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Spokane/East. Wash/North Idaho News Releases for Wed. Apr. 24 - 11:30 am
Tue. 04/23/24
U.S. Attorney's Office Observes National Crime Victims' Rights Week (Photo)
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 04/23/24 2:00 PM
Ribbons on the trees at the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse
Ribbons on the trees at the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse
http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2024-04/6857/171728/thumb_ribbons_1.JPG

Spokane, Washington - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington and the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) joins communities nationwide in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and celebrating victims’ rights, protections, and services. This year’s observance takes place April 21-27, 2024, and features the theme, “How would you help? Options, services, and hope for crime survivors.” The theme aims to ensure that everyone in a community knows where and how crime victims and survivors can find help — including friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, service providers, or other trusted members of the community.

In 1975, the first “Victims’ Rights Week” was organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by the then district attorney. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in 1981 to highlight the importance of prioritizing the rights and needs of crime victims.  President Reagan also established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the foundation for a national network to provide services and legal safeguards for crime victims.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington has a dedicated team of prosecutors and victim assistance professionals, who work together to ensure victims receive the services and support they need. Early intervention helps prevent further victimization and encourages victim involvement in the justice system, mitigating the cycle of violence and restoring hope for the future.

Each year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington prosecutes numerous cases involving individuals who are victims of violent, financial, environmental, and other crimes. In 2023 and continuing into 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s office has filed more than 70 victim cases, which include more than 1,000 individual victims.  In each case, victim assistance specialists from our office provide victims with essential services, including referrals to counseling, and help to secure temporary housing, as necessary. These advocates also assist with access to victim’s compensation funds and accompany victims to court proceedings to provide support and guidance. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also works tirelessly to recover restitution on behalf of victims.  In 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington recovered more than $68 million on behalf of victims, much of which was recovered in connection with Cody Easterday’s “ghost cattle” scheme.  In 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office already has recovered another $15 million in restitution on behalf of victims, bringing the total recovery in just the last year and a half to more than $84 million dollars.  These restitution funds are provided directly to those who are victims of violent, financial, sexual exploitation and child abuse, as well as other crimes. 

“Honoring the voice of victims of crime is a critical part of securing justice. Providing victims information and a choice in how they participate in cases, is not only their right, but also a meaningful path to recovery from the trauma they have endured,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I am also grateful for the dedicated service of our victim assistance specialists – Jolene Jones and Marissa Allen – who work tirelessly to ensure the rights of all victims in the Eastern District of Washington. Their important work helps promote healing and provides victims tools for their future, thereby strengthening Eastern Washington communities.” 

Representative examples of victim cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in 2023 and 2024, include the following:

  • January 24, 2023 sentencing of Ronald Craig Ilg, who was convicted of attempting to hire a dark web hitmen to kidnap his then-estranged wife and harm a former work colleague.  Ilg was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $20,000 in restitution. 

 

  • February 21, 2023 sentencing of Jordan Everett Stevens, who was convicted of murdering Alillia “Lala” Minthord and sentenced to life in prison. 

 

  • March 8, 2023 sentencing of Jonathan Scott Ard, for shooting a person and conspiring to distribute fentanyl in the Tri-Cities. Ard was sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

 

  • April 24, 2023 settlement agreement requiring Jason Dreyer, a former doctor, to pay more than $1 million to resolve allegations that he performed medically unnecessary neurosurgery procedures. 

 

  • May 18, 2023 sentencing of Karla Padilla for fraudulently obtaining more than $290,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. Padilla was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay approximately $300,000 in restitution. 

 

  • June 14, 2023 sentencing of Felipe Tapia-Perez, who was convicted of firearm offenses related to the homicide of a four-year-old child. Tapia-Perez was sentenced to 14 years in prison. 

 

  • July 13, 2023 sentencing of Randy Coy James Holmes for shooting an undercover law enforcement officer. Holmes was sentenced to 20 years in prison. 

 

  • August 28, 2023 settlement agreement requiring Lincare Holdings to pay $29 million to resolve claims of overbilling Medicare for oxygen equipment. 

 

  • September 20, 2023 sentencing of Dylen Joseph Swan for 3-day crime spree involving a car chase, two shootings and an armed robbery. Swan was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was ordered to pay $21,515 in restitution. 

 

  • October 11, 2023 sentencing of Michael Gene Rice, who was convicted of producing and attempted production of child pornography.  Rice was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $48,000 in restitution.

 

  • December 12, 2023 sentencing of Christopher Bruce Gooch, who was convicted for an armed robbery at a Spokane Valley motel. Gooch was sentenced to 4 years in prison.        

 

  • January 24, 2024 arrest of 8 individuals in Moses Lake on drug trafficking charges and perpetration of violent crimes. 

 

  • February 22, 2024 sentencing of Ronald Walter Hannes for defrauding numerous Spokane victims of more than $3 million.  Hannes was ordered to pay restitution to more than a dozen victims in the amount of $3.18 million.  

 

  • March 27, 2024 sentencing of Sundron Larsell Miller and Paula Eulojia Cantu-Lopez to decades in federal prison for violent carjacking and assault on the Yakama Nation. 

 

  • March 28, 2024 sentencing of Robert Wayne Hutton to 20 years in federal prison on child exploitation charges. Hutton was also ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution. 

 

 

  • April 17, 2024 indictment of 34 individuals involved in drug distribution, cockfighting, and witness/victim intimidation. 

 

U.S. Attorney Waldref added, “These representative cases demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protecting victims in Eastern Washington.  My office will continue to identify and prosecute those who harm our citizens, and we will seek to hold accountable those who exploit vulnerable members of our community.” 

To commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, trees at the federal courthouses in Spokane, Richland and Yakima have been decorated with pink and purple ribbons. 

More information about OVC, as well as resources for victims of crime, can be found here. 




Attached Media Files: Ribbons on the trees at the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse , Ribbons on the trees at the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse

Fri. 04/19/24
Spokane Man Found with Methamphetamine and 1,700 Fentanyl Pills Sentenced to Prison for Drug Trafficking
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 04/19/24 10:57 AM

Spokane, Washington - Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Henry Patrick Bevans, III, age 40, of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of Possession with the Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Actual (Pure) Methamphetamine. United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice imposed a sentence of 168 months imprisonment to be followed by 10 years of supervised release.

According to court documents and information presented at the sentencing hearing, in January of 2023, the Liberty Lake Police Department (LLPD) was investigating suspected drug trafficking at a local hotel. Officers observed a vehicle, suspected to be involved in drug related activity, parked at the hotel for several days. 

On January 31, 2023, officers observed a man and a woman use the vehicle to drive from the hotel to a gas station a short distance away. An LLPD officer contacted the man driving and confirmed the man was Bevans. LLPD arrested Bevans on a felony warrant from the Department of Corrections. When he was arrested, Bevans was on supervised release following a 10-year prison sentence for a conviction in 2014 on drug distribution charges. 

LLPD obtained and executed a state search warrant for the vehicle.  Officers located 131 grams of methamphetamine, 1,750 fentanyl-laced pills, as well as a smaller amounts of other controlled substances inside the car. Officers also located a taser, an air pistol, a digital scale with drug residue, zip lock baggies and zip ties, a drug ledger, and more than $1,000 in cash inside the vehicle. 

“Despite periods of incarceration and rehabilitation, Mr. Bevans continued to distribute dangerous and illicit controlled substances. My office is committed to stopping the flow of deadly drugs into our neighborhoods,” stated U.S. Attorney Waldref. “I’m grateful for the tireless dedication of all those that join us in this critical mission. By working together, we can effectively combat the opioid epidemic and make our communities safer and stronger.”

“People like Mr. Bevans, who persistently distribute drugs after completing their incarceration, present a clear danger to our communities,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division. “The Drug Enforcement Administration and our partners are committed to ensuring the safety of our communities by holding people like Mr. Bevans accountable as many times as it takes to protect the public from this grave threat.”

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Liberty Lake Police Department. 


