Daily Dose of Justice

Daily Dose of Justice

FIRST-TIME FELON SENTENCED TO 30 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ATTEMPTING TO SMUGGLE ASSAULT-STYLE RIFLES INTO MEXICO

TUCSON, Ariz. – Last week, Ricardo Alberto Ruiz Pelayo, 24, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins to 30 months in prison followed by three years’ supervised release. Ruiz Pelayo previously pleaded guilty to an indictment charging one count of unlawful smuggling goods from the United States.

On September 13, 2018, Ruiz Pelayo attempted to cross from Nogales, Arizona into Nogales, Sonora via the Mariposa port of entry.  An inspection of his vehicle located three AR-15 style assault rifles and two Glock handguns in addition to three magazine clips.  Although he was residing lawfully in the U.S. at the time, he will be deported to Mexico upon completion of his prison sentence. read here

PROHIBITED POSSESSOR SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR TRANSPORTING AND SELLING FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION

TUCSON, Ariz. – On August 27, 2019, Joshua Pratchard, 38, of San Diego, California, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson to seventy-five months imprisonment, to be followed by a term of five years of probation and two years of supervised release, to be served concurrently. Pratchard previously pleaded guilty to multiple counts of Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by Convicted Felon and Transferring a Firearm to an Out-of State Resident.

     Between January, 2018 and June 1, 2018, Pratchard, a prohibited possessor from California, traveled to southern Arizona, where he sold two firearms and approximately five hundred rounds of ammunition to another individual. The firearms Pratchard sold included a short-barreled rifle and a silencer. When arrested on June 1, 2018, agents searched Pratchard’s vehicle and found additional items including a short-barreled rifle, an AR 15-type rifle, a silencer, a .45 caliber pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Pratchard was convicted of possessing eight firearms, six of which were in violation of the National Firearms Act, and approximately 1,464 rounds of ammunition. read here

FRANKLIN COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH SEXUALLY EXPLOITING A CHILD

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Robert B. Fitzgerald, age 81, of St. Regis Falls, New York, was arrested on Wednesday on a criminal complaint charging him with sexually exploiting a child.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Kevin Kelly, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Buffalo Field Office.

The criminal complaint alleges that Fitzgerald: sexually exploited a girl for approximately three years and beginning when the child was 14 years old; photographed and video-recorded the sexual abuse; and distributed and sold this child pornography to others. According to the complaint, on August 9, 2019, Fitzgerald possessed a computer that contained videos depicting Fitzgerald sexually abusing the child when she was 17 years old. read here

JURY FINDS NORTH DAKOTA MAN GUILTY OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND AGGRAVATED INCEST

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Ronnie White Mountain, age 51, of Mandan, North Dakota, was found guilty of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child and Aggravated Incest as a result of a three-day federal jury trial in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

The charges carry a mandatory minimum of 30 years, up to life, in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, up to life of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

White Mountain was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 11, 2019. read here

JURY FINDS EAGLE BUTTE MAN GUILTY OF ABUSIVE SEXUAL CONTACT OF A CHILD

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that Lawrence Oakie, age 38, of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, was found guilty of three counts of Abusive Sexual Contact of a Child, as a result of a three-day federal jury trial in Pierre, South Dakota.

The charges each carry a maximum penalty of up to life in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine, up to life of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered. read here

MINNESOTA MAN SENTENCED FOR ATTEMPTED RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that an Eden, Minnesota, man convicted of Attempted Receipt of Child Pornography was sentenced on August 30, 2019, by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.

Jimmy Custodio, age 41, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. read here

HONDURAN NATIONAL PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGAL RE-ENTRY

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that PEDRO MANOLO ARAGON-HERNANDEZ, age 39, a citizen of Honduras, pled guilty on September 4, 2019 to a one-count bill of information with illegal reentry of a removed alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. ‘ 1326.  ARAGON-HERNANDEZ was immediately sentenced following the guilty plea.

According to the bill of information, ARAGON-HERNANDEZ reentered the United States after having been previously removed therefrom on or about December 20, 2001. read here

EX-WHITE HOUSE MILITARY AIDE AND MARYLAND BUSINESSMAN FOUND GUILTY FOR OPERATING FRAUDULENT EB-5 VISA SCHEME

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against two Maryland men for defrauding victims of over $15 million during the defendants’ operation of the New Orleans EB-5 Regional Center after Hurricane Katrina.

