U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
U.S. Attorney's Office Encourages Reporting of Environmental Crimes - 10/03/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon joins its partners at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal regulatory agencies in encouraging Oregonians to report all known or suspected environmental crimes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon enforces federal laws to protect environmental quality, human health, and wildlife throughout the State of Oregon. The office works with its partners throughout the Department of Justice to hold those who violate environmental law accountable, prioritizing cases that will reduce environmental harms to historically underserved, overburdened, and marginalized communities.

The district’s environmental crimes and justice coordinators lead efforts to enforce both criminal and civil environmental laws. Intentionally violating environmental laws—including, but not limited to, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and hazardous waste laws—is a federal crime and can be punishable by incarceration or monetary fines.

Examples of criminal or civil environmental violations include:

  • A landlord who leases a home without disclosing known information about lead-based paint
  • A federal contractor who violates a contractual provision mandating the proper disposal of hazardous waste
  • Illegal asbestos removals that expose and create health risks for workers and the public
  • Illegal handling, transportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes or pesticides
  • Oil spills or other incidents that compromise the fishing rights or practices of indigenous or disadvantaged communities
  • Air emissions of toxic pollutants resulting from inadequate or nonexistent pollution control
  • False statements to the EPA or other regulatory agencies that threaten the integrity of environmental protection programs

If you are in danger, please call 911.

If you or someone you know believe you are the victim of an environmental crime or believe you have witnessed an environmental crime, please contact the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Response Center by calling 1-800-424-8802 or by submitting a tip online at https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations.

In May 2022, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a series of actions to secure environmental justice for all Americans. In addition to launching a new Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department, Attorney General Garland also announced a new comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy to guide the Justice Department’s work and issued an Interim Final Rule that will restore the use of supplemental environmental projects in appropriate circumstances.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Full Restitution Payment Obtained from Three Former Portland-Area Strip Club Operators Convicted of Fraud - 10/03/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that full restitution of over $600,000 was obtained from the former operators of two Portland-area strip clubs who were convicted at trial in 2016 for conspiring to defraud the IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in business taxes owed.

On Sept. 23, 2022, the Clerk of the Court for the District of Oregon received a payment of $608,217, which was full payment of the outstanding restitution balance of David, George, and Daniel Kiraz. The Kirazes previously had paid less than ten percent of their original $657,243 restitution order.

 “I am proud of our Financial Litigation Program for their hard work in securing this full restitution payment, and for their commitment to helping crime victims by diligently investigating these cases,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Today’s restitution payment is the culmination of many years of dogged effort made by our agency and by our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This is a success we can all share in, as the funds secured today will be used for the benefit of our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI), Seattle Field Office.

According to court documents, David Kiraz, 40, of Happy Valley, Oregon, along with his father and brother—George Kiraz, 62, and Daniel Kiraz, 37, both of Portland—operated two Portland-area strip clubs, the Cabaret Lounge on West Burnside Street in Portland and Cabaret Lounge II on Southeast Stark Street in Gresham, Oregon. From 2007 through 2010, these clubs collected more than $1.5 million in cash for cover charges and dancer stage fees.

To conceal their total business income from the IRS, the Kirazes maintained a set of books at their clubs that did not include their cash payments, while maintaining a second set of books at David Kiraz’s home that tracked their actual receipts in full. The Kirazes reported their business activity on David Kiraz’s personal income tax return and provided their tax return preparers with only a two-page business financial summary compiled from their manipulated records. Together, these actions resulted in David Kiraz intentionally underreporting more than $1.5 million in taxable income and causing a combined state and federal tax loss of more than $649,000.

On April 8, 2015, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a seven-count indictment charging the Kirazes with conspiring with one another to defraud the United States, filing false income tax returns, and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns. On May 26, 2016, after a six-day trial, they were found guilty

On Tuesday, October 25, 2016, David and George Kiraz were sentenced to three years in federal prison and three years of supervised release. Daniel Kiraz was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison.

This case was originally investigated by IRS:CI. It was prosecuted by Quinn Harrington and Seth Uram, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, and Leslie Goemaat, Trial Attorney for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. 

Enforcement of the Kirazes’ restitution order was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessie D. Young and the staff and investigators of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Financial Litigation Program.

