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An Arlington doctor indicted earlier this year on charges of illicit distribution of opioid pills was found guilty by a federal jury Tuesday.

Dr. Kirsten Ball, 69, was convicted on 20 federal counts that each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Ball’s office manager and co-conspirator was sentenced to seven years in prison last year.

“For over a decade, Dr. Ball was at the epicenter of a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone via a network of individuals posing as patients who were prescribed over a million pills,” Jessica Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “She blatantly abused legitimate healthcare procedures, despite clear knowledge of the law and warnings from regulatory agencies of the danger her actions posed to patients.”

Arlington has been hard hit by the national opioid crisis. There were more than 70 fatal opioid overdoses here between 2015 and 2020, according to Arlington County Police Department statistics. The crisis has also infiltrated local schools, with the fatal in-school overdose of a Wakefield High School student this year helping to spur action by Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools.

More below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.

A federal jury today convicted an Arlington woman of illegally prescribing and distributing oxycodone pills, a controlled substance.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Kirsten Van Steenberg Ball, 69, issued prescriptions for over one million oxycodone pills. Ball was a primary care physician who operated a medical practice out of her home in Arlington. She conspired with her office manager, Candy Marie Calix, 41, of Front Royal, to shield from law enforcement and regulatory authorities the fact that she was dispensing vast quantities of oxycodone to her patients—contrary to ordinary standards of medical care.

“Dr. Kirsten Ball’s actions, as detailed by the evidence presented at trial and accepted by the jury, are a perversion of the role of medical practitioners in prescribing opioids,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Medication meant to be carefully provided to people in severe pain was instead prescribed excessively – with no regard for patients’ safety or where the pills would end up. For over a decade, Dr. Ball was at the epicenter of a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone via a network of individuals posing as patients who were prescribed over a million pills. She blatantly abused legitimate healthcare procedures, despite clear knowledge of the law and warnings from regulatory agencies of the danger her actions posed to patients. I am very grateful to the EDVA trial team and the FBI for their work to hold Dr. Ball accountable.”

“Today’s verdict demonstrates the seriousness of illegal opioid distribution and the commitment of law enforcement to bring to justice those who chose to endanger the lives of others,” said David Geist, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division. “Kirsten Ball knew her actions were illegal yet, for years, she abused her position of trust by providing individuals in chronic pain with excessive amounts of oxycodone. Ball’s conviction affirms that a medical professional’s disregard for their patient’s well-being and the law will not be tolerated. I’m grateful for those who worked tirelessly to hold her accountable.”

The Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) investigated Ball in 2014 and 2015, then again in 2021 for excessive and improper prescribing of oxycodone. Evidence and testimony presented at trial showed that Ball falsified records that she submitted to DHP to cover up the fact that she was prescribing oxycodone to patients for no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.

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A former ABC News producer whose Columbia Pike apartment was raided by the FBI last year has been sentenced.

James Gordon Meek, 53, pleaded guilty in July to transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material. Today he was sentenced to six years in prison, just above the minimum five year sentence for the charges.

The FBI raided Meek’s apartment on Columbia Pike in April 2022, as photos first published by ARLnow — taken by local resident John Antonelli — showed. Speculation about the raid swirled in the ensuing months, in part due to Meek’s job as a prominent producer for ABC News and his former role in counter-terrorism for the House Committee on Homeland Security.

More on the sentencing, below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.

An Arlington man was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material.

According to court documents, while visiting South Carolina in February 2020, James Gordon Meek, 53, used an online messaging platform on his iPhone to send and receive images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and to discuss his sexual interest in children. Some of the images and videos depicted prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12, including an infant being raped. Meek brought the iPhone containing the child sexual abuse material back with him when he returned to Virginia. Additionally, Meek possessed multiple electronic devices containing images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zoe Bedell and Trial Attorney Whitney Kramer for the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking. Valuable assistance was provided by the Arlington County Police Department.

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

FBI seal (Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash)

Update on 11/7/23 — The suspect in this case has pleaded guilty, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. More, below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.

A former FBI contractor pleaded guilty today to production and receipt of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to court documents, beginning in February, Brett Janes, 26, of Arlington, groomed a 13-year-old minor (MV1) to transition from playing Valorant with him, a popular first-person shooter game, to engaging in “strip” games on a video chat function in Discord. Although MV1 did not want to play this game, Janes employed threats of suicide, various money payments through CashApp, and flattery, until MV1 produced CSAM for him.

In addition, a search warrant revealed Janes was communicating with at least a dozen other minors. Of those minors, he convinced one 12-year-old boy to produce CSAM and attempted to entice another 14-year-old boy to produce CSAM. Janes manipulated these minors by befriending, flattering, and outright begging them for content. A review of his devices revealed he purchased hundreds of videos and images of CSAM from the internet, including graphic videos of prepubescent children being raped.

Janes pleaded guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of children and one count of receipt of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 27, 2024, and faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Nicole M. Argentieri, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Wayne A. Jacobs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.

Significant assistance was provided by the Arlington County Police Department and the Galloway Township Police Department in New Jersey.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Withers and Special Assistant U.S Attorney McKenzie Hightower are prosecuting the case.

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

Earlier: A 26-year-old Arlington man who worked as an FBI contractor is facing child exploitation and pornography charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria says a grand jury returned charges Wednesday against Brett Janes, including “two counts of sexual exploitation of children and production of CSAM, one count of attempted coercion and enticement, and one count of receipt of child pornography.”

If convicted he’ll face at least 15 years in prison.

Address records suggest that Janes lived in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood, a few blocks from Oakridge Elementary School. Federal prosecutors say he met and then exploited boys over the internet, including via video games and on Discord.

More on the charges, below, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment today charging a former FBI contractor with sexual exploitation of children.

According to court documents, Brett Janes, 26, of Arlington, Virginia, allegedly contacted roughly a dozen minor boys over Discord and Snapchat. He allegedly groomed the minors by telling them he worked for a U.S. intelligence agency before repeatedly threatening suicide if the minors did not continue to communicate with him. Janes allegedly enticed one victim, a 13-year-old boy whom he met through the first-person shooter game Valorant, to strip and masturbate over a live video Discord call by threatening to kill himself and by paying him money over CashApp. He allegedly enticed a 12-year-old boy to create and send him child sexual abuse material (CSAM) over Discord through flattery and repeated begging.

Janes allegedly received child sexual abuse material from these two minors, as well as two separate minor victims, and attempted to meet up with a minor. He also allegedly purchased hundreds of videos and images of child sexual abuse material from Telegram.

Janes is charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of children and production of CSAM, one count of attempted coercion and enticement, and one count of receipt of child pornography. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Arlington County Chief of Police, Charles “Andy” Penn, made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney McKenzie Hightower is prosecuting the case.

Any individuals who believe they or someone they know may have been victimized by Janes are encouraged to contact the FBI at 202-278-2000 and ask to speak to the child exploitation and human trafficking task force.

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

Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash 

Arlington resident James Gordon Meek, formerly a prominent television news producer, has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced the plea this afternoon. Meek, 53, faces a minimum sentence of 5 year in federal prison and a maximum sentence of several decades.

The FBI raided Meek’s apartment on Columbia Pike in April 2022, as photos first published by ARLnow — taken by local resident John Antonelli — showed. Speculation about the raid swirled in the ensuing months, in part due to Meek’s job as a prominent producer for ABC News and his former role in counter-terrorism for the House Committee on Homeland Security.

In the end, Meek was being investigated for possession of child sexual abuse material on his phone and on other devices. He pleaded guilty today and is set to be sentenced in late September.

More, below, from a U.S. Dept. of Justice press release.

An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to transportation and possession of child sexual abuse material.

According to court documents, while visiting South Carolina in February 2020, James Gordon Meek, 53, used an online messaging platform on his iPhone to send and receive images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and to discuss his sexual interest in children. Some of the images and videos depicted prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12, including an infant being raped. Meek brought the iPhone containing the child sexual abuse material back with him when he returned to Virginia. Additionally, Meek possessed multiple electronic devices containing images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Meek is scheduled to be sentenced on September 29. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for each charge. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Kenneth A. Polite, Jr, Assistant Attorney General. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and David Sundberg, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zoe Bedell and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Kramer are prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking. Valuable assistance was provided by the Arlington County Police Department.

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

Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to assault after he threatened and stole the keys of a dump truck driver following a crash on the GW Parkway.

The road rage incident happened on Nov. 1 along the Arlington portion of the Parkway. It was prosecuted in federal court since it happened on National Park Service land.

The 58-year-old perpetrator also smashed the window of the dump truck with a baseball bat, federal prosecutors said, leading to the assault charge. He faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty, though actual sentences are usually lower.

More from a U.S. Justice Department press release, below.

A Frederick, Maryland, man pleaded guilty yesterday to assault with a deadly weapon.

