U.S. Attorney's Office - District of Oregon
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News Releases
Hoover Criminal Gang Member Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegal Firearm Possession - 01/11/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—Jaelan Sarray Reid, 26, a known Hoover Criminal Gang member and resident of Portland, was sentenced today to 58 months in prison and three years’ supervised release for illegally possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

According to court documents, on June 18, 2020, a Morrow County sheriff’s deputy received a tip that several people with outstanding criminal arrest warrants were traveling west on Interstate-84 in a black Range Rover. The deputy located the vehicle with three occupants and conducted a traffic stop. Reid identified himself as “Charles Benton” and gave the deputy a false date of birth. The deputy identified Reid using a DMV photo and detained him.

During the traffic stop, the deputy noted a strong smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Deputies searched the vehicle pursuant to a state warrant issued in June 2020 and located a backpack behind the driver’s seat. Inside the package was a prescription bottle in Reid’s name and a loaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol. Reid was arrested and held at the Umatilla County Jail on state charges. During record jail calls, Reid made several incriminating statements about possessing the firearm in his backpack.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Portland Police Bureau, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Lewis Burkhart, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Melby discharging firearm in front of U.S. Courthouse
Melby discharging firearm in front of U.S. Courthouse
Beavercreek Man Arrested, Charged After Firing Handgun Into the Hatfield Federal Courthouse (Photo) - 01/11/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—A Beavercreek, Oregon man has been arrested and charged for discharging a firearm into the Hatfield Federal Courthouse on January 8, 2021, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Cody Melby, 39, has been charged by criminal complaint with destruction of government property.

According to the complaint, at approximately 7:35pm on January 8, Melby allegedly jumped over a security fence at the Hatfield Courthouse and, using a 9mm handgun, fired several rounds into the building’s exterior. Two courthouse security officers exited the building and approached Melby after observing him on a closed-circuit security camera. Melby told the officers he had a gun and the officers placed him in handcuffs without further incident.

Federal Protective Service officers dispatched to the scene located five spent 9mm bullet casings, three spent bullets, three bullet holes in plywood affixed to the building’s stone columns, and damage to the metal soffit above the building’s main entrance.

Melby will make his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Portland.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Protective Service and FBI. It is being prosecuted by Paul Maloney, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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U.S. Attorney's Office Joins in Recognizing Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, January 9, 2021 - 01/08/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—Every January, the U.S. Attorney’s Office joins communities around the state in observing Law Enforcement Appreciation Day to honor the distinguished service and tremendous personal sacrifice of Oregon’s law enforcement officers. This year’s observance takes place on Saturday, January 9, 2021.

“This past year has brought several unprecedented challenges to our country and the law enforcement profession. Working in law enforcement is, now more than ever, one of the hardest and most important jobs in our country. The thousands of men and women who fill these roles do so not for personal accolade or attention, but out of an unwavering sense of duty to the communities they serve,” said U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. “On behalf of everyone at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we offer our sincere and humble gratitude to law enforcement officers in Oregon and beyond. You play a critical role in keeping our communities safe and working to create a fairer and more equal justice system.”

On January 9, please take a moment to honor those who protect and serve our communities. Your support can be shown in many ways, including:

  • By wearing blue clothing;
  • Sending a card of support to your local police department or sheriff’s office;
  • Sharing a story about a positive law enforcement experience on social media;
  • Asking children in your household to write letters in support of law enforcement;
  • Organizing an event or rally in support of law enforcement officers; or
  • Donating to a charitable organization that supports law enforcement.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Day also affords our community the opportunity to raise awareness of officer safety and wellness issues. Law enforcement as a career path is mentally taxing and subjects its members to disproportionate levels of trauma. Studies have shown that law enforcement officers are at greater risk of heart disease, alcohol abuse, major psychological illnesses, and divorce as compared to other professions.

In September 2020, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) announced $4.5 million in grants for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Program. These funds are used to improve the delivery of mental health and wellness services for law enforcement through training, demonstration projects, peer mentoring, and suicide prevention.

