Friday Justice Files

Friday Justice Files

SPRINGFIELD WOMAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD AND TAX EVASION

PORTLAND, Ore.—On September 2, 2020, a Springfield woman who owned several durable medical equipment stores in Oregon was sentenced to federal prison for defrauding six health insurance plans of approximately $1.3 million and for evading $99,000 in federal income taxes, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Saffron Gustafson, 43, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Gustafson was also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution to the victim insurance plans.

“Health care fraud affects all Americans because it increases the cost of health insurance and reduces the amount of money insurance plans have available to pay legitimate claims,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “The investigation and prosecution of health care fraud is a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department.”

“Ms. Gustafson exploited the insurance companies of vulnerable patients and then evaded payment of her significant tax liability,” said IRS–Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “Tax evasion is a crime that impacts each and every American, which is why it is a top priority for IRS–Criminal Investigation special agents.” (Read Here)

PORTLAND MAN CHARGED WITH CIVIL DISORDER AFTER ASSAULTING POLICE OFFICERS WITH BEAR SPRAY

PORTLAND, Ore.—Kevin Phomma, 26, of Portland, has been charged by criminal complaint with civil disorder, a felony, after assaulting several police officers with bear spray during an unlawful assembly on August 26, 2020.

According to court documents, on August 26, 2020, protesters gathered near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building on South Macadam Avenue in Portland, blocking city streets. The crowd spray-painted the building’s façade and threw projectiles at federal agents. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security declared the event an unlawful assembly at approximately 10:45 p.m. Minutes later, the Portland Police Bureau instructed the crowd to disperse and issued a use-of-force warning for non-compliance.

As Portland officers began dispersing the crowd, Phomma was witnessed pepper spraying officers. Phomma positioned himself with a shield in one hand and a spray can in the other. Phomma doused several officers with pepper spray while they attempted to arrest him. Once in custody, officers discovered the pepper spray was in fact a powerful bear deterrent pepper spray. While searching Phomma, officers also found a sheathed, three-inch dagger attached to his hip. Phomma was later released. (Read Here)

FRAUD ALERT:SCAMMERS WHO CLAIM TO BE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ARE PREYING ON THE ELDERLY

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Department of Justice has received multiple reports that individuals claiming to represent the DOJ are calling members of the public as part of an imposter scam. The department strongly encourages the public to remain vigilant and not to provide personal information during these calls, which appear to target the elderly.

Reports to the National Elder Fraud Hotline indicate these scammers falsely represent themselves as Department of Justice investigators or employees and attempt to obtain personal information from the call recipient, or they leave a voicemail with a return phone number. The return phone number directs users to a recorded menu that matches the recorded menu for the department’s main phone number. Eventually, the user reaches an “operator” who steers the user to someone claiming to be an investigator. That “investigator” then attempts to gain the user’s personal information.

“We don’t want anyone – particularly our seniors – to be fooled by scammers posing as employees of the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Please protect yourself! Do not be fooled by scammers, and don’t give out your personal information to a random caller claiming to be a DOJ employee.” (Read Here)

BOULDER MAN SENTENCED FOR POSSESSING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF IMAGES AND VIDEOS OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

David Wesley Gilreath was also found to have posted online a “hunting guide” targeting individuals of various religions as well as certain houses of worship

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced that Wesley David Gilreath, age 30, of Boulder, was sentenced today to serve 186 months in federal prison (15.5 years) followed by 10 years on supervised release for possession of child pornography.  Gilreath was remanded at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.  The Denver office of the FBI joined in today’s announcement.

According to the stipulated facts contained in his plea agreement, the FBI searched Gilreath’s phone pursuant to a federal search warrant after it was found on a bus.  The contents of Gilreath’s phone included approximately 12,000 images and 200 videos depicting child pornography.  Gilreath also used the phone to seek out child pornography.

On July 31, 2019, the defendant was arrested pursuant to a federal warrant.  During a subsequent search of his residence, FBI agents seized a thumb drive with approximately 22,000 images and 2,400 videos depicting child pornography.  Agents also seized a second phone with approximately 4,750 images and 1,400 videos depicting child pornography.  The child pornography on the thumb drive and both of the defendant’s phones included images and videos depicting the sexual abuse and torture of toddlers and infants.  In addition, Gilreath used various social media, including three Twitter accounts and one Gab account, to knowingly receive, transport and distribute child pornography. (Read Here)