The District of Oregon’s Financial Litigation Program (FLP) is part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division. The mission and goal of FLP is to fairly achieve the maximum recovery of civil and criminal debts consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and Justice Department policies. FLP attorneys and support staff work with individuals subject to restitution orders to bring closure for crime victims and recoup losses incurred by United States taxpayers.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Oregon Man Charged with Sexually Exploiting Minor on Discord, Additional Victims Sought - 10/03/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—An Oregon man has been charged with federal child exploitation crimes after he persuaded a child to engage in a sexually explicit video chat with him on Discord, a popular instant messaging social platform.

Jason Kroeskop, 40, of The Dalles, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with enticing and sexually exploiting a child online.

According to court documents, in August 2022, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Tulsa, Oklahoma were contacted by local law enforcement to request assistance with an investigation involving the online exploitation of a child under 12. Investigators discovered that Kroeskop pretended to be an Oregon teenager to convince the child to engage in sexually explicit acts during a video chat on Discord. He also recorded the video chat without the victim’s knowledge.

Investigators tracked Kroeskop’s Discord account, “Noctis Lucis #7347,” to an internet protocol address registered to his residence in The Dalles. On September 29, 2022, HSI special agents from Portland contacted Kroeskop at his place of employment. Kroeskop agreed to talk with the agents and admitted to having engaged in sexually explicit communications with multiple children online since at least 2021 using Discord, Snapchat, and Omegle. He was later arrested without incident.

On September 30, 2022, Kroeskop made his initial appearance in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Armistead. He was detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by HSI Portland and The Dalles Police Department with assistance from HSI Tulsa. It is being prosecuted by Mira Chernick, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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

Anyone who has information about other crimes committed by Kroeskop, or the physical or online exploitation of any children, are encouraged to contact HSI at (866) 347-2423 or submit a tip online at report.cybertip.org.

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 the victims’ exploitation and abuse, but when shared across the internet, re-victimize and re-traumatize the child victims each time their abuse is viewed. To learn more, please visit the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 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
Drug Dealer Targeting Portland High School Students Faces Federal Charges - 09/30/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—A 42-year-old Portland man is facing federal charges for targeting and selling drugs to local high school students.

Jonathon Ash Clark aka “Jonathan Ash Clark” has been charged by federal criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance, distributing a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21, and using a minor in drug operations.

According to court documents, on September 28, 2022, Portland Public Schools officials contacted the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to request assistance locating a missing student. School officials received word that the student was last observed with Clark, a suspected supplier of drugs for students. To quickly locate the student, responding PPB officers requested the assistance of the bureau’s Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit (NOC), the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Task Force (HIT), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Investigators soon located the missing student with Clark in Powell Park in southeast Portland. Officers contacted Clark and learned that he had an outstanding arrest warrant in Clackamas County for violating a protective order. During his arrest, officers searched Clark’s backpack and located small amounts of cocaine and MDMA, and a digital scale covered in white powder residue. Clark later admitted to selling drugs to minors.

Clark will make his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Armistead. The government will seek pre-trial detention.

This case was investigated by HIT, PPB NOC, and HSI. It is being prosecuted by Scott Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Willamette Country Music Concerts President Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud and Money Laundering - 09/28/22

EUGENE, Ore.—The former president and minority owner of Willamette Country Music Concerts, LLC, who planned, managed, and promoted the annual Willamette Country Music Festival in Linn County, Oregon, pleaded guilty today after she falsified bank statements and financial summaries to influence the sale of her stake in the company.

Anne Hankins, 53, a resident of Springfield, Oregon, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and money laundering.

“With today’s guilty plea, Ms. Hankins has proven herself to be a serial fraudster,” said Craig Gabriel, Criminal Chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Falsifying bank statements and laundering money to fraudulently inflate the value of a company are serious federal crimes.”

“Ms. Hankins blatantly deceived her business associate and stole money that never belonged to her. However, today the curtains have come down and Ms. Hankins is facing the music for her fraud,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS:CI), Seattle Field Office.

According to court documents, as former minority owner of Willamette Country Music Concerts (WCMC), Hankins owned 49% of the company. As president of WCMC, Hankins was responsible for preparing monthly financial statements which she provided by email to the company’s majority owner who was based in Beverley Hills, California.

Beginning in September 2016 and continuing until March 2018, Hankins provided altered banks statements and false financial summaries to the majority owner to conceal WCMC’s true financial condition. In November 2017, the majority owner approached Hankins about purchasing her stake in the company and having Hankins continue to serve as the company’s president.

