Waco Texas Savage Black Beast Chased A Neighbor And Started Growling And Barking, Then Beat, Killed, And Ate A Dog

June 26, 2012

WACO, TEXAS – Police in Waco arrested 22-year-old Michael Daniel Monday after they say he ate a dog.
Family members called police on June 14th, saying Daniel assaulted people at the home, chased a neighbor and started barking and growling.

What happened next is horrific.

Witnesses say Daniel grabbed the family dog, beat and strangled it…then started to eat it.

The dog died at the home.

Daniel is believed to have been on a bad trip from ingesting “K-2,” a synthetic drug.

He was taken to the hospital and now faces a felony charge for animal cruelty.

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Veteran Miami-Dade Florida Police Officer Mark Rodriguez Arrested, Charged With Prescription Fraud In Effort To Obtain Drugs In Organized Scheme

June 23, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – A Miami-Dade police officer was arrested Friday for prescription fraud, authorities said.

Mark Rodriguez, 41, faces 43 counts of withholding information from a practitioner in order to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for it, and one count of organized scheme to defraud, a report said.

Rodriguez has worked for the police department for 20 years.

It wasn’t immediately known if he had retained an attorney.

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Lumberton North Carolina Police Officer Jason Walters Arrested, Suspened, And Charged With Trafficking Opium – Second Officer Charged In Past Year With Opium…

June 22, 2012

LUMBERTON, NORTH CAROLINA – A Lumberton police officer has been arrested on allegations that he was involved in drug-related activities, authorities said.

Officer Jason Walters, 35, was charged June 14 with attempted trafficking in opium by possession, said Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the State Bureau of Investigation.

Walters was charged by the SBI, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said Thursday. He declined further comment.

Walters, who was hired Aug. 21, 2008, has been suspended without pay, said James Moore, human resources director for the city of Lumberton.

Walters, who had no other disciplinary actions in his record, was making $32,475 annually, Moore said.

Walters’ bail was set at $20,000, Talley said.

Walters is the second Lumberton police officer charged with drug-related offenses in the past year.

Officer Matthew Albert Miller, 25, was charged in September with embezzlement and trafficking opium by possession.

Miller is no longer employed by the department.

The SBI also handled that investigation.

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Philadelphia Pennsylvania Police Officer Jonathan Garcia Arrested, Charged With Selling Heroin While In Uniform – Faces Life In Prison And Minimum Of 30 Years In Prison

June 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA -FOX 29 News has learned that the FBI arrested a Philadelphia police officer overnight for allegedly selling drugs to an undercover agent.

A police official confirmed the arrest Wednesday morning. FOX 29’s Dave Schratwieser reported that, according to sources, the officer is from the police department’s 17th District.

On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney’s Officer for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania identified the officer as 23-year-old Jonathan Garcia, 23, of Philadelphia.

According to a news release, Garcia has been charged by indictment with four counts of distribution of heroin and two counts of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

According to an affidavit attached to the arrest warrant, Garcia sold bundles of heroin to a source cooperating with the FBI. The source was posing as a drug buyer.

The affidavit also details several incidents between May 2012 and June 5, 2012 where Garcia sold the FBI source bundles of heroin, including two occasions when he was in uniform.

If convicted of all charges, Garcia faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years imprisonment.

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Retired Norristown Pennsylvania Police Officer Det. Sgt. Jack Pennington Arrested, Charged With Trafficking Methamphetamine

June 21, 2012

NORRISTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA – A retired police officer, still carrying his badge, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine in and around the Norristown area, and using his power to control prospective buyers, the district attorney announced Thursday.

Standing before a table littered with illegal narcotics, handguns, law enforcement IDs and cash, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman explained how Jack Pennington, a former detective sergeant with the Norristown Police Department, allegedly spent time at local watering holes and other locations distributing drugs.

Ferman said Pennington used his past position of authority to protect himself.

“It suggests to the community, when they get away with it, that they are protected,” she said during a press conference Thursday morning.

“This man acted as if he was protected. He acted as if the rules did not apply to him – that the law did not apply to him – and he used this badge for cover. That affects both law enforcement and the community very negatively.”

Montgomery County Detectives investigated an anonymous tip made in March and located Pennington Tuesday at the Plymouth Meeting Mall around 4:30 p.m., where he was allegedly meeting his supplier. Members of the DA’s Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) followed him throughout the day and reportedly watched as he met with “customers” in the area of the mall, driving a silver Cadillac sedan, which had a law enforcement insignia in plain view.

Investigations reportedly saw Pennington reach both arms into another vehicle in the parking lot of the mall and make a delivery. Detectives then took Pennington into custody.

At the scene, police found a paper bag, which was later determined to contain three ounces of crystal methamphetamine and almost $7,000 in cash. Officers also found $9,470 in cash on Pennington’s person with a retired Norristown police badge and other credentials in his pockets.

“The advantage that it gives him is that people are afraid to report him, afraid to tell on him and afraid to take action,” said Ferman.

“And they believe – not accurately – that nothing will be done because he carries this badge. It’s a ruse.”

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Veteran Lake County Indiana Deputy Sheriff Gary Pilipovich Arrested On Misdemeanor And Felony Drug Charges

June 17, 2012

VALPARAISO, INDIANA – A northwestern Indiana sheriff’s deputy has been arrested on drug charges, including felony counts of possessing cocaine, possessing a syringe and possessing a controlled substance.

Twenty-nine-year-old Lake County sheriff’s Deputy Gary Pilipovich was charged in neighboring Porter County, where he lives. Pilipovich also was charged with misdemeanor possessing marijuana and paraphernalia.

The Times of Munster reports the investigation into Pilipovich began after an officer assisting with an eviction at an apartment said he saw bag of marijuana in plain sight. Police said they found cocaine in a closet and marijuana in a Lake County sheriff’s bag.

Sheriff John Buncich says the eight-year veteran deputy has been suspended from his job. Pilipovich has bonded out of jail. It was not immediately known if Pilipovich had hired an attorney.

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House Oversight Committee To Vote On Holding Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Of Congress – Still Hiding Documents And Information On His Department Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels

June 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It’s the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.

The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.

However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.

“The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics,” Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

Issa says the Justice Department can still put a stop to the contempt process at any time by turning over the subpoenaed documents.

If the House Oversight Committee approves the contempt citation, the matter would likely be scheduled for a full House vote.

For several weeks, there has been closed-door discussions and debate among House Republicans as to whether to move forward with contempt. Some have expressed concern that it could distract from the Republican’s focus on the economy in this election year.

Led by Republicans Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Issa, Congress’ investigation into Fast and Furious is now in its second year. In the ATF operation, agents allowed thousands of weapons to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in the hope it would somehow help ATF take down a major cartel. Some of the weapons were used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of illegal immigrants crossing into Arizona. Mexican press reports say hundreds of Mexicans have died at the hands of the trafficked weapons. The story was exposed nationally for the first time by CBS News in February 2011.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have called the Republicans’ move to find Holder in contempt a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors by the Bush administration was politically motivated.

Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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Suspended Broward County Florida Deputy Sheriff Brent Wooddell Awaiting Theft And Misconduct Trial Removed Court Ordered GPS Ankle Monitor And Went To Strip Club

June 6, 2012

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – A suspended Broward Sheriff’s detective under house arrest while facing trial on grand theft, official misconduct and other charges took off his GPS monitor and visited a Pompano Beach strip club, where deputies arrested him Monday night.

Prosecutors had already argued twice to have Brent Wooddell’s $2,000 bond revoked, first after he allegedly sent an intimidating text message to a witness in his case, and again after he was accused of fleeing from the scene of an accident while on his way to a court hearing. Broward Circuit Judge Carlos Rebollo allowed Wooddell to stay out of jail both times.

According to an arrest warrant, Wooddell took off his ankle monitor on Sunday and was told by his pre-trial release officer to turn himself in Monday morning. When he didn’t show, officials demanded his arrest.

Deputies found him Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. at the Cheetah strip club in Pompano Beach. He was in custody at the Broward Main Jail as of Tuesday afternoon.

Wooddell was arrested in September 2011 after a sting operation allegedly caught him in the act of stealing $1,340 from an oxycodone dealer he had just arrested. The dealer was actually an undercover Miami-Dade police officer. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the phony suspect had pills and $7,340 in a blue bag when he was taken into custody, but Wooddell only turned in $6,000 when he got to the Deerfield Beach substation.

Officials said the undercover operation was captured on video and audio recordings.

Wooddell has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case.

On his way to a formal arraignment in February, Wooddell’s car crashed into another vehicle on Florida’s Turnpike, according to court records. No one was injured in the crash, but Wooddell didn’t report it for fear of being late to his court date.

Prosecutors didn’t learn about that violation until May, at which point Assistant State Attorney Adriana Alcalde-Padron urged Rebollo to revoke Wooddell’s bond. But Rebollo kept Wooddell under house arrest, ordering the suspended detective to remain at home except when shopping or traveling to and from his job at a Hyundai dealership in Lake Park.

A month earlier, Alcalde-Padron accused Wooddell of sending text messages to a witness in the case. At that time, Rebollo reminded the defendant to avoid contact with witnesses as one of the conditions of his release.

“We have moved to revoke his bond twice,” Alcalde-Padron said Tuesday. “This is his third violation. Hopefully, he will now remain in custody at least until it’s time for his trial.”

In addition to the grand theft and official misconduct charges, Woddell is accused of tampering with evidence, falsifying records and delivery of steroids. If convicted of all charges, he faces more than 30 years in prison.

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Bessemer Alabama Postal Worker Derrick Harris Arrested On Drug And Animal Cruelty Charges

June 6, 2012

JEFFERSON COUNTY, ALABAMA – A Pleasant Grove man has been arrested on 19 charges of animal cruelty in relation to the seizure of 20 pit bull mixes from his home.

Derrick Harris, 37, was arrested by Pleasant Grove police at his place of employment, the Bessemer Post Office, Wednesday afternoon. Police say they arrested him at his workplace because he was not showing up at his home in Pleasant Grove.

Harris faces 19 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in addition to two felony charges for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A total of 20 pit bull mixes were seized from Harris’ home on May 29 by the Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control and Greater Birmingham Humane Society. The Pleasant Grove police chief said the dogs were in bad condition, chained up and many unable to reach their food and water. The dogs were taken into the BJC and GBHS for medical care.

Harris was booked into the Pleasant Grove Jail and is being transferred to the Jefferson County Jail. His total bond has not yet been set.

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Feds Raid Puerto Rico Airport – Target Drug Trafficking At Island’s Main Airport

June 6, 2012

PUERTO RICO – Hundreds of federal and state agents were conducting sweeps of Puerto Rico’s main airport Wednesday in an anti-drug trafficking operation, officials said.

In addition, there were raids in the commonwealth’s capital, San Juan, said Laila Rico, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno told CNN en Español that 42 arrest warrants have been issued, not all of them in Puerto Rico. He said some arrests would be made in the mainland United States.

The raid was taking place at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, just outside San Juan.

Related indictments, expected to be unsealed Wednesday, deal with the use of the main airport and other airports to traffic drugs, Fortuno said.

The arrests are part of an investigation of two separate cases, the DEA said.

Fortuno said that 200 police and federal agents were participating in the operation.

The governor told WAPA Radio that because of new controls at the island’s ports of entry, it is easier to detect drug trafficking.

Two years ago, authorities arrested three former employees of a private baggage handling company who had worked at an airport in Puerto Rico. Those arrests targeted a drug trafficking ring that used major airlines to smuggle cocaine and heroin to the United States.

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Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” Lets Drug Dealers Avoid Murder Charges And Gang Members Walk Free – But Somehow Doesn’t Apply To Zimmerman After Shooting And Killing Worthless Druggie In Self Defense

June 3, 2012

FLORIDA – Florida’s “stand your ground” law has allowed drug dealers to avoid murder charges and gang members to walk free. It has stymied prosecutors and confused judges. • It has also served its intended purpose, exonerating dozens of people who were deemed to be legitimately acting in self-defense. Among them: a woman who was choked and beaten by an irate tenant and a man who was threatened in his driveway by a felon.

Seven years since it was passed, Florida’s “stand your ground” law is being invoked with unexpected frequency, in ways no one imagined, to free killers and violent attackers whose self-defense claims seem questionable at best.

Cases with similar facts show surprising — sometimes shocking — differences in outcomes. If you claim “stand your ground” as the reason you shot someone, what happens to you can depend less on the merits of the case than on who you are, whom you kill and where your case is decided.

Today, the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen, by a Hispanic neighborhood watch captain has prompted a renewed look at Florida’s controversial law.

In the most comprehensive effort of its kind, the Tampa Bay Times has identified nearly 200 “stand your ground” cases and their outcomes. The Times identified cases through media reports, court records and dozens of interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys across the state.

Among the findings:

• Those who invoke “stand your ground” to avoid prosecution have been extremely successful. Nearly 70 percent have gone free.

• Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

• The number of cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using “stand your ground” in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described “vampire” in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier.

• People often go free under “stand your ground” in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim — and still went free.

• Similar cases can have opposite outcomes. Depending on who decided their cases, some drug dealers claiming self-defense have gone to prison while others have been set free. The same holds true for killers who left a fight, only to arm themselves and return. Shoot someone from your doorway? Fire on a fleeing burglar? Your case can swing on different interpretations of the law by prosecutors, judge or jury.

• A comprehensive analysis of “stand your ground” decisions is all but impossible. When police and prosecutors decide not to press charges, they don’t always keep records showing how they reached their decisions. And no one keeps track of how many “stand your ground” motions have been filed or their outcomes.

Claiming “stand your ground,” people have used force to meet force outside an ice cream parlor, on a racquetball court and at a school bus stop. Two-thirds of the defendants used guns, though weapons have included an ice pick, shovel and chair leg.

The oldest defendant was an 81-year-old man; the youngest, a 14-year-old Miami youth who shot someone trying to steal his Jet Ski.

Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, describes “stand your ground” as a “malleable” law being stretched to new limits daily.

“It’s arising now in the oddest of places,” he said.

That’s unlikely to change any time soon, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys, who say the number and types of cases are sure to rise.

“If you’re a defense counsel, you’d be crazy not to use it in any case where it could apply,” said Zachary Weaver, a West Palm Beach lawyer. “With the more publicity the law gets, the more individuals will get off.”

Expanding self-defense

People have had the right to defend themselves from a threat as far back as English common law. The key in Florida and many other states was that they could not use deadly force if it was reasonably possible to retreat.

That changed in 2005 when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Florida Statute 776.013. It says a person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground” if he or she thinks deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm or commission of a forcible felony like robbery.

“Now it’s lawful to stand there like Matt Dillon at high noon, pull the gun and shoot back,” said Bob Dekle, a University of Florida law professor and former prosecutor in North Florida.

Durell Peaden, the former Republican senator from Crestview who sponsored the bill, said the law was never intended for people who put themselves in harm’s way before they started firing. But the criminal justice system has been blind to that intent.

The new law only requires law enforcement and the justice system to ask three questions in self-defense cases: Did the defendant have the right to be there? Was he engaged in a lawful activity? Could he reasonably have been in fear of death or great bodily harm?

