Media motion seeks Edwards juror names at end of trial

May 26, 2012

The Charlotte Observer on May 24, 2012 released the following:

“The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and other media organizations are seeking to make public the names of jurors deciding federal charges against John Edwards at the end of his trial at the U.S. District Court in Greensboro.

In a motion filed with the court Wednesday, the media organizations cited a local rule of the Greensboro court that prohibits the clerk’s office from disclosing without court permission the names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who have served on juries.

The panel deciding whether the former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate violated federal campaign-contribution laws is expected to begin its fifth day of deliberations Thursday. The jury has not been sequestered during more than four weeks of testimony or during deliberations.

The names of people serving on federal juries is public according to federal law, the media organizations argued in their court filings.

The motion also cites intense public interest in the trial and in how the jury ultimately rules. It argues that “there is no compelling governmental interest in withholding the identities of individuals who served on the jury. Moreover, given that the case has proceeded in open court with jurors whose identities are at least partially known, perpetuating the secrecy of the jury is an affront to the First Amendment in service of a weak interest with no hope of success.”

Joining in the motion are WRAL, WTVD, The New York Times Co., Media General, News 14 Carolina, NBC Universal and The Associated Press.”

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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.


Jury Convicts Kingpin and Members of his Family of Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering

July 23, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on July 22, 2011 released the following:

“LAREDO, Texas -Late yesterday afternoon, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts on 14 of 16 counts charged against the five remaining defendants charged as a result of Operation Reload, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Twenty-nine defendants were arrested as a result of Operation Reload and, with these convictions, all 29 have now been convicted.

The jury found Leandro Salas Galaviz, 35, and Norberto Alaniz, 37, of Laredo, guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Galaviz was also found guilty of six additional counts of possession with intent to distribute either cocaine or marijuana, while Alaniz was found guilty of an additional count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Leandro Salas Galaviz, Mayra Lopez, 31, Josefina Galaviz, 55, and Yesica Magana, 31, were all found guilty of conspiracy to launder drug proceeds in addition to at least one other money laundering count. United States District Judge Micaela Alavarez, who presided over the more than weeklong trial, has scheduled sentencing for all five defendants for Oct. 13, 2011.

Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Operation Reload was an investigation spearheaded by the Laredo offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) which culminated in several indictments being returned in December 2009 and unsealed in January 2010. Following the unsealing of the indictments, law enforcement authorities arrested 29 defendants charged for their part in drug and money laundering organizations based out of Laredo.

Leandro Salas Galaviz is an illegal resident living in Laredo under the false identity of Daniel Obregon. Galaviz and co-conspirator, Norberto Alaniz, stand convicted of shipping multi-ton quantities of marijuana and cocaine from the Laredo area to destinations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago and other areas. During the course of trial, the jury heard testimony which identified Galaviz as having been placed in Laredo by the Gulf Carel/Zetas and responsible for finding transportation for marijuana and cocaine shipments. Alaniz was identified as one of many other co-conspirators who assisted Galaviz in transporting or arranging for the transportation of marijuana and cocaine loads from Laredo to Dallas and other destinations.

Leandro Salas Galaviz, along with his wife, Lopez, his mother, Josefina Galaviz, and his sister, Yesica Magana, all of Laredo, were convicted for their part in the money laundering conspiracy which involved the use of multiple bank accounts used to conduct financial transactions designed to conceal and disguise the true nature and ownership of the thousands of dollars of cash proceeds deposited and withdrawn from those accounts. These defendants also conducted numerous financial transactions through the use of bank accounts and in relation to the purchase and sale of vehicles and real property. Lopez and Josefina Galaviz invested drug proceeds in a local Laredo business incorporated under the name of Via Italia Devine also in an attempt to conceal the true illicit source of the money.

Between 2004 through 2009, evidence showed that almost $2 million in cash drug proceeds were deposited into those accounts. In April 2008, Leandro Salas Galaviz and his mother, who was employed as a temporary worker at the time, paid $148,000 towards the purchase of a lot on the golf course of the Plantation Subdivision. Between June 2008 and December 2009, Leandro Salas Galaviz used cash proceeds in excess of $400,000 towards the construction of a luxury home on the lot.

