Buckhead couple indicted for sex trafficking
2:46 pm, May 15th, 2013
A federal grand jury in Atlanta has indicted a Buckhead couple of forcing a 17-year-old who lived with them into prostitution, federal prosecutors announced today.
The grand jury indicted Steven E. Thompson and Tierra Michelle Waters on charges of sex trafficking a juvenile. The couple, who had invited the teen to stay at their Buckhead condominium, informed her after she moved in that she would have to have sex with men they solicited in order to earn her rent, federal prosecutors said.
Additional details are in the U.S. attorney’s news release.
Drug company pleads guilty to distributing adulterated drugs
4:04 pm, May 13th, 2013
A U.S. subsidiary of India’s largest pharmaceutical company pleaded guilty today to felony charges of manufacturing and distributing adulterated drugs in violation of federal food and drug laws, the U.S. Justice Department announced today.
The firm, Ranbaxy USA Inc., also agreed to pay fines and forfeitures totaling $150 million and pay an additional $350 million to settle civil whistleblower claims filed under the federal False Claims Act.
In addition, Ranbaxy USA also pleaded guilty to four counts of making material false statements to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has oversight over the manufacture and distribution of prescription drugs in the U.S. , the DOJ said. The charges stem from violations at the parent manufacturing plant in India that dated back to 2003. The U.S. contends that Ranbaxy manufactured and distributed drugs with strengths and quality that differed from the drug’s specifications.
The adulterated drugs distributed by Ranbaxy USA included Sotret – a generic brand of isotrentinoin, which is used to treat cystic acne; gabepentin, which is used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain; and antibiotic ciprofloxacin, also known as Cipro, according to the DOJ. Ranbaxy USA also admitted making false statements about tests that resulted in unreliable results concerning the shelf life of other drugs—including Cefaclor, cefadroxil, amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium—that were manufactured in India for U.S. distribution, the DOJ said.
“The investigation that led to this settlement uncovered evidence showing that certain lots of specific drugs produced at the Paonta Sahib facility [in India] were defective, in that their strength differed from, or their purity or quality fell below, that which they purported to possess,” said John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
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Convicted N.C. terrorist gets life for murder-for-hire
12:56 pm, May 13th, 2013
A convicted terrorist who plotted from his prison cell to behead federal agents and witnesses was sentenced to life in prison earlier today by a federal judge in Raleigh, N.C.
U.S. District Senior Judge W. Earl Britt sentenced Hysen Sherifi, 29, to life for what federal prosecutors said was a “sinister murder for hire plot” against six witnesses, including three FBI agents, who had testified against him during his 2011 trial, the U.S. Justice Department in Washington announced.
Britt also sentenced co-defendants Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, to three years and Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, to 3 ½ years in prison for their roles in the plot. Federal prosecutors said that the two men pleaded guilty in November to a charge of conspiring to engage in a murder-for-hire plot and testified at the elder Sherifi’s trial last year on the murder-for-hire charges. Shkumbin Sherifi is the younger brother of Hysen Sherifi; Elshiekh was a local school teacher who assisted the elder Sherifi brother in raising funds to hire an assassin to kill the six witnesses.
In 2011, Hysen Sherifi – a Kosovo native living in Raleigh who had become a permanent legal resident of the United States — was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, kill federal personnel and murder or otherwise harm people in a foreign country, as well as multiple counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He was serving a 45-year prison sentence.
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Murray County deputy involved in magistrate investigation pleads to charge
5:58 pm, March 27th, 2013
A former Murray County sheriff’s deputy – the first cousin of a county magistrate judge who resigned to end an ethics investigation last year – has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta announced late today.
Michael Henderson, a former captain with the Murray County sheriff’s department, pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.
Henderson’s guilty plea is the latest development in a string of incidents stemming from an ethics investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission last summer of former Murray County Magistrate Judge Bryant Cochran. Cochran resigned his post to end the investigation, which included allegations that he had pre-signed blank search and arrest warrants for use by local law enforcement officers whenever he was unavailable.
The investigation also focused on allegations that Cochran had solicited sexual favors from at least one female litigant in return for a promise to look favorably on a case she had pending in his court.
The night before Cochran resigned, Angela Garmley — the litigant from whom he had allegedly solicited sex and who was one of the JQC’s cooperating witnesses — was arrested on a felony drug charge by a Murray County deputy.
Henderson was the captain on duty when the deputy, who was indicted earlier this year by a federal grand jury — made that arrest.
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Felon gets 15 years for possessing an assault rifle
4:49 pm, March 1st, 2013
A federal judge in Brunswick on Thursday sentenced a Broxton man to a 15-year prison term for possessing an assault rifle as a convicted felon.
U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood passed sentence on Alex Bennett, 32, for stealing an SKS semi-automatic rifle with a 20-round magazine, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Georgia said. Bennett had three prior felony convictions for drug offenses and robberies and had been classified as “an armed career criminal” under federal statute. As such, he faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, prosecutors said.
Bennett entered a guilty plea last July.
Edward Tarver, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said his office “will be relentless in its enforcement of federal firearms laws…. Felons who possess firearms can expect to be returned to prison.”
AG Olens concerned about constitutional creds of Obama Administration
12:27 pm, February 26th, 2013
In a Google Hangout conversation (placed on YouTube; see below) Monday February 25, three Republican attorney generals, including Georgia’s AG Sam Olens, took questions from the public and reporters, and discussed the various ways they plan to challenge the Obama administration. Said Olens:
We are going to go against an administration that doesn’t follow constitutional mandates.
