U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
Owners of Local Debt Consolidation Service Indicted in Federal Court, Additional Victims Sought - 04/11/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The owners of ConsoliDebt Solutions, LLC, a debt consolidation service that operated in Oregon and other locations between April 2019 and April 2024, have been indicted in federal court for knowingly and intentionally defrauding their customers.

Javier Antonio Banuelas Urueta, 54, and Dalia Castilleja Saucedo, 38, both residents of Oregon and Washington State, have been charged in a seven-count indictment with conspiring to commit and committing mail and wire fraud.

According to the indictment, from approximately April 2019 and continuing until their arrests, Banuelas and Castilleja are alleged to have devised and carried out a scheme whereby they used ConsoliDebt Solutions to collect money and property from various clients in exchange for purported debt consolidation or reduction services. Banuelas and Castilleja directed their clients to deposit funds directly into ConsoliDebt bank accounts, transfer funds to the company, or mail in personal checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders. 

Banuelas and Castilleja are further alleged to have used client funds to pay for various personal expenses such as car leases, loan repayments, residential rent, and various wire transfers.

Banuelas was arrested Tuesday in Portland, Oregon. He made his first appearance in federal court the same day and was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and ordered detained pending further court proceedings. Castilleja is still at large.

Mail and wire fraud are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release per count of conviction.

Anyone with information about Banuelas, Castilleja, or ConsoliDebt Solutions, LLC, are encouraged to contact Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by submitting a tip online at  https://www.ice.gov/webform/ice-tip-form or by calling (866) 347-2423.

This case was investigated by HSI. It is being prosecuted by Rachel K. Sowray, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Lane County Diesel Repair Shop and Shop Owner Plead Guilty to Clean Air Act Violations - 04/10/24

Shop and shop owner agree to pay criminal fines and complete terms of probation

EUGENE, Ore.—A Lane County, Oregon, diesel repair shop and its owner pleaded guilty today in federal court to knowingly and intentionally tampering with pollution monitoring devices on at least 184 vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act.

Diesel & Offroad Authority, LLC, located in Veneta, Oregon, and its owner and operator, Christopher Paul Kaufman, 38, a resident of Veneta, pleaded guilty to tampering with pollution monitoring devices.

As part of their plea agreements, Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman have agreed to pay $150,000 each in criminal fines and serve three years terms of probation. 

“Diesel & Offroad Authority and its owner put profits over our community’s health and safety by amplifying diesel engines’ noxious fumes,” said Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eugene and Medford Branch Offices. “We will continue working closely with our partners at EPA to hold accountable businesses that violate our nation’s environmental protection laws.”

“The defendants in this case illegally tampered with the onboard diagnostics systems and removed the emissions control components from hundreds of diesel trucks,” said Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA CID) in Oregon. “The pollution that results from vehicle emissions can lead to serious health conditions and has been linked to increased respiratory disease and childhood asthma. This guilty plea demonstrates that EPA will vigorously prosecute those who violate laws designed to protect our communities from harmful air pollution.”

According to court documents, beginning in at least 2018 and continuing through 2022, Diesel & Offroad authority tampered with and disabled emissions control systems of at least 184 diesel vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act. Diesel & Offroad Authority charged its customers approximately $2,300 each for the emissions modifications and collected more than $378,000 for the unlawful services over an approximately four-year period.

As owner of Diesel & Offroad Authority, Kaufman oversaw and participated in the illegal modification of vehicles, including by procuring various automotive parts used in the process and engaging in and directing employees in the removal of emissions control equipment.

On March 12, 2024, Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman were charged by federal criminal information with violating the Clean Air Act by tampering with pollution monitoring devices.

Diesel & Offroad Authority and Kaufman will be sentenced on July 17, 2024.

This case was investigated by EPA CID. It is being prosecuted by William M. McLaren, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

If you witness an environmental event that may lead to an immediate threat to human health or the environment, please call 9-1-1. After alerting local emergency authorities, please also report incidents to the EPA’s Report a Violation website (https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations) or by calling the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Medford Man Indicted in Federal Court for Illegally Selling Explosives - 04/04/24

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Medford returned an indictment today charging a local man with illegally possessing and selling explosives.

Wesley Allen Armstrong, Jr., 56, a Medford resident, has been charged with distributing explosives by a non-licensee, possessing with intent to distribute and distributing fentanyl, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, in March 2024, detectives from the Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Team (MADGE) notified special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) of Armstrong’s alleged possession of and desire to sell explosives. On March 27, 2024, Armstrong was arrested after selling eight cast explosives, seven non-electric shock tube detonators, and a small quantity of fentanyl. Investigators executed a search warrant on Armstrong’s vehicle and located and seized a loaded pistol and an additional quantity of fentanyl.

On March 28, 2024, Armstrong was charged by federal criminal complaint with dealing explosives without a license, possessing stolen explosives, possessing explosives as a convicted felon, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl; made his first appearance in federal court; and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings. He will be arraigned on today’s indictment at a later date.

This case was investigated by ATF and MADGE. It is being prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

MADGE is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency prosecutor-supported approach. MADGE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and is composed of members from the Medford Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff and District Attorney’s Offices, the Jackson County Community Corrections, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including MADGE.

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
Nevada Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing Covid Relief Funds - 04/04/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Nevada man with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing more than $163,000 in Covid relief program funds while on supervised release for two separate state criminal convictions.

Justin David Goulet, 36, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $163,100 in restitution to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

According to court documents, in late December 2020, Goulet was released from Oregon state prison after completing concurrent sentences for felony forgery and theft. Less than four months after his release from prison, in April 2021, Goulet devised a scheme to defraud SBA of funds appropriated by Congress to help businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, Goulet applied for two Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and successfully obtained one for $163,100.

To support his fraudulent applications, Goulet registered a straw company called Statement Venture Group, LLC, and falsely claimed to be doing business as an independent contractor while imprisoned in 2019. He further submitted bogus tax filings, including one purportedly created by a New York accounting firm, to the SBA to substantiate robust (and fictional) revenues and payrolls. Goulet used most of the $163,000 he obtained on travel, living expenses, cars, and illegal drugs.

On February 8, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Goulet with wire fraud and, on August 30, 2022, he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the SBA Office of Inspector General and the FBI. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Since January 2021, more than 50 people have been charged in the District of Oregon for their roles in fraud schemes targeting federal Covid relief programs. Together, these defendants attempted to steal more than $778 million in federal funds. 23 individuals have been convicted for their crimes and sentenced to a combined total of 477 months in federal prison and 894 months of probation and/or supervised release. 

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
$6 Million Worth of Oregon Properties Forfeited in Connection to Interstate Marijuana Trafficking Organization - 04/01/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced today that it has forfeited on behalf of the United States 14 real properties located in Oregon—together worth more than $5.7 million—that were used by an interstate drug trafficking organization to illegally grow marijuana for redistribution and sale in other states. The owner of a 15th property agreed to pay the government $400,000 in lieu of having their property forfeited.

Beginning at an unknown time, and continuing until September 2021, the properties, located in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, were used as illegal marijuana grow houses by an interstate drug trafficking organization led by Fayao “Paul” Rong, 53, of Houston, Texas. On July 19, 2023, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, Rong was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

“This prosecution and yearslong effort to forfeit properties used by the Rong organization to grow and process thousands of pounds of marijuana demonstrate the long reach of our commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable and mitigating the damage these criminal organizations inflict on neighborhoods and communities,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“The goal of drug traffickers is to generate profits through their crimes,” said David F. Reames, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Seattle Field Division. “The DEA and our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the Oregon State Police worked hard in this case to investigate and forfeit the ill-gotten gains of this organization, benefiting our entire community.”

“The Oregon State Police is committed to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations operating within our state. Our priorities include safeguarding Oregon’s natural resources and mitigating the impact illicit marijuana has on them,” said Tyler Bechtel, Oregon State Police (OSP) Lieutenant. “This case is a great example of the results that can be achieved when all levels of law enforcement work together toward our common goals.”

According to court documents, Rong purchased numerous residential houses in Oregon using several different identities and, with others in his organization, used them to grow and process marijuana and prepare it for transport to states where its use remains illegal. In a 12-month period beginning August 2020, Rong’s organization trafficked more than $13.2 million dollars in black market marijuana.

In early September 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation led by DEA and OSP targeted Rong’s organization. Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners executed search warrants on 25 Oregon residences and Rong’s home in Houston. During the precipitating investigation and ensuing search warrants, investigators seized nearly 33,000 marijuana plants, 1,800 pounds of packaged marijuana, 23 firearms, nine vehicles, $20,000 in money orders, and more than $591,000 in cash.

The Rong organization takedown followed a 14-month investigation initiated by OSP after the agency learned of excessive electricity use at the various properties, which, in several instances, resulted in transformer explosions. Multiple citizen complaints corroborated law enforcement’s belief that Rong was leading a large black market marijuana operation. With the assistance of the Columbia and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices, OSP found associated marijuana grows in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Polk Counties. On February 18, 2022, Rong was arrested by DEA agents in Houston.

This case was investigated by DEA, OSP, and the U.S. Marshals Service with assistance from the FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; Oregon Department of Justice; Portland Police Bureau; the Yamhill, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Columbia, and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices; Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team; and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. Forfeiture proceedings were handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division.

The proceeds of forfeited assets are deposited in the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) and used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes. To learn more about the AFF, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/afp/assets-forfeiture-fund-aff.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Man Caught Selling Drugs to Minors Online Faces Federal Charges - 03/28/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Portland man is facing federal charges after he was caught using Telegram, an encrypted messaging service, to sell various controlled substances to minors.

Rocky Allan Rainwater, 24, has been charged by criminal complaint with distributing and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, early in 2024, law enforcement obtained information that an individual, later determined to be Rainwater, was allegedly using Telegram to advertise the sale of various illegal narcotics including cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, ketamine, LSD, Xanax, Adderall, and marijuana. In addition to delivering drugs locally, Rainwater, using the Telegram username “smokeyinpdx,” also advertised that he would sell and ship drugs to out-of-state customers. Investigators soon determined that Rainwater was advertising and selling drugs to both adults and minors.

On March 22, 2024, law enforcement arrested Rainwater while he was engaged in a cocaine sale. Investigators searched his vehicle and located a loaded .22 caliber pistol, 73 grams of cocaine, 465 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, and smaller quantities of LSD and dextroamphetamine. A subsequent search of Rainwater’s Portland residence returned additional quantities of cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine, an electronic scale, .22 caliber ammunition, and $1,490 in cash.

Rainwater made his first appearance in federal court Monday before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Today, he was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by the FBI and Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF). It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

CCITF, led by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, works to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations operating in and around Clackamas County, and reduce illegal drugs and related crimes throughout the community. The task force is comprised of members of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Canby Police Department, Oregon State Police, FBI, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). CCITF is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.

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
Portland Area Fentanyl Trafficker Sentenced to Federal Prison - 03/27/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local drug trafficker who sourced large quantities of fentanyl from out-of-state contacts with ties to Mexican cartels for redistribution and sale in the Portland area and directed the transport and sale of firearms was sentenced to federal prison today.

Francisco Moncada, 28, who maintained residences in Portland and Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in October 2021, special agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Portland District Office began investigating a drug trafficking organization operating in the Portland area and parts of Washington State. In April 2022, investigators learned that Moncada, who was later determined to be a manager within the drug trafficking organization, was communicating with multiple Portland area drug traffickers to discuss fentanyl sourcing.

On April 18, 2022, law enforcement officers stopped a vehicle being used by Moncada and several associates to transport approximately 15 pounds of fentanyl. Just under two weeks later, on April 28, 2022, officers stopped Moncada a second time and seized an additional 10 pounds of fentanyl. Within days, investigators also obtained information that Moncada had instructed other members of his organization to sell various firearms.

