Entries in U.S. Marshals (7)


Feds Catch Navy Veterans Charity 'Scammer'

Multnomah County Sheriff's Dept./U.S. Marshals(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The man accused of setting up a fake Navy Veterans charity and siphoning away millions of dollars was captured by U.S. Marshals in Portland, Ore., after nearly two years on the run.

The alleged con artist, who went by the name Bobby Thompson, continued to refuse to reveal his identity after Marshals took him into custody Monday night, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office.

"We've been following him all over the country," Pete Elliott, the U.S. Marshal in northern Ohio who headed the three-man fugitive task force, told ABC News. "We finally caught up with him last night."

Investigators are still unsure of the true identity of "Thompson" and will be working on that as well as identifying his ongoing criminal activity. "Thompson" was transported to the Multnomah County Jail where he will await extradition to Northern Ohio.

Elliott called the case "one of our most challenging fugitive investigations to date."

As detailed in an ABC News investigation, the mustachioed man known as Thompson was charged in Ohio in 2010 on counts of identity theft, fraud, and money laundering in connection with a bogus charity called the U.S. Navy Veterans Association that raised more than $100 million from unsuspecting donors around the country.

To help enhance the charity's credibility, Thompson allegedly used some of the money to make large campaign contributions to prominent politicians, most of them Republicans, including President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain, and Ohio Rep. John Boehner, now Speaker of the House. He attended events with the political figures, and posed proudly for now infamous photos with them.

"We are relieved Bobby Thompson is now in federal custody after a nationwide manhunt and years of work within the Attorney General's Office to track him down," Ohio Attorney General DeWine said. "We still don't know the true identity of the man known as Bobby Thompson, who has used the identity of several other people throughout the years. But we commend the teamwork with our federal partners in this case. This case sends a strong message that we will not tolerate scam artists in Ohio."

Elliott told the St. Petersburg Times, which first began raising questions about the charity in 2009, that the man seemed shocked at finding agents on his doorstep, but said nothing.

"He just said he wasn't going to give us any information. And he hasn't," Elliott told the newspaper.

The fugitive had neither a beard nor mustache when he was arrested, the paper reported. Otherwise, Elliott said, he looked the same, but was in "poor" physical condition and walking with a cane. He was carrying a backpack with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Earlier in 2012, Elliott told ABC News he believed the marshals were on Thompson's heels, and closing in.

"We've developed some really good leads and we're on those leads," he said. "I feel very confident we'll be able to apprehend him."

In 2009, the first questions began surfacing about the veterans' charity, with the Florida paper finding that none of the members of its board could be located, and its addresses seemed only to lead to post office boxes. Most of the money the charity had purported to raise was unaccounted for, and as authorities began following up on the reports, Thompson vanished.

In the fall of 2011, Florida lawmaker Darryl Rouson told ABC News he had initially helped the man he thought was Bobby Thompson. "He seemed to be a knowledgeable man about politics and community affairs," Rouson said. "He was engaging, jovial. I had no reason to suspect he was anything other than who he said he was."

Thompson had last been seen in the lobby of a New York City hotel as Ohio authorities had begun investigating the veterans' charity. Ohio officials said Thompson had stolen the identity of a real man named Bobby Thompson from Washington state. He also had an identity card from the state of Indiana issued under the name of a man from New Mexico named Ronnie Brittain, they added. The real Ronnie Brittain is the head of a veterans group in New Mexico.

Marshals based in Ohio took over the manhunt last year, with Elliott heading up the effort.

Elliott told the Times, "We went to Arizona, West Virginia, Washington state, Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. He was on the move the whole time. We went from being 10 steps behind him to being five steps to being one step."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Houston Woman Charged in Fatal Day Care Fire Returns to U.S.

Fulton County Sheriff's Office(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman charged in a day care fire that killed four toddlers is back in the United States after being arrested in Nigeria.

Jessica Tata, 22, became one of the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted Fugitives when she fled from Houston following a fatal fire at her home-based day care center Feb. 24.

Tata was captured in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, by Interpol and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security agents, according to a statement from the U.S. Marshals.

Tata faces four counts of manslaughter, six counts of reckless injury to a child, three counts of abandoning a child under 15 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Toddlers Elizabeth Kajoh, Kendyll Stradford, Elias Castillo, and Shomari Dickerson died in the fire at the west Houston home called Jackie's Child Care.

Prosecutors allege that Tata left the children alone in the house while she went shopping, and while she was gone, the fire broke out on a stove-top burner that had been left on.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two US Marshals, Officer Shot in St. Louis

Thinkstock Images/Comstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Two U.S. Marshals and a St. Louis city officer were shot Tuesday morning while attempting to serve a warrant in the Dutchtown neighborhood of St. Louis.

The suspect with whom the officers exchanged fire was shot and killed at the scene.

Officers approached the residence just before 7 a.m., when they were confronted by the suspect, who, according to witnesses, told the marshals "I’m only going out in a body bag."

