Iowa City Residents Face Huge Fine For Not Answering Their Front Door When Police Knock

August 23, 2012

IOWA CITY, IOWA – Iowa City may soon have a new way to go after hosts of wild house parties who try to avoid the police.

The City Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night on the first consideration of an ordinance amending the city’s nuisance rental property regulations to allow for a civil citation for disorderly house when occupants do not answer the door.

Currently it’s handled with a criminal complaint, but occupants — typically college students — are increasingly refusing to open the door for officers, city officials said.

In those situations, a search warrant would be necessary to get inside, but that could take a couple of hours, if it’s successful, and police Chief Sam Hargadine said that wasn’t a good use of his officers’ time.

Council member Terry Dickens said he did a ride along with police one night and saw officers knock on an apartment door for several minutes with a party going on inside.

“It was very frustrating for me to sit there and watch the officers to try to get someone to answer the door,” he said.

City staffers asked for the change because they want a way to get to an intervention process they say is successful at stopping problems.

Currently, if there’s a disorderly house and there’s a criminal complaint, that triggers a letter being sent to all of the tenants and the landlord. A second complaint results in a mandatory meeting.

Last year, there were 175 first-time offenses, eight second offenses and no third offenses, said Doug Boothroy, Iowa City’s director of housing and inspection services.

City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes said that if the ordinance is changed and a police officer encounters a disorderly house but can’t get anyone to answer the door, he would tell the city’s housing inspectors he has grounds to prove it’s a disorderly house, and that would trigger the municipal infraction process. There may not necessarily be a citation, however, depending on what staff finds out and the response from the violators, she said.

In a criminal citation, only the people present at the party would be charged, Dilkes said. With a civil infraction, all of the tenants could be cited.

Greg Bal, supervising attorney for the University of Iowa Student Legal Services, said last week he believes that would violate someone’s right to due process.

Iowa City Attorney Christopher Warnock, who was not at the meeting, also warned the city might be walking a fine line with due process.

“It’s fine as long as these tenants get the opportunity to come in and say, ‘No, it wasn’t me. I wasn’t there,’ ” Warnock explained.

Boothroy has said tenants would get that chance in court.

Iowa City resident Jean Walker said in an interview that house parties were big problems before city leaders started to fight back against the noise.

“You might go over and talk with them, and they’d quiet down, then a few minutes later it’d start up again,” she said.

A civil infraction would carry a $750 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for subsequent offenses.

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DEA Drops Charges Against Doctor In Largest Prosecution Of Multi-Million Dollar Internet Pharmacies Because Continued Storage Of 400,000 Documents, 2 Terabytes Of Data, Computers, Servers And Other Items Is Too Difficult And Expensive – Data Occupied 5% Of Agency’s Worldwide Electronic Storage

August 16, 2012

IOWA CITY, IOWA – A fugitive doctor charged in the nation’s largest prosecution of Internet pharmacies is getting off in part because there’s just too much evidence: more than 400,000 documents and two terabytes of electronic data that federal authorities say is expensive to maintain.

Armando Angulo was indicted in 2007 in a multimillion dollar scheme that involved selling prescription drugs to patients who were never examined or even interviewed by a physician. A federal judge in Iowa dismissed the charge last week at the request of prosecutors, who want to throw out the many records collected over their nine-year investigation to free up space.

The Miami doctor fled to his native Panama after coming under investigation in 2004, and Panamanian authorities say they do not extradite their own citizens. Given the unlikelihood of capturing Angulo and the inconvenience of maintaining so much evidence, prosecutors gave up the long pursuit.

“Continued storage of these materials is difficult and expensive,” wrote Stephanie Rose, the U.S. attorney for northern Iowa. She called the task “an economic and practical hardship” for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The case started in 2003 with a raid of a small Iowa drugstore and eventually secured the conviction of 26 defendants, including 19 doctors. The investigation dismantled two Internet pharmacies that illegally sold 30 million pills to customers. Investigators also recovered $7 million, most of which went to Iowa police agencies that helped with the case.

When a major drug suspect flees the country, federal authorities often leave the charges pending in the event the fugitive tries to sneak back into the U.S. or a country with a friendly extradition process. But in Angulo’s case, the volume of evidence posed a bigger burden.

