Crackwhore Duped Durham North Carolina Police Into Believing She Was Raped And Latter Set House On Fire With Boyfriend And Children Inside

June 30, 2010

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — Crystal Gail Mangum believes the system is out to get her.

With a motion bracelet strapped to her right ankle, Mangum, 31, held a press conference in front of a Savannah Avenue home this morning – where she is on house arrest – to defend herself against a February domestic violence arrest.

Mangum was arrested at her Lincoln Street home after police alleged that during an argument with her ex-boyfriend, she set the apartment on fire and tried to kill her now ex-boyfriend while her three young children and two Durham police officers were in the home.

“I don’t feel like I’m going to get the justice that I deserve through the judicial system and I feel this my only and last means to reach out to the public and let them know that I did not set a fire that night,” she said while sitting in front of Savannah Avenue residence, unable to even walk to the driveway. “To let the public know that I am being unfairly treated due to preconceived notions that people have about me concerning another case. I feel like enough is enough.”

That case happens to be the Duke Lacrosse case, where Mangum accused three Duke University lacrosse players of sexual assault during a party in March 2006. State Attorney General Roy Cooper cleared the three men in 2007. Mangum never faced any charges in the case, which gained international headlines and led to the resignation of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong after the State Bar charged him with 20 ethics violations.

Mangum never mentioned the case by name during this morning’s conference but believes it has led to the multiple charges from the February incident, including arson, child endangerment and attempted murder. She pleaded for her ex-boyfriend, who she said abused her, to come forward and tell the truth about what happened.

Mangum said that her ex-boyfriend, after taking her to the emergency room for a spinal tap, started hitting her and accusing her of cheating after she asked him to leave the residence. Mangum said she and her three children ran into a bedroom for safety. Mangum stated that she doesn’t know who set the home on fire but that her ex-boyfriend was the only other person in the home.

“I can’t explain to you why I keep going through issues with domestic violence,” she said, referring to past relationships. “Maybe it’s mistakes. Maybe I tell men too much about my past and they try to take that for granted. Maybe domestic violence is more prevalent than people think.”

Mangum’s next court date is Friday.

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Man Faces Jail For Having Hitler Speach As Cellphone Ringtone

June 30, 2010

HAMBURG, GERMANY – A German man is facing up to six months in jail for having a speech by Adolf Hitler as his mobile phone ring tone.

The 54-year-old had a Hitler speech – in which the Fuehrer pledged the ‘destruction of world Jewry’ if Germany was ‘dragged’ into war – programmed into his Nokia phone.

Passengers aboard a train in Hamburg heard the bizarre ring-tone several times during a journey and reported him to police who seized him at the end of his journey.

When he was taken into custody police also found swastika stickers and photo of Hitler on the telephone with the words: ‘The greatest commander of all time’.

He was charged with violating the German constitution which expressly forbids public displays of the Nazis and all their works.

He could face a maximum of six months in jail.

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Montpelier Vermont Police Officers Piss Away Taxpayer Dollars Tailing Walking Nude Woman

June 30, 2010

MONTPELIER, VERMONT – What better way to beat the heat than…walk naked through the Capital City?

That was one 18-year-old woman’s solution to the humidity on Monday afternoon, a tactic that turned heads and prompted a flurry of phone calls to the Montpelier Police Department starting at 1:26 p.m.

Police identified the woman and spoke with her but said there was little they could do from a law enforcement perspective.

“As long as they’re not exhibiting any kind of overt gestures or communicating any kind of lewd act, then they’re within their rights — if we’ll use that word — to do that,” said Sgt. Neil Martel of the Montpelier Police Department.

Police did not observe the woman doing anything that violated state laws or city ordinances, said Martel.

“We watched her and there wasn’t anything going on that would have violated the ordinance,” he said.

Martel said he had an officer go out and speak with the woman, whom he declined to name. “She just said it was a hot day, I guess, and she was taking a walk,” said Martel.

The woman, who was accompanied by a male, made her way around the downtown, said Martel. She was reported on School Street and Main Street.

The nudity issue has come up in the past for Montpelier city officials surrounding the annual naked bike ride, which is allowed to happen in the city for the same reasons the pants-free pedestrian was allowed to saunter through the city Monday. Under the laws and ordinances, you can be nude outside but can’t disrobe outside, said Martel.

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Three Police Officers In Toronto Canada Attack, Beat And Arrest Innocent Journalist Covering G20 Demonstration

June 29, 2010

TORONTO, CANADA – Freelance journalist Jesse Rosenfeld says police beat him Saturday night in Toronto as he covered a G20 demonstration.

A second journalist who witnessed the incident said it was “not a great night for democracy.”

Steve Paikin, host of TVO’s The Agenda public affairs show, was watching protesters on a downtown Toronto street, the Esplanade, on Saturday night.

In a message posted on Twitter, Paikin wrote that the demonstration was peaceful. “It was like an old sit-in. No one was aggressive, and yet riot squad officers moved in.”

Police told him to leave, and “as I was escorted away from the demonstration, I saw two officers hold a journalist.”

“The journalist identified himself as working for the Guardian,” Paikin tweeted. “He talked too much and pissed the police off. Two officers held him. A third punched him in the stomach. Totally unnecessary. The man collapsed. Then the third officer drove his elbow into the man’s back.”

The man was Rosenfeld, 26, is a freelancer from Toronto who is now based in the Middle East. He writes for Now Magazine, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, The Montreal Mirror and This Magazine.

“An officer came up to me, looked at my ID, my alternative media centre press pass and said: ‘This isn’t a legitimate press pass. Put him under arrest!'” Rosenfeld said.

“At which point I was immediately jumped and beaten. The officer grabbed my arm, ripped it behind my back. I was punched in the stomach to make me go down to the ground. I was being hit in the ribs.

“All the time I was saying ‘I am not resisting arrest. I am a journalist. Why are you beating me?'”

According to Paikin, “this guy is about 5-foot-4, 140 pounds. I later spoke to his father and found out he’s only got one kidney, and he’s an asthmatic. Hard to see how he was a threat to anything.”

“Not a great night for democracy in our city, the way I saw it.”

Toronto police said Rosenfeld is welcome to file a complaint. He has hired a lawyer.

Rosenfeld was not the only person whose arrest perturbed Paikin.

On Sunday, he said he had heard from author and academic Valerie Zawilski. She had just been released from jail after being arrested for breaching peace during the Saturday night demonstration. “Gimme a break,” Paikin tweeted.

And Paikin monitored the arrest of the son of Kate Holloway. Holloway is a journalist, activist and was a Liberal party candidate in the 2007 Ontario election.

Her son Sam and Sam’s girlfriend were watching a demonstration Saturday night and were arrested.

They spent a night in jail and Sam’s parents had no idea where they were.

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Chesterfield Virginia Police Arrrest Woman Who Wasn’t Driving For Drunk Driving

June 28, 2010

CHESTERFIELD, VIRGINIA – A Chesterfield County school volunteer is charged with DUI. Police tell us Erin Miller, 28, walked into a restaurant in Short Pump Saturday night and ordered an alcoholic drink. However, bartenders refused her because they claim she appeared to be intoxicated.

The manager of the restaurant then grabbed Miller’s keys and called a cab for her. But police say Miller then grabbed a set of spare keys out of her purse and as she approached her car, police arrived and arrested her for DUI.

Investiagtors say Miller then assaulted the arresting officer, and kicked out the back window of his police cruiser. Miller is a volunteer dance team coach at Chesterfield’s Manchester High School.

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Woman Assaulted By Costco Employee For Bypassing Line At Door

June 27, 2010

Let’s say you’re in a rush after buying a fan at Costco. You look past the line packed with people and carts and spy a lone employee standing by the exit. Do you walk over and show your receipt? What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s ask Reader Shay.

On June 23, 2010 at the [redacted] Costco Center at around 11am I made a quick stop in to return a couple items and to pick a fan. Both the returns process and the checkout went wonderfully as usual. It only took me 2 minutes to get in line and pay for the one item I had.

However when I reached the exit door there was a line of 8 people with baskets of stuff waiting to get out the door. So I went to the other door which does have exit illuminated above it and showed the lady standing there my receipt and one item. She shook her head at me and pointed at the line. When I started to walk out the exit anyways she grabbed a hold of my arm and told me to go to the other line. I told her that I was already running late and the line was moving very slowly, so I continued out the exit. At this point her hand slipped off of my arm and she grabbed a hold of my purse. The first time I politely asked her to let go of me, to which she promptly ignored me. So I continued to walk out the door as she still held onto my purse, eventually grabbing onto it with a second hand and began tugging it. I finally started yelling at her to let go of me when we were in front of the exit area (directly center to both entrances). Even after people started stopping and staring at us, She continued to tug on my purse and would not let go no matter how loud I yelled. She finally let go when I knocked her hands off of my purse with pretty reasonable force.

I was honestly pretty shaken up over this. I really couldn’t believe someone would do this in a public place especially an employee of that store. I sat in my car for about 5 minutes and calmed down. Then I had to find the number for Costco, because no where on my receipt does it list a phone number. I finally got a hold of the stores assistant manger and explained what had happened. He was polite and apologetic and end up meeting me in front of the store so I could point out who had done this to me. He said that he would speak with this Employee and that the Store Manger would call me when he came in.

True to his word the store manger did give me a call a few hours later. He once again apologized for the situation. I explained to what had happened and he confirmed that the statement that the employee had to fill out stated exactly what I had told him.

I have also mailed a letter to the regional manger letting him know exactly what happen as well. This should have never happen to me and I will continue writing to members of Costco Management, to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. There should be a Zero Tolerance Policy for this type of employee behavior.

The lone employee may not have been a loss prevention officer, but that doesn’t excuse her from using common sense. Still, was Shay wrong for trying to cut the line? Should Costco do anything else? Let us know in the comments.

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Toronto Canada Police Raid Wrong Home, With Warrant They Couldn’t Produce, And Terrorize Innocent Family

June 27, 2010

TORONTO, CANADA – A Toronto veterinarian says police conducting a raid on anti-G20 protesters stormed into his home early Saturday, confronted him at gunpoint and handcuffed him — only to release him when they realized he had not been involved in any protest activity.

Dr. John Booth said the raid occurred at around 4 a.m. Saturday at his family’s apartment in a three-storey house at 143 Westminster Ave. near Roncesvalles Avenue.

Booth, 30, lives with his wife, Dr. Hannah Booth, 31, and his six-month-old son in the top two floors of the house.

“I thought it was a bad dream. Basically I woke up, and there were four police officers in my room,” Booth told CBC News.

“It was one of the very few nights I forgot to lock the front door and, lo and behold, they gained access and did not ring the doorbell, did not knock.

“One of them has his gun drawn and [it] is pointed at me, which is obviously an extremely unsettling way to wake up.”

Booth said police questioned him and he gave them his identification. They said they had warrants to search his home and arrest him.

Booth also said the officers informed him he was going to be charged with conspiracy to commit mischief and then handcuffed him.

Police never produced the warrants they spoke of, Booth said. They also spoke to Hannah Booth and woke up the couple’s baby in the nursery, he added.

Booth declined to give the name of his son, saying he didn’t want to get him involved.
Raid on downstairs apartment

Police had apprehended a number of anti-G20 protesters who were staying in another apartment on the ground floor of the house. Booth said he was taken to the lawn outside the home and made to wait there with several other handcuffed males.

While the officers waited for a police vehicle to take some of those on the lawn to a police station, Booth pleaded his case with the officers.

He said both he and his wife, who is also a veterinarian, were professionals who had no involvement with any criminal activity and that officers had no right to arrest him.

“That seemed to hit home. They conferred with their superior and then they took me back and said, ‘We apologize,'” Booth said.

Booth said he believed police were looking for someone named Peter.

The G20 Integrated Security Unit confirmed later it had conducted legal raids on two homes in Toronto and had arrested four people, one of whom was a 24-year-old named Peter Hopperton.

It could not confirm the addresses of the accused, nor the time of the raids.

Jillian Van Acker of the ISU, which includes members of the RCMP, Toronto police, Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Forces, said she had no information about the incident involving Booth.

“They shouldn’t have ever been in my house if they’d done their due diligence to actually figure out who was on site,” Booth said.

Booth said in email after the interview that the officers he dealt with were Toronto police, “as far as I could tell.”
‘Abuse of power’

Booth said he’s concerned about what he says was an overreach of police power in the lead-up to the G20 summit.

“I was listening to CBC Radio yesterday and they’re talking about …all the money going towards security [for the G20 summit] and the ultimate irony is that this is taxpayer dollars going to ‘keep us safe,’ and me the innocent bystander gets caught up in the middle of his over-policing and [this] abuse of power that occurred as a result.”

The Booths have filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a provincial police watchdog.

When asked if he and his wife will file a lawsuit, Booth said they aren’t interested in compensation.

“We would pursue that if it seems as though that’s the best means for accountability. Because that’s what we’re really after here — we just want them to ‘fess up’ and say, ‘Look, we screwed up royally and we’re sorry.'”

Booth works as a veterinarian at the Richview Animal Hospital in western Toronto. His wife, Hannah, is on maternity leave and recently took a position on the board of directors at the Toronto Humane Society.

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Crazed NY Governor David Paterson Wants DNA From Everyone – Right Down To Those Caught Littering And Jaywalking

June 22, 2010

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Gov. David Paterson has proposed roughly doubling New York’s DNA database to include samples from even low-level offenders, making it the first in the nation to so broadly collect and use this evidence to solve crimes and exonerate people wrongly convicted.

New York’s law would require adding about 48,000 samples a year to a laboratory system that state officials say is capable of handling the extra work, with no current backlogs.

“You think it’d be a huge explosion, but we have samples on so many people that recommit crimes already – it’s the old rule of criminals don’t specialize,” said Sean Byrne, acting commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

State police now have DNA samples from 356,000 people convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanors, including petty larceny and endangering the welfare of a child. The database began in 1996 with the genetic material from killers and sex predators, and has been expanded three times.

The governor’s plan has drawn support from a law school center involved in efforts nationwide to use DNA evidence to reverse wrongful convictions. But the New York Civil Liberties Union said the latest proposed expansion raises many questions, including about protection of privacy rights, and should be given further study.

Paterson said it would cost about $1.6 million more annually for state police to increase data collection to get a complete list of New York criminals’ DNA, adding many other misdemeanors.

“DNA is the most powerful tool ever discovered to solve crimes, prevent crimes and exonerate the innocent, but remarkably in New York State we are still collecting DNA from only 46 percent of the criminals convicted,” he said.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer first proposed the idea in 2007 but it did not win legislative approval.

The Assembly has twice passed broader legislation sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, calling for the collection of DNA in all crimes as well as requiring videotaping of police interrogations, both measures meant to help prevent wrongful convictions.

“As long as we have the innocent guy in prison, the guilty guy is going around committing crimes willy-nilly,” Lentol said.

In the Senate, similar DNA bills have been introduced, including one by Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who is running for attorney general.

“We’re certainly confident there will be an expansion of the DNA data bank,” said Schneiderman spokesman James Freedland.

DNA currently is not collected in most misdemeanors – some 53 percent of all convictions, said Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, president of the state District Attorneys Association, which supports the expansion.

Robert Perry, New York Civil Liberties Union legislative director, said there are issues with privacy and the rights of defendants to due process – and that an independent analysis is needed first. He said problems from putting the DNA of thousands more people into the data bank include the risk of degraded samples, human error in testing labs and even intentional fraud.

“The complexity and importance of the issues raised by the proposal to expand the state’s DNA data bank – issues of law, science and public policy – are matched only by the indifference of lawmakers,” Perry said.

Through April 30, there were 7,825 positive matches against the state’s data bank, including 137 homicide convictions and 453 sexual assaults, according to the criminal justice department.

Since 2006, among those convicted of petty larceny, 652 have been linked to other crimes, including 170 sexual assaults, 72 robberies and 31 homicides.

Over the past two decades, there have been 254 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, according to the Innocence Project. The nonprofit legal clinic, associated with New York’s Cardozo Law School, encourages use of DNA evidence to overturn convictions.

