U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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Oregon Man Sentenced to 14 Months in Federal Prison for Instagram Threats Against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (Photo) - 09/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Kermit Tyler Poulson, 40, was sentenced today to 14 months in federal prison and one year of supervised release for transmitting threatening communications with the intent to extort Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“Using social media to threaten violence against any person regardless of that person’s position in our community is wrong. The Portland JTTF actively investigates all threats of violence,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Federal law enforcement will continue working with our state and local partners to respond quickly to threats. These partnerships prevent many horrific acts of violence from occurring.”

“True threats victimize individuals and undermine the foundations that make our country a place where we can disagree, debate and find common ground,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and our partners remain committed to keeping our shared community free of violence and intimidation.”

According to court documents, on October 9, 2018, Poulson posted multiple threatening comments on Mayor Wheeler’s personal Instagram account. Poulson threatened to firebomb the mayor’s home and office if he did not immediately fire Portland police officers recently involved in an on-duty shooting. Investigators tracked the IP address associated with the comments to a Portland residence where Poulson was staying. Poulson was present when investigators searched the property and after initially making a number of misleading statements, admitted that he alone was responsible for the comments.

On July 3, 2019, Poulson pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting threatening communications with the intent to extort Mayor Wheeler.

This case was investigated by the Portland FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). The Portland JTTF includes FBI special agents and more than a dozen state and local law enforcement officers.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release , Instagram post
Facebook Post
Facebook Post
Salem Man Charged with Transmitting Threatening Communications (Photo) - 09/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging a Salem, Oregon man with threatening Social Security Administration (SSA) officials after being denied Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Erick Carlsen, 45, is charged with transmitting threatening communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875(c).

According to the complaint, on July 24, 2019, Carlsen allegedly engaged in threatening behavior at an SSA benefits review hearing in Salem. At the hearing, Carlsen yelled at the Administrative Law Judge and threatened future physical violence. Salem police officers responded and Carlsen left without further incident. Carlsen livestreamed his actions on Facebook and later posted additional threats.

On September 11, 2019, Carlsen left a voicemail for an SSA Office of Inspector General Agent in which he said, “I’m going to go to this hearing and people are going to [expletive] pay. Do you understand? You guys are going to [expletive] pay.” The same day, Carlsen posted another threat on Facebook entitled “Why do People Go on Shooting Sprees.” In the post, Carlsen claimed that he would “…make the front page and air on every TV station” and “…make sure the whole country stands up and takes notice…”

The next day, investigators from the Federal Protective Service (FPS) interviewed Carlsen at his home in Salem. During the conversation, Carlsen was visually agitated and appeared to be preparing for a fight. Carlsen told the investigators he suffered from mental health issues that cause anger and that he does not leave his property because he is never sure what he will do. When they discussed his upcoming SSA hearing, Carlsen said that he would not bring weapons, but that he could not promise he wouldn’t hurt anyone.

A concerned citizen notified law enforcement of Carlsen’s Facebook posts and later told investigators, “I really feel like he has the potential to follow through.” On September 17, 2019, Carlsen was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office without incident.

Carlsen made his first appearance in federal court today in Portland. He will be arraigned on October 16, 2019.

This case was investigated by the SSA Office of Inspector General, FPS, FBI, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Salem Police Department and is being prosecuted by Rachel Sowray, Special 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 real or perceived threats of violence should call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov. For immediate threats to life and safety, please call 9-1-1.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release , Facebook Post
Items seized from defendant and his residence
Items seized from defendant and his residence
Milton-Freewater Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Heroin in Eastern Oregon (Photo) - 09/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Adan Torres-Nieves, 45, of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, was sentenced today to 120 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release for possessing with the intent to distribute nearly four pounds of heroin in Eastern Oregon.

According to court documents, in early 2017, investigators from the Blue Mountain Narcotics Enforcement Team (BENT) began investigating Torres-Nieves who appeared to be supplying a low-level drug dealer named Carlos Cisneros-Razo. Investigators established probable cause to arrest Torres-Nieves and execute search warrants on both of his and Cisneros-Razo’s residences.

