Omak Domestic Abuser Sentenced to 46 Months in Federal Prison for Assaulting His Intimate Partner on the Colville Indian Reservation

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

Spokane, Washington – Senior U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson sentenced Shawn Vincent Best, Sr., age 62, of Omak, Washington, to 46 months in federal prison for a domestic assault that occurred in August 2021. Judge Peterson also imposed 3 years of federal supervised release. Best pled guilty earlier this year to Assault Resulting in Substantial Bodily Injury in Indian Country.

In announcing the sentence, Judge Peterson varied upward from the United States Sentencing Guidelines range, as determined by the Court. In doing so, Judge Peterson emphasized the need to protect victims of domestic abuse from Mr. Best. The Court also described the seriousness of the offense and the traumatizing effects on the victim, whom Judge Peterson commended for her strength and courage for coming forward and speaking at sentencing. The Court further acknowledged the extreme psychological impact of the offense and ruled that Best’s criminal record underrepresented his history of domestic abuse.

According to court documents and proceedings, in August and September 2021, a female victim contacted Colville Tribal Police and reported that Best physically assaulted and threatened to kill her if the victim told law enforcement about the assaults. Specifically, on August 12, 2021, Best became upset that his victim received a ride home from another man. Best shoved the victim, causing her to fall to the floor, resulting in substantial bodily injury and extreme pain. On September 21, 2021, Best again assaulted this same victim – striking her with a belt and strangling her. As he did so, Best told the victim, “If [you] ever say anything or call the cops, there would be no way they would be able to find [your] body.”

Court documents further indicate that at the time of the offenses, Best had prior arrests and convictions for domestic violence. Despite his history of domestic violence, the sentence announced today represents Best’s first felony conviction.

“My office is committed to prosecuting those who commit violence against their spouses or intimate partners,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated. “Domestic violence victims often struggle to access the justice system and get the protection and resources they need. I am grateful for the law enforcement agents, victim advocates, and prosecutors who handle these challenging cases. By working together and with those who are victims of violent crime, we can ensure that all men, women and children are protected not only from domestic violence, but also from retaliation when they disclose what they experienced.”

U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “Native Americans experience some of the highest rates of violence in the country, a situation that is all the more tragic in light of the generations of trauma already suffered by Indigenous people, especially Native American women. It took tremendous courage for Mr. Best’s victim in this case to speak on behalf of herself and for Mr. Best’s prior victims. Today, their voices were heard.”

“Tragically, this victim endured the trauma of being attacked by a trusted partner, who should have protected her. I commend the brave survivors who report to law enforcement, the advocates who help them heal, and the investigators and prosecutors who bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to protect citizens from these types of violent crimes.”

The case was investigated by the Colville Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Richard R. Barker, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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Mexican Man Sentenced for Illegal Use of Social Security

Source: United States Attorneys General 7

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that LIMBER VAZQUEZ-NUNEZ, a native of Mexico, was sentenced yesterday by United States Judge Carl J. Barbier to one (1) year of probation and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee for illegally using a social security number to qualify for employment, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 408(a)(7)(B).

According to court documents, on March 29, 2022, Homeland Security Investigations received information that certain individuals had used fraudulent Social Security cards in an initial application to obtain employment. Prior to finalizing employment with their prospective company, the individuals had to report to the Gulf Coast Safety Council, which provides safety courses to applicants applying to work with companies that service petrochemical processing plants. On March 30, 2022, VAZQUEZ-NUNEZ arrived at the Gulf Coast Safety Council office in St. Rose, Louisiana to complete the safety course to finalize his employment with Company “A.” On that day, VAZQUEZ-NUNEZ presented a fraudulent United States Social Security card bearing the name and United States Social Security number of a United States citizen, which he represented to be his own in order to obtain employment.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of Homeland Security Investigations in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Jon M. Maestri is in charge of the prosecution.

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Texas Man Indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl

Source: United States Attorneys General 7

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FERMIN RODRIGUEZ-ORTEGA, age 24, a resident of Dallas, Texas, was charged December 8, 2022, in a two-count indictment by a Federal Grand Jury with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A) and 846, and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A), announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans.

