Unsealed Federal Criminal Indictment Alleges that 13 Alleged Members of the Hankton Organization Committed Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering and Other Serious Federal Crimes

October 20, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 19, 2012 released the following:

“NEW ORLEANS, LA— Walter Porter, 37, a/k/a “Urkel” a/k/a “Moonie”; Nakia Hankton, 34; Shirley Hankton, 58, ; Telly Hankton, 36, a/k/a “Third” a/k/a “Wild”; Thomas Hankton, 36, a/k/a “Squirt”; Troy Hankton, 28; George Jackson, 38, a/k/a “Black”; Derrick Smothers, 34, a/k/a “Dump”; Andre Hankton, 35; Kevin Jackson, 39; Netthany Schexnayder, 33; Sana Johnson, 37; and Terrell Smothers, 36, all of New Orleans, Louisiana, were charged in a 22-count superseding indictment by a federal [g]rand jury on Thursday October 18, 2012, announced Jim Letten, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana; Michael Anderson, FBI Special Agent in Charge for the New Orleans Division; and Phil Durham, ATF Special Agent in Charge; along with Jimmy Fox III, DEA Special Agent in Charge; Genny May, United States Marshal, Eastern District of Louisiana; Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish District Attorney; and Ronal Serpas, NOPD Superintendent.

The superseding indictment was unsealed today as most of the defendants were taken into custody by federal agents or were already in custody on related matters. Presently there are no defendants who are considered to be fugitives.

According to the superseding indictment, members of this organization and their associates ran a violent drug ring in and around the city of New Orleans dating back to 1996. During the course of this organization’s existence, its members and associates murdered rival drug dealers, intimidated witnesses, attempted to obstruct the state criminal justice system by having associates provide false alibi testimony in state court, and murdered a witness’ family member in an effort to obstruct justice.

Specifically, Andre Hankton, Telly Hankton, Kevin Jackson, Walter Porter, and Thomas Hankton are all charged in specific murders and could potentially face the death penalty for the murders of Darnell Stewart, Jesse Reed, Hasan Williams, and Curtis Matthews (counts five, six, eight, nine, 10, 11, 15, and 16). No decision concerning this issue has been made at this time. As in all possible capital cases, this case must be reviewed according to a strict protocol to determine whether the Department of Justice will seek the death penalty.

Speaking to today’s unsealed indictment, U.S. Attorney Letten stated:

“Today, as the result of the outstanding work of the men and women of federal enforcement and our partners in the New Orleans Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office, yet another powerful blow has been made against an organization whose members are alleged to have committed murder and violence against our community. My deepest gratitude goes to the dedicated members of our own office, together with special agents of the FBI and ATF, along with DEA and the Marshals Service.”

“Our very special thanks go out to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas, and their tremendous team for their commitment, hardwork, professionalism, and partnership. Without NOPD’s investigative work, and the District Attorney’s indispensable charging groundwork, partnership, and seamless cooperation, the full extent of this indictment would not have been achieved.”

Mike Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office, added:

“This investigation is a clear reflection of the FBI’s enhanced commitment to address localized violent street gangs, in partnership with our federal, state, and local law enforcement counterparts. Accordingly, such criminal activity will remain a top investigative priority.”

Phil Durham, Special Agent in Charge of ATF, stated:

“ATF’s primary goal is to work along side our other law enforcement partners to reduce the number of homicides and other violent crimes committed with firearms. This joint effort clearly illustrate our commitment of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to making our communities safer.”

U.S. Attorney Letten reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

No further information is available at this time.

This indictment is the culmination of a long federal grand jury investigation that was conducted with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the United States Marshals Service; the New Orleans Police Department; the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office; and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.”

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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.


Facing FBI scrutiny, former Democratic candidate files amended campaign finance report

August 26, 2012

Miami Herald on August 24, 2012 released the following:

“An ex-Democratic candidate whose cam- paign may have had links to Rep. David Rivera filed documents saying he loaned himself $64,000.

BY MARC CAPUTO AND MANNY GARCIA

A failed Democratic congressional candidate whose campaign is under federal grand jury investigation abruptly amended his financial disclosures to show he loaned himself nearly $53,000 more than he originally reported.

Before filing the new report, Justin Lamar Sternad, 35, insisted his finances were in order and steadfastly refused to say how he paid for tens of thousands of dollars worth of campaign-mail services.

Many of the transactions were in cash — sometimes in the form of $100 bills stuffed in envelopes, a campaign vendor said.

The big cash payments drew the attention of the FBI, which began examining the working-class hotel employee, a political unknown who now claims to have dropped about $64,000 of his own money in his Aug. 14 primary loss.

Campaign vendors told The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that Sternad’s congressional Democratic primary run was backed by Republican Rep. David Rivera, who says he has never met or helped Sternad. During the campaign, Sternad bashed Rivera’s main rival, Joe Garcia. Garcia handily won and faces Rivera in November.

Rivera and Sternad have denied working in concert. Rivera has publicly attacked Sternad’s campaign vendors who spoke about his role, calling them liars or Herald lackeys. Sternad has blamed them for his reporting problems.

“I did not previously report this loan because I was unaware of the final monetary obligation incurred by my campaign,” Sternad wrote to the Federal Election Commission, which posted his letter Thursday. “I have now received invoices for the expenditures … and this amendment represents satisfaction of those invoices.”