The COPS Office and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) have collected a long list of resources to support local agencies’ officer safety and wellness efforts. To view these resources, click here.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Two Oregon Men Face Federal Charges for Pocketing Millions in COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme - 01/07/21

FBI arrests both men, seizing more than $10 million in securities.

EUGENE, Ore.—Two Oregon men are facing federal charges for fraudulently converting to their personal use loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Andrew Aaron Lloyd, 50, of Lebanon, Oregon, and Russell A. Schort, 38, of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, have been charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.

Lloyd and Schort took advantage of economic relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), including Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the complaint, the FBI began investigating Lloyd and Schort after discovering suspicious financial transactions indicating that the pair may have fraudulently obtained PPP loans. A review of bank records revealed that between April 7, 2020 and May 8, 2020, Lloyd and Schort applied for and received at least three PPP loan payments using three separate entities, totaling more than $2.2 million. The loan application packages included some of the same information across the different business entities, including the businesses’ physical locations and the names of several dozen employees.

After receiving the funds, Lloyd transferred at least $1.8 million to a personal online brokerage account and purchased various securities. In the months that followed, these investments substantially increased in value. On the date of the seizure, the securities purchased with the fraud proceeds and with a loan secured by equities purchased with fraud proceeds, were valued at over $10 million.

Schort was arrested on January 6, 2021 by FBI agents and made his initial appearance in federal court the same day. Lloyd was arrested today FBI agents and will make his initial appearance tomorrow, January 8, 2021, before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Eugene.

This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Small Business Association and IRS. It is being prosecuted by Gavin W. Bruce, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’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
Eastern Oregon Medical Practice Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Tax Crimes, Bank Fraud - 01/05/21

PORTLAND, Ore.—Anndrea D. Jacobs, 49, the former office manager and bookkeeper for a La Grande, Oregon medical practice was sentenced to federal prison today for defrauding two separate employers and filing false tax returns, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

Jacobs, a resident of La Grande, was sentenced to four years in federal prison and five years’ supervised release after previously pleading guilty to filing a false personal income tax return, falsely impersonating an IRS employee, aggravated identity theft, and bank fraud.

According to court documents, beginning on or about January 2011 and continuing until her termination in December 2015, Jacobs used her position and access to a medical practice’s finances to steal money from the practice by, among other means, writing business checks to herself or for her own benefit. Jacobs used the stolen funds to make payments on personal credit cards and pay other personal expenses unrelated to the medical practice.

In an attempt to hide her illicit actions, Jacobs prepared and maintained false business financial records, overstating expenses and estimated tax payments. Further, without the knowledge or consent of the medical practice owner, she opened a business bank account in his name; deposited a business check payable to the Oregon Department of Revenue into her own personal account; gave the practice owner falsified property tax statements with total due balances of zero; and convinced the practice owner to grant her limited power of attorney to handle the practice’s pending IRS tax-collection action.

In perhaps her most brazen attempt to conceal her embezzlement activity, Jacobs created a fictitious identity as an IRS Taxpayer Advocate named “Linda Gibson”; established a phone number and voicemail account for the fictitious identity; and purported to assist the medical practice owner with his IRS tax collection issues while purporting to be “Linda Gibson.”

On September 12, 2018, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a 15-count indictment charging Jacobs with wire fraud, filing false tax returns, aiding or assisting the preparation of false tax returns, falsely impersonating an employee of the U.S., and aggravated identity theft. On June 5, 2020, Jacobs’ pre-trial release was revoked for committing bank fraud while embezzling from a second employer: a dental practice in Hood River. On June 9, 2020, Jacobs was indicted a second time for the new scheme.

During sentencing, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Marco A. Hernandez ordered Jacobs to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to two former employers, Wells Fargo Bank, and the IRS.

The cases were investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, and the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
U.S. Attorney Statement on the Passing of Dr. T. Allen Bethel - 12/22/20

PORTLAND, Ore.—Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, released the following statement on the passing of Dr. T. Allen Bethel:

“Today we mourn the loss of Dr. T. Allen Bethel, a true civil rights icon. Dr. Bethel was a visionary leader who reminded us all that the first duty of society is justice. He was a leader with incredible strength, courage, faith, and dignity. His words stirred passion and his work stirred action. People listened when he spoke because of his impeccable character, poise, and passion for change. I deeply respected Dr. Bethel and will miss him.”