Through testimony, the jury learned that in 2003, when Leandro Salas Galaviz and his wife first came to the United States, he was working at a doughnut shop making doughnuts in the Dallas area. After moving to Laredo, he worked as a car salesman in various car dealerships, but made little income. The jury heard recorded conversations in which Leandro Salas Galaviz was recorded saying that the drug trafficking job was all about making money. “One gets to work well and you get paid well.” In recorded conversations, he is heard discussing having shipped millions of dollars in drug proceeds back to Mexico and the Cartel/Zetas. The government’s evidence also proved that large money transfers were being sent from Mexico to the various bank accounts used by Leandro Salas Galaviz, Lopez and Josefina Galaviz. Money laundering carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount of the financial transaction, whichever is greater.

Numerous recorded conversations of Leandro Salas Galaviz were also presented during the trial and played for the jury proving his leadership role of the Laredo based drug trafficking organization. Many of the conversations were recorded in 2007 when the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas were still aligned. During many of the recordings, Leandro Salas Galaviz admits he worked directly under Jaime Gonzalez Duran aka Hummer, a known high ranking Zeta, who is now in the custody of Mexican authorities. Leandro Salas Galaviz also admitted he had direct ties to Heriberto Lazcano, aka Zeta 14, Ivan Velasquez Caballero, aka Talivan or 50, and Velasquez’s brother, Danny Velasquez, aka 52, Sergio Pena Mendoza, aka El Concord – now in Mexican custody, and Miguel Angel Trevino, aka 40. Leandro Salas Galaviz is also overheard discussing the recent promotion of Miguel Angel Trevino within the cartel and noting his disapproval because Trevino whom he calls a “Javalin” was difficult to work with, was a cheat, had a bad temper and would kill his people. He noted that it was going to be hard to continue to making money with Trevino in charge.

During recorded conversations, Leandro Salas Galaviz refers to the Gulf Cartel/Zetas as “La Compania” and notes that La Compania has given him power. In a 2007 conversation, Leandro Salas Galaviz is recorded saying he had been trafficking drugs for the Company for five years. He tells others to think of him as if he were part of “la letra,” a reference to being a Zeta. He is also recorded boasting that if it weren’t for his work in Laredo, they (a reference to the Carel/Zetas) would not eat. In yet other recorded conversations, Leandro Salas Galaviz discusses having sent millions of dollars to Mexico in tractors for loads of drugs delivered in the United States. Ironically, in yet other conversations, he is heard saying that half the people he started with (in drug trafficking) are dead and the other half are in jail. Leandro Salas Galaviz stated in recordings that , “if they ever arrest me here, I never get out.” Galaviz faces a maximum of life imprisonment without parole for the drug conspiracy conviction as well as millions in fines.

Numerous other recorded conversations involved Norberto Alaniz admitting he was working for Leandro Salas Galaviz when he was arrested in 2006 at the Highway 59 Checkpoint driving a tractor which contained 62 kilograms of cocaine and his having continued to work for Leandro Salas Galaviz after the arrest by finding drivers who could transport loads of drugs. Alaniz admits to having arranged for the transportation of a ton of marijuana for Leandro Salas Galaviz which was later seized by law enforcement. Alaniz also faces a maximum of life imprisonment without parole for his drug conspiracy convction.

In addition to the guilty verdicts, the jury also returned special verdicts forfeiting to the United States a home in the Prestwick subdivision of Plantation which the government proved was built with drug proceeds, as well as $118,000 from a bank account used during the money laundering scheme.

With the exception of Magana, who has been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing, all others are in and will remain in federal custody without bond pending sentencing.

One of the other key defendants arrested and charged as a result of Operation Reload, Omar Compean, was sentenced this week by Judge Alvarez. Compean, the head of a transportion cell that transported drug loads for Leandro Salas Galaviz, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana prior to this trial. Judge Alvarez sentenced Compean to 262 months in federal prison without parole and fined him $250,000.

Assistant United States Attorneys Mary Lou Castillo and Mary Ellen Smyth tried the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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William Roger Clemens Jury Selection Update

July 7, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) on July 7, 2011 released the following:

“Clemens not getting a lot of love from jury pool

By NEDRA PICKLER and MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — One-time baseball superstar Roger Clemens is in the midst of a tedious and humbling process that is one of the most important parts of his trial on charges of lying about drug use – selecting the jury members who will decide his fate.

So far the pitching great hasn’t gotten a lot of love from the line of Washingtonians who have been questioned about their fitness to serve on his trial, expected to last into August. There were some sports fans in the group, but most said they don’t know much about him.

