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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: U.S. Disrict Court

Man w/ 700 lbs of pot pleads guilty

A 78-year-old man who allowed drug traffickers to use his property just south of the Canadian border in Ferry County has pleaded guilty.

Alvin Oliver Shields had 700 pounds of marijuana on his property when federal agents searched it in 2009. Now he faces 30 to 42 months in prison under a plea agreement approved this week in U.S. District Court in Spokane. He's to be sentenced on Aug. 9.

Federal agents began investigating Shields in 2003 after a Border Patrol agent found four duffel bags with 140 pounds of marijuana after four people ran from Fourth of July Creek Road, west of Danville, into Canada.
The agent then saw Shields “driving slowly in a van with the rear cargo doors propped open,” according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Then in 2008, a multi-agency investigation determined Shields was letting marijuana traffickers in Canada transport the pot to his property, where it was then taken to Spokane and stored for distribution by U.S. drug traffickers, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Along with 700 pounds of pot, agents found evidence of hidden cash transactions and money laundering when they searched Shields' property in May 2009. They also learned Shields hadn't filed federal income tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Shields, who prosecutors said lived in Canada for 30 years, has since moved to Lebanon, Ore.

He pleaded guilty Tuesday in Spokane to money laundering, structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements, conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana (dating back to 2003) and three counts of failure to file income tax returns. He's out jail awaiting sentencing.

“Investigations involving the integrity of the United States borders and federal income tax violators are vigorously pursued in this District,” according to a prepared statement by Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “Alvin Oliver Shields’ guilty pleas are the result of effective Federal, state, local and Canadian law enforcement partnerships.”

Another Danville resident, Harold Oscar Strandberg, was indicted in 2010 after two Canadian pot smugglers, William Richard Paterson and Jahrum David Oakes, were arrested with large amounts of marijuana at Strandberg's Fourth of July Creek Road property.

Strandberg pleaded guilty in March 2011 and is on probation for three years.

Man arraigned on racist fraud allegation

A man already facing up to 10 years in prison for a gun conviction pleaded not guilty today to identity theft charges that prosecutors say were part of a white supremacist-related terrorist plot.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 53, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of aggravated identity theft, two counts of unlawful production of an identification card, two counts of unlawful possession of an identification card and one count of making a false statement. The last charge is related to Kurt allegedly using a fake identity to obtain a Post Office box.

He was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno in Spokane and is in custody at the Spokane County Jail without bail.

Kurt was arrested in August 2010 for being a felon in possession of a firearm for  five firearms he possessed while target shooting with a white supremacist, David Johnathan Udseth, who was secretly recording him for the FBI. A jury convicted Kurt last month. He denies being a racist and old jurors he spoke of a racist plan with Udseth only to infiltrate the group because its members had assaulted a friend, and he wanted to monitor them.

Prosecutors say Kurt said he was producing fraudulent identification cards for a “task” for which he had been preparing for years.

Kurt said “he would need 30 days to establish a new identity, noting the name 'Wayde Kurt would only a bring a bad reputation to a publicly exposed political movement,'” according to court documents.

FBI: Indicted racist had terrorism plans

A reputed white supremacist convicted last month of a gun charge related to an alleged domestic terrorism plot has been indicted by a grand jury for an alleged identity theft scheme.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 53, is accused of producing fraudulent identification cards for a “task” for which he had been preparing for years, according to a briefing federal prosecutors wrote for his gun trial last month.

Kurt likened the plan to the Oklahoma City bombing and said he would do everything in his power to stop President Obama from being reelected, prosecutors say.

Kurt said “he didn't want innocent people to die but it was possible they would die,” according to the briefing. Kurt “stated that it would be an act of terrorism of the worst kind and would mean a death sentence if he was caught.”

Kurt wrote a letter to an FBI informant in May 2010 discussing the need to establish a white government based on the gold or silver standard, prosecutors say.

“Kurt also wrote that he would need 30 days to establish a new identity, noting the name 'Wayde Kurt would only bring a bad reputation to a publicly exposed political movement,'” according to the trial briefing.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Spokane convicted Kurt last month of felon in possession of a firearm for five firearms he possessed while target shooting with a white supremacist, David Johnathan Udseth, in August 2010, according to court documents.