The filing of an amended report doesn’t mean that law enforcement is done examining his case, say legal experts. They say it’s unlawful to knowingly and willfully file a false federal campaign report — even if it’s amended later.

John Borrero, president of Rapid Mail & Computer Services in Hialeah, told El Nuevo Herald last week that Sternad’s campaign paid about $43,000 in cash for mailings.

Some payments were allegedly made by Ana Alliegro, Sternad’s campaign consultant, totaling at least $7,000, in crisp hundred dollar bills, stuffed in envelopes, several sources familiar with the criminal probe said.

Alliegro, according to the sources, also went to Rapid Mail after the initial Herald story, published on Aug. 16, demanding all records linked to Sternad, ordering employees to throw out everything and finally telling Borrero and his staff “I hope you have a lot of clients.”

Alliegro told The Herald Thursday night that she never paid cash, and that she went to Rapid Mail solely to collect the invoices and documents associated with the Lamar mailings, so he could file his amended financial disclosure.

Borrero said he turned everything over — to law enforcement.

As a result, investigators have ramped up the probe, interviewed witnesses and subpoenaed campaign records. A federal grand jury is now involved.

Kenneth Gross, a Washington-based campaign-finance expert not connected to the case, amending a report may help him “mitigate” criminal exposure. “But it depends on the gravity of the case, the amount involved and the intent,” he said. “Was the report amended of the candidate’s own volition, or were there other pressures at play?”

It’s unclear how Sternad afforded the $64,000 in loans he gave himself.

His financial disclosures show he earned about $30,000 last year from working at local hotels.

Sternad noted he had a trust fund, but reported no income from it this year or the previous year. He reported having a one-third interest in the fund, whose value ranges between $50,000 and $100,000.

Under campaign finance disclosure rules, candidates do not have to provide an exact amount of assets — only a range of value. But they are required to disclose loans in the reporting period in which the money was used. Sternad failed to comply.

Sternad has also had financial troubles in the past. He declared bankruptcy in 1997 and more recently Capital One Bank won a default judgment against Sternad’s wife for $1,746.48 on Jan. 11, records show. There is no record that the judgment has been satisfied.

Sternad’s explanation about needing invoices before he could report his loans and expenditures conflicts with what Borrero, the owner of Rapid Mail and Computer Service, told The Herald.

Borrero said he was paid for all the work, mostly in cash, before the mailings were sent. The amended report notes that the payments totaled $46,973.10. So some, if not all, of the loan should probably have been reported at the time.

Sternad seemed to blame Borrero for the problem, noting in an unusual statement tucked in his amended report that “Vendor refused to provide invoices until 8/17/12. Invoice provided dated 8/8/12. Vendor did not provide detailed postage information.”

The only expense not paid by cash to Rapid Mail came from Expert Printing. Sternad’s latest report shows Expert Printing billed him for a $6,000 expense. That expense was not listed in his previous report.

An owner of Expert Printing declined comment.

Sternad’s latest report and accounting irregularities sharply contrast with the image he portrayed as a fiscal hawk during a May interview with CBS-4’s Elliot Rodriguez.

“I do auditing,” Sternad bragged in talking about his hotel management job, “And I want to get in there [Congress] and cut out some of the fat, some of the pork.”

Questions about Sternad’s finances and ties to Rivera were first raised by Garcia’s campaign in early August after one mailer attacked the Democrat over his divorce. The Garcia campaign noted that Rapid Mail had done more than $100,000 worth of business with Rivera in 2010.

Another firm, Campaign Data, also performed work for Rivera in 2010. Owner Hugh Cochran said Rivera helped the Democrats targeted by Sternad in his sophisticated 11-piece mail campaign.

Rivera has responded to the charges by questioning the honesty of Cochran and Borrero, who say they’re telling the truth.

In his final pre-primary report, Sternad showed he had only $120.97 in the bank. His reports showed no payments to Rapid Mail, Campaign Data or Expert printing. Sternad was repeatedly asked how he could afford the mailers with no money in his campaign, but he refused to answer.

“Kiss my ‘lily-white’ ass,” he said in an Election Day email.

He has since refused comment.

Ironically, Rivera — a Republican lawmaker who’s implicated in the unreported cash-for-mailers scheme — is defending Sternad, a Democratic political newcomer.

Even though the congressman said he doesn’t know Sternad or have any connection to his campaign, Rivera was the first to obtain the new campaign-finance reports for Sternad.

An FEC spokeswoman said Thursday that the FEC’s mailroom had received the reports Tuesday, however they weren’t made public until Thursday. Until that point, they weren’t public record.

Rivera, who will not address specific questions from The Herald, refused to explain Thursday on Spanish-language Radio Mambi how he got the reports. Also, Rivera suggested that Sternad could afford the personal expenses because he has a trust fund.

Rivera accused The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald of working in league with Garcia.

“What I know is that nothing that is written in the Miami Herald can be believed,” Rivera said Friday morning on Radio Mambi, dismissing a suggestion by one of the hosts, Oscar Haza, that the Herald story was accurate.

Haza, who also hosts Spanish-language América Tevé’s (Channel 41) A Mano Limpia, interviewed Miami-based Reuters reporter David Adams on his program Wednesday night. Adams said he spoke to the campaign vendors quoted in the Herald and that they told him the same information.”

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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.