CLOVIS MAN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED ONLINE ENTICEMENT OF MINOR TO ENGAGE IN ILLEGAL SEX ACTS AND RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment yesterday against Thomas Layman Binford, 55, of Clovis, California, charging him with separate counts of  attempting coercion and enticement of a minor and receipt of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, as well as receipt of child pornography, United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents, Binford traveled to a park in Fresno, California on the evening of July 28, 2020, with the intent of meeting and engaging in illegal sex acts with a 13 year-old minor he had earlier met online through the Skout social media application. Upon his arrest at the park, his cell phone was seized and subsequently searched, where over 250 images of minors being sexually exploited were found.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Clovis Police Department, Fresno Police Department, and the Fresno Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian W. Enos is prosecuting the case. (Read Here)

EVERETT, WASHINGTON, MAN CHARGED FEDERALLY FOR POSSESSING FIREARM STOLEN FROM SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT VEHICLE DURING MAY 30 RIOT

Photos place defendant at scene of theft with high-powered firearm in carrying-case

Seattle – A 24-year-old Everett resident appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle today charged with possession of a stolen firearm in connection with a high-powered rifle taken during a downtown Seattle riot on May 30, 2020, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  JACOB D. LITTLE was captured by both Seattle Police surveillance photos and images posted online with the large bag used to store the Colt M4 rifle with a suppressor.  The rifle still has not been recovered.

Using not only the images captured of the riot scene, but tips from the public, Seattle Police investigators linked LITTLE to the stolen firearm.  Images show a man that appears to be LITTLE removing the heavy bag from a Seattle Police vehicle parked outside the downtown Nordstrom store.  The vehicles were heavily damaged and ultimately burned by rioters.  The investigation reveals that in electronic messages following the theft, LITTLE appears to be negotiating the sale of the firearm.  He states in the messages that he has removed the sling and suppressor and the “red dot” (a type of flashlight) from the rifle.  All those accessories were present on the rifle when stolen from the Seattle Police vehicle.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. (Read Here)

RUSSIAN NATIONAL INDICTED FOR CONSPIRACY TO INTRODUCE MALWARE INTO A COMPUTER NETWORK

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in the District of Nevada returned an indictment yesterday charging a Russian national for his role in a conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich of the District of Nevada, and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office made the announcement.

The indictment alleges that Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, a citizen of Russia, attempted to recruit an employee of a company located in Nevada, with the purpose of introducing malicious software into the company’s computer network, extracting data from the network, and thereafter extorting ransom money from the company under the threat of making the extracted data public. (Read Here)

GRAND JURY INDICTS ST. CHARLES COUNTY MAN FOR SEX TRAFFICKING OF A CHILD

ST. LOUIS – A federal grand jury indicted Thomas J. Bowles, in a five-count indictment, for sex trafficking of a child. The 44 year old is a resident of St. Charles County.

According to court documents, between January 2016 and August 2020, Bowles used social media (Kik) to knowingly recruit, entice, transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize and solicit ‘Jane Doe 1’ and ‘Jane Doe 2’. Both under the age of 18.

Also during the time mentioned above, Bowles used interstate commerce and persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced twos minor, under 18 years of age, to have sex and engage in prostitution.

Bowles faces no less than 10 years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted. He could also face a fine of no more than $250,000. Bowles is presumed innocent until proven guilty. (Read Here)

TWO SELF-DESCRIBED “BOOGALOO BOIS” CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO HAMAS

The Justice Department today announced a federal criminal complaint charging Michael Robert Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas).

SOLOMON and TEETER, who were taken into custody yesterday evening, made their initial appearances earlier today before Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The defendants were ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,’” said Assistant Attorney General John C Demers. “As alleged in the complaint, these defendants sought to use violence against the police, other government officials and government property as part of their desire to overthrow the government. While planning these activities, the defendants met individuals whom they believed to be members of the foreign terrorist group Hamas. Thinking that they shared the same desire to harm the United States, they sought to join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas.  They failed. No matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations inspire those who seek to engage in terrorist activity and harm our country and our fellow citizens, the National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding them accountable. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case and ensuring that these defendants could not carry out their deadly plans.” (Read Here)

PHILADELPHIA MEN CHARGED WITH CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING

Three Philadelphia men were charged, by a federal grand jury, in an indictment unsealed today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for their roles in a sex trafficking operation that exploited numerous minors from 2016 through 2017.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Special Agent in Charge Michel J. Driscoll of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Division made the announcement.

Andre Michael Felts, aka “Dre” and “Plug,” 32, and Kevin Michael Francis, aka “Kev,” 60, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to sex traffic a minor and four counts of sex trafficking a minor.  Ryan Keel, 39, was charged with conspiracy to sex traffic a minor.

The indictment alleges that Felts ran a prostitution ring that recruited and enticed young females, including minors, to engage in commercial sex acts; harbored the victims at various residences for that purpose; transported and provided the victims to males who purchased the commercial sex acts; and collected a portion of the proceeds.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. (Read Here)

TEXAS NATIONAL GUARDSMAN SENTENCED IN GOVERNMENT CREDIT CARD THEFT RING

A Texas National Guardsman was sentenced to two years in federal prison and order to repay a $75,000 fine for theft of government money, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

Emmanuel Alvarado, 35, is the third of three conspirators to be sentenced for participating in a scheme to use stolen government fuel credit cards (“fleet cards”) to purchase fuel for themselves and others. In September 2019, Mr. Alvarado pled guilty to one count of theft of government money.

According to information provided in court, Mr. Alvarado, along with Carlos Espinola, 48, and Don Wright, 41, knew each other through service in the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG). (Read Here)

FORMER EXECUTIVE OFFICER FOR SOUTHERN UTE INDIAN TRIBE INDICTED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT ON A CHILD

DURANGO – United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn today announced that McKean Walton, age 51, of Ignacio, Colorado, was indicted on multiple charges stemming from the alleged sexual assault of a child on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.  According to publically available information, Walton was the Executive Officer for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

The indictment was returned on September 1, 2020, charging Walton with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in Indian Country, and one count of sexual abuse of a minor in Indian Country.  The indictment alleges that the conduct took place between 2009 and 2011.

Walton made his initial appearance today by video-teleconference from the La Plata County Detention Facility before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Candelaria.  He was advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.  A detention hearing is scheduled for September 10, 2020.  If convicted on the counts alleged in the indictment, Walton faces a mandatory minimum sentence of thirty years imprisonment. (Read Here)

CEDAR RAPIDS MAN SENTENCED TO 30 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN THE PHILIPPINES

A man who sexually exploited children in the Philippines was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison.

William Meyer, age 65, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the sentence after a February 4, 2020 guilty plea to one count of sexual exploitation of children.  At the plea hearing, Meyer admitted that between 2012 and 2019 he persuaded, induced, or enticed minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions or transmitting live visual depictions of this conduct.  The record at the sentencing hearing established that Meyer had traveled to the Philippines for charitable work.  The live visual depictions included sexually explicit Skype video transmissions from at least six children in the Philippines, including three prepubescent girls.

Meyer was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  Meyer was sentenced to 360 months’ imprisonment and fined $50,000.  Special assessments of $5,100 were imposed and Meyer must also serve a five-year term of supervised release.  He must comply with all sex offender registration and public notification requirements. (Read Here)

LEADER OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING RING SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS’ IMPRISONMENT

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that on September 3, 2020, Miguel Scott Arnold, age 33, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment by United States District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo, for his role as the leader of a human trafficking operation.

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Arnold was convicted on June 21, 2019, after a four-day jury trial. He was convicted of (1) conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; (2) sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; (3) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and marijuana; and (4) possession with intent to distribute heroin. Arnold was part of a significant sex trafficking operation that exploited over 20 victims, including juveniles.  Arnold and his co-conspirators coerced the sex trafficking victims though fraud, physical assault, the deprivation of heroin to addicted victims, and threats of violence.

Four co-defendants in the case previously pleaded guilty to engaging in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, participated in a conspiracy that began in Harrisburg in the fall of 2015, and continued until it was dismantled in August 2016.  Arnold and the co-conspirators rented hotel rooms and posted “escort” advertisements and photographs on www.backpage.com, a website that the FBI has since seized and which is no longer operational.  Arnold and his co-conspirators would frequently solicit women to engage in prostitution by lying to them about the services that they would be expected to perform.  Arnold and his co-conspirators would also target victims who were vulnerable by virtue of their age, financial insecurity, or drug addiction.  At least three victims of the conspiracy were minors, one as young as 14 years old.  Arnold and the others would take the majority of the money made during the course of the prostitution business, and distributed drugs to the women, including heroin. (Read Here)

3 FLORIDA MEN CHARGED WITH STEALING CREDIT, TAX REFUNDS, COVID-19 STIMULUS CHECKS IN BANK FRAUD CONSPIRACY INVOLVING MORE THAN $1 MILLION IN LOSSES

CINCINNATI – A federal grand jury has charged three Florida men in a financial fraud conspiracy that allegedly involved stealing identities in order to fraudulently obtain credit, tax refunds, and COVID-19 stimulus checks. Several of the victims of their alleged scheme resided in the Southern District of Ohio.

