Month: January 2020

Air Force Colonel Sentenced for Receiving Child Pornography


An Air Force Colonel was sentenced today to five years in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release for receiving child pornography.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement.

“According to admissions made in connection with his plea agreement, between November 2015 and June 2016, Mark Visconi, 48, received and attempted to receive child pornography using the Internet. Visconi used an online bulletin board dedicated to the sharing of child pornography that operated on the anonymous Tor network to download child pornography. A forensic review of his laptop showed that Visconi downloaded and viewed numerous child pornography images and videos.  Visconi previously pleaded guilty on Oct. 4, 2019.”

“Visconi also admitted to using his cell phone to create hundreds of apparently surreptitious pictures that were focused on the clothed buttocks of minor girls, including images that appear to have been taken with a camera angled upward underneath a minor’s skirt or loose shorts so as to depict or attempt to depict the minor’s underwear.”    

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Trial Attorney Gwendelynn Bills of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. 

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Photo: Col. Mark Visconi, shown in this 2007 photo as a Major, pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to five years in prison. (David Armer/Air Force)

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GBI Arrests Lamar County, Georgia Man for Terroristic Threats and Acts


On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, Michael C. Hudgins, 24, of Barnesville, GA, was arrested by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Agents for violation of O.C.G.A. 16-11-37, Terroristic Threats and Acts.

In addition to that charge, Hudgins was also charged with theft by receiving a stolen firearm, seven (7) counts of possession of a firearm by a first offender probationer, trafficking methamphetamine, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

This arrest stems from a thorough investigation by the GBI Region 6 (Milledgeville) Office along with Lamar County Georgia Sheriff’s Office Investigators.

The Lamar County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) requested the GBI’s assistance in reference to a terroristic threats investigation involving Michael Hudgins, an employee of Continental Tire at the Aldora Mill.  Hudgins made comments to another Continental Tire employee about bringing an AK 47 rifle to work and “shooting up the place”.

Hudgins also told this other employee not to come to work on February 1st because he was going to carry out his assault on that day.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, GBI Agents and LCSO Investigators made contact with Hudgins at his residence of 350 Freeman Rd. Barnesville, Ga. 

Prior to making contact with Hudgins, law enforcement discovered that he was on first offender probation from a previous arrest. In Hudgins bedroom, law enforcement discovered seven (7) firearms that Hudgins is not permitted to have due to his probation conditions.

Law enforcement then found over three (3) ounces of suspected methamphetamine, along with a quantity of suspected marijuana, in an outbuilding on the property. Troy Guy Peacock,41, was also arrested at this location due to a probation violation warrant.

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Fake Investors Busted in Belgium and France


More than 85 victims in Belgium and France suffered around €6 million losses for believing in the fraudsters’ false promises

The French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) in collaboration with the Belgian Federal Judicial Police (Police Judiciaire Fédérale) and the Israeli Police, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have brought down a large network of investment fraudsters.

The criminal group was involved in money laundering and binary investment fraud

In the beginning of 2019, four suspects were arrested in France, three of which were detained. At the end of 2019, five other suspects were arrested and questioned in Israel with the support of an international Operational Task Force set-up by Europol bringing together Belgian, French, and Israeli investigators and magistrates.

More than one million euros ($1.1 million US dollars) have already been seized from the fraudsters’ accounts.

A French-Israeli citizen who has already been convinced of massif fraud related to carbon tax is suspected to be the mastermind.

FAKE WEBSITES AND BOGUS COMPANIES TO FRAUD INVESTORS

The investigation into this criminal network, active in Belgium and France and controlled by an Israeli branch, began in 2018. The criminal organization managed to set-up a sophisticated system promising big gains on investments in bitcoin, gold and diamonds. The suspects were offering their financial services on online platforms. The criminal network also set up bogus companies as a part of their money laundering scheme.  

The suspects were promising between 5 and 35% return on investment. They then proceeded to pretend to manage the victims’ wallets and invite them to invest more money. To increase the confidence in their services, they were paying some of the victims the interests on their investments. Once the victims were won over, the fraudsters would offer bigger opportunities, which required higher amounts to be invested.

A big French private company and a French local authority are among the victims of this network. The investments of the victims were placed on accounts in different EU Member States before being transferred to other international accounts. 

The network is believed to be responsible for frauds which amount to at least €6 million ($6.6 Million US Dollars). The investigators have also discovered invoices for few million euros, which the fraudsters had not yet finalized.

Europol supported the investigation since 2018 and facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries. A Europol Operation Task Force between investigators and magistrates from Belgium, France and Israel to increase the operational cooperation between the countries involved in the investigation.

Europol provided also analytical and technical support and deployed an expert on-the-spot to cross-check operational information against Europol’s databases and thus, provide leads to investigators. 

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Raytheon to help US Air Force modernize missile warning architecture


New system will fuse dozens of data sources for the military

To help with this mission, Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services has developed a completely open framework — which the Air Force calls the Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) Mission Data Processing Application Framework (MDPAF) — that will be capable of processing Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) satellite data from both the U.S. Air Force’s evolving Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation and the future Next Gen OPIR constellation, as well as be capable of processing data from other civil and environmental sensors.

“The U.S. government’s global satellite network produces a constant flood of data — petabytes and petabytes of it every day,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon IIS. “The Air Force wants to open that network up so they can use as much of that data as possible. That’s a huge transformation not just for the service, but for the whole government.”

This is a significant departure from previous satellite ground control programs. Typically, companies would develop a system that collects and exploits data from specific types of satellites or sensors. FORGE changes this model as it’s able to collect data from nearly any type of satellite or sensor, and then helps operators make sense of that data quickly.

“Essentially, this is a smartphone model,” said Wajsgras. “We’ve built an operating system that everyone can build applications for – from Raytheon to the Air Force to universities to small companies. These applications allow the system to process specific types of data.”

One of the key benefits of incorporating new applications is that the system can be used beyond its intended mission. For example, an application could be built that would allow civil agencies to use the same satellite data to help detect forest fires, volcanic activity, agricultural changes, even surges in electric power consumption.

Further departing from the traditional ground control development model, Raytheon built the prototype system in less than a year and it’s capable of processing real data today. The company leveraged development work on several past programs, especially its Advanced Weather Integrated Processing System, to design the framework. Raytheon also incorporated its deep experience developing applications using DevSecOps and Agile software development processes to dramatically speed development.

Raytheon will work with the Air Force over the upcoming years to further evolve and prove the framework’s capabilities.

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Huntington Man Sentenced for Illegally Accessing Veterans’ Records


A Huntington, West Virginia man was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally accessing the medical records of six veterans, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. 

Jeffrey Miller, 40, a former Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) employee, was also sentenced to one year of supervised release.

“We must protect our veterans. Miller used his position with the Veterans Benefits Administration to illegally access the medical records of veterans,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Medical records are protected information and veterans have an expectation and right of privacy. We will prosecute anyone who violates our veterans.”

Miller previously admitted that he illegally accessed the medical records of six veterans between January and May of 2018. 

Miller further admitted that he took a picture of the medical records of former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, and then sent the picture to an acquaintance.

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Officer of the Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted the investigation. United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the hearing and Assistant United States Attorney Stefan Hasselblad handled the prosecution.

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