Concord; Leon Mandigo Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking | USAO-NH

(STL.News) – Leon Mandigo, 33, of Auburn, pleaded guilty in federal court to drug trafficking, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.

According to court documents and statements made in court, during an ongoing drug trafficking investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration learned that Mandigo was obtaining fentanyl from a source located in Massachusetts.  On March 7, 2018, agents learned that Mandigo intended to travel to Massachusetts to purchase 200 grams of fentanyl and later observed him participate in a hand-to-hand exchange with a known drug trafficker.

After the transaction, the New Hampshire State Police stopped a vehicle in which Mandigo was a passenger.  During the stop, he pulled an orange bag from his pants and threw it on the ground where a trooper later picked it up.  The bag contained approximately 184 grams of fentanyl.

Mandigo is scheduled to be sentenced on December 30, 2020.

“The interstate transportation of fentanyl into New Hampshire endangers all of our citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Murray.  “Public health and safety have been seriously undermined by the distribution of this drug.  In order to counteract this dangerous and illegal trade, we will continue to work tirelessly to identify and prosecute the traffickers who are responsible for fentanyl sales in the Granite State.”

The case was a collaborative investigation that involved the DEA; the New Hampshire State Police; the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office; the Nashua Police Department; the Massachusetts State Police; the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office; the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office; the Essex County District Attorney’s Office; the Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; United States Customs and Border Protection Boston Field Office; the United States Marshals Service; the United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; the Manchester Police Department; the Lisbon Police Department; the Littleton Police Department; the Seabrook Police Department; the Haverhill (MA) Police Department; the Methuen (MA) Police Department; the Lowell (MA) Police Department; and the Maine State Police.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Walsh.

Agencies participating in this investigation are part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and is the keystone of the Department of Justice’s drug reduction strategy.  Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and money laundering organizations that present a significant threat to the public safety, economic, or national security of the United States.


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Sand Springs; Armed Robber John Michael McIntosh Sentenced

Sand Springs; Armed Robber John Michael McIntosh Sentenced to 300 Months in Federal Prison | USAO-NDOK

(STL.News) – A man who robbed five Tulsa and Sand Springs businesses was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to 300 months in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

John Michael McIntosh, 23, of Tulsa, will serve an additional five years on supervised release.  Chief U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell further ordered McIntosh to pay $1,127.25 in restitution.

“Let it be known that we will aggressively prosecute gun toting robbers like John McIntosh and seek lengthy federal prison sentences. After robbing five businesses in the Tulsa metro-area, McIntosh earned every day of his 25-year sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.  “The credit goes to our law enforcement partners and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Morgan and Robert Raley who collectively performed great work to bring McIntosh to justice.”“

On Nov. 1, 2019, McIntosh pleaded guilty to five counts of obstructing, delaying, and affecting commerce by robbery and three counts of carrying, using, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

In his plea agreement, McIntosh admitted that he robbed a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Sand Springs on Feb. 17, 2019; a Waters Liquor Store in Tulsa on Feb. 19, 2019; and a Liquor Mart in Tulsa on Feb. 21, 2019.  He further admitted to robbing two QuikTrips, located in Tulsa and in Sand Springs, on Feb. 23.  In all the robberies, McIntosh threatened employees while brandishing a handgun.  During one of the robberies, the defendant pointed a gun at the cashier and demanded money from the register.  He threatened to “blow her f***ing face off” if she didn’t comply.

The Sand Springs and Tulsa Police Departments and FBI conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark R. Morgan and Robert T. Raley prosecuted the case.


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Revised – Death Resulting Charges Filed In Waterford Homicide Case

Revised – Death Resulting Charges Filed In Waterford Homicide Case | USAO-VT

(STL.News) – The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that a federal grand jury returned a 19-Count Fourth Superseding Indictment yesterday charging Krystal Whitcomb, 28, formerly of Waterford, VT, Michael Hayes a.k.a. Moe, 38, formerly of Washington, DC, and John Welch, 34, formerly of Woodsville, NH, with using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, during which Whitcomb, Hayes and Welch caused the death of Michael Pimental by murder. Whitcomb, Hayes and Welch were also charged with discharging a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.  Two new defendants were added to the indictment: Michael Ashford, 31, of Ryegate, VT, who is charged in a cocaine conspiracy with Hayes and Welch; and a sealed defendant who is charged as an accessory after the fact along with Hayes.  The defendants will be arraigned on the indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy at a date to be scheduled in the future.

