Grand Jury Returns Indictments Charging Gun, Drug, and Fraud Crimes
MADISON, WIS. -- A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments yesterday. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Wausau Man Charged with Drug Crimes
Syharaj Vang, 27, Wausau, Wisconsin, is charged in a two-count indictment with distributing five grams or more of pure methamphetamine, and possessing five grams or more of pure methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. The indictment alleges that on March 8, 2018, Vang distributed methamphetamine, and that on April 23, 2018, Vang possessed methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it. Both counts involve five grams or more of pure methamphetamine.
If convicted, Vang faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison on each count.
The charges against Vang are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Everest Metro and Wausau Police Departments, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Schlipper.
Madison Man and Milwaukee Woman Charged with Armed Robbery
Jeremiah D. Edwards, 33, Madison, Wisconsin, and Kanasha L. Woods, 24, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are charged with the armed robbery of a Town of Blooming Grove business, and with brandishing firearms during this crime of violence. The indictment alleges that Edwards and Woods robbed the O’Reilly Auto Parts store on South Stoughton Road on November 8, 2018, and that they brandished firearms while committing the robbery.
Edwards and Woods were charged with these offenses in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court on November 13. Federal law requires that felony offenses be charged by an indictment returned by a grand jury within 30 days of the date a criminal complaint is filed. Woods has been detained since her initial appearance on November 13 and Edwards has yet to appear in federal court.
If convicted, Edwards and Woods face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the robbery charge, and a mandatory minimum penalty of seven years on the charge of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Federal law requires that any penalty imposed for this charge be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the robbery charge.
The charges against Edwards and Woods are the result of an investigation by the Madison and Middleton Police Departments, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey Stephan.
The charges against Edwards and Woods have been brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the U.S. Justice Department’s program to reduce violent crime. The PSN approach emphasizes coordination between state and federal prosecutors and all levels of law enforcement to address gun crime, especially felons illegally possessing firearms and ammunition and violent and drug crimes that involve the use of firearms.
Baldwin Man Charged with Wire and Mail Fraud
Jamie Smith, 41, Baldwin, Wisconsin, is charged in a 23-count indictment with wire fraud, mail fraud, and making a false statement on a loan application. The indictment alleges that Smith, who operated American Platinum Gold & Silver, Inc, (APGS), and American Independent Gold & Silver, Inc, (AIGS) from various locations in Minnesota, and in Hudson and River Falls, Wisconsin, devised a scheme to defraud customers of APGS and AIGS beginning in May 2010 and continuing until February 2017. The indictment alleges that Smith misappropriated money and property from the clients of APGS and AIGS, lied to his clients, failed to honor coin transaction agreements with clients, and failed to inform clients that he used their money and property to pay for his personal expenditures. The indictment alleges that the scheme caused losses to the clients of APGS and AIGS in excess of $1,122,000.
The indictment charges Smith with 11 counts each of mail fraud and wire fraud in relation to this alleged scheme. The indictment also charges Smith with making false statements in connection with a residential loan application in January 2016.
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the 22 wire and mail fraud charges, and 30 years in federal prison on the charge of making false statements in connection with a loan.
The charges against Smith are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS Criminal Investigation, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, River Falls Police Department, Minnesota Department of Commerce, and Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.