Defendant Attempted to Make the Case Go Away by Falsely Accusing an FBI Agent and Another Individual Defendant Suspected was an FBI Informant of Soliciting a $20,000 Bribe
Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Ali Abed Yaser, age 52 of Kennewick, Washington, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, making false statements to the FBI, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and two counts of mail fraud. United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke sentenced Yaser to a 42-month term of imprisonment, to be followed by a 3-year term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. Judge Dimke also ordered Yaser to pay restitution in the amount of $126, 990 and forfeiture of $19,978. At sentencing, Judge Dimke observed that Yaser engaged in a “concerted and dedicated effort to undermine the credibility of” the FBI and his actions “undermined the reputation of that agency and the community’s ability to have trust and faith in the justice system as a whole.”
According to court proceedings, in February 2019, the FBI opened an official investigation into allegations that Yaser and others were involved in a scheme to defraud insurance companies and obtain money and property by staging automobile accidents, and filing false and fraudulent claims with insurance companies. As part of the investigation, the FBI used a confidential human source (CHS) who covertly recorded conversations with individuals suspected of being involved in the staged accident scheme. The CHS provided information to the FBI regarding violations and suspected violations of the Federal criminal laws.
In May 2020, the FBI executed warrants to search residences in Washington and California for evidence of federal crimes. Shortly afterward, Yaser told the CHS to be careful because Yaser suspected someone was an FBI informant. Yaser told the CHS that he learned that the individual Yaser suspected was an FBI informant recently visited the CHS. Yaser admonished the CHS for not calling him when that individual visited the CHS. Yaser told the CHS he would have come to his residence, closed the garage door, shut off the security system cameras, and killed the individual Yaser suspected was the FBI informant. Yaser added, “they would not have recognized his face from his foot.” Yaser encouraged the CHS to call the person Yaser thought was the FBI informant and to convince the person to meet with Yaser at his residence.
A few days later, Yaser met with the CHS and discussed his plan to file a false, fictitious, and fraudulent complaint against the FBI case agent and the suspected FBI informant. Yaser also sought to persuade others to support his plan to make false allegations against the FBI case agent and the other individual. Yaser stated, “When we make [the suspected informant] wear the handcuffs, we will be sending him away from the field, keep him on the sideline.” Yaser also stated, “After I screw [the suspected informant], a week later I would go to [the FBI] again and say to them, Protect me. Protect my children. I need protection for myself and my children, and that Al-Mahdi Army militias are threatening my family in Iraq. I would put [the suspected informant] in such a mess he would never get out of.”
Yaser instructed the CHS to audio record the suspected informant so Yaser could tamper with the recording and play a tampered version for police. Yaser told the CHS, “I want to record his words. There are words I want to pick out. So, If I am at a spot, I will play them to the police. I would say when he came to me here, I became afraid and thought he must have something bad, and I was afraid of him, and I put the recorder for him.”
In late August 2020, Yaser discussed fabricating a story for local local police and the FBI to further his scheme to discredit the case agent and the individual Yaser suspected was an FBI informant. Yaser’s plan was to make them unavailable as witnesses, to get the FBI agent removed from the case and to impede proceedings against Yaser. Yaser stated in sum and substance, “We will file a complaint with the police and the police will forward it to [FBI]” and “[t]he police will turn it upside down on them, it won’t take half an hour and it would reach them.”
In September 2020, when interviewed by FBI, Yaser and codefendant Mohammed Naji Al-Jibory falsely accused the FBI case agent and the individual they suspected of being an FBI informant of soliciting approximately a $20,000 bribe from Yaser to make the case go away. In doing so, Yaser and Al-Jibory engaged in misleading conduct toward the FBI agents with the intention of hindering, delaying, and preventing communication to these officers and a federal judge of information relating to the commission and possible commission of federal crimes. Yaser and Al-Jibory also attempted to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede, and attempt to obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, that is, a federal grand jury proceeding and the federal criminal case against him.
Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington said, “Staged accidents make our streets dangerous and distract police from responding to legitimate distress calls. Moreover, efforts to hinder federal criminal proceedings will not be tolerated. We will continue to work closely with out federal and state law enforcement, and private industry, partners to investigate fraud schemes. I am grateful to the tremendous investigative agents and Assistant United States Attorney George Jacobs, who spent substantial time and resources to ensure that our community continues to be safe and strong, and that individuals who perpetrate these types of complex schemes are held accountable.”
“When faced with the discovery of his fraud scheme, Mr. Yaser doubled down,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “Despite his efforts to discredit law enforcement, the full extent of his crimes was revealed and thwarted. I am thankful for the hard work of our investigators and partners to hold Mr. Yaser accountable for his actions.”
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau. This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Dominique J. Park, a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, also participated in the investigation and indictment of this case.
Yakima, Washington – On January 24, 2023, United States District Judge Mary K. Dimke sentenced Alexis Sanchez-Gomez, 21, of Moxee, Washington, to 12 years in federal prison after his guilty plea to Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug-Trafficking crime. Sanchez-Gomez, a documented member of the Lower Valley Locos (“LVL”) street gang, will also begin five years of court supervision after he is released from custody.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, on October 21, 2021, there was a gang related drive-by shooting in the City of Yakima. A 34-year old man was killed while simply walking down the sidewalk wearing red colored clothing. As in communities up and down the West Coast, the color red is associated with some Norteno street gangs in the Yakima Valley, while the color blue is associated with some Sureno street gangs. The Yakima Police Department immediately began an investigation. Law enforcement gathered evidence that established that the shooter was likely a member or associated with a Sureno street gang. As the investigation progressed, the lead detective discovered that after the drive-by shooting, the shooter fled to Sanchez-Gomez’s residence in Moxee, Washington. The Yakima Police Department coordinated with the Moxee Police Department and gathered additional information.
On November 19, 2021, the Yakima Police Department and other law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant at the Sanchez-Gomez residence. Officers entered the residence and discovered a marijuana grow operation and a quantity of methamphetamine. Officers entered the Defendant’s bedroom and observed that it was decorated with gang-related graffiti. The officers also discovered three firearms, including an AK-47 style rifle. As the search continued, the officers discovered magazines and ammunition. DEA was contacted and began an investigation, which revealed that Sanchez-Gomez had been selling methamphetamine. DEA also discovered that Sanchez-Gomez had repeated contacts with law enforcement in recent years. The DEA discovered that in October 2019, Sanchez-Gomez attempted to elude a police vehicle and was involved in a hit-and-run. Two months later, in December 2019, Sanchez-Gomez was again arrested after being found in possession of a firearm. In September 2020, Sanchez-Gomez was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the three felony offenses.
Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, commended the joint efforts of law enforcement: “Gang-related violence is a scourge in the Yakima Valley and elsewhere. My office will continue to work with law enforcement professionals from multiple agencies to investigate and prosecute armed individuals who are involved with drugs and criminal street gangs. Removing these individuals from society will make all of our neighborhoods and communities safer and stronger.”
According to DEA, the drive-by shooting investigation was completed, and resulted in the Yakima Police Department arresting both the suspected driver and suspected shooter. The cases are currently pending in Yakima County Superior Court. “This investigation demonstrates how seriously DEA takes its obligations to its state, local, and federal partners. We are committed to bringing our investigative expertise whenever necessary against individuals who seek to harm our communities,” said Jacob D. Galvan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, DEA Seattle Field Division.
Matt Murray, Chief of the Yakima Police Department, highlighted the close working relationship between YPD, DEA, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Meaningfully addressing violent crime – and the drug and gun crimes that so often turn violent – requires a collaborative effort between all of our local and federal partners. This case is just one example of the ways we work together to reduce and address crime and improve the lives and safety of the people in this community.” Chief Murray also urged anyone involved in lives of violence and crime to change what they are doing: “STOP now. Take the assistance that is available through our community partners to change your life. If you do not stop engaging in violence, we will engage to stop you. As this case shows, the result may be a lengthy sentence in state or federal custody.”
This case was prosecuted under the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. PSN is a federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration to identify, investigate, and prosecute individuals responsible for violent crimes in our neighborhoods. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to specifically identify the criminals responsible for violent crime in the Eastern District of Washington and pursue criminal prosecution.
This case was investigated by the Yakima Police Department, the Moxee Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tom Hanlon.