Without convincing evidence to the contrary, “stand your ground” protection prevails.

If prosecutors press charges, any defendant claiming self-defense is now entitled to a hearing before a judge. At the immunity hearing, a judge must decide based on the “preponderance of the evidence” whether to grant immunity. That’s a far lower burden than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the threshold prosecutors must meet at trial.

“It’s a very low standard to prove preponderance,” said Weaver, the West Palm Beach lawyer. “If 51 percent of the evidence supports your claim, you get off.”

Unequal treatment

The outcome of a ” stand your ground” case can turn on many factors: the location of blood spatters, the credibility of witnesses, the relative size and age of the parties involved. But the Times found similar incidents handled in dramatically different ways.

Derrick Hansberry thought John Webster was having an affair with his estranged wife, so he confronted Webster on a basketball court in Dade City in 2005. A fight broke out and Hansberry shot his unarmed rival at least five times, putting him in the hospital for three weeks.

Ultimately, a jury acquitted Hansberry, but not before police and prosecutors weighed in. Neither thought Hansberry could reasonably argue self-defense because he took the gun with him and initiated the confrontation.

A judge agreed, denying him immunity at a hearing.

Compare that case to Deounce Harden’s. In 2006, he showed up at Steven Deon Mitchell’s Jacksonville carwash business and started arguing over a woman. When the fight escalated, Harden shot and killed Mitchell, who was unarmed.

Prosecutors filed no charges.

Similar inconsistencies can be found across the state:

• During an argument at a 2009 party in Fort Myers, Omar Bonilla fired his gun into the ground and beat Demarro Battle, then went inside and gave the gun to a friend. If Battle feared for his life, he had time to flee. Instead, he got a gun from his car and returned to shoot Bonilla three times, including once in the back. Battle was not charged in the slaying.

At another party in the same town five months later, Reginald Etienne and Joshua Sands were arguing. Etienne left the party and returned with a knife. During a fistfight between the two men, Etienne fatally stabbed Sands. He was sent to prison for life.

• In Winter Springs, Owen Eugene Whitlock came home on Christmas Eve 2009 to find his daughter’s boyfriend, Jose Ramirez, angrily stalking up his driveway, flexing his muscles and swinging his fists. Whitlock stood his ground and fired a fatal shot. He was not charged.

In Clearwater, Terry Tyrone Davis shot and killed his cousin as he stalked up the walkway of Davis’ home in 2010 with a group of friends. “There’s no doubt he was going over there to kick his a–,” Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico said, “but that does not allow you to kill a guy.” Davis is now serving 25 years in prison.

• In West Palm Beach, Christopher Cote started pounding on the door of neighbor Jose Tapanes at 4 a.m. after an argument over Cote’s dog. Tapanes stepped outside and fired his shotgun twice, killing Cote. A jury acquitted him, but prosecutors and a judge had discounted Tapanes’ self-defense claim, saying if he was truly afraid for his life, he should not have stepped outside.

Yet Rhonda Eubanks was not arrested or charged when she opened her front door one evening in 2006 and fatally shot a man who had been causing a ruckus in her Escambia County neighborhood. He had tried to get into her house, then left and tried to take her neighbors’ cars. When he returned, Eubanks stood near her doorway and fired as he approached.

Discrepancies among cases cannot all be explained by small differences in the circumstances. Some are clearly caused by different interpretations of the law.

When Gerald Terrell Jones shot his marijuana dealer in the face in Brandon this year, he was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. A jury later acquitted him. But a judge had rejected Jones’ “stand your ground” motion, in part, because he was committing a crime at the time.

Elsewhere in the state, drug dealers have successfully invoked “stand your ground” even though they were in the middle of a deal when the shooting started.

In Daytona Beach, for example, police Chief Mike Chitwood used the “stand your ground” law as the rationale for not filing charges in two drug deals that ended in deaths. He said he was prevented from going forward because the accused shooters had permits to carry concealed weapons and they claimed they were defending themselves at the time.

“We’re seeing a good law that’s being abused,” Chitwood told a local paper.

Various interpretations

Disparities have been driven in part by vague wording in the 2005 law that has left police, prosecutors and judges struggling to interpret it.

It took five years for the Florida Supreme Court to decide that judges should base immunity decisions on the preponderance of evidence.

Still unresolved is whether a defendant can get immunity if he illegally has a gun. And courts are divided on what the law is when a victim is retreating.

David Heckman of Tampa lost his bid for “stand your ground” protection because his victim was walking away when Heckman shot him.

“We conclude that immunity does not apply because the victim was retreating,” the court said.

But Jimmy Hair, who was sitting in a car when he was attacked in Tallahassee, was treated differently. He shot his victim as the man was being pulled from the vehicle. An appeals court gave immunity to Hair, saying: “The statute makes no exception from immunity when the victim is in retreat at the time the defensive force is employed.”

While many have argued the law does not allow someone to pick a fight and claim immunity, it has been used to do just that. It is broad enough that one judge complained that in a Wild West-type shootout, where everybody is armed, everyone might go free.

“Each individual on each side of the exchange of gunfire can claim self-defense,” Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis wrote in 2010, saying it “could conceivably result in all persons who exchanged gunfire on a public street being immune from prosecution.”

Lewis was considering immunity motions stemming from a Tallahassee gang shooting that resulted in the death of one of the participants, a 15-year-old boy.

The judge said he had no choice but to grant immunity to two men who fired the AK-47 responsible for the death even though they fired 25 to 30 times outside an apartment complex. The reason: It could not be proved they fired first.

Questionable cases

Whatever lawmakers’ expectations, “stand your ground” arguments have resulted in freedom or reduced sentences for some unlikely defendants.

• An 18-year-old felon, convicted of cocaine and weapons charges, shot and wounded a neighbor in the stomach, then fled the scene and was involved in another nonfatal shootout two days later, according to police. He was granted immunity in the first shooting.

• Two men fell into the water while fighting on a dock. When one started climbing out of the water, the other shot him in the back of the head, killing him. He was acquitted after arguing “stand your ground.”

• A Seventh-day Adventist was acting erratically, doing cartwheels through an apartment complex parking lot, pounding on cars and apartment windows and setting off alarms. A tenant who felt threatened by the man’s behavior shot and killed him. He was not charged.

• A Citrus County man in a longstanding dispute with a neighbor shot and killed the man one night in 2009. He was not charged even though a witness and the location of two bullet wounds showed the victim was turning to leave when he was shot.

Even chasing and killing someone over a drug buy can be considered standing your ground.

Anthony Gonzalez Jr. was part of a 2010 drug deal that went sour when someone threatened Gonzalez with a gun. Gonzalez chased the man down and killed him during a high-speed gunbattle through Miami streets.

Before the “stand your ground” law, Miami-Dade prosecutors would have had a strong murder case because Gonzalez could have retreated instead of chasing the other vehicle. But Gonzalez’s lawyer argued he had a right to be in his car, was licensed to carry a gun and thought his life was in danger.

Soon after the filing of a “stand your ground” motion, prosecutors agreed to a deal in which Gonzalez pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and got three years in prison.

“The limitations imposed on us by the ‘stand your ground’ laws made it impossible for any prosecutor to pursue murder charges,” Griffith of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said at the time. “This is certainly a very difficult thing to tell a grieving family member.”

Increase in cases

If there’s one thing on which critics and supporters agree, it is that the “stand your ground” law is being applied in a growing number of cases, including misdemeanors. That trend is reflected in the Times’ database, with a five-fold increase in nonfatal cases from 2008 to 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of fatalities in which “stand your ground” played a role dropped from a peak of 24 cases in 2009 to half that number in 2011.

The nearly 200 cases found by the Times include most of the high-profile homicides in which the law is invoked.

Uncovering minor cases in which defendants argue “stand your ground” is more difficult. When asked by the Times, public defenders in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties came up with a total of 60 “stand your ground” motions filed by their offices in recent years.

In Miami-Dade County, officials tried to count all the “stand your ground” motions filed in the past year. Their best estimate: 50.

If those counties are any indication, several hundred defendants are now invoking the law annually.

Its expanded use comes at a cost to the court system.

In April, a hearing on whether William Siskos should get immunity for killing his girlfriend’s husband included the all-day use of a Brooksville courtroom, a judge, a public defender, two prosecutors, clerks and bailiffs and an expert witness who was paid $750 an hour.

The judge denied the motion and the case is pending.

“The court system is overburdened enough without having a bunch of expensive, unnecessary, time-consuming hearings on stand your ground,” said Dekle, the University of Florida professor.

Argument for success

Donald Day is a Naples defense lawyer who has handled three “stand your ground” cases and believes the law is working “remarkably well.”

Day said the immunity hearings are a critical backstop in self-defense cases that should never go to a jury. Of the cases in the Times’ database that have been resolved, 23 percent were dismissed by a judge after an immunity hearing. That means 38 defendants facing the prospect of a jury trial were set free by a judge who ruled the evidence leaned in their favor.

“Where the defendant is clearly in the right and gets arrested, should you have to take your chance with what six people believe or don’t believe?” Day said. “Judges are denying these motions where they should be denied and granting them in the limited number of cases statewide where they should be granted.”

A prime example, he said, is the case of his client, Jorge Saavedra, a 14-year-old charged with aggravated manslaughter last year in the death of Dylan Nuno.

Saavedra was in special education classes at Palmetto Ridge High School in Collier County and was often the target of taunts. Nuno, 16, went to the same school.

On Jan. 24, 2011, the two boys were riding the bus home. Saavedra was warned repeatedly that Nuno intended to fight with him when he got off at his regular stop. Saavedra replied each time that he did not want to fight, but he also pulled out a pocketknife to show friends.

Saavedra got off the bus early with a friend to try to avoid a confrontation. But Nuno and his friends followed, and Nuno punched the younger boy in the back of the head.

For a while, Saavedra kept walking as he was being punched. Then he turned, reached in his pocket for the knife and stabbed Nuno 12 times.

Prosecutors pursued charges despite evidence that Saavedra tried to get away and felt cornered by an older boy and a crowd of teens shouting for a fight. They argued that because he brought a knife to a fistfight, he should be tried for murder.

Without “stand your ground,” Saavedra would likely have gone to trial. But the law required a hearing before a judge and that judge granted him immunity.

Nuno’s mother, Kim Maxwell, said her son made a bad decision to throw the first punch, but she’s incredulous that it led to his death and even more stunned that his killer went free.

Said Day: “You don’t have to wait until you’re dead before you use deadly force.”


As “stand your ground” claims have increased, so too has the number of Floridians with guns. Concealed weapons permits now stand at 1.1 million, three times as many as in 2005 when the law was passed.

“I think the (stand your ground) law has an emboldening effect. All of a sudden, you’re a tough guy and can be aggressive,” said George Kirkham, a professor emeritus at Florida State University who has worked as a police officer.

Criminologists say that when people with guns get the message they have a right to stand and fight, rather than retreat, the threshold for using that gun goes down. All too often, Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for Pinellas-Pasco counties, sees the result.

“I see cases where I’ll think, ‘This person didn’t really need to kill that person but the law, as it is written, justifies their action,’ ” Bartlett said about incidents that his office decides not to prosecute due to “stand your ground.” “It may be legally within the boundaries. But at the end of the day, was it really necessary?”

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Veteran Los Angeles County California Deputy Sheriff Rafael Zelaya Arrated Arrested After 4 Month Investigation – Faces Charges For Drugs, Reciving Stolen Property, And False Police Reports

June 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of drug possession and other crimes, a sheriff’s official confirmed Saturday.

Rafael Zelaya, 35, was relieved of duty after his arrest Thursday. Along with the drug possession allegation, he is accused of receiving stolen property and filing false police reports. Zelaya, who has been on the force for six years, had been under investigation by the sheriff’s internal affairs unit for four months leading up to his arrest.

Further details of the allegations against Zelaya were not known. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed the arrest but refused to elaborate on what the deputy is alleged to have done.

Zelaya was taken into custody at the department’s East Los Angeles station without incident while he was off-duty. He is being held at Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. in lieu of $500,000 bail while awaiting his arraignment, Whitmore said.

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Buffalo New York Police Officer Jorge Melendez Arrested, Fired, And Charged In Large Marijuana Grow Operation

June 3, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – Another Law Enforcement Officer is on the wrong side of the law.

Buffalo Police Officer Jorge Melendez of the D District is accused of running and maintaining a marijuana growing operation just blocks from the A District police station. He’s charged with conspiracy to manufacture more than 100 marijuana plants, maintaining a premises for manufacturing marijuana and manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.

Jason Elardo faces the same charges.

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says Melendez has been fired from the police department. He and Elardo are both in federal detention. Derenda says no other police officers were involved but there could further arrests of other individuals.

The federal charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, a fine of $4,000,000 or both.

Federal DEA agents say Melendez owns a warehouse on 2157 South Park Avenue in Buffalo where undercover surveillance cameras were installed as part of the investigation. The complant says Melendez and Elardo were seen tending to the marijuana plants. Agents describe the marijuana growing operation as a sophisticated hydroponic system with PVC piping, irrigation, humidifiers, and high intensity lights, and growth inducing chemicals and fertilizers.

Agents say Melendez was actually seen driving his marked Buffalo police car to the South Park location in March to briefly check the location.

Agents say another growing operation was located in a warehouse at 1372 Clinton Street. They say their investigation also turned up cutting, harvesting, and packaging equipment for sales of pot at a home at 76 West Woodside Avenue. There were raids at all three sites Thursday morning. Equipment, cash, vehicles, boats and motorcycles were seized. Agents say various weapons were also found at the homes of Melendez and Elardo. They also seized up to 1,000 marijuana plants from the three locations.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says, “This operation was literally hiding in plain sight.” He went on to say, “Police officers are sworn to protect the public and uphold the law. It is particulary disturbing when an officer breaks the law he was sworn to uphold.”

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Seminole County Florida Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. Revokes Zimmerman’s Bond Because His Wife Lied About Finances – Charged After Killing Druggie In Self Defense

June 1, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – A Florida judge revoked bond Friday for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman to surrender to the county sheriff no later than Sunday afternoon.

Lester accused Zimmerman of having misrepresented how much money he had when his bond was originally set in April. Prosecutors say he had $135,000 at the time Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, told the court, under oath, that they were indigent.

The prosecution cited as evidence recorded telephone conversations that Zimmerman had with his wife prior to the hearing. The conversations were recorded while Zimmerman was being held in the Seminole County Jail after being charged with second-degree murder on April 11.

He has pleaded not guilty and has been free on bail.

Martin, 17, was fatally shot February 26 while walking in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where he was staying during a visit with his father. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.

“The defense, through Mrs. Zimmerman, lied to this court about the amount of money that they had,” said trial prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. “I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”

Outside the courthouse, a lawyer for the family of Martin said Friday’s decision is significant. “Judge Lester’s finding that George Zimmerman was dishonest is very important because his credibility is the most important thing in this entire case,” Benjamin Crump told reporters.

The killing spurred protests among people who criticized police handling of the investigation and said Martin, who was unarmed and carrying a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea at the time he was killed, was racially profiled. The teen was African-American; Zimmerman is Hispanic.

