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Morning Notes

Reston Town Center set up for last weekend’s Tephra ICA Arts Festival (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

What to Know About Monkeypox — “More monkeypox cases have been reported in the United States since the first illness was reported in Massachusetts last week. But there’s no need for Virginia residents to panic, health officials say as they learn more about how the viral disease is spread.” [Patch]

County to Talk About Youth Mental Health Issues and Drug Use — “As a parent, our kids’ wellbeing is my top priority. Today, the Board supported my motion to convene a roundtable with reps from [Department of Family Services], our Opioid Task Force, clinical pros, the BOS and school board to directly tackle youth mental health & substance use.” [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

McLean Woman Settles Fraud Case — A McLean resident has agreed to pay $107,347 to settle allegations that she falsified information to obtain two Paycheck Protection Program loans, totaling $42,601, federal prosecutors said yesterday (Tuesday). The Justice Department prosecuted the woman as part of its efforts to crack down on fraud related to COVID-19 relief funds. [DOJ]

Arlington Doughnut Shop Plans Tysons Kitchen — “Good Company Doughnuts & Café has inked a lease for roughly 5,000 square feet at 8524-G Tyco Road…for a kitchen commissary, where it will produce and assemble its products for off-site retail sale…Good Company hopes to have the commissary operating by the end of 2022, [co-owner Charles] Kachadoorian said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Introduces Navigation App to Help Blind Riders — “Metro has partnered with Waymap, a new UK-based start-up, to bring the technology to the Brookland, Silver Spring, and Braddock Road Metro stations…The app will be available in at least 30 Metro train and nearly 1,000 bus stops by September; the entire system is scheduled to be brought online by early 2023.” [DCist]

Cybersecurity Company Moves Within Tysons — “Codehunter…relocated from 1660 International Drive to 1775 Greensboro Station Pl. and expanded their corporate headquarters. Codehunter, represented by Timothy Jacobs and Edward Saa, needed to expand their office footprint due to business growth while also needed to re-strategize their office footprint to support their hybrid work model.” [CityBiz]

New School Board Student Representative Chosen — “Michele Togbe, a junior at South County High School, has been elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council (SAC) to serve a one-year term as student representative to the Fairfax County School Board, beginning July 1…Togbe has three main focuses as student representative: transparency within students’ voices, furthering civic education, and maintaining an equitable lens.” [FCPS]

Local Students Relax with Yarn — “About a dozen third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders gather at lunch several times a week at Little Run ES to knit and loom together. The program was initially launched as an after-school effort paid for with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief aid, or ESSER III funding.” [FCPS]

It’s Wednesday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 64 and low of 56. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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FBI logo (via FBI)

A federal jury has convicted three gang members of killing a 21-year-old in 2019 after they abducted the man at a Fairfax County shopping plaza.

Peter Le, 24, of Dunn Loring; Young Yoo, 26, of Centreville; and Joseph Lamborn, 28, of California, were convicted in of murder, kidnapping, and other charges on Friday (May 6) in U.S. district court in Alexandria.

Along with Tony Le, 28, of California, the trio was also found guilty of conspiracy to engage in racketeering and narcotics trafficking in what prosecutors said was a drug trafficking conspiracy involving California, Virginia and other states.

The group was part of the Reccless Tigers gang, which originated in Centreville in 2011 and became well known throughout secondary schools in the region as a source for marijuana, vape pens containing THC, and other drugs, according to an indictment.

Prosecutors said a large number of the gang’s distributors and customers were middle school, high school, and college students.

According to court documents, victim Brandon White’s car broke down in January 2019, and gang members abducted him at the former Loehmann’s Plaza in West Falls Church, leaving his body two hours later in a wooded area near Richmond.

In 2015-2016, White obtained marijuana from the gang and owed approximately $10,000 in debt.

The FBI alleged the gang would encourage drug dealers to take on debt and then pressure individuals to work on a California marijuana farm, the Associated Press previously reported.

After White was severely beaten by another gang member in August 2018, he testified against the gang on Nov. 19, 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Peter Le, Young Yoo, and Joseph Lamborn face mandatory life sentences when sentenced on September 9,” the news release said. “Tony Le faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment when he is sentenced of September 9.”

According to the Justice Department, 15 other people have been sentenced, and six are facing sentencing in crimes related to the gang.

Photo via FBI

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Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland (via Walter Reed)

A group of eight people, including a 59-year-old Fairfax County man, has been charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the federal government, authorites say.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said Wednesday (April 6) that Akbar Masood of Great Falls was indicted by a grand jury for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud and related charges.

Between 2017 and 2019, the individuals allegedly obtained approximately $3.3 million from Walter Reed medical center and the Defense Health Agency.

Marc Hall, the attorney representing Masood, said yesterday (Thursday) that he had no comment from his client on the case, which is being held in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud,” prosecutors said in a news release.

The grand jury charged Masood and six others with eight counts of wire fraud. Each count of wire fraud can come with a sentence up to 20 years as well as fines.

According to prosecutors, the scheme involved presenting documentation that claimed their contracting company could perform medical coding, but Masood and others allegedly used stolen identities of real people to sign agreements, among other allegations.

