In the evening hours of July 12, 2008, six members of the Shenandoah Valley, Pennsylvania, High School football team, approached Luis Ramirez in a park and assaulted him. Derrick Donchak, one of the assailants, beat Mr. Ramirez with a piece of metal called a "fist pack." Colin Walsh punched Mr. Ramirez in the face causing him to fall backwards to the ground, hitting his head. Brandon Piekarsky kicked Mr. Ramirez in the head while he was on the ground. During the beating, the assailants repeatedly yelled racial epithets at Mr. Ramirez and told him to leave Shenandoah and "go back to Mexico." As Mr. Ramirez lay unconscious on the ground, the group ran from the scene. As Piekarsky ran, he yelled at a bystander to "tell your [..] Mexican friends to get [..] out of Shenandoah or you will be lying next to him." Mr. Ramirez never regained consciousness and died of his head injuries on July 14, 2008. Following the beating, Shenandoah Police Department (SPD) officers obstructed the investigation into Mr. Ramirez's death.
On October 14, 2010, a federal jury found Piekarsky and Donchak guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act, which protects individuals from discrimination in housing on the basis of protected categories such as race. The jury found that the defendants' beating of Mr. Ramirez was motivated by their desire to keep Latinos from living in Shenandoah. Donchak was also convicted of obstructing justice. Both defendants were sentenced to nine years in prison and three years of supervised release. Walsh, who had pleaded guilty in April 2009, testified against the other two assailants. He was sentenced to 55 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Former SPD Chief Nestor and former SPD Lieutenant Moyer were tried in January 2011, and were convicted of falsifying reports and lying to the FBI, respectively. Nestor was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years of supervised release; Moyer was sentenced to 3 months in prison and one year of supervised release. The jury acquitted a third officer, former SPD Officer Jason Hayes (who was dating Piekarsky's mother at the time of the beating) of obstruction charges.
Read the press releases:
Two Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Men and Four Police Officers Indicted for Hate Crime and Related Corruption (12/15/09)
Two Shenandoah, Pa., Men Convicted of Hate Crime in the Fatal Beating of Luis Ramirez (10/14/10)
Two Former Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Police Officers Convicted of Falsifying Information About Hate Crime (1/27/11)
Two Shenandoah, Pa., Men Sentenced for the Fatal Beating of Luis Ramirez (2/23/11)
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Man Sentenced for Involvement in the Fatal Beating of Luis Ramirez (4/6/11)
Two Former Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Police Officers Sentenced for Falsifying Information About the Beating of a Latino Man (6/1/11)
U.S. v. Johnson
On November 21, 2006, Vincent Johnson, a resident of Ocean County, New Jersey, sent this message to an employee at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF): "Do you have a last will and testament? If not, better get one real soon." The email was sent from email@example.com and over the next two years, until February 9, 2009, Johnson used that account to send threatening emails to PRLDEF and other civil rights organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza ,and the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders.
Johnson's emails threatened violence and often referenced the organizations' assistance to Latinos, for example: "[i]f the idiots in the organizations which this e-mail is being copied to can't fathom the serious nature of their actions, then they will be on the hit list just like any illegal alien . . . actually, they are already on the list"; "I am giving you fair warning that your presence and position is being tracked . . . you are dead meat . . . along with anyone else in your organization"; "I won't waste my time with legal endeavors . . . my preference would be to buy more ammunition to deal with the growing chaos created by the pro-illegal alien groups. RIP [names] who are not the friends of our democracy".
On October 20, 2010, Johnson pleaded guilty to five counts of interfering/intimidating or attempting to interfere/intimidate the employees of the civil rights organizations to discourage them from aiding Latinos to participate in and enjoy federally protected activities. Johnson also pleaded guilty to five counts of transmitting threatening communications in interstate commerce. On April 18, 2011, Johnson was sentenced to 50 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000.
Read the press releases:
New Jersey Man Indicted for Threatening Employees of Latino Civil Rights Organizations (2/8/10)
New Jersey Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening Employees of Latino Civil Rights Organizations (10/20/10)
New Jersey Man Sentenced for Threatening Employees of National Latino Civil Rights Organizations ((4/18/11)
U.S. v. Seale
On June 14, 2007, a federal jury in the Southern District of Mississippi convicted former Klansman James Ford Seale on federal conspiracy and kidnaping charges for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two 19-year-old African-Americans, Henry Dee and Charles Moore. Seale and several fellow members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan kidnapped Dee and Moore, brutally beat them, bound them, and transported them across state lines. Seale and his co-conspirators then tied heavy objects to the victims and threw the men, still alive, into the Old Mississippi River. In August 2007, Seale was sentenced to serve three life terms in prison. In September 2008, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the convictions on statute of limitations grounds, but it then granted rehearing en banc. On June 5, 2009, the 5th Circuit, by reason of an equally divided en banc court, affirmed the trial court’s decision to deny Seale’s motion to dismiss the indictment.
The prosecution team was awarded the 2008 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the highest honor awarded to Department employees.
Read the press releases:
Former Klansman, James Ford Seale Found Guilty for Role in 1964 Kidnapping and Murder of Two African-American Men
Former Mississippi Klansman Sentenced to Three Life Terms in Prison for Role in 1964 Kidnapping and Murder of Two African-American Men
Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Conviction of Former Mississippi Klansman in 1964 Kidnapping and Murder of Two African American Men
U.S. v. Eye and Sandstrom
On May 8, 2008, Gary Eye and Steven Sandstrom were convicted for shooting and killing William McCay, an African-American man, as he walked down the street in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 9, 2005. Eye and Sandstrom initially drove past the victim and fired shots at him, but did not hit him. Afraid that the victim could identify them to police, Eye and Sandstrom then drove around the block, found the victim again, and shot him once more, killing him. The jury returned special verdicts for Eye and Sandstrom on May 12 and 18, 2008, respectively. In September 2008, both defendants received life sentences.
Read the press releases:
Jury Convicts two Kansas City, Missouri, Men for Racially-Motivated Murder
Two Kansas City, Missouri, Men to be Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racially Motivated Murder
U.S. v. Szaz
In September 2008, Christopher Szaz pled guilty to federal civil rights charges for threatening employees of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) because of their race and national origin. Szaz admitted sending two email messages threatening to bomb the CAIR office in Washington, DC, and another email to the NCLR office in Washington, DC, stating that he would kill employees of that organization. Szaz was sentenced to 45 days in prison.
Read the press release:
North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty and Is Sentenced for Federal Hate Crimes
U.S. v. Munsen
On April 25, 2008, Jeremiah Munsen pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Section 245(b)(2)(E) (interference with a federally protected activity), in connection with an incident on September 20, 2007, when he attempted to intimidate a group of African-American civil rights marchers by displaying two hangman’s nooses from the back of a pickup truck in Alexandria, Louisiana. The victims had just attended a massive civil rights rally in Jena, Louisiana, and were waiting at a bus depot for buses to return them to their home-state of Tennessee. On August 18, 2008, Munsen was sentenced to serve four months in prison, followed by one year supervised release.
Read the press releases:
Louisiana Man Indicted for Federal Civil Rights Violations for Nooses Targeting “Jena Six” Marchers
Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime
U.S. v. Syring
In July 2006, Patrick Syring, a career Foreign Service officer, sent a series of threatening telephone and email messages to James Zogby, the founder and head of the Arab American Institute (AAI), as well as to a number of AAI employees. In January 2008, Syring pled guilty to interfering with the victims’ federally-protected employment activities. In March 2008, while awaiting sentencing, Syring sent an email to a television station that had just run a program hosted by Mr. Zogby. That email threatened that "the only good Arab was a dead Arab." The court ordered that Syring be detained pending sentencing for violating a provision of his conditions of release. On June 12, 2008, the court held a second sentencing hearing during which Syring pled guilty to both the federal civil rights charge and a second charge of interstate transmission of threatening communications. In July 2008, Syring was sentenced to 12-months’ imprisonment.
Read the press releases:
Former Foreign Service Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Charges
Former Foreign Service Officer Sentenced on Federal Civil Rights Charges
U.S. v. Shroyer; U.S. v. Milbourn
On September 27, 2007, Kyle Shroyer pled guilty to federal conspiracy and civil rights offenses, admitting that he and co-conspirator Kyle Milbourn burned a cross in Muncie, Indiana, at the home of a white woman and her three bi-racial children. In January 2008, Shroyer was sentenced to 15 months in prison. On March 11, 2008, Milbourn was convicted by a federal jury for the federal conspiracy and civil rights offenses, as well as on a charge of obstruction of justice and a charge of using fire in the commission of a federal felony. In June 2008, Milbourn was sentenced to serve 10 years and 30 days in prison.
Read the press releases:
Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Cross Burning
Indiana Man Sentenced for Role in Cross-burning
Muncie, Indiana, Man Convicted of Federal Civil Rights Violations After Burning Cross
Muncie, Indiana, Man Sentenced to 121 Months in Cross Burning Case
U.S. v. Reid
In June 2007, a Philadelphia woman, Kia Reid, pled guilty to a committing a federal hate crime when, on October 2, 2006, Reid sent a note to her is Arab- and Muslim- American supervisor, in which Reid threatened violence in an attempt to interfere with her supervisor’s federally-protected employment activity. In October 2007, Reid was sentenced to eight months confinement as part of a two-year supervised probation.
Read the press release:
Philadelphia Woman Sentenced for Federal Hate Crime
U.S. v. Walker et al.
On April 20, 2007, the Section convicted three members of the National Alliance, a notorious white supremacist organization, for assaulting James Ballesteros, a Mexican-American bartender, at his place of employment and conspiring to assault “non-whites” in public places in Salt Lake City, Utah. On August 16, 2007, Shaun Walker, the lead defendant, who was chairman of the National Alliance at the time of his indictment, was sentenced to 87-months imprisonment. Travis Massey and Eric Egbert were sentenced, respectively, to 57 months and 42 months in prison. The Anti-Defamation League praised the Division’s efforts in successfully prosecuting this important hate crimes case.
Read the press releases:
Three Men Convicted of Committing Federal Hate Crime in Utah
Two Men Sentenced for Federal Hate Crimes in Utah
U.S. v. Laskey
On the night of October 25, 2002, Jacob Albert Laskey drove to Temple Beth Israel, a synagogue in Eugene, Oregon, along with four other members of the Volksfront white supremacist group, Gabriel Doyle Laskey, Gerald Anthony Poundstone, Jesse Lee Baker, and Jereomy Allan Baker. The five men then threw swastika-etched rocks at the temple, breaking stained glass windows while 80 members of the temple were inside attending a Jewish religious service. After throwing the rocks, the men fled the scene.
Following the attack on the synagogue, Jacob Laskey obstructed justice by attempting to persuade a witness not to testify against him concerning his involvement in the attack. Laskey also solicited co-conspirator Jesse Baker to kill potential witnesses and to call in a bomb threat to the federal courthouse in Eugene, where a grand jury was convened to investigate the crime. Then, between the latter part of 2004 and the early part of 2005, Laskey intimidated or attempted to intimidate Jesse Baker, to prevent Baker from relating information regarding the solicitation to federal investigators.
Jacob Laskey pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§ 241 (conspiracy); 18 U.S.C. Â§247 (damage to religious property); 18 U.S.C. Â§1512 (obstruction of justice); 18 U.S.C. Â§373 (solicitation to commit a crime of violence); and 18 U.S.C. Â§922 (felon in possession of a firearm) and, on April 3, 2007, he was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison.
Co-conspirators Gerald Anthony Poundstone and Gabriel Laskey entered guilty pleas to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§241 (conspiracy to violate civil rights) and 18 U.S.C. 247 (damage to religious property). Poundstone was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Gabriel Laskey was sentenced to a 6-month work release term and five years probation.
Jesse Baker pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§241 (conspiracy) and was sentenced to three years probation.
Jereomy Allan Baker pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§247 (damage to religious property) and was sentenced to 6 months home detention to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
All five defendants were each ordered to pay $896.64 restitution to the Temple Beth Israel.
