Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Scott Banchero, age 58, of Kirkland, Washington, was charged by federal criminal complaint with Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of a Mixture or Substance Containing a Detectable Amount of Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii).
As alleged in the criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of August 3, 2022, Banchero was identified as the victim of a robbery at a local motel in Spokane Valley, Washington. Banchero had just arrived from the Seattle, Washington area when the robbery occurred.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as Detectives with the Spokane Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit, subsequently executed a federal search warrant on a storage unit rented to Banchero near Spokane, Washington. In the storage unit, law enforcement located approximately 20,000 fentanyl-laced pills, 2 pounds of methamphetamine, 1 kilogram of heroin, and a half pound of cocaine.
Assistant United States Attorneys Patrick Cashman and Caitlin Baunsgard of the Eastern District of Washington are handling this matter on behalf of the United States.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Case No.: 2:22-mj-276-JAG
Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that members of her office will participate in community events held as part of Spokane’s National Night Out Against Crime this evening at various events in the Spokane area. U.S. Attorney Waldref, along with United States Attorneys and Department of Justice officials from across the country, are partnering with local law enforcement to attend National Night Out Events throughout the nation.
Established in 1984 from a Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant, the goal of National Night Out is to build relationships with and between communities and law enforcement. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. In most areas of the country, the program occurs annually on the first Tuesday of August. This year, approximately 40 National Night Out Events are scheduled in various Spokane neighborhoods.
“Building safe and strong communities is a Justice Department priority,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “When we build trust and support within the communities we serve, law enforcement is most effective. This is why events such the National Night Out are so important. By bringing community members and law enforcement officers together, we help to bridge the gap and build trust between law enforcement officers and the neighborhoods they serve.”
National Night Out with U.S. Attorney Waldref
WHO: U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington Vanessa R. Waldref will join officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Spokane Police Department at various locations in Spokane.
WHEN: Tuesday, August 2, 2022 from approximately 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. EDT
WHERE: Cannon Park, 1511 N Elm St, Spokane, WA 99201
Glass Park, 627 E Heroy Ave, Spokane, WA 99207
Spokane – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Philip Marion Harthill, age 74, of Rosalia, Washington, was sentenced in federal court in Spokane for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor. United States Senior District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson sentenced Harthill to 120 months to be followed by a life term of supervised release. In announcing the sentence, Judge Peterson emphasized that “the damage to children” caused by Harthill’s crimes is very “real.” Judge Peterson continued, “This is damage they will carry with them for their whole lives – damage to both the children and the families, who are impacted.” Judge Peterson further expressed that a 10-year sentence was necessary notwithstanding Harthill’s age. Harthill had entered a guilty plea on April 19, 2022.
According to court documents, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) discovered in early 2019 that Harthill was transmitting child pornography online through Skype. Later that year, Harthill began an online chat via social media sites regarding Harthill’s sexual interest in minor children, particularly girls, who were ten-years old and older. During these communications, Harthill used the Kik Messenger to send at least two images containing child pornography. Harthill also used Kik to solicit additional child pornography.
Based on Harthill’s transmittal and solicitation of child pornography, Federal agents executed a search warrant at Harthill’s residence and seized several electronic devices, including Harthill’s laptop computer. On the laptop, investigators discovered 1,455 videos and 531 images of child pornography, including a split-screen video of Harthill sexually interacting with a young child, who stated she was nine years old and lives in another country.
During the investigation, Harthill agreed to speak with law enforcement and admitted to downloading, trading, and viewing child pornography for about five years. Harthill further admitted to sexually communicating online with underage girls, who were between 12 to 15 years old. In his statement, Harthill also admitted he would sometimes falsely portray himself as being 19 years old to his victims.
“This case is a stark reminder that sexual predators do not always fit a specific profile and, in some cases, may be the person you least suspect,” United States Attorney Waldref said. “Mr. Harthill used everyday internet applications like Skype and Kik to exploit the most vulnerable among us.” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “Today’s sentence is necessary to prevent Mr. Harthill from harming other children, and it should serve as a warning to those who victimize children: Our office is committed to prioritizing and aggressively pursuing cases involving online predators and holding them accountable for victimizing the most innocent members of our community.”
“Harthill exploited children by sharing their images with other child pornographers around the world,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “The resolve of HSI agents working both in the U.S. and overseas has resulted in a sentence that will hopefully provide some ease to those affected by his horrendous actions and keep Harthill behind bars, not behind a computer.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
This case was investigated by the Spokane Resident Office of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Washington State Police. This case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.
Lower Snake River Dams Replacement Power Study
While it is possible to replace the output of the four lower Snake River dams while meeting aggressive clean-energy goals, the cost would be substantial, and the reliability of the system could depend on future technologies.
2022 Spring Chinook Salmon Return Better Than Forecast
Council members were briefed on spring Chinook salmon returns to the Columbia and Snake rivers, as well as the more sobering update on recovery efforts for Tucannon River spring Chinook.
Energy Efficiency Programs for Low-Income Households
In a challenging economy when costs seem to be rising constantly, low-income households face an increasing risk of being unable to afford basic necessities, including electricity.
Efforts to Bring Back Pacific Lamprey Succeeding
Laurie Porter and Jon Hess of CRITFC briefed members on the current run of Pacific lamprey in the Columbia River Basin and tribal projects currently implemented through the Council’s F&W Program.
Trout Creek Habitat Tour: Learning from the Place
This spring, Oregon Council member Louie Pitt, Jr. and Council staff toured the Trout Creek Watershed Restoration Project located in Central Oregon.
Next Council Meeting: August 16-17 (Portland/webinar)