It is part of a network of nearly 61 legal clinics, 52 of them in the U.S., doing similar work. The project has 214 active cases, with 8,000 under evaluation, and to date has looked at 36,000 and taken 1,250 as clients, spokeswoman Emily Whitfield said.

Rob Warden, executive director of the Northwestern University Law School Center on Wrongful Convictions, part of the network, said he supports New York expanding its DNA database. “What we all hope is getting this right,” he said.

The New York State Police lab processes offender DNA samples, while it and seven other accredited labs statewide process DNA from crime scenes, Byrne said.

He said the average offender who made a first DNA submission last year had five prior convictions.

Retired cold case detective Joseph Pollini of the New York Police Department said requiring all criminals to submit DNA would be a huge help because most commit smaller offenses before committing a major crime.

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New York City Police Officer Daniel Chu Caught Making Emergency Run To Get Coffee At Dunkin Donuts, Writes Bogus Tickets For City Councilman Who Caught Him – Cop Has History Of Being A Nutcase

June 20, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NYC Councilman Daniel Halloran says NYPD Traffic Officer Daniel Chu used his red light and swerved through a Queens neighborhood at high speeds – all in a rush to get a coffee at Dunkin Donuts!
A traffic officer is under investigation, accused of acting above the law.

It all began when a city councilman allegedly caught the agent doing something extremely illegal: using his flashing red lights, and speeding, to buy coffee!

It wasn’t a red light camera, but a red-haired councilman who caught traffic agent Daniel Chu red-handed, waltzing out of a Dunkin Donuts the other day with a cup of coffee.

“He is livid,” City Councilman Daniel Halloran said.

Chu apparently didn’t like being caught on candid camera, so he whipped out his ticket book and handed the councilman a $165 ticket for what Halloran says are trumped-up charges.

“He says, ‘you’re going to take pictures of me? Well, I’m going to write you a summons,'” Halloran said.

But that’s only part of the story. A few minutes earlier, Councilman Halloran decided to follow Chu through the quiet streets of his Whitestone, Queens neighborhood after Chu put on his flashing red lights, as if to rush to an emergency.

“He was on a cell phone, talking while this was going on,” Halloran said.

The “emergency” soon became apparent.

“He was in a rush to get a coffee coolata at Dunkin Donuts, and felt he could blow stop signs, speed, swerve in traffic,” Halloran said.

Halloran says he couldn’t believe a traffic agent would break so many laws.

“This guy is running around in a police department vehicle at high rates of speed, careening through a neighborhood, to get to Dunkin Donuts,” Halloran said. “I think there’s a real problem with that.”

It turns out that Officer Chu has something of a history in the neighborhood. Former NYPD cop Tim Dillon told CBS 2 he was a pallbearer at Gleason’s Funeral Home when Chu showed up.

“The family was getting ready to transfer the body from the funeral home to the church,” Dillon said. “The traffic agent felt that they were all double-parked. There was a confrontation – he started yelling and screaming at the family members.

“Traffic Agent Chu had a cigarette in his mouth, screaming at everybody. He took his cigarette and flicked it toward the area of the family and indiscriminately just started scanning the cars up and down, cursing at them, yelling at them,” Dillon said.

There’s another thing to consider: if a police officer had seen the traffic agent talking on his cell phone, speeding, and blowing through stop signs, it could have netted him 18 points on his license – and after 11 points, your license gets revoked.

Councilman Halloran is demanding a review of every ticket written by Officer Chu. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the case is under investigation.

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Sorry Ass U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock Has A Problem With Former Homeland Security Official’s Conviction For Having Wetback Maid

June 20, 2010

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – A furious federal judge said he may toss out the conviction of an ex-Homeland Security honcho caught hiring an illegal alien, after he berated prosecutors yesterday for their “aggressive and overreaching” handling of the case.

“It was a cleaning lady,” U.S. District court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said of the Brazilian maid hired by Lorraine Henderson. “A cleaning lady. Not Al Capone.”

What started as the sentencing of the 52-year-old former federal port chief quickly was derailed by Woodlock, who threw prosecutors hypothetical questions about the law and lectured them on government tyranny.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Freniere appeared to wilt under the third-degree lashing. Then her boss, Assistant U.S. Attorney John McNeil, stepped in.

He fared no better. “Don’t give me, ‘With all due respect.’ We’re past that,” Woodlock chided him. “What I’m asking is, is this aggressive over-reaching of the government? Answer the question.”

Woodlock delayed sentencing Henderson, who faces a maximum of five years in jail for one count of encouraging or inducing an illegal alien. He said he’s mulling a motion of acquittal.

Prosecutors recommended Henderson be sentenced to 36 months’ probation, eight months of it under home confinement or at a halfway house. Defense lawyer Francis DiMento requested a year probation with minimum supervision.

Woodlock conceded that Henderson erred greatly, but he struggled over whether she should be saddled with a felony conviction, when she could have been charged with a misdemeanor.

Henderson is suspended from her job with U.S. Customs and Border Protection keeping illegals from entering the country through Logan International Airport. She now works at a pet store.

“It was hapless hypocrisy and she shouldn’t have done it,” Woodlock said. “She was wrong, but a felony? It couldn’t even be a misdemeanor? A person’s life has been crushed as a result of prosecutorial discretion.”

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Windsor Ontario Canada Judge Falls For “Maple Syrup Urine” Defense, Sets Free Man Who Stalked 14 Year Old Girl

June 20, 2010

WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA – A Windsor, Ont., man suffering from a rare metabolic disorder that causes brain damage was spared a jail sentence for stalking a 14-year-old girl.

Laith Sharma, 49, was charged with criminal harassment after he became infatuated with the girl he had never met.

The court heard he has developmental issues related to a genetic disorder called maple syrup urine disease. The condition, often diagnosed in infants with sweet-smelling urine, can lead to neurological damage and death if untreated.

Sharma was arrested last week after following the girl and writing her a letter professing his desire to marry her, the court heard.

Assistant Crown attorney Frank Schwalm pointed out Sharma was on probation from another criminal harassment charge when he became fixated on the 14-year-old girl in December.

Sharma was sentenced to 45 days of house arrest, to be served at his parents’ home.

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Littleville Alabama Police Officer Arrested After 11 Hour Standoff

June 20, 2010

LITTLEVILLE, ALABAMA – A Littleville police officer barricaded himself in his apartment during a nearly 11-hour standoff with other law enforcement officers on Saturday, the Times Daily in Florence reports.

The officer faces a charge of making a terrorist threat, the newspaper reports. Law enforcement officers fired tear gas canisters into the apartment during the standoff.

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New York City Federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein Has A Problem With Obeying The Law And Sending Child Pornography Collector To Prison For 5 Years

June 20, 2010

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – In his 43-year career as a federal judge, Jack B. Weinstein has come to be identified by his efforts to combat what he calls “the unnecessary cruelty of the law.” His most recent crusade is particularly striking because of the beneficiary: a man who has amassed a vast collection of child pornography.

Judge Weinstein, who sits in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, has twice thrown out convictions that would have ensured that the man spend at least five years behind bars. He has pledged to break protocol and inform the next jury about the mandatory prison sentence that the charges carry. And he recently declared that the man, who is awaiting a new trial, did not need an electronic ankle bracelet because he posed “no risk to society.”

There is little public sympathy for collectors of child pornography. Yet across the country, an increasing number of federal judges have come to their defense, criticizing changes to sentencing laws that have effectively quadrupled their average prison term over the last decade.

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a 20-year child pornography sentence by ruling that the sentencing guidelines for such cases, “unless applied with great care, can lead to unreasonable sentences.” The decision noted that the recommended sentences for looking at pictures of children being sexually abused sometimes eclipse those for actually sexually abusing a child.

Judge Weinstein has gone to extraordinary lengths to challenge the strict punishments, issuing a series of rulings that directly attack the mandatory five-year prison sentence faced by defendants charged with receiving child pornography.

“I don’t approve of child pornography, obviously,” he said in an interview this week. But, he also said, he does not believe that those who view the images, as opposed to producing or selling them, present a threat to children.

“We’re destroying lives unnecessarily,” he said. “At the most, they should be receiving treatment and supervision.”

The man he has spent three years trying to save from a long incarceration is Pietro Polizzi, a married father of five who collected more than 5,000 graphic pictures of children. If prosecuted in a New York State court, he would have faced a maximum prison sentence of four years. Instead, in federal court, he faced a minimum of five years and a recommended sentence of 11 to 14 years. Because of Judge Weinstein’s intervention, he remains free as he awaits another trial.

“I don’t see Judge Weinstein as a judge,” Mr. Polizzi said during an interview as tears rolled down his face. “I see him as my father. He helps people. He doesn’t destroy lives the way the prosecutor has. He’s the one who is going to set me free from the court.”

The child pornography industry has flourished through the Internet; the number of federal cases grew from fewer than 100 annually to more than 1,600 last year. As the number grew, Congress increased the recommended prison terms and established a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for anyone convicted of receiving child pornography. According to the federal defenders’ office, the average sentence was 91 months in 2007, up from 21 months a decade before.

But the tough penalties have chafed at many judges, echoing previous battles over drug cases. Last year, judges imposed sentences below the recommended range in more than half of all child pornography cases.

“What has caused concern in courts across the nation is that we have a lot of relatively law-abiding individuals sitting in the basement downloading the wrong kind of dirty pictures facing not just prison sentences but incredibly long prison sentences,” said Douglas A. Berman, a professor at Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University, who studies sentencing issues.

In one recent case, James L. Graham, a United States District Court judge in Ohio, sentenced a 67-year-old man who had suffered a stroke to a single day in prison, along with restrictions on computer use and registration as a sex offender. As part of a deal with prosecutors, the man had pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, which carries no mandatory sentence.

“When you have to sit there on the bench and look at someone like my stroke victim and say, ‘I have to send this man to prison for six years,’ it just doesn’t feel right,” he explained in an interview. “It’s not right.”

Child advocates like Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, are upset by such thinking. “Real children are harmed in the production of these images,” he said, “and these same children are harmed every time these images are downloaded and viewed.”

At 88, Judge Weinstein is one of the longest serving members of the federal bench. Supporters praise his taking unusual actions in pursuit of his notions of justice, like for a time refusing to handle drug cases out of opposition to mandatory minimums. Critics say that in the process, he disregards the law.

(On Thursday, he made headlines by refusing to dismiss a lawsuit by a public school teacher removed from the classroom for allowing students to use vulgarities during a lesson on H.I.V. He ruled that she appeared to have followed the spirit of a state syllabus that directed that students be encouraged to use sexual terms they understood.)

“Jack is somebody who will step out and do what he thinks is right and take his chances of being overturned by an appeals court,” said John S. Martin, who cited his disagreement with mandatory sentences when he retired from the federal bench in Manhattan. “He sees the injustice in these things, and he tries to do something about it.”

Both sides point to his efforts in the Polizzi case as quintessential Weinstein.

In 2005, Mr. Polizzi signed up for a child pornography Web site. He began obsessively stockpiling thousands of images, mostly of prepubescent girls. When F.B.I. agents arrived with a search warrant, he led them to the two-story garage where he kept his collection behind locked doors, saying, “The pictures of the children are upstairs.”

Child pornography cases almost always end with guilty pleas. But when the case was assigned to Judge Weinstein, Mr. Polizzi’s lawyer recommended that he go to trial. The lawyer used an insanity defense, claiming Mr. Polizzi had been repeatedly raped as a child and had collected the pictures not for sexual gratification, but in hopes of finding evidence of his own abuse — claims the prosecution dismissed as implausible. When the first of the images were shown in court, Mr. Polizzi collapsed and was taken to a hospital.

The jury was given the standard instruction not to consider possible punishment during deliberations. After three days, on Oct. 5, 2007, Mr. Polizzi was convicted of all 12 counts of receipt of child pornography and 11 counts of possession. Then Judge Weinstein broke from the script with a question almost never posed in court: If the jurors had known about the minimum prison sentence, would they have voted to convict?

Five jurors spoke up against imprisonment. Two said they would have changed their votes. Judge Weinstein tossed out the guilty verdict on the more serious receipt counts and ordered a new trial. He sentenced Mr. Polizzi to a year in prison for the possession counts, which Mr. Polizzi has served.

Judge Weinstein declared that Mr. Polizzi had a constitutional right to have a jury know the punishment that would accompany a guilty verdict, a right he said he had violated. He pledged to inform the next jury of the mandatory minimum sentence. That idea, floated by a federal judge in Manhattan several years earlier in another child pornography case but rejected on appeal, would give jurors the option of refusing to convict if the punishment seemed disproportionate, as several jurors had indicated they believed it was in Mr. Polizzi’s case.

“That was quite an unusual way of handling it,” said Amy Baron-Evans, the national sentencing resource counsel for the federal public defenders’ office. “Usually the judges are just stuck with the mandatory minimum.”

The Court of Appeals last year overruled Judge Weinstein’s order of a new trial, but left unresolved whether it was permissible to tell the jury about the punishment. The case was remanded, and Judge Weinstein, after consulting with other District Court judges, again ordered a new trial, though this time on different grounds. And again he pledged to inform the jury of the mandatory minimum sentences. That decision is under appeal.

In the meantime, the cases keep coming.

On Wednesday, Judge Weinstein dealt with a man who had pleaded guilty to receipt of child pornography. He imposed the mandatory five-year minimum prison term, though unhappily.

“This is an unnecessarily harsh and cruel sentence under the circumstances,” he said. “The court has no alternative under the statute. This defendant requires treatment and a stable life outside of prison. Prison will only harm him and will do nothing to protect society, since he does not constitute a risk of crime or any acting out towards children.”

“I’m sorry,” he added, “there is nothing I can do in this case.”

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Dumbass Chattanooga Tennessee Police Officer Delays Woman At Door Of Emergency Room As She Suffered Stroke Conditions, Has Her Husband Arrested For Rushing Her To Hospital

June 20, 2010

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE – A patient, believed to be having a stroke, says an officer with the Chattanooga Police Department blocked her husband from taking her to the emergency room at Erlanger Wednesday night.

Aline Wright is a cancer survivor, amputee and a newlywed. Wednesday night she began to show signs she was having a stroke.

“I started feeling some left arm numbness and a facial droop,” said Aline.

“It appeared to me that I was probably having a stroke.”

That’s when her husband of four days, Jesse Wright, put her in the car and rushed her to the Erlanger Medical Center. Wright knows an emergency. He is a nurse technician at Erlanger.

On the way to the hospital, Aline says Jesse treated two red lights like stop signs. He would stop and then proceed if no traffic was coming. After Jesse ran the second stop light one block from Erlanger, the officer turned on the cruiser’s blue lights and followed the couple into the emergency room parking lot.

“At that point we figured because we were so close to Erlanger emergency department that the police would be aware that’s where we were going,” said Aline.

According to Aline, the officer caught up with the couple as they were attempting to enter the emergency room at Erlanger Medical Center. Aline says her husband was carrying her in his arms because she could not walk. According to Aline, the officer blocked the entrance and demanded answers for running the red lights.

“He picks me up in his arms and the officer continues to block the way into the emergency room,” said Aline.

“He’s standing between Jesse and I, and the emergency room doors.”

Aline says eventually the officer allowed them to enter the hospital, but says he didn’t stop there.

Aline tells Channel 3 Eyewitness News that once the couple was placed in a hospital room, the officer attempted to enter their room to arrest Jesse for evading the police.

Erlanger medical personnel then turned the officer away, informing him that since Aline could not speak Jesse was needed to answer questions for the doctors.

Thursday morning Erlanger security informed the couple that a warrant for Jesse’s arrest had been issued, and suggested he turn himself in. Aline says Jesse went to the Hamilton County Jail to turn himself in that evening. According to Aline, jail employees told Jesse that they had no record of a warrant for him and told him he was free to go.

Jesse returned to his ailing wife’s bedside at Erlanger Medical Center.

“I thought it was over,” said Aline.

