New York Wall Street CEO Sentenced To Just 16 Days In Jail After Killing 9/11 Survivor In Drunken Hit And Run

January 10, 2009

NEW YORK – When police led 48-year-old George Anderson away in handcuffs a year ago, the Wall Street executive was facing possible manslaughter charges and a seven-year prison sentence for the DWI hit-and-run death of Brooklyn secretary Florence Cioffi.

The 59-year-old woman was run down and killed on the evening of Jan. 24, 2008 by Andersen’s black Mercedes SUV and the CEO of Enterprise Engineering left the scene only to return 20 minutes later refusing a breathalyzer test. Now Cioffi’s family and her companion of 18 years say they’re outraged at the deal Anderson has made with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that they say is a slap on the wrist.

Anderson has agreed to a plea deal in which he’ll admit to misdemeanor DWI charges and a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, but he’ll only serve 16 days in jail and do that time on eight consecutive weekends. He also agrees to do 200 hours of community service and pay a $350 fine.

It doesn’t sit well with Cioffi’s companion, William Mosca.

“I’m not saying that man has to go to jail for life, or 10 years or 11,” he told CBS 2 HD, “but 16 days and on weekends? That’s ludicrous. It’s a rich man’s sentence.”

Assistant District Attorney David Hammer suggested in court documents that the victim contributed to her own death by walking out onto Water Street a good 40 feet from the crosswalk with a blood alcohol level that would’ve been twice the legal limit if she’d been driving. He said she stepped out between two parked cars and that it would be difficult to prove that Anderson’s own intoxication was the cause of the accident.

Legal experts said the DA’s office is leaning on a theory called “comparative negligence,” something usually seen in civil cases where plaintiffs are assigned a portion of the blame for their own injuries.

“The question is, would [Andersen] have been able to avoid that accident if was sober?” attorney Michael Lamsonoff said.

The DA’s office insists the Cioffi family was consulted before the plea deal was made, but they told CBS 2 HD otherwise. Their attorney, Jeffrey Minsk, said: “It seems to me [the DA's office] were trying to fly this one under the radar. They didn’t want to make a stink about it. They didn’t want everyone to know what was going on.”

The deal still has to be formalized at a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. Mosca, and Cioffi’s brother, sister and mother plan to give victim impact statements in the hope of forcing the case to trial.

Appeared Here


Morgan County Alabama Sheriff Greg Bartlett Arrested – Scammed Taxpayers Out Of $212,000 And Didn’t Properly Feed Jail Inmates

January 8, 2009

DECATUR, ALABAMA – A federal judge has ordered the arrest of an Alabama sheriff who was held in contempt of court for failing to adequately feed jail inmates while profiting from the skimpy meals.

U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon ordered marshals to take Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett into custody at the end of a hearing Wednesday in Decatur.

The sheriff had testified that he legally pocketed about $212,000 over three years with surplus meal money but denied that inmates were improperly fed. Alabama’s unusual practice of letting sheriffs profit from feeding inmates dates back to the Depression.

Clemon, however, said the sheriff would be held until he comes up with a plan to provide the 300 jail inmates with nutrionally adequate meals, as required by an earlier court order.

Appeared Here


Morgan County Alabama Sheriff Greg Bartlett Arrested – Scammed Taxpayers Out Of $212,000 And Didn’t Properly Feed Jail Inmates

January 8, 2009

DECATUR, ALABAMA – A federal judge has ordered the arrest of an Alabama sheriff who was held in contempt of court for failing to adequately feed jail inmates while profiting from the skimpy meals.

U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon ordered marshals to take Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett into custody at the end of a hearing Wednesday in Decatur.

The sheriff had testified that he legally pocketed about $212,000 over three years with surplus meal money but denied that inmates were improperly fed. Alabama’s unusual practice of letting sheriffs profit from feeding inmates dates back to the Depression.

Clemon, however, said the sheriff would be held until he comes up with a plan to provide the 300 jail inmates with nutrionally adequate meals, as required by an earlier court order.

Appeared Here


Chattanooga Tennessee Police Officer Det. Kenneth Freeman Not Charged After Attacking Elderly Wal-Mart Greeter And A Customer – Previously Involved In An Attack On A Lawyer In Courthouse

January 6, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE – Chattanooga Police Det. Kenneth Freeman will not face charges in an incident in which he shoved a 71-year-old greeter at the Wal-Mart in Collegedale to the floor after he tried to stop him while doing a receipts check.

Collegedale Police declined to bring charges, then the employee, Bill Walker, filled out a complaint himself. Collegedale Judge Kevin Wilson has reviewed the complaint and did not issue an assault charge.

In the incident on Christmas Eve, Mr. Walker said an alarm went off when Det. Freeman and another city police officer, Edwin McPherson, were leaving the store.

He said he reached to try to stop Det. Freeman and he was pushed against a soft drink machine and to the floor. He said the officer then hovered over him as he lay on the floor.

A police report says a customer then told Det. Freeman, “You can’t push down an old man” and began struggling with him. It says Det. Freeman then shoved that man, Gholom Ghassedi, through a glass door. Officers found Mr. Ghassedi with blood on his neck, but he declined medical treatment.

Sgt. McPherson broke up the fight between Det. Freeman and Mr. Ghassedi.

Rick Watkins of Wal-Mart said an alarm was sounded when the 48-year-old Freeman walked by, causing Mr. Walker to try to stop him. Sgt. McPherson had already stopped for a receipt check.

An officer from the Chattanooga Police Department’s Internal Affairs division arrived at the scene to look into the incident.

Cpl. Larry Robbins Jr. of the Collegedale Police said he decided not to bring assault charges against Det. Freeman, saying the incident was a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer, there were no injuries requiring medical attention, the suspect is not a flight risk, and “there were no other crimes committed along with the possible simple assault.”

He said the investigation would be ongoing, but he said he “was unable to determine at the scene that there was any intent to commit an assault.”

Collegedale Officer Paul Crosby said when he arrived at the scene he found a large group of people gathered outside the door of the store. He said some “were obviously angry and were pointing fingers and yelling.”

He said one man was “livid” and was pointing his finger at Det. Freeman while saying, “You are a police officer? Shame on you.”

Det. Freeman was involved in a scuffle with attorney Lloyd Levitt at the Courts Building in May 2007.

Appeared Here


South Dakota Court Reverses Mans Conviction On Bogus Charge For Swearing At Brookings Police Officers

January 6, 2009

BROOKINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA – A man who cursed at police officers in Brookings, S.D., engaged in protected free speech, the state high court has ruled.

The court voted 4-1 to reverse a lower court decision that had found Marcus Suhn used unprotected fighting words — defined by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 60 years ago as words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

Marcus J. Suhn yelled a stream of profanities beginning with “Fucking cop” on the sidewalk at 2 a.m. after the bars closed on Sept. 2, 2007, as two police officers were riding down the street in their patrol car. One officer heard Suhn, got out of his patrol car, arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct.

After a trial court convicted Suhn, he appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which reversed the ruling in its Dec. 30, 2008, opinion in State v. Suhn. The majority, in an opinion written by Justice Judith Meierhenry, examined the origins and development of the “fighting words” doctrine articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1942 decision Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. The Court affirmed the conviction of Walter Chaplinsky after he allegedly called a local marshal a “fascist” and a “racketeer,” which the Court held were fighting words unprotected by the First Amendment.

In subsequent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the fighting-words doctrine. In Cohen v. California (1971), the Court declined to apply the fighting-words exception to First Amendment protection in the case of a man who wore a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” in a California courthouse, holding the phrase to be protected speech. In later decisions — Gooding v. Wilson (1972) and Lewis v. New Orleans (1974) — the Court invalidated convictions of individuals who cursed police officers, finding that the ordinances in question were unconstitutionally overbroad.

Analyzing this development, Meierhenry wrote that “the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that in order for speech to fall within the ‘fighting words’ exception, the words by their very utterance have ‘to tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace’ under the circumstances of the case.”

According to Meierhenry, Suhn’s profanity about the police did not “tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace,” as the other people standing on Main Street did not react with any type of violence.

“The crowd merely responded with facial expressions of disbelief,” he wrote. “Just because someone may have been offended, annoyed, or even angered by Suhn’s words does not make them fighting words.”

In dissent, Justice Richard W. Sabers characterized the context of the case differently, referring to “the crowd in this mob-like setting.” He reasoned that “the facts of this case are such that defendant’s speech tended to incite a breach of the peace.”

Appeared Here


Chattanooga Tennessee Police Officer Det. Kenneth Freeman Not Charged After Attacking Elderly Wal-Mart Greeter And A Customer – Previously Involved In An Attack On A Lawyer In Courthouse

January 6, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE – Chattanooga Police Det. Kenneth Freeman will not face charges in an incident in which he shoved a 71-year-old greeter at the Wal-Mart in Collegedale to the floor after he tried to stop him while doing a receipts check.

Collegedale Police declined to bring charges, then the employee, Bill Walker, filled out a complaint himself. Collegedale Judge Kevin Wilson has reviewed the complaint and did not issue an assault charge.

In the incident on Christmas Eve, Mr. Walker said an alarm went off when Det. Freeman and another city police officer, Edwin McPherson, were leaving the store.

He said he reached to try to stop Det. Freeman and he was pushed against a soft drink machine and to the floor. He said the officer then hovered over him as he lay on the floor.

A police report says a customer then told Det. Freeman, “You can’t push down an old man” and began struggling with him. It says Det. Freeman then shoved that man, Gholom Ghassedi, through a glass door. Officers found Mr. Ghassedi with blood on his neck, but he declined medical treatment.

Sgt. McPherson broke up the fight between Det. Freeman and Mr. Ghassedi.

Rick Watkins of Wal-Mart said an alarm was sounded when the 48-year-old Freeman walked by, causing Mr. Walker to try to stop him. Sgt. McPherson had already stopped for a receipt check.

An officer from the Chattanooga Police Department’s Internal Affairs division arrived at the scene to look into the incident.

Cpl. Larry Robbins Jr. of the Collegedale Police said he decided not to bring assault charges against Det. Freeman, saying the incident was a misdemeanor not committed in the presence of an officer, there were no injuries requiring medical attention, the suspect is not a flight risk, and “there were no other crimes committed along with the possible simple assault.”

He said the investigation would be ongoing, but he said he “was unable to determine at the scene that there was any intent to commit an assault.”

Collegedale Officer Paul Crosby said when he arrived at the scene he found a large group of people gathered outside the door of the store. He said some “were obviously angry and were pointing fingers and yelling.”

He said one man was “livid” and was pointing his finger at Det. Freeman while saying, “You are a police officer? Shame on you.”

Det. Freeman was involved in a scuffle with attorney Lloyd Levitt at the Courts Building in May 2007.

Appeared Here


South Dakota Court Reverses Mans Conviction On Bogus Charge For Swearing At Brookings Police Officers

January 6, 2009

BROOKINGS, SOUTH DAKOTA – A man who cursed at police officers in Brookings, S.D., engaged in protected free speech, the state high court has ruled.

The court voted 4-1 to reverse a lower court decision that had found Marcus Suhn used unprotected fighting words — defined by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 60 years ago as words “which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

Marcus J. Suhn yelled a stream of profanities beginning with “Fucking cop” on the sidewalk at 2 a.m. after the bars closed on Sept. 2, 2007, as two police officers were riding down the street in their patrol car. One officer heard Suhn, got out of his patrol car, arrested him and charged him with disorderly conduct.

After a trial court convicted Suhn, he appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which reversed the ruling in its Dec. 30, 2008, opinion in State v. Suhn. The majority, in an opinion written by Justice Judith Meierhenry, examined the origins and development of the “fighting words” doctrine articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1942 decision Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. The Court affirmed the conviction of Walter Chaplinsky after he allegedly called a local marshal a “fascist” and a “racketeer,” which the Court held were fighting words unprotected by the First Amendment.

In subsequent decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the fighting-words doctrine. In Cohen v. California (1971), the Court declined to apply the fighting-words exception to First Amendment protection in the case of a man who wore a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” in a California courthouse, holding the phrase to be protected speech. In later decisions — Gooding v. Wilson (1972) and Lewis v. New Orleans (1974) — the Court invalidated convictions of individuals who cursed police officers, finding that the ordinances in question were unconstitutionally overbroad.

Analyzing this development, Meierhenry wrote that “the United States Supreme Court has made it clear that in order for speech to fall within the ‘fighting words’ exception, the words by their very utterance have ‘to tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace’ under the circumstances of the case.”

According to Meierhenry, Suhn’s profanity about the police did not “tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace,” as the other people standing on Main Street did not react with any type of violence.

