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    UPDATE: An Essex County ex-con who rolled the dice and went to trial on drug and weapons charges is now headed to federal prison for more than 7½ years without parole as a result. Teriek Edwards, 44, of Newark, had already been charged by East Orange police with having heroin, cocaine, Oxycodone and other drugs, as well as a loaded 9mm handgun, during a previous arrest when U.S. Marshals seized him on a warrant in August 2018. Once again, he was packing a loaded 9, federal authorities said. Edwards went to trial rather than take a deal from the government. Jurors in U.S. District Court in Newark convicted him this past June of two counts of possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon; one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone; and one count of possession of a firearm in a drug crime following a six-day trial. U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez sentenced Edwards this past week to 93 months in federal prison -- which comes out to 7 years, 9 months, U.S....
    A career criminal with nearly a dozen felony convictions on his record is heading back to prison after getting caught first with an illegal weapon, then with drugs at the same spot in Virginia nearly a year apart, federal officials announced. Earlon Delton Mitchell, 33, of Norfolk, has been sentenced to 151 months in prison for unlawfully possessing ammunition that he used to shoot at someone and for unlawfully possessing a firearm in a separate incident roughly a year later. According to prosecutors, on March 27, 2021, within nine months of his release from federal prison for a prior felon-in-possession conviction, Mitchell returned to the place he had been arrested and assaulted a woman. When a second woman arrived at the home and attempted to stop the assault, officials say that Mitchell brandished a firearm at her, prompting her to flee in a vehicle, stopping at the end of the block to call 911. Mitchell then walked into the street and fired several shots at her, missing, but hitting two parked cars and leaving shell casings behind at the scene...
    Joseph Wilkinson | (TNS) New York Daily News A notorious Mexican drug lord has disappeared from the federal prison registry, and the Mexican government pressed for answers Wednesday. Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” was sentenced to 49 years in U.S. prison for a variety of crimes. “We want to know where he is,” Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday. “The inquiry has been made and there is no clarity on the subject, but we will continue asking [the U.S.] to inform us.” Mexican news outlets said there was speculation that Villarreal cut a deal with U.S. authorities to testify as a protected witness against former cartel associates. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons told CNN that Villarreal, 49, was no longer in their custody. “Inmates who were previously in BOP custody and who have not completed their sentence may be outside BOP custody for a period of time for court hearings, medical treatment or for other reasons,” spokesman Benjamin O’Cone told the outlet, but he refused to specify if any of those things applied to Villarreal. The Texas-born Villarreal, who got his nickname for his light complexion and his...
    Joel Greenberg, the corrupt Florida tax official who tried to reduce his jail time by telling the FBI that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) paid for sex with a teenage girl, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. The hefty sentence comes close to the decade-plus prison time that federal prosecutors requested—and didn’t seem to give credence to his value as a government witness in a dozen other investigations into the fraud and corruption. Greenberg turned his suburban Florida tax office into a small-time criminal operation. He used his position of authority to prey on young women, play a gun-toting cosplay cop, run government computers to mine cryptocurrency, hire his friends as top managers, and give an Instagram model a no-show job. But it wasn’t until he was running for re-election and tapped a shadowy network of Republican operatives to slander a political opponent that he was finally caught. Sitting in a local jail, Greenberg has been meeting with local, state, and federal investigators for more than a year to rat out his friends. He helped expose Teresa McIntyre,...
    Gary Terrell Davis, an associate of the 135 Piru gang responsible for a series of violent acts throughout the Northern District of Georgia, is the last defendant to be sentenced for his role in a federal RICO conspiracy. The main targets in the case, including lead defendant Maurice Antonio Kent, were previously convicted and sentenced for their roles in the execution-style murder of a 17-year-old boy and other offenses. “The pain and fear these defendants caused through their senseless violence has forever altered the lives of the victims, the victims’ families, and the witnesses brave enough to assist investigators.” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “We are grateful to our law enforcement partners for their perseverance in investigating the various acts of violence and threats of violence committed by this gang over the years and for bringing a measure of closure to those who have been impacted.  While the perpetrators of these crimes are now in prison, tragically the gang culture that promoted these violent acts remains a scourge in...
    A third co-conspirator will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted for his role in a murder-for-hire conspiracy in Maryland involving a cheating wife and vengeful husband, federal officials announced. Jose David Navarro Cervellon, 41, of Norcross, Georgia, has been sentenced to life in federal prison after being convicted following an eight-day trial on federal charges for serving as a middle-man involving a husband who wanted his wife killed for cheating, prosecutors announced. Specifically, Cervellon was convicted for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire and for murder resulting from the use, carrying, brandishing, and discharging of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Navarro was an associate of Silver Springs resident Miguel Angel Ayala Rivera, 28, the leader of the Pinos Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13, who agreed to kill a man for Hyattsville resident Miguel Antonio Renderos, 47, in exchange for $10,000, prosecutors said. Navarro introduced Renderos to Ayala Rivera, who agreed to commit the murder. Prosecutors said that the evidence presented at his trial...
