U.S. Attorney's Office - Eastern Dist. of Wash.
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News Releases
United States Attorney's Office and IRS Issue Tips For Avoiding Tax Season Fraud - 01/28/22

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – Each year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by unscrupulous tax preparers.  With tax season kicking off on January 24, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”) urge taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud.

United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref encouraged all taxpayers to be vigilant as tax season kicks off: “Having a safe, strong community in Eastern Washington includes ensuring that taxpayers are protected from fraud.  We will continue to work closely with our colleagues at IRS to ensure not only that all taxpayers pay their fair share, but that no one is taken advantage of by shady preparers or online scams.  As tax season begins, I urge all taxpayers in Eastern Washington to file federal taxes timely and to be on the lookout for unsolicited offers that look too good to be true.”

“In the midst of a pandemic that has greatly affected us all, some people see an opportunity to illegally line their own pockets.  IRS-CI is continually using all of its resources to protect the public from fraudsters, but there are also things that taxpayers can do this filing season to protect their financial well-being,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS-CI Seattle Field Office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-CI are committed to protecting taxpayers from those who seek to cheat the U.S. tax system, and offer the following ten tips to help taxpayers avoid tax season fraud:

  1. Choose tax preparers wisely. Look for preparers who are available year-round.
  2. Ask tax preparers for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (“PTINs”).  All paid preparers are required to have these numbers. 
  3. Do not use ghost preparers. These are preparers who will not sign tax returns they prepare.
  4. Do not fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds.  All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes. 
  5. Do not sign blank tax returns. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on the tax returns that are filed with the IRS, no matter who prepares them.
  6. Make sure that tax refunds are received and deposited into the bank accounts of taxpayers, not tax preparers.
  7. Do not take telephone calls from anyone claiming to be the IRS or threatening legal action on behalf of the IRS.  The IRS does not make calls like this.  Hang up on anyone claiming to be a representative of the IRS.
  8. Do not respond to text messages, emails, or social media posts from anyone claiming to be the IRS.  These communications may contain malware that can compromise personal information. 
  9. Do not click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about tax returns.  These messages are fraudulent. 
  10. Protect personal and financial information.  Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails, or social media posts from anyone claiming to be the IRS.

This year’s tax season began on January 24 and continues through April 18 for most taxpayers. U.S. taxpayers are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes according to the Internal Revenue Code.  

Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and jail time.  In the Eastern District, a tax preparer named Jonathan Schumann was recently sentenced to six months in federal prison for aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of false income tax returns.  Schumann operated a tax return preparation business, J’s Income Tax, out of his residence in Richland, Washington.  He prepared false tax returns claiming fraudulent and inflated itemized deductions, including charitable contributions, personal property taxes, and unreimbursed employee business expenses.

For more tips on how to choose tax professionals or file complaints, visit IRS.gov.  Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business may file a report with the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral.  Taxpayers can also report phishing emails to phishing@irs.gov and IRS impersonation scams to TIGTA.gov.


Twenty-Three People Indicted in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme - 01/21/22

Richland, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced the unsealing of a 138-count federal indictment charging twenty-three defendants in Washington, California, Michigan, Nevada, and British Columbia, Canada with participating in a staged automobile accident scheme, obstructing an official proceeding, and making false statements to FBI investigators. 

According to the indictment, twenty-two of the defendants conspired to commit mail and wire fraud and health care fraud by staging approximately 14 automobile accidents and thereafter caused the submission of almost $1 million in false insurance claims for lost wages, bodily injury, and property damage.  According to the allegations, in at least three of the staged accidents, there were no occupants (driver or passengers) in the “victim” vehicle when a defendant deliberately drove the “at fault” vehicle” into the “victim” vehicle.  The twenty-two defendants alleged to have been involved in the scheme are: Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Insaf A. Karawi, Hasanein A. Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, Mashael A. Bachay, Hussein K. Bachay, Mohammad Bajay, Noor Tahseen Al-Maarej, Ali F. Al-Himrani, Rana J. Kaabawi, Amar F. Abdul-Salam, Ameer R. Mohammed, Mohammed F. Al-Himrani, Maria Elena Sanchez, Seifeddine A. Al-Kinani, Farooq S. Yaseen, Firas S. Hadi, Abdullah Al-Dulaimi, Khalil Abdul-Razaq, Jesus George Sanchez, and Sinan Akrawi. 

The indictment further alleges that when Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Hasanein A. Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, Ali F. Al-Himrani and Mohammed Naji Al-Jibory (who is not charged in the staged accident scheme) learned of the FBI’s investigation, they committed various acts to obstruct official proceedings.  Some of the alleged obstructive acts included Ali Abed Yaser, Hussein A. Yasir, Hasanein A. Yaser and Mohammed Naji Al-Jibory fabricating a story that the FBI case agent, and another individual suspected of working as an FBI informant, solicited a $22,000 bribe payment in exchange for offering the investigation or case to go away.  Other alleged obstructive acts included Ali Abed Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay and Ali F. Al-Himrani using threats of physical force to prevent communication of information about the possible commission of federal crimes to a law enforcement officer and a judge.

Two of the defendants, Ali Abed Yaser and Mohammad Naji Al-Jibory, are charged with making false statements to FBI investigators.  Ali Abed Yaser, Ahmad K. Bachay, and Ali F. Al-Himrani are charged with witness tampering.  The indictment also alleges Ali Abed Yaser attempted to tamper with evidence.

