MD Court of Special Appeals Affirms Mallik Conviction

FREDERICK- The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld the conviction of Abe Arjun Mallik on 11 counts of possession of child pornography. The charges stemmed from an investigation launched in March of 2016 by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office acting on a “cyber tip” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Detectives determined through IP providers and email accounts that the reported material came from Mallik’s home in Point of Rocks, Frederick County. Upon reviewing Google business records, detectives found communications with minor females and eight images of confirmed child pornography were identified as being uploaded to an attachment using the defendant’s e-mail address. A search warrant revealed more than 200 images of child erotica on the defendant’s laptop along with 3 confirmed images of child pornography. On June 2, 2017, a Frederick Circuit Court jury rendered a guilty verdict on all counts against Mallik. He was given a 10-year suspended sentence and ordered to register as a Tier-1 Sex Offender for 15 years.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals took up five questions for review. Mallik argued that a State expert witness should not have been allowed to testify. However, the Appeals Court found that an objection to the witness needed to happen immediately. Second, Mallik argued that the State should not have been allowed to admit evidence of a non-pornographic nature. This pertained to the images of child

erotica found on the defendant’s computer. The Appeals Court found that all “relevant evidence is admissible”. The State maintained that, “knowing possession of the illegal images because they established a pattern of prurient interest in children and negated the defense that he was hacked.” Mallik’s defense team wanted to include a question about if prospective jurors had “strong feelings” toward pornography in general. The Appeals Court found that the court maintains the right to considerable discretion during jury selection. On Day 3 of the trial, Mallik’s defense sought a mistrial on grounds that a prospective juror, who is an attorney, reported a judge talking to jurors about the probable trial duration and how the defendant had not shown up for court. The court found that “sufficient voir dire of the jury concerning the effect of the judge’s communication, the responses from the jury denying any influence by the communication, and appellant’s failure to thereafter challenge the court’s choice of remedies or its denial of the motion for mistrial, we can find no error in the court’s denial of the motion.” Finally, Mallik contended that the court erred when it permitted the State, on the first day of trial, to amend the date for three of the 11 charges in the charging document. He contended that the laptop on which the additional 3 images were found had not even been bought yet as of the earlier date. The Court of Appeals has held that “‘[a]n amendment that constitutes merely a ‘matter of form’ does not change the character of the offense.” Mallik does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions.

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented on the Appeals Court decision stating, “Mallik received a fair trial. He took his shot at an appeal and he lost. Now he has to deal with the consequences of his behavior, and that’s living as a Tier I sex offender.”

 

4 MEN INDICTED FOR SEXUAL SOLICITATION OF A MINOR

FREDERICK- On Friday May 31st, a Frederick Grand Jury indicted four men on charges of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. Daniel Kroon of Myersville, MD was indicted on one count of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. Todd Thompson of Frederick, MD was indicted on one count of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. Joseph Shirk of McClure, PA was indicted on 2 counts of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. Finally, Virinchi Srinivas of Gaithersburg, MD was indicted on 3 counts of Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. The charges stem from a joint operation under the Frederick County Cyber Crime Task Force (FCCTF). During the operation, suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover investigators who posed as minors. Authorities arrested the suspects as they arrived at a pre-arranged meeting place for an encounter. All defendants are currently being held without bond at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center.

 

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented on the indictments stating, “I was confident that our Cyber Crimes Task Force would have an immediate impact on combating this horrible industry. These indictments will certainly send that message.”

 

Jennifer High Sentenced for Elder Theft Scheme

Jennifer High Sentenced for Elder Theft Scheme

FREDERICK- On February 12, 2019, Jennifer Renee High, age 36, of Berkeley Springs, WV pled guilty to Theft Scheme $10,000 – $100,000 and Credit Card Theft $1,500 – $25,000. Sentencing was held on Friday, May 17, 2019 at which time a sentence of 15 years to the Division of Correction was imposed with all but 5 years of that sentence suspended. Upon release, the Defendant will be on 5 years of supervised probation and will have to pay restitution exceeding $90,000 to the victim, Diane Dwyer.

High worked for the victim’s family for approximately 14 years as a caregiver for the victim’s disabled daughter. When the victim became ill in early 2013, the Defendant volunteered to assist the victim by shopping for her, getting her money from the ATM, and paying her bills online. In December 2016, the victim, who is also an elderly individual, began to tell her daughters that she did not have any money, later receiving several overdraft notices from her bank. This prompted the victim’s family to check the bank account statements for the prior year. That check resulted in the victim and the victim’s daughter uncovering over $22K in theft from the victim’s bank account. The theft involved thousands of dollars in unauthorized ATM withdrawals, payment of the Defendant’s bills and the purchase of and payment for used cars.

After reporting this to the Brunswick Police Department, an investigation included an interview of the Defendant where she admitted to her crime and acknowledged that it had occurred over a much longer period of time. She estimated the value of the theft to be around $70,000. A review of bank records for that period of time confirmed that the Defendant had been fraudulently utilizing the victim’s funds for over four years and that the amount of the theft totaled over $90,000. That amount also included the fraudulent use of one of the victim’s credit cards which the victim never permitted the Defendant to use.

Jennifer Renee High

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith reacted, “Anyone preying on the vulnerable victim, be it a child or elderly adult, deserves this kind of harsh prison sentence. Whether it’s a physical, emotional or financial exploitation, it often does lifelong harm to victims and their families. We hope this case will send a message to those exploiting our elderly citizens.”

The State was represented by Chief Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Shoemaker.

In an effort to increase awareness regarding this type of crime, the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office will be hosting 5 upcoming presentations on elder fraud and prevention.

 

Senior Center Date/Time

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Frederick Senior Center Wednesday 6/12, 5:30p Charlie Smith, State’s Attorney

Emmitsburg Senior Center Thursday 6/13, 12:30p Jason Shoemaker, Chief Assistant State’s Attorney

Urbana Senior Center Thursday 6/25, 6:00p Charlie Smith, State’s Attorney

Urbana Senior Center Wednesday 6/26, 11:30a Jason Shoemaker, Chief Assistant State’s Attorney

Brunswick Senior Center Wednesday 6/19, 12:30p Erin Pearl, Assistant State’s Attorney

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

UPDATE #3 Frederick Pediatrician, Dr. Ernesto Torres Bond Status

FREDERICK, MD – Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at 2 pm, Dr. Ernesto Torres appeared before Frederick Circuit Court for a bond review regarding the indictment that resulted in an additional 65 charges. The Honorable Judge William R. Nicklas Jr. set an additional bond in the amount of $400,000 secured with the conditions of home detention, not to practice medicine until court proceeding determination, no contact with females under the age of 18, and to surrender his passport.

In response to the bond review, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented, “While we are disappointed that he was again granted bond, we were relieved to hear the judge revoke his ability to practice pediatrics or medicine.”

The Frederick Police Department believes there may be other victims in this case. Anyone with information about this case, including other potential victims should contact Detective Sean McKinney at 240-578-5683.

There are many resources available online and locally that provide tips on having these conversations. Local resources are available for victims of sexual assault including:

 Frederick Police Department, Victim Services Unit (301) 600-1356

 The Child Advocacy Center (301) 600-1758

 Heartly House (301) 662-8800

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is merely a formal charge until and if the defendant is found guilty in a future judicial proceeding. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

Update #2: Frederick Pediatrician Dr. Ernesto Torres Indicted on 65 charges, 11 Additional Victims

FREDERICK, MD – On Friday, May 17, 2019, a Frederick County Grand Jury indicted Dr. Ernesto Torres on an additional 65 charges. These charges stem from additional victims coming forward following the initial indictment on May 3, 2019. Below is a list of the additional charges:
– 9 Counts – Child Sex Abuse
– 10 Counts – Sex Abuse of a Minor
– 43 Counts – Sex Offense – 3rd Degree
– 2 Counts – Sex Offense – 2nd Degree
– 1. Count – Assault – 2nd Degree
Dr. Torres was arrested on the above charges on May 20, 2019, at approximately 2:27 pm. A bond review will be scheduled for tomorrow in Frederick Circuit Court, the time is to be determined.The Frederick Police Department believes there may be other victims in this case. Anyone with information about this case, including other potential victims should contact Detective Sean McKinney at 240-578-5683.
There are many resources available online and locally that provide tips on having these conversations. Local resources are available for victims of sexual assault including:
– Frederick Police Department, Victim Services Unit (301) 600-1356
– The Child Advocacy Center (301) 600-1758
– Heartly House (301) 662-8800
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is merely a formal charge until and if the defendant is found guilty in a future judicial proceeding. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Sexual Solicitation of a Minor Arrests

FREDERICK, MD – The Frederick Police Department and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office arrested 4 adult males for attempting to solicit children for sex following a multi-day undercover operation conducted the week of May 12, 2019.

These arrests resulted from investigations conducted by the Frederick Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State’s Attorney’s Office as part of the Frederick County Cyber Crime Task Force (FCCTF). During this operation suspects chatted on several social media platforms with undercover investigators who posed as minors. Authorities arrested the suspects as they arrived at a pre-arranged meeting place for an encounter.

Detectives arrested and charged 4 people with Sexual Solicitation of a Minor. All defendants are being held without bond at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center.

The mission of the Frederick County Cyber Crime Task Force (FCCTF) is to investigate, apprehend, and prosecute internet sexual predators who exploit children through the use of the internet and technology, consistent with Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force standards and procedures.

The Frederick Police Department and Frederick County Sheriff’s Office received funding for these operations from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention funded this project under sub-award number ICAC-2019-0013. All points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of a State or Federal agency.

 

Chris Lee Myers Indicted by Frederick Grand Jury

FREDERICK, MD – Chris Lee Myers, 39, of Jefferson, Maryland was indicted by the Frederick County Grand Jury on one count of 1st Degree Murder in the homicide of his girlfriend. Myers waived his right to a bond review on May 3rd, and is currently being held at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center without bond. “Grand Jury is just the first step in the process of pursuing justice for this horrible domestic violence homicide. We are continuing our investigation, and I look forward to proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” stated State’s Attorney Charlie Smith.

Relatives of the victim, identified as Heather Caitlin Williams, 24, of Jefferson, Maryland, reported her missing at about 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday May 1st, when she did not arrive at her relatives’ residence as expected. Williams’ vehicle, a 2017 Ford Fiesta, was not at her residence on the 4500 block of Jefferson Pike when relatives went to check on her. Her relatives entered the home, and found Ms. Williams deceased inside the residence with evidence of substantial head injury.

Myers, who shared a residence with the victim, was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department at approximately 6 p.m. on Wednesday May 1st after being stopped for a traffic violation in the City. He was driving Williams’ vehicle at the time of his arrest. A search warrant of the vehicle revealed several items in the car with what appeared to be blood stains on them. The items presumptively tested positive for blood. The Victim’s cell phone and purse were also found in the vehicle.

Williams’ body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore where an autopsy was performed and will determine the manner of death.

The State’s Attorney’s Office is urging anyone with information concerning the events or the parties to contact the Maryland State Police, Frederick Barrack.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is merely a formal charge until and if the defendant is found guilty in a future judicial proceeding. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

UPDATE: Dr. Ernesto Torres Out on Bond

UPDATE Thursday 5/9/19 : Dr. Ernesto Torres posted bond late Wednesday night. He is now being monitored through the Frederick Co. Sheriff’s Office home detention program.

 

FREDERICK, MD – On Wednesday, May 8th at 2 pm, Dr. Ernesto Torres appeared before Frederick Circuit Court for a Bond Review. The Honorable Judge Martz-Fisher set the bond in the amount of $100,000 secured with the conditions of home detention, no unsupervised contact with patients or minors, and surrender his passport.

The State’s Attorney’s Office presented information regarding potential additional victims in this case. The Frederick Police Department is conducting additional interviews at this time. If you believe your child may have been a victim, please contact Detective Sean McKinney at (240) 578-5683. The Frederick Police Department Victim Service’s Unit is also available to provide support and they can be reached at (301) 600-1356.

In response to the outcome of the Bond Review, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith stated,” We believe based on the allegations that Dr. Torres poses a significant threat to the public, which is why we requested he be held without bond. To date, we have had 11 additional potential victims come forward. We will review each one independently of the other to determine whether they are sufficient to charge. We again encourage anyone with information regarding the case to contact authorities immediately.”

Both agencies are encouraging parents to talk to your children about body boundaries and safety. In understanding that these are difficult conversations to be had; The Frederick Police Department along with the State’s Attorney’s Office will be holding a Community Conversation on ‘How to Have Uncomfortable Conversations with your Children”. The presentation is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 at 7pm in the Frederick City Annex (140 West Patrick Street). This Community Conversation, geared for parents will feature two guest speakers from our community who are experts in having difficult conversations with children, as well as Frederick State’s Attorney Charlie Smith. This presentation will be open to the public. More information on this presentation will be available shortly.

Grand Jury Indicts Frederick Pediatrician, Dr. Ernesto Torres

FREDERICK, MD – On April 26, 2019, the Frederick Police Department began an investigation into the allegations that a Frederick Pediatrician, Dr. Ernesto Torres, sexually assaulted an 18-year-old female during an examination at his medical practice. Charges were recommended to the States Attorney’s Office which was then presented to the Grand Jury on May 3, 2019. The Grand Jury found there was sufficient evidence to charge Dr. Ernesto Torres with 2nd Degree Rape, 2nd Degree Assault, and 4th Degree Sex Offense.

Subsequently, an arrest warrant was issued for Dr, Ernesto Torres, age 68, of Frederick, Maryland. On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at 7:30 am, Dr. Torres was arrested at his residence, 7600 block of San Di Gan Drive, Frederick, Maryland and transported to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center where he is being held awaiting an appearance before the District Court Commissioner.

We understand that this is an emotional incident that not only affects the victim in this case but also patients and families entrusted to his care. Both the States Attorney’s Office and the Frederick Police Department would like to commend the victim for coming forward in this case.

There is no information to indicate that there are additional victims, but we would encourage parents to please talk to your children about body boundaries and safety. There are many resources available online and locally that provide tips on having these conversations. Local resources are available for victims of sexual assault including Heartly House and the Child Advocacy Center. Additionally, the Frederick Police Department’s Victim Services Unit will be available to provide support. To contact the unit, please call (301) 600-1356.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It is merely a formal charge until and if the defendant is found guilty in a future judicial proceeding. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

 

Jefferson Homicide Suspect Held Without Bond

FREDERICK, MD – Chris Lee Myers, 39, of Jefferson, Maryland waived his right to a bond review this afternoon in Frederick District Court. Maryland State Police have charged Myers in connection with the death of his girlfriend Wednesday in Frederick County.

Chris Myers is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He was arrested by Baltimore Police on Wednesday on unrelated traffic and drug violations. He had been held at the Baltimore City Detention Center until being transported to Frederick County.

According to a preliminary investigation, relatives of the victim, identified as Heather Williams, 24, of Jefferson, Maryland, had reported her missing at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday when she did not arrive at her relatives’ residence as expected. Investigators said Williams’ vehicle, a 2017 Ford Fiesta, was not at her residence on the 4500 block of Jefferson Pike when relatives went to check on her and eventually found her deceased inside the residence.

Myers, who shared a residence with the victim, was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department at approximately 6 p.m. after being stopped for a traffic violation in the area of Frederick Road in the city. He was driving Williams’ vehicle at the time of his arrest. A search warrant of the vehicle revealed several items in the car with what appeared to be blood stains on them. MSP Troopers interviewed the Baltimore officer who made the arrest, who said that Myers was acting unusual and very nervous.

Williams’ body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause and manner of death.  The case remains under investigation. State’s Attorney Charlie Smith asks that “anyone with information that would aid in the investigation and a prosecution of this case please come forward”