U.S. v. Kuzlik and Fredericy
Joseph Kuzlik and David Fredericy lived in the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. According to many of Kuzlik’s African-American neighbors on East 50th Street, Kuzlik and Fredericy were known to harbor racial animus: they frequently referred to African-Americans using the N-word and calling them “monkeys.” Additionally, Fredericy and Kuzlik made statements to the effect that they did not want black children playing in the street, or even in a vacant lot two doors down from Kuzlik.
Kuzlik and Fredericy channeled their hatred of racial minorities into a joint campaign to harass and intimidate as many of them as they could into leaving the East 50th Street neighborhood. Their malicious campaign reached its apex on February 18, 2005. Fredericy went to Kuzlik’s house, where Kuzlik showed him a rubber glove and a syringe, which Kuzlik said contained mercury. Kuzlik encouraged Fredericy to take the syringe next door to the home of the interracial couple living there with their four children, and squirt the contents of the syringe onto the front porch. Fredericy agreed to do so, as Kuzlik stood guard to make sure no one was watching.
A few days later, the adult owners of the house next door to Kuzlik were at home when their ten-year-old son entered the house with a silver ball-like substance on his hands. The child’s mother immediately suspected that the substance was mercury and called the local fire department. The fire department responded to the scene with a “Hazmat” Unit, which in turn notified environmental officials, including the federal Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). The EPA eventually determined that most of the carpet in the house, as well as the family’s Sunday dress clothes, which were stored in an entry-hall closet, were contaminated with mercury and would have to be destroyed. In addition, environmental authorities tested the backpacks and shoes of two of the children who resided in the house and determined that the children had transported the mercury to their school.
Kuzlik and Fredericy were charged federally with violating 18 U.S.C. Â§241 (conspiracy), 42 U.S.C. Â§3631 (interference with housing rights) and 18 U.S.C. Â§1001 (false statements to the federal investigators of the EPA). On October 26, 2006, Fredericy pled guilty to those charges and, on November 27, 2006, Kuzlik followed suit. On January 17, 2007, Fredericy was sentenced to 33 months in prison. On February 21, 2007, Kuzlik was sentenced to 27 months in prison. Kuzlik and Fredericy were also ordered to pay restitution of $23,000 to the federal EPA, $767 to the Ohio EPA, and additional sums to the individual victims who suffered financial losses as a result of the offenses.
U.S. v. Saldana
On August 1, 2006, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted four Hispanic gang members of hate crimes and firearms violations in connection with a conspiracy to attack and kill African-Americans in the Los Angeles neighborhood claimed by the gang. The jury convicted the defendants of conspiring to violate the federally-protected housing rights of African-Americans; of violating the civil rights of an African-American man who was murdered as he attempted to park his car on a public street; and of using firearms during the commission of these offenses.
On April 18, 1999, six members of the Avenues Gang, a Latino gang in Los Angeles, gunned down Kenny Wilson, an African-American man, as Wilson tried to park his car on a street in the gang’s territory. Wilson, who had never been in a gang and did not know any of his attackers, was killed simply because he was a black man in a neighborhood claimed by the Avenues. Several months after the murder, an Avenue gang member who had been arrested on unrelated charges contacted the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and said that he wanted to cooperate with their investigation of Wilson’s murder. That gang member, “Listo” Diaz, confessed that he had participated in the murder, along with fellow gang members “Lucky” Saldana, “Shadow” Cambero, and “Clever” de la Cruz. Using the taped confession from Diaz, LAPD detectives obtained a confession from “Clever” de la Cruz, who was subsequently convicted in state court for Wilson’s murder. The LAPD then referred the case to the FBI for additional investigation as a possible hate crime.
In subsequent interviews with the FBI, “Listo” Diaz admitted that two additional gang members – “Bird” Martinez and “Sneaky” Cazares – had also participated in the murder. According to Diaz and de la Cruz, both of whom cooperated with the federal investigation, Wilson was killed because he was black and on a street claimed by the Avenues. The cooperating gang members explained to federal authorities that the gang wanted to “preserve” its predominately-Latino neighborhood by using violence to run African-Americans out of the neighborhood.
Based in part on information provided by Diaz and de la Cruz, and in part on information contained in various police reports, federal investigators developed evidence of numerous other hate crimes committed by the Avenues, including the murder of another African-American man, Chris Bowser, who was shot in the head and face as he waited for a bus on a street in Avenues territory. During the federal investigation, the FBI also identified living African-American victims, who provided information about harassment and physical attacks they suffered at the hands of the Avenues. The thorough FBI investigation eventually led to federal hate crime and gun charges against four Avenues – Lucky Saldana, Shadow Cambero, Bird Martinez, and Sneaky Cazares – for participating in the hate crime murder of Kenny Wilson. The indictment also included a civil rights conspiracy charge against those four defendants and “Dreamer” Avila, who participated in the murder of Chris Bowser, for participating in a six-year-long conspiracy aimed at driving African-Americans out of their homes in the gang’s neighborhood.
In June 2006, four of the five defendants stood trial in federal court in Los Angeles. The fifth defendant, Shadow Cambero, had fled the country and remained a fugitive. On August 1, 2006, the jury convicted the remaining four defendants on all counts, and specifically found that the shooting of Kenny Wilson constituted first degree murder, and that the civil rights conspiracy resulted in the deaths of both Wilson and Bowser. In late 2006 and early 2007, all four defendants were sentenced to life in prison.
The prosecution team was awarded the 2007 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the highest honor awarded to Department employees.
U.S. v. Nicholson
In the early morning hours of July 28, 1998, three caucasian men set fire to a Hmong (Asian) family's home in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, using gasoline to accelerate the fire as a mother, father, and six children slept inside. A neighbor noticed the fire, called authorities, and helped pull the young children through a bedroom window to safety. Although the victims survived the fire, they lost their home and all of their possessions. Fire officials later said that the victims would have died if they had remained in the house for more than another minute or two.
The three men who set the fire – Andy Franz, Mike Nicholson, and Augustine LaBarge – did not know the victims, and chose the house solely because they had noticed that an Asian family lived there. Two days previously, the same three men had joined up with several other friends – including Miguel Rodela, Casey Tegelman, and Tom Vanlannen – in another attempt to target Asian victims because of their race. On the earlier occasion, the group had driven from Manitowoc to the nearby town of Two Rivers in search of Hmong people to injure. Armed with two shotguns and a quarter stick of explosive, the group planned to detonate the explosive to lure a Hmong family out of their home so that two members of the group could then shoot the victims. Rodela lit the fuse, as planned, and placed the explosive under a van parked in front of the victims’ home; however, the plan was interrupted when the group then saw a police car patrolling the area and quickly fled the scene.
In 2002, all six defendants pled guilty to civil rights offenses related to these attacks. Nicholson pled guilty to violating two counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§241 (civil rights conspiracy); one count of 42 U.S.C. Â§3631 (interference with housing rights); and one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§844(h) (use of fire in the commission of a felony). Franz pled guilty to two counts of Â§241 and one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§924(c); LaBarge pled guilty to two counts of Â§241; and Tegelman, Rodela, and Vanlannen each pled guilty to one count of Â§241.
U.S. v. Furrow
On August 10, 1999, Buford O’Neal Furrow, Jr., an avowed racist and former security guard for the white supremacist group Aryan Nations, carried out a plan to attack Jews, people of color, and non-white government workers in order to send a message of intolerance across the United States. That morning, Furrow walked into the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles and, in less than 30 seconds, sprayed the center with approximately 70 rounds from a modified semi-automatic, Uzi-style rifle. Three young children, a teenager, and an elderly woman were shot and seriously wounded. Furrow fled from the community center, hijacked a car, and drove into the hills above Los Angeles to make his escape. As he drove in the hills, Furrow came upon Joseph Ileto, a Filipino-American postal worker who was delivering mail. Furrow, who would later refer to Ileto as “a target of opportunity,” shot and killed Ileto because Ileto was non-white and was working for the federal government. According to forensic evidence, Furrow shot Ileto nine times at short range, killing him in the street.
The following morning, after seeing his picture broadcast over the national news media, Furrow surrendered himself to FBI agents in Las Vegas, Nevada. Furrow was charged with one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§1114 (murder of an employee of the United States); six counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§245 (interference with federally protected activities; in this case, Ileto’s right to enjoy federal employment without violence based on race, and the JCC victims’ right to enjoy a place of public accommodation without violence based on religion); six counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§924(c) (use of a firearm in the commission of a felony); two counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§922 (unlawful possession of firearms); and one count of 26 U.S.C. Â§5861 (possession of an unregistered firearm).
On January 24, 2001, Furrow pled guilty to all charges to avoid the death penalty. On March 26, 2001, he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms followed by 110 years in prison.
U.S. v. Nelson
On the evening of August 19, 1991, a station wagon struck two children in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn, New York. The driver of the car was Jewish, and both children were African American. A crowd soon gathered at the scene of the accident. As some of its members tried to help the injured children, others began to attack the driver of the car. The first ambulance to arrive, which came from a Jewish hospital, treated and, at the direction of the police, transported the injured driver to the hospital. Soon after the first ambulance departed, two additional ambulances treated and transported the seriously injured African American children to the hospital, where one ultimately died.
By the time the children were transported from the scene of the accident, a crowd of several hundred people had formed. About three hours after the accident, Charles Price, an African American man, began to address the crowd and concluded his speech with calls to “get the Jews.” The crowd then began to turn violent, and headed to a predominantly Jewish commercial street. After attacking several Jewish people, the crowd came upon Yankel Rosenbaum, a bearded man in orthodox Jewish dress. A member of the crowd, possibly Price, yelled “get' em” and “there goes one.” Someone else in the crowd was also heard to shout “get the Jew, kill the Jew.” A group of ten to fifteen people began beating Rosenbaum, including Lemrick Nelson. A police car arrived and Nelson tried to flee along with the other assailants of Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum grabbed hold of Nelson’s clothing, and Nelson fatally stabbed Rosenbaum in order to get away.
Nelson was tried in New York State Court on a number of charges, including second- degree murder. In October 1992, a state jury acquitted Nelson of all charges. Following Nelson’s acquittal, Nelson and Price were indicted on federal charges in August 1996. Nelson was charged with violating 18 USC Â§ 245, which protects citizens who are engaging in federally protected activities such as using a facility administered by the state, in this case, the streets of Brooklyn. Price was charged both with violating 18 USC Â§ 245(b)(2)(B) and with violating 18 USC Â§ 2 by aiding and abetting Nelson’s violation of 18 USC Â§ 245(b)(2)(B).
On February 10, 1997, following 20 hours of deliberations over a four day period, the federal jury convicted both Nelson and Price on all charges. Nelson was sentenced to 234 months in prison and Price was sentenced to 262 months in prison.
Nelson and Price both appealed, arguing that 18 USC Â§ 245(b)(2)(B) was unconstitutional and that the jury selection process, which had been manipulated by the trial court to achieve a racial balance, resulted in an unfair trial, among other things. In January 2002, the Court of Appeals concluded that 18 USC Â§ 245(b)(2)(B) is constitutional as applied to Nelson and Price; however, the court held that the district court erred in empaneling the jury. As a result, the decision of the district court was vacated, and remanded for retrial before a properly chosen jury.
In April 2002, Price entered a guilty plea to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§245 and was sentenced to 140 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
On May 14, 2003, a federal jury again convicted Nelson on charges of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§245(b)(2)(B). Nelson was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
U.S. v. Mungia
On October 16, 1994, Eli Trevino Mungia, Ricky Rivera Mungia, and Roy Ray Martin met at Martin’s house in Lubbock, Texas. There, Martin, a skinhead who bragged about being affiliated with the “South Bay Nazi Youth” when he lived in California, discussed with Eli and Ricky Mungia, their mutual hatred of African-Americans. They also discussed how they wanted to start a revolution or race war that would involve killing and eliminating blacks. At about 11:15 or 11:20 p.m., the three men left the house and drove away in Eli Mungia’s car. In the car, there was a .410 short-barreled shotgun that Eli Mungia had brought to Martin’s house earlier that evening. Martin drove the car, Eli Mungia sat in the front passenger seat, and Ricky Mungia sat behind Martin. In the course of 20 to 25 minutes, and in three separate incidents, the men lured three African-American men - Autry Morgan Vaughn, Melvin Dewayne Johnson, and Triellis Lee Stewart - to their car. Martin shot Autry Vaughn, Eli Mungia shot Melvin Johnson, and Ricky Mungia shot Triellis Stewart, all at close range. Melvin Johnson was immediately killed, and Vaughn and Stewart were seriously injured.
