Federal, State, and Local Authorities Arrest Six Alleged San Antonio-Based Texas Mexican Mafia Members

October 13, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“United States Attorney Robert Pitman, FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelson, and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced today that six San Antonio-based members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) have been arrested based on two federal drug indictments.

Those arrested include:

  • 45-year-old Robert Carreno, Jr, (aka “Lil Bit”);
  • 39-year-old Tony Berlanga (aka “Tony”);
  • 46-year-old Gabriel Quiroz (aka “Biker”);
  • 48-year-old Guadalupe Ramos (aka “Lupio”);
  • 56-year-old Julio Villanueva (aka “Shorty Hawk”); and,
  • 63-year-old Teresa Alonzo (aka “Tia”).

Manuel Gonzales (aka “Speedy”), age 36, and Alexander Garza (aka “Animal”), age 35, were already in federal custody for a supervised release violation. Joseph Sanchez (aka “Cowboy”), age 41, and 20-year-old Santos Trevino (aka “Dedos,” “Beatles”) are currently in state custody on unrelated charges.

The first indictment, returned on October 5, 2011, and unsealed today, charges all of the defendants, with the exception of Teresa Alonso, with one count of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Upon conviction, the defendants face a minimum mandatory 10-year term of imprisonment, and a maximum of life in federal prison.

Officials allege that from December 1, 2009, to July 20, 2011, the defendants were responsible for the distribution of at least 48 kilograms of heroin, which the TMM sold for $750,000. Authorities believe Carreno holds the rank of “Free World General” of the TMM. Also, Carreno and Berlanga allegedly oversaw the transportation of the heroin from Laredo to San Antonio, for further distribution by TMM members.

The second indictment, also returned on October 5, 2011, charges Teresa Alonzo (aka “Tia”) with a conspiracy to distribute heroin, between December 1, 2009 and July 20, 2011. Upon conviction, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

In June 2011, Alonzo allegedly attempted to smuggle an ounce of heroin to TMM Vice President Benito Alonzo, while he was incarcerated in the Texas Department of Corrections. Also as part of the distribution conspiracy, Alonzo is accused of having accepted thousands of dollars as repayment to Benito Alonzo for monies loaned to purchase heroin. A federal search warrant executed at her residence in August 2011 resulted in the seizure of notebooks containing names and telephone numbers of TMM members, and correspondence from Benito Alonzo.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force together with the Texas Department of Public Safety – Criminal Investigations Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, New Braunfels Police Department, and the 81st Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Marshals Service also assisted in making the arrests.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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.


Bernard Joseph Tully, a Former Massachusetts State Senator, Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

September 1, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 31, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Bernard Joseph Tully, a former Massachusetts state senator, has pleaded guilty for devising a scheme to defraud a Boston-area businessman out of approximately $18,000 by falsely representing that Tully and his co-conspirator were using the funds to bribe public officials. Unbeknownst to Tully, the businessman reported Tully’s overtures to the FBI.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz for the District of Massachusetts and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office.

Tully, 84, of Dracut, Mass., pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris to one count of wire fraud. According to court documents, Tully formerly served as the city manager for Lowell, Mass., from approximately 1979 to 1987. Prior to serving as city manager, Tully was a state senator representing Lowell and other areas.

According to information presented at the plea hearing and in court documents, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) determined in early 2009 that it needed to discontinue its lease for the Lowell RMV, due to lack of funds. According to court documents, Tully became aware of the possible closure of the Lowell RMV and contacted the Boston-area businessman who owned the space where the Lowell RMV was housed. Tully told the businessman that if he paid Tully, Tully would ensure a state senator would find money in order to keep the RMV in the space owned by the businessman. Later, according to court documents, Tully again contacted the businessman and told him that he need to pay Tully so that Tully could pay the public official, otherwise the RMV would have to move out of the space.

On July 3, 2009, the RMV announced it was closing the Lowell office as well as other RMV offices on July 23, 2009. Tully and a co-conspirator subsequently visited the businessman and told him that he would need to pay $20,000 to keep the RMV in Lowell. The businessman agreed that he wanted the RMV to stay, and Tully said he would start making telephone calls while his co-conspirator said he would talk to the public official.

On July 15, 2009, the businessman gave the co-conspirator a $5,000 check, which the co-conspirator cashed and gave a portion of the funds to Tully. On July 17, 2009, the businessman received a 90-day extension on the lease from the RMV to Oct. 31, 2009.

Thereafter, according to court documents, the businessman had a series of meetings and telephone conversations with Tully and his co-conspirator about securing another lease extension from the RMV. During these conversations, Tully and his co-conspirator falsely represented to the businessman that they needed additional money to make payments to various public officials in exchange for their official acts to secure the RMV’s continued presence in the businessman’s building. Between November 2009 and March 2010, the businessman, while cooperating with the FBI, paid Tully and the co-conspirator approximately $18,000 as bribe payments designed to secure the official assistance of various public officials.

In fact, Tully and his co-conspirator never paid any money to any public officials. According to court documents, Tully admitted in a May 2010 interview with FBI agents that he received approximately $12,000 in cash and checks from the businessman, and that he split the money with his co-conspirator. Tully also admitted that he had heard about the RMV’s plan to move the Lowell office out of the businessman’s office building from people who worked in the office, and that the businessman had contacted him for assistance. Tully admitted that he spoke with friends of friends of the Lowell legislative delegation about obtaining a lease extension and preventing the move of the Lowell RMV.

Tully admitted that he told the businessman that he was “throwing money around” at elected officials, but in actuality he did not. He admitted that he did this to give the businessman the impression that he, Tully, was influencing the legislative delegation.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 1, 2011, at 3:00 p.m. According to the plea agreement, the government has agreed not to seek punishment beyond home confinement, 36 months of supervised release, a fine to be calculated under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and restitution of $18,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Massachusetts Inspector General’s Office and the Lowell Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel William M. Welch II and Kevin Driscoll of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Public Corruption Unit.”

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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John Pitlick Sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 30 Months in Federal Prison on Mail Fraud Charges

August 26, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 26, 2011 released the following:

“Minnesota Man Sentenced for Mail Fraud

US Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a New Hope, Minnesota, man charged with mail fraud was sentenced on August 26, 2011, by Chief US District Judge Karen E. Schreier. John Pitlick, age 44, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, $300,000 in restitution, and a $100 assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund.

Pitlick was indicted for mail fraud by a federal grand jury on September 8, 2010. Starting in April 2007, Pitlick represented that he would broker a loan from one South Dakota farming family to another South Dakota farming family. In reliance upon this representation, his victims transferred a total of $300,000 to Pitlick’s business. Pitlick received the funds, but no loan was ever made. The funds were actually used by Pitlick for his own personal gain. Pitlick pled guilty to the indictment on June 2, 2011.

This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant US Attorney Kevin Koliner prosecuted the case.

Pitlick was ordered to self report on September 19, 2011, to begin his prison sentence.”

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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John A. Ortiz Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Structuring More Than $943,000 in Cash Transactions

August 26, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 25, 2011 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOHN A. ORTIZ, 54, of Stratford, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to 18 months of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for illegally structuring more than $943,000 in cash transactions. Judge Hall also ordered ORTIZ to forfeit approximately $388,540 to the government, and to pay a fine in the amount of $75,000.

Federal law requires all financial institutions to file a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) for currency transactions that exceed $10,000. To evade the filing of a CTR, individuals will often structure their currency transactions so that no single transaction exceeds $10,000. Structuring involves the repeated depositing or withdrawal of amounts of cash less than the $10,000 limit, or the splitting of a cash transaction that exceeds $10,000 into smaller cash transactions in an effort to avoid the reporting requirements. Even if the deposited funds are derived from a legitimate means, financial transactions conducted in this manner are still in violation of federal criminal law.

According to court documents and statements made in court, ORTIZ maintained a money market savings account at a credit union, and also had a personal line of credit at a bank. Between May 2006 and October 2009, ORTIZ made more than 70 large cash deposits into his savings account and more than 30 large cash payments to his personal line of credit account. The vast majority of the cash transactions were in the amount of $9000, and none exceeded $10,000. In total, ORTIZ structured approximately $943,000 in cash deposits and line of credit payments.

ORTIZ used the deposited funds to purchase, or to obtain credit in order to purchase, properties in Connecticut and Florida. ORTIZ also used more than $270,000 of the structured funds to settle a business dispute with his former partner.

ORTIZ owns and operates towing and auto repair businesses in Bridgeport and Stratford.

On May 25, 2011, ORTIZ waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of structuring cash transactions.

This matter was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard J. Schechter.”

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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George Wesley Ellington, Former Harris County Deputy, Sentenced to Prison for Extortion

August 19, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on August 18, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON – A former Harris County Deputy Sheriff and his wife, charged and convicted for their respective roles in the deputy’s criminal activities, have been sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Keith P. Elliso, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

George Wesley Ellington, 39, of Houston, a former Harris County deputy sheriff convicted of extortion under color of official right after pleading guilty to the offense on April 14, 2011, was sentenced this morning to 60 months in federal prison without parole to be followed by a two-year-term of supervised release. Today’s hearing was the culmination of an investigation conducted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI. That investigation established that in April 2010 Ellington accepted a $500 bribe for using his position as a then Harris County deputy sheriff to access confidential information from secured law enforcement databases and for providing security/protection in his official capacity to a person he believed was illegally possessing and transporting 3, 4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly called Ecstasy.

Judge Ellison also sentenced Ellington’s wife, Tania Katrisse Ellington, 31, to 12 months and a day in federal prison without parole to be followed by a one-year-term of supervised release for knowingly concealing her husband’s criminal activities. Tania Ellington pleaded guilty on April 26, 2011, to misprision of a felony.

Both Ellingtons were permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of a court order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Rodriguez and F. Andino Reynal prosecuted 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 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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Cornell Wade Sentenced in U.S. District Court in Wheeling on Federal Drug Charges

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“Wheeling Resident Sentenced on Drug Charge

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A 35 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident who was a key player in the Robert “R.J.” Saunders conspiracy was sentenced in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that CORNELL WADE was sentenced today to 89 months imprisonment to be followed by four years of supervised release. In March WADE entered a plea of guilty to one count of a drug conspiracy involving over 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; one count of the aiding and abetting Saunders in the illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling; and one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of the Madison Elementary School on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling. For these convictions WADE received 77 months in prison, and then was given another 12 months in prison for violating his supervised release on a prior federal drug conviction, for a total of 89 months of incarceration.

As part of his plea, WADE has agreed to the forfeiture of his interest in money seized from his residence on August 27, 2009, and admitted to supplying Saunders between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds of crack cocaine between 2006 and 2009. WADE was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force. The Task Force consists of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.”

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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El Paso Attorney Luther Jones and El Paso County District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez Were Each Sentenced

August 16, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas on August 15, 2011 released the following:

“EL PASO ATTORNEY LUTHER JONES AND FORMER EL PASO COUNTY DISTRICT CLERK GILBERT SANCHEZ SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON

United States Attorney John E. Murphy and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Cuthbertson announced that El Paso attorney Luther Jones and El Paso County District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez were each sentenced today to six years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for scheming to deprive El Paso County and it’s citizens of the right to the honest services of elected members of the El Paso County Commissioner’s Court. In addition, United States District Judge Frank Montalvo ordered that Jones pay a $50,000 fine.

“The sentences imposed today send a strong message that those who have attempted to corrupt members of the El Paso County government will be held accountable for their actions and that such dishonesty will not be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney John E. Murphy.

In April, a federal jury found Jones and Sanchez guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and deprivation of honest services and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services.

Evidence presented during trial revealed that from October 2003 until July 2004, Jones and Sanchez conspired with others in a scheme to secure a multimillion dollar document imaging contract between El Paso County and one of Luther Jones’ clients. Specifically, Jones offered bribes in the form of cash, travel expenses to Las Vegas and gratuities to Sanchez, which Sanchez accepted, for his support of the contract and influence in his official capacity as an elected public servant. In addition, Sanchez directed another county employee, with assistance from Jones, to structure a Request for Proposal (RFP) with limitations embedded in the RFP that would assist Jones’ client in securing the contract. Furthermore, Jones caused cash bribes in the form of campaign contributions to be paid to a member of the El Paso County Commissioners Court for support in securing the multimillion dollar vendor contract for his client.

“The sentences imposed today reflect the seriousness of the crimes that the defendants have been convicted of. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to seek justice for El Paso citizens through the thorough and timely investigation of all credible allegations of public corruption in our community,” stated David Cuthbertson, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, El Paso Division.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Franco Gregory and Antonio Franco, Jr., prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.”

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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