U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
Attorney General Announces Launch of Project Guardian--A Nationwide Strategic Plan to Reduce Gun Violence - 11/13/19

Initiative emphasizes enforcing gun prohibitions based on domestic violence convictions and mental health denials

WASHINGTON—Today, Attorney General William P. Barr announced the launch of Project Guardian, a new initiative designed to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country. Specifically, Project Guardian focuses on investigating, prosecuting, and preventing gun crimes.

Reducing gun violence and enforcing federal firearms laws have always been among the Department’s highest priorities. In order to develop a new and robust effort to promote and ensure public safety, the Department reviewed and adapted some of the successes of past strategies to curb gun violence. Project Guardian draws on the Department’s earlier achievements, such as the “Triggerlock” program, and it serves as a complementary effort to the success of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In addition, the initiative emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.

“Gun crime remains a pervasive problem in too many communities across America. Today, the Department of Justice is redoubling its commitment to tackling this issue through the launch of Project Guardian,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Building on the success of past programs like Triggerlock, Project Guardian will strengthen our efforts to reduce gun violence by allowing the federal government and our state and local partners to better target offenders who use guns in crimes and those who try to buy guns illegally.”

“We are pleased to join Attorney General Barr in announcing Project Guardian—a critical initiative aimed at reducing gun violence in communities across the country. Oregonians are no strangers to the heartbreaking impact gun violence has on the lives of its many victims. Enough is enough; continued violence on our streets is simply unacceptable,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “We will work closely with our Justice Department colleagues to ensure a speedy rollout of Project Guardian so it can begin saving Oregon lives immediately. I believe it will.”

“ATF has a long history of strong partnerships in the law enforcement community,” said Acting Director Regina Lombardo. “Make no mistake, the women and men of ATF remain steadfast to our core mission of getting crime guns off of our streets. ATF and U.S. Attorneys nationwide will leverage these partnerships even further through enhanced community outreach initiatives and coordination with local, state, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors to cut the pipeline of crime guns from those violent individuals who seek to terrorize our communities. Project Guardian will enhance ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence, to include identifying, investigating and prosecuting those involved in the straw purchases of firearms, lying on federal firearms transaction forms, and those subject to the mental health prohibition of possessing firearms.”

Project Guardian’s implementation is based on five principles:

1. Coordinated Prosecution

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement will coordinate with state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors to consider potential federal prosecution for new cases involving a defendant who: a) was arrested in possession of a firearm; b) is believed to have used a firearm in committing a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime prosecutable in federal court; or c) is suspected of actively committing violent crime(s) in the community on behalf of a criminal organization.

2. Enforcing the Background Check System

United States Attorneys, in consultation with the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in their district, will create new, or review existing, guidelines for intake and prosecution of federal cases involving false statements (including lie-and-try, lie-and-buy, and straw purchasers) made during the acquisition or attempted acquisition of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees.

Particular emphasis is placed on individuals convicted of violent felonies or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, individuals subject to protective orders, and individuals who are fugitives where the underlying offense is a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; individuals suspected of involvement in criminal organizations or of providing firearms to criminal organizations; and individuals involved in repeat denials.

3. Improved Information Sharing

On a regular basis, and as often as practicable given current technical limitations, ATF will provide to state law enforcement fusion centers a report listing individuals for whom the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has issued denials, including the basis for the denial, so that state and local law enforcement can take appropriate steps under their laws.

4. Coordinated Response to Mental Health Denials

Each United States Attorney will ensure that whenever there is federal case information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under the mental health prohibition, such information continues to be entered timely and accurately into the United States Attorneys’ Offices’ case-management system for prompt submission to NICS. ATF should engage in additional outreach to state and local law enforcement on how to use this denial information to better assure public safety.

Additionally, United States Attorneys will consult with relevant district stakeholders to assess feasibility of adopting disruption of early engagement programs to address mental-health-prohibited individuals who attempt to acquire a firearm. United States Attorneys should consider, when appropriate, recommending court-ordered mental health treatment for any sentences issued to individuals prohibited based on mental health.

5. Crime Gun Intelligence Coordination

Federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement will work together to ensure effective use of the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGICs), and all related resources, to maximize the use of modern intelligence tools and technology. These tools can greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness in identifying trigger-pullers and finding their guns, but the success depends in large part on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners sharing ballistic evidence and firearm recovery data with the ATF.