On or about February 7, 2018, Hankins sent an updated financial summary to the majority owner falsely reporting that the company had approximately $1.1 million in its operating account. In reality, there was only $16,000 in the company’s account. Based on these false financial statements, on March 1, 2018, the majority owner purchased Hankins’ stake in the company for $1.5 million.

After receiving the majority owner’s payment, Hankins directed her credit union to issue a cashier’s check from her account to the Clerk of the Court for the District of Oregon to satisfy a restitution order on a previous bank fraud conviction from 2001. Hankins thereby laundered the proceeds from one crime to pay her restitution on another.

On September 12, 2022, Hankins was charged by criminal information with one count each of wire fraud and money laundering.

Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and money laundering by up to 10 years in federal prison. Both charges also may result in fines of up to $250,000, or twice the gross gains or losses resulting from the offense, and three years’ supervised release.

Hankins will be sentenced on January 5, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

As part of her plea agreement, Hankins has agreed to pay restitution as identified by the government and ordered by the court.

This case was investigated by IRS:CI and the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Umatilla County Drug Dealer Faces Federal Charges - 09/28/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Portland has returned an indictment charging an Eastern Oregon man with distributing large quantities of fentanyl and methamphetamine in and around Umatilla County, Oregon.

Edain Laurel Lozano, 35, of Umatilla County, Oregon has been charged with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, between May and September 2022, special agents from the FBI and officers from the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT) set up, conducted, and surveilled multiple controlled purchases of methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced pills from Lozano. Each subsequent controlled purchase involved requesting and purchasing increasing quantities of the narcotics from Lozano. By the final controlled purchase, Lozano had agreed to sell multiple pounds of methamphetamine and several thousand counterfeit pills containing fentanyl.

On September 7, 2022, Lozano was arrested and consented to a search of his vehicle. Investigators located and seized over four pounds of methamphetamine, more than 5,000 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, drug packaging materials, a digital scale, and a stolen handgun.

On September 23, 2022, Lozano was arraigned on the indictment and pleaded not guilty. Over the government’s objection, he was released on conditions pending a three-day jury trial scheduled to begin on November 8, 2022.

If convicted, Lozano faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with a 15-year mandatory minimum, five years’ supervised release, and a $10 million fine.

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

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

BENT is a regional drug task force founded in 1986 by the Pendleton Police Department and Oregon State Police. In 2005, BENT was designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) task force by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Current BENT member agencies include the Pendleton Police Department, Oregon State Police, FBI, Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon National Guard, Boardman Police Department, Milton-Freewater Police Department, Hermiston Police Department, and Umatilla Tribal Police Department.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Oregon Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges After Twice Breaking Windows and Destroying Property at a Planned Parenthood Clinic - 09/19/22

EUGENE, Ore.—An Oregon man pleaded guilty today after twice breaking windows and destroying property at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grants Pass, Oregon because the clinic provides reproductive health services.

Devin Friedrick Kruse, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. 

“The Justice Department will not tolerate unlawful and violent conduct that interferes with the work of reproductive health clinics,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This conviction should send a strong message that we will use federal civil rights law to protect clinics and staff that provide reproductive health services while safeguarding the rights of their patients.”

“The First Amendment does not allow individuals to violate the civils rights of others. In this case, Mr. Kruse’s destructive and intimidating acts prevented women from accessing vital reproductive and pregnancy health services,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Citizens have a legal right to peacefully protest, but Mr. Kruse’s actions of repeated violence toward a Planned Parenthood clinic crossed a line,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our communities while respecting individuals' First Amendment rights.”

According to court documents, on November 23, 2021, Kruse broke five security cameras, a window, and a sign at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grants Pass. Three days later, on November 26, 2021, Kruse returned and threw a concrete block through the clinic’s window, tore down an intercom system, and broke several light bulbs. Kruse later admitted to damaging the facility because he was angry at Planned Parenthood for providing abortion services.

On February 24, 2022, Kruse was charged by misdemeanor criminal information with two counts of violating the FACE Act.

Under the FACE Act, first offenses involving property destruction are charged as misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in federal prison. Subsequent violations are charged as felony offenses.

Kruse will be sentenced on January 5, 2023, by U.S. District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken.

As part of his plea agreement, Kruse has agreed to pay restitution in full to Planned Parenthood as identified by the government prior to sentencing and ordered by the court.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Grants Pass Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce and John C. Brassell, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, and Cameron A. Bell, Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

In 1994, Congress passed the FACE Act in response to an increase in violence toward patients and providers of reproductive health services. The FACE Act prohibits violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with an individual’s right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.

If you or someone you know is in danger, please call 911.

Suspected violations of the FACE Act can be reported to the FBI by calling (503) 224-4181 or by visiting tips.fbi.gov.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
North Carolina Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Oregon Child Online - 09/19/22

EUGENE, Ore.—A Greensboro, North Carolina man was sentenced to more than 16 years in federal prison today for sexually exploiting an Oregon child using Musical.ly, a social media application now known as TikTok.

Andrew Thomas Tager, 32, was sentenced to 195 months in federal prison and 15 years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in May 2018, when Tager was 28 years old, he posed as a female employee of Musical.ly and began communicating with a then-10-year-old Oregon child. He encouraged the child to participate in a fictional “crown program” wherein the child could earn a “crown” by sending the “employee” photos and videos of herself. The child believed earning a crown would give her access to various privileges on Musical.ly not available to other users.

Tager directed the child to produce and send him pornographic photos and videos of herself using Kik Messenger, an instant messaging mobile application. Tager instructed the child on how she should pose and move, what she should wear, what props she should use, and how long the videos needed to be. Tager further threatened the child, telling her that if she quit “the program,” her photos and videos would be released to others.

When the child’s parents found the sexually explicit photos and messages on the child’s phone, they reported the conduct to law enforcement. On May 30, 2019, after a lengthy investigation, Tager was arrested in North Carolina.

On May 2, 2019, Tager was charged by criminal complaint with production of child pornography. Later, on May 31, 2022, he was charged by criminal information with production and attempted production of child pornography. On June 6, 2022, Tager waived indictment and pleaded guilty.

As part of his sentence, Tager must also register as a sex offender.

This case was investigated by FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) with assistance from the North Bend Police Department. It was prosecuted by Ashley R. Cadotte and Amy Potter, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

The FBI CETF conducts sexual exploitation investigations, many of them undercover, in coordination with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. CETF is committed to locating and arresting those who prey on children as well as recovering and assisting victims of sex trafficking and child exploitation.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Justice Department 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
Umatilla County Man Charged with Attempted Murder After Armed Robbery at Wildhorse Resort and Casino - 09/15/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Portland has returned an indictment charging a Umatilla County, Oregon, man with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and several other charges after he robbed the Wildhorse Resort and Casino on the Umatilla Indian Reservation at gunpoint and fired at least one round at a tribal police officer.

Javier Francisco Vigil, 51, has been charged with attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a deadly weapon, interfering with commerce by robbery, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, in the early afternoon on August 17, 2022, Vigil is alleged to have entered the Wildhorse Casino, walked straight to the cashier cage in the gaming area, and handed the cashier a note demanding $1 million. Vigil then drew a holstered pistol, pointed it at the cashier, and threatened to “bathe everyone in blood.” After being given nearly $70,000 in cash, Vigil exited the casino, pointed his firearm at a responding tribal police officer, and discharged at least one round. Vigil sustained injuries in an ensuing exchange of gunfire and was transported by officers to a local hospital. 

Vigil appeared in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and detained pending a 4-day jury trial scheduled to begin on November 1, 2022.

If convicted, Vigil faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison, 3 years’ supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.

This case is being investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Umatilla Tribal Police Department and the Hermiston Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Ashley R. Cadotte and Cassady Adams, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the U.S Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Former Oregon Dentist Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $11.5 Million in Covid-Relief Program Funds - 09/13/22

Defendant previously pleaded guilty to illegally distributing controlled substances

PORTLAND, Ore.—A former Oregon dentist pleaded guilty today in federal court for fraudulently converting to his personal use nearly $11.5 million in loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salwan Adjaj, 43, of West Linn, Oregon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

According to court documents, beginning no later than September 2020 and continuing until at least May 2021, Adjaj submitted dozens of fraudulent loan applications to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in an attempt to obtain Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds. The EIDL and PPP programs were among several economic relief programs originally authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). They enabled SBA to issue low-interest loans to small businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic and associated mitigation measures. 

Adjaj used the names and employer identification numbers (EIN) of fictitious business entities on his fraudulent applications. He further provided false information about the business start dates, number of employees, and locations, and the identities of the purported applicants and business owners. Most of the fraudulent applications were submitted in other peoples’ names, but with Adjaj’s personal residence as the business mailing address. All of the applications were submitted online from an internet protocol (IP) address associated with Adjaj’s dental practice.

After SBA rejected most of Adjaj’s initial EIDL applications, he began focusing primarily on the PPP program as well as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a pandemic economic relief program aimed at supporting restaurants, bars, and other food- and drink-related businesses. The RRF program was authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March 2021. Adjaj had substantially greater success stealing PPP and RRF funds than he did EIDL. In May 2021, Adjaj submitted three RRF applications for restaurants allegedly located Sarasota, Miami, and Daytona Beach, Florida. Like his fraudulent EIDL and PPP applications, Adjaj’s RRF applications contained false business information and all listed his personal residence as the business mailing address. 

Together, Adjaj’s fraudulent applications caused the SBA to pay out more than $11.5 million in loans, grants, and associated lender fees.

On October 14, 2021, Adjaj was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On December 14, 2021, he was arrested following a pretrial release violation and, one day later, ordered detained pending further court proceedings. Adjaj remains in custody pending sentencing.

On July 13, 2022, in a separate criminal case, Adjaj pleaded guilty to illegally distributing controlled substances, including thousands of pills of prescription drugs and anabolic steroids. Adjaj further admitted to using his position as a dentist to obtain some of the drugs he illegally distributed.

In his Covid-relief fraud case, Adjaj faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison, a $250,000 fine (or twice his gross gains or his victims’ gross losses), and three years’ supervised release. In his drug case, Adjaj faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced in both cases on December 6, 2022, by U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.

As part of his plea agreement, Adjaj has agreed to pay no less than $10.5 million in restitution to SBA and his victim lenders.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the SBA Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Secret Service, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan W. Bounds and Meredith Bateman are prosecuting the case.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a federal law enacted on March 29, 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans who are suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Two Nigerian Nationals Indicted for Fraud Scheme Targeting Dozens of Public and Private Institutions - 09/12/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—An indictment has been unsealed in federal court charging two Nigerian nationals for attempting to steal $25 million from nearly two dozen public and private entities around the United States, including at least one in Oregon.

Efeturi Ariawhorai aka Efeturi Simeon, 35, a dual citizen of Nigeria and Vanuatu who most recently resided in the United Arab Emirates, and Ikenna Nwajiaku, 41, a Nigerian national believed to be residing in or near Lagos, Nigeria, have been charged in an 11-count indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

“Federal law enforcement is determined to use every tool and capability it has to pursue cyber criminals and retrieve money mistakenly sent to unknown bank accounts. We applaud the local victim in this case for quickly reporting the crime and giving authorities the best possible chance at retrieving their money. Unfortunately, many of these situations go a different and very costly way. When in doubt, we encourage anyone who thinks they are the victim of a cyber crime to report immediately to the FBI. Time is of the essence,” said Assistant United States Attorney Quinn Harrington, Chief of the Cyber and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

“The level of greed it takes to steal from schools and hospitals, especially during the height of a global pandemic, is beyond disturbing,” said Special Agent in Charge Kieran L. Ramsey. “Through quick action from many of these victims the FBI, with our Recovery Asset Team, was able to freeze funds and return a majority of the stolen money.  In fact, we were able to recover the total loss of nearly $3 million for a victim in Oregon and keep that money out of the hands of criminals. If you are the victim of a cyber intrusion or fraud scheme please reach out to the FBI as soon as possible, we are here to help.”

According to the indictment, beginning in June 2019 and continuing until January 2021, Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku conspired with one another and others known and unknown to defraud various public and private entities located throughout the U.S., including numerous school districts, universities, colleges, and hospitals. As part of their scheme, Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku would contact organizations by email; impersonate employees of the targeted organization or professionals from other entities doing business with the target organization, such as construction companies; and convince the organizations to send payments to bank accounts controlled by third parties acting on Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku’s behalf.

To conceal their fraudulent activity, Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku used false names and various identity-concealing technologies including virtual private networks, compromised servers, and leased infrastructure. Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku would also register email addresses and internet domain names with slight variations on the names of real companies to trick victim organizations.

In total, in just over a year and a half, Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku attempted to defraud 20 victim organizations out of approximately $25.2 million. 15 of the victim organizations lost a combined $6.2 million as a result of the scheme.

Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Aggravated identity theft is punishable by up to two years in federal prison and one year of supervised release per count of conviction.

