At A Glance | July 29

Authorities Seek Burlington County Couple After Discovering Firearms, Explosives in Raid

NicholasLaytonRebeccaWills.jpg

A man and woman from Mount Holly (Burlington County) are wanted after raids of their home and a storage trailer turned up weapons, explosives, and drugs. Nicholas Layton (pictured, from left), 39, and Rebecca Wills, 33, are considered “armed and dangerous,” New Jersey State Police said on July 25, after they disappeared during an ongoing investigation. The pair is accused of having five assault rifles, including three untraceable “ghost guns,” as well as homemade explosive devices and traces of methamphetamine. They face felony charges for possession of weapons and homemade explosives, possession and distribution of drugs, and receiving stolen property. Layton is also being sought for violating federal probation for a drug conviction in 2015. Prohibited from leaving New Jersey without permission, Layton was pulled over for tailgating in Arkansas in December and found with about 8 pounds of methamphetamine in his rental vehicle, according to court documents.


Accused ISIS Sniper, Weapons Instructor From Brooklyn Charged

A Brooklyn man who authorities said assisted ISIS as a sniper and weapons instructor for other members of the organization returned to the United States to face terrorism charges on July 19. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a naturalized US citizen born in Kazakhstan, is accused of providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Prosecutors said the 42-year-old traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, in December 2013 before moving into Syria to become a sniper for the terror group. Asainov rose through the ranks to become an “emir,” or chief, charged with training other ISIS members in weapons use, according to prosecutors. He is also accused of attempting to recruit other individuals from the United States to join ISIS in Syria, including an informant for the New York Police Department. Prosecutors said that Asainov asked another informant in March 2015 for approximately $2,800 to purchase a rifle scope and sent photographs of him holding a firearm while boasting about ISIS and expressing his desire to die on the battlefield. Syrian Democratic Forces later captured Asainov and transferred him into FBI custody on July 17.


Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening FBI Agent, Oklahoma Sheriff

A Columbus, Ohio, man admitted threatening violence against a sheriff in another state and a local FBI agent. Joseph Michael Bragg, 40, pleaded guilty on July 22 to one count each of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce and influencing a federal official by threat. Bragg posted several comments through a “contact us” form on a town website in Oklahoma between June and July 2018. The messages included threats to harm a county sheriff, other members of law enforcement, politicians, and “anyone associated with Freemasonry,” according to court documents. The email address used in the form was traced to Bragg’s home address, and an FBI agent in Columbus went to his residence on July 20, 2018. Bragg shouted that the agent had “no authority here” before threatening to shoot and decapitate him. Authorities later returned to the home with a search warrant and arrested Bragg. Prosecutors said the plea agreement calls for Bragg to serve at least 12 months in prison, including time served, and three years of supervised release with mental health treatment.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Intelligence Management Bureau at outreach@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.