In court documents, State Attorney Angela B. Corey also said that Zimmerman had two passports, and the passport that he surrendered to the court at the April hearing was one that Zimmerman had reported stolen on March 8, 2004. That passport was valid until May 2012, Corey said.

Zimmerman was issued a second passport on March 26, 2004, and that one is valid until 2014, she said.

The prosecutor asked the court that Zimmerman be ordered to surrender the second passport to authorities.

But Lester appeared to accept the explanation from Zimmerman’s lawyer that his client had given him the second passport, and the lawyer simply forgot to hand it over to authorities until Friday.

Regarding Zimmerman’s finances, Corey alleged that in the recorded phone calls in April the couple “spoke in code to hide what they were doing” regarding the money in a credit union account belonging to the couple.

The money was apparently donated by members of the public to Zimmerman’s website.

Zimmerman “fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife’s credit union accounts,” Corey said in court records. “This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money.”

In late April, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said that the money raised by the website was put into a trust account that the attorney controls.

But Corey stated Friday in the court documents: “The money still belongs to defendant and he can demand it at any time.”

Court papers provided a partial transcript of a phone call allegedly showing the code used by Zimmerman and his wife on April 16:

Zimmerman: “In my account do I have at least $100?”

His wife: “No.”

Zimmerman: “How close am I?”

His wife: “$8. $8.60.”

Zimmerman: “Really. So total everything how much are we looking at?”

His wife: “Like $155.”

The prosecutor said the judge “relied on false representations and statements” by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000. He was required to post only 10% of that.

Corey argued that the court should revoke the bond or increase it “substantially.”

Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money. “Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?” he asked Zimmerman’s lawyer. “That’s the issue.”

O’Mara told CNN on Friday night that he had discussed the judge’s decision with Zimmerman, who was not in court on Friday. “He’s frustrated because he now has to come out of hiding,” O’Mara told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“You need to realize we’re still talking about a 28-year-old who’s being charged with a crime he does not believe he committed, and his whole life has been turned upside down, so I think that it all needs to be kept in context.”

O’Mara added that he hoped the judge’s revocation of bond would be temporary. “We’re going to have a conversation with the judge to try to explain it away. Hopefully, that will be worthwhile and we’re going to get back out on bond.”

Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s defense team and prosecutors were both on the same side in court Friday afternoon fighting media companies’ request to release more information in the case.

Prosecution and defense lawyers argued that a host of material should remain sealed.

The intense public attention on the case is a chief reason certain information should remain out of the public eye, de la Rionda said in a motion filed earlier this month.

He argued that releasing too much “will result in this matter being tried in the press rather than in court, and an inability to seat a fair and impartial jury in Seminole County.” De la Rionda also voiced worries about witnesses being “reluctant to testify” for fear that their privacy would be violated and other witnesses being “harassed by media representatives.”

Specifically, the state wants the names and addresses of witnesses kept out of the public record. It asks for the same for crime scene and autopsy photos, a 911 recording of the incident, and cell phone records of Martin, Zimmerman and one witness.

De la Rionda is also requesting a judge seal statements Zimmerman made to law enforcement officers, some of which may be used against him at trial because they were “inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses.”

O’Mara filed his own motion agreeing with the prosecution’s desire not to release material. He said the defense wants 1,000 e-mails received by Sanford police to be sealed, plus statements by Zimmerman. He asked that text messages, e-mail messages or journals made by the defendant be kept private, at least until they can be reviewed.

Scott Ponce of the Miami-based law firm Holland & Knight argued for more disclosure on behalf of various newspapers, TV stations and their parent companies.

The opposing arguments were laid out in motions filed in advance of Friday’s hearing.

This week, Ponce filed responses to the prosecution and defense positions, addressing them point by point.

“The broad secrecy the state seeks … is not supported by statute, constitution or case law, and it certainly cannot be justified in this prosecution,” he said.

Ponce argued that civilian witnesses’ names and addresses cannot be sealed under Florida’s public records law, because they would not be “defamatory” or “jeopardize the safety” of a witness. He said the state hasn’t proven anyone is in jeopardy. The contested cell phone records may be reviewed and, if need be, have parts redacted, but they shouldn’t be withheld entirely, he said.

Ponce said Zimmerman’s statements to police should not be treated as “confessions,” which would not be made public before trial.

The judge expressed sympathy for the prosecution and defense attorneys but said, “The law is against us.” He noted that the law in Florida “favors full, complete, open disclosure.”

Lester said he would review the discovery request and release material “in a redacted fashion.”

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Duval County Texas Deputy Sheriff Ruben Silva Arrested By Feds In Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy

May 30, 2012

McALLEN, TEXAS – A federal judge in McAllen has ordered a South Texas sheriff’s deputy held without bond for his alleged role in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors say Duval County Sheriff’s deputy Ruben Silva took $5,000 in payment and planned to smuggle cocaine in his sheriff’s department vehicle from the Rio Grande Valley north through the Border Patrol inland checkpoint. He was arrested Thursday.

A Drug Enforcement Administration informant and undercover drug task force officers participated in the bust which included arrests of two others with whom Silva was allegedly conspiring.

A complaint filed in federal court suggests that another deputy could be involved, but the identities of two co-defendants remained under seal.

No attorney was listed for Silva. The Duval County Sheriff did not immediately return a call for comment.

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Savage Black Beast Killed While Eating Another Man’s Face In Miami Florida

May 29, 2012

MIAMI, FLORIDA – The crime shocked South Florida and has drawn the attention of the world. A naked man is shot by Miami Police while eating another naked man’s face on the MacArthur Causeway.

As the story quickly went viral across the Internet, some have likened the attack to one by a zombie. Details of the unthinkable attack included police reporting that when they ordered the cannibal to stop, he looked up with blood on his face and growled at officers.

The suspected cannibal has been identified by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s officer as 31-year-old Rudy Eugene. Eugene may have been homeless at the time of the attack, his last known address was in North Miami.

Since news of the unthinkable attack first broke, the big question has been, why? Why did the man attack the other? Why were they naked? Why did the attacker turn into a cannibal on the causeway?

The president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar believes the entire incident is the fault of a new drug trend that has led to similar incidents. Emergency room doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital said they too have seen a major increase in cases linked to the street drug called “bath salts” or the new LSD.

“We noticed an increase probably after Ultra Fest,” said emergency room Dr. Paul Adams, at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
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Evidence Goes Missing From Asheville North Carolina Police Department Evidence Room, Putting Criminals Back On The Street – At Least 27 Guns, 54 Containers Of Drugs, And 34 Packets Of Money Unaccounted For – Police Hiding Results Of Audit From Public

May 28, 2012

ASHEVILLE — Not long after midnight on a cold January morning, police officer Evan Flanders found himself facing the wrong end of a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.

Flanders thought 24-year-old Twari Rashad Mapp looked suspicious when he walked up to him, and Mapp started to go for a gun, according to police.

But in reality the circumstances leading up to that Jan. 6 confrontation started months earlier with the discovery of sweeping problems in the Police Department evidence room.

Mapp might otherwise have been in jail — along with at least three other violent crime suspects freed on unsecured bonds because of lost evidence, according to a search of criminal and detention center records by the Citizen-Times.

One of four had been recently extradited from Oklahoma for a 2001 break-in, assault and rape of an Asheville woman who was still living in the city.

Before he was freed, Mapp had been jailed on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and was unable to post a $25,000 secured bond.

Police Sgt. Ernie Welborn called the releases unfortunate.

“We regret that the property room issues played a role in the bond reductions,” Welborn said.

Others, though, including residents living near the site of Flanders’ struggle, said the incidents were disturbing.

All four violent crime suspects were eventually jailed again, but not before two committed offenses again, according to police charges.

The releases of the men had to happen because those accused of crimes have a right to see any evidence against them, Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore said.

Moore has refused to release the findings of a full evidence room audit, saying the state Bureau of Investigation is using the city-funded report as part its investigation.

Evidence frozen, lesser pleas

Moore was alerted to problems on April 1, 2011, when an assistant district attorney and an attorney defending a man on drug trafficking charges discovered 397 prescription oxycodone pills were missing from the evidence room.

Days later, a police audit of 1,097 “high-risk” items found 27 guns, 54 containers of drugs and 34 packets of money missing.

Longtime evidence room manager, William Lee Smith, resigned two months earlier.

Moore, working with the SBI, sealed the evidence room, and state agents began working it as a crime scene. The city, meanwhile, hired a special auditor to go through the whole room.

That meant only the auditor and SBI agents would have access.

Because Moore could not immediately produce evidence against people facing charges, he was forced to allow some charged with violent crimes to leave jail on unsecured bonds.

They included:

• Andrew Grady Davis, 37, extradited to Asheville on DNA evidence for a 2001 rape and placed in jail on a $1 million bond before it was reduced to unsecured.

• Mapp, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $25,000 bond before it was reduced.

• Corey Jawil Mapp, 21, brother of Twari, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $24,100 bond before it was reduced. Prior charges against him include robbery and drug dealing.

• Daniel Wayne Jenkins, 19, in jail on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault by pointing a gun. His bond was $31,000 before being reduced to unsecured.

In other cases, those charged with nonviolent crimes were allowed to plead to lesser crimes.

Moore, who could not be reached Thursday or Friday, has said he didn’t know the full tally but that they involved more than a dozen cases, many of them drug-related.
Charged with offenses while out

It was while they were out that the Mapp brothers again ran afoul of the law, according to police.

Corey Mapp was cited for driving while license revoked and careless and reckless driving.

His brother, meanwhile, got into deeper trouble. It’s not clear why Twari Mapp had a loaded gun, according to police, and was out near the neighborhood south of downtown early on Jan. 6.

Police reports say Flanders recognized him as someone who had been charged with violent crimes before, including robbery with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, and suspected he might have a warrant out for his arrest.

He approached Mapp near the corner of South French Broad and Hilliard avenues. A release from the police department gave an account of the encounter:

“As Officer Flanders interacted with the individual, he asked repeatedly for the suspect to remove his hands from his pockets. After the suspect refused to comply, Officer Flanders grabbed both of the suspect’s wrists and immediately ascertained that the suspect was then trying to pull a handgun from his pocket. Officer Flanders noted that the suspect had his hand around the handle of the gun in his pocket, and the barrel of the gun was extended forward in the direction of Officer Flanders as he attempted to break the suspect’s grip.”

At that point, Flanders feared “for his life,” the release said, and moved to draw his own pistol. He was able to do it, and Mapp, seeing the gun slackened his grip, allowing Flanders to take his pistol.

Mapp was charged with assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. He remains in jail under a $5,500 bond.

His attorney Gene Ellison would not comment on the charges.

Ranking police officers acknowledge problems in the evidence room led to Mapp and the other men having reduced bonds.

But it’s possible, too, they could have gotten out anyway, Welborn said.

“We cannot know if these subjects would have made bond without the reductions,” the sergeant said.

Welborn denied a request to speak directly to Flanders.

Residents near where Flanders and Mapp struggled say the neighborhood is usually safe and internal police problems put dangerous people near their homes.

Theo Crouse-Mann lives with his girlfriend, Spring Pearson, near the corner where the fight happened and said that he has seen minor crime such as prostitution, but never anything violent.

“I’ve never heard a gunshot,” Crouse-Mann said. “But now, this thing with the evidence room seems like a systemic failure.”
Back in police control

Police have regained control of the evidence room, and new Chief William Anderson said he will make a national search for a new evidence room manager a priority.

The problems happened under former Police Chief Bill Hogan, who abruptly retired after they became public.

Davis is back in jail under a $400,000 bond for charges including the rape. His attorney, public defender LeAnn Melton, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Corey Mapp is under a $105,000 bond for his original charges, plus others, including possession of a stolen vehicle and stolen goods.

Jenkins was sentenced to six to eight months in a state prison. He was released Sept. 11, according to Department of Correction records.

Moore has withheld results of the city-funded audit despite requests for its release made by the Citizen-Times and numerous other media organizations under the state’s public records law.

N.C. Press Association attorneys say the report should be available to anyone, but the district attorney said it is exempt from state public records law because it is part of the SBI investigation.

The city paid a private contractor $174,723 for the audit, but no city officials have requested to see it, saying they would wait for the SBI probe to play out.

SBI spokeswoman Noelle Talley said the investigation is ongoing but said she could not say when it wound be done.

“It is our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations so as not to jeopardize those investigations,” Talley said.
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New Bern North Carolina Police Officer Frances Sutton Arrested, Charged With Stealing Drugs From Evidence Room – Oxycodone

May 26, 2012

NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA – New Bern Police have arrested New Bern Police Department Officer Frances Sutton, and charged with theft of evidence from the New Bern Police Department Evidence Room.

The items taken were controlled substances in the form of Oxycodone pills. Sutton voluntarily surrendered to SBI agents Wednesday night.

She was charged with four felony counts of Obstruction of Justice and three felony counts of Altering, Destroying, or Stealing Evidence of Criminal Conduct. She was placed in the Craven County Jail under a $35,000 secured bond. Her first appearance in Craven County District Court is scheduled for Thursday morning, May 24, 2012. Ms. Sutton is currently on administrative leave.

Police say Chief Summers conducted an internal review and discovered evidence missing in cases in which Ms. Sutton was the charging officer. He reported his findings to District Attorney Thomas who requested an SBI investigation.

“We are saddened by this news. But just as we are committed to policing our community, we must also police ourselves. And we will not tolerate unlawful activity in our neighborhoods or in our department,” said Chief Summers.

“Law enforcement officers are expected to uphold and enforce the law, not violate it. Ms. Sutton is charged based on the findings of the investigation at this point. We will continue to look for any other illegal activity,” said District Attorney Scott Thomas.

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Duval County Texas Deputy Sheriff Ruben Silva Arrested By Feds And Charged With Conspiracy To Distribute Cocaine

May 26, 2012

McALLEN, TEXAS – Federal agents arrested a Duval County deputy sheriff accused of setting up a fake traffic stop to allow cocaine smugglers move a load past a Border Patrol checkpoint.

Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested Ruben Silva, 35, a sheriff’s deputy in Duval County, on one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Also arrested were the alleged drug smugglers, brothers Jerry and Jose Luis Tovar, both of rural Mission.

An informant met with Silva while at Jerry Tovar’s home on the 6300 block of North Schuerbach Road, where Silva said he would conduct a fake traffic stop, seize 10 kilograms of cocaine and drive it past the Border Patrol checkpoint, a criminal complaint states.

Silva told the informant to have $5,000 in cash that he would collect during the fake traffic stop, the complaint states. Silva would then pick up the 10 kilos of coke from Jerry Tovar and smuggle it through the Border Patrol checkpoint in a tire on his Duval County patrol vehicle. Then, the informant would be able to pick up the drugs at Silva’s home in Freer.

Two undercover agents on Monday met with Tovar at Taqueria Don Felipe, at the intersection of 5 Mile Line and La Homa Road, where they provided photos of the vehicles to be used in the fake traffic stop and sent them to Silva. The undercover agents and the informant then drove to Hebbronville in two vehicles.