During the search of Torres-Nieves’s residence in Milton-Freewater, investigators found approximately four pounds of heroin, a pound of methamphetamine, and five pounds of cocaine; $21,046 in cash; digital scales; a stolen revolver and a camouflage ballistic vest. A second revolver was found in Torres-Nieves’ bedroom.

On May 6, 2019, Torres-Nieves pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin. During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon ordered Torres-Nieves to forfeit two firearms seized from his residence and the $26,166 seized from his person and residence.

On October 1, 2018, Cisneros-Razo was sentenced to 60 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

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

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Portland Man Sentenced to 100 Months in Federal Prison for Illegally Importing Fentanyl from China - 09/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—John William Schantz, 28, of Portland, was sentenced today to 100 months in federal prison and four years’ supervised release for illegally importing fentanyl from China for the purpose of making and selling counterfeit prescription pills.

According to court documents, in November 2017, a U.S. Postal Inspection Service inspector discovered a suspicious package addressed to Schantz’s girlfriend at the U.S. Postal Service Portland Air Cargo Center. The inspector noted that the package was listed as containing a “pants zipper,” but felt like it contained a powdery substance. Agents from Homeland Security Investigations and officers from the Portland Police Bureau’s Drugs and Vice Division were called to investigate.

After finding that the package contained a white powdery substance, investigators transported it to the Oregon State Police Laboratory for further examination in a safe environment. The lab later determined the package contained approximately 102 grams of para-fluoroisobutryl fentanyl, a powerful opioid and Schedule I controlled substance. Investigators soon learned that between August and November 2017, there were 16 additional parcels shipped to Schantz’s residence. Of those, at least four were associated with known sources of controlled substances and pill manufacturing equipment.

On November 29, 2019, investigators conducted a controlled delivery of the package, now containing an inert substance, to Schantz’s residence. Investigators searched Schantz’s residence and seized two pill presses, a Ruger semi-automatic .22 caliber handgun, 245 rounds of .22 caliber ammunition, approximately 800 assorted counterfeit oxycodone and valium pills, various binding agents, die casts, digital scales and $1,142 in cash. When interviewed, Schantz admitted ordering fentanyl on the internet and having it shipped to his residence in his girlfriend’s name to avoid detection.

On July 16, 2019, Schantz pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully importing a controlled substance.

This case was investigated by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Interdiction Taskforce, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Portland Police Bureau Drugs and Vice Division. It was prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

The Oregon HIDTA program was established by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in June of 1999. In 2015 the program expanded into Idaho and was renamed the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA. The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA consists of 14 counties and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Counties in the HIDTA include Oregon’s Clackamas, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Umatilla and Washington counties, and Idaho’s Ada, Bannock and Canyon counties.

Opioid abuse affects communities across the nation. The CDC reports that in 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. Opioids and synthetic opioids were alone responsible for 47,600 overdose deaths or nearly 68% of all overdoses. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury or death in the United States.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl—a few grains of the substance—is enough to kill an average adult male.

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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Madras Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Role in Meth Distribution Conspiracy, Bank Robbery - 09/17/19

EUGENE, Ore.—Tyler Wayne Fuller, 30, of Madras, Oregon, was sentenced today to 10 years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for his role in a Central Oregon methamphetamine distribution conspiracy and for robbing a Madras bank.

According to court documents, Fuller is the son of career criminal and known drug dealer Ronald Wayne Thrasher, 49, also of Madras. By age 28, Fuller had his own extensive criminal history and had spent the majority of his adulthood incarcerated. In December 2016, after Fuller was released from federal prison, Thrasher began giving his son methamphetamine to sell. Within a month, Thrasher was supplying and Fuller was distributing quarter and half-pound quantities of methamphetamine throughout Central Oregon.

In February 2017, Fuller’s volatile relationship with his father led to a confrontation. Armed with a pistol, Fuller unsuccessfully attempted to rob his father of his methamphetamine supply. The resulting estrangement left Fuller without a supplier and illicit income. Now homeless, he continued selling drugs obtained from his father’s customers. In August 2017, Fuller robbed a U.S. Bank in Madras, collecting $517 in cash.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane ordered Fuller to pay $517 in restitution to U.S. Bank and forfeit any property or proceeds derived from his drug trafficking activities.

On April 25, 2018, Fuller pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fifty or more grams of methamphetamine and bank robbery.

Thrasher was convicted at trial in August 2019 for purchasing and transporting methamphetamine for distribution and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He will be sentenced on February 4, 2020.

Fuller is the first of 11 defendants to be sentenced for their involvement in his father’s drug trafficking conspiracy. One defendant, Russell Marvin Jones, 53, of Gresham, Oregon, was convicted at trial alongside his father. Nine others pleaded guilty. All are scheduled to be sentenced in the next six months before Judge McShane.

This case was investigated by Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Oregon State Police. It was prosecuted Frank R. Papagni Jr. and Judi Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, with the assistance of the Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes County District Attorney’s Offices.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Lincoln County Felon Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Dealing Drugs and Illegally Possessing a Firearm - 09/17/19

EUGENE, Ore.—Jon Michael Walsh, 46, of Neskowin, Oregon, was sentenced today to 20 years in federal prison and 10 years’ supervised release for possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine and heroin and illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, in February 2018, Walsh was on post-prison supervision for a 2015 federal firearms conviction, when probation officers conducted a routine search of his vehicle outside a community center and found a stolen loaded pistol and concealed packages of methamphetamine and heroin.

During a subsequent search of Walsh’s Neskowin residence, officers found additional distribution quantities of methamphetamine and heroin. Walsh later admitted to buying and selling methamphetamine and heroin in Lincoln and surrounding coastal counties to support his own methamphetamine addiction.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane also ordered Walsh to forfeit the stolen pistol and any property derived from his drug trafficking activities.

On March 8, 2019, Walsh pleaded guilty to one count each of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and felon in possession of a firearm. Walsh admitted to dealing methamphetamine and heroin while possessing the loaded pistol to protect himself and drug supplies.

Walsh previously served nine years in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine while in possession of a firearm after being sentenced in June 1998.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Oregon State Police, Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office and the Lincoln City Police Department. It was prosecuted by Frank R. Papagni, Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Michelle Branam, Lincoln County District Attorney.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Klamath County Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Federal Prison for Stealing Missing Mother's Social Security Benefits - 09/17/19

MEDFORD, Ore.—On Friday, September 13, 2019, Theodore Martin Kirk, 64, of Klamath County, Oregon, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for stealing more than $30,000 in Social Security benefits dispersed in the name of his elderly mother, Nadine Kirk. Ms. Kirk has been missing since March 2010 and is presumed to be deceased.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane announced his intent to sentence Kirk to 15 months in federal prison at a sentencing hearing on September 6, 2019, but held off on entering the judgement to allow Kirk one week to give the location of his mother’s remains to investigators. Kirk failed to produce this information and was formally sentenced on September 13, 2019.

According to court documents and information shared during trial, in July 2015, a concerned community member contacted the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office regarding the whereabouts of Ms. Kirk as she had not been seen for multiple years. At the time of this call, Ms. Kirk would have been 98 years old. Shortly thereafter, a sheriff deputy visited the residence shared by Ms. Kirk and her son in Bonanza, Oregon. Kirk claimed his mother had left with friends to travel to California two months prior, but would not permit the deputy to enter his property to confirm his mother was not there.

In an August 2015 interview with a detective, Kirk again told law enforcement he believed his mother was in California with friends. He added that it had been "quite some time" since his mother had seen a doctor despite having suffered from multiple strokes. Kirk claimed to be suspicious of his mother’s medications and reported previously removing her from them. Further, he acknowledged that he shared a joint checking account with his mother, into which her monthly Social Security payments were deposited.

