News and Press Releases

Federal Charges Brought Against Five More Individuals for 1999 Robbery of Sprint Communications Facility in Las Vegas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2002

Las Vegas, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, Ellen B. Knowlton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Nevada, and Sheriff Jerry Keller of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, announced that five more individuals have been indicted in federal court in Las Vegas for their role in the January 3, 1999 robbery of a Sprint Communications facility near Spring Mountain Road and Jones Boulevard. SOFI DARRELL DONAT, SEAN CORY MILLER, HARVEY B. REESE, CHARLES ROGERS, and LARRY SANDERS are named in a three-count Superseding Indictment returned by a federal grand jury on May 1, 2002. The Indictment was recently unsealed following the arrests of several of the defendants. DONAT, MILLER, REESE, ROGERS, and SANDERS are charged with Conspiracy, Interference with Commerce by Threats or Violence, and Transportation of Stolen Goods Used in Interstate Commerce. In December 1999, ELI HANDY and KURT GASSOWAY were also charged with the crime which involved the theft of approximately 244 telephone computer circuit boards valued at approximately $1.5 million. GASSOWAY has since pleaded guilty and was already sentenced for his part in the offense; HANDY has also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 23, 2002.

According to court records, early in the morning of January 3, 1999, a defendant, clad in a Pinkerton security guard uniform, knocked on the front door of the Sprint facility. When an employee answered it, two other defendants pushed their way inside. The defendants then tied up two employees and taped their mouths shut, and assaulted them with a stun gun and placed them in a restroom. While several defendants removed the telephone computer circuit boards from the facility, another defendant acted as a lookout outside the building. Another Sprint employee who entered the office during the crime was assaulted, beaten, and robbed by one of the defendants. As a result of the robbery, an entire sector of southwest Las Vegas was left without telephone service for a number of hours.

The Indictment charges that in November 1998, defendant HANDY opened up a business checking account for "EL Communications" to finance the burglary and to pay the codefendants for their part in the conspiracy. Following the robbery in Las Vegas, the defendants transported the computer telephone cards by van to California, and on approximately January 15, 1999, DONAT, MILLER, REESE, ROGERS, and SANDERS received a payment from the EL Communications bank account for their role in the robbery.

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the Interference with Commerce by Threats or Violence charge, 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the Transportation of Stolen Goods charge, and five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on the Conspiracy count. In addition to any term of imprisonment or fine which could be ordered following a conviction, the court is required to order restitution to the victims. The actual sentence, however, will be dictated by the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and will be imposed at the discretion of the Court.

Defendant DONAT is currently incarcerated in state prison in California on an unrelated charge and will be scheduled for an initial appearance hearing on the charges at a later date. Defendant MILLER appeared at an initial appearance hearing in Las Vegas on May 9, 2002, and was released on his own recognizance. Defendant MILLER'S trial date has been set for July 2, 2002, before U.S. District Court Judge Kent J. Dawson. Defendants REESE and ROGERS were both arrested on May 29, 2002, in Los Angeles, California. Defendant REESE was held without bond, while ROGERS was held pending release on a $50,000 bond. Both defendants are awaiting a court appearance date in Las Vegas later this month. The current whereabouts of SANDERS are not known at this time.

The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives with the Robbery Unit of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Karyn Kenny.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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