Two Mexican Nationals Sentenced In Murder of U.S. Coast Guard Officer

Two Mexican Nationals Sentenced In Murder of U.S. Coast Guard Officer Two Mexican nationals found guilty in a 2012 incident in which a Coast Guard officer was killed when his vessel was rammed by a fishing vessel have been sentenced to prison terms.

Jose Mejia-Leyva, 42, was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who died while attempting to inttercept the vessel operated by Mr. Mejia-Leyva.

Manuel Beltran-Higuera, 44, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after being found guilty for his part in the open water collision.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne, a 34-year-old Redondo Beach resident, was the first Coast Guard officer murdered while in the line of duty by smugglers since 1927.

The incident in which Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne was killed began on December 1, 2012 when a Coast Guard airplane identified a suspicious boat about one mile off Santa Cruz Island. After Coast Guard personnel on the Coast Guard cutter Halibut boarded the boat, the airplane identified another suspicious vessel nearby in Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island.

The airplane reported that the suspicious vessel in Smuggler’s Cove was an approximately 30-foot-long open bowed fishing vessel, commonly referred to as a panga boat. Coast Guard officers aboard the Halibut launched the Halibut’s small, inflatable boat with four officers aboard.

The Coast Guard small boat crew located the panga boat approximately 200 yards from the eastern shore of Santa Cruz Island at approximately 1:20 a.m. on December 2.

As the Coast Guard’s small boat approached the panga boat, the officers activated the boat’s police lights and identified themselves as law enforcement. The driver of the panga boat then throttled the engines and steered the panga boat toward the small boat.

As the panga boat rapidly approached the Coast Guard’s small boat, the officer at the helm attempted to avoid a collision by steering the small boat out of the path of the panga boat. Despite these efforts, the panga boat rammed into the Coast Guard’s small boat, ejecting Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne and another officer into the water.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne was struck by a propeller in the head and sustained a fatal injury. The other officer sustained a laceration to his knee. After striking the Coast Guard’s small boat, the panga boat crew fled the scene.

Coast Guard aircraft followed the panga boat until it was intercepted by a Coast Guard vessel about four hours later as it approached the Mexico-United States border. Mejia-Leyva and Beltran-Higuera were arrested at this point.

Prosecutors argued for the life sentence for Mejia-Leyva, noting in court papers that he was previously convicted in the United States of smuggling aliens and was twice convicted in Mexico of narcotics offenses. “The seriousness of defendant’s conduct and his criminal history demonstrates that he is an established recidivist whose pattern of smuggling and narcotics trafficking only aggravates the seriousness of the crime of murder,” prosecutors wrote of Mejia-Leyva.

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$20,000 Reward Offered for Georgia Smash And Grab Gun Theft

Up to $20,000 is being offered as a reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for stealing firearms from Gene’s Pawn Shop in Cornelia, Georgia on April 25.

During that incident, a vehicle – believed to be a stolen church van – was used to smash through the front doors of the pawn shop in order to gain access and steal the firearms.

Later that same morning the same vehicle may have been used to commit a similar smash and grab burglary at a clothing store in Southwest Atlanta, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF is offering $10,000 of the maximum reward in the gun case, with the other half coming from the National Shooting Sports Foundation as part of its effort to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms.

Dramatic video footage of the second smash and grab burglary, which includes a clear depiction of a person of interest in the pawn shop incident is available on YouTube, and anyone recognzing the individual or with information regarding the crime should contact the ATF’s toll-free hotline at 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477). Callers may remain anonymous.

Link to YouTube video

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Elderly Mafiosi Sentenced To Five Months on Loansharking Plea

A pair of elderly New York men, alleged to be part of the Genovese crime family, have plead guilty to a loansharking charge in Federal Court and were sentenced to five months in prison, for their part in a scheme to control various waste control businesses in New York and New Jersey.

Dominick Pietranico, 83, and Joseph Sarcinella, 79, agreed to provide the Mafia’s protection as well as an extortionate loan with an interest rate exceeding 100% to the operator of a waste disposal company who also served as a cooperating witness for the government in the case.

In addition to the five month prison term both men were sentenced to one year of supervised release; Mr. Pietranico was also ordered to forfeit $9,340 and pay a $2,000 fine, and Mr. Sarcinella was ordered to forfeit $10,540 and pay a $5,000 fine.

