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A Colorado man pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court in Vermont to kidnapping a man who was later found shot to death in a snowbank in 2018 in what prosecutors allege is a murder-for-hire case stemming from a financial dispute.

Federal prosecutors say they believe Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado, killed Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont, but he has not been charged in the killing. U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford ordered Banks to remain detained until trial, noting the prosecutors’ concerns about his risk of flight and safety risk to potential witnesses.

“Someone who would kill for money would likely kill or improperly influence a witness or otherwise seek to influence the course of a trial that would result in his life in prison,” Paul Van de Graaf and Jonathan Ophardt, assistant U.S. attorneys for Vermont, wrote in their detention request. They said Banks has a history of living “off the grid” and no strong connection to Vermont or anywhere else in the country.

Banks’ federal public defender, Mary Nerino, did not contest detention and would not comment on the charges after the arraignment.

Davis was abducted from his Danville, Vermont, home on Jan. 6, 2018, and found shot to death the next day in a snowbank on a back road in Barnet.

Prosecutors detailed the alleged conspiracy in a filing Monday in federal court in Las Vegas. They wrote that Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI with information that Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, an inventor and the co-founder of a Los Angeles-based biotechnology company, was defrauding Davis in a multimillion-dollar oil deal Gumrukcu and Gumrukcu’s brother had entered into with Davis in 2015.

Gurumkcu was facing felony fraud charges in California in 2017 and was working on a deal that came together soon after Davis’ death that gave him significant ownership stake in Enochian Bioscience.


Former reality TV star Josh Duggar was sentenced Wednesday to about 12 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted of receiving child pornography.

Duggar was also convicted of possessing child pornography in December, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks dismissed that conviction after ruling that, under federal law, it was an included offense in the receiving child pornography count.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks to give the maximum term of 20 years to Duggar, whose large family was the focus of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.” They argued in a pre-sentencing court filing that Duggar has a “deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children.”

The judge sentenced Duggar to 12 years and seven months in prison, one day after denying a defense motion to overturn the guilty verdict on grounds of insufficient evidence or to order a new trial.

U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes said he was pleased with the sentence.

“While this is not the sentence we asked for, this is a lengthy sentence,” Fowlkes said outside the courthouse.

Duggar, whose lawyers sought a five-year sentence, maintains his innocence. Defense attorney Justin Gelfand said he is grateful Brooks declined to impose the full 20-year sentence requested by prosecutors.

“We’ll immediately file the notice of appeal within the next 14 days,” Gelfand said.

Duggar was arrested in April 2021 after a Little Rock police detective found child porn files were being shared by a computer traced to Duggar. Investigators testified that images depicting the sexual abuse of children, including toddlers, were downloaded in 2019 onto a computer at a car dealership Duggar owned.

TLC canceled “19 Kids and Counting” in 2015 following allegations that Duggar had molested four of his sisters and a babysitter years earlier. Authorities began investigating the abuse in 2006 after receiving a tip from a family friend but concluded that the statute of limitations on any possible charges had expired.

Duggar’s parents said he had confessed to the fondling and apologized. After the allegations resurfaced in 2015, Duggar apologized publicly for unspecified behavior and resigned as a lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group.

Months later, he publicly apologized for cheating on his wife and a pornography addiction, for which he then sought treatment.

In seeking a 20-year sentence, prosecutors cited the graphic images — and the ages of the children involved — as well as court testimony about the alleged abuse of Duggar’s sisters.

Duggar’s past behavior “provides an alarming window into the extent of his sexual interest in children that the Court should consider at sentencing,” federal prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum.

“This past conduct, when viewed alongside the conduct for which he has been convicted, makes clear that Duggar has a deep-seated, pervasive, and violent sexual interest in children, and a willingness to act on that interest” the court filing said.

Prosecutors also noted that Duggar’s computer had been partitioned to evade accountability software that had been installed to report to his wife activity such as porn searches, according to experts.

“There is simply no indication that Duggar will ever take the steps necessary to change this pattern of behavior and address his predilection for minor females,” prosecutors wrote.

“Duggar accepts that he is before this Court for sentencing and that this Court must impose a penalty,” his attorneys wrote. “That is justice. But Duggar also appeals to this Court’s discretion to temper that justice with mercy.”


