DOJ – Middle GA

DOJ - Department of Justice
DOJ - Department of Justice
  • Defendant With Lengthy Criminal Record In Dougherty County Sentenced To 135 Months On Federal Drug, Gun Charges
    ALBANY, GA – A defendant with four prior criminal convictions in Dougherty County was sentenced today on federal gun and drug charges, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Gordon Price, Jr., 35, of Albany, GA, was sentenced to 135 months for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Possession of Cocaine with the Intent to Distribute by the Honorable Leslie Gardner in Albany federal court. Prior to his federal conviction, Mr. Price was convicted in Dougherty Superior Court for Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute (case number 01-R-298), Possession of Cocaine (01-R-440), Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute (08-R-561) and Possession of Cocaine (12-R-720), all felony offenses. There is no parole in the federal system. According to the plea agreement, officers with the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit (ADDU) executed a search warrant at a room Mr. Price, Jr. was renting at the Townhouse Motel on February 24, 2017.   The search was based on three controlled purchases of crack cocaine at that location by a confidential informant who identified the seller as the Defendant. As officers approached the motel, Mr. Price, Jr. was seen exiting the motel room.  He was immediately taken into custody based on a parole violation warrant.  The defendant had approximately $1127 in cash, and inside his room officers found crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana, two digital scales, a box of plastic sandwich bags, and a loaded Glock 9 mm handgun. “Our Office is working closely with ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-17
    2 days ago
  • U.S. Attorney, IRS Warn Taxpayers To Be On The Lookout For Fraud And Remain Tax Compliant
    MACON –  As many people scramble to file their individual taxes prior to Monday’s deadline, federal officials are warning people to be on the lookout for tax scams, carefully protect their personal information from theft, and comply with federal tax laws to avoid penalties, criminal prosecution and even jail time. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation are actively investigating tax fraud cases in Middle and South Georgia, and are holding criminals accountable for identity theft and tax fraud. “Tax cheats are becoming more sophisticated in their schemes and are finding new ways to swindle the system and even access unsuspecting victims’ personal and tax information for nefarious purposes,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Our Office is working closely with our law enforcement partners at the IRS and local agencies to stop this criminal activity that has far-reaching consequences for both individual victims and our country.” “We have IRS Special Agents located here in Georgia working around the clock to uncover, stop and work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in prosecuting tax crimes. With the filing season coming to an end, it’s important that the public be aware of various tax schemes and report the scheme to either the IRS or their local police department,” said Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-CI, Atlanta Field Office. Since last tax season, approximately twenty-two defendants have been sentenced for fraudulent tax schemes ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-11
    1 week ago
  • Retired Navy Vet Sentenced To 120 Months In Prison For Attempted Online Enticement Of A Minor
    MACON – A Dodge County resident was sentenced to 120 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of Attempted Online Enticement of a Minor, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable Marc Treadwell sentenced Bryan Alan Asbell, Sr., 56, of Chester, Georgia in federal court in Macon on Wednesday. Mr. Asbell pleaded guilty to his crime in January. Mr. Asbell will be required to register as a sex offender. There is no parole in the federal system. According to the plea agreement, on March 15, 2018, Mr. Asbell responded to an online post by agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) posing as a 14-year-old girl living on Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. The post read, “Nuthing 2 do after school, can you get on base? wanna hang out or chat? hit me up!” On the same day, Mr. Asbell responded, “Must ask age? I am a veteran 55yoa white male.” The AFOSI undercover agent responded that it was a 14-year-old girl, and Mr. Asbell acknowledged the undercover agent’s age and continued to talk with the agent via email and cellular messages. Mr. Asbell discussed meeting up and what he would do if they did meet up, and indicated he would perform sexual acts. Mr. Asbell agreed to meet on Robins Air Force Base on April 5, 2018, when told that the undercover agent’s “mother” would be ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-10
    1 week ago
  • Stolen I.D., Personal Information Lifted From Victims' Mailboxes In Bank Fraud Case
    MACON - A Warner Robins man, believed to be the ringleader in a scheme to steal mail to obtain people’s identifying information and use it to make and cash fraudulent checks, has pleaded guilty for his crime, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. Mozell Wright, Jr., 36, of Warner Robins entered a guilty plea for Bank Fraud on April 9, 2019 before The Honorable Tilman E. Self in U.S. District Court in Macon. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine and five years of supervised release. Mr. Wright is set to be sentenced on June 4, 2019. According to facts in the signed plea agreement, Mr. Wright, with the assistance of seven other co-defendants, obtained the personal information of a victim and beginning on March 30, 2017 attempted to deposit or cash approximately $15,795.85 worth of fraudulent checks at various banks in Houston County, Georgia from the victim’s bank account until May 17, 2017, the day before Mr. Wright was taken into custody. During this time, Mr. Wright lived in the same neighborhood as the victim in Houston County. Mr. Wright used stolen mail sent to the victim from Bank of America to produce fraudulent checks for his co-defendants to cash. Mr. Wright was arrested on May 18, and following a search of his home, investigators found hundreds of pieces of mail that included identifying information of 23 separate victims, check stock and partially completed personal checks with illegally obtained personal information, financial document printing ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-09
    1 week ago
  • U.S. Attorney Supports Georgia Storm Victims, Urges Citizens “Do Not Let Disaster Strike Twice”
    ALBANY - On the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Michael, a historic storm that caused billions in damage across Georgia, a Public Service Announcement (PSA) from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia (USAO MDGA) is educating citizens about the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). The Department of Justice manages and tracks complaints of fraudulent activity, including sham charities and people posing as government officials or contractors who prey on storm victims, looking to steal identities or storm benefits. In the PSA, U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler urges citizens to not let “disaster strike twice” and report storm related fraud 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the Justice Department’s NCDF Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or at [email protected]. When a storm victim makes a complaint, NCDF investigators review the complaint and, as appropriate, refer the complaint to the proper federal, state, or local agency in the relevant jurisdiction. Since NCDF’s creation in 2005, more than 95,000 complaints have been received. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia has an assigned prosecutor to review complaints referred to this Office since Hurricane Michael made landfall in Georgia on October 10, 2018. Hurricane Michael was the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Florida panhandle, crossing into Georgia as a Category 3+ hurricane, the first time a major hurricane has directly impacted Georgia in nearly 130 years. Damage estimates to the agricultural industry alone are estimated at $2.5 billion. Millions of dollars in federal ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-09
    1 week ago
  • Large Volume Cocaine Dealer Sentenced To 125 Months For His Role In South Georgia Drug Crime Network
    VALDOSTA— A cocaine distributor in South Georgia involved in trafficking hundreds of kilograms will spend more than ten years in prison for his crimes, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. Henry “Poochie” Austin, II, 49, of Valdosta was sentenced on April 3, 2019 to 125 months in prison and six years supervised released by United States District Judge Hugh Lawson. Mr. Austin was convicted in October 2018 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base following a three day trial and just one hour of jury deliberations. There is no parole in the federal system. Mr. Austin was involved in a cocaine and crack cocaine distribution ring between 2013 and 2014 stretching from Atlanta to South Georgia, including Tifton, Valdosta, Omega, Hahira, Adel, Moultrie, and other nearby communities.  Austin and 18 co-conspirators, all who previously pled guilty and have been sentenced, distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine sold as powder and also manufactured into crack cocaine, averaging between 10 to 15 kilograms of cocaine per week. Mr. Austin’s drug dealing career dates back to the 1990s. “A dangerous drug ring moving hundreds of kilos of cocaine across our state is ended, and all involved have now faced the consequences of their crimes,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District. “I want to thank our law enforcement partners who are tracking down and stopping these illegal and deadly drug networks from causing more harm in our communities.” This case was investigated by the Drug ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-03
    2 weeks ago
