Guardian of Justice Award: KC Detectives, Federal Agents Honored for Investigations
Drug Trafficker, Murderers Sentenced to Life in Prison Following Trial Convictions
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tim Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that local and federal law enforcement officers were recognized for their work on two significant cases as recipients of the 2018 Guardian of Justice Award.
Kansas City, Mo., Police Detective Leland Blank and FBI Special Agent Ryan Williams were recognized for their investigation of two men who were convicted after a week-long trial of charges related to the kidnapping and murder of another man.
Kansas City, Mo., Police Detective Don Stanze and U.S. Postal Inspector Justin Lewis were recognized for their investigation into a conspiracy to distribute large amounts of PCP, which was shipped in gallon-sized containers from California. This successful investigation resulted in the trial conviction of the California supplier as well as the successful prosecution of numerous local defendants.
The award recipients were honored on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2017, during the 16th Annual LECC Training Seminar in Springfield, Mo.
USA v. King and Ross
Raynal King and Howard R. Ross III were each sentenced to multiple life terms in federal prison without parole for the carjacking, kidnapping and murder of Jaime Patton, following the investigation by Blank and Williams.
Patton was returning home from the hospital, where he had been caring for a family member, sometime after 5 a.m. that day when King and Ross kidnapped him and stole his 2014 Jeep Patriot. They held Patton at gunpoint and drove him around in his Jeep to ATM machines, attempting to force him to provide his PIN number for his debit card so they could withdraw cash from his bank account. Patton was unable to provide a working PIN number to withdraw cash. King and Ross became upset with the lack of cooperation from Patton and shot him in his upper thigh to make sure he knew they were not playing around.
King and Ross then drove Patton in his Jeep south on Holmes Road while they discussed what to do with him. At approximately 6:30 a.m., shortly after traveling south on Holmes Road through the intersection with 135th Street and further out of the city, Patton jumped out of his Jeep while it was moving. Patton was shot multiple times while attempting to jump and he fell to the roadway. King and Ross then fled from the area in Patton’s Jeep, leaving him to die on the side of the road.
Blank and Williams expended tremendous investigative efforts in this case and further demonstrated their dedication to justice during trial preparations and throughout the trial. It is important to note that after the jury was excused, several members of the jury were compelled to personally commend the dedication to seeking justice and thoroughness of the investigative efforts by law enforcement in this case. This type of acknowledgement by members of our community who were randomly selected to serve as jurors in this case is truly an honor.
USA v. Hamilton
Ladronal S. Hamilton, a resident of Hawthorne, California, was sentenced to life in federal prison following the investigation by Stanze and Lewis. Hamilton was the organizer and supplier to large-scale Kansas City PCP distributors, each of whom has been convicted and sentenced in federal court. He organized and arranged the cross-country shipment of numerous multi-kilogram containers of PCP from California.
Investigators made three seizures of PCP from Hamilton that totaled approximately 14 kilograms. In addition, the testimony of cooperating witnesses during the trial established that Hamilton distributed additional amounts in excess of 37 kilograms of PCP. Hamilton also possessed firearms in relation to drug trafficking during the timeframe of the conspiracy. One investigator testified that he recovered cocaine and three firearms from Hamilton’s California residence.
PCP is an exceptionally dangerous and volatile hazardous material requiring hazmat units or certified laboratories for proper handling. PCP in the mail creates a tremendous safety risk for postal employees and customers.
Hamilton was identified as the supplier in two additional federal investigations that resulted in the convictions of 31 defendants in separate cases.
In seeking the life sentence for Hamilton, the government’s court filings refer to the serious nature of the crime and to Hamilton’s extensive prior criminal record, which includes felony convictions for armed bank robbery, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, armed criminal action and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. A career offender for violent crimes and narcotic offenses, Hamilton’s s interstate distribution of large quantities of PCP began within three years of his release from federal prison for armed bank robbery as a result of his second revocation from supervised release.
Stanze joined the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department following his service as a soldier in the United States Army. During his 20-year career as a police officer, Stanze has become a subject matter expert in narcotics trafficking. As an undercover drug detective, Stanze purchased nearly every type of illegal drug available on the streets of Kansas City. He has used that experience to build long-term, federal investigations against some of Kansas City’s most prolific and violent drug dealers. Stanze has been sought out by federal investigators to lead or assist on multiple OCDETF investigations due to his experience and work ethic.
Lewis has worked for the U.S. Postal Service almost his entire adult life. He began working for the Post Office in college and spent approximately eight years working as a clerk, branch supervisor, and in the accounting department, before he became an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, where he has served for 15 years. As an inspector, Lewis has focused his career on seizing illegal drugs and conducting investigations for the successful prosecution of high-level drug dealers. Lewis is also one of a select few postal inspectors who is qualified as a Dangerous Mail Specialist and since 2003, Lewis is one of a select few inspectors trained to respond to mail or parcels containing hazardous materials. Based on his extensive experience, Lewis has been a subject matter expert in narcotics interdiction and an instructor for drug interdiction for new U.S. Postal Inspectors for approximately five years. Were it not for his focus and keen insight into Hamilton’s use of the mail to facilitate his PCP shipments, the evidence to prosecute the case may have never been discovered.
Guardian of Justice Award
The annual Guardian of Justice Award recognizes a state or local officer as well as a federal agent for investigative excellence, selfless collaboration, tireless trial support, commendable diligence and professionalism, and noteworthy assistance to prosecution. The prestigious law enforcement award is presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office each year during the law enforcement training conference.