the tires containing a crystalline substance, which field-tested positive for methamphetamine with a total weight of 50.46 kilograms. read here

CALIFORNIA MAN SENTENCED FOR NARCOTICS AND MONEY LAUNDERING CONSPIRACIES

BUFFALO, N.Y.–U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Juan Alfaro, 52, of Hacienda, California, who was convicted of narcotics conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang, who handled the trial, stated that the defendant was a member of a transnational drug trafficking organization that utilized contacts and a source of supply whose territory included Mexico, Arizona, California, and elsewhere. The source of supply was the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. read here

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY MAN INDICTED FOR ILLEGALLY POSSESSING GUNS, HOMEMADE BOMBS, AND UNLAWFULLY OPERATING DRONES

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Jason Muzzicato, 43, of Bangor, Pennsylvania was charged by Superseding Indictment with possession of firearms by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and knowingly operating an aircraft when not registered. Muzzicato was also previously charged in June with possession of firearms by a person subject to a court order restraining him from harassing, stalking and threatening an intimate partner (known as a domestic violence protective order, Protection From Abuse order or PFA), and possession of an unregistered destructive device (an improvised explosive device). These charges are pending before United States District Judge Joseph F. Leeson in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

The charges against the defendant stem from his possession of firearms and homemade bombs, while subject to the terms of a PFA order issued by the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, and while being an unlawful user of methamphetamine. Under federal law, an individual who is subject to a PFA order is prohibited from possessing firearms. The defendant is also charged with unlawful operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone). As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, the defendant possessed a DJI, Model Phantom 3, unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), seven improvised explosive devices and ten firearms, including multiple AR-15 rifles and semi-automatic pistols. read here

RIVERSIDE COUNTY TAX PREPARER PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGES OF CHEATING IRS OUT OF $2.1 MILLION THROUGH FILING OF HUNDREDS OF BOGUS RETURNS

   LOS ANGELES – An Inland Empire income tax return preparer pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for defrauding the Internal Revenue Service out of more than $2.1 million by submitting false tax returns on his clients’ behalf, including obtaining child tax credits for childless clients.

Dennis L. Reed II, 31, of Hemet, pleaded guilty to two counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II scheduled a December 2 sentencing hearing, at which time Reed will face a statutory maximum sentence of six years in federal prison. read here

PROFESSIONAL SKATEBOARDER PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES

SAN DIEGO – Robert Lorifice, a North County professional skateboarder, and his then-girlfriend Elizabeth Alexandra Landis, pleaded guilty in federal court today to possessing methamphetamine and heroin with the intent to distribute.

Lorifice and Landis admitted to possessing the methamphetamine, heroin and other controlled substances with the intent to distribute them and that Lorifice, with Landis’ assistance, coordinated deals utilizing phone calls, text messages and communication through other apps; and they admitted to selling methamphetamine, heroin and other controlled substances for money. read here

SUBURBAN HOUSTON MAN GETS 34 YEARS FOR SEXUALLY EXPLOITING A CHILD

HOUSTON – A 41-year-old resident of New Caney has received a massive sentence following his conviction of producing and possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Joshua James Holmstedt pleaded guilty April 16, 2019.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew A. Hanen handed Holmstedt a sentence of 360 months for the sexual exploitation of a child, otherwise known as production of child pornography. He also received 120 months for the possession of child pornography – 48 months of which was ordered to run consecutively for a total of 34 years in federal prison. He was also ordered to serve 30 years on supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Holmstedt will also be ordered to register as a sex offender. read here

LEVY COUNTY MAN INDICTED FOR “SEXTORTION” OF WASHINGTON TEEN AND RECEIPT OF CHILD PRONOGRAPHY

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida today announced the indictment and arraignment of Dustin Lee Norman, 23, of Trenton, Florida, after a federal grand jury in Gainesville returned an indictment charging him with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, Receiving Child Pornography, Possessing Child Pornography, and Sending Interstate Transmissions of Extortionate Communications.

The indictment alleges that between September 19, 2018, and October 19, 2018, Norman knowingly and intentionally used, persuaded, induced, or enticed a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. The indictment also alleges that during the same time period, Norman knowingly used a cell phone and the internet to transmit communications containing threats to injure the reputation of the minor female, who resided in the state of Washington, intending to extort images and videos of the minor female in various stages of undress, while naked, and while engaging in sexually explicit conduct. read here

MILTON MAN SENTENCED FOR VA DISABILITY BENEFIT FRAUD

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Bryan S. Gaines, 46, of Milton, Florida, was sentenced today to 3 years’ probation and ordered to repay the government more than a quarter-million dollars after pleading guilty to theft of government money and making false statements. The sentence, handed down in the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, was announced by Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Gaines received disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Between at least 2011 and 2018, he falsely reported to the VA that he was not working and was unable to work, so he could receive benefits to which he was not entitled. In fact, Gaines had been working at an automotive repair business during that time. For this fraud, Gaines was sentenced to 3 years’ probation and ordered to pay $243,243.05 in restitution to the VA. read here

RICHLAND COUNTY MAN FORMERLY AFFILIATED WITH THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA PLEADED GUILTY TO SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN AFTER HE SURREPTITIOUSLY RECORDED CHILDREN CHANGING BEFORE AND AFTER SWIMMING

A Richland County man formerly affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America pleaded guilty in federal court to sexual exploitation of children after he surreptitiously recorded children changing before and after swimming.

