Jonesboro Arkansas Police Officers Searched Man Twice And Put Him In Patrol Car – Claim He Shot Himself In The Head With Hands Handcuffed Behind His Back – Yet He’d Just Called Girlfriend When Stopped And Said He’d Call Her From Jail

August 2, 2012

JONESBORO, ARKANSAS – Police in Jonesboro, Arkansas have launched an investigation into how 21-year-old Chavis Carter was shot in the back of a patrol car Saturday night.

Carter, who died at the hospital, was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck that was pulled over by police just before 10 pm, reports WREG. According to Officer Keith Baggett who was on the scene, Officer Ron Marsh found “some marijuana” and several new plastic baggies when he searched Carter. When they ran his information through dispatch, they found that he was wanted on a warrant in Mississippi, where he lived. The cops then handcuffed him, searched him again, and put him in the back of the patrol car. While Baggett searched the vehicle, he claims he heard “a loud thump with a metallic sound” on his trunk and saw Marsh motion to him.

The thumping noise, according to the cops, was Carter shooting himself in the head.

The police report attributed the death to a self-inflicted gunshot, though when the two officers opened the squad car door, they found Carter’s hands were still cuffed behind his back. The gun, they said, was somehow missed in both searches.

“Any given officer has missed something on a search, be it drugs, knife, razor blades, this instance it happened to be a gun,” Jonesboro Police Sergeant Lyle Waterworth said after the bizarre incident. The police believe that Chavez managed to pull out a hidden gun and shot himself in spite of the handcuffs.

Carter’s mother, Teresa, however, suspects foul play: “I think they killed him, my son wasn’t suicidal.”

According to Teresa, Carter called his girlfriend while he was pulled over to tell her he’d call her from jail. She also said her son was shot in his right temple, when he was left-handed.

The two officers involved are now on administrative leave until the investigation concludes.

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BROKE: 16 States Now Rationing Prescription Drugs For Medicaid Patients

July 31, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Sixteen states have set a limit on the number of prescription drugs they will cover for Medicaid patients, according to Kaiser Health News.

Seven of those states, according to Kaiser Health News, have enacted or tightened those limits in just the last two years.

Medicaid is a federal program that is carried out in partnership with state governments. It forms an important element of President Barack Obama’s health-care plan because under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–AKA Obamcare–a larger number of people will be covered by Medicaid, as the income cap is raised for the program.

With both the expanded Medicaid program and the federal subsidy for health-care premiums that will be available to people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level, a larger percentage of the population will be wholly or partially dependent on the government for their health care under Obamacare than are now.

In Alabama, Medicaid patients are now limited to one brand-name drug, and HIV and psychiatric drugs are excluded.

Illinois has limited Medicaid patients to just four prescription drugs as a cost-cutting move, and patients who need more than four must get permission from the state.

Speaking on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Monday, Phil Galewitz, staff writer for Kaiser Health News, said the move “only hurts a limited number of patients.”

“Drugs make up a fair amount of costs for Medicaid. A lot of states have said a lot of drugs are available in generics where they cost less, so they see this sort of another move to push patients to take generics instead of brand,” Galewitz said.

“It only hurts a limited number of patients, ‘cause obviously it hurts patients who are taking multiple brand name drugs in the case of Alabama, Illinois. Some of the states are putting the limits on all drugs. It’s another place to cut. It doesn’t hurt everybody, but it could hurt some,” he added.

Galewitz said the move also puts doctors and patients in a “difficult position.”

“Some doctors I talked to would work with patients with asthma and diabetes, and sometimes it’s tricky to get the right drugs and the right dosage to figure out how to control some of this disease, and just when they get it right, now the state is telling them that, ‘Hey, you’re not going to get all this coverage. You may have to switch to a generic or find another way,’” he said.

Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia have all placed caps on the number of prescription drugs Medicaid patients can get.

“Some people say it’s a matter of you know states are throwing things up against the wall to see what might work, so states have tried, they’ve also tried formularies where they’ll pick certain brand name drugs over other drugs. So states try a whole lot of different things. They’re trying different ways of paying providers to try to maybe slow the costs down,” Galewitz said.

