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Arson Case Briefs

provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
for more information on this Brief, contact:
ATF, Arson and Explosive Programs Division - (202) 927-7930


The Future Now, Inc.
Carrollton, Texas
October 24, 1994


A. IN: 53220-95-0008 Z and ancillary IN 53220-95-0017 D

B. CASE AGENT: Marty A. Roy

C. FIELD DIVISION/OFFICE: Dallas Group II (Arson)

D. PHONE: 214-767-0530

E. PROSECUTORS:

Diane Jones
Linda Groves
Assistant United States Attorneys
Northern Judicial District of Texas

Steve Heath
Assistant District Attorney
Dallas County District Attorney's Office

F. SYNOPSIS:

This case involved the burglary/theft of approximately $1.5 million worth of computers and an associated $4.5 million arson fire that was set to cover that theft on October 24, 1994, at a branch of The Future Now, Inc., located in Carrollton, Texas. The Future Now, Inc., is a national computer sales company grossing $3 billion per year and employing 115 persons at the Carrollton site. The fire scene was comprised of a 12,000 square foot, two-story building that included office space and a warehouse facility. The investigation indicated that this was a well-planned offense because the alarm system had been systematically disabled and specific inventory was removed via a commercial truck. The origin and cause determination indicated that at least three gasoline containers (recovered at the scene) were used to pour trailers and distribute approximately 14 gallons of gasoline throughout the structure, and that paper matches were used to ignite the fire. Two fire fighters sustained minor injuries during suppression efforts. An organized criminal enterprise responsible for theft, arson, and the interstate/international distribution of stolen goods was identified as the perpetrator of the subject arson and eight separate commercial thefts involving loss figures in excess of $10 million. Included in these offenses was a prior significant theft of $700,000 in computers from The Future Now, Inc., during January 1994 (cleared IN 53220-95-0017D). Sixteen defendants were charged in State court for felony offenses ranging from theft to violations of the Texas organized crime statute. Eight of the 16 were charged in Federal court with felony offenses involving conspiracy and arson in The Future Now, Inc., fire. The majority have either pled or been found guilty. One remaining defendant is a fugitive, and the other is awaiting execution on Texas death row for capital murder.

G. CHARGES:

United States Code

Title 18, Section 2(a)(b) - Principals in Federal Offense
Title 18, Section 4 - Misprision of a Felony (Arson)
Title 18, Section 371 - Conspiracy to Commit Arson
Title 18, Section 844(i) - Arson

Texas Penal Code

Section 71.02(a)(1) - Engaging in Organized Crime
Section 30.02 - Burglary
Section 31.03 - Theft

H. EVIDENCE:

Regarding the prior The Future Now, Inc., theft committed by the defendants:

On or about January 21, 1994, Marc D. Jordan, Edward J. Murray, Francisco H. Rangel, and The Future Now, Inc., employees Troy L. Bullard, Arnold Prieto, and Andres Nunez conspired to and stole approximately 163 computers from The Future Now, Inc., remote warehouse located at 1540 Selene Dr., #100, Carrollton, Dallas County, Texas. The computers were fictitiously represented as a legitimate acquisition and sold through brokers Thomas Medelberg and Mitchell Levine, who were unaware of the theft. The theft went unprosecuted until the investigation of the arson and theft at The Future Now, Inc., that occurred on October 24, 1994. The subjects were charged with State violations relating to theft and engaging in organized crime, and were prosecuted in Dallas County Courts.

Acts in preparation of the arson committed on October 24, 1994:

1. About mid-October 1994, Francisco Rangel approached Marc D. Jordan about carrying out another computer theft at The Future Now, Inc. Francisco Rangel subsequently introduced Jordan to two persons who would participate in the theft: Randy Perez, aka "Randy," and Mario Alfredo Salinas, aka "Marcos." Jordan, Francisco Rangel, and Salinas met at Don Carter's All Star Lanes at 10920 Composite Drive in Dallas, Texas, to discuss the theft. Salinas commented on how he wanted to cover up the burglary/theft so that nothing would be reported as stolen. Francisco Rangel suggested using gasoline to burn the business to destroy any record of the computer loss. Jordan, Francisco Rangel, and Salinas discussed how to accomplish the burglary, theft, and coverup arson, and they then compiled a list of necessary supplies, including bolt cutters, gasoline, gas cans, and matches. Jordan wrote the list on the back of a bowling flier that was subsequently found in Francisco Rangel's possession; furthermore, items named on the list were recovered at the fire scene. Jordan later discussed the meeting and plans with Delbert Ray Chambers, a former Dallas County (Texas) Sheriff's Deputy who functioned as Jordan's "bodyguard" and associate.

2. On or about the evening hours of October 23, 1994, Jordan, Chambers, Francisco Rangel, and Edward Murray (truck driver) met at Don Carter's All Star Lanes to further plan, discuss, and implement the burglary, theft, and arson of The Future Now, Inc., warehouse. Jordan showed Murray the warehouse so that he would know where to take the truck the following day to pick up the computers.

3. Prior to 6:00 a.m. on or about October 24, 1994, Perez and Salinas disabled the alarm system and entered The Future Now, Inc., premises.

4. Francisco Rangel left the meeting at Don Carter's, which had continued into the early morning hours of October 24. He subsequently contacted Jordan and told him that Perez and Salinas were inside The Future Now, that they had disabled the alarm system, and that they were leaving the business and coming to his club (the 8 Ball Latino). Jordan went to the 8 Ball Latino club, where he observed Francisco Rangel receive telephone calls and discuss the burglary during its commission with those at The Future Now, Inc. (Perez, Salinas, and others). Telephone calls were logged between the hours of 1:22 a.m. and 4:25 a.m., between Jaime Rangel's mobile telephone, the 8 Ball Latino, and a mobile telephone used by Perez. A phone call was also logged between Perez and the 8 Ball Latino at 10:00 p.m. on October 23, and records reflected several telephone calls between these telephones, Mario Salinas' family residence, and known friends and associates of Salinas and Perez.

5. On that same date, Jordan, Francisco Rangel, Saul Rangel, Perez, and Salinas met inside the 8 Ball Latino. In the meeting, they discussed what computers and equipment they had observed inside The Future Now, Inc., and could steal. After the discussion, Perez and Salinas returned to the warehouse, and Franciso Rangel went to the warehouse to act as a lookout. Jaime and Saul Rangel assisted in the overall theft/arson scheme. Jordan returned to Don Carter's, picked up Chambers, and notified Murray to drive his truck (a 1987 Freightliner, cabover, Texas Registration 2BN878) to the warehouse.

6. Murray remained in the truck while Perez and Salinas loaded approximately 294 computers into it and Francisco Rangel acted as a "lookout." Perez and Salinas poured gasoline in several locations throughout The Future Now, Inc., warehouse and business and set it on fire. They had carried into the business and used items from the supply list written by Jordan and later recovered on Francisco Rangel, which included the gasoline, gas cans, and bolt cutters. Murray then drove the truck with the computers to Jordan's warehouse (Luxury Lighting) in Ft. Worth, Texas.

7. On that same date, Jordan observed Perez and Salinas flee the warehouse carrying gasoline cans, heard an alarm sounding in the background, and clearly heard one of them state that they had "lit the place." Jordan then heard Chambers respond excitedly that they should also flee the area. The theft and arson resulted in a cumulative loss total of approximately $6 million.

8. On that same date, Jordan, Chambers, and Murray met at Jordan's warehouse where Jordan and Murray unloaded the computers in Chambers' presence. Jordan took possession of computer shipping papers and other paperwork that had been taken from The Future Now, Inc., premises. Jordan subsequently placed the papers inside his warehouse, then removed the computer labels, packaging, and registration materials and placed them in a box inside the warehouse.

9. At 5:26 a.m., Jordan telephoned Francisco Rangel from Luxury Lighting to see if Rangel had made it home and to advise him that the computers were safely stored at his warehouse. Jordan took one of each computer type as samples to facilitate the sale of the computers.

Acts committed after 6:00 a.m., October 24, 1994, in furtherance of the overall arson and computer theft scheme:

11. In October and November 1994, Jordan fabricated fictitious documents to represent himself as the legal owner of the computers, and he arranged for their sale to Mitchell Levine in New Jersey through broker Thomas Medelberg dba Tel Systems--Dallas. Both Medelberg and Levine were unaware of the theft. In October through December, Jordan sold and transferred approximately 294 stolen computers to Medelberg and Levine for approximately $625,300. Jordan, doing business as MDJ Enterprises, then distributed proceeds and payments in U.S. currency and cashier's checks as follows: Approximately $46,000 to Chambers; approximately $4,500 to Murray; and approximately $165,000 to Francisco Rangel for his participation and to pay Randy Perez, Mario Salinas, and others. When making the payments, Jordan gave a $65,000 check to Saul Rangel to deliver to his brother, Francisco Rangel.

13. In October and November 1994, in addition to payments made to Perez and Salinas, Francisco Rangel distributed proceeds from the burglary and made payments in cash, checks, and goods as follows: At least $3,000 to Salinas; at least $5,000 to Jaime Rangel; and at least $16,000 to Saul Rangel.

Evidence and testimony obtained pursuant to warrant execution, arrests, and investigation:

14. On January 5, 1995, Francisco, Jaime, and Saul Rangel; Murray; Francisco Molina; Jaime Martinez; and Oranna Lovato were arrested on State charges by the Farmers Branch and Dallas Police Departments as they attempted to steal beauty aid and health care products from the Superior Products Warehouse in Farmers Branch, Texas. Jordan and Chambers were also observed at the scene by police; however, they fled the area prior to being arrested. During the initial arrest procedures, Farmers Branch Police officers found and retained items relating to the suspects' identities and a supply list that included six 5-gallon plastic gas cans with nozzles, unleaded gasoline, matches, bolt cutters, ladders, and other items. Jordan identified this list as the one he wrote in the meeting to plan The Future Now, Inc., burglary and arson.

15. On January 6, 1995, Carrollton Fire Investigators and ATF agents responded to the Farmers Branch Police Department. Murray was advised of Miranda warnings, and he provided a signed, written statement implicating himself, Jordan, Chambers, and others in the burglary, theft, and arson at The Future Now, Inc. Murray also implicated Jordan's (Luxury Lighting) warehouse as the location where the computers were taken and stored.

16. On January 7, 1995, ATF agents and State law enforcement personnel executed a State search warrant at Jordan's warehouse, where they found documents stolen from The Future Now, Inc.; computer packaging, labels, registration discs, and materials removed from the stolen computers; documents and papers relating to invoices; and letters, financial statements, notes, and other indicia showing an interactive relationship between locations and suspects.

17. That same date, Jordan was arrested pursuant to a State arrest warrant. He provided post-Miranda verbal and written statements implicating himself and others in the burglary and arson of The Future Now, Inc., and also consented to a search of his residence and vehicles. Items retained by ATF included documents and papers relating to invoices, letters, financial statements, telephone bills, notes, and other indicia showing an interactive relationship between suspects. Additional documents were found indicating that Jordan had purchased his residence with proceeds from the computer theft and arson.

18. On January 8, 1995, Oranna Lovato provided a signed statement detailing conversations she had with Francisco Rangel in which he admitted he and Jaime Rangel had stolen computers on two prior occasions--one "inside" theft and a second "outside"óand provided other relevant details.

19. In January through March 1995, Jordan participated in interviews and gave statements defining roles, organizational structure, participants, facts, and events relating to the burglary and arson at The Future Now, Inc., and various other commercial-type thefts. Jordan identified and provided additional physical evidence to support his statements.

20. On March 21, 1995, Salinas, aka "Marcos," was arrested and transported to the Carrollton jail facility. That night he requested to speak to the ATF case agent. Salinas told the ATF case agent that he and Perez were in on the computer company--acknowledging their involvement in the burglary and arson of The Future Now, Inc. Salinas stated that he had other criminal charges pending that he wanted to work out prior to cooperating. He stated that he did not commit the other crimes he had been charged with, but would accept responsibility for his action regarding The Future Now, Inc.

Additional information in support of the coconspirator relationships and prior similar crimes:

21. Law enforcement officers were investigating a possible burglary in a building when they encountered Randy Perez and four other men. Perez had bolt/wire cutters, a tire tool, and cotton work gloves in his possession--instruments similar to tools used in the burglary and arson of The Future Now, Inc.

22. Dallas County Adult Probations reports and Farmers Branch and Carrollton Police Department reports listed residence telephone numbers and personal contacts for Perez and Salinas that corresponded with telephone numbers called during The Future Now, Inc., burglary and arson. The Dallas County Adult Probations Report noted interviews with Perez regarding his display of recently acquired jewelry and his operation of a 1990, 2 door Nissan, Texas Registration KKT93P, registered to Maria Rangel, sister of Francisco Rangel. (This is the vehicle alleged to have been given to Perez as partial payment for his role in The Future Now, Inc., arson and theft.)

23. Coconspirator/witness testimony was corroborated by independent investigation and by extensive financial and telecommunication analysis.

I. LEGAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS:

Due to the number and scope of the offenses, several investigative agencies were involved, which raised jurisdictional concerns early in the investigation. These concerns were resolved in equitable agreements between the prosecuting and investigating agencies to split the prosecution, seizures, and fact-finding responsibilities, with each supporting the whole in a focused task-force style environment. The broad spectrum of burglaries and thefts were prosecuted by State authorities, while the specific crimes of arson and conspiracy relating to The Future Now, Inc., arson were prosecuted in Federal court. This division necessitated a waiver of the "petit policy" by the U.S. Department of Justice, which was granted without opposition. Vehicles and property linked to the State prosecutions were seized by the respective State agencies, while real estate and funds identified as proceeds of The Future Now, Inc., theft and arson were seized for Federal forfeiture by ATF and the Carrollton Fire Department. Telecommunication records and financial documents were analyzed to corroborate witness statements and to support property seizures and investigative details. This information consisted of approximately 33 records from 17 institutions.

J. VERDICTS AND SENTENCING:

Sixteen people were charged in State court with felony offenses ranging from theft to organized crime, concerning several commercial burglaries and thefts executed over a 2-year period. Eight of the 16 were charged in Federal court with felony offenses involving conspiracy and arson of The Future Now, Inc. Five of the eight defendants entered guilty pleas. Two were convicted in jury trials, and one remains a fugitive. Conviction and sentencing status is as follows:

Delbert Ray Chambers pled guilty to a Federal charge of conspiracy, for which he was sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment and 3 year's supervised release. Chambers was found guilty of State charges of theft, attempted theft, and engaging in organized crime, for which he was sentenced to 8, 10, and 8 years' confinement, respectively.

Marc Daniel Jordan pled guilty on information to a Federal charge of arson. As a result of a cooperative plea, he was sentenced to 37 months' confinement, 3 years' supervised release, and ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution. He also pled guilty to State charges of theft and attempted theft, for which he is awaiting sentencing.

Edward James Murray pled guilty on an information to a Federal arson charge, for which he was sentenced to 5 years' probation, including 180 days in a community corrections facility, and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution. He also pled guilty to State charges of theft and attempted theft, for which he is awaiting sentencing.

Randy Perez was found guilty of Federal charges of conspiracy and arson, for which he was sentenced to 60 and 100 months' imprisonment, respectively, and 3 years of supervised release. He also pled guilty to State charges of burglary, engaging in organized crime, and burglary/parole revocation, for which he was sentenced to 8, 8, and 10 years' confinement, respectively.

Francisco Herrera Rangel was indicted on Federal charges of conspiracy and arson, and State charges of theft, attempted theft, and organized crime. Francisco Rangel remains a fugitive.

Jaime Rangel pled guilty to a Federal charge of conspiracy, for which he was sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment, followed by deportation from the United States. He also pled guilty to a State charge of theft, for which he was sentenced to 12 years' confinement.

Saul Rangel pled guilty to a Federal charge of misprision of a felony (Arson), for which he was sentenced to 4 months comfinement to be followed by deportation from the United States. He also pled guilty to a State charge of attempted theft, for which he was sentenced to 10 years' confinement (probated).

Mario Alfredo Salinas was found guilty of Federal charges of conspiracy and arson, for which he was sentenced to 57 months' imprisonment to be followed by 3 years' supervised release. He was indicted on State charges of theft and organized crime, and is awaiting disposition.

Francisco Rangel has been indicted on Federal charges of comspiracy and arson, and State charges of theft, attempted theft, and organized crime. He is currently listed as a fugitive.

Additional defendants charged in State court regarding the January 1994 computer theft at The Future Now, Inc.

(IN 53220-95-0017D):

Troy Leon Bullard pled guilty to theft and organized crime. For each charge he was sentenced to 10 years' confinement/7 years probated.

Andres Nunez pled guilty to theft and was sentenced to 8 years' confinement.

Arnold Prieto was indicted on theft and organized crime charges, disposition held. Prieto is awaiting execution on Texas death row for capital murder.

Property forfeitures consisting of real property and monetary funds identified as proceeds were seized by ATF in the amount of approximately $200,000 for asset sharing with the Carrollton Fire Department.

 
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