On May 20, 2022, investigators searched Moncada’s Portland and Vancouver residences and seized seven firearms and two pounds of fentanyl. Between October 2021 and August 2022, investigators located and seized 50 pounds of fentanyl, 40 pounds of methamphetamine, and smaller quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana from Moncada and his associates, and made 16 arrests connected to their organization.

On May 21, 2022, Moncada and three others were charged my federal criminal complaint with conspiring with one another to possess and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. On June 14, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Moncada and eight associates for conspiring with one another to distribute fentanyl. Moncada was also charged with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On December 20, 2023, Moncada became the tenth member of his organization to plead guilty and, today, becomes the seventh member to be sentenced to federal prison. Four others are awaiting sentencing and one is a fugitive.

This case was investigated by DEA with assistance from the FBI Vancouver Resident Agency, Vancouver Police Department, Oregon State Police, Oregon City Police Department and Washington State Department of Corrections. It was prosecuted by Bryan Chinwuba, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Washington State Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Distributing Fentanyl, Aiding and Abetting Armed Robbery of a Minor - 03/21/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Washington State man was sentenced to federal prison today for distributing fentanyl and aiding and abetting the armed robbery of a 14-year-old.

Levi Joseph Blomdahl, 38, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, in 2021, as a part of an ongoing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) into Portland area fentanyl trafficking, Blomdahl was identified as a Pacific Northwest fentanyl dealer. In September 2021, Blomdahl was the victim of a drug-related robbery and shooting on Hayden Island in Portland during which he exchanged gunfire with the robber and sustained gunshot wounds. The robber, Anthony Pastorino, 44, also of Vancouver, fled the scene before police arrived and Blomdahl was taken to a local hospital to receive medical treatment.

Further investigation revealed that beginning in January 2021, Blomdahl made multiple trips from Portland to Phoenix, Arizona, to purchase fentanyl he would return to the Pacific Northwest for redistribution and sale. On November 18, 2021, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Blomdahl’s Vancouver residence where they located and seized approximately 600 grams of fentanyl, two firearms, ammunition, and smaller amounts of other controlled substances.

While investigating Blomdahl’s drug trafficking, HSI learned that he had also aided and abetted the armed robbery of a 14-year-old boy in September 2021, in Vancouver, five days before Blomdahl himself was the victim of an armed robbery. It was revealed that Blomdahl was in close contact with another individual who, while pretending to be a police officer, stole a motorcycle offered for sale online by the 14-year-old. During the robbery, Blomdahl sent messages to the robber, including one encouraging him to place the boy under “arrest.” Blomdahl further contacted the victim’s mother, posing as the victim, to try and gain access to the boy’s online sales account.

On March 10, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Blomdahl with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

On September 14, 2023, Blomdahl pleaded guilty to a two-count superseding criminal information charging him with possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl and aiding and abetting motor vehicle theft.

On May 3, 2023, Pastorino was sentenced to 77 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release for his role in the armed robbery of Blomdahl.

This case was investigated by HSI and the Portland Police Bureau. It was prosecuted by Cassady A. Adams, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Assaulting Girlfriend on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation - 03/21/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Warm Springs, Oregon man with seven prior domestic violence convictions was sentenced to federal prison today for assaulting his then-girlfriend on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in December 2020.

Alfred Dee Kaulaity, 47, was sentenced to 66 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Kaulaity’s federal sentence will run consecutive to a 78-month state prison sentence previously imposed following a domestic violence conviction in Jefferson County, Oregon.

“The victim in this case courageously turned in her abuser to stop his dangerous pattern of violence” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “Our Special Victims Unit is intently focused on holding domestic abusers accountable and stopping this violence in our communities.”

“Everyone has the human right to live in safety, free from violence and abuse. The FBI has a duty to recognize and defend this right,” said Aubree M. Schwartz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “Domestic violence is rarely an isolated incident; the cycle of abuse frequently spans years, oftentimes with several victims as in the case with Alfred Kaulaity. The FBI fully investigates domestic violence with intense commitment to the safety and confidentiality of victims and encourages reporting of these heinous crimes to bring offenders to justice and protect others from harm.”

