Wednesday August 7 Daily Dose of Justice

Wednesday August 7 Daily Dose of Justice

ROSWELL MAN ARRESTED ON FEDERAL FIREARMS AND EXPLOSIVES CHARGES

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation into Vaughn was initiated on Aug. 5, 2019, after the Roswell Police Department (RPD) received a tip about a man, later identified as Vaughn, who allegedly was observed loading multiple firearms into a vehicle. The tipster reportedly was concerned because the man allegedly was wearing latex gloves and camouflage. Acting on the tip, RPD officers executed a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Vaughn. During the traffic stop, the RPD officers allegedly recovered seven firearms from Vaughn and the vehicle, and verified with the New Mexico Department of Health that Vaughn was authorized to use medical marijuana. read here

PORTALES MAN INDICTED ON FEDERAL PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGE

The indictment charges Gallegos with persuading, inducing, enticing, and coercing a child under the age of 18 years to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct.  According to the indictment, Gallegos committed the crime between March 2018 and May 2019, in Roosevelt County, N.M.

At the time of his arrest on the federal indictment, Gallegos was in state custody on related state charges filed by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  The state charges will be dismissed in favor of federal prosecution. read here

LARGEST SINGLE-STATE WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT ACTION IN NATION’S HISTORY CONDUCTED BY ICE AND DOJ AT VARIOUS SITES ACROSS MISSISSIPPI

As a result of today’s operation, approximately 680 aliens were detained by HSI special agents. Some are being identified as being eligible for an alternative to detention based on humanitarian reasons. These individuals will be physically returned by HSI to their original place of detention and will still be required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will ultimately determine whether or not they will be deported. Currently, all cases are being handled via administrative law procedures at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. read here

NINE DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN INTERNATIONAL DRUG-TRAFFICKING CONSPIRACY

The complaint describes a conspiracy involving a large-scale drug trafficking organization a network extending across the Bay Area. According to the complaint, between March 4, 2019, and July 26, 2019, Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos, a/k/a “Rojo”, worked with his family members Victor Viera-Chirinos, a/k/a “Mojarra”; Jorge Alberto Viera-Chirinos; Jorge Enrique Torres-Viera, a/k/a “Enrique”; and Karen Castro-Torres, a/k/a “Delany Ellieth Cardona Velasquez”, a/k/a “Belanie Elyzabeth Artiaga”, to obtain drugs. The defendants brought the drugs from Mexico through Los Angeles to the Bay Area. The defendants then repackaged the drugs for redistribution both in the Bay Area and in Seattle. The complaint also describes the execution of search warrants in June 2018 by the Richmond and San Francisco Police Departments and how Jorge Alberto Viera-Chirinos thereafter remained in the Bay Area to run the family drug-trafficking business while Eduardo Alfonso Viera-Chirinos and his partner, Karen Castro-Torres, moved to Seattle. read here

MEXICAN CITIZEN PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG CONSPIRACY

On July 26, 2018, a New York State Police Trooper conducted a traffic stop of a red Honda Accord, with Alabama license plates, driving on Route 20A in the Town of Warsaw in Wyoming County. The trooper approached the vehicle, which was being driven by Martinez-Vega with Ramirez-Soto as a passenger. Martinez-Vega gave the trooper an expired Georgia identification card, and told the trooper he was looking for work.

Martinez-Vega gave the trooper consent to search the vehicle. A NYSP K9 Trooper was brought to the scene. The K9 alerted to several areas of the vehicle and a subsequent search recovered 1,200 grams of suspected heroin, and approximately 421 grams of suspected methamphetamine hidden behind the front dashboard of the vehicle.

