2010 Press Releases
April - June
30 June MIXON SENTENCING
28 June QUAVE GUILTY PLEA
25 June AGUILLARD BILL OF INFORMATION
9 June GARY SEALE INDICTMENT
4 June KIRT MINGO INDICTMENT
20 May FORD SENTENCING
12 May LESLIE SENTENCING
6 May FONTENOT H. INDICTED
6 May FERRELL SENTENCING
26 April UNITED STATES ATTORNEY APPOINTMENT
DRUG DEALER SENTENCED TO FORTY-TWO YEARS IN PRISON
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced today that BLAKE MIXON, age 28, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Frank J. Polozola.
Beginning in February 2005, following his sale of an amount of ecstasy to a customer, law enforcement agents arrested MIXON and found a quantity of ecstasy in his possession. The following year, MIXON began to sell methamphetamine. While in possession of an AK-47 style semiautomatic assault rifle, MIXON robbed his supplier of drugs and cash. During this period, MIXON possessed a .40 caliber pistol with an extended magazine clip. MIXON was already a convicted felon, having been convicted earlier in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana of second degree battery and possession with the intent to distribute diazepam. On March 3, 2007, after arresting MIXON, police recovered the AK-47 used by MIXON. While in custody, awaiting trial, MIXON used an associate to smuggle drugs into prison.
MIXON was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of four hundred eighty months followed by a term of supervised release of five years, together with an additional twenty-four month term of imprisonment for revocation of supervised release for conspiracy to injure government property and injuring government property, for a total term of imprisonment of five hundred four months
MIXON had previously pled guilty on July 30, 2008, to distribution of ecstasy; possession with the intent to distribute ecstasy; conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine; making a false statement to a federally licensed firearm dealer; three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime; and possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
U.S. Attorney Cazayoux commends the hard work of Assistant United States Attorney Robert W. Piedrahita and ATF Agent A.J. Lugo whose team effort resulted in the successful prosecution of a very difficult case.
The investigation of MIXON was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Louisiana State Police, and Baton Rouge Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert W. Piedrahita.
MAN GUILTY OF DRUG OFFENSE AND USING A BOOBY TRAP TO PROTECT DRUGS
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr., announced that WILLIAM E. QUAVE, 45, of Albany, Louisiana, pled guilty today before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Ralph E. Tyson to possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and with possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
As a result of his guilty plea to the methamphetamine-related crime, QUAVE faces a maximum sentence of a term of imprisonment of twenty (20) years, a $1,000,000 fine, or both. As a result of his guilty plea to the firearm-related crime, QUAVE faces a term of imprisonment of not less than seven (7) years and up to life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both. Sentencing has not yet been set.
According to the factual basis that was offered in connection with the guilty pleas, officers with the Tri-Parish Narcotics Task Force searched the defendant’s residence in September of 2008 and found the defendant in possession of numerous items commonly used in the illegal production of methamphetamine, a 33-gallon anhydrous ammonia tank partially buried in the ground underneath the defendant’s residence, small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana, and nine firearms. One of the firearms was a shotgun that the defendant had mounted to the wall and ceiling in one of the rooms inside his residence, suspended by a rope, and aimed at the doorway through which one would enter the room.
The investigation of QUAVE was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Tri-Parish Narcotics Task Force, and the DEA. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alan A. Stevens.
BATON ROUGE BUSINESSMAN CHARGED WITH INVESTMENT FRAUD
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. announced today that RAY A. AGUILLARD, age 59, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been charged in a Bill of Information with mail fraud and forfeiture. If convicted, AGUILLARD faces a maximum sentence of twenty (20) years in prison and a fine not more than the greater of twice the gross gain, twice the gross loss, or $250,000.
The bill of information alleges that AGUILLARD, doing business as BRC Group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, used his company to solicit and obtain approximately $5.6 million from approximately 40 victims based on false representations that such money would be used to operate various loan finance companies and their investments would earn 15% annual interest with the victims having 100% access to the interest at all times. The bill of information further alleges that AGUILLARD made further false representations about his personal financial status in order to provide a sense of security to the victims so as to convince the victims to leave their money with him and to solicit additional money from the victims. According to the bill of information, none of the money was ever invested or otherwise utilized to operate any business as represented by AGUILLARD to the victims and AGUILLARD had no ownership interest in any such loan finance companies. As a result of the fraudulent scheme, the bill of information alleges that AGUILLARD caused a loss of approximately $3.8 million to the victims.
U.S. Attorney Cazayoux stated: “This case demonstrates that the United States Attorney’s Office is committed to the investigation and prosecution of those who seek to commit fraud against innocent victims in this district. The effective prosecution of such crimes will serve to protect the financial well being of the public and deter future criminal conduct of others seeking to exploit their fellow citizens.”
The investigation of AGUILLARD was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard L. Bourgeois, Jr.
NOTE: A bill of information is merely an accusation by the United States Attorney that an offense has been committed by the defendant. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial.
GARY SEALE INDICTMENT
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney James Stanley Lemelle announced today that a Federal Grand Jury has returned an indictment charging GARY SEALE, age 56, of Zachary, Louisiana, with wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, filing false tax returns, and forfeiture. SEALE faces a maximum sentence of 236 years in prison and a fine of $3,950,000.
The indictment alleges that, from 2001 until 2009, SEALE, who owned and operated BIS Business Brokers, solicited and obtained through false and fraudulent representations approximately $500,000 in deposit and investment money from clients which he subsequently diverted to his own personal use, the use of others, and to pay debts he owed to others. SEALE allegedly laundered some of the proceeds of the fraud. The indictment also alleges that SEALE made false statements to a financial institution in connection with a $900,000 loan obtained through a loan program sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. SEALE is also alleged to have filed false income tax returns for the years 2004 and 2005.
U.S. Attorney Lemelle stated: “This office, together with our federal, state, and local partners, will continue to aggressively pursue those who seek to defraud our citizens, our businesses, and our government. Such crimes undermine the economic well being of our country and must be rooted out.”
"Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people’s money as well as skirt their tax obligations," said Michael J. DePalma, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation, New Orleans Field Office. "Tax crimes have erroneously been referred to as victimless, but that position could not be more wrong. Special Agents of IRS Criminal Investigation are premiere financial investigators and will continue to use their expertise to protect our law abiding citizens."
The charges against SEALE result from an extensive investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS-CI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of Inspector General for the Small Business Administration (SBA-OIG), and the Louisiana State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson who serves as a deputy criminal chief.
NOTE: An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial.
INDICTMENT IN BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA, ON CHARGES OF HEALTH CARE FRAUD
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Stan Lemelle announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging RAY A. KIRT, age 44, a resident of Franklin, Louisiana, with ten counts of health care fraud, and PEGGY MINGO, age 57, a resident of Morgan City, Louisiana, with six counts of health care fraud.
The ten-count indictment alleges that KIRT formed, owned, and was a member of Above and Beyond, LLC (“Above & Beyond”), a business located in both Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and New Iberia, Louisiana. KIRT managed the location in New Iberia. Among other things, Above & Beyond purported to engage in the business of providing psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries. The indictment alleges that beginning at least as early of March 2003 and continuing through at least in or about August of 2005, within the Middle District of Louisiana and elsewhere, KIRT employed and instructed unlicensed and unqualified individuals to visit Medicare beneficiaries and caused false claims to be submitted to Medicare. KIRT employed MINGO to prepare claims for submission to Medicare and together they caused others to submit false and fraudulent information to Medicare. The indictment alleges that KIRT and MINGO caused Above & Beyond to collect payments of approximately $1,063,873 from Medicare as a result of the submission of false claims. KIRT was paid approximately $270,215 for his participation in the scheme to defraud Medicare.
Mike Fields, Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas region of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, “This indictment further demonstrates that Medicare fraud will not be tolerated. The Medicare program is a valuable resource that must be protected.”
If convicted, KIRT and MINGO could receive a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. The court may also order restitution.
The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys René Salomon and Catherine Maraist of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.
NOTE: An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by the defendants. The defendants, of course, are presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty at trial.
