Day: December 16, 2022

One Of ICE’s Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives, Also Wanted In Bridgeton, NJ For Aggravated Sexual Assault On Victim 13-15 Years-Old Caught In California

December 16, 2022

LOS ANGELES — Officers with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, commonly known as ICE and ERO respectively, arrested a Mexican national indicted in Portland, Maine, for the offenses of criminal restraint, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual conduct, criminal sexual contact and endangering sexual conduct in Santa Ana, California on Dec. 9.

ERO Los Angeles Officers apprehended Luciano Trejo-Dominguez, 31, during a targeted enforcement operation in the city of Santa Ana, California. A Newark, New Jersey immigration judge ordered Trejo, one of ICE’s 10 most wanted fugitives, removed on October 5, 2021.

Trejo is also the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the sheriff’s office in Bridgeton, New Jersey, for failure to appear related to an aggravated sexual assault offense involving a victim 13 to 15 years old. When approached by ERO officers near his home, Trejo attempted to flee and evade arrest, but officers subdued him and took him into custody.

“Despite a judge’s lawful order for his removal and access to due process, this individual believed he could simply change his location and ignore the order,” said Thomas P. Giles, field office director of ERO Los Angeles. “Ultimately becoming one of ERO’s top 10 most wanted fugitives, and thanks to the professional men and women of the Los Angeles ERO team, he is now behind bars.”

Trejo entered the U.S. at an unknown date, time and location without being admitted or paroled by an immigration officer. Trejo originally came to ERO’s attention in Aug. 2018, while he was incarcerated for contempt of court in the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Maine.

ERO encountered Trejo again in 2019 while he was in the Vineland Police Department’s custody for assault. Following his release from the Vineland Police Department’s custody, he was taken into ICE custody. He was later granted an immigration bond and released from ICE custody. An immigration detainer was issued for Trejo again Aug. 13, 2019, following his arrest the previous day by Vineland Police Department for aggravated sexual assault. That detainer was not honored.

Trejo was returned to his home country of Mexico Dec. 9.

ICE’s ERO directorate upholds U.S. immigration law at, within and beyond our borders. ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal noncitizens and gang members, as well as individuals who have otherwise violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally reentered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. ERO deportation officers assigned to Interpol also assist in targeting foreign fugitives or Fugitive Arrest and Removal cases who are wanted for crimes committed abroad and who are now at-large in the United States. ERO manages all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including identification and arrest, detention, bond management, supervised release, as well as transportation and removal. In addition, ERO repatriates noncitizens ordered removed from the U.S. to more than 170 countries around the world.

If you have information about foreign fugitives, contact ICE by calling the ICE Tip Line at 866-DHS-2-ICE or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. You may also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.

ERO Los Angeles Officers apprehended Luciano Trejo-Dominguez, 31, during a targeted enforcement operation in the city of Santa Ana, California. Trejo is also the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the sheriff’s office in Bridgeton, New Jersey, for failure to appear related to an aggravated sexual assault offense involving a victim 13 to 15 years old. When approached by ERO officers near his home, Trejo attempted to flee and evade arrest, but officers subdued him and took him into custody.

Edison, NJ, Woman Among 6 Charged In Multi-Million Dollar Transnational Technical Support Scam Targeting 20,000 Victims

December 16, 2022

NEWARK, N.J. – Five men were charged in an indictment and a New Jersey woman pleaded guilty in connection with a transnational technical support scam that targeted more than 20,000 victims, many of whom were elderly, in the United States and Canada, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Gagan Lamba, 41, and Harshad Madaan, 34, both of New Delhi, India; Jayant Bhatia, 33, of Ontario, Canada, and Vikash Gupta, 33, of Faridabad, India, are all charged by indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and substantive violations of wire fraud and computer fraud. Lamba, Madaan, Bhatia, and a fifth defendant, Kulwinder Singh, 34, of Richmond Hill, New York, are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity. Bhatia has been charged with offenses related to his participation in a high-tech fraud scheme.

Authorities in India arrested Madaan on Dec. 14, 2022, and Gupta on Dec. 15, 2022, on local charges for their involvement in the tech support scheme. Lamba remains at large. Bhatia was arrested by Canadian authorities pursuant to a provisional arrest request from the United States. Singh was arrested at his home in New York. Singh made his initial appearance on Dec. 14, 2022, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

A sixth defendant, Meghna Kumar, 50, of Edison, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Dec. 14, 2022, by videoconference before Judge Hammer to an information charging her with engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, based on her role in the scheme.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants are charged with using access to personal computers to run a high-tech extortion scheme on a global scale,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. “They frequently preyed upon senior citizens and scared them into paying for unnecessary and useless computer repair services. Working with our partners here and abroad, we will remain vigilant in protecting our citizens from these kinds of schemes.”

