Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Major International Hacker Pleads Guilty For Massive Attack on U.S. Retail and Banking Networks

/PRNewswire/ -- Albert Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, pleaded guilty today (December 29) to conspiring to hack into computer networks supporting major American retail and financial organizations, and to steal data relating to tens of millions of credit and debit cards, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Milagros Ortiz and Director of the U.S. Secret Service Mark Sullivan.

Gonzalez, aka "segvec," "soupnazi" and "j4guar17," pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to the payment card networks operated by, among others, Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based card processor; 7-Eleven, a Texas-based nationwide convenience store chain; and Hannaford Brothers Co. Inc., a Maine-based supermarket chain. The plea was entered in federal court in Boston before U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock. The case is one of the largest data breaches ever investigated and prosecuted in the United States.

According to information contained in the plea agreement, Gonzalez leased or otherwise controlled several servers, or "hacking platforms," and gave access to these servers to other hackers, knowing that they would use them to store malicious software, or "malware," and launch attacks against corporate victims. Malware used against several of the corporate victims was also found on a server controlled by Gonzalez. Gonzalez tested malware by running multiple anti-virus programs in an attempt to ascertain if the programs detected the malware. According to information in the plea agreement, it was foreseeable to Gonzalez that his co-conspirators would use malware to steal tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers, affecting more than 250 financial institutions. Gonzalez was indicted in New Jersey in August 2009 for this criminal conduct.

Based on the terms of the plea agreement, Gonzalez will not seek a prison term under 17 years and the government will not seek a prison term of more than 25 years. Gonzalez pleaded guilty in September 2009 in Boston to 19 counts of conspiracy, computer fraud, wire fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft relating to hacks into numerous major U.S. retailers including TJX Companies, BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble and Sports Authority. Gonzalez was indicted for those offenses in August 2008 in the District of Massachusetts. Gonzalez also pleaded guilty in September 2009 in Boston to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to hacks into the Dave & Buster's restaurant chain, which were the subject of a May 2008 indictment in the Eastern District of New York.

As part of the plea agreement with the government, the New Jersey case was transferred to the District of Massachusetts for plea and sentencing. According to the terms of the New Jersey plea agreement, the parties agree that Gonzalez' sentence in the New Jersey case should run concurrently with the sentence imposed in the Boston and New York cases. Gonzalez remains in federal custody. Sentencing in the Boston and New York cases is currently scheduled for March 18, 2010, in Boston. Sentencing in the New Jersey case is scheduled for March 19, 2010.

"The Department of Justice will not allow computer hackers to rob consumers of their privacy and erode the public's confidence in the security of the marketplace," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. "Criminals like Albert Gonzalez who operate in the shadows will be caught, exposed and held to account. Indeed, with timely reporting of data breaches and high-tech investigations, even the most sophisticated hacking rings can be uncovered and dismantled, as our prosecutors and agents demonstrated in this case."

"Commercial hackers like Gonzalez believe they are immune from detection and prosecution as they lurk in the shadows of the Internet," said U.S. Attorney Fishman of the District of New Jersey. "But time and again they are caught, prosecuted and sentenced to lengthy federal prison terms. Other hackers should sit up and take notice."

"The conviction of Mr. Gonzalez, and the unraveling of one of the most complex and large scale identity theft cases in history, should serve as a reminder to hacker organizations, that the Department of Justice will vigorously investigate and prosecute cybercrimes, regardless of their sophistication and global reach. Mr. Gonzalez's conviction is the result of unprecedented coordination across agency and geographical lines, and I want to commend the investigators and prosecutors who have worked tirelessly to bring this case to fruition," said U.S. Attorney Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts.

"Today's plea proves that although cyber criminals can threaten our nation's financial sector, the Secret Service and its many partners around the world will pursue and prosecute them," said U.S. Secret Service Director Sullivan. "Time and again, cooperation and advanced methodologies have allowed us to focus our resources in order to detect and prevent these types of crimes, wherever they originate."

The New Jersey case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erez Liebermann and Seth Kosto of the District of New Jersey, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Heymann and Donald Cabell of the District of Massachusetts, and Senior Counsel Kimberly Kiefer Peretti of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. All of these cases are being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

CPSC Urges Caution With Heating as Winter Weather Arrives; Carbon Monoxide Deaths on the Rise

/PRNewswire/ -- As families look for ways to save money in tough economic times, there is an increased risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings and fire deaths associated with the use of alternative heating and power sources. The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to check all home heating systems from fireplaces to furnaces, including any back-up power systems.

