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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office Observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Spokane, Washington - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington and the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) joins communities nationwide in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and celebrating victims’ rights, protections, and services. This year’s observance takes place April 21-27, 2024, and features the theme, “How would you help? Options, services, and hope for crime survivors.” The theme aims to ensure that everyone in a community knows where and how crime victims and survivors can find help — including friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, service providers, or other trusted members of the community.

In 1975, the first “Victims’ Rights Week” was organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the then district attorney.  President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in 1981 to highlight the importance of prioritizing the rights and needs of crime victims.  President Reagan also established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the foundation for a national network to provide services and legal safeguards for crime victims.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington has a dedicated team of prosecutors and victim assistance professionals, who work together to ensure victims receive the services and support they need. Early intervention helps prevent further victimization and encourages victim involvement in the justice system, mitigating the cycle of violence and restoring hope for the future.

Each year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington prosecutes numerous cases involving individuals who are victims of violent, financial, environmental, and other crimes. In 2023 and continuing into 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s office has filed more than 70 victim cases, which include more than 1,000 individual victims.  In each case, victim assistance specialists from our office provide victims with essential services, including referrals to counseling, and help to secure temporary housing, as necessary. These advocates also assist with access to victim’s compensation funds and accompany victims to court proceedings to provide support and guidance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also works tirelessly to recover restitution on behalf of victims.  In 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington recovered more than $68 million on behalf of victims, much of which was recovered in connection with Cody Easterday’s “ghost cattle” scheme.  In 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office already has recovered another $15 million in restitution on behalf of victims, bringing the total recovery in just the last year and a half to more than $84 million dollars.  These restitution funds are provided directly to those who are victims of violent, financial, sexual exploitation and child abuse, as well as other crimes. 

“Honoring the voice of victims of crime is a critical part of securing justice. Providing victims information and a choice in how they participate in cases, is not only their right, but also a meaningful path to recovery from the trauma they have endured,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am also grateful for the dedicated service of our victim assistance specialists – Jolene Jones and Marissa Allen – who work tirelessly to ensure the rights of all victims in the Eastern District of Washington. Their important work helps promote healing and provides victims tools for their future, thereby strengthening Eastern Washington communities.”

Representative examples of victim cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in 2023 and 2024, include the following:

  • January 24, 2023 sentencing of Ronald Craig Ilg, who was convicted of attempting to hire a dark web hitmen to kidnap his then-estranged wife and harm a former work colleague.  Ilg was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution.
  • February 21, 2023 sentencing of Jordan Everett Stevens, who was convicted of murdering Alillia “Lala” Minthord and sentenced to life in prison.
  • March 8, 2023 sentencing of Jonathan Scott Ard, for shooting a person and conspiring to distribute fentanyl in the Tri-Cities. Ard was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
  • April 24, 2023 settlement agreement requiring Jason Dreyer, a former doctor, to pay more than $1 million to resolve allegations that he performed medically unnecessary neurosurgery procedures.
  • May 18, 2023 sentencing of Karla Padilla for fraudulently obtaining more than $290,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. Padilla was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay approximately $300,000 in restitution.
  • June 14, 2023 sentencing of Felipe Tapia-Perez, who was convicted of firearm offenses related to the homicide of a four-year-old child. Tapia-Perez was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
  • July 13, 2023 sentencing of Randy Coy James Holmes for shooting an undercover law enforcement officer. Holmes was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
  • August 28, 2023 settlement agreement requiring Lincare Holdings to pay $29 million to resolve claims of overbilling Medicare for oxygen equipment.
  • September 20, 2023 sentencing of Dylen Joseph Swan for 3-day crime spree involving a car chase, two shootings and an armed robbery. Swan was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was ordered to pay $21,515 in restitution.
  • October 11, 2023 sentencing of Michael Gene Rice, who was convicted of producing and attempted production of child pornography.  Rice was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $48,000 in restitution.
  • December 12, 2023 sentencing of Christopher Bruce Gooch, who was convicted for an armed robbery at a Spokane Valley motel. Gooch was sentenced to 4 years in prison.       
  • January 24, 2024 arrest of 8 individuals in Moses Lake on drug trafficking charges and perpetration of violent crimes.
  • February 22, 2024 sentencing of Ronald Walter Hannes for defrauding numerous Spokane victims of more than $3 million.  Hannes was ordered to pay restitution to more than a dozen victims in the amount of $3.18 million.  
  • March 27, 2024 sentencing of Sundron Larsell Miller and Paula Eulojia Cantu-Lopez to decades in federal prison for violent carjacking and assault on the Yakama Nation.
  • March 28, 2024 sentencing of Robert Wayne Hutton to 20 years in federal prison on child exploitation charges. Hutton was also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution.
  • April 17, 2024 indictment of 34 individuals involved in drug distribution, cockfighting, and witness/victim intimidation.

U.S. Attorney Waldref added, “These representative cases demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protecting victims in Eastern Washington.  My office will continue to identify and prosecute those who harm our citizens, and we will seek to hold accountable those who exploit vulnerable members of our community.”

More information about OVC, as well as resources for victims of crime, can be found here.

To commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, trees at the federal courthouses in Spokane, Richland and Yakima have been decorated with pink and purple ribbons.


Pink and Purple ribbons tied around trees at the Federal Courthouse
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Pink and Purple ribbons tied around trees at the Federal Courthouse
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Robert Curry

Public Affairs Specialist 

Updated April 23, 2024