  • Physician Sentenced For His Role In Prolific Georgia Pill Mills
    VALDOSTA - The final defendant involved in a multi-city pill mill conspiracy was sentenced to 72 months in prison Wednesday, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. Dr. Vinod Shah, 69, of Salisbury, NC previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to dispense controlled substances outside the usual course of medical practice and a legitimate medical purpose and was sentenced to prison on April 3, 2019 by the Honorable Hugh Lawson. Dr. Shah will serve three years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. Dr. Shah joins seven other co-defendants who have been sentenced for their roles in operating pill mills at The Wellness Center of Valdosta and The Relief Institute of Columbus, where tens of thousands of prescriptions for highly addictive opioids were dispensed to people and more than $2 million dollars in cash was paid out by patients seeking prescriptions. Dr. Shah was recruited after a long career in medicine and was employed from 2012-2013, first training in Valdosta under co-defendant Dr. William Bacon, 83, of St. Johns, FL. There, he was taught to prescribe “cocktails” of Oxycodone and Alprazolam (commonly known as Xanax). In Columbus, Dr. Shah saw, at most, 45 patients a day, and the clinic stayed open late into the evening to see patients coming in from out of state. The clinics operated on a “cash only” basis. Patients paid $325 in cash for the first visit, $250 for subsequent visits. Almost every patient seen by Dr. Shah had a diagnosis of low back pain and ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-04-03
    2 weeks ago
  • Thomasville Business Owner Pleads Guilty To Importing And Distributing Thousands Of Counterfeit Car Parts
    MACON— A Thomasville business owner trafficking in counterfeit car parts made in China pled guilty Friday for his crime, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. Drexel C. Benton, 71, of Thomasville entered a guilty plea for Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods on March 29, 2019 before The Honorable Hugh Lawson. This charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a $2,000,000 maximum fine and up to three years supervised release. A sentencing date has not been set. According to facts in the signed plea agreement, in January 2017 a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security Investigative Division (HIS) began an investigation on leads showing that the defendant was importing and selling counterfeit car parts from Chinese manufacturers at his Thomasville business, EZ Dealin, as well as on Ebay, where EZ Dealin was listed as a tire and rim “power seller” with a 20,000 square foot warehouse selling replica car parts from American car companies. EZ Dealin had more than 7,000 positive feedbacks on Ebay, indicating thousands of transactions. HSI conducted an undercover operation at EZ Dealin in February 2017, noting a much smaller warehouse than advertised, an estimated 24 feet long by 24 feet wide, filled to a quarter of its capacity with numerous brand wheels and tires. An employee showed the agents two types of GMC wheels with center caps displaying the GMC emblem.   Concurrently, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducted three separate legal seizures of parcels from China to EZ Dealin from November ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-31
    3 weeks ago
  • Jury Returns Guilty Verdict Involving Multi-Kilo Cocaine Distributor With Criminal History
    COLUMBUS – A Columbus man found guilty for attempting to sell 11,995 grams of cocaine to an undercover agent could spend up to life in prison for his crime, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Kenneth James, 51, of Phenix City, AL is guilty of Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute. Due to the large amount of cocaine, more than five kilograms, Mr. James faces a minimum 10 years to a maximum life imprisonment and a $10,000,000 fine. The trial began Monday, March 11, 2019 in a Columbus federal courtroom, presided over by the Honorable Clay D. Land. The jury returned the verdict after an hour and a half of deliberations Wednesday afternoon. Following the verdict, Mr. James was taken into custody and will be sentenced in July. There is no parole in the federal system. Mr. James was convicted in December 1999 on the charge of Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in the Middle District of Alabama. An undercover agent working with the Columbus Police Department (CPD) identified Marcus Marshall, 35, of Columbus, GA, a co-defendant in this case, as a large quantity cocaine distributor in September 2017. In a series of recorded calls, Mr. Marshall agreed to meet with the undercover agent to sell 10 kilos of cocaine at $27,500 per kilo. On October 16, 2017, law enforcement documented Mr. James meeting Mr. Marshall at a motel and moving a large box (later discovered to be carrying ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-13
    1 month ago
  • Inmate, Co-Defendants Plead Guilty In Prison Drug Distribution Conspiracy
    ALBANY – Three defendants involved in scheme to deliver illegal drugs to inmates in prison will be sentenced for their crimes, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Crystal Avery, 37, of Lithia Springs, GA, Timothy Bailey, 31, of Lawrenceville, GA and Cody Brousshard, 35, of Lawrenceville, GA have all pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to a drug ring operating out of Calhoun State Prison, where Mr. Brousshard was an inmate. Mr. Brousshard entered a guilty plea in December 2018 to one count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances. Ms. Avery pleaded guilty on Monday, March 11, 2019 to one count Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances and Mr. Bailey pleaded guilty on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 to one count Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances. Avery and Bailey entered their pleas before the Honorable W. Louis Sands and Brousshard entered his plea before the Honorable Leslie A. Gardner in Albany federal court. These charges carry a minimum 10 years to a maximum life term imprisonment and a $10,000,000 fine. The sentencing dates have not been finalized. According to the facts in the plea agreements, Mr. Brousshard was an inmate in Calhoun State Prison and directed the acquisition, packaging and delivery of methamphetamine to two Georgia prisons on several occasions. On May 21, 2018, Calhoun County deputies located Ms. Avery and Mr. Bailey stuck in field behind Calhoun State Prison in a white ford F-250. The deputies ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-12
    1 month ago
  • 10 Co-Defendants Plead Guilty In Historic Warner Robins Drug Ring Bust
    MACON— The co-defendants involved in what is considered to be the largest heroin and fentanyl bust ever in Warner Robins have all pleaded guilty to their crimes in federal court, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. These defendants entered pleas in February and March 2019. The final co-defendant, Jonathan Haslem, entered a guilty plea on Friday, March 8, 2019 in Macon federal court before The Honorable Marc Treadwell. Sentencing dates have not been set. The co-defendants are as follows: Travis Cyntelle McKenzie a/k/a “Showtime”, 39, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances) Thomas Jeffery Locke, 53, Taylor County, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin) Justin High, 31, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 50 Kilos of Marijuana) Clarence Bogan a/k/a “Bush”, 39, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Jonathan Haslem, 38, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy) Tamika Lashawn Hickey, 36, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Esha Hill, 29, of Warner Robins, GA (Misprision of a Felony) Kimseing Le, 30, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) LaTray McKenzie, 20, of Warner Robins, GA (Two Counts of Use of a Communications Device to Facilitate Drug Trafficking) Kaelin Varrett, 24, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Travis “Showtime” McKenzie was the ring leader of the operation, according to his signed plea agreement. Mr. McKenzie admitted to leading a drug trafficking organization in ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-11
    1 month ago
  • 10 Co-Defendants Plead Guilty In Historice Warner Robins Drug Ring Bust
    MACON— The co-defendants involved in what is considered to be the largest heroin and fentanyl bust ever in Warner Robins have all pleaded guilty to their crimes in federal court, said U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler. These defendants entered pleas in February and March 2019. The final co-defendant, Jonathan Haslem, entered a guilty plea on Friday, March 8, 2019 in Macon federal court before The Honorable Marc Treadwell. Sentencing dates have not been set. The co-defendants are as follows: Travis Cyntelle McKenzie a/k/a “Showtime”, 39, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances) Thomas Jeffery Locke, 53, Taylor County, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Heroin) Justin High, 31, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 50 Kilos of Marijuana) Clarence Bogan a/k/a “Bush”, 39, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Jonathan Haslem, 38, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy) Tamika Lashawn Hickey, 36, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Esha Hill, 29, of Warner Robins, GA (Misprision of a Felony) Kimseing Le, 30, of Warner Robins, GA (Conspiracy with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) LaTray McKenzie, 20, of Warner Robins, GA (Two Counts of Use of a Communications Device to Facilitate Drug Trafficking) Kaelin Varrett, 24, of Warner Robins, GA (Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine) Travis “Showtime” McKenzie was the ring leader of the operation, according to his signed plea agreement. Mr. McKenzie admitted to leading a drug trafficking organization in ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-11
    1 month ago
  • Elementary School Custodian And Bus Driver Found Guilty Of Child Sex Enticement