For both counts of the indictment, RODRIGUEZ-ORTEGA faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years, up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000,000, at least five years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.

U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment is merely a charging document and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the United States Homeland Security Investigations and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney J. Benjamin Myers.

Nicaraguan National Indicted for Illegal Re-Entry

Source: United States Attorneys General 7

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane Evans announced today that ALEXANDER JOSUE REYES-RAMIREZ, age 36, was charged on December 8, 2022 in a one-count indictment for illegal reentry of a removed alien in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326(a).

According to the indictment, ALEXANDER JOSUE REYES-RAMIREZ (“REYES-RAMIREZ”), reentered the United States after he was previously deported on December 18, 2013.  If convicted, REYES-RAMIREZ faces a maximum term of imprisonment of two years, a maximum fine of up to $250,000, a maximum term of supervised release of one year, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.

U.S. Evans reiterated that an indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement in investigating this matter.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Carter K. D. Guice, Jr. is in charge of the prosecution.

 

Rogers Woman Sentenced to Over 9 Years in Federal Prison for Drug Trafficking

Source: United States Attorneys General 2

FAYETTEVILLE – A Rogers Woman was sentenced today to 110 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

According to court documents, on December 2, 2021, Arkansas State Probation officers, with the assistance of the Rogers Police Department, conducted an unannounced parole home visit on Geneva Ann Bensley, age 34.

Upon entering the motel room where Bensley was residing, Bensley ran to the back of the room and threw a backpack into a corner. Bensley took responsibility for the backpack. A search of the backpack resulted in officers locating multiple baggies containing suspected methamphetamine, and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.

The suspected methamphetamine was subsequently sent to the Homeland Security Investigations Crime Laboratory where it tested positive for methamphetamine.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.

The Arkansas State Probation and Parole Office and the Rogers Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sydney Butler prosecuted the case.

Former Missouri Prison Guard Indicted on Civil Rights, Child Pornography Charges

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (b)

ST. LOUIS – A former correctional officer at a Missouri prison was indicted Wednesday on a civil rights charge and two counts of possession of child pornography. 

Carl Hart, 36, of Farmington, was a corrections officer at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre at the time of the alleged assault, the indictment says.

The indictment says that on Oct. 28, 2021, Hart deprived an inmate of the right to be free from unreasonable force by assaulting him while he did not pose a threat to anyone. The inmate was injured, the indictment says.

The indictment also says Hart possessed child pornography between roughly April 21, 2018, and June 29, 2022.

Hart is also facing three child pornography charges in St. Francois County Circuit Court.

Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Krug is prosecuting the case. 

FBI, Chesapeake Police Returning Personal Belongings to Victims of the Walmart Shooting

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)

CHESAPEAKE—The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Chesapeake Police Department (CPD) with investigating the November 22, 2022 shooting at the Walmart in Chesapeake, VA. Crimes can have a devastating effect on victims and their families who may need assistance coping with the impact. Providing information and assistance to victims of the shooting is an important part of our work.

Following the incident, personal belongings were left behind at the scene. FBI and CPD want to ensure all victims who were present can retrieve these items, such as bags and jackets. If you know you left something behind that you would like returned, please fill out this questionnaire and provide as much detail as possible about your belongings.

CPD is the lead investigative agency in the case. The FBI continues to assist, including through victim services efforts. The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that are under investigation and provide these victims with information, assistance services, and resources. The FBI’s Victim Services Division (VSD) is uniquely suited to provide emergency assistance to victims of domestic and international terrorism and mass violence crimes due to its national and international scope and extensive experience in responding to victims of these crimes.

To provide investigative information to CPD and the FBI related to the shooting, call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. Delivers Closing Remarks at the 20th International Anti-Corruption Conference

Source: United States Attorneys General 13

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

We have gathered this week to proclaim our shared commitment to combating corruption across our globe. Indeed, I have shared in that commitment throughout my entire career, whether as a federal prosecutor in New York, as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana in my hometown of New Orleans, and currently as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.

