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News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2005

21st Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty to Role in Meth Conspiracy

KANSAS CITY, MO. – Preston L. Grubbs, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) St. Louis Division and Todd P. Graves, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced on February 11, 2005, that an Independence, MO., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. “Today’s guilty plea,” Graves said, “marks the final conviction in a case involving 21 co-defendants from Missouri, California and Florida.”

Rickie T. Atagi, 34, of Independence, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright this morning in Kansas City.

By pleading guilty, Atagi admitted that he conspired with others to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine between December 1, 2000, and April 22, 2004. Atagi also agreed to a forfeiture count of the federal indictment, agreeing to forfeit any proceeds derived as a result of the methamphetamine conspiracy, including approximately $1 million and property located in Corona, CA.

Atagi is among 21 co-defendants to plead guilty to their role in two conspiracies to distribute methamphetamine and launder funds generated by the distribution of methamphetamine to promote the continued distribution of methamphetamine and disguise the ownership of the proceeds.

Christopher L. Earley, 27, Matthew G. Stansbury, 25, Matthew R. Klussman, 29, Jason M. Butler, 29, Guy A. Girratono, 27, and Joshua L. Drummond, 25, all of Independence, Mo., Ronald Wayne Younger, 33, and Garrett L. Johnson, 41, both of Blue Springs, MO., Spencer La Key, 26, of Kansas City, MO., Timothy A. Gorman, 26, of Sugar Creek, MO., and Casey L. McElroy, 33, Excelsior Springs, MO., each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine between December 1, 2000, and April 22, 2004.

Additionally, out-of-state residents Ivan M. Tofiga, 29, of Corona, CA., Juan Ramon Perez, 28, of Glendora, CA., Peti Nofoagia Iosua, 38, who is incarcerated by the Florida Department of Corrections, and Laurie J. Pazienza, 23, and Matthew S. Stewart, 28, whose addresses are unknown, also pleaded guilty to their role in the methamphetamine conspiracy.

Tofiga, Perez, Iosua, Younger, Key, Pazienza, Girratono, Gorman, Stewart, Johnson, McElroy, Earley, Drummond, Stansbury, Klussman and Butler also agreed to a forfeiture count of the federal indictment, agreeing to forfeit any proceeds derived as a result of the methamphetamine conspiracy, including approximately $1 million and property located in Corona, CA.

Tofiga, Perez, Noel Joseph Cruz, 30, of Duarte, CA., Janet Castillo Martinez, 31, of San Diego, CA., Iosua, Younger, Johnson, McElroy and Elizabeth Ann Corley, 23, of Kissimmee, FL., also pleaded guilty to their role in a money laundering conspiracy. By pleading guilty, they admitted to conspiring to launder money between December 1, 2000, and April 22, 2004.

Tofiga, Perez, Cruz, Iosua, Younger, Johnson, McElroy and Corley agreed to a second forfeiture count of the federal indictment, agreeing to forfeit any proceeds derived as a result of their involvement in the money laundering conspiracy.

Jason C. Highley, 26, pleaded guilty to a superseding information, admitting that he maintained a place of residence for the purpose of distributing, using and manufacturing methamphetamine.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Jackson County Drug Task Force, the Independence, MO., Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Corona, CA., Police Department and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement.

 

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