After a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Greg G. Guidry, the defendants, Maryland businessman WILLIAM B. “BART” HUNGERFORD, JR., age 58, and TIMOTHY O. MILBRATH, age 63, a former U.S. Air Force colonel who served as a White House military aide for three presidential administrations, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and six counts of wire fraud.  read here

ORLANDO MAN SENTENCED TO 40 YEARS FOR SEXUALLY EXPLOITING CHILDREN

Orlando, Florida – U.S. District Judge Carlos E. Mendoza has sentenced Carlos A. Rodriguez Fernandez (48, Orlando) to 40 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl and for possessing child pornography. The court also ordered Rodriguez Fernandez to forfeit the electronic devices that he had used to commit the offenses.

A federal jury had found Rodriguez Fernandez guilty on June 14, 2019.

According to court documents and evidence presented during the trial and sentencing hearing, Rodriguez Fernandez hid a webcam in the victim’s bathroom and recorded sexually explicit videos of the child. He also used an online file-sharing program to download and view child pornography. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Cybercrimes Task Force identified Rodriguez Fernandez after he had shared child pornography through a file-sharing program. read here

FORMER CITY OF MIAMI POLICE OFFICERS SENTENCED TO PRISON AFTER HAVING BEEN CONVICTED AT TRIAL

Today, U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced former City of Miami Police officer Kelvin Harris to 27 and a half years in prison for his involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  Codefendant James Archibald, also a former City of Miami Police officer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement. read here

GUATEMALAN MAN SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY USING SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER TO OBTAIN EMPLOYMENT

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that WILMER A. GARCIA-LOPEZ, age 22, a native of Guatemala, was sentenced September 5, 2019 after previously pleading guilty to illegally using a Social Security number in order to obtain employment, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(7)(B).

United States District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced GARCIA-LOPEZ to time served and a $100 special assessment fee. The defendant will be surrendered to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal proceedings. read here

PRISON STAFF ADMITS TO STRIKING AN INMATE

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Tony Moore, a cook supervisor at USP Hazelton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, has admitted to assaulting an inmate, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Moore, age 39, pled guilty to one count of “Assault by Striking.” Moore admitted to striking an inmate while on duty without just cause or reason in November 2017. read here

DERBY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO POSSESSING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MICHAEL VADAKIN, 28, of Derby, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to one count of possession of child pornography.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Vadakin was arrested on December 13, 2018, after an investigation revealed that he had used the Kik smartphone application to possess and share videos of child pornography. Forensic analysis of a tablet seized during a search of Vadakin’s residence revealed additional images of child pornography. read here

UNITED STATES ATTORNEY MIKE STUART ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AT THE BECKLEY VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart issued the following statement regarding recent allegations of sexual assault at the Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC):

“My office has been made aware of the sexual assault allegations at the Beckley VAMC. My office takes these allegations very seriously and is working closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure this matter is investigated thoroughly and quickly.” read here

SOUTH CAROLINA MAN PLEADS GUILT TO PRODUCTION AND RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

PIKEVILLE, Ky. A South Carolina man admitted in federal court Friday that he knowingly produced and received child pornography.

Jonathan Edward Manigault, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography and one count of knowingly receiving child pornography, before U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell.  read here

LOCAL PLAINTIFF’S ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CORRUPTLY OBSTRUCTING AN IRS AUDIT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today, U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced Stephen J. Dougan, 57, formerly of Granite Bay, now residing in Utah, to three years in prison and one year of supervised release for corruptly endeavoring to impede the due administration of the Internal Revenue Laws, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, during an Internal Revenue Service audit of his 2006 and 2007 tax returns, Dougan made false statements, including falsely representing that he was redacting checks to protect client confidentiality when in fact, he also redacted his own name from checks he wrote to himself; withheld documents from the IRS; and provided false and misleading documents to the IRS that substantially underrepresented his income in 2006 and 2007. He also made false statements and provided false and misleading documents to the IRS in order to substantiate various business expenses he claimed on Schedule C of his 2006 tax return, including submitting a false advertising invoice and falsely claiming that his personal divorce attorney was his assistant or paralegal. read here

STOCK PROMOTER WHO CAUSED TENS OF MILLIONS IN LOSSES PLEADS GUILTY TO SECURITIES FRAUD CHARGES

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Dino Paolucci, 41, of Mississauga, Ontario, entered a plea of guilty to four counts of securities fraud before United States District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno.