The evidence took up 5 percent of the DEA’s worldwide electronic storage. Agents had also kept several hundred boxes of paper containing 440,000 documents, plus dozens of computers, servers and other bulky items.

Two terabytes is enough to store the text of 2 million novels, or roughly 625,000 copies of “War and Peace.”

Two-terabyte memory drives are widely available for $100, but the DEA’s data server must be relatively small and may need replacement, a costly and risky proposition for an agency that must maintain the integrity of documents, said University of Iowa computer scientist Douglas Jones.

“A responsible organization doesn’t upgrade every time new technology is available. That’s all they would be doing,” Jones said. “But the result is you end up in situations like this where the capacity they have is not quite up to the incredible volume of data involved.”

Randy Stock, who runs the website, which explains electronic storage, said he doubted that storing the data would have been that problematic for the government.

“I’m thinking that excuse is just their easy way out,” he wrote in an e-mail.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

Angulo, 59, was accused of improperly authorizing thousands of prescriptions for pain pills, diet medication and other drugs while working for Pharmacom International Corp., a Florida-based Internet company that operated from 2003 to 2004.

The company’s doctors approved prescriptions without examining patients, communicating with them or verifying their identities, prosecutors said. Three Pharmacom officials and a person who recruited doctors were sentenced to prison. Eight physicians pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances and launder the proceeds.

The investigation began after agents raided the Union Family Pharmacy in Dubuque and found evidence that it had illegally dispensed medication for Pharmacom and another Internet company, Medical Web Services, which pleaded guilty. Eleven of its physicians were also prosecuted.

Angulo fled to Panama around the time Florida regulators suspended his medical license for prescribing controlled substances to Medicaid patients “in excessive quantities and without medical justification.” An audit found his prescriptions cost Medicaid $6.5 million over six years and caused addiction and dangerous health risks.

Investigators know Angulo’s whereabouts in Panama, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S. to return fugitives. But a spokeswoman for the Panamanian Embassy in Washington said the country never received a formal extradition petition for Angulo and that the country’s constitution bars the extradition of Panamanian citizens.

The dismissal of the charges does not mean Angulo is free to return to the U.S. He is still listed as one of Florida’s most wanted criminals and is being sought for separate Medicaid fraud and narcotics charges in that state.

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Pleasant Hill Iowa Police Officer Craig Brooks Charged With Drinking In Public

July 21, 2012

PLEASANT HILL, IOWA – Pleasant Hill police officer Christopher Craig Brooks, 28, was charged with public consumption on Saturday, according to Iowa court records.

Pleasant Hill Police Chief Tim Sittig confirmed Wednesday morning the weekend incident involving Brooks, who has not worked any shifts for the Pleasant Hill Police Department since receiving the $123 charge, Sittig said.

“He was issued a citation and released for open consumption in Des Moines,” Sittig said, adding the department has not yet determined the consequences for their officer. “We’re right in the middle of an internal (investigation), so we don’t know which way we’re going to go.”

Sittig said he learned of the incident Saturday night through his staff, which was notified by Des Moines authorities. The chief said whether the individual was the first person to notify the department of the offense can give some bearing on the consequences, which are determined on a case-by-case basis.

“Every situation is different, so you have to take each situation on its own merits,” Sittig said.

Brooks, 28, of Altoona, has spent a little more than three years with the Pleasant Hill Police Department, according to the city manager, and ran for Altoona City Council in the fall. Council member Mike Harmeyer beat Brooks in a runoff election in December.

More recently, Brooks was involved in an internal investigation by the Pleasant Hill Police Department prompted by complaints and allegations against the police chief and the City of Pleasant Hill from Christopher’s parents and private investigators, Craig and Debbie Brooks. The allegations – which were later dismissed after Moulder and Associates conducted an investigation – involved derogatory and slanderous comments and tolerance of violence within the police department.

City Manager Don Sandor said he expects the department to make a decision about the consequences for Brooks’ offense by the end of the week. Sandor also said he believes this is the first incident of a Pleasant Hill police officer being charged with public consumption.

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Dumbass Davenport Iowa Officals Send Notice To Wrong Address, Sends City Workers To Remove Couple’s Religious Items From Private Property, And Now City Has To Pay To Replace Items

June 27, 2012

DAVENPORT, IOWA – Mack Covey and his wife Merla were surprised one morning to find strangers in their backyard, taking things without notice, with not even a knock on the front door.