Federal law enforcement represents only about 15% of all law enforcement resources nationwide. Therefore, partnerships with state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the communities they serve are critical to addressing gun crime. The Department recognizes that sharing information with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners at every level will enhance public safety, and provide a greater depth of resources available to address gun crime on a national level.

For more information on Project Guardian, see the Attorney General’s memorandum at: https://www.justice.gov/ag/project-guardian-memo-2019/download.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Umatilla Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Federal Prison for Brutal Assault of Significant Other - 11/12/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Jared Elias Case, 26, of Umatilla, Oregon, was sentenced today to 37 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release after repeatedly assaulting his significant other.

According to court documents, on July 19, 2018, Case punched his then-significant other in the face, breaking her nose and causing other injuries. Case was charged and later convicted of fourth-degree misdemeanor assault in Umatilla County Circuit Court and a domestic abuse protection order was issued by the Umatilla Tribal Court. The protection order prohibited Case from having contact with the crime victim pending a full hearing.

One month later, on August 22, 2018, Case went to a party with the crime victim in violation of the protection order. He began drinking and started arguing with her. While she was seated in a chair, Case put his hands around her neck and strangled her until she blacked out. When she regained consciousness, she got up to leave. Case followed her outside, grabbed her by the shoulders and repeatedly punched her in the face until she again lost consciousness. Case fled, abandoning the crime victim who was lying unconscious in a driveway. He later turned himself in to the Umatilla Tribal Police Department.

On July 9, 2019, Case pleaded guilty to one count of assault by strangulation. As part of his plea agreement, Case will pay restitution his victim as ordered by the court. A restitution hearing has been scheduled for February 10, 2020.

This case was investigated by the Umatilla Tribal Police Department and FBI Portland’s Safe Trails Task Force. It was prosecuted by Jennifer Martin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Domestic violence is a serious violent crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse. 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 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 developed 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.

The Safe Trails Task Force (STTF) unites FBI and federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in a collaborative effort to combat the growth of crime in Indian Country. STTF allows participating agencies to combine limited resources and increase investigative coordination in Indian Country to target violent crime, drugs, gangs and gaming violations.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Beaverton Man Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For Assaulting Federal Task Force Officers With Explosive Device - 11/08/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Jason Paul Schaefer, 28, of Beaverton, Oregon, was sentenced today to 40 years in federal prison and 5 years’ supervised release for detonating an improvised explosive device on October 11, 2017, assaulting two members of the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

            In May 2019, Schaefer was convicted after a six-day trial of two counts of assaulting a federal officer and one count each of carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, carrying and using an explosive during the commission of a federal felony, unlawful transport of explosive materials, possession of an unregistered destructive device and being a felon in possession of explosives.

            “The government may never fully know why Mr. Schaefer amassed a large quantity of dangerous precursor chemicals and the components needed to make a large, remote-detonating bomb. What we do know is that on October 11, 2017, he tried to kill two federal task force officers attempting to make a lawful arrest,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the JTTF agents and partners and our prosecutors for protecting our community by taking this violent criminal off the streets. This prosecution affirms the critical public safety mission of the JTTF and the need for continued and active participation of all federal, state and local partners.”

            “Jason Schaefer’s sentence is commensurate to the danger he posed to his neighbors in the community. The officers and agents of the FBI’s JTTF hope this sentence will serve as a deterrent to others who may consider dangerous or violent illegal actions,” said Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.

            “The Oregon State Police is proud of the collaboration among our local and federal partners on the JTTF, with our mutual goal to keep Oregon safe. We are grateful that our troopers and taskforce officers were not seriously injured during this rapidly developing event. OSP is also appreciative of the time and attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office to seek justice in this case,” said Travis Hampton, Superintendent of the Oregon State Police.

            “The Washington County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the JTTF and partnering agencies for their hard work in this investigation. We value these important public safety partnerships that work tirelessly to keep our communities safe,” said Pat Garrett, Washington County Sheriff.

            According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on or about September 21, 2017, FBI Portland determined that Schaefer had purchased several items that could be used to make a bomb. Schaefer was known to federal investigators after an April 2017 incident where he threatened to kill his landlords and used mercury to deter people from entering an apartment garage he rented in Beaverton. The incident led to Schaefer being arrested and prosecuted for illegally possessing body armor.