    COLUMBUS – A citizen jury has returned a guilty verdict against a North Carolina elementary school custodian charged with enticing a child for sex, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. William Pruitt, 49, of Franklin, North Carolina, was found guilty late Thursday afternoon on one count of Enticing a Minor for Sex. The charge carries a minimum ten years to a maximum life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The trial began Monday, March 4, 2019 in a Columbus federal courtroom, presided over by the Honorable Clay D. Land. There is no parole in the federal system. Mr. Pruitt will be sentenced in June. According to facts presented at trial, on November 10, 2017 Mr. Pruitt began communicating with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl named “Brianna” on Craigslist, a popular classified advertisements website. The undercover agent was working on a larger Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) sting that operated from November 9, 2017 until November 13, 2017 centered in Columbus, Georgia, targeting on-line child predators willing to pay to have sex with a child. Approximately 20 individuals were arrested during this operation, including Mr. Pruitt. The undercover agent posted an ad in the personals section on November 9, 2017, and Mr. Pruitt responded the next day. During the online conversation, the undercover agent informed Mr. Pruitt several times that “Brianna” was 14 years old. The online chatting became sexual in nature, with Mr. Pruitt making lewd comments and ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-07
    1 month ago
  • Defendant Charged With Assaulting A South Georgia Postal Worker Has Initial Hearing In Federal Court
    ALBANY, GA – A man charged in the assault of a federal postal employee Wednesday had an initial appearance today, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Traveyon Devante Wilcox, of Donalsonville, GA, had his initial appearance before The Honorable Thomas Q. Langstaff, U.S. Magistrate Judge. Mr. Wilcox is facing one count of Assault on a Federal Employee, a charge that carries up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Mr. Wilcox is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. A bond hearing before Judge Langstaff is expected within three business days. According to the facts presented to the Court, Mr. Wilcox is accused of assaulting a postal worker on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at approximately 9:00 a.m. while the postal worker was on the job in Donalsonville (Seminole County), delivering mail in an official capacity. The defendant is accused of entering the postal vehicle during the assault. This case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Donalsonville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Leah E. McEwen is prosecuting the case for the United States. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-06
    1 month ago
  • Judge Hands Down Strong Sentence To Convicted Felon On Illegal Gun Possession Charge
    ATHENS – A federal judge in Athens on Tuesday sentenced a convicted felon to 110 months in prison for illegally possessing a gun, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable C. Ashley Royal sentenced Dontavious Maurice Jackson, 30, of Athens to 110 months in federal prison, plus three years supervised release. Mr. Jackson pled guilty in October 2018 to one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. There is no parole in the federal system. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department executed a legal search at Jackson’s residence in August 2017. Law enforcement recovered 202.2 grams of marijuana, three digital scales and other drug paraphernalia, plus a loaded Ruger .38 special revolver, a loaded Ruger 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol, a loaded H&R Model 929 .22 caliber revolver, as well as ammunition. Mr. Jackson has a lengthy criminal history and was previously convicted of Entering an Automobile, Forgery in the First Degree, and Possession of a Controlled Substance out of Athens-Clarke County and Jackson County, respectively. “This sentence demonstrates that convicted felons with illegal weapons will face serious consequences in the Middle District. Removing firearms from the hands of dangerous criminals remains a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “I want to thank the Athens-Clarke County Police Department for their partnership, as we continue to work closely together to decrease violent crime.” This case is a ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-05
    2 months ago
  • Former Bank Tellers Sentenced To Prison, Ordered To Pay Back $1.6 Million To The Peoples Bank In Eatonton
    MACON – Two former bank tellers were sentenced today to prison and ordered to pay more than $1.6 million dollars to the institution they defrauded, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Vicky Martin, 60, of Buckhead (Morgan County), and Brandy Mize, 42, of Eatonton, pled guilty in December to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution. The Honorable Tillman E. “Tripp” Self sentenced Ms. Martin to 21 months imprisonment and Ms. Mize to 41 months imprisonment, five years supervised release and were ordered to pay restitution jointly and severally to The Peoples Bank in Eatonton, Georgia the entire amount stolen, $1,663,205.25. There is no parole in the federal prison system. According to the plea agreement, Ms. Mize was the Head Teller and Ms. Martin was employed as the Assistant Head Teller at The People’s Bank. The defendants used their positions of trust starting sometime during 2012 or 2013 to embezzle and misapply bank money by transferring bank funds into their personal bank accounts or into the accounts of family members and associates. The defendants took cash from their teller drawers and, in Ms. Mize’s case, directly from the vault. The defendants also issued cashier’s checks for their benefit, all without valid checks or cash being deposited to the bank to support these transactions. The bank began their internal investigation in March 2016, following reports from colleagues regarding suspicious activity on the bank’s general ledger. The defendants were suspended on March 14, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-03-04
    2 months ago
  • U.S. Attorney Broadcasts Call-To-Action, Asking Citizens To Report Criminal Activity To 1-800-CALL-FBI
    MACON— A new call to action in the fight to decrease violent crime in Middle and South Georgia was issued today with the release of a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia. In the PSA, U.S. Attorney Charles “Charlie” Peeler, discusses the impact of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime by bringing law enforcement and community stakeholders together to tackle the problem. Mr. Peeler asks citizens to report criminal activity in their neighborhoods by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI. In recent years, violent crime rates have remained at or above the national average in some cities in the Middle District of Georgia. Violent crime statistics dropped in Albany and Columbus in 2018, indicating a measure of progress. “This call to action is a critical next step in the fight to decrease violent crime in our communities,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Law enforcement agencies often rely on tips from courageous citizens who are willing to step up and report dangerous activity. We deserve to raise our families in safe neighborhoods and live our lives without fear of harm. I promise that the United States Attorney’s Office, working with our dedicated law enforcement partners, will relentlessly pursue the most dangerous criminals menacing our society and put them behind bars.” Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-28
    2 months ago
  • U.S. Attorney Stands With Middle District Law Enforcement, Crimestoppers For Safer Communities
    MACON –United States Attorney Charles “Charlie” E. Peeler stood alongside law enforcement leadership from across the Middle District of Georgia today in support of the region’s collective efforts to make communities safer and deter crime. Macon Regional Crimestoppers, a community-run organization dedicated to increasing the safety of citizens, announced on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 a new quarterly initiative offering a $1,000 reward for the Top 15 Most Wanted within an eight-county area. U.S. Attorney Peeler joined Bibb County Sheriff David Davis and U.S. Marshal John Cary Bittick in vocal support of the non-profit’s dedicated efforts to reduce criminal activity. “It is imperative that our citizens know there are safe ways for them to report criminal activity, and that many times our cases are founded on the courage of one citizen willing to report a crime,” said Charles “Charlie” E. Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “I am thankful for community groups like Crimestoppers who demonstrate a high level of support for our law enforcement. Crimestoppers relentlessly keeps a spotlight on the most dangerous wanted individuals in our community, and they are making a difference.” “The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office is proud to partner with the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Marshals and Macon Regional Crimestoppers in this new crime fighting initiative,” said David Davis, Bibb County Sheriff. “We owe it to our communities to make every effort to keep innocent citizens out of harm’s way by putting dangerous perpetuators behind bars.” “Reducing violent crime is a priority for the ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-26
    2 months ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts Defendant On Bankruptcy Fraud Charges
    MACON – An Albany man was indicted on bankruptcy fraud charges this month by a federal grand jury, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Timothy Wayne Giles, 39, of Albany, GA was indicted on one count of False Bankruptcy Declaration for allegedly making false statements in a bankruptcy petition and one count of False Statements Under Oath in Bankruptcy for allegedly making false statements under oath at a 341 Creditors meeting. An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct. All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, Mr. Giles faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, on each count. “Citizens need to be aware that any fraud or falsehood in connection with bankruptcy undermines the integrity of the system,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Bankruptcy provides important and necessary protections for those who honestly seek it in times of need. The abuse of that shelter endangers its reliability and does a disservice to creditors, debtors, and the general public. My office will continue to work aggressively with the United States Trustee and our law enforcement partners to protect the fair and legal operation of this financial safety net.” The case is being investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Trustee’s Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-26
    2 months ago
  • Jury Returns Guilty Verdict In Bank Robbery Trial
    ALBANY – The first of two co-defendants charged in the armed robbery of an Albany bank was found guilty following a four day trial, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. A citizen jury found Kamilyah Whitlock, 25, of Albany guilty late Thursday afternoon on all charges, Bank Robbery and Brandishing a Firearm. The trial began Monday, February 18, 2019 and was presided by the Honorable Leslie Gardner, U.S. District Judge. A sentencing date has not been scheduled. The penalties for these crimes are a maximum 25 years in prison for Bank Robbery, and a maximum of life in prison for Brandishing a Firearm. Ms. Whitlock was masked when she robbed The Renasant Bank at 721 N. Westover Blvd., Albany, GA on November 6, 2017 with more than a dozen customers and employees inside, 1:30 p.m. on a Monday. A co-defendant in this case, Shataz Hampton, 25, of Albany, is charged with one count of Bank Robbery and one count of Brandishing a Firearm.  No date has been set for Mr. Hampton’s trial. “This armed robbery struck fear in the hearts of the people of this community.  I want to thank the FBI, Albany Police Department and other state and local law enforcement for their hard work investigating this matter” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “The people of Southwest Georgia want a safe place to raise their families. This conviction sends a message that law ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-21
    2 months ago
  • Judge Sentences Final Defendant In Air Force Base Fraud Case; Individuals, Businesses Ordered To Pay Back Millions
    MACON— The defendant in the center of a scheme to award millions of dollars in military contracts in exchange for illegal kickbacks at Robins Air Force Base was sentenced in federal court Wednesday, announced Charles “Charlie” E. Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable Marc Treadwell sentenced Mark Cundiff, 60, of Macon, to 36 months in prison followed by two years supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amounts of $110,050 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $270,000 to the U.S. Treasury. Two co-defendants and businesses previously entered guilty pleas and were sentenced in this case. Co-defendant Raymond F. Williams of Canton, OH, was sentenced in Albany federal court on January 8, 2019 by the Honorable Leslie Gardner to 60 months in prison, 3 years supervised release and restitution in the amount of $870,000 to the U.S. Department of Defense on the charge of Conspiracy to Bribe a Public Official. In addition, two businesses owned by Mr. Williams, US Technology Corporation (UST) and US Technology Aerospace Engineering Corporation (USTAE) were ordered by Judge Gardner to pay $1,500,000 in fines plus $870,000 in restitution apiece on Money Laundering Conspiracy charges. Co-defendant John Christopher Reynolds of Macon, was sentenced in August 2018 by Judge Treadwell to 12 months and a day for Aiding and Abetting the Giving of a Gratuity to a Public Official. There is no parole in the federal system.  Mr. Cundiff was a long-term Department of Defense employee at Robins Air ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-21
    2 months ago
  • Middle District Prosecutor Recognized With Shield Award For Work On Kadar Bomb Threat Case
    MACON – The First Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia was recognized for his role in the current investigation and prosecution of a U.S./Israeli man indicted for hate crimes and threats to Jewish institutions at the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) annual SHIELD Awards, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Peter Leary is one of 23 individuals recognized with a SHIELD award in the Michael Kadar case (to learn more about this case, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/usisraeli-man-indicted-hate-crime-and-threats-jewish-community-centers-israeli-embassy). A SHIELD award is an expression of gratitude for law enforcement who courageously protect citizens and uphold the United States constitution, especially recognizing those who successfully respond to hate crimes, extremism, genocide, terrorism and other malicious, illegal acts that undercut our nation’s freedom. Created by ADL in 2010, the name of the award is an acronym for the core values of the law enforcement profession: Service, Honor, Integrity, Excellence, Leadership and Dedication. Recipients are chosen by a committee of more than 20 agency heads in the Washington, DC region, representing more than 90,000 personnel. “Our office is extremely proud of Peter Leary, who joins a team from across the nation investigating crimes that terrorize our communities and disturb the freedoms that our nation holds dear,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “I join our entire office serving the citizens of Middle Georgia in saluting Peter and our other dedicated law enforcement partners for this very ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-13
    2 months ago
  • Tifton Defendant Pleads Guilty On Drug Charge, Hauling Kilos Of Meth, Cocaine On I-75
    MACON – A Tifton woman pled guilty Wednesday on a drug charge after she was arrested carrying four kilos of meth and cocaine in her car with the intent to distribute the illegal drugs, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Anna Maria Lopez-Vazquez, 32, of Tifton, GA entered a guilty plea to one count Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine before the Honorable Marc Treadwell in Macon federal court on February 13, 2019. This charge carries a penalty of ten years up to life in prison, a $10 million fine, and five years supervised release. A sentencing date for Ms. Lopez-Vasquez has not been scheduled. According to her signed plea agreement, on May 18, 2017, Anna Maria Lopez-Vasquez was driving a Yukon SUV southbound on I-75 in Peach County, Georgia. She was accompanied by a passenger, who was not charged in this crime. A Peach County deputy on patrol in the area spotted the SUV with an obscured license and failing to maintain its lane of traffic, both traffic infractions in Georgia. During the traffic stop, the deputy smelled a strong odor of marijuana. Following a legal search of the vehicle, 2,942 grams of methamphetamine and 999 grams of cocaine were found in three containers, sealed with plastic wrap, hidden inside a sports bag. Ms. Lopez-Vasquez and the passenger were arrested. In a post-arrest interview, Ms. Lopez-Vasquez admitted that the drugs belonged to her. She denied any involvement by the passenger. “Methamphetamine ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-12
    2 months ago
  • Convicted Felon With Criminal Past Sentenced To 100 Months By Federal Judge on Gun Charge
    ALBANY – A convicted felon with an extensive criminal history was sentenced to 100 months for possession of a firearm today in federal court, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. James T. Parker, 36, of Leary, GA, was sentenced to 100 months, plus three years supervised release, by the Honorable Leslie Gardner. Mr. Parker pled guilty to one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon in September 2018. There is no parole in the federal system. An Albany Police Department officer responded to a report of a robbery by snatching, and witnesses directed the officer to Mr. Parker. During a lawful search of the defendant, the officer immediately felt a weapon, a Jennings .22 caliber pistol with six rounds of ammunition in the gun. Mr. Parker was previously convicted on Possession of Cocaine and Escape charges in Dougherty County Superior Court in January 2017. The defendant was on probation at the time of the arrest. “Today’s strong sentence shows that our justice system has zero tolerance for dangerous felons who pick up guns and create havoc in our communities,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “I want to applaud the good work of the Albany Police Department, for quickly apprehending a dangerous person, and for their partnership helping making our region safer.” The case was investigated by the Albany Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane prosecuted the case for the Government. Questions can ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-06
    2 months ago
  • Defendant Involved In Defrauding Stepson's Business Of Close To One Million Sentenced On Conspiracy Charge
    COLUMBUS – A defendant who testified last month that she was duped by an Alabama woman into conspiring to steal money from a Columbus business was sentenced today in Columbus federal court, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable Clay D. Land sentenced Darlene Corbett, 65, of Phenix City, Alabama to 24 months in prison on Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, a charge she pled guilty to in July 2018. There is no parole in the federal system. In her plea agreement, Ms. Corbett admitted she embezzled over $950,000 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of The Grand Reserve of Columbus, an apartment complex owned by her stepson. Ms. Corbett later testified at the trial of her co-defendant, Dorita Clay, 51, of Selma, Alabama, in January 2019. Under oath, Ms. Corbett testified that the money she embezzled all went to Ms. Clay and was in the service of various schemes that Ms. Clay had convinced her were legitimate, include a pending multi-million dollar estate settlement and a multi-million lawsuit settlement that Ms. Clay claimed she was about to receive. Ms. Corbett further admitted at trial that she had conspired with Ms. Clay to embezzle the money, to then conceal the theft and deceive the FBI with a false story about business loans. Both at trial and in her signed plea agreement filed with the court, Ms. Corbett admitted that the business loan story was not true and she had been induced to ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-04