“Tech-support scams, and other consumer fraud schemes that frequently target elderly or vulnerable citizens are particularly egregious crimes,” Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero, Newark Field Office, Philadelphia Division, said. “Fraudsters, who often operate from outside the United States, may think they can anonymously infiltrate their victims’ homes and lives through the mail, telephone, or computer – without any consequences. However, let today’s enforcement actions put scammers on notice. Through the investigative efforts of U.S. federal law enforcement, and our international partners, we will work together to pursue those individuals who scam, harass, and steal from our older and respected members of society.”

“Scammers are changing tactics and finding new methods to steal hard-earned money from unsuspecting victims, but it boils down to the same well-worn crime,” FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy said. “This investigation highlights the FBI’s and our international partners’ work in searching out and bringing these fraudsters to justice. It also shows victims that regardless of where the criminals are sitting, here or in a foreign country, we will hold them accountable using every tool we have.”

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2012 through November 2022, the defendants and others were members of a criminal fraud ring that operated a technical support fraud scheme in the United States, India, and Canada. The scheme targeted victims across the United States and Canada, including New Jersey, many of whom were elderly.

The primary objective was to trick victims into believing that their personal computers were infected with a virus or malware and then convince the victims to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to the fraud ring for phony computer repair services. Over the course of the conspiracy, the fraud ring generated more than $10 million in proceeds from at least 20,000 victims.

The fraud ring caused fraudulent pop-up windows to appear on victims’ personal computers. The pop-ups were designed, at times, to “freeze” the victims’ computers, which prevented the victims from using or accessing files on their computers. The pop-ups also claimed, falsely, that the victims’ computers were infected with a virus, or otherwise compromised, and directed the victims to call a telephone number to receive technical support. Sometimes the pop-ups warned victims to not shut down their computers. The pop-ups also included, without authorization, the names of well-known, legitimate technology and antivirus companies. In reality, the pop-ups were a hoax, designed to trick the victims into believing that their computers were infected with viruses that did not actually exist.

Victims who called the technical support phone numbers appearing on the pop-ups were connected to one or more call centers in India associated with the fraud ring. Fraud ring members at the call centers falsely repeated that the victims’ computers were infected with viruses and offered to fix the purported issue for a fee. The fraud ring members would then request permission to remotely access the victims’ computers. Once granted access, fraud ring members would, at times, download and run a freely available adblocker tool, advise the victim that the “issue” had been resolved, and then leave a text file on the desktop of the computer with payment instructions.

Victims were instructed to pay the fraud ring in amounts ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars by: (a) electronically scanning checks made payable to one of several shell companies set up by the fraud ring and (b) sending, via FedEx, physical checks to addresses maintained by Singh and Kumar in New Jersey. The fraud ring often contacted certain victims again to offer additional services or lengthier service agreements that required victims to pay even more money to the fraud ring.

The wire fraud and computer fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest The money laundering charges carry a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater. The transacting in criminal proceeds charges carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Newark, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero, Philadelphia Division, and special agents of the FBI, including the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Delhi Police for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony P. Torntore of the U.S. Attorney’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Little Egg Harbor Man Arrested For Fatal July Crash That Killed Mother And Her 3-Year-Old Child In Freehold Township

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An Ocean County man has been arrested in connection with the death of a mother and her child from a fatal July crash in Freehold Township, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Friday.

On Friday December 16, 2022, Thomas F. Polson, 53, of Little Egg Harbor, was arrested on two counts of second-degree Vehicular Homicide, one count of third-degree Hindering Apprehension, two counts of fourth-degree Assault by Auto and one count of fourth-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.

The charges stem from a fatal crash that took place on Thursday July 14, 2022. At approximately 5 p.m. on that date, members of the Monmouth County Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART), the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Freehold Township Police Department responded to the area of Siloam Road and Old Turkey Swamp Road in Freehold Township. At that location, first responders located the three vehicles involved in the collision: a Ford F350 pickup truck driven by Polson, a Chrysler Pacifica minivan driven by Denise James, 42, of Ocean Township (Ocean County), and a Honda CR-V SUV driven by a 34-year-old male resident of Jackson Township.

James was pronounced deceased at the scene, and her 3-year-old child was transported via medical helicopter to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where she later succumbed to her injuries. The other two children, ages 9 and 13, were also taken to Jersey Shore for treatment and were later released.

The subsequent investigation revealed that Polson’s pickup truck left the southbound lane of Siloam Road and struck the involved SUV with a glancing blow before colliding head-on with the minivan immediately thereafter. The investigation also revealed that Polson was operating his vehicle at the time of the fatal collision while under the influence of a Controlled Dangerous Substance.