Heating systems were associated with an average of 32,900 fires and 200 fire deaths per year from 2004-2006. This includes local fixed heaters, portable heaters, central heating systems, and fireplaces and chimneys.

CO deaths have been on the rise since 1999. On average there were 181 unintentional non-fire deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products per year from 2004-2006 compared to 123 from 1999-2001. Heating equipment and portable generators are among the top contributors to CO deaths.

Portable generator-related deaths have risen more than 400 percent in recent years from an average of about 16 deaths per year in 1999-2001 to 75 deaths per year in 2004-2006. In 2004-2006, 41 percent of consumer product-related CO deaths (an average of about 75 deaths annually) were generator-related and 35 percent (an average of 63 deaths per year) were heating system-related.

To prevent CO poisoning tragedies from occurring, CPSC urges consumers to:

-- Schedule a yearly professional inspection of all fuel-burning home
heating systems, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves,
water heaters, chimneys, flues and vents.
-- As a second line of defense, install carbon monoxide alarms meeting
the requirements of UL 2034 Single and Multiple Station Carbon
Monoxide Alarms or CSA 6.19 Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming
Devices in the home. Make sure the batteries are fresh and working.
Replace the batteries annually at the spring or autumn time changes.
-- Activate the test button on the CO alarm monthly to ensure proper
operation.
-- NEVER operate a portable gasoline-powered generator in an enclosed
space such as a garage, shed or crawlspace, or in the home.
-- Keep portable generators as far away from the home as possible -- away
from open doors, windows or vents that could allow deadly carbon
monoxide into the home.
-- Use a space heater that has been tested to the latest safety standards
and certified by a nationally-recognized testing laboratory. These
heaters will have the most up-to-date safety features. An unvented
gas space heater that meets current safety standards will shut off if
oxygen levels fall too low.
-- Do not use portable propane space heaters indoors or in any confined
space unless they are specifically designed for indoor use. Always
follow the manufacturer's directions for proper use.
-- Never use gas or electric stoves to heat the home. They are not
intended for that purpose and can pose a CO or fire hazard.


CPSC also urges consumers to follow these home heating safety tips to prevent fires:

-- Place space heaters on a level, hard, and nonflammable surface such as
a ceramic tile floor, not on rugs or carpets. Keep the heater at
least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture, and other flammable
materials, and keep out of the flow of foot traffic. Keep children
and pets away from space heaters.
-- To prevent the risk of fire, NEVER leave a space heater on when you go
to sleep or place a space heater close to any sleeping person. Turn
the heater off if you leave the area.
-- Never use gasoline in a kerosene space heater. Even small amounts of
gasoline mixed with kerosene can increase the risk of a fire.
-- Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage
by creosote or debris.
-- Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open
until the ashes are cool. An open damper may help prevent build-up of
poisonous gases inside the home.
-- Store fireplace ashes in a fire-resistant container and cover it with
a lid. Keep the container outdoors and away from combustibles.
Dispose of ashes carefully keeping them away from combustibles, dry
leaves or trash.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2009

In its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report released today, the FBI indicated that the volume of violent crime in the nation decreased 4.4 percent and the volume of property crime declined 6.1 percent. More than 11,700 law enforcement agencies contributed to this report, which is based on information from law enforcement agencies that provided three to six common months of data to the FBI from January to June of both 2008 and 2009.

Violent Crime

* All four of the offenses that make up violent crime (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) decreased nationwide. Murder declined 10.0 percent, robbery fell 6.5 percent, forcible rape decreased 3.3 percent, and aggravated assault declined 3.2 percent.
* A review of the data by population group showed that violent crime decreased 7.0 percent in cities with populations of 1 million or more—the largest decrease from January to June 2009 when compared with crime data from the same months in 2008—but cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 reported an increase (1.7 percent). Violent crime declined 3.8 percent in the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties and 2.1 percent in metropolitan counties.
* By region, violent crime in the South declined 6.1 percent, violent crime in the Midwest decreased 3.4 percent, violent crime in the West declined 3.3 percent, and violent crime in the Northeast decreased 3.2 percent. In addition, law enforcement agencies in all four regions showed declines in the number of murders, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.

