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Home » News » Crime

May 30. 2014 6:18PM

NH National Guardsman Valas under arrest on federal charge of sex trafficking


 

Lt. Col. Raymond Valas, 41, of Bow was arrested May 19 in Syracuse on one count of sex trafficking of children, by force, fraud or coercion, on Aug. 26 in San Antonio.

 

 

Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, public affairs officer for the New Hampshire National Guard, said Valas' security clearance was revoked after his arrest and any "foreseen actions" - such as a transfer or promotion - are under suspension, pending the outcome of the criminal case.

 

Heilshorn said he has no information concerning the accusation against Valas, who is an Active Guard Reserve Officer in the state Guard.
 

 

Valas was in Syracuse as a U.S. Army College fellow studying at its Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSC) based at Syracuse University.

 

Atty. John Convery of San Antonio, who is representing Valas, said his client had just completed the program and was packing up to return to New Hampshire when he was arrested.

 

Convery said he has received no discovery documents from federal prosecutors providing details of the government's case against Valas. He said it is being reported in Texas that his client is accused of having sex with a minor one day last August in San Antonio.

 

"What they (prosecutors) do is destroy you first and your reputation and then leave you to defend yourself," he said.

 

"It doesn't seem very fair to me and I'm a former prosecutor."

 

 
Convery, who was a prosecutor on both the state and federal level, contended the only difference between his client facing a misdemeanor in a county court, instead of a felony at the federal level, is the circumstances surrounding the teenage girl.

 

According to the indictment, on Aug. 26, 2013 in the Western District of Texas Valas engaged in commercial sex with the teenager knowing she "had not attained the age of 18 years, recklessly disregarding" that fact and "having had a reasonable opportunity to observe" her.

 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Therese Wiley Dancks, presiding in the Northern District of New York in Syracuse, refused to set bail for Valas saying she found the Government sustained its burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure that Valas would not endanger others and the community by his "continued involvement with child sex trafficking and efforts to seek opportunities to sexually abuse minors."

 

She said Valas "proffered that he did not know the child involved was a minor. However, I find this does not adequately rebut the presumption of detention for the charges pending since the indictment alleges that defendant had a reasonable opportunity to observe the minor, and thus "the Government need not prove that the defendant knew that the person had not attained the age of 18 years."

 

 
Valas is charged in connection with three San Antonio residents who are accused of prostituting teenage girls in San Antonio. Charges also include the production of child pornography.

 

 
In March, Amber Doak, 20, of San Antonio pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in San Antonio for her part in prostituting a 15-year-old girl in August 2013, according to a news release issued at that time by U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas and Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse, San Antonio Division.

 

Doak pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of children. She also admitted using a cell phone provided by co-defendant Marcus Deshawn Wright, 38, also of San Antonio to take pictures of the victim so Wright and another co-defendant, Malcom Deandre Copeland, 21, also of San Antonio, could use them to advertise the teen on Backpage.com The Internet website is well known for its prostitution advertising under the pretext of "escorts," according to the Texan prosecutors.

 

Doak admitted fielding inquiries from individuals responding to the prostitution advertisement and also traveled with Wright and Copeland as they transported the victim to multiple locations to engage in commercial sex.

 

Doak, who is in federal custody, faces between 10 years and life in federal prison when she is sentenced in September.

 

Copeland and Wright are awaiting trial. The cases, according to court documents, involve two 15-year-old girls who were prostituted. One of the teens told investigators she was raped, beaten and forced into prostitution by Wright, who split the money she earned with the other two.

 

Heilshorn said Valas was in San Antonio on National Guard orders last August.

 

Valas, prior to attending INSC, served in October 2012 as commander of Joint Task Force Jaguar in Sonsonate, El Salvador, where he led 1,400 troops from Chile, Colombia, Canada, El Salvador, and the U.S. through a Humanitarian Civic Assistance mission.

 

He has served in combat in Iraq, peacekeeping in Egypt, special operations instruction in Taiwan, and natural disaster response in New Hampshire.

 

When he returned from Iraq in 2006, he and other Guard members formed the Barley House Wolves, a club for the Irish sport of hurling. The decision to try hurling came from the Guard company's deployment to Iraq. Flights going to and from home made refueling stops in Ireland where soldiers caught a glimpse of the unusual sport on television.

 

Valas grew up in Canton, Mass. and commissioned in 1995 through the Reserve Officers Training Corps at the University of New Hampshire. Heilshorn said most of Valas' career has been in New Hampshire.


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