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Attached Media Files: PDF Statement
Two Oregon Men Face Federal Charges for COVID-Relief Fraud - 12/22/20

PORTLAND, Ore.—In separate criminal cases, two Oregon men are facing federal charges for fraudulently converting to their personal use loans intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

David Unitan, aka Danny Cohen, 46, of Lake Oswego, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and money laundering. Jeremy Clawson, 30, of Baker City, Oregon, has been charged by criminal complaint with theft of government property.

Both men took advantage of economic relief programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, was designed to provide emergency financial assistance to millions of Americans and small businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. v. David Unitan

According to court documents, in July 2020, a small business owner contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to report that an unknown person had obtained and used personal information belonging to himself, his wife, and their business to establish accounts at a bank in Boston, Massachusetts. Sometime later, IRS Criminal Investigation independently opened an investigation into EIDLs and PPP loans obtained under suspicious circumstances by someone purporting to be Daniel Cohen but was in fact Unitan.

A review of SBA records revealed that six EIDL applications had been submitted using the small business owner’s social security number. Of the six applications, two were funded for a total of $295,000. These funds were disbursed into the Boston bank account in June and July of 2020. Investigators soon discovered that a transfer of $100,000 was made from the Boston account to another bank account on June 24, 2020, and that, on the same day, a wire transfer of $77,898 was made to Mackenzie Motor Company in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Investigators contacted the general manager of Dick’s Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro and learned that an individual named Danny Michael Cohen had recently purchased a 2020 Ford F-350 Super Duty Lariat truck for $77,898 using a counterfeit California driver’s license. The general manager also told investigators that the individual had shown up at the dealership driving a 2020 Tesla Model X and provided his insurance card for the Tesla as part of the truck purchase. A review of law enforcement records revealed that the Tesla had recently been impounded by the Lake Oswego Police Department because the driver, David Unitan, had been operating the vehicle with a suspended license.

Investigators compared Unitan’s Oregon DMV photo with the photo on the California driver’s license provided to dealership and confirmed the likenesses appeared to match. The small business owner who had originally reported the fraud later confirmed that his company had previously contracted with David Unitan for video production. The business owner also confirmed the photo on the counterfeit California driver’s license used to purchase the Ford pickup was indeed David Unitan.

Federal agents and Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Unitan at his home this morning pursuant to a warrant issued by the federal district court.  Agents also seized the Ford pickup and Tesla sedan as proceeds of loans Unitan obtained through fraudulent EIDL and PPP loan applications.

This case was investigated by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and IRS-Criminal Investigation.

U.S. v. Jeremy Clawson

According to court documents, on August 11, 2020, the proceeds of an SBA EIDL totaling $145,200 were deposited into an Umpqua Bank account owned by Jeremy Clawson and his girlfriend. Shortly after receiving the deposit, Clawson began making multiple large cash withdrawals at the drive-through window of an Umpqua Bank in Baker City, Oregon. On August 17, 2020, Clawson withdrew $49,905 in the form of a cashier’s check to purchase a 2016 Dodge Challenger. Umpqua Bank investigators detected the unusual activity and reported it to the SBA.

SBA loan documents showed that the loan was made for the benefit of Halperin Manufacturing Company in San Diego, California. Though there is no record of any such company, the loan application listed the company’s owner and claimed it employed 350 people. Investigators contacted the person listed as the owner, but that person denied owning or being affiliated with any such company. The purported owner further stated that the company’s supposed address in San Diego was that individual’s personal residence and not a commercial property with 350 employees.

In early September 2020, investigators learned that, in late August, Clawson had been arrested by the Baker City Police Department for driving under the influence, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and attempting to allude police. Clawson was driving the 2016 Dodge Challenger at the time of his arrest. Clawson later told authorities that he had received a large inheritance from his father, including $30,000 in cash he had on his person during a subsequent arrest.