Property Crime

* Overall in the nation, there were decreases in each type of property crime, which includes the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft. Motor vehicle theft dropped 18.7 percent, larceny-theft decreased 5.3 percent, and burglary declined 2.5 percent for the two six-month periods.
* By population group, the nation’s largest cities (those with 1 million or more inhabitants) had the largest decrease (7.7 percent) in the number of property crimes. Property crime decreased 9.8 percent in nonmetropolitan counties and 7.4 percent in metropolitan counties.
* Regionally, property crime dropped 8.4 percent in the Midwest, 7.0 percent in the Northeast, 6.7 percent in the West, and 4.3 percent in the South. Among the four regions, the South was the only region to show an increase for a property crime offense—burglaries were up 0.7 percent.

Arson

The number of reported arsons, which are tracked separately from other property crimes, declined 8.2 percent nationwide during the first half of 2009 when compared with data from the first half of 2008. All of the city population groups reported decreases in the number of arsons. Cities with 250,000 to 499,999 inhabitants had the largest decrease at 12.7 percent. Arson fell 11.7 percent in metropolitan counties but rose 1.2 percent in nonmetropolitan counties. Law enforcement agencies in all four regions reported declines in the number of arsons, ranging from 9.2 percent in the Northeast to 7.5 percent in the South.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Bank Robber Sentenced

Merkuri Stanback, age 28, was sentenced December 17, 2009, by the Honorable Hugh Lawson, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia to a total sentence of 480 months (40 years) without parole. Stanback had been previously convicted of Armed Bank Robbery, Brandishing a Firearm During a Crime of Violence, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon on September 17, 2009 in connection with the robbery of Park Community Federal Credit Union located on Riverside Drive, Macon, Georgia.

On December 28, 2007, Stanback, along with two co-defendants entered the Park Community Federal Credit Union located on Riverside Drive, Macon, Georgia brandishing a firearm. Stanback and his co-defendants restrained employees and ransacked the teller area. Stanback and the co-defendants robbed the contents of the bank vault and stole approximately $198,439.00. While in the process of fleeing, the robbers lost approximately $49,000 which was recovered in an adjoining parking lot. Macon Police Officers arrived and processed the crime scene.

A tip to the FBI lead to the search of a residence located at 1032 Main Street where the Defendant was residing. Macon Police Officers and FBI Agents recovered a majority of the stolen money as well as the firearms and clothing used in the robbery. Warrants were issued for Stanback who was later arrested in Pensacola, Florida by the United States Marshals Service.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia G.F. Peterman, III stated: “The sentence handed down by the Court sends a clear message that violent gun crime will not be tolerated in the Middle District of Georgia. Anyone who commits a federal crime with a firearm will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. A sentence of 40 years' imprisonment without parole means that Stanback will not be released from federal prison well past his 65th birthday.”

The case as investigated by the Macon Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Marshals Service. Questions concerning this case should be directed to Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2602.

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FEMA Encourages Winter Weather Preparedness

With the winter season approaching, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds individuals to be prepared for winter storms and extreme cold. While the danger of severe winter weather varies across the country, everyone can benefit by taking a few easy steps now to prepare for emergencies. A first step, regardless of where you live, is to visit the Ready.gov Web site to find preparedness ideas you can use all year long.

"Severe winter weather can strike at any time. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snowstorm or extreme cold," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “I encourage everyone to get an emergency supply kit, develop and practice a family emergency plan and stay informed about emergencies that may affect your area. Families can log onto Ready.gov to learn more.”

Severe winter weather can include snow or subfreezing temperatures, strong winds and ice or heavy rain storms. An emergency supply kit both at home and in the car will help prepare you and your family for winter power outages and icy or impassable roads.

Both kits should include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. In addition, your home kit should include a three day supply of food and water. Thoroughly check and update your family’s emergency supply kit and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:

Rock salt to melt ice on walkways,

Sand to improve traction on driveways and sidewalks,

Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment,

And adequate clothing and blankets to help keep you warm.

Ensure your family preparedness plan and contacts are up to date and exercise your plan. Learn about emergency plans established in your area by state and local officials and make sure your family plans and contacts are up to date.

