Military News

Friday, November 29, 2019

East Bay Resident Charged With Making False Statements To Gain Admittance For Military Service


Defendant Identified After Posting Racist Messages, Identifying Himself as a Neo-Nazi, and Discussing Mass Shootings of Synagogues on an Online Video Game Website

SAN FRANCISCO – Ross Anthony Farca was charged in a criminal complaint with making a false statement to a government agency, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F Bennett. 

In a complaint filed November 19, 2019, a redacted version of which was unsealed today, Farca, 23, of Concord, was charged with making a false statement on an online background check application in his bid to join the U.S. Army.  According to the complaint, on June 22, 2017, Farca traveled to a U.S. Army Recruitment Center in Mountain View, Calif., where he completed and submitted the background check application, also known as an SF-86.  The SF-86 contains language specifically warning that falsifying or concealing a material fact on the application is a felony which may result in fines or imprisonment.  In this case, the criminal complaint alleges that Farca nevertheless knowingly made false statements about his mental health when completing the form.  Specifically, he affirmatively stated that he had not received mental health treatment, which the complaint alleges was not true.

According to the complaint, Farca had been in regular contact with a psychiatrist since 2011.  In addition, Farca allegedly had received prescriptions for various medications and had received treatments to manage his mental disorders.  Further, according to the complaint, Farca understood that because of his diagnosis, he needed a letter of clearance from a mental health professional before he would be qualified to enlist in the army.  The complaint alleges that Farca requested a letter of clearance from both his psychiatrist and a caseworker familiar with his condition; both mental health professionals, however, denied Farca’s request for a clearance letter.  The complaint further alleges that when Farca completed the SF-86, rather than admit he had been seeing a psychiatrist and that he was unable to obtain a letter clearing him for duty, Farca instead denied he had ever had counseling for his psychological or emotional health.  According to the complaint, Farca reported to basic training on August 28, 2017, and was discharged October 3, 2017.  The discharge paperwork cited "failed medical / physical / procurement standards" and noted, "erroneous enlistment; medical condition disqualifying for military service, with no medical waiver approved."

The complaint suggests that evidence of Farca’s false statements on the SF-86 was obtained during the June 10, 2019, search of his home.  Officers from the Concord Police Department executed warrants to arrest Farca and to search his home while investigating messages Farca posted on an online video game website.  The complaint describes several messages Farca allegedly posted using his online name “Adolf Hitler (((6 MILLION)))” about carrying out a mass shooting of synagogues and praising terrorists who have perpetrated recent mass shootings at houses of worship.  During the search of Farca’s home, paperwork relating to his psychiatric condition and his military service discharge were found.

The complaint charges Farca with knowingly making false statements to a government agency, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).  The charges contained in the criminal complaint are mere allegations. As in any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Farca currently is in federal custody pending a continued detention hearing currently scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 10:30.  If convicted, Farca faces a maximum statutory penalty maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco and investigated by the FBI and the Concord Police Department. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Indian National Charged with Aggravated Sexual Abuse while Working as a U.S. Military Contractor in Afghanistan


An Indian national arrived in the U.S. yesterday after being ordered detained and removed to the U.S. for the alleged sexual assault of a U.S. national on a military base in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Ansuman Baral of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command's Bagram, Afghanistan Field Office and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Lokesh Naik, 35, of India, was charged by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on Nov. 6, 2019, with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact.  U.S. military authorities in Afghanistan arrested Naik on Nov. 8, 2019, and his initial appearance was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Harvey via video teleconference, at which time Naik was ordered detained and removed to the United States pursuant to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA).  Naik arrived at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurston by a military transport aircraft in the custody of Deputy U.S. Marshals.   

According to the indictment, on Aug. 7, while working as an employee of a U.S. military contractor on Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Naik allegedly entered the room of a 24-year-old U.S. national and sexually assaulted her by force.  

Trial Attorney Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Hertzfeld of the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.  The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI’s Washington Field Office are investigating the case.  Invaluable assistance with the defendant’s transfer to civilian custody and removal to the United States was provided by the Department of Defense, United States Central Command, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided valuable assistance. 

The charges in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Navy Employee Sentenced To 40 Years In Federal Prison For Child Pornography Offenses Involving Multiple Victims


Enticed at Least 10 Underage Boys to Produce Sexually Explicit Images and Videos. Sexually Abused One Victim, in Exchange for Cash and Marijuana.

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Court Judge Paul W. Grimm sentenced Spencer E. Steckman, 36, a Navy employee formerly of Silver Spring, Maryland, today to 40 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for the production, transportation, and possession of child pornography.  Judge Grimm also ordered that Steckman pay restitution of $120,000 to the victims, and that Steckman must register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office.

Steckman pleaded guilty on June 11, 2019, to one count of production of child pornography, one count of transportation of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.  

According to his plea agreement and other court documents, Steckman enticed at least 10 preteen and teenage boys to engage in sexually explicit conduct, record it and send it to him.  He employed a variety of tactics, including misrepresenting his identity, offering money and video game redemption codes, and encouraging the children to compete with others to produce and send the “best” photos.  Steckman also admitted that he gave one of the victims cash and marijuana to engage in sexual activity with him.  After years of this conduct, Steckman moved to Japan in mid-November 2017, where he worked with Commander Navy Region Japan, and transported and possessed the child pornography.

Further investigation revealed that Steckman had shared his child pornography, including images sent to him by the victims, with like-minded offenders, and that he stored most of his child pornography collection on an encrypted device.

Steckman was detained by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Japan on March 27, 2018, and transported back to Maryland by the United States Marshals Service to appear before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.  He has remained in custody since that time.

This case 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 Attorney’s 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 visit www.justice.gov/psc.  For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "Resources" tab on the left of the page.      

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski commended the FBI’s Baltimore Field Division and the Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff’s Office who investigated the case, with substantial assistance from NCIS.  Mr. Hur and Mr. Benczkowski thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin and Trial Attorney Jessica Urban of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), who prosecuted the case.