            On October 11, 2017, federal agents and task force officers executed a search warrant on Schaefer’s Beaverton apartment. Schaefer arrived that morning at a meeting with his probation officer to find two federal agents there to meet him. They notified Schaefer of the warrant and asked if his property was booby trapped. Schaeffer told the agents that it was not and the search commenced.

            After a brief conversation with the agents, Schaefer departed in a white sport utility vehicle. The agents followed Schaefer, but lost him. Meanwhile, agents searching Schaefer’s apartment found several explosive precursors and electronic matches. While the search was ongoing, Schaefer returned to the apartment and threatened a task force officer before fleeing.

            Two task force officers pursued Schaefer who soon got stuck in traffic. The officers approached Schaefer on foot and ordered him out of the vehicle. Schaefer did not comply, threatened to kill the officers and ignited an explosive device concealed in a cigarette pack. The blast caused significant injury to Schaefer’s hand and sent debris flying into one of the officers, who suffered bodily injury. Following the explosion, Schaefer was arrested and officers found a second cigarette pack containing explosives in his vehicle.

            This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. It was investigated by the Portland JTTF. 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: SENTENCING-Schaefer-Final.pdf
Hoover Criminal Gang Member Lorenzo Jones Indicted for Racketeering Conspiracy - 11/07/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today that Lorenzo Laron Jones, 46, a Portland resident and senior member of the Hoover Criminal Gang, has been indicted for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that caused the shooting deaths of two Portland men.

Jones is charged with racketeering conspiracy and two counts each of 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 superseding indictment alleges that beginning in June 1989, Jones engaged in a 30-year pattern of violent racketeering activity 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.

Jones is alleged to have murdered Ascensio Genchi Garcia on July 19, 1998 and Wilbert Butler on September 17, 2017, both in Portland. Additionally, he is accused of attempting to murder six other people, possessing stolen firearms, and distributing cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

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

Jones is named alongside fellow Hoover gang members Ronald Clayton Rhodes, 34, and Javier Fernando Hernandez, 23, both of Portland, in the superseding indictment unsealed today. Rhodes and Hernandez were previously 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 for the December 16, 2015 murder of Portland resident Kyle Polk.

Jones, Rhodes and Hernandez will be tried together and each face 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 are 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, Gresham Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) 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 , Timeline
Notice of Press Conference - 11/07/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, will hold a press conference today with Portland law enforcement partners.

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019

Time: Camera preset at 1:30PM. Conference to begin between 2:00-2:15PM. Last entry at 2:00PM.

Location:

U.S. Attorney’s Office – Sixth Floor – Main Conference Room

Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse

1000 SW Third Ave., Suite 600

Portland, OR 97204

Access:

All credentialed media are invited to attend and required to display valid photo identification to gain entry into the courthouse and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Please limit attendance to a maximum of three individuals from any one media outlet.

Photo/Video:

Credentialed media are invited to use camera and audio equipment during the press conference. Livestreaming is permitted, but public Wi-Fi is not available. Use of camera and audio equipment is otherwise prohibited in the federal courthouse.

Fugitive and Tax Fraud Promoter Captured and Set to Serve His 10 Year Prison Sentence - 11/06/19

WASHINGTON – A fugitive and former Hillsboro, Oregon, tax fraud promoter, who had been on the run since he was supposed to start serving a 10 year prison sentence, was caught in Arizona and apprehended on Nov. 1, 2019, by the U.S. Marshals Service, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Winston Shrout, 70, was convicted by a jury in April 2017 of submitting fraudulent financial instruments to banks and the U.S. Treasury, and failing to file income tax returns. According to the evidence presented at his trial and sentencing, from approximately 2008 through 2015, Shrout created and submitted more than 300 such fraudulent instruments. He also held seminars and private meetings to promote and market the use of these instruments to pay off debts, including federal taxes. Shrout sold recordings of his seminars, templates for fraudulent financial instruments and other materials through his website.

In addition, Shrout did not file his 2009 through 2014 tax returns despite earning substantial income from seminars, licensing fees associated with the sale of his products, and annual pension payments. Shrout admitted during trial that he had not paid income tax for at least 20years.