“But apparently it wasn’t. I was awakened abruptly by people coming in the room.”

On Friday morning the police were back at the hospital. This time Jesse surrendered to Erlanger Security who arrested him on behalf of the Chattanooga Police Department.

Channel 3 had the only crew there as Jesse was released on $7,500 bond, about eight hours after being arrested. He is facing seven charges related to Wednesday night’s events, including felony evading arrest. He’s due in court on July 9th.

Eyewitness News contacted Chattanooga Police today for their side of the story.

Lt. Kim Noorbergen says the officer was just “doing his job”.

The department will not comment further until a formal complaint is filed with the Internal Affairs Department.

Aline Wright says she plans to file a complaint. The couple has already hired an attorney for a possible lawsuit.

An Erlanger spokesperson tells us by law their security guards are obligated to carry out any arrest warrant related to felony charges. The Erlanger spokesperson says once they learned the warrant for Wright’s arrest was issued, and they learned he was in the building, they had to arrest him.

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City To Pay Up After Crazed And Trouble-Prone Atlanta Georgia Police Officer Brandy Dolson Jailed Woman Who Dared To Ask Why She Couldn’t Use Sidewalk

June 19, 2010

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – The Atlanta City Council is expected to agree pay $20,000 to settle a lawsuit a by a 62-year-old woman who was jailed for asking a police officer “why” she and friends had to move from a sidewalk where they were talking about an upcoming funeral.

A council committee has already accepted the city attorney’s recommendation to settle the case, but the settlement must be approved by the entire city council. Minnie Carey spent almost 10 hours in jail on a charge of disorderly conduct brought by an officer who already had a troubled history with the Atlanta Police Department.

“It’s resolved,” said Carey’s attorney, Robert Ortman.

APD was named in the suit, and a spokesman for the department said Friday that an internal investigation found officer Brandy Dolson “acted within the parameters of department policies and procedures,” which complied with national standards. “Those [national] guidelines are based on a set of proven standards that take into account the difficult situations police officers face every day, and the split-second decisions they must make to protect citizens and reduce their own personal risk,” APD public affairs director Carlos Campos said in an e-mail.

This is one of two settlements the council is expected to address on Monday that involve incidents with Atlanta police officers.

If the other proposed settlement is approved, taxpayers will give 22 cab drivers $425,000 to settle a federal lawsuit. The suit says officers confiscated permits and insurance stickers and then immediately cited or arrested the drivers for not having those stickers on their cars. The drivers were targeted because their checks to APD’s Division of Taxicabs and Vehicles for Hire were returned; some of those checks were written as long as two years before they were deposited.

Carey’s suit was filed Feb. 17, claiming Dolson violated her civil rights and falsely imprisoned her. The suit also said the city had not given Dolson training that might have led him to respond differently in his encounter with Carey and her friends on a sidewalk outside a convenience store.

“People don’t usually complain unless there’s something really wrong,” Carey said. “If you have people complaining about the same person, it’s time the city take a look into their background.”

Dolson has been suspended without pay for most of this year, but not for the Carey case. APD said it was other, unrelated infractions that led to the disciplinary action.

Dolson could not be reached for comment Friday but he has previously declined to talk about the matter.

The suit said APD had received more than 10 complaints against Dolson but had “failed to adequately investigate the claims and deter him from further misconduct.”

But in the proposed settlement, the city and APD do not admit any wrongdoing.

Before bring the suit, Carey had filed a complaint with the Citizen Review Board, a panel charged with investigating reports of police misconduct. The board found in favor of Carey last February but interim police Chief George Turner rejected that decision.

Around 4 p.m. on March 26, 2009, Carey and her friends were on the sidewalk in front of the Boulevard Lotto convenience store, just a few blocks from downtown Atlanta. They had been talking a few minutes about funeral plans for a woman they all knew when Dolson and his partner pulled up. Dolson told the women to “move it.”

Three women started walking away but Carey didn’t, asking “why” instead.

Dolson’s answer to Carey was “because I said so,” according to records.

“I’m a citizen and I’m a taxpayer and I have a right to be here. I’m merely trying to find out about a sister’s funeral,” Carey responded.

That’s when Carey was handcuffed, put in the back of the patrol car and eventually taken to jail on a city ordinance violation charge.

She was released on her own recognizance around 12:30 a.m. the next day, and the disorderly conduct charge was dismissed several weeks later, at the third court hearing, because Dolson failed to appear.

“This arrest was in violation of her rights under … the U.S. Constitution,” the suit said.

The suit also said Carey was subjected to unjustified and excessive force and that she and her friends were targeted because of their race; the police officers also are black.

“He was a lousy police officer. What else can I say?” Carey said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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College Park Georgia Police Officer Yardley Hines Arrested After Attack On Girlfriend

June 19, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, GEORGIA – A College Park police officer has been arrested and charged with simple battery, a police spokesman confirmed to the AJC.

Police arrested Yardley Hines, 41, after getting into a fight with his girlfriend Thursday.

Hines left the Fulton County Jail Saturday morning after paying a $1,000 fine, Fulton County sheriff’s spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan said.

Hines is now on administrative leave with pay, College Park Police spokesman Reed Pollard said. He is scheduled for an administrative hearing with the department on Monday, according to WSB-TV. He did not give any other details.

Hines could be suspended for a few days, or he could be fired, police told the TV station.

According to WSB, Hines got in a fight with his girlfriend in the morning before he left for his shift. At the end of the day, he returned to their home where he grabbed her and twisted her arm, WSB said.

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Dumbass Drunk Off-Duty Dallas Texas Police Officer Kelly Beemer Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Firing Gun In Another Officer’s Squad Car

June 18, 2010

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Dallas police officer is on administrative leave after authorities said she fired off her gun while off-duty in a squad car with at least one on-duty officer.

The call came in at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, which was when police rushed to the scene at Abrams Road and Gaston Avenue and found three officers at the scene.

Police said the incident happened after Kelly Beemer, an off-duty officer who police said had a few drinks, had gotten into a squad car of an on-duty police officer. Beemer allegedly pulled out her service weapon from her holster and fired the gun into the floorboard. Sources said she was belligerent at the time. Part of the incident was captured on audio tape from a dash cam camera.

“You need to stop this [expletive] now,” Beemer can be heard saying on the tape before a gun fires.

“Oh [expletive], Kelly please drop the gun,” an officer in the car said. “Kelly, drop the gun.”

Prior to the incident, video from the dash cam showed two officers holding a stumbling Beemer up by her arms as they walked her towards the squad car. Throughout the drive, authorities said Beemer cried and acted belligerent, believing she was under arrest.

Sources said the on-duty officer driving the squad car was originally called to the bar where Beemer and other officers had been drinking. Prior to being picked up, Beemer was allegedly offered rides from other officers at the bar, and at one point ran and hid from officers, sources said.

Commanders were called to the scene, but did not arrest Beemer at the time, saying she was too drunk to be interviewed. It wasn’t until they viewed the tape that they decided to arrest and charge Beemer.

“We are disappointed in her behavior there,” said First Asst. Chief Charles Cato, Dallas Police Department. “I know I receive calls from friends, relatives who had a little too much to drink and needed a ride home, and all the people I’ve dealt with in that situation were just grateful that someone was willing to come out and pick them up. And so, in Officer Beemer’s conduct, that was certainly a discredit to herself and to the people that were trying to help her. She put them in a really bad situation.”

No officers were injured in the incident.

Beemer was arrested Thursday and charged with firing a weapon inside the city limits. If convicted, Beemer will lose her peace officer’s license. Meanwhile, she has been stripped of her weapon and badge until the investigation is complete. Two other officers are on restrictive duty as police investigate their role in the incident.

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Fired San Francisco California Police Officer Marysol Domenici Suddenly Can’t Remember Much About Another Officer Shooting And Killing Unarmed Man

June 18, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA –  A former Bay Area transit police officer on Thursday had trouble remembering key details of the events leading up to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a fellow officer on an Oakland train platform.

Marysol Domenici, who was fired in March from Bay Area Rapid Transit, testified that when she heard the gunshot — she described sounding like “a firework” go off — she wasn’t sure who may have been injured.

By the reaction of officers, “I knew it wasn’t one of us,” Domenici said. “No one had their guns out.”

Domenici was the first officer who responded to the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting and was called to testify at the trial of Johannes Mehserle, who is white and has pleaded not guilty to killing Oscar Grant, 22.

On direct examination by Deputy District Attorney Dave Stein, Domenici couldn’t recall information she provided at a preliminary hearing last year. Stein read portions of her previous testimony in which she said she heard Grant and his friends tell her and other officers they were scared of being shot with a Taser stun gun.

“I don’t remember them saying the tasing part, but I do remember them cooperating,” Domenici said.

Mehserle’s attorney has said his client meant to use his stun gun instead of his .40-caliber weapon. Stein has argued that Mehserle, 28, intended to shoot Grant and used his weapon because officers were losing control of the situation.

Domenici said she also didn’t remember Grant grabbing her arm minutes before he was shot, but she said a video taken by a bystander showed it. Stein played the tape in court and the grainy resolution couldn’t confirm Domenici’s account.

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Arizona Pisses Away 1.25 Million Taxpayer Dollars To Save 5 Squirrels A Year

June 18, 2010

ARIZONA – Arizona is spending $1.25 million to build bridges for endangered squirrels over a mountain road so they don’t become roadkill and then monitor their health.

The money is being spent, officials said, because cars kill about five of these squirrels each year.

While most suburbanites may be baffled why anyone would protect a pesky squirrel, these are Mount Graham red squirrels, a breed once thought to be extinct. Only 250 of them are known to live near the top of Mount Graham.

The Federal Highway Administration grant will be used to build rope bridges over the lone road through the squirrels’ habitat, according to Arizona Department of Transportation Community Relations Director Timothy Tait. The DOT plans to install 41 of the “canopy tunnel crossings” at a cost of $400,000.

Another $160,000 will be spent on cameras to monitor the bridges, and the rest of the money will fund a project to monitor the rodents.

That works out to about $5,000 per squirrel.

The red squirrels have been the subject of much attention ever since they were rediscovered in the 1970s after many thought they were extinct. They were declared an endangered species in 1987 and are now closely monitored by researchers at the University of Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tim Snow, non-game specialist at the Game and Fish Department, monitors the population of the squirrels on a yearly basis. He said the population fluctuates from year to year, but it has averaged 250 squirrels over the last 10 years. In the nineties, the squirrels numbered between 300 and 350.

A variety of factors are responsible for the population decline, Snow said.

“The biggest threat to the squirrel is loss of habitat,” he said. A wildfire in 2000 destroyed a quarter of the squirrels’ habitat, which Snow said is one of two major sources of habitat loss. Insects on the trees are the other major threat.

“The basis of the project is recognizing that traffic on Mount Graham in southeast Arizona is creating impacts on the environment,” Tait said. Each day, an average of 650 cars use the lower, paved portion of the road, and 150 cars travel on the gravel portion of the road.

According to Snow, motorists cause roughly five squirrels’ deaths each year. Assuming the bridges work and no squirrels die, over 100 squirrels could be saved throughout the 20 to 25 year lifespan of the bridges.

Sen. John McCain Is Opposed to Squirrel Bridge

Tait defended the expense of the rope bridges.

“It’s a pretty specialized item,” Tait said. “They are made of military grade nylon. They’re fire retardant and will be dyed a green color to fit in with the environment.”

The bridges also have an easy release mechanism that allows workers to disconnect them from the trees in the event that a tall truck needs to drive up to the Mount Graham International Observatory at the top of the mountain, or in the case of a forest fire.

They are called “canopy tunnel crossings” because they include a mesh tunnel through which only the Mount Graham red squirrels and not other larger squirrel species can fit. The tunnel will protect the squirrels from predators like birds of prey.

The money for the project comes from the Federal Highway Administration and must be used for Federal Transportation Enhancement programs. One part of the enhancement initiative is Category 11, whose goal is to “reduce vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity.”

Arizona receives resources each year for enhancement projects like this one as part of their Federal Highway grant money, but it is up to the Arizona Department of Transportation to decide how to use the money.

Community response has been overwhelmingly negative, according to David Kincaid, city manager of Safford, the town nearest to the squirrel’s habitat.

“The community at large is pretty cynical towards the project,” he said. “I think people are thinking, this is just another piece of the government spending that is out of control when it could be spending that money to create real jobs for real people.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has repeatedly criticized what he deems wasteful government spending, was asked about the squirrel bridge meeting in the town of Clifton.

“He expressed opposition to the Mount Graham red squirrel preservation effort, saying it puts unreasonable limits on forest resources that could be used to help the community’s economy,” McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told

Squirrel Bridge Takes Precedence Over Regular Roads

Graham County Supervisor Mark Herrington thinks that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“I don’t think it’s the smartest allocation of resources,” he said. “With all the problems were facing today, with the economy the way it is&that’s a huge expense and how do you guarantee that the squirrels are going to cross the bridge?”

Herrington said he was not consulted about the project. Instead, the Department of Transportation sent him a letter announcing the start of the project a few weeks ago.

“We could have used this money to improve roads for our citizens,” Herrington said. “There are 600 miles of bad roads in Graham County that need to be improved for the people that live here.”

The people of Graham County will have to wait for better roads. For now, it’s the squirrels’ turn.

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Dumbass Ocean City Maryland Police Piss Away Tax Dollars Raiding Bar Where 27 Year Old Woman Was Drinking To Verify She Wasn’t 15 Year Old Canadian Boy

June 18, 2010

OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND – US POLICE raided a bar in Ocean City, Maryland, over the weekend after customers there confused a female drinker for Canadian teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.

Regulars at the Mug and Mallet bar confirmed police entered the venue Saturday night, following reports that Bieber, 16, was drinking underage inside reported TMZ today.

Instead, they found a 27-year-old female Bieber lookalike, with the same petite frame and tousled short brown hairstyle as that of the pint-sized pop sensation.

The woman, known only as Katie, told TMZ she was mistaken for Bieber all the time – and was forced to produce her ID card to police to prove she was not him.

Bieber is due in Maryland this year but not until September, when he will perform at the state fair.

Last weekend, at the time of his apparent sighting, he was actually in The Bahamas on a photo shoot with U.S. socialite Kim Kardashian.

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Millions Spent On GPS Tracking Devices For Parolees Wasted As State Of California Is Unable To Keep Up With Generated Alerts – 10’s Of Thousands Sex Offender Alerts Ignored

June 17, 2010

CALIFORNIA – Tens of thousands of electronic alerts caused by sex offender missteps have gone unresolved, a situation that the state is trying to correct this week with a massive push to get the backlog under control.

Parole supervisors are following up on more than 31,000 alarms in Southern California, caused by low batteries, lost signals, entry into forbidden zones or severed straps on electronic ankle bracelets.

Parole administrators got their orders June 3, the day after a state inspector general’s report found lax GPS supervision of paroled sex offender John Albert Gardner III, who went on to kill two San Diego County teenagers.

The backlog has developed since March 19, when the department committed to resolve “all alerts and violations” by sex offenders, in response to the Gardner case.

Officials say the backlog grew because they lacked software to run an ongoing report of all unresolved cases. That is, supervisors in Southern California were working only with reports of new alarms, rather than a report showing previous alarms that had not been cleared.

The retroactive reports have been available for the past week, revealing the backlog, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Gordon Hinkle said.

“We have stated several times that GPS is an evolving science, where technology and best practices continue to be fluid,” Hinkle said by e-mail. “This is a new policy, and as CDCR leads the nation in GPS development, more improvements will be made.”

Agents and union leaders complain that the new emphasis on GPS monitoring by computer keeps them from performing important work in the field, where they can more effectively track dangerous offenders.

“This policy has created so much busy work that this work cannot get done,” said Melinda Silva, the Parole Agents Association of California president. “The real work of getting out and supervising these people is not getting done.”

Hinkle said the department is reviewing workloads for agents handling GPS cases. Clearing the backlog will help, he said.

“Once this reconciliation process is cleared, case management will become more manageable,” he said.