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision or has any information about it is urged to contact MCPO Detective Nicolas Logothetis at 800-533-7443 or Freehold Township Police Department Patrolman Justin Nunno at 732-294-5139.

Polson is lodged at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court.

Convictions of this nature on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by up to 10 years in a state prison and are subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring a defendant to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner, Director of the Major Crimes Bureau. Polson is represented by William J. Rush, Esq., of Carlstadt.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Trenton Man Guilty In August 2020 Double Homicide; Faces Life Imprisonment

December 16, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced that a Trenton man was convicted by a jury this week for the August 9, 2020 double homicide on Centre Street in Trenton.

On December 15, 2022, Trezion Thompson, 22, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun.

On August 9, 2020, at approximately 7:30 a.m., patrol officers with the Trenton Police Department responded to the area of 300 Centre Street for a shooting in progress.  Upon arrival, officers located the first victim, William Irizarry, 18, lying on the street in the area of 339 Centre Street.  He had sustained multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body and was pronounced dead at the scene.  The second victim, Julius Vargas, 18, was located inside a corner market with a gunshot wound.  Vargas was transported to the hospital for treatment, however, succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

HTF detectives were able to locate a witness and numerous cameras in the area of the shooting.  A suspect vehicle was identified as a black Chrysler 300 with PA plates, along with two shooters, described as two black males wearing all black clothing and black ski masks.  The black Chrysler 300 was seen circling the area before the shooting, then parking and watching the victims for several minutes as they stood on the corner with others.  When the suspect vehicle drove up to the corner and stopped, two shooters, later identified as Thompson and Tyzir Hamilton, exited.  Both ran toward the victims, firing multiple gunshots.  The driver, later identified as Darnell Davis, remained in the car.  Hamilton and Thompson then chased after Irizarry as he ran into the street, continuing to shoot at him.  When Irizarry fell to the ground after suffering a gunshot wound, they both continued to shoot at him as he lay on the ground.  Afterward, Hamilton and Thompson returned to the suspect vehicle, which fled.

Further investigation revealed that a black Chrysler 300 was stolen out of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, on August 3, 2020, and seen on an automated license plate reader camera in the area of Pennington Avenue and Reservoir Street in Trenton on August 4.  Detectives were able to partially match the license plate of the suspect vehicle to that of the stolen vehicle out of Bensalem.           

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit conducted a physical search and forensic examination of Irizarry’s cell phone, pursuant to a search warrant, and a photo was found that Irizarry posted on his Facebook page disrespecting the H-Block gang.  Detectives continued to monitor multiple public social media posts throughout the month of August of numerous H-Block gang members talking about the murders of Irizarry and Vargas, taunting and threatening friends and family of the victims.  They also referenced Irizarry disrespecting the H-Block gang prior to being murdered.

On September 1, 2020, while on surveillance during another investigation, HTF detectives observed the black Chrysler 300 with Pennsylvania plates driving in the area of Perry and Southard streets in Trenton.  While detectives were attempting to identify the occupants, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed and a pursuit ensued.  The pursuit came to an end on Reservoir Street near Frazier Street, where the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole and the occupants subsequently escaped on foot.  Area surveillance footage shows the vehicle crash into the pole.  Two black males exited the vehicle through the front passenger door, both wearing all black with their hoods up. The black males fled on Reservoir Street toward Frazier Street and subsequently made a right onto Frazier Street toward Pennington Avenue, then out of sight.

A search warrant was obtained for the vehicle and detectives located a fully-loaded, 9mm Taurus handgun under the driver’s seat.  The handgun was submitted to the New Jersey State Police Laboratory and identified as one of the guns used in the murders of Irizarry and Vargas.  Further investigation revealed another witness who was able to identify Davis, Hamilton and Thompson as being responsible for the deaths of Irizarry and Vargas.

At the time of the arrest of all three suspects in October 2020, Prosecutor Onofri praised the investigative work of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and thanked the public for the assistance provided during the investigation.  “For weeks, detectives have methodically pieced the puzzle together, identifying the vehicle and all three suspects.  But the help of the public in solving this double homicide was instrumental,” he stated.  “It allowed us to follow leads from the very beginning, helping to point investigators in the right direction and allowing them to connect the dots.”

Mercer County Administrative Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen M. Petrucci and Executive Assistant Prosecutor Michael C. Borgos represented the state during the three-week trial before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw.

The investigation was led by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and Sgt. Richard Sheppard of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.  The defendant was represented by John McMahon, Esq. and Matthew Mordas, Esq.

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2023. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Hamilton, 21, is scheduled for trial in January 2023.  Davis, 21, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and is pending sentencing. 

On December 15, 2022, Trezion Thompson, 22, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2023. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

File photos by: Brian McCarthy