Topic: U.S. Attorney’s Office
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November 26, 2013 at 10:06 AM
A Nevada man arrested in July near the University of Washington with six Molotov cocktails and maps of three college campuses pleaded guilty this morning to possession of a destructive device, possession of a stolen firearm and transportation of a stolen vehicle.
Justin Jasper, 22, entered his plea during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Each criminal court carries the same penalty: Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20 before U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez
According to federal prosecutors, Jasper came to Washington to “argue with some legislators” while driving a stolen pickup with two unloaded firearms and a half-dozen Molotov cocktails in the bed of the truck.
Also in the truck were a machete, military-grade body armor along with the maps of three Seattle-area college campuses, said prosecutors.
The truck, firearms and body armor were taken from a Montana long-haul trucker who had given Jasper a ride after meeting him at a truck stop in Jerome, Idaho, a month before his arrest.
The trucker, Erik Henderson, told The Seattle Times he let Jasper stay in his home after meeting him. Henderson said the body armor was his from when he was a contract convoy trucker in Iraq. The guns were hunting weapons, he said.
Henderson said Jasper described himself as an “anarchist.” Jasper had a long list of gripes about topics ranging from the chemical industry to genetically altered foods to voting rights, according to Henderson.
Henderson discovered his pickup, guns and body armor missing July 2 after returning home from 11 days on the road. Jasper, he said, had left a message saying he was driving to Seattle to “argue with some legislators about some issues he was upset at.”
Jasper was first noticed by University of Washington police on July 2 when officers found him sleeping in the back of the pickup not far from Mary Gates Drive, near the northeast corner of the campus. He was released after officers warned him about camping in public and checked up on him for warrants, but turned up nothing.
The next day, UW police dispatchers got a “delayed hit” on the truck as being stolen, along with firearms, from Montana. Just before 10:30 that night, two other UW officers spotted the truck on Montlake Boulevard Northeast. After calling for backup, the officers conducted a high-risk stop and arrested Jasper.
The Molotov cocktails were found under a blanket in the back of the pickup next to the body armor. They were described as beer bottles containing a wick and gasoline.
Jasper, appearing scruffy and a little confused, at first appearing not to understand that by pleading guilty he would be giving up his right to a trial. He said he wanted to be sure he had a chance to speak, and was mollified when U.S. Magistrict Judge Mary Alice Theiler assured him that the sentencing judge would appreciate and encourage anything he had to say during the sentencing hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg read a statement of the facts of the case into the court record, including the allegations that Jasper had taken the truck, body armor and vest without permission. “That all sounds correct,” he said.
November 4, 2013 at 1:12 PM
A 34-year-old Marysville woman pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to unlawful dealing in firearms, being a felon in possession of a firearm and distribution of methamphetamine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Heather Chancey, also known as Heather Slater, was leader of four people indicted in July by federal prosecutors for allegedly dealing in firearms. The indictment alleges the group illegally sold more than 50 firearms to an undercover investigator, with many of the transactions occurring in the parking lot of the Tulalip Resort Casino.
According to the indictment, Chancey is prohibited from owning weapons because of a 2001 conviction for possession of methamphetamine.
Chancey is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3
October 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM
Two owners and managers of crime-plagued Tukwila motels pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to maintain drug-involved premises, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In their plea agreements, Jaspal Singh, 37, and Kulwinder Saroya, 42, both of SeaTac, admitted they profited from drug dealing they allowed at the Travelers Choice Motel and Great Bear Motor Inn, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Singh and Saroya admitted they would collect or would direct their staff to collect a $10 entry fee for people who came to their motels seeking drugs or sexual services. The men would take the money and direct the customer to rooms to purchase drugs or sex.
Under the plea agreement, Singh and Saroya agreed to forfeit the two motels, their home in SeaTac, more than $265,000 seized from their home and bank accounts and a 2007 Mercedes-Benz.
Last week, the manager of a third Tukwila motel, The Boulevard Motel, also pleaded guilty to maintaining a drug-involved premises. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lakhvir Pawar, 41, of Burien, will forfeit his interest in the motel and about $90,000 seized in August when the motel and the two others were raided and shut down by federal authorities.
A federal criminal complaint unsealed after the raids charged the three men with distribution and attempted distribution of crack cocaine. According to the charges, a paid undercover informant purchased cocaine in deals set up with motel residents by the motel managers.
Tukwila police said that during the past two years, the motels — within two blocks of one another — accounted for nearly one in six calls for service to the police department. The motels have been the scenes of rapes, assaults, drug dealing, prostitution and at least three overdose deaths in recent years, according to court documents.
“Since we shut these motels, the number of police calls to the immediate area has dropped by one-third,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said today in a news release.
October 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM
A one-time Washington attorney who had practiced family law in Kent has been sentenced to 25 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for making, purchasing and possessing child pornography.