An indictment only signals that a grand jury thought there was enough evidence to charge a person with a crime.

Photo via Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

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U.S. Attorneys Office in Alexandria (via Google Maps)

A McLean resident who ran a concessions business that worked with local schools will serve 18 years in prison on multiple child pornography charges, federal prosecutors announced today (Friday).

Zackary Ellis Sanders, 27, engaged in sexually explicit conversations with at least six different minors between 2017 and 2020, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

He was convicted by a federal jury of possessing, producing, and receiving child pornography on Oct. 27.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Sanders “ran a concessions business that provided food and beverage services for local schools.” Many of the court documents are sealed, so it’s not immediately clear whether he had any business with Fairfax County Public Schools.

Sanders primarily met and engaged with the minors online, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says:

[Sanders] met these minors on various mobile applications and an online forum. Sanders exchanged hundreds of messages with the minors, in which he instructed and induced them to engage in sexually explicit and self-harming conduct, record themselves doing so, and send the resulting videos to him. He also received videos of a sixth minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Sanders also discussed meeting some of these minors in person and engaging in sexual acts with them and threatened to distribute a video depicting one of these minors to others at the minor’s high school if the minor did not comply with his instructions.

Additional forensic evidence recovered from multiple laptops and thumb drives found in Sanders’s bedroom pursuant to a court-authorized search established that he possessed different images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of other children, including videos depicting the sexual abuse of a toddler and prepubescent children being sexually abused and subjected to sadistic acts. Sanders told law enforcement that he obtained such images from Darkweb websites, the sole purpose of which were to share and facilitate the viewing of such material.

At Sanders’s initial court appearance on March 20, 2020, an FBI special agent testified as a witness for the prosecution that the case involved video depictions and online discussions with a 14-year-old. A defense attorney argued that Sanders could live with his parents during the court proceedings instead of being held in custody, according to a transcript.

“He’s had no history of violence, no history of drug or alcohol use,” the defense attorney said. “I think the evidence would show that he’s a victim of intense bullying as he was growing up.”

The judge ruled that Sanders remain in custody, citing community safety concerns.

Sanders was convicted on five counts of production of child pornography, six counts of receipt of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.

After serving the prison sentence, Sanders will face a lifetime of supervised release, according to the news release.

Photo via Google Maps. David Taube contributed to this report.

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The Domino’s Pizza on Watson Street in Tysons was one of three Fairfax County businesses hit in a string of armed robberies in early 2021 (via Google Maps)

A 62-year-old Maryland resident faces almost two decades in prison for a string of armed robberies that spanned the D.C. area last year, including three incidents in Fairfax County.

Jon Karl Mcree Fleet was sentenced to 17 years today (Tuesday) after pleading guilty to using a firearm in five robberies committed between Jan. 24 and March 13, 2021, Department of Justice prosecutors announced.

“At the time of the robberies, Fleet was a convicted felon, having previously been convicted for armed robberies, and was thus prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia said. “Fleet’s lengthy and violent criminal history qualifies him as a ‘Career Offender.'”

According to an affidavit from William Beechum, the investigating FBI agent, Fairfax County police first responded to an armed robbery report at the Macy’s in Springfield Town Center around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2021.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect displaying a gun to the clerk at the cash register. Approximately $300 was reported stolen.

Similar robberies were subsequently reported on:

  • Feb. 11: McDonald’s (505 South Van Dorn Street) in the City of Alexandria
  • Feb. 17: Exxon gas station (1276 Crain Highway South) in Crofton, Maryland
  • Feb. 21: Subway (10428 Campus Way South) in Largo, Maryland
  • Feb. 23: Papa John’s (5860 Columbia Pike) in Bailey’s Crossroads
  • March 7: Marathon Gas Station (8405 Westphalia Road) in Upper Marlboro, Maryland
  • March 13: Domino’s Pizza (8133 Watson Street) in Tysons

The affidavit says Fleet was identified using cell phone data and video surveillance footage that captured his vehicle, clothes, and the use of “a sawed-off shotgun with distinctive blue tape,” which was spotted in the Upper Marlboro and Tysons robberies.

Fleet was arrested by U.S. Marshals deputies in D.C. on April 21, 2021, and extradited on April 26 to Fairfax County, where he has been detained since then.

A federal grand jury indicted Fleet on Aug. 19, 2021, handing down 10 total charges, including multiple counts of robbery and use of a firearm in connection to a violent crime. He was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

He had previously been convicted of armed robberies in Charles County and Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 2002.

Fleet ultimately entered a plea agreement on Oct. 19 where he admitted guilt to the use of a gun in the Bailey’s Crossroads and McLean robberies in exchange for getting the other charges dismissed. Federal prosecutors also agreed to not pursue cases against him for any involvement in the Crofton and Upper Marlboro robberies.

The 17-year prison sentence is the minimum term required by federal law.

The plea agreement also requires Fleet to pay back the McDonald’s, Macy’s, Subway, Papa John’s and Domino’s stores that were robbed. The restitution totals $1,501.95, with the largest amount of $500 going to Subway.

Photo via Google Maps

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