    2 months ago
  • Drug Dealer Sentenced To 8 Years In Federal Prison For Possession With Intent To Distribute 1,980 Grams Of Meth
    COLUMBUS – A defendant caught in a drug sting with almost 2,000 grams of methamphetamine and more than $11,000 in cash was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Amber Hass, 30, of Columbus, GA was sentenced to 96 months for Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute by the Honorable Clay D. Land in Columbus federal court. Ms. Hass pled guilty to this charge in November 2018. There is no parole in the federal system. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Columbus Police Department received information regarding a large delivery of meth that would occur near a local restaurant on Bradley Park Drive in Columbus on December 5, 2017. Agents established surveillance in the general vicinity, and monitored Ms. Hass exiting her vehicle, carrying a bag which contained $11,720 and entering a car occupied by co-defendant Maria Lopez, 22, of Atlanta. Ms. Hass admitted that she attempted to exchange the cash for 1,980 grams of meth, which agents found located inside Ms. Lopez’s center console. Ms. Lopez is charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute. “Methamphetamine is destroying lives in our communities every single day,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Ms. Hass was directly involved in distributing an enormous quantity of this illegal drug across the Columbus area, and I am grateful our dedicated law enforcement partners were able to stop this significant ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-02-04
    2 months ago
  • Second Defendant Convicted In Multi-Million Dollar Scheme Defrauding Bibb County Schools, Taxpayers
    MACON— A panel of citizen jurors returned a guilty verdict this evening following a one week trial of a man involved in a complex scheme to defraud the Bibb County School System (BCSD), said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Dave Carty, 49, of Macon, was found guilty on one count of wire fraud Friday evening. The Honorable Marc Treadwell presided over the trial, which began Monday, January 28, 2019 in Macon federal court. Mr. Carty was charged in connection to the sale of 15,000 NComputing devices for $3.7 million to upgrade classroom technology for BCSD in 2012. A co-defendant, Isaac Culver, was found guilty in July 2018 by a jury of his peers for conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, ten (10) counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of unlawful activity. Mr. Culver was sentenced to 87 months in prison and three years supervised release in November. Today’s wire fraud conviction carries a maximum 20 years imprisonment and $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set for Mr. Carty. “The conviction of Dave Carty affirmatively denounces the greed and corruption of two businessmen who stole from the Bibb County School System. The damage done was more than money. These individuals stole the opportunity for an improved education for Bibb County school children. Mr. Carty will now be held accountable for his crime, just as Isaac Culver, who sits behind bars today, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-31
    3 months ago
  • Judge Denies Bond For Defendant Charged In Renasant Bank Robbery
    ALBANY – The man charged with holding up an Albany bank at gunpoint has been denied bond today by a Federal Magistrate Judge, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Shataz Hampton, 25, of Albany is charged with one count of Bank Robbery and one count of Possession of a Firearm, along with co-defendant Kamilyah Whitlock, 25, of Albany. The two defendants are charged in the armed robbery of the Renasant Bank at 721 N. Westover Blvd., Albany, GA on November 6, 2017.  The Honorable Thomas Langstaff, U.S. District Magistrate Court, detained Mr. Hampton on January 30, 2019 until trial. No date has been set. “I am pleased the Court granted our motion to detain Mr. Hampton, a man alleged to have brandished a gun and robbed a bank in broad daylight, with innocent customers and employees inside,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Rest assured, we will prosecute those accused of violent acts to the fullest extent of the law, and we will continue to vigorously seek the highest level of punishment for people who commit the most egregious crimes.” The case was investigated by the Albany Police Department and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen is prosecuting the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-29
    3 months ago
  • Four Convicted Felons Plead Guilty Or Sentenced In Albany On Gun Charges
    ALBANY – Four defendants in four unique cases entered guilty pleas or were sentenced in Project Safe Neighborhoods related cases today, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) is a Department of Justice initiative to partner with local law enforcement to reduce violent crime rates, remove guns from the hands of convicted felons and ultimately make communities safer. In the Middle District of Georgia, the federal prosecutions of gun crimes increased by 25% in 2018 over 2017. The four defendants are as follows: Rontavis Davis, 39, of Albany, Georgia, was sentenced to 120 months and three years supervised release by the Honorable Leslie Gardner on one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. According to the plea agreement, drugs and a pistol were found on Mr. Davis during a routine traffic stop in Dougherty County in February 2018. Mr. Davis was previously convicted of Theft by Receiving Stolen Property and Forgery on June 13, 1997, Child Molestation on May 5, 1997, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon on August 1, 2002, Possession of Cocaine on August 20, 2007, Failure to Register as a Sex Offender on August 20, 2007, and Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute on September 13, 2013, all cases in Dougherty County Superior Court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah McEwen is prosecuting this case for the Government. Isiah Price, 28, of Dawson, GA, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-22
    3 months ago
  • Four Plead Guilty To Filing Hundreds Of Fake Tax Returns
    COLUMBUS — Four defendants pleaded guilty Tuesday to a scheme defrauding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by using stolen identities to file tax returns and obtain refunds, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.  Erica D. Wise, 33, Ciourziae Weaver, 27, Linda Weaver, 52, and April Byrd, 40, all of Columbus, GA, entered guilty pleas to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in the Collection of Income Taxes on January 22, 2019 before the Honorable Clay D. Land.  The crimes are punishable to a term of imprisonment of up to five (5) years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both, and up to three (3) years of supervised release.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 11, 2019 before Chief Judge Land. According to the plea agreements, the defendants conspired together to file multiple fraudulent tax returns from March 2012 to September 2013 under the business Wise Tax, using the names and personal information of real taxpayers, unknown to those victims.  The defendants used four addresses around Columbus to accept mailed refunds, totaling 316 fraudulently filed refunds.  The defendants conspired together to deposit the tax refunds, and further shielded their illegal activity by using stolen identities as named income tax return preparers.  None of the preparers had any knowledge of, or involvement with, the scheme. “This tax return scheme enacted in Columbus is vast, with several layers of fraud concocted to not only steal people’s identities but also defraud the government,” said Charles “Charlie” ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-21
    3 months ago
  • A Mexican National, With Prior Drug Convictions In Metro Atlanta, Pleads Guilty To Distributing Meth Behind Bars
    ALBANY, GA – A Mexican citizen serving a sentence in a Georgia prison, pleaded guilty Thursday on a federal charge of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Jose Calderon, 40, of Mexico entered a guilty plea on January 10, 2019 before the Honorable Leslie Gardner in Albany federal court. Prior to his federal plea, Mr. Calderon was convicted in Gwinnett County Superior Court on January 22, 2004 for Trafficking in Methamphetamine. He was convicted again in Clayton County Superior Court on December 22, 2010 for Trafficking in Cocaine and Trafficking in Methamphetamine. Mr. Calderon will be sentenced by Judge Gardner on April 11, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in Albany. Mr. Calderon’s possible federal sentence will increase to a minimum of 15 years in prison as a result of his state convictions, including deportation. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Calderon was actively serving sentences for both state offenses at the Wheeler Correctional Facility. In 2016, while an inmate, Mr. Calderon used a contraband cell phone to broker the illegal distribution of kilos of methamphetamine to known major drug dealers across the state, including Borris Fuller, of Moultrie, GA, and Antron Miles of Tifton who were each previously sentenced to 360 months in federal prison in October 2018 Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine. Federal agents obtained authorization to wiretap cell phones, and use visual and electronic surveillance, in order to identify Mr. ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-14
    3 months ago
  • Macon Educator Sentenced To 90 Months In Prison For Possessing Hundreds Of Child Pornography Images