Adesh Alvin Bissoon, 41, of Miami Beach, Fla.; Michael Jacques Joseph, 37, of Miami Beach, Fla.; and Victor Torres, 38, of Apollo Beach, Fla.; are charged with defrauding at least 11 banks.

According to the indictment, from 2012 through August 2020, the co-conspirators used the Dark Web to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) on individuals, including victims who at the time lived in the Southern District of Ohio. (Read Here)

INDICTMENT CHARGES MAN WITH USING HIS POSITION AT HURRICANE BUSINESS TO SOLICIT AND OBTAIN KICKBACKS FROM CHINESE COMPANIES

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal indictment unsealed Friday morning charges Nan Ma, 37, of Washington, Utah, with using his position and authority as the officer in charge of production and sourcing at a home audio products company in Hurricane, Utah, to solicit and obtain kickbacks for his personal benefit from Chinese companies. Ma is a Chinese citizen with legal permanent resident status in the United States.

In exchange for the kickbacks, the indictment alleges Ma awarded lucrative contracts to these companies to manufacture and sell products to his employer. Ma used a portion of the kickback money to purchase a luxurious house and expensive cars.   Ma concealed the source of the funds he was getting through the alleged kickbacks by making false representations to his employer, according to the indictment.

Ma received approximately $2.1 million in kickbacks in exchange for awarding approximately $12.4 million in contracts to the Chinese companies, all of which he concealed from his employer, identified in the indictment by the initials SVT, the indictment alleges. (Read Here)

FORMER POSTAL WORKER SENTENCED FOR STEALING CASH FROM MAIL AT SWEET GRASS POST OFFICE

GREAT FALLS – A former U. S. Postal Service worker who admitted going through mail and stealing cash and gift cards from envelopes was sentenced on Sept. 3 to two years of probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $2,065 restitution, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said today.

Amanda Holland, 38, of Sunburst, pleaded guilty in May to theft of mail by a postal employee and destruction of mail by a postal employee.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Holland began working in January 2017 for the U.S. Postal Service as a part-time employee in the Sweet Grass and Sunburst post offices, where she assisted customers, processed money orders and sorted mail for delivery. In early 2019, the Postal Service received several reports from individuals indicating that cash and greeting cards sent through the Sweet Grass office did not reach their destinations. Some individuals reported that the envelopes were delivered but that they had been torn open and resealed and were missing cash. (Read Here)

MOUNTAIN VIEW MAN SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS FOR ATTEMPTED ENTICEMENT OF A MINOR FOR SEX

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A Mountain View, Missouri, man has been sentenced in federal court for attempting to entice a minor for illicit sex.

Jason Matthew Perdue, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge M. Douglas Harpool on Thursday, Sept. 3, to 15 years in federal prison without parole. Perdue will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and will be subject to federal and state sex offender registration requirements, which may apply throughout his life.

On March 2, 2020, Perdue pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a minor for illicit sexual activity. (Read Here)

GEORGIA RESIDENT SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR THEFT IN PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA, FOLLOWING HURRICANE MICHAEL

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida, today announced that Michaelo Moore of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison, followed by supervised release, after pleading guilty on June 25, 2020, to conspiracy to commit mail theft and mail theft. The Panama City Police Department arrested Moore on February 19, 2019, after receiving reports that he had attempted to recruit several members of the city’s transient population to help him cash fraudulent checks.

“This individual not only stole from the citizens of our District who were still recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, he then exploited desperate and displaced individuals to help him complete his criminal acts,” said U.S. Attorney Keefe. “Our prosecutors worked hand in hand with our federal and local law enforcement partners to ensure Mr. Moore was held duly accountable for his crimes, and we will continue to prosecute those who attempt to prey on the good people of Northern Florida.” (Read Here)

GANG-MEMBER RAPPER WHO GLORIFIED GUNS SENTENCED TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM

Previously convicted felon was prohibited from possessing a gun

AUGUSTA, GA:  A gang member and self-styled rapper with a felony criminal record has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison for illegally possessing a gun.

Antonio Dondrell Bell, 29, of Grovetown, Ga., was sentenced to 84 months in prison by U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. After completion of his prison term, Bell will be required to serve three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Antonio Bell knew that as a convicted felon he is not allowed to carry firearms, yet he chose not only to violate the law but to brazenly glorify gun possession in his videos posted online,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Now, inside a prison, he might have a live audience – but he won’t be able to flash firearms in his performances.” (Read Here)

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