Later in August, the Social Security Administration suspended payments to the Kirk’s joint checking account based on Ms. Kirk’s unknown whereabouts. A Social Security investigator reviewed Ms. Kirk’s bank records and found that the last transaction bearing her signature was dated January 2010. From January 2010 until August 2015, over $1,000 in benefits were deposited monthly into the joint checking account and nearly every month, Theodore Kirk would withdraw the entire amount in cash. All of the withdrawals from the account occurred in Oregon, not in California where Ms. Kirk was purported to be.

In August 2017, investigators conducted a search of the Kirk property and recovered a detailed calendar kept by Theodore Kirk. Prior to 2010, the calendar included activities for both Kirk and his mother. The calendar revealed a series of strokes experienced by Ms. Kirk beginning in 2004 and continuing into the beginning of 2010, where the calendar showed she experienced two strokes in three days. Following the multiple strokes, there were no additional calendar entries for Ms. Kirk’s activities.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane ordered Kirk to pay $30,868 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.

On March 13, 2019, Kirk was convicted at trial by a federal jury in Medford on one count of theft of government funds.

This case was investigated by the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Adam E. Delph and Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Hoover Criminal Gang Member Indicted for Racketeering After Murder of Portland Man - 09/12/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today the indictment of a Hoover Criminal Gang member for the 2015 murder of Portland resident Kyle Polk.

Javier Fernando Hernandez, 23, is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, and causing the death of Polk through the use of a firearm.

The indictment alleges that on December 16, 2015, Hernandez murdered Kyle Polk for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the Hoover Criminal Gang, a criminal enterprise engaged in racketeering in California, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere.

Hernandez made his initial appearance in federal court today and was detained pending a four-week jury trial on November 12, 2019 before U.S. Chief District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.

Murder in aid of racketeering carries a maximum sentence of death or life in prison.

According to the indictment, the Hoovers are a criminal street gang operating in Oregon, and are known to engage in acts of violence including murder, assault, robbery, sex trafficking and the distribution of narcotics. The Hoovers originated in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and established a presence in Portland in the early 1980s. The gang has a loose hierarchical structure in which members have different amounts of power and influence based on age and gang activity. To maintain status and increase one’s position in the gang, members were expected to carry out violence on behalf of the enterprise.

This case was investigated by the FBI, the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations and 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.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Photo 3
Photo 3
Eastern Oregon Man Sentenced to Nearly 20 Years in Federal Prison for Trafficking Sixty Pounds of Methamphetamine (Photo) - 09/10/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Abel Lomas Murillo, 26, of Weston, Oregon, was sentenced today to 235 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.   

Murillo previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine on April 15, 2019.

According to court documents, in November 2017, the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT), the Oregon State Police (OSP) and the FBI began investigating a drug trafficking organization led by Murillo.

Abel Murillo sourced drugs from his older brother and co-defendant Noel Murillo who lived in Vacaville, California in the Eastern District of California. The investigation revealed that as early as July 2017, Noel Murillo transported drugs from Vacaville to Klamath Fall, Oregon where a courier would then deliver them to his brother. Abel Murillo and his co-conspirators also made multiple trips to Medford, Oregon to pick up drugs and transport them back to Morrow and Umatilla Counties for distribution in Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington.

In January 2018, an OSP trooper stopped one of the Murillo brothers’ couriers, Luis Alberto Navarro, in a vehicle traveling near Klamath Falls en route to Umatilla County. A search of the vehicle revealed 11 concealed packages containing more than 8 kilograms of methamphetamine.

In early May 2018, as the investigation continued, Abel Murillo enlisted another courier, Noel Ponce Villegas, to drive methamphetamine from Medford to Boardman, Oregon. Investigators surveilled Murillo as he traveled from Umatilla County to a storage locker in Medford and loaded a trailer being pulled by his truck. Murillo paid Villegas to drive his truck and trailer while he followed to minimize his own risk. In the early morning hours of May 6, 2018, investigators from BENT, OSP and FBI stopped Murillo and Villegas as they drove near mile marker 102 on Interstate 84.