Silva and another unnamed man stopped the two vehicles along Highway 16, where Silva collected the $5,000.

Agents arrested Tovar and Mike Lara, who is accused of attempting to collect 6 kilograms of cocaine, on Thursday near Mission.

Jerry and Jose Luis Tovar also face charges of selling six firearms to an undercover federal agent, a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release states. At least two of the weapons were Uzi-style submachine guns. Both Tovar brothers are convicted felons prohibited from possessing firearms.

Silva faces between 10 years and life in prison and a fine of up to $20 million, if convicted.

The Tovar brothers each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the firearms charges.

All three men appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos on Friday in federal court in McAllen. They remain in custody without bail.

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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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Brown County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Department And Drug Task Force Use Lies And Scam To Steal $7,500 From Disabled Woman Trying To Post Her Son’s Bail – Money From ATM’s, Like All Circulating US Currency, Had Traces Of Drugs

May 21, 2012

BROWN COUNTY, WISCONSIN – When the Brown County, Wis., Drug Task Force arrested her son Joel last February, Beverly Greer started piecing together his bail.

She used part of her disability payment and her tax return. Joel Greer’s wife also chipped in, as did his brother and two sisters. On Feb. 29, a judge set Greer’s bail at $7,500, and his mother called the Brown County jail to see where and how she could get him out. “The police specifically told us to bring cash,” Greer says. “Not a cashier’s check or a credit card. They said cash.”

So Greer and her family visited a series of ATMs, and on March 1, she brought the money to the jail, thinking she’d be taking Joel Greer home. But she left without her money, or her son.

Instead jail officials called in the same Drug Task Force that arrested Greer. A drug-sniffing dog inspected the Greers’ cash, and about a half-hour later, Beverly Greer said, a police officer told her the dog had alerted to the presence of narcotics on the bills — and that the police department would be confiscating the bail money.

“I told them the money had just come from the bank,” Beverly Greer says. “We had just taken it out. If the money had drugs on it, then they should go seize all the money at the bank, too. I just don’t understand how they could do that.”

The Greers had been subjected to civil asset forfeiture, a policy that lets police confiscate money and property even if they can only loosely connect them to drug activity. The cash, or revenue from the property seized, often goes back to the coffers of the police department that confiscated it. It’s a policy critics say is often abused, but experts told The HuffPost that the way the law is applied to bail money in Brown County is exceptionally unfair.

It took four months for Beverly Greer to get her family’s money back, and then only after attorney Andy Williams agreed to take their case. “The family produced the ATM receipts proving that had recently withdrawn the money,” Williams says. “Beverly Greer had documentation for her disability check and her tax return. Even then, the police tried to keep their money.”

Wisconsin is one of four states (along with Illinois, Kentucky, and Oregon) that prohibits bail bondsmen. So bail must be paid either in cash, with a registered check, cashier’s check or credit card. In fact, Donna Kuchler, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney based in Waukesha, said police aren’t allowed to insist on cash.

“I would be suspicious of why they would do that,” Kuchler says. “I had a case last year in Fond du Lac County where they tried to say my client could only pay in cash. My guess is that they probably intended to do the same thing that happened here. We brought a cashier’s check anyway, and they knew they had to accept it.”

But the Greers still fared better than Jesus Zamora, whose family and friends continue to fight for police to return their bail money. Zamora was arrested in January on misdemeanor drug possession and a misdemeanor gun charge. A judge set his bail at $5,000.

“My girlfriend borrowed some money from her sister and mother and a few friends, and they came to bail me out,” Zamora says. “But then they started asking her if she had brought drug money. They took the money away and said they were going to have the drug dogs sniff it. She asked them when I would be let out, and they told her, ‘He isn’t going anywhere’.”

The police then seized Zamora’s bail money, just as they did with the Greers’. “I stayed in jail for, I think, another 11 days. I lost count. I had never been arrested for drugs before. And this was for a really small amount. Seventeen painkillers, for which I had a prescription, and a small bag they say had traces of cocaine. And they say my girlfriend and I just had $5,000 in drug money lying around.”

Zamora’s girlfriend borrowed more money from friends and coworkers, which she promised to pay back out of her mother’s tax return. They waited until Zamora had a court date, and this time posted his bail in front of a judge, with a cashier’s check. Wisconsin law enforcement officials also are required to provide a receipt when they confiscate property under forfeiture laws. Beverly Greer and Jesus Zamora both said they were never given receipts.

Brown County Drug Task Force Director Lt. Dave Poteat says the dog alerts were not the only factors. According to Poteat, the Greers and Zamora’s girlfriend appeared nervous when they brought in the bail money. “Their stories didn’t add up. Their ATM receipts had the wrong times on them. And they were withdrawing from several different locations. The times just didn’t correspond to their stories.”

Poteat says an additional reason Zamora’s bail money was confiscated was because during calls from the jail to multiple people, he indicated that the money was drug-related. “Mr. Zamora made a number of calls in which he appeared to be trying to disguise or hide where the money was coming from,” Poteat says. “At one point, he even said to another party, ‘of course the money is dirty.'”

According to Poteat, all inmate calls from the jail are recorded, and both the inmate and the party they call are warned before the call begins.

Zamora says he was merely telling his girlfriend where to get the bail money. “There’s a guy who still owes me money from a car I sold to him. And where I’m from, everyone has a nickname. So I was telling her who she could go to that might be able to give her some money for my bail. I used nicknames because I didn’t want the police to visit their houses.”

Zamora says he was not attempting to disguise where the money was from, only telling his girlfriend and sister to find someone else to bring in the money so they wouldn’t be interrogated. “I know how police do this. My sister just got her immigration papers. I didn’t want them harassing her or threatening to deport her or to change her immigration status. I just wanted to protect them, so I told them to find someone else to bring in the money.”

Civil asset forfeiture is based on the premise that a piece of property — a car, a pile of cash, a house — can be guilty of a crime. Laws vary from state to state, but generally, law enforcement officials can seize property if they can show any connection between the property and illegal activity. It is then up to the owner of the property to prove in court that he owns it or earned it legitimately. It doesn’t require a property owner to actually be convicted of a crime. In fact, most people who lose property to civil asset forfeiture are never charged.

The laws were created to go after the ill-gotten gains of big-time dealers, but critics say they’ve since become a way for police departments to generate revenue — often by targeting lower-level offenders. In 2010, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian law firm, rated the forfeiture laws in all 50 states, assigning higher grades to states with fairer policies. The firm gave Wisconsin a “C.” When there’s less than $2,000 at stake, law enforcement agencies in the state get to keep 70 percent of what they take. If more than $2,000 is taken, departments can keep half.

But in all states, police agencies can contact the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), making the case federal, and under federal law, local police departments can keep up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds, with the rest going to the Department of Justice. The institute reports that between 2000 and 2008, police agencies in Wisconsin took in $50 million from this “equitable sharing” program with the federal government. According to Williams, the DEA recently filed a claim on Zamora’s money in federal court, to take possession of the money through federal civil asset forfeiture laws.

But even in the odd world of asset forfeiture, the seizure of bail money because of a drug-dog alert raises other concerns. In addition to increasing skepticism over the use of drug-sniffing dogs, studies have consistently shown that most U.S. currency contains traces of cocaine. In a 1994 ruling, for example, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cited studies showing that 75 percent of U.S. currency in Los Angeles included traces of narcotics. In 2009, researchers at the University of Massachusetts analyzed 234 bills collected from 18 cities, and found that 90 percent contained traces of cocaine. A 2008 study published in the Trends in Analytical Chemistry came to similar conclusions, as have studies by the Federal Reserve and the Argonne National Laboratory.

Zamora says he was referring to the common presence of drugs on money when he told his girlfriend, “of course the money is dirty.” “I had talked to my attorney about how all money has some drugs on it,” Zamora says. “So I was trying to tell her what to say if they told her a dog alerted to it. That she was supposed to say, ‘Of course the money is dirty — all money is dirty.'”

Stephen Downing, a retired narcotics cop who served as assistant police chief in Los Angeles, says it isn’t surprising that a drug dog would alert to a pile of cash, since it usually has traces of drugs.

“I’d call these cases direct theft. They’re hijackings,” says Downing, who is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of former police and prosecutors who advocate ending the drug war.

Downing says he recently consulted a medical marijuana activist in California who was told to bring his bail money in cash, despite the fact that state law allows payment with a cashier’s check, a registered check or a credit card. “It makes me wonder if this seizing of bail is a new idea getting shopped around in law enforcement circles.”

Poteat says he’s aware of some studies from the 1980s about traces of narcotics on most U.S. currency, but that he didn’t know about the more recent research. “Our dogs are trained with currency that’s taken out of circulation. So they wouldn’t alert to bills that have the same traces most other bills have.”

Steven Kessler, a New York-based forfeiture attorney and the author of the legal treatise “Civil and Criminal Forfeiture: Federal and State Practice,” said he had never heard of simply confiscating bail. “It’s abhorrent. You can reject bail if you suspect the money is dirty. But you don’t simply take it and hand it over to the police department.”

Virginia attorney David Smith, who also wrote a book on forfeiture, says he has seen other cases in which authorities have confiscated bail money, but adds, “No courts have ordered forfeiture simply on the basis of a dog alert. There has to be other evidence.”

Forfeitures like these may not hold up in court, but failed cases wouldn’t necessarily discourage police departments from continuing the practice. If the defendant never challenges the seizure, the department generates revenue. If the defendant challenges and wins, the department loses little.

Indigent defendants, in particular, may decide not to pursue a forfeiture case due to the expense, particularly if they’ve already used their savings on bail, or are more concerned with fighting pending criminal charges. In many cases, the amount of cash seized would be exceeded by the costs of hiring an attorney to win it back anyway. In addition, under Wisconsin law, indigent defendants are not entitled to a public defender in civil asset forfeiture cases.

“I would think that one of these cases would be the perfect opportunity for a court to impose punitive damages against the police department,” Kessler says. “You need to make it clear that it would be damaging for the police to attempt this sort of thing in the future. Considering how appalling these cases are, I don’t see why a court couldn’t do that.”

Poteat says it “isn’t unusual” for his task force to seize bail money under forfeiture laws. “I’d say we’ve done it maybe eight or nine times this year.”

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Northern Territory Australia Drug Crime Squad Officer Arresed On Drug Charges

May 18, 2012

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA – A Northern Territory Police officer has been arrested as part of a drug operation in Darwin.

Acting police commissioner Shane Maines says the officer is a member of the drug and organised crime squad.

He has been taken into custody and is expected to be charged shortly with drug offences.

Houses were raided in Darwin overnight and two other people, aged 22 and 31, were also arrested.

Police say they may make more arrests.

The ABC understands the alleged drug offences relate to the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Police say the arrests were part of Operation Maverick, which is targeting the supply of drugs in the Top End.

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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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President Obama Made Secret Deal With Pharmaceutical Company Lobbyists To Secure Support For His Doomed National Health Care Law

May 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Three years ago, President Obama cut a secret deal with pharmaceutical company lobbyists to secure the industry’s support for his national health care law. Despite Obama’s promises during his campaign to run a transparent administration, the deal has been shrouded in mystery ever since. But internal emails obtained by House Republicans now provide evidence that a deal was struck and GOP investigators are promising to release more details in the coming weeks.

“What the hell?” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who is now Obama’s campaign manager, complained to a lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in January 15, 2010 email. “This wasn’t part of our deal.”

This reference to “our deal” came two months before the final passage of Obamacare in an email with the subject line, “FW: TAUZIN EMAIL.” At the time, Billy Tauzin was president and CEO of PhRMA.

The email was uncovered as part of investigation into Obama’s closed-door health care negotiations launched by the House Energy and Commerce committee’s oversight panel.

“In the coming weeks the Committee intends to show what the White House agreed to do as part of its deal with the pharmaceutical industry and how the full details of this agreement were kept from both the public and the House of Representatives,” the committee’s Republican members wrote in a memo today.

On June 20, 2009, Obama released a terse 296-word statement announcing a deal between pharmaceutical companies and the Senate that didn’t mention any involvement by the White House.

“The investigation has determined that the White House, primarily through Office of Health Reform Director Nancy Ann DeParle and Messina, with involvement from Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, was actively engaged in these negotiations while the role of Congress was limited,” the committee members wrote. “For example, three days before the June 20 statement, the head of PhRMA promised Messina, ‘we will deliver a final yes to you by morning.’ Meanwhile, Ms. DeParle all but confirmed that half of the Legislative Branch was shut out in an email to a PhRMA representative: ‘I think we should have included the House in the discussions, but maybe we never would have gotten anywhere if we had.’”

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New York City Police Officer Devon Daniels Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Helping Drug Dealer

May 16, 2012

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A New York City police officer was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly used his police department-issued credentials to gain access to sensitive computer records and pass them on to a convicted drug dealer.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Federal Court in Brooklyn, Officer Devon Daniels’s alleged involvement with a heroin dealer was uncovered during a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation that utilized wire taps.

Mr. Daniels on numerous occasions between April 2010 and April 2011 allegedly used an NYPD database to look up license-plate numbers to help locate the owners of vehicles for the leader of a heroin ring based in Jamaica, Queens, and to check the status of criminal warrants related to associates of the ring, the complaint stated.

It is alleged that the 30-year-old officer, who was based out of the 111th Precinct in Queens, gained access to the information from a computer in his squad car while using his password and that of his partner.

Mr. Daniels is believed to have used his partner’s password without that officer’s knowledge. His partner is not a suspect in the case.

Devon Daniels and his fiancée Yvette Shaw leave Brooklyn Federal Court.

On the wiretaps, Mr. Daniels is allegedly heard having telephone conversations with Guy Curtis, the drug dealer, during which the officer asks for money, “any working revolver” and permission to borrow Mr. Curtis’s vehicles.

On an occasion when Mr. Daniels was driving one of those cars, he stopped at the scene of an arrest during which an associate of Mr. Curtis was being apprehended, according to the criminal complaint.

The officer quizzed his colleagues at the scene and then “immediately reported that information to Guy Curtis,” according to the criminal complaint.

Mr. Curtis, who pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, also allegedly made use of Mr. Daniels’s privileges and expertise as a police officer.

The drug dealer was provided an NYPD parking placard by Mr. Daniels and once asked the officer how to get “gun shot residue off your hands,” the complaint says.

In another instance, he instructed Mr. Daniels to arrest a felon who was known for “always carrying a gun.”

It was not clear whether the police officer followed that order.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Mr. Daniels helped Mr. Curtis launder money associated with a drug deal.

A drug distributer in Kansas once deposited $3,500 from a drug transaction into Mr. Daniels’s bank account. Mr. Daniels then allegedly withdrew the money and gave it to Mr. Curtis.

On Tuesday, Mr. Daniels appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann and was informed of the charges against him.

He did not enter a plea and was released on a $150,000 bond and placed under electronic monitoring. He was also ordered to surrender his NYPD-issued handgun.

The officer’s attorney, Devian Daniels, who is also his sister, declined to comment after the court proceeding. In court, other family members said Mr. Daniels is the father of “several” children.

