“Obama Ricin Letters: Shannon Richardson, Texas Woman, Indicted For Threatening Mailings”

June 28, 2013

The Huffington Post on June 28, 2013 released the following:

AP

“TEXARKANA, Texas — A Texas woman was indicted Friday on charges that she sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an attempt to frame her estranged husband, federal prosecutors said.

Shannon Richardson, 35, is charged with two counts of mailing a threatening communication and one count of making a threat against the president of the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas said in a news release.

Richardson, an actress from New Boston, Texas, was arrested June 7. She is accused of sending the threatening letters in May to Obama, Bloomberg and a third man who heads the mayor’s gun-control group. Richardson faces up to five years in prison on each of the charges.

Richardson’s court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, was not immediately available for comment Friday.

The government accused Richardson of mailing the letters and trying to pin the crime on Nathan Richardson, the man she married in 2011. He filed for divorce earlier this month. He’s told the Texarkana Gazette that he contemplated divorce last year but reconsidered when the relationship seemed to improve.

The marriage was at least Shannon Richardson’s third, and she has five children ranging in age from 4 to 19 from other relationships, according to Nathan Richardson’s attorney, John Delk.

A federal judge last week ordered Shannon Richardson to undergo a psychological exam. Curry had requested the exam, saying her client had displayed “a pattern of behavior” that calls into question whether she could assist in her defense.

Authorities have determined that the ricin letters, which threatened violence against gun-control advocates, were mailed from New Boston, about 150 miles northeast of Dallas, or nearby Texarkana and postmarked in Shreveport, La.

According to an FBI affidavit, Richardson first contacted authorities to implicate her husband in the scheme. But she failed a polygraph exam and investigators found inconsistencies in her story, the document alleges.

Richardson later admitted she mailed the letters but maintained that her husband made her do it, according to the affidavit.

The actress has had minor roles on television and in films under the name Shannon Guess.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Shannon Richardson Charged By the Feds With Allegedly Mailing Ricin Letters

June 10, 2013

Huffington Post on June 8, 2013 released the following:

By NOMAAN MERCHANT and DANNY ROBBINS AP

Shannon Richardson Tried To Frame Husband Nathaniel Richardson For Ricin Letters: FBI

TEXARKANA, Texas — Shannon Richardson had been married to her husband less than two years when she went to authorities and told them her suspicions: He was the one who had mailed ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatening violence against gun-control advocates.

When investigators looked closer, they reached a different conclusion: It was the 35-year-old pregnant actress who had sent the letters, and she tried to frame her estranged husband in a bizarre case of marital conflict crossing with bioterrorism.

Those allegations are detailed in court documents filed Friday as Richardson was arrested and charged with mailing a threatening communication to the president. The federal charge carries up to 10 years in prison, U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Davilyn Walston said.

Richardson, a mother of five who has played bit roles on television and in movies, is accused of mailing the ricin-laced letters to the White House, to Bloomberg and to the mayor’s Washington gun-control group last month.

Richardson’s court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, said there was no intention to harm anyone and noted that it’s common knowledge that mail is checked before it reaches the person to whom these letters were addressed.

“From what I can say, based on what evidence I’ve seen, whoever did this crime never intended for ricin to reach the people to which the letters were addressed,” Curry said.

According to an FBI affidavit, Richardson contacted authorities on May 30 and implicated her husband, Nathaniel Richardson. She described finding small, brown beans with white speckles – a description matching the key ingredient in ricin, castor beans – at the couple’s home in New Boston, Texas. She also told investigators that she had found a sticky note on her husband’s desk with addresses for Bloomberg and Obama, the affidavit said.

But she later failed a polygraph test, the document said, and investigators looking into her story found numerous inconsistencies. Among them: Nathaniel Richardson would have been at work when Internet searches tied to the letters were made on the couple’s laptop and when the envelopes containing the letters were postmarked.

Finally, the affidavit says, in an interview with authorities on Thursday, Shannon Richardson admitted that she had received syringes and lye – a caustic chemical used in making ricin – in the mail; that she had printed the labels for the letters; and that she mailed them. However, she insisted her husband typed them and “made her” print and send them, the affidavit says.