“So it seems like Medicaid’s sort of been one big experiment over the last number of years for states to try to control costs, and it’s an ongoing battle, and I think drugs is just now one of the … latest issues. And it’s a relatively recent thing, only in the last 10 years have we really seen states put these limits on monthly drugs,” he added.

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Dumbass Veteran Ozark Arkansas Police Officer Justin Phillips Caught Himself On His Dash Cam Calling To Warn Felon That A Warrant Had Been Issued For His Arrest

July 11, 2012

OZARK, ARKANSAS – An Ozark Police Officer is facing hindering apprehension or investigation charges. Justin Phillips, 34, is accused of warning a felony theft suspect that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

According to court documents, Phillips called his wife on a department-issued cell phone and asked her to contact the suspect. The alleged conversation was recorded on police dash cam video.

He was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of corruption after an investigation that lasted several weeks. Arkansas State Police, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Ozark Police Department were a part of the investigation.

Phillips worked at the Ozark Police Department in 2000. He left for a period of time, but came back in 2003. He is being held at the Pope County Detention Center.

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Little Rock Arkansas Police Officers Mark Jones And Randall Robinson Arrested In Undercover FBI Investigation, Charged With Providing Security For Drug Shipment While On Duty And Using Marked Police Cars

May 26, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – Little Rock Police Officers Mark Jones and Randall Robinson were arrested Thursday after the FBI filed criminal complaint charges.

The two are accused of providing security for a drug shipment in return for thousands of dollars, all while the officers were reportedly on-duty and marked patrol units.

The two men had their initial appearance in a federal courtroom Friday (5/25).

An affidavit filed by the FBI has page upon page of recorded conversations, and the US Prosecuting Attorney said it isn’t the end of the evidence.

One of the officers charged and his attorney however are denying all the claims.

“My client denies what he is charged with having done,” said Mark Jones’ attorney, Ronald Davis Junior.

According to the affidavit a confidential source, undercover with the FBI, worked with Little Rock Police officer Mark Jones in delivery of a shipment of drugs.

Recorded conversation on the affidavit shows the two discussing plans to ship thousands of pounds of marijuana, needing the security of Jones.

The source told Jones he needed somebody to watch his back. Jones confirmed they needed him to follow them.

The affidavit said the two would meet at a Whole Foods grocery store in West Little Rock. Jones worked an off-duty security position there.

They met frequently to discuss plans of the operation, that eventually included Jones half-brother, Officer Randall Robinson.

Despite the abundance of evidence the affidavit shows, Davis claims there are two sides to every story and these documents won’t be enough.

He wants the conversations to be authenticated, and to prove the context in which the conversations took place.

“Those are all things you can’t do just from an affidavit.”

Whether the affidavit proves this or not, some folks walking the Little Rock streets with two police officers on the wrong side of a jail cell, still said they aren’t worried.

Toni Weatherford said, “There’s always a few bad apples… This is a beautiful city and probably nothing is going on here that isn’t going on everywhere else.”

Some even saw this a chance for the law to teach a lesson.

Lisa Beasley said, “Regardless of what city they need to make an example, and let the people know that police are not above the law.”

But it will take a judge and jury to find these two men guilty, something Davis doesn’t think will happen.

“I think our system usually gets it right and I think it will in this case.”

The US Attorney’s office thinks it will go their way and this affidavit is all they’ll need.

A trial is set for June 4th to decide if the officers will remain behind bars.

Depending on how this case goes, these two men could face up to forty years in jail, and possibly a fine around $5,000,000.

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Supreme Court Says No Double Jeopardy In Retrial After Arkansas Prosecutors First Threw Laundry List Of Charges At Jury To See What Would Stick

May 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC — The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a criminal defendant may be retried even though the jury in his first trial had unanimously rejected the most serious charges against him. The vote was 6 to 3, with the justices split over whether the constitutional protection against double jeopardy barred such reprosecutions.

The case arose from the death in 2007 of a 1-year-old Arkansas boy, Matthew McFadden Jr., from a head injury while he was at home with his mother’s boyfriend, Alex Blueford. The prosecution said Mr. Blueford had slammed Matthew into a mattress; Mr. Blueford said he had accidentally knocked the boy to the floor.

Mr. Blueford was charged under four theories, in decreasing order of seriousness: capital murder (though the state did not seek the death penalty), first-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide.