According to court documents, on December 3, 2020, Kaulaity was dining with his girlfriend at the Indian Head Casino on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Kaulaity became angry with his girlfriend for speaking to a male friend and, while driving away from the casino, struck her with the back of his hand, injuring her and leaving a scar on the bridge of her nose. Kaulaity then threatened to kill his girlfriend while driving her from Oregon to northern California.

After several days, Kaulaity’s girlfriend purchased flights to different destinations for Kaulaity and herself. When deboarding her flight to Portland, airline employees observed the women’s injuries and reported them Port of Portland police. The woman told officers she had been assaulted by her boyfriend but did not identify him out of fear. Six months later, in June 2021, Jefferson County Sheriff deputies responded to a reported assault of the same woman. The woman identified Kaulaity as her assailant and reported his prior December 2020 assault.

On May 3, 2022, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a four-count indictment charging Kaulaity with kidnapping, domestic assault by a habitual offender, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury, and interstate domestic assault. On December 1, 2023, he pleaded guilty to domestic assault by a habitual offender.

In June 2022, Kaulaity was convicted at trial of coercion and assault constituting domestic violence in Jefferson County Circuit Court for an assault involving the same victim as in his federal case and, following trial, was sentenced to a total of 78 months in Oregon state prison. Kaulaity’s federal sentence imposed today will run consecutive to his state prison sentence. Prior to his two Oregon domestic violence convictions, Kaulaity had six prior domestic violence convictions in Oklahoma spanning seventeen years and involving three different victims.

Kaulaity was ordered today to pay $1,432 in restitution to his victim and $3,494 to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Account.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Warm Springs Tribal Police Department. It was prosecuted by Pamela Paaso, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Domestic violence is a serious crime that can include both physical and emotional abuse, and it is frequently hidden from public view. Many survivors suffer in silence, afraid to seek help or not knowing where to turn. The traumatic effects of domestic violence also extend beyond the abused person, impacting family members, friends, and communities.

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

If you need assistance or know someone who needs help, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Many communities throughout the country have also created support networks to assist survivors in the process of recovery.

The StrongHearts Native Helpline offers culturally specific support and advocacy for American Indian and Alaska Native survivors of domestic violence. Please call 1-844-762-8483 or visit www.strongheartshelpline.org for more information.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Former Grass Seed Company Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Schemes to Defraud Simplot - 03/21/24

PORTLAND, Ore.— An Idaho man who formerly supervised order-fulfillment and warehousing operations for the Jacklin Seed Company, a Liberty Lake, Washington producer and marketer of grass seed and turfgrass, was sentenced to federal prison today for his role in multiple schemes to defraud the J.R. Simplot Company and Jacklin, its former subsidiary.

Richard Dunham, 66, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Dunham was also ordered to pay $348,065 in restitution to Simplot.

According to court documents, from 1997 until its sale in 2020, the J.R. Simplot Company, a major privately held supplier of agricultural products headquartered in Boise, Idaho, owned and operated Jacklin. During this time, much of Jacklin’s business operations, including a seed-blending and warehousing facility, were located in and around Albany, Oregon. Dunham, who supervised Jacklin’s Albany operations, had the authority to purchase grass seed from certain Oregon growers over others.

At some point between 2013 and 2015, Dunham, Jacklin general manager Christopher Claypool, of Spokane, Washington, and others realized that growers’ preference for higher-yield grasses was creating substantial shortages of lower-yield varieties Jacklin had contracted to deliver to its customers. Dunham and Claypool recognized that these shortages would either cause Jacklin to fail to deliver on its existing contracts or require Jacklin to pay a premium to growers to acquire necessary inventory, substantially eroding company profits. The pair anticipated that either result would negatively affect their careers.

From January 2015 and continuing until at least the summer of 2019, Dunham and Claypool directed Jacklin employees, at the Albany facility and elsewhere, to fulfill customer orders with different varieties of grass seed than the customers had ordered, to conceal such substitutions from the customers, and to invoice the customers as though no substitutions had taken place. Together, they referred to this scheme as “getting creative.”