No charges have been filed against her husband. His attorney, John Delk, told The Associated Press on Friday that his client was pleased with his wife’s arrest and was working with authorities to prove his innocence.

Delk previously told the AP that the couple is going through a divorce and that the 33-year-old Army veteran may have been “set up” by his wife. In divorce papers filed Thursday, Nathanial Richardson said the marriage had become “insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities.”

FBI agents wearing hazardous material suits were seen going in and out of the Richardsons’ house on Wednesday in nearby New Boston, about 150 miles northeast of Dallas near the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders. Authorities conducted a similar search on May 31.

The house is now under quarantine for “environmental or toxic agents,” according to a posting at the residence. Multiple samples taken from the couples’ home tested positive for ricin, according to the affidavit. Federal agents also found castor beans along with syringes and other items that could be used to extract the lethal poison, the affidavit says.

Bloomberg issued a statement Friday thanking local and federal law enforcement agencies “for their outstanding work in apprehending a suspect,” saying they worked collaboratively from the outset “and will continue to do so as the investigation continues.”

Shannon Richardson appears in movies and on TV under the name Shannon Guess. Her resume on the Internet movie database IMDb said she has had small television roles in “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Walking Dead.” She had a minor role in the movie “The Blind Side” and appeared in an Avis commercial, according to the resume.

Delk said the Richardsons were expecting their first child in October. Shannon Richardson also has five children ranging in age from 4 to 19 from other relationships, four of whom had been living with the couple in the New Boston home, the attorney said.

Nathaniel Richardson works as a mechanic at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas, a facility that repairs tanks, Humvees and other mobile military equipment. He and Shannon were married in October 2011.

A detention hearing for Shannon Richardson is scheduled for next Friday, court records show, and the government is requesting that she be held without bond.

The FBI is investigating at least three cases over the past two months in which ricin was mailed to Obama and other public figures. Ricin has been sent to officials sporadically over the years, but experts say that there seems to be a recent uptick and that copycat attacks – made possible by the relative ease of extracting the poison – may be the reason.

If inhaled, ricin can cause respiratory failure, among other symptoms. If swallowed, it can shut down the liver and other organs, resulting in death. The amount of ricin that can fit on the head of a pin is said to be enough to kill an adult if properly prepared. No antidote is available, though researchers are trying to develop one.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“Charges filed in Pilot Flying J case, 2 sales executives who worked for Jimmy Haslam plead guilty”

May 29, 2013

Cleveland.com on May 29, 2013 released the following:

By John Caniglia, The Plain Dealer

“Two Pilot Flying J sales executives pleaded guilty today to federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their role in sending fraudulent rebate checks “to certain targeted Pilot customers,” the charges said.

Arnold Ralenkotter, a regional sales director in Hebron, Ky., and Ashley Judd, an account executive in Knoxville, entered their pleas in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. No dates have been set for their sentencing.

They became the first people charged in the two-year investigation of Pilot Flying, the company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

The charges said the primary purpose of the conspiracy was to increase the commissions of Pilot’s direct sales staff and increase the company’s profits. Ralenkotter’s home was one of several sites searched by federal agents in April. The main sites of the raid took place at Pilot Flying J’s main offices.

Haslam has said he had no knowledge of the scheme, which is contradicted by a FBI affidavit used to obtain a judge’s permission to search Pilot Flying J, Ralenkotter’s home and other sites.

The charges say that Pilot Flying J had a mandatory sales meeting in Knoxville in November. Ralenkotter attended a breakout session in which a top Pilot sales official “encouraged and taught Pilot direct sales personnel how to defraud, without detection, some of Pilot’s customers who chose to receive their discounts in the form of a rebate check.”

The charges said Ralenkotter told a subordinate that if he wasn’t willing to reduce a customer’s rebate, then Ralenkotter would take the customer’s account over. Ralenkotter’s attorney said his client is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

In March, Judd told an employee of Pilot Flying J who was cooperating with investigators that she kept a file in her desk drawer related to the rebate reductions. Judd told the informant that “if anyone ever came in the office that that file would be the first one that Judd would burn,” according to the FBI affidavit. Her attorney could not be reached.

The company declined to comment.

It was last month when FBI and IRS agents raided the company’s headquarters in Knoxville.

In an affidavit, an FBI agent said some sales employees withheld fuel price rebates and discounts from certain companies to boost the company’s profits and their commissions. The document also says Haslam knew about the scheme, as he had been in sales meetings where the scheme was discussed.

But Haslam on May 16 told hundreds of trucking company officials in Indianapolis that he was “absolutely not aware of” the scheme.

Until today, no one had been charged in the investigation.

But several civil lawsuits have piggybacked on the FBI affidavit.

A spokesman for Haslam has said that class-action lawsuits are predictable in cases where allegations of wrongdoing take place, and he said the company will defend the cases appropriately.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Adel Daoud Indicted By a Federal Grand Jury for Allegedly Trying to Detonate a Car Bomb Outside a Chicago Bar

September 21, 2012

Chicago Tribune on September 20, 2012 released the following:

“Man indicted for attempted bombing of Chicago bar

Peter Bohan
Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) – An 18-year-old man his attorney described as a “misguided kid” was denied bail and indicted on Thursday for attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar.

Adel Daoud was subdued in federal court, dressed in bright orange prison clothing with shackled legs, a mop of frizzy black hair and a sparse beard and mustache. He exchanged a few words with his attorney but said nothing during the hearing.

Daoud, a U.S. citizen who lives in the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested on September 10 after trying to explode a fake bomb provided by an undercover FBI agent as part of an investigation lasting several months, authorities said.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted him on two counts of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and maliciously attempting to use an explosive to destroy a building. If convicted on the first count, Daoud faces up to life in prison.

Daoud’s attorney Thomas Durkin argued before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys that Daoud had been entrapped by the FBI and “this kid couldn’t build a bomb if his life depended on it.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney William Ridgway read through details of the charges against Daoud with evidence recorded over months, including alleged comments that Daoud said he would “only be satisfied of 100 were killed and 300 injured” in the attack. Daoud had repeatedly rejected suggestions to delay or halt plans for the attack, Ridgway said.

Ridgway described Daoud as deceptive, charismatic and knowledgeable, arguing that the defendant was dangerous and a flight risk. The judge agreed.

“The evidence shows he was predisposed to do it before the FBI” got involved, Judge Keys said of the bomb plot, adding that Daoud appeared to have “a strong desire to kill Americans, felt justified in doing so, and the more he could kill the better.”

The judge ordered Daoud held without bail after the 20-minute hearing. Daoud shuffled out silently but glanced at his father, Ahmed, who was seated in the front row at court.

According to an FBI affidavit, Daoud used email accounts starting in about October 2011 to gather and send materials “relating to violent jihad and the killing of Americans.”

Undercover FBI employees began corresponding with Daoud in May and later provided Daoud with a Jeep apparently full of explosives – but which was an inert device produced by undercover law enforcement, according to the affidavit. Daoud was arrested after trying to detonate it outside a downtown bar located near the Chicago Board of Trade building.

Durkin, who has experience as a defense lawyer in terrorist trials including representing detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, told reporters after the hearing that he was not surprised by the denial of bail.

“No judge in the world is going to let anybody out on a terrorism case,” he said.

But he accused the FBI of coming down hard on Daoud because Islam and terrorism were involved and despite evidence that his father and two religious leaders had tried to dissuade Daoud from “ideas” like jihad.

“Anybody at 18 years old who was raised in America who would be seriously questioning those type of values I would think might have some mental issues, and I think the FBI would know that as well,” Durkin told reporters.

The next hearing will be an arraignment before U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman. No date was set.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Remorseful bank robber calls 911, turns himself in

August 29, 2012

Mercury News on August 28, 2012 released the following:

“By James MacPherson
Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. — Kent Anthony Clemens returned home to Kansas after a short stay in North Dakota’s booming oil patch with a stack of crisp $50 bills, sharing what authorities say was ill-gotten booty with his sister.

Then, apparently, guilt set in.

Three days after Clemens allegedly held up a bank in the western North Dakota town of Williston, the 53-year-old called 911 and asked police in his hometown of Topeka, Kan., to arrest him “for making a mistake,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.

“People have an attack of conscience all the time — like returning stolen items to a store,” Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “But it is unusual to rob a bank and then call 911 in an attack of conscience.”

When police arrived at Clemens’ home last month, he was sitting on the front porch, “wearing what appeared to be the same blue polo shirt he was wearing when he committed the Gates City Bank robbery,” the FBI affidavit said. He “put both of his hands out to police and told them to arrest him for making a mistake,” court papers said.

Clemens is being held in North Dakota. He appeared in federal court in Bismarck on Aug. 17 and waived his right to a preliminary hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Volk said. Federal public defender Heather Mitchell said no other court hearings have been scheduled.

Neither attorney would comment on specifics of the case.

According to court papers, the suspect was wearing a polo shirt, a golf-style flat cap and tinted glasses when he walked into Gates City Bank in Williston on July 18.

He “looked more like he was going golfing than robbing a bank,” said Williston Police Det. Cory Collings.

The suspect told the teller he had a gun and demanded $50 bills. The robber fled on foot with about $700, court papers said.

Clemens told authorities he did not have a gun at the time of the robbery and believed he made off with $800.

North Dakota has risen from the nation’s ninth-leading oil producer to No. 2 in just six years, and Williston is the epicenter of the state’s oil patch. Officials say the city’s population has doubled in the past decade to some 30,000 residents.

Collings said the Williston Police Department is understaffed and overwhelmed by the increased crime from an exploding population.

“It would be great if all of our cases worked out like this. At least some of the sleepless nights would maybe go away,” Collings said Tuesday.

Clemens’ sister, identified as “Sheila” in court papers, told investigators her brother announced in early July that he was “quitting his job, and leaving to work the oil fields either in Alabama, North Dakota, or Canada,” the FBI affidavit said. Clemens returned home on July 19, one day after the Williston bank robbery and gave his sister $350 in $50 bills, court papers said.

Clemens’ sister told investigators she had spent most of the money but later gave authorities four $50 bills she had in her purse, court records show.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Inside story: FBI nabs Alleged Ocean’s Eleven-style ring of thieves after biggest heist in U.S history

June 18, 2012

NJ.com on June 17, 2012 released the following:

“By Ted Sherman/The Star-Ledger

The Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., is a nondescript beige building with a pebbled concrete exterior, just off Freshwater Boulevard.

Although just down the road from a suburban shopping mall and an Olive Garden restaurant, it feels like the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and little else.

A light rain was falling on Saturday, March 13, 2010, when a tractor-trailer rumbled up to the loading dock about 9:33 p.m. Shut down for the weekend, the building had no security fence or watchman to keep an eye on the pallets of the costly pharmaceuticals awaiting shipment.

A video surveillance camera captured the fuzzy image of two men apparently checking to see if there was anyone inside the office. Then they quickly carried a ladder to get to the roof. Little more than tar and metal sheeting, it would not take much effort to cut through if nobody was watching.

And nobody was.

The Enfield warehouse was about to become legend — the scene of an $80 million commercial drug heist, the biggest in U.S. history.

This is the inside story of how it went down and how authorities tracked and arrested 22 alleged members of an Ocean’s Eleven-style ring of thieves, who operated with their own trucks, warehouses and black market wholesalers.

Criminal complaints filed in federal court in New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut and Illinois detail an operation that stole and then sold an eclectic litany of products: trailer-loads of pharmaceuticals exchanged for cash in the parking lot of a Toys “R” Us in North Bergen, hair care products taken in San Antonio and unloaded to a buyer in Newark, boxes of respiratory medicine loaded onto a flatbed tow truck at a Home Depot parking lot in Hollywood, Fla. They made off with millions in cancer drugs and antidepressants, and carried away loads of whiskey, inflatable boats and cigarettes.

It was an operation, say federal law enforcement sources, that was penetrated by an FBI cargo theft task force in New Jersey after a buy-and-bust sting involving a load of pharmaceuticals stolen in Georgia led investigators to Florida.

But the most revealing information comes by way of an FBI court affidavit, mistakenly unsealed, offering a rare insight into the workings of a network that operated like a big business with high-end, fast-moving theft crews — sometimes working independently, other times as teams.