“Bottom line my freedom of religion was violated big time,” Covey says, “The door to the teepee was taken and the buffalo robe.”

“That was my teepee, which was an actual church,” he says of the items’ importance, “We’ve had ceremony here in it.”

Other non-religious items like umbrellas and cleaning poles were also taken, in total about $2300 worth of things Covey wants back.

“I just want what’s fair,” Covey says, “The monetary means to replace the items they blatantly stole. We weren’t notified, bottom line.”

TV6 spoke with Alderman Bill Boom today who says a notice was sent, but to the wrong address. He tell us the city was notified when a neighbor complained, citing items in the backyard, both religious and non-religious, as an environmental hazard. The city sent workers in to clean up what they call ‘debris,’ but Covey disagrees.

“It’d be like me going into one of the churches here in town and taking a cross,” he says, “That’s how much significance it has to me.”

The couple and their supporters have contacted public works and city aldermen, who have come to sort out the issue at the couple’s home. Officials say they’re working on a resolution.

“The workers I’m sure did not know what they took,” Covey says, “This is as important as life and death itself.”

An attorney for the city tells us the yard is in violation of an environmental ordinance that says residents have to keep your lawns clean and clear of debris. City officials say they’ve apologized to the couple and they’re in the process of paying them back so they can replace the items gone.

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EPA Using Airborne Drones To Spy On Farmers In Nebraska And Iowa

June 4, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is using aerial drones to spy on farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. The surveillance came under scrutiny last week when Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

On Friday, EPA officialdom in “Region 7” responded to the letter.

“Courts, including the Supreme Court, have found similar types of flights to be legal (for example to take aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility) and EPA would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act,” the agency said in response to the letter.

“They are just way on the outer limits of any authority they’ve been granted,” said Mike Johanns, a Republican senator from Nebraska.

In fact, the EPA has absolutely zero authority and is an unconstitutional entity of an ever-expanding and rogue federal government. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution does not authorize Congress to legislate in the area of the environment. Under the Tenth Amendment, this authority is granted to the states and their legislatures, not the federal government.

The EPA has not addressed the constitutional question, including its wanton violation of probable cause under the Fourth Amendment. It merely states that it has authority to surveil the private property of farmers and ranchers. It defends its encroaching behavior as “cost-efficient.”

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Des Moines Iowa Police Offcer Brandon Singleton Fired After Hit And Run Accident, Posssession Of Methamphetamine, And Sleeping On The Job

May 17, 2012

DES MOINES IOWA – A Des Moines police officer arrested last month for drug possession has been fired from the Des Moines Police Department.

Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw terminated Officer Brandon Singleton’s employment Wednesday morning, three weeks after authorities arrested him following a hit and run accident.

He had been on paid leave since April 24.

“The most important thing between a police department and citizens is trust,” Bradshaw said Wednesday. “We recognize one individual has impacted and diminished that trust. But this is not reflective of the rest of our men and women, who are committed to their job.”

Singleton is charged with causing a hit and run accident, possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. While much of the focus has been on the drug charges, Singleton ultimately was fired for a laundry list of administrative offenses including sleeping on duty, leaving the area of his assignment, vehicle accidents and failing to meet various standards of personal conduct.

He also was terminated for violating the city’s alcohol and drug abuse policy, which says employees may not possess illegal substances, report to work while their ability to perform the job is impaired by drug or alcohol use or use drugs or alcohol at work.

Officials would not release precisely which of those tenets Singleton violated because the termination is a personnel issue.

Officials said they couldn’t divulge whether Singleton had been tested for drugs that night as part of the internal investigation because of personnel policies and medical privacy laws.

But the department’s investigation was “very thorough,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Chris Scott. Authorities had said they didn’t believe he had the drugs for law enforcement purposes.

Officials also declined to say whether Singleton had any previous disciplinary issues.

Police launched both internal and criminal investigations April 24. That morning, Singleton apparently crashed his squad car around 1 a.m. in the 3800 block of East Ovid Avenue and drove away.

More than five hours later, he told dispatchers he needed help changing a tire in the 2600 block of Dean Avenue – more than three miles away.

A police supervisor noticed damage to the patrol car didn’t match Singleton’s description of what happened and an officer spotted marijuana in the car, officials said. A search turned up meth and drug paraphernalia, authorities said.

