Posts tagged ‘federal court’

Child porn nets man 40 years

Judge expresses outrage for crimes and actions afterward
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

Usually stoic U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi exuded rage Thursday morning as she sentenced 34-year-old Christopher J. Comeaux of Leesville on charges of production and possession of child pornography.

Minaldi gave him the maximum penalty on both charges — 30 years for production and 10 years for possession — to be served consecutively.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker said Comeaux will be tried on charges of aggravated rape in state court, and Minaldi ordered any subsequent sentence to follow the federal terms.

“I am doing the only thing I can, which is try to keep you from ever being on the streets again,” Minaldi said.

Before imposing the sentence, Minaldi — sometimes nearly screaming — scolded Comeaux for his crimes and actions afterward.

According to an affidavit, in July 2005, Leesville detectives were called to Byrd Regional Hospital about a 10-year-old who had been molested by her stepfather.

The girl told her mother that Comeaux had been molesting her since she was 8-years-old. A medical examination reportedly revealed signs of sexual abuse.

The girl said Comeaux had taken photos of the sex acts committed against her and that when the mother went out of town for a week, he filmed himself assaulting her.

Leesville detective Beth Westlake executed a search warrant and reportedly found several CDs that contained photos and video of “hard core” child pornography, meaning the children were all prepubescent or very young.

At the time, Comeaux was working offshore and told Westlake that he would turn himself in. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, he then fled to Spokane, Wash., and later Canada, where he lived under false identities.

In August, he resurfaced in the Houma area and was arrested. He reportedly was living with another woman with young children.

After a two-day trial in December, jurors took about 30 minutes to find Comeaux guilty.

Minaldi labeled Comeaux narcissistic and selfish for claiming during the trial that his actions were “because he was high on Xanax.”

“You said you were sorry for ‘what was done’ to her and ‘what she was going through,’ but have never personally taken responsibility for what you did,” Minaldi said.

“I believe your letters to her and every other action were only to manipulate her and other people.”

During the trial, the victim said that after assaulting her while her mother was gone, Comeaux made her put her hand on a Bible and swear never to tell what he did or she would “burn in hell.”

“I also find it disgusting that you were so eager to talk about your military service,” Minaldi said. “In your attempt at sympathy, you only served to disgrace the uniform that so many honorable men and women wear.”

Minaldi said she viewed some of the images found on Comeaux’s computer and said one was now “etched” in her mind.

“I don’t know how one can find satisfaction looking at the picture of a 6-year-old girl covering her eyes, while an adult male rapes her,” Minaldi said, her voice near a scream.

“And I can’t help but wonder why you attached yourself to another woman with children. That is clearly the act of a predator.”

link: http://bit.ly/9WCbpp

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March 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

FEDERAL COURT: LC woman admits to fraud of $646,685

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

A Lake Charles woman pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to three counts of health care fraud that involved the theft of more than $600,000.

From June 2005 to September 2007, Nikkie A. LeFleur, 45, stole the money by billing various insurance companies for treatments that never took place, according to court records.

LeFleur worked as an account manager for Medical Provider Services in Lake Charles.

According to prosecutors, she took reimbursement checks and forged the endorsement and deposited the checks in her personal account. She reportedly took $646,685.

She allegedly used the money to buy two Yamaha personal watercraft, a 31-foot Fleetwood Prowler trailer, and a 22-foot Cape Horn offshore series motorboat with a Mercury outboard motor.

On Tuesday in federal court, a Vinton man pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

According to court records, Steven Vincent, 19, had a computer that contained child pornography. Further investigation reportedly showed some of the pornography had been downloaded from the Internet and some had been produced by Vincent when he was a minor.

Judge Patricia Minaldi ordered Vincent to undergo a psychological evaluation in order to have a treatment plan factored into his sentence.

LeFleur and Vincent will be sentenced May 27.

link: http://bit.ly/cvka9U

March 4, 2010 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

Appeal judge’s mother admits to stealing more than $100,000

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

ALEXANDRIA — The mother of a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal judge has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing more than $100,000 from the federal government by falsifying her father’s veterans pension forms.

According to court documents, Fontaine C. Gremillion, mother of current Judge Shannon J. Gremillion and wife of former state appellate Judge Glenn Gremillion, failed to list on the forms about $41,000 in income from a rental property.

Gremillion, who has power of attorney for her father, James F. Cook, reportedly collected $110,848 from $1,675 monthly benefit payments from about July 2001 to July 2005.

Had she disclosed the property income, the benefit would have amounted to only $319 per month, according to court records.

Sentencing guidelines would require Gremillion to repay the full amount, but federal judges can exercise discretion in such matters.

link: http://bit.ly/a6DRfA

January 6, 2010 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Two men convicted on drug-trafficking charges

*published Nov. 14, 2009

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
After 8 1/2 hours of deliberation over two days, a federal jury found two men guilty of four drug-trafficking charges on Friday.