Further investigation determined that the defendants were illegally present in the United States. read here

TWO MEN ARRESTED AT THE LEWISTON QUEENSTON BRIDGE FOR THEIR ROLES IN ATTEMPTED ILLEGAL ENTRY

A subsequent record check determined that Herrera-Galvaz was refused entry to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, at the Toronto, Ontario Pre-flight Inspection Station on August 4, 2019. Herrera-Galvaz was refused entry for failing to disclose an arrest in Chile on his Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application. As a result, he must obtain a Visa prior to attempting to enter the United States at any time. read here

ROCHESTER MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN THEFT OF OVER 90 GUNS TAKEN DURING GUN STORE BURGLARIES

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey, who is handling the case, stated that Sarfaty, along with co-defendants Luis D. Marcano-Agosto and Marcos D. Guzman, broke into Chinappi’s Firearms & Supplies, a gun store located at 5016 West Ridge Road in Spencerport, NY, in the early morning hours of August 16, 2018. Sarfaty entered the basement through a hole in the wall and, together with Marcano-Agosto and Guzman, stole approximately 87 firearms, almost all of which were handguns. Guzman, Sarfaty and Marcano-Agosto then sold many of the firearms on the streets of Rochester. Investigators recovered 14 of the stolen firearms in the days after the theft.

Sarafty also admitted to breaking into Chinappi’s Firearms & Supplies and stealing approximately seven firearms on August 12, 2018. read here

FORMER BOY SCOUT EMPLOYEE GOING TO FEDERAL PRISON FOR POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa M. Marangola, who handled the case, stated that between March 13 and June 7, 2018, the defendant uploaded five files containing child pornography to a Yahoo! Server. Yahoo! intercepted the files and reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Investigators determined the images were uploaded by Ruth and executed a search warrant at his residence on June 7, 2018. During the search, investigators seized electronic devices containing over 10,285 images and 602 videos of child pornography, including images of prepubescent children and images involving violence.

The defendant was employed by the Boy Scouts of America in the Ovid, NY area. read here

FORMER REAL ESTATE EMPLOYEE GUILTY OF EMBEZZLEMENT

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Field, who is handling the case, stated that Walton worked in the finance department of a local real estate business that owned and operated numerous apartments and mobile home parks. In that capacity, the defendant was responsible for processing security deposits and security deposit refunds for tenants. Between 2011 and 2014, Walton took advantage of his position to embezzle security deposit refunds payable to tenants of the business. In total, he stole approximately $53,786.98 from the business. read here

BROOKLYN MAN SENTENCED TO 13 YEARS IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT FOR SEX TRAFFICKING OF MINORS

The defendants were members of or affiliated with the Snow Gang, a gang based in Queens, New York, which was engaged in a myriad of criminal activities, including violence, drug trafficking, credit card fraud, and sex trafficking of young women. Between February 2015 and March 2017, the defendants worked together to traffic minor female victims, using methods of force, fraud, and coercion. Members of this conspiracy used brutal violence to capture and control their victims, and used firearms to protect their illegal sex trafficking business.

ROPER was a violent pimp who controlled his victims through force and intimidation. ROPER’s victims included minor females as young as 13 years old, who were subjected to ROPER’s code of “pimp rules,” that, for example, prohibited his victims from speaking to other men, from keeping any money they earned, and from eating if they did not make ROPER enough money. If any of the rules were broken, ROPER punished his victims through violence, including choking, hitting, punching, and kicking his victims. One victim—identified in court documents as “Minor Victim-4”—was regularly abused by ROPER, including being beaten with a cord, being forced to kneel on uncooked rice for hours as a form of punishment, and being held in a windowless room in Brooklyn where she was physically abused by ROPER and forced to have sex with customers of his choosing. Another victim—identified in court documents as “Victim-1”—was beaten by ROPER when she initially refused to work for him. ROPER responded by slapping her, refusing to let her leave, and denying her food. When Victim-1 angered Roper by disobeying him, he disciplined her, including by making her stand in the corner of a room for hours and depriving her of food and sleep. read here