Kurt told jurors he spoke of a racist plan with Udseth only to infiltrate the group because its members had assaulted a friend, and he wanted to monitor them. He denies being a white supremacist, said his lawyer, Richard Wall.

Kurt alleges Udseth and the FBI entrapped him, but Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen ruled not reasonable person would believe that prohibited jurors from considering the entrapment defense during deliberations.

Wall expects Kurt will appeal his conviction.

“If he had given that instruction the jury would have acquitted him,” Wall said. “Without the entrapment instruction the only thing they could do was convict him because there was no question he was in possession of the weapons at one point.”

Kurt was arrested on Aug. 30, 2010. He was considered such a risk that the FBI didn’t give him a chance to surrender - an agent ran up and tackled him. He faces up to 10 years in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 26.

Now he faces new charges of aggravated identity theft, two counts of unlawful production of an identification card, two counts of unlawful possession of an identification card and one count of making a false statement under a grand jury indictment filed Wednesday. The charges carry up to 15 years in prison.

Kurt was a member of a racist group led by Keegan VanTuyl, 29, (right) who was released from federal prison last week after serving time for violation his probation on a firearms conviction.

Kurt was recruited into the group in late December 2008 after exchanging a racist greeting with key member Daniel “Church” Wilson (left) when encountering him and other group members in downtown Spokane, according to the trial briefing. The group “routinely traveled around Spokane looking for minorities to bait into a verbal and/or physical altercation, a practice referred to by group members as “coon hunting.”“

 Kurt was asked to become the leader of the group after VanTuyl and Wilson were imprisoned, but the group instead disbanded, prosecutors say.

The jury deliberated just a few hours Oct. 21 before convicting Kurt, who has been in jail since his arrest. The conviction is the latest for a convicted currency counterfeiter whose experience with the criminal justice system dates back to at least 1988, when he was acquitted of murder in Snohomish County.

Udseth was sentenced to three years probation Wednesday in U.S. District Court for manufacture of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in relation to 90 plants and six pounds of harvested pot found during a search at his home in May.

Udseth said he had a medical marijuana card, according to his plea agreement, but such a card only authorizes 15 marijuana plants and a pound and a half of marijuana, and federal law doesn't recognize medical marijuana.

New gun charge for white supremacist

A white supremacist arrested on gun charges last year has been indicted on a new charge related to additional firearms.

Wayde Lynn Kurt, 53, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to being a felon in possession of a firearm for allegedly possessing five firearms on Aug. 21, 2010. Court documents say he's expected to argue at trial that he was entrapped by an FBI informant.

The charge carries up to 10 years in prison. Kurt, who appeared in U.S. District Court Tuesday with long hair and a shaggy beard, has been in the Spoakne County Jail since last August on a felon in possession charge related to three guns; the new, superseding charge comes as prosecutors are preparing for trial next month.

The guns belonged to a confidential informant who was targeting shooting with Kurt on the informant's property. Kurt also brought two of his own firearms to the property, prosecutors say.

Spokane-area investigators believe Kurt, a convicted currency counterfeiter, used fraudulent identities to obtain guns and ammunition. He was considered such a flight risk that the FBI didn't give him a chance to surrender last August - an agent simply ran up and tackled him.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue at trial that Kurt was entrapped by the informant.

Prosecutors have filed documents asking for defense testimony regarding entrapment be limited, pointing to what they imply was Kurt's predisposition to commit the crime. Prosecutors are objecting to a request from the defens to close the courtroom for the testimony of two witnesses, whom reportedly fear retaliation from Kurt's violent white supremacist group, the Vanguard Kindred.

Kurt and the informant left the group in 2009 or 2010, accoridng to court documents.

The informant began working with the FBI in February 2010 as part of an ongoing investigation into the group, documents say.

Prosecutors say the informant recorded Kurt talking about his firearms and plans for improvement.

A judge has not yet ruled on the prosecution's motion to limit defense entrapment testimony.

Past coverage:

Sept. 3: Supremacist with assault rifles to stay jailed

Sept. 1: FBI raid targets man with white supremacist ties

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