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Two former Rangers Pleads Guilty to Bank Robbery
Criminal Law Updates | 2007/03/11 01:37

Two former Army Rangers based at Fort Lewis pleaded guilty on Friday to charges related to an August 2006 bank robbery. Alex Blum, 19, of Greenwood Village, Colo., and Scott A. Byrne, 32, of California, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington. A third Army Ranger, Chad Palmer pleaded guilty in December to charges related to the robbery.

A fourth Army Ranger, Luke E. Sommer, who has a dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship is under house arrest in his mother's home in Peachland, B.C., and fighting extradition to the United States. 

Blum, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess on June 8. Byrne, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 1.

According to court documents, Sommer recruited Palmer, Blum and two men from Canada, Tigra Robertson and Nathan Dunmall. Blum was recruited to drive the getaway car. Byrne was identified in court documents as a "consultant" for the Aug. 7, 2006, robbery.

Byrne was not present at the robbery, the U.S. attorney said, but he advised Sommer to abandon his original plan to rob a casino and identified the bank as a potential target. Byrne also drove Sommer, Robertson and Dunmall to the bus station to catch a bus to Canada.

"While driving to the bus station, Sommer told Byrne that robbing the bank was more thrilling than combat and said he could not have organized the robbery without Byrne's help," the U.S. attorney said.

Blum drove the getaway car -- his own -- during the robbery, according to prosecutors. The robbers had removed the rear license plate of the car but didn't remove the front one. A witness jotted down the license plate number and authorities traced the car to Blum.

Searches at the Army base near Tacoma turned up body armor and money from the bank in the barracks rooms of Blum and Chad Palmer, a fellow Ranger. In Sommer's room, investigators found body armor, $10,000 in cash, two AK-47s and two semiautomatic handguns.

Blum was arrested in Greenwood Village while visiting his family.

Robertson is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on March 12. Sommer and Dunmall are fighting extradition from Canada.

Ohio Man Sentenced for Criminal Civil Rights Charges
Criminal Law Updates | 2007/01/18 06:34

David Fredericy, of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced today to serve 33 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit and for committing hate crimes targeting African-American residents of Cleveland, and for making false statements to federal investigators. During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Gaughan stated that she wanted to send "a message loud and clear that this conduct will not be tolerated."

On October 26, 2006, Fredericy pleaded guilty to conspiring to interfere and interfering with the federally protected housing rights of an interracial family because of their race, and for making false statements to federal investigators. Another Cleveland resident, Joseph Kuzlik, pleaded guilty to the same charges on November 27, 2006, and is scheduled to be sentenced on February 21, 2007.

Fredericy and Kuzlik engaged in a series of acts intended to threaten and intimidate African-American residents in their neighborhood. Among other acts, the defendants placed toxic mercury on the porch of a family with children for the purpose of intimidating them because they were an interracial family. In order to keep their unlawful actions secret, both Fredericy and Kuzlik lied to federal investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the federal agency that was initially charged with cleaning up the mercury and investigating the incident. Fredericy was ordered to pay restitution to the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA for the cost of cleanup, and was also ordered to pay restitution of a to be determined amount to individual victims who suffered financial losses as a result of the offenses.

"Any vicious act of racism is deplorable," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "What these men did is despicable, and the Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who violate the federally protected civil rights of others."

"Today's sentence is a fitting conclusion to a joint effort by the FBI, the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA, and the Cleveland Police Department, and demonstrates the commitment of both state and federal law enforcement authorities to protecting every citizen's basic right to live in and enjoy his or her own home without fear of racial intimidation," said Gregory White, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann C. Rowland and Trial Attorney Kristy L. Parker of the Civil Rights Division.

N.Y. City Man Pleads Guilty for Human Trafficking
Criminal Law Updates | 2007/01/12 23:27

A man from Queens, N.Y., pleaded guilty today to attempting to recruit a Korean woman whom he believed to be a minor to work as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced today.

Do Hyup Bae pleaded guilty to charges relating to the operation of a network of over 25 Korean-owned brothels that were located throughout the northeastern part of the United States, including New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Several of these brothels were located in Queens, N.Y.

This case illustrates the complexity and scope of human trafficking operations, said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who would profit from the systematic abuse of others.

According to the superseding indictment, the brothels, which were operated under the cover of legitimate businesses, typically employed between two and eight prostitutes, the majority of whom were Korean nationals who had entered the country on tourist visas. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution payments for human trafficking charges.

The prosecution of individuals involved in human trafficking is a top priority of the Justice Department. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, compared to the previous six years.

The case was investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Solette Magnelli of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Chen of the Eastern District of New York.

Enron CFO Goes to Prison
Criminal Law Updates | 2006/11/13 18:34

After a delay of nearly two months, former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow is going to prison in the federal correctional system. The purpose of the delay was to allow him to give a deposition in the securities fraud class action against the company's banks. Fastow testified for eight and a half days in Houston, before being dispatched on the BOP bus to Oakdale, taking daily trips with U.S. Marshals to a facility where seventy lawyers listened to him, along with live internet broadcasting.

Fastow is currently being held in the Federal Detention Center in Oakdale, Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Hoyt recommended during sentencing that the Bureau of Prisons place Fastow at the minimum security facility at Bastrop, Texas, near Austin. However, judges have no control over what the BOP decides on assignments. The Oakdale complex includes a minimum security facility (the Oakdale FCI), where former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers is serving a 25-year sentence. Fastow is currently in the FDC which also includes a prison camp.

A New York Times story estimates that at $450 per hour, all those lawyers billed about $2.1 million. That figure does not include the costs of support personnel and firm associates in addition to the costs of daily transcripts and duplication. If the securities fraud case goes to trial, then Fastow may have to take a few more trips to Houston to testify - again.

Breaking Legal
Sheryl Jones
Staff Writer

Victim's Boyfriend Arrested in S.C. Ditch Murders
Criminal Law Updates | 2006/11/03 17:57

Authorities said Friday, that a scond man, identified as Charles Gamble, 24, was arrested and charged with assisting in the murder and cover-up of three people, discovered in a drainage pipe near a downtown apartment complex.

According to Columbia Police Chief Dean Crisp, all three victims had been attacked at a nearby apartment and then moved to the drainage pipe. A woman had been stabbed to death and two men fatally shot. Charles Gamble, was the woman's ex-boyfriend and father of her young child.

Jeremal Doreal Robinson, 21, of Columbia was also arrested and has been charged as an accessory and with obstructing justice.

Crisp said, "We're confident that we have the man that committed the murders. We're confident also that we have the individual who assisted him after the act in moving the bodies."

The victims, now identified as Charlene Octavia Yarbrough, 19, Marcus Antonio Wilson, 26, and Marquis Mitchell, 25. Investigators were reviewing several potential motives including a possible domestic dispute, police said.

A resident of the apartment complex, Rodrena Patrick, 20, said Gamble had been living there until he and Yarbrough got into a fight about a month ago. The couple's child had been taken into protective custody.

Gamble, who was on probation for a stalking conviction, has a criminal record dating back to a 2000 grand larceny charge, Crisp said.

Breaking Legal News.Com
Neal Andrea
Staff Writer

Excess of $1 Million in Cocaine Seized in N.M.
Criminal Law Updates | 2006/11/01 18:56

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents working in New Mexico made significant narcotics seizures this week by seizing more than 400 pounds of marijuana and 43 pounds of cocaine through a combination of traffic checkpoint operations and routine patrol efforts. The total value of the contraband was valued at over $1.7 million.

The largest seizure of marijuana was made Wednesday by Border Patrol agents at the I-25 traffic checkpoint. After the occupants of a late model GMC truck granted agents consent to search the truck they discovered a total of 291 pounds of marijuana in numerous hidden compartments. Members of the "Raven Unit" of the NMNG were called up to dismantle the after-market compartments located in the gas tank, rear cab wall, and metal tire rims. The total value of the marijuana is $233,000.

In a separate incident, another seizure was made by Border Patrol agents who were on patrol near Hatch, N.M. Agents spotted a minivan attempting to circumvent the Border Patrol traffic checkpoint on I-25. When agents caught up to and performed a vehicle stop, they were granted permission to search the vehicle. Utilizing the assistance of a CBP canine, they discovered 19 bundles of cocaine wrapped in cellophane and brown packaging tape that was hidden in another after-market compartment behind the dashboard of the van. The cocaine weighed 43.16 pounds, and is valued at more than $1.3 million.

The narcotics, vehicles and four occupants were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Las Cruces. The New Mexico National Guards' Raven Unit has provided support for the U.S. Border Patrol since 1995. This unit has specialized tools, training, and equipment to safely and efficiently dismantle compartments where narcotics are hidden.

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