To conceal the unauthorized substitutions, Dunham and Claypool directed Jacklin employees to package the substitute seed varieties with false and misleading labels. They also directed employees to invoice the customers under the original terms of their contracts, notwithstanding the unauthorized substitutions. As a result of this scheme, Simplot refunded or credited more than $1.5 million to defrauded buyers.

During the same time, Dunham and Claypool also agreed to import mislabeled seeds from Moore Seeds, a Jacklin supplier based in Debolt, Alberta, Canada, to offset the shortage of one of Jacklin’s best-selling grass seed blends. In doing so, Dunham conspired with the owner of Cankiwi Ventures, Ltd., Moore’s managing entity, to purchase a less expensive seed blend at above-market rates in exchange for Moore’s falsely labeling the seed as Jacklin’s premier blend and shipping it, under that false pretense, to Jacklin in Oregon.

In additional to the undisclosed seed substitutions, Dunham engaged in another scheme while employed with Jacklin. Beginning no later than April 2015, Dunham conspired to obtain kickback payments from grass seed growers and brokers that regularly did business with Jacklin, including Ground Zero Seeds, International, of Yamhill, Oregon, and ProSeeds Marketing, Inc., of Jefferson, Oregon. Between April 2015 and September 2019, Dunham successfully solicited more than $191,789 in kickbacks from Ground Zero and $156,275 from ProSeeds.

On July 7, 2021, Claypool was sentenced to three years in federal prison and three years’ supervised release after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wired fraud and money laundering.

On April 29, 2022, Dunham was charged by federal criminal information with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and, on July 7, 2022, pleaded guilty to both counts.

In two separate cases, Ground Zero Seeds International and ProSeeds Marketing, Inc., pleaded guilty to knowingly concealing schemes to defraud Jacklin. Both companies were sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay criminal fines of $40,000 and $5,000, respectively.  In addition, Ground Zero was ordered to pay Simplot $516,000 in restitution, and ProSeeds was ordered to pay Simplot more than $78,000.

In a third separate case, CanKiwi Ventures, Ltd., the manager of the Canadian grower Moore Seed, pleaded guilty on March 7, 2024, to smuggling mislabeled seed into the United States using false documents and was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $100,000. 

This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Overdose Death of Portland Teenager - 03/20/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local man was sentenced to federal prison today for distributing fentanyl that caused the overdose death of a Portland teenager.

Tanner Welsh, 21, was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, on November 10, 2022, officers from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) responded to a fatal overdose of a 17-year-old teenager. Investigating officers located several small blue pills near the teenager’s body they believed were counterfeit Oxycodone pills containing fentanyl. An autopsy later confirmed the teenager died from fentanyl poisoning.

Further investigation revealed that the teenager had exchanged several text messages with Welsh shortly before overdosing in response to an online ad Welsh posted offering the sale of controlled substances. Investigators also learned that Welsh had personally traveled to the teenager’s house to deliver the fentanyl pills.

On January 24, 2024, special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) located and arrested Welsh who admitted selling fentanyl and Xanax pills to the deceased teenager.

On February 8, 2023, a federal grand jury in Portland indicted Welsh on one count of possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. On December 13, 2023, Welsh pleaded guilty to a one-count superseding criminal information charging him with distributing fentanyl to a person under the age of twenty-one.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Four Hoover Criminal Gang Members Indicted for Murder in Aid of Racketeering - 03/20/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Portland has returned an indictment charging four Hoover Criminal Gang members for their roles in murdering a Portland man in December 2020.

Taezhon Tyreik Kelly, 23, Anthony Devion Bagsby, 32, and Delane William Roy, 25, all of Portland, and Cocoa Dalonta Taplin, 28, of Fairview, Oregon, have been charged with murder in aid of racketeering, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, and causing death through the use of a firearm.

The indictment alleges that on December 11, 2020, Kelly, Bagsby, Taplin, and Roy intentionally murdered D.M., a Portland man, for the purpose of maintaining and increasing their position in the Hoover Criminal Gang, a criminal enterprise engaged in racketeering in California, Oregon, Washington, and elsewhere.

Bagsby and Taplin were arrested today in Portland by the FBI, Portland Police Bureau (PPB), and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Both made their first appearances in federal court and were ordered detained pending a six-week jury trial scheduled to begin on April 30, 2024. Kelly was arrested Tuesday in Halton City, Texas and made his first appearance today in the Northern District of Texas. Roy was arrested today in Kaplan, Louisiana and made his first appearance in the Western District of Louisiana. Both were detained pending their transfer to the District of Oregon.

According to the indictment, the Hoovers are a criminal street gang operating in Oregon known to engage in acts of violence including murder, assault, robbery, sex trafficking, and the distribution of illegal 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 are expected to carry out violence on behalf of the enterprise.

This case was investigated by the FBI, PPB, MCSO, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Gresham Police Department, 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 defendants are 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.

This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Washington State Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Marketing and Selling Low-Quality Ballistic Protective Equipment Produced in China to Dozens of Law Enforcement Agencies and the U.S. Military - 03/19/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Washington State man was sentenced to federal prison today for knowingly and intentionally marketing and selling low-quality ballistic protective equipment produced in China to dozens of domestic law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Military.

Jeffrey Meining, 42, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, from at least 2016 and continuing until 2022, Meining operated a ballistic equipment business called “BulletProof-IT” that sold products to numerous state, local, and federal agencies that included law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and the U.S. Military. Throughout his time in business, Meining lied about where the products he sold were made and their compliance with product safety and performance standards, including those set by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

On his website and other business materials, Meining falsely claimed that the ballistic protective equipment he sold—including helmets, body armor, and shields—were made in the United States, when in fact, most were made in China. For example, in December 2017, Meining purchased 600 helmets from a Chinese company for just over $50,000. At around the same time, Meining sold 600 of the same model helmets for $90,000 to a reseller than in turn sold them to the U.S. Department of State for $107,994.

In addition to lying about the origin of his products on business informational materials, Meining also lied about their origin on contracts with the U.S. Government. In 2016, BulletProof-IT became a supplier of goods to U.S Tactical Supply under a contract with the General Services Administration (GSA), which allowed federal, state, and local government agencies to place orders for tactical supplies from certified suppliers. Under the terms of the GSA contract, the government could only purchase goods made in the U.S. or designated countries. Between 2016 and January 2022, Meining supplied over $1 million in products under the GSA contract, nearly $400,000 of which were substitute products that did not meet required safety standards.

Meining further lied about his safety testing of products, falsely calming to sell products certified to NIJ standards despite never having paid for any full NIJ testing. Achieving NIJ standards requires, among other criteria, the testing of numerous samples of a particular product. Instead of adhering to these requirements, Meining simply paid for “modified” testing usually completed as part of a product’s research and development. Several of the products Meining offered for sale failed even this more limited testing protocol. Despite these results, Meining continued offering these products for sale and, in several instances, falsified the test results he received to mislead his customers.

On June 28, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Portland intercepted and detained a package from China addressed to Meining that contained helmets and ceramic body armor plates. To release the shipment, Meining submitted doctored test results on which he removed notations of the various products having failed their performance tests.

Throughout his time in business, customers relied on Meining’s false statements and falsified product testing results in making their purchase decisions. For example, in 2019, Meining signed a $247,800 contract with the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Arizona for the purchase of 840 ballistics helmets. In the contract, Meining falsely verified that the helmets met NIJ performance standards. In another instance, in 2021, Meining signed a $32,680 contract with the U.S. Air Force for helmets and equipment. In that contract, Meining again falsely stated that the helmets met NIJ standards and were made in the U.S.

On November 11, 2022, Meining was charged by criminal information with wire fraud, and, on March 23, 2023, he pleaded guilty to the single charge.

“We are thankful to the many investigative agencies that worked together to hold Jeffrey Meining accountable and deter others from engaging similar reckless criminal acts,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“In the shadow of deceit, Jeffrey Meining orchestrated a scheme of betrayal, defrauding not only law enforcement agencies but the very fabric of trust woven into our nation’s armor,” said Robert Hammer, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle Field Office. “Through his company, Meining peddled false promises, masqueraded Chinese-made products as American-made, and fabricated test results to conceal their inadequacy. His actions, a grave breach of integrity, endangered the lives of those sworn to protect and serve. Let today’s sentencing serve as a call to fortify our vigilance against nefarious actors who seek to compromise the safety of our nation’s defenders.”

“Mr. Meining’s sentencing culminates his illicit scheme to defraud various local, state, and federal government entities, including the Department of Defense,” said Bryan D. Denny, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Western Field Office. “He falsely claimed that the protective equipment he sold to the government, such as helmets and body armor, met specified testing standards and were made in the United States. Mr. Meining’s actions put U.S. servicemembers at risk, degraded American warfighter readiness, and undermined the missions of our military services.”

“This General Services Administration (GSA) contractor supplier made false claims about the country of origin and ballistic protection levels of their products that law enforcement and fire department personnel rely on for safety,” said Terry Pfiefer, Special Agent in Charge of the GSA Office of Inspector General Western Division. “This is unacceptable, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold vendors accountable for such fraudulent acts.”

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General with assistance from CBP, the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Army Criminal Investigation Division Major Procurement Fraud Unit, and the Offices of Inspectors General from the Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Interior, and Department of Veterans Affairs.

It was prosecuted by Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: SENTENCING-Meining-Final.pdf
Former Federal Correctional Officer Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Bribery and Contraband Smuggling Scheme - 03/18/24

PORTLAND, Ore.—A former federal correctional officer in Oregon was sentenced to federal prison today for his role in a conspiracy to smuggle contraband into a federal prison in exchange for money.

Nickolas Carlos Herrera, 34, of McMinnville, Oregon, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

“Corruption by any public official or law enforcement officer is unacceptable. Mr. Herrera dishonored both himself and the law he swore to uphold, as well as the justice system he represents, by allowing a free flow of criminal activity in and out of the prison,” said Aubree M. Schwartz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “Today’s sentence should send a strong message to all who abuse their positions for personal gain: we will not accept corruption in any form, or at any level.”

“By smuggling drugs, a cell phone, and other contraband into FCI Sheridan, Herrera exchanged the safety and security of the entire institution for his own selfish gain. Today’s sentencing shows that correctional officers who accept bribes and bring contraband into federal prisons will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Zachary Shroyer, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Western Region.

According to court documents, from April 2015 until he was placed on administrative leave in December 2019, Herrera was employed as a correctional officer at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, a medium security federal prison. Herrera used his position to introduce contraband into the facility for the benefit of select inmates, including Donte Hunt, 40, of Portland, who at the time was in custody pending trial on federal drug, gun, and money laundering charges. In the spring of 2019, Herrera started bringing contraband items such as food, clothing, and cigarettes into the facility, which he gave to Hunt.

Later, Herrera brought Hunt marijuana; Suboxone, a Schedule III narcotic; Yeezy brand designer sneakers; and a cell phone. Herrera obtained the items from Elizabeth McIntosh, 34, a non-incarcerated associate of Hunt’s. On at least one occasion, Herrera allowed Hunt to use a staff phone at the prison to call McIntosh to arrange the delivery of contraband to Herrera. Herrera met McIntosh on multiple occasions to obtain items for Hunt and accepted payment from her on Hunt’s behalf.

On September 24, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Herrera, Hunt, and McIntosh with conspiracy and bribing a public official. Herrera and Hunt were also charged with providing contraband in prison.

On May 19, 2022, Herrera pleaded guilty to conspiracy, providing contraband in prison, and accepting a bribe as a public official.

On December 18, 2023, Hunt pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribing a public official. He was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison to be served concurrently with a 300-month sentence previously imposed from his underlying criminal case.

On November 29, 2023, McIntosh pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging her with misprision of felony and, on February 13, 2023, she was sentenced to one year of probation.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Portland Police Bureau, and IRS-Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Ethan Knight and Katherine Rykken, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release