U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
Oregon Marijuana Exporter Pleads Guilty in Federal Court - 10/13/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A former resident of Milwaukie, Oregon pleaded guilty today in federal court for illegally exporting marijuana grown in Oregon to Georgia for resale and laundering the proceeds.

Dante Baldocchi, 29, currently a resident of Altadena, California, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana and commit money laundering.

According to court documents, between January 2017 and June 2020, Baldocchi purchased marijuana in Oregon and arranged to have it shipped via freight to Georgia where he and others sold it to distributors in the Atlanta area and in North Carolina. Baldocchi and his associates shipped portions of the proceeds from Georgia back to Oregon in vacuum-sealed bags and other portions concealed in buckets of drywall spackle.

On June 9, 2020, a federal search warrant was executed on Baldocchi’s then-residence in Milwaukie. Investigators located more than 330 pounds of marijuana grown in Oregon.

On August 19, 2021, Baldocchi and an associate—Hunter Lacaden, 27, of Portland—were charged by criminal information with conspiring to distribute marijuana and commit money laundering.

Baldocchi faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in federal prison with a five-year mandatory minimum, a $5.5 million fine and four years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on January 6, 2022, before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

On September 21, 2021, Lacaden pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute marijuana. He will be sentenced on December 13, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and IRS-Criminal Investigation with assistance from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police Bureau. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia E. Jarrett is prosecuting the case.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Two Portland Gang Members Face Federal Charges After Illegally Purchasing More than 80 Firearms - 10/06/21

12 illegally purchased firearms recovered by local law enforcement; shell casings during investigation linked to 10 Portland area shootings

PORTLAND, Ore.—Two self-identified members of the Unthank Park Hustlers, a local Bloods gang set, are facing federal charges after illegally purchasing 82 firearms from local gun shops since April 2020.

Edward Charles Green and his twin brother Thomas Edward Green III, both 23 and residents of Gresham, Oregon, have been charged by criminal complaint with falsifying information in connection with the acquisition of a firearm and making false statements in a federal firearms licensee (FFL) record.

According to court documents, in May 2021, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) opened an investigation after receiving information from the Gresham Police Department (GPD) and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) describing several shooting incidents allegedly involving Edward Green and Thomas Green III. At around the same time, ATF agents also received information alleging multiple illegal firearm purchases by the brothers.

On April 5, 2020, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers responded to an incident involving the Greens where a gun was fired from one apartment into another on Southeast Alder Street in Portland and later seized a .357 caliber revolver. Less than two weeks later, on April 23, 2020, PPB officers responded to reports of a house struck by gunfire on NE Sumner Street in Portland. Officers observed that the gun appeared to have been fired from inside the Greens’ father’s home, leaving a small hole in their father’s front window. After telling officers he threw a rock through his own window, the brothers’ father changed his explanation and claimed a gun accidentally fired when he was showing his son how to clean it. PPB located and seized three handguns and an AK-47 from the residence. After reviewing Edward Green’s firearm purchase records, ATF agents determined Green had illegally purchased three of the four guns seized.

Between August 25 and August 30, 2020, PPB officers recovered four more firearms illegally purchased by Edward Green. One of the firearms was recovered after officers responded to a shooting incident outside the brothers’ Southeast Portland apartment. Three others were recovered when PPB officers responded to Portland Adventist Hospital to interview a walk-in  gunshot victim and observed a vehicle parked outside with obvious signs of gunshot damage. Officers arrested the vehicle’s occupants and located the firearms.

On November 11, 2020, MCSO deputies responded to a Fairview, Oregon car crash caused by gunfire involving Edward Green. Deputies later executed a search warrant on a backpack recovered from Green’s vehicle and found two more pistols Green had illegally purchased and two pounds of packaged marijuana. A few months later, on January 23, 2021, MSCO deputies recovered another firearm illegally purchased by Green during a traffic stop.

In May 2021, GPD officers responded to two separate shooting incidents at a house on SW Lillyben Avenue in Gresham. At the time of the shootings, both Green brothers listed the Lillyben residence on their Oregon driver’s licenses. During the first shooting, on May 12, 2021, an unknown assailant fired several rounds into the house. During the second shooting, on May 21, 2021, a drive-by assailant fired 14 additional rounds into the house. An unknown person in the house fired 30 rounds in response, some of which struck occupied neighboring houses. On June 3, 2021, members of the Metro Safe Streets Task Force executed a search warrant on the residence and found nine empty semi-automatic gun cases, several dozen spent bullets and cartridge casings, 27 firearm and rifle magazines, a range bag with more than 400 spent cartridges, and five receipts for recent gun purchases made by the Green brothers. Forensic analyses of the spent cartridges linked them to at least 10 different shootings in the Portland area between April 6, 2020 and July 11, 2021.