Mr. Daniels joined the police department in 2007 and was assigned to a housing unit in Brooklyn at the time of his arrest, police said.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau had identified Mr. Daniels based on the wiretapped information and assisted in his arrest.

The officer has been suspended without pay and could face departmental sanctions, including termination, regardless of the outcome of the federal case against him, Mr. Browne said.

Formal charges have not yet been filed in the case.

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Minnesota Police Provided Marijuana To Watch Behavior – Targeted Occupy Protesters

May 15, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – A Minnesota training program that teaches police how to identify drug-impaired drivers is under fire following allegations that a participating officer gave marijuana to a test volunteer.

The allegation, leveled by another officer in the program, followed reports from anti-Wall Street demonstrators that police plucked Occupy Minneapolis members from a plaza in downtown Minneapolis for the training, gave them marijuana and watched them use drugs.

Minnesota has launched criminal and internal public safety investigations into the single allegation and suspended the program, in which officers use citizens off the street as test subjects. There are similar programs in 48 states.

Authorities have not directly connected the Occupy allegations to the investigation, but have said officers identified test subjects at the plaza where Occupy has been meeting as well as other locations.

Forest Olivier, an Occupy protester, testified at a Minneapolis City Council committee hearing on May 2 that he went with police to a training site voluntarily several times.

“They gave me a full bag of weed and they gave me a pipe to smoke it out of,” Olivier told the hearing.

A 35-minute video produced by Minnesota independent media groups, including Twin Cities IndyMedia and Occupy Minneapolis, and released this month showed uniformed officers picking up and dropping off young adults from the plaza in marked squad cars.

Occupy demonstrators interviewed on the video, including Olivier, said they were given drugs and then observed by dozens of officers. No officers are shown offering people drugs.

In one exchange, a protester tells an officer that other police had given him drugs, and the officer responds that he was only looking for people who are already impaired.

Minnesota public safety spokesman Bruce Gordon said: “If additional information becomes available we will widen the scope of the investigation.”

Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman suspended the program on May 9 “pending the outcome of these investigations and until we revisit and review the curriculum of the program.”

The program trains officers to act as drug recognition evaluators through classes and a dozen evaluations using volunteers from the community.

The investigation was launched after an officer who participated in the training reported witnessing a Hutchinson, Minnesota, police officer give marijuana to a potential test subject. Hutchinson Police Chief Dan Hatten said on Monday that the officer remains on scheduled duty.

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First Time Offender Grandmother Serving Life Without Parole In Federal Prison – Longer Than Drug Dealers, Kingpins, And Crime Bosses Who Had Information To Trade For Lesser Sentences

May 10, 2012

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The U.S. government didn’t offer a reward for the capture of Houston grandmother Elisa Castillo, nor did it accuse her of touching drugs, ordering killings, or getting rich off crime.

But three years after a jury convicted her in a conspiracy to smuggle at least a ton of cocaine on tour buses from Mexico to Houston, the 56-year-old first-time offender is locked up for life – without parole.

“It is ridiculous,” said Castillo, who is a generation older than her cell mates, and is known as “grandma” at the prison here. “I am no one.”

Convicted of being a manager in the conspiracy, she is serving a longer sentence than some of the hemisphere’s most notorious crime bosses – men who had multimillion-dollar prices on their heads before their capture.

The drug capos had something to trade: the secrets of criminal organizations. The biggest drug lords have pleaded guilty in exchange for more lenient sentences.

Castillo said she has nothing to offer in a system rife with inconsistencies and behind-the-scenes scrambling that amounts to a judicial game of Let’s Make A Deal.

“Our criminal justice system is broke; it needs to be completely revamped,” declared Terry Nelson, who was a federal agent for over 30 years and is on the executive board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “They have the power, and if you don’t play the game, they’ll throw the book at you.”

Castillo maintains her innocence, saying she was tricked into unknowingly helping transport drugs and money for a big trafficker in Mexico. But she refused to plead guilty and went to trial.

In 2010, of 1,766 defendants prosecuted for federal drug offenses in the Southern District of Texas – a region that reaches from Houston to the border – 93.2 percent pleaded guilty rather than face trial, according to the U.S. government. Of the defendants who didn’t plead not guilty, 10 defendants were acquitted at trial. Also, 82 saw their cases dismissed.

The statistics are similar nationwide.

The latest case in point came this week with the negotiated surrender of a Colombian drug boss Javier Calle Serna, whom the United States accuses of shipping at least 30 tons of cocaine.

While how much time Calle will face is not known publicly, he likely studied other former players, including former Gulf Cartel lord Osiel Cardenas Guillen.

Cardenas once led one of Mexico’s most powerful syndicates and created the Zetas gang. He pleaded guilty in Houston and is to be released by 2025. He’ll be 57.

As the federal prison system has no parole, Castillo has no prospect of ever going home.

“Any reasonable person would look at this and say, ‘God, are you kidding?’ ” said attorney David Bires, who represented Castillo on an unsuccessful appeal. “It is not right.”

Castillo’s elderly mother in Mexico has not been told she’s serving life, and her toddler grandson thinks she’s in the hospital when he comes to visit her in prison.

Castillo is adamant about her innocence.

“Put yourself in my shoes. When you are innocent, you are innocent,” she said. “I don’t say I am perfect. I am not … but I can guarantee you 100 percent that I am innocent of this.”

At the urging of her boyfriend, Martin Ovalle, Castillo became partners with a smooth-talking Mexican resident who said he wanted to set up a Houston-based bus company.

But the buses were light on passengers and shuttled thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States and millions of dollars back to Mexico. Her lawyers argued she was naive.

Castillo claims she didn’t know about the drug operation, but agents said she should have known something was wrong when quantities of money and drugs were repeatedly found on the coaches.

“After hearing all the evidence as presented from both the government and defense in this case, the jury found her guilty … ,” said Kenneth Magidson, chief prosecutor here.

Former federal prosecutor Mark W. White III said if Castillo had something to share, she might have benefited from a sentence reduction for cooperating.

“Information is a cooperating defendant’s stock in trade,” White said, “and if you don’t have any, … the chances are you won’t get a good deal.”

Castillo has faith that she’ll somehow, some day, go free. Her daily routine doesn’t vary: when she eats breakfast, when she works, when she exercises, and when she brushes her hair, which has gone from red-blond to black and gray. The gray gets respect in prison.

“I will leave here one day with my head held high,” she said. “I don’t feel like a bug or a cockroach. I am a human being, with my feet firmly on the ground.”

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Chicago Illinois Police Officers Sgt. Ronald Watta And Kallatt Mohammed Arrested Stealing $5,200 From Drug Dealer – Caught In FBI Sting Operation

May 10, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Two Chicago cops, believing they were stealing $5,200 in cash that belonged to a drug dealer, were actually caught in an undercover sting, federal authorities said Monday.

Wentworth District tactical unit Sgt. Ronald Watts and tactical unit Officer Kallatt Mohammed appeared in handcuffs Monday in federal court in Chicago after being arrested Sunday night in a joint FBI and Chicago Police Department Internal Affairs Division operation.

They are accused of stealing the money on Nov. 21 and charged with theft of government funds.

According to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Monday, Mohammed, 47, a 14-year veteran of the department, took a bag containing the cash and a court-authorized tracking device from a homeless man who was working as an informant for the FBI.

Watts, 48, who’s been with the Chicago Police Department for 18 years, later met the homeless man at a Chinatown Walgreens parking lot and gave him $400 for tipping the officers off about the cash delivery, according to the complaint.

When Watts handed over the cash he allegedly asked the homeless man, “Who always takes care of you?” The homeless man replied, “You do, Watts,” according to the complaint.

The homeless man, who has 99 arrests and 16 convictions, told the FBI he’d discussed his work as a drug courier with the officers several times prior to the undercover operation and that Watts had previously stolen cash from him, authorities said.

Both police officers spoke in court only to confirm that they understand the charges against them. They would face up to 10 years behind bars and fines of up to $250,000 if convicted, prosecutors said. They were released on $10,000 bail Monday after being ordered to surrender their weapons and passports and told to have no contact with each other.

Watts — wearing a black sweat suit — and Mohammed — wearing a black wool hat and a work jacket — both ran from the Dirksen federal court building Monday afternoon in an attempt to avoid news photographers and a TV camera.

Watts tussled with an ABC 7 cameraman in Plymouth Court before speeding off in a waiting car, while Mohammed hid in a Lady Foot Locker on State Street. When Mohammed later bolted from the store with photographers in pursuit, he was temporarily detained by two passing plainclothes police officers who mistook him for a shoplifter.

Both Watts and Mohammed have been stripped of their police powers and both are suspended without pay.

Watts serves as the financial secretary of the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association, but has been asked to resign his position following his arrest, union president Jim Ade said.

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9 Pounds Of “Lost” Cocaine Turns Up In Boston Police Evidence Locker – Lots Of Drug Evidence Tampered With Or Missing Since 1990

May 8, 2012

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Boston police announced yesterday that four kilos of cocaine previously reported missing from their evidence locker were found to have been shelved incorrectly.

The drugs were stored in the BPD’s Hyde Park evidence warehouse and could not be located in a recent audit.

“After investigators identified the inconsistency, the Boston Police Department immediately took every measure to resolve the matter,” a police statement said.

“A thorough search of the immediate area resulted in successfully locating the evidence which had been improperly shelved in a nearby location.”

The misplaced cocaine is the latest misstep at the BPD’s problem-plagued warehouse, where audits in 2006 and 2008 reported more than 750 missing pieces of drug evidence, and 256 tampered with since 1990.

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Vermont State Police Dispatcher Michelle Bachand Busted With Marijuana While Training At Vermont Police Academy – Dumbass

May 6, 2012


A Vermont State police dispatcher has found herself on the wrong side of the law.

Police say Michelle Bachand, 26, of Lyndonville, was found with marijuana at a training session Friday at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford.

Bachand was a temporary civilian dispatcher for the Derby Barracks. Because of the arrest, police say she is no longer employed as a dispatcher.

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DEA Agents “Accidentally” Locked Student In A Holding Cell For 5 Days In San Diego California – He Was Not Under Arrest – And Somehow Agents Missed The Methamphetamines He Was Found With In The Cell…

May 1, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – A drug suspect was taken to a federal holding facility and “accidentally left in one of the cells” last month until he was found with methamphetamines and and taken to the hospital, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Monday.

The suspect was “left” on April 21, according to the agency. The paramedics were called on April 25, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department confirmed.

The DEA was not answering questions on Monday about what happened in the five days in between: Did the suspect have food and water and a toilet? How did he get methamphetamines while in custody?

Spokeswoman Amy Roderick said such matters are under investigation. She promised a thorough review of detention procedures and the events of April 21 and after.

The DEA said Monday that the suspect was one of nine people detained April 21 following a drug raid that yielded 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms, a Russian rifle, two handguns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Roderick said all of the detainees were brought to the DEA field office at an office building in Kearny Mesa, where they were questioned, fingerprinted and photographed.

“Each suspect was interviewed in separate interview rooms, and frequently moved around between rooms and cells,” Roderick said.“All suspects were searched incident to arrest, but none were strip or body cavity searched.”

She said seven suspects were brought to the county jail, one was released “and the individual in question was accidentally left in one of the cells.”

The statement then skips to when the detainee was discovered.

“When agents found the individual in question, they were told by the individual that he had used a white powdery substance that he found in the cell,” Roderick said. “The agents who found the young man in question called EMS, and field tested the substance, which tested positive for methamphetamine.”

San Diego city paramedics were summoned to the San Diego DEA field office on Viewridge Avenue about 4:40 p.m. Wednesday.

“Report was a 24-year-old man in a holding cell said he took white powder substance,” San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesman Maurice Luque said. “He was conscious. He was transported to Sharp in non-life-threatening condition.”

The location of the raid was not provided. Roderick said the man admitted to being at a house “to get high with his friends.”

The man is a student at the University of California San Diego. He was reported missing by his roommate last Friday, two days after he was taken to the hospital, UCSD police said. Campus police said the man notified officers on Saturday that he was OK and the missing-persons report was canceled.

He offered no details about where he had been over the previous week, and simply wanted the missing-person case closed, UCSD Police Chief Orville King said.

It is not clear whether the man will face any criminal charges related to the drug raid, but the DEA said he is not under arrest.

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TSA Agents Accepted Bribes As High As $2,400 To Allow Suitcases Filled With Cocaine, Methamphetamine, And Marijuana To Pass Through Security At Los Angeles California LAX Airport

April 25, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Two current and two former TSA employees have been arrested in an alleged drug and bribery scheme by screeners who allowed large shipments of narcotics to pass through security at Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for cash.

Another three people, suspected drug couriers, are allegedly involved. One is in state custody. A second is expected to surrender on Thursday. Authorities are searching for a third.

According to a 22-count grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration employees took payments of as much as $2,400 to allow suitcases filled with cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to pass through X-ray machines at LAX while TSA screeners looked the other way.

The indictment outlines five separate incidents that occurred from February 2011 through July 2011.

TSA employees allegedly conspired with either drug couriers or an undercover operative working with the Drug Enforcement Administration to smuggle narcotics through checkpoints.

In one incident, two suspects allegedly agreed to have a third suspect bring about 5 kilograms of cocaine in a bag through a security checkpoint manned by one of the TSA screeners. But that third screener failed to follow the instructions and went to the wrong security checkpoint, where TSA officials uninvolved in the scheme seized the bag filled with cocaine.

In the final incident outlined in the indictment, two TSA screeners allegedly conspired with the DEA confidential source to allow about 8 pounds of methamphetamine to pass through a security checkpoint staffed by one of the two screeners. After the drugs made it through security, the suspect allegedly met the confidential source in an LAX restroom to receive $600 in cash, which was the second half of the agreed-upon $1,200 fee.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Central District of California says all the defendants were arrested either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. They face arraignment Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court.

If convicted, each of the current and former TSA officials faces potential life in prison sentences.

“Airport screeners act as a vital checkpoint for homeland security, and air travelers should believe in the fundamental integrity of security systems at our nation’s airports,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a news release. “The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation’s security needs.”

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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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Alabama Stuck With Crack-Head Immigrant Who Was Arrested 35 Times Over 12 Years On Laundry List Of Charges – Can’t Be Deported Because US Government Doesn’t Recognize His Homeland As A Country

April 22, 2012

ALABAMA – He’s a man without a country.

An immigrant in Alabama who has been arrested 35 times in 12 years cannot be extradited because the United States does not recognize his homeland, the Birmingham News reports.

According to the paper, federal authorities have tried to remove convicted felon Sofyan Eldani, 45, but couldn’t send him to his native Palestine because the U.S. does not recognize it as a country. Eldani says he is a native of Palestine, though he carries an Egyptian passport.

Eldani’s arrests include assault, fraudulent checks, criminal mischief, resisting arrests, reckless endangerment, shoplifting, burglary, drug possession, failure to appear, probation violation, possession of a drug paraphernalia and DUI.

He has at least nine convictions, including four felonies, and served six months in an Alabama prison for receiving stolen property. His most recent arrest was for allegedly being found with crack cocaine during a traffic stop, according to the Birmingham News.

For now, Eldani will remain in Alabama and face his most recent drug trafficking charge in state court.

