Defense Contractor Benjamin Pierce Bishop Charged in Federal Criminal Complaint with Allegedly Communicating Classified Information to Person Not Entitled to Receive Such Information

March 19, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 18, 2013 released the following:

“Defense Contractor Charged in Hawaii with Communicating Classified Information to Person Not Entitled to Receive Such Information

HONOLULU— Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former U.S. Army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defense contractor at U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) in Hawaii, has been arrested on charges of communicating classified national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information.

The arrest and charges were announced by Florence T. Nakakuni, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Vida G. Bottom, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Honolulu Division; Dwight Clayton, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Hawaii Field Office; and U.S. Navy Captain Patrick McCarthy of USPACOM.

Bishop, a resident of Hawaii, was arrested Friday without incident at his workspace at USPACOM in Hawaii and made his initial appearance on Monday in federal court in Honolulu. The criminal complaint filed in the District of Hawaii charges him with one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense. If convicted, he faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Bishop currently works as an employee of a defense contractor that has a contract with USPACOM, whose command is based in Oahu, Hawaii. Bishop has held a top secret security clearance since July 2002 and held access to Secure Compartmented Information from November 2002 to April 2012. As a person holding a top secret security clearance, Bishop has been subject to multiple security briefings on restrictions regarding the disclosure of classified national defense information, as well as the handling, marking, and storage of such information.

According to the affidavit, between May 2011 through December 2012, Bishop willfully communicated classified national defense information on multiple occasions to Person 1, an individual not entitled to receive such information. The affidavit alleges that Person 1 is a 27-year-old female citizen of the People’s Republic of China who is residing in the United States on a visa and who does not possess, nor has ever possessed, a U.S. security clearance, and thus is not entitled to receive U.S. classified information.

According to the affidavit, Bishop and Person 1 originally met in Hawaii during a conference regarding international military defense issues. Since June 2011, Bishop and Person 1 have allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship. Despite a Defense Department directive requiring personnel, like Bishop, who maintain a U.S. security clearance to report to the U.S. government any contacts with foreign persons, Bishop has affirmatively hidden his relationship with Person 1 from U.S. government officials, the affidavit alleges.

The affidavit alleges that Bishop communicated information classified at the secret level to Person 1 on several instances. According to the affidavit, the national defense information that Bishop passed to Person 1 included information relating to nuclear weapons; information on planned deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems; information on the ability of the United States to detect low- and medium-range ballistic missiles of foreign governments; and information on the deployment of U.S. early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim.

The affidavit further alleges that a court-authorized search of Bishop’s residence in November 2012 revealed approximately 12 individual documents each with classification markings at the secret level. Bishop’s residence is not an authorized location for the storage of classified information, and Bishop was not authorized to remove and retain those documents.

This case is being investigated by the FBI Honolulu Division and the NCIS Hawaii Field Office in coordination with USPACOM and the U.S. Army. The prosecution is being handled by Kenneth Sorenson, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii, and Robert E. Wallace, Jr., Senior Trial Attorney in the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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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.


Philadelphia Man Charged in Colorado for Alleged Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization

March 16, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 15, 2012 released the following:

“DENVER— Bakhtiyor Jumaev, age 45, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was arrested this morning without incident by members of the Philadelphia FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Department of Justice announced today.

Jumaev was charged by criminal complaint in the District of Colorado with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorism organization, specifically, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). If convicted, Jumaev faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The defendant made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, where he was advised of his rights and the charges pending against him.

The FBI has been conducting an investigation into the activities of Jumaev and his associate, Jamshid Muhtorov, who was arrested in January 2012 on similar charges. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Jumaev and Muhtorov pledged support for the IJU and Jumaev sent funds to Muhtorov specifically intended for the IJU. The IJU is an extremist organization that is responsible for a number of attacks and bombings, including attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan. The IJU has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in cities across the country, including the FBI’s JTTFs in Philadelphia and Denver. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania assisted with this matter. The investigation was also aided by the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Jumaev and Muhtorov are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Holloway.

The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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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 Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions 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.


Australian Man and His Firm Indicted in Alleged Plot to Export Restricted Military and Other U.S. Technology to Iran

March 1, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on February 29, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON—An Australian man and his company have been indicted today by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for conspiring to export sensitive military and other technology from the United States to Iran, including components with applications in missiles, drones, torpedoes, and helicopters.

The five-count indictment charges David Levick, 50, an Australian national, and his company, ICM Components Inc., located in Thorleigh, Australia, each with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act; as well as four counts of illegally exporting goods to an embargoed nation in violation of IEEPA; and forfeiture of at least $199,227.41.

The indictment was announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; John J. McKenna, Special Agent in Charge of the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement Boston Field Office; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Kathryn Feeney, Resident Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Resident Agency in New Haven, Connecticut; and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston.

Levick, who is the general manager of ICM Components, remains at large and is believed to be in Australia. If convicted, Levick faces a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and 20 years in prison for each count of violating IEEPA.

According to the indictment, beginning as early as March 2007 and continuing through around March 15, 2009, Levick and ICM solicited purchase orders from a representative of a trading company in Iran for U.S.-origin aircraft parts and other goods. This person in Iran, referenced in the charges as “Iranian A,” also operated and controlled companies in Malaysia that acted as intermediaries for the Iranian trading company.

The indictment alleges that Levick and ICM then placed orders with U.S. companies on behalf of Iranian A for aircraft parts and other goods that Iranian A could not have directly purchased from the United States without U.S. government permission. Among the items the defendants allegedly sought to procure from the United States are the following:

  • VG-34 Series Miniature Vertical Gyroscopes. These are aerospace products used to measure precisely and/or maintain control of pitch and roll in applications such as helicopter flight systems, target drones, missiles, torpedoes, and remotely piloted vehicles. They are classified as defense articles by the U.S. government and may not be exported from the United States without a license from the State Department or exported to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.
  • K2000 Series Servo Actuators designed for use on aircraft. The standard Servo Actuator is designed to be used for throttle, nose wheel steering, and most flight control surfaces. High-torque Servo Actuators are designed to be used for providing higher torque levels for applications such as flaps and landing gear retraction. These items are classified as defense articles by the U.S. government and may not be exported from the United States without a license from the State Department or exported to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.
  • Precision Pressure Transducers. These are sensor devices that have a wide variety of applications in the avionics industry, among others, and can be used for altitude measurements, laboratory testing, measuring instrumentations, and recording barometric pressure. These items may not be exported to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.
  • Emergency Floatation System Kits. These kits contained landing gear, float bags, composite cylinder, and a complete electrical installation kit. Such float kits were designed for use on Bell 206 helicopters to assist the helicopter when landing in either water or soft desert terrain. These items may not be exported to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.
  • Shock Mounted Light Assemblies. These items are packages of lights and mounting equipment designed for high vibration use and which can be used on helicopters and other fixed wing aircraft. These items may not be exported to Iran without a license from the Treasury Department.

According to the charges, Levick and ICM, when necessary, used a broker in Florida to place orders for these goods with U.S. firms to conceal that they were intended for transshipment to Iran. The defendants also concealed the final end-use and end-users of the goods from manufacturers, distributors, shippers, and freight forwarders in the United States and elsewhere, as well as from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. To further conceal their efforts, the defendants structured payments between each other for the goods to avoid restrictions on Iranian financial institutions by other countries.

The indictment further alleges that Levick and ICM wired money to companies located in the United States as payment for these restricted goods. Levick, ICM, and other members of the conspiracy never obtained the required licenses from the Treasury or State Department for the export of any of these goods to Iran, according to the charges.

In addition to the conspiracy allegations, the indictment charges the defendants with exporting or attempting to export four specific shipments of goods from the United States to Iran in violation of IEEPA. These include a shipment of 10 shock mounted light assemblies on Jan. 27, 2007; a shipment of five precision pressure transducers on Dec. 20, 2007; a shipment of 10 shock mounted light assemblies on March 17, 2008; and a shipment of one emergency floatation system kit on June 24, 2008.

This investigation was jointly conducted by agents of the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, FBI, DCIS and ICE-HSI. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John W. Borchert and Ann Petalas of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; and Trial Attorney Jonathan C. Poling of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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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 Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions 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.


Two Indicted for Alleged Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists

October 21, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 20, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Ali Charaf Damache, an Algerian man who resided in Ireland, and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, a Pakistani citizen and U.S. lawful permanent resident who resided in Maryland, have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists in a superseding indictment returned today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The charges were announced by Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Zane David Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and Mark Giuliano, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.

Damache, aka “Theblackflag,” 46, is charged in the superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Damache was arrested by authorities in Ireland in March 2010 where he is currently being held on unrelated charges. The United States intends to seek his extradition from Ireland to stand trial in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. If convicted of the charges against him in the superseding indictment, Damache faces a potential sentence of 45 years in prison.

Khalid, aka “Abdul Ba’aree ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Hassan Al-Afghani Al-Junoobi W’at-Emiratee,” 18, is charged in the superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Khalid was arrested in Ellicot City, Md., on July 6, 2011, and is currently in custody in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. If convicted of the charge against him in the superseding indictment, Khalid faces a potential sentence of 15 years in prison.

“Today’s indictment, which alleges a terrorist conspiracy involving individuals around the globe who connected via the Internet—including a teenager and two women living in America—underscores the evolving nature of violent extremism.” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “I thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who helped bring about this case.”

“Protecting the citizens of the United States from acts of terrorism is one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger. “This case demonstrates that we must remain vigilant within our communities to make sure that we bring to justice those terrorists, of any age or background, who seek to do great harm to our citizens.”

