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Tag: prison

Utah Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison After Shooting at FBI Agent, Sheriff’s Deputy And Fleeing Jail

Cecil Vijil. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

A Utah man who fired a gun at an FBI agent and sheriff’s deputy and later escaped from jail was sentenced to nine years in prison. 

Cecil Vijil, 39, of Aneth, fired several rounds at an FBI special agent and San Juan County Sheriff’s deputy when they went to his home as part of a separate investigation on April 30, 2020. No one was injured. 

Vijil was convicted of assault on a federal officer and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. 

He also was convicted of escaping from federal custody after scaling two fences at Cache County Jail and running into a field in March 2021. Police quickly captured him.

Disgraced FBI Agent John Connolly Remains Free of Jail After Living Longer Than Expected

By Steve Neavling

When disgraced former FBI agent John Connolly was released from prison in February 2021, he was expected to live about another year. 

On Thursday, the one-year anniversary of his release, Connolly was still alive and living in Massachusetts. 

Even though his one-year medical break from prison is over, he will remain free unless he “violated conditions of his medical release,” a spokesman for the Florida Commission on Offender Review told the Boston Herald.

Connolly, who has multiple melanomas and diabetes, was granted a medical release by a 2-1 vote of the commission.  

“There is nothing in his conditions that state surviving (more than a year) is a violation,” Angela Meredith from the Florida commission said. “I have no more updates on the case.”

Connolly had been serving a 40-year sentence for working with mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger. 

While working for the FBI’s Boston Field Office in the 1970s, Connolly recruited Bulger as an informant. Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder for participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Bulger, who was killed in a West Virginia prison in 2018. 

Washington Man Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Shooting at ATF Agents

By Steve Neavling

A Washington man who fired a shotgun at four ATF agents has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Patrick Elliott Pearson, 49, of Moses Lake, was convicted by a jury of assaulting the agents, engaging in a drug conspiracy, discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

Pearson was accused of running a meth and heroin ring in greater Grant County and Yakima areas from 2015 to 2019. 

When ATF agents, Grant County detectives and local police officers descended on Pearson’s compound on the morning of July 16, 2019 to serve search and arrest warrants, Pearson, from inside his trailer, repeatedly shot at agents from the ATF’s Special Response Team. 

Unable to see if anyone else was inside the trailer, ATF agents didn’t fire back. 

Pearson tried to take his own life by turning the shotgun on himself and was life-flighted to Spokane for medical treatment. 

“No one can be allowed to shoot at law enforcement. Numerous brave ATF agents went to Mr. Pearson’s trailer that morning to do their jobs by executing a lawful court order and serving a valid arrest warrant,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said in a statement. “Thanks to Mr. Pearson’s poor aim, this community has not had to endure the potential tragedy of fallen ATF officers. Today’s sentence sends a clear warning to anyone who thinks they can shoot their way out of an arrest and get away with it – they cannot. If they try, the United States Attorney’s Office will work with its federal, state, and local partners to investigate and prosecute them to the fullest extent provided by law. When Mr. Pearson saw on his video screens that ATF was present with a warrant, he simply had to surrender to avoid the most serious charges in this case. Instead, with reckless disregard for human life, he tried to hurt or kill a number of agents.”

Jonathan T. McPherson, special agent in charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division, added, “The actions of the ATF Special Agents and officers from our partner agencies that day are truly commendable. They acted with high regard not only for the safety of the surrounding community, but also for Mr. Pearson, despite the fact that he was shooting at our Special Response Team. We are thankful none of our Special Agents were injured and that Mr. Pearson will serve a significant sentence.”

Whitey Bulger’s Death Remains a Mystery Three Years Later

Whitey Bulger

By Steve Neavling

It has been three years since notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was beaten to death inside his jail cell, and many questions are still unanswered about his murder. 

Bulger, who was 89 and wheelchair bound, was found beaten to death inside his cell on Oct. 30, 2018, just hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison nicknamed “Misery Mountain.” The transfer came after the wheelchair-bound ex-mob boss threatened a Florida prison nurse who suggested he see an outside heart doctor.

No one has been charged in his death. 

It also remains unclear why Bulger “was put in the troubled lockup’s general population alongside other New England gangsters — instead of more protective housing,” The Los Angeles Times reports.

Without any explanations – other than that his death is still under investigation – his family believes he was “deliberately sent to his death.” 

“This was really a dereliction of duty,” said Joe Rojas, a union representative for the correctional staff at the Florida prison where Bulger was previously held in Bruceton Mills, W.V. “There’s no way he should have been put in that institution.” 

Bulger was convicted in 2013 of participating in 11 murders and sentenced two life behind bars. 