In March 1995, a federal grand jury indicted Eli and Ricky Mungia and Martin with three counts of violating 18 U.S.C. 245(b)(2)(B) by using force and threat of force to willfully injure, intimidate, and interfere with three African-American men because of the victims’ race and because they were enjoying facilities provided and administered by a subdivision of the State of Texas, i.e., the streets and sidewalks of Lubbock. In addition, the indictment charged each of the three defendants with one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371, with three counts of violating 18 U.S.C. 924(c) by using a short-barreled shotgun during and in relation to a federal crime of violence, and with one count of violating 26 U.S.C. 5841, 5861(d), and 5871 by knowingly receiving and possessing a sawed-off shotgun that was not registered as required by federal law.
On November 14, 1995, a jury found the three defendants guilty on all counts and, on April 5, 1996, the court sentenced each defendant to a term of life imprisonment plus 50 years.
U.S. v. Price, et al
This case involved the slaying of three young civil rights workers in rural Mississippi the summer of 1964. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, and James Chaney, an African-American from Meridian, Mississippi, disappeared while working to register black voters. The three young men had been apprehended on June 21, 1964 by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, who charged Chaney with speeding and ordered the other two held for investigation. They were detained for six hours and then released, with the intent of intercepting and killing them. Price and other Klan members stopped the defendants and took them to a secluded area, where they were shot and their bodies taken elsewhere to be buried.
When other civil rights workers immediately reported their disappearance, the Department of Justice, at President Johnson's urging, sent dozens of FBI agents to Mississippi. As a result of their search, the remains of the young men were discovered on August 4, 1964. After a grand jury heard evidence in the fall of 1964, it returned two indictments on January 15, 1965. The first indictment charged three law enforcement officials, including Price, and fifteen private citizens who were members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with conspiring to deprive the three men of their 14th Amendment rights (18 U.S.C. § 241). The second indictment had four counts charging the same 18 defendants with a general conspiracy of acting under color of law to deprive Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman of their civil rights.
A month later the District Court dismissed the § 241 indictment entirely and the § 242 counts against the fifteen private individuals, while maintaining the conspiracy count against the private individuals. The federal Government appealed the dismissals directly to the Supreme Court, which unanimously reversed the decision, reinstating both indictments.
Trial was set for October 1966, but the indictments were again dismissed, this time based on the defendants' successful challenge to the composition of the grand jury that returned the indictments. They argued, somewhat ironically, that the jury panel that voted to indict them did not have a sufficient representation of minorities and women. The federal Government agreed to dismiss the indictments, but subsequently obtained another indictment on February 27, 1967, charging nineteen subjects with a § 241 conspiracy. The following October trial began and lasted about a week, ending with the all-white jury convicting Price and six of his co-defendants and acquitting eight others. The jury could not reach a verdict on three others and one defendant was dismissed prior to trial. The convictions were upheld when the defendants were unsuccessful in their appeal to the Supreme Court.
This case represented the first successful jury conviction of white officials and Klansmen in the history of Mississippi for crimes against African-Americans and civil rights workers. A somewhat fictionalized version of this case was made into a movie in the 1980's called Mississippi Burning. At the time this incident occurred, there was no federal criminal sanction to prosecute racially-motivated acts of violence intended to interfere with the enjoyment of individual federal rights. Nevertheless, the Criminal Section was successful in using a Reconstruction era law to prosecute the perpetrators of racial violence in this case and in two other contemporaneous cases involving the deaths of another civil rights worker, Viola Liuzzo, and an African-American educator, Lemuel Penn. [ U.S.v.Wilkins, et al. (M.D. Alabama) (1965); U.S. v. Guest, et al. (M.D. Georgia) (1964) respectively]. Those prosecutions led to the creation of a Justice Department task force, with major participation by the Civil Rights Division, to develop legislation that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, federally criminalizing acts of racial violence related to the exercise of federal rights.
Between 1994 and 1999, Jay Scott Ballinger and his girlfriend, Angela Wood, set fire to more than 30 churches, including 13 in Indiana (one of which was the 100-year-old white frame church depicted in the opening scene of the movie, "Hoosiers"); 5 in Georgia; 4 in Kentucky; 3 in Ohio; and 1 each in Alabama, California, South Carolina, and Tennessee. A 27-year-old volunteer firefighter was killed while fighting one of the Georgia fires. The defendants, who identified themselves as "Luciferians" (Satan-worshipers) burned the churches for religious reasons. Ballinger's method for his arsons followed a distinct pattern. Most of the fires Ballinger set occurred late at night or early in the morning, and at isolated rural churches. Ballinger would break a window at the side or back of the church; pour in a flammable mixture, usually gasoline; set the flammable mixture on fire with a lighter; and leave the area. Angela Wood helped Ballinger in setting many of the church fires, primarily acting as a lookout, but also carrying gas cans and other supplies for Ballinger.
On July 11, 2000, Ballinger pled guilty to one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§371; twenty counts of church arson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§247; six counts of arson of a building in interstate commerce, in violation of U.S.C. Â§ 844(i); and two counts of using fire to commit a federal felony, in violation of U.S.C. Â§844(h). The guilty plea covered 26 of the 31 arsons, but did not cover the five fires in Georgia. On November 14, 2000, Ballinger was sentenced to 42 years, 7 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Ballinger was also ordered to make restitution, in the amount of $3,554,388.56, to the churches he had burned. Angela Wood was sentenced to serve 16 years and 8 months in prison after she admitted that she helped Ballinger burn four churches in Indiana.
On April 13, 2001, Ballinger pled guilty to five counts of church arson (18 U.S.C. Â§247) for the five church fires he set, between 1998 and 1999, in the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia. As part of the plea, Ballinger admitted that his offense caused the death of a firefighter. On August 17, 2001, Ballinger was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
During a two-month period in 1998, defendant Walter Gene Grassie vandalized numerous church buildings belonging to the Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), in various towns in New Mexico. Between May and June, Grassie threw blood-colored paint on the exterior of an LDS church in Roswell; threw paint on the exterior walls and sign of an LDS church in Alamagordo; broke windows, a door, an organ, pianos, and the pulpit at an LDS church in Alto; destroyed the interior of the LDS church in Roswell; and hacked up pews, an organ, pianos, and a gym floor at an LDS church in Artesia. Grassie's attacks on LDS churches culminated on June 28, 1998, when he set fire to the LDS church in Roswell, destroying the building and causing more than 2 million dollars in damage.
An investigation into the arson and desecration of Mormon churches in New Mexico revealed that defendant Grassie had committed the crimes because he believed that the LDS church was responsible for keeping him from being with the woman he loved. For eight years preceding the vandalisms and arson, Grassie had carried on an affair with a married member of the LDS church in Roswell. Grassie and his paramour, Shirlene Jensen, sang together in a professional yodeling group and carried on their affair when they traveled around New Mexico for performances. In January 1998, Jensen confessed the affair to her husband and broke off both her romantic and professional relationships with Grassie. On January 26, 1998, Jensen told Grassie that her Mormon faith did not permit her to continue the affair and that she and her husband would soon be moving to Arizona. Shortly after that conversation, Grassie began harassing the Jensen family by breaking into their home, stealing from them, and vandalizing their home and property.
After several months, beginning in May 1998, Grassie turned his anger toward the Mormon church which he blamed for the break-up. On May 2, 1998, he vandalized the Roswell LDS church for the first time by throwing paint on the exterior. Over the course of the next two months, as Grassie traveled around the state for various yodeling performances, he vandalized churches in the towns he visited. Over time, his vandalisms grew more involved and extensive, until they culminated in late June with the arson of the Roswell church to which Shirlene Jensen and her family belonged.
On October 22, 1998, a federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment against Grassie, charging him with numerous violations of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 247(a)(1) for damaging religious property because of the religious character of that property. Grassie was also charged with a violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 844(i) for burning a building used in interstate commerce; with a violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 844(h) for using fire in the commission of a felony; and with a second violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 844(i) for burning a truck that was used in interstate commerce. The final charge related to a fire Grassie had set ten days prior to the church arson, when Grassie torched a truck belonging to an adult son of the Jensons. Because the son used the truck for a pecan business he helped operate, the arson affected interstate commerce and led to a separate federal charge.
On March 23, 1999, after a three-week trial, a federal jury in Albuquerque, New Mexico, convicted Grassie on all 10 counts. On July 20, 1999, Grassie was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.
On the night of June 30, 1997, Alan Odom, Brandy Boone, John Kenneth Cumbie, Jeremy Boone, and Michael Woods decided to commit an arson in Little River, Alabama. The group drove to a nearby gas station, where Odom filled a small plastic bottle with gasoline drained from the pump hoses. They then went off in search of an abandoned car to burn.
Unable to find an abandoned car, Boone said, "Let's burn the nigger church." They drove to St. Joseph's Baptist Church. Woods kicked in the church's back door, poured the gasoline on a couch, and used Odom's lighter to light the gasoline. They got back into their cars, but Woods went back and put out the fire. After putting out the fire, Woods initially drove away from the church, but after about 200 yards, he turned back. Woods and Odom re-entered St. Joe Baptist and set the curtains on fire. They then left, although Woods later returned to watch the church burn.
Later that night, Odom and Jeremy Boone drove to the Tate Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church, near St. Joseph's Baptist Church. Boone kicked open the door and he and Odom entered the church. Once inside, Odom and Boone used a bottle to punch several holes in the church walls. They then used a lighter to try to set fires in several places.
On July 31, 1997, a federal grand jury issued a ten-count indictment charging the defendants with conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371; damage to religious property because of the religious character of that property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 247(a)(1); damage to religious property because of the race of any individual associated with that property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 247(c); use of fire or an explosive to commit a federal felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 844(h)(1); arson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 844(i); and aiding and abetting an offense against the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2. The first five counts related to the burning of the St. Joseph's Baptist Church, and the other five involved the arson of the Tate Chapel A.M.E.
In connection with the arson of St. Joseph Baptist Church, Woods pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§844(i) and 18 U.S.C. Â§247, and was sentenced to 60 months in prison. Brandy Boone and Cumbie were convicted at trial of the conspiracy count and Odom was convicted of violating one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§844(i) and one count of 18 U.S.C. Â§844(h)(1). Boone and Cumbie were each sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Odom and Jeremy Boone were tried separately for the attempted arson of the Tate Chapel A.M.E Church. Jeremy Boone pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§844(i) and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Odom was convicted at trial of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§844(i) and was sentenced to 180 months in prison for his role in both offenses.
All the defendants were ordered to pay restitution, which totaled $96,836.
On July 16, 2012, Omelyan Botsvynyuk, a 52-year-old Ukrainian national, was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison. On July 17, Stepan was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Omelyan Botsvynyuk and his brother, Stepan Botsvynyuk, 38, were convicted on Oct. 12, 2011, of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO with Forced Labor as a "specified unlawful activity"). Between 2000 and 2007, the brothers operated cleaning services with workers who were smuggled in from Ukraine and kept in conditions of peonage and forced labor through physical violence and threats of physical violence. Evidence presented at trial showed the brothers recruited workers from Ukraine, promising them good jobs making $500 per month and another $200 or $300 extra for expenses, with each worker expected to earn $10,000 after two or three years of working in the United States. Throughout their employment with the brothers, the workers lived up to five people in one room, slept on dirty mattresses on the floor, and were never paid. They were told that they had to work for the brothers until their debts, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, were paid.