“This investigation highlights the diverse threat environment we face today,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Giuliano. “As revealed in this case, individuals used the Internet to further their radicalization and contribute to the radicalization of others. The FBI is committed to disrupting individual and group plots and doing so in close coordination with our law enforcement, intelligence and private sector partners.”

The indictment alleges that, from about 2008 through July 2011, Damache and Khalid conspired with Colleen R. LaRose, Jamie Paulin Ramirez, and others to provide material support and resources, including logistical support, recruitment services, financial support, identification documents and personnel, to a conspiracy to kill overseas. LaRose, aka “Fatima LaRose,” aka “Jihad Jane,” pleaded guilty in February 2011 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, false statements, and attempted identity theft. Ramirez pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in March 2011 to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

According to the indictment, Damache, Khalid and others devised and coordinated a violent jihad organization consisting of men and women from Europe and the United States divided into a planning team, a research team, an action team, a recruitment team and a finance team; some of whom would travel to South Asia for explosives training and return to Europe to wage violent jihad.

The indictment alleges that Damache, Khalid, LaRose, and others recruited men online to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe. In addition, Damache, Khalid, LaRose, and others allegedly recruited women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad. The indictment further alleges that LaRose, Paulin-Ramirez, and others traveled to and around Europe to participate in and support violent jihad; and that Khalid and LaRose and others solicited funds online for terrorists.

For example, the indictment alleges that in July 2009, Damache sent an electronic communication using the username “Theblackflag” to Khalid, asking Khalid to recruit online “some brothers that can travel freely . . . with eu passports . . . .[A]nd I need some sisters too.” Damache also allegedly advised Khalid that “sister fatima will be charge of other sister care . . . . [W]e have already organized every thing for her. . . .” The indictment further alleges that Paulin-Ramirez married Damache on the day she arrived with her minor child in Europe to live and train with jihadists, even though she had never met Damache in person, and that, while living together in Europe, the couple began training Ramirez’s minor child in the ways of violent jihad.

Among other things, the indictment further alleges that, in July 2009, Khalid posted or caused to be posted an online solicitation for funds to support terrorism on behalf of LaRose and later sent electronic communications to multiple online forums requesting the deletion of all posts by LaRose after she was questioned by the FBI. In August 2009, Khalid allegedly sent a questionnaire to LaRose in which he asked another potential female recruit about her beliefs and intentions with regard to violent jihad. In addition, Khalid allegedly received from LaRose and concealed the location of a U.S. passport that she had stolen from another individual. This case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Philadelphia, and the FBI Field Divisions in New York, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Authorities in Ireland also provided assistance in this matter.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Matthew F. Blue, Trial Attorney from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.

The charges contained in an indictment are mere allegations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

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

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch 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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions 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.


Jubair Ahmad Arrested on Allegedly Providing Material Support to Terrorist Organization and Making False Statements in a Terrorism Investigation

September 2, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 2, 2011 released the following:

“Woodbridge Man Charged with Providing Material Support to Terrorist Organization

ALEXANDRIA, VA— Jubair Ahmad, 24, a native of Pakistan and resident of Woodbridge, Va., has been arrested on charges in the Eastern District of Virginia of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and making false statements in a terrorism investigation.

The charges were announced by Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

If convicted, Jubair faces a maximum potential sentence of 15 years in prison on the material support charge and eight years in prison on the charge of making false statements in a terrorism investigation.

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Jubair received religious training from LeT as a teenager in Pakistan and later attended LeT’s basic training camp. Jubair entered the United States in 2007 along with other family members, and in 2009, the FBI launched an investigation after receiving information that Jubair may be associated with LeT.

The affidavit alleges that in September 2010, Jubair produced and uploaded a propaganda video to YouTube on behalf of LeT, after communications with a person named “Talha.” In a subsequent conversation with another person, Jubair identified Talha as Talha Saeed, the son of LeT leader Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. Talha and Jubair allegedly communicated about the images, music and audio that Jubair was to use to make the video. The final video contained images of LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, so-called jihadi martyrs and armored trucks exploding after having been hit by improvised explosive devices.

In October 2010, Talha allegedly contacted Jubair and requested that he revise the LeT propaganda video, giving Jubair specific instructions. Jubair allegedly revised the video and posted it on Oct. 16, 2010. In August 2011, FBI agents interviewed Jubair, where he falsely denied any involvement with the October 2010 video.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia with assistance from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read 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 Sanctions 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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Pennsylvania Man Indicted for Allegedly Soliciting Jihadists to Kill Americans

July 14, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 14, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Emerson Winfield Begolly, 22, of New Bethlehem, Pa., was indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., today for allegedly soliciting Islamic extremists to engage in acts of terrorism within the United States and posting bomb-making instruction materials online.