In July and August 2021, two more firearms linked to the Green brothers were recovered by law enforcement. On July 23, 2021, officers from the Beaverton Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with no license plates. While searching the vehicle, officers located a .40 caliber pistol purchased by Thomas Green III just four days earlier. On August 30, 2021, PPB officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle occupied by four people, one of whom was a known member of the Hoover Criminal Gang. Officers located a .40 caliber pistol in vehicle illegally purchased by Edward Green several months earlier.

In total, between April 5, 2020 and August 30, 2021, area law enforcement officers recovered 12 firearms illegally purchased by the Green brothers. A subsequent review of ATF and State of Oregon records revealed that in an 18-month period beginning April 1, 2020, the brothers illegally purchased 82 firearms from Portland area gun shops.

On September 29, 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation was conducted on a local apartment occupied by Victor White, a felon and gang associate of the Green brothers. Thomas Green III was found sleeping in the apartment and arrested. Investigators seized two semi-automatic firearms, 16 empty gun boxes, and ammunition from the residence. Green made his first appearance in federal court the same day and was later released to home confinement pending further court proceedings.

Edward Green was arrested today by ATF agents at his father’s residence in Northeast Portland. He made his first appearance in federal court before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was detained pending further court proceedings.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by members of the Metro Safe Streets Task Force including ATF, FBI, GPD, MCSO, and PPB. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Formed in April 2021, the Metro Safe Streets Task Force is a multi-agency initiative focused on investigating and prosecuting gun crimes in Multnomah County. As part of this effort, federally-deputized officers from the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and Gresham Police Department work with agents from the FBI and ATF to investigate gun crimes after they occur and, where appropriate and supported by evidence, charge those responsible in state or federal court. Prosecutors from the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon work closely with task force officers to determine if state or federal charges are warranted and which jurisdiction is most appropriate for adjudication.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Area Heroin Dispatcher Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Drug Trafficking Conspiracy - 10/06/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland man with several prior drug trafficking convictions was sentenced to federal prison today for his role in a conspiracy to distribute large quantities of heroin in Oregon and Washington State.

Christian Zepeda-Quezada aka Miguel Agredano, 32, was sentenced to 130 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, Zepeda-Quezada was a heroin dispatcher who used multiple drug dealers to distribute large quantities of heroin in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. In his role as dispatcher for the trafficking network, Zepeda-Quezada took heroin orders from customers by phone and arranged for dealers to hand-deliver the orders directly to the customers. As such, Zepeda-Quezada was insulated from direct exposure and faced less risk of harm than his co-conspirators.

Between January and August 2019, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Clark Vancouver Regional Drug Task Force (CVRDTF) made multiple controlled purchases of heroin from Zepeda-Quezada’s network before obtaining a warrant to search Zepeda-Quezada’s Vancouver residence and other locations. On August 7, 2019, agents seized distribution quantities of heroin and cocaine from Zepeda-Quezada’s residence. Zepeda-Quezada was arrested during the search and ordered detained pending trial.

On August 6, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a five-count indictment charging Zepeda-Quezada and two co-conspirators—Javier Perez-Alejandre, 22, a California resident, and Angel Umanzor-Ardon, 21, of Portland—with conspiracy to distribute heroin and distribution of heroin.

On June 2, 2021, Zepeda-Quezada pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin.

On October 20, 2020, Umanzor-Ardon pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and, on April 28, 2021, he was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

Perez-Alejandre remains in custody pending a four-day jury trial scheduled to begin October 18, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by DEA with assistance from CVRDTF. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Heroin is a leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S. If you or someone you know suffers from addiction, please call the Lines for Life substance abuse helpline at 1-800-923-4357 or visit www.linesforlife.org. Phone support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text “RecoveryNow” to 839863 between 8am and 11pm Pacific Time daily.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Florida Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Filing Hundreds of False Tax Returns - 10/04/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Homestead, Florida man was sentenced to federal prison today for perpetrating a multi-year fraud scheme wherein he filed 745 false tax returns in 19 different states.

Damian O. Barrett, 40, was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

“With tax filing season right around the corner, it is important that all Americans who choose to hire a tax preparation professional take the necessary precautions to ensure they are legitimate and have their best interests in mind, said Scott Erik Asphaug, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Misusing personally identifiable information to submit fraudulent tax returns in the names of unknowing clients is a serious crime and be treated as such by our office. We applaud the IRS’s effort to hold Mr. Barrett accountable for his crimes.”

“Mr. Barrett used his specialized knowledge as a tax preparer to obtain false refunds at the cost of honest taxpayers all over the United States. Today’s sentence is a victory for those of us who have been victims of a sophisticated tax refund scheme,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI) Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin. “IRS:CI continues to prioritize investigating individuals who diminish the integrity of our tax systems to hold them accountable for their fraud.”

According to court documents, Barrett owned two tax preparation companies, Max Tax Experts, LLC and Winngate Tax Services, LLC. Barrett used Max Tax Experts to service and submit tax returns on behalf of legitimate clients. He used Winngate Tax Services to submit false and fraudulent income tax returns. From approximately January 2015 through December 2018, Barrett filed 745 false tax returns to 19 different state taxing authorities. The Oregon Department of Revenue alone received 348 tax returns requesting more than $322,000 in fraudulent refunds. The agency paid out more than $130,000 in fraudulent refunds to Barrett.

To further his scheme, Barrett used the names, social security numbers, and employer identification numbers of various individuals, some of whom were his clients, to submit fraudulent returns. Additionally, he set up bank accounts in the names of some of his victims to receive fraudulent refunds. In total, Barrett sought nearly $900,000 and received more than $234,000 in fraudulent refunds.

In addition to his fraud scheme, in 2016, Barrett intentionally excluded more than $21,000 in income from his personal income tax return, resulting in a tax loss of $5,506. In 2017, Barrett failed to file a personal income tax return, creating an additional tax loss of $68,918. 

On August 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Barrett with mail fraud and money laundering. Later, on June 17, 2021, he was charged by superseding criminal information with mail fraud, filing a false tax return, and aggravated identity theft. On July 19, 2021, Barrett pleaded guilty to all three charges in the superseding information.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon ordered Barrett to pay more than $234,000 in restitution to 11 state departments of revenue, including the taxing authorities in Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina, and more than $74,000 to the IRS.

Acting U.S. Attorney Asphaug and Special Agent in Charge Kressin made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS:CI with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine A. Rykken and Seth D. Uram prosecuted the case.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
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Takedown of Lane County Drug Trafficking Cell Leads to Largest Seizure of Methamphetamine in Oregon State History (Photo) - 10/04/21

EUGENE, Ore.—On September 15, 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation targeting the leader and several associates of a Lane County drug trafficking cell led to the seizure of 384 pounds of methamphetamine, the largest single methamphetamine seizure in Oregon State history and valued at over a million dollars.

The operation, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department, and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (LINE) came after the cell’s leader, Martin Manzo-Negrete aka Javier Cardenas-Manzo, a 47-year-old Eugene resident, was charged by federal criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Manzo-Negrete has a long history of drug trafficking and previously served 14 years in federal prison.

Manzo-Negrete was arrested during the operation and made his first appearance in federal court on September 16, 2021. He was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

Four of Manzo-Negrete’s associates were also arrested and are facing federal drug charges. They include Eugene residents Gustavo Manzo-Mares, 45; Candice L. Barrett, 52; John C. Willis, 59; and Nathan Lee Daniels, 46. A fifth associate, Frank Buehler, 52, also of Eugene, has been charged, but remains at large.

As part of the operation, law enforcement executed federal search warrants at multiple locations in Lane County. In addition to methamphetamine, they seized 14 firearms—some of which were stolen—and more than $76,000 in cash.

DEA and the Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit began investigating the Manzo-Mares cell in October 2020 for its role in trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine from California to Oregon for resale in and around Lane County. The drug trafficking organization transported large quantities of methamphetamine by car from Southern California to Oregon. Once in Oregon, the drugs were stored, divided, and then distributed into the community.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the DEA with assistance from Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit, and LINE. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Huynh is prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release , Photo 3 , Photo 2 , Photo 1
Leader of Klamath Falls Drug Trafficking Ring Indicted in Federal Court - 09/30/21

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Medford has returned an indictment charging the leader and multiple associates of a Klamath Falls, Oregon area drug trafficking ring with conspiring with one another to transport large quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl from California to Oregon for distribution and sale in and around Klamath Falls.

Juan Jessie Martinez-Gil, 57, a Mexican National residing in Reno, Nevada, has been charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, distribution of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and attempted distribution of methamphetamine.

Nine of Martinez-Gil’s associates also face federal charges for their roles in the conspiracy. They include:

  • Elizabeth Irene Martinez-Agbalog, 47, of Reno, Nevada 
  • Anthony Wayne Smith, 56, of Midland, Oregon
  • Katherine Desiree O'Brien, 42, of Klamath Falls, Oregon
  • Larry Ralph Labeau Jr., 57, of Klamath Falls, Oregon
  • Bryce Allen Stewart, 57, of Klamath County, Oregon
  • Candice Nadine Mckee, 29, of Lakeview, Oregon
  • Peter Hill Mitchell, 40, of Lakeview, Oregon
  • Cole Edward Reeves, 51, of Klamath Falls, Oregon
  • Reynel Heriberto Ramos-Cornejo, 49, a Honduran National residing in Lynwood, California

According to the indictment, between August 1, 2019 and September 2, 2021, Martinez-Gil and his associates conspired with one another to possess and distribute large quantities of methamphetamine and fentanyl in the form of counterfeit Oxycodone pills.

A coordinated law enforcement operation was conducted on September 2, 2021, leading to the arrests of Martinez-Gil and other co-defendants. Federal search warrants were executed on five locations and two vehicles. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately seventeen pounds of methamphetamine and seven-hundred counterfeit oxycodone pills.

Martinez-Gil made his initial appearance in federal court today in Portland before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered detained pending an eight-day jury trial scheduled to begin on December 14, 2021.

All of Martinez-Gil’s co-defendants have made their first appearances in federal court, including Ramos-Cornejo who was arraigned today in Portland.

If convicted, Martinez-Gil faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison, 5 years’ supervised release, and a fine of $10 million.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET), which is made up of members from the Oregon State Police, Klamath Falls Police Department, and the U.S. National Guard. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. 

The DEA also received assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, the Central Point Police Department, the Torrance Police Department, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
American Expatriate in Monaco Pleads Guilty to Filing a False Tax Return - 09/30/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—An American expatriate residing in the Principality of Monaco pleaded guilty today in federal court to filing a false tax return.

Kory Merrill Tarpenning, 59, pleaded guilty to making and subscribing a false federal income tax return.

According to court documents, Tarpenning is a marketing consultant and owner of numerous foreign businesses organized in France and Monaco. His primary line of business is a brand consultant to U.S. companies interested in expanding their business operations to Monaco. Tarpenning also owns several Monegasque consulting companies, including Sirius Group SAM and Sirius Sports Marketing.

In 2014, Tarpenning arranged a sponsorship agreement between Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club SA (AS Monaco), a Monegasque professional soccer club, and Nike European Operations. The agreement was valued at as much as €20 million over its five-year term. Subsequently, AS Monaco executed a contract with Sirius Group to pay Tarpenning a 9% commission on cash payments from Nike and a 6% commission on athleticwear ordered by the team. Between 2014 and 2018, AS Monaco paid Tarpenning at least €2.1 million.

Tarpenning transferred the income from deals with AS Monaco and other companies to joint personal bank accounts in Monaco and the U.S. He used the proceeds to purchase a second home in Eugene, Oregon and to pay for his children’s Monegasque private school. In tax years 2014 through 2018, Tarpenning failed to report more than $1.4 million in wages and business income.

During this same time, Tarpenning also failed to report substantial dividend income from other unrelated business ventures, including companies he owned that operated the Nike Store and Starbucks Coffee in Monaco and a brand consulting firm based in Portland. In tax years 2014 through 2018, Tarpenning failed to report more than $1 million in dividend income.

Altogether, from 2014 to 2018, Tarpenning’s underreporting of income caused a tax loss to the IRS of more than $670,000.

On August 25, 2021, Tarpenning was charged by criminal information with making and subscribing a false federal income tax return.

Tarpenning faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison; a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gains or losses resulting from his offense, whichever is greater; and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on January 6, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.

As part of the plea agreement, Tarpenning has agreed to pay $670,851 in restitution to the IRS.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith D.M. Bateman is prosecuting the case.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
California Man Pleads Guilty for Role in Eastern Oregon Methamphetamine Trafficking Conspiracy - 09/28/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Vacaville, California man pleaded guilty today for his role in a conspiracy to traffic large quantities of methamphetamine from California for distribution in Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington.