David S. Engle, 50, of Maple Valley, was arrested in November 2012 following an investigation by U.S. postal inspectors. According to court documents, Engle drew the attention of law-enforcement agencies investigating an unnamed international film-production company that offered DVDs and streaming videos for sale, much of it involving young boys in sexually explicit poses or activities.
According to records gathered by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Engle made 184 separate purchases from the site between 2005 and 2011.
Engle was active in youth baseball in the area.
Later, during an examination of computers and items in a storage locker, police found tens of thousands pornographic photographs, along with more than 500 videos of Engle sexually molesting a boy under the age of 16, according to federal prosecutors. Investigators also found evidence he has molested another young teenage, prosecutors said. Those cases are being prosecuted in King County Superior Court.
“This is a heart-wrenching betrayal of trust of the victims and the community,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “While nothing can undo this damage, the long sentence will protect the community and sends a strong message about the horrendous acts. Our advocates are resolved to do everything possible to support the victims as they deal with the horrific abuse.”
In asking for a long sentence, prosecutors noted that Engle was involved in youth baseball, and that he had betrayed that position of trust.
October 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM
A federal felon who participated in a brutal attack on a corrections officer at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac was sentenced today to 28 years in prison
Roy Fritts, 35 , is already serving a life without parole sentence in Wyoming for an attempted murder conviction. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart today ordered that the 28-year sentence be served consecutive to the life sentence in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Fritts and fellow inmate Sabir Shabazz were charged with conspiracy to murder a federal officer and assault in connection with the January 2012 attack.
Shabazz, who was facing sex-trafficking charges, is accused of hitting the officer with a pipe unscrewed from the sink in his cell. Prosecutors say Fritts stood over the officer armed with a shank. Other inmates intervened in the attack, likely saving the officer’s life.
The corrections officer suffered a fractured skull.
Fitts and Shabazz claimed the attack was an escape attempt, but video of the assault shows it was just a brutal attack, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
On July 10, a jury convicted Fritts of one count of conspiracy to assault a federal officer and three counts of assault of a federal officer with a dangerous weapon.
Fritts had been sent to the detention center for a mental evaluation following a crime spree across five Western states. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says he had absconded from parole in Oregon, stole a truck in Nebraska, shot and attempted to kill the driver who had given him a ride in Wyoming, carjacked a car in Utah and tried unsuccessfully to carjack a second vehicle.
October 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM
The manager of a Tukwila motel pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to maintaining a drug-involved premises.
Lakhvir Pawar, 41, of Burien, admitted to profiting from dozens of drug sales at The Boulevard Motel on International Boulevard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Pawar will forfeit his interest in the motel and in about $90,000 seized in August when the motel and two others were raided and shut down by federal authorities.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, between 2007 and 2013, there were 33 drug-related incidents, 27 assaults and 11 robberies at The Boulevard Motel.
The August raids involved about 200 officers and targeted the Great Bear Motor Inn and the Traveler’s Choice, in addition to The Boulevard Motel.
A federal criminal complaint unsealed after the raids charged seven people –including the managers and owners of the three motels — with attempted distribution and distribution of crack cocaine. According to the charges, a paid undercover informant purchased cocaine in deals set up with motel residents by the motel managers.
The complaint identified three of the defendants as Pawar, Jaspal Singh and and Kulwinder Saroya, who federal prosecutors say ran and owned the three motels.
In addition, a detailed, 48-page civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court seeks to forfeit the properties as proceeds from illegal transactions, including drug dealing and money laundering.
The complaint says that the hotels have been the focus of an inordinate amount of crime and calls for police. It states that the problems date back several years, however during 2011 and 2012, almost one of every six calls for service to Tukwila Police Department were to those three motels. “The crimes for which police responded to the Target Motels include, among others: rape, robbery, assault, drug transaction, gun crimes, prostitution and stolen property,” the civil complaint says.
“The investigation revealed that the owners of the properties are engaged in, encouraging and making significant cash profits from criminal activity at the Target Motels,” wrote Special Agent Joe Miller of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in a sworn affidavit.
October 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM
The Associated Press
Federal authorities have accused two people in the Seattle area of selling cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine via the now-shuttered online marketplace Silk Road.
Steven Lloyd Sadler of Bellevue and Jenna M. White of Renton have both been released from custody pending court appearances later this month.
The secret Silk Road website gained notoriety as a black market drug bazaar that accepted bitcoins, an electronic currency, before federal authorities shut it down last week.
A complaint filed in federal court in Seattle says investigators identified Sadler and White after asking postal clerks in SeaTac to be on the lookout for a woman identified in surveillance video as being associated with certain suspect packages. One clerk managed to get the license plate of her car, which authorities said they traced to Sadler and White’s condominium in Bellevue.
They say Sadler was one of Silk Road’s top sellers.
Sadler’s lawyer said Tuesday he could not comment, and White’s lawyer did not return a message from The Associated Press.
