Federal court sentences Georgia man to probation for unlawful transportation of wildlife

July 17 weekly roundup from federal court in Omaha
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska reported weekly sentencing updates.

U.S. Attorney Jan Sharp’s office in Omaha reminds the public that there is no parole in the federal system.

Gustavo Perez-Heurerta, 23, of Redwood Valley, California, was sentenced Friday by Judge John M. Gerrard in Lincoln to five years for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. In an investigation with the Nebraska State Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security, a trooper stopped a van last March after watching the van go 80 mph in a 75 mph zone. It’s reported the trooper also noticed the van following another car too closely and changing lanes without signaling. After getting consent to search officials found out that Perez-Heurerta and the co-defendant were transporting about 770 pounds of marijuana according to the release.

Daniel C. Morris, 40, of Monroe, Georgia, was sentenced Friday by Judge John Gerrard in Lincoln to seven years of probation for unlawful transportation of wildlife in interstate commerce, violating the Lacey Act. In an investigation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Law Enforcement Division, officials determined Morris conducted an archery mule deer hunt in Oct. 2020 traveling to Noble Outdoors according to the release. It’s reported he illegally shot a mule deer and later on took trophy parts of the deer out of the state for taxidermy services in Georgia. “Under Nebraska state law, shooting from the road and use of a firearm to take deer during the archery hunting season is prohibited,” the release states. Officials say Morris also illegally dumped and threw away the deer carcass into a public waterway near North Platte with help from Noble and his hunting partners. “Morris surrendered and abandoned the antlers and other parts of the mule deer taken in 2020 and an undisclosed additional number of taxidermy mounts originating from mule deer taken during previous hunts at Noble Outdoors in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019,” according to the release. He’s ordered to pay a total of $7,000 in fines and restitution.

Jean Thomas, 56, of Gering, was sentenced Friday by Judge John M. Gerrard in Lincoln to two years of probation for stealing mail. In an investigation with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Postal Service, there were complaints of missing mail in 2017 from customers on Thomas’ delivery routes who was a rural route carrier at the time according to the release. As part of the investigation, the Office of Inspector General mailed “test pieces” that had gift cards of value for Thomas to deliver. It’s reported at least six of the test either weren’t delivered or were not properly returned to the post office. The release further states there was a review of store financial transactions and surveillance that show her taking the gift cards for her own use. Thomas also has a fine of $250.

Brett Cook, now deceased, is accused of utilizing his position as Vice President at Darland Properties to orchestrate an alleged fraud scheme involving Jeff Stenstrom, Brian Cook, and others. The accusation is according to a recently filed civil complaint seeking forfeiture of assets acquired in an alleged fraud scheme involving almost $6 million. The complaint alleges Brett Cook directed repair work for his company’s clients to Jeff Stenstrom’s company, Stenstrom Services, Inc. He’s accused of billing the clients for work that was not performed, as well as submitting inflated invoiced to insurance companies. The complaint says the scheme resulted in a loss of approximately $4,250,000, which personally benefitted Brett Cook and Stenstrom.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that by 2019, Brett Cook and Strenstrom had stopped using Strenstrom Services for client repairs. Brett Cook is also accused of creating a new company with his brother Brian Cook called Midwest Property Maintenance Solutions. The Attorney’s Office alleges this new company operated in the same way Strenstrom Services allegedly did, and billed clients for work that was not performed, as well as other work that was already completed and overbilled for other jobs. The civil complaint alleged the scheme resulted in the loss of at least another $600,000.

The complaint also alleges Brett Cook used his position as Vice President to reimburse himself for personal expenses using clients’ money, requiring subcontractors to pay kickbacks indirectly to him and others to get work, and by receiving a roughly $850,000 fee for negotiations with insurance companies on behalf of clients.

In total Brett Cook is accused of conducting schemes that resulted in the loss of at least $5,950,000 to clients.

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