The charges resulted from the defendant’s participation in a scheme to manipulate the price and trading volume of the stocks of LiveWire Ergogenics (“LVVV”), YaFarm Technologies (“YFRM”), Resource Ventures (“REVI”), and Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions (“REFG”). This type of scheme is commonly referred to as a “pump-and-dump.” read here

EX-U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE EMPLOYEE SENTENCED IN CHILD PORN CASE

BILLINGS—Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee Shawn Thomas Conrad was sentenced today to 84 months in prison followed by 20 years supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said. Conrad also was ordered to pay $15,000 restitution, $5,000 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act assessment, and $100 special assessment.

Conrad, 49, of Billings, pleaded guilty in May to possession of child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.read here

CITIZEN OF GUATEMALA CONVICTED OF REENTRY AFTER DEPORTATION

CONCORD, N.H. – United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced that on Thursday a federal jury found Nelson Alexander Fuentes-Lopez, 32, a citizen of Guatemala, guilty of reentering the United States after having been previously deported.

According to trial exhibits and witness testimony during the two-day jury trial, Fuentes-Lopez was found in Seabrook in May of this year when he was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for speeding. read here

YOUNGSTOWN PHYSICIAN INDICTED IN FEDERAL COURT ON SEX TRAFFICKING CHARGES INVOLVING MINORS AS YOUNG AS 12 YEARS OLD

A Youngstown physician was indicted in federal court on sex trafficking charges involving minors as young as 12 years old.

Albert Aiad-Toss, 52, was indicted on four counts of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of production of child pornography.

Aiad-Toss is allegedly to have used force, threats of force, fraud or coercion to cause three minor victims to engage in commercial sex acts at various points in June 2019. The victims ranged in age from 12 to 14 years old, according to the indictment. read here

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED TO 33 YEARS IN PRISON FOR CHILD KIDNAPPING

A Texas man was sentenced today to 33 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for child kidnapping.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office made the announcement.

Rene Gloria, 57, of Muleshoe, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas. According to admissions that he made in connection with his guilty plea, on Dec. 24, 2018, Gloria lured two minor children into his car with the promise of money. Once they were in his car, Gloria threatened to kill them and refused to let them out of his car. After several hours, both minors eventually escaped from Gloria’s car and were recovered by law enforcement. read here

FORMER ST. LOUIS COUNTY CHIEF OF STAFF SENTENCED FOR PAY TO PLAY SCHEME

St. Louis, MO – William Miller, 54, of Richmond Heights, was sentenced to 15 months and three years supervised release for aiding and abetting former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger’s honest services wire fraud/bribery scheme. Miller appeared in front of U.S. District Court Judge Rodney W. Sippel.

According to court documents and in Court statements, Miller was hired as Chief of Staff by then County Executive Stenger during December, 2017, and was responsible for primarily assisting Stenger in managing the day to day operations of St. Louis County Government, and supervising Stenger’s Executive Staff. Stenger also appointed Miller to the Board of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership during 2018. Stenger pled guilty on May 3, 2019 to 3 counts of honest services mail fraud/bribery relative to his scheme to defraud and deprive the citizens of St. Louis County of their right to his honest and faithful services through bribery and the concealment of material information. The purpose of the scheme was for Stenger to secretly use his official position to enrich himself through soliciting and accepting campaign contributions from individuals and their companies in exchange for favorable official action, including the awarding of County contracts and grants, and for individuals and their companies to enrich themselves and their companies by secretly obtaining favorable action for themselves and for their companies, through corrupt means. read here

PUEBLO COMPANY OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FALSIFYING RECORDS TO OBSTRUCT A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announces that Pueblo business owner Mary Catherine Grasmick pled guilty to falsifying records with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. The plea was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel D. Domenico yesterday in United States District Court in Denver. Sentencing is scheduled for December 17, 2019.

In addition to the guilty plea in the criminal case, Ms. Grasmick and her company MASS Service and Supply, LLC also agreed to pay a combined $500,000 to settle civil allegations that they made false statements to the Small Business Administration in connection with government contracts awarded to MASS under the SBA’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone program (“HUBZone”). read here

KEWAUNEE MAN SENTENCED FOR CHILD PORNOGRAPHY DISTRIBUTION

United States Attorney Matthew D. Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on September 4, 2019, Kyle D. Sanderson (age: 19) of Kewaunee, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison by Chief District Judge William C. Griesbach.

