Summary of recent cases brought by the US Attorney in Northern District of Illinois: August 5, 2022
Former Vice Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago sentenced to five years for fraud, a carjacker gets federal charges, a telemarketing fraudster sentenced for scamming elderly victims, gun traffickers, and a DeKalb man gets nine years for child pornography.
Sharing Child Pornography Online Results in 9-Year Federal Prison Sentence
July 27, 2022
A DeKalb, Illinois, man was been sentenced to nine years in federal prison for possessing and sharing child pornography online.
JACOB MATHLEY, 45, possessed more than 10,000 videos and photos of child pornography on his laptop in 2020. The images included depictions of children engaged in sadistic and masochistic conduct. Using the online username "Slamdime," Mathley posted some of the images to various websites, including sites on the "dark net" or "dark web," for the purposes of trading child pornography with others.
Mathley pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal child pornography charges. U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso sentenced Mathley on July 22, 2022, after a hearing in federal court in Chicago.
"Jacob Mathley was a prolific trader of child pornography on the dark net," Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles W. Mulaney argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. "Defendant is a danger on the internet and a danger in his community."
Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Committing Arson during Civil Unrest in Rockford in 2020
July 27, 2022
A man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for setting fire to a store in Rockford during a period of civil unrest in 2020.
SEAN CARDENAS, 22, of Rockford, pleaded guilty earlier this year to an arson charge. Cardenas admitted that on May 30, 2020, he used a hammer to break the glass front doors of Burlington Coat Factory, 6260 E. State St. Wearing a hood and mask to conceal his identity, Cardenas entered the store and used a Molotov cocktail to ignite a fire inside it.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Iain D. Johnston on Tuesday ordered Cardenas to pay restitution of $965,591.
Suburban Chicago Man Charged in Federal Court with Trafficking More than 35 Firearms
July 27, 2022
A suburban Chicago man has been arrested on federal firearm charges for allegedly trafficking more than 35 guns, including "ghost guns," machine guns, and rifles.
ARSHAD ZAYED, 38, of Orland Hills, Illinois, is charged with willfully dealing firearms without a license and illegally possessing and transferring a machine gun. Zayed was arrested and made an initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in Chicago.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Zayed sold approximately 36 firearms on seven occasions this year and last year. Many of the transactions occurred in a car wash that Zayed managed in Matteson, Ill., the complaint states. Several of the firearms were considered “ghost guns” because they contained no identifiable serial number and were manufactured from parts collected from various sources. Some of the firearms, including some of the ghost guns, were machine guns capable of automatically firing more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger, the charges allege. Unbeknownst to Zayed, the high-ranking Chicago gang member to whom he sold the guns was cooperating with law enforcement, the complaint states.
The unlawful possession and transfer charge is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison, while the unlawful dealing charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Federal Indictment Charges Man with Illegally Possessing Machine Guns in Chicago
July 28, 2022
A man has been indicted on federal firearm charges for allegedly illegally possessing machine guns in Chicago this year.
JUAN INFANTE, 28, of Chicago, is charged with illegal possession of machine guns and illegal possession of firearms as a convicted felon. Infante had previously been convicted of a felony theft offense and was prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms.
The indictment accuses Infante of illegally possessing four handguns, two of which were equipped with conversion devices known as "Glock switches." The devices transformed the firearms into machine guns capable of automatically firing more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger. Infante earlier this year sold two of the guns to an individual who was surreptitiously cooperating with law enforcement, according to a federal criminal complaint previously filed in the case.
Infante is currently detained in federal custody without bond after the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion for pretrial detention on the basis that Infante posed a danger to the community.
Each count in the indictment is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison.
Suburban Chicago Man Sentenced to Three Years in Federal Prison for Laundering Proceeds from Telemarketing Scheme That Defrauded Elderly Victims
July 29, 2022
A suburban Chicago man was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for laundering cash proceeds from a telemarketing scheme that defrauded elderly victims.
HIRENKUMAR P. CHAUDHARI used a phony Indian passport, false name, and false address to open multiple bank accounts in the United States to receive money from victims of the telemarketing scheme. The scheme involved phone calls from people falsely claiming to be associated with, among other agencies, the Social Security Administration and U.S. Department of Justice, stating that a victim’s identity had been stolen and that it was necessary to transfer money to various bank accounts, including the accounts opened by Chaudhari.
One of the victims was a retired nurse from Massachusetts who transferred a total of more than $900,000 from her bank and retirement accounts to accounts controlled by Chaudhari or others. On April 19, 2018 – one day after Chaudhari opened an account and received a $7,000 transfer from the Massachusetts victim – Chaudhari entered a bank branch in Chicago and withdrew $6,500. Chaudhari engaged in this financial transaction knowing that the money represented proceeds of unlawful activity.
Chaudhari, 29, of Des Plaines, Ill., pleaded guilty last year to a federal money laundering charge. In addition to the three-year prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis ordered Chaudhari to pay $6,500 in restitution to the Massachusetts victim.
"The defendant played a pivotal role in a telemarketing scheme by laundering money received directly from elderly victims," said U.S. Attorney Lausch. "We will continue to investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable anyone who attempts to scam elderly victims out of a peaceful retirement."
"Crimes against the elderly target some of the most vulnerable people in society," said Inspector in Charge William Hedrick for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. "The Inspection Service has been at the forefront of protecting customers from fraud schemes for many years and will continue to investigate and stop those who exploit older Americans for their own illegal gains."
"This sentence demonstrates our commitment to hold those accountable who participate in unlawful schemes in an effort to use the good name of the Social Security Administration to prey on elderly Americans," said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. "This individual deliberately created bank accounts using various false identities to manage funds obtained by illegal means. We will continue to work with our investigative partners to combat Social Security-related phone scams and pursue those who swindle our citizens out of their life savings."
If you believe you or someone you know is a victim of elder fraud, complaints may be filed with the Federal Trade Commission online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov, or by calling 877-FTC-HELP. More information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to help seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage.
Carjacking at Suburban Chicago Gas Station Leads to Federal Charge
August 2, 2022
A man has been charged in federal court with carjacking a vehicle at gunpoint last week while two children were in the car.
The alleged carjacking occurred on the afternoon of July 27, 2022, at Thorntons gas station, 14840 S. Western Ave. in Posen, Illinois. The victim was entering the driver’s seat of her Kia Optima when KEWAN A. TILLMAN approached, pointed a loaded handgun at her, and demanded the key, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The victim got the two children out the vehicle before Tillman stole the car and drove off, the complaint states. Tillman quickly lost control of the vehicle, got out, and ran back toward the gas station, the complaint states. Tillman unsuccessfully attempted to force entry into a parked semi-trailer before placing the handgun in a sewer and then trying to force his way into another vehicle, the complaint states. The driver of that vehicle pushed Tillman to the ground, and Posen Police officers arrested him, the complaint states.
The officers then discovered the handgun in the sewer, the complaint states. A "sear switch" was allegedly affixed to the gun, which could make it capable of firing more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger.
Tillman, 19, of Calumet City, Illinois, is charged with one count of carjacking. He is currently in law enforcement custody. An initial appearance in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The federal investigation into the carjacking remains ongoing. The carjacking charge is punishable by up to 15 years in federal prison.
Former Vice Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago Sentenced to More than Five Years in Federal Prison for Procurement Fraud
August 4, 2022
A former vice chancellor for City Colleges of Chicago has been sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison for devising and engaging in a procurement fraud scheme.
SHAROD GORDON was employed by City Colleges of Chicago in a variety of leadership roles, most recently as the Vice Chancellor of Legislative and Community Affairs. From 2013 to 2017, Gordon obtained kickbacks from vendor-companies in exchange for steering them City Colleges contracts for community canvassing and flyer distribution services. Some of the companies were formed by Gordon’s City Colleges colleagues and other friends for the sole purpose of applying for the contracts. In some instances, the work was never performed – even though the companies submitted invoices that caused City Colleges to pay out nearly $350,000. Upon receipt of the payments, Gordon directed representatives of the companies to give him a portion of the money.
Gordon, 47, of Oak Park, Illinois, pleaded guilty last year to a federal wire fraud charge. U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr., on Wednesday imposed a 66-month prison sentence.
"Sharod Gordon abused the public trust for personal profit," Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan DeMarco argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. "Defendant used his government position to deprive underserved college students of honest services in order to line his own pocket."
Seven other defendants were charged with participating in the fraud scheme.
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