According to court documents and proceedings, on October 14, 2018, the body of Michael Pimental was found along the side of the road in Concord, VT.  Pimental had been shot and his death has been ruled a homicide.  Pimental was the boyfriend of Krystal Whitcomb and investigation revealed that Whitcomb and Pimental had been distributing heroin out of their residence in Waterford, VT.  Michael Hayes, Michael Ashford and John Welch, all acquaintances of Whitcomb’s, were also involved in the sale of drugs.  In and around the weekend of October 12, 2018, Whitcomb, Hayes and Welch planned the homicide of Pimental and on October 13, 2018, John Welch shot Pimental in connection with a drug trafficking crime.  On October 14, 2018, Whitcomb and Hayes were stopped in New Hampshire in a Cadillac registered to Pimental.  A search of the vehicle recovered firearms, and a large quantity of drugs and U.S. currency.  Pimental’s blood was also found in the trunk of the car.

In February 2019, John Welch offered to sell a firearm to a person in NH.  Shortly thereafter, law enforcement found Welch along the side of the road in Bath, NH, attempting to dig in the ground with a shovel.  Because it was February and the ground was frozen, law enforcement was not able to search the area where Welch had been digging.  However, in June 2019, law enforcement returned to the same location where Welch had been digging and ultimately found a backpack containing a firearm believed to be the murder weapon.

The death resulting charge, 18 U.S.C. § 924(j), is punishable either by death or up to life imprisonment.  The government has notified the court and the parties that the government will not seek the death penalty against the defendants.  On the death resulting charge, Whitcomb, Hayes and Welch therefore each face a possible life sentence and up to a $250,000 fine.

Whitcomb, Hayes and Welch also face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, a maximum of life, and up to a $250,000 fine on the charge of discharging a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.  On the cocaine conspiracy charge, Ashford faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, a maximum sentence of 40 years, and up to a $5,000,000 fine.  The accessory after the fact charge carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.  The actual sentences would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit, the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the New Hampshire State Police, the Bath New Hampshire Police Department and the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department.

“Today’s indictment is the result of a longstanding and successful collaboration between state and federal law enforcement,” said Maj. Dan Trudeau, commander of the Vermont State Police Criminal Division.  “The Vermont State Police would like to thank all the investigators for their tireless work on this case.” U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan stated: “The grand jury indictment is the product of a relentless focus by law enforcement on combatting violent crime and the strong partnerships amongst Vermont law enforcement at all levels.”


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Seattle; Al M. Talaga charged for being a felon in possession of firearms

(STL.News) – A 32-year-old Auburn, Washington, man was arrested today and charged federally with being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. AL M. TALAGA was arrested without incident late yesterday.  He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 today.

According to the criminal complaint, on June 1, 2020, Seattle Police officers responded to reports of a break-in and looting at the Sneaker City store on Pike Street in downtown Seattle.  When police arrived, various suspects were running away from the store. Witnesses said some of the looters had loaded merchandise into a Dodge Magnum that was parked near the store.  In checking the car for suspects, police officers noted a number of items that appeared to have been taken from the store, as well as a firearm in the driver’s side door panel of the car.

Police impounded the car and traced its ownership to TALAGA.  A court-authorized search of the car revealed that there were two firearms in the car.  In addition to the loaded .40 caliber Glock in the side pocket of the door, investigators found a second loaded handgun under the floor mat on the passenger side of the car.  A law enforcement database check verified that the .40 caliber pistol under the floor mat had been reported stolen in 2019 from a residence in Tacoma during a home invasion robbery.

TALAGA is prohibited from possessing firearms due to a 2005 conviction in King County Superior Court for Second Degree Robbery.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The case is being investigated by the Seattle Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Crisham.