Finally, make sure to familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include the following:

Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.

Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.

Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.

Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.

Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.

For more information and winter preparedness tips, please visit: http://www.ready.gov/winter
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Retired Army Major Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Role in Bribery Scheme Involving DOD Contracts in Kuwait

A retired major in the U.S. Army today was sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme related to Department of Defense (DOD) contracts awarded in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division Christine Varney.

Christopher H. Murray, 42, a resident of Cataula, Ga., was also ordered by Judge Clay D. Land of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia - Columbus Division to pay $245,000 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release following the prison term.

Murray pleaded guilty in January 2009 to a five-count criminal information charging him with four counts of bribery and one count of making a false statement. According to the court documents, in 2005 and 2006, then-Major Murray served as a contracting specialist in the small purchases branch of the contracting office at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. As a contracting specialist, Murray was responsible for soliciting bids for military contracts, evaluating the sufficiency of those bids, and then recommending the award of contracts to particular contractors. In this capacity, Murray solicited and received approximately $225,000 in bribes from DOD contractors in exchange for recommending the award of contracts for various goods and services.

According to court documents, Murray returned to Kuwait in fall 2006, as a contracting officer, and solicited and received another $20,000 in bribes from a DOD contractor in exchange for the award of a construction contract. When confronted with evidence of his criminal conduct, Murray made false statements to federal agents investigating the matter.

This case is being prosecuted by trial attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section as well as trial attorneys Mark W. Pletcher, Emily W. Allen and Finnuala Kelleher of the Antitrust Division’s National Criminal Enforcement Section.

The case is being investigated by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the FBI; and the Internal Revenue Service.

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs.

Anyone with information concerning bid rigging, bribery or other criminal conduct regarding DOD contracts is urged to call the Defense Criminal Investigative Service at 800-424-9098 or hotline@dodig.mil; Army Criminal Investigation Division at www.cid.army.mil; or the FBI at 800-225-5324.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Miami Man Sentenced to More Than a Decade in Federal Prison for Million-Dollar Medicaid Fraud

VARIAN V. SCOTT, 36, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. to federal prison on charges of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The charges arose out of a scheme to present forged doctors’ prescriptions for high-dollar cancer and HIV medications to dozens of Atlanta-area pharmacies using the identities of Georgia Medicaid recipients, causing the cost of the medications to be billed to the Georgia Medicaid program, and resulting in an approximately $1.1 million loss to state and federal taxpayers.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said, “The defendant and his cronies not only defrauded Georgia’s taxpayers, but they endangered the patients who were on the receiving end of these re-sold prescriptions. These medications must be handled and stored with extreme care to preserve their effectiveness, and street sellers aren't known for running hygienic operations. Prison is the appropriate place for Scott, and today's prison sentence sends a clear message that law enforcement will protect taxpayer resources and preserve the integrity of these critical treatment programs.”

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jones said, “Mr. Scott will now sit in prison for many years hopefully thinking about the crimes he committed and their full impact on the people that could have used the help that was, instead, diverted to his bank account through greed. Medicaid fraud and healthcare fraud in general cannot and will not be tolerated and the FBI recognizes these crimes for what they are, acts of greed and indifference to others.”

Dr. Rhonda Medows, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health, which administers Georgia Medicaid, said, “This case is a perfect example of what government agencies can accomplish when they share information and partner on key initiatives. With an increasing number of people in need of health care, it is important that we continue to work with our partners to ensure that we safeguard taxpayer dollars.”

SCOTT was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal justice system. SCOTT was also ordered to pay $1,142,720.67 in restitution to Georgia Medicaid. SCOTT was convicted of these charges on October 5, 2009, after a four-day jury trial.

According to Acting United States Attorney Sally Q. Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: SCOTT directed and funded a health care fraud conspiracy between September 2005 and April 2006. SCOTT and his cousin, HEZRON D. COLLIE, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia, bought blank doctors’ prescription pads from insiders at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute and two other doctor’s offices, one in Atlanta and one in Florida. SCOTT and COLLIE then bought names, dates of birth, and Medicaid numbers of dozens of Georgia Medicaid recipients, and forged approximately 164 doctors’ prescriptions for Neupogen, a chemotherapy drug, and multiple medications used to treat HIV, using the patient Medicaid information. A one-month supply of Neupogen costs approximately $10,000.