Noel Lomas Murillo, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribute methamphetamine.

According to court documents, in November 2017, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT), Oregon State Police (OSP), and the FBI began investigating a drug trafficking organization led by Murillo’s brother, Abel Lomas Murillo, 28, of Weston, Oregon.

The investigation revealed that as early as July 2017, Noel Murillo transported drugs from Vacaville to Klamath Falls, Oregon where a courier would deliver them to his brother. Abel Murillo also made multiple trips to Medford, Oregon to pick up drugs and transport them to Morrow and Umatilla Counties for distribution.

In January 2018, an OSP trooper stopped one of the Murillo brothers’ couriers, Luis Alberto Navarro, 33, of Boardman, Oregon, in a vehicle traveling near Klamath Falls en route to Umatilla County. A search of the vehicle revealed 11 concealed packages containing more than eight kilograms of methamphetamine.

In early May 2018, as the investigation continued, Abel Murillo enlisted another courier, Noel Ponce Villegas, 28, also of Boardman, to drive methamphetamine from Medford to Boardman. Investigators surveilled Abel Murillo as he traveled from Umatilla County to a storage locker in Medford and loaded a trailer pulled by his truck. Abel Murillo paid Villegas to drive his truck and trailer while he followed him to minimize his own risk. In the early morning hours of May 6, 2018, investigators from BENT, OSP and FBI stopped Abel Murillo and Villegas as they drove near mile marker 102 on Interstate 84.

Investigators seized 42 packages of methamphetamine, 36 of which were concealed in the false bottom of a propane tank. The packages contained approximately 17.6 kilograms of methamphetamine. Later the same day, investigators executed a search warrant at Abel Murillo’s residence, seizing 29 firearms and body armor. Pursuant to a separate search warrant, another 10 pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms were found in a Medford storage locker Abel Murillo had visited earlier in the weekend.

On December 19, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a two-count superseding indictment charging Noel Murillo with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and distribute methamphetamine and possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

Noel Murillo will be sentenced on January 5, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

On May 7, 2018, Navarro pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He will be sentenced on February 1, 2022.

On April 15, 2019, Abel Murillo pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On September 10, 2019, he was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

On April 18, 2019, Villegas pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine. On December 16, 2020, he was sentenced to time served and three years’ supervised release.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by BENT, OSP, and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Hillsboro Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Mail and Identity Theft Scheme - 09/27/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Hillsboro, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing hundreds of pieces of residential mail throughout the Portland Metropolitan Area and using the personal identity of one local resident to purchase a luxury car.

Dwayne Leroy Daan, 42, was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, between February and May 2020, Daan stole more than 800 pieces of mail from residences in Portland, Beaverton, West Linn, Milwaukee, and Hillsboro, Oregon. Some of the mail was stolen using a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key. On April 20, 2020, Daan used the stolen identity of a local resident to obtain a line of credit and purchase a 2018 Audi for $51,031 from a car dealership in Milwaukee.

On July 16, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a four-count indictment charging Daan with possessing stolen mail and a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key. Later, on June 29, 2021, a superseding criminal information added felony charges for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

On July 1, 2021, Daan pleaded guilty to possessing stolen mail and a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

A restitution hearing has been scheduled for December 20, 2021.

As part of a global resolution, Daan's federal prison sentence will run concurrently with a sentence previously imposed in Washington County Circuit Court and a sentence to be imposed in Multnomah County Circuit Court for similar conduct. The Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss charges pending against Daan as part of this resolution. Daan will serve his entire sentence in federal prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Portland Police Bureau, West Linn Police Department, and Hillsboro Police Department. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon with assistance from the Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County District Attorney’s Offices.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Willamette Valley Grass Seed Company Pleads Guilty in Federal Court - 09/24/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Willamette Valley wholesale grass seed distributor pleaded guilty today in federal court for knowingly concealing a scheme to defraud the Jacklin Seed Company, then a subsidiary of the J.R. Simplot Company.

ProSeeds Marketing, Inc., a company based in Jefferson, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of felony.