The jurors were instructed to consider the most serious charge first and move to the next only if they agreed unanimously that Mr. Blueford was not guilty. In this way, they were to work their way down to the appropriate conviction, or to an acquittal.

After a few hours of deliberation, the jurors announced that they were deadlocked. The forewoman told the judge that the jury had unanimously agreed that Mr. Blueford was not guilty of capital or first-degree murder but was divided, 9 to 3, in favor of guilt on the manslaughter charge.

The jury deliberated for another half-hour but could not reach a verdict. The court declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors sought to retry Mr. Blueford on all four charges. His lawyers agreed that he could be retried on the less serious ones but said double jeopardy principles should preclude his retrial for capital murder and first-degree murder.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said Mr. Blueford could be retried on all of the charges because “the foreperson’s report was not a final resolution of anything.” When the jurors returned to their deliberations after the forewoman spoke, he said, they could have changed their minds about the two more serious charges.

“The fact that deliberations continued after the report deprives that report of the finality necessary to constitute an acquittal on the murder offenses,” the chief justice wrote. Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion.

Mr. Blueford’s lawyers also argued that the trial judge should not have declared a mistrial without first asking the jury whether, in the end, the defendant had been found not guilty of some charges. Chief Justice Roberts said the judge had acted appropriately, as “the jury’s options in this case were limited to two: eitiher convict on one of the offenses, or aqcuit on all.”

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the majority had improperly given prosecutors “the proverbial second bite at the apple.”

“The forewoman’s announcement in open court that the jury was ‘unanimous against’ conviction on capital and first-degree murder,” she wrote, “was an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes.”

Justice Sotomayor said the trial judge should have asked for a partial verdict from the jury before declaring a mistrial. She added that the protections of the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause were needed in light of “the threat to individual freedom from reprosecutions that favor states and unfairly rescue them from weak cases.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan joined the dissent in the case, Blueford v. Arkansas, No. 10-1320.

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Little Rock Arkansas Police Officer Theddus McRae Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Drunk Driving

May 16, 2012

SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS – A central Arkansas police officer is out of jail after being arrested for DWI. Sherwood Police say they arrested a Little Rock Police officer early Saturday morning on drunk driving charges.

Sherwood police say they pulled over 40 year old Theddus McRae, around 4:30 Saturday morning, after his vehicle crossed the centerline and they also noticed he had a headlight and brake light out.

The police report of the incident says the arresting officer attempted to administer a field sobriety test without success. McRae is accused of DWI and refusing to submit to the sobriety test.

The Little Rock Police officer is on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

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Dumbass Arkansas State Prison Guard Hassled Convicted Murderer Over Shoes – Ended Up Dead

January 20, 2012

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – A convicted murderer stabbed a female guard to death at an east Arkansas prison Friday while she was investigating whether he had an unauthorized pair of shoes, a prison spokeswoman said.

Sgt. Barbara Ester, 47, was stabbed in the side, abdomen and chest at about 12:30 p.m., said Shea Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Correction. Ester died about 3 p.m. at a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., about 40 miles away.

Ester, a 12-year veteran of the correction department, was a property officer who investigated whether inmates had contraband items. Wilson said the guard had received a report that Johnson had a pair of contraband shoes.

“This is obviously very difficult for the department when something tragic like this happens,” Wilson said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sgt. Ester’s family. These officers — it’s a tight-knit workplace. They look out for each other and are there together for a lot of hours of the day, so this is very difficult for everyone.”

Wilson said the prison was locked down after the attack and that the inmate, Latavious Johnson, was being moved to the state’s maximum-security unit at Varner. She said all the other inmates have been accounted for.

Johnson, 30, was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder out of Jefferson County. He was sentenced in 2000 for killing his father. Prosecutors said Johnson was 18 at the time of the crime.

Wilson said Johnson had had several disciplinary infractions, including one this week for not obeying orders, but hadn’t previously attacked a guard.

“We will move him to the supermax (prison) so he will be out of that environment … He needed to be out of that environment,” Wilson said.

Arkansas State Police and the prison’s internal affairs staff were investigating the stabbing. Wilson said authorities would turn over their information to prosecutors, who will determine whether to file charges against the inmate.