    A Newport Beach man who owns several Inland Empire-based trucking companies was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for ordering a welder to illegally repair a tanker, resulting in an explosion that killed the worker. The sentencing marked the second time that Carl Bradley Johansson was found criminally liable for the death of one of his welders. Johansson, now 64, was also sentenced Tuesday for tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining nearly $1 million in COVID-relief money while out on bond in the tanker expulsion case, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office statement. Johansson, now 64, pleaded guilty last year to multiple felony counts in connection to the fatal tank explosion, tax evasion and the relief money scam. Along with the decade-long prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips ordered Johansson to pay approximately $1.25 million in restitution to two banks and the IRS. An earlier tanker explosion that led to the death of a worker in 1993 resulted in Johansson being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison. Prosecutors allege that after his release from prison, Johansson created...
    A 35-year-old Dominican man who recently finished a federal sentence on drug and weapons charges now faces 20 years in prison for violating a deportation order, federal authorities said.  Jonathan Alcequiez-Sanchez was convicted of drug distribution and weapons charges in December 2021 in Lawrence District Court and served a sentence in prison until earlier this month, the US Attorney's Office said. But Alcequiez-Sanchez is not supposed to be in the United States.  The foreign-born man was deported from the US in 2018 after police in New York arrested him for unlawful entry, the prosecutor said. It's unclear when he returned to the country.  The charge of unlawful reentry of a deported alien carries a possible sentence of two decades and a fine of up to $250,000, federal authorities said. 
    A 35-year-old Dominican man who recently finished a federal sentence on drug and weapons charges now faces 20 years in prison for violating a deportation order, federal authorities said.  Jonathan Alcequiez-Sanchez was convicted of drug distribution and weapons charges in December 2021 in Lawrence District Court and served a sentence in prison until earlier this month, the US Attorney's Office said. But Alcequiez-Sanchez is not supposed to be in the United States.  The foreign-born man was deported from the US in 2018 after police in New York arrested him for unlawful entry, the prosecutor said. It's unclear when he returned to the country.  The charge of unlawful reentry of a deported alien carries a possible sentence of two decades and a fine of up to $250,000, federal authorities said. 
    OAKLAND — A trial authorities say will expose rampant sexual abuse, repeated attempted cover ups and serious security lapses at the Bay Area’s only federal prison began Monday with testimony from the first of six women expected to take the stand and describe being sexually assaulted or witnessing sexual abuse by the prison’s former warden. Ray J. Garcia, the retired warden of the women’s prison known as FCI Dublin, is on trial facing charges of sexually abusing three incarcerated women, then lying to federal investigators to obscure his guilt. The defense will call Garcia as a witness to refute the charges, and attack the credibility of key witnesses by painting them as career criminals whose testimony cannot be trusted. Garcia is one of five guards at the prison who have been charged with sexually abusing incarcerated women. Three have pleaded guilty, and one has already been sentenced to seven years in federal prison. Garcia is the first to take his case to trial. At the start of trial Monday morning, Garcia, 55, of Merced, sat a few feet away wearing a...
    A federal criminal trial began Monday against a former San Francisco-area prison warden accused of sexually abusing several female inmates between 2019 and 2021. Ray J. Garcia is one of five prison officers charged with sex crimes at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, a low-risk facility that housed actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman in 2020 for bribing college officials to admit their daughters. FULL HOUSE STAR LORI LOUGHLIN RELEASED FROM PRISON Garcia, 55, is charged with sexually assaulting one woman and ordering two others to strip naked so he could photograph them. At the same time, he led training on how to prevent prison rape and assault, KTVU reported. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed charges in September 2021 and Garcia retired the following month, proclaiming his innocence. He claimed to never inappropriately touch the women or ask them to get naked even though authorities found photographs on his computer and cellphone. A charge of lying to the government was added in July. About 40 women told KTVU that they were raped, sexually assaulted, and threatened by prison staff...
    A former U.S. Navy petty officer stationed at Submarine Base Kings Bay was sentenced to federal prison after admitting he distributed images of child sexual exploitation. Anthony Gabriel Ortiz, 23, of Kings Bay, Ga., was sentenced to 74 months in prison after pleading guilty to Distribution of Child Pornography, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered Ortiz to pay restitution of $19,000, to register as a sex offender, and to serve 15 years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system. “Distributing child pornography shares the pain of victimization endlessly for innocent children who have been exploited,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Anthony Ortiz is being held accountable for perpetuating the harm to these vulnerable victims.” As described in court documents and testimony, Ortiz was in the U.S. Navy assigned to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C., when investigators with the Royal...
    By MICHAEL R. SISAK and MICHAEL BALSAMO | Associated Press The former warden of an abuse-plagued federal women’s prison known as the “rape club” goes on trial Monday, accused of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells. Ray J. Garcia, who retired after the FBI found nude photos of inmates on his government-issued phone last year, is among five workers charged with abusing inmates at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, California, and the first to go to trial. Opening statements and the first witnesses are expected Monday in federal court in Oakland. Garcia, 55, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he would face up to 15 years in prison. An Associated Press investigation in February revealed a culture of abuse and cover-up that had persisted for years at the prison, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) east of Oakland. That reporting led to increased scrutiny from Congress and pledges from the federal Bureau of Prisons that it would fix problems and change the culture at the prison. Garcia is charged with abusing three inmates between December...