DEFENDANT SENTENCED TO 130 MONTHS
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Stan Lemelle announced today that MICHAEL LEE FORD, 35, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Frank J. Polozola to serve one hundred thirty months in prison and four years supervised release.
FORD plead guilty on April 7, 2009, to a four count indictment charging him with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine; possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon; possession with the intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph E. Blackwell.
DEFENDANT SENTENCED FOR WITNESS TAMPERING
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Stan Lemelle announced today that JAMES H. LESLIE, age 58, a resident of Marthaville, Louisiana, and former Director of Louisiana Prison Enterprises, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Frank J. Polozola to serve five months imprisonment and five months home incarceration for witness tampering. The Court also ordered LESLIE to pay a fine of $10,000.
LESLIE previously pled guilty to the charge. As part of the guilty plea proceeding, LESLIE admitted in open court that, while he was Director of Prison Enterprises, he warned Dan Klein, the state contractor for the Angola Prison Rodeo, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had asked him to have a conversation with Klein while wearing a recording device. At the time, the FBI was investigating allegations related to the operation of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. During the investigation, the FBI learned that, in October 2004 and January 2005, LESLIE provided a fertilizer and seed mixture to Klein, free of charge, through a Prison Enterprises supplier. LESLIE admitted in open court that he told Klein to withhold from the FBI information concerning Klein’s receipt of the free fertilizer and seed.
The investigation of the case was handled by the FBI and the Louisiana Office of Inspector General. The matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Jones.
TENTH INDIVIDUAL CONVICTED IN OPERATION “ILLEGAL MOTION”
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney Stan Lemelle announced today that ROBERT L. STEVENS, age 61, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, appeared before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady and pled guilty to conspiring to use interstate facilities in aid of racketeering in connection with his role in a bribery scheme relating to the Baton Rouge City Court. STEVENS faces a maximum sentence of five (5) years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
During today’s hearing, STEVENS admitted that he accepted bribes from individuals with pending matters in the Baton Rouge City Court, and then shared the proceeds of the bribes with a prosecutor who would arrange for the matters to be dismissed or otherwise “fixed.”
STEVENS is the tenth individual convicted in Operation “Illegal Motion.” The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office with the cooperation of the Louisiana Office of Inspector General; the Louisiana State Police; the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigative Division; the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Criminal Investigations Division.
The cases are being prosecuted by Deputy Criminal Chief Corey R. Amundson and Assistant United States Attorney M. Patricia Jones.
FORMER STATE SENATOR INDICTED
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney James Stanley Lemelle announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging HEULETTE C. FONTENOT, JR., age 48, of Livingston, Louisiana, with two counts of making false statements to financial institutions and one count of making a false statement within the jurisdiction of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. If convicted, FONTENOT faces a maximum sentence of sixty-five (65) years imprisonment and a $1,200,000 fine.
The indictment alleges that, in July 1999, FONTENOT solicited and received a $100,000 cash loan in connection with his campaign for the Louisiana State Senate. According to the indictment, after receiving the cash on a secluded gravel road, FONTENOT hid the cash in his attic and burned the bags that had contained the cash in order to conceal evidence of the transaction. While FONTENOT allegedly discussed repaying the loan, the indictment alleges that FONTENOT never made any repayments on the loan. The indictment alleges further that, on October 20, 2001, and July 23, 2004, FONTENOT signed applications for bank loans falsely certifying that all his debts were listed thereon, when, as FONTENOT well knew, the $100,000 cash loan was not listed.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, and the United States Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson, who serves as a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, and Assistant United States Attorney M. Patricia Jones.
NOTE: An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by the defendant. The defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until and unless he is proven guilty at trial.
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER SENTENCED ON FRAUD CHARGE
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney James Stanley Lemelle announced today that Chief U.S. District Court Judge Ralph E. Tyson sentenced WILLIAM T. FERRELL, III, age 41, of Gulfport, Mississippi, to 15 months in prison, to pay restitution of $104,000, and to 3 years supervised release after imprisonment. FERRELL was sentenced based on his scheme to defraud a local business of over $100,000 through hundreds of fraudulent transactions spanning approximately two and a half years. During the time of the offense, the defendant was employed as a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
United States Attorney Lemelle stated, “It’s always a sad day when a member of law enforcement violates his oath to uphold the law. However, no one is above the law.”