The accused, say investigators, included two brothers — one an expert in alarm systems — each with a long history of taking stuff that did not belong to them. And both might still be free but for two mistakes that ultimately helped federal agents identify gang members and track them down — a discarded water bottle and a brand new set of tools.

“This wasn’t about a guy walking down the street with a black knit hat and a crowbar over his shoulder. It was nothing like that,” said Charles Forsaith, coordinator of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition, an industry group that shares intelligence. “This was a group that had tentacles elsewhere.”

EL GATO AND THE CUBANS

Amaury Villa is a stocky man with close-cropped hair, a tattoo of a scorpion on his left arm, and a long rap sheet for burglary.

“Unfortunately he has a substantial criminal background,” acknowledged his attorney, Frank Rubino of Miami.

Living in Miami with a girlfriend, and having to make monthly child support payments, Villa had recently incorporated a transportation company, Florida records showed. E-mails revealed he was looking to purchase several long-haul tractor-trailer rigs.

He also apparently knew his way around security systems. On an application for a safe deposit box at the Bank of America, Villa listed his occupation as a self-employed alarm installer.

Three months before the drug company warehouse in Enfield was hit, prosecutors said Villa boarded an American Airlines flight from Miami to LaGuardia Airport in New York on Jan. 7, 2010, together with another individual — a man not charged in the case, but identified in the FBI affidavit as “El Gato.” The Cat. According to the affidavit, El Gato’s real name was Yosmany Nunez Aguilar, who also had a record for theft of interstate freight.

Villa rented a luxury Infinity QX56 SUV from Hertz at the airport counter. He then drove to the Hyatt Regency Hotel on the Jersey City waterfront, where Villa — a Hyatt platinum club member — had reserved two rooms for the night.

The next day, Villa and another man, believed to be Aguilar, drove to Windsor, Conn., approximately 11 miles from Enfield, where Villa checked into the Hyatt Summerfield Suites for a two-night stay.

It was a scouting mission, agents surmised in the affidavit. Late Saturday evening, about 10:35 p.m., the surveillance video at the Eli Lilly warehouse captured an individual walking around the outside and peering through the front doors of the locked building. Nobody was monitoring the camera, but someone — very likely Villa — appeared to be casing the joint, the FBI said. Villa returned to Miami the next day.

Cargo theft is a multibillion-dollar business, according to the FBI and Forsaith, a former New Hampshire state police officer who now works as a transportation security expert, said there is a methodology to how cargo thieves ferret out targets.

“In today’s day and age, you can pretty much go on the internet and tell what a company makes, where it is located — be it Pfizer or Purdue — and use that public information to make an educated guess as to what that company manufacturers, and where those products may be distributed,” he said.

Trucks leaving a warehouse may be followed to determine their routes of travel long before any theft takes place. Warehouses are not hard to find on Google Maps.

Villa, say authorities, had made a career out of it. Less than two weeks after his advance trip to Connecticut, Villa was tracked to another warehouse job 1,000 miles away. On Jan. 22, records show someone using Villa’s credit card checked into the Fairfield Inn in East Peoria.

The target that weekend, according to the FBI, was a commercial warehouse along Illinois Route 116 containing a sizable load of cigarettes being stored for distribution.

The operation seemed well orchestrated to police. Thieves did not try to go in through the front door, but rather climbed to the unsecured roof, cut through with power tools, and lowered themselves in with ropes. They seemed to know what they were looking for there. The alarm system was bypassed without cutting a single wire, and a convoy of stolen tractor-trailers pulled up to haul away more than 3,500 cases of cigarettes valued at more than $8 million.

One of the truck trailers turned up in New Jersey two days later, abandoned near Newark on the southbound shoulder of the eastern spur of the New Jersey Turnpike, authorities say.

But inside the East Peoria warehouse, someone left a clue that would help connect the dots much later. According to the FBI affidavit, DNA that they now link to Villa’s older brother, Amed, was recovered at the scene.