On Oct. 22, 2018, Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced Shrout to 10 years in prison, to serve five years of supervised release, and to pay restitution to the IRS. Shrout failed to report to prison as ordered in March 2019, and was a fugitive until his arrest late last week. Shrout appeared in district court and will be transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison term.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman commended the diligent investigation of the U.S. Marshals Service in Portland, Oregon, and Phoenix, Arizona, for bringing Shrout to justice. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman also commended special agents of IRS–Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, Trial Attorneys Stuart Wexler and Lee Langston of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, and Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Bounds, for their support during the investigation, prosecution, and apprehension of the defendant in this case.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

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Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities Event Draws Hundreds of Community and Law Enforcement Leaders - 11/01/19

Fourth annual event held on October 24, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore.—More than 350 law enforcement officials and community members came together for the fourth-annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities event on October 24, 2019, hosted by the Muslim Educational Trust (MET) in Tigard, Oregon, marking the event series’ largest gathering to-date.

A video of the event is available here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n6WkYAsCp0.

This year’s theme was Confronting Hate. Criminal justice and community leaders shared perspectives and engaged in discussions on how to best respond to and prevent future hate-motivated incidents and crimes.

Panelists with diverse community perspectives discussed their personal experiences with hate-motivated incidents and crimes. The event concluded with a listening session and facilitated discussion.

Presenters included leaders and subject matter experts from the Western States Center, Portland United Against Hate, Coalition of Communities of Color, Coalition Against Hate Crimes, Oregon District Attorney’s Association, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, Oregon Attorney General’s Office, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and others who presented information reviewing recent racial violence trends and data from our community as well as legal and enforcement efforts at the local, state and federal levels.

The Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities event series brings leaders from public safety and civil society organizations together to build and strengthen trust with one another and to cultivate that trust within the communities served. The annual event has been held at MET since its inception in the fall of 2016.

The event series is hosted by the Muslim Educational Trust, and jointly sponsored by Washington County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices, Washington County, City of Beaverton, City of Hillsboro, City of Portland New Portlander Commission, City of Lake Oswego, Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, Latino Network, Vision Action Network, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Muslim Community Center of Portland, Korean American Coalition, New Portlanders Foundation, Tigard Police Department, Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices, Urban League of Portland and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

If you have media inquiries or would like to book interviews with steering committee members, please contact Stephen Mayer of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office: Stephen_Mayer@co.washington.or.us, 971-708-8219.

Media outlets are also welcome to contact the following steering committee members directly:

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Former Portland Nurse Pleads Guilty to Heroin Trafficking - 10/31/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Rene Elene Griffin Nunn, 60, a resident of Vancouver, Washington pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. At the time of the offense, Nunn was a registered nurse at Adventist Medical Center in Portland.

According to court documents, in February 2018, Nunn drove from Vancouver to Portland with approximately 93 grams of heroin in her purse. Based on a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Clackamas County Interagency Task Force (CCITF), Nunn was located and arrested driving into Portland.

Nunn faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and three years of supervised release. She will be sentenced on February 3, 2020 by U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Accountant and Marijuana Proprietor Sentenced to 51 Months in Federal Prison for Fraud and Tax Evasion - 10/24/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Nathan Wheeler, 43, a certified public accountant (CPA) residing in Portland, was sentenced today to 51 months in federal prison and 3 years’ supervised release for wire fraud and tax evasion.

            According to court documents, since 2012, Wheeler owned and operated Bridge City Advisors LLC, an accounting firm that provided investment and legal services to clients throughout the Portland area. Wheeler used his position as a CPA to persuade clients to invest in various real estate development projects. Instead of providing promised rates of return and real estate security interests, Wheeler converted his clients’ money to his own use, living an extravagant lifestyle he could not otherwise afford and building a large marijuana business.

            “Mr. Wheeler had an important fiduciary responsibility to act in the best financial interests of his clients. Instead, he repeatedly lied to and stole from them,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “His theft from two minor children who had recently endured the loss of their father is uniquely cold-hearted. The children’s simple requests for funds to cover routine expenses like braces were met with callous lies. My hope is that Mr. Wheeler’s prosecution and time behind bars will offer some measure of solace to his many victims.”