ASSOCIATE OF VIOLENT WHITE SUPREMACIST GANG PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL KIDNAPPING CHARGE 

According to the plea agreement, on Aug. 3, 2017, Cook was instructed to prepare a room inside a Wasilla duplex where Staton, a known member of the 1488s, would be assaulted. Cook prepared one of the bedrooms by lining it with plastic on the floor and partway up the walls to conceal evidence of the beating that was expected to occur. Staton was brought to the duplex, already beaten and his hands bound, and was brought into the prepared room where he was further beaten by several 1488s members and associates. A large knife was then heated up using a blowtorch, which was used to burn off Staton’s 1488 membership tattoo. Cook was present in the room and witnessed the beating and patch burning of Staton. After the beating and depatching, Staton was still alive and was rolled up in the plastic and the carpet from the bedroom. Cook helped load Staton into the back of vehicle, in which Staton was driven away. Cook later cleaned up the area where Staton had been beaten and was given a shot of heroin as compensation for his role. read here

RALEIGH COUNTY COUPLE SENTENCED FOR ROLES IN DRUG AND GUN CRIMES

BECKLEY, W.Va. – A Raleigh County couple were sentenced today to prison for their roles in federal drug and gun charges, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Billy Joe Lesher, 40, of Beckley, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for possessing with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine. Kimberly York, 33, also from Beckley, was sentenced to 72 months in prison for using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. The drug trafficking crime involved the possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Stuart commended the cooperative investigative efforts of the Beckley Police Department, the Beckley/Raleigh County Drug and Violent Crime Unit, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

“Meth dealers and guns. Different names, but the result is the same – lengthy federal prison sentences,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. read here

INDEPENDENCE MAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS FOR PRODUCING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

White, who pleaded guilty on July 12, 2018, admitted that he used a 13-year-old victim to produce child pornography. White met the child victim on Facebook and they engaged in sexually explicit online chats. During one of those chats, White directed the child victim to produce a pornographic image, which she sent to him.

According to court documents, this was part of an enticement scheme, which soon culminated in the then-14-year-old child victim moving from Kansas to live with White in September 2016.White had sexual contact with the child victim on numerous instances between September 2016 and March 2017, when the child victim was recovered. read here

BERGEN COUNTY MAN ADMITS EMBEZZLEMENT FROM EMPLOYEE BENEFIT PLAN

Preschel served as a trustee for the CMG Vending Inc. Pension Trust Fund. CMG Vending operated, leased, and rented vending machines throughout New Jersey and New York. Preschel was, by law, a fiduciary, and therefore required to act solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries.

Between November 2010 and April 2018, Preschel embezzled $368,783 from the trust fund by engaging in 52 separate illegal withdrawals or transfers from various accounts. As a result of these illegal withdrawals and transfers, the trust fund lost an additional $93,267 in interest. As part of the plea agreement, Preschel agreed to make restitution to the trust fund in the amount of $462,050. Preschel also agreed to a debarment which prohibits him from acting as a fiduciary on behalf of any employee benefit plan for a period of 13 years. read here

TWO BOSTON CITY HALL AIDES CONVICTED OF CONSPIRING TO EXTORT MUSIC FESTIVAL PRODUCTION COMPANY

This afternoon, a federal jury convicted Kenneth Brissette and Timothy Sullivan of extorting a private business to hire union labor that they did not want or need,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Private companies that want to do business in Boston have the right to hire anyone they want – union or not – without fear of being threatened with economic disaster by government officials. That is the law. This was a hard fought victory, and one that reaffirms our commitment to take on cases that are in the public interest.”

