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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hastert Case Is Said to Be Linked to Decades-Old Sexual Abuse - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON — J. Dennis Hastert, who served for eight years as speaker of the House of Representatives, was paying a former student hundreds of thousands of dollars to not say publicly that Mr. Hastert had sexually abused him decades ago, according to two people briefed on the evidence uncovered in an F.B.I. investigation.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday announced the indictment of Mr. Hastert, 73, on allegations that he made cash withdrawals, totaling $1.7 million, to evade detection by banks. The federal authorities also charged him with lying to them about the purpose of the withdrawals.


Hastert Case Is Said to Be Linked to Decades-Old Sexual Abuse - NYTimes.com

Officer Fired After He Refused To Destroy Video Tape of Abuse

An internal investigation into the Denver Sheriff Department, and its interim head Elias Diggins, is now underway. The captain in charge of the Denver Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Bureau is also in the spot light of the investigation after one internal affairs investigator blew the whistle on all of them.
That investigator says he was specifically ordered to destroy a video that documented inmate abuse. Specifically, the tape showed an inmate being humiliated and degraded in a way that was unquestionably illegal.


Officer Fired After He Refused To Destroy Video Tape of Abuse

Bridgeport Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Cocaine

FBI New Haven Division #News Release:


Bridgeport Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Cocaine

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 27, 2015
  • District of Connecticut(203) 821-3700
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that MOYAN FORBES, 23, of Bridgeport, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release, for trafficking cocaine.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2012, the FBI Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force, Bridgeport Police Department and Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force began an investigation into narcotics trafficking and violent criminal activity in and around the Trumbull Gardens housing complex in Bridgeport. The investigation revealed that Ronell Hanks, also known as “Biz” and “Ace,” headed an organization that sold heroin and crack cocaine 24-hours a day, seven days a week. FORBES supplied Hanks with cocaine, which Hanks “cooked” into crack.
During the course of the investigation, investigators seized approximately one kilogram of heroin, one-half kilogram of crack cocaine, approximately $100,000 in cash, three vehicles, jewelry, nine firearms, and more than 200 rounds of ammunition. One of the firearms was an assault-type rifle and four of the firearms were stolen.
FORBES was arrested on December 5, 2013. On that date, a search of his residence revealed a Beretta handgun in the kitchen next to a loaded magazine. Investigators also seized approximately $1,000 from FORBES’s pants pocket, as well as one round of ammunition that matched the ammunition in the seized firearm.
On December 18, 2013, a grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment charging Hanks, FORBES and 12 other individuals with a variety of narcotics and firearms trafficking offenses.
FORBES has been detained since his arrest. On August 14, 2014, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of cocaine.
Hanks pleaded guilty and, on February 25, 2015, was sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment.
This matter is being investigated by the FBI’s Bridgeport Safe Streets Task Force, in coordination with the Bridgeport Police Department, the Trumbull Police Department and the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Fairfield are assisting this investigation and prosecution. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Lee Dayton and Rahul Kale.
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Mexican National Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison for Executing a $4 Million Bank Fraud Scheme

FBI Miami Division #News Release:


Mexican National Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison for Executing a $4 Million Bank Fraud Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 26, 2015
  • Southern District of Florida(313) 226-9100
Julian Martin Gaspar Vazquez (Gaspar), 52, of Mexico was sentenced on May 22, 2015, by United States District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, to forty-one months’ imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release for executing a $4 million dollar bank fraud scheme. Gaspar was also ordered to pay $4,488,000 in restitution. In addition, the Court imposed a $4 million forfeiture money judgment against Gaspar.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael McCarthy, Deputy Inspector General, Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), and Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
On February 12, 2015, Gaspar pled guilty to one count of bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344.
According to court documents Gaspar was the owner of “Ecologia en Tratamientos de Agua, S.A. de C.V.” (“ETA”). ETA was a Mexican company in the business of water treatment. In or around March of 2006, Gaspar sought an Ex-Im Bank insured credit line from Espirito Santo Bank, a United States bank located in Miami, Florida. Ex-Im Bank is a United States agency that issues insurance to United States lending banks for loans made to foreign buyers of United States goods. The stated purpose for the credit line was to enable ETA to import United States goods into Mexico.
From September 2009 through February 2010, Gaspar caused Espirito Santo Bank to make four reimbursement disbursements of $1 million each to ETA. The supporting documents included false bank records purporting to show payments by ETA to a United States company and false Mexican customs documents purporting to show that United States goods had been exported to Mexico. From in or around March 2010, through in or around August 2010, ETA and Gaspar failed to repay the disbursements when due, and defaulted on the Ex-Im Bank insured loan. As a result, Gaspar caused $4,488,000 in losses to Ex-Im Bank which had insured the loan that Gaspar fraudulently obtained from Espirito Santo Bank.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Ex-Im Bank OIG and the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana Maria Martinez.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida atwww.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.
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Rubio Comments On Expiration of Patriot Act Provisions

