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Essex County Man Pleads Guilty in Gas Station Robberies

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

NEWARK—An Essex County, New Jersey man today admitted his role in a series of gas station robberies in Elizabeth and Newark on March 8, 2011, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Lamar Sanders, 24, of Newark, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh in Newark federal court to an information charging him with three counts of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On March 8, 2011, Sanders and Abdul Muhammad robbed a Getty gas station in Newark, a Delta gas station in Newark, and a Lukoil gas station in Elizabeth. Sanders admitted to striking in the face the two gas station attendants at the Getty and Delta gas stations during the robberies. He also admitted threatening the gas station attendant at the Lukoil gas station with a firearm. During the Lukoil robbery, Sanders handed the firearm to Muhammad, who then discharged the weapon, striking the Lukoil employee. Muhammad previously pleaded guilty to three counts of Hobbs Act robbery and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He is awaiting sentencing.

The Hobbs Act robbery charge to which Sanders pleaded guilty is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The offense of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum consecutive term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. Each of these charges carries a statutory maximum fine equal to the greatest of $250,000 or twice the gross amount of any pecuniary gain by the defendant or loss by the victim.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward in Newark with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

Sentencing before Judge Cavanaugh is scheduled for September 5, 2012.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dara Aquila Govan of the General Crimes Unit in Newark.

Essex County Man Pleads Guilty in Gas Station Robberies | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Silver Spring Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Transporting Child Pornography from His Office in Virginia to His Home

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

GREENBELT, MD—Chief U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced Nestor Gualteros, age 39, of Silver Spring, Maryland, today to five years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for transporting child pornography. Judge Chasanow ordered that upon his release from prison, Gualteros must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Chief Maggie A. DeBoard of the Herndon, Virginia Police Department.

According to his plea agreement, from at least April 2009, Gualteros belonged to groups on a social networking site that was under investigation by law enforcement for the trafficking of child pornography. On August 3, 2010, Gualteros was interviewed by law enforcement and confessed to distributing and receiving child pornography, including images of prepubescent children, from his desktop computer at his place of employment in Herndon, Virginia. Gualteros also advised that he downloaded child pornography onto two flash drives that he kept hidden underneath his desk drawer at his place of employment. In December of 2009, Gualteros transported his work computer from his place of employment in Virginia to his residence in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he continued to view child pornography. The evidence showed that Gualteros distributed over 900 images to 15 different groups on the social networking site.

A forensic examination of Gualteros’ home computer revealed over 1,400 thumbnails, or previewed images, of child pornography. A search warrant was obtained to seize and search the digital media belonging to Gualteros. One flash drive contained over 11,000 images and seven videos of child pornography. One other flash drive contained over 12,000 images of child pornography. Gualteros’ place of employment in Virginia consented to a forensic review of his work computer which revealed over 800 images and three videos of child pornography.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and Herndon Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney LisaMarie Freitas, who prosecuted the case.

Silver Spring Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Transporting Child Pornography from His Office in Virginia to His Home | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Robbery of Wells Fargo Bank Branch in Ft. Lauderdale

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

The FBI is releasing photographs from a bank robbery that took place today (May 22, 2012) at approximately 2:00 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Bank branch located at 2577 E. Sunrise Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The robber entered the bank and demanded money from a bank employee. Customers were in the bank at the time of the robbery. No one was injured. Money was taken, but the amount will not be released at this time.

Photos of the suspect are below.

If anyone has information as to the identity of this bank robber, they are urged to call the FBI at (305) 944-9101 or Crimestoppers.

bank robbery suspect bank robbery suspect

Robbery of Wells Fargo Bank Branch in Ft. Lauderdale | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Handsome Guy Bandit Enters Guilty Pleas, Admits Robbing 11 Banks in Texas, and Now Faces Up to Life in Prison

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

DALLAS—Steven Ray Milam, 44, of Richardson, Texas, pleaded guilty this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée Harris Toliver to one count of brandishing a firearm during or in relation to a crime of violence and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during or in relation to a crime of violence in connection with a string of 11 bank robberies, six of those armed bank robberies, he admitted committing in Texas last year. Milam faces a maximum statutory sentence of not less than 32 years, or more than life, in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay on September 17, 2012.

Milam was given the moniker “Handsome Guy Bandit” by the FBI because of the latex mask he wore when committing the robberies.