Investigators seized 42 packages of methamphetamine, 36 of which were concealed in a false bottom of a propane tank. The packages contained approximately 17.6 kilograms of methamphetamine. Later the same day, investigators executed a search warrant at Murillo’s residence, seizing 29 firearms and body armor. Pursuant to a separate search warrants, another 10 pounds of methamphetamine and five firearms were found in a Medford storage locker Murillo had visited earlier in the weekend.     

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon ordered Murillo to pay $20,000 to satisfy a forfeiture money judgment. 

On May 7, 2018, Navarro pleaded guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. He will be sentenced on October 15, 2019.

On April 18, 2019, Villegas pleaded guilty to one count of possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. He will be sentenced on December 3, 2019.

Co-defendant Noel Murillo is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. A three-day jury trial is scheduled for November 5, 2019.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release , Photo 3 , Photo 2 , Photo 1
Former Portland Resident Sentenced to 270 Years in Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Children While Babysitting - 09/09/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—After years of contentious litigation and attempts to obstruct justice, Andrew Franklin Kowalczyk, 44, formerly of Portland, was sentenced today to 270 years in federal prison followed by a life term of supervised release for the repeated sexual abuse, exploitation and torture of three young children.

On December 6, 2018, after a four-day trial and deliberating for just 20 minutes, a federal jury in Portland convicted Kowalczyk on nine counts of producing child pornography.

“Andrew Kowalczyk’s abuse and torture of his victims was unthinkable and will forever impact their lives,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Kowalczyk tried every conceivable tactic to delay prosecution and rob his young victims of the justice they deserve. Today his attempts to delay punishment for his horrific crimes have ended.”

“First and foremost, I commend the victims and their families for the strength they exuded while cooperating with a very difficult investigation,” said Brad Bench, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Seattle. “Individuals like Kowalczyk, who prey on those they are charged to care for, are extremely dangerous to our children and the community. HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to bringing these appalling crimes to an end.”

“One victim in this case asked Kowalczyk “why” he committed these horrible acts of violence. We can finally say to this now-young woman that Kowalczyk will never be able to hurt a child again. The bravery, resolve and strength this young woman demonstrated throughout this investigation is a big reason why,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.

According to court documents and information shared during trial, law enforcement first learned of Kowalczyk’s abuse in early 2008. On December 27, 2007, a Des Moines, Washington police officer stopped Kowalczyk for several traffic violations. Kowalczyk did not own the vehicle he was driving, did not have a driver’s license and gave the officer a false name. After refusing the officer’s request to step out of the vehicle, Kowalczyk fled, leading police on a high-speed chase that was later terminated for public safety reasons.

Kowalczyk was later located at the Northwest Motor Inn in Puyallup, Washington. A records check run on the alias used by Kowalczyk to book his hotel room returned an outstanding arrest warrant for failing to appear in an unlawful use of a weapon case in Washington County, Oregon. Kowalczyk was arrested early the next morning when attempting to leave the hotel in a cab. Officers seized Kowalczyk’s personal belongings including several pieces of luggage and a backpack.

In January 2008, Puyallup police detectives sought and obtained a state warrant to search computer equipment, a digital camera and digital storage devices found in Kowalczyk’s luggage. The search returned a tremendous amount of child pornography including a number of images and videos that appeared to be homemade. Numerous videos and images depicted an unidentified male sexually abusing two very young children. Metadata embedded in many of the digital images revealed that they were created using the same camera found in Kowalczyk’s luggage.

Puyallup Police officers later published certain non-pornographic images of the victims and an adult woman found on Kowalczyk’s devices in an attempt to identify the victims. An adult woman, later identified as the victims’ mother, saw the images and contacted Puyallup Police. She confirmed she knew Kowalczyk and that he had regular access to her daughters in Portland. After reviewing some of the images seized, the victims’ mother was able to identify locations where the images were taken.

