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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Grand Jury Returns Indictments

MADISON, WIS. -- A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today.  You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Madison Man Charged with Gun Crimes

Darren E. Johnson, 34, Madison, Wisconsin, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and with possessing a firearm and ammunition after previously being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  The indictment alleges that he possessed a .380 caliber handgun and ammunition on January 18, 2018.

If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each charge.  The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita M. Rumbelow.

Two Face Drug & Gun Charges

Joel J. Helding, 32, Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and Valerie A. Flores, 25, Wausau, Wisconsin, are charged with possessing 100 kilograms or more of marijuana with intent to distribute.  The indictment alleges that they possessed the marijuana on January 18, 2018. 

The indictment also charges Helding with possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  The indictment alleges that on January 18, 2018, Helding possessed a loaded 9mm pistol and a .380 pistol.

If convicted, Helding and Flores face a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison on the marijuana charge.  Helding faces a mandatory minimum five years on the charge of possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.   Federal law requires that any penalty imposed for this charge be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the drug charge. 

The charges against Helding and Flores are the result of an investigation by the Marathon County Special Investigations Unit, which includes the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office and the Wausau and Everest Metropolitan Police Departments, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Wisconsin State Patrol.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

Madison Man Faces Additional Drug & Gun Charges

Marquise S. Howard, 23, Madison, Wis., is charged in a superseding indictment with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  The indictment alleges that Howard possessed the cocaine and a 9mm handgun and ammunition on January 18, 2018.

Howard was previously charged in an indictment returned by the grand jury on the felon in possession charge only.

If convicted, Howard faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the cocaine charge, a mandatory minimum five years on the charge of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and 10 years on the felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition charge.  Federal law requires that any penalty imposed for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges. 

The charges against Howard are the result of an investigation by the Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith P. Duchemin.

The cases against Darren E. Johnson, Joel J. Helding, Valerie A. Flores, and Marquise S. Howard were brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been historically successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made turning the tide of rising violent crime in America a top priority.   In October 2017, as part of a series of actions to address this crime trend, Attorney General Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to develop a district crime reduction strategy that incorporates the lessons learned since PSN launched in 2001.

South Beloit Woman Charged with Drug Crime

Cheryl Barrera, 50, South Beloit, Illinois, is charged with possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.  The indictment alleges that she possessed the methamphetamine on October 17, 2016.

If convicted, Barrera faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison.  The charges against her are the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the FBI, Rock County Sheriff’s Office, Rock County District Attorney’s Office, Beloit Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reinhard.

Two Mexican Citizens Charged with Illegally Reentering U.S.

In separate, unrelated indictments, two citizens of Mexico have been charged with illegally reentering the United States after previously being deported.  Roberto Reynoso-Sanchez, 39, was found in Abbotsford, Wisconsin, on January 29, 2018.  Juan Salgado-Ballena, 39, was found in Dorchester, Wisconsin, on February 10, 2018. 

If convicted, Reynoso-Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of two years in federal prison and Salgado-Ballena faces 10 years in federal prison.  The charges against them are the result of investigations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The prosecution of Reynoso-Sanchez is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan and the prosecution of Salgado-Ballena is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reinhard. 

 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Immigration
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated March 12, 2018