HQ2’s Employee Count Keeps Growing — “Amazon.com Inc.’s Arlington headquarters seems to get larger by the week. At latest count, there are just shy of 715 employees in leased office spaces in Crystal City and about 125 pending starts.” [Washington Business Journal]
MS-13 Members Plead Guilty to Shooting — “Two MS-13 members pleaded guilty today to their respective roles in a December 2018 shooting and stabbing that occurred in Four Mile Run Park on the border of Alexandria and Arlington. According to court documents, Juan Francisco Rivera-Pineda, 25, and Jefferson Noe Amaya, 24, both Alexandria residents… confronted the victim in the park, shooting him in the throat and arm, and stabbing him in the back. The victim was transported to the hospital where he underwent surgery and survived.” [USDOJ]
Pentagon Suspect Was Out on Bail — “Matthew Richardson, who is facing charges in Arlington, Va., after police say he tried to blow up a car in a Pentagon parking lot, was released from the Washington County jail in December after The Bail Project posted his bond.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Vaping Is Prevalent in Arlington Schools — “Sneaking doses from e-cigarettes or, ‘juuling,’ has emerged as ‘the No. 1 offender at Arlington Public Schools,’ according to substance abuse counselor Jenny Sexton, speaking at the Feb. 12 exploration of the hot topic at the Arlington Committee of 100… It’s a tricky discipline challenge, said Sexton, who is “stretched thin” counseling populations at 24 elementary schools and two Arlington middle schools.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Strong Primary Absentee Voting Turnout — “Former Arlington County, VA Treasurer Frank O’Leary: ‘A new record has been set in Arlington for absentee voting in a Presidential primary. In fact, over the last seven days an amazing 1,722 absentee votes have occurred – 61 percent in person.'” [Blue Virginia, Twitter]
Beyer Campaigning for Mayor Pete — “As Pete Buttigieg struggles for momentum going into the South Carolina Democratic primary and Super Tuesday, two members of Congress from the Washington region are traveling the country to promote his presidential campaign. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) were early endorsers of the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who they say has the personal story and calm demeanor to unite a nation divided by Donald Trump’s presidency.” [Washington Post]
A federal judge sentenced Pascal Laporte to four years in prison today, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced this afternoon.
Prosecutors say Laporte thought he was buying two kilograms of cocaine from a Mexican cartel for $50,000, but was in fact meeting with undercover Fairfax County Police detectives. They say that Laporte planned to sell the cocaine and promised future purchases of up to 100 kilograms.
More from a press release, via the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
An Arlington man was sentenced today to nearly four years in prison for his role in purchasing 2 kilograms of cocaine from undercover detectives.
According to court documents, Pascal Laporte, 40, intended to purchase 2 kilograms of cocaine from undercover Fairfax County Police detectives who purported themselves as members a drug cartel based in Mexico. For over a year, Laporte expressed to a confidential source his need for a cheaper supplier of cocaine who could provide him with kilogram quantities. Laporte first met the undercover detectives in early August 2018 at a restaurant in Tysons Corner, to discuss pricing per kilogram and the quantity Laporte desired. Laporte told the undercover detectives it would take him a week to sell off 1 kilogram of cocaine.
In the weeks leading up to his arrest, Laporte communicated with the CS his desire to start with the purchase of 2 kilograms of cocaine, and if the arrangement went well, he would then purchase 10 kilograms, and then upwards of 100 kilograms per month. Laporte even traveled to Miami with the intention to find a means to transport the cocaine himself to the Northern Virginia area in an effort to obtain the cheapest price per kilogram. Laporte was arrested in August 2018 as he was inspecting the cocaine that he was to purchase. He brought $45,000 to the meeting, as partial payment for the 2 kilograms.
Arlington resident Todd Hitt, the founder of Falls Church-based Kiddar Capital, has pleaded guilty to a massive, Ponzi-like fraud scheme.
Federal prosecutors say Hitt, “solicited approximately $30 million from investors for a variety of real estate and venture capital investments,” but used much of the money “for personal spending to support an extravagant lifestyle and new investor’s funds used to pay off old investors.”
“Hitt’s fraudulent conduct resulted in investor losses of approximately $20 million,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Before his October arrest by the FBI, Hitt was developing a new company headquarters in Falls Church. A member of a prominent local commercial real estate family, Hitt made headlines as a young housing developer in the 1990s for clashing with Arlington neighbors while building what residents dubbed “McMansions.”
