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U.S DOJ CCOURT REPORT; Former U.S. Military Army Pilot Sentenced to 20-Months for Acting as Paid Agent of the Government of PRC China

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#AceNewsDesk – Former U.S. Army helicopter pilot-turned-civilian-contractor Shapour Moinian, 67, of San Diego, was sentenced in federal court today to 20 months in prison for acting as an agent of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and accepting thousands of dollars from representatives of the Chinese government to provide aviation-related information from his defense-contractor employers.

According to court documents, Moinian served in the U.S. Army in the United States, Germany and South Korea from approximately 1977 through 2000. After his service, Moinian worked for various cleared defense contractors in the United States – including in San Diego – as well as the Department of Defense. “Cleared” is a term that indicates a contractor is permitted to work on projects that involve classified information.

According to his plea agreement, while Moinian was working for a cleared defense contractor, or CDC, on various aviation projects used by the military and U.S. intelligence agencies, he was contacted by an individual in China who claimed to be working for a technical recruiting company. This person offered Moinian the opportunity to consult for the aviation industry in China.

In March 2017, Moinian travelled to Hong Kong where he met with this purported recruiter and agreed to provide information and materials related to multiple types of aircraft designed and/or manufactured in the United States in exchange for money.

Moinian accepted approximately $7,000-$10,000 in U.S. currency during that meeting. According to his plea agreement, at this meeting and at all subsequent meetings, Moinian knew that these individuals were employed or directed by the PRC.

Upon returning to the United States, Moinian began gathering aviation-related materials, which included transferring material from a CDC to a thumb drive. In September 2017, Moinian traveled overseas and, during a stopover at the Shanghai airport, met with Chinese government officials and provided aviation-related materials on a thumb drive, including proprietary information from a CDC. Thereafter, Moinian arranged to be paid for this information through the South Korean bank account of his stepdaughter. Moinian told his stepdaughter that these funds were payment for his consulting work overseas and instructed her to transfer the funds to him in multiple transactions.

Moinian also received a cell phone and other equipment from these individuals to communicate with them and aid in the electronic transfer of materials and information.

At the end of March 2018, Moinian traveled to Bali and met with these same individuals again. Later that year, he began working at another CDC. During this timeframe, the same individuals in China transferred thousands of dollars into the South Korean bank account of Moinian’s stepdaughter, who subsequently wired the funds to Moinian in multiple transactions.

In August 2019, Moinian traveled again to Hong Kong and met with these same individuals where he was again paid approximately $22,000 in cash for his services. Moinian and his wife smuggled this cash back into the United States.

According to his plea agreement, Moinian also admitted that he lied on his government background questionnaires in July 2017 and March 2020, when he falsely stated that did not have any close or continuing contacts with foreign nationals and that no foreign national had offered him a job.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman for the Southern District of California and Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s of the Counterintelligence Division made the announcement.

The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred Sheppard and John Parmley for the Southern District of California and Trial Attorney Menno Goedman of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case.

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U.S DOJ COURT REPORT: Criminal Charges Unsealed Against Haitian Gang Leaders For Kidnappings of U.S. Citizens

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#AceNewsDesk – State Department Offers $3 Million in Rewards for Capture of Three Defendants

The Department of Justice today announced the unsealing of criminal charges against seven leaders of five Haitian gangs, including gang leaders involved in the armed kidnappings of 16 U.S. citizens in the fall of 2021.

“When a U.S. citizen is kidnapped abroad, the Justice Department will bring to bear the full reach of our law enforcement authorities to ensure their safe return home and to hold accountable those responsible,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As these charges demonstrate, we are committed to working alongside our interagency and international partners to disrupt these kidnapping-for-ransom schemes that endanger the lives of American citizens and that fuel the violent gangs harming the Haitian people.”

Among the charges unsealed today were federal indictments charging three Haitian nationals with conspiracy to commit hostage taking and hostage taking for their roles in the armed kidnapping of 16 U.S. citizens in Haiti in the fall of 2021.

The victims were Christian missionaries serving near Port-au-Price, Haiti, and most of them were held captive for 61 days before escaping. The group included five children, one as young as eight months old at the time of the kidnapping.

Contemporaneous with today’s announcement, the U.S. Department of State is announcing a reward of $3 million ($1 million per each of the three defendants charged in the kidnapping of the missionaries) for information leading to the capture of the three defendants, who are believed to be in Haiti. The reward is being offered under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program.