    Hubert Nathans has been sentenced to federal prison for selling fake Roxicodone pills containing fentanyl to multiple people in Roswell, Georgia, in 2017 and 2018, including pills that resulted in the death of one buyer and serious bodily injury to another. Nathans’ drug supplier, Edward Culton, was sentenced to federal prison earlier this year. “Nathans and Culton remorselessly sought to profit from drug addiction at any cost,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.  “Their greed resulted in the tragic death of one person and the near-death of another.  As the opioid epidemic continues to rage nationwide, these significant sentences should make clear that opioid suppliers and dealers will be held accountable for the devastation they wreak in our communities.” “Last year, more than 100,000 people died of drug poisoning, many of which were caused by fentanyl – that’s more than double the occupancy of Truist Park” said Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “These two defendants contributed to this staggering statistic and...
    Todd and Julie Chrisley have been sentenced to 12 and seven years, respectively, in federal prison after a jury convicted them of bank and tax fraud offenses following a nearly three-week jury trial. “Over the course of a decade, the defendants defrauded banks out of tens of millions of dollars while evading payment of their federal income taxes” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Their lengthy sentences reflect the magnitude of their criminal scheme and should serve as a warning to others tempted to exploit our nation’s community banking system for unlawful personal gain.” “As this sentencing proves, when you lie, cheat, and steal, justice is blind to your fame, fortune, and position,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is proud to work with our law enforcement partners at the IRS and the U.S. Attorney’s office to pursue and prosecute individuals that are driven by greed to evade the law.” “The Chrisleys defrauded financial institutions and the Federal Government through tax evasion and other...
    JOSH Duggar has spent his first Thanksgiving behind bars. The former Counting On star was fortunate enough to be treated to a special lunch, as he serves time in federal prison. 5Josh Duggar spent his first Thanksgiving in federal prisonCredit: AP 5The reality star is serving more than 12 years behind barsCredit: ABC 8 The disgraced Duggar is currently serving more than 12 years behind bars for receiving child pornography. In June, he was transferred out of the Washington County Detention Center and sent to FCI Seagoville, a federal prison which is located outside of Dallas, Texas. Life behind bars is normally pretty barren for the reality star. But on Thanksgiving, he was treated to a special holiday lunch menu. The culinary choices included split turkey breast and baked ham. For vegetarians there was a choice of vegetable lasagna or vegetable meatloaf. READ MORE JOSH DUGGARDUGGAR DIVORCE? Josh Duggar and wife Anna are 'fighting' and 'go days without speaking'DEVOTED TO DUGGAR Josh Duggar’s wife Anna ‘planning to relocate to Texas’ to be near prison Side dishes included sweet potato and green bean...
    A former federal agent from Murrieta was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for taking bribes to help an organized-crime figure by providing updates on investigations and deleting information from a government database, prosecutors said. Felix Cisneros Jr., 48, was also ordered to pay a $30,000 fine and forfeit $133,000. He was convicted in May of 30 felonies: 26 counts of money laundering, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official and two counts of submitting a false tax return. The charges stem from an 18-month period beginning in September 2015 during which Cisneros was employed as a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations. “Cisneros accepted cash, checks, private jet travel, luxury hotel stays, meals and other items of value from a person … who was associated with a criminal organization,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. The person was identified only as “Individual 1,” and the organization was not disclosed. California Growing fentanyl crisis is leaving ‘trail of death’ in its wake, federal officials warn...
    Two Maryland men have been convicted following a two-week trial for their roles in distributing enough fentanyl to kill hundreds of thousands of people, federal authorities announced. Jarvis Antonio Coleman-Fuller, 35, of Hagerstown, and Eric Tyrell Johnson, 38, of Owings Mills were both convicted by a federal jury on charges related to a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, specifically fentanyl and heroin in Washington County. Prosecutors say that beginning in April 2019 through November 2019, both men and other co-conspirators conspired to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Washington County area.  During the investigation, investigators seized narcotics, including at least 1.3 kilograms of fentanyl, five firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and more than $12,534 in cash.  Witnesses testified that Johnson and Coleman-Fuller - both of whom have previous felony convictions - distributed fentanyl and illegally possessed firearms to further their conspiracy. Eight others have already previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy, according to federal prosecutors. When they are sentenced, both Coleman-Fuller and Johnson each face a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five...
    Former Major League All-Star Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators about his involvement in an illegal gambling operation, according to the Department of Justice. The 31-year-old, who is currently playing in South Korea, will plead guilty to one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. He also agreed to pay of fine of at least $55,000. Puig will make his initial appearance in US District Court in California on Tuesday. Sports gambling remains illegal in California after several ballot initiatives were voted down last week.   Former Major League All-Star Yasiel Puig has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of lying to federal investigators about his involvement in an illegal gambling operation, according to the Department of Justice. The 31-year-old, who is currently playing in South Korea, will plead guilty to one count of making false statements, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison Puig filed the plea agreement in August, stating that he began betting on sporting...