More on the guilty plea, and Hitt’s future sentencing, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to orchestrating eight fraud schemes that resulted in total losses of approximately $20 million.
According to court documents, Todd Elliott Hitt, 54, solicited approximately $30 million from investors for a variety of real estate and venture capital investments in the Washington, D.C. area from 2014 through August 2018. The investments included Hitt’s solicitation of approximately $17 million from investors in order to purchase a five-story office building adjacent to a planned future stop on the Silver Line in Herndon. Hitt made false statements and material omissions to investors by failing to disclose that a significant portion of the monies raised were commingled with other unrelated investment projects, used for personal spending to support an extravagant lifestyle and new investor’s funds used to pay off old investors in a Ponzi-like scheme. Hitt’s fraudulent conduct resulted in investor losses of approximately $20 million.
Hitt pleaded guilty to a charge of securities fraud in and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $5 million or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21. 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.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Matthew J. DeSarno, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle is prosecuting the case.
Photo via YouTube
According to documents filed in federal court, Andrew Lee Thompson II, aka “Slim,” 34, of Florida, brought the girl to Arlington after meeting her in Arizona.
While in Arlington, a security guard called police after seeing multiple men go in and out of two rooms at a hotel, identified by WUSA 9 as the Best Western on S. Glebe Road near I-395.
“When law enforcement investigated, they found evidence of prostitution related activity in the hotel rooms and recovered the minor victim,” said a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “After arresting Thompson, law enforcement found tattoos on his body bragging about his pimping activities, including on his arm and across his chest.”
Thompson also trafficked the girl in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and elsewhere in Virginia for prostitution dates, then collected the money. Thompson worked alongside two co-defendants, Delberta McKenzie and Rachel Robillard, prosecutors say, using prostitution ads posted online.
Thompson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. He will be sentenced on February 9, 2018.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced the guilty plea with Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr and Andrew Vale, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
The men, all in their 20s and all residents of the District, are being charged in federal court as their alleged crime spree took them across state lines.
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging four Washington, D.C. residents for their alleged roles in 19 separate armed robberies in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
According to allegations in the indictment, from Nov. 1, 2016 to April 12, Desmar Rashad Gayles, Andrew Bernard Duncan, Anton Durrell Harris, and Lamont Kortez Gaines committed a total of 19 armed robberies of commercial establishments and three carjackings, allegedly using two of the vehicles that they carjacked to commit some of the armed robberies. In ten of the armed robberies, the defendants used an Intratec 9 mm semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine. That firearm was recovered in Harris’ residence on April 13 with the extended magazine fully loaded and a round in the chamber.
Among other jurisdictions, the men are accused of seven robberies and a carjacking in Alexandria and one armed robbery in Arlington.
That robbery happened in March, at a store near Shirlington, according to Arlington County Police.
From an ACPD crime report:
ROBBERY, 2017-03190011, 4000 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 12:35 a.m. on March 19, officers responded to the report of an armed robbery that had just occurred. Three masked male suspects entered a store and confronted the employee and a customer inside. One suspect brandished a firearm and demanded money from the register, while another suspect demanded money from the customer. The suspects then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. The first suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’10”-6’00” tall and weighed 140-170 lbs. He was wearing a black winter coat, dark jeans, dark colored shoes, black gloves, and a black mask. The second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’03”-5’06” tall and was wearing a black coat, black pants, black shoes, black gloves, and a black mask. The third suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’03”-5’06” tall and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants, dark shoes, black gloves, and a mask. The investigation is ongoing.
Federal prosecutors announced the plea deal early Tuesday afternoon. The defendant, 28-year-old Anthony Medrano, now faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced in August.
From a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:
An Arlington man pleaded guilty today to willfully receiving a firearm while under indictment in Virginia state court.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement and other court records, Anthony Fernandez Medrano, 28, was indicted in Virginia state court in 2015 for possessing cocaine, a schedule II controlled substance. While still under indictment, and not lawfully able to purchase or possess firearms, Fernandez Medrano sought and purchased guns from a private party seller and signed bills of sale confirming the purchases.
Fernandez Medrano faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on August 11. 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.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael B. Boxler, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Smith III is prosecuting the case.
James Jeffrey Schroeder, 50, was today sentenced to 100 months in prison for “for receiving and downloading child pornography,” according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. He pleaded guilty to the crime last October.