Thomas Close, 39, of Shelby, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of receiving and distributing child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced January 15.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Close is expected to be sentenced to between 27 and 33 years in prison. read here

HOME HEALTH CARE OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING GEORGIA MEDICAID

ATLANTA – Diandra Bankhead, the owner and operator of Elite Homecare (“Elite”), an Atlanta-based home healthcare provider, has pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid by submitting thousands of fraudulent claims for services that were never provided to medically fragile children under the Georgia Pediatric Program (“GAPP”).

“Bankhead exploited Medicaid-eligible children who suffer from significant physical and cognitive disabilities,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Her fraud included billing for services never performed and for children never seen. Georgians dependent on these types of services deserve our best, not to be used by someone who is looking to enrich themselves at their expense.” read here

FEDERAL JURY CONVICTS COLOMBIAN FEMALE OF INTERNATIONAL COCAINE SMUGGLING CONSPIRACY

Tampa, Florida – A federal jury has found Lelia Vanessa Perdomo Zapata (26, Colombia) guilty of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine while onboard a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, as well as one count of possession with the intent to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine on that vessel. She faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 5, 2019.

According to evidence presented at trial, Perdomo Zapata was part of an international maritime drug smuggling operation involving at least 440 kilograms of cocaine worth approximately $13 million. Perdomo Zapata was the Colombian load guard for a Cartagena, Colombia-based cocaine smuggling crew. Prior to their interdiction by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Perdomo Zapata and one of her co-conspirators were transporting 18 bales of cocaine onboard a 60-foot sailing vessel from Cartagena, Colombia to Cancun, Mexico. Ultimately, USCG law enforcement officers from Tactical Law Enforcement Team (TACLET) Pacific boarded the sailing vessel and discovered the 18 bales of cocaine and multiple electronic devices consistent with cocaine trafficking. Subsequent analysis of these devices yielded crucial digital evidence of the cocaine smuggling operation. read here

AREA MAN SENTENCED TO 86 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SEXUALLY ABUSING HIS NIECE, BEGINNING WHEN SHE WAS 11-YEARS OLD

WASHINGTON – A 49-year-old man, formerly of Washington, D.C., was sentenced on Friday to 86 months in prison on multiple charges for sexually abusing his niece when she was 11 and 12 years old, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced today.

The defendant, who is not identified here to protect the privacy of the victim, recently resided in Northwest Washington with his wife and children. He was found guilty by a jury on April 3, 2019, of four counts of second-degree child sexual abuse with aggravating circumstances, misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child with aggravating circumstances, and assault. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Craig Iscoe sentenced him to 86 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release with sex offender registration for 10 years. read here

TURKISH BUSINESSMAN SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT FOR CONSPIRACY TO VIOLATE U.S. SANCTIONS BY EXPORTING MARINE EQUIPMENT FROM THE UNITED STATES TO IRAN

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Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Turkish Businessman Sentenced to 27 Months Imprisonment for Conspiracy to Violate U.S. Sanctions by Exporting Marine Equipment from the United States to Iran

Resit Tavan, a Turkish Businessman and owner of the Istanbul-based Turkish business Ramor Dis Ticaret Ltd. (also known as the “Ramor Group”) was sentenced on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Federal District Court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to 27 months imprisonment in connection with his conviction for conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions by exporting specialized marine equipment from the United States to Iran between 2013 to 2015.

On April 2, 2019, Tavan, a Turkish citizen, had pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by using his Turkish based company, the Ramor Group, to acquire a range of marine related equipment that had been manufactured in Wisconsin by U.S. companies, including high powered outboard engines, marine power generators and power boat propulsion equipment known as surface drives, on behalf of the Iran-based Qeshm Madkandalou Shipbuilding Cooperative (Madkanadalou).  Evidence introduced in Court showed that Tavan had worked in cooperation with Iranian officers associated with Madkandalou to use some of this U.S. origin marine equipment to support the construction and development of a prototype high-speed missile attack boat for the Iranian military or naval forces.  From early 2013 through 2015, Tavan and the Ramor Group had worked in concert with Iranian officials to procure U.S. origin marine equipment and illegally export it to Iran by using the Ramor Group in Turkey to receive the goods and thereafter re-export it to Madkandalou in Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions. read here

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