Those three defendants, who are charged in separate indictments filed in the District of Columbia, include Lanmo Sanjou, aka Joseph Wilson, 29 and Jermaine Stephenson, aka Gaspiyay, in his late 20s, both current leaders of the 400 Mawozo gang, and Vitel’homme Innocent, 36, leader of the Kraze Barye gang.

The 400 Mawozo gang, which operates in Croix-des-Bouquets area to the east of Port-au-Prince, claimed responsibility for the missionaries’ kidnapping. The Kraze Barye gang operates in the Torcelle and Tabarre areas of Haiti. According to the indictment, Innocent worked together with 400 Mawozo in the hostage taking.

In addition to the indictments for the kidnapping of the missionaries, the Department of Justice announced charges against four other Haitian nationals who are leaders of three other gangs for two other kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Haiti.

“The charges unsealed today are a reminder of the FBI’s ability to reach criminal actors overseas when crimes are committed against U.S citizens,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI, with our federal and international partners, will continue to pursue anyone who targets Americans for hostage taking or other violent crimes – wherever they are.”

“We stand with the people of Haiti, whose country has been ravaged by violent gangs impacting every facet of society,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “We are committed to using all tools available to prosecute these gangs in order to disrupt their unlawful activities in Haiti and bring justice for our victims.”

“FBI Miami has extraterritorial responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert M. DeWitt of the FBI Miami Field Office. “When crimes against U.S. Citizens occur in Haiti and throughout this region, we will not relent. The FBI’s full investigative capability will be brought to bear to identify those responsible.”

The investigation involving the Oct. 16, 2021, kidnapping of the missionaries has also led to additional charges. Two alleged leaders of the 400 Mawozo gang previously were charged with the crimes. Joly Germine, aka “Yonyon,” 30, and Jean Pelice, aka “Zo,” 27, were charged by superseding indictment in July 2022. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges. According to court documents, Germine, who was in a Haitian prison at the time of the kidnapping, directed and asserted control of 400 Mawozo gang members’ kidnapping operations, including ransom negotiation for the hostages’ release. One of the gang’s stated goals in holding the hostages was to secure from the Haitian government Germine’s release from prison. Germine is alleged to have been in regular contact with other 400 Mawozo leaders about the hostages’ kidnapping, captivity, and ransom. Two of the hostages were released on or about Nov. 20, 2021, and three more were released on or about Dec. 5, 2021. The remaining hostages escaped captivity on or about Dec. 16, 2021. 

Additionally, charges also were unsealed today in cases involving three other Haitian gangs:

  • The leader of the gang Gran Ravine, Renel Destina, aka Ti Lapli, 40, was indicted on charges of hostage taking. Gran Ravine controls areas to the southwest of Port-au-Prince. The indictment charges the gang with kidnapping a U.S victim in February 2021, holding the victim for approximately 14 days, during which time the victim was threatened daily at gunpoint, while his family scrambled to secure funds for release. The victim was finally released on Feb. 16, 2021, after a ransom was paid.
  • A leader of the gang Village de Dieu, Emanuel Solomon, aka Manno, in his 30s, was charged in a criminal complaint for kidnapping a U.S. citizen in January 2021. The Village de Dieu gang controls areas to the southwest of Port-au-Prince. The victim was taken hostage at gunpoint and held for approximately 11 days until his family and friends in the United States sent a ransom payment to Haiti for his release. The gang kept the victim’s car and two phones, and finally released the victim on Jan. 23, 2021. Manno and fellow gang leaders are active on social media, posting about the gang’s exploits.
  • Two leaders of the gang Kokorat san Ras, John Peter Fleronvil and Jean Renald Dolcin, were charged by complaint for kidnapping at gunpoint three U.S. victims in July 2022. Two victims, a married couple, were held for six days and released following a ransom payment made by a family member. A third victim was taken captive the day after the other two U.S. victims and held for approximately six days while a family member negotiated for his release; that victim was also released following a ransom payment to the gang. The victims were all held together at the same location. Fleronvil and other Kokorat san Ras gang members were arrested on Sept. 11, by Haiti law enforcement officials while preparing to cross the border to the Dominican Republic.

