Home Indianapolis Press Releases 2013 Week in Review—Hammond

Week in Review—Hammond

U.S. Attorney’s Office August 09, 2013
  • Northern District of Indiana (219) 937-5500

HAMMOND, IN—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:

Pleas:

  • Anthony Cerrillos, 45, and Brian Cerrillos, 50, of Chicago, Illinois, pled guilty before Senior District Judge James Moody to the felony offense of conspiracy to transport in interstate commerce stolen goods that had a value in excess of $5,000. These charges were filed as a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Hammond Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diane Berkowitz.
  • Jeffery Williams, 30, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of distribution of heroin. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Lake Station Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas McGrath.
  • Yohinnest Herrod, 23, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of making false statements in the acquisition of a firearm. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives HIDTA Task Force. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.
  • George James Black, 53, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to the felony offense of possession of a stolen firearm. Sentencing has been set for November 14, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives HIDTA Task Force and the Indiana State Police. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

If convicted in court, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Dispositions:

  • Keon Thomas, 38, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to life imprisonment and $11,275.97 in restitution after being found guilty at trial of the felony offenses of conspiracy to commit robbery and murder, robbery, murder by means of a firearm during a robbery, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (robbery). Thomas, along with defendant Styles Taylor and two others, was charged with the robbery and murder of Hammond businessman Frank Freund in April 2000. Freund had owned and operated the Firearms Unlimited Gun Shop in Hammond for several years. Freund, who was 73 years old at the time, was shot twice at close range with a pistol while alone in his shop. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Hammond Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Philip Benson and David Nozick.
  • Sisto Bernal, 47, of Chicago, Illinois, and Santiago Gudino, 29, of Hammond, Indiana, defendants in the case U.S. v Vargas et al., were sentenced Thursday by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano after both pled guilty to conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Bernal was sentenced to 288 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release. Gudino was sentenced to 262 months’ imprisonment and five years of supervised release. According to the indictment, Bernal and Gudino are members of the Latin Kings, which is a nationwide gang that originated in Chicago and has branched out throughout the United States, including to Texas. The indictments also alleged that the Latin Kings gang was responsible for at least 20 murders in the Chicago/Northwest Indiana area and Big Spring, Texas. These charges were filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; the U.S. Immigration and Custom Office of Homeland Security Investigations; the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement and Coordination Center; the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the East Chicago Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; the Highland Police Department; and the Houston Police Department. The investigation of the Chicago Police Department officers was conducted by Chicago City Public Corruption Task Force, a Chicago Police Department-Internal Affairs, and FBI Chicago law enforcement initiative. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Nozick, and Joseph A. Cooley, Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice-Organized Crime and Gang Section.
  • Jose Gonzalez, 31, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced by District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to 18 months’ imprisonment and 4 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. According to documents filed in this case, law enforcement was conducting surveillance in Merrillville, Indiana on a subject connected to a drug trafficking operation when they observed him meet with Gonzalez. The subject handed a white bag to Gonzalez, who then drove away. Officers followed Gonzalez until they could conduct a traffic stop. Officers found the bag which contained approximately 2.3 kilograms of cocaine. This case was the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Kolar.
  • Phyllis Lark, 46, of Hammond, Indiana, doing business as Absolute Care, was sentenced by District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to 37 months’ imprisonment, $1,863,585.92 in restitution to the Indiana Medicaid program and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of submitting fraudulent claims to Indiana Medicaid. According to documents filed in this case, Absolute Care was a targeted case management service dedicated to severely disabled Medicaid recipients. An investigation revealed that Lark and others billed Medicaid for services to over 60 of its recipients when in fact the recipients had never heard of Lark or her company and had not received any of the billed services. This case was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Indiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diane Berkowitz.
  • Joniette Davis, 29, of Indianapolis, Indiana, Amber Fields, 24, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Lauren Price, 23, of Chesterton, Indiana, defendants in the case U.S. v Harris et al., were sentenced by Chief Judge Philip Simon. Davis was sentenced to one day of imprisonment (time served) and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of conspiracy and attempt to commit fraud with identification documents. Fields and Price were sentenced to one day of imprisonment (time served) and three years of supervised release after both pled guilty to conspiracy and attempt to commit fraud with identification documents and fraud with identification documents. According to documents filed in this case, the defendants obtained the account and personal information of individuals in over 21 states and fraudulently added their names to the victims’ accounts in an account takeover scheme. The defendants either utilized their own names or utilized aliases with the accounts which had been taken over. They purchased gift cards and Postal money orders and made numerous retail purchases with the fraudulently obtained credit cards throughout Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Georgia. They also made cash withdrawals on the accounts and utilized the convenience checks associated with the accounts at various financial institutions located in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Throughout the criminal conduct, the defendants would also mail gift cards, Postal money orders, and U.S. currency from Indiana and Wisconsin to Georgia. This case was the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Service-Office of the Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Toi Houston.
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