From dealing in dead tigers to scamming the elderly to trafficking in deadly drugs, some folks in Southern Ohio have no shame. The United States Department of Justice Southern District of Ohio fights to bring people like this to justice for federal crimes committed in our part of the state. This week, they dealt with three very different but equally appalling cases. I’ll break them down in these next three slides:
Lions, & Tigers, & Flamingos
A Cincinnati man got off pretty easy for violating the endangered species act. The Department of Justice said he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court after he paid $3,000 for a tiger skin rug. Tigers are an endangered species, so buying and selling their skins is illegal.
Back in 2018, Ryan J. Gibbs, 44 contacted a man in the UK about buying a tiger skin rug. The man told Gibbs he couldn’t legally ship one but could put him in touch with someone who could. That “someone” was actually an undercover agent.
Gibbs told the agent he wanted to buy a tiger skin and a mounted flamingo. According to the DOJ, Gibbs admitted that he knew the buying and selling of tiger parts is illegal. Gibbs met up with the agent near Jeffersonville back in December of 2018. Gibbs bought three mounted birds from the man — two puffins and a flamingo. The two continued to discuss tiger skins until August of 2019. Then Gibbs paid the agent $3,000 for a tiger skin.
The judge sentenced Gibbs to one year of probation, $100,000 fine, and 80 hours of community service. Fittingly, that service is supposed to be at an Ohio wildlife conservation non-profit and. Gibbs also agreed to give up some of his taxidermy collection, including:
- stuffed lion
- two stuffed puffins
- panther skin
- sawfish rostrum
Click the arrow to learn how a different kind of predator targeted an elderly Ohio man.
Southern Ohio Crime Tiger
Woman Stole Pension Benefits
Officials said Melody Hudson, 38, of Dayton stole the identity and pension benefits of a 72-year-old retired man.
According to court documents, Hudson stole his personal information and redirected his $919 in monthly pension benefits to her bank account. She called the agency administering the pension and posed as a relative. Hudson even had a friend pretend to be the victim on the phone.
She was indicted for bank fraud, identity theft, and using another person’s Social Security Number. If a jury convicts her, she could face over 30 years in prison for the crimes.
Up Next: A half-million-dollar drug money scheme.
$500,000 and Fentanyl Seized
Law enforcement seized $500,000 in cash and a kilo of fentanyl they said is all part of a conspiracy to traffic the deadly drug in Oho.
A federal grand jury charged two men with:
- conspiring to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl
- smuggling bulk cash
According to the indictment, Derrick Ferris, 44, of Cincinnati, and Jose Antonio Garcia, 22, of California, smuggled bulk cash out of United States to avoid reporting it. If convicted
Derrick Ferris, 44, of Cincinnati, and Jose Antonio Garcia, 22, of Lynwood, Calif., have been charged with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl and smuggling bulk cash. The narcotics conspiracy is punishable by 10 years up to life in prison. The cash smuggling charge could draw up to a five year sentence.
Officials also seized two gold Rolex watches, gold chains, three handguns, and ammunition. The DOJ said it wants to keep the money, jewelry, and handguns if the men are convicted.