Federal Prosecutors will introduce evidence of uncharged crimes at Ratigan’s federal criminal trial

July 10, 2012
Shawn Ratigan
Shawn Ratigan (credit: Keith Myers)

KansasCity.com on July 9, 2012 released the following:

“BY MARK MORRIS
The Kansas City Star

Federal prosecutors announced Monday that they plan to introduce evidence of uncharged crimes and other “bad acts” at the trial of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan in August.

Ratigan, 46, is charged with production and possession of child pornography while he was pastor of Catholic parishes in St. Joseph and the Northland.

Authorities arrested Ratigan in May 2011, five months after officials and staff at the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph found hundreds of lewd images of young girls on a laptop computer that the priest had sent for servicing.

In the ensuing furor of how church officials handled the discovery, authorities charged Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese in Jackson County each with a misdemeanor count of failure to report suspicions of child abuse. A trial on those counts is scheduled for September.

Federal prosecutors said in their filing Monday that they need to present evidence of uncharged conduct to prove whether Ratigan intended to produce child pornography, knew what he was doing and had motive, such as a desire “to indulge in and satisfy a sexual interest in female children.”

Among the evidence not previously disclosed is an image of Ratigan in his underwear allegedly taken at the home of one of his purported victims.

Prosecutors also want to present evidence that Ratigan purportedly discarded or hid a removable electronic card from his cellphone while in police custody May 18, 2011.

Ratigan also allegedly visited nine websites whose addresses, which prosecutors listed in court papers, clearly suggested an unsavory interest in young girls. Those addresses were, for the most part, discovered on a computer hard drive belonging to Ratigan and turned over to police by his family the day of his arrest.

Forensic evidence also established that Ratigan allegedly made multiple inquiries to websites using a literary title — “Lolita,” from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov — that has become a common search term for child pornography, prosecutors said.

Authorities apparently have established two instances in which Ratigan allegedly obtained girls’ underwear.

Prosecutors alleged that he possessed “a minor female’s underwear in the summer of 2009.”

As for the second instance, authorities noted that someone recovered “a different pair of minor female’s underwear at defendant’s residence in the spring of 2010.”

The second incident appears to match one that has been reported previously. In a letter of concern to diocesan officials in May 2010, a Northland Catholic school principal said a parent found a pair of girls’ panties in a planter at Ratigan’s home when a group of Brownies were there to plant flowers.

And prosecutors announced that they wanted to show jurors Ratigan’s alleged Web searches for photographs of children in swimsuits and his computer bookmarks for two-way mirrors and “spy pens,” which an earlier report on the case described as “small cameras disguised to look like ballpoint pens.”

The lawyer representing Ratigan did not return a call to his office Monday. Federal public defenders in Kansas City seldom comment on their cases.”

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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.


Army Master Sergeant Arrested by AFOSI and the FBI

May 31, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on May 30, 2012 released the following:

“TAMPA—On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, special agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and the FBI Innocent Images Task Force (IITF) arrested Army Master Sergeant Thomas Meyer, age 42, at his residence this morning without incident. A federal search warrant was also executed at Meyer’s residence today.

The law enforcement activity was the culmination of investigative efforts by the AFOSI; Largo Police Department; Kenton County Police Department, Kentucky; Pennsylvania State Police; United States Postal Inspection Service; and the FBI.

Meyer will be facing federal charges, including attempted production of child pornography, transportation of child pornography, and transfer of obscene material to an individual under the age of 16. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years, up to 30 years in federal prison for the production charge; a mandatory minimum penalty of five years, up to 20 years in federal prison for the transportation charge; and up to 10 years in federal prison for the transfer of obscene matter charge.

The FBI’s IITF is an intelligence-driven, proactive investigative initiative that combats the proliferation of child pornography and child sexual exploitation facilitated by the Internet. The mission of the IITF is to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse facilitated through computers; to identify and rescue witting and unwitting child victims; and to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet to sexually exploit children for personal and financial gain.

The charges in the 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.


