Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Cyberstalking, Making Interstate Threats

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – An Odessa, Texas man, who had an online relationship with a juvenile female in the Western District of Virginia, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to cyberstalking and making interstate threats to the girl’s family following her suicide. United State Attorney Thomas T. Cullen and David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division made the announcement today.

Adrian Raul O’Dell, 20, was charged in October of 2019 and arrested the following month at his home in Texas. He pleaded guilty today to two counts of cyberstalking and one count of making interstate threats. 

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that online conduct can cause victims serious harm and cyberstalking will not be tolerated. With increasing amounts of our lives and business being conducted online, these kinds of cases remain a priority for this office,” First Assistant United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar said today. “I am grateful for the hard work of the FBI and the Warren County Sheriff’s office in identifying this defendant and bringing him to Virginia to face justice.”

“The facts of this case speak for themselves and are saddening to us all.   Although today’s plea will not make up for the loss to the victim’s family or the pain they endured, we hope it reassures them of the FBI's full commitment to investigate such matters to the fullest extent of the law,” Special Agent in Charge Archey said today. “We are grateful for the assistance of the United States Attorney's Office, the FBI's El Paso Field Office/Midland Resident Agency and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for their diligence and assistance in this investigation.”

According to court documents, between September 2017 and around March 2018, O’Dell had an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lived in Linden, Virginia. In May 2018, following an investigation by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that the girl died by suicide in a wooded area near her home.

The indictment alleges that from June 2018 through June 2019, O’Dell, using a variety of false email and online personas, took credit for her suicide.  The defendant then sent threatening and intimidating messages to her family members and friends that placed them in reasonable fear of death and serious bodily harm. In addition, these messages attempted to cause friends and family members substantial emotional distress.  The defendant sent certain of these messages in violation of a protective order.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Warren County Sherriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Kate Rumsey is prosecuting the case for the United States.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Louisiana Man Sentenced for Business Email Compromise Scheme

BOSTON – A Louisiana man was sentenced today in connection with an international business email compromise scheme that defrauded companies of almost $900,000.

Larry Brown Jr., 37, of Lafayette, La., was sentenced during a videoconference to time-served (approximately 10 months in prison), three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $10,425. In April 2020, Brown pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In April 2019, Brown was charged with co-defendant Paul M. Iwuanyanwu, 39, of Medfield.

Brown and, allegedly, Iwuanyanwu worked with others who breached the email systems of companies and installed unauthorized computer programs that diverted company emails to accounts controlled by the conspirators. As a result, emails sent by or to the companies were first routed through the email accounts where conspirators could view the messages. Conspirators also had the ability to send and respond to emails as if they were representatives of the companies.

It is alleged that conspirators used this unauthorized access to companies’ email accounts to cause the companies to redirect payments intended for legitimate business operations to bank accounts controlled by Brown and Iwuanyanwu.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Michael S. Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Homeland Security Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Miron Bloom, of Lelling’s Securities & Financial Fraud Unit and Carol Head, of Lelling’s Asset Recovery Unit, are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Statesville Man Is Sentenced To Prison For Cyberstalking

The Defendant Sent Hundreds of Harassing and Threatening Texts to a Woman in Maryland

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell sentenced Charles Timothy Browne, 57, of Statesville, N.C., to 43 months in prison and three years of supervised release, for cyberstalking a woman residing in Maryland, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

John A Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to information in filed court documents and the sentencing hearing, in December 2017, and January 2018, Browne sent a Maryland woman approximately 731 harassing and intimidating texts including, “I like my new gun,” “Now your gonna feel some pain,” and “Lock your door.” Court records show that Browne also texted a mutual friend that he was going to shoot the woman in the face.  Browne’s repeated texting caused the Maryland woman substantial emotional distress and to fear that he would kill or seriously injure her.

On February 3, 3030, Browne pleaded guilty to cyberstalking. At yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Bell enhanced Browne’s sentence because, at the time he sent the harassing and intimidating texts to the Maryland woman, a judge-issued protective order was in effect that prohibited him from abusing, threatening to abuse, harassing and/or contacting her.  Between 2004 and 2017, Browne had been subject to six protective orders.

In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray commended the FBI for their investigation of this case.

Assistant United States Attorney Kimlani M. Ford, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mandeville Resident and Former Department of Energy Contractor Sentenced to 3 Years Probation for Accessing Government Computer System without Authorization and Recklessly Causing Over $23,000 Worth of Damage

NEW ORLEANS –  U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that GARY PETER SIMON, JR., age 56, a resident of Mandeville, Louisiana, was sentenced on May 19, 2020 to (3) three years probation by United States District Judge Greg G. Guidry after previously pleading guilty to intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage resulting in loss of more than $5,000 during one year, in violation of 18 U.S.C. '' 1030(a)(5)(B) and 1030(c)(4)(A).  SIMON was also ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid community service, pay a $100 special assessment fee, and restitution to the victim in the amount of $23,200.

According to court documents, The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Office (SPRO) was a component of the Department of Energy that was responsible for, among other things, overseeing and maintaining the readiness of the United States’ stockpile of emergency crude oil, which was stored along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.  DOE SPRO operated a restricted cloud-based computer system to handle a variety of functions, including documenting daily activity.  SIMON, who was employed as a contractor for DOE SPRO from September 2007 until August 2018, worked in the Emergency Management Directorate and was responsible for, among other things, IT management of SPRO network applications.  He was one of two individuals who knew the username and password of the Administrative Account.

After SIMON resigned from his contracting agency, in about August 2018, he was no longer authorized to access the DOE SPRO computer systems.  Nevertheless, on about October 21, 2018, SIMON intentionally accessed the DOE SPRO cloud-based system remotely without authorization.  After SIMON accessed the system, he altered and deleted various files.  As a result of the intrusion and subsequent manipulation of protected data, operators were unable to access their log views on the computer system, and they could not annotate work they completed electronically.  The computer system remained compromised for approximately 2-3 hours after the discovery of the unauthorized access. Thereafter, SIMON used the account of a current SPRO employee without that employee’s authorization, to make changes to log views and to attempt to delete audit log files.   SIMON’S actions resulted in loss to the DOE, in the form of costs associated with responding to the offense, conducting a damage assessment, and restoring data, program, system, and information to its pre-offense condition, in the amount of approximately $23,200.

U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter.  Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg, supervisor of the Public Corruption Unit, is in charge of the prosecution.