“The FBI thanks the jury for their service and thoughtful deliberations,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “Today’s verdicts show that public officials cannot use their positions to extort those who choose to use non-union labor. The FBI will not stand idly by while hard-working individuals are bullied and strong-armed by public servants. Everyone deserves access to a level playing field, and the excuse of “business as usual” isn’t good enough to earnest citizens who rely on their own local governments to do right by them and their families. Let this case be a warning to municipal workers everywhere, it is the taxpayers they serve and answer to at the end of the day.”read here

HONDURAN NATIONAL SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL REENTRY

Between March 2006 and July 2015, Vasquez-Espinal was deported from the United States on four separate occasions. Sometime after a July 2015 deportation, Vasquez-Espinal reentered the United States, and in January 2019, he was encountered by law enforcement in Lawrence and determined to be illegally present in the country. read here

UNITED STATES FILES SUIT AGAINST MONTGOMERY COUNTY PSYCHIATRIST FOR ALLEGED IMPROPER OPIOID PRESCRIBING

The complaint filed by the United States alleges that Kuh had no specialization or training in pain management, but she repeatedly prescribed the couple 80mg OxyContin and benzodiazepine controlled substances. The prescriptions were allegedly issued to the couple frequently by mail without an in-person physical examination, without urine drug screens or diagnostic testing, frequently not recorded in Kuh’s records, and frequently while the wife’s pain management and other conditions were managed by other providers. Kuh’s improper prescribing continued for years, even after she learned that the wife’s opioids could be harming her mental health and contributing to hallucinations.

The complaint alleges that this prescribing by Kuh only ended shortly after the husband committed suicide. Kuh had allegedly sent multiple prescriptions of OxyContin through the mail to the husband—once again, without physical examination, urine drug screen, diagnostic testing, or attempting less dangerous alternatives. Kuh allegedly responded by mailing additional OxyContin prescriptions to the wife at her request. The United States’ suit seeks damages for the alleged false claims to Medicare, civil penalties for the improper prescriptions, and injunctive relief to restrict Kuh’s controlled substance registration. read here

FORMER COLUMBIA POLICE CHIEF PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL GUN CHARGE

Evidence presented to the court established that on December 4, 2017, Richland County deputies arrived at Old Hopkins Road and Garners Ferry Road in Richland County in reference to a subject sleeping behind the wheel of a vehicle while the vehicle was running and in drive on the roadway. The deputies made contact with the driver, who was asleep behind the wheel. After waking the driver, deputies smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle. The deputies then asked the driver for his driver’s license. The driver stated he did not have one. Officers discovered his license was suspended. The driver was then arrested.

Deputies searched the vehicle and discovered a loaded Glock Model 27 pistol in the center armrest of the vehicle. A DNA test indicated that the driver’s DNA was on the pistol. Also inside of the vehicle, deputies discovered a small black bag in an open space under the radio. Inside of the bag, deputies discovered a clear bag with a rock-like substance in it, which was suspected crack cocaine. Deputies also discovered several small bindles of suspected heroin. read here

THREE DEFENDANTS IN MS-13 RACKETEERING CASE PLEAD GUILTY

In February 2018, 23 individuals were charged in a second superseding indictment and alleged to be members and associates of MS-13 in Columbus.

The defendants are charged in a racketeering conspiracy, which includes five murders as well as attempted murder, extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, assault, obstruction of justice, witness intimidation, weapons offenses and immigration-related violations.

The second superseding indictment alleges that the defendants committed a host of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, including: 1) the December 2006 murder of Jose Mendez, a suspected confidential informant, in Perry County; 2) the November 2008 murder of Ramon Ramos on Lockbourne Road in Columbus; 3) the mid-2015 murder of Carlos Serrano-Ramos, a suspected rival gang member, near Innis Road in Columbus; 4) the November 2015 murder of Wilson Villeda near Innis Road in Columbus; and 5) the December 2016 murder of Salvador Martinez-Diaz, a suspected rival gang member, on Melroy Avenue in Columbus. read here

PRISON GUARDS CHARGED WITH DISTRIBUTING METHAMPHETAMINE

According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint filed on July 30, Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff confiscated a cell phone from a North Fork inmate on May 27, 2019. It is alleged the Department’s Security Threats Intelligence group discovered the phone contained evidence of regular communications among the inmate who had the phone, another inmate, and Micah Lynne Wascher. The phone allegedly included evidence that the other inmate had been receiving money on a Green Dot prepaid credit card from Wascher. Both inmates at issue are allegedly members of the Universal Aryan Brotherhood.