            “As a CPA, Mr. Wheeler presented himself to investors as a reliable financial advisor in order to receive investment funds, and yet he greedily diverted those funds for his own investment interests. Additionally, Mr. Wheeler knew his obligation to accurately report income on a tax return, but instead chose to file a false personal tax return to evade his tax obligation,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “IRS-Criminal Investigation will hold accountable licensed CPAs who mislead and violate the trust of the public and the profession for their own selfish interests.”

To carry out his scheme, Wheeler would create limited liability corporations (LLCs) as an investment vehicle on behalf of his clients and name himself a member. He would then open bank accounts for his clients and attempt to gain signing authority so he could transfer funds independently.

            One of Wheeler’s first victims was a C Trust or “minor’s trust” established for the benefit of two children whose father died in April 2011. Wheeler was named a trustee of the C Trust and facilitated the sale of the father’s business six months after his death. Unbeknownst to the children or their representatives, Wheeler used the proceeds to purchase a large residential real estate development in Washington State called Trotter Downs in his own name. Despite being the primary source of funding to purchase the development, the children were left with no ownership lien on the property. Further, Wheeler repeatedly refused to pay for the children’s expenses, falsely claiming that the funds were frozen because of a lawsuit involving their deceased father.

            A second Wheeler victim was a silver medalist for the U.S. Olympic snowboarding team who had created his own line of snowboarding equipment. Wheeler managed to gain signing authority on some of the victim’s bank accounts and made multiple unauthorized transfers of funds to his own accounts. In just two years, Wheeler embezzled more than $962,000 from the athlete victim.

Many of Wheeler’s victims were retirees who entrusted him with their life savings. One retired victim, a former law enforcement officer, invested more $236,000 with Wheeler. Wheeler quickly redirected these funds for his own use. Shortly thereafter, he used $27,500 of the victim’s money to purchase an engagement ring for his fiancé.

In total, between 2011 and 2014, Wheeler defrauded his clients of more than $4.4 million. The government’s financial investigation revealed that within hours or days of receiving client investment funds, Wheeler would redirect the money to various personal uses.

Wheeler spent a large portion of the money he stole from his clients’ investment assets at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas, Nevada, at strip clubs, on travel and on expenses related to his marijuana grow operations. Wheeler is a former part owner of Club Rouge, a strip club in Downtown Portland.

            U.S. District Court Judge Karin J. Immergut postponed the hearing regarding restitution to his former clients and to the IRS until January 10, 2020.

The government filed a civil forfeiture action on the remaining 25 plots in Trotter Downs that Wheeler had not yet sold. This action prevented Wheeler from continuing to sell off plots for his own benefit.

            On May 24, 2018, Wheeler pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud and attempting to evade or defeat his tax obligations.

            This case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Portland Police Bureau,  and prosecuted by Michelle Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. The related civil forfeiture case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie de Villiers.

Attached Media Files: SENTENCING-Wheeler-Final.pdf
Lane County School District Awarded Justice Department Grant for School Violence Prevention - 10/21/19

WASHINGTON— Today, the Department of Justice announced it has awarded more than $85.3 million to bolster school security—including funding to educate and train students and faculty—and support first responders who arrive on the scene of a school shooting or other violent incident.

Lane County School District was among the award recipients, receiving $370,289 under the department’s STOP Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program.

“These federal resources will help to prevent school violence and give our students the support they need to learn, grow, and thrive,’ said Attorney General William P. Barr. “By training faculty, students and first responders, and by improving school security measures, we can make schools and their communities safer.”

“These awards are an important first step toward addressing the epidemic of school and community violence in our country. We cannot stop until every last student goes to school knowing it is a safe place to learn and grow. It saddens me to know this is not the current reality for many young people. I’m encourage by the work of the Lane County School District and other educators who are working diligently to change this narrative and reality. Congratulations and keep up the great work” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

President Trump signed the STOP School Violence Act into law in March 2018, authorizing grants that are designed to improve threat assessments, train students and faculty to provide tips and leads, and prepare law enforcement officers and emergency professionals to respond to school shootings and other violent incidents. The grant programs are managed by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, within the Department’s Office of Justice Programs, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services manage the programs and administer the grants, which include funds to:

  • Develop school threat assessment teams and pursue technological solutions to improve reporting of suspicious activity in and around schools;
  • Implement or improve school safety measures, including coordination with law enforcement, as well as the use of metal detectors, locks, lighting and other deterrent measures;
  • Train law enforcement to help deter student violence against others and themselves;
  • Improve notification to first responders through implementation of technology that expedites emergency notifications;
  • Develop and operate anonymous reporting systems to encourage safe reporting of potential school threats;
  • Train school officials to intervene when mentally ill individuals threaten school safety; and
  • Provide training and technical assistance to schools and other awardees in helping implement these programs.