Roberto Zamora was found guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine and other drugs for later distribution and of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

Fletcher Freeman Jr. was found guilty of conspiracy to possess cocaine and other drugs and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

The jury of five men and seven women deliberated 3:30-10:15 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Friday before returning unanimous verdicts.

The case stems from traffic stops that resulted in drug seizures in Calcasieu and Jeff Davis parishes in 2002 and 2003. The seizures led Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to investigate a drug ring run by Francisco Chapa-Duran, who is reportedly based in Reynosa, Mexico.

Agents reportedly discovered drug-trafficking hubs in Columbus, Ga., Houston, and numerous locations in Florida and North Carolina.

The indictment began with 19 defendants. Officials said 13 pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate; four remain fugitives in Mexico; and Zamora and Freeman were convicted.

Those who pleaded guilty were among the 39 witnesses called by prosecutors. Others included federal and local law enforcement officers and evidence technicians.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Grayson said at least one fugitive is believed to be dead, but that officials are unsure.

Zamora and Freeman will be sentenced on Feb. 11. They face 10 to 20 years on the conspiracy charge and up to five for the possession charges.

link: http://bit.ly/3xfS9

November 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

Leesville man gets 17 years in child-porn case

*published Sept. 10, 2009

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

A Leesville man was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Wednesday to 17 1/2 years in prison for distribution of child pornography.

George Luis Roman III was snagged in a March 2007 operation in which FBI agents posed in chat rooms as pedophiles looking for sexually explicit images and videos, according to the affidavit.

Roman contacted an agent via instant messenger in an AOL chat room. During the chat, he talked about child pornography and sent a photo and video of girls believed to be between 5 and 7 years old having sex with a man.

In August 2007, Alexandria FBI agents found “more than 400 images of prepubescent and teenage children,” and four child pornography video files in a search of Roman’s Leesville home, according to the affidavit. Most of the children were engaged in sexual acts, the document says.

A search of Roman’s e-mail records reportedly turned up more than 4,000 pornographic images and more than 20 child pornographic video files stored in his e-mail account.

At the sentencing, Roman apologized and said he was sorry he hurt his family. His attorney, Joseph Beck, asked for leniency, saying his client had no previous criminal record and that Roman felt his bout with alcoholism contributed to his poor judgment.

His wife, mother and uncle — who is a police officer in another state — testified that Roman knew he made a mistake and that he was sorry for what he had done.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker read part of a letter from one of the victims in the photos.

The girl, now 19, is the subject of the “Vicky series,” a widely disseminated set of pornographic photos that stemmed from a case investigated by Richland, Wash., police in 2000. The photos show a man sexually abusing his daughter when she was 10 and 11.

In the letter, the victim describes the paranoia she feels each day as she worries that someone she passes may recognize her.

“They are trading my trauma, and it feels like I am being raped by each and every one of them,” the letter says.

There were other letters submitted asking the court not to show Roman leniency.

Walker said he took offense at the uncle’s statement that the crime “was a dumb thing to do.”

“This was a continued deviant act, and they are talking about this like it was a robbery,” Walker said.

Judge Patricia Minaldi said that in “almost all” of her child sex offender cases, the men had no previous criminal record.

“Some people treat this as a victimless crime because most of the time you can’t identify the victims,” Minaldi said. “That is not so in this case.”

link: http://bit.ly/2P4HBG

September 10, 2009 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Sentences handed down for immigration violations

*published: July 3, 2009
The following people were sentenced in federal court by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi:

Francisco Rico-Soto, 51, was sentenced to 20 months in federal prison and voluntary deportation for harboring aliens.

According to an affidavit, Rico-Soto, a naturalized citizen, used his employer’s passenger van to ferry people from Houston to nearby states.

On Nov. 7, 2007, a Lake Charles Border Patrol agent stopped the van and determined that the two passengers were illegal immigrants, records show.

The agent reportedly found a log book in the van with names, destinations and prices — ranging from $240 to $250 — for each person listed.

Raul Mendoza-Mendoza was sentenced to 10 years in prison for re-entering the U.S. after deportation.

According to the affidavit, Mendoza-Mendoza was arrested in Richmond, Va., in May 2001 on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. After serving a twoyear sentence, he was deported in August 2003.

He reportedly admitted illegally re-entering through Texas in January 2004.

Minaldi told Mendoza-Mendoza that she imposed the 10-year sentence — double the suggested term — because she had “no doubt you will try to re-enter the country.”

article link: http://bit.ly/9fmSh

July 3, 2009 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

Woman guilty of Rita-related fraud charges

*published June 25, 2009

Anita Belaire pleaded guilty to theft of public money for filing a false application with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A federal indictment says that after Hurricane Rita, Belaire falsely submitted an application to The Road Home disaster relief program and received $55,500.

The application requires people to list their primary residence and detail the extent of its damages.

Belaire listed a home that she owned but that had been condemned since before the 2005 storm.

She could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.

article link: http://bit.ly/90ZSW

June 25, 2009 at 3:42 am Leave a comment