SCOTT and COLLIE then presented the forged prescriptions along with the patient information to CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Kroger, and Eckerd pharmacies throughout the Atlanta area. SCOTT and COLLIE also recruited a pharmacist at one of the Publix pharmacies, and a pharmacy technician at one of the Kroger pharmacies, to help facilitate the scheme. The pharmacies billed approximately $1.1 million to Georgia Medicaid for the cost of the medications that SCOTT and COLLIE fraudulently acquired. The evidence at trial also showed that after obtaining the medications, SCOTT and COLLIE transported them to South Florida for sale on the so-called “gray market,” in which there is significant demand for such medications.

SCOTT and COLLIE were indicted on December 16, 2008. On June 4, 2009, COLLIE pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of health care fraud charged in the indictment, and to a criminal information charging him with one count of health care fraud for a related scheme in which he participated between May and June of 2008, and cooperated with authorities. COLLIE’s sentencing is scheduled to take place before Judge Pannell tomorrow, Tuesday, December 15, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. The Publix pharmacist also cooperated with authorities and pleaded guilty to related charges in Gwinnett County Superior Court on January 13, 2009. The pharmacy technician was not charged in the scheme but cooperated with law enforcement. The pharmacies and the doctors also cooperated in the investigation.

The case was the culmination of a joint investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Drugs & Narcotics Agency, Georgia Department of Community Health, and the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Valuable assistance was also provided by the Georgia State Patrol, Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office, Gwinnett County Police Department, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Seeking Public’s Assistance in Locating Violent Armed Bank Robber


Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Gregory Jones, FBI Atlanta, is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a violent armed bank robber who is responsible for the following two Atlanta area bank robberies:

On Wednesday, September 30, 2009, at approximately 9:05 a.m., a lone black male entered the Wachovia Bank, located at 2349 Chesire Bridge Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia, and ordered everybody to put their hands up. The robber, who was carrying a black semi-automatic handgun and a black bag approached the first victim teller and demanded money. The first victim teller placed money from her teller drawer into the black bag. Afterwards, the robber approached two additional tellers and demanded money. After receiving money from the two additional tellers, the robber ran out the bank and fled the bank in a gray or silver vehicle.

On Wednesday, December 09, 2009, at approximately 9:10 a.m., a lone black male entered the Wachovia Bank, located at 5425 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Chamblee, Georgia and approached the teller counter. The robber, armed with a handgun, threw two bags over the teller counter and demanded money from the tellers. The robber also threatened to shoot individuals in the bank. After receiving money from the tellers, the robber ran out of the bank.

The robber is described as a black male, 6'0" - 6'4", 35 - 45 years old, 220 - 250 lbs, large build, wearing a black trench coat (second robbery) or black blazer (first robbery), white shirt, black gloves, black ski mask, and carrying a black semi-automatic handgun

Wachovia Bank has announced a reward of up to $15,000 in this matter.

Anyone with information regarding these robberies is asked to contact the Atlanta office FBI at tel. (404) 679-9000.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Waynesboro Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Receiving Child Pornography

Edward J. Tarver, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, announced that Roger Alan Gambrel, convicted on June 5, 2009, of the federal offense of Receipt of Child Pornography, was sentenced December 2 by United States District Judge J. Randal Hall, to 240 months imprisonment, followed by supervised release for the remainder of his life. Gambrel will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from federal prison.

Tarver stated that the evidence presented at the defendant’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings showed that Gambrel routinely engaged in sexually suggestive online “chats” with others about the child pornography images being traded during those communications. When his computer and other computer media were seized from Gambrel, he was found in possession of over 2,000 child pornography images.

The case was the result of a joint investigation by Special Agent Brian Ozden of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Agent Charles Kicklighter of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, based upon information they received from FBI agents in California. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Greenwood represented the Government.

Tarver commented that this case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, which is a nationwide U.S. Department of Justice initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.

