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March 27, 2015

Posts in "Campus Crime"

March 7, 2015

Congressional Staffer Arrested on 17 Counts of Child Sex Crimes

Matthew Pennell, right, a staffer for Huelskamp is facing criminal charges for sexual exploitation (Photo Courtesy Facebook)

Matthew Pennell, right, a staffer for Huelskamp, is facing criminal charges for sexual exploitation of a minor (Photo Courtesy Facebook)

A staffer for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., has been arrested and charged with sexual exploitation of a child, according to KWCH in Kansas.

Matthew P. Pennell was arrested Thursday on 17 counts of alleged child sex crimes. He is listed as a constituent services representative for Huelskamp, according to Legistorm. He started working for Huelskamp in June 2014, according to his Facebook profile. Full story

By Rebecca Gale Posted at 12:08 p.m.
Campus Crime

February 11, 2015

Phone Scammers Target Congressional Offices

Congressional offices have been warned of fraudulent phone calls. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional offices have been warned about fraudulent phone calls. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Security officials are warning Capitol Hill employees to be alert for telephone scams targeting congressional offices, a reminder that Internet-calling technology makes phone calls as big a threat to Congress as cyberattacks.

On Monday, the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms sent out a notice about illegal phone phishing incidents, involving callers trying to elicit sensitive information about the Senate network, including IP addresses, files present on Senate computers and how to obtain remote access. Full story

February 4, 2015

Capitol Police Drug Bust Goes Bust

Charges may be refiled agains suspect arrested in a Dec. 23  drug bust. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Charges may be refiled against a suspect arrested in a Dec. 23 drug bust. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A New York man arrested on Dec. 23 in one of the biggest drug busts in recent Capitol Police history had his case dismissed in January, when the government failed to produce a witness.

Police found 60 blue oxycodone pills, along with drug paraphernalia and cash, during a search-and-arrest initiated two days before Christmas — in broad daylight on an empty Capitol campus — when the man drove up to the South Barricade in a gray Honda Civic. Dennis A. Silva, 25, was charged with possession with intent to distribute what appeared to be prescription narcotics, a felony punishable with up to 30 years in prison. Full story

November 20, 2014

Republican National Committee Headquarters Hit With Blue Spray Paint

Scalise outside the RNC's headquarters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise outside the RNC’s headquarters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A vandal struck the Republican National Committee headquarters on Veterans Day, according to Capitol Police.

Around 7 a.m. on Nov. 11, a security guard spotted a young man spray painting a large blue “V” on the front door of 310 First St. SE, according to the police report. The graffiti was thwarted by the guard, who handcuffed the perpetrator and called Capitol Police.

Wilbert Henry Norton, 24, of Floyd, Va., was arrested and charged with destruction of property under $1,000, a misdemeanor. As a condition of his release, he was ordered to stay away from Capitol grounds, including all congressional office buildings.

The RNC paint job appears to be an isolated incident, though other buildings in the area have been targeted in recent months, according to sources familiar with the location.

Asked if there’s been an increase in vandalism around the Capitol grounds, the department provided statistics. To date in 2014, six incidents of graffiti have been reported to Capitol Police. That’s an uptick from five in 2013, but a decrease from 2012, when 10 graffiti incidents were reported on Capitol grounds. Some members faced vandalism in their districts that year, a backlash to passage of the health care overhaul.

In an email, Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the department, said Capitol Police “strategically deploy our assets throughout the Capitol Campus as part of our primary law enforcement mission to protect the Congress, the Capitol Complex, and the legislative process.”

Capitol Police work with the Architect of the Capitol to remove markings whenever graffiti is reported.

Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report. 

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October 21, 2014

Second Capitol Hill Gun Case Ends With Plea Deal

Prestage was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm into the Cannon House Office Building. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Prestage was sentenced to probation and fines for carrying a loaded firearm into the Cannon House Office Building. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

About three months after he was arrested at a security checkpoint in the Cannon House Office Building, Ronald Prestage pleaded guilty to two District of Columbia gun charges.

The South Carolina pork executive’s defense attorney appeared in a downtown D.C. courthouse on Tuesday morning to file guilty pleas to charges of possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Prestage initially faced charges of carrying a pistol outside a home or business — a felony that carries up to five years in prison and $5,000 fine. Under the terms of a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr., offered after a court ruling dismantled D.C. gun laws, penalties were much lighter.

D. C. Superior Court Associate Judge John McCabe sentenced Prestage to 30 days in jail, but suspended the sentence, meaning he would not be locked up. Prestage has been ordered to serve six months unsupervised probation, which means he is not required to report to a probation officer. McCabe ordered Prestage to pay $100 in court costs by the end of the year and comply with gun offender registration requirements, according to court documents.

Capitol Police found a loaded semi-automatic pistol and magazine in Prestage’s briefcase on July 23 — only a few days after cops arrested Capitol Hill aide Ryan Shucard after finding a 9mm handgun in his bag. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., reinstated Shucard as his press secretary in late September following a similar plea agreement.


Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested on Gun Charge Returns to Work

Pork Executive Was Carrying ‘Fully Functional’ Pistol, Police Say

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

Capitol Police Stop Another Gun From Entering Cannon Building (Updated)

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September 11, 2014

Homeless Man Arrested for Wreaking Havoc on Lower Senate Park

Watering the Lawn

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police arrested a homeless man Monday afternoon in Lower Senate Park who seemed bent on destroying the serene scenery.

After witnessing the man kicking over trash cans and pulling sprinkler heads out of the ground, a bystander called police.

When officers arrived, the witness identified Micah Chinedu Irika, 39, as the vandal. Irika was placed under arrest at 2:37 p.m., according to a police report. He faces felony charges for destroying up to $1,000 in Architect of the Capitol property.

According to D.C. Superior Court documents, Irika also faces charges in a separate case for an alleged assault on a police officer and two counts of simple assault.


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August 27, 2014

Ryan Shucard Still Negotiating With Federal Prosecutors

Shucard hopes to return to Capitol Hill. (via Facebook)

Shucard hopes to return to Capitol Hill. (via Facebook)

During a Wednesday appearance in D.C. Superior Court, Capitol Hill staffer Ryan Shucard did not agree to a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors.

The press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., who was arrested July 18 when Capitol Police discovered a 9mm handgun and magazine in his bag, seems to be negotiating for a better deal with the government. Defense attorney Jason Kalafat said he was still “finalizing work, trying to resolve this matter,” and asked that the case be continued.

Shucard has been charged with carrying a pistol outside the home, a felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In the wake of a federal court ruling that struck down the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. offered Shucard an agreement under which he would plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition — two charges that each carry a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine.

“We’re still negotiating, and hopefully will have it wrapped up within the next week or two,” Kalafat told CQ Roll Call.

Shucard sat solemnly next to his mother until his case was called around 11:15 a.m. He agreed to return Sept. 10, the same day Ronald Prestage, another man arrested for bringing a gun to Capitol Hill, is scheduled to be in the downtown courthouse. Shucard has indicated he wants to return to Marino’s office once the matter is settled. He remains on unpaid leave.

Related stories:

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

Capitol Hill Gun Case Delayed in Wake of D.C. Ruling

Ryan Shucard Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Webb Aide Could Get 5 Years

Gun-Related Arrest Is Nothing New for Capitol Police

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

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August 13, 2014

Capitol Hill Gun Case Delayed in Wake of D.C. Ruling

Attorneys for Prestage are still negotiating with the government in the Capitol Hill gun case. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Attorneys for Prestage are negotiating with government officials in his Capitol Hill gun case. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

For the second time in less than a week, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to delay a case involving a man carrying a gun to Capitol Hill.

Ronald Prestage — the South Carolina pork executive arrested by Capitol Police when they found a loaded semi-automatic pistol and magazine in his briefcase — was expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday. But the 11 a.m. hearing was not held.

Court documents state the government and defense are continuing negotiations, suggesting a plea deal might be possible. A federal ruling on D.C.’s gun policy may impact charges in the case.

On July 23, Capitol Police spotted a handgun in Prestage’s briefcase during an administrative search at the Rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building. Police say the weapon, concealed in a black ankle holster, appeared to be “fully functional” and “capable of being fired by a single hand.” According to charging documents, Prestage told police at the time of the arrest that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina. He does not have a permit to carry in D.C.

Prestage, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, has been charged with a single count of possessing a gun outside a home or office, a felony that carries up to five years in prison.

Full story

August 7, 2014

Ryan Shucard Hopes Gun Charges Are Dismissed, Wants to Return to Marino’s Office

The Capitol Hill staffer who brought a 9 mm handgun to work on July 18 is working with his attorney to get the felony charges dismissed, in light of a federal judge’s ruling that D.C.’s law against carrying handguns outside the home is unconstitutional, along with other factors.

Ryan Shucard arrived at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alongside his mother on Thursday, about 20 minutes before his 11 a.m. preliminary hearing. In a quick conversation with the judge, the case was continued until Aug. 27, according to court documents that state the government and Shucard’s attorney are still negotiating.

In Shucard’s first comment to the press since Capitol Police arrested him, the 26-year-old acknowledged his mistake in carrying a handgun to the Capitol grounds, then tried to pivot to talking points from his role as press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. Shucard is currently on unpaid leave from the office, pending the outcome of the case.

“I think there’s four things that I would be focusing on at this point, and it would be Congressman Marino’s geopolitical views on what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine, [the] three-point plan regarding the border crisis and it would be his leadership on intellectual property and music licensing,” Shucard told CQ Roll Call outside the courtroom. “To me, those are the bigger issues here.”

“As far as me,” he continued, “there’s nothing else that I can really say. No new information. No new comment. Nothing we’d like to share.”

According to charging documents, Shucard placed his bag on the X-ray belt inside the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building and Capitol Police saw the Smith & Wesson handgun and magazine, containing nine rounds of ammunition inside. The cops immediately stopped the screening process, secured the area — just across the street from the Capitol South Metro Station — and detained Shucard for further investigation.

When CQ Roll Call asked about the fear and concern he provoked in the Capitol Hill community by bringing a weapon to campus, Shucard’s attorney, Jason Kalafat intervened.

“We have no comment on that,” Kalafat said. “He can’t speak to what other people would say. It was a mistake.”

Kalafat, a partner at Price Benowitz LLP, is still engaged in conversations with federal prosecutors about getting the felony charges, which carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, dismissed. He said the July 26 ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia that briefly negated the D.C. law Shucard was charged with violating was one factor. Federal and local laws banning people from carrying handguns on the Capitol grounds are another consideration.

Shucard wants to return to the Hill.

“I loved my job, yeah, and I still love my job,” he said. “So hopefully, the quicker things return to normal the better.”


Thomas Massie Says D.C. Should Look at New Hampshire or Pennsylvania Gun Laws

D.C. Officials Plotting New Course to Keep Gun Control Intact

Judge Stays D.C. Handgun Ruling for 90 Days

In D.C., Response to Judge’s Handgun Ruling Is Mixed and Muddled

Charges in Campus Handgun Cases Could Change in Wake of D.C. Handgun Ruling

Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Shucard Pleads Not Guilty to Carrying Pistol to Capitol Hill

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:03 p.m.
Campus Crime

July 31, 2014

Thomas Massie Says D.C. Should Look at New Hampshire or Pennsylvania Gun Laws

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

District officials have suggested Maryland’s restrictive handgun permit policy might provide the best model for their city, as they attempt to enact new gun control measures, but Rep. Thomas Massie thinks they should look to Pennsylvania or New Hampshire.

The Kentucky Republican, who wants to wipe out all of the District’s local firearm restrictions — effectively making the city one of the most permissive gun jurisdictions in the nation — said Thursday that both states have “really good constitutional concealed carry laws.”

“So I would recommend they go, since they would like to be like a state, they should go look at a state that’s got this right — or they could use Kentucky,” he added, “but frankly, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire have the better laws.” Full story

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