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Front Page » March 1, 2007 » Local News » Helper Pd, FBI Arrest Suspects in Savings Bonds Investiga...
Published 3,145 days ago

Helper Pd, FBI Arrest Suspects in Savings Bonds Investigation

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Sun Advocate reporter

A ticket taker steps off the AMTRAK train on Sunday evening. The passenger train stops twice daily in Helper - once in the morning heading east and again in the evening heading west. It was on one of these morning eastbound trains that police apprehended five individuals who had been reportedly using controlled substances and were later found to have been carrying purportedly stolen United States savings bonds.

Law enforcement personnel arrested five passengers on an AMTRAK train last week in Helper.

The arrestees were all from outside the state and ranged from 24 to 42 years old.

Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis explained that a few minutes before 10 a.m. on Feb. 19, the local law enforcement department was dispatched to a report of unruly passengers who were harassing other passengers and using controlled substances.

Zamantakis was the first to respond to the scene. After starting an investigation into the matter, the Helper police chief requested the services of city K-9 Brooke and K-9 Officer Lynn Archuletta.

"K-9 Brooke was deployed on some luggage that belonged to the suspects in which she indicated on the same," said Zamantakis.

After further investigation at the scene, Helper law enforvement officers determined that the five passengers were using suspected controlled substances while on the train, indicated the police chief.

After inspecting the luggage, police discovered suspected marijuana and approximately $700,000 in United States savings bonds.

Upon discovering the bonds, police contacted the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist in the case.

Zamantakis said approximately 15 officers from the Utah Highway Patrol, the Carbon County Sheriff's Office and Price police department also responded to assist at the AMTRAK station.

All of the officers with Helper's police department assisted in the case, added Zamantakis.

"Cases such as this one take many hours and manpower to investigate," said the Helper police chief.

Zamantakis pointed out that the case demonstrated the value of many hours of training by Archuletta and the city's K-9. The chief said the police dog has been an asset to both the department and residents of Helper.

John Wright, a supervisor at the FBI office in Provo confirmed Wednesday that the savings bonds appear to have been stolen from the Sparks area in Nevada.

Wright said law enforcement authorities in Nevada are working on the case with FBI Special Agent Todd Argyle.

Court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City indicate that the bonds were reportedly taken as part of a burglary in Nevada in which a safe - containing jewelry, valuable coins, deeds cash and bonds - was allegedly unlawfully removed from an unidentified individual's private residence.

Twenty-four-old Johnny Raymond, 31-year-old Danny Leo, 37-year-old Dino Mitchell, 42-year-old Tony Mitchell and 31-year-old Shawn Mitchell were placed under arrest and booked into the Carbon County Jail in connection with the Feb. 19 incident.

In the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Danny Leo is also identified under the alias of Danny Eto. Shawn Mitchell is identified under three aliases: Joe Steve, Jerry Mitchell and Tony Vito.

Booking records show the arrestees' states of residence as Arizona, Washington and Oklahoma.

However, Melodie Rydalch, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office indicated during an interview on Tuesday that the cities of residence are unclear.

Rydalch said some of the subjects indicated that they were from the Phoenix area in Arizona.

The two criminal complaints charge the five individuals with possession of stolen securities and aiding and abetting, both under federal statute.

The court documents show differing views by the five individuals.

According to the complaint, Raymond said he was aware of the bonds, but claimed he did not know they were stolen.

Rather, the bonds were purportedly being taken to Chicago to be laundered.

In the complaint, Raymond reportedly said that he witnessed Leo send three of the bonds through the U.S. Postal Service to Chicago, Ill.

Leo is listed in the complaint stating that the bag containing the bonds belonged to Johnny Raymond and that they were going to visit a friend in Chicago, Ill.

Investigators reportedly found a receipt from when the three bonds were mailed to Chicago on Valentines Day.

One of Leo's aliases, Danny Eto, was allegedly used on the receipt along with an address which is not his.

In a later interview, Leo reportedly told investigators that he had been contacted by Dino Mitchell who requested help in "getting rid of" some stolen savings bonds.

According to the court documents, Leo said Tony Mitchell and Johnny Raymond had broken into a man's home in Reno, Nev., and stole the bonds.

Leo reportedly met with the other four in Sacramento, Calif., and began arrangements to "get rid of" the allegedly stolen bonds.

The complaint continues with statements from Tony Mitchell in which he reportedly admitted to knowing the bonds were stolen and states that a phone number for the group's Chicago contact could be found in Leo's cell phone.

Dino Mitchell denied any knowledge of the bonds before police showed the items to him, the complaint states.

He later purportedly told police that he didn't know who owned the bonds and that Raymond was taking the bonds to someone in Chicago.

Police also reportedly found in Dino Mitchell's travel bag a business card for a company that purchases jewelry, coins and similar items.

Shawn Mitchell, who claims his name is Tony Joe Vino, also has a no bond felony warrant for his arrest in Colorado, states the criminal complaint. He reportedly had personal property in the bag containing the allegedly stolen savings bonds.

Raymond was scheduled for a detention hearing on Feb. 28. Tony Mitchell is being detained on outstanding warrants. Leo has been reportedly released on conditions. Nick Mitchell is in custody pending a $10,000 cash bond.

Shawn Mitchell is being held in custody because criminal prosecutors fear a risk of non-compliance.

The five defendants face a maximum 10 year-sentence in federal prison if convicted of the crimes.

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