But you see, I have lived in several cities, and am part of many communities where people believe that corruption is a fact of life. Where some claim that corruption is an inescapable part of their daily lives. That corruption is just something they have to accept, and that it will never change. They have become insensitive to injustice.

I fundamentally reject that notion. The Department of Justice rejects that notion. And I know everyone in this room rejects that notion.

I am honored to be speaking to you all on International Anti-Corruption Day. Today, we seek to highlight the crucial link between anti-corruption and peace, security, and development. Corruption’s corrosive effects are global, with our communities, our people, often bearing the brunt of those effects. Corruption threatens our collective security by weakening democratic processes and empowering corrupt government officials. It stifles sustainable development by diverting funds meant to improve everyday life for folks and harming honest people that are just trying to play by the rules.

The fight against corruption – at home and abroad – is a top priority for the Biden Administration. As the National Security Advisor noted in opening this conference, the White House announced that combating corruption is a core national security interest and released the first-ever “United States Strategy on Countering Corruption.”

The Department of Justice’s efforts to combat global corruption are constantly focused on how we can have the greatest deterrent effect. That is why we have a dedicated group of prosecutors – our Public Integrity Section, along with prosecutors in many of our U.S. Attorney’s Offices – focused on fighting official corruption throughout the United States.

But we have also created specialized groups of prosecutors focused on international corruption that has a nexus to the United States – either because the corrupt schemes originated here, or because those schemes made use of the U.S. financial system, or because kleptocrats have hidden their stolen funds here. A cornerstone of the department’s international anti-corruption efforts are international partnerships without which we could not effectively take on corruption at home and abroad. To our friends and counterparts, represented by so many of the countries present today, many of whom I have had a chance to meet with this week, I say thank you, For your hard work, your dedication, and your cooperation, especially with our Office of International Affairs.

In recent years, for instance, we have coordinated our investigations and prosecutions to fight corruption with – to mention only a few – our colleagues in the United Kingdom, Brazil, Malaysia, Switzerland, Ecuador, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, and South Africa.

This international cooperation has been critical to the work of our Criminal Fraud Section’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – or FCPA – unit, and the Kleptocracy Initiative launched by our Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section. And, in recent months, this cooperation also has been essential to the success of our new Task Force KleptoCapture, focused on Russian illicit finance. 

Just last week, we announced a $315 million criminal resolution with ABB Ltd. ABB bribed a high-ranking official at South Africa’s state-owned energy company to corruptly obtain confidential information and win lucrative contracts.

This was the department’s first coordinated resolution with authorities in South Africa. In addition, our South African partners have brought corruption charges against the government official, as well as their own corporate case against the company. To those who say that corruption is inescapable, our South African partners reject that notion.

As this case demonstrates, the department is committed to growing our relationships with foreign governments to expand our fight against corruption into new industries and new jurisdictions, including those whose enforcement regimes and anti-corruption laws are just emerging. Building these partnerships also creates more seamless and efficient cooperation in our efforts to combat criminality.

Here in the U.S., just over the past year, we have brought charges against, among others:

  • Two former senior officials in Ecuador and Bolivia for alleged bribery-related money laundering;
  • Three businessmen, relating to an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme involving a state-insurance company in Ecuador;
  • Two former Venezuelan prosecutors for allegedly agreeing to receive $1 million in bribes to not prosecute a corrupt contractor; and
  • Two former coal company executives relating to an alleged bribery scheme in Egypt.

To those who claim that corruption is inevitable, our partners reject that notion.

No less striking has been our work in fighting kleptocracy. In the 11 years since it was created, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section’s Kleptocracy Initiative has repatriated more than $3.4 billion relating to foreign official corruption and associated money laundering affecting the U.S. financial system.

Just a few weeks ago, we announced the repatriation of over $20 million in assets to Nigeria. These assets were stolen by the former Nigerian dictator and his co-conspirators. This brings the total forfeited and returned by the United States in this case to over $330 million. These assets were recovered after the United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint for more than $625 million traceable to money laundering through the United States involving the proceeds of the former dictator’s corruption. Under an agreement between Nigeria, the United States, and the Bailiwick of Jersey, the returned funds will help finance critical infrastructure projects including bridges, highways, and roads, investments that will directly benefit citizens across Nigeria. You say that corruption is unavoidable? Well, my Nigerian sisters and brothers reject it.