Thu. 04/18/24
Elevate Partnership Secures Multi-Million Dollar Grant from Gates Foundation (Photo)
ESD 123 - 04/18/24 3:06 PM
2024-04/1212/171621/Elevate-logo.jpg
2024-04/1212/171621/Elevate-logo.jpg
http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/2024-04/1212/171621/thumb_Elevate-logo.jpg

PASCO, WA – Educational Service District 123 (ESD 123) is thrilled to be part of a regional partnership that has been awarded a three-year Horizons Regional Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The southeast regional partnership is one of four regions awarded a Horizons Regional Grant, which focuses on addressing the low rate of students enrolling in post-secondary education in Washington state. 

As the official grant recipient, the United Way of the Blue Mountains is utilizing its coalition of community stakeholders, known as Elevate, to spearhead the region’s work. Under Elevate, the following southeast Washington entities will collaborate to carry out the grant work plan:

  • United Way of the Blue Mountains
  • Educational Service District 123
  • Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Communities in Schools of the Blue Mountain Region
  • Port of Columbia
  • College Place, Dayton, Prescott, and Walla Walla School Districts
  • Walla Walla Community College and Whitman College

The grant aims to bolster and expand programs to help more students transition from K-12 into post-secondary education pathways. Amanda Mount, Elevate Director of Policy & Advocacy with United Way of Blue Mountains, says that a number of factors contribute to a lower college-going rate in southeast Washington. 

“Some students are concerned about affordability and the time to get a degree,” Mount says. “Others may perceive getting a credential won’t help their earnings in the long run. Few Washington students complete the Federal Financial Aid Form (FAFSA). These grant dollars will help expand more staff at high schools to help with postsecondary planning.”

At ESD 123, Regional Career Connected Learning Coordinator Jim Kindle will be instrumental in leading the ESD’s collaboration with districts, communities, and partners. Kindle’s work will focus on strategic partnerships between schools, businesses, and industry, leading to workforce development initiatives (internships and apprenticeships) that are aligned with local school systems and labor market needs.

Preparing students for success in both college and careers contributes to the economic prosperity of our schools and communities across Columbia and Walla Walla Counties. Additional information on the Gates Foundation Horizons Regional Grants can be found at https://washingtonstate.gatesfoundation.org/what-we-do/washington-state-education/supporting-local-partnerships. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Molly Curtiss, ESD 123 Director of Communications, at 509.544.5787 or tiss@esd123.org">mcurtiss@esd123.org.

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Attached Media Files: 2024-04/1212/171621/Elevate-logo.jpg

Thirty-Four Individuals from Across the United States Indicted on Charges of Criminal Conspiracy Involving Illegal Drugs, Firearms, Money Laundering, Cockfighting and Attempts to Kill Witnesses
U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash. - 04/18/24 2:17 PM

Yakima, Washington – United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref announced today that twenty-eight people are in state or federal custody following the return of six separate indictments alleging more than two dozen charges against thirty-four separate defendants. Certain of the individuals indicted are not yet in federal custody.

The arrests follow a long-term joint federal and state investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives into La Nuestra Familia (NF), a violent prison gang responsible for trafficking dangerous drugs into our community for the enrichment of their members, which includes leaders of this organization who, in some cases, are serving life sentences in the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado (USP Florence ADMAX).  USP Florence ADMAX is one of the Bureau of Prisons’ most secure facilities, providing an even higher level of custody than a regular maximum-security prison. 

The arrests are the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation that began in approximately 2018 and spanned multiple jurisdictions from various locations in Washington State, to include Yakima County, the Yakama Reservation, Spokane County, and Walla Walla County. The operation also extended into Louisiana, Colorado, and Arkansas. 

The conspiracy indictment alleges Robert Patrick Hanrahan, Rigoberto Escobedo Gonzalez, Travis Michael McGuire, and Jose Alfredo Chavez Arredondo, acted as supervisors to dozens of individuals engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise that included possession and distribution of illegal drugs, cockfighting, possession of illegal firearms, illegal use of the U.S. Mail, and attempts to kill those who assisted law enforcement in this investigation.  Multiple individuals have also been charged with laundering the proceeds made from these illicit ventures.