    MACON – A Macon resident was sentenced to 90 months in prison, followed by 25 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to one count of Possession of Child Pornography, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable Marc Treadwell handed down the sentence to Robert Anthony Smith, 44, in Macon federal court Wednesday morning. Mr. Smith will be required to make restitution payments to the victims identified in the images he possessed and register as a sex offender. According to the plea agreement, the Atlanta office of Homeland Security Investigations was notified by the New Zealand Digital Child Exploitation Team in August 2017 about individuals using an online forum called “Chatstep” to post images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children. The investigation led to the execution of a federal search warrant at Mr. Smith’s home, where six computers, an iPad, iPhone, and two external hard drives were seized on December 1, 2017. Forensic examiners found that three of the devices contained 454 image files and 19 video files of minors being sexually exploited. Some images involved children under the age of twelve, including infants and toddlers being sexually abused. At the time, Mr. Smith was a special education teacher at Central High School in Macon. “Here we have a teacher, charged with protecting young people, viewing hundreds of scenes of children being sexually exploited in the most heinous ways imaginable. The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-08
    3 months ago
  • An Illegal Aggravated Felon With A Prior Meth Conviction Sentenced To 24 Months For Illegally Reentering The United States
    ATHENS – An illegal aggravated felon was sentenced to 24 months today for re-entering the United States after being deported in 2014, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Dionicio Garcia Aguirre, of Mexico, was sentenced in Athens, Georgia federal court by the Honorable C. Ashley Royal. Mr. Aguirre will be deported for a second time following this latest term of imprisonment. Mr. Aguirre was first convicted in Athens federal court on March 10, 2010 of Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 500 grams of Methamphetamine. After serving a prison sentence, Mr. Aguirre was deported in June 2014. On November 2, 2017, U.S. Probation filed a petition to revoke Mr. Aguirre’s supervised release on the methamphetamine conviction after gaining knowledge of his illegal presence in Franklin County, Georgia. In February 2018, Mr. Aguirre was arrested for a traffic offense, and was later taken into federal custody. “This convicted felon was deported by the government after serving a sentence for distributing a large quantity of illegal meth in our state, and then completely ignored the clear direction of the United States to never cross illegally into our country again,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “The illegal re-entry of criminals into our country is a serious offense, and we will continue to protect our citizens by enforcing the law. I want to thank investigators with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their work in this matter.” The ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-08
    3 months ago
  • Mauk Man Sentenced To 121 Months On Child Porn Charges
    COLUMBUS – A man who pled guilty in September for child pornography was sentenced to 121 months in a federal prison Wednesday, said Charles “Charlie” E. Peeler, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Steven Derek Dukes, 35, of Mauk, Georgia, located about 30 miles away from Columbus, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land on January 2, 2019. As a condition of his sentencing, Mr. Dukes will be required to register as a sex offender and will also have ten (10) years supervised release. Mr. Dukes admitted that he had exchanged emails with an individual under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The two discussed their past sexual experiences and fantasies involving young boys.  Mr. Dukes also admitted to exchanging files of child pornography with the individual under FBI investigation.  On May 5, 2018, FBI agents executed a search warrant and seized Mr. Dukes’ computer.  Subsequent forensic analysis revealed numerous depictions of child pornography on electronic devices seized from Mr. Dukes’ residence. Mr. Dukes waived his Miranda rights and confessed to receiving child pornography. He pled guilty to one count of Receipt of Child Pornography in front of Judge Land on September 5, 2018. “Sex crimes involving children are despicable, and the use of pornographic images of kids for a person’s sexual gratification is abusive and only proliferates this sick business,” said Charles Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.  “Mr. Dukes’ case required skilled investigators to piece together ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2019-01-01
    4 months ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments Charging 25 Individuals In December
    MACON— A federal grand jury has returned indictments during the month of December. Charles “Charlie” E. Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced Monday, December 31, 2018 that the grand jury true billed indictments charging 25 new individuals. An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct. All of the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. “The successful collaboration between law enforcement at every level helped bring these cases before a federal grand jury,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler. “I want to thank our local, state and federal law enforcement for their dedication and hard work.” Indictment #1 JANARVIS TUCKER, 21, of Sandy Springs, Georgia is charged with the following: 1) Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine If convicted on Count 1, Mr. Tucker faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten (10) years up to the possibility of life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine.  The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Peach County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Howard. Indictment #2  CLIFFORD TERRELL, 43, of Barnesville, Georgia is charged with the following: 1-3) Bank Robbery If convicted on Counts 1-3, Mr. Terrell faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-30
    4 months ago
  • Repeat Violent Felon With 31 Prior Arrests Sentenced To 22 Years On Meth, Gun Charges
    COLUMBUS – A repeat felon with 31 prior arrests and three prior felony convictions was sentenced Tuesday in federal court on drug and gun charges, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Clint Walker, 35 of Columbus, GA was sentenced to 264 months for Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute and 120 months concurrent for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon by the Honorable Clay D. Land on December 18, 2018. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Walker was stopped by the Columbus Police Department on December 19, 2017 for not wearing a seat belt. The vehicle Mr. Walker was driving also did not have proper tag lights. Mr. Walker exited the car, appeared agitated, and told the officer he had no license, was driving a relative’s car and was a convicted felon on probation. During an officer safety pat down, marijuana was found on Mr. Walker and he was placed under arrest. Inside the vehicle, 111 grams of 77% pure methamphetamine was found, along with a scale, baggies and small quantities of other drugs. Wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console was a Star 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The entire incident was captured by the officer’s body camera. Mr. Walker has been convicted of the following felony crimes, all in Muscogee County (GA) Superior Court: 1. On or about 10/6/05, Robbery by Force 2. On or about 3/15/11, Possession of a Sawed Off Shotgun, Possession of a Firearm ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-17
    4 months ago
  • Store Owner, Customers Plead Guilty To Food Stamp Fraud In South Georgia
    Albany – The former co-owner of a Donalsonville, Georgia grocery store, along with ten other customers, have pled guilty to charges related to defrauding the federal food stamp program, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.  Garland Alford, 75, of Donalsonville, the former co-owner of Lake Flea Market & FDR Grocery, a convenience/grocery store located south of Donalsonville, pled guilty to two counts of acquiring Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (food stamp benefits) by fraud on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. Mr. Alford’s plea subjects him to a maximum sentence of ten (10) years in prison and fines of $500,000.  In addition, ten customers of the store, all of whom redeemed more than $5,000 in food stamp benefits, have each pled guilty to one count of unlawfully transferring food stamp benefits in violation of law. The customers are Jeanie Sheffield, 34, of Colquitt, GA, Kaneesha Wooten, 23, of Bainbridge, GA, Wendy Mitchell Prickett, 44, of Nashville, TN, and Antonio Gardner, 35, Victoria Henry, 47, Jennifer Johnson, 30, Renee Kimble, 41, Crystal Maxwell, 36, Rosanna Roupe, 33, and Kayla Wallace, 26, all of Donalsonville.  Their pleas subject them to maximum sentences of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.  All pleas were entered before the Honorable Leslie J. Abrams, United States District Judge in Albany. Sentencing is scheduled for February 6, 2019.   According to the plea agreements, law enforcement officials opened a criminal investigation after learning that Mr. Alford was giving cash for food stamp ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-12
    4 months ago
  • Dublin Man Sentenced To 20 Years In Federal Prison For Operating an Interstate Pimping Ring, Co-Defendant Sentenced
    MACON— A Dublin, Georgia man was sentenced to 240 months in prison for spearheading an organized interstate pimping ring, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Jesse Lee Hall, Jr., 39 of Dublin, pled guilty in May to one (1) count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, five (5) counts of transportation for illegal sexual activity and one (1) count of inducement to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity. The Honorable Marc T. Treadwell sentenced Mr. Hall, Jr. on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 to a total of 240 months imprisonment and five (5) years of supervised release for his crimes. In addition, co-defendant Lantesia Lanier, 41, of Dublin, Georgia was sentenced to twelve (12) months in prison and one (1) year supervised release on a charge of misleading law enforcement about her knowledge of the enterprise. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Hall, Jr., acted as a pimp for several victims. The first victim was identified by law enforcement at a Macon hotel in June 2016. The victim told authorities that Mr. Hall, Jr. was her pimp and that she met him through the internet, and her convinced her to move from Ohio to Georgia. The victim was forced by Mr. Hall, Jr. to perform commercial sex acts in hotels throughout central Georgia. During the investigation, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office received new information that Mr. Hall, Jr. was trafficking other women for sex. A second victim ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-12
    4 months ago
  • Fitzgerald man Pleads Guilty To Selling Meth
    Albany – A Fitzgerald man, just released from prison after serving ten years for manslaughter, pled guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in Albany federal court Monday, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Billy Ray Stafford, 37, of Fitzgerald, Georgia entered a guilty plea before The Honorable Leslie J. Abrams on December 10, 2018. The offense carries a maximum possible sentence of twenty (20) years imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000,000.  A sentencing date has not yet been set in the case. According to the plea agreement, investigators with the Ben Hill County Sheriff’s Office received information from a Confidential Informant (CI) about Mr. Stafford selling methamphetamine and marijuana from The Garden Inn Motel in Fitzgerald. On February 9, 2018, the CI purchased $50 worth of methamphetamine from Mr. Stafford inside a Garden Inn motel room. Later that day, agents executed a search warrant for that same room. Mr. Stafford exited the room in possession of a bag he attempted to hide in some brush outside the motel, which was caught on motel surveillance video. Agents recovered the bag and found about $3300 cash, including money given to the CI for the earlier buy, and multiple bags of meth and marijuana. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist tested the meth to weigh 25.9 grams and contain 71.5% pure methamphetamine. Later Mr. Stafford told investigators, in a video-recorded statement, that he had recently been released from prison after ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-09
    4 months ago
  • Sentences Handed Down For Illegal Pill Mills Operating In Valdosta And Columbus
    Macon – Seven defendants involved in two clinics which operated “pill mills”, where tens of thousands of prescriptions for highly addictive opioids were dispensed, were sentenced this week in federal court, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. On Wednesday, December 5, 2018, The Honorable Hugh Lawson sentenced Dr. William Bacon, 83, of St. Johns, FL to 72 months in prison and the forfeiture of over $95,000 and Dr. Donatus O. Mbanefo, 65, of Columbus, GA to 96 months in prison. A jury found both Dr. Bacon and Dr. Mbanefo guilty of conspiracy to dispense controlled substances outside the usual course of medical practice and a legitimate medical purpose at clinics in Valdosta, Georgia and Columbus, Georgia.  Dr. Mbanefo was also convicted of two additional counts of unlawful dispensation of controlled substances during the jury trial from May 29 to June 13, 2018 in Valdosta federal court. Five co-conspirators previously entered guilty pleas for their involvement in or knowledge and concealment of the conspiracy, and were sentenced in federal court Thursday, December 6, 2018. On charges of Conspiracy: 1. Carol Neema Biggs a/k/a Carol Johnson, 33, of Hollywood, FL: 60 months imprisonment, plus 36 months consecutive in prison for a total of 96 months imprisonment 2. Junior Alexander Biggs, 40, of Hollywood, FL: 50 months imprisonment, plus 36 months consecutive in prison for a total of 86 months imprisonment 3. Nilaja C. Biggs, 36 of Hialeah, FL: 36 months imprisonment On charges of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-06
    4 months ago
  • Former Bank Tellers Plead Guilty To Stealing $1.6 Million From The Peoples Bank In Eatonton
    Macon – Two former bank tellers entered guilty pleas to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud a Financial Institution in federal court Tuesday, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Both Vicky Martin, 60, of Buckhead (Morgan County), and Brandy Mize, 42, of Eatonton, were employed as tellers by The Peoples Bank in Eatonton, Georgia, and used their positions to steal $1,663,205.25. Maximum penalties for the fraud charge are 30 years imprisonment, $1,000,000 fine and 5 years supervised release. The Honorable Tillman E. “Tripp” Self presided over Tuesday’s hearing, and sentencing is scheduled for March 5, 2019. According to the plea agreement, Ms. Mize was the Head Teller and Ms. Martin was employed as the Assistant Head Teller at The People’s Bank. In these positions, the defendants were responsible for correcting mistakes indicated by the Branch Capture Correction Account (BCCA), a quality control feature used by the bank to reveal one-sided transactions and prevent mistakes or fraud. On a daily basis, the defendants were tasked with insuring that the cash counts in the teller drawers and the bank vault balanced, and were not the objects of theft, and overseeing the operation of both the BCCA and Teller Plus system that checks the accuracy of these cash balances and records. The defendants also placed orders for cash from the Federal Reserve Bank. The defendants used their positions of trust to embezzle and misapply bank money by transferring bank funds into their personal bank accounts or ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-12-04
    5 months ago
  • A Former Synovus Employee Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Bank, Not Paying Taxes On Illegal Income
    COLUMBUS— A former commercial banker for Synovus entered a guilty plea to bank fraud and tax evasion charges in federal court Wednesday, said Charles E. Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. John D. Evans, 47 of Columbus, Georgia, entered the plea before the Honorable Clay D. Land. Mr. Evans pled guilty to four counts of Bank Fraud and four counts of Tax Evasion on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Evans will be sentenced by Federal District Court Judge Land at a time yet to be determined.  According to the plea agreement, Mr. Evans managed some of the largest clients for Synovus and diverted $1,046,602 in Synovus client funds into a personal account he opened at another bank. The fraud occurred between July 2, 2013 and May 24, 2017 while Mr. Evans worked as a commercial banker for Synovus. Financial records revealed that Evans used these funds to pay for a wide assortment of his personal expenses, including payments on vehicles, credit card bills, vacations, jewelry, and cash withdrawals. In addition, Mr. Evans failed to pay income taxes on the stolen money, amounting to $221,357. “Fraud of this magnitude violates the public trust, and negatively impacts the financial system and the business community as a whole,” said Charles E. Peeler, U.S. Attorney. “I want to thank the combined investigative work of the FBI, IRS and the Office of Inspector General. I also want to thank Synovus for their total cooperation in this investigation, and helping bring this ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-11-28
    5 months ago
  • Leader Of Macon-Based Sex Trafficking Operation Sentenced In Federal Court, Cohort Also Sentenced
    MACON—The leader of a sex trafficking operation involving seven victims was sentenced to 174 months in prison, announced Charles E. Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Najiy Williams, a/k/a “King”, age 36 of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced in federal court today by the Honorable Marc T. Treadwell on the charge of Inducement to Travel to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity. The sentence includes a $250,000 fine and a term of lifetime supervised release. In addition, Hamza Abdul Vasser, a/k/a “Joseph” a/k/a “Joey,” age 29 of Douglasville, Georgia, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment and a term of lifetime supervised release on the charge of Transportation for Illegal Sexual Activity. Both defendants will be required to register as sex offenders upon release from prison. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) first received information that Mr. Williams was trafficking women and with assistance from the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, identified seven adult women who said they were forced to have sex in hotel rooms in the Macon area, as well as cities across the southeast, including Charleston, South Carolina and Valdosta, Georgia, between September 2015 and February 2017. According to the plea agreement, one victim reported engaging in more than 550 sex acts. Several victims said they responded to advertisements for models and actors posted on various websites, including “Craigslist” and encountered Mr. Williams. One victim traveled by bus from as far away as Ohio to Macon, Georgia, in response to ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-11-27
    5 months ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments Charging 23 Individuals