From about the spring of 2006 through early June 2008, Amador Cortes-Meza, his brother Juan, and their two nephews, Francisco and Raul, along with Edison Wagner Rosa Tort and Otto Jaime Larios Perez, conspired to recruit and smuggle ten women from Mexico, four of whom were minors, to engage in forced prostitution in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The defendants lured the women to the United States, using promises of love and opportunity. Once in Georgia, the defendants forced the women into prostitution by various means, including beating them, threatening to hurt their families, and isolating them. Each night, the victims were transported by drivers to the homes of customers who paid $25-$30 for ten to fifteen minutes with them. The women typically visited 10 to 30 customers per night. The conspirators were indicted in 2008 on conspiracy, sex trafficking, harboring, and obstruction charges. In April and July 2009, Tort, Larios Perez, and Juan, Francisco, and Raul Cortez-Mesa pleaded guilty. In April 2010, Tort was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment; Larios Perez to 30 months; Juan Cortez-Mesa to 200 months; Francisco Cortes-Meza to 20 years; and Raul Cortes-Meza to 10 years. All five were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to the victims. Amador Cortes-Meza, the leader of the prostitution ring, went to trial and, on November 23, 2010, was convicted by a jury of 19 counts of conspiracy, sex trafficking, human smuggling, and harboring. On March 28, 2011, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $292,000 in restitution to the victims, $64,000 of which jointly with Francisco Cortez-Mesa, and $4000 jointly with Juan Cortez-Mesa.
Read the press releases:
Member of Human Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking Charges (Francisco) (12/18/08)
Member of Human Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking Charges (Raul) (2/5/09)
Key Member of Human Trafficking Ring Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking Charges (Juan) (7/30/09)
Key Member of International Human Trafficking Ring Sentenced (4/1/10)
Four Defendants Sentenced in Human Trafficking Ring (4/28/10)
Man Found Guilty for Forcing Women and Juveniles into Prostitution (11/23/10)
Mexican National Found Guilty on All Counts for Multiple Federal Sex Trafficking and Immigration Crimes (11/23/10)
Sex Trafficking Ring Leader Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison (3/24/11)
U.S. v. Askarkhodjaev, et al.
In May 2009, Abrorkhodja Askarkhodjaev, a 31-year-old Uzbek, and 11 co-defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri, for their participation in a racketeering conspiracy, spanning almost a decade and involving numerous crimes, including most notably forced labor trafficking. Askarkhodjaev was the leader of a criminal enterprise that recruited hundreds of foreign workers from the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and elsewhere, through false promises of good employment. When the workers arrived, Askarkhodjaev and his co-defendants compelled them into service in various jobs in 14 different states. The defendants forced the workers to live in greatly overcrowded apartments with exorbitant rents and coerced their labor through threats of deportation and by withholding their wages. This case was the first instance of forced labor trafficking being charged as part of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO conspiracy.
On October 20, 2010, Askarkhodjaev pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, fraud in foreign labor contracting, evasion of corporate employment tax, and identity theft and, on May 9, 2011, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years of supervised release. Co-defendants Kristin Dougherty, Ilkham Fazilov, Viorel Simon, Nodirbek Abdollayev, Andrew Cole, Jakhongir Kakhkarov, Alexandru Frumusache, and Abdukakhar Azizkhodjaev were also sentenced for their respective roles in this criminal enterprise. Dougherty, the only defendant who went to trial, was convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and wire fraud, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Four of the defendants pleaded guilty in August 2010. Fazilov pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in August and was sentenced to 41 months in prison. Simon pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and fraud in foreign labor contracting, and was sentenced to 25 months in prison. Abdoollayev pleaded guilty to racketeering, and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Cole pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and fraud in foreign labor contracting, and was sentenced to 12 months in prison. The four defendants who were the earliest to cooperate and subsequently plead guilty, Bakhrom Ikramov (wire fraud by Information), Frumusache (forced labor), Kakhkharov (racketeering), Azizkhodjaev (misprision of a felony), were sentenced to time served. In total, the defendants and were also ordered to pay $1,007,492 in restitution to the foreign workers who they exploited and to the IRS for unpaid taxes.
Read the press releases:
Eight Uzbekistan Nationals Among 12 Charged with Racketeering, Human Trafficking & Immigration Violations in Scheme to Employ Illegal Aliens in 14 States (5/27/09)
Uzbek Man Pleads Guilty to Charges for Involvement in a Racketeering Enterprise That Engaged in Forced Labor (Raul) (10/21/10)
Uzbek Man Sentenced for Role in Multi-National Racketeering and Forced Labor Enterprise (5/9/11)
U.S. v. Navarrete
Cesar, Geovanni, Jose, Villhina, and Ismael Michael Navarrete, along with Antonia Zuniga Vargas, were involved in a scheme to enslave Mexican and Guatemalan nationals and compel their labor as farmworkers in an area near Ft. Myers, Florida. All six defendants pled guilty to charges of harboring for financial gain. Additionally, Cesar and Geovanni Navarrete pled guilty to beating, threatening, and restraining workers to force them to work as agricultural laborers. In December 2008, Cesar and Geovanni Navarette were sentenced to 12 years in prison; they, along with the other four defendants, were ordered to pay over $200,000 in restitution to the victims.
Read the press releases:
Immokalee, Florida, Family Charged with Forcing Immigrants into Farm Labor
Brothers Plead Guilty to Enslaving Farmworkers in Florida, Co-defendants Plead Guilty to Related Felonies
Four Defendants Sentenced for Roles in Scheme to Enslave Farmworkers in Florida
U.S. v. Paris et al.
In 2006, Dennis Paris and nine co-defendants were charged in a multi-count federal indictment for operating prostitution businesses in the Hartford, Connecticut, area. The defendants recruited young, vulnerable girls and women and marketed them to perform sexual acts with men in exchange for money. Paris's nine co-defendants, including Shanaya Hicks and Brian Forbes, pled guilty. On June 14, 2007, a federal jury convicted Paris of multiple trafficking-related offenses. On October 14, 2008, Paris was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Read the press releases:
Connecticut Woman Pleads Guilty for Role in Human Trafficking Ring
Connecticut Man Pleads Guilty for Role in Human Trafficking Ring
Connecticut Woman Sentenced for Role in Sex Trafficking Ring
Connecticut Man Sentenced to 360 Months in Prison for Leading Brutal Sex Trafficking Ring That Victimized U.S. Citizens
U.S. v. Djoumessi
In March 2006, Evelyn and Joseph Djoumessi were convicted of involuntary servitude for forcing a 14-year-old Cameroonian girl to work as a domestic servant without pay in their Michigan home. The Djoumessis held the girl against her will by using violence, threats, and sexual assault. On May 30, 2007, Evelyn Djoumessi was sentenced to 60 months in prison and Joseph Djoumessi was sentenced to 204 months in prison. Additionally, both defendants were ordered to pay the victim $100,000 in restitution. Joseph Djoumessi appealed and, in August 2008, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. In January 2009, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari.
Read the press releases:
Couple Indicted on Human Trafficking Charges
Cameroonian Couple Sentenced on Human Trafficking Charges
U.S. v. Mondragon
Brothers Victor Omar Lopez and Oscar Mondragon and co-conspirators Maximino Mondragon, Walter Corea, Olga Mondragon, Maria Fuentes, Kerin Silva, and Lorenza Reyes Nunez were involved in a scheme to smuggle young Central American women into the United States and to use threats of harm to their relatives to compel them into service in bars, restaurants, and cantinas. All eight defendants pled guilty to various federal human trafficking and related charges. Corea and Oscar Mondragon were both sentenced to serve 180 months in prison. Maximino Mondragon was sentenced to 156 months in prison. Lopez was sentenced to 109 months in prison; Olga Mondragon was sentenced to 84 months; Kerin Silva was sentenced to probation; Maria Fuentes and Reyes Nunez were sentenced to time served. The defendants were also required to pay a total of $1.7 million in restitution to the victims.
Read the press releases:
Two Men Sentenced for Human Trafficking and Alien Smuggling Charges
Man Sentenced for Human Trafficking and Alien Smuggling
U.S. v. Norris et al.
Former professional wrestler "Hardbody" Harrison Norris and co-defendants Aimee Allen and Cedric Lamar Jackson were charged with federal conspiracy, sex trafficking, and forced labor violations for their participation in a scheme to recruit and sometimes kidnap young women and then force the women into prostitution in the Atlanta area. Norris was also charged with multiple counts of tampering with a witness. Norris was convicted by a federal jury in November 2007 and, in March 2008, he was sentenced to life in prison. Allen and Jackson, who had both previously pled guilty, were sentenced to 34 months and to 60 months in prison, respectively. Two other women involved in the conspiracy, Michelle Achuff and Leslie Smith, were sentenced to probation for making false statements to FBI investigators.
Read the press releases:
Co-Defendants Sentenced for Roles in Former Wrestler's Sex Trafficking Ring
Former Wrestler Sentenced on Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Charges
U.S. v. Farrell
On November 7, 2007, Robert John Farrell and his wife, Angelita Magat Farrell, owners of a hotel in Oacoma, South Dakota, were convicted of peonage, document servitude, visa fraud, making false statements, and conspiracy for bringing Filipino workers into the United States, then using threats of legal coercion, physical harm, and other threats to compel the workers into service in their hotel. In February 2008, Robert Farrell was sentenced to 50 months in prison and Angelita Farrell was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
Read the press release:
South Dakota Hotel Owners Sentenced for Involuntary Servitude Offenses
U.S. v. Jones
In August 2007, Jimmie Lee Jones, aka "Mike Spade," pled guilty, on the eve of trial, to multiple charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, peonage, Mann Act violations, and extortionate collection of credit, for recruiting and forcing young women to engage in prostitution in the Atlanta area. Jones enticed the victims into signing fraudulent modeling contracts, and then used physical and sexual abuse, threats of force, and extortion to compel the young women into prostitution. On January 24, 2008, Jones was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
Read the press release:
Georgia Man Sentenced to 15 Years on Sex Trafficking and Mann Act Charges
U.S. v. Calimlim
In 1985, Elnora Calimlim and Jefferson N. Calimlim, both affluent Fillipino doctors, brought Irma Martinez to the their home in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Martinez was 19 years old at the time. The Calimlims confiscated Martinez's passport and other documents when she arrived in the United States. For the next 19 years, Martinez served as the Calimlims' domestic servant. During those 19 years, the Calimlims forbade Martinez to leave the house unescorted; required her to lock herself in her bedroom when guests were in the house; refused to allow her to have friends; refused to allow her to attend a church of her choice and engage in church social activities; denied her necessary medical and dental care; failed to pay her directly any salary, and paid her parents a total of about $20,000; and restricted Martinez's contact and communications with her family in the Philippines. Martinez worked for the Calimlims seven days a week, on average 17 hours a day. The Calimlims coerced Martinez to work through an elaborate scheme which included her total isolation from society and her family; repeated lies about her immigration status; and continuous threats that Martinez would be arrested, jailed, and deported if anyone discovered her.
On August 24, 2004, agents with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received an anonymous call from someone who stated she was a former friend of the Calimlims and had been in their home. The anonymous caller provided details of Martinez's treatment. On September 29, 2004, ICE and FBI agents, and officers from the local police department executed a search warrant at the Calimlims' residence for the sole purpose of rescuing Martinez. Martinez was found hiding behind the door in a basement closet, shaking.
On March 15, 2005, a federal grand jury indicted Jefferson N. Calimlim and Elnora M. Calimlim with conspiracy to commit forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 371 & 1589; forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1589; and attempted forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1594. Additionally, both the Calimlims and their son, Jefferson M. Calimlim, were charged with harboring an undocumented alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. Â§1324. The son was also charged with making a false statement to the FBI, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1001.
On May 26, 2006, a federal jury in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, convicted the Calimlims on all charges. Additionally, their son, Jefferson M. Calimlim, was convicted of harboring an alien, but acquitted of making a false statement to the FBI.
On November 16, 2006, the Calimlims were sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to Martinez in the amount of about $916,000; their son was sentenced to 120 days of home confinement, three years supervised release, and a $5,000 fine.
U.S. v. Kaufman
For over 24 years, Arlan Kaufman, a social worker, and his wife, Linda, a registered nurse, operated "The Kaufman House," which purported to be a residential treatment group home for mentally ill patients in Newton, Kansas, a small community northeast of Wichita. During that period, Arlan routinely forced and coerced his patients to engage in nude "therapy" sessions for his and his wife's entertainment and benefit. Kaufman documented the sessions on videotapes that he stored in his bedroom. The videotapes depicted Arlan Kaufman directing the victims to perform sexually explicit acts in front of other patients. In some of the videotapes, Arlan Kaufman can be seen sexually assaulting victims.
