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A former pediatric oncologist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of receipt, access with intent to view and possession of child pornography charges, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Dennis Patrick Meehan Hughes, 50, of Pearland, pleaded guilty March 22, 2016.

 

At the time of his arrest in June 2015, Hughes worked at M.D. Anderson, but he is no longer employed there.

 

Today, U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. handed Hughes a sentence of 84 months in federal prison on each count of conviction. The sentences will run concurrently. In handing down the sentence, the court noted the horrific nature of the crimes and that they facilitated the abuse of children. Hughes must register as a sex offender and was further ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the Internet. The court also imposed a $5,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims Trafficking Act of 2015.

 

This case was initiated pursuant to a nationwide investigation which targeted users of a TOR network child pornography website whose primary purpose was to advertise and distribute child pornography. Following the February 2015 arrest of the primary site administrator, law enforcement was able to identify more than 1,000 U.S.-based user IP addresses. One of those addresses resolved back to the residence of Hughes.

 

Law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at his residence on June 5, 2015, at which time they arrested Hughes and seized his computers and other items.  

 

Hughes admitted he received and possessed numerous images of child pornography, to include prepubescent girls with their genitals lasciviously displayed. Some of the images also depicted young girls being penetrated, both orally and vaginally. The government also offered evidence that images of child pornography were found on his work computer as well.

 

In total, law enforcement discovered 329 videos and 2,693 unique images attributable to Hughes.

 

Hughes was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

 

The FBI conducted the investigation along with the Pearland Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and the University of Texas Police Department. 

 

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visitwww.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visitwww.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

 

A 35-year-old Houston resident has been ordered to federal prison for his role in a sophisticated tax fraud/identity theft scheme involving more than 800 victims, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Antolin Julio Nazario, 35, pleaded guilty April 27, 2015, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. His wife – Thalia Diaz Camareno, 30 – was also convicted in the case, pleading guilty Oct. 5, 2015, to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. 

Today, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt handed Nazario a total sentence of 92 months in prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay a $807,096 in restitution.


Camareno is set for sentencing next week.

Both admitted that from approximately June 2010 to January 2012, they engaged in a scheme that involved the filing of hundreds of fraudulent tax returns, commonly referred to as Stolen Identity Refund Fraud. The Houston couple used stolen and unlawfully obtained personal identity information, including the names and Social Security numbers, of true persons to prepare fraudulent U.S. income tax returns.

Nazario aka Robinson Gomez Churon and Camareno aka Irene Carrero Echevarria mailed the fraudulent federal income tax returns through the U.S. Postal Service in order to generate and obtain tax refunds from the IRS to which they were not entitled and directed the fraudulently obtained tax refunds be disbursed as U.S. Treasury checks. The refunds were then used to obtain cash and goods for their own benefit.

The current fraudulent tax refund filings attributed to this couple have resulted in $4,095,959 potential loss, an excess of $800,000 paid out by the IRS and involves more than 800 victims whose identities were stolen to conduct the scheme.

Nazario will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  His wife is on bond pending her sentencing hearing.

IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Secret Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady is prosecuting the case.


The Houston Independent School District’s efforts to increase the number of teachers trained in computer science and to immerse all students in computer programming from elementary to high school have earned the White House’s attention.

The White House computer science fact sheet outlines President Barack Obama’s plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science in school. The fact sheet titled A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science Education for All (#CSForAll) shows the progress various states have made in computer science by adopting higher standards to better prepare students for success in careers and college since the initiative first launched in January.

 The factsheet highlights HISD for its plans to double the number of computer science certified teachers over the next two academic years; expand advanced computer science courses by offering Advanced Placement computer science programming and computer science courses at 38 HISD high schools by the end of the 2017 school year; and adopt computer science standards that will provide for teaching computational thinking skills to 215,000 HISD students in grades pre-K to 12.


 “HISD is committed to giving all students access to computer science courses to ensure that we integrate computational thinking skills such as collaboration and critical thinking across all subject areas,” said HISD Chief Academic Officer Dr. Grenita Lathan. “Providing more opportunities for our students to learn computer science will teach them how to code, build interactive technology, and to think differently about challenging problems.”
 
Currently 24 HISD high schools offer a computer science course with a certified computer science teacher. The district has partnered with the Center for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education at the University of Texas at Austin to increase the amount of its computer science teachers by offering them a stipend to become certified.
 
“It’s important to have certified computer science teachers because without them schools cannot offer a computer science course,” said Adam Stephens, HISD officer of Advanced Academics. “Computer science brings a tremendous value to our students, providing them the skills and knowledge needed for a successful and productive future.”
 
In 2014, HISD began to integrate coding and computer science principles at all grade levels by teaming up with Code.org, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand student access to computer science. The three-year partnership includes professional development opportunities for teachers and access to online content delivery systems, as well as funding for professional development and classroom supplies. The partnership also focuses on using coding to emphasize the underlying principles of logic, creative thinking and expression in all academic areas.
 
This month, HISD students will participate in the district’s 12 Days of Code initiative as part of the Hour of Code, a global movement led by Code.org during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 5-11). Students are encouraged to create technology – and not just use it – by completing at least an hour of coding. 
 
Each day, interactive online calendars for elementary, middle and high schools will offer students a new coding experience, such as designing an iPhone game, tracking Santa, decoding messages with cryptography, and animating text. Once students complete an hour of code, they receive a certificate of completion and will be asked to share their certificate on social media using #HISDecoded. Last year, more than 25,000 students participated in the Hour of Code, and this year HISD would like to double that number.
 


Hundreds of people packed into Kim Son in downtown Houston for an annual event no one would ever miss. 

It’s the annual Christmas party put on by the Kubosh family. 

Brothers Paul and Michael Kubosh spare no expense each year to make sure all of their guests have the best time at the party. 

Those who attended partied late into the night while eating,  drinking,  and dancing. 

Even Mayor Sylvester Turner attended the party along with other elected officials and dignitaries. 

Here are some of the pictures I snapped so enjoy! 

urban-ballet-in-houston

Urban Ballet, a full-length work inspired by the music of 2pac by Houston Arts Alliance Individual Artist Choreography Fellowship Grant recipient Sherese Campbell, Stephanie Sermas, emerging artist choreography grant winner Jaimee Vilela Navarrete and guest choreographer Chris Thomas of SonKisss’d. Performances: December 3, 4, 10, and 11, 2016.

Sherese Campbell’s Urban Ballet seeks to tell the story of black culture in America through jazz, hip-hop, modern, pointe and tap. Inspired by the music and message of 2pac, Campbell has created a narrative that portrays the different experiences in a “ghetto” neighborhood, using City Dance Company and, guest company, SonKiss’d to create a fusion of styles complex enough to portray the issues.

The dances depict the role of dance, music, sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, family, and personal struggle in the day-to-day life of these under-served, over-looked black neighborhoods across the country. In lieu of a recognizable cast of characters, the production focuses on the local culture, thrusting this abstract idea into the role of the main character. What the audience sees is the story of a neighborhood and its people – the social gatherings, the relationships, the commerce – that could be anywhere in the country.

Urban Ballet fights to show what occurs when an entire nation turns its back on a single race, attempting to strip them of their cultural roots by asking them to assimilate to the majority. This is the story of the aftermath of a justice system that incarcerates an unrealistically high percentage of black males, leaving children without fathers, wives without husbands, and families forced to hustle and steal, just to survive in a society that labels them as “less than.” Urban Ballet is an unapologetic display of what it is to be black in America.

Tickets are $25 for general admission/$20 for students with ID online; $30 at the door. They can be purchased in advance online at http://www.houstoncitydance.com/tickets/ or bought at the performance at City Dance Studio, 1307 West Clay, Houston, Texas 77019. For more information about the concert or the jazz, modern, ballet, and tap classes offered at City Dance, call 713-529-6100 or visit their website at www.houstoncitydance.com. City Dance is a non-profit dance studio and performing arts organization catering to dancers from ages 3 to 83.