Destina, Solomon, and Dolcin also are being sought:

The charges are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. If convicted of any offense, a defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI’s Miami Field Office investigated the cases, with valuable assistance from the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Haitian National Police also provided valuable assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen P. Seifert, Jack Korba, and Brittany Keil for the District of Columbia prosecuted the cases with assistance from Paralegal Specialist Jorge Casillas and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Beau Barnes for the District of Columbia.

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FEATURED BREAKING: U.S MIDTERMS ELECTIONS REPORT: Democrats V Republicans What We Know So Far !

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#AceNewsDesk – US Midterms 2022: What we know — and still don’t know — after a surprising election day

A bearded man in an Uncle Sam costume applauds in a crowd
Millions of Americans cast ballots in the midterm elections, which determine the makeup of the House of Representatives and a third of the US Senate. (Reuters: Brian Snyder)none

Polls have closed in the US midterm elections, with American voters turning out in droves to have their say on the economy, abortion rights, and the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda. 

What was expected to be a red tsunami — wiping out Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate — is looking more like choppy seas for the incumbent party, which was hoping to hold on to its razor-thin majorities. 

By the end of election night, Republicans were on track to take back control of the house, but Democrats held on to several competitive districts, avoiding the bloodbath pundits and polls had predicted. 

Closely watched swing states such as Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, which may decide the balance of the Senate, could still take several days to finalise their counts. 

In Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman finished the night by claiming victory over his Republican rival Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor recently disavowed by Oprah Winfrey

Meanwhile in Georgia, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and his Trump-backed challenger, former football star Herschel Walker, are likely headed for a run-off if neither can secure 50 per cent of the vote. 

Each state has its own rules for when and how votes are counted, which means it could take several days until the national picture comes into focus. 

Here’s what we know so far. 

The first sign that the Republican wave wouldn’t come? Virginia

Before election day, the state of Virginia was described as the “canary in the coal mine” for early clues on how the midterms might play out for Democrats. 

On America’s east coast, the state is one of the first to start counting votes. 

Democratic representative Elaine Luria, who rose to national prominence on the January 6 committee, lost to state senator Jen Kiggans by around four percentage points. 

Luria’s fate, which may have been sealed by an unfavourable redistricting, was flagged as a test for her party and the popularity of the high-profile committee tasked with investigating the insurrection.

By comparison, representative Abigail Spanberger, who is also a Democrat, fended off a challenge from Republican Yesli Vega in the battleground seat. 

If she lost, the New York Times had predicted Republicans would likely go pick up 20 seats or more. Supporters of Democrat Abigail Spanberger gathered to watch her victory in the Virginia race. (AP: Shaban Athuman)none

A loss by Democratic representative Jennifer Wexton — who represents the left-leaning Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC — would have been a death knell for the Democrats. 

But she held on, defeating Republican Hung Cao. 

The mixed results gave the party hope that all was not lost. 

Inflation and abortion appeared to be the dominant issues 

Polls suggested Americans’ main concerns were the economy, abortion rights, crime and immigration. 

Like many countries around the world, the US is struggling to rein in inflation, which is stuck close to a 40-year high at 8.2 per cent. 

As a result, the US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates, making mortgages, credit cards and loans more expensive.

The Republican party ran its campaign hard on the health of the economy, placing the blame squarely on President Biden. 

Last month, 32 per cent of pro-Republican campaign ads focused on inflation, compared to just 8 per cent of pro-Democrat ones, according to an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project.

Exit polls suggest the strategy paid off, with 44 per cent of Republican voters naming inflation as their biggest worry.Exit polls show that 46 per cent of American women were “angry” with the change to national abortion rights this year. (Reuters: Jonathan Drake)none

Meanwhile, Democrats named abortion access as their biggest motivator, according to exit polls. 

Earlier this year, America’s highest court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion and sent the issue back to the states. 

Thirteen American states have since banned most abortions. 

Democrats had hoped the issue would drive outraged voters to the polls in huge numbers. 

It will probably take a couple of days to delve into the data and figure out how much abortion played into the race. 

But 46 per cent of women nationwide said they were angry about the change to abortion rights, while another 20 per cent said they were “dissatisfied”, according to NBC’s exit poll.

Ultimately it might not be quite enough for Democrats to keep control of the House of Representatives. 

But control of the Senate — something several forecasting models predicted would fall to Republicans — is now a toss-up. 