In addition to the nude "therapy" sessions, Arlan Kaufman forced the residents to perform manual labor in the nude at a farm owned by the Kaufmans in Butler County, Kansas. In fact, some of Kaufman's activities initially came to the attention of local law enforcement officials in November 1999, when a school bus driver reported that she and the children on the bus had seen nude adults working at the farm.
The Kaufmans kept their mentally ill victims compliant by creating a "climate of fear" at Kaufman House through threats, force, manipulation, and constant abuse. The residents were also housed in deplorable conditions. The homes were generally grimy, infested with roaches and mice, had non-working bathrooms, non-working appliances, and live electrical wires running through a basement area where people took showers. The Kaufmans established strict rules and punished violators by taking away residents' clothes. In addition, they isolated residents from friends and family, and on one occasion used a stun gun on a resident's testicles.
Linda Kaufman assisted her husband in every aspect of their joint campaign to procure nude sexual labor from the residents of the Kaufman House, including by enforcing the house rules, fraudulently billing the government for the "therapy" provided at Kaufman House, and making false statements to state regulatory authorities and law enforcement officers. In addition, when patients revealed to relatives or outside health care providers that Arlan Kaufman's treatment included nude therapy sessions, Linda Kaufman denied the allegations and assured outsiders that the victims' allegations were "delusions" resulting from their mental illnesses.
On June 15, 2005, a federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment, charging both Arlan and Linda Kaufman with one count of conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 371; two counts of forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1589; three counts of involuntary servitude, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1584; sixteen counts of health care fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1347; nine counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1341 (two of those counts were eventually dismissed); one count of making a false writing to Medicare, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1035; one count of obstructing a federal audit, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1516; and one count of criminal forfeiture, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 982.
On November 8, 2005, following a five-week trial and two days of jury deliberations, a federal jury found Arlan Kaufman guilty on all counts, and Linda Kaufman guilty on all counts except one count of making a false writing to Medicare.
On January 24, 2006, Arlan Kaufman was sentenced to 30 years in prison and Linda Kaufman was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
U.S. Carreto, et al.
Between 1991 and 2004, Josue Flores Carreto, Gerardo Flores Carreto, and Daniel Perez Alonso were members of a criminal organization that compelled young Mexican women into prostitution through force, fraud, and coercion. The men recruited young, uneducated women from impoverished backgrounds from Mexico, smuggled them to the United States, and forced them to engage in prostitution in the New York City metropolitan area. The men physically and sexually assaulted their victims, used threats of physical harm and restraint to force the women to commit acts of prostitution, and beat the women for hiding money, disobeying their orders, and failing to earn more money. The defendants and their associates confiscated all the victims' earnings.
On November 16, 2004, a federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment, charging Josue Flores Carreto, Gerardo Flores Carreto, Daniel Perez Alonso, Eliu Carreto Fernandez, Consuelo Carreto Valencia, and Maria De Los Angeles Velasquez Reyes with multiple offenses including conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 371; sex trafficking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1591; transporting for prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2421; importation of an alien for immoral purposes, in violation of 8 U.S.C. Â§ 1328; and alien smuggling, in violation of 8 U.S.C. Â§ 1324. Two other members of the criminal organization, Eloy Carreto Reyes and Edith Mosquera de Flores, were charged separately.
On April 5, 2005, Josue Flores Carreto, Gerardo Flores Carreto, and Daniel Perez Alonso pled guilty, on the day trial was to commence and after jury selection was complete, to all 27 counts of the indictment.
On April 27, 2006, Josue Flores Carreto and Gerardo Flores Carreto were each sentenced to 50 years in prison and defendant Daniel Perez Alonso was sentenced to 25 years in prison based on their guilty pleas.
On November 12, 2004, another defendant, Edith Mosquera de Flores, who ran one of the brothels, pled guilty to conspiracy and, on February 2, 2006, she was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Eloy Carreto Reyes and Eliu Carreto Fernandez each pled guilty to sex trafficking crimes, entering guilty pleas on November 16, and December 22, 2004, respectively. On June 1, 2006, Eliu Carreto Fernandez was sentenced to 80 months in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Eloy Carreto Reyes is still pending sentencing.
On January 20, 2007, Consuelo Carreto Valencia, the mother of lead defendants Josue Flores Carreto and Gerardo Flores Carreto, was extradited to the United States from Mexico. On July 22, 2008, Consuelo Carreto pled guilty to sex trafficking of children or by force, fraud, and coercion, and, in November 2009, she was sentenced to 121 months inprisonment. Another member of the organization, Maria de Los Angeles Reyes, remains a fugitive.
The federal prosecution team received a 2006 EOUSA Director's Award for this case.
U.S. v. Bradley and O'Dell
Timothy Bradley and Mary Kate O'Dell operated the Bradley Tree Service, a tree-cutting and removal service, in Litchfield, New Hampshire. In the spring and summer of 2000 and 2001, Bradley and O'Dell used false promises of good work and pay to recruit four Jamaican men, Garth Clarke, Livingston Wilson, Andrew Flynn, and David Hutchinson, and brought them to New Hampshire to work for the Tree Service.
Once the men arrived in New Hampshire, Bradley and O'Dell forced them to live in a tool shed and a trailer in their backyard, without adequate heating or plumbing and charged the men each $50 per week for rent. Bradley and O'Dell threatened the men with serious harm and used physical restraint and psychological coercion to obtain their labor and services. They confiscated the victims' passports and tickets so they could not return home to Jamaica. On September 20, 2001, Bradley physically assaulted David Hutchinson by choking, striking, and kicking him. As Hutchinson then fled, Bradley ordered his German Shepherd dog to attack Hutchinson. Additionally, Bradley and O'Dell often denied the men proper medical care when the men were injured while working. For example, when Livingston Wilson sustained a serious cut on a finger while using a wood-chipper, Bradley refused to take him to a hospital.
In April 2003, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Bradley and O'Dell, charging them with conspiracy to commit forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 371 and 1589; forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1589; attempted forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1594; trafficking into forced labor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1590; document servitude, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1592; and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1343. Additionally, O'Dell was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1001, by making a false statement to an FBI agent regarding her role in Bradley Tree Service.
On August 29, 2003, Bradley and O'Dell were convicted on the conspiracy, forced labor, trafficking into forced labor, document servitude, and wire fraud. O'Dell was acquitted of making a false statement to the FBI. On January 16, 2004, both defendants were sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to jointly pay a total of $13,052 in restitution to their victims.
U.S. v. Jimenez-Calderon et al.
On February 22, 2002, local police raided a brothel in Plainfield, New Jersey, and inside found four girls, whom they suspected of being underage. Investigation revealed that between October 2000 and February 2002, Antonia Jimenez-Calderon, Librada Jimenez-Calderon, and their brothers Delfino and Luis Jimenez-Calderon conspired to recruit underage girls from Mexico to perform acts of prostitution in the United States. Delfino and Luis Jimenez-Calderon would target young girls from poverty-stricken areas in Mexico, and lure them away from their families and communities with false promises of love, marriage, and a better life. Once smuggled into the United States, the girls were held captive and forced into prostitution in the brothel in Plainfield and elsewhere.
The victims of this scheme were compelled to perform acts of prostitution seven days per week, fifteen hours per day, and were compelled to turn over all the earnings to the defendants. They were forbidden from communicating with customers, talking to each other, or making phone calls, and they were beaten and threatened with further beatings if they broke the rules.
After the police raid, the defendants attempted to secure the victims' release from custody in order to return them to the brothel. In furtherance of this scheme, defendants Antonia and Librada Jimenez-Calderon obtained fraudulent birth certificates showing the young victims to be twenty-one years old, while Luis Jimenez-Calderon traveled to Mexico to obtain an original birth certificate from one victim's family so it could be altered to misrepresent her age. Antonia and Librada also recruited Sergio Farfan, a social worker at the Union County Jail and a regular brothel customer, to present the fraudulent birth certificates to the Juvenile Detention Center.
On October 1, 2002, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Antonia, Librada, Delfino and Luis Jimenez-Calderon and Sergio Farfan with multiple offenses including conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 371; sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1591; transportation into prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2421; enticement into slavery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1583; obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1512. Additional defendants Maritzana Diaz Lopez, Angel Ruiz, and Pedro Burgos were also indicted for their respective roles in running the brothel where the victims were compelled into prostitution.
Defendants Lopez, Ruiz, and Burgos subsequently entered guilty pleas to committing sex trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§1591. On January 17, 2003, Antonia Jimenez-Calderon and Librada Jimenez-Calderon entered guilty pleas to conspiracy and sex trafficking charges. On January 21, 2003, the day the trial was scheduled to begin, Sergio Farfan entered a guilty plea to conspiring to obstruct justice.
In August 2003, defendants Antonia and Librada Jimenez-Calderon were each sentenced to 210 months in prison, and defendant Sergio Farfan was sentenced to sixteen months. Subsequently, defendants Burgos, Ruiz, and Lopez, and were sentenced to 96 months, 44 months, and 27 months, respectively. The defendants were ordered to pay $135,249 in restitution to the victims.
U.S. v. Lee
Kil Soo Lee owned and operated the Daewoosa garment factory in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Lee recruited over 200 workers from China, Vietnam, and American Samoa to work at the factory. Some workers were recruited through state-owned labor export companies in Vietnam, where they paid fees of $3,600 to $8,000 to gain employment and risked retaliation if deported. Many were forced to sign contracts obligating them to pay an additional $5,000 if they did not work for at least three years. These figures amounted to several decades of salary at a comparable job in these workers' native countries.
Once the workers began working at the garment factory, Lee and his managers controlled most aspects of their lives, including when and whether they could leave the compound, eat, speak to others, or be paid. The compound itself was walled, fenced-in, padlocked, gated, and secured by guards. Lee subjected the workers to extremely poor living conditions, including imprisonment, starvation, deportation threats, and communal dormitories infested with rats and roaches. When the workers complained and escaped to beg for food from local residents, Lee and his men retaliated by using arrests, deportations, food deprivation, and brutal physical beatings. Officials from American Samoa initially investigated, but Lee blocked them by threatening to deport, and actually deporting, anyone who cooperated.
As time went on, supervisors and guards increased their beatings of the workers. In November 2000, faced with a looming deadline, Lee ordered his guards to beat anyone who did not follow orders. One guard recalls Lee saying, "if they die, I will be responsible" after instructing him to beat the Vietnamese workers. The violence quickly escalated as the guards beat the workers with pipes, resulting in what some of the workers described as a bloodbath. One worker was beaten so badly she lost an eye.
On March 23, 2001, Lee was arrested on a federal warrant issued by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. The Complaint and Affidavit filed in support of the warrant alleged that Lee violated 18 U.S.C. 1584 (involuntary servitude) and 18 U.S.C. 1589 (forced labor).
On August 30, 2001, a federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment. Lee was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of workers (18 U.S.C. Â§ 241), seventeen counts of involuntary servitude (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1584), one count of extortion (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1951), one count of money laundering (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1956), one count of making a false statement to a financial institution (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1014), and one count of bribery (18 U.S.C. Â§ 215).
The federal trial started on October 22, 2002, and lasted four months. Thirty-six witnesses testified for the government, including twenty-one abused workers. During the trial, the government dismissed two of the involuntary servitude charges and the false statement to a bank official charge.
On February 21, 2003, Lee was convicted on 14 of the 18 remaining counts: one count of conspiring to violate the civil rights of workers, eleven counts of involuntary servitude, one count of extortion, and one count of money laundering.
On June 22, 2005, Kil Soo Lee was sentenced to 40 years in prison. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
U.S. v. Van Brunt, et al.
The leader and several members of the Ecclesia Athletic Association, a pseudo-religious/athletic cult based in Los Angeles and Oregon, were charged with conspiracy and multiple counts of holding children in involuntary servitude in an effort to gain financially from corporate sponsors. The intent was to market the children as a superior athletic "exhibition team" and so the defendants forced them to engage in rigorous exercise and athletic drills, depriving them of food and other basic necessities and beating them if they failed to perform their required activities. These systematic beatings eventually led to the death of the eight-year old daughter of the group's leader in 1988.