According to the affidavit, Department of Corrections officers obtained a warrant and searched the defendants’ home in Canute. They discovered 72 grams of a white, crystal-like substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as eleven cell phones.

Both defendants were arrested on August 6, 2019. Today a federal grand jury returned an indictment that charges both of them with three crimes: conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and maintaining a drug-involved premises. read here

HONDURAN CITIZEN KNOWN AS “RITTENHOUSE RAPIST” CONVICTED OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION CRIME

“This case is a law-abiding citizen’s nightmare: an illegal alien who has been previously deported comes back into the country illegally and commits appalling crimes. And it is a reminder of why we are a nation of laws and why those laws – including immigration laws – should be respected and enforced. My Office will continue to enforce federal law in a neutral, non-partisan manner, which is the only way to ensure public safety. And I call on Philadelphia city officials and the District Attorney to stop treating the criminal justice system like a game in which they play political favorites. There is simply too much at stake for that sort of nonsense. The public deserves better.” read here

EIGHT FEDERALLY INDICTED FOR THE EMBEZZLEMENT AND LAUNDERING OF FUNDS FROM THE MICCOSUKEE CASINO

The indictment alleges that beginning on or about January 29, 2011, and continuing through on or about May 27, 2015, Miccosukee Resort & Gaming employees Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, and Betancourt embezzled more than $5 million in cash from the Miccosukee casino. According to the indictment, Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, Betancourt, and their unindicted co-conspirators, tampered with the electronic gaming machines and caused the machines to generate false and fraudulent credit vouchers or tickets, which the defendants then exchanged for cash at ATMs located on the casino floor, or from floor cashiers or the casino treasury.

Further alleged is that all of the defendants committed money laundering offenses, involving the computer fraud proceeds that Aleu, Lavin, Melhen, and Betancourt embezzled from the casino. According to the indictment, the defendants used the stolen funds to purchase and/or maintain various asset including the defendants’ residences, various investment properties, Florida Prepaid College Plan accounts for certain of the defendants’ children, and certain vehicles. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of these assets. read here

FORMER MARYLAND INSURANCE AGENT AND FINANCIAL PLANNER SENTENCED TO ALMOST FIVE YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON FOR $2.8 MILLION FRAUD SCHEME

According to his plea agreement, from February 2006 through March 2015, Williams worked as a New York Life insurance agent and was licensed to sell insurance in Maryland, and registered with the Financial Industry and Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Williams was only authorized to sell New York Life related products and provide financial planning through a New York Life affiliate. New York Life did not sell certificates of deposit (CDs) nor was Williams authorized to sell CDs. New York Life authorized the use of “doing business as” entities (DBAs) for marketing purposes only and approved Williams’ use of Mid-Atlantic Financial and Williams Investment Group as DBAs. Williams was not permitted to have premiums made payable to him or his DBAs. read here

METAIRIE MAN SENTENCED TO 121 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT AFTER PREVIOUSLY PLEADING GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT SEX TRAFFICKING OF 14-YEAR-OLD FEMALE

According to court documents, between at least May 9, 2017, and June 5, 2017, CALOGERO conspired with others to traffic a fourteen-year-old female from Metairie, Louisiana.  Specifically, J.B. met the victim on May 9, 2017 and recruited her to work for him as a prostitute.  She worked for J.B. from about May 9 through about May 23.  J.B. required her to turn over all, or most, of the money she earned from prostitution to him.  J.B. then created advertisements on online classified advertisement services commonly used to advertise sexual services in exchange for money, through which J.B. received telephone calls and text messages inquiring about, scheduling, and arranging prostitution dates with the victim.  J.B. scheduled the time, location, and other logistics of prostitution dates with the victim.