According to plea documents filed in the case, Milam admitted robbing the following banks:

  • April 19, 2011: BBVA Compass Bank, 14852 Preston Road, Dallas
  • May 2, 2011 Bank of America, 7300 North MacArthur Blvd., Irving, Texas
  • May 13, 2011 Wells Fargo Bank, 17088 Preston Road, Dallas
  • May 17, 2011 First National Bank, 1300 Preston Road, Plano, Texas
  • June 11, 2011 American National Bank, 1101 E. Plano Parkway, Plano, Texas
  • July 14, 2011 First Community Bank, 1755 North Collins Road, Richardson, Texas
  • August 30, 2011 Patriot Bank, 9545 Katy Freeway, Hedwig Village, Texas
  • September 12, 2011 Wells Fargo Bank, 5219 Richman Avenue, Houston, Texas
  • September 29, 2011 Prosperity Bank, 5919 Forrest Lane, Dallas
  • November 22, 2011 BB&T Bank, 11800 Preston Road, Dallas
  • December 31, 2011 BBVA Compass Bank, 1401 Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas

During the last bank robbery, on December 31, 2011, Milam entered the bank wearing a mask, black frame glasses, a blue warm-up suit, a white ball cap, latex gloves, and was and holding a clear bag and carrying a black semi-automatic handgun. He approached the teller, displayed the gun and demanded money. He then forced the employees and customers into the vault at gun point and told the bank manager to empty the teller drawers, stating, “No dye packs or trackers. I’ll kill you if you put them in the bag.” Milam then forced the employees and customers into the bathroom, told them to count to 500, and said not contact the police.

Police officers intercepted Milam walking away from the bank after the robbery, and when they approached him in their vehicles, he pointed the gun at them. He fired one round at the officer’s squad car, hitting the driver’s side front windshield just above the inspection sticker, causing the glass to shatter over the officer’s head and shoulders. The officers retreated, and Milam shot two more times striking the driver’s door and the back left passenger door of the squad car. He fled on foot, discarding his gun, mask, keys, clothes, and money. He ran to his home in Richardson, packed clothes, and drove to Austin, spending that night in Austin.

The following day, while en route to Florida, he was spotted in Mississippi. Officers attempted to apprehend him, but Milam refused to pull over and a high-speed chase ensued. Milam almost struck several vehicles in the process of escaping and officers shut down portions of the highway in order to deploy road spikes. Milam took evasive maneuvers to avoid the spikes. As a last resort, the local Mississippi sheriff pulled up beside Milam and shot out his back tire, disabling his car and allowing law enforcement to take him into custody.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, in conjunction with the Richardson Police Department and the Dallas Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon McCarthy and Keith Robinson.

Handsome Guy Bandit Enters Guilty Pleas, Admits Robbing 11 Banks in Texas, and Now Faces Up to Life in Prison | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Long Prison Terms for Convicted Drug Traffickers

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

Tony Granado, 68, of El Paso, Texas, and Richard Moquete, 35, of Philadelphia, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a cocaine trafficking operation that brought at least 1,500 kilograms of cocaine to the streets of Philadelphia, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Granado was sentenced today to 360 months in prison; Moquete was sentenced yesterday to 324 months in prison. The two were convicted at trial in January of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and distribution of five kilograms or more of cocaine.

As the evidence in the trial revealed, Moquete was selling cocaine for a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization and was the organization’s only cocaine distributor in Philadelphia. He was was personally responsible for the distribution of hundreds, if not thousands, of kilograms of cocaine and the return of millions of dollars in cocaine proceeds. Granado was intimately involved in the operations of the Mexican-based cocaine trafficking organization and, by his own admission, recruited numerous truck drivers for various individuals in El Paso, Texas who were responsible for the transportation of the cocaine that was sent from Mexico. One of those truck drivers, Peter Singh, took numerous trips for Granado to deliver cocaine to Philadelphia and Dayton, Ohio. On the last trip before his arrest on July 14, 2006, Singh had almost 14 kilograms of cocaine and $831,880 cash hidden in his tractor. Granado met Singh before each trip and gave him the cocaine, including the cocaine that was seized on July 14, 2006.

Granado also flew to New York to help facilitate cocaine sales by introducing the organization to a customer, overseeing the sales, overseeing the money pickup, and helping transport the money back to Texas. The evidence at trial demonstrated quite clearly that Granado was personally responsible for the distribution of hundreds, if not thousands, of kilograms of cocaine and his co-conspirators were responsible for the distribution of additional thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

As the trial evidence showed, defendant Moquete was selling cocaine for a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization and would typically meet members of the organization at a home he owned at 6308 Jackson Street in Philadelphia. Moquete would pay for the cocaine on a rolling basis by providing hundreds of thousands of dollars cash at a time and where he would also usually take delivery of the cocaine. The trial jury heard testimony from witnesses who personally delivered cocaine to and picked up money from Moquete. Evidence included surveillance, both visual and video, of defendant Moquete meeting with members of the organization and handing over duffel bags. It included GPS evidence showing defendant Moquete’s vehicles at 6308 Jackson Street as the same time as vehicles driven by co-conspirators. It included a recorded conversation between defendant Moquete and the informant in which defendant Moquete quite clearly discussed his cocaine trafficking and the money he was paying for the cocaine.

In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond ordered 10 years’ supervised release and a $300 special assessment for Granado, and five years’ supervised release and a $500 special assessment for Moquete.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Philadelphia Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael S. Lowe and Sozi P. Tulante.

Long Prison Terms for Convicted Drug Traffickers | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Indicted Rep. Smith catching a breather, for now

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

By Andrew Thomason | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — Indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith will likely get a respite from his Housecolleagues through the end of the Legislature’s spring session.

Several members of the House Special Investigative Committee looking into federal bribery allegations against the Chicago Democrat said chances of the committee meeting before the spring session ends May 31 are slim.

“As you can imagine, things are a little hectic around here right now,” said state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, chairwoman of the investigative committee. ”My time is very limited by the whole pension thing. Everyone else’s time is taken up by the end-of-session crunch.”

Nekritz is also part of a group of legislators negotiating cost-saving changes to the Illinois public pension system, which is facing a $83 billion unfunded liability.

In fact, Smith has been busy taking advantage of a legislative perk that’s about to expire.

Gov. Pat Quinn said in a news release he would sign the bill abolishing the century-old program.

Scholarships handed out before Sept. 1 won’t be revoked, according to the legislation.

State Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, a member of the investigative committee, called Smith’s awarding of the scholarships “very troubling.” Despite Smith’s actions, she said, the committee must be careful about setting a precedent for investigating and possibly disciplining a member who has been charged, but not convicted, of a crime.

“We have to move cautionary. It’s a little bit of uncharted territory,” Tracy said.

But Nekritz said the committee would be meeting sooner, rather than later. She didn’t offer specifics.

Smith’s attorney, Victor Henderson of Henderson Adam LLC in Chicago, told the committee two weeks ago the representative was due back in court May 30 to ask the federal government to release the full recordings being used against Smith, instead of taped snippets. Henderson said at the hearing that the full recordings would vindicate Smith.

Calls to Henderson’s office for this story were not returned.

Smith won a primary election earlier this year for the House District 10 after his arrest, and is still on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election. Democrats have formed the Unity Party to challenge Smith in the November election and narrowed a field eight potential candidates Tuesday to Lance Tyson, Melissa Conyears and Eddie White.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

Indicted Rep. Smith catching a breather, for now | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Humidity apparent cause of ballot problems during Illinois’ March primary

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — Unusually high humidity may be to blame for problems with paper ballots throughout Illinois during the primary election March 20, state election officials said Tuesday.

The state experienced record-setting temperatures and unseasonably high humidity the day of the primary, apparently affecting the “hydroexpansivity” — the tendency of paper to expand when it absorbs moisture — of the paper ballots and rendering them difficult or impossible to feed into the ballot scanners at some precincts. The moisture caused the dimensions of the ballot to expand and be off slightly.

“It is possible that the problem ballots were just so close to the limits of the acceptable width tolerance that the additional humidity alone was enough to put them out of tolerance,” according to a report by State Board of Elections officials who investigated the matter.

In all, 26 Illinois voting jurisdictions had problems with the ballots. Some had just a few ballots that would not feed into the scanner, while at least one had difficulty with all of its ballots. Election judges chose to either trim the edges of the ballots so they would fit into the scanners or to remake the ballots on proper-width ballot stock.

Many of the problems occurred in Winnebago County in northern Illinois, suburban DuPage County outside Chicago and Macoupin County in central Illinois, according to elections officials.

Investigators also looked at other possible explanations for the ballot problems, including how and where the ballots were stored beforehand, as well as the weight, thickness, grain and type of paper used. Humidity levels were a common denominator across the state.

A check of climate figures for the day show temperatures about 11 a.m. across the state were in the mid 60s and got warmer as the day went on. Humidity levels about 11 a.m. ranged from the low 60s to upper 70s across the state – 78 percent in suburban Aurora, 73 percent in Springfield and Decatur, 68 percent in Rockford and the metro-east, and 63 percent in suburban Wheaton.

Members of the board of elections, during a meeting Tuesday, declined to spend $5,000 to further investigate what happened in March but did vote in favor of taking steps to try to alleviate the problem, should it happen again. Among their recommendations are that election authorities store ballots in climate-controlled areas, that the ballots are printed with cut marks to make them easier to trim should the need arise, and that each election authority be provided the most up-to-date manufacturer’s manuals for their voting systems.

Macon County Clerk Stephen Bean said officials are lucky the problems occurred during a low-voter-turnout election. He said election judges in five jurisdictions there had issues with the ballots, but they were able to use touch-screen voting to supplement when they ran into difficulties.

“I think the humidity did a lot to it,” he said.

Jayette Bolinski can be reached at jayette.bolinski@franklincenterhq.org.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

Humidity apparent cause of ballot problems during Illinois’ March primary | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Debating the risks and benefits of Starved Rock sand mine

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:39 PM PDT

By Anthony Brino | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — Whether a sand mine should be permitted next to Starved Rock State Park, one of Illinois’ most unique natural areas, is the backdrop of a debate between business and environmental interests.