Shots were fired, with one U.S. Marshal struck in the head and critically injured. The second marshal was also hit, but his condition was not immediately known. All three men were rushed to area hospitals. The police officer who was hit was struck in his bulletproof vest and suffered a graze wound to the shoulder, as well as injuries from a fall.

Three children -- reportedly the suspect's niece and two nephews -- were safely taken out of the home before any shots were fired.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Day Care Owner on 'Most Wanted' List After Fire Kills Four Kids 

U.S. Marshals Service(WASHINGTON) -- A day care provider from Houston, wanted in connection with the deaths of four toddlers, has been placed on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted fugitive list.

Jessica Renee Tata, who owned and operated Jackie’s Child Care in Houston, is accused of leaving seven children alone at the day care on Feb. 24 when a fire broke out and left four of the children dead.

Authorities say Tata, 22, is wanted on four counts manslaughter, six counts of reckless injury to a child, three counts of abandoning a child under 15 and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Officials say on the day of the fire, crews arrived on at the scene of the burning day care around 1:30 p.m. and after battling the blaze, firefighters found the seven children inside. Only three of them made it out alive. Authorities say Tata left a boiling pot on a burning stove when she abandoned the children.

After mounting a search for Tata, investigators realized that she had fled the country and went to Nigeria. A reward of up to $25,000 is now being offered for information leading to the capture of Tata.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One US Marshal Killed, Two Wounded in West Virginia Raid

Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller. Photo Courtesy - U.S. Marshals Service(ELKINS, W. Va.) -- One U.S. marshal was killed and two others were wounded in a raid on a home in Elkins, W. Va., Wednesday morning.

The raid began at 8:30 a.m. when the three deputy marshals were attempting to arrest Charles E. Smith, who was wanted on cocaine charges.  As the marshals made their move, according to authorities, someone inside fired a shotgun blast.

The marshal who was fatally wounded was identified as Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, 24, of Bridgeport, W. Va., who had worked for the U.S. Marshals Service for slightly over a year.  The two wounded officers were not identified.  One remains hospitalized, while the other was treated and released.

The suspect, Smith, 50, was also killed in the incident.

Hotsinpiller's death comes less than a day after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was shot and killed in Mexico, along with another agent who was wounded.

This all comes after a particularly violent stretch in late January in which 10 police were shot in roughly a day's time: two in Port Orchard, Washington; another in Lincoln City, Oregon; four officers in Detroit who were wounded when a gunman stormed their precinct; and in St. Petersburg, Florida, two local officers were killed and a U.S. deputy marshal was seriously injured after serving a warrant.

While law enforcement fatalities are down this year compared with the same time last year, the number of officers killed by gunfire is up sharply.  According to the National Law Enforcement memorial, 13 officers have been killed by gunfire so far this year, a 44 percent jump compared to the same time last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Miami Cops Shot While Making Arrest

Photo Courtesy - WPLG/ABC News(MIAMI) -- Two Miami police officers were shot and killed in a shootout Thursday when they tried to serve an arrest warrant.

The gunman was also shot and killed.

The cops were part of a U.S. marshals task force when the gunfire broke out.

Other details on the operation were not immediately available from officials.

U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Jeff Carter said in a statement, "Initial reports are two local police officers assigned to a U.S. Marshals task force in Miami were shot while executing an arrest warrant this morning."

The Miami Herald reported two schools, the Thena Crowder Elementary School and Little River Elementary School, were locked down in the wake of the shooting. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Armed Fugitive in Custody after Standoff with Police at Phoenix Mall

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- An armed fugitive turned himself into police after a three-hour standoff Wednesday at a Phoenix-area mall that started with an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and U.S. Marshals.

A man believed to be Daniel Munoz Perez, 25, walked out of a Baja Fresh near Chandler Fashion Center with his shirt off and immediately was surrounded by SWAT members with their guns pointed at him. The man was handcuffed and taken into custody.

It's not known whether the suspect took hostages at the Mexican restaurant, but two employees reportedly walked out of the restaurant after he did. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Authorities put the Chandler Fashion Center on lockdown at around noon when undercover officers exchanged gunfire with a man believed to be Perez, a fugitive who has been on the lam since last month.

"U.S. Marshals task force members attempted to arrest Daniel Perez, who is wanted for aggravated assault for shooting at an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer last month," Jeff Carter from the United States Marshals Service said. "The store is being locked down and the mall evacuated."

Perez was arrested Dec. 10 for the shooting of the DPS officer, but mistakenly was released out of the Pinal County Jail on Dec. 16.

Armed police officers wearing helmets and bulletproof vests searched the mall and a nearby strip mall for Perez. Some of the officers were using dogs to search the mall.

U.S. Marshals confronted the suspect near the Sears store when gunfire was exchanged, sparking the standoff, ABC affiliate KNXV reported. The suspect then fled into the Sears store and eventually across Chandler Boulevard to the Baja Fresh.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio