Three Charged in Conspiracy to Kill Judge

     AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Three men were indicted on racketeering and fraud charges in what prosecutors call a “diabolical scheme” involving a plan to kill Texas Judge Julie Kocurek.
     The 11-count indictment was unsealed in Austin federal court on Friday. It charged Chimene Hamilton Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin and Rasul Kareem Scott with one count each of conspiracy to participate in an enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
     Onyeri was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, an additional count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and six more counts of aggravated identity theft.
     According to the 27-page indictment, Onyeri and the other defendants engaged in a racketeering enterprise from January 2012 to November 2015 in Austin, Houston and Louisiana.
     They allegedly committed credit and debit card related fraud using various methods, including skimming devices and PIN readers that could be placed on ATMs and at restaurants and retail stores to steal debit card and PIN numbers.
     The defendants would then encode stolen debit and credit card numbers onto gift cards or other cards and would sometimes emboss numbers on the front of those cards to make them appear legitimate, prosecutors claim.
     Onyeri, Burgin and Scott allegedly used the bogus cards to “purchase gift cards loaded with funds or to purchase property which would later be returned for cash, or to send money orders to themselves or others or to purchase chips or credit at a casino,” the indictment states.
     The indictment also claims that the three men used stolen personal-identification information to create and file fraudulent income tax returns for refunds. Onyeri and others would allegedly use the refund checks to open bank accounts and then access the fraudulently obtained funds through cash or ATM withdrawals.
     Onyeri allegedly bribed bank employees to create false bank accounts for access to the funds, and recruited a person he believed was a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier to intercept the income tax refund checks.
     But the intentions of Onyeri, Burgin and Scott turned even more sinister once they felt their criminal enterprise was endangered.
     “When the existence of the enterprise was threatened, Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin, and Rasul Kareem Scott responded with violence. Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin and Rasul Kareem Scott travelled to Austin, Texas, in order to kill Judge Julie Kocurek, a Texas District Court Judge whom Onyeri believed was going to sentence Onyeri to prison,” the indictment states.
     The document continues, “Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin and Rasul Kareem Scott used a gift card purchased with a skimmed, stolen debit card number to pay for expenses related to the attempted murder of Judge Kocurek. Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin and Rasul Kareem Scott attempted to kill Judge Kocurek outside her home in Austin, Texas by shooting Judge Kocurek while she sat inside of her car on the evening of November 6, 2015.”
     Kocurek suffered serious injuries from multiple gunshots and the resulting shrapnel from the attack. She has since returned to her judge position in the 390th Criminal District Court in Travis County.
     Onyeri and Scott are already in the custody of federal law enforcement, but Burgin is still a fugitive and is considered armed and dangerous, prosecutors say. Burgin allegedly fled police in Houston on Thursday night, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
     “This multi-agency investigation uncovered a diabolical scheme that went from multi-faceted fraud to an attempt on the life of a state judicial officer,” U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. said in a statement.
     In a March interview with NBC affiliate KXAN, Kocurek said about the incident: “It was the most terrifying moment of my life. I didn’t know when the gunfire was going to stop. I thought I was going to die.”
     She added, “I felt like this was an assault on our justice system. I want people to know that I’m back and if you don’t like a judge’s decision we will not be intimidated or we won’t leave out of fear. You can’t eliminate us.”
     If convicted, the three defendants face up to life in federal prison for the racketeering conspiracy charge, up to 20 years for conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud charge, and two years for each aggravated identity theft charge. They are not charged with attempted murder.

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