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Perry Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Illegal Drugs, Attempting to Influence a Juror

G.F. “Pete” Peterman, III, Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces the conviction in the United States District Court in Macon of WENDELL DOUGLAS WALKER age 39 of Perry, Georgia. Walker entered a plea of guilty to one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (crack cocaine) and one count of Endeavoring to Influence a Juror on December 3, 2009, before the Honorable C. Ashley Royal, Chief United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia. The charge of Endeavoring to Influence a Juror resulted from Walker’s contact with and efforts to corruptly influence a trial juror selected in May, 2009, to try the crack cocaine charge against him.

Walker admitted to selling a confidential informant more than 50 grams of crack cocaine in November, 2007. He further admitted that he had a relative contact the trial juror, who was asked to call a cellular telephone number because someone wanted to speak with her. When the juror called that number, Walker answered, identified himself and asked to meet with the juror, who then hung up on him. Walker admitted that he made the contact in an effort to wrongfully and corruptly influence the juror in exercising her duties as a juror at his trial.

Walker faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison on the Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base count and up to an additional 10 years in prison for Endeavoring to Influence a Juror.

Acting United States Attorney Peterman said that trafficking illegal drugs is a crime whose prosecution is a priority of the United States Attorney’s Office, adding that, “with regard to the jury influencing charge, attempts to corrupt the jury trial process, which is the very heart of this country’s criminal justice system, will always be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by this office.”

The crack cocaine case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Perry Police Department. The case of juror influencing was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Macon. Assistant United States Attorney Robert D. McCullers prosecuted the case for the government. For additional information contact Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, at 478-621-2602.

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Former Senior Manager Pleads Guilty to Stealing The Home Depot’s Trade Secrets

GUILLERMO MARTINEZ, 47, of Cumming, Georgia, pleaded guilty December 2 in federal district court to a Criminal Information that charged him with stealing trade secrets from his former employer, The Home Depot.

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, “Intellectual property-related cases are serious criminal cases with high dollar stakes. The FBI understands the corporate concerns and the potential damages caused by such thefts and considers itself well suited to investigate and enforce these laws.”

According to Acting United States Attorney Yates and the information in court: MARTINEZ was employed at The Home Depot’s headquarters as a Senior Manager, Product Engineering, and was responsible for assisting the company's vendors in preparing to sell products to the company. As a Senior Manager, MARTINEZ had access to the Home Depot’s confidential information and other trade secrets, including pricing and profitability spread sheets and documents relating to product line reviews.

The evidence showed that beginning in January 2008, MARTINEZ was assigned to assist a potential local vendor of The Home Depot. The vendor was subsequently invited by The Home Depot to participate in a product line review. A product line review involves potential vendors making presentations of their products, their packaging and their marketing ideas. It also involves the submission of the potential vendors’ prices. The Home Depot makes its buying decisions for a particular product line based on the product line review presentations of its various vendors.

From around May 2008 and continuing until around July 2008, MARTINEZ began supervising the local vendor’s presentation to The Home Depot as if he were a high-level employee of the vendor. In an effort to have the vendor gain an advantage over its competitors during the product line review, MARTINEZ provided the vendor with trade secrets belonging to the Company. Specifically MARTINEZ gave out confidential and proprietary pricing information, including the price that the Company was paying the vendor's competitors for the products that the vendor wanted to sell to the Company. MARTINEZ provided a document titled “Wire Devices: RFP Summary,” which was marked at the bottom as “Proprietary & Confidential to The Home Depot,” and which contained a summary of the vendor's line review of competitor's price quotes. MARTINEZ also provided a binder containing the line review presentation submitted to the Company by a competitor of the vendor. In addition, during this same time, MARTINEZ was negotiating an employment agreement with the vendor.

The Home Depot fully cooperated in the investigation of this case.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 3, 2010, at 10 a.m, before United States District Judge Willis B. Hunt, Jr.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bank of America Robbery (Fayetteville)

A Robbery occurred at Bank of America located at 219 Banks Road, Fayetteville, Georgia 30214.

At approximately 12:34 PM a man entered the bank and handed the teller a note indicating he was robbing the bank. The man also indicated that he had a gun.

He is described as a black male, about 5’-8”, 175 pounds. He was wearing an orange “South Pole” sweatshirt with gray sleeves and a dark colored baseball hat. He has a narrow face and a goatee.
He was last seen running from the bank.

He stole an undisclosed amount of money.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Fayetteville Police Department, Criminal Investigation Unit at 770-461-4441.