Midwest sand has become increasingly vital to America’s booming oil and gas industry, used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing. The proposed 80-acre sand mine could be worth around $600 million over 10 years, said Tony Giordano, president of the Missouri-based Mississippi Sand LLC.

But environmental groups say the project would bring air and noise pollution and truck traffic and could disrupt the stream systems that flow through the park. The sandstone that the company would mine is part of the same rock formation that outcrops along the Illinois River, forming dramatic waterfalls and drawing millions of visitors each year.

Giordano said the company will build a natural border around the site, near Route 71, before mining starts. As the company excavates the soil and rock above the sand, it will build hills around the site and plant native shrubs and trees.

“You will not see any other industrial users doing that,” said Giordano.

Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club Illinois chapter, said his group is open to seeing what kinds of safeguards Mississippi Sands proposes in its permits.

But “I think there are places where it’s appropriate to mine sand,” he said. “Next to Starved Rock isn’t one of them.”

Giordano admitted to the anticipated truck traffic and the erosion and stormwater runoff that would occur when the sand is washed with water. But in a decade or more, the area will naturally fill with water and become a lake.

Giordano said the project will bring about 60 jobs and tax revenue for the local government.

Starved Rock State Park is about 80 miles southwest of Chicago in LaSalle County, where the county board approved the mine in January.

The company is seeking permits from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

Debating the risks and benefits of Starved Rock sand mine | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Plan to modernize current eavesdropping law passes House

Posted: 22 May 2012 09:38 PM PDT

May 22, 2012

By Stephanie Fryer | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House approved a proposal Tuesday allowing people to audibly record police officers in public places.

Senate Bill 1808 passed with a 71-45 vote, weeks after a previous bill to modernize Illinois’ Eavesdropping Act failed. The proposal now heads back to the Senate for approval.

Law enforcement officials, who opposed the original measure, said they feared people would tamper with recordings and use them against officers.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, who sponsored both bills, said under the current proposal, anyone who alters a recording and tries to use it as evidence of misconduct against law enforcement would be referred to the state’s attorney.
State Rep. Scott Penny, D-Belleville, has worked in law enforcement for 35 years. “We as police officers are sometimes slow to embrace change, but everywhere I go we are videotaping with our telephones and electronic devices,” he said.

Current law allows people to videotape officers in public places, but making an audio recording without the consent of both parties is a felony.

Illinois’ eavesdropping law recently came under fire after people were charged with recording police officers suspected of wrongdoing without their consent. In three of those cases, the law was declared unconstitutional.

State Rep. Dena Carli, D-Chicago, opposed the revised bill, saying she fears people may get too close to dangerous situations to get audible sound.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

Plan to modernize current eavesdropping law passes House | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


San Antonio Man Arrested for Wire Fraud Related to Theft from Border Patrol Union

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

LAREDO, TX—Pedro Palacios, 36, of San Antonio, Texas, has been arrested on charges of wire fraud arising from his alleged theft of blank checks from the Border Patrol Union Council (BPUC) Local 2455, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

The indictment, returned under seal Thursday, May 8, 2012, was unsealed after he was taken into custody late last week. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Scott Hacker on Friday, at which time he was ordered into custody pending his detention hearing, set for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.

The indictment alleges Palacios stole checks from the BPUC treasurer, his father-in-law, and fraudulently forged that person’s signature. Palacios allegedly deposited 63 checks totaling $225,385 into his personal account between July 23, 2011 and November 29, 2011.

This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D.J. Young.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

San Antonio Man Arrested for Wire Fraud Related to Theft from Border Patrol Union | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Wood River Man Sentenced for Failure to Reigster as a Sex Offender

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

A Wood River man, John David Allen, 22, was sentenced to the maximum term of 10 years’ imprisonment in United States District Court, East St. Louis for failure to register as a sex offender, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Allen was also sentenced to five years’ supervised release to follow imprisonment, a $100 fine, and a $100 special assessment. There is no parole in the federal system. Allen has been in custody since his arrest on September 21, 2011.

According to court documents, on December 20, 2010, Allen was convicted of a sex crime in Madison County, Illinois, which required him to register as a sex offender. On August 29, 2011, he signed and dated an Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act Registration Form explaining the registration requirements and acknowledging his understanding of them. That form also clearly notified Allen that he must register again on or before September 5, 2011. Allen failed to register with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department or any other law enforcement agency on September 5, 2011 or thereafter. A warrant for Allen’s arrest was issued by a Madison County Court on September 19, 2011. On September 21, 2011, Allen was located and arrested in the state of Colorado, where he had traveled via automobile from Madison County, Illinois with a 15-year-old girl, who had been reported missing on September 14, 2011.

The case was investigated by the United States Marshals Service and the FBI. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kit Morrissey.

