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Eighty northern Iowa individuals charged with federal gun law violations

Eighty northern Iowa individuals charged with federal gun law violations

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DBR District Court

Denison native Nhial Biliew listed among those charged

Crawford County Sheriff's Office listed among investigating agencies

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 -- Law enforcement agencies across Iowa continue to make communities safer by vigorously investigating and prosecuting gun related crimes. This effort has resulted in charges and arrests in 48 federal cases between November 2020 and June 2021 in the eastern half of the state and 32 in the western half of the state.

“All too often, when individuals, including convicted felons, drug users, and those who have committed domestic violence, unlawfully possess guns, an act of gun violence occurs,” said Acting United States Attorney Sean R. Berry. “The charges in these cases demonstrate the remarkable work that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies do to reduce violence and get the most dangerous criminals off the streets. As we head into the summer months, when gun violence historically rises, my office will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners to take unlawfully possessed guns, and those who possess them, off the street.”

In the past six months, the work of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies has resulted in the following matters in federal court in Cedar Rapids:

Kierin Craig Johnson, Ricky Trevill Eatman, John Douglas Clark, Marshall Leon Mosby, Nicholas Cameron Anderson, Christopher Lee Cungtion, John Christopher Jacobson, Dmontrey Rayshaun Redmond, Jamie Marie Graham, Leon Sheley, Todd Fritz Groom, Anthony Hughes, Nicholas Robert Campbell-Scott, Chad Edward Lee, Adnan Alibegic, Ashley Nicole Lies, Raykwon Stevenson, Sylvester Cunningham, Wonyae Malik Black, Friday Deel Gardner, Jumonie Dontez Wilson, Eric James Lyle, Darren James Ackerman, Sir Frank Nelson, Dejswah Sibley, Shuntez Anthony Porter, Terrance Golden, Justin Carlson, Donte Kent, Christopher Evans, Trenton Sliekers, Charles Anthony Ware, Demitrius Cannon, DeVonte Wright, Chandrique Day, David Wright, Jr., Demond Rollins, Karon Bennett, Shawndell Phillip Smith, Christopher Daniel Taylor, Johnny Mack Hill, Jr., Dannish Dontreal Robertson, Jaryous Cooper, Richard Allen Roberts, Deanye Bowmen-Owens, Josh Adam Rode, Curtis James Johnson, Dai’Sean Battles, and Joshua Ray Hunley. Four additional people have been charged but their cases remain under seal. The charges are contained in complaints and indictments filed within the last six months in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids.

“The Cedar Rapids Police Department is fortunate to have a strong working relationship with federal partners that results in making our community safer by holding violent offenders accountable,” said Cedar Rapids Chief of Police Wayne Jerman. “With our participation in federal task forces and enforcement and prosecution of federal firearms laws, there has been a significant impact on gun violence. Those who illegally possess a firearm and choose to commit violence not only commit crimes, but they endanger lives, property and the community’s sense of peace and safety. We value the opportunity to work side by side with our federal law enforcement partners and prosecutors.”

Dr. Joel Fitzgerald, Waterloo chief of police, shared his thoughts on the collaboration, and said, “Although there are many variables at play accounting for the increase in violent crime across our nation, it should comfort those in Waterloo and the region to know that a strengthened partnership among law enforcement entities stands ready to prevent, investigate, arrest, and prosecute firearm related crimes. The message for violent offenders in our city is crystal clear. We encourage you to exercise your ability to choose; you can engage in community problem solving, civilly work through ‘beefs,’ and surrender illegal weapons, or face the surety of an unrelenting, life-altering, and rehabilitative solution that we have waiting. Far too many innocent lives are being changed by those who do not stop and think, so choose wisely.”

“Like much of Iowa, the Midwest, and the country in general, we have seen an increase in gun violence over the past five to ten years. Locally we have had great success in identifying and prosecuting offenders,” said Dubuque Chief of Police Mark Dalsing. “Much thanks to our federal law enforcement partners who provide investigative resources, and we especially appreciate the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice in prosecuting gun crimes. Law enforcement is facing many challenges as we head into the traditionally busiest months of the year, but we are confident that with our federal partners, we will be able to prosecute violent criminals and hold them accountable for their actions.”

In the past six months, the work of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies has resulted in the following matters in federal court in Sioux City:

Bendigo Augustino, Diego Ayala, Nhial Biliew, Tyne Castino, Brandon Christiansen, Melvin Cloud, Joshua Currier, Tavin Daudinot, Scott Demers, Rafael Gomez, Maleke Goodwin, Joseph Haack, Jamie Hansman, Dexter Howard, Alejandro LaPointe, Alexander Laurel-Olea, Esai Lopez, Lucas Lowman, Douglas Mackey, DJ McMillan, Sergio Mendez-Perez, Daniel Moss, Christopher O’Tool, Joel Perea-Duenas, Jerry Powell, Stephen Springer, Alvaro Vite, William Wayne Hageman, and Jeremy Walters, have all been charged with various violations of federal firearms laws. The charges are contained in indictments filed within the last six months in the United States District Court in Sioux City.

“I cannot overstate the value of our close partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s office,” said Sioux City Chief of Police Rex Mueller. “Our focused major offender approach allows the surgical removal of suspects who pose a significant danger to local residents. The many cases we have worked together have led to successful prosecutions and sentences that had a meaningful positive impact on community safety.”

All the charges against the defendants in both Cedar Rapids and Sioux City involve the unlawful possession or use of firearms, including being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. The cases charged include the following:

The indictment and criminal complaint against Christopher Daniel Taylor charges Taylor with carjacking, using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, possession of a stolen firearm, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The criminal complaint alleges that, on December 3, 2020, Taylor led state probation officers on a high-speed chase through the city of Cedar Rapids. The complaint alleges that at times, Taylor reached speeds nearing 100 miles per hour. According to the complaint, Taylor eventually ditched his car and stole another one, which contained a Taurus .44 caliber revolver. Taylor then led police on a chase utilizing that car. At one point, Taylor shot the gun out of the car. Taylor later tried to carjack the driver of another car, threatening to shoot that person if he didn’t give Taylor the car. Law enforcement later apprehended Taylor.

The indictment and criminal complaint against Wonyae Black charges Black with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The criminal complaint alleges that Black led Waterloo police officers on a high-speed chase, which ended when Black crashed his car into another car and a tree. The complaint alleges that Black then attempted to run from police and tossed his backpack over a fence. Officers located the backpack, which contained a handgun with an extended magazine and marijuana.

The indictment against Bendigo Augustino alleges that, in March 2021, in Storm Lake, Augustino was in possession of three guns while knowing, as a convicted felon, he could not legally possess guns. The indictment also alleges that Augustino was in possession of a Glock 9mm handgun he knew or had reason to know was stolen. Finally, the indictment alleges Augustino, who was already under indictment for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, willfully received two handguns.

The indictment against Nhial Biliew alleges that, in June 2020, Biliew committed a robbery at the Country Store in Denison. The indictment further alleges that during the robbery, Biliew used or brandished a handgun. The indictment also alleges that in July 2020, Biliew possessed a Ruger .380 handgun with a removed, altered, or obliterated serial number.

If convicted on these charges, all defendants face at least a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.­

­As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The cases were brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

The cases were investigated by numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cedar Rapids Safe Streets Task Force (composed of representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Marshal Service, and the Cedar Rapids Police Department), the Waterloo Federal Task Force (composed of the Waterloo Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms assisted by the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office and Cedar Falls Police Department), the Dubuque Police Department, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa State Patrol, the Sioux City Police Department, the Storm Lake Police Department, the Denison Police Department, the Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Office, and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.

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