Shelton felon arrested for plotting to blow up store and gas station as bank robbery diversion

A recently released prison inmate was arrested on Monday for plotting to blow up a large store and gas station as part of his bank robbery scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. LARRY GILLETTE, 53, of Shelton, Washington, is charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. GILLETTE allegedly began plotting the bombings and bank robberies while still serving a state prison sentence for identity theft. After being released from prison on April 14, 2014, GILLETTE described his plot in detail to someone he thought would assist him with his crimes. In fact the person he met with was an undercover officer working for the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. GILLETTE will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement learned that GILLETTE told others in prison of his plan to rob banks in Shelton using bombs at various businesses as a diversion during which he would commit violent takeover style robberies. Following his release from prison, an undercover officer posed as someone who could assist GILLETTE in obtaining weapons and explosives for his plot. On two different occasions in April 2014, GILLETTE was recorded on audio and video describing his plot to the undercover officer as they drove around Shelton. As described in court documents, the plot involved powerful bombs at Walmart, and Arco and Chevron gas stations. The plot allegedly anticipated that while first responders were busy with the bombings, GILLETTE would rob three banks. GILLETTE indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies. At one point in the investigation, GILLETTE took possession of four Glock firearms. GILLETTE did not know the firearms had been modified so they would not fire. GILLETTE was arrested yesterday afternoon when he met again with the undercover officer, and attempted to ignite a car bomb. The “bomb” was inoperable.

Solicitation to commit a crime of violence is punishable by up to twenty years of imprisonment. Being a felon in possession of a firearm is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Seattle Safe Streets Task Force — which includes special agents from the FBI and task force officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — and the SPD Major Crimes Task Force. SPD SWAT, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelton Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) partnered with the task forces on the arrest and the serving of search warrants.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey A. Backhus.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.

Repeat offender sentenced to 14 years after stealing guns and Marijuana from Grower/Distributor

A federal felon who was still under court supervision when he committed an armed robbery of a marijuana distributor was sentenced to 14 years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan last week. MELVIN CHARLES SLAUGHTER, 31, was on supervision for a bank fraud conviction in August 2013, when he robbed a Maple Valley, Washington marijuana trafficker. After robbing the marijuana dealer at gunpoint, two of SLAUGHTER’s cohorts were shot by the dealer as they tried to flee. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted that federal prosecution of the case was fully appropriate.

“A neighborhood became a shooting range because this defendant and his drug trafficker brought their violent business into its quiet streets,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “This is the fourth case we have charged in less than a year that involved gunfire used in connection with a marijuana business. Guns and drugs do not mix. Those who put lives and community safety at risk will be held accountable.”

On August 13, 2014, SLAUGHTER and three cohorts drove in two cars to the Maple Valley home of a person they knew distributed marijuana. One of the people with SLAUGHTER waited in the car thinking the other three were simply purchasing drugs. In fact, SLAUGHTER and another man robbed the drug trafficker of marijuana and numerous firearms at gunpoint, tying his hands with zip ties. As SLAUGHTER and two others left the house, the trafficker was able to free himself, grab a firearm he had hidden under the mattress of his bed, and started shooting. The woman who waited in the car was hit, as was SLAUGHTER’s co-defendant Ferdinand Clay. Clay was shot in the face, neck and hip but recovered from his wounds. Clay pleaded guilty to robbery and brandishing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime and faces a mandatory minimum seven years in prison when sentenced on June 6, 2014.

After shots were fired the robbery team sped away tossing bloodied items from the car, including some of the stolen firearms. They were recovered by police along the highway. The two who were injured went to different hospitals for treatment. SLAUGHTER and the other female member of the robbery crew turned themselves in to police.

The marijuana dealer has also been charged. Jason Loken has pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges and will be sentenced for his criminal conduct on May 27, 2014.

The case was investigated by the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi.

Longview man sentenced to 27 months for illegal sewage dumping

A Longview septic tank pumping business and its owner were sentenced today for multiple felony criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  RAY CALDWELL, 60, and his company, ALL-OUT SEWER AND DRAIN SERVICE, INC., were found guilty in December 2013, following a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle.  CALDWELL was sentenced to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for twenty-five counts of violating the Clean Water Act, six counts of mail fraud, and two counts of making false statements.  The company shares in the $250,000 fine and will be on probation for three years.  In May, Judge Settle will determine the amount of restitution owed by CALDWELL and the company.  At the sentencing hearing Judge Settle said, “You saw an opportunity to essentially deprive public entities of money they were entitled to receive…. It’s very important to communicate to the community that if you engage in fraud on local government, you will realize consequences.” 
 