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Former King County Washington Deputy Sheriff Kristopher Kizer Arrested, Charged With Keeping Drugs Used To Train Drug Dog

March 9, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – A former King County sheriff’s deputy and K-9 handler is accused of keeping cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and Ecstasy tablets he’d been given as training aids for his dog, Kuva.

Deputy Kristopher Kizer, who resigned from the sheriff’s office in February and moved to Arkansas, was arrested Wednesday morning at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Star City, where he’d gone to inquire about a job working with a narcotics task force for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, said King County Sheriff Chief Deputy Steve Strachan.

“His stupidity was exceeded only by his nerve,” Strachan said of Kizer, 30.

Investigators also are trying to determine if Kizer, who was hired by the sheriff’s office in September 2005, ever worked while under the influence of drugs.

Strachan said two King County sheriff’s detectives flew to Arkansas on Tuesday, where U.S. Marshals had Kizer under surveillance at the request of officials here. Kizer was booked into the Lincoln County Jail on suspicion of first-degree theft, pending his extradition to Washington, Strachan said.

“The minute we became aware there was an issue with the missing narcotics, we very aggressively pursued it as a criminal case,” Strachan said. “It’s very, very important to us, when a violation of the public trust occurs, that we pay full attention to it because public trust means everything to us.”

The felony theft warrant was issued this week, and Kizer was charged with first-degree theft in King County Superior Court.

According to the probable-cause statement filed in the case, Kizer received cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and Ecstasy from the Bellevue Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office with a combined street value of approximately $44,000. Additionally, Kizer is suspected of failing to turn over marijuana seized in a traffic stop, the statement says.

Asked if Kizer is suspected of using the narcotics given to him to help train his K-9 partner, Strachan said: “That would seem to be a reasonable conclusion, but we don’t know that for a fact yet.”

The criminal investigation outlined in the probable-cause statement paints a picture of a young deputy in crisis: His father was murdered in North Carolina in May, his six-year marriage was ending, and his personal problems were apparently impacting his work performance.

The probable-cause statement, authored by Sgt. Kathleen Larson, outlines the investigation into Kizer’s conduct over the past 18 months:

In October 2009, Kizer was transferred from patrol to the Eastside Narcotics Taskforce, a multiagency unit based at the Bellevue Police Department.

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Later that month, Kizer was issued cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $23,897 from the drug inventory stored at the Bellevue office of the Eastside Narcotics Taskforce, the statement says. His sergeant advised him that the drugs were not to be taken home or stored in his patrol car, and Kizer showed the sergeant the safe under his desk where he’d placed the drugs.

After complaining that the narcotics were “getting old,” Kizer was issued crack, powder cocaine, methamphetamine and 135 Ecstasy pills in July 2010 from the King County Sheriff’s property-management unit, the statement says.

Kizer violated policy by failing to return the narcotics he got in October 2009 to Bellevue police, according to the statement. Though some of the Bellevue drugs were later recovered from the safe under Kizer’s desk, there was no sign of the narcotics issued to Kizer from the sheriff’s office.

Kizer resigned from the sheriff’s office Feb. 7 and moved to Arkansas to be with his family, the statement says. Kizer’s estranged wife was moving out of the house the couple had shared in Milton when her father contacted sheriff’s officials March 1, after finding a cooler in the rafters of the garage, the statement says.

Inside the cooler, investigators found a bag of marijuana along with other plastic bags and containers with “coke” and “meth” written on them in black marker, the statement says. “A number of bags recovered listed as containing narcotics were empty,” it says.

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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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Dumbass Arkansas Corrections Department Has Inmates Making Guard’s Uniforms – Two Murderers Walk Out Dressed Like Guards

May 31, 2009

GRADY, ARKANSAS – Arkansas authorities are searching for two convicted murderers who walked out of a prison after dressing up like corrections officers.

Corrections department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says Jeffrey Grinder and Calvin Adams escaped Friday evening from a prison in Grady. Both men were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Tyler says the guard uniforms the inmates put on are made in the prison. She says the men put them on in the prison library and walked out of the prison during a shift change.

Tyler says 32-year-old Grinder and 39-year-old Adams drove away in a maroon or burgundy colored, 4-door sedan that had been left for them.

Grinder was convicted of murder in 2004, and Adams was convicted in 1995. Both men have family in Arkansas and out of state.

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