The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

Criminal Law Newsletter August 2018

The following is a compendium of news reports over the past month that may be of interest to our AG offices who are involved with criminal law issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Association of Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the positions expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles. 

News of Interest

On August 1st, in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stressed the importance of “fixing” the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In the 2015 Supreme Court decision it was determined that the violent felon definition was too vague. Because of this ruling, more than 1,400 violent criminals were released. Sessions remarked that, “[r}eleasing repeat offenders has consequences. Every crime committed by a recidivist released by this court case would not have happened. Every one of their victims would not have been victimized.” An example of this definitional problem was demonstrated on August 13th. In U.S. v. Peppers, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that armed robbery did not qualify as a violent offense needed for a sentence under the ACCA. You can read the opinion here.

Inmates around the country are taking part in a strike. The strike began August 21, 2018, and is scheduled to end September 9, 2018. The strike is intended to highlight poor prison conditions including dissatisfaction with the wages they are paid for their labor. A list of the prisoner demands can be found here.

Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon in 1980, has been denied parole for the 10th time. He is currently serving 20 years to life for the murder. In denying Chapman parole, the board said he had shown “a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life and the pain and suffering of others.” Chapman’s next chance for parole will be in August 2020.

Federal law enforcement officials announced they have discovered a 200 yard long tunnel running from inside the Mexican border to an abandoned Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant in Arizona. Authorities believe the elaborate tunnel was used for drug smuggling. Ivan Lopez, the owner of the building, was arrested after police found several packages of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl in his truck. After his arrest, they searched the defendant’s home and the KFC and uncovered the tunnel.

In the Courts

On August 27th, Federal Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle blocked a Texas company from publicly releasing plans for creating 3D-guns. The District of Columbia and 19 states brought a lawsuit to stop the online dissemination of the plans. According to the court, this temporary injunction will last until the underlying case is over. The states involved include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

As the issue of 3D guns continues to swirl, public libraries with 3D printers have begun to grapple with the possible attempt by patrons to use their facilities to make guns. The Aurora (Il) Public Library recently announced that, since weapons are prohibited in its facilities, the creation of 3D guns would not permitted.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has issued guidance to New Jersey municipal prosecutors barring them from decriminalizing marijuana. Local prosecutors cannot adopt sweeping polices against prosecuting marijuana cases. Though as Attorney General Grewal put it, “municipal prosecutors can responsibly exercise discretion to deal with minor marijuana possession offenses in a progressive, equitable manner, while respecting the rule of law, including the authority of the Legislature and the Courts.” You can view Attorney Grewal’s Memorandum by clicking here.

A jury in Texas has convicted a former police office of murder in the death of a 15-year-old boy. The defendant, Roy Oliver, was sentenced to 15 years for shooting and killing the boy. The conviction arose from an incident in April 2017. The victim was a passenger in a car that was leaving a party. The defendant, Oliver, maintained that he shot at the car because it was headed towards his partner. However, Oliver’s partner at the time told the jury that he didn’t feel his life was in danger and he didn’t feel the need to use his weapon.


Three men, Dmytro Fedorov, Fedir Hladyr, and Andrii Kolpakov, have been arrested and are currently in custody facing international cybercrime charges. As members of FIN7, also referred to as the Carbanak Group and the Navigator Group, they hacked into thousands of computer systems and stole millions of customer credit and debit card numbers. Computer networks of companies in 47 states and DC were compromised; additional hacking abroad has also been noted. You can find their indictments below:

The Justice Department announced on August 2 that their Tribal Access Program (TAP) will be expanded. “TAP is a program providing tribes the ability to access and exchange data with the national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes.” The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) provides the funding for TAP. A list of the participating tribes can be found here and more background on TAP can be found here.


The DOJ announced that its operation, Operation Darkness Falls, conducted in conjunction with ICE, US Postal Service, FBI, and DEA has resulted in arrests, charges, and guilty pleas. The operation targeted drug traffickers making use of the dark net to sell fentanyl and other drugs. One of the web based vendors was MH4Life. According to the press release, “MH4Life had the highest number of verified transactions worldwide of any fentanyl vendor based upon of review of Dream Market.” The case in being prosecuted in the Northern District of Ohio.

Temporary restraining orders are being granted against doctors allegedly illegally prescribing opioids under the Controlled Substance Act. The restraining orders are the first ever civil injunctions under the Controlled Substance Act against doctors who allegedly prescribed opioids illegally. One of the doctors, Michael Tricaso, allegedly met a confidential source (CS) used by the DEA in a hotel parking lot where he sold the CS Percocet. The other doctor, Dr. Gerber, began “treating” an uncover agent who did not complain of pain. Nonetheless, the doctor prescribed controlled substances during each of his six visits with Dr. Gerber.

Andy Wright is the Editor of the Criminal Law Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6257.The Criminal Law Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail

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