The victims’ mother told investigators she met Kowalczyk, a friend of her deceased brother, in 2003. In 2005, after the victims’ mother and her children wound up in a domestic violence shelter, Kowalczyk offered to pay for them to stay in a motel. Between April and the beginning of June 2005, Kowalczyk arranged for the victims’ mother and her children to stay with or adjacent to him in three different Portland motels. Kowalczyk and the victims’ mother later rented separate apartments.

The victims’ mother frequently left her children alone in Kowalczyk’s care while she searched for work or housing. The victims’ mother believed Kowalczyk treated the victims well, buying them clothing, diapers, shoes, and even a birthday cake for their second birthday and was unaware of the abuse that transpired. The cake—with the victims’ names on it—appeared in some of the non-pornographic images found on Kowalczyk’s devices.

Investigators were later able to track down the Portland motel rooms Kowalczyk rented for the family. Kowalczyk took photos of himself sexually abusing two of the minor victims at each location. He took sexually explicit photos of the third minor victim at his apartment in Southeast Portland. In March 2008, investigators conducted a federal search warrant of a storage locker Kowalczyk rented in Woodlawn, Washington. They found a sofa, a mirror and several shirts depicted in the pornographic images found on Kowalczyk’s devices.

A federal grand jury charged Kowalczyk with a single count of sexual exploitation of children on February 2, 2008. A superseding indictment with eight additional counts of sexual exploitation of children was returned on March 21, 2012.

Since he was first indicted in February 2008, Kowalczyk sought the replacement of counsel more than a dozen times and filed extensive motions to suppress evidence, causing a decade-long delay in bringing the case to trial. Amidst his in-court attempts to delay, Kowalczyk also obstructed or attempted to obstruct justice from prison by asking his father to retrieve incriminating hard drives before they could be seized by law enforcement and soliciting the murder of an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, the Portland Police Bureau, and the Puyallup and Des Moines, Washington Police Departments. It was prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin and Gary Y. Sussman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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. 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Anyone who has information about the physical or online exploitation of children are encouraged to call the FBI at (503) 224-4181 or submit a tip online at www.fbi.gov/tips.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Former Cottage Grove Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Stealing Methamphetamine from Evidence Locker - 08/29/19

EUGENE, Ore.—Phillip Allan Beach, 49, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, pleaded guilty today to one count of acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception of subterfuge.

According to court documents, in May 2015, an evidence coordinator at the Cottage Grove Police Department (CGPD) reported to their supervisor that Beach accessed the department’s evidence locker more frequently than other officers and seemed to do so for no apparent purpose. The coordinator said that Beach would repeatedly access the same evidence bag. A CGPD commander later examined the bag and observed that it was open and two plastic bags inside containing several ounces of methamphetamine crystals had been sliced open.

In June 2015, CGPD began an investigation of Beach’s conduct and placed two hidden cameras inside the evidence locker. On June 11, 2015, Beach was recorded on video entering the locker without signing the evidence log and accessing the evidence bag previously examined by the commander. The video shows Beach taking a small plastic baggie from his pants pocket and using it to take a small portion of meth from the evidence bag. Investigators later weighed the evidence bag and found a 7.3 gram reduction in weight.

Beach faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on November 26, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Oregon State Police and CGPD. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Attorney General's Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues to Convene in New Mexico - 08/28/19

TULSA, Okla.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams will meet with fellow members of the Attorney General’s Advisory Subcommittee on Native American Issues (NAIS) in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, in order to discuss public safety and law enforcement issues that impact Native American and Alaska Native communities.

The annual meeting will begin today and run through Aug. 30. During this time, the NAIS will engage with tribal leaders and develop strategies and best practices to address missing and murdered indigenous people, drug trafficking, needed law enforcement resources, and safeguarding children from sexual abuse in Indian country.

The most common crimes investigated in Indian country include child sexual abuse, violent assaults, and adult sexual assaults, followed by homicide, other forms of child abuse, drug, and property crimes.  According to a 2016 study funded by the National Institute of Justice, more than four in five American Indian and Alaska Native adults have experienced some form of violence in their lifetime, and more than half of all American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence from an intimate partner. Native women and girls suffer a high rate of violence, including murder.

“United States Attorneys nationwide are committed to improving public safety in Indian country and rural Alaska. The work of Attorney General Barr’s Native American Issues Subcommittee is focused on reducing violent crime, improving law enforcement resources, and combating the distribution of methamphetamine and opioids,” said US Attorney Shores, Chair of the NAIS. “The disproportionate rates of violence affecting Native American and Alaska Native women is particularly troubling to me. With Attorney General Barr’s leadership, we will continue working with tribal leaders to find solutions to the epidemic of violence against indigenous women.”

“Pursuing justice on behalf of tribes in Oregon is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The NAIS advances important work on behalf of the Attorney General that helps to protect tribal communities and bring swift justice for tribal members whose lives are impacted crime and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “My colleagues and I are deeply committed to ensuring all tribes have the resources needed to protect their communities and administer justice on tribal land.”

Panel discussions will also focus on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act and preserving Native American cultural patrimony. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in the marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. 

U.S. Attorney John Anderson of the District of New Mexico will host the three-day conference.

The NAIS consists of 53 U.S. Attorneys serving in districts that include Indian Country or one or more federally recognized tribes and makes policy recommendations to the Attorney General. The NAIS has identified four priority areas: 1) Violent crime 2) Law enforcement resources 3) Drug trafficking and substance abuse, and 4) White collar crime. It is the longest standing subcommittee to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and helps develop, shape, and otherwise implement justice policies affecting Native Americans and Alaska Natives. U.S. Attorney Trent Shores of the Northern District of Oklahoma is the subcommittee Chair. U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme of the District of Montana is the Vice Chair.

In fiscal year 2018, the Department of Justice awarded $113 million in grant awards to improve public safety, serve victims of crime, combat violence against women, and support youth programs, to 134 Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages.  In addition, the Department awarded a total of 154 grants totaling $88 million as part of the first-ever Tribal Victim Service Set-Aside program; these awards were supported by the Crime Victims Fund, a repository of federal criminal fines, fees, and special assessments. The awards will help tribes develop, expand and improve services to victims of crime by providing funding, programming and technical assistance.  Even more funding will be available – up to $168 million – under the set-aside this year. 

In July 2019, the Department announced a new tool giving tribal governments the ability to input data directly and gain access to the FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) using the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System (TTSORS).  TTSORS is a fully functioning registry system that complies with Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requirements. The system connection will be available to all tribal governments already participating in the Tribal Access Program (TAP), which allows information sharing between tribal and federal government criminal information systems. TAP has been instrumental in assisting tribes with ongoing implementation of SORNA.  In fiscal year 2019, the department expanded TAP to 25 more tribes, for a total of more than 70 participating tribes across the country.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Southern Oregon Marijuana Trafficker Charged in Murder-For-Hire Plot - 08/26/19

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal criminal complaint was unsealed today charging a Southern Oregon man and frequent marijuana trafficker with attempting to pay for the murder of an associate.

John Tobe Larson, 68, of Josephine County, Oregon, is charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958.

According to the complaint, beginning in May 2019, the Oregon State Police Southwest Region Marijuana Team (OSP-SWRMJ) learned that Larson was involved in the interstate distribution of marijuana from Southern Oregon throughout the U.S. and smuggling cash back into Oregon via a private plane Larson pilots. As a result, OSP-SWRMJ and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began investigating Larson.

By May of 2019, investigators had learned that Larson was allegedly looking for someone to murder an associate who owed him approximately $75,000 in unpaid debt. In early June, investigators arranged for a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), acting in an undercover capacity, to meet with Larson in Grants Pass, Oregon to discuss his plans. Larson told the agent that he “would prefer that the body [of his associate] is never [expletive] found.” Larson went on to explain that he believed the intended victim was “a rat” who had worked with law enforcement in the past.