“If he were sitting there, I would not know who he was,” one woman said, as Clemens sat facing her about 15 feet away.

Among those who said she follows baseball was a retired writer and lawyer who acknowledged Thursday that she wants to be a juror.

“I would like to be on this jury because I think I can keep people focused,” said the woman, who called herself a “die-hard” Washington Nationals fan.

Another person who said he knew a lot about Clemens and his case was 37-year-old Omari Bradley. The former personal trainer and Little League coach said he considers himself a fair person. But Bradley said he had to admit he would have a hard time finding Clemens not guilty after all he’s heard in the media about how the seven-time Cy Young Award winner should just admit he used steroids. The judge excused Bradley.

Clemens steadfastly denies the allegations made by his former trainer, who says he injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs repeatedly as the pitcher maintained a blinding throwing speed into middle age. Clemens says the trainer, Brian McNamee, is a liar who fabricated evidence against him. McNamee gave federal agents their most important physical evidence in the case – needles and gauze the trainer said he used to inject the star athlete.

Clemens is accused of lying under oath to the House Government Reform Committee in 2008 when he denied ever using steroids or human growth hormone. He faces six felony counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of Congress.

Prosecutors and the defense read the jury pool a list of people who may be called as witnesses or mentioned at the trial. The list included some of the biggest names in baseball, including others who have been at the center of the steroid scandal, such as Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco. The list also included baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, former Yankees manager Joe Torre, former players’ union director Donald Fehr and several other officials and teammates from the four major league teams Clemens played for.

Jurors were asked about their knowledge of those figures as well as their feelings about the case, baseball, Congress and principles of criminal law. They were asked whether they had scientific training, played organized sports or were baseball fans. One public relations consultant was not. “I can’t imagine spending money to watch a sport where guys scratch themselves and spit a lot,” she said, drawing a smile from Clemens, who otherwise sat expressionless through most of the proceedings.

The woman said she could still be fair to Clemens, quipping that she doesn’t consider spitting and scratching crimes. She was qualified to serve along with six others so far. In addition to Bradley, others excused were a woman with medical issues and another who said she couldn’t be gone from work for the duration of the trial.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he hopes to wrap up jury selection Tuesday morning.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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Gregory Lashon Thomas, Aja D. Crawford, and Ernest Ohenekitiwa McMillan Set for a Federal Criminal Trial Before Honorable Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater

July 7, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas on July 6, 2011 released the following:

“TRIAL DATE SET IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR MORTGAGE FRAUD CASE

Alleged Fraud Involved Approximately $6 Million in Fraudulently Obtained Loan Proceeds

DALLAS — An August 29, 2011, trial date, before Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, has been set for three defendants charged with running a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme in the Dallas area, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. Gregory Lashon Thomas, Aja D. Crawford, aka Aja Abercrombie and Ernest Ohenekitiwa McMillan were arrested on conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud charges outlined in a four-count indictment returned last month. All three pleaded not guilty and have been released on bond.

According to the indictment, Gregory Thomas, 40, of Desoto, Texas, owned and operated Myriad Investments and Investors Source, two real-estate “investment” companies in the Dallas area. Gregory Thomas recruited individuals, including Ernest McMillan, 41, of Dallas, and others to buy residential real estate by telling them that they were purchasing “investment” properties. Thomas further worked with various loan officers, including Aja Crawford, 34, of Irving, Texas, to prepare false loan applications on behalf of the individual purchasers. The loan applications included misrepresentations about the individuals’ monthly income, intention to occupy the property, assets and liabilities. Some loans also included fake documents attempting to justify an individual’s credit-worthiness, such as fake bank records to show that the individual had sufficient money in the bank to qualify for the mortgage

For certain properties involved in the scheme, Thomas provided the down payment at closing. Shortly after closing, Thomas received payment from the seller that wasn’t disclosed on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. Thomas would then pay the individual purchaser or another recruiter for purchasing the property.

The indictment alleges that from February 2006 through July 2008, Thomas recruited individuals to purchase real estate properties resulting in approximately $6 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds and $2 million in estimated losses.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force visit: http://www.stopfraud.gov

An indictment is an accusation by a federal grand jury, and a defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. If convicted, however, the conspiracy to commit mail fraud count and each of the substantive mail fraud counts carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution could also be ordered.

The case is being investigated by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Nicholas Bunch is in charge of the prosecution.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

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

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