A Maryland woman who formerly served in the U.S. Navy has pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false claims to the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration to obtain more than $1 million in disability benefits, a federal prosecutor said.

Angela Marie Farr, 36, of Leonardtown pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiracy to commit theft of government property and two counts of theft of government property, said U.S. Attorney Erek Barron in a news release.

According to her guilty plea, Farr organized a conspiracy in which she submitted false and fraudulent documents to the Department of Veterans Affairs in support of her claims for disability compensation, as well as for her then-husband and her father. Despite saying in the claims that both men were homebound, they were actually living active lives, the news release said.

Two years after she was administratively discharged from the Navy, Farr filed a claim for disability compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder after being sexually assaulted while on duty three years earlier. She also claimed that she was seriously injured in a traffic accident when she was struck by a drunk driver while driving on duty in 2006.


A defendant accused of fatally shooting a man because he didn’t want to pay him for a drug deal pleaded not guilty in Brown County Circuit Court Monday.

Pedro Santiago-Marquez is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and being party to mutilating a corpse in connection with the Sept. 27 murder of Jason Mendez-Ramos.

Prosecutors say Mendez-Ramos was angry that he had not been paid $80,000 for a cocaine deal. A criminal complaint says rather than pay for the cocaine, Santiago-Marquez shot him in the head with a pistol. The victim’s burned body was found at the edge of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus, WLUK-TV reported.

Security videos, cell phone tracking information, and DNA tie Rodriguez-Garcia to that scene, according to the criminal complaint.

Another man, 47-year-old Alexander Burgos-Mojica, is charged with harboring or aiding a felon in connection with the case. He returns to court March 18 for a balance of initial appearance. Rodriguez-Garcia returns to court March 21 for a status conference on the charge of mutilating a corpse.


An Iraqi man living in the Atlanta area has been convicted on charges of trying to smuggling guns through Savannah’s port, federal prosecutors said.

Nihad Al Jaberi, 42, was convicted after a three day trial in federal court and faces up to 10 years in prison and substantial financial penalties, prosecutors said in a news release Friday. He was to remain in custody until he’s sentenced at a later date.

A legal permanent resident of the United States who lives in Clarkston, Al Jaberi tried in August 2020 to ship six .308-caliber long-range rifles and three handguns, prosecutors said. The weapons were hidden in a shipment for which the contents were listed as “71 Pieces of Spare Auto Parts with No License Required.”

Prosecutors said the guns had been obtained through straw purchases at sporting goods stores in the Atlanta area.


A Box Elder man faces a second trial in a fatal stabbing in Rapid City.

A Pennington County judge last month declared a mistrial in a murder case of Barry Allman after discovering that prosecutors failed to inform the defense in a timely manner that immunity had been granted to several key witnesses.

KOTA-TV reports Judge Matt Brown announced a new trial Friday. Brown called the errors made by the state in the case “grossly negligent, egregious and caused serious inconvenience, burden and cost to the county, the court, court staff, jurors and to Mr. Allman.”

Allman is accused of stabbing Lance Baumgarten in the chest at a Rapid City apartment in August 2020. Allman was arrested a day following the stabbing near Wanblee by Oglala Sioux tribal officers.


A former Waterloo man has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for selling heroin to a woman who died of an overdose.

Eric DeAngelo Griggs, 40, was sentenced for the death of a Cedar Falls woman in 2018, the Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier reported.

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge C.J .Williams said Griggs had to know that heroin and other opioids are potentially lethal.

Griggs was found guilty in April of of distribution of heroin resulting in death and use of a telephone and Facebook Messenger to facilitate heroin distribution. The judge also ordered him to pay $16,000 in restitution to the woman’s family.

The judge also found that Griggs obstructed justice by sending a threatening letter to a person he thought was cooperating with investigators, and prosecutors noted he had a several prior convictions for drugs, fraud and other offenses.

Authorities said Griggs sold heroin to the woman on Aug. 31, 2018. She was found dead the next day. An autopsy determined she died of heroin intoxication.

During the hearing, Griggs continued to maintain he is innocent.

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