GPS monitoring can be a powerful tool, judging by the report this month by the state’s independent inspector general, David Shaw. He concluded that Amber Dubois, 14, of Escondido and Chelsea King, 17, of Poway would likely still be alive if agents had done a better job watching Gardner, who served five years in prison and three years on parole for a 2000 molestation conviction.

Among other mistakes, agents failed to check Gardner’s GPS tracks, which showed he broke curfew at least 168 times and visited remote areas near where he later hid Amber’s remains, the report found. GPS data also show he visited a state prison, which could be a felony. GPS data from 2008 show he parked in an area where officials say contraband is smuggled into the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility on Otay Mesa Road.

A spokeswoman for Shaw said Monday she could not address the unresolved alerts without seeing documentation, but noted the review included proposals to improve monitoring of sex offenders.

“As we said in our report, the Office of the Inspector General recommended strategies that could allow the (corrections) department to more effectively review and use GPS data,” spokeswoman Laura Hill said.

According to records obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, unresolved alerts totaled more than 31,000 in Region III, which is Los Angeles , and Region IV, which includes counties from San Bernardino to the border with Mexico.

The problem grew so severe that administrators and unit supervisors held a special meeting last week at Region IV headquarters in Diamond Bar.

New reports documenting alerts will be developed every week by the company that supplies the GPS anklets, administrators wrote, in part because “the district management report is inaccurate.”

The alerts listed on more than a dozen pages of internal documents range from simple low-battery warnings to so-called strap tampers, when a parolee cuts off the buckle and removes the tracking system.

GPS devices need to be charged every 12 hours, creating a challenge for homeless parolees who lack a steady source of electricity.

Records also show thousands of inclusion- and exclusion-zone alarms, when parolees enter or leave restricted areas, as well as “message gaps” and “no GPS” cases, when signals are lost for some period of time.

Peggy Conway, editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, said most alerts are inconsequential, like low-battery signals or exclusion-zone warnings when a parolee drives past a school or park.

“What (agents) are going to do is gloss over a lot of them because they know what they are,” she said. “Hopefully there are some that catch their attention and get them to say, ‘Hmmm, we need to take a closer look at this one.’ ”

California spends about $60 million a year tracking 7,000 or so convicted sex offenders with GPS systems.

Nonetheless, the technology’s effectiveness has been questioned by agents, lawmakers and criminal-justice experts because parole officials place so much emphasis on where parolees go rather than what they do.

Retired parole supervisor Rebecca Hernandez said she relied on lower-paid staff to monitor GPS tracks when she oversaw a sex-offenders unit in Huntington Park.

“Interns were awesome in a lot of the stuff they could do, which freed up the agents,” said Hernandez, who retired in January after collecting a $900,000 settlement to a discrimination claim she filed against the department. “As long as you don’t give them personal data, it’s fine.”

Keeping sworn peace officers indoors to read GPS data and constantly respond to GPS alerts is not the best use of the agents’ time, Hernandez said.

“You’re putting community safety at risk,” she said. “It means you’re telling agents not to go out in the field and monitor these parolees.”

Silva said the department took the unusual step last week of approving overtime so agents could resolve the alarms quickly. Even so, her members are overwhelmed with the workload, she said.

“They’re tired. They’re burned,” Silva said. “Most people aren’t about the overtime. They want to do a good job and go home at the end of the day.”

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Government Red Tape In US Sends Latest US Green Technology And Jobs To Red China

June 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Chuck Provini, a former Marine with no fewer than 19 military decorations, considers himself a “good American and a patriot.”

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a Marine Corps captain in the Vietnam War and has lived his whole life in the United States. But now that he’s the president of a growing solar technology start-up, he’s finding himself in a difficult position: He must leave the United States behind.

His company, Natcore Technology, based in Red Bank, N.J., holds the license to technology that makes solar panels cheaper, more efficient and less toxic to the environment. He said he tried to commercialize the technology domestically, but while bureaucracy and red tape stalled talks with state and federal officials, conversations with Chinese officials sped ahead.

“The Chinese have a major, aggressive movement to increase the technology in the photovoltaic area,” he said. “They picked up the phone and called us and said, ‘What do you do?'”

At the time of this story’s publication, he’s in Zhuzhou city in China’s Hunan province, on the verge of signing a deal that will commercialize the technology overseas, giving the Chinese economy a boost and Chinese workers more jobs.

Obama: China Is Investing in Clean Energy Jobs That Should Be in the U.S.

“We wanted to do business in the United States and we went to different agencies and we said, ‘Here’s what we have going on in China. Can you help us replicate this?'” he said. “And, frankly, we kind of rang on deaf ears.”

In his address from the Oval Office Tuesday night, President Obama used the backdrop of the massive BP oil spill to push a clean energy agenda.

“The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America,” he said.

But what is China doing that the United States isn’t? And what do we need to do to keep up?

Provini, whose company licenses technology developed at Houston’s Rice University, said that for about a year, he went back and forth with representatives at the Ohio Department of Development. He said he also worked with a major Washington, D.C., law firm and was told that a $750,000 application fee was necessary just to apply for a specific federal program.

Solar Energy Company: We Didn’t Call China, They Called Us

When he tried to work with elected officials for guidance on how to grow his business, he said he rarely got past staff members.

Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development, said she couldn’t comment directly on Natcore, but said that her office supports hundreds of new technology ventures each year.

Provini said, “The Chinese were just so aggressive. We didn’t contact them, they contacted us.”

Officials responsible for developing China’s clean and alternative energy program in the Hunan province learned about Natcore through a mutual contact at the University of Wales and placed a call, he said.

Then they flew Provini to China and helped him find a production partner that will provide capital and manufacturing capabilities. In the next three to six months, he said, they could move into the manufacturing phase, which could create 250-400 jobs.

“They’ve cut through the red tape to be responsive,” he said. “It’s almost embarrassing that whatever you ask for, they deliver it.”

Clean Energy Sector to Reach $200 Billion in 2010

Since 2005, investments in the clean energy sector have grown 230 percent, according to the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program. In 2009, $162 billion was invested in clean energy globally and analysts forecast that investments will climb 25 percent to $200 billion in 2010.

But despite the opportunities in the fast-growing industry, experts say the United States continues to lag behind countries such as China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.

“The U.S. is missing the boat,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program in Washington. In 2009, she said, China attracted $34.6 billion in clean energy investments, more than any other country. The United States attracted $18.6 billion, about half of China’s total, she said.

When you look at the winners in this race, Cuttino said, they all have one key feature in common: a national clean energy policy.

The countries dominating the clean energy landscape have national policies to reduce global warming pollution and provide incentives for companies to use renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, but she said the United States only had a “patchwork” of state policies.

State Development Agencies Promote Small Clean Energy Start-Ups

“We have a well-educated [population], a manufacturing base,” she said. “We basically have all of the necessary ingredients to capitalize on a clean energy policy, but we need a policy.”

The Ohio Department of Development’s Patt-McDaniel said that with investments ranging from $50,000 to as much as $1 million, the Ohio Third Frontier program funds clean energy, biomedical, polymer and other high-tech projects to help them eventually commercialize and create jobs.

“Our partner organizations at the local level … take these kinds of entrepreneurial companies and match them to potential partner investors,” she said. She said development officials could also help small companies find production partners that could take the venture to the next level.

Real Progress Needs Federal Action, Experts Say

But though state development agencies across the country may support small business following Obama’s mandate to develop clean energy, experts say real progress will only come from federal action.

“The clean technology sector is the fastest growing business sector in the global economy and the U.S. cannot afford to lose our competitive edge with China and other countries when it comes to the fastest growing sector in the global economy,” said Howard Learner, president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

While one small business doesn’t necessarily prove a trend, he said the bottom line is that the United States is running the risk of missing out on the next economic driver.

“Clean energy and climate legislation before Congress would put us on the right track, but it’s been mired in both Republican political opposition and opposition from old economy industries,” he said.

Obama’s decision to enact a series of renewable energy tax credits in 2009 was a good start, he said, but they all expire by the end of this year and should be extended.

He also said that while 30 states have renewable energy standards requiring utilities to purchase an increased percentage of power from renewable sources, Learner, like Pew’s Cuttino, said a national standard is critical.

U.S. Companies Want ‘T.L.C.’

It would not only expand the market across all states and make a level playing field, it would make the market more predictable and reliable over the long-term, which would spur development, he said.

Learner also said that putting a price on carbon is key to driving the market for renewable investment, manufacturing and deployment.

But in the absence of a market created by a carbon cap and other national policies, more and more companies like Provini’s are looking to other shores for opportunity.

“There’s a whole long list of American companies that have gone to China,” Cuttino said. “[And] lots of companies sitting on the sidelines in the U.S. They’re waiting for what they call T.L.C. — transparency, longevity and consistency.”

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Sex Tape And Indictment Surfaces For Gibson County Indiana Candidate For Prosecutor

June 16, 2010

PRINCETON, INDIANA – A southwestern Indiana attorney running for prosecutor has been indicted on charges that he had sex with a female client for her to pay off a $550 debt for legal work in a civil case.

Authorities said an Indiana State Police investigation of William Wallace, 57, of Princeton, began when the woman reported that Wallace had shown her boyfriend a video of their sexual encounters.

Special Prosecutor Jonathan Parkhurst said the woman told investigators she never gave permission for videotaping.

Detectives reported finding the videos and child pornography at Wallace’s home.

Wallace was arrested and released on bond Tuesday from the Gibson County Jail. Phone calls to his law office Wednesday went to a full voicemail box.

A special prosecutor was named because Wallace is the Democratic candidate for Gibson County prosecutor.

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Head Of Dallas Texas Police Crime Stoppers Program Cpl. Theadora Ross Placed On Leave After Money And Secret Documents Goes Missing

June 16, 2010

DALLAS, TEXAS – The Dallas police senior corporal who heads the Crime Stoppers program is on administrative leave and another woman was arrested in connection with an investigation into missing funds from the popular tips-for-cash program.

Dallas police public integrity investigators on Wednesday served a search warrant at the office of Senior Cpl. Theadora Ross, 49, where she oversees the department’s Crime Stoppers program in the basement of the Bank of America building at 400 S. Zang Blvd.

Ross, a 25-year department veteran, has not been charged with a crime but has been on leave since May 27 pending a public integrity unit criminal investigation. She has led the Crime Stoppers program for the department since 2003 and previously spent seven years as an internal affairs investigator.

She declined to comment Friday.

Authorities suspect that thousands of dollars of Crime Stoppers cash is missing.

“We don’t know yet how much has been taken or compromised,” said Dallas Police First Assistant Chief Charlie Cato. “Crime Stoppers is a very big deal, and any money missing from it is a very big deal,” he said.

He said the department has strengthened security measures within the program, but he declined to elaborate.

Russell Verney, executive director of the North Texas Crime Commission, which administers Crime Stoppers for Dallas and Collin counties, said Friday that he is aware of the police investigation.

“I’m confident that it will be a thorough investigation and will resolve the matter quickly,” Verney said. He declined to discuss the scope of the inquiry.

Crime Stoppers works by soliciting anonymous tips from the public. If a tip leads to prosecution of a suspect, the successful tipster can receive up to $5,000. On average, the program, which uses money from fees paid by probationers, pays informants about $150,000 annually.

To preserve their anonymity, callers are given a secret number that they present to the bank in order to collect.

Dallas police first were alerted to problems with Crime Stoppers two months ago when a man who had earned a reward through the program went to a bank to claim his money and was told that someone else had already collected it.

Police were led to Ross by Malva Delley, 35, of Dallas. Details about the relationship between Ross and Delley – who does not work for the Police Department – have been unavailable.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, on April 6, Delley went to the Chase Bank in the 2100 block of Pearl Street and gave a teller a Crime Stoppers tip number along with a code word in an attempt to collect a reward. The teller told her that the reward money had already been collected by someone else minutes earlier, police say.

The teller told detectives that Delley returned to the bank “at a later date to collect more Crime Stoppers reward money,” the warrant states.

Delley was arrested on May 27 – the same day Ross was placed on leave – and booked into Lew Sterrett Justice Center on suspicion of misdemeanor attempted theft.

She cooperated with investigators and gave them a written statement, according to court documents. She told authorities that it was Ross who “provided her with confidential Crime Stoppers information which she used in an attempt to collect Crime Stoppers reward money that did not belong to either of them,” documents show.

Delley was released May 28 on a $500 bond. She hung up the phone on a reporter Friday when contacted at her Mountain Creek-area home.

On June 1, another Crime Stoppers officer, Senior Cpl. Jose Jimenez, “discovered that confidential documents” were missing from the office, court records show.

Investigators reviewed surveillance footage from the Crime Stoppers office on Zang. Images from between 8 and 8:25 p.m. on May 27 showed Ross and an unidentified woman leaving the office “with a cardboard file box and dragging a large garbage bag full of unknown property,” court records state.

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Indian Bank Security Guard Decides To Clean His Gun Outside, Shoots A Random Pedestrian In The Stomach

June 16, 2010

WEST BENGAL, INDIA – A PASSERBY was accidentally shot as a bungling security guard cleaned his gun outside an Indian bank.

The Times of India said Bappa Das, 22, was blasted in the stomach when the gun went off in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, northeast India.

Mr Das, who was wandering past the bank where Rabin Biswas worked, slumped to the ground and lay in a pool of blood several minutes before locals came to his aid.

He was rushed to the hospital in a serious condition while Mr Biswas, 30, was arrested by police.

“We have arrested the security guard. He claimed that he shot the boy accidentally while he was cleaning his gun,” said a police official.

Mr Biswas tried to flee after the incident but a mob chased him down, the Times said.

They started beating him up but he was rescued by policemen who took him into custody.

“I heard a loud bang and thought a cracker had burst,” shopkeeper Bhanu Mitra said.

“When I rushed out of my shop, I saw a boy writhing in pain on the road. Blood was oozing out of his stomach.”

The security guard was due to appear in court today, police said.

“The government would have no answer if my brother died there,” Biswajit Das, the victim’s elder brother said.

“That security agency should take the responsibility for his treatment.”

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Surfers Paradise Austrailia Police Beat And Jail Retired Businessman Who Dared To Ask Officer’s Name When He Went To Police Station To Pay Son’s Fine

June 16, 2010

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – EMBATTLED Surfers Paradise police are embroiled in a fresh misconduct probe after a retired businessman was allegedly brutalised and thrown in a cell.

Lindsay Walters, 61, says he was subjected to shocking treatment at Surfers Paradise police station last month when he went in to pay a fine for his son.

He claims he was sworn at, handcuffed and threatened that his arms would be broken.

The wealthy Paradise Waters businessman has made a formal complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission alleging unlawful arrest, deprivation of liberty and serious assault.

Today, Police Minister Neil Roberts said he had ordered a thorough investigation.

“Any allegations against an individual has the possibility of tarnishing the reputation of everyone so of course it’s of concern,” he told the ABC.

“There has been some quite serious allegations made in this particular instance and it needs to be thoroughly investigated.

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“That will happen and if wrongdoing has occurred then appropriate action needs to be taken.”

The CMC says the case could amount to official misconduct and has referred the allegations to the police Ethical Standards Command. It is the latest scandal for Surfers police, who are at the centre of a major CMC probe into allegations of involvement in the Glitter Strip’s nightclub drug trade.

In a police statement, Mr Walters said he went to Surfers police station on May 4 after two officers called at his home that day in relation to an arrest warrant for his 28-year-old son Ben over an unpaid traffic fine in Victoria.

He said he arranged to pay the $1000 fine for his son but when he went to the station was told the officer handling the matter was out.

He said he asked civilly several times to speak with the officer-in-charge. An officer eventually emerged and allegedly told him: “You’ve got two (expletive) choices sit there and wait or I’ll arrest you.”

Mr Walters said he replied: “Well, that won’t happen, because I’ll leave.” He said he was affronted by the officer’s demeanour and turned to walk out.