Federal Prosecutors: Indiana, California men accused of enticing minors to commit lewd acts used same website

April 11, 2012

Daily Reporter on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“CHARLES WILSON Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana man who prosecutors fear may have coerced hundreds of teenage boys into performing sexual acts for him over the Internet and a California teacher accused of exchanging nude photos with girls as young as 13 used the same website to meet their victims, officials and court documents say.

The website, omegle.com, offers users random, anonymous one-on-one chats with strangers. The home page warns users not to act “inappropriately” though it acknowledges that others may. The website says it is not for use by children under 13 and individuals under age 18 should not use it without a parent or guardian’s permission.

“We’re certainly familiar with the site, yes,” said John Shehan, program manager for the CyberTipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which takes tips about alleged child exploitation and passes them on to law enforcement. “We have received several hundred cyber tips related to this site, specifically.”

Federal prosecutors in Indiana allege in court documents that Richard Leon Finkbiner, 39, used the website to contact a 14-year-old Michigan boy and another in Maryland, whom he then secretly recorded performing sexual acts during video chats. He allegedly threatened to post those videos on gay pornography sites unless they made more videos for his private use. Both boys initially went along with Finkbiner’s demands and delayed telling their relatives or guardians, prosecutors said.

When investigators first examined the Brazil man’s computer, they found “at least several hundred minor victims in thousands of video files,” Zach Myers, an assistant U.S. attorney on the case, said Tuesday.

Finkbiner had a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday in federal court in Terre Haute on the charges pertaining to the two boys — two felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Court documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles say a former San Bernardino middle school teacher also used omegle.com to meet four underage girls, including a 13-year-old New Jersey girl, with whom he exchanged sexually explicit photos via cellphone. Eugene Ballantyne, 29, pleaded not guilty April 2 to charges including the sexual exploitation of a minor and production of child pornography.

Ballantyne faces life in prison if convicted of all charges. He remains in federal custody awaiting his May 1 trial. His attorney, Stephen Demik, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message Tuesday seeking comment about his client’s case.

Myers said he wasn’t aware of any similar cases where it was “publicly alleged” that the website was used to pick up children, but he said that such anonymous chat sites can leave users vulnerable.

“In this situation, a child or adult simply doesn’t know who’s on the other end of that communication and what they might be doing,” Myers said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of the alleged victims initially had adult permission to use omegle, which warns users to use the site “at your own peril.” The Associated Press was unable to locate a phone number for the site’s 19-year-old founder, Leif K-Brooks, whose address is variously listed as Brattleboro, Vt., or Portland, Ore., and he did not respond to a request for an interview set to him via Twitter.

In a 2010 interview on About.com, K-Brooks said he was “taking every possible step to protect Omegle’s users, including working with law enforcement agencies,” but he urged parents to supervise their children’s Internet use.

“Omegle isn’t for young children,” he said then. “I would strongly advise parents to inspect any website before allowing their children to use it.””

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


ICE ‘most wanted’ fugitive indicted for human trafficking

September 30, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“TAMPA, Fla. – A former fugitive on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) list of most wanted criminals was indicted Thursday on four counts of conspiracy to entice a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, four counts of enticing a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, three counts of production of child pornography, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Eric Antwan Bell, 37, was featured in June on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” He was arrested Aug. 31 in Parsippany, N.J. by ICE HSI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.

According to the indictment, Bell, along with a co-conspirator, enticed four minor victims to engage in prostitution. Bell and his co-conspirator lived off of the prostitution proceeds. Bell produced child pornography of the four minors and possessed multiple firearms after being convicted of a felony offense.

The indictment notifies Bell that the United States intends to forfeit numerous items of electronic media and firearms seized from his residence.

This case was investigated by the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force, ICE HSI and the FBI. Other task force members include state and local law enforcement agencies and non-governmental partners.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie B. Harris will prosecute the case.”

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.

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‘America’s Most Wanted’ Federal Fugitive, Eric Antwan Bell, Arrested by the FBI and ICE

September 1, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on August 31, 2011 released the following:

“TAMPA, Fla. — Eric Antwan Bell, a federal fugitive in a Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force (CAHTTF) investigation, was arrested on Wednesday by special agents of the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Parsippany, N.J.

He had been living in Jersey City, N.J.

On June 11, Bell was featured on the television program “America’s Most Wanted” with John Walsh during the show’s “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) segment.

Bell was also featured on a digital billboard throughout the Tampa Bay-area and on ICE’s website as one of the agency’s most wanted criminals.

On Jan. 3, a federal criminal complaint was filed in the Middle District of Florida which alleged that Bell was involved in the production of child pornography, had unlawfully possessed a firearm and had engaged in sex trafficking of a minor.

Agencies included in the task force were the Clearwater Police Department, Tampa Police Department, St. Petersburg Police Department, Largo Police Department, Pinellas Park Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Regional Community Policing Institute, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, Office of the State Attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, FBI and ICE HSI.

Non-government partners included the Florida Department of Health, Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, World Relief, the Haven Spouse Abuse Shelter, Gulf Coast Legal Services, Inc., Salvation Army and Clearwater Hispanic Outreach Center.”

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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Agustin Rodriguez Rodriguez Indicted by a San Juan Federal Grand Jury in 115-counts of Child Pornography

August 24, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on August 24, 2011 released the following:

“Puerto Rican man charged on 115 counts for production of child pornography

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A federal grand jury returned a 115-count indictment on Friday charging a Ponce, Puerto Rico, resident with production of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force (PRCACTF).

On Aug. 9, agents from the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), a member of PRCACTF, arrested Agustin Rodriguez Rodriguez, 34, on charges of sexual abuse against a minor and immediately referred the case to ICE HSI for further investigation into the images and videos depicting the suspected abuse.

The ICE HSI investigation led to the 115-count indictment charging Rodriguez of using, persuading, enticing, and coercing three female minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct, including the lascivious exhibition of the genital areas, for the purpose of producing still images and videos.

The indictment is summarized as follows:

  • Counts 1 through 90 – production of child pornography using Jane Doe one
  • Counts 91 through 107 – production of child pornography using Jane Doe two
  • Counts 108 through 114 – attempted production of child pornography using Jane Doe three
  • Count 115 – possession of child pornography

“ICE HSI is working closely with local law enforcement to target individuals who are engaging in child pornography crimes and those who, in any way, exploit our children,” said Roberto Escobar Vargas, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in San Juan. “ICE will continue to work closely with its law enforcement and other partners in the recently created Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force to target those who produce, transport or possess child pornography to see that they are brought to justice.”

This case stands as one of the largest production of child pornography cases in the District of Puerto Rico.

Through the ICE HSI-led PRCACTF, federal, local and state law enforcement agencies work together with state and local government agencies, to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate crimes against children in Puerto Rico. Through the task force, law enforcement agents are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible. As such, the PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico. The task force is composed of ICE HSI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Marshal Service, PRPD, San Juan Police Department, Puerto Rico Forensic Science Institute, and the Puerto Rico Departments of Justice, Education, Consumer Affairs, Family, and Treasury.

This case is also part of Operation Predator, an ICE-led initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Individuals with information about suspected child predators are encouraged to call 1 866 DHS 2-ICE. For more information, visit http://www.ice.gov.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison per count and a possible maximum sentence of 30 years per count.”

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 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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Luis Andres Cardona Indicted by a McAllen Federal Grand Jury for Production of Child Pornography

August 10, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“McALLEN, Texas – A McAllen grand jury has indicted Luis Andres Cardona, 53, for production of child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

The one-count indictment, returned by the grand jury on Aug. 9, 2011, charges Cardona, of Mission, Texas, with producing images of child pornography beginning in December 2008 through October 2010 of a minor child using materials that had been mailed, shipped or transported in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

The federal charges arise from an investigation initiated by the Mission Police Department which culminated in the arrest of Cardona in May 2011 on state charges involving the alleged sexual abuse of a nine-year-old female child. The federal charges are the result of further investigation by the FBI. Presently in state custody, Cardona is expected to be transferred into federal custody for arraignment on the federal charges in the very near future.

If convicted of production of child pornography, Cardona faces no less than 15 years up to life in federal prison without parole, a fine of $250,000 and a term of supervised release of no less than five years up to life during which the court can impose any number of conditions designed to protect children. Additionally, registration as a sex offender is mandatory.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juan F. Alanis and Kimberly Bulger Leo are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.”

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 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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