The indictment was announced by Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

“Emerson Begolly is accused of repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “These allegations demonstrate how young people in the United States can become influenced by – and eventually participate in – jihadist propaganda that is a serious threat to the safety of us all.”

“Today’s case underscores the continuing threat posed by homegrown extremists seeking to use the Internet to incite violence,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco.

“Today, the FBI is faced with a complex threat environment that combines homegrown extremism and the Internet,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “The FBI’s top priority is stopping terrorism, and we remain vigilant against those who solicit violent acts in the United States.”

“Those who attempt to harm or kill Americans will face a determined, coordinated law enforcement effort,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton.

According to the two-count indictment, Begolly has been an active moderator of a popular, internationally known Islamic extremist web forum, the Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF), used by its members to promote and distribute jihadist propaganda. The indictment alleges that since July 2010, Begolly has placed a number of postings encouraging attacks within the United States, including the use of firearms, explosives and propane tanks against targets such as police stations, post offices, synagogues military facilities, train lines, bridges, cell phone towers and water plants.

Following the reported shootings in Northern Virginia at the Pentagon and the Marine Corps Museum in October 2010, Begolly allegedly posted a comment online that praised the shootings and hoped the shooter had followed his previous postings encouraging similar acts of violence that might “seem small but cause big damage.”

On Dec. 28, 2010, Begolly allegedly posted links to a 101-page document that contains information on how to set up a laboratory, conduct basic chemistry and manufacture explosives.

The indictment charges Begolly with solicitation to commit a crime of violence, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

On Feb. 2, 2011, Begolly was indicted for allegedly assaulting federal agents and firearms-related charges in the Western District of Pennsylvania. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the charges filed in that district.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil Hammerstrom of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia’s National Security and International Crime Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kitchen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Trial Attorney Stephen Ponticiello of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting 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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Three FARC Guerillas Convicted in Manhattan Federal Court of Taking a U.S. Citizen Hostage

June 21, 2011

U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York on June 21, 2011 released the following press release:

“PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the convictions of EDILBERTO BERRIO ORTIZ, a/k/a “El Gavilan,” ALEJANDRO PALACIOS RENGIFO, a/k/a “El Gato,” and ANDERSON CHAMAPURO DOGIRAMA, a/k/a “El Tigre,” for hostage-taking and hostage-taking conspiracy in connection with the April 2008 kidnapping of an American Citizen in Panama by the 57th Front of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (“FARC”), a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendants were found guilty on June 20, 2011, by United States District Judge JED S. RAKOFF following a bench trial based on stipulated facts. They were arrested in Colombia in December of 2009 and extradited to the United States in late 2010 and early 2011. After a prior hearing in the case, Judge RAKOFF ruled that the defendants were precluded as a matter of law from presenting a defense of duress to the charges.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “For ten months that must have seemed like a lifetime for him and his family, an American citizen was held captive by the FARC, not knowing if he would live or die. The FARC will stop at nothing to finance their terrorist activities, and this case underscores this Office’s continued commitment to working with all our law enforcement partners, both here and abroad, to prosecute those who would do harm to Americans.”

According to the Indictment unsealed on September 28, 2009, other court documents, and testimony and exhibits from the hearing and trial:

The FARC was formed in 1964 and is structured as a military organization, with approximately 10,000 armed guerillas organized into seven “blocs,” 68 numbered “Fronts” (including the 57th Front), nine named “Fronts,” and four urban “militias.” It is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Colombia’s democratically-elected government and has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States Department of State.

The 57th Front operates in the territory within Colombia’s Choco Department, which borders Panama. It supports the FARC’s terrorist activities through narcotics trafficking and kidnapping for ransom, including the kidnapping of Americans and other foreign nationals.

On April 4, 2008, at the direction of 57th Front leadership, an American citizen was kidnapped in Panama City, Panama. ORTIZ, RENGIFO, and DOGIRAMA guarded the victim while he was held for ransom at a FARC jungle camp for approximately ten months. The ransom was demanded from the victim’s relatives in the United States, who were told they would never see him alive again if the ransom was not paid. The victim was released in February 2009, after a member of his family paid the ransom.

Although the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, the U.S. has given assurances to the Government of Colombia that the defendants will not receive life sentences. ORTIZ, RENGIFO, and DOGIRAMA are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge RAKOFF on October, 24, 2011.

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI’s Extraterritorial Hostage Taking Squad in Miami, the FBI attaché in Panama and Colombia, the DEA’s New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, the Narco-Terrorism Group of the DEA’s Bogota Country Office, the DEA’s Panama City Country Office, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division. Mr. BHARARA also thanked Colombian Navy, the Colombian National Police, the Colombia Attorney General’s Office, and the Panamanian National Police for their assistance in the investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys REBECCA M. RICIGLIANO and JEFFREY A. BROWN are 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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