In the Watts area of Los Angeles in 1976, Eldridge Broussard, Jr., a self-appointed charismatic minister and former professional basketball player, established the Watts Christian Center (later becoming the Ecclesia Athletic Association), drawing up to 70 members from middle class backgrounds (such as bus drivers, firefighters and managers) who wished to improve the quality of their lives. They donated their salaries to support the group and purchased an abandoned bakery in which they all lived. In anticipation of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, members hoped to garner recognition and financial support from the LA Olympics Organizing Committee by putting on sports exhibitions featuring their calisthenics and running. However, because of its cult-like behavior and children's regimented existence, EAA failed to obtain the grants it sought. As a result, morale declined and members started to leave. Broussard, enraged by failure, began to put greater pressure on the children to perform, isolating them from their parents by having them eat and sleep apart, and resorting to greater use of physical force to discipline them.
In continuing to seek support from sporting goods companies and basketball leagues, Broussard ordered all the children taken to the "promised land" in Oregon in the summer of 1988, where they were initially housed in tents with portable toilets, while preparing to put on athletic exhibitions. In Oregon the children received sadistic corporal punishment, which included forcing chicken feed into their mouths, rubbing excrement and raw eggs on their faces, slamming them into walls, binding their hands and feet or being held down while others beat them with rubber hoses, razor straps, wooden paddles, bamboo switches, and rods, or knotting a braided cord around their necks. If children resisted, they were beaten even more severely. In an effort literally to "whip them into shape," the adults joined in administering physical abuse on the children, resulting in severe injuries with scarring and finally the death of an 8-year old girl.
Broussard, when informed by telephone in Los Angeles, of his daughter's unwillingness to take her punishment, ordered that she be severely disciplined. All the children were awakened in the middle of the night and made to watch as the young girl was beaten repeatedly, her abusers stuffing a sock in her mouth and turning up music to muffle her screams, as she called out for her mommy and daddy as they swung her whole body, head first, against the wall.
Although neighbors had reported potential child abuse to the local Oregon authorities, no action was taken until the girl's death. The state then prosecuted and convicted three of the cult members on manslaughter charges. However, the Criminal Section considered the acts serious enough to warrant a subsequent prosecution by the federal Government, to include more of the wrongdoers and more potentially severe sentences. A federal grand jury convened to hear evidence from almost 80 witnesses that led to the 30-count indictment tn February 1991 of Eldridge Broussard, Jr. and seven of his followers, charging each of them with one conspiracy count under 18 U.S.C. § 241 and 29 counts of slavery pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1584.
Newspapers and magazines had written several articles about the Ecclesia Athletic Association and its leader. Prior to trial, a newspaper and the defendants sought to have the names of all the 29 child victims released, arguing that the rights to a fair trial and of free speech were being impeded. The Government had invoked provisions of the Victim Witness Protection Act to protect the children's privacy and to urge a speedy trial as least disruptive to the victims. The court denied the newspaper and defendants access to the children's names, and affirmed the constitutionality of the VWPA. Broussard died of natural causes before trial. In January 1992 all the other defendants pled guilty and received multiple-year prison terms, thus avoiding a difficult and traumatic trial for the young victims.
U.S. v. Udeozor
In 1996, Stella Udeozor, a Nigerian-born physician, and her husband, George Udeozor, smuggled a 14-year-old girl from Nigeria into the United States and forced her to work as a domestic servant in their home in Germantown, Maryland. The Udeozors had promised that the girl would take care of the Udeozors' children and that, in exchange for her work, the Udeozors would send her to school in the United States and would pay money to her family in Nigeria.
Once in the United States, however, the girl was required to care for the Udeozors' five children, perform all of the household chores, and work at Dr. Stella Udeozor's office, all with no pay, and without being allowed to attend school. Dr. and Mr. Udeozor regularly abused the girl, both physically and verbally, and Mr. Udeozor sexually assaulted her several times between 1997 and 1999. The rapes typically occurred during the night in the basement of the Udeozor home.
The Udeozors controlled the victim by threatening her with violence and deportation. They also controlled all correspondence between the victim and her family in Nigeria. The girl had no money and had only the clothes the defendants provided to her. Despite the Udeozors' oppressive conduct, the victim had access to a computer, which she taught herself to use, and which she used in 2001 to reach out for help, communicating with non-profit groups about her ordeal. In late 2001, with help from contacts she made on the computer, the girl called police and fled to the home of a neighbor.
On August 18, 2004, a federal grand jury indicted the Udeozors for conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371; for holding a juvenile in involuntary servitude, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1584; and for harboring a juvenile alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324. George Udeozor had left the country before indictment, and remains a fugitive today.
On November 19, 2004, a federal jury convicted Dr. Stella Udeozor on the conspiracy and harboring counts. She was sentenced on April 18, 2006, to serve 87 months in prison and to pay the victim $110,249.60 in restitution.
On October 23, 1998, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Dr. Barnett Slepian was killed as he stood in the kitchen of his East Amherst, New York home. He was shot by a single gunshot which entered his home through a rear window. The shot was fired from a wooded area behind the home. Dr. Slepian's wife and children were inside the house at the time of the shooting. Dr. Slepian was an obstetrician-gynecologist who was one of the physicians performing abortions at the Buffalo GYN Women Services Clinic in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Slepian also maintained an obstetrics and gynecology practice at his office on Maple Road in Amherst, New York.
On November 4, 1998, a material witness warrant was issued for James Kopp, and Kopp fled to Mexico upon learning of the warrant.
On October 17, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted Kopp on one count of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§248(a)(1) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), and one count of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§924(c) (using a firearm in the commission of a federal crime).
After fleeing to Mexico, Kopp went to Scotland, Ireland, and eventually France. He was captured in Dinan, France on March 29, 2001. Kopp was extradited by France to the United States on June 5, 2002.
On January 25, 2007, a federal jury convicted Kopp on all charges. On June 19, 2007, Kopp was sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison.
In addition to the federal conviction, Kopp was also charged, and ultimately convicted, in the New York State Supreme Court for Erie County with numerous offenses, including murder, arising out of the killing of Dr. Slepian. He was sentenced to 25 years-to-life, following those convictions.
In February 2001, Clayton Lee Waagner a self-styled combatant in a war against women's reproductive health providers, escaped from federal custody in Illinois while awaiting sentencing on federal gun and theft charges. Between February and December 2001, while Waagner remained a fugitive, he committed a series of crimes including bank robberies, carjacking, and weapons violations. As a result, Waagner was declared an FBI Top Ten Fugitive and a United States Marshals Top Fifteen Fugitive.
On June 18, 2001, Waagner posted a message on the "The Army of God" website stating that he intended to escalate the war on abortion providers. Waagner added that because it was difficult to kill doctors who provided abortions, he intended to target other employees of women's reproductive health care clinics, who were not as well protected. Waagner then stated his intention to kill any "nurse, receptionist, bookkeeper, or janitor" who worked at a clinic.
On October 12 and November 7, 2001, Waagner mailed, via the United States Postal Service and Federal Express, several hundred letters to reproductive health care providers across the country. The phrase, "TIME SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION, OPEN IMMEDIATELY" was typewritten on the outside of many of the envelopes. The letters contained an unidentified powder which was purported to be anthrax. Waagner mailed these threatening letters on the heels of letters sent to Florida, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey that actually contained anthrax spores and caused the illness and death of several innocent people. While Waagner targeted clinics that provided abortions, he also mistakenly sent these "anthrax letters" to several pro-life organizations and some adoption agencies.
In December 2001, Waagner was finally apprehended. On September 20, 2002, a federal grand jury returned an indictment, charging Waagner with violations of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 248 (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2332 and 178 (threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction), 18 U.S.C. Â§ 1951(e) (Hobbs Act Extortion- these charges were eventually dismissed), 18 U.S.C. Â§ 876 (mailing threatening communications), and 18 U.S.C. Â§875 (threatening interstate communications).
On December 15, 2003, Waagner was convicted on 51 charges, including violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, threatening the use of a weapon of mass destruction, mailing threatening communications and interstate transmission of threatening communications.
On July 7, 2005, Waagner was sentenced to 19 years in prison. On December 14, 2006, Waagner was sentenced to 33 years in prison for his 2001 bank robberies and other crimes. That sentence is to run concurrently with his July 2005 sentence.
On the night of September 24, 1997, J. Fred Hart, Jr., an attorney and self-declared anti-abortion activist, parked two Ryder trucks in the parking areas of the Little Rock Family Planning Services and the Women's Community Health Center, both facilities that provided reproductive health services in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hart parked the trucks in the entrance driveway of the clinics, so that they obstructed vehicular access to the parking areas of the clinics. Each truck was unattended and carried no indication as to its purpose for being there.
Hart used Ryder trucks similar to the one used in the 1995 catastrophic bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, to create the impression that the trucks carried bombs. In fact, employees arriving at the clinics the next morning, on September 25, were alarmed by the trucks, and immediately left the buildings and notified the police. Several businesses and residences near the clinic location were evacuated. One of the businesses evacuated was a childcare center, located across the street from the Family Planning Services clinic. Bomb squads and arson experts were called in to investigate. After several hours, the authorities determined that the trucks contained no explosive materials.
That same day, September 25, 1997, President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno were in Little Rock to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. President Clinton's and Attorney General Reno's presences in the area further heightened concerns about potential violence.
On July 29, 1998, a federal grand jury returned an indictment, charging Hart with violating two counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§248(a)(1) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act). On November 2, 1998, a federal jury convicted Hart on both counts. On February 9, 1999, Hart was sentenced to four years of probation, the first twelve months of which to be served in home detention, mental health counseling, 200 hours of community service, and a special assessment of $50.00.
In March 1993, Michael Griffin shot and killed Dr. David Gunn outside the Pensacola, Florida, Medical Center. Over the next year, Paul Jennings Hill publicly advocated violence against abortion providers. He appeared on national television shows and stated that the murder of Dr. Gunn had been justifiable homicide. Hill regularly protested outside the Ladies Center Clinic in Pensacola, holding up large signs, one of which read, "Execute Abortionists."
On July 27, 1994, Hill bought a Mossberg Model 500A, 12-gauge shotgun from a gun store in Pensacola and shotgun shells from a store in Milton, Florida. On July 29, 1994, at 6:30 a.m., Hill was observed putting up white crosses on the right-of-way near the Ladies Center Clinic. At 7:25 a.m. that morning, Dr. John Bayard Britton arrived at the clinic in a pickup truck driven by James Barrett. Dr. Britton was seated in the passenger seat and Barrett's wife, June, was sitting sideways on the jump seat. As the truck entered the parking lot, Hill was standing in the middle of the driveway. He moved to the side, allowing the truck to pass him. As the truck drove by, it came within several feet of Hill, so that he was able to see the truck's occupants. Barrett parked the truck near the steps of the clinic and, as he got out of the truck, Hill shot him in the head, and killed him. Hill also shot and wounded June Barrett in the arm. He then moved closer to the truck, reloaded, and shot and killed Dr. Britton.
When Hill was arrested by Officer Mark Holmes, shortly after the shooting, he said to the officer, in front of three other officers and a civilian, "I know one thing. No innocent babies are going to be killed in that clinic today."
On August 9, 1994, a State of Florida grand jury indicted Hill on two counts of first degree murder, one count of first-degree attempted murder, and one count of firing into an occupied vehicle.
The Florida governor, attorney general, and other officials requested that Hill also be prosecuted federally. On August 12, 1994, a federal grand jury indicted Hill on three counts of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§248(a)(1) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act), and one count of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§924(c) (using a firearm in the commission of a federal crime)
On October 6, 1994, a federal jury convicted Hill on all counts. On December 2, 1994, Hill was sentenced to life without parole for the FACE violations that resulted in the deaths of Dr. Britton and James Barrett; ten years for the FACE violation that resulted in the bodily injury of June Barrett; and five years for the gun charge.
On December 8, 1994, Hill was sentenced to death by a Florida jury after being convicted on all state charges, including two counts of first-degree murder. Hill was executed on September 3, 2003.