In April of 2018, the Department of Homeland Security was notified by a Canadian-based social media company that an individual known online as “Rp.Destiny” was sending pornographic images and videos of children to another user. Based on that information local law enforcement sought a search warrant and were able to identify “Rp.Destiny” as Kyle D. Sanderson. read here

LIMA MAN CHARGED WITH SEX TRAFFICKING MINOR GIRL

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A registered sex offender has been charged with federal crimes related to sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

A federal grand jury has charged Nicholas Salvadore Cochran, 28, of Lima, Ohio, with sex trafficking a minor, sexually exploiting a minor, distributing and possessing child pornography and committing a sex offense while registered as a sex offender in an indictment filed here today.

Cochran was arrested on Aug. 9 as part of Operation Independence Day – a nationwide FBI-led operation to identify and arrest sex traffickers and recover child victims. read here

FALL RIVER MAYOR CHARGED WITH EXTORTING MARIJUANA VENDORS FOR CASH

BOSTON – Jasiel F. Correia II, the Mayor of Fall River, Massachusetts, has been arrested and charged for allegedly extorting marijuana vendors for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes; extorting a building owner for cash and a Rolex watch in exchange for activating the water supply to a commercial building; and demanding that his chief of staff give him half of her salary in return for appointing her and allowing her to keep her city job. Correia’s former Chief of Staff was also charged today on extortion, theft and bribery, and false statement charges. Both will appear in federal court today.

Correia, 27, has been charged in a superseding indictment with bribery; extortion conspiracy; extortion and aiding and abetting; wire fraud; and filing false tax returns. Correia was previously arrested and charged in October 2018 for his involvement in a scheme to defraud investors in a company called SnoOwl, which was co-owned by Correia. Correia was arrested this morning and will appear in federal court today at 2:30 p.m. on the new charges. read here

MALICIOUS CYBER ACTIVITY AND ONLINE SCAM WARNING IN WAKE OF HURRICANE DORIAN

PROVIDENCE – United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman today urged everyone, particularly online users, to remain vigilant for malicious cyber activity and would-be scammers who may target Hurricane Dorian disaster victims and potential donors.

Fraudulent emails commonly appear after major natural disasters and often contain links or attachments that direct users to malicious websites. Users should exercise caution in handling any email with a hurricane related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink. In addition, users should be wary of social media pleas, texts, or door-to-door solicitations relating to severe weather events. read here

PENNSYLVANIA MAN SENTENCED FOR ATTEMPTED TRAVEL TO PHILIPPINES TO HAVE SEX WITH MINOR

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that defendant Jack Russell Bristol, 62, of Troy, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to thirty years’ incarceration and ten years’ supervised release by United States District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert for child exploitation offenses.

The defendant was arrested by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations as part of an online investigation involving the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children via live-streaming webcams. For more than a year, the defendant paid for live-streamed sex shows that featured children in the Philippines. The defendant sought out young girls, some as young as 8 years of age, and paid their adult handlers to have the girls strip on camera, masturbate, and engage in sex acts with other children and with adults. The investigation confirmed that Bristol spent approximately $600 every month for these live-streamed shows, and over the last few months before his arrest, had repeated contact with two sisters who were just 12 and 14 years old. read here

MONTGOMERY COUNTY MAN INDICTED FOR BANK FRAUD IN SCHEME TO CONVERT COLLATERAL ON LOANS FROM THE FARM SERVICE AGENCY

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Montgomery County man was indicted Thursday on multiple counts of bank fraud in a scheme to avoid repaying more than $150,000 in loans from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture.

A federal grand jury in Lexington returned an 11-count indictment charging Steven Ray Williams, 57, with selling off secured loan collateral, including cattle and farm equipment, in the names of other individuals and then forging endorsement signatures on checks, all in order to avoid turning over the proceeds to the Farm Service Agency.

Williams was also charged with aggravated identity theft for using the means of identity of another person, without permission, in order to facilitate bank fraud. read here

LEXINGTON WOMAN INDICTED FOR MAKING FAKE BOMB THREATS TO CITY’S 911 EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTER

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Lexington woman was indicted Thursday for making multiple false bomb threats to Lexington’s 911 emergency response center.

A federal grand jury in Lexington returned a 3-count indictment charging 31-year-old Crystal Brotherton with intimidating individuals by making threats involving explosives and the destruction of buildings. The indictment specifically alleges Brotherton called Lexington’s 911 system and told the operator there were bombs at multiple business at an intersection off of New Circle Road. She allegedly demanded the businesses be evacuated in 15 minutes or “everyone will die.” According to the indictment, Brotherton made three calls to 911 around June 20 and 21, 2018, all involving similar threats of death and destruction. read here

 

 

 

 

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