    A grand jury in Worcester indicted a 31-year-old Brookfield man with a criminal record on a series of firearms charges that could send him back to jail for ten years.  Mickie Simmons faces charges of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license, dealing firearms without a license, and two counts of being a felon in possession of ammunition, the US Attorney for Massachusetts said.  Simmons was convicted of breaking and entering and theft in 2014, which bars him from owning firearms and ammunition, authorities said.   However, federal agents said that in March and May of this year, Simmons sold a confidential informant ammo and ghost guns, the prosecutor said. Ghost guns are weapons built by an individual and cannot be tracked. When agents raided Simmons' home, they found an AR-15 short-barrel rifle, 15 ghost-gun kits, several rounds of ammunition, parts for assault rifles, and more than $25,000 in cash, the US Attorney said.  Along with ten years in prison, Simmons also faces fines of up to $250,000, according to the prosecutor.  Police arrested Zachary Zella, 29, along with Simmons earlier this...
    Tiger King star Joe Exotic has claimed he is living 'in the bottom of hell' as he complained about alleged dangerous living conditions inside an Atlanta federal prison. Exotic, 59,  whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire in regards to his nemesis Carole Baskin. In impassioned posts from behind bars at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, the former G.W. Zoo owner claims he is being subjected to deplorable living conditions in prison, was denied basic sanitary items and threatened with stints in solitary - as he begged his 'millions of fans' to help him secure release. Fuming: Tiger King star Joe Exotic has claimed he is living 'in the bottom of hell' as he complained about alleged dangerous living conditions inside an Atlanta federal prison Exotic also declared he will be forced to run for President in 2024 if he remains 'unheard' - he previously ran in 2016.  Posting a snap of himself with a newborn lion cub on...
    OAKLAND — Two years after a Bay Area man beat a murder charge in Alameda County after his attorney accused police of improperly influencing an eyewitness, a federal judge has sentenced him to two years in prison for possessing a gun he reportedly dropped while running from police. Franklin Ervin, 25, was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam. He is scheduled to be released in November 2023, court records show. Ervin was charged with possessing a pistol that was recovered after officers attempted to arrest him in July 2021 as part of an investigation into three San Francisco-based gangs known to hang out in Oakland. Ervin got away from the police after a Honda pulled up to give him a ride during a foot chase, but dropped the pistol as he ran, according to prosecutors. In April 2020, Ervin was one of three people arrested and charged in the killing of Corey Clay, 19, of Oakland, who was fatally shot at around 10 a.m. Dec. 3, 2019 in the 900 block of 69th...
    Authorities announced that a drug dealer in Virginia will spend nearly two decades behind bars for distributing “Crystal Meth" throughout the region. Fredericksburg resident Briceton Grant, 36, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being charged in a four-count indictment and pleading guilty to distributing and possessing with the intent to distribute high-grade methamphetamine earlier this year. Between Oct. 19, 2021, and Nov. 10, 2021, federal prosecutors say that Grant distributed or possessed with the intent to distribute approximately eight pounds—nearly four kilograms—of methamphetamine having purity levels well in excess of 90 percent. “This grade of methamphetamine is referred to as ‘Ice’ or ‘Crystal Meth’ and is often manufactured in super labs outside of the United States,” according to In addition to the methamphetamine, at the time of his arrest, Grant was also in possession of 90 pills containing fentanyl, three grams of cocaine, and $4,590 in cash. Grant was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in June and pleaded guilty later that month to one count of distribution of 50 grams...
    A self-admitted child pornographer will be spending the rest of his life in federal prison without the possibility of parole. U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer sentenced Billy Edward Frederick, 52, of California on Tuesday, saying his ruling "adequately reflects the seriousness of the offense” because of Frederick targeting as many as 35 young Filipino boys to produce over 5,000 images and videos, promising to pay them as they sought to earn money for food and school, according to prosecutors at his sentencing. Some were under the age of 12. “To say his conduct is despicable is an understatement,” Fischer said of Frederick. WATCH: DAY CARE WORKERS CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE FOR SCARING CHILDREN WITH MASK Frederick had already pleaded guilty to the felony charges of production of child pornography and transportation into the United States and enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity in September 2021. The "years-long conversations with these Philippine boys were not coded; they were explicit and lurid—brimming with details regarding what defendant liked, demanded, and expected...
    A former Memphis Police officer was sentenced to more than a decade in prison after pleading guilty to several crimes. On January 24, 2020, former Memphis Police Officer Sam Blue, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate civil rights by using force, violence, and intimidation, and conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce,” said a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). “On October 25, 2022, United States District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. sentenced Blue to 144 months in federal prison to be followed by three years’ supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.” For four years – from 2014 to 2018 – Blue, who was at the time a sworn member of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) worked with local Memphis drug gangs to rob other drug dealers of their proceeds. Blue used his law enforcement resources to look up addresses for the targets of the robberies, aiding his co-conspirators. He also provided those co-conspirators with his badge and blue siren lights to help them appear to be police officers in the course...
