Posts Tagged ‘criminal charges’

Man Sentenced in Amtrak Fraud Scheme

September 29, 2020

A Michigan man has received a six-year prison sentence in connection with a scheme to defraud Amtrak of more than $540,000.

Christian Newby, 32, of Milan, Michigan, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

Prosecutors said he obtained credit card information for more than 1,100 people, used that information to buy Amtrak tickets, then cancelled the tickets and received vouchers for the amount of the ticket from Amtrak.

He later sold vouchers at a discount on eBay. Police also found during a search of his residence improvised explosive devises, firearms, and narcotics.

Court Rules Amtrak Engineer Can be Tried on Charges Stemming From Fatal Derailment

May 15, 2020

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that an Amtrak locomotive engineer involved in a 2015 derailment that left eight dead can be tried criminally for the deaths and injuries.

Charges against Brandon Bostian had been dismissed last July but a state Superior Court Judge on Thursday ruled that that dismissal was based on fact-finding that should happen during a trial.

A Common Pleas Court judge last year ruled Bostian’s behavior before the crash did not rise to criminal recklessness.

The trial court judge had accepted a contention by the defendant’s attorney that Bostian had become confused about where he was when he accelerated the speed of his train without realizing a curve was ahead of him.

However, Superior Court Judge Victor Stabile said that contention should be evaluated in a trial, not by a judge in a pretrial hearing.

Stabile ruled that a trial court judge’s role in a pre-trial proceeding is to determine whether the state presented enough evidence to warrant a trial.

The appeals court judge ruled that prosecutors had met that burden.

An attorney for Bostian said he would appeal the ruling enabling his client to go to trial on criminal charges.

Investigators have said Northeast Regional No. 188 was traveling at 106 mph, more than twice the posted speed limit, into a curve in Port Richmond north of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.

The subsequent derailment resulted in more than 150 injuries.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General has filed 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter against Bostian. Stabile’s ruling reinstates those charges.

The National Transportation Safety Board report on the derailment said Bostian had no alcohol or drugs in his system and was not using his cell phone at the time of the derailment.

The Amtrak engineer told NTSB investigators that he couldn’t remember why he didn’t slow the train as it approached the curve.

Ex-City Manager Indicted in Station Lobbying Scheme

October 30, 2019

A former Illinois city manager has been indicted on felony charges stemming from unauthorized payments for a lobbying effort to create an Amtrak stop.

Bob Keily, who retired in 2018 as city manager of Lake Forest, was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 23.

He is charged with making illegal payments totaling nearly $200,000 to a Washington-based lobbying firm between January 2016 and 2017.

Keily was charged after a Lake Forest City Council-appointed special counsel probed the fund transfers.

The special counsel reported in March 2018 that the transfers violated city codes by laundering public funds through the city attorney’s private law firm for the lobbying effort.

Keily was seeking to persuade Amtrak to establish a stop for its Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service trains in Lake Forest.

That project also included adding an underpass beneath the tracks that would have cost $13 million.

Charges Against Amtrak Engineer Dismissed

July 24, 2019

Criminal charges against an Amtrak engineer in connection with 2015 crash that left eight people dead have been dropped.

The charges against Brian Bostian were dismissed after Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott ruled that his behavior before the derailment did not rise to the level of criminal recklessness.

It was the second time that criminal charges against Bostian have been dropped.

The derailment occurred on May 12, 2015, when Amtrak Train 188 entered a curve near Philadelphia traveling 106 mph, which was more than twice the posted speed limit.

The derailment also left 150 people injured.

In announcing her ruling, McDermott said, “The law recognizes there is the occasional case where a departure from the rule may be appropriate.”

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that Bostian had lost situational awareness just before the derailment.

He had faced 216 counts of reckless endangerment, one count of causing a catastrophe, and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Christopher Phillips, a deputy attorney general with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, said his office plans to appeal the dismissal of the charges against Bostian.

Bostian was initially charged in May 2017, but those charged were thrown out that September by Judge Thomas Gehert.

Judge Kathryn S. Lewi later reinstated the charges after ruling that Judge Gehert had erred and there was sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Missouri Man Who Halted CZ Pleads Not Guilty

February 15, 2018

A Missouri man who is charged with terrorism after he stopped an Amtrak train in Nebraska last year may not have been mentally aware of what he was doing, his attorney said after entering a not guilty plea for his client in court.

Attorney Jerry Sena of Omaha, Nebraska, said his client did not “knowingly intend” to disable the train, as the criminal charges state.

Taylor M. Wilson, 26, of St. Charles, Missouri, has been accused by federal authorities of entering the trailing P42DC of the California Zephyr on Oct. 23 and activating the emergency brakes in the early morning hours near Oxford, Nebraska.

If convicted, Wilson could face penalties of up to life in prison.

Federal authorities allege that Wilson was behaving erratically when confronted by Amtrak personnel.

Reportedly, Wilson goaded them with profanities, wrestled with them, reached for his waistband and claimed to be the conductor.

Police found Wilson was carrying a fully loaded .38-caliber handgun; a “speedloader,” which enables rapid reloading of bullets; and a backpack containing three more loaded speedloaders, a box of .38 ammunition; a fixed-blade knife; tin snips; scissors; and a respirator-style face mask.

After saying in court that Wilson might not have known what he was doing in the locomotive cab, Sena was asked what Wilson was trying to do.

Sena said that was another question. The attorney also contended that Wilson is not a member of any white nationalist group and has untreated mental issues.

Police who searched Wilson’s apartment in Missouri have said in court documents that they found a hidden compartment holding a tactical vest, dozens of rounds of ammunition and “white supremacy documents and paperwork.”

On Feb. 1, a federal grand jury in Missouri indicted Wilson on four additional weapons charges related to that search, including in connection with Wilson’s alleged ownership of an illegal submachine gun.

U.S. Federal Magistrate Cheryl Zwart has rules that Wilson will stand trial on April 16. Wilson is being held at the Saline County Jail.