“This defendant illegally dumped more than two million gallons of waste and pollutants into the sewer system,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “The company and its owner stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in public services and then embarked on an extended campaign of deceit to conceal the scheme.  The crimes damaged the honest rate payers who dutifully paid for the services they used.”
According to records filed in the case, the defendants’ scheme to defraud the City of Longview, Cowlitz County, and the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Authority went on for more than ten years.  ALL-OUT was engaged in the business of pumping, hauling, and disposing of septic tank waste, grease trap waste, and industrial wastewater.  Federal, state and local regulations require that all trucked and hauled wastes of the type handled by ALL OUT be discharged to approved treatment facilities.  It was ALL OUT’s practice to transport the waste to its facility in Longview where it was minimally treated and stored in a 10,000 gallon storage tank.  While some of the tank contents were appropriately trucked to approved treatment facilities, a majority of the commingled waste was routinely dumped down an unauthorized sewer port located on the ALL OUT facility.
Based on video surveillance footage seized by law enforcement authorities, CALDWELL and his business partner, Randy Dingus, undertook the illegal discharges in the early morning hours, under the cover of darkness, to avoid being detected by passersby or unsuspecting employees.  When a records review conducted by the City of Longview in 2010 threatened to expose the scheme, the defendants began submitting false documents underreporting the true volume of trucked and hauled waste.  This deception worked until August 2012 when law enforcement surveillance activities prompted by citizen complaints revealed the early morning dumping.
On August 17, 2012, EPA criminal agents executed a search warrant at the ALL OUT facility and seized video footage from the company’s surveillance system.  The footage depicted twenty-four separate illegal dumping incidents over a six week period in July and August of 2012.  EPA criminal agents returned to the ALL OUT facility in the early morning of December 18, 2012 after receiving reports that the illegal dumping was still occurring.  The agents arrested CALDWELL after observing him using large flexible hoses to dump waste from the storage tank directly into the sewer port.
CALDWELL was convicted of illegally dumping waste on each of the days captured on the video footage as well as the December 18, 2012 dumping event.  CALDWELL was also convicted of using the mail system to further his scheme of defrauding the public utilities. Finally, CALDWELL was convicted for making false statements in a mandated user survey seeking information regarding ALL OUT’s discharges to the sewer system, and for lying to EPA agents when confronted in August 2012.
CALDWELL’s business partner, Randy Dingus, 54, had previously pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act for his participation in the illegal dumping scheme.  He was sentenced in January 2014 to 30 days in prison, two months of home detention, one year of supervised release, 40 hours of community service, and a $15,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation, with assistance from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Cowlitz County, the City of Longview, and the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Authority.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jim Oesterle and Lawrence Lincoln.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov

U.S. Attorney warns: Watch for ID theft during tax season

U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan joined federal law enforcement partners warning about a growing problem of identity theft related to tax refund fraud.  Scammers across the country are using other people’s personal information to try to claim income tax refunds.  People may not know they are a victim until they try to file their tax return and it is rejected because someone using their Social Security Number has already filed and claimed a refund.
 
“Protecting your personal information has never been more critical,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  “Always mail your tax documents from a secure mailbox, or file electronically on a secure network.  Using a trusted tax professional and filing early can also protect you from being a victim.”
In 2013, nearly 700 Washington residents reported being a victim of tax related identity theft, and there are likely many more people who simply did not report being victimized.  Nationwide tax ID theft fraud is estimated to cost the U.S. Treasury more than $5 billion annually. 
 
“Stealing identities and trying to file false tax returns not only threatens the integrity of our tax system, it victimizes innocent people.  It can cost victims time and stress when they have done nothing wrong,” said Kenneth J. Hines, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in the Pacific Northwest. “The men and women of IRS, along with our law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office, will continue to pursue fraudsters who try and help themselves to our nation’s tax dollars and who cause so much heartache for the victims of this crime.”
This week as part of Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service are teaming up to educate the public about ID theft tax refund fraud.  The FTC is providing a webinar tomorrow to educate tax preparers about the problem and how to assist their clients if they discover they have been the victim of tax refund ID theft.  For those who have had their identities stolen and used for fraud, the IRS will issue a special PIN to use for filing taxes.  More information on the PIN program is available at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Combats-Identity-Theft-and-Refund-Fraud-on-Many-Fronts-2014
IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Ken Hines is available to talk further with reporters about the problem of tax ID theft refund fraud.   To arrange an interview please contact Leia Bellis at (206) 464-4920 or Leia.Bellis@ci.irs.gov.
 
Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Washington Coalition of Crime Victim Advocates (WCCVA) have resources for victims of identity theft.  Find them at www.ftc.gov and www.wccva.org

Western Washington tribes receive more than $10-million in DOJ grants

 
        The grants include nearly $2.6 million for crime issues related to alcohol and substance abuse:
  • Swinomish Tribe ($349,379)
  • Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe ($460,105)
  • Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation ($407,108)
  • Puyallup Tribe of Indians ($628,807)
  • Squaxin Island Tribe ($750,000)
 
Two tribal communities were awarded grants to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases, especially cases of child sexual abuse:
  • Tulalip Tribes of Washington ($383,283)
  • Puyallup Tribe of Indians ($369,805)
 
Five tribes received significant funding to combat violence against women:
  • Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Nation ($307,583)
  • Cowlitz Indian Tribe ($711,000)
  • Puyallup Tribe of Indians ($100,000)
  • Swinomish Tribal Community ($700,000)
  • Tulalip Tribes of Washington ($886,889)
 
In addition, tribes also received funding for their community oriented policing efforts providing for tribal police, training and equipment.  The total grant awards to each of the seven tribes are listed here:
 
Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation 1,125,991
Cowlitz Indian Tribe 711,000
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe 1,032,932
Puyallup Tribal Council 2,586,479
Quileute Tribe 784,446
Squaxin Indian Tribe 824,445
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community 1,049,379
Tulalip Tribes of Washington 2,068,058
 Total 10,182,730