“Before I exited, I turned and said, `excuse me, can I have your name please?”’ Mr Walters said in the statement. “At this instant, the officer burst through a door, strode quickly over to me and seized my left forearm. He forced my arm behind my back and said `you’re under arrest’. I felt an intense burning pain in my shoulders and neck. I said, `why am I being arrested?’. The officer replied: `An outstanding warrant’.”

Despite his protestations, Mr Walters said his arms were forced back and he was handcuffed, causing intense pain. He admits to “some resistance” but said he was “shocked and amazed” by the way he was treated.

He said that as he was being handcuffed, the officer said: “Stop resisting or I’ll break your (expletive) arms.”

Mr Walters said his belongings were seized and he was forced into a cell. He was released about 15 minutes later when the officer who had been handling his son’s warrant returned.

The officer apologised for his colleague’s conduct and accepted the $1000 fine payment, Mr Walters said.

He said the officer who locked him up threatened to charge him with public nuisance but he was released without charge.

“If I was playing up, why didn’t they charge me?” he said yesterday.

“I was humiliated and treated like a common criminal … all for trying to do the right thing. “I’ve never been in trouble with the law and some of my closest friends are serving and retired police, but this bloke (the officer) deserves to lose his job over this. I’m not going to let him get away with it.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed an internal investigation into the incident was under way.

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Moron At Pennsylvania Prison Releases Inmate The Night Before His Murder Trial

June 15, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA – An accused killer, who became the subject of a Pa. manhunt after a prison worker’s error led to his mistaken release, has turned himself in to police, reported.

Taaqi Brown, 21, surrendered at the Philadelphia Police Department’s 35th District with a local television reporter.

Brown was then taken to Upper Darby Police Station to be charged, authorities said.

Upper Darby, Pa., police chief Michael Chitwood confirmed earlier Tuesday morning Brown was set free on the eve of his murder trial in the town that borders Philadelphia.

He was set to be tried after he allegedly emptied a gun into a house full of people, and authorities were saying that he should be considered armed and very dangerous.

“There was a mix-up on paperwork, similar names, similar ages, whoever was processing the individual who was supposed to be released, released our murderer,” Chitwood said at the time, reported.

“Right now, we have a manhunt on in Upper Darby.”

Chitwood said prison officials, Philadelphia police, Upper Darby police and federal marshals were all involved in the manhunt.

It took police two months to track down Brown after he allegedly fired a gun 11 times into an Upper Darby home in May 2009, striking not his intended target but another person.

He was arrested July 16, 2009, in Philadelphia near 22nd and Indiana streets.

Sources tell MyFoxPhilly that sometime after 5 p.m. Monday paperwork was received by the Delaware County Prison for a person with a similar name and date of birth. The prison apparently processed the paperwork and released the wrong man.

Brown called his mom and girlfriend, and around 10 p.m. one of the women picked him up, driving off in a black SUV.

Brown’s last known address was in Philadelphia. During the search, authorities described him as a black male, 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, often going by the nickname “Fame.”

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Hero Sentenced to 9 Years In California Prison After Killing Man Who Molested Him As A Child

June 15, 2010

UKIAH, CALIFORNIA – A man who said he had been sexually abused by a family friend since he was a child was sentenced to nine years in prison Tuesday for shooting the victim with a Civil War-style pistol and watching him die.

Aaron Vargas, 32, showed little emotion as his punishment was announced in the vigilante killing.

His sister Mindy Galliani noticed his lips were trembling — a sure sign he was about to cry.

“It’s not over. We’re going to appeal,” Galliani said after her brother shuffled away, hands and feet shackled. “It’s clear that the justice system still doesn’t have an understanding of childhood sexual abuse.”

Initially charged with murder, Vargas, of Fort Bragg, Calif., pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 63-year-old Darrell McNeill and could have faced up to 10 years in prison.

Lawyers and supporters of Vargas asked for probation.

But Judge Ronald Brown said he imposed the harsh sentence because he believed Vargas had gone to McNeill’s house with the intent to kill him. He also said he could not condone the use of violence to solve problems.

“The circumstances support the conclusion the defendant intended to kill the victim, and the method was intended to make the victim suffer,” Brown said.

Vargas testified that McNeill began molesting him when he was 11 and kept stalking him into adulthood. After the February 2009 killing, about a dozen men, including McNeill’s stepson, came forward to say McNeill had molested them.

Hundreds of Vargas supporters asked the judge for leniency, saying Vargas needed therapy and was not a threat. The Mendocino County courtroom was packed Tuesday, with many people wearing buttons saying, “Free Aaron Vargas.”

Prosecutor Beth Norton, however, said Vargas lacked impulse control and had problems with drinking that led to three DUIs. She also stressed he had shot his alleged abuser to death rather than turning him over to law enforcement.

“There is an angry, violent aspect to Aaron Vargas,” she said. “The risk here is too great.”

Defense attorney Tom Hudson countered that his client was owed a second chance.

“Aaron Vargas has never had a chance to show he can be a regular human being without Darrell McNeill pestering him,” Hudson said. “Humanity needs us to give him that chance.”

The lawyer said the lives of other men who came forward alleging abuse by McNeill had been disrupted by alcohol and drugs. One killed himself. the lawyer said.

Co-workers testified that McNeill looked for Vargas at his workplace, and family members said McNeill tracked Vargas down when he moved, calling him at home up to a dozen times a day even after he and Selena Barnet, his longtime girlfriend, got engaged and had a child.

McNeill even insisted he wanted to baby-sit the child, Barnet testified.

Vargas “was defending himself and his daughter, because the system failed,” Galliani said in court.

Vargas testified he had a drinking problem and needed help. During his 16 months in jail, he had been seeing a therapist and attending anti-alcohol abuse meetings, he said.

“I have all sorts of regrets for that day, previous days and previous years,” he said.

Psychiatrist Donald Apostle said Vargas showed signs of sustained trauma.

“It was a secret shame,” Apostle said. “It devoured him.”

Vargas was unable to break McNeill’s control, and the alleged abuse continued into his adult years, Apostle said.

“It was almost like a learned helplessness,” he said before recommending probation for Vargas. “He’s been in prison his whole life. He needs help, not more punishment.”

Court records state that three days before the shooting, Vargas met and talked with other men who allegedly had been abused by McNeill. Vargas spent the next few days trying to deal with his feelings.

On the night of the shooting, Vargas’ blood-alcohol content was about .15 — nearly twice the legal limit, according to court records.

Vargas testified his memory of the night was faulty. He said he recalled McNeill denying the accusations before Vargas yelled back that McNeill wasn’t going to hurt anyone anymore. Then the gun went off, Vargas said.

The victim’s wife, Elizabeth McNeill, was just a few feet away. She said Vargas kicked and cursed at the dying man while stopping her from seeking help.

Despite the violence, she later attended a fundraiser for Vargas’ defense. In a letter to prosecutors, she said “something having to do with Aaron’s childhood sexual abuse caused Aaron to snap, and do what he did.”

Vargas’ family will consider an appeal and work to get him treatment while establishing a nonprofit in his name to help victims of childhood sexual abuse.

Growing up, Galliani hadn’t understood what made her outgoing, fun-loving brother withdraw and turn to drugs. Only after McNeill’s death did she understand how deeply Vargas had been affected by him.

“It was like I saw my 12-year-old brother again,” she said. “That anger was gone from his eyes. He was just sad. Now he’s more at peace. He’s opened up. He’s back.”

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Seattle Washington Will “Review Police Tactics” After Officer Ian P. Walsh Was Caught On Cellphone Video Beating A Young Female Jaywalker

June 15, 2010

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — Seattle police say they’ll review police tactics and training after an officer was shown on video punching a young woman in the face.

Acting deputy police chief Nick Metz said Tuesday that the department’s civilian-led Office of Professional Accountability is investigating the 39-year-old officer’s actions.

Officer Ian P. Walsh was trying to cite several people for jaywalking just before Monday’s incident, which was captured on cell phone video.

Metz says two of the women who were stopped bear much of the responsibility for not cooperating and resisting arrest.

Seattle Urban League CEO James Kelly says the punch was an overreaction that brought to mind a video taken April 17 of two Seattle officers seen kicking a Hispanic suspect.

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Suffolk County Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Christine M. McEnvoy “Reprimanded” After Driving Drunk – Her Case Was Of Course “Continued Without A Finding” And There Was No Conviction

June 10, 2010

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – A Superior Court judge has been officially reprimanded for driving under the influence of alcohol last year, the Commission on Judicial Conduct announced today.

Judge Christine M. McEvoy had apologized to her family and the “people of the Commonwealth” after admitting in court in June 2009 that she had been driving drunk.

She said she took “full responsibility” for the April 15, 2009, incident, in which she drank wine at a 99 Restaurant in Woburn and was heading to her home in Belmont when she was pulled over by Lexington Police.

McEvoy’s case was continued without a finding for a year, which meant that if she stayed out of trouble, the charge would be dropped.

The commission noted in a statement that McEvoy had “successfully completed her continuance without a finding in the Concord District Court, including successful completion of drivers’ alcohol education program, and her criminal case has been dismissed.”

The commission said it had reprimanded McEvoy “with some conditions,” but the statement did not detail them. Howard V. Neff III, a staff attorney for the commission, said state law prohibits him from commenting beyond the statement.

Although the commission made the reprimand public, it is technically considered a private sanction. The most serious sanctions typically require the approval of the state Supreme Judicial Court and are considered public .

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Philadelphia Pennsylvania Lawyer William L. Bowe Gets A Beating In Court – Second Time In 7 Months

June 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – For years, Philadelphia lawyer William L. Bowe has represented people most lawyers will not: accused killers, often with long criminal records and short tempers, some of them on what seems like a fast track to death row.

It’s the kind of job that might make some lawyers ask for combat pay. In Bowe’s case, literally.

On Wednesday – for the second time in seven months – Bowe was assaulted in court by a client, this time Eric DeShann Floyd, one of two men on trial for murder in the 2008 shooting of Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski.

Wednesday’s attack happened after two days of disruptions of jury selection by Floyd, who has openly argued with Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes about her refusal to grant his last-minute request to fire his lawyers and represent himself.

By Tuesday, after Floyd publicly interrupted questioning of a prospective juror, Hughes told him he would watch the rest of the trial in a holding cell via closed-circuit television.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered Floyd back into court to see whether he had changed his mind about behaving. When Floyd said no and Hughes ordered him removed, Floyd swung and punched Bowe behind an ear.

As Bowe slumped to the side, Floyd hit the lawyer again in the back of the head as sheriff’s deputies wrestled him away and took him from the courtroom.

Bowe tried to walk from the courtroom with help but was persuaded by paramedics to be moved by stretcher to an ambulance. He was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for examination and released.

Floyd’s action again postponed jury selection, this time to Friday, when prosecution and defense lawyers – including Bowe – return.

“Mr. Bowe is tired, but he will be in good health when we resume this case on Friday,” the judge announced in a brief return to the bench.

Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe said such incidents are always possible in the criminal court system. She said she was pleased that sheriff’s deputies subdued Floyd so quickly.

“By and large, when you consider how many unhappy and how many violent people are brought into our courtrooms, and that includes nondefendants as well, it’s amazing we don’t see this type of thing more often,” Dembe said.

As word spread that a lawyer, and specifically Bowe, had been assaulted, colleagues stopped by the third-floor courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center.

Criminal defense lawyer Guy R. Sciolla called Bowe “the consummate professional,” whom he has known since the early 1970s, when Bowe was a public defender and he was a city prosecutor.

“I think every lawyer thinks about something like this happening,” Sciolla said, adding, “If he [Floyd] is going to do this to Bill Bowe, he would have done it to anybody.”

The fact that Bowe will continue representing Floyd shows his professionalism, Sciolla said.

Bowe, 63, has been a fixture of the Center City legal community for decades. Standing well over six feet, with a head of mussed gray hair and a thick mustache, he is soft-spoken and reticent in public, almost a casting director’s choice for “country lawyer.”

Bowe is cordial, but never comments to reporters. Nor would he Wednesday as he was wheeled to the ambulance.

In recent years, colleagues say, Bowe’s solo practice has been limited almost exclusively to murder and death-penalty cases.

Outside court, he has taught trial advocacy at Temple University’s law school and conducted professional seminars about death-penalty law.

His last physical encounter with a client was in November, when he was punched out by Eric Arms, 29, moments after a Philadelphia jury convicted Arms of third-degree murder. Arms was sentenced to 18 to 45 years in prison for the murder. He has yet to be tried for assaulting Bowe.

Floyd – short and muscular to Bowe’s tall and lanky – is expected to be charged with assault in Wednesday’s incident after the current murder trial.

He has a record of arrests for robbery, including a 1994 case in which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one to five years in prison.

Floyd, of North Philadelphia, and co-defendant Levon T. Warner, 41, of West Philadelphia, face the possibility of the death penalty if the jury finds them guilty of first-degree murder.

Floyd and Warner are accused of taking part in the May 3, 2008, bank robbery and chase that ended in Port Richmond with Liczbinski, who had been pursuing them, dead of gunshot wounds.

Howard Cain, 33, alleged leader of the group who police say shot the 12-year veteran officer, was killed by police after the three split up and he ran off.

Jury selection in Floyd’s and Warner’s trial began Monday and Floyd began interrupting the proceedings, demanding the right to fire Bowe, who he said “rubbed me the wrong way.”

Floyd complained that Bowe and co-counsel Earl G. Kauffman were not asking questions or raising pretrial issues that he thought were important.

Still, Floyd’s disruptions were only vocal. Until Wednesday.

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5 Gallon Pail Of Old Mayonnaise Surrenders To Destin Florida Police, Fire, And HAZMAT Team

June 10, 2010

DESTIN, FLORIDA – As Dill Beaty approached his Bent Arrow Road residence Tuesday evening, he noticed something peculiar — flashing lights and “at least a dozen” emergency vehicles blocking off access to his home.

“All of the vehicles were converged right at my driveway,” he said.

Beaty was stopped from going to his home and a police officer questioned him about who lived in the neighboring residence. Beaty answered the questions and asked if his wife should evacuate their home next door. The officer knocked on Beaty’s door and when his wife answered, “they told her to grab what you need and get out as quick as you can.”

Destin Fire Control District Fire Chief Kevin Sasser confirmed the road closure, saying that the HAZMAT team responded to the residence after receiving a call from two individuals who had reported having trouble breathing and burning eyes. The pair, who complained of the smell, were inspecting the home.

“We didn’t know what we were going to find,” Sasser said of the incident, “so that is why we responded with the HAZMAT team.”

After entering the residence, Sasser said the team had come across a “large barrel” that was left by the previous occupants, and it contained a “five-gallon container” of mayonnaise.

“It had started to degrade, and rot,” he said. “And that is what was causing the problems.”

While the matter was serious at the time, Sasser can laugh about it knowing it was only mayonnaise.

“We thought it was going to be something more than what it was, “ he said jokingly. “We went through a much larger process to find out it was mayonnaise.”

After the closure had forced Beaty out of his home for about three hours, he said the neighbors gathered later “to discuss the incident.”

“They were speculating that it was a meth lab,” he said chuckling, after finding out it was mayonnaise. “I was thinking maybe it was a terrorist cell.”

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Warren County Ohio Jail Worker Convicted And Sentenced To 30 Days In Jail After Sex With Inmate In Walk-In Cooler – Tax Dollars Will Be Pissed Away Tracking Her As A “Sex Offender” For The Rest Of Her Life

June 10, 2010

LEBANON, OHIO – A former food service worker at a southwest Ohio jail has been sentenced to 30 days after authorities say she and an inmate engaged in sexual activities in a walk-in food cooler.

The Warren County prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that 25-year-old Samantha Shannon of Lebanon also was sentenced to three years of community control on the sexual battery conviction and must register as a sex offender. If she violates terms of the community control, she faces up to two years in prison.

Authorities say Shannon was employed by a company that provides inmate meals at the Warren County jail. Investigators say she was a kitchen supervisor in November when she engaged in sexual activities with an inmate under her supervision.

A message seeking comment was left for her attorney after business hours Wednesday.

