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Tuesday Morning Notes

Funeral Services Held for Reston Couple Killed Before Christmas — Close to 800 people attended funeral services over the weekend for the Reston couple killed a few days before Christmas. A 17-year-old with suspected neo-Nazi sympathies has been charged in their murder. [WTOP]

Greater Reston Arts Center Selected for ’50 for 50 Arts Inspiration’Award — The Virginia Commission for the Arts, a state arts agency, selected GRACE to receive the award in the category of bedrock institutions. The “50 for 50 Arts Inspiration Awards” were conceived and designed by the commission as a 50th anniversary tribute to 50 examples of programs, individuals, and organizations critical to the arts in Virginia. [Viva Reston Lifestyle Magazine]

How to Dispose of Fire Place Ashes — After responding to several home fires involving ashes, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is reminding residents to properly dispose of fire place ashes.  [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

FBI Raids Home in Sterling — FBI agents arrested Sean Andrew Duncan on Friday and charged him with attempting to obstruct a terrorism investigation. According to court documents, law enforcement allege Duncan has links to terrorism and sympathized with ISIS.  [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Vantagehill

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Reston Woman Convicted of Funneling Money to Terrorist Group

Scales of Justice A Reston woman and an accomplice from Washington state were convicted Tuesday of terrorism crimes related to their material support of al-Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization.

Muna Osman Jama, 36, of Reston and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, of Kent, Washington, were found guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization after a bench trial in front of U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in Alexandria.

“Providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations is a very serious crime,” Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “These women funneled money to a terrorist organization which was conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia. National security is the top priority in this office and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who provide material support to terrorists.”

According to court records, the defendants would refer to the money they sent overseas as “living expenses,” and they repeatedly used code words such as “orphans” and “brothers in the mountains” to refer to al-Shabaab fighters, and “camels” to refer to trucks needed by al-Shabaab. The money transfers often were broken down into small amounts as low as $50 or $100, and the funds were intended for use by al-Shabaab insurgents operating in Somalia.

FBI officials also said the two “recruited, solicited, and advised an online group located in multiple countries as to how and where to transfer funds to this terrorist organization.”

“Today’s guilty verdicts send a message that facilitation of financial support to a designated terrorist organization equates to terrorist activity itself,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Jama and Dhirane sent money to financiers of al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya. The defendants also organized what was called a “Group of Fifteen,” which included women from Somalia, Kenya, Egypt, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as Minneapolis.

The “Group of Fifteen” met regularly in a private chatroom that Jama established to organize and track monthly payment of money to the “Hargeisa side,” which was used to finance al-Shabaab military operations in the Golis Mountains in northern Somalia, and the “Nairobi side,” which was used to fund two al-Shabaab safehouses, court documents stated.

One of the safehouses was used by al-Shabaab to store weapons and to prepare for attacks.  The other was used to treat al-Shabaab fighters who had been wounded in battle.

A substantial part of the government’s case consisted of recorded telephone calls and other communications among the “Group of Fifteen.”  These recordings demonstrated that the women had close connections with al-Shabaab leadership and were privy to non-public, inside information concerning al-Shabaab activities.

Jama and Dhirane were recorded as they laughed as the carnage at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was still taking place. Dhirane and co-conspirator were also recorded as they laughed at the Boston Marathon Bombing before it became known who committed the attack.

Jama and Dhirane each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison when sentenced on Jan. 19, 2017.

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Metro Transit Police Officer Charged With Aiding ISIS

Credit: FBI Federal authorities have arrested a Fairfax man who works as a Metro police officer on charges of attempting to aid ISIS.

Nicholas Young, 36, was arrested Tuesday on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. His most recent alleged transgression was purchasing $245 in phone gift cards to help ISIS recruiters, FBI investigators said.

Young will have an initial appearance this afternoon in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan at U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Metro Transit Police initiated the investigation and continues to work collaboratively with the FBI Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force on the case, authorities said in a news release.

Young has been terminated from Metro, a Metro spokesman said.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Young has been employed as a police officer with the Metro Transit Police Department since 2003.  Law enforcement first interviewed Young in September 2010 in connection with his acquaintance, Zachary Chesser, who one month later pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists.

Over the next several years Young had numerous interactions with undercover law enforcement officers and a cooperating witness regarding Young’s knowledge or interest of terrorist related activity, many of which were recorded. Law enforcement also interviewed Young’s family and co-workers.

Several meetings Young had with an undercover law enforcement officer in 2011 included another of Young’s acquaintances, Amine El Khalifi, who later pleaded guilty to charges relating to attempting a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol Building in 2012, authorities said.

According to the affidavit, Young told FBI agents that he traveled to Libya twice in 2011 and he had been with rebels attempting to overthrow the Muammar Qaddafi regime. Baggage searches revealed that Young traveled with body armor, a kevlar helmet, and several other military-style items.

The affidavit also said that in 2014, Young met on about 20 separate occasions with an FBI confidential human source (CHS) posing as a U.S. military reservist of Middle Eastern descent who was becoming more religious and eager to leave the U.S. military as a result of having had to fight against Muslims during his deployment to Iraq. During these conversations, Young advised the source on how to evade law enforcement detection by utilizing specific travel methods and advised him to watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others.

Two weeks ago, Young communicated with whom he believed to be the CHS regarding purchasing of gift cards for mobile messaging accounts ISIS uses in recruiting. On July 28, Young sent 22 16-digit gift card codes to the FBI undercover with a message that stated: “Respond to verify receipt . . . may not answer depending on when as this device will be destroyed after all are sent to prevent the data being possibly seen on this end in the case of something unfortunate.” The codes were ultimately redeemed by the FBI for $245.

Young faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.

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Northern Virginia Pimp ‘2 Much’ Sentenced to 40 Years

Lenny Haskins/Credit: Las Vegas PDA Las Vegas man who pleaded guilty to prostituting teenage girls in Reston, Herndon and other parts of Northern Virginia, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, federal authorities said.

Authorities said Lenny Paul “2 Much” Haskins, 34, had been operating in Northern Virginia for nearly a decade. He pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in U.S. District Court in Alexandria in January.

The charge Haskins pleaded to took place in Herndon last summer. Authorities said in June 2014, Haskins encountered two teens at a hotel near Sacramento, Calif. The girls, ages 15 and 17, were runaways from foster care. Haskins provided marijuana and eventually recruited them to prostitute for him. Once he recruited them, Haskins performed sex acts with the victims, officials said.

In August 2014, Haskins instructed the victims to take a bus to Herndon for the purposes of being prostituted there. Haskins arranged for advertisements to be posted on the Internet site www.Backpage.com to obtain sex customers for the juveniles.

The juveniles sent prostitution proceeds to Haskins using various money transfer businesses. The Las Vegas Police Department arrested Haskins in August 2014 but he continued to call the victims and give them directions from jail, authorities said.

Authorities said Haskins frequently provided drugs to the women and girls whom he prostituted. He instructed the women and girls whom he prostituted to call him “Daddy.” Some of the women prostituted by Haskins were tattooed with Haskins’s moniker “2 Much,” according to the FBI.

The FBI said Haskins set a monetary quota that the victims whom he prostituted were required to meet each day. For example, in some places, Haskins required these women and girls to earn $1,000 per day from prostitution, and provide him with these proceeds. After Haskins was incarcerated, he continued to run his prostitution business from jail.

Haskins had faced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. After his 40-year sentence, he will have a life term of supervised release. The court also ordered Haskins to pay $538,250 in restitution to the victims and to forfeit $738,250 to the United States.

Haskins was also arrested in Nevada in 2012 in connection with the drowning of a child. At the time he had fugitive warrants from California for assault and parole violation, Virginia for assault and prostitution charges, and Texas for larceny charges.

Earlier this week, Haskins’ girlfriend, who was located with her 3-year-old son, was arrested at the Crowne Plaza Herndon. Geidre Ruseckaite, 24, was charged by Fairfax County Police with child neglect, prostitution and keeping a bawdy place. Federal authorities also had been looking for Ruseckaite in connection with the prostitution of the 15-year-old in Herndon.

Photo: Lenny Haskins/Credit: Las Vegas PD

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Man Pleads Guilty to Area Sex Trafficking Charges

Credit: FBI A Nevada man who authorities say has been prostituting teenagers in Reston and Herndon for nearly a decade, pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria Thursday to sex trafficking.

Authorities said Lenny Paul Haskins, aka “2 Much,” 34, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Richmond, Calif., pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child.