October 7, 2013 at 3:44 PM
A five-month investigation into the finances of a non-profit organization run by a King County sheriff’s deputy and aimed at girls and women involved in the sex trade turned up sloppy accounting and poor management, but no crime, according to a letter from federal prosecutors released by the Sheriff’s Office Monday.
Deputy Andy Conner had been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which originated when allegations of financial malfeasances in operation of The Genesis Project led to an internal investigation. The probe was turned over to the FBI and a detective on the U.S. Secret Services’s Electronic Crimes Task Force.
A letter sent Sept. 25 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the investigation into allegations that as much as $50,000 may have been embezzled from the project turned up no evidence of a crime. The project’s employees were interviewed, its books were reviewed by an FBI forensic accountant, and prosecutors reviewed the records.
“Your investigation failed to substantiate the allegations of financial maslfeasance by Conner. Investigators were able to verify and justify all but a few minor cash withdrawals,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Lincoln. “Your investigation did show that Conner oversaw an organization that suffered from very poor workplace management, lack of experience in non-profit operations, and inadequate financial controls.”
A telephone message left with Conner was not immediately returned.
Conner is the idea man behind The Genesis Project, a nonprofit drop-in shelter that opened in SeaTac in summer 2011 to provide a safe haven for women involved in the sex trade. Conner and sheriff’s Detectives Brian Taylor and Joel Banks pooled their money and raised funds to launch the center to offer girls and women a way out of prostitution.
The Seattle Times profiled The Genesis Project and the three men last year.
October 3, 2013 at 4:15 PM
A Seattle man has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to charges alleging he impersonated a federal prosecutor in a telephone call from the Snohomish County Jail and smooth-talked the U.S. Marshal’s Office into lifting a federal hold on him so he could bail out.
Muhammed Zbeida Tillisy, a convicted forger with a long history of failing to follow court orders, including charges of escape, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida in Seattle on Thursday. Tsuchida ordered him held pending a Dec. 2 trial date.
Tillisy was arrested last month and indicted by a federal grand jury last week on 10 counts, including false statement to a federal agency, aggravated identity theft and impersonating a federal officer. Court documents indicate that Tillisy has been under investigation by the U.S. Secret Service since June 2012 in connection with the “misuse of the means of identification of various government officials and institution by the defendant.”
According to a complaint, Tillisy was released from federal prison on Feb. 22, 2012, after a 2009 conviction for conspiracy to commit access-device fraud. In March, his probation officer issued a warrant for his arrest alleging “numerous violations” of the conditions of his release, including new allegations of check forgery and identity theft.
He was arrested on May 31, 2012, by state authorities and booked into the Snohomish County Jail. There, the U.S. Marshal’s Office placed a “detainer” on him, ensuring that if was released on the state charges for any reason, he would go directly into federal custody on the pending warrant, according to a sworn affidavit by Secret Service Special Agent John Wurster.
Wurster said that on Sept. 10, 2012, Tillisy called an associate from a jail telephone, and had that individual forward his call to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, where he presented himself as a deputy Snohomish County prosecutor to a receptionist and asked for the name of the assistant U.S. Attorney who was handling his own case. Once Tillisy had the name, he hung up before she could transfer him, according to the charges.
An hour later, apparently using another jail inmate’s telephone access code, Tillisy called the associate again.
Waiting until after a recorded warning that the call was from a jail inmate, Tillisy had his associate open a conference call to the U.S. Marshal’s Office. His associate muted his telephone while Tillisy – identifying himself as the assistant U.S. attorney – persuaded a deputy marshal to fax a release for the detainer, saying federal charges were being dropped. According to the charges, the detainer was removed later that day.
The next day, on Sept. 11, 2012, Tillisy posted a $25,000 bail bond and fled. He was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Office two days later.
September 30, 2013 at 3:33 PM
The Seattle Police Department and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle have been awarded a $750,000 federal grant to continue work combatting human trafficking of both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, according to a news release issued Monday by U.S. District Attorney Jenny Durkan.
The money — $500,000 to the police department and $250,000 to IRC’s Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network — will be used for criminal investigations and to provide services to victims, including housing, medical and mental health care and support for those involved in prosecutions against traffickers.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice was first awarded to SPD and IRC nine years ago, but up until July 2012, the funds could only be used to help foreign nationals involved in forced labor or the sex trade, said Kathleen Morris, program director of the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network. Now, the money can go to aid all victims of human trafficking in Western Washington, she said.
“It’s been going up exponentially, each and every year,” said Morris, adding that more people requested help in the first half of 2013 than in all of 2012. “Anyone exploited in this way deserves services.”
Morris’ organization has partnered with local community groups to provide services to human-trafficking victims, including API Chaya and YouthCare. Victims, both domestic and foreign, are forced into prostitution and domestic-servitude; the construction and restaurant industries are also hotbeds for labor exploitation and Morris has seen an increase in the trafficking of boys from Central America who are brought here and forced to sell drugs.
“It’s been such a long-hidden crime but now, a lot more people are paying attention and learning about this issue,” she said.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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