Election deniers cried foul in Arizona

A legal stoush is already brewing in Arizona, which became ground zero for election denialism in the wake of the 2020 election.Republicans gathered at a Scottsdale resort to watch the results come in. (ABC News: Cameron Schwarz)none

Just hours after polls opened, Maricopa County — the state’s most populous — reported technical issues with automatic vote-counting machines at around 60 polling locations. 

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer called the malfunctions “disappointing” and sought to reassure voters their ballots would be counted. 

But the delays were quickly seized on by some Republicans, including Trump-backed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and the former president himself. 

“Can this possibly be true when a vast majority of Republicans waited for today to vote?” Trump wrote on Truth Social. 

“Here we go again? The people will not stand for it!!!” 

Poll workers tried to allay the concerns of frustrated voters in line, as conspiracies theories began to swirl online, fuelling baseless claims of fraud. 

“No one’s trying to deceive anybody,” one poll worker says in a video circulated on Twitter. 

The county later attributed the source of the glitch to a printing problem, solved by changing the printer settings. 

“It appears some of the printers were not producing dark enough timing marks on the ballots,” county officials said in a statement. 

“This solution has worked at 17 locations, and technicians deployed throughout the county are working to resolve this issue at the remaining locations.” 

Even so, in a sign of what may be to come, Republican National Committee and several Republican candidates filed an emergency lawsuit calling for polls to remain open longer. 

The request was denied by a superior court judge, who said he didn’t see evidence that people were unable to vote. 

Lake, a former TV anchor known for relitigating the 2020 elections, has previously been cagey when asked if she would concede her own race. 

At her election night watch party, she was defiant, despite her Democratic opponent Katie Hobbs gaining a sizeable early lead. 

“We had a big day today and don’t let those cheaters and crooks [make you] think anything different,” she said. 

“I just want you to know it’s early.

“It’s very early and if we have to take this fight through we will. If it takes hours or days we will.” 

Biden vs Trump or maybe DeSantis? It’s full steam ahead to 2024 

Now that the midterms are drawing to a close, both Democrats and Republicans will turn their full attention to the presidential election two years from now. 

Voters almost always use the midterms as a chance to put pressure on the sitting president and voice their displeasure over policy decisions. 

After the 2006 midterms delivered the Democrats a huge landslide victory, Republican president George W Bush admitted that he’d been at the receiving end of a “thumping”. 

Four years later, when Democratic president Barack Obama saw his party run out of both houses of Congress, he called it a “shellacking”. President Biden had a better night than many political commentators expected. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)none

For Joe Biden, the much-feared red wave of Republican votes never crested. 

In the end, it might be more like a red swell that washes over Biden’s ankles. 

The better-than-expected result is likely to quiet any whispers about the president stepping down after one term and letting another Democrat run in 2024. 

With Donald Trump teasing a “big announcement” in the coming days, the next election may end up a 2020 rematch. 

The former president has hinted he’s gearing up for another tilt at the White House, saying in October: “I will probably have to do it again”. 

While he remains the frontrunner for the nomination, Trump appears to be increasingly concerned about the rise of his young protege, Ron DeSantis. Donald Trump has dangled the possibility of another run for the White House in 2024. (Reuters: Marco Bello)none

The Florida governor easily won a second term in office today, but he’s so far remained coy on whether he has loftier ambitions for 2024. 

“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal earlier today. 

“I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife.” 

With the “red wave” he predicted now failing to materialise, Trump may be left to wonder if his path to the nomination is as clear as some assumed.

US election results: What would a Republican-led Congress do? as the upper chamber of Congress, the Senate, remains too close to call.

Millions of votes are yet to be counted in the midterm elections, but early estimates suggest the Republican Party is on course to win back control of the US House of Representatives for the first time in four years.

By Anthony Zurcher: BBC News, Washington

In the 100-seat Senate, only 35 seats are up for election this year, and there are only a handful of closely contested races. A net change of one seat toward the Republicans would give them control.

After two years of unified Democratic control in Washington, the power dynamic in the nation’s capital is poised to shift. Here are four very real implications for American politics for the next two years.

The end of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda

US President Joe Biden
Joe Biden’s Democrats face a tough battle to keep control of Congress

In their two years in office, Joe Biden and the Democrats were able to enact a fairly substantive agenda, which included massive spending on the environment, healthcare and other social programmes. 

That would all end with a Republican victory.

Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.
Immigrants seeking asylum in the US wait to be processed by border agents in Arizona

There’s the chance of some co-operation – for instance, Republicans and Democrats did join together to pass gun control and technology investment this year and infrastructure spending last year. However, big-ticket liberal priorities on abortion, education and voting rights will be dead in the water.

Republicans have their own agenda, focused on border security, law enforcement spending, budget cuts and fossil fuel extraction. But even if the Republicans take both chambers of Congress, Democrats will be able block passage in the Senate using the filibuster rule, or in the White House using Mr Biden’s veto power.

For the next two years, legislative gridlock will be the name of game. 

Republicans get the power to investigate

For two years, Democrats have been calling the shots – that’s meant an expansive investigation into the 6 January, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, and hearings on subjects including abortion, healthcare and voting rights.

If Republicans take control of congressional committees, the priorities will rapidly shift. 

House conservatives have already promised a hearing into Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business ties to China. They also want to look into the Biden administration’s immigration policies, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic in China.

The Senate Judiciary Committee handles review of presidential nominations to the federal courts. For the past two years, Democrats have set a modern record for the number of new judges seated to lifetime appointments. 

If Republicans also take control of the US Senate, expect the process for confirming Mr Biden’s nominees to come to a standstill. And if a Supreme Court vacancy opens up, there’s a good chance it could remain unfilled until the next presidential election.

Risk of government shutdowns

With Democratic control of Congress, the US had a two-year reprieve from the game of chicken that have led to government shutdowns and near default on the national debt. That’s about to end. 

Some Republicans, including Congressman Kevin McCarthy who is poised to become House speaker if Republicans take the chamber, are already threatening to force Democrats to agree to sweeping budget cuts.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy
Congressman Kevin McCarthy is already threatening to force Democrats to agree to sweeping budget cuts

The US has never defaulted on its debt. However partial government shutdowns due to the inability of Congress to approve annual spending legislation have become more common. It happened twice during the Trump administration and once under President Barack Obama.

If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a basic framework for government spending, another government shutdown by the end of next year seems highly probable. 

Biden’s perilous path ahead

Republican control of Congress would be a bitter pill for Mr Biden to swallow. He campaigned as someone who could unite Americans after a turbulent four years with Mr Trump as president. 

Instead he will face a nation as divided as ever, a hostile Congress, and the possibility that Mr Trump himself will seek to win back the White House.

Most presidents suffer through electoral setbacks halfway through their first term in office. Although some have bounced back to win re-election, losing Congress will be seen as a sign of Mr Biden’s continued political weakness. It could renew calls for him to step aside for another Democrat when the 2024 presidential campaign season begins. 

The president and his advisers all insist he will seek re-election. The White House has already announced Mr Biden will give a public speech addressing the election results on Wednesday. 

How he handles that speech, and how he deals with the adversity that is coming in the months ahead, will go a long way toward determining how much support he will have in his own party for another four years in office.

BBC/ABC/Local Media/

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BREAKING AUSTRALIA: Two small aircraft crash at Kybong, near Gympie, both pilots killed

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#AceBreakingNews – Two men have died following a light aircraft crash near Kybong in the Gympie region, north of Brisbane.

A smashed plane.
The aircraft crashed near Kybong in the Gympie region.(ABC News)none

Emergency crews were called to the crash, which was near the Gympie Aerodrome, around 2:45pm.

Police Inspector Brad Inskip said the two men were in two separate aircraft — a glider and ultralight. 

“We will be looking into the possibility that there was a collision mid-air, but it’s very early days,” he said.

Inspector Brad Inskip standing outside the Gympie Aerodrome.
Inspector Brad Inskip said a mid-air collision is being investigated.(ABC News: Jessica Ross)none

Footage shows debris scattered across an open field.

Police are investigating and the accident has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.Emergency services were called to a crash just before 3pm.(ABC News: Jessica Ross)

Local resident Lyndal Kenman says she heard “an almighty bang” while sitting on her verandah with her husband nearby.

“We saw two aircraft spiralling out of the cloud to the ground,” she said.

She said they called the police.

Inspector Inskip said police “will likely to maintain a crime scene overnight”.

“This is a tragic incident, and quite a graphic scene left there for all the emergency services and those who have responded, and for the witnesses,” he said.

He said the incident will hit the community hard.

“It is a small, little regional gliding club, they all know each other,” he said.

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