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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 5, 2021

Iowa Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Plot to Harm Federal Officials

United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Justin Lee Fletcher, 39, of Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced on February 4, 2021 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, by Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon to 120 months’ imprisonment for four counts of solicitation to commit a crime of violence. Fletcher was also sentenced to 21 months for failing to register as a sex offender and 21 months for a supervised release violation.  There is no parole in the federal system. Fletcher will begin a lifetime term of supervised release upon his release from prison.  The time will run concurrent for all three cases.

An investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that from May 15, 2019, through August 8, 2019, in the Southern District of Iowa, Fletcher was an inmate at the Polk County Jail, Des Moines, Iowa, facing federal charges for failing to register as a sex offender.  While at the Polk County Jail, Fletcher communicated with numerous other inmates.  Fletcher believed that one of these inmates had gang contacts that would harm individuals in exchange for payment.  During the course of communications with this inmate, Fletcher solicited the inmate’s gang contacts to physically assault officials in the Southern District of Iowa to include a United States District Court Judge, an Assistant United States Attorney, a former Assistant United States Attorney, and a United States Probation Officer.  Specifically, Fletcher solicited the inmate’s gang contacts to have the United States District Court Judge's eyes and nose injured. Fletcher solicited inmate’s gang contacts to have Assistant United States Attorney’s fingers cut-off. Fletcher solicited the inmate’s gang contacts to have the United States Probation Officer’s knee and tongue injured. Fletcher also solicited the inmate’s gang contacts to have the former Assistant United States Attorney’s back injured. 

The FBI became aware of Fletcher’s intentions in June 2019. The FBI intercepted a coded letter handwritten by Fletcher to an individual located outside of the Polk County Jail.  The FBI was able to decrypt the letter, which stated “THEY CUT FIVE OF HIS FINGERS OFF.” 

During the course of continued communications with the inmate, Fletcher was recorded discussing the specific injuries he wanted done to the United States District Court Judge, Assistant United States Attorney, former Assistant United States Attorney, and United States Probation Officer.  Fletcher and inmate also discussed payments to be made to the inmate’s gang contacts.

The FBI determined that Fletcher’s threats to assault the aforementioned individuals were with the intent to retaliate against those individuals because of their performance of official duties during their respective term of service.

FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “After 10 years in federal prison, Fletcher will spend the rest of his life under federal supervision.  His case serves as a reminder that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will bring all of our investigative resources to bear on those who threaten the lives of federal officials.”

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska was specially appointed to handle the prosecution of Fletcher in the Southern District of Iowa after the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa was recused as a result of a conflict.  Senior United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon was appointed to preside over the prosecution of Fletcher in the Southern District of Iowa after the formerly assigned United States District Court Judge determined there was a conflict.    

This case was investigated by FBI Des Moines – Central Iowa Gang Task Force (CIGTF), which is a Safe Streets Task Force focusing on violent crime, assisted by the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Des Moines.

 

Updated February 12, 2021