The criminal investigation is still ongoing.

Singleton’s attorney has said the former officer suffers from narcolepsy and post traumatic stress disorder.

He has 14 days to appeal the chief’s decision.

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Des Moines Police Officer Brandon Singleton Crashed Patrol Car, Took Off, Five Hours Latter Needed Help Changing Tire, And Other Officers Found Meth And Pot In His Car – Previously Arrested On Drug Charges

April 25, 2012

DES MOINES, IOWA – A Des Moines police officer had methamphetamine and marijuana in his patrol car Tuesday morning when he was involved in at least his second traffic accident during almost five years with the department, authorities said.

Officer Brandon Singleton, 28, of Pleasant Hill crashed into a vehicle on the city’s east side, then drove away, police said. He allegedly misled co-workers about the details of the accident and was later arrested.

Police said it didn’t appear Singleton had the drugs in his car for legitimate reasons. He was charged with drug possession and a traffic offense.Singleton and the city of Des Moines also are being sued over a 2010 traffic accident.

Police Sgt. Chris Scott said Singleton apparently crashed his vehicle around 1 a.m. Tuesday in the 3800 block of East Ovid Avenue. A neighbor told police he heard a noise and saw a police car at the scene.

Over five hours later, at 6:34 a.m., Singleton told dispatchers he needed help changing a tire in the 2600 block of Dean Avenue — over three miles away. A police supervisor noticed damage on the patrol car that didn’t add up with Singleton’s description of what had happened: The car had two flat tires and some body damage, Scott said.

An officer allegedly spotted marijuana in the car. That prompted a search that turned up meth and drug paraphernalia, police said. Scott said there was no indication Singleton was under the influence of any illegal substance when he was arrested, although a long time had passed since the accident.

Scott did not specify how much meth and marijuana was found, but he said the amounts led police to think the drugs were for personal use, rather than part of an investigation or an arrest.

The investigation was already in progress when the owner of the damaged car from the hit-and-run called police Tuesday morning. Officers examined the damage to both vehicles and concluded that Singleton was involved, Scott said.

He did not have information on where Singleton may have been between the initial accident and his call for service.

Scott said he could not comment on Singleton’s history with the department, which he joined in 2007. He did say that Singleton was known as a “hard worker” among the officers on his shift.

Singleton is charged with possession of marijuana, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as hit-and-run. He was booked at the Polk County Jail about 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, but he was released at 5:20 p.m. on the condition that he attends court proceedings. No initial court date was available. He was not required to post bond, the Polk County Sheriff‘s Office said.

Police placed Singleton on paid leave pending an investigation. His most recent salary was not available Tuesday.

Polk County court records show a Brandon Singleton the same age as the Des Moines officer was arrested for misdemeanor cocaine possession in 2003 — a charge that Polk County authorities later declined to prosecute in 2004.

Singleton was hired by the Des Moines police department in 2007.

Singleton, and the city of Des Moines, also face a trial in May in a civil lawsuit stemming from a 2010 traffic accident with a woman who was driving past Singleton’s stopped police car. Attorney John Nemminger said Jo Ann Meyer was driving on Southeast 14th Street when Singleton pulled into traffic and struck her vehicle. The incident caused less than $1,000 of damage, Nemminger said, but was fatal to Meyer’s older-model car.

“He seemed like a pretty good guy, frankly,” Nemminger said of the officer. “He was honest and forthright about his part of it.”

Court records show Brandon Singleton, 28, also faces a foreclosure lawsuit on a Pleasant Hill townhome. Records show the homeowners’ association won a small claims judgment against him last September for $2,420 in unpaid fees.

Scott, the police spokesman, declined to release any recordings from Singleton’s vehicle or radio communications, saying they were evidence for the investigation.

He said officials do review the criminal histories of prospective police officers. In the case of past drug use or arrests, Scott said, the department looks at factors including frequency and the length of time that has passed since a person used a drug or was arrested.

While Scott was not aware of Singleton’s 2003 drug arrest, he said that any committee hiring him as an officer would have reviewed the charge.

“I’m sure that the committee that hired him felt that he’d made a bad mistake and he’d learned from it and moved on,” he said.

Scott said he could not remember a similar incident during his 11 years with Des Moines police.

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