    A man from the region who attempted to sexually abuse an underage minor will spend years in federal prison. Green County resident Thomas “Tommy” Squires, age 37, of Cairo, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars Tuesday, Oct. 25, in federal court in Albany. Squires admitted that between June and August 2020, he exchanged sexually explicit messages with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old and tried getting the “teen” to engage in sexual acts with him, according to the US Attorney’s Office in the Northern District. He repeatedly asked the presumed child for naked photos and sent them sexually explicit images, prosecutors said. Squires also confessed to traveling to Cairo to meet the child in August 2020. He was arrested after arriving at the location and has remained in custody since. In addition to his prison sentence, Squires was ordered to complete 15 years of post-release supervision. He must also register as a sex offender. The case was prosecuted as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood, a coordinated effort between local, state, and federal agencies...
    An out-of-state man who threatened an executive officer at a New Jersey-based company where he used to work must spend the next 14 months in federal prison. Alan Wallace, 59, of Cumming, GA, had worked at a company facility in Georgia for nearly 18 years before he was involuntarily terminated in 2017, a complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Newark says. He began by sending an anonymous violent threat in January 2021 detailing how the family of the executive who worked at the New Jersey headquarters would pay if the publicly-traded company's stock prices didn't increase over the next month, the complaint says. More emails followed, one of which bore the subject line “Gun or Knife” telling the victim that relatives were being tracked. This was followed a few weeks by an email that threatened a "blood bath if [the] stock isn't over $200 in 2 weeks. "[You’ve] hurt so many, and now it is your turn to experience it." The final email warned that there would be "blood everywhere." A trial conviction for making an interstate threat...
    According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, the final defendant of four conspirators in an industrial-level pill-production operation is joining his mother and two other defendants in federal prison after all admitted participating in an operation that used pill presses to package and distribute methamphetamine. Albert Bynoe, a/k/a “Chino,” a/k/a “Bossman Chino,” 35, of Tucker, Ga., was sentenced to 92 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute, and to Distribute, Methamphetamine, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Randal Hall also ordered Bynoe to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. “Multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to identify and dismantle this operation that created and distributed massive numbers of doses of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “Taking these meth merchants off the streets makes our communities safer.” Three...
    According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, a South Carolina man who led a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from aircraft companies has been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison. Gilbert Basaldua, 63, of Hilton Head, S.C., was sentenced to 80 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets and Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered Basaldua to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. “Theft is theft, whether it’s a bag full of cash or a digital file holding specialized design information – and Gilbert Basaldua and his co-conspirators are thieves,” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “This sentence will hold him accountable for attempting to enrich himself by stealing valuable information from a private company.” As spelled out in court documents and testimony, Basaldua worked...
    A man convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6 with the intent to hunt “pieces of shit” lawmakers will spend the next four years in federal prison. Matthew Bledsoe, traveled to Washington, D.C. from Tennessee to protest the certification of the 2020 election. He was caught on video entering the building through a broken window. Among other statements uttered by a fiery Bledsoe, he yelled, “Where are those pieces of shit at?” The man never encountered any lawmakers. But when he appeared for sentencing Friday before a federal judge, he did receive a lengthy term behind bars. According to NBC News, Bledsoe claimed during his trial he was unaware he was disrupting the certification of a presidential election. He was also among a crowd of people who yelled, “Nancy! Nancy!” He contended he was unaware he was joining others who were looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, who handed down the sentence, did not believe Bledsoe. “You knew what was going on,” the judge said. “It’s hard to reconcile the image of...
    Image source: YouTube screenshot The girl's father testified in court that when she ran away to Michigan, his terrified daughter brought her baby blanket with her, the paper added. “This man stalked and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old, then had the gall to claim in federal court that their so-called ‘relationship’ was consensual,” Meacham said in a Thursday news release, the Star-Telegram said. “The child, who bravely faced her abuser in court, asserted in no uncertain terms that his advances were unwelcome. By law, 14-year-olds simply cannot consent to sexual contact with adults. We are immensely proud of this child and hope this sentence brings some solace to her and her family."'I like teenage girls!' At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors introduced as evidence a recorded jailhouse phone call in which Boukamp said he wouldn't apologize for “quote unquote raping a 14-year-old," the paper reported. “I like teenage girls! They don’t like that I like that,” Boukamp said of federal agents and prosecutors, according to the Star-Telegram. “I frankly don’t care what the morality of this current time and...
    Former top Trump White House advisor turned far-right wing extremist Steve Bannon has been sentenced to four months in prison by a federal judge, for contempt of Congress. The former executive chairman of Breitbart News and former board member of the infamous data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica refused to comply with a valid and legal subpoena from the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. “Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes,” U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee who clerked with Justice Clarence Thomas, said as he passed down the sentence. He also imposed a fine of $6500. The four month sentence is actually two, but to be served concurrently. The sentence will be delayed to allow Bannon time to appeal, meaning he was not taken into custody and does not have to go to jail immediately. If he chooses to not appeal he is to report to prison on November 15. Nichols had told the court as he began sentencing, “Mr. Bannon has not provided a single document,” and “has not provided any testimony on...