Wood River Man Sentenced for Failure to Reigster as a Sex Offender | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Bakersfield Teacher Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Pornography

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

FRESNO, CA—Michael Scott Cooper, 43, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty today to possession of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to the plea agreement, Cooper possessed images and videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Cooper possessed the child pornography on his computer, and many of the images depicted prepubescent minors.

Cooper was a teacher at Loudan Elementary School in Bakersfield. He was arrested on October 7, 2010. He has been out of custody on electronic monitoring with various restrictions, including access to children, computers, and the Internet. Cooper was immediately taken into the custody upon entry of his guilty plea today.

Cooper is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on July 30, 2012. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and a lifetime term of supervised release. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bakersfield Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.

Bakersfield Teacher Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Pornography | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 10 Additional Long Island Railroad Retirees for Participating in Massive Disability Fraud Scheme

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Martin J. Dickman, Inspector General of the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB-OIG); Janice K. Fedarcyk, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Barry L. Kluger, Inspector General of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA-OIG), announced charges today against 10 additional participants in a massive fraud scheme in which Long Island Railroad (LIRR) workers allegedly claimed to be disabled upon early retirement so that they could receive disability benefits to which they were not entitled. All 10 individuals—Brian Delgiorno, Philip Pulsonetti, Gregory Bianchini Franklin Plaia, Michael Stavola, Michael Dasaro, Karl Brittell, Kevin Nugent, Gary Supper, and Thomas Delalla—are LIRR retirees who allegedly made fraudulent benefit claims. In combination with the 11 people who were previously charged in connection with this scheme in October 2011, this brings the total number of individuals charged to date to 21. They include two doctors and an office manager for one of the doctors who were allegedly involved in falsely diagnosing retiring LIRR workers as disabled, two “facilitators” who allegedly served as liaisons between retiring workers and the participating doctors, and 17 LIRR retirees, one of whom was also charged as a facilitator.

Mr. Bharara, Karl Blank, General Counsel of the RRB, and Helena E. Williams, President of the LIRR, also announced today the creation of a voluntary disclosure and disposition program, in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office will agree not to criminally prosecute or file a civil action against any LIRR retiree who, in accordance with the program’s schedule, voluntarily discloses that he or she made false and/or misleading statements to obtain RRB disability benefits and gives up his or her right to continue receiving RRB disability benefits.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The LIRR is a commuter railroad, not a gravy train. Today we have criminally charged 10 more LIRR workers who planned padded retirements built on lies and greed, as the indictment describes. Twenty-one individuals—LIRR workers, doctors, and intermediaries—now stand indicted, and the investigation is ongoing. Separately, given the sheer scale of the alleged fraud and in order to quickly relieve the RRB’s multi-hundred-million-dollar disability payment obligations, for a limited time, others have the opportunity to participate in a voluntary disclosure and disposition program to avoid prosecution and civil action. I urge any participants in this alleged fraud to come forward and resolve their situations through the program rather than through prosecution.”

RRB-OIG Inspector General Martin J. Dickman said, “I would like to thank the dedicated professionals from my office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their assiduous attention to the complexities of this ongoing investigation. Today’s arrests are a testament to the potent impact of cooperative law enforcement and serve as a warning that fraud will not be tolerated. Through our continued partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will continue to aggressively pursue individuals who have submitted false information to the Railroad Retirement Board.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk said, “Last October, when we carried out the first round of arrests in this investigation, we encouraged other fraudulent disability pensioners to come forward. We said then that if we didn’t hear from them, they would likely hear from us. That was not an idle threat then, and it is not now. If you are culpable in this fraud, the voluntary disclosure program announced today is certainly a better choice than crossing your fingers and hoping we don’t find you.”

MTA-OIG Inspector General Barry L. Kluger said, “”I wish to thank U.S. Attorney Bharara, his staff, and our other partners in this ongoing investigation and prosecution, for their dedication to combating pension fraud. The Voluntary Disclosure Program jointly announced today by the U.S. Attorney, the Long Island Railroad, and the federal Railroad Retirement Board is a fair but limited opportunity, in the public interest, for individuals who fraudulently obtained federal disability pensions to come forward, admit their wrongdoing, and thereby avoid the harsh reality of arrest and criminal prosecution. We strongly advise all such individuals to do so now before their time runs out.”

The LIRR Disability Fraud Scheme

The following allegations are based on the complaint, the superseding indictment unsealed today, and statements made in open court:

The RRB is an independent U.S. agency that administers benefit programs, including disability benefits, for the nation’s railroad workers and their families. A unique LIRR contract allows employees to retire at the relatively young age of 50 if they have been employed by the LIRR for at least 20 years. It is the only commuter railroad in the United States that offers a retirement pension at that age. Eligible employees are entitled to receive a LIRR pension, which is a portion of the full retirement payment for which they are eligible at 65. At 65, they also receive an RRB pension. If an LIRR worker retires at 50, he or she will receive less than their prior salary and substantially lower pension payments than those to which they will be entitled at 65. However, an LIRR employee who retires and claims disability may receive a disability payment from the RRB on top of their LIRR pension, regardless of age. A retiree’s LIRR pension, in combination with RRB disability payments, can be roughly equivalent to the base salary earned during his or her career.