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Debt Collectors Turn County Jails Into Debtors’ Prisons

June 10, 2010

HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA – As a sheriff’s deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer’s purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother.

No one had an answer. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense — missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt. “They have no right to do this to me,” said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. “Not for a stupid credit card.”

It’s not a crime to owe money, and debtors’ prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals. Consumer attorneys say such arrests are increasing in many states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, driven by a bad economy, high consumer debt and a growing industry that buys bad debts and employs every means available to collect.

Whether a debtor is locked up depends largely on where the person lives, because enforcement is inconsistent from state to state, and even county to county.

In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man “to indefinite incarceration” until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.

“The law enforcement system has unwittingly become a tool of the debt collectors,” said Michael Kinkley, an attorney in Spokane, Wash., who has represented arrested debtors. “The debt collectors are abusing the system and intimidating people, and law enforcement is going along with it.”

How often are debtors arrested across the country? No one can say. No national statistics are kept, and the practice is largely unnoticed outside legal circles. “My suspicion is the debt collection industry does not want the world to know these arrests are happening, because the practice would be widely condemned,” said Robert Hobbs, deputy director of the National Consumer Law Center in Boston.

Debt collectors defend the practice, saying phone calls, letters and legal actions aren’t always enough to get people to pay.

“Admittedly, it’s a harsh sanction,” said Steven Rosso, a partner in the Como Law Firm of St. Paul, which does collections work. “But sometimes, it’s the only sanction we have.”

Taxpayers foot the bill for arresting and jailing debtors. In many cases, Minnesota judges set bail at the amount owed.

In Minnesota, judges have issued arrest warrants for people who owe as little as $85 — less than half the cost of housing an inmate overnight. Debtors targeted for arrest owed a median of $3,512 in 2009, up from $2,201 five years ago.

Those jailed for debts may be the least able to pay.

“It’s just one more blow for people who are already struggling,” said Beverly Yang, a Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation staff attorney who has represented three Illinois debtors arrested in the past two months. “They don’t like being in court. They don’t have cars. And if they had money to pay these collectors, they would.”

The collection machine

The laws allowing for the arrest of someone for an unpaid debt are not new.

What is new is the rise of well-funded, aggressive and centralized collection firms, in many cases run by attorneys, that buy up unpaid debt and use the courts to collect.

Three debt buyers — Unifund CCR Partners, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. and Debt Equities LLC — accounted for 15 percent of all debt-related arrest warrants issued in Minnesota since 2005, court data show. The debt buyers also file tens of thousands of other collection actions in the state, seeking court orders to make people pay.

The debts — often five or six years old — are purchased from companies like cellphone providers and credit card issuers, and cost a few cents on the dollar. Using automated dialing equipment and teams of lawyers, the debt-buyer firms try to collect the debt, plus interest and fees. A firm aims to collect at least twice what it paid for the debt to cover costs. Anything beyond that is profit.

Portfolio Recovery Associates of Norfolk, Va., a publicly traded debt buyer with the biggest profits and market capitalization, earned $44 million last year on $281 million in revenue — a 16 percent net margin. Encore Capital Group, another large debt buyer based in San Diego, had a margin last year of 10 percent. By comparison, Wal-Mart’s profit margin was 3.5 percent.

Todd Lansky, chief operating officer at Resurgence Financial LLC, a Northbrook, Ill.-based debt buyer, said firms like his operate within the law, which says people who ignore court orders can be arrested for contempt. By the time a warrant is issued, a debtor may have been contacted up to 12 times, he said.

“This is a last-ditch effort to say, ‘Look, just show up in court,'” he said.

Go to court — or jail

At 9:30 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, about a dozen people stood in line at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

Nearly all of them had received court judgments for not paying a delinquent debt. One by one, they stepped forward to fill out a two-page financial disclosure form that gives creditors the information they need to garnish money from their paychecks or bank accounts.

This process happens several times a week in Hennepin County. Those who fail to appear can be held in contempt and an arrest warrant is issued if a collector seeks one. Arrested debtors aren’t officially charged with a crime, but their cases are heard in the same courtroom as drug users.

Greg Williams, who is unemployed and living on state benefits, said he made the trip downtown on the advice of his girlfriend who knew someone who had been arrested for missing such a hearing.

“I was surprised that the police would waste time on my petty debts,” said Williams, 45, of Minneapolis, who had a $5,773 judgment from a credit card debt. “Don’t they have real criminals to catch?”

Few debtors realize they can land in jail simply for ignoring debt-collection legal matters. Debtors also may not recognize the names of companies seeking to collect old debts. Some people are contacted by three or four firms as delinquent debts are bought and sold multiple times after the original creditor writes off the account.

“They may think it’s a mistake. They may think it’s a scam. They may not realize how important it is to respond,” said Mary Spector, a law professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

A year ago, Legal Aid attorneys proposed a change in state law that would have required law enforcement officials to let debtors fill out financial disclosure forms when they are apprehended rather than book them into jail. No legislator introduced the measure.

Joy Uhlmeyer, who was arrested on her way home from spending Easter with her mother, said she defaulted on a $6,200 Chase credit card after a costly divorce in 2006. The firm seeking payment was Resurgence Financial, the Illinois debt buyer. Uhlmeyer said she didn’t recognize the name and ignored the notices.

Uhlmeyer walked free after her nephew posted $2,500 bail. It took another $187 to retrieve her car from the city impound lot. Her 86-year-old mother later asked why she didn’t call home after leaving Duluth. Not wanting to tell the truth, Uhlmeyer said her car broke down and her cell phone died.

“The really maddening part of the whole experience was the complete lack of information,” she said. “I kept thinking, ‘If there was a warrant out for my arrest, then why in the world wasn’t I told about it?'”

Jailed for $250

One afternoon last spring, Deborah Poplawski, 38, of Minneapolis was digging in her purse for coins to feed a downtown parking meter when she saw the flashing lights of a Minneapolis police squad car behind her. Poplawski, a restaurant cook, assumed she had parked illegally. Instead, she was headed to jail over a $250 credit card debt.

Less than a month earlier, she learned by chance from an employment counselor that she had an outstanding warrant. Debt Equities, a Golden Valley debt buyer, had sued her, but she says nobody served her with court documents. Thanks to interest and fees, Poplawski was now on the hook for $1,138.

Though she knew of the warrant and unpaid debt, “I wasn’t equating the warrant with going to jail, because there wasn’t criminal activity associated with it,” she said. “I just thought it was a civil thing.”

She spent nearly 25 hours at the Hennepin County jail.

A year later, she still gets angry recounting the experience. A male inmate groped her behind in a crowded elevator, she said. Poplawski also was ordered to change into the standard jail uniform — gray-white underwear and orange pants, shirt and socks — in a cubicle the size of a telephone booth. She slept in a room with 12 to 16 women and a toilet with no privacy. One woman offered her drugs, she said.

The next day, Poplawski appeared before a Hennepin County district judge. He told her to fill out the form listing her assets and bank account, and released her. Several weeks later, Debt Equities used this information to seize funds from her bank account. The firm didn’t return repeated calls seeking a comment.

“We hear every day about how there’s no money for public services,” Poplawski said. “But it seems like the collectors have found a way to get the police to do their work.”

Threat depends on location

A lot depends on where a debtor lives or is arrested, as Jamie Rodriguez, 41, a bartender from Brooklyn Park, discovered two years ago.

Deputies showed up at his house one evening while he was playing with his 5-year-old daughter, Nicole. They live in Hennepin County, where the Sheriff’s Office has enough staff to seek out people with warrants for civil violations.

If Rodriquez lived in neighboring Wright County, he could have simply handed the officers a check or cash for the amount owed. If he lived in Dakota County, it’s likely no deputy would have shown up because the Sheriff’s Office there says it lacks the staff to pursue civil debt cases.

Knowing that his daughter and wife were watching from the window, Rodriguez politely asked the deputies to drive him around the block, out of sight of his family, before they handcuffed him. The deputies agreed.

“No little girl should have to see her daddy arrested,” said Rodriguez, who spent a night in jail.

“If you talk to 15 different counties, you’ll find 15 different approaches to handling civil warrants,” said Sgt. Robert Shingledecker of the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office. “Everything is based on manpower.”

Local police also can enforce debt-related warrants, but small towns and some suburbs often don’t have enough officers.

The Star Tribune’s comparison of warrant and booking data suggests that at least 1 in 6 Minnesota debtors at risk for arrest actually lands in jail, typically for eight hours. The exact number of such arrests isn’t known because the government doesn’t consistently track what happens to debtor warrants.

“There are no standards here,” said Gail Hillebrand, a senior attorney with the Consumers Union in San Francisco. “A borrower who lives on one side of the river can be arrested while another one goes free. It breeds disrespect for the law.”

Haekyung Nielsen, 27, of Bloomington, said police showed up at her house on a civil warrant two weeks after she gave birth through Caesarean section. A debt buyer had sent her court papers for an old credit-card debt while she was in the hospital; Nielsen said she did not have time to respond.

Her baby boy, Tyler, lay in the crib as she begged the officer not to take her away.

“Thank God, the police had mercy and left me and my baby alone,” said Nielsen, who later paid the debt. “But to send someone to arrest me two weeks after a massive surgery that takes most women eight weeks to recover from was just unbelievable.”

The second surprise

Many debtors, like Robert Vee, 36, of Brooklyn Park, get a second surprise after being arrested — their bail is exactly the amount of money owed.

Hennepin County automatically sets bail at the judgment amount or $2,500, whichever is less. This policy was adopted four years ago in response to the high volume of debtor default cases, say court officials.

Some judges say the practice distorts the purpose of bail, which is to make sure people show up in court.

“It’s certainly an efficient way to collect debts, but it’s also highly distasteful,” said Hennepin County District Judge Jack Nordby. “The amount of bail should have nothing to do with the amount of the debt.”

Judge Robert Blaeser, chief of the county court’s civil division, said linking bail to debt streamlines the process because judges needn’t spend time setting bail.

“It’s arbitrary,” he conceded. “The bigger question is: Should you be allowed to get an order from a court for someone to be arrested because they owe money? You’ve got to remember there are people who have the money but just won’t pay a single penny.”

If friends or family post a debtor’s bail, they can expect to kiss the money goodbye, because it often ends up with creditors, who routinely ask judges for the bail payment.

Vee, a highway construction worker, was arrested one afternoon in February while driving his teenage daughter from school to their home in Brooklyn Park. As he was being cuffed, Vee said his daughter, who has severe asthma, started hyperventilating from the stress.

“All I kept thinking about was whether she was all right and if she was using her [asthma] inhaler,” he said.

From the Hennepin County jail, he made a collect call to his landlord, who promised to bring the bail. It was $1,875.06, the exact amount of a credit card debt.

Later, Vee was reunited with his distraught daughter at home. “We hugged for a long time, and she was bawling her eyes out,” he said.

He still has unpaid medical and credit card bills and owes about $40,000 on an old second mortgage. The sight of a squad car in his rearview mirror is all it takes to set off a fresh wave of anxiety.

“The question always crosses my mind: ‘Are the cops going to arrest me again?'” he said. “So long as I’ve got unpaid bills, the threat is there.”

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Ocean Springs Mississippi Police Officer Lt. Steven Futral Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Child Pornography For Images On His Home Computer – Faces Additional Charges After Child Pornography Was Found On His Department Laptop

June 10, 2010

OCEAN SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI – Ocean Springs Police Lt. Steven Futral has been arrested again today, this time charged with three additional counts of possession of child pornography.

The additional charges stem from images found on his police laptop, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd.

Futral was initially arrested Monday night on one count of possession of child pornography stemming from images found on his home computer.

He has been suspended without pay from the Ocean Springs Police Department.

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Thurston County Washington Deputy Sheriff Uses Taser Weapon On Man After Finding Couple Having Outdoor Sex

June 9, 2010

THURSTON COUNTY, WASHINGTON – A Thurston County sheriff’s deputy tased a man twice early this morning after he interrupted the man having sex with a woman outside a home in the 14000 block of Vail Cutoff Road, according to the sheriff’s department.

Patrick Bergin, 21, of Yelm, was placed under arrest on suspicion of third-degree assault, Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy James Chamberlain said.

According to Chamberlain:

The incident began around 2 a.m. when a deputy was responding to a complaint of loud music outside a residence on Vail Cutoff Road. As the patrol car approached the residence, its lights passed over a couple having sex on the lawn.

The couple began to put their clothes on, and the deputy approached them to ask for identification. The woman who was with Bergin screamed and tried to run away. Bergin approached the deputy, and ignored commands to sit down. Both the man and the woman appeared “highly intoxicated.”

The deputy believed that Bergin was taking an aggressive stance, and believed that he would be assaulted, so he shot the barbs from his Taser at Bergin. Bergin ripped the barbs of the Taser from his chest, and continued to approach the deputy. As Bergin continued to approach the deputy, the deputy reloaded the Taser and shot it again. The Taser’s barbs struck Bergin in the arm. Bergin was subdued and placed under arrest for third-degree assault.

Chamberlain said Tuesday that it is very unusual for a person to be able to rip the barbs from a Taser off of his or her body while receiving an electrical jol

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Mexico Demands Investigation After US Border Patrol Agent Shoots And Kills 14 Year Old Boy

June 9, 2010

EL PASO, TEXAS – Mexico has demanded a full investigation after a Mexican boy died after apparently being shot by a US border patrol agent.

Mexican police said the youth was killed close to the bridge linking the border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

The US border patrol said one of its agents had fired his weapon after stones were thrown at him.

The FBI says it is investigating the incident.
‘Disproportionate force’

“We energetically condemn the death of a minor near the international border crossing in Ciudad Juarez”, the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Using firearms to respond to an attack with rocks is a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from a officials that are specially trained,” it said.

“A worrying increase in the use of excessive force” showed the need for greater cooperation on border security, it added.

The FBI said the agent opened fire during a confrontation with a group of suspected illegal aliens trying to enter the US.

It said two people were arrested but the others retreated into Mexico, throwing rocks.

“The subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him. The agent then fired his service weapon several times, striking one subject who later died.”

The boy has been identified as 14-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez.

Photographs show his body lying on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

His mother, Guadelupe Huereca, denied reports he had been trying to cross the border.

“He was not going to cross to El Paso, it is not true, he was here in Mexico. They killed him in Mexico,” she said.

The issue of illegal migration, and the treatment of Mexicans on the border, is a source of abiding tension between the United States and Mexico.

Last week Mexico made similar protests over the death of a Mexican migrant after he was given electric shocks by US agents who were trying to deport him.

There has also been anger in Mexico over a new law in the US state of Arizona, which requires police to question people about their immigration status, if officers suspect they are in the US illegally, and if they have stopped them for a legitimate reason.

But in the US, there’s substantial political support for stronger measures to stop the flow of illegal migrants across the Mexican border.

Mexicans make up three-quarters of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the US.

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New Mexico State Supreme Court Overturns Bogus Albuquerque Police Drunk Driving Charge And Conviction – Police Finally Must Now Prove An Individuals “Intent To Drive While Intoxicated”

June 9, 2010

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – The state Supreme Court has overturned the drunken driving conviction of a motorist found passed out in his vehicle with the keys on the passenger seat.

The court on Tuesday said prosecutors had failed to prove that Mark Sims was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle when he was arrested by Albuquerque police in 2004. His vehicle was in a commercial parking lot.

The court used the case to outline a new standard of evidence that police and prosecutors need to show that a motorist intended to drive while intoxicated and posed a danger to themselves or the public.

The justices said courts can’t speculate that a passed out motorist might awake and then drive.

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US Border Patrol Agent Shoots And Kills 14 Year Old Boy In El Paso Texas

June 8, 2010

EL PASO, TEXAS – Around 6:45 p.m. Monday, FBI officials said a border patrol agent was assaulted. They will not say whether or not that the attacker was armed, but they do confirm that an agent did fire his gun.

KFOX spoke exclusively to a witness who for his own safety did not want to be identified. He said there was a group of five men running from a private property.

He said three gunshots were heard in the area. The Associated Press reports 14-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca was shot and killed. Two other people were arrested by agents.

Federal officials are handling the investigation, which is procedure, but El Paso police were called out for crowd control, and they too were assaulted.

“The police came, they cleared the scene. The people above the bridge continued insulting them and throwing rocks,” said one eye witness.

No word yet on what is happening with the agent that fired his gun or his condition after the assault.

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Metro Atlanta Georgia Police Chief Gene Wilson Busted Parking In Chik-Fil-A Handicaped Parking Space

June 8, 2010

ROCKDALE COUNTY, GEORGIA – A Metro Atlanta police chief, who turned himself in for parking illegally, paid a nearly $300 fine.

Chief Gene Wilson admitted he parked in a handicapped spot at a Conyers Chik-Fil-A. Wilson told Channel 2’s Diana Davis he realized he parked illegally after getting breakfast at the restaurant on Highway 138.

“I come back outside, and there is the handicapped parking sign with my city police car sitting right in it, and I’m thinking I didn’t do this, but I did,” Wilson said.

The chief claimed he didn’t notice the markings or the posted sign. The chief told Davis the new light bar on his car blocked his view. He drove back to headquarters and had another officer write him the ticket. It carried a $280 fine. Wilson also apologized in a letter to the newspaper.

“I thought that was great. It shows that he took responsibility for his wrong action,” said Conyers resident Brian Griffith.

This was not the first time the chief turned himself in. He also received a ticket for running a red light while working in Sandy Springs.

“I hope I don’t get to the point where I have a major write me a ticket. I might have to arrest myself, I don’t know,” Wilson said.

The chief told Davis he wanted to send a message that his department takes parking in a disabled spot without a permit very seriously. According to Wilson, anybody caught doing it, including police, will get a ticket.

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Owned: Bluff City Tennessee Police Chief Lets Department’s Web Site Domain Expire – Victim Of Speed Trap Camera Buys It – Now Displays Information On Speed Traps

June 8, 2010

BLUFF CITY, TENNESSEE – Brian McCrary found the perfect venue to gripe about a $90 speeding ticket when he went to the Bluff City Police Department’s website, saw that its domain name was about to expire, and bought it right out from under the city’s nose.

Now that McCrary is the proud owner of the site,, the Gray, Tenn., computer network designer has been using it to post links about speed cameras – like the one on U.S. Highway 11E that caught him – and how people don’t like them.

“It’s kind of surprising that they’d just let it lapse like that,” McCrary said, adding that the new site has logged 1,200 unique visitors since he took it over May 22. “I figured they would be aware [it was about to expire] and renew it on their own.”

Domain names – such as the one for the Bristol Herald Courier’s website, – serve as an easy-to-remember substitute for the numerical Internet Protocol addresses that direct people to specific locations (or websites) on the infinite landscape of cyberspace.

Domain names are bought and sold on a subscription basis through hundreds of website hosting companies, such as Go Daddy, which according to a company spokesperson currently manages more than 41 million domains including “”

When someone buys a domain name they can do whatever they want with it for the year that it’s registered to them. They can sell it, use it to keep someone from making a website, or use it to host a site that makes fun of or attacks a company with that name.

But at the end of that year-long registration period, the web hosting company regains control over the domain name and has the option of cancelling it and effectively taking down the customer’s website or selling the domain to someone else.

Go Daddy Domain Services Director Camille Ede said her company tries to avoid either option by sending its customers an e-mail letting them know about the domain’s status 90 days before its expiration date, 60 days before the expiration, 30 days before, 15 days and again five days before the expiration date.

Once the expiration date arrives, Ede said in an e-mail she sent the Herald Courier on Friday, the company replaces the website’s content with a special warning notice letting the site’s visitors know the domain has expired and will be deleted or sold in 42 days.

McCrary saw this notice when he had some questions about a letter he received in the mail letting him know he had to pay $90 because he was caught driving 56 mph through the 45 mph zone that Bluff City’s speed camera has actively patrolled since Jan. 1.

The camera issued 1,662 citations for speeding during its first six weeks on the job, according to an investigation conducted by Herald Courier staff. It issued another 541 citations from March 19-22 when fans for the Food City 500 were in town.

Each one of the citations comes with a $90 speeding ticket that Bluff City splits with American Traffic Solutions, the Scottsdale, Ariz., company that operates the speed camera and dozens of others like it across the country.

“I was going to give [the police department] a call and noticed their domain was about to expire,” said McCrary, who sat back and waited until the 42-day window was over. “As soon as it expired I went ahead and bought it.”

While McCrary was pondering his purchase – something that cost $80 because he signed up for a few services Go Daddy offers along with its domain registration service – the web hosting company made two final attempts to reach the police department.

In accordance with its policy, Ede said, Go Daddy sends its customers an e-mail five days after a domain name expires and 12 days after a domain name expires, bringing the total number of e-mails a customer receives to seven – five before the expiration and two after.

“With more than 8 million customers worldwide,” Ede said in her e-mail, “Go Daddy must rely on its customers to take an active role in monitoring their account information.”

During a Friday interview, Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson admitted that he did not play the “active role” that Ede recommends her customers take when it comes to monitoring their websites.

“It just slipped my mind,” Nelson said, adding that he knows little about computers and the more technical aspects of running a website. “If you open up a website and let it go down, somebody can buy it – I did not know that.”

Because he’s not that familiar with computers, Nelson said, he let one of his officers manage the site and handle its domain registration. That officer, he said, has been out on medical leave, after he came down with a bad illness a few months ago.

“It’s just one of those things that happen,” Nelson said, adding that he turned the matter over to the town’s manager and attorney to see if there was anything they could do with it.

So far, McCrary said, he hasn’t heard anything from either town official about taking over the website. However, he has heard from a lot of people who have run across his new site and have e-mailed him their thoughts about it or the stories he links to.

“Most of the people think it’s a speed trap,” McCary said of the feed back he’s received from the website, something he admitted took him only 15 minutes to put together on a Saturday afternoon. “In my opinion, it looks like this camera thing will come to an end.”

As for Nelson, the police chief is now at the point, two weeks after losing his website, where he can laugh about the situation. He said he has learned his lesson.

The police department is now working with different company to host its website, Nelson said, adding that this company won’t sell the new domain name to someone else.

“We’ll have more control over [our new website] than we did with Go Daddy,” he said. “And this one will be a lot better,” than the one the police department had before.

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Baltimore Maryland Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba Had Prior Off-Duty Drunken Shooting On Record Before Latest Off-Duty Alley Execution Shooting

June 7, 2010

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – The Baltimore police officer suspected of killing a man behind a Mount Vernon club early Saturday after a night of revelry was disciplined by the city Police Department five years ago for shooting a man while intoxicated.

Gahiji A. Tshamba, a 15-year veteran of the police force, shot a man in the foot after an off-duty confrontation outside a bar or restaurant in September 2005, a police spokesman said. Investigators and prosecutors determined that the shooting was justified, but Tshamba was disciplined internally because he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Police detectives are trying to determine whether Tshamba, 36, was under the influence early Saturday morning when he fired his department-issued weapon 13 times at an unarmed man. Tyrone Brown, a 32-year-old former Marine from East Baltimore, was hit six times in the chest and groin and died less than an hour later.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives from the homicide division were interviewing employees of the Club Hippo, Eden’s Lounge and other Mount Vernon clubs in an effort to learn more about Tshamba’s activities in the hours before the shooting, which happened at 1:30 a.m. outside the Hippo’s rear door. Tshamba declined to take a breath test to determine whether he had been drinking.

Detectives also are exploring a confrontation between Brown and Tshamba that preceded the killing. Witnesses say Brown touched a woman who was accompanying Tshamba, setting off the violent final minutes in an alley off East Eager Street that led to Brown’s death. Attempts to reach Tshamba or an attorney representing him Sunday were unsuccessful.

“We need to give homicide a chance to do what they do before we can tell you more,” Guglielmi said. “They’re exploring all of these things.”

No charges have been filed against Tshamba, who was placed on paid administrative duty while Saturday’s shooting is investigated.

Guglielmi said the 2005 incident occurred at night as Tshamba was leaving a Baltimore bar or restaurant. He did not know the precise location. A group of white men confronted the off-duty officer, who is black, and began shouting racial slurs. At least one man threw a bottle at Tshamba’s car, Guglielmi said.

At some point, the men struck Tshamba’s car with their car and began advancing toward the officer. Guglielmi said Tshamba then identified himself as a police officer and drew his weapon; when the men continued to advance, he shot one of them in the foot. The injury was not life-threatening, and Guglielmi said he was not certain whether more than one shot was fired.

Prosecutors and investigators determined that the shooting was justified because Tshamba was being threatened, and no criminal charges were filed, Guglielmi said. However, an internal sanction was entered against Tshamba in his personnel file because he had been drinking. Guglielmi was not sure what type of disciplinary action was taken, only that a misconduct charge was sustained against Tshamba “for having a gun while intoxicated.”

City police officers are generally required to carry their service weapons when they are off duty inside the city limits, but it is against department regulations to be intoxicated while armed.

The shooting five years ago was not Tshamba’s first. In July 1998 he shot an armed-robbery suspect after a foot chase.

In the initial account from police, an off-duty officer chasing another suspect in the incident fired his weapon and missed, leading Tshamba to believe the suspect he was chasing had opened fire. Tshamba then shot the suspect in the back.

But the off-duty officer, Dino Gregory, a 19-year veteran of the force, called a Baltimore Sun reporter Sunday and described a different scenario, saying Tshamba “saved my life” by shooting the suspect.

In Gregory’s account, he was driving through East Baltimore while off duty when he spotted Tshamba, who was on patrol, and stopped to chat. A man then ran up to Tshamba’s cruiser and said two armed men were holding up a victim a block away.

Both officers drove to the scene, and Tshamba chased one of the gunmen while the second snuck around Gregory’s car and pointed a gun at him, Gregory recounted. He said Tshamba saw what happened, retreated and shot the man once in the back.

“The man fell to the pavement still clutching his silver-colored gun,” Gregory said. “Officer Tshamba had to pry the gun out of the wounded man’s hands. I remember it like it was yesterday. He saved my life.”

In March 1999, the Baltimore Police Department awarded Tshamba a bronze star for meritorious performance. It could not be determined over the weekend whether that award was for the shooting in 1998.

Tshamba was also in the news in 2001, when he arrested a woman after a routine traffic stop and sent her to the city’s Central Booking and Intake Center, where she was subjected to a strip search.

According to a complaint filed against Tshamba in state and federal courts, he stopped the woman, Bridgette Renee Watson, for allegedly making an unsafe lane change on East Madison Street, then made her wait 15 minutes while another officer brought him a citation book. Tshamba issued Watson tickets for the lane change, speeding, and for playing her radio too loudly while she waited for him to write the tickets. He then arrested her for allegedly signing the tickets improperly.

All the tickets were thrown out in court, and Watson reached an undisclosed civil settlement with the city in 2005.

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Veteran Baltimore Maryland Police Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba Executes Man In Alley For Putting His Hands On His Girlfriend’s Ass – Victim Shot 6 Times In Chest And Groin

June 7, 2010

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – Tyrone Brown, a 32-year-old former Marine from East Baltimore, was out with his sister and her friend enjoying the Mount Vernon club scene early Saturday when he may have taken one of his trademark jokes too far. Glancing at a woman in an alley off East Eager Street, he put his hands on her behind.

Police said the woman’s companion, an off-duty Baltimore police officer, got into an argument and physical confrontation with Brown after they left the club Eden’s Lounge. His sister said there was no fight, and that her brother apologized and tried to walk away. What happened next is not in dispute — the officer pulled out his department-issued Glock handgun and fired at the unarmed Brown 13 times from just a few feet away.

Brown, struck at 1:30 a.m. by six bullets in the chest and groin, fell to the pavement and died 45 minutes later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The shooting by Gahiji A. Tshamba, a 15-year veteran of the city police force, has left his commanders publicly questioning whether the Eastern District patrol officer legitimately thought his life was in danger before firing.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, using unusually harsh language, said witnesses confirmed that Brown “groped the woman,” but he also stressed that homicide detectives have “not been able to find a concrete motive” as to why Tshamba fired his weapon.

Police commanders said privately that they were troubled by Saturday’s shooting, which took place near a rear door of Club Hippo. It raised numerous questions, they said, including whether the officer had been drinking and was impaired when he fired his gun, and why he did not call for help from the many on-duty officers stationed nearby.

Brown’s father — one of many relatives and friends who gathered Saturday at an East Baltimore rowhouse the victim shared with his mother — said the shooting was unjustifiable. “He was in a situation where an apology should have been accepted,” Reginald Dargan said. “It’s a young kid — gone for nothing. It don’t make no sense.”

A department spokesman said Tshamba has been involved in at least one prior police-involved shooting. In 1998, he shot a man in the back during a foot chase, according to The Baltimore Sun’s archives.

Baltimore police officers are generally required to carry their service weapons while on and off duty when they’re within the city limits. There are no rules prohibiting officers from carrying guns into bars, but it is against department regulations to be intoxicated or inebriated while armed. Police officials said if an officer plans on drinking while off duty, common sense dictates leaving the gun secured and at home.

Guglielmi said the police commissioner was apprised of developments throughout the night and the commissioner ordered “his most trusted people” to ensure a thorough investigation.

The spokesman said the officer refused to make a statement and declined to submit to a breath test to determine whether he had been drinking alcohol or how much he had consumed.

Tshamba, who lives in Essex, could not be reached for comment. He is being represented by an attorney for the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, whose president on Saturday urged the public to “not rush to any judgment.”

Robert Cherry, the union head and a former homicide detective, said Tshamba plans to give a statement to investigators after consulting with his attorney. He is not required to say anything to investigators, as is the right of any person subjected to a criminal investigation.

“The officer has not yet had an opportunity to give his version of events,” Cherry said. “There may be videos to review. There may be many more witnesses to interview. … The refusal by him to give a statement is not something that should raise people’s concerns that he is trying to hide something.”

A night out on the town brought Tshamba and Brown together early Saturday. Relatives and police said both men wound up at Eden’s Lounge, though the owner denied that the officer had been in his club. Baltimore Police Maj. Terrence McLarney, head of the homicide unit, said there is no indication the two men met inside the establishment or knew each other.

It’s unclear when each group left, but police said they were out by 1:30 a.m. and in a crowd of boisterous patrons spilling out of bars and nightclubs in the neighborhood known for late-night revelry. They found themselves in an alley off East Eager Street, near the back of Club Hippo.

Brown’s sister, Chantay Kangalee, 30, of Baltimore County, said her brother put his hands on the behind of one of the women with the officer. “He was just joking,” Kangalee said. “That was just my brother’s sense of humor. I said, ‘Stop that.’ “

The woman he had grabbed also spoke up, Kangalee said: “She said, ‘Don’t do that. That’s disrespectful.’ He said, ‘My bad.’ And then we were about to turn and go to the car and she walked up and swung at him.”

Then the officer stepped up, she said.

“The guy pulled out his gun and he said, ‘Do it again. Do it again,’ ” she said. ” ‘Now get on the ground.’ “

Kangalee said Brown put his hands in the air and started backing up, saying, ” ‘Wait a minute. Hold up.’ ” And then the officer started shooting, Kangalee said.

McLarney said Tshamba identified himself as a police officer and gave “verbal commands” to Brown to stop fighting. Guglielmi said “the incident escalated into a verbal argument which turned physical” before the officer fired his gun.

A patrol officer standing in an alley off East Eager Street, used by officers to park their vehicles, heard the gunfire and quickly responded. “The guy was in no harm, no danger,” Kangalee said, disputing that he identified himself as an officer. “He could see he had no weapon, nothing.”

If the investigation determines that the shooting was not justified, Tshamba could face criminal charges.

Tshamba has been investigated multiple times by the department, including for a July 1998 incident in which he shot a man in the back. Police at the time said he responded to a shooting and an armed robbery of a man in East Baltimore.

One officer chased a man up one street and Tshamba chased a second man along another street. The first officer fired his weapon when the suspect pulled a gun from his pants, but missed his target. Police said at the time that Tshamba heard the shot, thought the man he was chasing had fired and shot him.

The wounded man, who survived, had been armed with a silver-colored, semiautomatic handgun, but had not pointed it at Tshamba, according to a police spokeswoman at the time. The outcome of the internal investigation could not be learned on Saturday.

In March 1999, Tshamba was among 42 officers and civilians honored at an awards ceremony for acts of heroism, leadership and civic-mindedness. He was one of 20 officers given a bronze star for meritorious performance.

Brown grew up in East Baltimore and graduated in 1994 from what was then Southern High School, where he played lacrosse and football. He went on to serve eight years in the Marines, half of them in Iraq. He was there from 2001 to 2005, said his mother, Vivian Scott.

“His company was one of the first that went into Fallujah,” she said, adding that her son was reluctant to talk about his experiences. “It took a while for him to, you know, start opening up. … I kept pounding and pounding him, ‘Open up.’ He just broke and cried. He said, ‘It was so much we went through. I can’t tell you.’ “

The aftereffects of the war took a toll on his marriage, his mother said, and he separated from his wife and moved back home with his mother. She eventually convinced him to seek counseling through Veterans Affairs and he was trying to reconcile with his wife, Scott said.

Brown, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter, Jade, were scheduled to fly to San Diego Thursday to attend the 8th-grade graduation of his 14-year-old son from a previous relationship. Brown had most recently worked as a maintenance man at the city jail and had nearly completed his coursework at a technical school to become an electrician, relatives said. He had no criminal record but for a 5-year-old charge, eventually dropped, for possessing an open container of alcohol in public.

Relatives who gathered at the North Broadway home remembered a die-hard Orioles fan and grilling enthusiast known as much for his excessive use of charcoal lighter fluid than for any food he produced.

“He was supposed to be walking me down the aisle next month when I get married,” said a sister, La-Belle Scott.

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Grand Isle Louisiana Police Arrest Man For Wading In Water At Beach

June 7, 2010

GRAND ISLE, LOUISIANA – The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office says a man has been arrested for swimming in waters shut down because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

WAFB-TV reported Sunday that Grand Isle Police took 22-year-old Jesus Mares, of College Station, Texas, into custody around 7:30 a.m. after he was caught wading in the water just off the beach.

The state Department of Environmental Quality shut down the beach after it was declared hazardous and unsafe for swimming. Authorities say because of contaminants on his body, Mares had to be taken to a decontamination unit on Grand Isle. He was then booked with criminal trespassing and remaining after being forbidden.

Mares was later released on $200 bond.

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Hero Father Striped, Tied Up, And Used Stun Gun On Pervert Who Sent His Child An Explicit Cell Phone Picture

June 6, 2010

FRENCH VALLEY, CALIFORNIA – A French Valley father suspected of tying up and using a stun gun on a 23-year-old man who sent his 17-year-old daughter an explicit cell phone picture was charged this week with multiple felonies.

Authorities say William Atwood Sr., 45, lured Justin Moore to his home, ordered him to strip down to his boxer shorts and assaulted him before turning him over to a sheriff’s deputy.

Moore, who lives in Temecula and knows Atwood’s daughter and son, later told sheriff’s investigators that he had sent the photo of his genitals to several friends as a joke.

But Atwood failed to see the humor when his daughter told him about the picture in January.

An angry Atwood reported to the Sheriff’s Department that Moore had sent pornography to a child, court records show. Before sheriff’s officials had a chance to investigate, they received a call from Atwood the evening of Jan. 10. He said Moore came to his Avenida Armada home uninvited.

Out of concern for his family’s safety, Atwood told sheriff’s officials, he fired a shotgun into the air. Atwood said he told Moore to take off his clothing and bound his wrists and ankles with zip ties.

When a deputy arrived, he found Moore behaving as if he were extremely frightened. Not only did he refuse to speak, but Moore also did not open his eyes for several minutes after the deputy arrived.

Later, at the station, Moore told a rather different story.

He said Atwood had called and asked him to come over to his house to discuss the photo. When Moore arrived, he said, the electric gate opened to reveal the 6-foot-2, 350-pound Atwood waiting for him in the driveway. Atwood was a few feet away when he fired the gun, Moore told authorities.

Atwood ordered Moore out of his car and, as he was walking, fired another shot. After he was tied up, Moore said, Atwood pulled him off the ground by his feet, injuring his shoulder.

Atwood told Moore he had connections with the Pechanga tribe and was going to have him buried on the reservation, court records say.

Moore said he believed that Atwood was going to kill him.

At some point, Atwood retrieved a handgun and a stun gun. He shocked Moore on the shoulder for about 20 seconds and asked him how he liked it, court records say.

Atwood told Moore that he shocked his dogs daily and they took it better than him, court records say.

Moore said he was detained for about an hour before Atwood called the Sheriff’s Department.

When sheriff’s investigators looked into Moore’s account of events, they discovered that he had indeed received a call from Atwood about an hour before Atwood called authorities. They also found a text message Moore had sent to a friend on his way to Atwood’s house, saying he was going to discuss the pictures.

“If I don’t get back, let everyone know,” he joked.

Investigators searched Atwood’s home, seizing zip ties, at least two stun guns and more than a dozen firearms.

The district attorney’s office on Wednesday charged Atwood with making criminal threats, false imprisonment, assault with a stun gun, assault with a deadly weapon and other gun charges. As of Thursday, he had not been arrested.

Moore declined to comment Thursday, saying he hadn’t heard about the charges. Efforts to reach Atwood were unsuccessful.

Prosecutors declined to charge Moore in connection with the photo for lack of evidence, said district attorney’s spokesman John Hall.

Veronica Rico, the sheriff’s investigator who handled the case, said that while Atwood’s displeasure over the photo was understandable, he took it much too far.

“It just kind of got out of hand,” Rico said.

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Scam By Military Prosecutor And Judge Sends Sex Offender Doctor To Jail For Just 7 Days – At Least 23 Victims, Some Of Whom Have A Problem With Doctor Receiving Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

June 6, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN — Victims of convicted sex offender Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez say they are furious at the Navy for letting the disgraced doctor off with what they perceive as a light sentence — and then misleading them into thinking the sentence had been much tougher.

At least 23 women had alleged that Velasquez sexually violated them after they sought medical treatment in two locations, at Japan’s Naval Air Facility Atsugi branch clinic in 2007 and 2008 and Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan clinic between December 2008 and June 2009.

On May 26, Velasquez pleaded guilty at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. In exchange for those guilty pleas, under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement negotiated between the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the defense, prosecutors dropped 29 other counts of sexual misconduct and related charges leveled against Velasquez by his former patients.

Military judge Cmdr. David Berger sentenced Velasquez to two years in prison, a $28,000 fine, dismissal from the Navy and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, but the convening authority suspended the prison sentence and fine in accordance with the pretrial agreement. Instead, Velasquez spent just seven days in the Yokosuka Naval Base brig.

But a post-trial e-mail sent to victims by the JAG office left some with the impression that Velasquez would suffer a much harsher fate.

The May 26 e-mail stated that “the judge awarded a sentence of 24 months, a $28,000 fine to be paid right away or else an additional 6 months would be imposed, total forfeitures of pay, and most iportantly [sic], a DISMISSAL from the Navy.”

The e-mail made no mention of the plea agreement. Nor did it state that the judge’s sentence had been largely set aside because of the plea deal. Unless Velasquez violates the terms of the plea agreement and commits another crime, he won’t go to federal prison or pay any penalties.

Stars and Stripes contacted seven of the women whose complaints led to charges against Velasquez. Three said they did not fully understand what happened.

“I was confused when I read the [May 26] Stars and Stripes article, and it said that none of the punishment set would be happening unless he committed another crime … so I guess I don’t even know what his actual punishment is,” said an enlisted soldier whom Velasquez was convicted of molesting while she was a patient at Camp Arifjan. “It’s all been very unclear to me. I ask questions, and a lot of them don’t get answered.”

Capt. Rex Guinn, commander of Regional Legal Service Office Japan and the ranking officer copied on the JAG e-mail, said the victims were offered the right to choose whether they wanted to be notified of a plea agreement as part of the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. Neither Guinn nor any of the attorneys copied on the e-mail sent a follow-up e-mail to the full group of victims to clarify the decision.

“It was a wrap-up providing the 2703 form,” said Guinn, referring to a form that explains the post-trial rights of victims. “That was the intent of the communication.”

The victims are free to lodge an official complaint if they believe they were misled, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Steiner said. As of Friday afternoon, no one had done so, he said.

Two of the victims that Stars and Stripes interviewed said that prosecutor Lt. Emily Dewey, the author of the e-mail message, explained the plea deal to them after they sent her private replies about the confusing message.

Another victim said she did not blame Dewey for the misleading e-mail “because it didn’t sound like her at all.”

That victim said Dewey had told her about the impending plea deal days before the final hearing. Before the deal was made, she said, Dewey had expressed her eagerness to fight the complete case in a trial.

Dewey could not be reached for comment Friday, but told Stars and Stripes last week that all requests for comment should be referred to her superiors.

Among the seven women interviewed, two expressed some satisfaction that Velasquez had been found guilty, along with relief that the trial had concluded.

However, all expressed dismay over the terms of the plea deal, which most called “a slap on the wrist.”

Velasquez was released from the brig earlier this week and was walking around base at Atsugi on Wednesday, according to Navy officials.

“It feels like, because we’re military, there is no justice and that he’s getting away with it,” said one of the victims. “Had we been in the civilian world, he’d be in jail for a long time.

“But that’s not the case in the military, where the higher-ups make that decision,” she continued. “It’s another slap on the hand. It’s appalling. You know you’re going to suffer the rest of your life, and he’s just going to lose his license. Are you kidding me? It doesn’t make up for what he did.”

Many of the women visited Velasquez for common maladies such as neck and sinus pain. But, according to evidence and court testimony, Velasquez, 48, used his ungloved hands to fondle their genitals while purporting to check their lymph nodes.

“For me, this is yet another example of the military protecting officer positions from disciplinary action,” another victim said. “Have an enlisted man do the same thing, the sentence would have been much harsher.”

Steiner, the Navy spokesman, emphasized that Velasquez will have to register as a sex offender when he returns to the United States. His medical credentials also will be subject to revocation by a civilian medical body, and he will be dismissed from the Navy–the harshest type of discharge available in that service.

“That’s the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge,” Steiner said. “These are serious outcomes.”

The case must now be authenticated, which includes transcription and review of the proceedings by attorneys. It is then forwarded for approval to the convening authority, which in this case is the Naval Forces Japan commander, Rear Adm. Richard Wren.

Wren can make the sentence more lenient but he cannot make it any harsher.

“The convening authority can order a rehearing to the findings … but I’ve never seen it happen,” Guinn said.

Following Wren’s decision, the case is subject to appeal.

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US Secret Services Investigates Pot Left On Jersey City New Jersey Stove By 80 Year Old Man

June 6, 2010

JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY – The U.S. Secret Service and emergency responders including a mobile medical crisis truck converged on the home of an 80-year-old Jersey City man yesterday where unidentified chemicals and a letter to the President turned out to be harmless, officials said.

At 1:52 p.m. firefighters responded to the building at Bergen Avenue and Forrest Street and found no one home in the apartment where a pot on the stove had boiled dry and cloth inside had ignited, Fire Director Armando Roman said.

But what firefighters also found was 60 to 80 half-gallon containers of unknown substances and an envelope with President Obama’s name on it, triggering a massive response. A short time later the resident walked back from his trip to a store and found his home was the center of a large investigation.

He said he must have forgotten to turn the stove burner off when he walked to the store and noted that he sells perfume in Newark and he mixes the chemicals at home, Roman said. The hazmat responders confirmed that the bottles seemed to contain harmless perfume components, Roman said.

Yesterday evening James Mattola, assistant special agent in charge of the New Jersey Secret Service Office, confirmed that agents had responded to the apartment building. Mattola would not comment on specifics, but said only that his office determined there was no threat.

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100’s Of Millions Of US Taxpayer Dollars Wasted On Bush’s Tortue Prisons And Guantanamo Bay Base

June 6, 2010

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — At the U.S. naval station here, a handsome electronic sign hangs between two concrete pillars. In yellow enamel against a blue metal backdrop is a map of Cuba, the “Pearl of the Antilles,” above flashing time and temperature readings.

“Welcome Aboard,” the sign says.

The cost of the marquee, along with a smaller sign positioned near the airfield: $188,000. Among other odd legacies from war-on-terror spending since 2001 for the troops at Guantanamo Bay: an abandoned volleyball court for $249,000, an unused go-kart track for $296,000 and $3.5 million for 27 playgrounds that are often vacant.

The Pentagon also spent $683,000 to renovate a cafe that sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee, and $773,000 to remodel a cinder-block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

The spending is part of at least $500 million that has transformed what was once a sun-beaten and forgotten Caribbean base into one of the most secure military and prison installations in the world. That does not include construction bonuses, which typically run into the millions.

Also not included are annual operating costs of $150 million — double the amount for a comparable U.S. prison, according to the White House. Add in clandestine black-budget items, such as the top-secret Camp 7 prison for high-value detainees, aptly nicknamed Camp Platinum, and the post-Sept. 11, 2001, bill for the 45-square-mile base easily soars toward $2 billion.

The Obama administration wants to close the detention operation and relocate it to a prison in Illinois, but the prospect of seeing the final detainees depart seems increasingly like a long-term project. If the president does succeed, the Pentagon will leave behind a newly remodeled military encampment, along with numerous questions about whether the cost of creating what then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once called the “least worst place” for suspected terrorists was worth the price.

In the first public accounting of how much has been spent on the base since the first detainees arrived in January 2002, The Washington Post obtained from the military a line-by-line breakdown of capital expenditures, ranging from the mundane to the exotic.

Overall, the prison camp operation that hugs the Caribbean coastline cost about $220 million to build over several years, a price that does not include Camp 7, which holds 16 of the most notorious detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And $13 million was spent to construct a courthouse complex that appears custom-designed for Mohammed and his four co-defendants.

But as spending accelerated over the years, and more and more construction and renovation contracts were awarded, the number of detainees steadily declined, from a peak of 680 in May 2003 to 181 now.

Many of the projects itemized in the breakdown are reminders of suburban America — familiar settings re-created in a Caribbean hothouse to comfort the military personnel and contractors who run detainee operations.

Millions went to build artificial-turf football and baseball fields that professional players would envy, surrounded by a cluster of facilities, including a running track, a skate park, an outdoor roller hockey rink and batting cages.

[Story Continues On Original Site Below]

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Three Russian Police Officers Arrested After Using Credit Card Of Polish Plane Crash Victim

June 6, 2010

RUSSIA – Some 6,000 zlotys (£1,200) were withdrawn from the bank account of Andrezej Przewoznik, who headed Poland’s committee in charge of monitoring national historic sites.

He was part of the Polish delegation heading to Katyn near the western Russian city of Smolensk for a commemoration ceremony marking the 1940 massacre of thousands of Polish army officers at the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

“Three members of the OMON (riot police) who committed this disgusting act were quickly arrested thanks to co-operation between the Polish Security Agency and the Russian special services,” Polish government spokesman Pawel Gras told Radio Zet.

The president’s Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 crashed on April 10 at Smolensk in western Russia while trying to land in thick fog, killing all 96 people on board.

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Bomb Squad Blows Up Man’s Possessions At Dallas/Fort Worth Texas Airport Because He Was On Another Flight

June 5, 2010

DALLAS/FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport police say the facility is safe following a bomb scare Thursday in Terminal E near Gate 14.

A duffel bag was left on the baggage claim belt, and someone noticed wires sticking out of the pocket at 5;45 p.m. That person called police, who used the bomb squad robot to blow the bag open and render it safe.

Police said the bag was unattended, because its owner arrived on a different flight.

The wires were part of an electronic device.

Five flights were delayed over a two-hour span as a result.

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