On September 11, 2020, investigators interviewed Clawson at the Baker County Jail where he was incarcerated on an unrelated charge. Clawson claimed to have received the $145,200 from a woman with whom he had an online dating relationship. He further claimed that he didn’t know what to do with the money and, after he stopped communicating with the woman, began spending the money himself. Clawson admitted to using the SBA money to purchase the Dodge Challenger and several other vehicles.

The United States District Court issued a warrant for Clawson’s arrest, but he is currently serving a criminal sentence at the Snake River Correctional Institution following his convictions for felony driving under the influence and attempting to elude the police stemming from his August 2020 arrest.  Federal agents also seized the Dodge Challenger and approximately $50,000 in cash derived from the fraudulent EIDL pursuant to seizure warrants issued by the federal court and voluntary abandonment of funds in third parties’ possession.

This case was investigated by SBA and the U.S. Secret Service.

Both cases are being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’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.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the department’s history at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release
Madras Methamphetamine Trafficker Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison - 12/17/20

EUGENE, Ore.—Ronald Wayne Thrasher, 50, a prolific drug dealer from Madras, Oregon with a decades-long criminal history, was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison followed by five years’ supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams.

On August 8, 2019, Thrasher, whose previous convictions include drug manufacturing and distribution, burglary, and illegal firearm possession, was found guilty of conspiring to distribute controlled substances and possessing with intent to distribute methamphetamine by a federal jury in Eugene.

“Ronald Thrasher is a dangerous criminal whose drug dealing threatened communities throughout Central Oregon. Despite several previous convictions and significant prison sentences, Thrasher repeatedly returned to drug trafficking to provide income for himself, supply his own drug addiction, and bolster his status among rivals,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “The significant sentence imposed today cuts off a major source of methamphetamine supply in Central Oregon, aiding our collective effort to reverse the state’s addiction crisis.”

“DEA is committed to working with our state, local and federal partners at curbing the violence in our communities,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Frank Tarentino. He further added, “This sentence is an important step in our joint mission to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy violent drug trafficking organizations who threaten the very communities we aim to protect.”

“Mr. Thrasher’s sentence is fitting for the illegal actions he has taken,” said ATF Seattle Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “ATF will always work to bring to justice those who cause harm in their communities.”

Thrasher was convicted alongside his supplier, Russell Marvin Jones, 54, of Gresham, Oregon. Both men conspired with one another and others to traffic methamphetamine from Southern California to Central Oregon and the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan Area for distribution. For his role in the scheme, Jones was sentenced to 200 months in prison and five years’ supervised release. Nine other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiring with Thrasher.

 According to court documents and testimony produced at trial, in the spring of 2016, Thrasher became acquainted with multiple co-defendants who were engaged in trafficking methamphetamine from Santee and San Diego, California, and Portland for resale in Central Oregon. Thrasher used these connections to establish a source of supply for his own methamphetamine use and distribution.

In early 2017, after his primary supplier was arrested in Redmond, Oregon, an associate introduced Thrasher to Jones, a methamphetamine manufacturer and dealer in the Portland area. On or about February 17, 2017, Thrasher traveled to Portland with his associates to meet Jones and Jones sold Thrasher several pounds of methamphetamine. On March 20, 2017, after several more deals, Jones sold Thrasher a stolen firearm.

By April 2017, Thrasher was distributing methamphetamine via multiple associates throughout Central Oregon. On April 9, 2017, he was introduced to new California-based methamphetamine suppliers. Two weeks later, Thrasher and an associate drove to Santee to meet with his new suppliers. During this meeting, Thrasher purchased approximately 13 pounds of methamphetamine.

In May 2017, a Central Oregon Drug Enforcement (CODE) team investigation identified Thrasher as a high-volume methamphetamine supplier and distributor. On May 29, 2017, CODE detectives assisted by a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent arrested Thrasher and seized approximately 16 pounds of methamphetamine, $16,000 in cash, drug sale records and the stolen firearm from his residence in Madras.

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

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Attached Media Files: PDF Release