According to court documents, ProSeeds had a longstanding commercial relationship with the Jacklin Seed Company and routinely contracted with Jacklin for the purchase and sale of grass seed. These contracts were typically negotiated with a Jacklin employee acting under the supervision of Christopher Claypool, Jacklin’s general manager. In March 2021, Claypool, 53, of Spokane, Washington, was convicted of wire fraud and money laundering for perpetrating multiple schemes to defraud Jacklin. Claypool was later sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Beginning in December 2018, Claypool and the Jacklin employee conspired to divert a portion of the overseas sales Claypool negotiated on behalf of Jacklin so that Claypool and the employee could collect commissions on those sales. As part of this scheme, Claypool incorporated Green Pyramid, LLC to pose as an independent grass seed broker and accept payment of the fraudulent commissions.

In furtherance of the scheme, the Jacklin employee whom Claypool supervised arranged for ProSeeds to book sales diverted from Jacklin with mark-ups dictated by Claypool. The bulk of these mark-ups were then kicked back to Claypool. ProSeeds participated in the scheme with the aim of creating an overseas customer base. Nevertheless, the company intended to and did conceal Claypool’s scheme.

From December 2018 to August 2019, ProSeeds booked twelve diverted and bogus sales, generating more than $474,000 in mark-ups on Jacklin seed. Although the bulk of the mark-ups went to Claypool and his subordinate, ProSeeds retained more than $78,000 in revenue from the transactions.

On September 14, 2021, ProSeeds was charged by criminal information with misprision of felony. The company faces a maximum sentence of five years’ probation and a $500,000 fine. ProSeeds will be sentenced on November 29, 2021, before U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut.

As part of the plea agreement, ProSeeds has agreed to pay $78,775 in restitution to Simplot.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: Change of Plea-Proseeds
Federal Employee Who Accessed Child Pornography Aboard Government Research Vessel Sentenced to Federal Prison - 09/22/21

EUGENE, Ore.—A federal government employee who accessed and possessed child pornography while working aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientific research vessel was sentenced to federal prison today.

Johnny Dale Hale, 44, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and five years’ supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution to his victims.

According to court documents, in late 2016, Hale, a decorated veteran, was working as a crew member aboard the Bell M. Shimada, a NOAA scientific research vessel.  On or about November 15, 2016, the vessel was experiencing technical connectivity issues and the information technology team began running diagnostics. While troubleshooting, an electronics technician discovered two new folders on the ship’s server containing what he believed to be child pornography.

Diagnostics showed that Hale’s unique employee access card was associated with the time and date the folders were initially accessed. Additionally, Hale used two different vessel workstations to access the server at the exact time the folders were created. The vessel’s senior security engineer alerted the U.S. Department of Commerce to the discovery.

Special agents and a forensic analyst reviewed the suspect folders and discovered 109 pornographic web links and confirmed the presence of child pornography. Approximately 33 images of child pornography were in one of the suspect folders, with images from at least four series of photographs of previously-identified child pornography victims.

On June 21, 2017, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned an indictment charging Hale with possession of child pornography. On April 23, 2021, he pleaded guilty to that charge.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. McLaren prosecuted the case.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Federal law defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. It is important to remember child sexual abuse material depicts actual crimes being committed against children. Not only do these images and videos document victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, child victims suffer re-victimization each time the image of their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website at www.missingkids.org.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Oregon Tribes Among 12 Selected for Participation in Program Enhancing Tribal Access to National Crime Information Databases - 09/16/21

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Selected to Join Program

WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice has selected an additional 12 federally recognized tribes to participate in the expansion of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP), a program that provides tribal governments with means to access, enter, and exchange data with national crime information systems, including those maintained by the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division and the states.

“Timely access to federal criminal information can help protect domestic violence victims, place foster children in safe conditions, solve crimes, and apprehend fugitives on tribal land, among other important uses,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Increasing tribal access to criminal databases is a priority of the Justice Department and this Administration, and essential to many tribal government efforts to strengthen public safety in their communities.” 

“Tribal law enforcement agencies have long sought access to federal criminal databases to obtain important information that can be used to prevent violent crime in tribal communities. We are pleased that the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and Cow Creek Band of Umpqua have been selected for participation in the TAP program and look forward to more Oregon tribes being added in the future. The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon are deeply committed to keeping Oregon tribal communities safe,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

The program provides training as well as software and biometric/biographic kiosk workstations to process fingerprints, take mugshots, and submit information to FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems. With these additional tribes, there are now 108 federally recognized Tribes participating in TAP. 