    MACON— A federal grand jury has returned indictments during the month of November. Charles E. Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced Wednesday, November 21, 2018 that the grand jury true billed indictments charging 23 new individuals. An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct. All of the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. “The successful collaboration between law enforcement at every level helped bring these cases before a federal grand jury,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler. “I want to thank our local, state and federal law enforcement for their dedication and hard work.”  Indictment #1 MILTON WRENN, age 58 of Hartsfield, Georgia is charged with the following: 1) Possession of Child Pornography If convicted on Count 1, Mr. Wrenn faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. The case was investigated by the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Postal Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia C. Bowen. Indictment #2 DERINIQUE MORROW, age 20 of Albany, Georgia is charged with the following: 1) Interstate Communications with Intent to Extort 2) Interstate Stalking If convicted on Count 1, Mr. Morrow faces a maximum sentence of two (2) years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or both. If convicted on Count 2, Mr. Morrow faces a maximum sentence of five (5) years ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-11-20
    5 months ago
  • Middle District Election Officer Appointed
    MACON: United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles E. Peeler, announced Wednesday, October 31, 2018 that Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Todd P. Swanson will lead office efforts in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2018 general election. AUSA Swanson has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Middle District of Georgia, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington. “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” said Charles E. Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.” The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on Election Day. Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments Charging 6 Individuals
    MACON— A grand jury has returned indictments during the month of October. Charles E. Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced Wednesday, October 31, 2018, that the grand jury true billed indictments charging 6 individuals. An indictment is only an allegation of criminal conduct. All of the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt. “The successful collaboration between law enforcement at every level helped bring these cases before a federal grand jury,” said U.S. Attorney Peeler. “I want to thank our local, state and federal law enforcement for their dedication and hard work.”  Indictment #1 JONATHAN M. JENSEN, age 32, of Springfield, Minnesota, is charged with the following: 1) Coercion and Enticement 2) Travel with Intent to engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct  If convicted on Count 1, Mr. Jensen faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to a maximum life sentence in prison, a $250,000 fine and 5 years-to-life supervised release. If convicted on Count 2, Mr. Jensen faces a maximum 30 year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine and 5 years-to-life supervised release.  The case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany, Georgia, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane.  Indictment #2  MIGUEL BALTAZAR-PABLO, age 25, of Mexico, is charged with the following: 1) Illegal Reentry into the United States If convicted, Mr. Baltazar-Pablo faces a maximum sentence of 2 years in ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-30
    6 months ago
  • Baldwin County Kingpin Sentenced To 145 Years In Federal Prison Without Parole, Fourteen Others Sentenced
    MACON: United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles E. Peeler, announces that DELMA GODDARD, A/K/A “SHUG” AND “BIG HXMIE” age 38, of Milledgeville, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell to serve 145 years in federal prison in Macon today.  There is no parole in the federal system. Mr. Goddard was found guilty by a jury of his peers of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute more than 280 Grams of Crack Cocaine, more than 50 Grams of Methamphetamine, and more than 100 Grams of Heroin on July 30, 2018.  The jury also convicted Mr. Goddard of four counts of Distribution of Methamphetamine; six counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine; five counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; five counts of Possessing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime; one count of Distribution of Heroin; and one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Heroin. Mr. Goddard was the lead conspirator and is a member of the Nine-Deuce gang in Baldwin County.  The Nine-Deuce gang is affiliated with the Bloods national street gang.  During the period between 2013 and 2016, the Nine-Deuce gang was responsible for numerous gang-related assaults in Baldwin County, Georgia.  The gang is identified by its use of the color red, as well as particular hand signs, and it is fueled by proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs in Milledgeville and the surrounding counties.  Mr. Goddard was responsible for obtaining, manufacturing and distributing ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-29
    6 months ago
  • Valdosta Man Convicted On Charge Related To Major Cocaine Ring, Hundreds Of Kilograms Distributed Across Region
    VALDOSTA-- United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles E. Peeler, announced that Henry Austin, II a/k/a “Poochie,” age 49, of Valdosta, Georgia was convicted Wednesday, October 24, 2018 of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Cocaine base following a three day jury trial before United States District Judge Hugh Lawson. Jurors took one hour to deliberate the charge.  Austin’s sentencing will occur before Judge Lawson at a later date. Jurors heard evidence collected by a half-dozen law enforcement agencies during a more than two-year investigation.  Evidence revealed a cocaine and crack cocaine distribution circuit stretching from Atlanta to South Georgia, including Tifton, Valdosta, Omega, Hahira, Adel, Moultrie, Northern Florida, and other nearby communities.  Austin and 18 co-conspirators, all who previously pled guilty and been sentenced, distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine sold as powder and also manufactured into crack cocaine.  Mr. Austin’s drug dealing career dates back to the 1990s.  When speaking of his crack cooking skills, witnesses widely described Mr. Austin as “one of best.” “Another major illegal drug ring operating in Georgia has been smashed,” said Charles Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “This office and the law enforcement agencies we work with daily are committed to stopping these destructive drug operations flowing in our state.  I applaud the courageous efforts put forth by our law enforcement agencies who are successfully ending illegal drug operations in their communities.” This investigation and Mr. Austin’s conviction represent the hard work ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-28
    6 months ago
  • Leader Of Massive Multi-State Moultrie Meth Ring Sentenced To 360 Months To Serve In A Federal Prison
    ALBANY-- United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles E. Peeler, announced Friday that Borris Fuller, age 41 of Moultrie, GA and four individuals involved in a Methamphetamine distribution ring were sentenced by the Honorable Leslie J. Abrams on Friday, October 26 in U.S. Federal Court in Albany. There have been a total of 21 sentencings this week related to the same illegal drug distribution ring. Authorities estimate that the group was responsible for the distribution of more than 20 kilograms of the drug. From May until November 2016, an organization of 30 individuals distributed Methamphetamine in and around Moultrie, Georgia. According to court evidence, some of these transactions also occurred in Atlanta, GA and parts of Florida, including at the Georgia-Florida line. Mr. Fuller’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday. “Methamphetamine destroys lives. It destroys the life of the user, the lives of the family members and it taxes law enforcement and health care providers. It is a poison in our communities,” said Charles E. Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Since 2010, the number of meth overdose deaths has grown each and every year. Law enforcement is fighting as hard as they ever have. It is a fight worth fighting, and one we will win.” “I salute the tireless efforts of more than a dozen law enforcement agencies and our committed prosecutorial team that contributed to bringing this meth distribution ring down.” The following individuals were sentenced Friday: Borris Fuller age 41 of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-25
    6 months ago
  • Sentencings In Large Multi-State Moultrie Meth Ring Case, More Expected This Week
    ALBANY-- United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles E. Peeler, announced Tuesday that eleven of a total of 28 individuals involved in a massive Moultrie-based Methamphetamine distribution ring were sentenced by The Honorable Leslie J. Abrams on Monday, October 22, 2018 and Tuesday, October 23, 2018 in U.S. Federal Court in Albany. More sentencings in this crime ring are expected throughout the week. Authorities estimate that the group was responsible for the distribution of more than 20 kilograms of the drug. From May until November 2016, an organization of 30 individuals distributed Methamphetamine in and around Moultrie, Georgia. According to court evidence, some of these transactions also occurred in Atlanta, GA and parts of Florida, including at the Georgia-Florida line. Mr. Fuller’s sentencing is scheduled for Friday. “We must put a stop to the flow of methamphetamine in and through our state,” said Charles Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “This extensive meth crime ring operating out of a quiet community in Southwest Georgia is an example of just how pervasive these networks have become. I salute the tireless efforts of more than a dozen law enforcement agencies and our committed prosecutorial team that contributed to bringing this meth distribution ring down.” The following individuals were sentenced Monday: Marcus Andrews age 35 of Bristol, FL, plead guilty to Conspiracy to possess Meth with the Intent to Distribute, and was sentenced to 145 months and 3 years supervised release. Sharon Blackwell age 46 of ... read more
    Source: DOJ – Middle GAPublished on 2018-10-21
    6 months ago