Upon release of the conspiracy indictment, which was unsealed earlier today upon the arrest of several suspects, United States Attorney Waldref stated, “I am grateful for the coordinated efforts of so many law enforcement agencies, who simultaneously executed more than twenty search warrants in the Yakima area and across the United States earlier today. More than 350 federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement came together to coordinate the takedown of this alleged drug trafficking operation.”  U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “It is an honor to lead important prosecutions, such as this one, which has removed illegal drugs and firearms from our community and illegal narcotics from the Bureau of Prisons. Our community and our nation are safer and stronger as a result of the incredible work of our law enforcement and prosecution teams.” 

During the operation, agents seized approximately 37 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, pound quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as more than 8,000 fentanyl-laced pills.  Additionally, the law enforcement team seized more than $20,000 in U.S. currently. Agents also seized hundreds of roosters from locations in Zillah and Outlook, Washington. The roosters were allegedly used in cockfights. Many of the roosters are being turned over to the care of Heartwood Haven Animal Rescue located in Roy, Washington. 

According to unsealed charging documents, the following individuals have been indicated in connection with ATF’s joint investigation. The United States anticipates brining additional charges against other individuals identified during the execution of search warrants early today. In addition, the names of others indicted in connection with this investigation will be unsealed upon the arrest of those individuals.

 

  • Fabian Arredondo a/k/a “DV,” 34, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Launder Money.
  • Joanna Arredondo, 34, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money 
  • Jose Alfredo Chavez Arredondo a/k/a “Cuyi,” 43, charged with Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl, Distribution of Cocaine, Conspiracy to Launder Money, Unlawful Animal Fighting
  • Jose Alfredo Ricardo Arredondo a/k/a “Papaz,” 25, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Distribution of Cocaine, Unlawful Possession of a Machinegun 
  • Alexa Joann Carras-Blackburn, 35, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Pablo Angel Castellon a/k/a “Sapo,” 40, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, Conspiracy to Launder Money 
  • Mayda Ivette Castellon, 36, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Jacenir Amezcua Dasilva a/k/a “Serio,” 30, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money, Attempt to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness, Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness
  • Marco Anthony Gomez, Jr.  a/k/a “Silky,” 45, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Rigoberto Escobedo Gonzalez a/k/a “Crazy Thugg,” 35, charged with Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Distribution of Cocaine, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Robert Patrick Hanrahan a/k/a “Bubba,” 52, charged with Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Jazmine Renea Hart, 32, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Maria Esperanza Hermoso, 28, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Adrean Kendall Lafollette a/k/a “Hunger,” 33, charged with Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Travis Michael Mcguire a/k/a “Slim,” 49, charged with Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy to Unlawfully Use a Communication Facility, Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute 40 Grams or More of Fentanyl, Attempted Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Jesus Antonio Mirelez a/k/a “Dizzy,” 34, Conspiracy to Launder Money, Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Felipe Feliciano Ramirez a/k/a “Casper,” 44, charged with Conspiracy to Unlawfully Use a Communications Facility, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Logan Paul Scheck a/k/a “Sin,” 31, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Brian Lee Sellers, 62, charged with Conspiracy to Unlawfully Use a Communications Facility, Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Misael Vazquez-Moreno, 26, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Fentanyl
  • Fernando Villegas, 25, charged with Unlawful Animal Fighting
  • Thomas Lee Weatherwax a/k/a “Wax,” 25, charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Yesika Escobedo Zaragoza, 40, charged with Conspiracy to Money Launder
  • Arthur Frank Cardenas a/k/a “Porkchop,” 45, charged with Attempt to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness, Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness
  • Joshua Isaac Stine a/k/a “Heat,” 39, charged with Attempt to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness, Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Federal Witness
  • Hugo Enrique Davadi a/k/a “Flako,” 36, charged with Distribution of 40 Grams or More of Fentanyl

 

Certain of the individuals will be arraigned at the Yakima and Spokane Federal Courthouses at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 19.  

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives conducted the investigation along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S Marshals Service, U.S. Border Patrol, Federal Bureau of Prisons, ICE Enforcement Removal Operations, Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Corrections, Washington State Gambling Commission, Yakima Police Department, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Grandview Police Department, Walla Walla Regional Drug Task Force, Selah Police Department, Spokane Police Department, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. 

Assistant United States Attorneys from the Eastern District of Washington are prosecuting the case.  Former AUSA Frances Walker was the initial prosecutor on the case.

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