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Spokane/East. Wash/North Idaho News Releases for Wed. May. 29 - 8:04 pm
Tue. 05/28/24
Couple Sentenced in Connection to Child's Death from Fentanyl
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 05/28/24 4:50 PM

Yakima, Washington - Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Samantha Marie Tainewasher, age 39, to time served on one count of Involuntary Manslaughter, and one count of Use of a Communications Facility in the Commission of a Drug Felony. The Court also sentenced Tainewasher’s codefendant, Calvin James Hunt, age 52, to 24 months in federal prison on one count of Involuntary Manslaughter, one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl, and one count of Use of a Communications Facility in the Commission of a Drug Felony. Tainewasher and Hunt were convicted on November 16, 2023, following a jury trial. Chief District Judge Bastian imposed 3 years of federal supervision on both defendants upon their release from custody. Tainewasher is from Wapato, Washington. Hunt is from Toppenish, Washington.  

According to court documents and information disclosed at trial and sentencing, on March 29, 2020, Yakama Nation Police were dispatched to Tainewasher’s home in Wapato, Washington, to a report of an unresponsive fifteen-month-old child. When an officer arrived, Tainewasher ran toward the officer with her son in her arms. Unable to find a pulse and noting the blue tinge on the child’s lips, the officer began CPR. The child was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased. A toxicology report later found the child died from ingesting fentanyl. 

During the investigation, the FBI seized Hunt’s phone. On the phone was a video recorded on March 27. The video pans over the Tainewasher’s bed and shows methamphetamine, a fentanyl-laced pill, and drug paraphernalia. 

The FBI obtained Facebook records concerning Tainewasher and Hunt. The Facebook records showed that Hunt and Tainewasher engaged in buying and selling heroin, methamphetamine, and pills. Tainewasher also made Facebook posts acknowledging her addiction and use of drugs led to her son’s death.

“This case is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking. A 15-month-old child, whose parents are members of the Yakama Nation, ingested a deadly amount of fentanyl while in the care of his mother, who was just a few feet away. No sentence will be able to replace the loss of life of this young victim. The fentanyl epidemic continues to claim lives and inflict havoc on families from all walks of life,” stated Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “I’m very proud of my team of prosecutors, who work tirelessly to vindicate victims’ rights and who devote their careers to seeking justice on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.”

This case was investigated by the FBI. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Ellis and Timothy J. Ohms.


Fri. 05/24/24
Fire restrictions protect Pacific Northwest communities, BLM announces
Bureau of Land Management Ore. & Wash. - 05/24/24 2:59 PM

Portland, Ore. – On May 24, fire restrictions will go into effect for all Bureau of Land Management public lands throughout Oregon and Washington. BLM leaders encourage all visitors to be aware of active restrictions and closures as warmer, drier weather sets in around the Pacific Northwest. 


These fire restrictions help reduce the risk of human-caused fires. Starting May 24, the use of fireworks, exploding targets or metallic targets, steel component ammunition (core or jacket), tracer or incendiary devices, and sky lanterns will be prohibited. 


“Although we had a wet winter, we must still be careful with activities that can cause a spark,” said Anita Bilbao, BLM Oregon/Washington Associate State Director


Wet weather supports the growth of invasive grasses, which then dry out quickly in the summer months.
 

“Everyone can help to keep our first responders, local communities, and public lands safe by following fire restrictions and practicing fire safety while out on public lands,” she continued.
 

Those who violate the prohibition may be fined up to $100,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 12 months. In addition, those found responsible for starting wildland fires on federal lands can be billed for the cost of fire suppression. 
For the complete order and more information on seasonal fire restrictions and fire closures, please see www.blm.gov/orwafire.

May is also ‘Wildfire Awareness Month’. Visit NIFC.GOV for wildfire prevention tips: https://www.nifc.gov/fire-information/fire-prevention-education-mitigation/wildfire-prevention. 

To learn more about fire careers with BLM Oregon-Washington, please see https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire/state-info/oregon-washington/careers.

This Press Release is also available on: https://www.blm.gov/press-release/fire-restrictions-protect-pacific-northwest-communities-blm-announces. 

-BLM-

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

 


Liberty Lake Man Sentenced to Federal Prison and Ordered to Pay $60,000 in Victim Restitution for Child Pornography Crime
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 05/24/24 12:24 PM

Spokane, Washington - Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Rick Lynn Johnson, age 69, of Liberty Lake, Washington, was sentenced after pleading guilty to Receipt of Child Pornography. United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice imposed a sentence of 60 months imprisonment to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. Judge Rice also ordered Johnson to pay $60,000 in restitution to seven of his victims, as well as $10,000 in special assessments under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act and the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act. 

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, between May 30, 2021, and June 16, 2022, federal law enforcement successfully downloaded numerous child pornography files from Johnson. In November 2022, federal agents executed a search warrant at Johnson’s home in Liberty Lake and seized a phone, computers, and hard drives. Forensic analysis of these devices revealed approximately 2,506 images and approximately 97 videos of child pornography. The images and videos included depictions of minors younger than 12 years old. Johnson later admitted to using his phone and computer to download and share child pornography with others online during the last year. 

“All children should be safe from sexual predators. Protecting children from harm, especially online exploitation, remains a priority of my office and is critical to building a safe and strong Eastern Washington community, stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am grateful for the excellent work by Homeland Security Investigations and AUSA Ann Wick in securing justice for these victims. While nothing can undo the harm these victims endured, the restitution order provides a mechanism to provide these victims the support they rightfully deserve.” 

“Child pornography, or Child Sexual Assault Material (CSAM) perpetuates the exploitation and abuse of children, inflicting lifelong trauma that HSI along with our investigative partners are combating every single day,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “Any image or video that depicts the exploitation of a child acts like a digital scar and encourages an economy of abuse that can only be deflated by protecting our children from child predators, while ensuring those who have been harmed receive justice.”

The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018 (AVAA), enacted on December 7, 2018, created new penalties and made a number of changes to existing child pornography laws, specifically providing that restitution must be ordered for all child pornography trafficking offenses in an amount of no less than $3,000 per victim.  The AVAA also established a new reserve fund that will be funded by assessments imposed under the Act, and victims of child pornography may be entitled to a one-time payment from the fund if they have not otherwise received restitution covering their losses.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) created a mandatory $5,000 special assessment that applies to “non­indigent” defendants for each count of conviction of certain offenses, including child pornography offenses.  The assessment is contributed to the “Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund,” which is used to support victims of trafficking.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov 

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ann Wick.


Thu. 05/23/24
Riverside Elementary School Employee Indicted on Child Pornography Charges
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 05/23/24 10:52 AM

Spokane, Washington - On May 22, 2024, a federal grand jury for the Eastern District of Washington returned a three-count indictment charging Dallas Michael Shuler with one count of Production of Child Pornography, one count of Distribution of Child Pornography, and one count of Receipt of Child Pornography.

If convicted, Shuler faces 30 years in prison on the charge of Production of Child Pornography, 20 years in prison for the count of Distribution of Child Pornography, and 20 years in prison for the count of Receipt of Child Pornography. Shuler would also have to register as a sex offender. 

According to a complaint filed on May 13, the FBI and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office contacted Shuler, who worked at Riverside Elementary School, about a snapchat video that depicted minors engaged in sexual conduct. Shuler allegedly recognized the video and admitted he contacted the minors online and offered explicit images in exchange for their participation in the video. 

The complaint alleges Shuler told investigators he enjoyed looking at sexually explicit images of children as young as ten. Shuler also allegedly admitted to conversing with more than two dozen minors regarding sexual content, including sharing and trading sexually explicit pictures and videos. 

Shuler allegedly had sexual contact with two juveniles at two separate times. According to the complaint, in both cases, Shuler allegedly recorded the sex acts and distributed the videos online. Shuler allegedly admitted he made multiple attempts to solicit other youth to meet him and engage in sex acts. 

“My office and our law enforcement partners stand ready to respond with thorough investigations, aggressive prosecutions, and determined advocacy in pursuing those who seek to abuse children, whether it occurs behind a keyboard or closed doors,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. 

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.

This case is being investigated by the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca Perez. 

An indictment and a complaint are merely allegations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.




Attached Media Files: 2024-05/6857/172522/Shuler_Indictment.pdf