Hundreds of LIRR employees have exploited the overlap between the LIRR pension and the RRB disability program by pre-planning the date on which they would falsely declare themselves disabled so that it would coincide with their projected retirement date. These false statements, made under oath in disability applications, allowed LIRR employees to retire as early as age 50 with an LIRR pension, supplemented by the fraudulently obtained RRB disability annuity. From 2004 through 2008, 61 percent of LIRR employees who claimed an RRB benefit were between the ages of 50 and 55, and each received a disability award. In contrast, only 7 percent of employees at Metro-North who stopped working and received disability benefits during the same time period were between the ages of 50 and 55.

Three New York-area doctors accounted for 86 percent of the LIRR disability applications filed prior to 2008: Peter J. Ajemian, Peter Lesniewski, and a third unnamed doctor (Disability Doctor-3), who is recently deceased. Ajemian, with the assistance of his office manager, Maria Rusin, and Lesniewski used their respective medical practices as “disability mills,” preparing fraudulent medical narratives for LIRR retirees well before the employees’ planned retirement dates so that the narratives could be submitted to the RRB upon retirement. These medical narratives were fabricated or grossly exaggerated in order to recommend a set of restrictions that, if legitimate, would render it impossible for the LIRR employees to continue in their occupations. Many of the purportedly “objective” findings from the tests they conducted showed nothing more than normal degenerative changes one would expect to see in patients within the relevant age bracket.

Hundreds of LIRR workers schemed to defraud the RRB in this manner, assisted by both the doctors, as well as “facilitators” who referred LIRR workers to the disability doctors, filled out applications on their behalf, and assisted and coached them to fill out their disability applications in such a way as to maximize the likelihood that they would receive disability benefits. As charged in today’s superseding indictment, Brian Delgiorno, Philip Pulsonetti, Gregory Bianchini, Franklin Plaia, Michael Stavola, Michael Dasaro, Karl Brittell, Kevin Nugent, Gary Supper, and Thomas Delalla are some of the LIRR workers who engaged in the charged disability fraud scheme.

The Voluntary Disclosure and Disposition Program

In order to address the massive LIRR fraud as efficiently and effectively as possible and to expedite a resolution that will protect the federal government from ongoing financial harm, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the RRB and the LIRR, today announce a voluntary disclosure and disposition program. Under the program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will agree not to prosecute or file a civil action against any LIRR retiree who voluntarily comes forward and admits that he or she obtained RRB disability benefits by making false and/or misleading statements to the RRB and agrees to give up his or her right to certain RRB disability benefits. In addition, the RRB will agree not to commence any administrative proceedings seeking the repayment of any disability benefits that are the subject of this program, and the LIRR will agree not to seek forfeiture of LIRR Company Pension Plan(s) benefits.

RRB General Counsel Karl Blank said, “The RRB endorses any efforts to identify and prevent benefit fraud and abuse. Toward that end we welcome the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

LIRR President Helena E. Williams said, “This is an important opportunity for any LIRR retiree who engaged in fraudulent activity with regard to filing for a federal disability pension to come forward, accept responsibility, avoid prosecution, and avoid the potential loss of LIRR company pension benefits. We urge those involved to carefully consider this offer. These federal pension benefits—administered by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board—must be reserved for those who are truly disabled.”

How the Voluntary Disclosure and Disposition Program Works

Application materials will start being mailed today to LIRR retirees who are receiving RRB disability benefits. There will then be two phases to the program—the “Early Version” and the “Standard Version.” Under the Early Version, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will agree not to prosecute, or file a civil action against, any LIRR retiree who discloses that he or she made false and/or misleading statements to obtain RRB disability benefits and agrees to give up his or her right to all future RRB disability benefits they would receive as a result of the fraud. The deadline for participation in the Early Version of the program is July 6, 2012. Under the Standard Version, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will agree not to prosecute, or file a civil action against, any LIRR retiree who discloses that he or she made false and/or misleading statements to obtain RRB disability benefits, gives up his or her right to all future RRB disability benefits he or she would receive as a result of the fraud, and agrees to return 50 percent of the RRB disability benefits he or she has already received. The deadline for participation in the Standard Version of the program is August 10, 2012. Any retiree who does not participate in either program and whom the government determines has engaged in fraud will remain subject to criminal prosecution and civil action.