According to court documents, Juan Marcus Smith, 58, was driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway when a motor vehicle accident occurred between his vehicle and a dump truck driven by the victim. Smith pulled in front of the dump truck and brought his vehicle to a complete stop in the righthand lane of the Parkway. He walked over to the victim’s truck, opened the driver’s side door, and brandished a knife while attempting to retrieve the keys to the victim’s dump truck. Smith then returned to his vehicle, recovered a baseball bat, and went back to the victim’s dump truck and struck the driver’s side window, shattering the window while the victim sat inside.

When officers with the United States Park Police arrived at the scene, they found Smith standing outside his vehicle holding the key to the dump truck in the air. They also recovered a folding knife from Smith’s pant pocket and a baseball bat from the back seat of Smith’s vehicle.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on May 25. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Christopher Stock, Acting Chief of U.S. Park Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Patricia T. Giles accepted the plea.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alyssa Levey-Weinstein and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bibeane Metsch are prosecuting the case.

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Morning Notes

Pentagon City Plan Passes Unanimously — “The Arlington County Board adopted a new vision for a vibrant and livable Pentagon City, following an 18-month planning process. The Board voted 5-0 to approve the Pentagon City Sector Plan (PCSP) and its associated Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments.” More than 110 people spoke at the Board’s meeting on Saturday, many of them opposed to a portion of the plan that would allow a significant increase in density on the RiverHouse property. [Arlington County]

Second HQ2 Phase Advancing — “PenPlace, the 3.2 million-square-foot second phase of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, has earned the key support of Arlington County staff as it heads into its final stretch of reviews. During the last Site Plan Review Committee meeting Thursday, Peter Schulz, a staffer with the Arlington planning division, said ‘staff has no major outstanding issues’ with regard to PenPlace’s architecture and landscape design.” [Washington Business Journal]

Chipotle Lists Clarendon Location on Website — Despite denying plans to open a Clarendon location, Chipotle has now listed the soon-to-open location at 3017 Clarendon Blvd on its website. [Chipotle]

Cookie Purveyor Coming to Courthouse — “Captain Cookie & The Milkman is opening across the river for the first time as a part of the local treat-yourself brand’s ongoing regional expansion. The shop should open at 2200 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood this spring. The space was most recently a GNC. “It’s just a calcium supplement store now,” co-owner Kirk Francis jokes. The menu spans eight flavors of cookies that are baked on site, local milk from South Mountain Creamery, and Ice Cream Jubilee ice cream.” [Washington City Paper]

Metro Reducing Delays on Local Lines — “Additional weekday service improvements will start Monday, February 14, with customers seeing more trains, more often on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, at least every 20 minutes. The change expands on earlier service improvements to the Red (every 12 minutes), Green and Yellow lines (every 20 minutes).” [WMATA]

Arlington Company Admits PPP Fraud — “Zen Solutions Inc., located in Arlington, Virginia, has agreed to pay approximately $31,000 in damages and civil penalties to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by obtaining more than one Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2020. Zen Solutions also agreed to repay the duplicative PPP loan in full to its lender, relieving the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) of liability to the lender for the federal guaranty of approximately $192,000 on the improper loan.” [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Vehicle Flips Along Washington Blvd — From Dave Statter on Saturday night: “Crash with a vehicle overturned at Washington Blvd & Brookside Dr (betw Rt 50 & Pershing).” [Twitter]

Icy Conditions Possible This Morning — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Road surface temperatures above freezing have meant no deployment of salt with today’s winter weather event. But be prepared for possible slick spots overnight into the morning. Crews will be on the lookout.” [Twitter]

It’s Valentine’s Day — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 33 and wind gusts up to 21 mph. Sunrise at 6:59 a.m. and sunset at 5:45 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 41. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington’s top prosecutor just got a boost from the U.S. Department of Justice to continue pursuing criminal justice reforms.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded $340,000 to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, led by Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. This is the maximum grant allowed through the bureau’s Innovative Prosecution Solutions program, according to a press release.

The $340,000 will fund two new positions, including one for someone trained in social work, the release said. It will support work to train facilitators in restorative practices — intended to reduce the length of incarcerations, at least in some cases, while also providing justice to the victim — and identify which D.C.-area restorative services and diversion programs produce the best public safety outcomes.

“It’s a game changer because it allows us to develop partnerships with diversion programs across the Metro area, for the first time, both in service of developing opportunities and reducing recidivism, incarceration, and racial disparities,” Dehghani-Tafti said.

The office will also hire a data expert and purchase software needed to analyze data about prosecutions, including how cases are resolved. Dehghani-Tafti campaigned on using data and evidence to drive criminal justice reform.

“It also gives us the capacity for evidence-based prosecution and evidence-based diversion decisions,” she said.

This grant will fund these positions and activities through June 2023, according to the release.

“This grant acknowledges and supports the work of local prosecutors trying to transform the criminal legal system,” said Dehghani-Tafti, who successfully ran on a criminal justice reform platform in 2019, in a statement.

Additional statements from the press release are below.

“I applaud the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s efforts and office for applying and obtaining funding under the DOJ’s FY 2021 Smart Prosecution–Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program,” stated Julius D. “J.D.” Spain, Sr., President Arlington Branch NAACP. “In efforts to focus on mediation and agreement rather than punishment, our community needs alternatives to traditional discipline. This additional funding will assist in developing effective strategies, enhancing our Restorative Arlington Program, and combating and prosecuting violent crime in Arlington.”

“Black Parents of Arlington commends the Commonwealth’s Attorney and her office for taking this important step to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to crime within our jurisdiction,” said Whytni Kernodle, Co-Founder and President, Black Parents of Arlington. “These funds should help reduce rather than exacerbate racial disparities that are particularly harmful to young Black males, while helping to reduce crime and increase public safety for everyone in our community.”

“This funding will allow us to leverage the innovative and data driven work that Parisa’s office has been focused on since day one to increase efficiency, security and safety for our community,” said Kimiko Lighty, Coordinator, Restorative Arlington. “This grant award is an endorsement of the collaborative spirit that system partners here in Arlington have prioritized and we will all benefit from the investment in updated data systems and coordinative personnel.”

This year has also seen Dehghani-Tafti launch a wrongful convictions unit and partner with a national criminal justice organization to reduce race-based differences in prosecution by 20%.

At the same time, her tenure has seen some controversies. She has been the target of a recall effort, which cites increases in certain crimes such as carjackings — though the same data also shows a decrease in violent sex offenses and a relatively low homicide rate.

Additionally, there have been conflicts with judges over plea deals and dropping charges without an explanation for the record.

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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

The Alexandria man whose drugs led to a local woman’s death is expected to spend at least a decade in prison.

Prosecutors announced this morning that 29-year-old Kibruysday Degefa, accused of distributing the fentanyl-laced drugs that caused the overdose death of a 20-year-old woman in Arlington, was convicted on an array of charges by a jury in Alexandria federal court.

Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn helped to make the announcement. Degefa is set to be sentenced in February and is facing a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia is below.

A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday on charges of conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from in or around June 2020, through at least December 2020, Kibruysday Degefa, 29, conspired with others to distribute counterfeit, pressed pills containing fentanyl, as well as Eutylone, which is a designer drug similar in character to MDMA. Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl. A search warrant on the hotel room where Degefa was staying at the time revealed additional narcotics for distribution, including Eutylone, along with multiple firearms concealed in the bathroom ceiling tiles. Degefa was previously convicted of robbery in Alexandria in 2015.

Degefa faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when sentenced on February 18, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the verdict.

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An Arlington man was sentenced yesterday (Feb. 24) to 12 years and 7 months in prison for his participation in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Cornelius Frazier, 32, would press pills containing fentanyl so that they would resemble prescription pills (like Oxycodone) so that he could distribute for financial gain, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release and court documents.

“As this case demonstrates, fentanyl is not only extremely dangerous because of its potency, but also because it may be hidden in counterfeit prescription pills,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who took over the role on an interim basis last month. “We are grateful to the numerous law enforcement agencies that worked with our Office on this investigation and prevented kilograms of fentanyl from poisoning our communities and harming our loved ones. Their tireless efforts are saving lives.”

A number of local law enforcement agencies were involved, including the Arlington County Police Department, Falls Church Police Department, and Alexandria Police Department, per the release.

On June 1, 2020, a search of Frazier’s vehicle found more than 5,000 pills which tested positive for fentanyl as well as two brick-like packages weighing more than 1.6 kilograms which also tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.

A search of Frazier’s home ended in the seizure of a blender with about a kilogram of a mixture containing fentanyl. Law enforcement seized paraphernalia often associated with prescription drug trafficking including dust collectors with residue, a hydraulic jack, cutting agents, and pill presses containing markings consistent with Oxycodone, according to federal prosecutors.

Also found: nearly $35,000 in cash, a loaded AK-47 with thirty bullets loaded in the magazine, and other guns.

Opioid overdoses remain a huge risk in Arlington County. 2020 saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses locally; there were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Some officials believe that the pandemic holds much of the blame for the resurgence.

Full press release is below.

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Morning Notes

Possible Rabies Exposure in EFC — “On Saturday, January 30, a raccoon was reported in the area of the 6900 block Williamsburg Boulevard… in the East Falls Church neighborhood. This animal was showing signs of neurological symptoms and was caught and removed by Animal Control after potentially having contact with a pet. The raccoon tested clinically positive for rabies.” [Arlington County]

Rouse Property Showdown Heads to County Board — “With a unanimous vote, Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board kicked the controversy over preservation of the Rouse estate on Wilson Boulevard up to the County Board. The action, taken Jan. 27 after the matter was fast-tracked through what ordinarily would have been a much more drawn-out process, puts the advisory body at odds with the owners of the 9-acre property, who want to raze the buildings and sell off the tract.” [InsideNova]

Pike McDonald’s Robbed by Irate Customer — “The suspect was in the drive thru line of a business and became irate over an issue with their order. The suspect then parked their vehicle and entered the business yelling and threatening the victim. She slapped items out of the victim’s hand, then pushed her out of the way and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, threw food items on the floor, and damaged property, then fled in a vehicle prior to police arrival.” [ACPD]

Local Businessman Pleads Guilty to Fraud — “An Arlington businessman pleaded guilty today to making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits… Robert S. Stewart, Jr., 35, was the owner and president of Federal Government Experts LLC, an Arlington-based company that purported to provide various services to the U.S. government.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]

Volunteers Working to Widen Mt. Vernon Trail — “Volunteers removed overgrown grass and mud from the trail between Memorial Bridge and TR Island in January widening the trail by more than a foot in some spots. Volunteers also fixed drainage of three areas where winter ice sheets were forming. We have multiple upcoming volunteer events through March to continue widening the trail.” [Friends of the Mt. Vernon Trail]

Super Bowl Safety Reminder — “Super Bowl LV is on Sunday, February 7, 2021, and it’s one of America’s favorite annual celebrations… The Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind football fans everywhere that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.” [ACPD]

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Once high-flying local startup Trustify was able to grow due to a massive fraud perpetrated by its former CEO and co-founder, according to federal prosecutors.

Just three years ago, Danny Boice was the toast of the Arlington startup scene. Virginia’s former governor and Arlington’s former County Board chair praised his plan to add 184 jobs in Trustify’s sparkling new Crystal City offices — a plan that, if carried out, would have made him eligible for nearly $120,000 in economic development incentives.

But the grand vision for a thriving “Uber-for-private-investigators” service never came to fruition.

Behind the scenes, the investments that allowed Trustify to grow were being solicited with fraudulent information, overstating Trustify’s financial performance, and eventually the facade came crashing down. The company was placed into bankruptcy proceedings last year.

Boice, a 41-year-old Alexandria resident, pleaded guilty this week to one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection to the scheme, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. He’s set to be sentenced in March.

Not only did Boice lie to get $18.5 million in investment, the DOJ said, but he diverted nearly $4 million to his personal benefit, including homes and a private jet.

While some frauds may go unnoticed, the Trustify fraud was called out in real time by a devoted critic of Boice and the company. A local tech watchdog who went by the name “Mr. Cranky” wrote at the time of the governor’s jobs announcement, on a now-defunct blog, that Boice and his ex-wife/co-founder were “two low life scum, pretending to be entrepreneurs.”

“It is my opinion that Danny and [his ex-wife] are financing their luxurious lifestyle by crowdfunding money for their Dumpster Fire and using that cash for vacations, house payments, and private schools while investing little in the company,” he wrote. An earlier “Mr. Cranky” post reprinted a letter from Boice’s attorney demanding that he “cease and desist from continuing to publish false and intentionally disparaging statements about Mr. Boice and his company Trustify.”

The full DOJ press release about Boice’s guilty plea is below.

The former chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Trustify, Inc. (Trustify), a privately-held technology company founded in 2015 and based in Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to his involvement in a fraud scheme resulting in millions of dollars of losses to investors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Daniel Boice, 41, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud before Senior United States District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2021.

According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, beginning in 2015,  Boice fraudulently solicited investments in Trustify, a privately held technology start-up company that connected customers with private investigators. Boice raised approximately $18.5 million from over 90 investors by, among other things, falsely overstating Trustify’s financial performance. Despite representing to investors that their funds would go towards operating and growing Trustify’s business, Boice diverted at least $3.7 million for his own benefit and to fund his lifestyle. This included the purchase of a home in Alexandria, Virginia, travel by private jet, and furnishing a seaside vacation home.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case.  Trial Attorney Blake Goebel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

Individuals who believe they may be a victim in this case should contact the Victim Witness Services Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at 703-299-3700 for more information.

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