But we have not done this alone. In the 1MDB scandal, for instance, billions of dollars were stolen from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund that was ostensibly created to promote the country’s economic development. It took a global coalition – including work by Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, and many others – to return, and assist in returning, over $1.2 billion to the people of Malaysia. And our work continues. Over and again, our international partners reject corruption as an accepted way of life.

And the strength of those international relationships has been tested like never before, in responding to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Part of our international response has to been to shine the spotlight on the corruption and illicit finance of the oligarchs and the enablers associated with the Russian regime. The G7 Plus Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs Task Force – known as REPO – has frozen or seized tens of billions of sanctioned assets in financial accounts, luxury yachts, and real estate controlled by sanctioned oligarchs, and immobilized hundreds of billions more in Russian Central Bank assets.

And within the United States, Attorney General Garland announced the formation of Task Force KleptoCapture in March.

The Task Force is aggressively pursuing its mission. It has already seized several assets of sanctioned oligarchs and has brought charges against two companies and multiple individuals for the illegal sale and export of military, dual-use technologies to Russia. These successes have required coordination across not just the U.S. Government, but with foreign partners dedicated to combating corruption.

The Department of Justice is also committed to working with our international partners to build international capacity to fight corruption. Our overseas prosecutorial development section – OPDAT – with support from Secretary Blinkin and the State Department’s INL and CT bureaus, posts DOJ prosecutors at our embassies overseas to partner with foreign counterparts to provide case-based advice and mentoring on complex corruption cases. ICITAP — our law enforcement development section — likewise places advisors in partner countries to build the capacity of law enforcement institutions and other government entities to investigate misconduct and corruption.

As a department, we will continue to work tirelessly with our international partners to investigate and prosecute corruption and strengthen the relationships that make those efforts possible. And let me, in this regard, also note – and lift up – the essential work of civil society, investigative journalists, and independent media – which, by their courageous work, so often provide the essential leads for our investigations and subsequent prosecutions.

One of the lessons the successes of our anti-corruption efforts have revealed is that law enforcement is exponentially more effective when we have folks like the people in this room standing alongside us. Fighting corruption will never be an easy road. That’s why we need good people you to stand up and say: enough.

If you’re in this room tonight, or watching virtually, then you are a part of this fight. Your service, your desire to improve the world now and for future generation; your desire to make the world around you even a little more fair, a little more just, is what makes our efforts against corruption in all its forms possible. We must stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and reject the notion, the corrupting idea, that corruption is inevitable.

Leave here, strengthened by the relationships you have built at this conference and empowered by the spirit of this blessed International Anti-Corruption day. Let us proclaim, in one unified voice, from every township, community, city, and nation across this globe, that we will combat and reject corruption, in all its forms. That, my brothers and sisters, is our calling today, and every day. God bless you all.

Thank you for having me.

Jury Convicts Las Vegas Man Of Tax Fraud

Source: United States Attorneys General 9

LAS VEGAS – Yesterday, a federal jury convicted a Las Vegas man for executing a fraudulent tax withholding scheme in an attempt to obtain nearly $1 million in tax refunds through the filing of fraudulent tax returns for himself and his companies.

Following a four-day trial, Anthony Uvari (57) was found guilty of four counts of making and subscribing false tax returns. U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon presided over the trial and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 8, 2023. For each count of making and subscribing a false tax return, Uvari faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in prison, a term of supervised release, and a fine.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, between February 2012 and May 2013, Uvari filed (or caused to be filed) four tax returns that falsely claimed six different businesses had paid him or his companies income, but withheld more than $900,000 of income tax on his behalf and paid it to the IRS. The government also presented evidence at trial that the defendant had filed individual income tax returns for 2007-2010 with the same pattern of using false tax withholdings to claim fraudulent tax refunds. As a result, he requested from the IRS over $900,000 in fraudulent income tax refunds. The IRS paid out more than $300,000 in fraudulently obtained refunds before detecting Uvari’s scheme and denying the remaining refund requests.

