Justice Department Informs City of Lexington and Lexington Police Department That Automatically Jailing People for Unpaid Fines Violates Constitution
An Ohio man pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which prohibits a person from intentionally interfering with or intimidating any person because that person is providing reproductive health services. Mohamed Waes, 33, of Columbus, also pleaded guilty to felony charges of communicating interstate threats and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to court documents and statements made in court, on July 5, 2022, Waes intentionally interfered with and intimidated employees of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio by threatening over the phone to burn down their building because they were providing reproductive health services.
“Threatening to burn down facilities that provide reproductive health services is not just unlawful, it’s conduct that frightens and obstructs patients and providers of reproductive services,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to enforcing the FACE Act to protect all patients who seek reproductive health services and to protect all staff and facilities that provide these services.”
“We will hold accountable individuals who make threats of force against health service providers and institutions,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will do our part in charging those who break federal laws. As a society, we must handle our disagreements in a more civil way than threats of violence and intimidation.”
“Mohamed Waes made a credible threat to commit violence and harm others,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Mimura of the FBI Cincinnati Field Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue civil rights violations and work with our partners to keep the community safe.”
“Waes played a crucial role in a business email compromise scheme by attempting to launder nearly $2 million in fraud proceeds,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Karen Wingerd of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI) Cincinnati Field Office. “IRS:CI remains committed to following the money and bringing those who launder illegal proceeds to justice.”
According to court documents, Waes also conspired with others from on or about March 21, 2019, through on or about March 4, 2020, to launder funds using business email compromise (BEC) fraud schemes. As part of this conspiracy, scammers created fake email domains which mimicked legitimate email domains and then sent emails to various companies impersonating vendors and asking that payments be made on actual invoices to bank accounts controlled by Waes and others. Waes attempted to launder a total of $1,972,792.84 in BEC proceeds, of which he successfully laundered $273,982.08.
A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI Cincinnati Field Office and IRS:CI investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Rausch and Peter Glenn-Applegate for the Southern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney Daniel Grunert of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.