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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 4, 2014 at 9:15 am | 1,804 views | No Comments

A perfect snowflake lands in a girl's hair in Arlington (photo courtesy Kimberly Suiters)

Richmond Named Acting AED Director — Cynthia Richmond has been named the acting director of Arlington Economic Development following the untimely death of Terry Holzheimer. Holzheimer died of a sudden heart attack over the weekend. Richmond was serving as the deputy director of AED. Arlington County plans to begin a recruitment process to find a permanent director for AED soon. [Arlington County]

FBI Cracking Down on Corruption in N. Va. — The FBI has created a task force to investigate public corruption in Northern Virginia. Public corruption is the FBI’s “number one criminal investigative priority” at the moment and the agency has “cases in all categories in Northern Virginia.” [Loudoun Times]

Man Sentenced in $30 Million Fraud Scheme — A Florida man has been sentenced in a $30 million scheme that defrauded NASA into awarding contracts on false pretenses. Michael Dunkel, 60, was awarded contracts by NASA intended for minority-owned businesses by claiming he was an employee of an Arlington company supposedly run by a woman of Portuguese descent. Dunkel in turn paid kickbacks to the company. [Associated Press, U.S. Justice Department]

APAH to Purchase Apartment Building — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is purchasing the Arna Valley View apartments near Glebe Road and I-395. The purchase will allow 101 apartments to remain as committed affordable housing for at least the next 60 years. [Sun Gazette]

Fundraising for Pike Documentary Book — Photographer Lloyd Wolf is raising money to print a book based on photos taken by the Columbia Pike Documentary Project. [GoFundMe]

Photo courtesy Kimberly Suiters/All News 99.1 WNEW

FBI Watched as Pike Wells Fargo Was Robbed

by Ethan Rothstein | January 2, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 4,897 views | No Comments

FBI agents on the scene of a bank robbery at the Wells-Fargo on S. George Mason DriveAn FBI SWAT team observed while three men allegedly robbed the Wells Fargo at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive at gunpoint on Tuesday, apprehending the suspects a block away after the robbery had been committed.

The men — two from Maryland and one from Washington, D.C. — had been under FBI surveillance after being suspected of committing several bank robberies around the D.C. area, according to federal prosecutors.

The men left the bank with $47,000, but were apprehended a block north on George Mason Drive. They have been charged with armed bank robbery.

Below is the full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Md., James Link, 56, of Washington, D.C., and Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Md., were charged today by criminal complaint with armed bank robbery.

Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the initial appearance of defendants Link and Stoddard before United States Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson.

The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment if convicted.

According to court documents and court proceedings today, the FBI received information in December 2013 that McNeal, Link and Stoddard had been responsible for the armed robberies of multiple banks in the Washington metropolitan area.  After identifying the subjects, the FBI kept the three men under close surveillance, which included observing the defendants as they cased banks in Arlington, Va. for potential robberies.

On December 31, 2013, FBI agents followed the three subjects as they drove from Maryland to a Wells Fargo bank branch in Arlington.  An FBI SWAT team was prepositioned near the Wells Fargo bank before the defendants arrived.  At approximately 1:15 p.m., Link and Stoddard entered the bank with their faces covered.  Link brandished a gun and pointed it at individuals in the bank, while Stoddard jumped the teller counter and removed approximately $47,000 in cash from teller drawers.  The two men exited the bank and returned to their vehicle, where McNeal was waiting.

As the three subjects attempted to flee the scene, FBI and Arlington County Police apprehended them approximately one block away.  A handgun and cash were found in the vehicle.  A search of McNeal’s house in Hyattsville, Md. led to the discovery of additional firearms, gloves and items of clothing that were linked to previous bank robberies.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with the assistance of the FBI’s Baltimore Division and the Fairfax County and Arlington County police departments.  The United States Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the District of Maryland also provided assistance in the investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Adam B. Schwartz is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Smash and Grab Robbery Arrest

by Katie Pyzyk | June 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm | 1,475 views | No Comments

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the March 19 smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall.

As seen in the above surveillance video released by the Arlington County Police Department, four suspects entered the Torneau store and broke the jewelry case with Rolex watches. The FBI has since taken over the case, and said the suspects got away with 22 watches worth more than $500,000 before fleeing to a getaway car with a fifth suspect.

Last week, Walter A. Douglas was arrested in connection with the robbery, claiming he “did knowingly and unlawfully, conspire, confederate, and agree to delay and affect commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in such commerce, by robbery.” According to the FBI affidavit, Douglas has a history of robbery, grand theft and grand larceny in the D.C. metro area. The document connects him to seven other high profile robberies in the region between December 3, 2012, and April 30, 2013, for which he has also been charged.