A statement of facts filed with the plea agreement said ” since at least 2005, Haskins has been a pimp and has derived his income primarily from prostituting women and girls.”

The plea agreement file said Haskins has prostituted women and girls in numerous cities and states, including New York, Nevada, Maryland, Louisiana, Tennessee, Colorado, Utah, California, and various places in Virginia (including Herndon, Reston, Vienna, Sterling, Falls Church, Tysons Corner, Dulles, Fairfax County, Arlington, and Alexandria).

The charge Haskins pleaded to took place in Herndon last summer. Authorities said in June 2014,  Haskins encountered two teens at a hotel near Sacramento, Calif..One was 15 years old and the other was 17 years old.  Both were runaways from foster care.  Haskins provided marijuana and eventually recruited them to prostitute for him.  Once he recruited them, Haskins performed sex acts with the victims, officials said.

In August 2014, Haskins instructed the victims to take a bus to Herndon, for the purposes of being prostituted there. Haskins arranged for advertisements to be posted on the Internet site www.Backpage.com, to obtain sex customers for the juveniles.

The juveniles sent prostitution proceeds to Haskins using various money transfer businesses.  The Las Vegas Police Department arrested Haskins in August 2014 but he continued to call the victims and give them directions from jail, authorities said.

Haskins faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Fairfax County Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

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FBI Offers Reward for Info in Reston Bank Robbery

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released photos of the suspect in the robbery at PNC bank inside the North Point Village Center Giant store earlier this week.

A man robbed the branch about 5 p.m. Monday. He told the teller he had a weapon and fled with an undisclosed amount of money, Fairfax County Police said.

The suspect is a black male, about 5-foot-7 and 170 lbs., said the FBI. He was wearing a red Nike hooded sweatshirt.

The description of the suspect is very similar to the suspect in the robbery of the Sun Trust branch inside the Safeway at Hunters Woods Village Center on Dec. 15.

There were also two other Reston bank robberies in recent weeks, Nov. 26 at Presidential Bank near the Home Depot and Dec. 10 at the Wells Fargo at Reston Town Center.

FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the suspect.

Anyone with information can call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or Fairfax County Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS/8477.

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Reston Man Pleads Guilt on Felony Trade Charges

Credit: FBI A Reston man who federal officials said sold $250,000 worth of machinery parts from American manufacturers to Iranian companies pleaded guilty to felony charges in U.S. Federal Court in Alexandria on Thursday.

Vahid Hosseini, 62, ran a business called Sabern Industries from his home in Reston, FBI officials said.

Hosseini pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and a separate count of money laundering. Hosseini faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and fines totaling $250,000 when he is sentenced on June 6.

From the FBI:

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from at least as early as January 2008 to July 2013, Hosseini operated a business known as Sabern Instruments from his residence in Reston. Through this business, Hosseini procured more than $250,000 worth of goods from over 60 American manufacturers, which he then repackaged and shipped to entities in Iran.

The list of high-tech goods included tachometers, power supply instruments, high-temperature probes, ammonia test tubes, valves, and machinery parts, all of which are used in a variety of commercial applications, including power plants. Hosseini routed these shipments through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an attempt to disguise the fact that the items were destined for Iran. Such exports are prohibited without a license issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

In a related money laundering scheme, Hosseini had over $700,000 wired into his company business account from entities in Iran and the UAE, much of which was derived from his illegal export business. He then unlawfully withdrew money from his business account for personal expenditures.

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Reston Man Sentenced in Child Porn Case

Alex Ernesto Calderon Velasquez/FBI photo A Reston man was sentenced on Friday to 16 years in prison for child pornography and failure to appear in court.

Alex Ernesto Calderon Velasquez, 27, pleaded guilty on July 25. Court documents said Calderon Velasquez used his computer to communicate with a 14-year-old girl in Texas. He then extorted the victim to strip and engage in sexual activity over Skype chats, which Calderon Velasquez recorded and kept on his computer along with other child pornography, U.S. Justice Department authorities said in a press release.

In 2011, Calderon Velasquez persuaded and enticed another 14-year-old girl in Arizona to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purposes of producing video recordings, which the defendant then stored on his laptop computer, authorities said.

Calderon Velasquez was scheduled to plead guilty to production of child pornography on May 24.  On the morning of his guilty plea hearing, he fled. He was captured June 7 in Texas.

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