Olens also expressed concern about the constitutionality, and seeks an “overhall”, of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which holds any proposed changes to Georgia’s (and eight other states with a history of voter discrimination) voting laws accountable to the U.S. Justice Department or a 3-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit.
At 16:47 on the video Olens states:
It’s very different in 2013 than it was in 1964. And it is time for Section 5 to be found unconstitutional, and for Section 2 to be the standard by which all 50 states have to seek fair elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge by Alabama on Wednesday, February 27, to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Judge’s emergency order pre-empts Deal’s action on DeKalb schools
6:17 pm, February 25th, 2013
A federal judge’s emergency order intended to “preserve the status quo” issued Friday night pre-empted Governor Nathan Deal’s decision today to replace six members of the DeKalb County Board of Education.
Judge Richard Story issued his order after Deal announced his intention to take action regarding a likely removal of the majority of the school board in order to salvage the DeKalb County school system’s endangered accreditation.
Story denied a request by lawyers representing the DeKalb County School District and school board chairman Eugene Walker to restrain the governor from suspending or removing any elected member of the school board prior to what had been a hearing on the matter scheduled for Tuesday. The other members of the school board are not listed as parties to the suit.
But Story halted the implementation of Deal’s decisions “to preserve the status quo until after this Court has held a hearing on the matter.”
“Thus, if Governor Deal decides to appoint any new member to the Board, that proposed member shall not be permitted to take office at this time,” Story ordered. Story also said in his order that if the governor attempted to remove any school board member, “that member will remain in office, but shall not be permitted to act on behalf of of the board or take any other official action in his or her capacity as [a] board member.”
Story delayed Tuesday’s scheduled hearing until Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Last week, Story refused to grant an earlier emergency petition from lawyers representing Walker and the school district. They had sought to bar the State Board of Education from convening a hearing on whether board members should be removed in order to salvage the school district’s accreditation, which the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has suspended based on what its representatives have said was threatening and abusive behavior by board members, coupled with chronic financial irresponsibility that has left the system deeply in debt.
DeKalb school board lawyers also sought to bar the state board from making any recommendation to suspend any member of the DeKalb board and prevent the governor from suspending board members or stripping them of their elected office.
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Federal agents arrest 10 current and former local police in corruption probe
4:07 pm, February 12th, 2013
Federal authorities this morning rounded up 10 current and former metro Atlanta law enforcement officers after a federal grand jury charged them with taking thousands of dollars in bribes to provide protection for local gangs engaged in illicit cocaine sales.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia said during a news conference broadcast live on WSB-TV’s website today that when an informant who began cooperating with federal agents put word out on the street that he was looking for police officers willing to provide cover for illegal drug transactions for a price, “He got a lot of takers.”
“Each of the officers charged today engaged in multiple drug transactions and took thousands of dollars in payoffs,” she said. “Time and again, law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the law participated in drug deals. … Time after time they took cash from people who should have been arrested.”
The defendant officers, she said, were charged with crimes including drug trafficking, taking bribes, and using firearms during the commission of a felony. They included officers from the Atlanta, DeKalb, Forest Park, Stone Mountain and MARTA police departments; a contract officer with the Federal Protective Services; and two former jailers from the DeKalb County Sheriff Department. Federal authorities also arrested five civilians who were described as “associates” of the defendants.
The defendant police officers, Yates explained, often showed up at drug deals wearing their uniforms, driving police vehicles and carrying their police service firearms. One police officer suggested that future drug deals should be conducted in a local high school parking lot so that the transactions could be handled in backpacks that would not attract attention from casual passersby. Two others provided police escorts for drug dealers, she said.
“The breadth of corruption here is very disturbing,” she said.
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Former TSA officers sent to prison
5:00 pm, January 30th, 2013
A former officer with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta was sentenced today to serve 11 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia announced.
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell of the Northern District of Georgia sentenced Richard Cook II, 28, of Henry County for conspiring to and attempting to smuggle illegal drugs through airport security.
On Jan. 4, Cook’s co-defendant, Timothy Gregory, 26, of DeKalb County was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the illegal drug scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
“The defendants abused their positions as TSA officers to smuggle drugs through the world’s busiest airport,” said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in announcing the sentences. “The citizens of this district deserve better than Mr. Cook and Mr. Gregory – they deserve officers who obey the laws that they are entrusted to enforce. These significant prison sentences should serve as stinging reminders that corruption will not be tolerated.”
James E. Ward, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta field office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General said today’s sentencing demonstrates “that federal and local law enforcement agencies stand committed to eradicate corruption, particularly among the few who choose to tarnish their badge and oath of office,” and “will continue to hold such shameless individuals accountable.”
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U.S. Attorney in Atlanta named vice chair of DOJ advisory group
4:19 pm, January 7th, 2013
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, as vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys.
Yates will serve with Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of New York, who was named as the committee chair.
“I’m confident that U.S. Attorneys Lynch and Yates have the expertise and dedication to lead this critical group in a challenging time as we work to fulfill the department’s commitment to protecting the
American people,” Holder said. “I’m deeply grateful for their service and their leadership.”
Yates has been a member of the advisory committee since May 2012 and has served on several subcommittees, including civil rights, white collar fraud, criminal practice and law enforcement coordination/victim/community issues.
“I am very honored to be asked by Attorney General Holder to serve as Vice-Chair of his Advisory Committee,” Yates said. “I am looking forward to working with him and with my fellow U. S. Attorneys from across the country to fulfill our commitment to justice.”
The committee was created in 1973 as a way for the nation’s U.S. attorneys to advise the attorney general on policy, management and operational issues in their offices.