    A 37-year-old Auburn man convicted of receiving child porn in 2016 pleaded guilty this week to having child porn, federal authorities said. He now faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when a judge sentences him in March.   Christopher Rondeau was out on parole in November 2020 when officers found a cell phone with images and videos of child pornography during a search of his house, the US Attorney for Massachusetts said.  A judge sentenced Rondeau to more than five years in prison in 2016, but he received supervised release in 2019, federal authorities said. 
    A US Naval Officer from Maryland and his housemate are facing years in prison for running an elaborate cyberstalking and bullying campaign to harass his estranged wife, federal officials announced. Montgomery County residents Jason Michael Leidel, 43, an active-duty commissioned officer of the United States Navy and Sarah Elizabeth Sorg, 43, a senior trial attorney for the US Department of Transportation, both of Silver Spring, have been charged for their roles in knowingly bullying the officer’s former wife. The charges against the pair include aggravated identity theft, fraud related to a protected computer, cyberstalking and conspiracy to commit cyberstalking. According to the affidavit, Leidel and his wife were married in 2005 and they had two children. The officer has served in the military since 2003, first in the US Air Force, and then in the Navy. In 2017, while on active duty with the Navy, Leidel was accepted to a Ph.D. program at the Uniformed Services University for the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland, and reported for his assignment in June 2018, according to prosecutors.  Two months...
    A two-time convicted felon will spend years in prison after making dozens of threats to murder, rape, torture, and otherwise harm state and federal elected officials, including several members of Congress and a former President. Newport News resident Steve Cochran, 43, was sentenced to 41 months in prison after repeatedly making threats toward federal officials and their loved ones, according to federal prosecutors. Officials said that the threats were "often highly graphic, expressed in unconditional language, and intended to influence the recipient to change his or her political views.” Prosecutors said that Cochran threatened to shoot a US Senator, calling it “not a threat,” but a “guarantee.” He also threatened an unnamed governor, claiming that he would not “live past August” and that his “wife and kids are in imminent danger.” Cochran has prior felony convictions for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and burglary with intent to commit larceny, according to the Department of Justice. He also has an assault conviction stemming from repeated threats to kill his spouse.
    SAN FRANCISCO — A 31-year-old Bay Area man who was one of the seven people arrested — but never charged — in the 2019 Orinda Halloween house party shootout that left five dead has been sentenced to 22 months in prison for possessing firearms in 2021, court records show. Lebraun Wallace, 31, was sentenced last month by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White. The federal felon in possession of a firearm charges were filed last December after a police search of Wallace’s Marin County home turned up a loaded Glock pistol and a privately manufactured AR-15 short-barreled rifle, more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a 50-round drum magazine, and two other large-capacity magazines, prosecutors said. Wallace was one of five people arrested in a series of November 2019 raids that followed the Halloween 2019 shooting at an AirBnB rental in Orinda, in which five people were killed, five survived gunshot wounds, and three others were hurt when they jumped from balconies or out of windows. Days after his arrest, prosecutors announced that no charges could be filed in connection with the...
    OAKLAND — A Concord man avoided federal prison after prosecutors convinced a judge he had “excelled” while on pretrial release in a custody alternative program, court records show. Chris Bezucha, 28, was arrested two years ago and charged with being a felon in possession of an AM-15 rifle. But he was released to a program in Oakland in lieu of pretrial detention. In a sentencing memo, prosecutors made the unusual move of praising Bezucha’s “particularly impressive” conduct while out of jail and asked for no additional custody time. His attorney wrote in a memo that Bezucha was struggling with drug addiction when he was arrested in 2020. Bezucha was arrested after a traffic stop that led police to search the Concord trailer where he was living and find the rifle. He wasn’t allowed to possess guns because of a prior assault conviction, records show. “You can’t go backwards at this point,” Bezucha told a probation officer, according to a defense sentencing memo. “You only get so many chances to do what I am doing here and I am not going...
    OAKLAND — A Texas man was sentenced to two years in federal prison for impersonating an attorney in an alleged scheme to sneak prescription drugs into FCI Dublin, court records show. Randy Pittman, 41, was sentenced last month by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam. Last July he pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, and prosecutors dropped three other federal charges against him. Pittman remains in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin pending transfer to the Bureau of Prisons. In October 2021, Pittman was indicted on charges that he impersonated a Florida attorney in order to communicate with a woman incarcerated at FCI Dublin, the Bay Area’s only federal women’s prison. The ruse fooled prison officials at first, but when they discovered Pittman wasn’t an attorney they began to monitor his calls with the woman, the indictment says. In August 2020, prison officials intercepted a package containing strips of Suboxone, an opiate prescription medication designed to treat opiate addiction, the indictment says. FCI Dublin is currently the subject of an ongoing, sprawling criminal and civil probe investigating systemic sex abuse of incarcerated...
    SAN FRANCISCO — A young man who allegedly led a San Francisco MS-13 clique has been sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to racketeering and assault, court records show. Evert ““Talentoso” Galdamez Cisneros, 24, was sentenced last month by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg. Galdamez Cisneros was indicted along with 16 other alleged MS-13 members in 2020, in a prosecution that accuses the gang of murders and assaults that furthered a rivalry with the Norteño gang and established drug turf for the gang. Galdamez Cisneros served as the leader of a San Francisco-based clique of the gang for approximately a year, and was present during a 2017 homicide in San Francisco, among other gang assaults. He pleaded guilty this year to assault in furtherance of racketeering, stemming from an incident when MS-13 members attacked a family of four, striking a 15-year-old and throwing his mother to the ground, because someone in the family was believed to be a  Norteño, prosecutors said. “(Galdamez Cisneros) maintained contact with leaders of the clique based in El Salvador; he collected...
    OAKLAND — A woman who owned an Emeryville tax preparation company has been sentenced to 366 days in federal prison after pleading guilty to filing a false tax return, court records show. Traci Austin, 44, of Brentwood, was sentenced Oct. 5 by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, who also ordered Austin pay back $183,303 to the IRS. Federal prosecutors charged Austin last year with filing more than 40 false tax returns and accused her of hosting an illicit “tax school” where budding tax preparers could learn that tricks of the tax fraud trade. In court records, prosecutors said Austin’s company,  Emeryville Tax Services, operated mainly in Emeryville and Berkeley and that she “willfully aided in the submission of at least 42 tax returns that contained some combination of false dependents, and false Schedule A itemized deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses” from 2016 to 2019. Prosecutors asked for an 18-month prison term. Austin’s attorney, Leeds Disston, wrote in a sentencing memo, wrote that Austin was motivated by “a desire to help her clients who were generally poor and to benefit...
    Emails, text messages, and photographs published by DailyMail.com are among a wealth of evidence that prosecutors could use at trial if Hunter Biden is charged with tax crimes and lying on gun purchase documents. The FBI believes it has enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden with failure to declare income from his foreign business deals and a failure to declare he was a drug addict on a gun application, sources told The Washington Post Thursday.  Agents told the Post they assembled enough evidence for a criminal case against the First Son 'months ago' – and the decision to charge now lies with federal prosecutors. The agents claim they have sufficient proof that Hunter failed to declare income from his overseas business dealings to the IRS. The FBI believes it has enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden with failure to declare income from his foreign business deals and a failure to declare he was a drug addict on a gun application In June, images emerged showing a naked Hunter casually waving around a gun as he fools around with a prostitute...
    BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images President Joe Biden has announced a pardon for all previous federal offenses in relation to simple marijuana possession. according to a statement he released Thursday. Biden said in the statement he will pardon anyone ever convicted of simple possession, and complained federal convictions disproportionately affect minority Americans. In a statement announcing a coming executive order, Biden said: I am announcing a pardon of all prior Federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana.  I have directed the Attorney General to develop an administrative process for the issuance of certificates of pardon to eligible individuals.  There are thousands of people who have prior Federal convictions for marijuana possession, who may be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. My action will help relieve the collateral consequences arising from these convictions. Biden said he will also urge governors to pardon people convicted of marijuana possession in their respective states. “Just as no one should be in a Federal prison solely due to the possession of marijuana, no one should be in a local jail or state prison...
    President Joe Biden's administration announced Thursday that he will pardon all Americans with prior offenses of simple marijuana possession.  Biden is also urging governors to do the same for state convictions. Additionally, Biden is having the Department of Health and Human Services and Attorney General Merrick Garland 'review expeditiously' how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.  'Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It's time that we right these wrongs,' the president said in a statement.  White House officials said more than 65,000 people would be impacted by the pardon, along with thousands under a similar D.C. law that is also part of the order. Officials also said that no one is currently in prison solely on an marijuana possession charge.   Simple marijuana possession is considered a Class A Misdemeanor that carried a $1,000 and up to a year in prison for a first-time offender. 
    by T.A. DeFeo   Proposed bipartisan federal legislation would establish independent oversight of the nation’s 122 federal prisons and require the Department of Justice’s inspector general to report its findings and recommendations publicly. The move follows a U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations probe that found the DOJ’s tally of how many people died while in custody missed hundreds of deaths over the past couple of years. The investigation found that the problems spanned many years over multiple administrations, and committee staffers said there is widespread blame for the oversight. “My 10-month bipartisan investigation of corruption, abuse, and misconduct in the Federal prison system revealed an urgent need to overhaul federal prison oversight,” U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Georgia, chair of the Senate committee, said in an announcement. The newly introduced Federal Prison Oversight Act would require the DOJ’s IG to inspect all 122 Federal Bureau of Prisons correctional facilities and provide recommendations to correct problems. Under the legislation, the IG would assign each facility a risk score and require more frequent inspections of higher-risk facilities. The measure also requires the BOP...
    A former Adelanto city councilman convicted of taking a $10,000 bribe to help open a cannabis business and also hiring someone to burn down his restaurant for an insurance payout has been sentenced to five years in federal prison. Jermaine Wright, a 46-year-old Riverside resident, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. Wright was found guilty on June 22, after a six-day trial, of bribery and attempted arson, prosecutors said. Investigators began a looking into possible corruption in the San Bernardino County city in early 2017 , according to the prosecutors. In June that year, a confidential informant introduced Wright to an undercover FBI agent who went by the name “Steve” at Wright’s restaurant, Fat Boyz Grill, in Adelanto, according to a pre-sentencing report filed by prosecutors Sept. 19. “Among other things, during that meeting Steve told defendant that Steve was interested in moving his marijuana cultivation business to Adelanto,” the report stated. “Steve also asked about the best...
    “It’s no secret that BOP has been plagued by misconduct. One investigation after another has revealed a culture of abuse, mismanagement, corruption, torture, and death that reaches to the highest levels. And yet it still operates without any meaningful independent oversight. The result has been catastrophic for both incarcerated people and staff,” Durbin said. “Our bipartisan bill addresses this lack of meaningful oversight and aims to improve the safety and accountability of our federal prison system. It is common sense legislation that I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support.” The legislation is supported by groups across the political spectrum, including the correctional officers’ union, the inmate-advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Conservative Union, and Americans for Prosperity. “Families with incarcerated loved ones for years have been calling for greater transparency, safety and accountable from our federal prisons,” FAMM President Kevin Ring said. “The bipartisan bill introduced today answers their calls.”
    by T.A. DeFeo The Department of Justice’s tally of how many people died while in custody missed hundreds of deaths over the past couple of years, a 10-month U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations probe revealed. The problems spanned many years over multiple administrations, and committee staffers said there is widespread blame for the oversight. The investigation found that changes to the methods for collecting the data and a transition of the agency within the Justice Department responsible for carrying out the act’s requirements led to the problems. The Death in Custody Reporting Act, which Congress reauthorized in 2014, requires states to report information to the attorney general every quarter about the death of anyone detained or incarcerated, including details about the cause of death and the person who died. “DOJ’s failure to implement DCRA has deprived Congress and the American public of information about who is dying in custody and why,” the report concluded. “This information is critical to improve transparency in prisons and jails, identifying trends in custodial deaths that may warrant corrective action – such as failure to...
    A three-time convicted felon who held himself out as a pastor, mortician, restaurateur, and tax preparer has admitted lying to receive COVID-19 small business assistance. Mack Devon Knight, 45, of Stonecrest, Ga., formerly of Kingsland, Ga., was sentenced to 29 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release after previously pleading guilty to two counts of Wire Fraud, said David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. In pleading guilty to the charges, Knight also agreed to pay $149,000 in restitution to the Small Business Administration. “When Congress provided more than $6.5 billion through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Security (CARES) Act to help small businesses struggling financially during the pandemic, fraudsters like Mack Knight came out of the woodwork” said U.S. Attorney Estes. “With our law enforcement partners, we are identifying and holding accountable these scam artists attempting to steal taxpayer funds.” As described in court documents and testimony, in February and March 2021, Knight applied for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) from the...
    A 43-year-old Fitchburg man will spend nearly two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges, a federal judge ruled.  Kevin Martinez was sentenced to 22 months behind bars followed by six years of supervised release for his role in a large fentanyl, heroin, crack, and cocaine trafficking operation, the US Attorney's Office for Massachusetts said.  Investigators began looking into Martinez along with Pedro Baez and Anthony Baez, both of Fitchburg, in 2018, the prosecutor said. Detectives learned during the investigation that the three men were part of a much larger enterprise, and officers and federal agents arested them and 15 others in 2020, authorities said. Martinez is the ninth one sentenced in the case.  Officers seized 1.8 kilos of a heroin and fentanyl mixture, 3.6 kilos of cocaine, and 50 grams of crack, a stolen handgun, drug-making equipment, and more than $376,000 in cash in raids and arrests linked to this drug ring, federal authorities said.  Anthony Baez is serving a 13-year sentence, and Pedro Baez will be sentenced later this year, the US Attoney's Office said. 
    Sherri Papini, the Northern California mother of two who faked her own kidnapping in 2016, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison followed by three years of probation, authorities said. The sentence was handed down in federal court after Papini pleaded guilty in April to a single count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert of the Eastern District of California said. Papini, 39, also was ordered to pay nearly $310,000 in restitution for losses incurred by the California Victim Compensation Board, the Social Security Administration, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, authorities said. Authorities said the restitution was for services she received following her arrest. Authorities said Papini received treatment for post-traumatic stress and billed the state’s victim compensation fund. According to court documents, Papini made materially false statements to the FBI about being kidnapped and committed mail fraud based on presenting herself as a kidnap victim. The lie began on Nov. 2, 2016, when Papini, then 34, disappeared reportedly while out jogging a mile from her...