Ariawhorai and Nwajiaku are both fugitives. On November 25, 2021, Ariawhorai was arrested in Italy by Italian authorities and the United States made a formal request for his extradition. However, Ariawhorai fled house arrest prior to his transfer to the District of Oregon.

This case was investigated by the FBI. It is being prosecuted by AUSA Harrington.

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

The FBI’s Recovery Asset Team (RAT), a component of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), was established in 2018 to streamline communication with financial institutions and assist FBI field offices with freezing funds for victims who made transfers to domestic accounts under fraudulent pretenses. In 2021, RAT assisted with 1,726 incidents nationwide that together involved losses exceeding $443 million. RAT helped freeze more than $328 million of these potential losses, a 74-percent success rate.

If you are the victim of an online or internet-enabled crime, please file a report online with IC3 at www.ic3.gov or by calling your local FBI field office as soon as possible. For RAT to be effective, individuals and organizations must report crimes immediately and include all pertinent information, including account details.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
California Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Trafficking Methamphetamine into Southern Oregon - 09/08/22

MEDFORD, Ore.—On September 7, 2022, a San Diego, California man was sentenced to federal prison for trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine from Southern California to Southern Oregon for redistribution and sale.

Martin Jesus Velasco, 39, was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in late 2019, law enforcement learned Velasco was transporting pound quantities of methamphetamine north from California in rental cars and then selling it to local drug dealers in Southern Oregon. On at least two occasions, including the trip precipitating his arrest, Velasco traveled in a rental vehicle containing drug shipments with an associate and the associate’s girlfriend and infant child.

On February 6, 2020, Velasco was stopped in Ashland, Oregon and his vehicle was searched pursuant to a state search warrant. Authorities located a duffle bag with five one-pound packages of methamphetamine. Velasco and an accomplice were arrested. A later search of his cell phone revealed evidence of Velasco’s extensive and ongoing drug trafficking, including trading methamphetamine he acquired in Southern California for marijuana grown in Southern Oregon.

On March 3, 2020, Velasco was charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Later, on November 5, 2020, a federal grand jury in Medford indicted him on the latter charge. On April 11, 2022, Velasco pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement (MADGE) team and Oregon State Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marco Boccato of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Firearm Seized
Firearm Seized
Gresham Man Faces Federal Charges After Overdose Death of Portland Teenager (Photo) - 09/07/22

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Gresham, Oregon, man is facing federal charges for selling fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of a 17-year-old Portland teenager.

Duane Robert Hill, 38, has been charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl.

According to court documents, an investigation leading to Hill began on June 16, 2022, when the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Task Force (HIT), including members of the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Narcotics and Organized Crime Division (NOC) and special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), responded to the overdose death of a 17-year-old teenager in Portland. Investigators found one full and one-half blue “M-30” pill on the victim’s desk along with small amounts of an unknown crystal substance and a white powder residue. Lab reports later confirmed that the pills recovered were counterfeit Oxycodone pills manufactured with fentanyl. Investigators believe the teen died of a fentanyl overdose.

Further investigation uncovered evidence that Hill is the third-level supplier of the fentanyl pills found in the teen’s room and that are believed to have caused the teen’s death. It was determined that Hill had been distributing fentanyl pills in quantities ranging from 10 to 100 pills in and around Portland for nearly a year. Hill sold the counterfeit pills for between $4 and $5 apiece. One week after the teen’s death, investigators set up and conducted a controlled purchase of more than three dozen M-30 pills from Hill.

Today, on September 7, 2022, investigators executed a search warrant on Hill’s Gresham residence. When PPB’s Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) entered the residence, Hill attempted to flush pills down the toilet. He was arrested without incident. More than 200 M-30 pills were found in Hill’s residence and vehicle along with a 9mm handgun, a scale, assorted drug packaging materials, and $4,480 in cash. A portion of the fentanyl pills recovered from Hill’s toilet were rainbow-colored.

Hill made his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You. He was detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA Interdiction Team, PPB NOC, and HSI with assistance from the Oregon State Police Crime Laboratory. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott M. Kerin is prosecuting the case.

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

Rainbow fentanyl has appeared recently in several forms in cities across the country. Versions seized recently in the Portland area resemble thick pieces of brightly-colored sidewalk chalk or small multi-colored pills sometimes referred to as “skittles.”

If you are in immediate danger or encounter fentanyl in any form, please call 911.

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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