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Zimmerman Bond Set At $150,000 With Minimal Supervision Upon Release (State’s Case Appears To Be Very Thin, Flawed, And Based On Prosecution’s Assumptions)

April 20, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – A lawyer for a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager is requesting bond for his client in a Florida courtroom Friday morning.

George Zimmerman, 28, was charged on April 11 in the February death of Trayvon Martin, after the case sparked a heated, national debate over racial profiling and saw thousands of protesters demand Zimmerman’s arrest. Martin’s family contends Zimmerman racially profiled their son, who was walking back from a convenience store in Sanford, Florida.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is Hispanic, maintains he acted in self-defense. His family says he did not profile Martin.

At 9 a.m. ET, attorney Mark O’Mara began the process of filing a bond motion with the case’s judge, Kenneth Lester Jr., in a Sanford courtroom. Among other factors, Lester will examine the seriousness of the crime, Zimmerman’s ties to the community, his conduct and whether he poses a danger or flight risk. The defense is expected to argue Zimmerman is not a flight risk or danger to the community.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey has the burden of showing why bond should not be set or if it should be high.

Refresh this page for updates on the bond hearing:

[Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET] The judge has set a bond of $150,000, with conditions.

The conditions include:

– GPS monitoring

– No contact with the victim’s family

[Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET] The state’s attorney is now making a case against leniency when it comes to the bond decision, and has asked for no bond, or a bond of $1 million.

The state’s attorney argued that Zimmerman is a danger to the public, citing not only the second-degree murder charge, but a previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer, which was discussed at length earlier in the hearing.

[Updated at 11:02 a.m. ET] The hearing is now turning back to the issue of bond. O’Mara is asking the judge for:

– $15,000 bond.

– The ability of Zimmerman to leave the state

– Secrecy over Zimmerman’s whereabouts

O’Mara, speaking to Zimmerman’s ability to pay bond, noted that Zimmerman cannot work in public because of the case’s publicity, and that his wife is not working because she is in school.

[Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney is now questioning Zimmerman. He asked whether Zimmerman had ever said he was sorry when he spoke to police. Zimmerman responded that he had told one of the investigators that “I felt sorry for the family.”

The prosecutor told Zimmerman that if that’s true, it must have been recorded. He asked Zimmerman if he was sure, and Zimmerman said he was “fairly certain.”

[Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET] “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman said on the stand, apparently addressing Martin’s parents, who are in the room.

Zimmerman also said he thought Martin was older than he was, and that he “didn’t know if (Martin) was armed or not.”

[Updated at 10:54 a.m. ET] Zimmerman is about the address the court. His attorney has called him to the stand.

[Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney, after saying “I didn’t know we were going to be trying the case today,” is back to ask questions of state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, after O’Mara asked questions challenging the state’s assertions.

The prosecutor asked Gilbreath whether there was any evidence indicating that Zimmerman’s account that Martin bashed his head against a sidewalk wasn’t true. Gilbreath said yes.

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] O’Mara is back to questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, one of the investigators in the case.

O’Mara asked whether Gilbreath knows who started the fight between Zimmerman and Martin, or had any evidence as to who started the fight. Gilbreath said no.

O’Mara asked whether Gilbreath had any evidence contradicting Zimmerman’s statement to Sanford police on the night of the incident that Zimmerman 1) turned toward his car after losing sight of Martin; and 2) that Martin started the fight that led to the shooting. Gilbreath said no.

[Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET] A prosecuting attorney is now questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, after Zimmerman’s attorney took issue with wording in a probable cause affidavit that Gilbreath had signed. Gilbreath is one of the investigators in the Martin shooting case.

Like O’Mara, the prosecuting attorney is asking Gilbreath about the affidavit, and about evidence that Gilbreath collected. The general thrust of the questioning is designed to bolster the affidavit’s credibility, after O’Mara questioned word choices in the affidavit.

Gilbreath testified he has reviewed other evidence documents other than what has been discussed in the hearing. The prosecutor asked Gilbreath whether Martin had a right to be in the neighborhood – Gilbreath said yes. Gilbreath also was asked if there was no evidence that Martin was committing any crime, and again Gilbreath said yes.

[Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET] O’Mara still is questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath about the way that the probable cause affidavit – which supported the second-degree murder charge – was written.

O’Mara is now taking issue with a line that says Zimmerman “disregarded” a police dispatcher. On the tape that has been released to the public, Zimmerman indicated that he was following Martin, and the dispatcher said that authorities didn’t need Zimmerman to do that.

O’Mara, through his questioning of Gilbreath, is basically suggesting that “disregarded” was the wrong word, because Zimmerman did not hang up with the dispatcher, and therefore did not disregard him.

O’Mara also is taking issue with the affidavit saying that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin. O’Mara is contending that Gilbreath has offered no evidence that Zimmerman confronted Martin, and that other, less antagonistic words, should have been used since Gilbreath had no evidence that Zimmerman confronted him. Such words, O’Mara said, would be “came up to,” or “spoke with.”

[Updated at 10:19 a.m. ET] O’Mara, while questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, is now taking issue with other language choices in the probable cause affidavit.

O’Mara has noted that the only two quotes in the affidavit from Zimmerman – taken from a police call that Zimmerman made to notify police that he had seen a suspicious person – are of Zimmerman using expletives. O’Mara asked why – out of everything Zimmerman said – only those two quotes were included in the affidavit.

Gilbreath responded that he didn’t type the affidavit. O’Mara pointed out that Gilbreath swore to it, and Gilbreath agreed that he had.

[Updated at 10:14 a.m. ET] O’Mara, while questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, has taken issue with the word “profiled” in the probable cause affidavit supporting the second-degree murder charge.

The affidavit, which Gilbreath had signed, says that Zimmerman profiled Martin. O’Mara asked why the affidavit says profiled, rather than “noticed” or “saw.” Gilbreath said he couldn’t remember who wrote the word, saying it was a collaborative document.

[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] O’Mara has called Dale Gilbreath, an investigator with the state attorney’s office, to the stand. Gilbreath is one of the investigators in the Martin shooting case.

Gilbreath has indicated that he didn’t expect to testify today.

[Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET] O’Mara asked Zimmerman’s mother whether she has come to know her son as someone who comes to the defense of people. She said yes.

She said he has stood up for children and homeless people in and around his community. She also testified that he had been a mentor for two African American children.

[Updated at 10:04 a.m. ET] O’Mara asked Zimmerman’s mother about Zimmerman’s previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer. She said that Zimmerman was involved in an altercation with a plainclothes ATF agent because he was coming to the defense of a friend, who was being roughed up. The officer didn’t identify himself as a law enforcement officer, she said.

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] Zimmerman’s mother, life his father and wife earlier this morning, said that should Zimmerman be released on bond, his location and the places where he would be allowed to go should be kept secret, because he and the family have received threats.

[Updated at 9:53 a.m. ET] O’Mara has now called Zimmerman’s mother to the phone.

[Updated at 9:51 a.m. ET] Now being questioned by O’Mara, Zimmerman’s father testified about Zimmerman’s appearance after the February 26 shooting. The father said Zimmerman’s face was swollen “quite a bit,” had a protective cover over his nose, and had two vertical gashes on the back of his head.

According to an Orlando Sentinel story later confirmed by Sanford police, Zimmerman told authorities that after he called 911 about a suspicious person (later identified as Martin), and after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him. After the two exchange words, Zimmerman said, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head into the sidewalk.

[Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET] The prosecution is asking Zimmerman’s father about Zimmerman’s previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer, basically having the father acknowledge that he knows Zimmerman faced that charge. Like the exchange that the prosecution had with Zimmerman’s wife a few minutes ago, they went over the fact that Zimmerman took anger management classes as a result of that charge, which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

[Updated at 9:41 a.m. ET] O’Mara is asking Zimmerman’s father about his financial ability to help post bond. The father, who said he was retired, said he and his wife have some savings, but very little. He said he had a mortgaged home, and that he was willing to secure the home as part of a bond arrangement.

[Updated at 9:39 a.m. ET] O’Mara is now questioning Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., who, like Zimmerman’s wife, is testifying by phone. A notary public has sworn Robert Zimmerman in.

[Updated at 9:36 a.m. ET] O’Mara questioned Zimmerman’s wife about the previous allegations against Zimmerman – including a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer and an altercation with a woman – that the prosecuting attorney brought up. Through questioning, Zimmerman’s wife testified that the battery charge was reduced to a misdemeanor through a pretrial diversion program in which he took anger management classes, and that she believes he completed those classes. She also testified that in the altercation with the woman, Zimmerman was not arrested, and that the woman attacked Zimmerman and drew blood, and that as a result, Zimmerman got an injunction against that woman.

[Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney summed up the previous allegations – including the charge of battery on a law enforcement officer – and then asked Zimmerman’s wife whether she still believes Zimmerman isn’t a danger to the community. “Absolutely he is not a violent person,” nor is he a threat to the community, she responded.

[Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET] The prosecution is now questioning Zimmerman’s wife about her assertion that Zimmerman poses no danger to the community. The prosecuting attorney is pointing out that Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder, and that Zimmerman is accused of a violent act.

The prosecuting attorney also is asking Zimmerman’s wife about his previous brushes with the law, including a charge of battery of a law enforcement officer. He also brought up a woman’s previous allegations that the woman and Zimmerman were in an altercation – Zimmerman’s wife answered that she is aware that Zimmerman needed to defend himself from an attack by the woman, that the woman drew blood, and that Zimmerman filed for a protective order because of the incident. The prosecutor is asking her whether she is aware of those charges and allegations in the past, and she said she is.

[Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET] Zimmerman’s wife said she fears for Zimmeran’s safety and the safety of their family, and that is part of the reason why she is testifying by phone.

Asked if she believes Zimmerman is a danger to society, she said no. She said she has “no concerns whatsoever” about him.

[Updated at 9:18 a.m. ET] O’Mara is asking Zimmerman’s wife about the family’s financial ability to post bond. O’Mara is saying that Zimmerman is indigent; Zimmerman’s wife said that she has talked to other family members about scraping up everything they could in anticipation of posting bond.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET] With Zimmerman’s wife on speakerphone, O’Mara has begun asking her questions. Asked if she would do everything in her power to ensure that Zimmerman – should he be granted bail – return to court when he is required to do so, she said yes. And she said she would contact the court if she lost contact with him.

[Updated at 9:11 a.m. ET] The court has called Zimmerman’s wife on the phone. A notary public is with Mrs. Zimmerman and is swearing her in.

[Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET] Lester has begun the proceeding. After the attorneys identified themselves to the judge, O’Mara kicked off the bond request and told the judge that witnesses are available by phone. The court is calling those witnesses now. As we noted earlier, Zimmerman’s family has offered to give testimony by phone.

[Updated at 9:04 a.m. ET] Zimmerman, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and light gray tie, has entered the courtroom and has seated himself next to O’Mara.

[Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET] Martin’s parents are, indeed, in the courtroom, and they’ve taken their seats. O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, also is standing the courtroom, waiting for the proceeding to begin.

[Updated at 8:59 a.m. ET] Check out this piece on why evidence in the case may come up in the bond hearing. The prosecutor, Corey, has the burden of showing why bond should not be set or that it should be high. The burden is referred to as “proof of guilt is evident or presumption of guilt is great.” Corey would have to convince Lester that a jury would convict Zimmerman.

[Updated at 8:55 a.m. ET] The bond hearing is expected to begin in minutes. Martin’s parents are expected to be at the hearing, and this would be the first time that they and Zimmerman are in the same room, CNN’s Martin Savidge tells us from the site.

O’Mara filed a motion that asks the court to allow Zimmerman’s family members to provide testimony at the bond hearing by telephone. The state attorney’s office did not object.

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Obama Removing 300 US Ground Troops From US Border With Mexico

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The Pentagon began flying military helicopters and surveillance planes over the U.S. border with Mexico last month as part of an effort to withdraw all but 300 of the National Guard ground troops who have helped patrol the rugged border since mid-2010.

The 19-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops on the southwest border has hurt recruiting efforts and threatened to strain diplomatic relations with Mexico, Brian J. Lepore, a director at the U.S. Government and Accountability Office, told a House homeland security subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

About 12 Blackhawk helicopters and several fixed-wing manned surveillance planes began flying regular patrols over the Rio Grande in Texas for a mission called “Operation River Watch II” in March. The 300 troops will fly the aircraft, or analyze intelligence about smuggling routes in command centers miles from the border.

The Obama administration deployed the National Guard to build access roads for border patrols and to help spot smugglers. The extra manpower was intended to bridge the gap while U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hired an additional 1,200 agents.

In the first year, the National Guard troops helped apprehend 17,887 illegal immigrants and seize 56,342 pounds of marijuana, which was 5.9 percent of all apprehensions and 2.6 percent of marijuana seizures during that time, officials said.

National Guard troops could man watchtowers and stare at closed-circuit television screens of the fence line but were prohibited from making arrests, and officials said morale suffered. The National Guard leadership became concerned that the mission, if extended, could hurt recruitment, according to a GAO report titled “Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border.”

Further use of National Guard troops “could create a perception of a militarized U.S. border with Mexico,” State Department officials told the GAO. The Obama administration has worked with Mexico to strengthen civilian law enforcement agencies to combat drug cartels responsible for thousands of killings.

“We need to have a long-term vision and whole-of-government approach to securing the southwest border that will replace the ad hoc application of resources that has, to date, epitomized our approach to border security,” Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., who chairs the subcommittee on border and maritime security, said in a statement.

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Four South-East New Hampshire Cops Shot And Greenland Police Chief Dead In Botched Raid

April 13, 2012

GREENLAND, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Five police officers in New Hampshire were shot as they tried to serve a search warrant in a drug investigation Thursday night, and local media reported that one of them, the Greenland police chief, had died from a bullet to the head.

Officers may have interrupted a drug deal at the house, the Union Leader of Manchester reported.

Early Friday, state Atty. Gen. Michael Delaney confirmed that Chief Michael Maloney had been killed, the Associated Press reported.

The incident began around 6 p.m. in the quiet seaside town of 3,500 residents. At 11 p.m., police said, a man and a woman remained barricaded inside.

“We are working with federal, state and local law enforcement to try to obtain a peaceful resolution,” Delaney said late Thursday. “I do want to extend my thoughts and prayers to families and relatives and loved ones of the police officer that has been killed and the four police officers that have been injured.”

Maloney was to have retired in less than two weeks.

The violence shocked the community.

“It’s a blow to all of us,” John Penacho, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, told the Associated Press. “You’re stunned. It’s New Hampshire, it’s a small town.… It’s an unbelievable situation.”

Tammy Sullivan, who lives across the street from the house, told the Union Leader she saw three police officers felled when she looked out her window after hearing several gunshots.

“I saw the officers shot from the house and I saw them go down,” she said. “They were running from the house and the guy started shooting like crazy. All of a sudden cops came flying from everywhere.”

Officers told her to take cover in her basement and stay there, she said.

About 11 p.m., she told the newspaper that police were urging the man to talk to them on his cellphone. “They’re telling him they don’t want anybody else hurt and they want this to be a safe night,” she said.