The affidavit states that an informant contacted the ACPD on April 10 and claimed Douglas was responsible for the Pentagon City robbery, and possibly for others. The informant reported hearing Douglas speaking with another man, the recently arrested Floyd Davis, about high end watches and rings.

Davis was reportedly arrested early last month, but the list of alleged crimes in his affidavit did not directly name the Pentagon City incident. Davis was, however, mentioned in the Douglas affidavit for having been in the immediate area and in contact with Douglas around the time of the Torneau robbery.

Evidence against the men includes cell phone records showing Douglas and Davis in frequent contact with each other on or around the days of the robberies. Cell phone records also place one or both men near the locations of several of the robberies at the times they occurred.

Additionally, the FBI matched cars spotted at a couple of the robberies with those Douglas apparently rented around the time of each incident. Records show he rented a grey Dodge Charger — like the one investigators saw in the Pentagon City surveillance video — four days before the robbery. The vehicle was returned the day of the robbery.

An FBI spokesperson would not comment on the possibility of other arrests in the case because the investigation is still active.

Police Release Video of Glebe Road Bank Robbery

by ARLnow.com | December 13, 2012 at 11:05 am | 3,248 views | 21 Comments

Arlington County Police and the FBI have released surveillance video of Tuesday’s robbery of the Bank of America branch at 3600 S. Glebe Road.

The video shows a man wearing a black jacket, cap, sunglasses and gloves entering the bank and passing a note to the teller. The teller then hands the man a stack of cash, which the man inspects before quickly fleeing on foot.

ACPD and the FBI are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying the man.

“He is described as black male, between 5’10 and 5’11” and weighing approximately 165 pounds,” police said in a press release. “He was wearing a black jacket, a knit hat and scarf. He also wore mirrored sunglasses, black gloves, dark pants and tennis shoes.”

“Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of this individual is asked to contact the FBI’s Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000 or Detective Gary Skeens with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4166 or investigations@arlingtonva.us,” police said. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

DEVELOPING: FBI Raids in Rosslyn Area

by ARLnow.com | December 5, 2012 at 11:20 am | 5,172 views | 66 Comments

(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The FBI conducted several raids in and around Rosslyn this morning.

An office at 1901 Ft. Myer Drive was raided, as was a townhouse just north of Rosslyn. So far, the FBI Washington Field Office is mum on the details.

“We are serving search warrants at multiple locations in Arlington this morning,” said spokesman Andrew Ames. “There is nothing public at the moment that we can share.”

A source tells ARLnow.com that the FBI was searching offices of the Rosslyn-based University of Management and Technology. The house that was searched is owned by the private university’s academic dean, according to property records.

UMT’s U.S. website was down, but is now working, and a Hong Kong-based website for UMT is still active. The school offers degrees in criminal justice, homeland security, information technology and business administration, among other areas of study. It advertises itself as “military friendly,” and accepts military personnel using the G.I. Bill. The school also accepts foreign students using F-1 visas and sponsored J-1 visa international exchange students.

According to a U.S. Department of Commerce web page, UMT has “deep roots in the Federal sector” and academic dean Dr. J. Davidson Frame is a “world-class leader in project and acquisition management.”

 

Investigators Searching Fire Bomb Suspect’s Apartment

by ARLnow.com | October 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm | 4,958 views | 37 Comments

Arlington County Police, the county bomb squad and FBI agents are on the scene at the Woodbury Park Apartments, on the 2200 block of 11th Street N. near Clarendon, searching the apartment of Leon A. Traille, Jr.

Video of the search, courtesy of Fox 5, can be found below. So far, there’s no indication that the apartment building has been evacuated, but the investigators are still on the scene. Bomb technicians entered the apartment via the window.

Traille is facing a federal arson charge after police say he tried to fire bomb the Ballston Common Mall food court. He was arrested several hours later while eating lunch at Courthouse Plaza.

Social media accounts linked to Traille, along with public records, suggest he’s an out-of-work computer programmer who has previously lived in Georgia, Oregon and New York City.

Courtesy photo
DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

FBI Conducting Training Exercise in Waverly Hills

by ARLnow.com | September 24, 2012 at 9:45 am | 3,310 views | 55 Comments

The FBI is conducting a training exercise on the 4400 block of 16th Street N., in Waverly Hills, until about 4:00 p.m., according to an Arlington Alert.

The exercise inadvertently drew a large police response to the area when a 911 caller reported seeing a man dressed in camouflage with an assault rifle strapped to his back near Glebe Elementary School. Police searched the area and eventually discovered the training exercise, according to scanner traffic.

This is the third such FBI training exercise in Waverly Hills in the past year and a half.

File photo

UPDATED: D.C. Shooting Suspect’s Car Might Be in EFC Parking Lot

by ARLnow.com | August 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm | 6,509 views | 141 Comments

(Updated at 10:00 p.m.) The suspect in a shooting at the Family Research Council in D.C. might have parked at the East Falls Church Metro station, ARLnow.com has learned.

FBI agents and Metro Police officers blocked off part of the parking lot at the East Falls Church Metro station with crime tape this afternoon. When we photographed the scene, investigators were still in the process of obtaining a warrant to search a car in the parking lot that they believe belongs to the shooting suspect, according to FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Rebecca Callahan. Later, news footage showed a silver Dodge Neon being searched and photographed.

The shooting happened around 10:45 this morning at the Family Research Council building at 801 G Street NW, in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. A guard was shot in the arm while confronting a gunman in the building’s lobby, according to various news reports. The gunman was arrested, placed in FBI custody, and charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

In a statement, the FBI has identified the suspect as Floyd Lee Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Va.

The Family Research Council is a conservative Christian lobbying organization that opposes gay rights, abortion, pornography and stem cell research.

Photos by Katie Pyzyk

 

Spotted: FBI Exercise in Waverly Hills

by Katie Pyzyk | February 27, 2012 at 10:30 am | 3,185 views | 25 Comments

Several readers contacted ARLnow.com this morning about activity in the Waverly Hills neighborhood. A number of people dressed in FBI gear were spotted at a house near N. 16th St and Glebe Rd.

There’s no need to worry, though. Neighbors report it appears the FBI was using the private residence for a training exercise.

Photo courtesy of Lucy Brookover

Man Sentenced for Guns Found Buried Near I-66

by ARLnow.com | February 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm | 8,457 views | 38 Comments

An Arlington man has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for “possessing firearms after being convicted of a felony.”

The charge stems from an incident in October when a number of guns were found buried in the ground near Patrick Henry Drive and I-66. Investigators from the FBI and the Arlington County Police Department used forensic evidence to link the guns to 61-year-old Cherrydale resident and convicted felon Rodney M. Gunsauley.

In all, prosecutors say they recovered at least 35 tubes containing 14 guns and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following press release tonight.

Rodney Melvin Gunsauley, 61, a resident of Arlington, Va., was sentenced today to 40 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and a $6,000 fine for possessing firearms after being convicted of a felony.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

According to the statement of facts and court records, on Oct. 12, 2011, construction workers discovered two weapons caches located at the 1000 block of Patrick Henry Drive, Arlington, Virginia. FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) agents and Arlington County Police and Fire responded to the location and recovered one short barrel AR-15, thirteen AR-15 magazines, 385 armor piercing rounds, two handguns – a Para-Ordinance .45 and Delta Elite Semi-Automatic 10 mm – additional clips for the .45, a lock pick set and coded letter with references to additional locations. Forensic evidence led law enforcement to Gunsauley, whose house was searched pursuant to a federal search warrant on October 20, 2011. Inside his apartment, law enforcement found 12 M16 firing pins, materials to make weapons caches, a shovel and a lock pick set. Gunsauley was taken into custody the same day.

Gunsauley pled guilty on Dec. 8, 2011, to felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. With Gunsauley’s cooperation, law enforcement reported in court today that 33 additional weapons tubes had been recovered in Arlington Va., containing six additional AR15 rifles, five additional handguns to include a 9mm, a 40 caliber and another 45 caliber and 20,000 additional rounds of ammunition.

This case was investigated by FBI Washington Field Office and the Arlington County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald L. Walutes Jr. prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States, with assistance from the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

BREAKING NEWS — FBI Investigation in Douglas Park

by ARLnow.com | February 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm | 7,944 views | 41 Comments

(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents are conducting a terrorism investigation at a house in Douglas Park.

The FBI, NCIS and Arlington County Police are on the scene on the 1600 block of S. Randolph Street. Earlier, agents could be seen talking to two men outside the home, where the FBI says it was executing a search warrant.

The FBI now seems to be focusing their search on a shed behind the house. Agents wearing latex gloves and face masks have removed dozens of shoe boxes from the shed and piled them in the backyard. Agents have also put up a blue tarp to help shield their investigation from the dozen or so TV, radio and newspaper reporters camped at the corner of S. Randolph Street and 16th Street.

ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirms this is an “offshoot” related to today’s arrest of a Moroccan man by the FBI. The man, identified as 29-year-old Amine El Khalifi, planned on conducting a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to federal prosecutors. El Khalifi was living in Alexandria but was in the country illegally, prosecutors say.

(See the full U.S. Department of Justice press release, after the jump.)

The home raided by federal agents today has been owned by the same man and woman since 1997, according to Arlington County property records.