The men are part of a larger investigation and prosecution effort in which 32 defendants have been charged with participating in the scheme to exert control over the commercial waste-hauling industry. Twenty-one of these defendants have been convicted for their roles in this scheme.

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High School Coach Arrested In Sticky Fingers Theft Sting

A Florida High School Coach has been arrested for stealing money from students’ wallets in the locker room – after a sting operation employing luminescent powder revealed his “sticky fingers,” according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

Rodney Barnes, 43, has been linked to several thefts totaling $170 according to the Sheriff, though a total of nine students have reported missing as much as $950 over the last several months.

When the thefts were initially reported, New Smyrna Beach High School invested in an ultraviolet theft detection kit, that includes a powder invisible to the eye until exposed under an ultraviolet light source, when it turns a fluorescent yellowish-green color.

Sheriff’s investigators then supplied a student with a wallet containing $141 in bills coated with the powder. When money was reported missing, a deputy and a school administrator went to the gym and turned off the lights – first checking the hands of students and then Mr. Barnes, which showed a, “a plainly visible yellowish-green fluorescent glow on both of his hands,” according to the Sheriff.

Mr. Barnes admitted to taking a $50 bill from the student’s wallet. He also admitted to several other thefts totaling $170. However, the Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate because there have been more thefts than just the ones to which Barnes initially admitted.

A physical education teacher and assistant coach of the school’s varsity football team, Barnes was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on $3,000 bond.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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Florida Woman Charged In $650,000 Embezzlement Scheme

Christie Burkey Hunt, 32, has been charged with crimes under the Florida Money Laundering Act for allegedly embezzling over $650,000 from her employer over a two-year period, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Ms. Hunt was arrested at her Melbourne, Florida residence on May 1 and taken into custody where she was being held under $940,000 bond.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint from Ms. Hunt’s former employer, a medical company, where she allegedly diverted funds using her position as office manager into shell corporations under her own name.

Ms. Hunt also allegedly opened and used credit cards and lines of credit without permission of the company owners. Ms. Hunt is said to have used the money to rent an upscale home, buy furnishings and electronics as well as the purchase of two 2014 Audi Q7 SUVs.

At the time of her arrest, members of the Economic Crimes Unit served a search warrant at Ms. Hunt’s residence and seized property and vehicles from the home that are believed to have been the proceeds of her illegal enterprise.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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Fugitive Wanted for $2.8 Million Gold Heist Captured in Belize and Extradited to U.S.

A man wanted for the largest gold heist in Florida history has been extradited to the United States after being spotted crawling through the bushes at the Guatemala-Belize border, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Raonel Valdez-Valhuerdis, 34, was detained by Belize immigration officials on February 18 after it was determined that his Cuban passport did not have the proper documentation. Belize officials then worked with the U.S. Government to return Mr. Valdez to U.S. soil.

Mr. Valdez is wanted in connection with the armed robbery of over 100 pounds of gold flakes from an employee of a Bolivian Export company in Florida on October 12, 2012.

The gold, valued at over $2.8 million, was in a pair of suticases the employee was carrying as he left his apartment building in Coral Gables. Mr. Valdez is alleged to have struck the victim in the face and held the victim at gunpoint while his two accomplices grabbed the two suitcases.

Police were initially led to Mr. Valdez through a tip that he was the mastermind of the robbery – and were aided by the data from a court ordered GPS ankle monitor he was wearing as a result of a previous arrest. Coral Gables police detectives analyzed the GPS locations on Mr. Valdez’ ankle monitor and confirmed he was at the scene of the crime at the exact time the victim was robbed.

A further analysis of the GPS locations for weeks prior to the robbery showed that he appeared to be conducting his own surveillance of the gold broker’s residence. Mr. Valdez was picked up by police and positively identified by the victim, and though he was charged with the crime, he was released on bail.

Mr. Valdez failed to appear for any future court hearings in Florida and somehow obtained the Cuban passport in Washington, D.C. on December 28, 2012. Though arrest warrants were issued in early 2013, the trail grew cold until he was spotted at the Guatemala-Belize border almost a year later. Mr. Valdez is currently being held in the Miami Dade County Jail.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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Sarasota Sheriff Uses DNA To Arrest Goldilocks Intruder

In February 2014, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office revcieved a call about a possible intruder in a home on Pinebrook Hollow.

The caller found dishes in the kitchen sink and thought he heard noises coming from a locked bedroom. When deputies arrived, there was no suspect to be found and no one sleeping in the bedroom.

There were, however, two flat screen televisions missing, along with some other household items.

The intruder was not as thorough in cleaning up his own belongings – leaving behind sneakers and other personal items.

The items were tested for DNA by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab, and resulted in identifying the unwelcome houseguest as John Szatkowski, a local man whose DNA was in the police database from more than a dozen arrests in Brevard County for crimes such as drug possession, theft and fraud.

Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Burglary of a Dwelling and Mr. Szatkowski was located and arrested on Thursday, May 8.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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Former eBay Executive Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading Charges

Christopher Saridakis, 45, has plead guilty to securities fraud for giving another person confidential information about a company’s stock.

Mr. Saridakis was a senior executive at GSI Commerce Inc. [GSIC] when he provided non-public information regarding eBay’s pending acquisition of that company to an individual who later served as a confidential informant for the government’s case.

Mr. Saridakis was shown to have sent a series of text messages to that Confidential Witness on March 20, 2011, essentially encouraging the individual to purchase shares of GSIC, which Mr. Saridakis knew was about to be acquired by eBay.

Two days later that individual purchased 25,000 shares of GSIC stock with a margin account for approximately $470,000. On June 20, 2011, the Confidential Witness then sold the 25,000 shares for a profit of $260,304, which the government maintained was only achieved as a result of the text messages.

Mr. Saridakis also shared the same material non-public information with other individuals, and he and others have been charged in a parallel civil matter by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 19, when Mr. Saridakis faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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California Fire Battalion Chief Sought In Girlfriend’s Murder

Orville Fleming, 55 years of age, is being sought for the stabbing murder of his girlfriend Sarah Douglas, which occurred in their shared home on Fox River Court in Sacramento on May 1, 2014.

Mr. Fleming, also known by the nickname of “Moe,” was a Battalion Chief in the California Fire Service and may have sought refuge in the wilderness areas known to him through his employment.

Mr. Fleming stands 6 feet, one inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and is Caucasian. He has been known to change his appearance by shaving his head and mustache. Mr. Fleming should be considered armed and dangerous as he is known to have a .45 cal pistol and a .25 cal pistol that are unaccounted for.

Investigators believe Mr. Fleming may have sustained cuts to his hands during the assault that would require bandages. Ms. Douglas was 26 years old at the time of her death.

Investigators with the Sacramento Sheriffs Department have indicated Mr. Fleming is at risk for killing himself, but they have also discovered that Mr. Fleming may have have been aided in his escape through personal acquaintances and/or persons met through an Internet escort website he was known to frequent.

Mr. Fleming’s Cal-Fire vehicle was found abandoned in the City of Elk Grove on the morning of May 1 and he is believed to have fled the immediate area in an unknown vehicle.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Orville Fleming is urged to contact their local law enforcement agency or the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department at 916-874-5115 immediately.

Link to Wanted Poster

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New Hampshire Man Wanted for Possession of Child Pornography And Double Homicide of His Parents

A $5,000.00 reward is being offered by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force for information leading to the location and arrest of Matthew Thomas Dion.

Mr. Dion is wanted by the Manchester Police Department on an outstanding arrest warrant for Possession of Child Pornography, as well as for questioning relating to the arson fire and homicides of his parents.

Mr. Dion, age 38, was last known to reside in Manchester, NH and his whereabouts have been unknown since March 24th, 2014, the day an arson fire destroyed the family home on Mooresville Road.

The bodies of Mr. Dion’s parents were discovered inside the residence after the fire was extinguished. The deaths of Robert and Constance Dion were determined to be homicide.

During the ensuing investigation, child pornography material was discovered and determined to belong to Mr. Dion, which led to the outstanding arrest warrant.

Mr. Dion was last known to be driving a 2009, White, 4 Door, Nissan Altima with NH license plate number 341-0587.

It is possible that Mr. Dion has changed his physical appearance in an effort to conceal his identity. Mr. Dion could be anywhere across the U.S. or beyond; anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. Marshals New Hampshire office at (603) 225-1632, or 1-877-WANTED-2.

To read more crime stories visit The Crime Bulletin, to submit tips or news releases contact our desk assistant via email, jane@thecrimebulletin.com.

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