The Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecuting violations of federal criminal laws. These offenses cover a wide range of crimes including civil rights violations, investment fraud, bank and securities fraud, health care fraud, public corruption, violent crimes committed by street gangs, major narcotics trafficking, firearms offenses, identity theft, child pornography, immigration offenses, human trafficking, tax offenses, and theft from government programs.
The Criminal Division works closely with federal and state law enforcement agencies in the District that investigate violations of federal law. These agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, United States Marshal’s Service, Internal Revenue Service, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Offices of Inspector General for various federal agencies. The Criminal Division also works closely with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and other local police departments, county sheriff’s offices, and drug task forces consisting of representatives from federal state and local law enforcement to enforce federal law.
The White Collar and Economic Crime Unit prosecute corporations and individuals who commit violations of a wide variety of federal laws, including: major fraud, civil rights and corruption offenses focusing on criminal acts and schemes that significantly affect the citizens of the Middle Tennessee area. The investigations and prosecutions frequently involve complex criminal schemes implicating the bank, mail, and wire fraud statutes. The unit has also prosecuted numerous child pornography cases that have resulted in lengthy prison sentences for those offenders. Some recent prosecutions of these types of cases include the following:
U.S. v. Whitfield, et.al.: Owners of the Sommet Group, a multi-million dollar payroll processing company, were convicted of a $20 million fraud relating to their theft of client funds that they agreed to use for retirement plans, health insurance and taxes.
U.S. v. Kretz, et al.: A trio of defendants victims bilked more than 125 investors as part of an $18 million Ponzi scheme on the promise that the money would be invested and yield a high return. However, the defendants used the money to repay earlier investors and for lavish personal expenses. The defendants were sentenced to 60, 70 and 168 months in prison and ordered to pay $14.7 million in restitution.
U.S. v. Medlock, et al.: The owners of Murfreesboro Ambulance Service were prosecuted for health care fraud in submitting $1.2 million in false Medicare claims for which they actually received more than $500,000. The Defendants were sentenced to significant prison sentences.
U.S. v. Mikula: Defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison for collecting sexually explicit images of children, including images of violence perpetrated against very young children.
U.S. v. Coleman: Defendant defrauded thousands of military veterans and others who were seeking job training and job placement services into payment him more than $900,000 and then providing nothing to those individuals. Coleman was sentenced to 92 months in prison.
U.S. v. Olive: Defendant solicited more than $30 million in annuities and real estate from elderly victims on the promise that he would provide them with a fixed *payment for a number of years. After trial, defendant was sentenced to
U.S. v. Flanagan, et al.: Defendants plead guilty and were sentenced for burning a cross in the yard of a bi-racial couple who recently had a baby.
U.S. v. Caulderhead, et al.: Defendant pled guilty to felonies for conspiring to violate the civil rights of African-American individuals for painting racial slurs on a driveway, hanging a noose in a tree and on a school bus at their home.
U.S. v. Hedge & Lee: Defendants pled guilty to felony civil rights violations for using excessive force against a person they were arresting.
U.S. v. Green: This defendant was sentenced to 80 years in prison for possessing child pornography and for producing images and videos of his own step granddaughters.
The Narcotics Unit identifies, investigates, and prosecutes the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations with the goal of disrupting and dismantling the operations of those organizations in order to reduce the drug supply in the Middle District of Tennessee and the United States. Many of the individuals and drug trafficking organizations that this unit prosecutes have significant ties to national or international drug trafficking. The unit also focuses on drug trafficking organizations that significantly contribute to violance or otherwise directly impacts communities in the district. Some recent prosecutions of these types of cases include the following:
U.S. v. Shakir, et al.: Members of the Rollin 90’s, a street gang from Los Angeles, were involved in several murders and cocaine distribution from Los Angeles to Oklahoma to Nashville. The leader, Jamal Shakir, was convicted after a trial that lasted several months and sentenced to multiple life sentences.
U.S. v. Hedgecoth et al.: Thirty-five defendants were convicted after trial and guilty pleas for the illegal distribution of prescription pain medication in the Upper Cumberland area of Middle Tennessee. Lengthy prison sentences were imposed.
U.S. v. Stafford et al.: Twenty-four defendants were convicted of conspiring to illegally distribute diverted pain medication in the Lebanon, Wilson County area of Middle Tennessee. The major member of theorganization was sentenced to 14 ½ years in prison..
