Topic: U.S. District Court
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December 10, 2013 at 9:45 AM
A Federal Way man was sentenced this morning in U.S. District Court to 40 months in prison for viciously beating a Sikh cab driver while making racist statements about Muslims.
Jamie Larson, who turned 50 on Sunday, was originally charged with malicious harassment in King County Superior Court, but the case was turned over to federal prosecutors in March because the federal hate crime law carries a longer possible sentence of up to 10 years.
“I want to apologize to (the victim) and his family,” Larson told U.S. District Judge John Coughenour. “I am ashamed of what I did. I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Larson pleaded guilty in June to hate crime, but he claimed he remembered nothing of the incident because he had blacked out from drinking when he attacked the 50-year-old cab driver because he mistakenly believed he was Muslim. The driver is an immigrant from India and not a Muslim.
December 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM
The Associated Press
A federal judge has ruled that two Washington cities have systematically violated the rights of poor defendants to have legal representation.
The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued Mount Vernon and Burlington two years ago, alleging that public defenders there were so overworked that they amounted to little more than “a warm body with a law degree.”
Following a two-week trial last June, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik agreed in a ruling Wednesday. He blamed city officials for cutting corners in paying for and monitoring public defenders, and for remaining “willfully blind” to the problems that resulted.
Lasnik also ordered the cities to re-evaluate the way they hire a part-time public-defense supervisor to oversee whether poor defendants are receiving adequate legal counsel.
November 20, 2013 at 10:11 AM
The Associated Press
A man who sold fake Dale Chihuly glass art has been sentenced to five months in prison by a judge who said he would have preferred to send him to basic training in the Army.
Michael Little, of Renton, pleaded guilty to wire fraud after his arrest last spring. He admitted he sold more than $22,000 worth of counterfeit art to a collector who planned to donate the pieces to the art museum at Gonzaga University.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik said prison might do him good. He said Little sleeps until 10 a.m. every day, takes a two-hour afternoon nap and spends much of the rest of the time on his computer.
Lasnik told the defendant he “needs to get out of the house,” and said he’d send him to basic training if he had the authority.
November 5, 2013 at 11:08 AM
The Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — A Las Vegas man targeted at least 21 ATM machines in western states as part of a crime spree involving the theft of $124,000 in cash and tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the equipment, a federal prosecutor said.
Clarence Edward Lancaster, 57, appeared in U.S. District Court in Boise on Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of bank larceny after authorities said he pried open an ATM on a college campus in Twin Falls.
As part of his deal with prosecutors, he acknowledged other ATM thefts from June 2012 through January 2013, in Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Arizona, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a press release following the plea.
The thefts involved some $124,000 in U.S. currency, $88,000 in damages caused to the machines, and $3,600 in property damage to buildings and equipment.
Lancaster was arrested in Arizona on Jan. 21 after a music instructor at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher saw a man walking toward an area in a closed building where an ATM machine was located. The instructor, who was rehearsing with students in the building closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, recorded the man’s license plate and turned it over to police. Lancaster was later stopped and arrested in his Cadillac Escalade.
October 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM
The Associated Press
Eight people have been indicted — and two of them arrested — in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a $1.5 million bank fraud scheme back in 2005 and 2006.
According to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday, the defendants used credit-card transaction devices to impersonate stores, including McDonald’s franchises and a dog daycare in Seattle, and loaded money from the businesses onto prepaid debit cards. They then traveled to casinos in Washington and Nevada to withdraw the money from the cards.
Two of the defendants, Robert Antoin Hunter and Dion Marcus Turner, were arrested in the Seattle area Thursday and were scheduled to appear in federal court. It was not immediately clear if they had obtained lawyers.
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 18, 2013 at 9:22 AM
A man who stole thousands of feet of copper wire from the runway light towers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport earlier this year pleaded guilty to theft of public property.
Timothy Lynch, 50, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart on Jan. 13.
According to a federal criminal complaint, Lynch entered a secured area of Sea-Tac Airport and removed 7,200 feet of copper cable from the light towers. The copper wire cost more than $77,000 when it was installed in 2008.
The theft was discovered on Feb. 12, when a Port of Seattle employee noticed damage to the fence surrounding the runway light structures near South 188th Street and Des Moines Memorial Drive.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the cable was stolen from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) towers, rendering them inoperable and potentially posing a threat to airline safety. Replacing the copper wire and repairs to damages cost the FAA more than $30,000.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will recommend that the Court sentence Lynch to 30 months in prison.
October 10, 2013 at 2:46 PM
The Associated Press
PORTLAND — The woman at the center of a seven-year manhunt whose face graced wanted posters around the Pacific Northwest cast a smaller shadow Thursday on a slow walk to her defense table in a Portland federal courtroom.
Now a decade removed from her membership in the ecoterrorism group “The Family,” 40-year-old Rebecca Rubin stood slender and erect in her blue jail jumpsuit.
She then said the words she’s been dodging since authorities offered a $50,000 reward for her capture.
“Guilty,” she said, in a voice so soft a judge had to ask her to speak up.
It was the first of three admissions of guilt she made to arson and conspiracy charges, and with them, consented to give up at least five years of her freedom. She will be sentenced on Jan. 27.
Rubin’s plea was the latest admission of wrongdoing by members of “The Family” in a series of arsons across three Western states from 1996 to 2001 that did $40 million in damage.
Ten people pleaded guilty in 2007 to conspiracy and arson charges and were sentenced to prison. Two others indicted in the case remain at large. (more…)
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 3:49 PM
The Associated Press
SEATTLE — The manager of a Kent apartment complex has been charged in federal court with failing to take proper steps to protect workers and others from asbestos during a renovation.
Stanley Xu (SHOO) is the president of the management company that oversaw Avante Apartment Homes. In 2009, water pipes at the complex froze and burst, damaging the ceilings of 43 units.
Federal prosecutors say Xu hired contractor T.J. Yoo, of The Everlasting Construction LLC, to do the repair work but didn’t have the ceilings inspected for asbestos as required by law. Authorities also say Yoo knew about the asbestos, but didn’t provide the day laborers he hired with respirators or take other steps to protect them as they tore down the ceilings with hammers.
State inspectors shut down the work in March 2010.
Yoo pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating federal asbestos-handling standards last week, two days before Xu and his property management firm, Longwell Co., were charged. Xu is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
The charge carries up to five years in prison.
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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