The following defendants are charged in the Indictment:






Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


El Cajon, CA


El Cajon, CA


El Cajon, CA


Vancouver, B.C. Canada


El Cajon, CA


Temecula, CA


Temecula, CA


El Cajon, CA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Kennewick, WA


Las Vegas, NV


Detroit, MI


El Cajon, CA


Kennewick, WA 


Kennewick, WA


Eltopia, WA


La Mesa, CA


Kennewick, WA

Four defendants have not been located at this time and are considered fugitives.  If convicted, the defendants face the following possible maximum statutory sentences: 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and each count of mail and wire fraud; 20 years in prison for conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and each count of witness and evidence tampering; 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud; and five years in prison for making false statements to the FBI.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  This case is being prosecuted by George J.C. Jacobs, III and Dominique Juliet Park, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


West Richland Man Extradited From Kazakhstan Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Offenses - 01/07/22

Richland, Washington – On January 6, U.S. District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Trent Drexel Howard, 50, of West Richland, Washington, to 23 years in federal prison for attempted production of child pornography.  Judge Mendoza also ordered Howard to serve an additional 20 years on federal supervision after he is released from prison.  Howard pleaded guilty on September 23, 2021.

According to court documents, from 2008 through 2016, Howard attempted to produce child pornography of at least 14 different minor victims by hiding cameras in the bathrooms and bedrooms of his residence in the Eastern District of Washington.  Howard captured video footage of his minor victims in nude and semi-nude states.

The investigation began when Howard distributed 168 files containing suspected child pornography images and videos to an undercover agent using a publicly accessible, Internet-based, file-sharing network.  Federal agents obtained and executed a search warrant at Howard’s residence and discovered the hidden camera footage on some of the more than 100 electronic devices they seized.

Howard was working in Kazakhstan when federal agents executed the search warrant at his residence.  After learning of the investigation, Howard attempted to remain in Kazakhstan and avoid facing these charges, but Kazakh authorities arrested him on September 12, 2019.  A Kazakh judge ordered Howard detained pending an extradition request from the United States, which soon followed.  According to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, Howard’s removal from Kazakhstan is the first extradition to the United States from Kazakhstan.
U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref for the Eastern District of Washington praised the complex international efforts taken to investigate the case, bring the prosecution, and extradite Howard to face these charges in Richland: “Mr. Howard earned every day of his multi-decade sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref.  “This case makes it clear that those who exploit children in our community will be held accountable, even if they try to hide in a foreign country or avoid extradition to the United States.  I cannot commend highly enough the agencies and departments that worked together to achieve justice for this serial child predator.  The FBI led a collaborative investigation that required the excellent and diligent work of the U.S. State Department, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and detectives from the Kennewick, Richland, and Moses Lake Police Departments.  It is simply remarkable how many moving parts were involved in bringing this investigation and prosecution to a just resolution.”

“For more than a decade, Mr. Howard victimized numerous minors and possessed tens of thousands of child exploitation materials,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald M. Voiret of the FBI Seattle Field Office.  “This case demonstrates that no matter where in the world our subjects may be, the FBI will stop at nothing to hold child predators accountable.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.

This case was investigated by the FBI Spokane Resident Office, with the Southeast Regional ICAC Task Force, and the Kennewick, Richland, and Moses Lake Police Departments.  Invaluable assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of State and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.  The case was prosecuted by Ann T. Wick, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.


United States Marshals Offering Up To $10,000 For Information Leading To The Capture of Alleged Spokane Fraudster - 01/06/22

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – The United States Marshals are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the capture of William Oldham Mize, who failed to appear for a pretrial conference before United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice in Spokane.  Mize, 60, is alleged to have participated in a multi-million-dollar fraud, and has been a fugitive from justice since approximately July 10, 2019, when he is alleged to have violated his pretrial release conditions by failing to make himself available for pretrial supervision to the U.S. Probation Office and failing to contact his attorney.  A United States Magistrate Judge has issued a warrant for Mize’s arrest. 

On December 18, 2018, a federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Washington found probable cause to indict Mize and others on numerous charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The alleged criminal activity took place for years, between September 2013 and April 2018.  Court records indicate that Mize is alleged to have caused fake car accidents, falls, and other accidents in multiple states.  To date, insurers have paid more than $6 million on Mize’s allegedly fraudulent claims.

Mize originally appeared in federal court on January 9, 2019, to answer a summons issued in connection with his federal indictment.  He was released pending trial on conditions that included reporting to the U.S. Probation Office as often as directed, contacting his defense attorney weekly, posting an unsecured $750,000 appearance bond, surrendering his U.S. Passport, limiting his travel to Washington and Nevada, and showing up for all future court dates. 

Mize is believed to have used numerous aliases, including Phillip Novak, Phillip Gonzalez, Phillip Boito, Bill Babaian, Bill Park, William Park, William Talento, William Westfall, Phillip Amezcua, Phillip Smith, William Smith, Will Smith, William Frangella, William Tardy, William Sharp, Phillip Tardy and Chad Harris.  He has previously frequented cities in Washington, California, Florida, and Mexico, as well as Las Vegas and New Orleans.

Mize is a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 240 pounds. 

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

Tips may be submitted directly to the United States Marshals Service by calling 1-877-WANTED2 or using the USMS Tips App. 

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney George J.C. Jacobs, III.  

Case number: 18-CR-00232-TOR

Attached Media Files: Mize Wanted Poster