On his 2011 individual income tax return, Uvari claimed nearly $600,000 in tax withholdings from purported winnings on horse racing wagers from off-track betting organizations, but according to evidence presented at trial, the IRS had no record of these winnings or withholdings. Furthermore, according to testimony of four witnesses at trial, two of the off-track betting organizations were not even in business at the time of the claimed wagers and withholdings, and two others had no records of the bets claimed by the defendant during the relevant time period. Uvari also filed three corporate tax returns on behalf of two shell companies he controlled, claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax withholdings from a Canadian bank. However, a representative of the Canadian bank testified at trial that the bank had not conducted these financial transactions with Uvari or his companies, had not made these payments to Uvari or his companies, and had not withheld this income tax on behalf of Uvari or his companies.

U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Albert Childress of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS-CI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Schmale and Jessica Oliva are prosecuting the case.

Albuquerque trio facing drug, weapons charges after FBI bust

Source: United States Attorneys General 9

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Jeffrey Alan Chavez and Estevan Antonio Ramirez appeared in federal court facing drug trafficking and firearms charges. They will remain detained pending preliminary and detention hearings scheduled for Dec. 12.

Chavez, 35, of Albuquerque, is charged with possession with intent to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, conspiracy, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm, and possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Ramirez, 18, of Albuquerque, is charged with possession with intent to distribute alprazolam (Xanax), being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm, possession of machineguns, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

A third defendant, Gerardo Rafael “Alex” Lara-Yanez, 24, of Albuquerque, is currently wanted for arrest.

According to criminal complaints filed in court, in October the FBI Violent Gangs Task Force (VGTF) were investigating Chavez for overseeing drug sales from at least three drug houses in southeast Albuquerque. Chavez allegedly employed Lara-Yanez to run one of the drug houses. In November, an FBI undercover employee (UCE) made contact with Chavez and Lara-Yanez, and Chavez allegedly indicated he could supply methamphetamine and fentanyl. The UCE met Chavez and Lara-Yanez at a drug house, where they allegedly provided 141.4 grams of methamphetamine and 550.1 grams of fentanyl pills in exchange for $9,250. During the transaction, Lara-Yanez allegedly handled multiple firearms, including a short-barreled shotgun and multiple pistols.

Later in November, the UCE communicated with Chavez to request a pound of methamphetamine. Chavez allegedly agreed to supply a pound of methamphetamine, as well as additional fentanyl pills because the earlier amount sold had been short. The UCE met Chavez at a local restaurant to complete the transaction. However, Chavez allegedly arrived with the wrong order, instead bringing eight ounces of methamphetamine and 8,000 fentanyl pills. Chavez allegedly sold the methamphetamine and fentanyl pills to the UCE for $2,690.

On Dec. 7, the FBI along with the New Mexico State Police, Albuquerque Police Department, and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office executed seven federal search warrants. One of the premises searched was an apartment on High Street SE in Albuquerque, where agents located Ramirez in his bedroom. In the bedroom, agents found 1,312 Xanax tablets, two machineguns, 11 full-automatic selector switches, 4 full-automatic drop-in auto sear devices, several high-capacity ammunition magazines, drug packaging materials and $3,000 in U.S. currency.

A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul J. Mysliwiec is prosecuting the case.

Wanted by the FBI: Gerardo Rafael “Alex” Lara-Yanez

Race: Hispanic

Age: 24

Height: 6’1

Weight: 150 pounds

Eyes: Brown

Hair: Black

Tattoos on forearms

Last known address: 8100 block Kathryn Street SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108

Vehicles:

Silver 2009 Audi 4 door, NM 22T-059274

White 2003 lnfini 4 door, NM ARHR09

Caution: Should be considered armed and dangerous

Anyone with information on this suspect’s whereabouts is asked to immediately contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Gerardo Rafael “Alex” Lara-Yanez is charged in a federal criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute 50 grams and more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, conspiracy, being a felon in possession of a firearm, being an unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm, and possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

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