For more details about these individual award programs, as well as listings of individual 2019 awardees, visit https://go.usa.gov/xVJuV.

About the Office of Justice Programs:

The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal justice system. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

About the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services:

The COPS Office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of approximately 130,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training and technical assistance. For additional information about the COPS Office, please visit www.cops.usdoj.gov.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Chinese National Sentenced to 37 Months in Federal Prison for Trafficking Counterfeit iPhones from Hong Kong - 10/21/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Quan Jiang, 30, a Chinese national and former engineering student at Linn Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon, was sentenced today to 37 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for trafficking fake and altered Apple iPhones.

According to court documents, between January 1, 2016, and February 1, 2018, Jiang would regularly receive packages containing between 20 and 30 counterfeit iPhones from associates in Hong Kong. Using various assumed names, Jiang would submit each iPhone to Apple in person or online for a warranty replacement; he would then ship the genuine replacement devices he received back to China for resale. In exchange for his service, Jiang’s associate would pay Jiang’s mother, also residing in China, who would in turn deposit the money into Jiang’s bank account.

Jiang’s scheme first came to the attention of law enforcement on April 20, 2017, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized a shipment of 28 iPhone 6 devices en route to Jiang in Corvallis, Oregon. Later, on October 23, 2017, CBP seized a similar shipment of 25 iPhone 7 Plus devices addressed to Jiang. In both instances, CBP sent Jiang a notice of seizure, indicating that Apple representatives had confirmed the phones were counterfeit. Nevertheless, three more shipments—each with 29 iPhones—were seized by CBP in November 2017.

Jiang later admitted to investigators that he knew the devices were counterfeit and that it was illegal to submit them to Apple as genuine products still under warranty. In just over two years, Jiang imported more than 2,000 inoperable counterfeit iPhones. He ultimately obtained approximately 1,500 genuine replacement iPhones, each with an approximate resale value of $600.

On April 25, 2018, Jiang pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Justice Department Awards Over $273.4 Million to Improve Public Safety, Serve Crime Victims in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities - 10/18/19

More than $3.3 million awarded to six Oregon tribes and one tribal commission

WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice announced today that it has awarded over $273.4 million in grants to improve public safety, serve victims of crime, combat violence against women and support youth programs in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

Six tribes and one tribal commission in the District of Oregon were awarded over $3.3 million in funding. Award recipients include the Burns Paiute Tribe; Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission; Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians; Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon; Coquille Indian Tribe; Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians; and the Klamath Tribes.

“Violent crime and domestic abuse in American Indian and Alaska Native communities remain at unacceptably high levels, and they demand a response that is both clear and comprehensive,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “We will continue to work closely with our tribal partners to guarantee they have the resources they need to curb violence and bring healing to the victims most profoundly affected by it.”

“These awards underscore the Justice Department’s sincere commitment to improving public safety in tribal communities throughout the U.S. Pursuing justice on behalf of tribal crime victims in Oregon remains a key focus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We will not stop until all tribes have the resources they need to keep their communities safe and effectively enforce the administration of justice on tribal land,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Nationwide, 236 grants were awarded to 149 American Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages and other tribal designees through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, a streamlined application for tribal-specific grant programs. Of the $118 million awarded via CTAS, just over $62.6 million comes from the Office of Justice Programs, about $33.1 million from the Office on Violence Against Women and more than $23.2 million from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. A portion of the funding will support tribal youth mentoring and intervention services, help native communities implement requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, and provide training and technical assistance to tribal communities. Another $5.5 million was funded by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide training and technical assistance to CTAS awardees.

The Department also announced awards and other programming totaling $167.2 million in a set-aside program to serve victims of crime. The awards are intended to help tribes develop, expand and improve services to victims by supporting programming and technical assistance. About $25.6 million of these awards were awarded under CTAS and are included in the $118 million detailed above.