With dark hair and the tattoo of a skull on his right arm, Amed Villa was well known to law enforcement authorities. He reportedly installed fire doors for a living, according to his attorney, but he had a history of arrests and convictions for burglary. He had been arrested and convicted for burglary in January 2000 in Seminole County, Fla., and charged with multiple burglary-related offenses in Florida between 1995 and 2005, the FBI affidavit noted.

A Cuban citizen, he had been ordered deported from the United States, according to the FBI, although he had not been detained. Rather, he was required to periodically check in with immigration authorities. He had not done so for years, according to the affidavit.

In July 2009, another multimillion-dollar cigarette warehouse burglary was reported in Montgomery, Ill. Inside, said the FBI, they again found DNA that matched the same unique biological fingerprint picked up in East Peoria. Days before the July 4 break-in, the FBI found Amaury Villa had checked into a hotel in Rosemont, some 40 miles away, and checked out after the heist.

Then in August 2009, thieves struck the big GlaxoSmithKline distribution warehouse in Chesterfield, Va., cutting through the roof, disabling the alarms and driving away with at least $4.3 million of its respiratory drug Advair Diskus.

Amaury again had not been far away. The day before, he had checked into a hotel in Chester, Va., some 15 miles away from Chesterfield, according to the FBI. And investigators again had a DNA match to the earlier jobs, they said, left on a coffee cup in the warehouse.

Officials will not disclose if they knew who they were looking for based on the DNA. But if they did not yet know the name of Amed Villa, the evidence showed that one person had been at the scene of three major unsolved crimes.

THE CONNECTICUT CAPER

In March, members of the gang were zeroing in on their new target, the Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., according to complaints filed in the case and other court documents.

Amaury Villa had just negotiated lease agreements for two Freightliner CL-20 tractor trucks — one for $20,205 and the other for $23,211 — through the company he set up in Florida, called Trans-USA.

Villa rented another Infiniti QX56 in early March, between a flurry of flights he made to and from Miami and New York. On March 12, Villa checked back into the Summerfield Suites, using his platinum Hyatt membership card.

The Connecticut break-in occurred on the night of March 13, following the same script as that of the GlaxoSmithKline theft in Virginia, the cigarette heist in East Peoria, and the job in Montgomery. The thieves went in on a Saturday night, climbed to the roof, cut into the drugmaker’s warehouse, rappelled down using climbing gear to the floor below and knocked out the alarm system without cutting wires.

“The security surveillance system and alarm were disabled in a manner which indicated familiarity with systems of this type,” wrote FBI agent John Howell in his affidavit. “For example, wires were not cut, but rather unplugged and only certain of the wires were unplugged. Other wires, which might have set off alarms outside of Connecticut were not disconnected for some time.”

The crew had plenty of time to themselves and put together 49 pallets of drugs, using forklifts inside the warehouse to load boxes of Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat bipolar disorder; Prozac and Cymbalta, both antidepressant drugs; and Gemzar, a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer.

They drove away into the night, and into international headlines of what seemed like a Hollywood-style caper movie, starring a crack team of brazen professionals who knew what they were looking for before they punched their way inside.

But as smart as the alleged gang members were, law enforcement documents say, they left more evidence behind — enough to get the Villa brothers arrested.

When the Enfield Police Department was called to the scene, they found an opened case of water bottles, with several empty plastic bottles scattered on the floor of the kitchen and office area of the warehouse. Later in a lab, they found DNA on the water bottle that matched the DNA found on the coffee cup of the GlaxoSmithKline warehouse in Virginia, and at two Illinois warehouse break-ins, linking four jobs now to the same man — Amed Villa.

Also lying on the floor was a collection of several red-handled Husky-brand hand tools and an assortment of power tools, all with that immaculate, never-used look. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut would not disclose what specific tools were used, but the thieves could not have made a more ill-advised purchase.

Husky is a brand sold only at Home Depot stores, and investigators speculated that someone might have purchased everything at one time. Agents began scouring Home Depot computer records to find out if how many collections of the eight tools matching those recovered in Connecticut had ever been sold together in one place.

The answer was a blockbuster. The purchase had been made only once in the past 12 months — at the Flushing, N.Y., store on March 12, 2010, at 1:13 p.m.