Given the scope of this alleged fraud—there are over 1,500 retirees who took early retirement and are receiving RRB disability benefits—this innovative and comprehensive program was created to (1) prevent further payments by the RRB that are the result of fraud; (2) recover as much money as possible as quickly as possible for the RRB; (3) allow retirees to take responsibility for their actions; and (4) avoid costly and protracted litigation. This program could save the RRB tens of millions of dollars.

***

A chart setting forth the age of each defendant, the charges against each defendant, and the maximum term of imprisonment faced by each defendant is attached.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the RRB-OIG, the FBI, and the MTA-OIG for their outstanding work in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing. He also acknowledged the previous investigation conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office into these pension fraud issues.

The Office’s Complex Frauds Unit is handling the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin S. Weddle, E. Danya Perry and Daniel B. Tehrani are in charge of the prosecution.

Peter J. Ajemian, Peter Lesniewski, Maria Rusin, Marie Baran, Joseph Rutigliano, Joseph Rutigliano, Gregory Noone, Regina Walsh, Sharon Falloon, Gary Satin, Steven Gagliano, and Richard Ehrlinger were previously charged in this case. The charges against them remain pending and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The charges contained in the superseding indictment against the 10 additional defendants charged today are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against 10 Additional Long Island Railroad Retirees for Participating in Massive Disability Fraud Scheme | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Houston Businessman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Fraud

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

HOUSTON—A Houston businessman has been sentenced for conspiring to commit wire fraud, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. James Roland Dial, 56, of Houston, just landed a five-year-term of imprisonment at a hearing that concluded moments ago in Houston.

Dial pleaded guilty to the offense on March 4, 2011, admitting he conspired with Evan “Nick” Jarvis, 39, of Magnolia, Texas; and Alex Ellerman, 36, of Chicago, to enrich themselves between 2004 and 2007 by artificially inflating the stock price of a publicly traded company called Grifco International Inc. (Grifco). Grifco manufactured oil field drilling equipment, and Dial was Grifco’s CEO. Dial admitted knowing that Grifco issued a press release to the public on March 3, 2005 containing false information about Grifco’s revenue and net income and that he willfully and knowingly profited from the false press release by selling Grifco stock to the public at an inflated price. The stock ultimately became worthless.

Approximately 300 investors who had purchased Grifco stock submitted impact statements to the court for consideration at Dial’s sentencing today. Several victims noted they had lost their life savings because of the fraud. Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who accepted the guilty plea and presided over the hearing today, handed Dial a five-year prison sentence, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Hittner also ordered Dial to pay restitution to his victims. A hearing to determine the amount of such restitution will be held within the next 90 days.

Jarvis and Ellerman pleaded guilty to conspiring with Dial and will be sentenced on June 1, 2012. Jarvis had been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing but was taken into custody on May 3, 2012 for violating conditions of his bond, where he will now remain. Ellerman has been in custody since April 20, 2010 when he was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport upon returning to the United States after a lengthy stay in Panama.

The two-year investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, with the assistance of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has conducted a parallel investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney John R. Lewis is prosecuting the case.

Houston Businessman Sentenced to Federal Prison for Fraud | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Three Ñetas Gang Members Charged with Murdering Two 17-Year-Old Rival Gang Members

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:03 PM PDT

A two-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, charging three alleged members of the Ñetas street gang—Luis Benitez, also known as “Lae”; Alvaro Cabral, also known as “Boobie”; and Jason Cabral, also known as “J-Live”—with the 2004 murders of Anthony Marcano and Fabian Mestres. All three defendants are in custody. Benitez will be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle at the U.S. Courthouse at 100 Federal Plaza in Central Islip, New York. Alvaro and Jason Cabral were arrested today in Tampa, Florida and will be arraigned in the Middle District of Florida. The case is assigned to United States District Court Judge Joanna Seybert.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.

According to the indictment and a detention letter filed today, the defendants were all members of the Ñetas and targeted one of the victims, Anthony Marcano, because of his affiliation with a rival gang, the Latin Kings. On August 10, 2004, at the direction of Jason Cabral, the leader of gang, the defendants devised a plan to rob and kill 17-year-old Marcano. As part of the plan, the defendants lured Marcano to a house in Brentwood. Marcano arrived at that house with 17-year-old Fabian Mestres, a fellow “Pee Wee” member of the Latin Kings street gang. Once inside the house, Marcano and Mestres were restrained with duct tape and their drugs, money. and jewelry were stolen. The victims were stuffed into the trunk of a car and taken to another location where Benitez, with the assistance of Alvaro Cabral, shot them with a shotgun. Mestres was shot once in the head, and Marcano was shot once in the head and once in the back of the neck. Marcano’s and Mestres’ bodies were found behind a warehouse in Queens the following day.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, or possibly the death penalty, on each of the two counts.

“These charges are particularly heinous because they involve the senseless murder of two adolescents,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “The passage of time in no way will lessen our commitment to ensuring that justice is served.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Suffolk County Police Department, the Tampa Division of the FBI, and United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation. Ms. Lynch added that the government’s investigation is continuing.