TAP has been an important resource for the department’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative and the Presidential Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives known as Operation Lady Justice. The Department of Justice began TAP in 2015 in response to concerns raised by tribal leaders about the need to have direct access to federal systems.

Using TAP, tribes have shared information about missing persons; registered convicted sex offenders; entered domestic violence orders of protection for nationwide enforcement; run criminal histories; identified and arrested fugitives; entered bookings and convictions; and completed fingerprint-based record checks for non-criminal justice purposes such as screening employees or volunteers who work with children. 

The following tribes have been newly selected for participation in TAP:

  1. Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation
  2. Cow Creek Band of Umpqua
  3. Fort Belknap Indian Community
  4. Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa
  5. Havasupai Tribe
  6. Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
  7. Menominee Tribe
  8. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  9. Muckleshoot Tribe
  10. Passamaquoddy Tribe
  11. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok
  12. United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee

TAP is managed by the Justice Department’s Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of Tribal Justice. It is funded by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

For more information on TAP, visit http://www.justice.gov/tribal/tribal-access-program-tap.

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Baker City Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Covid-Relief Funds - 09/16/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Baker City, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for fraudulently converting to his own personal use federal money intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The parties stipulated to a two-year prison sentence for Jeremy Clawson, 32. At their joint recommendation, however, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marco A. Hernandez reduced the sentence to ten months to account for the time Clawson had already served in Oregon state custody. Chief Judge Hernandez also ordered Clawson to serve a term of three years’ supervised release following his federal prison term.

“Recent federal relief programs, like those authorized by the CARES Act, were designed to help Americans and American small businesses navigate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Clawson saw the swift rollout of these programs as an opportunity to enrich himself at the expense of Americans in need. I want to thank the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General for their steadfast partnership and commitment to bringing Mr. Clawson to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug.

“This case shows the American people that their law enforcement and Attorney’s Office are taking CARES act fraud seriously,” said Justin Bourne, Resident Agent in Charge of the Secret Service Portland Resident Office. “This investigation is a prime example of the Secret Service’s investigative mission; to protect the United States financial infrastructure. This case illustrates the strong partnership between the Secret Service, U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, the Baker City Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

“Lying to gain access to economic stimulus funds for personal gain will be met with justice,” said SBA OIG’s Western Region Special Agent in Charge Weston King. “Greed has no place in SBA’s programs that are intended to provide assistance to the nation’s small businesses struggling with the pandemic challenges. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their dedication and pursuit of justice.”

According to court documents, Clawson stole economic relief funds distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDLs) program, as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On August 11, 2020, the proceeds of an SBA EIDL totaling $145,200 were deposited into an Umpqua Bank account owned by Clawson and his girlfriend. Shortly after receiving the deposit, Clawson began making multiple large cash withdrawals at the drive-through window of an Umpqua Bank in Baker City. On August 17, 2020, Clawson withdrew $49,905 in the form of a cashier’s check to purchase a 2016 Dodge Challenger. 

SBA loan documents showed that the EIDL had been extended to the Halperin Manufacturing Company of San Diego, California. Though there is no record of any such company, the loan application listed an actual San Diego resident as the company’s owner and claimed it employed 350 people. Investigators contacted the purported owner, but that person denied owning or being affiliated with any such company and confirmed that the company’s supposed address in San Diego was the individual’s personal residence.

In early September 2020, investigators learned that Clawson had been arrested in late August by the Baker City Police Department for driving under the influence, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and attempting to elude the police. Clawson was driving the 2016 Dodge Challenger at the time of his arrest. Clawson later told authorities that he had received a large inheritance from his father, including $30,000 in cash he had on his person during a subsequent arrest.

On September 11, 2020, federal investigators interviewed Clawson at the Baker County Jail, where he was detained on the state charges. Clawson claimed to have received the $145,200 from a woman with whom he had an online dating relationship. He further claimed that he didn’t know what to do with the money and, after he stopped communicating with the woman, began spending the money himself. Clawson admitted to using the SBA money to purchase the Dodge Challenger and several other vehicles.

On December 21, 2020, Clawson was charged by criminal complaint with theft of government property. Later, on February 2, 2021, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a single-count indictment charging Clawson with theft of public money. On June 8, 2021, he pleaded guilty.

During sentencing, Chief Judge Hernandez ordered Clawson to pay $125,200 in restitution to the SBA.

Clawson has been in custody since his arrest in August 2020.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service in cooperation with the SBA Office of Inspector General and Baker City Police Department. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Anyone with information about fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release