The home improvement store’s own records not only provided a road map, but images of the sale itself at the checkout line. Surveillance cameras in the store showed two men at the register, paying for the $757 purchase in cash. Those same two men could then be seen on other video footage Home Depot maintained of its parking lot, as they put their purchases into the back of an SUV.

It looked a lot like the Infiniti QX56 rented by Villa.

AN UNSELLABLE CARGO

Just days after the theft, the FBI in New Haven got an anonymous call helping connect more of the pieces. Three of the perpetrators of the Eli Lilly heist, the caller said, would be meeting in the near future to negotiate the load.

Among them was Aguilar, who the caller knew only as El Gato. All of them, the FBI was told, hung out at the Rickenbacker Marina in Key Biscayne, Fla., where the nearby Rusty Pelican offers up a great waterside view of Miami, along with steaks, burgers with avocado fries, and Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale.

The surveillance that followed would soon lead investigators to others, and an undercover buy operation to locate the stolen drugs, the criminal complaints show.

Pharmaceuticals are typically marketed through wholesalers, but there has long been a secondary wholesale market that often deals with products offered at cheaper prices because they are about to expire. Sellers are supposed to have “pedigrees” to show the stuff came from an authorized wholesaler.

“Typically you have these sellers with fax machines who blast out that they have this stuff available cheap,” said former New Jersey federal prosecutor A. Jeff Ifrah, whose Washington-based law firm represents major health, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

“There’s a ready market,” he conceded. “Although there’s not necessarily a market super-diligent about the pedigrees of these products.”

In fact, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey set up a major sting in 2004 called “Operation Pill Collector” to catch pharmaceutical thieves by setting up a fake wholesale company with the help of an informant who agreed to cooperate with the FBI after he was caught selling stolen drugs with fake pedigree paperwork. Instead of looking for the bad guys, the investigation had bad guys coming to them.

Ultimately, 17 people in New Jersey and three other states were arrested on charges of trafficking $56 million in stolen or misdirected prescription drugs, which were sold to local pharmacies at big discounts.

The drugs taken from the Eli Lilly warehouse would have been much harder to move. Forsaith said that because of pressure from law enforcement, publicity about the Eli haul became almost too hot to handle. The alleged gang members only felt comfortable dealing small to the black market, FBI documents said.

In a meeting in Elizabeth, one of those eventually charged with hijacking a tractor-trailer load of inhalers stolen from Tampa, Fla., discussed the importance of holding “cold” stolen goods. Caught on surveillance tape by an informant, Reynado Tapanes, 45, of Miami, was recorded saying, “If you’re holding hot stuff … you’re gonna get burned at some moment.”

Samples of Advair stolen from Glaxo were already showing up in legitimate pharmacies as far west as Texas, sparking an alert by the Food and Drug Administration over concerns that improper storage conditions might render the products ineffective, risking the health of patients.

In mid-August 2010, according to the FBI affidavit, the U.S. Customs Service intercepted a FedEx package addressed to a business at the Rickenbaker Marina, sent from the Dominican Republic. The package contained approximately 2,200 counterfeit labels for the pharmaceuticals stolen from the Eli Lilly warehouse. Someone, the FBI believed, was trying to re-label the haul.

TAKEDOWN

By late 2010, the gang appears to have been penetrated, court documents suggest. Law enforcement sources said a buy-and-bust operation being directed by a cargo theft task force headed by FBI agent Tom Hauck in Newark led investigators to Florida beginning in 2009, after an $8.8 million tractor-trailer load of drugs was hijacked at a truck stop in Georgia.

For more than a year, transactions in stolen merchandise tied to those eventually arrested were recorded by several unidentified individuals cooperating with the feds. In one meeting, an informant arranged to have part of a stolen drug shipment delivered to the Toys “R” Us parking lot in North Bergen. When it arrived, the trailer was hooked up to another tractor and driven away, and then returned empty an hour later in exchange for a cash payment of $64,000.

According to Amaury’s attorney, the government told him that an informant fingered Villa when drugs stolen from Eli Lilly were being fenced.

“From what I understand, the government conducted surveillance on my client. When he turned in a rental car, they found a set of keys that fit a storage warehouse where they had followed him earlier,” said Rubino.

The FBI agents tried the keys to every storage locker at the facility and found several that opened. Then they obtained a search warrant to look inside, and discovered the stolen pharmaceuticals, according to Rubino.

On the morning of May 3, teams of federal agents began arresting people — including the Villa brothers. In all, 22 men were charged in four states.

None of those charged has yet to go to trial.

Amed Villa on Thursday entered a plea of not guilty in Connecticut. His attorney, Jonathan Einhorn of New Haven, said it was still early in the process.

“The government has a very dramatic account of what happened,” said Einhorn. “But this is not Hollywood. You have to prove the facts.”

Amaury Villa sits in jail in Florida.

“He’s not happy he’s been arrested,” said Rubino. But the lawyer conceded this may not be the easiest case he has ever handled. “There may be significant physical evidence in this case,” he said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


US Indicts 14 In Alleged Drug and Money Laundering Scheme Involving Horses

June 13, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on June 12, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

A federal grand jury in Texas voted to return an indictment against 14 defendants in connection with a conspiracy to launder Los Zetas drug money by buying, training, breeding and racing American quarter horses in the U.S.

Among those charged was Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the leader of Los Zetas, along with his brothers, Oscar Omar Trevino Morales and Jose Trevino-Morales, the Justice Department said.

The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. It accuses the Zetas of directing part of the cash generated from selling drugs to buy, train, breed and race quarter horses in the U.S.

Miguel and Oscar sent their brother Jose and his wife cash to operate Tremor Enterprises LLC, the business they created for the horse training, the indictment said.

“This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate U.S. industries and highlights the serious threat money laundering causes to our financial system,” said Rich Weber, chief of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division, in a statement (pdf).

“This attack on one of the Zeta’s most profitable money laundering schemes is an essential front in the war on drugs and will financially disrupt and help dismantle this violent international criminal organization,” Weber said.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of several quarter horses, including Tempting Dash, winner of the Dash for Cash at Lone Star Park race track in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Oct. 24, 2009; Mr. Piloto, $1 million All American Futurity winner at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day, 2010; Dashin Follies; Coronita Cartel; and Separate Fire.

It also seeks the forfeiture of farm and ranch equipment; horse racing equipment; property in Lexington, Okla. and Bastrop County, Texas; and money contained in bank accounts used in the scheme.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities arrested seven of the 14 defendants, including Jose Trevino-Morales and his wife, Zulema Trevino, in Lexington, Okla. Also arrested were Fernando Solis Garcia in Ruidoso, N.M.; Carlos Miguel Nayen Borbolla, Adrian Farias and Felipe Alejandro Quintero in Los Angeles; and Eusevio Maldonado Huitron in Austin, Texas. They remain in federal custody, the Justice Department said.

None of those arrested could be reached for comment.

The New York Times, in a blockbuster 4,000-word story, reported earlier Tuesday about the scheme. The Times reported that an FBI affidavit said the Zetas channeled about $1 million a month into buying quarter horses in the U.S, and that authorities were tipped off in January 2010, when the cartel paid more than $1 million in a single day for two broodmares.

In its report, the paper said it became aware of Tremor’s activity in December 2011 while reporting about the Zetas and learned of the U.S. government probe last month, but agreed to hold the story until Tuesday morning’s arrests.

Among those charged but not arrested is Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa of Veracruz, Mexico. Colorado Cessa is accused in the indictment of acting as a straw buyer for various horses. In connection with the indictment, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control slapped Kingpin Act sanctions [OFAC SDN Sanctions] on him that label Colorado Cessa as a narcotics trafficker.

“Our action cuts Colorado Cessa off from the U.S. financial system and it is yet another signal to Miguel and Omar Trevino Morales, and the Zetas, that OFAC will target their financial and business network wherever it is found,” said Adam Szubin, director of OFAC, in the statement.

The Zetas were designated under the Kingpin Act as a narcotics trafficker by the president in 2009. The group is notorious for its violence; officials blamed the Zetas for a dump of 49 headless and handless bodies in May along a Mexican highway. Since 2009, OFAC has designated several of its top leaders and dozens of its lieutenants.”

US v. Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, et al. – Federal Criminal Indictment

18 U.S.C. § 1956

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.