Last edited on Friday, August 06, 2021, at 2:14 PM.
Welcome to The Blanch Law Firm’s weekly digest of New New York Criminal Cases. Our goal is to keep the public informed as to recent events in federal courts around the country.
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Friday, August 06, 2021
I. Registered Sex Offender Arrested, Charged With Production Of Child Pornography
On July 30, 2021. the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced that Juan Quinones-Rivera, 39, had been arrested and charged by criminal complaint with production of child pornography. If he is convicted, Quinones-Rivera faces at least 15 years and up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Caitlin M. Higgins, who stated that on April 21, 2021, New York State Parole contacted the FBI after a parole officer, while conducting a search of defendant’s room, discovered that he had a cell phone, which was a violation of his parole. During a cursory search of the device, the parole officer located Snapchat chats and text messages between Quinones-Rivera and a female (Victim). A subsequent search of the phone recovered numerous images and videos of suspected child pornography.
In addition, investigators recovered sexually explicit text conversations between the defendant and Victim, during which Quinones-Rivera requested and received approximately 50 videos and photos from the Victim.
II. U.S. Attorney Announces Extradition of Two Pakistani Nationals for Attempted Heroin Importation
On July 30, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, and Anne Milgram, DEA Administrator announced the extradition of two Pakistani nationals, Maulabaksh Gorgeech, 43, and Niamatullah Gorgeech, 37, for attempting to import heroin into the United States. The defendants were taken into custody by Thai authorities in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 11, 2021, and extradited to the United States July 30 from Thailand. They were presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn July 30.
According to the allegations contained in the Complaints, beginning in late 2019, Maulabaksh Gorgeech and Niamatullah Gorgeech, Asia-based drug traffickers, began communicating and meeting with individuals whom they believed were heroin traffickers interested in purchasing multi-kilogram quantities of heroin for importation into the United States. Those individuals were, in fact, confidential sources working at the DEA’s direction, as well as an undercover DEA agent posing as a New York-based heroin distributor.
In March 2019, Niamatullah Gorgeech caused a sample of approximately seven kilograms of heroin to be delivered in Afghanistan, with the understanding that those drugs would be transported to and sold in the United States. In July 2019, Maulabaksh Gorgeech offered to provide as many as 100 kilograms of heroin for importation to the United States. In September 2019, Maulabaksh Gorgeech caused another sample of approximately seven kilograms of heroin to be delivered in Afghanistan, for importation and sale in the United States.
Following these sample shipments, Maulabaksh Gorgeech and Niamatullah Gorgeech planned to supply larger quantities of heroin for importation to and distribution within the United States.
III. Western New York Man Arrested on Charges of Possession, Production, Of Child Porn
On August 2, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced that Kenneth Ritchie, 30, of Cheektowaga, NY, had been charged via criminal complaint with production and possession of child pornography. If Ritchie is convicted in a court of law, he will face at least 15 years and up to 50 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
According to the complaint, on July 16, 2021, an individual contacted the Cheektowaga Police Department and reported observing child pornography on a cell phone belonging to Ritchie. The individual stated that he met Ritchie on the Grinder chat application and then met him in person at the defendant’s residence in Cheektowaga. While at the residence, the individual stated that Ritchie showed him images and videos containing what he believed to be child pornography.
The individual told the defendant that he was disgusted by what he observed and told him he was reporting him to the police.
IV. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Agreement With Bermudian Bank To Resolve Criminal Tax Query
On August 3, 2021, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, announced that the Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited (Butterfield)had entered into a non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in which they agreed to pay $5.6 million to the United States for assisting U.S. taxpayer-clients in opening and maintaining undeclared foreign bank accounts from 2001 through 2013.
The NPA was based on Butterfield’s cooperation, including its efforts in providing 386 client files for non-compliant U.S. taxpayer-clients, and provides that Butterfield will not be criminally prosecuted.
As written, the NPA will require Butterfield to forfeit $4.896 million to the United States, representing certain fees that it earned by assisting its U.S. taxpayer-clients in opening and maintaining these undeclared accounts, and to pay $704,000 in restitution to the IRS, representing the approximate unpaid taxes arising from the tax evasion by Butterfield’s U.S. taxpayer-clients.
V. Nine Indicted for Interstate Gun Trafficking Scheme
On August 4, 2021, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco joined Audrey Strauss, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to announce a third superseding indictment charging James Thomas, a/k/a “Spazz,” DuVaughn Wilson, a/k/a “Dupree,” Courtney Schloss, a/k/a “Bway,” a/k/a “Balenci,” Ken Alexander, a/k/a “Ryu,” Argum Taj, a/k/a “Sour,” Samuel Taj, a/k/a “Sosa,” Christopher Machado, a/k/a “Chris Elite,” Harlie Ramos a/k/a “White Girl,” and Jamel Thomas, a/k/a “Mel,” with conspiracy to commit gun trafficking and gun trafficking, in connection with their involvement in a scheme to illegally transport firearms from Georgia for resale to residents of New York.
According to the allegations in the Superseding Indictment unsealed Aug. 4 in Manhattan federal court, from at least in or around August 2020 up to and including April 2021, the defendants used Georgia resident DuVaughn Wilson, a/k/a “Dupree,” as a straw purchaser to buy at least 87 firearms from at least six federal firearms licensees (“FFLs”) in Georgia. Over the course of the scheme, during which Wilson completed approximately 30 different transactions, Wilson attested that he was the true purchaser of the firearms, when in fact he was buying the guns on behalf of the defendants, who in turn illegally resold many of the guns to others.
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