A longtime family friend who only identified himself as “Fred” was visiting and said he doesn’t know why the FBI would be interested in the couple. He said they have grown children as well as grandchildren, and live a quiet life at home.

“I don’t understand,” he said. “They’re good people.”

Though it doesn’t specify the address of the house in question, a federal court affidavit mentions a “residence in Arlington, Va.” as a place where El Khalifi allegedly discussed terrorism activity. From the Justice Department press release:

According to the criminal complaint affidavit, in January 2011, a confidential human source reported to the FBI that El Khalifi met with other individuals at a residence in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 11, 2011. During this meeting, one individual produced what appeared to be an AK-47, two revolvers and ammunition. El Khalifi allegedly expressed agreement with a statement by this individual that the “war on terrorism” was a “war on Muslims” and said that the group needed to be ready for war.

 
(more…)

FBI Video of Russian Spy Activity in Arlington

by ARLnow.com | November 1, 2011 at 9:22 am | 4,336 views | 30 Comments

The FBI has released new video, photos and documents showing the activity of a Russian spy ring in the U.S. One of the videos shows spy activity taking place in Arlington.

Three Arlington residents were among the 10 Russian spies arrested in June 2010 and later deported. In a just-released video, one of the Arlington-based spies is seen making a “dead drop” under a bridge in an Arlington park.

According to court documents, investigators videotaped the drop after Mikhail Semenko was contacted by an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian spy handler on June 26, 2010. The agent gave Semenko an envelope containing $5,000 cash and showed him a map indicating where he was to discretely leave the envelope.

The Arlington park where the drop took place was not identified.

ABC News and the FBI have more information about the other newly-released evidence from the case, dubbed Operation Ghost Stories.

Arlington Man Arrested on Gun Charge After FBI Raid

by ARLnow.com | October 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm | 4,871 views | 36 Comments

(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) An Arlington resident has been arrested in connection with last night’s FBI raid in Cherrydale and last week’s discovery of buried weapons near I-66.

Rodney M. Gunsauley, 61, is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He’s currently being held without bond at the Arlington County jail, police say. Gunsauley was previously convicted of a fraud-related charge in 2000 2001, according to public records.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department, along with the FBI, Washington Field Office, is investigating an incident where several weapons were found hidden near Patrick Henry Drive and I-66 on October 12, 2011.

A search warrant was executed on a residence in the 4000 block of N. 17th Street last night as part of the investigation. Rodney Gunsauley, 61, of Arlington, was charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

FBI Agents Execute Search Warrant in Cherrydale

by ARLnow.com | October 21, 2011 at 7:30 am | 6,072 views | 64 Comments

Update at 3:55 p.m. — Police have announced that an arrest has been made in connection with the FBI raid. As a result, we’ve removed a now-irrelevant reference to the owner of the group house that was raided.

About a dozen FBI agents executed a search warrant on a house in Cherrydale last night.

FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin confirmed the operation but was unable to provide any additional details, citing an on-going investigation. Agents, many wearing FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force jackets, could be seen carrying boxes of evidence out of the house late last night. One agent was wearing an “FBI Bomb Tech” jacket.

A neighbor said the house, located on the 4000 block of 17th Street N., was a group home, divided into several apartments. He said he hasn’t noticed anything suspicious about any of its residents.

Agents appeared to be focused on the home’s basement area. They could also be seen searching the yard with flashlights.

FBI agents were assisted by Arlington County Police and the Arlington County Bomb Squad. The county’s bomb squad truck helped to provide light at the scene. It’s unclear if bomb squad members were utilized for any other part of the operation. Godwin said the scene posed no danger to the public.

In a somewhat unusual move, police officers stopped at least two individuals who were taking photos of the scene and demanded their name, address and date of birth.

The search warrant comes one week after an FBI Evidence Response Team conducted a search of a site near I-66 and Patrick Henry Drive, following the discovery of gun parts buried in the ground in a wooded area.

FBI Evidence Response Team on Patrick Henry Drive

by ARLnow.com | October 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm | 3,966 views | 13 Comments

FBI agents are using metal detectors, shovels and buckets to try to locate new evidence at the site where gun parts and PVC pipes were found buried in the ground yesterday morning.

An FBI Evidence Response Team truck, an all-terrain vehicle and a tent now line Patrick Henry Drive near the I-66 overpass. Yesterday, VDOT construction contractors found gun parts buried in the ground near a utility box, prompting an investigation by the Arlington County bomb squad and police department. The FBI has since taken over the investigation.

A team from the FBI’s Washington Field Office started searching the muddy grounds, just above the westbound lanes of I-66, around 8:00 this morning. Washington Field Office spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin says she was unaware of any findings at the site so far.

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