The resident of the home was Cullen Mutrie, 29, the Union Leader said.

Gov. John Lynch rushed to Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where the officers were being treated.

“This is a tragic incident, and my thoughts and prayers are with the officers involved and their families,” the Democratic governor told the Associated Press.

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Dashcam Video Camera’s Audio Caught On Duty Santa Fe New Mexico Police Officer Sgt. Mike Eiskant Masturbating In Patrol Car – Plead Guilty For Slap On The Wrist For Laundry List Of Charges Including Stalking, Harassment, And Drugs

April 12, 2012

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – A police sergeant in Santa Fe, New Mexico is in a bad situation after a video caught him masturbating while he was on duty. The video has recently been released and it was filmed by the dashboard camera of the officer’s cruiser. The video released to the media does not show the inside of the cruiser but has audio that is quite steamy. The officer in question is Sgt. Mike Eiskant.

One former officer, Shannon Brady, was not surprised at the news of the video as Brady said that Eiskant had a bad reputation as a stalker of women and a ‘creeper.’ Brady attempted to file a harassment complaint against Eiskant years ago with the Santa Fe Police Department’s human resource division. The complaint was filed with compliance officer Raymond Rael, who is not the police chief for the department.

You can hear on the video his audio-erotic situation and the sound of a zipper can be heard clearly. The officer seems to be masturbating while looking at a nude picture of a woman on his cellphone. The video is a total of 10 minutes and at one time in the video the officer can be heard saying, “Oh, show me those big beautiful breasts, baby.”

They had plenty of opportunities over the course of many years to do something about it and they refused to,” Brady said.

When Brady tried to file the claim, Rael asked if she was “doing this only because of all the rumors against Mike Eiskant stalking women.” Rael instead offered mediation between the two parties but Brady declined. Rael has said that he is unaware of any other complaints against Eiskant, who has never been placed on administrative leave. Eiskant is scheduled to retire in November.

“I did not have prior knowledge, and if I did, I would have acted,” Rael said.

When Eiskant was promoted to the rank of sergeant he was issued the badge number 69. Rael explained that he did not know the reason why this happened.

“Is it possible that it is coincidental?” Rael said. “I suppose, but I can’t speak to that issue one way or another.”

A statement from the Attorney General Gary King’s office said that Eiskant promised he “will never again become a law enforcement officer anywhere in the United States,” as part of his plea deal. The agreement also states that “probation length, at initial sentencing, shall not exceed one year, and may be converted to unsupervised probation, in the discretion of the court, after any mandatory counseling has been completed.”

Eiskant entered a no contest plea in Bernalillo County District Court in front of Judge Reed Sheppard for other issues. The no contest pleas were for two counts of attempt to commit a felony for false imprisonment, one count of stalking, two counts of harassment and charges for larceny and possession of marijuana. The criminal complaint details that seven of the charges happened in 2011 and plenty of them involved women in traffic stops.

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Veteran Honolulu Hawaii Police Officer Michael Steven Chu Arrested In Connection With Marijuana Indoor Grow Operation – Pound Of Pot Found In His Patrol Car

April 11, 2012

HONOLULU, HAWAII – A Honolulu police officer was arrested in connection with his role in a marijuana growing operation in Honolulu and Mililani Mauka, according to federal court documents.

Honolulu Police Officer Michael Steven Chu has been on the force for 13 years. He was scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday.

Chu has been charged with conspiring to possess and distribute nearly 50 marijuana plants and one pound of processed marijuana.

Court documents show Chu and a woman, Athena Lee, were arrested after Drug Enforcement Administration agents found 20 marijuana plants, large amounts of cash, and paperwork last Friday at the Moana Pacific Towers on Kapiolani Boulevard.

Agents also found a pound of marijuana and money orders in Chu’s subsidized police car.

Chu and the woman happened to show up at the apartment during the search. Court documents show Chu was carrying a “plastic bag that contained nutrients and materials that are used in the indoor grow.”

The next day, agents found a marijuana growing operation at Chu’s home in Mililani Mauka.

Chu’s neighbors say they never suspected the police officer would be charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana.

“My jaw just dropped,” said Mililani Mauka resident Ellen Autele. “You never knew or would think that.”

“It was disheartening to hear that kind of thing happen to him,” said neighbor Wayne Autele. “It does put a black eye on all policemen. When you get one bad egg like this, it just taints everybody.”

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Special Prosecutor Says Zimmerman Won’t Yet Face Grand Jury After Killing Druggie In Sanford Florida

April 9, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – Special prosecutor Angela Corey has decided against using a grand jury in the case involving the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, her office said Monday.

The grand jury, set to convene Tuesday, was “previously scheduled by the former prosecutor,” said the statement from Corey.

“The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case,” her office said.

Corey said the investigation into the case continues. The state attorney has maintained that a grand jury is not needed to file possible criminal charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed the teen February 26.

The case has triggered a nationwide debate about Florida’s “stand your ground” law — which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury — and race in America.

Prosecutors are trying to unravel what happened the night Martin was killed. Witnesses and attorneys for both sides have offered conflicting accounts. Two prosecutors are working to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against Zimmerman, 28.

“We had hoped she had enough evidence without the need to convene a grand jury,” said Benjamin Crump, attorney for Martin’s family. “The family is trying to have patience and faith through all of this.”

Crump said the family is hoping for charges against Zimmerman and an arrest as soon as possible.

“We want a very public trial so the evidence can come out and show people that the justice system works for everybody,” he said.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Hal Uhrig, texted his reaction to CNN’s Martin Savidge: “Not surprised. Don’t know what her decision will be. Courageous move on her part.”

Thousands have converged on Sanford to join in protests calling for Zimmerman’s arrest and criticize the police department’s handling of the case.

On Monday, a group of students calling themselves the Dream Defenders marched to the Sanford police station, singing and carrying a banner saying, “We are Trayvon Martin.” The march began Friday in Daytona Beach, about 40 miles away, and continued through the weekend.

The marchers linked arms, sang and chanted as they faced the building’s entrance Monday. Six of the demonstrators, wearing hoodies, were blocking the department’s main entrance. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was killed.

The Sanford Police Department said in a statement its office was “temporarily closed to the public … due to the actions of student protestors. The students are currently occupying the space in front of the police department blocking the main entrance.” The protest will not affect police and fire response to emergency calls, the department said.

“The city of Sanford hopes the actions of the students will be as peaceful and orderly as the previous rallies and marches have been,” City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. said.
Enhanced audio refutes Zimmerman slur
Crump: Trayvon had right to defend self
Swain: ‘Hoodies feed into stereotype’
Nugent: Trayvon case a tragedy

Corey said previously she has never used a grand jury to decide on charges in a justifiable homicide case.

“We do a thorough investigation. We make that decision ourselves,” she said.

Sunny Hostin, legal analyst for CNN sister network HLN, said she was not surprised by Corey’s decision.

“As a former prosecutor, I typically made my own charging decisions,” she said. “… Many, many seasoned prosecutors use their judgment and make charging decisions, don’t necessarily punt the ball to lay people, to a grand jury.”

Corey’s decision was “the smart thing to do,” she said. “… Now Angela Corey is letting everyone know that this is her case. This is her decision.”

Although details of the incident remain murky, what is known is that Martin ventured out from his father’s fiancee’s home in Sanford to get a snack at a nearby convenience store. As he walked home with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.

Sanford police questioned Zimmerman and released him without charges.

From there, the case has evolved into opposing allegations from Zimmerman’s supporters, Martin’s family and authorities.

Zimmerman says he killed Martin in self-defense after the teen punched him and slammed his head on the sidewalk, according to an Orlando Sentinel report that was later confirmed by Sanford police.

One of the responding officers saw a wound on the back of Zimmerman’s head and a bloody nose, and noted that his back was wet — indicating he had been lying in the grass, according to the police report.

An enhanced copy of a surveillance video showing him in police custody after the shooting appears to show a bump, mark or injury on his head.

Martin’s family and supporters have dismissed the video.

They say Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, racially profiled the teen, who was black, and ignored a police dispatcher’s directive not to follow him.

Zimmerman’s attorneys interpret the call differently, and say the operator did not order Zimmerman not to follow Martin.

A recording of a 911 call made the night of the shooting captured someone pleading for help. Zimmerman has said he was yelling for help, according to his family members and his account to authorities.

Martin’s relatives have said they are certain the voice calling for help on the 911 call is Martin’s.

Audio experts Tom Owen and Ed Primeau, who analyzed the recordings for the Orlando Sentinel using different techniques, said they don’t believe the voice is Zimmerman’s.

They compared the screams with Zimmerman’s voice, as recorded in a 911 call he made minutes earlier describing a “suspicious” black male.

The debate was further muddied when a witness, who declined to be identified by CNN, said she saw and heard the incident through her window.

When pressed on whether she could determine who was yelling, the witness said, “It was the younger, youthful voice (rather) than it was the deep voice I heard when they were arguing.”

Zimmerman’s attorneys have questioned the account, saying it was dark at the time of the shooting.

Until now, only friends and relatives of Zimmerman’s have come forward to speak on his behalf. Zimmerman’s attorneys have said he wants to share his story but can’t because of threats to his safety and the possibility of charges.

Martin’s family has said a Sanford police detective filed an affidavit saying he did not find Zimmerman’s statements after the shooting credible — but that Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee and State Attorney Norm Wolfinger met the night of the shooting and disregarded the detective’s advice.

Neither police nor prosecutors have confirmed the existence of such an affidavit. And Wolfinger has vehemently denied that such a meeting occurred.

The two sides have also debated what Zimmerman whispered under his breath during his 911 call.

Martin’s supporters said he uttered a racial slur; Zimmerman’s lawyer said he told them he whispered “punks.”

“We don’t know” whether a grand jury will choose to indict, said Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner.

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey as a special prosecutor as calls for “Justice for Trayvon” grew in the days following the shooting.

Authorities have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he’d acted to protect himself.

The governor has formed a task force to review the “stand your ground” law.

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9 Month Jail Sentenced Delayed Again – Former Las Vegas Nevada Drug Prosecutor David Schubert Pled Guilty After Buying Cocaine

April 8, 2012

A nine-month jail sentence for a former drug prosecutor who pleaded guilty to buying $40 worth of cocaine again has been delayed, this time by Nevada’s high court.

The Supreme Court on Friday said that because the case is under appeal, David Schubert does not have to report to the county jail Monday to start serving his sentence, which was handed down by a district judge in February.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has asked the state attorney general’s office to respond to the sentencing appeal made by Bill Terry, Schubert’s lawyer.

Terry has said Judge Carolyn Ellsworth showed bias against his client at a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing.

At the hearing, Terry said, Ellsworth violated procedure by adjudicating Schubert guilty before arguments by the defense and the prosecution. And Ellsworth’s court marshal handcuffed him before the judge announced she was sentencing him to nine months in jail for his buying $40 of rock cocaine last year.

Last week Chief Judge Jennifer Togliatti denied Schubert’s motion to have the sentence tossed and the case moved to another judge.

The Supreme Court has asked for a response to Terry’s appeal from the state attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Schubert pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cocaine possession, which under state law results in mandatory probation.

At the sentencing hearing, Ellsworth called the deal “offensive” and sentenced Schubert to three years of probation, which included nine months in the county jail. State law allows a judge to order a defendant to serve a year of probation in jail.

In contrast, two high-profile cocaine prosecutions handled by Schubert resulted in probation and no jail time. At the time of their arrests, celebrity Paris Hilton and singer Bruno Mars both had more cocaine in their possession than the former prosecutor.

Las Vegas police arrested the 10-year veteran prosecutor in March 2011 after they watched a man get out of Schubert’s car, go into an apartment complex and return. Officers found Schubert with a minute amount of rock cocaine and confiscated a 9 mm handgun from his car.

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Miami NBC Producer Fired After Altering 911 Audio Tape That Made Zimmerman Sound Like He Was Racially Profiling Dead Druggie Trayvon Martin

April 7, 2012

NEW YORK – The controversy erupted after “Today” aired a segment that made shooter George Zimmerman sound as though he was racially profiling the 17-year-old black youth.

NBC News has fired the producer it deemed most responsible for the airing of a selectively edited 911 call placed by George Zimmerman the night he killed Trayvon Martin.
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Sources at NBC who asked not to be identified confirmed a New York Times story saying that a Miami-based producer was fired Thursday, though the sources refused to identify the former employee.

The offending segment aired on NBC’s Today show March 27 but went widely unnoticed until it was highlighted by conservative outlets such as the Media Research Center and Breitbart.com.

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Two days after the Today gaffe, Sean Hannity ran a segment about NBC’s manipulation of the 911 call on his Fox News Channel show. The story went viral when the Drudge Report linked to a Hollywood Reporter story about the growing controversy last week.

In the original 911 call, Zimmerman is heard describing Martin as such: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

The dispatcher then asks: “OK, and this guy – is he white, black or Hispanic?”

“He looks black,” Zimmerman responds.

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The version NBC ran, though, was much shorter and did not include the question posed by the 911 operator.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black,” Zimmerman is heard saying in NBC’s edited version.

The difference is significant, since activists have been claiming that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin. Critics have argued that NBC set out to purposely advance that narrative by condensing the 911 tape to make it appear that Zimmerman’s motivation for assuming Martin was “up to no good” was based on his skin color.

NBC announced Saturday that it had launched an investigation into the matter, and on Tuesday it apologized for its “error” and said it had completed its inquiry.

“We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers,” NBC said Tuesday.

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Former Veteran Arapahoe County Colorado “Sheriff Of The Year” Patrick Sullivan Pleads Guilty In Meth For Sex Case For Slap On The Wrist – Will Serve Time In Jail Named After Him – His Former Gay Lover Snitched On Him

April 4, 2012

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, COLORADO – A former Colorado sheriff once named national “Sheriff of the Year” has pleaded guilty to charges of trading meth for sex and was sentenced to 38 days in jail, KUSA-TV reports.

Patrick Sullivan, the 69-year-old former Arapahoe County sheriff, will serve his sentence in the county jail named after him, although he will be separated from the general jail population. He will also be on probation for two years.

“I apologize to the court, to the community, to my family,” Sullivan said in court on Tuesday before being taken into custody. “There is no excuse for my behavior.”

Deputy Attorney General Michael Dougherty called Sullivan “a man who’s brought disgrace upon himself and law enforcement” and “a disgrace to the badge,” the Denver TV station reports.

Sullivan was arrested in November in an undercover sting operation set up by a gay lover of his and another gay man, all of whom had previously smoked meth together, The Denver Post reports.

Sullivan served as sheriff for 18 years and was named “Sheriff of the Year” by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 2001.

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Sanford Florida Police And Prosecutors Resisted Release Of 911 Tapes Concerning Dead Druggie Trayvon Martin

March 30, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA — The mayor of the city where Trayvon Martin was killed says he overruled police and prosecutors who opposed the release of tapes of 911 calls, telling them: “We’re not here to hide anything.”

Jeff Triplett, who is a senior vice president at United Legacy Bank and part-time mayor of Sanford, said he took the decision after Martin’s family asked for the release of recordings of a call that shooter George Zimmerman made to police and 911 calls from neighbors who heard the confrontation.

