For Immediate Release
Grand Jury Returns Indictments
MADISON, WIS. – A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today. You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Columbus Woman Charged with Using Internet In Murder-for-Hire Scheme
Kelly Harper, 37, Columbus, Wisconsin, is charged with using the Internet from October 19 through December 10, 2020, with the intent that the murder of a known individual be committed in exchange for payment, specifically bitcoin. Harper was previously charged with this offense in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Federal law requires that offenses charged by complaint be presented to a grand jury for indictment.
The complaint alleged that Harper provided a description of the intended victim, details about the victim’s vehicle, where the victim worked, and the victim’s cell phone number. The scheme was uncovered by journalists investigating the murder-for-hire site, and they were able to warn the victim. The scheme was reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sun Prairie Police Department in January.
Harper was arrested on February 5 and remains in custody. Her arraignment has been set for Tuesday, February 16, at 2:00 p.m.
If convicted, Harper faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charge against her is the result of an investigation by the Sun Prairie Police Department, the FBI, and the FBI’s Money Laundering, Forfeiture and Bank Fraud Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chadwick Elgersma is handling the prosecution.
Michigan Man Charged with Drug & Gun Crimes
Larry W. Cole, 40, Painesdale, Michigan, is charged with possessing 500 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The indictment alleges that he possessed the methamphetamine on September 9, 2020. Cole is also charged with possessing a 9mm handgun on that date in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime.
If convicted, Cole faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the drug charge. The gun charge carries a mandatory penalty of 5 years, which federal law requires be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the drug charge.
The charges against Cole are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Rock and Florence County Sheriffs’ Offices; Illinois State Police Multi-County Enforcement Group; Wisconsin State Patrol; and the Michigan K.I.N.D. Drug Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Anderson is handling the prosecution.
Milwaukee Man Charged with Illegally Possessing Firearm
Jerome Kirk, 33, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The indictment alleges that he possessed a loaded 9mm handgun on November 16, 2020.
If convicted, Kirk faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin State Patrol, Sun Prairie Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner is handling the prosecution.