F.B.I. Arrests Second Suspect in Bomb Plot Against Bank

October 19, 2012

The New York Times on October 18, 2012 released the following:

“By MOSI SECRET

The Bangladeshi man who was arrested Wednesday on charges that he plotted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had an accomplice in San Diego, who was arrested later on unrelated child-pornography charges, a law enforcement official said on Thursday.

The man described as the accomplice, Howard Willie Carter II, was arrested after an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation found 1,000 images and three video files containing child pornography on a laptop and hard drive in the trash near Mr. Carter’s apartment, according to a government document. Officials used material stored on the computer to trace it back to Mr. Carter.

The computer also contained e-mails addressed to “Yaqeen,” a name that Brooklyn prosecutors said Mr. Carter had used in the plot to bomb the Federal Reserve building.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged the Bangladeshi man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and with providing material support to Al Qaeda. They said he had tried to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb hidden in a van parked near the Federal Reserve building, on Liberty Street, in the financial district.

Mr. Nafis had been under surveillance for months as part of an elaborate sting operation. An undercover officer gave him fake bomb material that could not have exploded. Mr. Nafis met several times with the undercover officer to plan the attack, and mentioned that he was collaborating with Yaqeen, who was identified in the complaint as a co-conspirator.

In July, the complaint against Mr. Nafis said, he told the undercover agent that Yaqeen had told him about a military base in Baltimore, with only one guard standing outside, that they could attack.

Mr. Carter had been placed under surveillance in San Diego as early as August, according to court documents in the pornography case. A federal agent there found the computer involved in that case on Aug. 16, but officials waited until after Mr. Nafis’s arrest to arrest Mr. Carter. Mr. Nafis arrived in the United States in January on a student visa. Prosecutors said he later tried to recruit people to form a terrorist cell and contacted a confidential informer who introduced him to the undercover agent.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Nafis and the agent parked a van filled with what Mr. Nafis was led to believe was a bomb in front of the Federal Reserve building, according to the complaint against him. They went to a nearby hotel, where Mr. Nafis tried to detonate it by dialing a number on his cellphone, the complaint said. Then he was arrested.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


FBI raids law firm, call center in mortgage modification probe

June 13, 2012

Fox13Now.com on June 12, 2012 released the following:

“by Ben Winslow

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Federal agents swarmed a call center here and questioned employees as part of an ongoing probe into a Midvale law firm’s mortgage modification business.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah confirmed to FOX 13 an investigation was under way into CC Brown Law, which advertised itself online as helping people with debt problems. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the business operated under “Sentry Legal,” “WT Lee” and “JL Martin,” among other names.

FOX 13 was there as agents blocked off the exits to the building and escorted employees, one by one, into a command post to be questioned. FBI agents at the scene in West Valley City refused to comment.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah said the search warrants served were sealed and no criminal charges have been filed. However, the office put out a plea for people who have been using the firm’s services to come forward and speak with the FBI.

“Individuals who have been working with the business on a mortgage modification, who would like information, can contact a toll free number established by the FBI at 1-877-236-8947 (press option 2). The toll-free number will be activated this evening,” the statement said.

“A recorded message will advise individuals that they can submit contact information and copies of any documents to the FBI by mailing them to the FBI Salt Lake City Division, attention CC Brown Investigation. The FBI’s address is 257 East 200 South, Suite 1200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.”

“Individuals can also submit information about the company’s business practices to the FBI by e-mail at saltlakecity@ic.fbi.gov,” the statement said.

Attempts to reach CC Brown Law representatives for comment at its Fort Union offices on Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful. A man who was seen being led into the FBI’s mobile command post refused to comment to FOX 13 as he walked to his car.

“I can’t say anything, man,” he said as he got into the vehicle.

In a statement sent to FOX 13 on Tuesday night, Sentry Legal disassociated itself with CC Brown Law Firm.

“While Sentry Legal is contracted to provide legal support services to the Law Offices of C. C. Brown, we are not, nor have we ever been, a subsidiary, principal or operated under the name of C.C. Brown,” the statement said. “Sentry Legal is a separate company from the Law Offices of C. C. Brown. Sentry Legal has not been “raided” by the FBI, in fact, upon hearing of the C.C. Brown news, Sentry Legal has contacted the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office to cooperate as needed.”

Online, CC Brown Law had numerous websites that appeared to no longer be in service. One listed testimonials, including one that proclaimed the firm “specialized in helping people in getting loan modifications for the last few years. Several people have been helped from the CC Brown Law services and they are looking to help many more.”

But also online were numerous websites and even a Facebook group blasting the firm for its customer service and claiming it is a scam.

The Utah Division of Real Estate said it has taken action against the company in 2010. The company was fined $5,000 for advertising loan modification services without a mortgage license, state officials said.

The state of Maryland issued a cease and desist order against CC Brown Law in 2011.

Judy Driggs, the president of the Better Business Bureau of Utah said her office had fielded 55 complaints against CC Brown Law, with people claiming they had given money to the firm to work with lenders. Those people, she said, had lost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 without hearing back from the firm.”

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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

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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.


Feds: Trafficking ring busted smuggling kids over U.S.-Canadian border

June 8, 2012

SeattlePI.com on June 7, 2012 released the following:

“16 indicted; SeaTac motel owner faces prison is scheme
By LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

Federal investigators have cracked a human trafficking ring thought to have smuggled dozens of illegal immigrants – including children traveling alone – over the Canadian border.

Having indicted 16 suspects in recent months, federal prosecutors in Seattle contend the loosely knit group brought more than 70 people into the United States from India, Pakistan and South Korea. Once inside the country, they were driven or flown to at least six states, including Illinois, Texas, New York and Massachusetts.

The operation – broken up by an informant and ultimately infiltrated by an undercover federal agent – was apparently lucrative for its leaders. A SeaTac hotel owner who moved and housed the smuggling ring’s customers was paid $1,000 a head just for a ride south from the U.S. side of the border.

Since the string of indictments, 11 of the 12 defendants have pleaded guilty to related charges. The other four are not yet in federal custody, according to court records.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Federal Prosecutors, Defense Attorney Agree to Extend Deadline for Federal Indictment of Arlington Strip Club Owner

May 10, 2012

Star-Telgram on May 9, 2012 released the following:

“Prosecutors, defense attorney agree to extend deadline for indictment of Arlington strip club owner

BY PATRICK M. WALKER

FORT WORTH — Federal prosecutors and the attorney for the owner of an Arlington strip club who is accused of targeting Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck in a murder-for-hire plot have agreed to push back the deadline for an indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Wolfe and J. Warren St. John, who represents Flashdancer Cabaret owner Ryan Walker Grant, agreed to extend the deadline by 71 days to July 19, according to court filings. The filings say the two sides are conducting discovery as well as negotiations that could lead to a plea bargain.

Under the Speedy Trial Act, federal indictments must be filed within 30 days of the arrest. Federal agents detained Grant on April 9, meaning Wednesday would have been the deadline.

St. John declined to comment through his office. Wolfe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mark Daniel, a Fort Worth attorney not related to the case, said the deadline extension isn’t surprising, given that a public official was involved and federal agents moved quickly to make an arrest.

“Due to the complexity and the seriousness of the case, it’s not entirely unexpected,” he said, emphasizing that he doesn’t know the details behind the move.

Hit-man accusation

Grant is accused of trying to hire hit men from Mexico through an intermediary to kill Cluck and Dallas attorney Tom Brandt, who represents Arlington in cases involving sexually oriented businesses.

The intermediary was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

FBI Special Agent Matthew Wilkins testified at a detention hearing April 20 that several days after Grant contacted the informant and expressed interest in having Cluck and Brandt killed, he gave a final green light April 9 to proceed with the slaying of Cluck.

“Let’s do the mayor. Let’s hit him tomorrow,” Wilkins testified that Grant told the informant.

After receiving Grant’s instructions, the informant left Grant’s home in Kennedale, and Grant never contacted him again, Wilkins said. FBI agents arrested Grant a few hours later.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cureton ruled that Grant poses a flight risk and a threat to the community and ordered him held without bail.

When agents arrested Grant, they seized 22 guns, two bulletproof vests and nearly $150,000 in cash, Wilkins testified.

Club closed a year

Flashdancer, at Randol Mill Road and Texas 360 in north Arlington, has closed for a year under a settlement with the Texas attorney general’s office and the city in a nuisance lawsuit. In labeling the club a nuisance, city and state authorities cited the prevalence of drugs, prostitution and assaults.

Police Chief Theron Bowman has revoked the club’s sexually oriented business license on the grounds that Flashdancer filed a misleading application with the city and allowed rampant sexual contact between employees and customers. Grant wanted Cluck and Brandt killed because he felt they stood in the way of the reopening, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.”

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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.


Drug crime sends first-time offender grandmom to prison for life

May 10, 2012

Houston Chronicle on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“Houstonian, who has no secrets to trade, is doing more time than drug lords
By Dane Schiller

FORT WORTH – The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.

But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life – without parole.

“It is ridiculous,” said Castillo, who is a generation older than her cell mates, and is known as “grandma” at the prison here. “I am no one.”

Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses – men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.

The drug capos had something to trade: the secrets of criminal organizations. The biggest drug lords have pleaded guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences.

Castillo said she has nothing to offer in a system rife with inconsistencies and behind-the-scenes scrambling that amounts to a judicial game of Let’s Make A Deal.

“Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.

In 2010, of 1,766 defendants prosecuted for federal drug offenses in the Southern District of Texas – a region that reaches from Houston to the border – 93.2 percent pleaded guilty rather than face trial, according to the U.S. government. Just 10 defendants were acquitted at trial, and 82 saw their cases dismissed.

The statistics are similar nationwide.

The latest case in point came this week with the negotiated surrender of a Colombian drug boss Javier Calle Serna, whom the United States accuses of shipping at least 30 tons of cocaine.

While how much time Calle will face is not known publicly, he likely studied other former players, including former Gulf Cartel lord Osiel Cardenas Guillen.

Cardenas once led one of Mexico’s most powerful syndicates and created the Zetas gang. He pleaded guilty in Houston and is to be released by 2025. He’ll be 57.

As the federal prison system has no parole, Castillo has no prospect of ever going home.

“Any reasonable person would look at this and say, ‘God, are you kidding?’ ” said attorney David Bires, who represented Castillo on an unsuccessful appeal. “It is not right.”

Castillo’s elderly mother in Mexico has not been told she’s serving life, and her toddler grandson thinks she’s in the hospital when he comes to visit her in prison.

Castillo is adamant about her innocence.

“Put yourself in my shoes. When you are innocent, you are innocent,” she said. “I don’t say I am perfect. I am not … but I can guarantee you 100 percent that I am innocent of this.”

At the urging of her boyfriend, Martin Ovalle, Castillo became partners with a smooth-talking Mexican resident who said he wanted to set up a Houston-based bus company.

But the buses were light on passengers and shuttled thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States and millions of dollars back to Mexico. Her lawyers argued she was naive.

Castillo claims she didn’t know about the drug operation, but agents said she should have known something was wrong when quantities of money and drugs were repeatedly found on the coaches.

“After hearing all the evidence as presented from both the government and defense in this case, the jury found her guilty … ,” said Kenneth Magidson, chief prosecutor here.

Former federal prosecutor Mark W. White III said if Castillo had something to share, she might have benefited from a sentence reduction for cooperating.

“Information is a cooperating defendant’s stock in trade,” White said, “and if you don’t have any, … the chances are you won’t get a good deal.”

Castillo has faith that she’ll somehow, some day, go free. Her daily routine doesn’t vary: when she eats breakfast, when she works, when she exercises, and when she brushes her hair, which has gone from red-blond to black and gray. The gray gets respect in prison.

“I will leave here one day with my head held high,” she said. “I don’t feel like a bug or a cockroach. I am a human being, with my feet firmly on the ground.””

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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

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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.


Clemens trial resumes with more from federal agent

May 7, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on May 7, 2012 released the following:

“Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Federal agent Jeff Novitzky returns for a third day of testimony Monday in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, while behind the scenes Clemens’ lawyers sought to strike the testimony of former teammate Andy Pettitte.

Last week, Pettitte testified that Clemens told him he had tried human growth hormone, only to say under cross-examination that he might have misunderstood Clemens. As expected, Clemens’ lawyers filed a motion asking that the jury not be allowed to consider the conversation between the two pitchers.

Pettitte said that it was “fair” to say that there was a 50 percent chance he misunderstood Clemens, his friend and one-time mentor.

“The court should not allow the jury to consider an alleged ‘admission’ that has all the weight of a coin flip,” Clemens’ lawyers wrote in a filing Monday morning, before the resumption of the trial.

Clemens is accused of lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using HGH and steroids.

Meanwhile, the government will conclude its re-direct questioning of Novitzky, an agent with the Food and Drug Administration. He has already been questioned by the government and cross-examined by Clemens’ lawyer.

Last week, Novitzky described the physical evidence he had collected from Clemens’ former strength coach, Brian McNamee. Prosecutors will try to prove the evidence shows the former baseball pitcher used steroids and human growth hormone.

Clemens’ lawyers have said they will contend that the evidence has been tainted and contaminated.

McNamee is expected to testify later this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

Prosecutors got off to a rough start Monday, when U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton told them they could not play a clip of a 2008 Clemens’ “60 Minutes” interview for the jury. In the clip, Clemens says he was advised by counsel not to talk to former Sen. George Mitchell, who was investigating performance-enhancing drugs in baseball and would identify Clemens as a user in his report to Major League Baseball.

After the interview aired, Clemens testified to Congress that he didn’t know that Mitchell wanted to talk to him. Prosecutors wanted to show the “60 Minutes” clip in an attempt to show Clemens was obstructing Congress, arguing the two statements were contradictory. But Walton said the clip could not be played without interfering with the attorney-client privilege. He also said it was possible Clemens was told generally by lawyers not to talk to Mitchell, without actually informing the pitcher that Mitchell wanted to talk to him.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.