Kansas City Man Who Assaulted ATF Agent Was Sentenced to 15 in Prison

By Steve Neavling

A Kansas City man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for assaulting an ATF agent during an undercover operation in February. 

Nicholas Newman pleaded guilty in May 2021 to one count of forcible assault on a federal officer using a dangerous weapon and one count of using, carrying, possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violence crime. 

In February, Newman met two undercover ATF agents to sell them a gun in a parking lot in Kansas City. Newman handed the gun to one of the agent’s in the driver’s seat, which she placed on the floorboard. After the agent gave Newman the cash, he tried to grab the gun, and a “violent snuggled ensued,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

“Newman physically assaulted her inflicting severe bodily harm,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “The second agent, who had been in the rear passenger seat, came around and attempted to subdue Newman from behind. A short time later, ATF surveillance units arrived and instructed Newman to let go of the weapon which he did. He was subsequently taken into custody.”

“Every day our ATF agents work to make our communities safer by trying to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard said. “In doing so, they often put themselves in harm’s way. Thanks to the bravery and quick action of these agents no lives were lost in an incident which could have resulted in tragedy.”

Mexico President Open to Freeing Drug Lord Imprisoned for Murder of DEA Agent Camarena

DEA Agent Enrique Camarena

By Steve Neavling

Convicted drug lord Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, who was imprisoned for the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, may be a free man soon.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that he’s open to granting a pardon to Felix Gallardo under a proposed new law aimed at freeing thousands of prisoners. 

“If it is justified,” Lopez Obrador said of the drug lord’s potential release, “of course, yes.”

“I also want him to understand my situation, that I do not want anyone to suffer. I do not want anyone to be in jail. I am a humanist,” Lopez Obrador said.  

He added that the case will be reviewed by prosecutors. 

Felix Gallardo, now 75, was considered the godfather of Mexican drug smuggling and the co-founder of the Guadalajara cartel. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the Camarena’s murder, and in 2017, he was re-sentenced by a Mexican court to 37 years in prison and a reparation payment equivalent to $1.2 million.

Lopez Obrado made the remark following a prison interview with Felix Gallardo that was aired by NBC News.

Inmate Sentenced to 21 Years Behind Bars in Murder-for-Hire Plot Against U.S. Attorney, FBI Informant

Richard Robert Gilbert. Photo Spartanburg County Detention Center.

By Steve Neavling

A federal inmate has been sentenced to an additional 21 years behind bars for a murder-for-hire plot against an assistant U.S. attorney and a confidential FBI informant, the Justice Department announced this week.

Richard Robert Gilbert, a Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate, was serving a 130-month sentence for trafficking methamphetamine in Kentucky in 2017. While in prison, he used a contraband cell phone in an attempt to hire a hitman to kill the federal prosecutor and a key witness in his drug trafficking case. 

Unbeknownst to Gilbert, he was arranging the murder with an undercover FBI task force officer. As a downpayment for the hit, Gilbert sent the officer a $2,000 check from his prison canteen account. He planned to pay the rest using money from real estate investments. 

Gilbert provided maps and directions to the undercover officer. 

U.S. District Juge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., sentenced Gilbert to 262 months in prison. 

The FBI and BOP Special Investigative Services Team led the case.  

Arkansas Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Death Threats to FBI Agents

FBI’s Little Rock Field Office. (FBI)

By Steve Neavling

An Arkansas man who sent death threats to FBI agents and a former U.S. attorney was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on Wednesday. 

Clayton Jackson, 35, who was living in Dewitt, Arkansas, at the time, mailed two letters to the FBI office in Little Rock in February 2020 and March 2020, threatening to kill multiple bureau employees. Jackson signed the letters. 

In an interview with the FBI, Jackson admitted sending the letters and repeated his intention to kill the employees. 

After he was indicted, Jackson continued to send death threats to the employees and former U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland. In the letters, he said he planed to escape from prison to kill the employees and Hiland. 

Jackson pleaded guilty on Nov. 2 to three counts of threatening to assault and murder a federal official and two counts of mailing threatening communications. 

 “This defendant’s repeated threats against law enforcement were a failed attempt to intimidate those who have sworn to protect and serve,” Acting United States Attorney Jonathan D. Ross said in a statement. “This lengthy sentence should serve as a warning: threats like these will not be tolerated and will not prevent law enforcement from doing their important work of protecting our communities.”

Jason Van Goor, acting special agent in charge of the Little Rock office, added, “We take any threat against law enforcement seriously, and we believe Mr. Jackson’s 40-year sentence will serve as a warning to anyone thinking about threatening federal agents and officers. As always, we are grateful to our partners at the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas for their tremendous work on this case.”