FBI Assistant Director in -Charge Fedarcyk stated, “The murders of two teenagers are another example of the ruthless and senseless violence wrought by gangs. While we continue to work with community leaders, educators, and others to break this cycle of violence, we will also continue to identify, arrest, and prosecute gang members who commit crimes.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann and Christopher Caffarone.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Three Ñetas Gang Members Charged with Murdering Two 17-Year-Old Rival Gang Members | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement action with Guaranty Bancorp and Guaranty Bank and Trust Company

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:02 PM PDT

Release Date: May 22, 2012

For immediate release

The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced the termination of the enforcement action listed below:

Guaranty Bancorp and Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, both of Denver, Colorado
Written Agreement dated January 22, 2010
Terminated May 16, 2012

Search of Federal Reserve enforcement actions.

For media inquiries, call 202-452-2955.

Federal Reserve Board announces termination of enforcement action with Guaranty Bancorp and Guaranty Bank and Trust Company | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Minutes of Board discount rate meetings from April 2 through April 23, 2012

Posted: 22 May 2012 12:02 PM PDT

Release Date: May 22, 2012

For immediate release

The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday released the minutes of its discount rate meetings for April 2 and April 23, 2012.

The minutes are attached.

For media inquiries, call 202-452-2955.

Attachment (12 KB PDF)

Minutes of Board discount rate meetings from April 2 through April 23, 2012 | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


IL lawmakers vote to end scholarship program

Posted: 22 May 2012 02:25 AM PDT

May 21, 2012

By Stephanie Fryer | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Monday to abolish a century-old legislative scholarship program blighted by lawmaker abuse.

The bill killing the General Assembly Legislative Scholarship Program, which allowed lawmakers to give full scholarships for state universities to students, as long as the students lived in the awarding lawmaker’s district, now awaits Gov. Pat Quinn‘s signature.

“There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois. As I have repeatedly advocated — scholarships, paid for by Illinois taxpayers — should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need,” Quinn said in an emailed statement. “Abolishing this program is the right thing to do.”

The House voted 79-32 to end the program.

Legislators who opposed ending the program said cutting it was a disservice to students who rely on the waivers to afford college.

“This is a red herring of the worst type. This bill is a sham,” state Rep. Jim Sacia, R-Freeport, said.
House Bill 3810 also sets up a task force to investigate all university waivers, which total $365 million, distributed statewide each year.

According to published reports, Illinois’ legislative scholarship program was established in 1909 and enabled the state’s 177 lawmakers to give tuition waivers to as many as eight students each year for any state public university.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

IL lawmakers vote to end scholarship program | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


Senate looks to raid funds to pay old bills

Posted: 22 May 2012 02:25 AM PDT

By Andrew Thomason | Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD – In order to pay down overdue bills, Illinois Senate Democrats want to siphon cash from special funds that support myriad projects — including Boy and Girl Scouts, tourism, energy assistance and transit development.

The fund raids are part of a broader budget crafted by Senate Democrats, which was approved in part by a senate committee Monday night. The proposal wants to use $403 million from more than 500 special funds to pay down $8.5 billion in overdue bills the state owes vendors and schools.

Senate Democrats project $1.9 billion in special funds will go unspent by the end of fiscal year 2013.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, is carrying several pieces of legislation that make up the Senate Democrats budget. She said the raids would be a one-time event and said the state would not reimburse the funds.

Targeted special funds include:

  • Autism Awareness Fund
  • Boy Scout and Girl Scout Fund
  • Coal Mining Regulatory Fund
  • Drug Treatment Fund
  • Insurance Financial Regulation Fund
  • Military Affairs Trust
  • Pesticide Control Fund
  • Real Estate License Administration Fund
  • Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Fund
“We found other dollars, we found this, for lack of a better word, these stashes of money,” state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, said Monday evening.

Senate Republicans attacked the Democrats’ for spending more than the $33.7 billion revenue estimate the General Assembly agreed to budget by earlier this spring.

State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, said spending more than $33.7 billion would put the legislature on track to maintain last year’s income tax increase when it sunsets in 2014.
An Illinois Supreme Court ruling last year paved the way for the Senate Democrats’ plan. In that case, the court considered the legality of the legislature’s 2004 sweep of $1.2 million from the Cycle Rider Safety Training Fund. The fund is supported by a percentage of motorcycle registration fees and funds motorcycle training courses around the state.

The Supreme Court ruled that all money paid to state funds may be used at the state’s discretion regardless of the fund’s purpose.

The pain isn’t over for the Cycle Rider Safety Training Fund: Senate Democrats said they may tap it again this year.

Originally reported by Illinois Statehouse News. Read the original article here.

Senate looks to raid funds to pay old bills | Chicago Press Release Services – Chicago’s leading press release newswire service; professional press release services, press release distribution and newswire services.


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