On September 2, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Officer David Warren of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) shot Henry Glover in the back, as Officer Warren stood on a second-story balcony, and Glover stood in a parking lot below. Immediately after the shooting, as Glover lay wounded in the street, Glover's brother and a friend flagged down a passing motorist and asked the motorist to help them get medical attention for Glover. The motorist drove the three men to a nearby NOPD make-shift station, where other NOPD officers surrounded the vehicle at gunpoint, ordered the passengers out, and handcuffed them. As the police harassed the three men, they left Glover to die in the back seat of the car. Officer Gregory McRae then drove the car to a nearby levy and burned the car, with Mr. Glover's body still on the back seat.
In June 2010, Officers Warren and McRae were indicted by a federal grand jury for civil rights violations. Also indicted on civil rights charges was Lieutenant Dwayne Scheuermann, who was accused of helping McRae burn the car. NOPD Lieutenants Robert Italiano and Travis McCabe were charged with obstructing justice by authoring and submitting false reports to cover the illegal shooting and burning of Mr. Glover's body, and with other charges for lying to the FBI about the reports.
On December 9, 2010, a federal jury convicted Warren, McRae, and McCabe on civil rights and obstruction of justice counts. The jury acquitted Scheuermann and Italiano. On March 31, 2011, Warren was sentenced to serve 25 years and nine months in prison, and was ordered to pay Glover's family $7,642 for funeral expenses. That same day, McRae was sentenced to serve 17 years and three months in prison, and to pay restitution in the amount of $6,000. Warren and McRae have appealed their convictions, and McCabe has been granted a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.
Read the press releases:
Five Current and Former New Orleans Police Officers Charged in the Shooting and Burning of a New Orleans Man in the Days After Hurricane Katrina (6/11/10)
Three New Orleans Police Officers Found Guilty in the Post-Katrina Shooting and Burning of Henry Glover (12/9/10)
Two New Orleans Police Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shooting and Burning of Henry Glover (3/31/11)
U.S. v. Pullen
On four occasions in 2009, Officer Leon Pullen of the Uplands Park, Missouri, Police Department used his authority as a police officer to sexually assault and rob women while on duty. Pullen's modus operandi was consistent: he would call a number that he found on the Internet offering prostitution services. When he met the women, he would identify himself as a police officer, including displaying his badge and firearm, and then sexually assault them. After the assaults, Pullen would extort their money or other belongings. In July 2009, he took one woman back to the police station and sexually assaulted her there. When questioned about the incidents by the FBI, Pullen at first lied, denying the allegations. Pullen was indicted and, on July 28, 2010, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of civil rights violations and two obstruction charges. On January 31, 2011, Pullen was sentenced to 25 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. On March 30, 2011, he was ordered to pay $2,450 in restitution to the victims.
Read the press releases:
Former St. Louis, Missouri, Area Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations (7/28/10)
Former Uplands Park, Missouri, Police Officer Sentenced on Civil Rights Violations (1/28/11)
U.S. v. Burge
Over the span of several decades, local, state, and federal officials investigated allegations that former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge had tortured suspects during his tenure at the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in the 1970s and 1980s. Because the statute of limitations had run on the alleged acts of torture, Burge could not be held accountable for actual the civil rights abuses; however, the federal investigation led in 2009 to Burge's indictment on several charges related to lies Burge told about the abuse allegations. Specifically, Burge was charged with committing perjury and with obstructing justice by lying during a civil deposition relating to the abuse allegations. In the deposition, Burge denied ever having used, and ever having been aware of other officers using, any type of improper coercion, physical abuse, or torture. On June 28, 2010, a federal jury in Chicago convicted Burge on all counts. Evidence presented at trial proved that Burge had personally abused multiple victims during his 23-year career at CPD, and that his abuse had included suffocating suspects with plastic bags, shocking suspects with electrical devices, and placing loaded guns to suspects' heads. On January 21, 2011, Burge was finally punished for his crimes when he was sentenced to serve 54 months in prison.
Read the press releases:
U.S. Indicts Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge on Perjury, Obstruction of Justice Charges Related to Alleged Torture and Physical Abuse by Burge and Other Officers (10/21/08)
Former Chicago Police Commander Convicted of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice Related to Torture of Suspects (6/28/10)
Former Chicago Police Officer Jon Burge Sentenced for Lying About Police Torture (1/21/11)
U.S. v. Sease, et al.
On February 5, 2009, former Memphis Police Department (MPD) officer, Arthur Sease, IV, was convicted of 44 counts, including deprivation of rights under color of law, narcotics, robbery, and firearm offenses, related conspiracies, and civil rights kidnapping. On July 9, 2009, Sease was sentenced to life plus 255 years in prison, the longest sentence ever obtained in a case by the Civil Rights Division. Sease organized a conspiracy with several other MPD officers, as well as local drug dealers, to arrange drug transactions and then to use their authority to conduct traffic stops of the drug dealers on their way to the transaction locations. During the traffic stops, the conspirators would rob the dealers of their cash, drugs, and other property. The conspirators would then sell the stolen drugs for further profit. On two occasions, Sease and his co-conspirators abducted drug dealers and attempted to force them to help Sease and his co-conspirators acquire more narcotics and money. In 2006, one of Sease's co-conspirators, former reserve MPD officer Andrew Hunt, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprivation of rights under color of law, robbery, and a firearms offense, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2007, two more of Sease's conspirators, former MPD Officers Alexander Johnson and Antoine Owens, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate civil rights, and were sentenced to 30 and 63 months, respectively. Laterrica Woods, a civilian co-conspirator, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Read the press releases:
Two Former Memphis Police Officers Plead Guilty to Civil Rights Violations (5/3/07)
Memphis Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Police Officers to Commit Civil Rights Violations (9/24/07)
Former Memphis Police Officer Found Guilty on 44 Counts of Civil Rights, Narcotics, Robbery and Firearms Charges (2/5/09)
Former Memphis Police Officers Sentenced for Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights (3/18/09)
U.S. v. Lanham and Freeman
On August 14, 2008, a federal jury in Kentucky convicted former Grant County Detention Center Deputy Jailers Wes Lanham and Shawn Freeman for federal civil rights, conspiracy, and obstruction violations. The defendants were convicted for violating the civil rights of a teenaged traffic offender whom they arranged to have brutally raped by inmates. The jury convicted the defendants on all charges and specifically found that the defendants were responsible for the aggravated sexual assault carried out by the inmates. In December 2008, Lanham was sentenced to 180 months in prison and Freeman was sentenced to 168 months in prison. Co-defendant Clint Sydnor, who pled guilty prior to trial, was sentenced to 90 months in prison.
Read the press releases:
Former Grant County, Kentucky, Detention Center Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Crime
Former Grant County, Kentucky Detention Center Officers Found Guilty of Civil Rights Violations in Teenager Rape Case
Former Grant County, Kentucky Detention Center Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations in Teenager Rape Case
U.S. v. Teel et al.
On February 4, 2006, Deputy Ryan Teel brutally assaulted arrestee Jessie Lee Williams, Jr., at the Harrison County, Mississippi, Adult Detention Center, causing injuries that resulted in Williams’s death. On August 16, 2007, a federal jury found Teel guilty of federal civil rights and obstruction violations. On November 1, 2007, Teel was sentenced to life in prison. Teel appealed and, on November 13, 2008, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Teel’s conviction. While investigating the incident that resulted in Williams’s death, federal authorities also learned of other abuses committed by Teel and fellow officers in the booking area of the jail. Nine of those officers pled guilty for their roles in violating the civil rights of inmates and were given sentences ranging from 4 to 48 months in prison.
Read the press releases:
Four Former Harrison County, Miss. Deputy Sheriffs Indicted for Role in Violating Inmates’ Civil Rights
Seventh Harrison County Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations
Former Harrison County, Mississippi, Corrections Officer Found Guilty of Criminal Civil Rights Violations, Obstruction of Justice
Former Mississippi Corrections Officer Sentenced for Role in Death of Inmate After Beating in Jail Booking Room
Former Mississippi Corrections Officers Sentenced for Role in Abusing Inmates
U.S. v. Perez
On August 19, 2008, former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer, Santiago Perez, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston, Texas, to violating the civil rights of two people who had crossed the border into the United States. Perez admitted that in December 2006, near Falcon Heights, Texas, he struck a person in the head with a gun and that, in a separate incident in September 2007, near Premont, Texas, he threatened to kill another person whom he believed was an alien smuggler. In November 2008, Perez was sentenced to a year and one day in prison.
Read the press release:
Former Customs and Border Protection Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Charges
U.S. v. Ferguson et al.
On January 30, 2008, a federal jury convicted former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Officer William Ferguson and his brother, former Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) Officer Joseph Ferguson, of federal civil rights and narcotics violations, for their roles in a wide-ranging conspiracy that involved committing a series of home invasion robberies over a two-year period from 1999 to 2001. William Ferguson was also convicted of various federal firearms offenses. Seventeen other defendants, including officers from the LAPD, the LBPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy, which was led by former LAPD Officer Ruben Palomares, and also included civilian drug dealers. On August 5, 2008, Joseph Ferguson was sentenced to 97 months in prison. On August 19, 2008, William Ferguson was sentenced to 102 years in prison.
Read the press releases:
Former Los Angeles Police Officer and Former Long Beach Police Officer Found Guilty of Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights
Former Long Beach, California, Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations
Former Los Angeles Police Officer and Co-Conspirator Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations
Former Los Angeles Police Officer, Former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, and Two Co-conspirators Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations
Two Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations in Connection with Police Home-Invasion Robberies
U.S. v. Simmons
On March 1, 2005, Maceo Simmons, a former Jackson, Mississippi, Police Department officer was convicted on federal criminal civil rights charges for brutally raping a teenaged woman he had detained for a traffic violation in September 1999. After pulling the victim over for running a stop sign, Simmons handcuffed her, placed her in the back of his patrol car, and drove her to an isolated location, where he repeatedly raped her while another officer acted as a lookout. Simmons was initially sentenced to twenty years in prison. Simmons appealed his conviction and the government appealed his sentence. On November 21, 2006, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Simmons’s conviction but vacated his sentence. On August 4, 2008, the trial judge resentenced Simmons to life imprisonment.
Read the press releases:
Former Jackson Mississippi Police Officer Convicted on Civil Rights Charges for Raping Woman in Custody
Former Jackson, Mississippi Police Officer Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Sexually Assaulting a Detainee
U.S. v. Pilati
On November 1, 2007, John Pilati, formerly an elected district attorney for Franklin County, Alabama, was convicted of federal criminal civil rights violations, after evidence at trial established that between 2001 and 2004, he had fondled the genitals of numerous young men, ranging in age from 16 to 20, while personally administering a drug-testing program he had created and instituted. On March 6, 2008, Pilati was sentenced to serve 42 months in prison, to pay a fine of $12,500, and to register as a sex offender. Pilati, who was tried before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at his own request, appealed the requirement to register as a sex offender to the District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. On April 7, 2009, the District Court affirmed the magistrate judge’s decision to require Pilati to register.
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Former Franklin County District Attorney Convicted of Civil Rights Violations Against Probationers
Former Franklin County, Alabama, District Attorney Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations
U.S. v. Bartlett et al.
On October 24, 2004, a group of off-duty Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) officers, which included Officers Jon Bartlett, Andrew Spengler, and Daniel Masarik, viciously abused Lovell Harris and Frank Jude, whom they falsely suspected of having stolen a police badge during a party at one of the officers’ homes. As the victims attempted to leave the party, the officers confronted them and surrounded their truck, brandished knives, and physically pulled the victims from the vehicle. When the search of the victims and their car failed to locate the badge, two officers forced Harris to sit on a curb at knife-point, and one then cut Harris’s right cheek with a knife. As many as ten officers repeatedly punched and kicked Jude in the head, body, and groin for 10 to 15 minutes. Bartlett also stabbed a sharp object into both of Jude’s ears, cut his clothes from his body with a knife, and threatened him with a knife and a gun.
Officers Ryan Lemke, Jon Clausing, Joseph Stromei, and Joseph Schabel (who was on duty) pleaded guilty prior to trial and were sentenced to 1 year, 28 months, 2 years, and 32 months in prison, respectively. On July 26, 2007, Bartlett, Spengler, and Masarik were convicted by a federal jury of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 241 and 242 (deprivations of rights under color of law). In November 2007, Bartlett was sentenced to 208 months in prison; Spengler and Masarik received 188 months each. This successful prosecution followed a state prosecution that ended in acquittals or mistrials for all of the officers charged.
