News and Press Releases

LONGVIEW MAN SENTENCED TO EIGHT YEARS IN PRISON FOR RETALIATING AGAINST POLICE INFORMANT
Defendants Beat and Threatened Informant, Held Loaded Gun to Informant’s Head

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 20, 2006

BRANDON SCOTT TRAVER, 31, of Longview, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to eight years in prison and five years of supervised release for Retaliating against Informant and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton found TRAVER qualified as an Armed Career Criminal under federal law.

TRAVER was arrested October 17, 2005 and was armed with a Colt .380 semiautomatic pistol. TRAVER was barred from carrying a firearm because of his criminal history: a 1994 assault conviction in Lewis County; a 1995 assault conviction in Thurston County; a 1996 burglary conviction in Lewis County; and a 2003 conviction for Possession of a Firearm and Attempting to Elude a Pursuing Police Officer in Lewis County.

According to his plea agreement, TRAVER twice assaulted a Longview man who had provided information to law enforcement. The informant had been arrested by Longview Police for drug possession. To avoid being charged with the drug crime, the informant agreed to set up a drug deal with his supplier, Jason Harris. After Harris was arrested and indicted, TRAVER and others assaulted the informant in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Wearing a mask, TRAVER first assaulted the informant at a garage in Longview. After beating the informant, TRAVER called him a “rat” and allowed him to leave. Just days later TRAVER joined with STACEY COMER and RAUL ALVARADO-MARTINEZ, beating the informant in COMER’s home. The informant was brought to the basement apartment at gunpoint. TRAVER and COMER beat the informant while ALVARADO-MARTINEZ pointed the barrel of a gun at the informant’s head.

Following a three day jury trial, COMER was convicted of Conspiracy to Retaliate against an Informant, Retaliation against an Informant, and Brandishing a Firearm during a Crime of Violence. COMER will be sentenced October 20, 2006. RAUL ALVARADO-MARTINEZ pleaded guilty June 16, 2006, and will be sentenced October 13, 2006. TRAVER pleaded guilty on April 6, 2006.

The drug supplier, Jason Harris, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 17, 2006, for being an Armed Career Criminal.

TRAVER, as well as COMER, ALVARADO-MARTINEZ, and Harris were prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled by President George W. Bush in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in Cowlitz County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

“This case, and the related cases, demonstrate the federal commitment to work closely with local law enforcement in Cowlitz County,” said United States Attorney, John McKay, “We will vigorously prosecute and seek long prison sentences for the most serious armed felons to make our communities safer.”

Judge Leighton noted the serious methamphetamine problem in Cowlitz County and praised the federal government for devoting substantial resources to address the problem. Judge Leighton called Project Safe Neighborhood “a dragnet” in which TRAVER, among others, was caught. Judge Leighton warned that the stiff sentence was meant to send a message that there is a price to pay for the abuse of meth, which he called “a poison that destroys lives.”

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Longview Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William H. Redkey, Jr. and Karyn S. Johnson.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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