Police, prosecutors and the city attorney opposed releasing the calls because of the ongoing investigation, Triplett told Reuters.

“Everyone was saying to me, no, no, no, don’t turn them over,” he said. “I just continually asked, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?'”

“I made that call to try to settle everything down a little bit, to let the family hear what transpired. We were being accused of a lot of things, or the police department was, so we can take the step to say, ‘We’re not here to hide anything,'” Triplett added.

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Triplett was governs a population of about 54,000, 30 percent of whom are black and have long complained bitterly about police mistreatment.

“I ran for office to make a better Sanford. And this comes on your plate, and it’s just amazing,” 43-year-old Triplett told Reuters in an interview.

“The decisions I’m trying to make, I could be not only held accountable for them from the city side but from the nation and the world that’s watching right now,” he added.

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Martin’s death has drawn international attention, spurred protests in American cities and prompted a federal review.

George Zimmerman’s brother said late on Thursday that medical records will prove that his brother was attacked and his nose was broken by Trayvon Martin before he fatally shot the teen.

Robert Zimmerman Jr. told CNN’s Piers Morgan: “We’re confident the medical records are going to explain all of George’s medical history,” he said.

Controversy surrounding the case deepened Thursday when surveillance video footage of George Zimmerman being led from a police car shortly after he fatally shot Martin appeared not to show any obvious signs of injuries or bloodstains.

The footage, obtained by ABC News, shows a handcuffed Zimmerman getting out of the police car unaided and walking into the police station.

In the video, there are no readily visible signs of injuries to Zimmerman’s head or blood on his clothes. However, he is wearing a red jacket, which could obscure blood stains. Also, at one point, an officer pauses to look at the back of Zimmerman’s head, which he claims was injured by Martin.

Triplett has had a mixed reaction: he has been booed off a stage, defended by black community leaders, and lectured on racial justice by civil rights activists.

He described how, on March 16, he invited Martin’s family and lawyers to his office at City Hall to listen to the 911 calls prior to the public release. Natalie Jackson, an Orlando civil rights lawyer, was also present.

Martin’s mother weeps
Triplett played the calls on his office computer. Someone was heard crying for help. Martin’s mother wept and ran from the room, convinced it was her son, Jackson said. Everyone was moved to tears.

“It was very emotional,” Triplett recalled. “Obviously when you hear something like that, there couldn’t be anything worse for a family member or a parent … and to hear your own son, what transpired at the last second.”

Police video shows George Zimmerman shortly after Trayvon Martin shooting

Not everyone approves of Triplett’s actions. Sanford City Commissioner Patty Mahany said she thought he meant well, but that he had drawn more attention to the case and the calls could influence jurors in any trial.

“I think it stirred up a lot of anger in very well-meaning people who still don’t have the whole story,” Mahany said.

Meanwhile, a college newspaper has apologized for publishing a cartoon about the Martin case after it received complaints, according to a report in the LA Times.

The editorial board of the University of Texas at Austin’s Daily Texan said its decision to publish the cartoon “showed a failure in judgment on the part of the editorial board”, adding that the cartoonist responsible, Stephanie Eisner, had left the paper.

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Marathon Florida Mailwoman Veronica Johnson Delivered Mail And Drugs – Busted With 10 Pounds Of Marijuana

March 30, 2012

MARATHON, FLORIDA – A Marathon mail carrier was arrested Tuesday after authorities say she was delivering more than letters.

Veronica Johnson, 49, was arrested on marijuana possession charges after she was caught with a package with 10 pounds of pot inside, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say the Postal Service had received information about a package believed to have drugs inside that was addressed to an elderly Marathon woman.

When the package arrived at the Marathon Post Office, it was given to Johnson for delivery, but when she delivered mail to the elderly woman’s address, she didn’t deliver the package and instead put it in the trunk of her car, the sheriff’s office said.

Detectives questioned Johnson, who said she takes delivery of the marijuana for a man who pays her $200 per package, the sheriff’s office said. Johnson said she’d delivered the packages several times in the past and knows what is inside them, authorities said.

Johnson was arrested and booked into jail. She was being held without bond and it was unknown whether she has an attorney.

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Overactive Imagination: Druggie Wannabe Gangser/Thug Treyvon Martin Was “Hunted Down Like A Dog”

March 28, 2012

FLORIDA – Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida): This is Treyvon Martin. Trayvon Martin’s murderer is still at large. It’s been one month, thirty days, with no arrest. I want America to see this sweet young boy who was hunted down like a dog, shot in the street, and his killer is still at large.

Not one person has been arrested in Treyvon’s murder. I want to make sure that America knows that in Sanford, Florida, there was a young boy murdered. He is buried in Miami, Florida, and not one person has been arrested even though we all know who the murderer is. This was a standard case of racial profiling. No more! No more! We will stand for justice for Treyvon Martin.

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Under New Law Florida State Workers To Face Random Drug Tests Like Workers In Private Industry

March 21, 2012

FLORIDA – Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed a law allowing state employees to be randomly tested for drugs, a measure likely to draw a legal challenge over its constitutionality.

The Republican governor signed the Drug-free Workplace Act, which will permit state agencies to randomly test up to 10 percent of their employees, his office said on Monday.

Tests could be conducted once every 90 days under the measure, which takes effect July 1. It would allow agencies to fire or discipline employees the first time they test positive for drugs.

Employers could choose to refer such employees to an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program.

Supporters of the law said it mirrors long-standing practices in private industry, but critics called the measure intrusive and unnecessary.

“Just like businesses do every day in the private sector, we, as a state, want to ensure a healthy and productive workforce,” spokesman Lane Wright said in an email.

Lawmakers in several states have passed similar measures in recent years. The courts have generally upheld random drug testing for workers in jobs that involve public safety.

“Governor Scott signed this law in clear defiance of constitutional principles,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

An ACLU spokesman would not confirm whether the organization intended to file a constitutional challenge, but Simon indicated in his statement legal action was likely.

Florida legislators last year voted to require applicants for federal public assistance to pass a drug test, but a federal judge barred enforcement of the law pending resolution of a challenge to its constitutionality.

“When this matter lands in the courts, we expect they will make it clear once again that government cannot subject people to suspicionless searches just because it wants to,” Simon said. “People do not lose their constitutional rights just because they work for the state of Florida.”

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Full Of It – Disgraced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Claims He Knew Nothing Of His Department’s Efforts To Arm Mexican Drug Cartels

February 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric Holder vigorously denied a “cover-up” by the Justice Department over “Operation Fast and Furious,” telling a House panel investigating the botched gun-running program that he has nothing to hide and suggesting the probe is a “political” effort to embarrass the administration.

“There’s no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder told lawmakers well into a hearing about whether he had been forthright in responding to requests of the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“We’re not going to be hiding behind any kind of privileges or anything,” he said.

The hearing came after Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, his Senate partner in the probe, asserted that top Justice officials are covering up events surrounding the flawed gun-smuggling probe.

Issa made the accusation in a letter threatening to seek a contempt of Congress ruling against Holder for failing to turn over congressionally subpoenaed documents that were created after problems with Fast and Furious came to light.

Republicans also released a report in the hours ahead of the hearing claiming that Justice Department officials “had much greater knowledge of, and involvement in, Fast and Furious than it has previously acknowledged.”

Asked whether his assistants, Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler or Assistant Attorney Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s Criminal Division, ever authorized gunwalking or the tactics employed in Fast and Furious, Holder responded not to his knowledge.

“Not only did I not authorize those tactics, when I found out about them I told the field and everybody in the United States Department of Justice that those tactics had to stop. That they were not acceptable and that gunwalking was to stop. That was what my reaction [was] to my finding out about the use of that technique,” he added.

He added that he doesn’t think that the situation warranted the kind of response Republicans were giving after his department provided thousands of documents, and planned to deliver more.

Holder also rejected arguments that his handling of the case had lost him any support for the effort he was putting forth as attorney general.

“I don’t think the American people have lost trust in me. … This has become political, I get that,” he said.

But Holder also said no one has been punished “yet” in the case, despite the fact that lost guns from the operation ended up at the crime scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December 2010.

Terry’s family has informed the U.S. government that it has six months to respond to its inquiry into Terry’s death or face a $25 million lawsuit.

In the botched operation, more than 1,400 weapons sold to low-level straw purchasers believed to be supplying Mexican drug gangs and other criminals were lost during tracking by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. Another 700 firearms connected to suspects in the investigation have been recovered, some from crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including in Nogales, Ariz., where Terry was killed.

Holder said he didn’t learn about Terry’s murder until 24 hours after his death, and at the time did not hear that weapons tied to Fast and Furious were at the scene.

“I didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until the beginning parts of 2011 after I received that letter from Senator Grassley, I guess at the end of January and then that was about Operation Gun Runner. I actually learned about the Fast and Furious operation in February of that year.”

Holder told the committee, “I’m not sure exactly how I found out about the term, ‘Fast and Furious.'” He testified repeatedly that he never authorized the controversial tactics employed in the operation.

“There is no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder said. “We have shared huge amounts of information” and will continue to do so, he said.

But Holder said under questioning that he has not disciplined anyone for his role in the controversial operation.

“No I have not as yet — as yet,” Holder said when questioned by Issa on the matter. “There have been personnel changes made at ATF. We obviously have a new U.S. attorney in Arizona. We have made personnel switches at ATF. People have been moved out of positions.”

Holder’s statements on the Justice Department’s role in the operation did not sit well with Republican lawmakers on the committee, who accused the attorney general of intentionally withholding key documents in the case.

“The conclusion that I come to is there are some things in there that’s being hidden that you don’t want us to see,” said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. “We have every right under the Constitution to check on what you’re doing… So for you to deny this committee anything like that is just dead wrong and I don’t think you’re going to find any way that you can do it.”

Burton went on to say that 93,000 documents related to the operation are being withheld by the Justice Department even though they’ve been turned over internally to the department’s inspector general, a political appointee, Burton said.

“And you’re saying, well, the separation of powers prohibits you from (delivering them to Congress). That’s baloney. That is just baloney,” Burton said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also questioned Holder’s having not discussed the case with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“When people know that I’m going to be the subject of these kinds of hearings, you know six times and all that, nobody necessarily wants to get involved in these kinds of things or get dragged into it,” Holder responded.

Issa told Holder the committee will do what is necessary to obtain the information, “If you do not find a legitimate basis to deny us the material we’ve asked for.”

Holder said earlier during testimony that he would release additional materials “to the extent that I can.”

In Holder’s defense, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., claimed the committee has “not obtained one shred of evidence that would contradict your testimony.”

“Not one witness, not one document, not one e-mail, and still some continue to suggest that you did personally authorize gunwalking and the tactics in Operation Fast and Furious.”

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Dekalb County Georgia “Officer Of The Month” Ghayth Abdul-Mughnee Arrested, Fired, Charged With Drugs And Stealing From Those He Arrested

January 26, 2012

DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA – A DeKalb County police “Officer of the Month” who was charged with stealing from people he had arrested has been fired, the department said Thursday.

Officer Ghayth Abdul-Mughnee, on the force for four years, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant charging him with theft by taking, possession of marijuana and violation of his oath of office. He was taken to DeKalb police headquarters in handcuffs.

Asked if he stole, the 30-year-old Abdul-Mughnee told Channel 2 Action News, “No, I’m innocent.”

“My girlfriend is setting me up,” he said.

The officer had been placed on administrative leave, and additional charges were pending, police said.

The investigation against him began when officers responded to a domestic call shortly after 2 a.m. Monday at the Abdul-Mughnee’s Lithonia home. The officer’s live-in girlfriend, Shawte White, told police about the alleged thefts as she was being arrested for simple assault.

Police said Abdul-Mughnee would bring items home from work that belong to people he arrested. Investigators said they found in the officer’s home a laptop computer, cell phone and iPod, as well as several bank cards and banking information.

The 33-year-old White also told investigators her boyfriend brought home marijuana he had seized from suspects, police said.

A police car Abdul-Mughnee had been allowed to take home as part of his Officer of the Month commendation for December was impounded as evidence.

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Hero To Zero: Former Arapahoe County Colorado Sheriff Patrick Sullivan Locked Up In Jail Named For Him After Offering Meth In Exchange For Gay Sex

December 1, 2011

CENTENNIAL, COLORADO – A former Colorado lawman with a record so distinguished he was once honored as the nation’s sheriff of the year now finds himself in a jail that was named for him, accused of offering methamphetamine in exchange for sex from a male acquaintance.

Patrick Sullivan, 68 — handcuffed, dressed in an orange jail uniform and walking with a cane — watched Wednesday as a judge raised his bail amount to a half-million dollars and sent him to the Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility.

The current sheriff, Grayson Robinson, who worked as undersheriff for Sullivan from 1997 until he took over the job in 2002, said the department was shocked and saddened at his arrest.

Robinson said the case is still under investigation, including where and how Sullivan might have gotten the drugs. He declined to say if authorities suspect Sullivan of using drugs, or if others might be charged.

The Post reported court documents in several other cases show that Sullivan in recent months had been associating with young men fighting an addiction to meth. When the former sheriff was questioned about it, he said he was working in a state drug-treatment program.

Sullivan later told detectives he was on a meth drug task force and helps recovering addicts get clean, according to another report.

The Colorado attorney general’s office said there was no record of Sullivan working on a meth task force.

Sullivan’s arrest has many in suburban Denver’s Arapahoe County where he held sway for nearly two decades wondering what happened to the tough-as-nails lawman they once knew — a law officer known for his heroism in saving two deputies and for his concern about teenage drug use.

“This isn’t the Pat I know,” said Peg Ackerman, a lobbyist for the County Sheriffs of Colorado who often worked with him on legislation. She said he was concerned about drug use in schools and was a chief of security at a school district.

At the brief hearing, Judge William Sylvester told Sullivan not to contact anyone involved in the case.

Sullivan’s attorney, Kevin McGreevy, did not return calls seeking comment.

Sullivan came to the attention of law enforcement after an Oct. 4 call to authorities from a home in Centennial, according to an arrest affidavit. The deputy who responded had worked for Sullivan and knew who he was.

After investigating further, the deputy learned from two confidential informants that Sullivan was dealing meth but would sell it only if they had sex with him, the document stated. He was arrested after police set up a sting at a home.

Deputies found that Sullivan had handed someone a bag of meth and had another bag on him when he was searched, according to the affidavit. Both bags weighed less than a gram.

Sullivan served as sheriff from 1984 until his retirement in 2002.

In 2002, then-U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo praised him on his retirement, citing Sullivan for promoting homeland security and for being named Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff’s Association.

In 1989, Sullivan was hailed as a hero. During a gunman’s rampage, he rescued two deputies after crashing his truck through a fence and protecting them while they were loaded into the vehicle.

While those who know Sullivan were puzzled by the news, some said they weren’t surprised that a person of his stature could get involved. They said meth users will do almost anything to feed their habit and often hurt others in the process.

“This drug knows no economic, social, professional or occupational boundaries,” said state Rep. Ken Summers, who served on a legislative meth task force.

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