National Roundup

Butcher sentenced to prison for sports betting operation

CHICAGO (AP) — A northern Illinois butcher who pleaded guilty to operating a sports-betting business and failing to report his proceeds to the Internal Revenue Service was sentenced Monday to one year in prison.

Domenic Poeta, 63, of Highland Park admitted in an August plea agreement with prosecutors that from 2014 to 2018, he used betting websites based in the Caribbean to process millions of dollars in sports wagers. He also admitted that between 2012 and 2017, he made more than $3.7 million. During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly said the length and breadth of Poeta’s scheme was enormous and it was likely federal prosecutors undercounted the amount involved.

“The amount involved here is pretty breathtaking, quite honestly,” Kennelly said during the hearing, which took place by videoconference. The judge ordered Poeta to pay the $1.4 million he owes the federal government.

During the five years noted in Poeta’s indictment, he reported about $50,000 in taxable income from his butcher business and paid about $7,000 in federal income taxes, according to prosecutors. In one year, Poeta reported he had less than $12,000 in income and yet was able to buy a $1.5 million home in Highland Park.

In court documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick King alleged Poeta collected bets at his shop, his customers homes or workplaces and in public. King noted one gambler left envelopes of cash with his doorman but eventually began leaving undated checks for between $2,000 and $5,000 after seven years of constantly losing. Another gambler embezzled money from his family’s restaurant business to pay his debts, ultimately costing the family the business.

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of up to about three years behind bars, saying Poeta’s operation victimized addicted gamblers.

Poeta apologized to the judge and asked for probation, saying he could best serve his penalty by taking care of his family and others.

“There’s a lot of people that I think need me,” said Poeta. “I just want to do the right thing and just pay my debt.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kennelly put off the date Poeta must report to prison until May 29.

Man sent to prison for bomb threat to Federal Reserve building

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A South Texas man was sentenced on Monday to two years in federal prison after making online threats to bomb a Federal Reserve building, according to authorities.

Joel Hayden Schrimsher had pleaded guilty on Aug. 24 to conveying false or misleading information through the internet concerning the potential destruction of a federal building.

Schrimsher, 19, was arrested after federal authorities in June 2019 traced to him threats made on Twitter in which he had said, “I’m gonna mail a bomb to the Federal Reserve.”

Authorities said Schrimsher acknowledged to making a tweet about bombing and damaging a Federal Reserve building and claiming he was being “edgy” when he made the threats.

During a court hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez said that Schrimsher had precursor chemicals and bomb making recipes in his bedroom in Harlingen at the time he made the threats.

“The FBI and our law enforcement partners take threats of violence very seriously,” said Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio office.

New York
Judge: Detained immigrants must see a judge within 10 days

NEW YORK (AP) — Newly detained immigrants must appear before a judge within 10 days, rather than the weeks or months they’ve sometimes had to endure in recent years, a judge said Monday.

Civil rights groups praised the ruling by U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan as the first of its kind in the nation to set such a rule for the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.

They said in a release that the ruling would strike a blow to federal immigration authorities who hold detained immigrants indefinitely before they appear before a judge.

The judge said a law authorizing the detention of immigrants while removal proceedings are pending “does not negate class members’ interests — of the utmost importance — in freedom from imprisonment.”

“Class members may not have a ‘fundamental right to be released during removal proceedings,’ but nor does the Government have an unfettered right to detain them,” she added.

In 2014, the average wait to see a judge was 11 days, but it had stretched to over a month in 2017 and nearly three months in 2018, according to the judge’s ruling.

Messages for comment was sent to the Justice Department, which represented the agency in court, and ICE, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.

“A few weeks or months of sitting in inhumane ICE detention facilities can be dangerous and devastating for individuals and their families,” said Niji Jain, an attorney at The Bronx Defenders. “The Court’s ruling recognizes that prompt access to an immigration judge is a fundamental right — one that is all the more important when detention facilities are hotbeds for the spread of COVID-19.”

“Locking people up for months before they first see a judge during immigration proceedings is unjust and unlawful, and it does immense harm to immigrant families,” said Bobby Hodgson, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Class member Shemar Michel said ICE officers told him he’d be home by dinner time when they picked him up as he prepared his children for school. He said he didn’t see a judge for six weeks.

“During that time, I was mentally shattered, I missed my son’s second birthday, and I felt like I had no chance to fight my case. I told the ICE officers I would rather buy my own plane ticket home than stay in ICE detention any longer,” he said. “I hope the judge’s ruling ensures nobody will have to go through what I went through.”

The civil rights groups said in their release that many individuals held for months were entitled to release. They said about 40% of them were eventually released on bond. Others, they added, were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

The groups said the average petitioners have lived in the United States for 16 years and nearly a third are lawful permanent residents.

The judge granted class action status to a lawsuit by civil rights groups filed two years ago in Manhattan federal court. She noted that the federal government had never filed arguments opposing the designation.