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Internal Affairs. The matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Corey R. Amundson, who serves as a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.
BATON ROUGE, LA – James Stanley “Stan” Lemelle announced today that United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to be interim United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana effective April 25, 2010.
“I have been an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District for 31 years. For the past 16 years, I’ve served as Criminal Chief and supervised the office’s Criminal Division.”
“I am honored by the Attorney General’s appointment and look forward to continuing my work with the fine professionals of this office and with our outstanding law enforcement community.”
For further information, contact James Stanley Lemelle, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana, at (225) 389-0443.
BATON ROUGE, LA – United States Attorney David R. Dugas announced today that he will relinquish his position as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana effective April 24, 2010, to enter the private practice of law with a national law firm that has offices in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Serving as United States Attorney has been the greatest honor and most rewarding experience of my professional career,” Dugas stated. “I have had the privilege of serving alongside dedicated and professional public servants in the United States Attorney’s Office and in the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in this district and across the country. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to President Bush and to President Obama for allowing me to serve the cause of justice in their administrations.”
Dugas was appointed United States Attorney by President George W. Bush and took office October 17, 2001, only five weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He was appointed Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud (formerly the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force National Command Center) by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher in December of 2005 and personally directed the design, creation and operation of the Command Center since its inception.
As U.S. Attorney, Dugas has supervised prosecutions of major drug trafficking organizations, environmental crimes, white collar crimes, public corruption, disaster fraud, procurement fraud, international economic espionage, identity theft, computer intrusion and hacking, credit card theft, access device fraud, civil rights violations, sexual exploitation of children, gun trafficking crimes, bank fraud, accounting fraud, health care fraud, disaster fraud and other violations of federal law. Dugas spearheaded the creation of a dedicated FBI Public Corruption squad in Baton Rouge as well as the FBI’s Public Corruption and White Collar Crime Task Force. Dugas and his office currently host one of only seven HEAT Medicare Fraud Strike Forces operating in the United States.
As Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, Dugas has helped coordinate disaster fraud prevention and investigation for the entire nation. The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force has been recognized by the Department of Justice as the most successful task force of its kind in the history of the Department of Justice and has prosecuted over 1,300 defendants in 47 federal judicial districts around the country.
The National Center for Disaster Fraud currently coordinates disaster fraud prevention and investigations for all Presidential disaster declarations in the United States and for major international disasters such as the recent Haiti and Chile earthquakes. In 2009, the NCDF began working with the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to coordinate anti-fraud efforts related to the economic stimulus funding approved by Congress in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Dugas has also served as the Chair of the Attorney General’s Environmental Issues Advisory Subcommittee and as the Co-Chair of the Environmental Crimes Policy Committee of the Department of Justice since January of 2006. In those positions, Dugas helped shape national environmental enforcement policy for the Department of Justice.
Dugas has received national recognition for his service as U.S. Attorney over the last eight years. In 2005, Dugas was named national U.S. Attorney of the Year by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association. In 2006, Dugas was awarded the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Medallion, the second highest award given by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Also in 2006, Dugas was awarded the Distinguished Service Plaque by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency for his national leadership of the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force. That same year, Dugas’ office was awarded the Director’s Award for Superior Public Service by the Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. In 2004 Dugas was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Louisiana Crimes Victim Alliance. In March of this year Dugas received the 2010 Outstanding Service in Prosecution Award from the Louisiana Chapter of the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association.
Dugas is a 1978 “Order of the Coif” graduate of LSU Law School. While in law school, Dugas served as Associate Editor of the Louisiana Law Review and as a member of the Moot Court Board of Student Advisors. Dugas was inducted into the LSU Law School Hall of Fame in 1987.
Dugas has served as U.S. Attorney for eight and one-half years, making him the longest serving U.S. Attorney in the history of the Middle District of Louisiana.