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Tampa, Florida; Sarasota Pain Doctor Steven Chun And Former Insys Sales Representative Charged

Tampa, Florida; Sarasota Pain Doctor Steven Chun And Former Insys Sales Representative Charged In Health Care Fraud Kickback Conspiracy | USAO-MDFL

(STL.News) – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the unsealing of a 16-count indictment charging Steven Chun (57, Sarasota) and Daniel Tondre (50, Tampa) with conspiring to pay and receiving kickbacks in connection with prescribing a fentanyl spray. Chun is also charged with five counts of soliciting and receiving kickbacks in the form of speaker fees; Tondre is charged with five counts of offering and paying the speaker fees to Chun when he worked as an Insys sales representative; and Chun and Tondre are both charged in five counts of identification fraud in connection with the speaker events.  If convicted on all counts, Chun and Tondre each face a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, up to 5 years’ imprisonment on each identification fraud count, and up to 10 years in prison for each substantive kickback violation.  The indictment also notifies the defendants that the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of the proceeds of the alleged kickbacks.

According to the indictment, Chun, a doctor, owned and operated a pain management medical practice in Sarasota where he prescribed a large volume of Schedule II opioids, including fentanyl.  Tondre was employed as a sales representative for Insys Therapeutics, Inc., a company that manufactured and sold Subsys, an expensive form of liquid fentanyl designed to be applied under the tongue (sublingual spray), allowing it to rapidly enter the bloodstream.  Insys sales representatives were compensated, in part, with sales commissions based upon paid prescriptions of Subsys written by practitioners in their sales territory.  Tondre’s territory included Chun’s practice.

Insys actively marketed Subsys to pain management doctors, including Chun, to increase the number of Subsys prescriptions written by Chun.  Through the Insys sales division and executives at the company’s headquarters, Insys used a sham speaker program to conceal and disguise kickbacks and bribes paid to high-prescribing doctors, like Chun, to induce them to prescribe Subsys.  Insys sales representatives, like Tondre, arranged speaker programs that were often only attended by family and friends, or repeat attendees, and included falsified or forged signatures of attendees.  Insys also bribed large Subsys-prescribers, like Chun, by hiring individuals, often close to the doctors, to work as an Insys liaison to facilitate the approval of insurance forms for Subsys, including those submitted for Medicare patients.  Chun was paid more than $275,000 in illegal kickbacks and bribes from Insys in connection with the sham speaker programs.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and by the Opioid Fraud Abuse and Detection Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office, which focuses on opioid-related fraud and abuse by medical and health care professionals who have contributed to the prescription opioid epidemic.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelley C. Howard-Allen.


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Macon, Ga; Ellaville Defendant Gary Michael Buck Pleads Guilty To Possessing A Stolen Gun

Macon, Ga; Ellaville Gary Michael Buck Defendant Pleads Guilty To Possessing A Stolen Gun Discovered During Perry PD Traffic Stop | USAO-MDGA

(STL.News) – An Ellaville, Georgia man, found in possession of a stolen gun by Perry Police officers, pleaded guilty to his crime this week, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.p

Gary Michael Buck, 39, of Ellaville pleaded guilty to one count possession of a stolen firearm before U.S. District Judge Tripp Self on Tuesday, September 15.  Buck faces a maximum ten years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for December 8, 2020.

“When we investigate violent crimes in the Middle District of Georgia we often find criminals in possession of stolen guns.  We refuse to let stolen guns become the currency of criminals and will federally prosecute those who choose to possess a stolen firearm,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler.  “I want to thank the Perry Police Department, FBI and ATF for their tireless efforts to make our communities safer by removing stolen guns from our streets.”

Perry Police Department officers discovered Buck with a stolen firearm on May 1, 2019, after an officer pulled him over for driving with an expired temporary tag and making an illegal traffic maneuver.  Buck was recorded admitting the firearm was stolen and also spontaneously told a FBI officer on the way to his arraignment that he knew the gun he possessed was stolen.  The stolen firearm was a Hi-Point, Model C-9, 9mm Luger caliber, semi-automatic pistol.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime.  Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.  Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.


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Fort Wayne; Troy Topp Sentenced to 10 Years In Prison

(STL.News) – Troy Topp, age 25, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Holly A. Brady following his plea of guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.

Topp was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release.

According to documents in this case, in July 2019, Topp was observed on video stealing from a vehicle.  When officers approached Topp, he ran but was apprehended and narcotics and paraphernalia were recovered.  A stolen firearm was also recovered and Topp admitted to acquiring the firearm in exchange for money and drugs.  Topp has a prior state court felony conviction in June 2015 out of Allen County for dealing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and possession of two or more precursors with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the assistance of the Fort Wayne Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey R. Speith


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Winter Springs Man Gary Freeman Leaves Publix $1 Million Richer

TALLAHASSEE, FL (STL.News) The Florida Lottery announces that Gary Freeman, 70, of Winter Springs, claimed a $1 million top prize from THE FASTEST ROAD TO $1,000,000 Scratch-Off game after mailing in his winning ticket to Florida Lottery Headquarters in Tallahassee.  He chose to receive his winnings as a one-time, lump-sum payment of $790,000.00.

Freeman purchased his winning ticket from Publix, located at 1160 State Road 434 in Winter Springs.  The retailer will receive a $2,000 bonus commission for selling the winning Scratch-Off ticket.

The $30 game, THE FASTEST ROAD TO $1,000,000, launched in February and features 155 top prizes of $1,000,000 and over $948 million in cash prizes! The game’s overall odds of winning are one-in-2.79.


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Lapeer County Woman Wins $300,000 Playing the Michigan Lottery

Michigan (STL.News) A Lapeer County woman’s grocery store run turned into a $300,000 payday after she hit it big playing the Michigan Lottery’s $300,000 Wild Time instant game.

“I stopped at the grocery store for a few things, and asked the clerk for one number 10 ticket,” said the 54-year-old player, who chose to remain anonymous.  “The clerk asked: ‘Just one?’ and I told the clerk: ‘It only takes one!’

“I scratched the ticket off when I got home, and I was shocked. It took me days to believe that I had won $300,000! I was so nervous to have that ticket with me, I went and bought a safe to keep it in.”

The player bought her winning ticket at Bryan’s Supermarket, located at 6002 North Lapeer Road in North Branch.

The player visited Lottery headquarters to claim the big prize. With her winnings, she plans to share with family and invest.

Players have won more than $26 million playing $300,000 Wild Time, which launched in March.  Each $5 ticket offers players a chance to win prizes ranging from $5 up to $300,000.  More than $31 million in prizes remain, including two $300,000 top prizes, 11 $25,000 prizes, and 32 $2,5000 prizes.

Lottery instant games may be purchased at 10,500 retailers across the state.

In 2019, Lottery players won more than $1.2 billion playing instant games.


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Cumberland County woman Tamara Ortiz win $100,000 in NC Lottery

Raleigh, NC (STL.News) Stuck on the side of a road with a flat tire, Tamara Ortiz of Fayetteville realized luck was on her side when she checked her email and discovered she was the winner of a $100,000 lottery prize.

“I was having a really, really bad day,” recalled Ortiz.  “I had a friend come get me and he had to put on his hotspot for me to use my phone and I said, ‘Well, let me just check my emails and my stuff real quick.’”

When she came across the email from the lottery notifying her of her big win, she couldn’t believe her eyes.  “I looked at it and I dropped my phone,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is real!”

Ortiz’s entry was chosen from over 10,906,000 entries in the third 2020 Multiply the Cash second-chance drawing on Sept. 9. Winners of second-chance drawings receive a phone call or email notifying them that they won.

“I believe in second chances,” said Ortiz.  “And now I’m an even bigger believer in second chances! I just think that it is a great opportunity.”

Ortiz, who works as a store manager at a convenience store, claimed her prize Tuesday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. After required federal and state tax withholdings, she took home $70,750.

“It’s going to help us tremendously especially with transportation,” said Ortiz.  She plans on buying herself some “reliable transportation”, and has her eye on a Honda Accord.

One 2020 Multiply the Cash second-chance drawing remains.  Each drawing offers 34 prizes including the grand prize of $100,000, eight $5,000 prizes, and 25 prizes of $500.

The final drawing is scheduled for Feb. 3.  You can enter any of your Multiply the Cash tickets via the lottery’s website or scan the ticket’s bar code using the NC Lottery Official Mobile App.


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