The prosecution team was awarded a 2008 Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.
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Three Former Milwaukee Police Officers Found Guilty of Civil Rights Crimes
Three Former Milwaukee Police Officers Sentenced on Civil Rights-related Charges
U.S. v. Rosario
On July 26, 2007, Pablo Rosario, a former U.S. Border Patrol Agent, pleaded guilty in federal court in El Paso, Texas, to violating the civil rights of a mother and her 15-year-old daughter. Specifically, Rosario admitted that he apprehended the two women on March 7, 2004, and fondled the victims’ breasts and genitals during the course of a search incident to their arrests. On November 2, 2007, Rosario was sentenced to serve two years in prison and required to register as a sex offender.
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Former Texas Border Patrol Agent Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations
U.S. v. Marlowe
Between 2001 and 2003, Patrick Marlowe, Tommy (Shane) Conatser, Robert (Brian) Ferrell, Gary Hale, and Robert Locke (along with Travis Bradley, Christopher McCathern, John McKinney, and William Westmoreland) worked together as correctional officers on the evening shift at the Wilson County Jail in Lebanon, Tennessee. Marlowe was the evening shift supervisor and the remaining officers worked for him on the evening shift.
Over the course of these two years, Marlowe and his fellow evening shift officers routinely severely beat detainees, bragged about these assaults, and then covered them up by filing false reports and denying medical care to their victims. Marlowe was the leader of this conspiracy and committed most of the assaults, which tended to target recently arrested, intoxicated inmates who were disruptive and inmates who had committed some form of misconduct. Marlowe and his fellow officers treated these assaults as sport, and Marlowe kept a a "knock-out list" that included the names of at least 21 inmates he had beaten to the point of unconsciousness. Many of these inmates suffered serious injuries such as broken ribs and broken jaws, and one inmate required the surgical implantation of a metal plate into his face in place of several bones that were severely fractured during an assault by Marlowe.
On January 12, 2003, Marlowe and Hale severely beat a recently arrested detainee, Walter Kuntz. Kuntz was beaten multiple times, including repeated punches and kicks to his head and body, because he was yelling and making noise in his cell. After Kuntz slipped into a coma, Marlowe failed to call for medical care for several hours even though he was aware that Kuntz lay unconscious and vomiting on the floor of his cell. Kuntz eventually died from internal bleeding in his brain that was caused by these beatings and the delay in receiving medical care.
On July 23, 2004, a federal grand jury returned an indictment, charging Marlowe, Hale, Conatser, Ferrell, and Locke with violating 18 U.S.C. Â§241 (conspiracy against rights). Additionally, Marlowe was charged with violating seven counts of 18 U.S.C. Â§242 (deprivation of civil rights under color of law); Hale was charged with three counts of violating Â§242; Conatser and Ferrell were charged with two counts of violating Â§242; Locke was charged with one count of violating Â§242. Prior to indictment, fellow officers Bradley, McKinney, McCathern, and Westmoreland pled guilty to federal felony offenses related to their role in the assaults described in the indictment.
On December 28, 2005, Gary Hale entered a guilty plea to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§241, and on December 30, 2005, Robert Brian Ferrell pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. Â§242. On March 31, 2006, Ferrell was sentenced to 12 months in prison and, on June 16, 2006, Gary Hale was sentenced to 108 months in prison.
On January 10, 2006, Marlowe, Conatser, and Locke went on trial. On January 26, 2006, a federal jury convicted Marlowe of two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§ 242, for participating in the beating of Walter Kuntz and then denying him medical care. The jury further found that Marlowe’s failure to seek medical care resulted in Kuntz’s death. The jury also convicted Marlowe of four additional violations of 18 U.S.C. Â§ 242 for the beatings of four other detainees and acquitted him of charges pertaining to another beating. In addition, the jury convicted both Marlowe and Conatser of violating 18 U.S.C. Â§ 241 for conspiring together and with other jailers to assault detainees and then cover up their conduct with false reports.
Conatser was acquitted on two Â§ 242 charges, and Locke was acquitted.
On May 12, 2006, Conatser was sentenced to 70 months in prison and, on July 6, 2006, Marlowe was sentenced to life in prison.
U.S. v. Ramsey
On the night of December 15, 2000, DeKalb County (Georgia) Deputy Sheriff Melvin Walker fired 11 shots from a Tec-9 semiautomatic pistol, shooting and killing Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown as Brown walked up his driveway with a bouquet of flowers for his wife’s birthday. Deputy Walker carried out the murder, along with another deputy and two of their friends, at the direction of incumbent Sheriff Sidney Dorsey. Sheriff Dorsey hired the men to murder Brown, who had just defeated Dorsey in the polls, because he believed that Brown’s death would allow him to retain the post of Sheriff. The three men who helped Walker carry out the assassination were Deputy Sheriff Patrick Cuffy, David Ramsey, and Paul Skyers.
In 2002, the State of Georgia prosecuted Sheriff Dorsey in one trial and Walker and Ramsey in a second trial, both for the murder of Derwin Brown. Cuffy and Skyers, who had been given complete immunity from prosecution, testified for the state at both trials. Walker and Ramsey were acquitted, but Dorsey was convicted and is now serving a life sentence in state prison.
In May 2004, a federal grand jury returned a 12-count indictment against Walker and Ramsey. The indictment charged Walker and Ramsey with one count of conspiracy to deprive Brown of his civil rights by killing him, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Â§241; one count of the conspiracy provision and seven counts of the substantive provision of 18 U.S.C. 1958 (interstate murder for hire); one violation of Â§242 (deprivation of rights under color of law); and two violations of 18 U.S.C. Â§924(c) (use of a firearm in the commission of a felony).
Walker and Ramsey’s federal trial began on July 11, 2005. On August 3, 2005, both men were convicted of the murder for hire conspiracy and on the substantive murder charges. On November 21, 2005, Walker and Ramsey were both sentenced to serve life in federal prison.
U.S. v. Davis
On October 13, 1994, two men murdered 32-year old Kim Groves on orders from New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Officer Len Davis. Davis ordered the murder because Ms. Graves, three days earlier, had witnessed Davis and another officer beat a young man and had subsequently reported the excessive-force incident to the Internal Affairs Division of the NOPD. The men Davis hired to kill Groves were Paul Hardy, a New Orleans drug dealer whom Officer Davis protected in exchange for “favors,” and Damon Causey, a friend of Hardy’s. At the time Davis ordered the hit, he was unaware that he was already the target of an undercover investigation, and that his cellular telephone conversations were being recorded. Those recordings revealed that when Davis called Hardy to order the hit, he referred to Groves as “that whore” and told Hardy to “get her.” Hardy then located Ms. Groves and shot her in the head, killing her.
In August 1995, Davis, Hardy, and Causey were charged with violations of the federal civil rights conspiracy statute (18 U.S.C.Â§ 241); the law prohibiting the excessive use of force (18 U.S.C. Â§ 242); and a federal obstruction of justice statute (18 U.S.C. Â§ 1512(a)(1)(C)). The indictment alleged that these violations resulted in the death of Ms. Groves.
In April 1996, a federal jury convicted Davis and Hardy on all charges, and Causey on all but the obstruction count, on which they could not reach a verdict. Davis and Hardy were sentenced to death. The Department of Justice had not sought the death penalty for Causey, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
On appeal, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Davis’s and Hardy’s convictions on the civil rights violations, but overturned their obstruction convictions, and remanded the case for new sentencing hearings on the death penalty. In October 2005, Davis represented himself at the resentencing hearing and argued that he was innocent, but the new jury again imposed the death penalty.
U.S. v. Koon, et al
The videotaped beating of Rodney King by officers of the Los Angles Police Department on March 3, 1991 led to one of the most significant and well-known official misconduct/police beating cases in the history of the Criminal Section, receiving international attention. After the videotape of the beating was aired on nationwide television, the Criminal Section immediately opened its investigation, pending the outcome of the local trial of the four defendant police officers on state charges in California. When that trial ended a year later with the acquittal of all the officers, rioting broke out throughout Los Angeles, resulting in deaths and property damage. A team of federal prosecutors from both the Criminal Section as well as the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles then undertook an exhaustive investigation, in which new evidence was developed during three months of grand jury. On August 4, 1992, the same four officers were indicted on two federal counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 242 -- three officers for the excessive beating of King and the fourth (the supervisory sergeant) for failing to stop them. The federal prosecutors had to overcome major evidentiary hurdles to develop evidence independent of the state prosecution and not derived from compelled statements made by police officers that could have compromised the federal case.
Despite the potential for additional civil unrest locally and nationwide, and the difficulties of empaneling an impartial jury, the two-month federal trial of the four Los Angeles police officers ultimately ended with the conviction in April 1993 of two of the four officers, Sgt. Stacey Koon, the supervising officer at the scene, and Officer Laurence Powell, the officer who had delivered the most number of blows to King. Both defendants were sentenced to 30 months in prison, after appealing their sentences to the U.S. Supreme Court.
As a result of this incident, the City of Los Angeles undertook a Department-wide review of its police practices.
While this incident received tremendous public attention, it was not unique but rather representative of the numerous incidents of official misconduct regularly reviewed and prosecuted by the Criminal Section. The attendant publicity may also have led to a misconception that, because the victim was black, the officers charged with his beating were white and then indicted on civil rights violations, racial motivation was an essential element of the federal crime. However, as explained elsewhere on this site, the applicable federal criminal civil rights law used in this case, 18 U.S.C. § 242, pertains regardless of the race, national origin, or color of the victim or the defendant. It is the abuse of authority under "color of law" that is critical.
U.S. v. Lanier
David Lanier was an elected state judge serving Dyer County, a rural area of western Tennessee. For years, Judge David Lanier sexually assaulted a number of women who appeared before him as litigants or who worked for him as clerks, probation officers or secretaries. Because Judge Lanier came from a powerful family, it was difficult for local authorities to act. In fact, the District Attorney for Dyer County was Judge Lanier's brother. Consequently, federal authorities spearheaded the investigation which culminated in 11 civil rights counts charging Lanier with various kinds of sexual assault against five women, including two instances of forced oral copulation.
Several women braved their fear of retaliation, community criticism, and personal embarrassment to recount their experiences by giving evidence to the federal grand jury. They claimed that between 1989 and 1991 Judge Lanier had systematically sexually assaulted them in his chambers and in his courtroom. Many of the victims were single mothers, emotionally and economically vulnerable, who sought redress in court or well-paying courthouse jobs in an economically depressed community. The federal grand jury undertook a six-month grand jury investigation conducted jointly by the Criminal Section and the local U.S. Attorney. Judge Lanier was subsequently indicted on eleven counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 242 for having deprived the women of their constitutional due process right to be free from sexual assault.
Overcoming substantial reluctance to testify publicly, the victims' damaging testimony about the judge's behavior resulted in his convictions in December 1992 for conduct that ranged from willful grabbing and groping of the victims' breasts and genitalia to forced oral copulation. Before trial, he was jailed when his bail was revoked for having improperly contacted the witnesses in an effort to influence their testimony at trial. He received the maximum prison sentence of 25 years and was fined $25,000. The state legislature subsequently removed him from office.
Judge Lanier was an unusual defendant -- highly educated, influential in his community and trained in the law. He vigorously represented himself and sought publicity by appearing on national prime time news shows. He pursued his appeal rights to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which initially upheld the conviction but then later reversed itself on rehearing, determining that the indictment should be dismissed because the due process clause did not afford protection against sexual assaults. The federal Government appealed to the Supreme Court, which essentially sided with the Government, ordering the Sixth Circuit to revisit the standards it had applied to dismiss the indictment. The Sixth Circuit then ordered Lanier to return to custody pending a new review. Lanier, however, fled to Mexico, but was soon captured by U.S. Marshals after his case was made the subject of a television episode on America's Most Wanted. Despite losing his right of appeal because he was a fugitive, Lanier continued to pursue reversal of his conviction by seeking a new trial, arguing the discovery of new evidence. That final motion was denied in June 1999, almost seven years after his original conviction. Having exhausted all of his procedural options, Lanier will probably serve the remainder of his life in prison.