Schroeder also was sentenced to 20 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $182,000 in restitution to victims.
Schroeder, a former teacher’s assistant in Texas, got the illegal pornography from the internet and from a family member between 1997 and 2015, authorities said. A review of Schroeder’s electronic media found he had more than 13,000 images and 400 videos of child pornography, many sadistic or masochistic in nature.
Schroeder “worked for an unnamed government agency” after moving here from Texas. During the pornography investigation, he also reportedly confessed to sexually abusing two special needs students more than 20 years ago, according to a Texas newspaper.
From a press release:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – James Jeffrey Schroeder, 50, of Arlington, a former teacher’s assistant in Texas, was sentenced today to 100 months in prison for receiving and downloading child pornography. Schroeder was also sentenced to 20 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $182,000 in restitution to victims.
Schroeder pleaded guilty on Oct. 28, 2016. According to court documents, from approximately 1997 to 2015, Schroeder received and downloaded child pornography from the internet and from a family member. A forensic review of Schroeder’s electronic media revealed more than 13,000 images and 400 videos of child pornography. Numerous images and videos were sadistic or masochistic in nature.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis, III. Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Dougherty Russell prosecuted the case.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
An Arlington woman arrested earlier this year for a counterfeit handbag fraud has been sentenced to jail time.
Federal prosecutors say 41-year-old Praepitcha Smatsorabudh would buy luxury handbags online, then return high-quality knockoff handbags to the store while selling the real bag online, netting big profits in the process
She was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and more than $800,000 in forfeiture and restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
More from a press release:
Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, 41, of Arlington, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for running a multiyear scheme to defraud department stores across the country. Smatsorabudh was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $403,250.81 in forfeiture and the same amount in restitution to her victims.
Smatsorabudh pleaded guilty to wire fraud on August 3. According to court documents, Smatsorabudh bought brand name purses online and then returned in their place counterfeit purses, which were smuggled into the country from China. She then sold the authentic purses on Instagram for more than $2,000 each. In order to avoid detection, Smatsorabudh made fraudulent returns at over 60 department store locations in 12 states. In total, her scheme defrauded department stores out of more than $400,000.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer prosecuted the case.
Who should you call should you suspect election fraud or voting rights abuse at the polls on Election Day next week?
The regional U.S. Attorney’s Office says to give them a call.
In a press release, prosecutors say that such complaints on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 8) will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis, who can be reached at 703-299-3700.
For more mundane problems at the polls that don’t rise to the level of a federal offense, voters can notify one of the poll workers or call the Arlington County elections office at 703-228-3456. Officials say Arlington is well-prepared for the anticipated crush of voters during a particularly contentious presidential election year.
Our election officers and staff are well-trained and prepared for the big day! https://t.co/0BViHHEV6c
— Arlington Elections (@ArlingtonVotes) November 1, 2016
The full U.S. Attorney’s Office press release, after the jump.
Avant, who lives in Arlington, falsely claimed he was exempt from federal tax withholding, prosecutors say. He made more than $170,000 per year during tax years 2009-2013, but did not file a tax return during that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Avant faces up to five years in prison. From a press release:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Isaac Lanier Avant, of Arlington, who is currently employed as a staffer by the U.S. House of Representatives, has been charged with five counts of willfully failing to file a tax return.
According to the criminal information and affidavit, Avant has been employed as a staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives since approximately 2002. For tax years 2009 through 2013, Avant earned annual wages of over $170,000, but did not timely file a personal income tax return for any of those years. In May 2005, Avant filed a form with his employer that falsely claimed he was exempt from federal income taxes. Avant did not have any federal tax withheld from his paycheck until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) mandated that his employer begin withholding in January 2013.
Avant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Caroline D. Ciraolo, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly and Assistant Chief Todd Ellinwood of the Tax Division.
Photo via cbcfinc.org
Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Alexandria resident Obayedul Hoque conspired with managers at a number of Subway stores and a gas station he owned to keep some $6.5 million in sales off the books between 2008 and 2013. Hoque’s company dodged between $1.5 and $3.5 million in federal taxes as a result of the conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Among the seven Subway locations Hoque owned in Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. is the shop at 3000 10th Street N. in Clarendon. That store has remained open. Hoque also owned a Shell station on Duke Street in Alexandria.
Hoque pleaded guilty today and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 13. The full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, after the jump.
Photo via Google Maps