The Firearms and Violent Crimes Unit prosecutes violent street gangs as well violations of federal firearms laws, including felons who illegally possess and use guns in violent crimes and those who illegally buy and sell firearms. The unitfocuses on violent gangs and repeat offenders responsible for murders, aggravated assaults and drive-by shootings. These street gangs include the Gangster Disciples, MS-13, Vice Lords, Rollin 90’s, Bloods and Crips, among others. Some recent prosecutions of these types of cases include the following:
United States v. Corey Lamont Lanier, a/k/a Foot: Lanier, a high ranking member of the 98 Mafia Crips street gang, was sentenced to 946 months (78 years and 10 months) as a result of his conviction for three armed home invasion robberies in Nashville that he organized and participated in. Lanier and his co-conspirators targeted individuals suspected of being involved in narcotics trafficking in hopes of obtaining large amounts of drugs and drug proceeds.
United States v. Lonnie Newsome et al.: More than 30 members or associates of the Bloods criminal street gang operating in the Nashville area were prosecuted in connection with a racketeering conspiracy that involved murders and numerous other shootings and drug trafficking activity. Keairus Wilson and Rondarius Williamson received life sentences for their roles in three murders, the racketeering conspiracy, and various firearms offenses. At least 10 other defendants received sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years for their roles.
United States v. Gerald Edwin Farmer, aka HK: Farmer, a Rollin’ 40s Crips street gang member, was sentenced to 210 months incarceration on his conviction for being a felon in possession of ammunition, which he used to shoot another person in the densely populated James Cayce public housing development in Nashville in November 2011. At the time of the incident, Farmer was on state probation for several offenses including an incident in which he shot at two other people. Farmer had previous convictions for aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, and drug distribution.
United States v. Christopher Ray Moody: Moody, a 98 Mafia Crip gang member, received four life sentences as a result of his convictions for multiple drug trafficking and firearms offenses. Moody repeatedly cooked multiple ounces of crack cocaine for distribution at a residence near a Nashville elementary school and maintained firearms at this location.
United States v. Finis Lewis et al: Lewis, a high ranking gang member, was sentenced to 80 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, as well as illegally possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, in connection with a shoot-out near Hadley Park in Nashville, during which over 100 rounds of ammunition were fired and one person was killed. Co-defendants Corey Smith and Quinten Smith were also sentenced to respective prison terms of 80 months and 36 months for related firearms offenses.
United States v. William Leslie Battle, Jr.: Battle, a multi-convicted felon, was sentenced to 115 months in federal prison on his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, as a result of a shooting committed by Battle in Nashville following a dispute with another individual. Battle had prior convictions for assault with intent to commit murder, evading arrest, drug trafficking, illegal firearms possession, and escape.
United States v. Quanta T. Black: Black, a multi-convicted felon, was sentenced to 115 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, as a result of a domestic related shooting in Nashville in. Black had prior convictions for 2nd degree assault, illegal firearms possession, and witness intimidation.
On September 17, 2001, the US Attorney General directed that the United States Attorney’s Office in each district establish an Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC). The current function of each ATAC is to enhance training and information sharing among the district’s federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as other first responders and private parties, in matters related to terrorism. Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Van Vincent is the ATAC Coordinator for the Middle District of Tennessee.
The Nashville-area Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and comprised of various other state and federal agencies, is the primary agency responsible for investigating potential terrorist related activities and suspicious incidents. Prosecutions are coordinated with the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. AUSA Vincent is the lead prosecutor for terrorism cases in the Middle District of Tennessee.
The primary objectives of the JTTF are: 1) the prevention and disruption of terrorist activity by implementing the full range of resources available to investigate terrorist incidents; and 2) the vigorous prosecution of those who have committed, or intend to commit, terrorist acts in the United States.
The Tennessee Office of Homeland Security (TNOHS) operates a Fusion Center at Tennessee Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Nashville. The Fusion Center handles information related to events throughout the entire state and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The TNOHS also has a group of Liaison Officers serving at various law enforcement agencies throughout the state to coordinate suspicious incidents with local authorities. Suspicious incident reports are sent by the Liaison Officers to the Fusion Center for processing. Additionally, analysts at the Fusion Center accept telephonic and electronic reports from citizens regarding suspicious incidents. Incidents that are possibly terrorist-related are passed from the Fusion Center to the JTTF (whether based in Nashville, Memphis or Knoxville) for appropriate action.