Between May 16, 2017 and May 22, 2017, J.B. transmitted sexually explicit photographs of the victim to CALOGERO via email and text message for the purpose of offering and encouraging CALOGERO to arrange a prostitution date with the victim.  CALOGERO engaged in prostitution dates with the victim on at least four separate days, paying less than $120 per occasion.  In addition to engaging in prostitution dates with the victim, CALOGERO occasionally drove her to prostitution dates with other individuals.  On numerous occasions, CALOGERO also attempted to facilitate the prostitution of the victim to multiple adult men by, among other things, taking and transmitting sexually explicit pictures of the fourteen year old to them, negotiating prices, arranging the times and locations of prostitution dates, and providing his personal residence as the location of a prostitution date he arranged. CALOGERO successfully brokered prostitution dates with the victim on at least three occasions. read here

16-MEMBER DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION WITH TIES TO GRAPE STREET CRIPS GANG INDICTED IN OPERATION “GRAPES OF WRATH”

Memphis, TN –In July 2019, a federal grand jury charged 16 individuals with conspiracy to possess various controlled substances with intent to distribute; possession of several types of controlled substances with intent to distribute; and several criminal violations of federal firearms laws. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the unsealing of the superseding indictment today.

The investigation of this case focused on the Grape Street Crips street gang in Memphis, and was known as Operation “Grapes of Wrath.” ATF began investigating various shootings in the Memphis area in the Summer of 2018, and together with DEA and other law enforcement partners, developed suspects in connection with drug distribution, specifically the distribution of heroin and methamphetamine. read here

FORMER BOOKKEEPER FOR APEX EQUIPMENT INC. SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS IN PRISON FOR $1148,000 EMBEZZLEMENT SCHEME

According to admissions made as part of her guilty plea and documents filed in court, Lewis was employed as the office manager and bookkeeper for Apex Equipment Inc., a privately-held company located in Crowley. As bookkeeper, Lewis was responsible for initiating direct deposits of Apex employees’ paychecks into their respective bank accounts. Lewis used her position and access to the company’s accounting software between May 2014 and May 2016 to defraud Apex out of $148,735.28. As part of the scheme, Lewis used Quickbooks’ direct deposit feature to transfer funds from Apex’s bank account to bank accounts and prepaid debit cards controlled by herself and others, and concealed her fraud in Quickbooks by using other employees’ names to make the transfers. read here

ROXBORO MAN SENTENCED FOR CHILD EXPLOITATION OFFENSES

From around 2013 until April 29, 2016, THORPE sexually abused a minor boy.  Using his position as a leader of a church pantomime group, THORPE developed a relationship with the victim and then used drugs and manipulation to groom and control the victim.  The victim’s family eventually moved out of state in part to escape THORPE.  In 2015, THORPE arranged for the victim to return to North Carolina, where he continued to sexually abuse the then-fifteen-year-old.  The victim returned home, but THORPE again transported the victim back to North Carolina in February 2016.  On April 25, 2016, while participating in a church event in Raleigh, THORPE took the victim to a Raleigh residence, where he had sexual contact with the victim and photographed it.  The victim, age sixteen, was recovered in THORPE’s company on April 29, 2016.  Law enforcement subsequently recovered the images of child pornography from THORPE’s cellular phone. read here

GUATEMALAN NATIONAL PLEADED GUILTY TO ILLEGAL RE-ENTRY

According to the bill of information, DARLYS BARRIOS-HERRERA (“BARRIOS-HERRERA”), re-entered the United States after being previously deported on September 17, 2014.

BARRIOS-HERRERA faced a maximum term of imprisonment of two years, a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum term of supervised release of one year, and a mandatory $100 special assessment.  BARRIOS-HERRERA was sentenced to credit for time served (one month) and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee before being transferred to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.  read here

 

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