Omaha man sentenced to prison for failure to register as sex offender

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Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 12:02 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Below is a roundup of sentences handed down this week in the District of Nebraska from Acting U.S. Attorney Susan Lehr. There is no parole in the federal system.

Michael Blaine Lee, 38, of Omaha, was sentenced Wednesday to 121 months in prison for his involvement in a methamphetamine conspiracy. After his prison term, Lee will serve five years of supervised release.

The Omaha Police Department’s Narcotics Unit began investigating Lee and co-defendant Jose Rumualdo-Gallardo for meth distribution in February of 2022. Rumualdo-Gallardo was Lee’s source of supply for meth, and it was determined Lee was getting at least one or two ounces every other day from him over a four-month period, which he then redistributed. A search warrant on Lee’s home found 44 grams of pure meth being recovered. Rumualdo-Gallardo was arrested in March of 2022 and was found to be in possession of 242 grams of meth and a firearm.

Lee’s co-defendant was sentenced in June to 180 months in prison.

Erika Lopez-Garcia, 28, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Gabriel Rubio-Quevedo, 25, of Omaha, were sentenced Wednesday for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Both were sentenced in separate hearings to nine years in prison, followed by two years each of supervised release.

In August of 2022, officers with a DEA task force found a suspicious package at an Omaha UPS facility. A K9 officer denoted the odor of narcotics from the package; a search turned up around 14 pounds of meth hidden inside a guitar amplifier.

The package was set to be delivered to an Omaha address being rented as an Airbnb. Most of the meth was removed and the package was delivered by an undercover officer. Lopez-Garcia retrieved the package; officers searched the residence with a warrant after she took the package inside. Another nearly identical package was found containing another 14 pounds of methamphetamine.

Rubio-Quevedo later arrived at the residence to pick the packages up and was arrested. He told officers someone from Mexico called him and arranged for the packages to be delivered to a person in Norfolk. He admitted he would be paid to deliver the packages.

The total amount of meth seized amounted to 12,775 grams, 85.9% and 92.3% of which, respectively between the two packages, was pure.

Derric Shy, 41, of Omaha, was sentenced Thursday to 121 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for the distribution and release of child pornography.

Homeland Security Investigations agents in Nebraska began investigating a chat application after being referred to a case from a fellow HSI agent in Detroit, conducting undercover chats. The agent observed users -- one of which was determined to be Shy -- posting numerous videos of child porn to the “#daugh” group chat. The agent specifically observed Shy (under the user “kikaroo”) post three videos of child porn. An IP address associated with the address was also traced back to Shy. That information was forwarded to Nebraska HSI agents.

Agents interviewed Shy in April of 2022 and searched his home. He admitted to knowing why agents were there, stating it was because he was looking at stuff on the chat at issue. He claimed his username and admitted to viewing and sharing child porn, as well as providing passcodes to his devices that had child porn on them.

A forensic examination found at least nine videos of child porn on Shy’s phone; his computer also held artifacts related to the investigation.

Alberto Mejia, 35, of Omaha, was sentenced Friday to 90 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for possession of child pornography. He was also ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution.

In May of 2022, a search warrant was served at Mejia’s residence in relation to an ongoing assault investigation. The search warrant allowed for the seizure of digital devices from the home for evidence related to child porn -- several devices were seized, including Mejia’s cell phone. Law enforcement found numerous videos and images of minors under age 12 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Marco Lopez, 30, was sentenced Thursday to 135 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Lopez was sentenced to 44 months for robbery and 91 months (to be served consecutively) for brandishing a firearm during a violent crime.

Omaha Police responded to a radio call to Ground Floor Guitar for an armed robbery in July of 2022. The owner told officers two men entered the store separately before Lopez entered the store. He then showed a black handgun and robbed the store’s owner of cash and property (several guitars and an amplifier). He also robbed several customers, instructing them to “hand over their wallets.”

Lopez instructed victims to move into the basement where he locked them and a dog into a bathroom, telling them not to come out or he would “shoot them”, while brandishing a handgun. The victims eventually left the bathroom and called 911.

The next day, OPD responded to a tip related to a residential break-in, identifying Lopez as a suspect. He is cousins with co-defendant Jorge Lopez; Jorge admitted to investigators both he and Marco robbed the guitar store and that Marco took the cash and property with him to Texas after the robbery. Police also searched a truck used in the robbery, finding a wallet that had been stolen from one of the victims and other materials linking the truck to the robbery.

Marco was located and arrested in Texas before being extradited to Nebraska. Jorge pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced in July to 114 months in prison with three years of supervised release.

Mark Bernal, also known as “Mark Reyes”, 49, of Omaha, was sentenced Thursday to 5 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release and a fine of $5,000 for failing to register as a sex offender.

Bernal was convicted of three counts of possession of child pornography in Will County, Illinois, in 2009. He’d been sentenced to three years in jail and required to register as a sex offender in any state he lives in.

In June of 2021, Chicago police attempted to locate Bernal at his Illinois residence after he was overdue for his annual registration. The building manager said Bernal moved out that April with his new spouse but did not leave a forwarding address.

In the summer of 2022, the U.S. Marshals Service found Bernal was working as a sommelier in Nebraska under the name “Mark Reyes.” He used the surname in connection with his wine consulting business, which he began after moving to Nebraska from Chicago. The USMS found a rental address for Bernal and his spouse in Omaha and observed him at that residence several times through the month of June. Utilities were established by the couple there in January of 2022. Bernal did not register or attempt to register, nor did he update his registration as required between April 1, 2021, and September 26, 2022, when he was arrested.

Jerrell Jackson, 34, of Omaha, was sentenced Wednesday to 54 months in prison for distributing fentanyl. Following his prison term, Jackson will serve three years of supervised release.

In November of 2020 in Omaha, Jackson knowingly sold pills containing fentanyl to a witness cooperating with law enforcement -- approximately 50 fentanyl pills in exchange for $1,000. The sentence took into account Jackson was on federal supervised release at the time he sold the fentanyl on a conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm.