Federal Court Convicts South Dakota Man For Intentionally Traveling For Sexual Conduct With Minor

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — Below is a breakdown of the sentences handed down in federal court in Omaha last week, according to Monday’s updates from Acting U.S. Attorney Steven Russell.

The US Attorney’s Acting Office in Omaha is reminding the public that there is no parole in the federal system.

Steven Anthony Malechek, 48, Omaha was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to more than 16 years for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. In an investigation with the Omaha Police Department, the OPD gang unit and SWAT officers contacted Malechek through a home last May before a search warrant. Officials say he refused to stop and other officers’ orders and left while backing up a hill. Malechek was eventually taken into custody and during the search his car officers found about 70 grams of meth and two rifles. More than a week later, police contacted Malechek again, and while searching his truck, he found nearly a pound of meth, a ballistic vest, a rifle and cash, according to the release. More than $14,000 in cash has been reported to have been forfeited.

Darrell Hunter, 50, of Omaha, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to 15 years for possession of methamphetamine with intent to proliferate and possession of a firearm to promote a drug trafficking crime. In an investigation with Omaha Metro Drug Task Force, a confidential informant made three purchases of meth from Hunter between: March 2021-April 2021 according to the release. It is reported that the purchases totaled 36 grams of meth. About a week later after the purchase in April, his home was searched and officials found over 80 grams of meth, with three rifles, ammunition and a scale.

Nicholas J Weare, 35, Carter Lake, was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years by Judge Brian C. Buescher for participating in a methamphetamine drug conspiracy. An investigation with the DEA and the Omaha Police Department alleges Weare had several arrest warrants and was seen by officers in downtown Omaha on October 28, 2020. Weare was arrested and police allegedly found 55 grams of meth on him. Weare has reportedly admitted to buying 20 pounds of meth over time.

Jose Maria Salazar, 21, of West Point, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to more than 12 years in prison for conspiracy to disperse and possess 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. In April 2021, undercover officers from the Lincoln Police arranged for a Mexican meth distributor to supply meth to an undercover officer. An undercover cop met in a West Point neighborhood before the drug deal. Officers allege that Salazar then left his nearby home and got into the undercover cop’s car for the drug deal. Salazar allegedly delivered two pounds of meth during the meetup. A second undercover purchase was arranged a few weeks later, and Salazar is said to have met another undercover agent and delivered a pound of meth. Salazar was arrested and a search warrant for his home and car reportedly uncovered another pound of meth.

Martin Lopez Martinez, 26, of Omaha, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to more than 11 years in prison for possession of methamphetamine with intent to disperse. On September 15, 2019, the police, using information from a confidential informant, made a traffic stop at Lopez-Martinex. Police searched the vehicle after it reportedly smelled marijuana and found marijuana and more than 26 pounds of meth.

Chad M. Franco, 50, of Omaha, Wednesday was sentenced by Judge Brian C. Buescher to 10 years in prison for possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Franco was reportedly seen by a Nebraska State Patrol investigator on the shoulder of I-80 in Lancaster County on Dec. 17, 2020. Franco is said to have spoken briefly with another driver before getting back into his jeep and driving off. The investigator followed and later arrested Franco for a traffic violation. The investigator told Franco he would be held to wait for a drug dog, but then Franco is said to have agreed to a search of his car. During the search, the detective found a digital scale, bags and an alprazo lamp pill. During a search of his person, a trooper found a bag of meth in a stocking cap that was in the pocket of Franco’s coat. After he was taken to the Douglas County Jail, another bag of meth was allegedly found during a further search of Franco. In total, the bags would contain 60 grams of meth.

Howard Bassette III, 42, of Winnebago, was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to five years in prison for sexually abusing another Winnebago tribesman. On November 9, 2020, Bassette allegedly sexually assaulted a pregnant woman while she was sleeping. Bassette reportedly held her and hit her on the head when she woke up. The woman escaped and started screaming for help. Bassette allegedly fled and was later arrested by the Winnebago police.

Courtney Laparele Clark, 35, formerly of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced Thursday by Judge John M. Gerrard to serve time for conspiracy to pass and execute U.S. Treasury checks and two counts of passing and pronouncing counterfeit U.S. Treasury checks. She had already served more than 13 months at the time of her conviction. She now begins three years of supervised release and must pay $1,400 in restitution and $300 in special assessments. On March 26, 2021, authorities say a woman named Jessica Lovering went to an EZ Money Check Cashing location in Omaha and gave an allegedly counterfeit US Treasury stimulus check for $1,400. She was able to cash the check without any problems. Officials say a white substance was placed on the check to obscure the original payee and Lovering’s name was written over it. The check was originally made payable to an inmate. The following month, Lovering returned to the same check cashing location and reportedly attempted to cash another counterfeit stimulus check. The staff refused to cash it. Authorities say Lovering received the checks from Courtney Clark. Search warrants for texts and Facebook posts allegedly revealed the two were discussing the modified checks. Lovering pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pass and execute counterfeit United States Treasury bills and two counts of passing and executing counterfeit United States Treasury bills. She was sentenced to a time sentence on June 16, 2022, having already served three months and 11 days. She has since started a three-year term of assisted release. The case was investigated by the Omaha Police Department and the United States Secret Service.

John J Stratman, 73, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was sentenced Thursday by Judge Brian C. Buescher to more than 11 years in prison for traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. Stratman was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and a $5,000 special assessment. He also forfeited a 2019 Buick Enclave. On October 1, 2021, Stratman is said to have contacted someone he believed was a person who was offering a 15-year-old girl for sex. The person he was allegedly in contact with was an undercover cop. From October to January, the two talked about an appointment for sex with the 15-year-old girl. The officer was located in Omaha and Stratman in South Dakota. On January 2, 2022, Stratman would have booked a hotel room in Omaha. After reportedly arriving at the hotel, he met the undercover agent and allegedly brought candy and flowers for the 15-year-old. He also allegedly paid the officer $200 in cash in exchange for sex with the girl. The case was investigated by the Omaha FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.

Robert D. Dankemeyer, 61, of Deshler, was sentenced Friday by Judge John M. Gerrard to more than 17 years for possession of 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Dankemeyer pleaded guilty on May 24, 2022. On June 22, 2020, Dankemeyer was at the Fourth Street Tavern in Deshler when he reportedly got into an argument with some customers. He left the bar, but reportedly returned with a revolver with a telescope attached. He allegedly pointed the gun at people outside the bar, but then left the area. Dankemeyer was then found at a gas station in Hebron and arrested later that evening. Thayer County Sheriff’s Department deputies were then given a search warrant for Dankmeyer’s home. They allegedly found a small amount of meth, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, several pellet and BB pistols, a few large Bowie knives and body armor. A search of his car reportedly found about a pound of meth, detonators, detonators, body armor and nine sticks of dynamite.

Juan Ramirez Heredia, 21, of Omaha, was ruled Friday by Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. sentenced to 33 months in prison. He was given 33 months each for distribution of 10 grams or more of fentanyl analogue and possession with intent to distribute 10 grams or more of fentanyl analogue. The sentences run simultaneously. On June 2, 2021, the Omaha Police Department used a confidential informant to purchase 100 counterfeit 30-milligram Oxycodone Pills containing fentanyl for $1,000, allegedly from Ramirez-Heredia. Officers later found 690 fentanyl pills during a search of Ramirez-Heredia’s home.

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