CTAS funding helps tribes develop and strengthen their justice systems’ response to crime, while expanding services to meet their communities’ public safety needs. The awards cover 10 purpose areas: public safety and community policing; justice systems planning; alcohol and substance abuse; corrections and correctional alternatives; children’s justice act partnerships; services for victims of crime; violence against women; juvenile justice; violent crime reduction; and tribal youth programs.

The Department also provided $6.1 million to help tribes to comply with federal law on sex offender registration and notification, $1.7 million in separate funding to assist tribal youth and nearly $500,000 to support tribal research on missing and murdered indigenous women and children and other public safety-related topics.

Today’s announcement is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

A listing of today’s announced CTAS awards is available at: https://www.justice.gov/tribal/awards. A listing of all other announced tribal awards are available at: https://go.usa.gov/xVJuE.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Portland Man Pleads Guilty for Cyber Intrusion of Former Employer - 10/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Kristopher Ives, 33, of Portland, pleaded guilty today to fraud in connection with computers for illegally accessing the computer network and data of his former employer, Gearbox Studios, after being terminated.

According to court documents, in 2008, Ives began working as a computer programmer for Gearbox Studios, a Portland-based digital marketing agency. Ives eventually became Gearbox Studio’s lead programmer for server architecture and support, a position of trust with access to the computer networks and data of both the company and the company’s clients.

Between February and May 2015, after being terminated from his position, Ives illegally accessed Gearbox’s computers to steal and tamper with data. He used this data to attack Gearbox’s servers and various websites belonging to Gearbox customers. Ives deleted nearly 20,000 products from customer websites and changed prices for various items. Ives also stole names and credit card numbers from these Gearbox customer websites and threatened to release the information unless Gearbox made payment to a bitcoin address.

Ives faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on January 22, 2020 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

As part of the plea agreement, Ives has agreed to pay restitution to his victims as ordered by the court.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Oregon Cybercrime Task Force and is being prosecuted by Quinn P. Harrington, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Any public or private entity suspecting a cyber intrusion or attack should contact the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or by calling your nearest FBI office.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Three Indicted for International Money Laundering Scheme Pairing Mexican Drug Traffickers and Chinese Nationals - 10/18/19

PORTLAND, Ore.—Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, announced today the indictment of three people for their roles in a complex scheme to launder proceeds from the sale of illegal narcotics by facilitating the transfer of bulk cash from Mexican drug trafficking organizations to Chinese nationals residing in the U.S.

Shefeng Su, Xinhua Li Yan, and Xiancong Su, are each charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Shefeng Su and Li Yan were residents of Portland during the timeframe alleged in the indictment.

According to the indictment, the defendants’ money laundering scheme was designed to remedy two separate problems: drug trafficking organizations’ inability to repatriate drug proceeds into the Mexican banking system and wealthy Chinese nationals restricted by China’s capital flight laws from transferring large sums of money held in Chinese bank accounts for use abroad.

The first group, drug traffickers, are challenged by their inability to transport U.S. currency acquired from the sale of illegal narcotics in the U.S. to Mexico while avoiding detection by law enforcement and Mexican banking regulators. Mexico’s anti-money laundering regulations limit the amount of cash deposits of U.S. dollars that Mexican financial institutions can receive. As a result, drug trafficking organizations work with professional money launderers to bundle and sell bulk U.S. dollars in order to convert them to pesos, a more readily depositable currency in Mexico.

The second group, Chinese nationals living outside China, are challenged by China’s limit on the amount of personal funds that can be transferred out of Chinese bank accounts for use in a foreign country. Currently, China limits these transfers to $50,000 per year. As a result, some Chinese nationals have a need to acquire large quantities of U.S. dollars via other means.

The defendants’ scheme facilitated the transfer of cash between these two groups. Their money laundering organization would facilitate the transfer of funds from the buyer’s Chinese bank account to another Chinese bank account held by the money laundering organization. Once the Chinese renminbi (RMB) were transferred between these bank accounts, the funds were repatriated back to Mexico and converted to pesos to complete the money laundering cycle. This scheme has been described by some as the “Chinese Underground Banking System.”

All three defendants are at-large and believed to be outside the U.S.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 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.

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