After further discussion, Larson and the agent agreed to a price of $20,000 for the murder. Before the meeting concluded, Larson told the agent that he was planning a flight on his private plane to deliver marijuana to and bring cash proceeds back from St. Louis, Missouri. Larson indicated that he would use the money he made from his trip to pay the agent a down payment for the planned murder.

On June 27, 2019, Larson met the agent at a hotel room in Grants Pass and delivered a $10,000 cash payment. Larson also provided the agent with the identity, address, phone numbers, and social media account information of the intended victim. He told the agent that he wanted his associate’s body dumped in the ocean where “lice and crabs” would naturally dispose of it and that he wanted a photo of the body going over the side of a boat before paying the remaining $10,000.

On August 21, 2019, Larson was arrested in Rogue River, Oregon. Immediately preceding the arrest, Larson provided the agent with $5,000 and concentrated marijuana after being lead to believe the murder was complete.

Larson made his first appearance in federal court today in Medford. A status conference and detention hearing are scheduled for September 16, 2019.

This case was investigated by the OSP-SWRMJ, DEA and ATF and is being prosecuted by Adam E. Delph and Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorneys 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
Newberg Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening School Shooting at California College - 08/22/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Vasiliy V. Barbiyeru, Jr., 24, of Newberg, Oregon, pleaded guilty today to one count of transmitting a threatening interstate communication.

According to court documents, on October 7, 2017, Barbiyeru sent a threatening email to several individuals and groups at Deep Springs College in Big Pine, California where he had been denied admission. Barbiyeru had previously sent threatening emails to the college’s president and other associated persons.

On March 1, 2019, Barbiyeru was charged with first degree disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, in Clackamas County Circuit Court after making similar threats of violence to Lake Oswego High School. Barbiyeru was arrested a short time later by the Lake Oswego Police Department. His state charges are still pending.

Barbiyeru faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on November 18, 2019 before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael W. Mosman.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Newberg and McMinnville Police Departments and is being prosecuted by Hannah Horsley, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Two Canadian Nationals Indicted for Bitcoin Fraud - 08/22/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that Karanjit Singh Khatkar, 23, and Jagroop Singh Khatkar, 24, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft for a scheme to steal bitcoin from an Oregon resident.

Together, Karanjit and Jagroop Khatkar face one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft and multiple counts of money laundering.

According to the indictment, beginning in October 2017 and continuing until August 2018, the defendants used a Twitter account with the name @HitBTCAssist to trick victims into thinking they were communicating with a customer service representative from HitBTC, a Hong Kong-based online platform used to exchange virtual currency. HitBTC provides its customers with web-based “wallets” to store virtual currency and make transactions.

Using the fraudulent Twitter account, the defendants responded to the Oregon victim’s questions about withdrawing virtual currency from her HitBTC account. The defendants convinced the victim to send information they could use to log on and take over her email, HitBTC and Kraken accounts. Kraken is a U.S.-based online platform that offers services similar to HitBTC.

The defendants initiated transfers of 23.2 bitcoins from the victim’s HitBTC account to Karanjit Khatkar’s Kraken account. Karanjit Khatkar in turn transferred approximately 11.6 in stolen bitcoins to Jagroop Khatkar’s Kraken account. The stolen bitcoins have an estimated present value of approximately $233,220.

On July 18, 2019, Karanjit Khatkar was arrested upon arrival at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following week, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Las Vegas ordered Karanjit Khatkar detained pending transport by the U.S. Marshals to the District of Oregon.

Karanjit Khatkar made his first appearance in the District of Oregon on August 12, 2019. At a hearing on August 20, 2019, he was ordered detained pending a four-day trial scheduled to begin on October 8, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

Jagroop Singh Khatkar remains at large and is believed to be in Canada.

This case was investigated by FBI and is being prosecuted by Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorney 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.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release