Press Releases

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement regarding the expiration of Patriot Act provisions:

“The national security laws and programs implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been the cornerstone of our country’s protection since that infamous day. Programs like the Section 215 metadata program, which lapsed this evening, have received vigorous congressional and judicial oversight and have allowed us to thwart terrorist plots.

“After tonight there is no guarantee that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies will have all the tools they need to protect the American people in the face of a growing terrorist threat. Allowing any of these programs to expire is a mistake, but that’s what is happening as a consequence of the reckless spreading of misinformation and political posturing.‎ Our country is now poised to be less safe and Americans at greater risk from growing terrorist threats.”

Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht Sentenced to Life in Prison | WIRED

ROSS ULBRICHT CONCEIVED of his Silk Road black market as an online utopia beyond law enforcement’s reach. Now he’ll spend the rest of his life firmly in its grasp, locked inside a federal penitentiary.
On Friday Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in creating and running Silk Road’s billion-dollar, anonymous black market for drugs. Judge Katherine Forrest gave Ulbricht the most severe sentence possible, beyond what even the prosecution had explicitly requested. The minimum Ulbricht could have served was 20 years.


Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht Sentenced to Life in Prison | WIRED

Quake Rattles Borrego Springs | NBC 7 San Diego

An earthquake struck early Sunday near the desert community of Borrego Springs, east of San Diego.




Quake Rattles Borrego Springs | NBC 7 San Diego

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Coats Joins CNN to Discuss Senate Debate on the Patriot Act

Coats Discuss Senate Debate on Patriot Act

Flooding on Atlanta highway as water main breaks

Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, Travels to Latin America and the Caribbean

State Department #News Release:


Randy Berry, Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, Travels to Latin America and the Caribbean


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 31, 2015


Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry will travel to Chile from June 1 – 2, Argentina from June 3 – 4, Uruguay from June 4 – 5, Brazil from June 6 – 9, and the Dominican Republic from June 10 – 11 to discuss the human rights of LGBTI persons and other historically marginalized groups.
During the 11 day visit, Special Envoy Berry will participate in LGBTI Pride Month activities and meet with government representatives, in addition to members of religious, business, academic, and civil society organizations.
For updates on the U.S. Government’s human rights work, visit www.humanrights.gov, the DRL Twitter account: @State_DRL or Special Envoy Berry’s Twitter account: @RandyBerry.
For more information, please contact DRL-Press@state.gov.

Statement on the Passing of Beau Biden

State Department #News Release:


Statement on the Passing of Beau Biden


Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 31, 2015


Teresa and I are heartbroken for Hallie, Hunter, Ashley, Jill, and Joe, and particularly for Beau and Hallie’s two remarkable children, Hunter and Natalie. Beau’s loss is crushing for everyone lucky enough to have known him and the whole Biden family, because you can’t know them without feeling their overwhelming love for each other – for family.
For the Bidens, being there for each other was and is everything. Any real conversation with Joe was about family and how much he and Jill loved their children and grandchildren.
Life for them is family.
I’ll never forget what Joe Biden said to me about Beau while he was serving his country in Iraq. Beau had just turned down what some considered the opportunity of a lifetime, to be appointed to the Senate seat his Dad had held for almost 40 years.
"Beau is just so good," Joe said. "He's so good."
What an all-encompassing statement about how much Joe loved his eldest son and how much Beau loved his Dad.
Beau Biden was a son any father might hope to raise, and Joe Biden is the kind of father any boy would want. It made their relationship special. Beau also was special.
I got to know him just listening to Joe talk in the Senate cloakroom about his boys. Then I was fortunate to spend time with Beau when he first ran for Attorney General in 2006. He went off to war two years later. He didn't have to go. He didn't have to do any of it. But he was filled with a sense of honor, duty, and humility – to the core. He was a class act, period, ingrained with integrity, compassion, a sense of moral obligation to help others, and especially people who were hurting.
All that and more has long been ingrained in the Biden family, which has experienced pain before and come out stronger at the broken places, as Hemingway wrote so poignantly.
As we know, there are some things only God can explain. The tragic loss of the good, the young and the brave has haunted me for a long, long time now – and again today, with Beau's passing.
A few years ago, Joe, who, tragically, was already speaking from experience, described the period after losing a loved one as akin to "that black hole you feel in your chest, like you're being sucked back into it." But Joe has also said there comes a day "when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes."
As usual, Joe said it better than anyone else could. And while I know it may not come soon, Teresa and I wish that same peace for the Biden family, and all those who love them.
That's the solace we all rely on as we mourn Beau Biden and extend our profound shared sorrow to all the Biden family.

United States and Jordan Sign Third Loan Guarantee Agreement

State Department #News Release:


United States and Jordan Sign Third Loan Guarantee Agreement


Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 31, 2015


The United States today re-affirmed its strong commitment to the people of Jordan by signing a third sovereign loan guarantee agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This loan guarantee agreement is part of a broader U.S. commitment to help ensure Jordanian stability, security, and economic growth.
The proceeds of the U.S. guaranteed bonds issued pursuant to the agreement will help to ensure that Jordan can continue to provide critical services to its citizens as it hosts the nearly 630,000 refugees registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who have fled the violence in Syria. The U.S. loan guarantee agreement is designed to support specific economic reforms that the Government of Jordan has been pursuing in order to promote economic stability, growth and prosperity for the Jordanian people.
The signing of this loan guarantee agreement fulfills the commitment made by President Obama during his meeting with King Abdullah on December 5, 2014. At that meeting President Obama noted that, “Jordan is one of our most effective and capable and steadfast partners not only in the Middle East, but around the world.”
This will be the third U.S. loan guarantee to the Government of Jordan. Pursuant to the loan guarantee agreement, the United States would guarantee repayment of principal and interest on Jordanian sovereign bond issuances totaling up to $1.5 billion with tenors not to exceed ten-years. Jordan previously issued sovereign bonds worth $1.25 billion in 2013 and $1 billion in 2014 with U.S. Government guarantees. Both of the previous guarantees were successful in supporting Jordan’s reform efforts during a time of regional instability. This third guarantee will further support that strategy and also support Jordan’s ability to independently access international capital markets.

Senator: U.S. threat level has never been higher

Jefferson City Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempted Sex Trafficking of a Child

FBI Kansas City Division #News Release:


Jefferson City Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Attempted Sex Trafficking of a Child

