NDTX Roundup -- 4/26/19
SENTENCING -- Mario Melendez
On April 26, Dallas tax return preparer Mario Melendez was sentenced to 51 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the United States and aiding in the preparation of false tax returns. From November 2013 to April 2014, Mr. Melendez, a manager at Uptown Multi Services, helped prepare fraudulent income tax returns for clients, including false education credits, Schedule C expenses, and other items. He also assisted in trainings instructing new employees how to prepare fraudulent tax returns. The IRS – Criminal Investigations unit conducted the investigation.
INDICTMENT* – J. Concepcion Serrano-Alba
On April 24, a federal grand jury indicted J. Concepcion Serrano-Alba, 47, on three counts of straw purchase, or acquiring a firearm from a licensed dealer by false or fictitious statement. Over a 13-month period, Mr. Alba allegedly purchased several pistols from pawn shops across the Northern District of Texas. He told the shops that he was the actual buyer of the firearm, when in fact, the guns were meant for someone else. If convicted, Mr. Serrano-Alba faces 30 years in federal prison. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives investigated.
INDICTMENT* – Austin Reed
On April 24, a federal grand jury indicted Austin David Reed, 26, of Dallas, Texas, for carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. When Dallas police officers responded to a domestic violence all at his hotel room, Mr. Reed allegedly donned a bullet-proof vest and stated he was “not going down like this.” He then lead officers on a dangerous pursuit through a wooded area and into a neighborhood, firing several rounds at officers as he fled. Once inside the neighborhood, he allegedly brandished his weapon to carjack a vehicle, which he promptly crashed into a light pole. He exited the mangled vehicle and entered a home, where he demanded the keys to another car. When the victims confronted him with a gun, he fled the home through the garage. If convicted, Mr. Reed faces up to 22 years in federal prison. ATF and Dallas Police Department and investigated the case.
INDICTMENT* – Lilla Haiddar
On April 24, a federal grand jury indicted Lilla Haiddar, 56 of Arlington, Texas on two counts of making false statements in her passport applications. In October 2011 and again in November 2018, Ms. Haiddar applied for a passport without disclosing a name she had used previously: Marufa Khashim Surgul. If convicted, Ms. Haiddar faces up to 120 months in federal prison on each count. United States Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service conducted the investigation.
SENTENCING – Toure couple
On April 22, Mohamed Toure, 58, and Denise Cros-Toure, 58, of Southlake, Texas, were sentenced seven years in prison each and ordered to pay $288,620.24 in restitution following a January forced labor conviction. According evidence preented at trial, the defendants, members of powerful Guinean families, arranged for the victim, then a young child from a rural Guinean community, to travel alone from her home in West Africa to the defendants’ home in Southlake, Texas, in early 2000. Once in the United States, the defendants forced the victim to cook, clean, and take care of their biological children, some of whom were close in age to the victim, without pay for the next 16 years. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Houston Field Office, investigated the case. More here.
SENTENCING -- Matias Alacala
On April 22, 23-year-old Matias Medina Alcala, of Zacatecas, Mexico, was sentenced to 97 months confinement in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. According to Court documents, in December 2015, Mr. Alcala delivered approximately 1 kilogram of meth to another individual at the request of Domingo Arreola Avalos (see below). As part of the plea agreement, the defendant, who was in the U.S. illegally at the time of the offense, agreed to forfeit a firearm and $36,900 in U.S. currency. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS – Criminal Investigations Division and prosecuted by AUSA George Leal.
SENTENCING -- Pedro Barriga-Avalaos
On April 22, 28- year-old Pedro Barriga-Avalos, of Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced to 97 months confinement in federal prison for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Court documents indicate that on New Year’s Day 2016, the defendant delivered approximately 1 kilogram of methamphetamine to another person. During the delivery, the defendant advised he had two kilograms of methamphetamine but one was for another person. Mr. Barriga Avalos, who was in the U.S. illegally at the time of the offense, forfeited $9236.00 in U.S. currency, as well as a firearm. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS – Criminal Investigations Division and prosecuted by AUSA George Leal.
* An indictment is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.