Photo by Claudia Casbarian:


A Houston woman who says she was the target of harassment for supporting political candidates has asked for a criminal investigation.

It was this week when Han Mai Nguyen told FOX 26 she was the target of a smear campaign after she supported Republicans in local and state races in Houston’s Vietnamese community. 

Now, Nguyen has gone to the Houston Police Department in hopes of getting the person accused of sending what she called threatening messages online and using flyers.

As we first reported Nguyen has already sued two men who publicly accused of having sex with a Monk and other sexual and deviant allegations. 

Nguyen is being represented by Houston attorney Tammy Tran in her civil cases.  


Houston police commanders and other members of HPD will announce the kickoff of the police department’s 31st Annual Comida/Food Drive to feed those in need during the holiday season.

The news conference will be held at the Fiesta Mart at 800 South Wayside Drive.

The Houston Police Department, Houston Citizens’ Police Academy Alumni Association, Fiesta Mart and the Pepsi Bottling Group will once again join together to sponsor the annual “Comida” Drive.

The Comida/Food Drive began 31 years ago with an officer’s concern for the less fortunate citizens of Houston.  That began what is today one of the largest food drives in the city of Houston.  During the first year, approximately 600 families received a box of non-perishable food.  Each box fed a family of four during the holiday. 

The food drive now provides food for more than 4,000 families in the city of Houston and last year raised more than $64,000 in donations.  All cash donations are used to purchase basic food staples packaged for distribution to families.

The distribution of the food will be held at a later date to churches that pre-registered to participate in the program.  For more information, contact the HPD Public Affairs Office at 713-308-3200.

Fox 26 news has learned an assistant Harris County Attorney has received death threats and now there is a criminal investigation.
Those threats have been targeted at Assistant County Attorney Julie Countiss.  
This comes after Countiss has been very successful at putting a dent in sexually oriented business in the Houston / Harris County area.  
Using the nuisance law in civil court Countiss has held massage parlors and strip clubs accountable even causing some to shut down using legal action.  
Countiss says she could not talk about the case and said the Harris County District Attorney’s office is investigating.
The veteran attorney says the threats could result in criminal charges against the perpetrator or perpetrators.

32 year old Milton Cole is heading to prison for five years.

Cole was a special education teacher at Harmony Schools on Kirby before he was arrested for sexually assaulting a child off campus back in February.  

The sex assault is not related to the school. 

Cole was sentenced in the case this week and the victim’s family says they wanted him to get more time behind bars.


Lone Star College-North Harris partners with Communities In Schools of Houston and Houston Food Bank for Food Fair Nov. 22

Who:   Lone Star College-North Harris is partnering with Communities In Schools of Houston (CIS) and the Houston Food Bank to host the Third Annual Fall Harvest Food Fair.

What:   The Fall Harvest Food Fair is a free event that will take place before the Thanksgiving Holiday break in order to provide additional food items to LSC-North Harris students, employees and their families. With the support of LSC-North Harris, an 18-wheeler containing 10,000 lbs. of food, including fresh produce will be delivered to attendees. Each family will receive a package of food weighing up to 40 pounds.

When:  Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (or until all of the food has been distributed).

 

Where: Lone Star College-North Harris Student Service Building Parking Lot K, located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, Houston, TX 77073.

 

Why:     When students are out of school for the holidays, many will not have the opportunity to have access to the food that they normally would rely on. Filling the gap during this time is crucial to helping these families stay healthy.


The man once known as the Finnisher could walk away from a laundry list of criminal charges in Harris County. 

Riku Melartin,  the owner of a Crosby car dealership, was accused of sexual assault of a child involving two different victims according to his attorney Kent Schaffer. 

Earlier this year Melartin was sentenced to 11 years in prison for a bribery case in Galveston. 

Attorney Kent Schaffer

Schaffer says when his client was sentenced in that case the jury in Galveston took into consideration his alleged crimes in Houston and increased his sentence. 

Schaffer says that is considered double jeopardy and Judge Maria Jackson agreed saying she would dismiss the first three cases of sexual assault Melartin was scheduled to go on trial for last week.