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 28, 2015
  • Western District of Missouri(816) 426-3122
JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Jefferson City, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for the attempted sex trafficking of a child as the result of an undercover investigation in which he thought he was meeting a 12-year-old victim for illicit sex.
Jeremy Ryan Bappert, 30, of Jefferson City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 15 years in federal prison without parole.
Bappert, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2014, admitted that he sent a text to a confidential informant, who then notified the Columbia, Mo., Police Department. Bappert asked the confidential informant to find a young girl, “around 9 to 11 years old,” and asked what $100 would get him. A police detective instructed the informant to send a response to Bappert that a person named “Julie” had a child available.
The police detective assumed the role of “Julie” and had a number of text conversations with Bappert. Bappert asked how old the child would be and said he was looking for “very young.” The undercover detective told Bappert that “Julie’s” daughter was 12 years old.
On July 19, 2013, Bappert sent a text to “Julie” seeking to arrange a meeting. He offered to pay $150 and provide a gram of hash in exchange for meeting at a hotel room in Jefferson City. Bappert, whose driver’s license was suspended, wasn’t able to find a ride on that day. He sent another text on July 24, 2013, saying that he had arranged a ride to Columbia but would have to pay $50 to the driver. He offered to pay “Julie” $100 but promised to pay $200 the next time. He also offered to bring “Julie” a gram of hash.
On July 25, 2013, Bappert agreed to meet at a restaurant in Columbia. When Bappert entered the restaurant, he was arrested. Investigators searched Bappert’s cell phone and recovered 246 images and six videos of child pornography.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by the FBI, the Boone County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia, Mo., Police Department.
Project Safe Childhood
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc . For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
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Lake City Man Sentenced to More Than Seven Years for Receiving Child Pornography Over the Internet

FBI Jacksonville Division #News Release:


Lake City Man Sentenced to More Than Seven Years for Receiving Child Pornography Over the Internet

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 27, 2015
  • Middle District of Florida(904) 301-6300
JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Samuel Franklin Crews (32, Lake City) to seven years and eight months in federal prison for knowingly receiving images and videos of child pornography over the Internet. He has been in custody since his arrest on December 31, 2013.
According to court documents, an FBI agent in Jacksonville began an undercover investigation to identify individuals in that area that had access to and/or were trading images and videos depicting child pornography over the Internet. The agent determined that a computer in the Lake City area was hosting images of child pornography using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. The agent was able to download several videos depicting child pornography from this computer. The subscriber information was traced to Crews’s Lake City residence.
Law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Crewss residence and seized his computer. Crews told the agents, among other things, that he had come across child pornography using a file sharing program on the Internet and became “curious,” he had searched for and downloaded more child pornography using certain search terms, and he knew that viewing such material is harmful to children. Subsequent analysis of Crews’s computer revealed that it contained 124 images and 10 videos depicting the sexual abuse of children.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, and the Gainesville Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney D. Rodney Brown.
This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
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Federal Officials Close the Investigation into the Death of Otis James Byrd

FBI Jackson Division #News Release:


Federal Officials Close the Investigation into the Death of Otis James Byrd

U.S. Department of JusticeMay 29, 2015
  • Office of Public Affairs(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
The Department of Justice announced today that following its investigation into the death of Otis James Byrd that there is no evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges in the death of Byrd.
Officials from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) met today with Byrd’s family to inform them of the decision. Byrd, a 54-year old African-American man, was discovered hanging from a tree in Port Gibson, Mississippi, on March 19, 2015.
Justice Department investigators, working alongside state and local officials, conducted a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding Byrd’s death to determine whether his death was a homicide, and therefore within the scope of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual willfully caused bodily injury because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or disability.
After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd’s death was a homicide. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed.
The Justice Department is committed to investigations of allegations of hate crimes and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.
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Members of Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club Convicted of Violent Racketeering-Related Crimes

FBI Detroit Division #News Release:


Members of Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club Convicted of Violent Racketeering-Related Crimes

U.S. Department of JusticeMay 27, 2015
  • Office of Public Affairs(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
Today, a federal jury in Detroit convicted two members of the violent Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, one of whom also was a member of the Vice Lords street gang, on separate crimes of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and a firearms offense.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Detroit Field Division and Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Division made the announcement.
“The dismantling of the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club demonstrates how law enforcement authorities and community members can work hand-in-hand to combat gang violence across the nation,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “In this case, law enforcement unquestionably saved lives by making a wave of arrests to prevent a planned nationwide campaign of violence against a rival motorcycle gang. The verdict in this case holds violent gang members accountable for the destruction they inflicted and the havoc they intended to wreak.”
“The Detroit One initiative targets criminal gang members like these defendants, who are responsible for gun violence in neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney McQuade. “We hope that removing dangerous trigger pullers will give our communities the peaceful quality of life we all deserve.”
“ATF works every day with our partners to take the most violent offenders off our streets and put them behind bars,” said Special Agent in Charge S. Robin Shoemaker. “Without partnership, without standing up against the violence, no public safety issues can be solved. ATF is committed to this fight, and committed to working together to keep our citizen safe and our communities livable.”
“The defendants in this case were active members of violent criminal groups, one of which was based in Detroit and operated across numerous, and sometimes distant, states,” said Special Agent in Charge Abbate. “These convictions reflect our continuing resolve through interstate cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to prevent violent crime regardless of how far its reach may extend.”
The jury convicted the defendants of the following offenses:
  • Christopher Odum (aka Murder), 29, of Detroit, a member of the Detroit chapters of both the Phantoms and the Vice Lords, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
  • William Frazier (aka Daytona), 37, of Auburn Hills, the Vice President of the Pontiac, Michigan, chapter of the Phantoms, was convicted of two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and one count of using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence.
The evidence showed that the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club and its members were involved in a range of criminal activity including conspiracy to commit murder, shootings, robberies, extortion and the possession and sale of stolen vehicles and motorcycles. The evidence also showed overlap between the leadership of the Phantoms and membership in the Vice Lords street gang, which assisted the Phantoms in various criminal endeavors, including searching for and violently attacking rivals of the Phantoms.
Specifically, the evidence at trial demonstrated that, on Oct. 27, 2012, at the Columbus, Ohio clubhouse of the Toros Motorcycle Club, a fight took place between the Phantoms and the Zulus Motorcycle Club, a rival gang. During the fight, William Frazier, a Phantom member, shot two men.
The evidence at trial also showed that, on Sept. 8, 2013, Antonio Johnson, who was both the National President of the Phantoms and the “Three-Star General” over the Vice Lords in Michigan, ordered numerous Phantoms, including Christopher Odum, to rob the Satan Sidekicks Motorcycle Club, a rival motorcycle club. During the attempted robbery, a Phantom member, Bryan Sorrell (aka PC) shot a Satan Sidekick member in the face. A few days later, Odum and another Phantom violently assaulted a prospective member of the Satan Sidekicks during another attempted robbery at a gas station.
Additionally, according to the evidence presented at trial, Johnson blamed the Hell Lovers Outlaw Motorcycle Club for a September 2013 murder of a Phantoms member, and ordered retaliatory murders that were to be carried out in three phases. In the first phase, the Phantoms were to murder at least three members of the Hell Lovers in Detroit in order to lure additional Hell Lovers to Michigan for the funeral. In the second phase, the Phantoms were to murder all members of the Hell Lovers who would be at the Hell Lovers’ Detroit clubhouse following the funeral. In the third phase, the Phantoms were to kill Hell Lovers in other cities throughout the country where the Phantoms had chapters. In October 2013, ATF and FBI agents disrupted the mass murder plot. At trial, the government presented evidence that, at the time that investigators disrupted the murder plot, the Phantoms were preparing for the first phase, including stockpiling firearms, conducting research and surveillance of their intended victims, and assigning Phantom members and Vice Lords members to stalk and murder the intended victims. Odum participated in the murder plot.
This was the second of two recent trials in the prosecution of the Phantoms. On March 16, 2015, a jury convicted six leaders and members of the Phantoms, many of whom also were leaders and members of the Vice Lords, for various crimes, including the September—October 2013 murder plot against the Hell Lovers and the September 2013 shooting of the Satan Sidekicks member. Among those six convicted defendants were Johnson and Marvin Nicholson, who was both the National Enforcer of the Phantoms and a member of the Vice Lords. The charges included RICO conspiracy involving murder, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, firearms offenses, and assault on federal officers. In addition, four defendants previously have pleaded guilty to charges, including RICO conspiracy and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and await sentencing.
The arrests in this case were made as part of the Detroit One Initiative, a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit, and through the lead efforts of the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership Task Force, which consists of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and the FBI. By working collaboratively, local, state and federal law enforcement are striving to maximize their ability to identify and arrest the persons and groups initiating the violence in Detroit. These convictions are a tangible and significant result of this joint effort.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Louis Gabel of the Eastern District of Michigan.
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