“The crowd merely responded with facial expressions of disbelief,” he wrote. “Just because someone may have been offended, annoyed, or even angered by Suhn’s words does not make them fighting words.”

In dissent, Justice Richard W. Sabers characterized the context of the case differently, referring to “the crowd in this mob-like setting.” He reasoned that “the facts of this case are such that defendant’s speech tended to incite a breach of the peace.”

Appeared Here


Homeless Man Targeted With Murder Charge After Fireman Runs Over Another Fireman With Fire Truck – Driver Was Looking At Fire Instead Of Where He Was Going

January 3, 2009

ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY – An arrest was made Friday afternoon, hours after a house fire led to the death of a firefighter who was struck by a fire truck.

A firefighter responding to a fast moving fire was killed after getting struck by a firetruck in Elizabeth, N.J.

Emilio Vasquez, 19, is charged with arson and murder for allegedly starting the fire. Vasquez, a homeless man from Guatemala, allegedly broke into the home and started the fire to stay warm, police said.

Gary Stephens was among the firefighters responding to the house fire in Elizabeth, N.J. on Friday morning. A 28-year veteran of the force, he was helping direct the fire truck while it was backing up when he was struck, fire officials said. The driver of the truck took his eyes off Stephens to look at the fire.

Witnesses said Stephens was pinned beneath the truck, and it took several other firefighters to free him. He was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The truck was moving at less than 5 mph when the truck hit the 57-year-old Stephens. The truck is equipped with a sensor that alerts the driver about objects while backing up, but it’s unclear if noise from the nearby New Jersey Turnpike played a role, fire officials said.

The fire broke out shortly after 2 a.m. in the abandoned side of a two-family house. A family of four was able to escape the fire unharmed from the adjacent home.

Appeared Here


Homeless Man Targeted With Murder Charge After Fireman Runs Over Another Fireman With Fire Truck – Driver Was Looking At Fire Instead Of Where He Was Going

January 3, 2009

ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY – An arrest was made Friday afternoon, hours after a house fire led to the death of a firefighter who was struck by a fire truck.

A firefighter responding to a fast moving fire was killed after getting struck by a firetruck in Elizabeth, N.J.

Emilio Vasquez, 19, is charged with arson and murder for allegedly starting the fire. Vasquez, a homeless man from Guatemala, allegedly broke into the home and started the fire to stay warm, police said.

Gary Stephens was among the firefighters responding to the house fire in Elizabeth, N.J. on Friday morning. A 28-year veteran of the force, he was helping direct the fire truck while it was backing up when he was struck, fire officials said. The driver of the truck took his eyes off Stephens to look at the fire.

Witnesses said Stephens was pinned beneath the truck, and it took several other firefighters to free him. He was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The truck was moving at less than 5 mph when the truck hit the 57-year-old Stephens. The truck is equipped with a sensor that alerts the driver about objects while backing up, but it’s unclear if noise from the nearby New Jersey Turnpike played a role, fire officials said.

The fire broke out shortly after 2 a.m. in the abandoned side of a two-family house. A family of four was able to escape the fire unharmed from the adjacent home.

Appeared Here


Charlotte-Mecklenburg North Carolina Police, Fire Department, And Bomb Squad Respond To Sporting Goods Store After Customer Drops Bullets

December 24, 2008

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Firefighters were called to Dick’s Sporting Goods at NorthLake Mall Tuesday afternoon after some bullets were dropped into an escalator.

The fire department received the call around 1:30 p.m.

According to the general manager of the mall, a customer entered Dick’s Sport Goods carrying some ammunition.

The shopper accidentally dropped the ammunition while riding on the escalator. Some of the ammo lodged in the escalator and detonated. No one was hurt.

Frefighters evacuated the store while firefighters searched for more ammunition that was dropped. The store reopened about an hour after it was evacuated.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s bomb squad was also called to the scene to provide assistance.

Appeared Here


Charlotte-Mecklenburg North Carolina Police, Fire Department, And Bomb Squad Respond To Sporting Goods Store After Customer Drops Bullets

December 23, 2008

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – Firefighters were called to Dick’s Sporting Goods at NorthLake Mall Tuesday afternoon after some bullets were dropped into an escalator.

The fire department received the call around 1:30 p.m.

According to the general manager of the mall, a customer entered Dick’s Sport Goods carrying some ammunition.

The shopper accidentally dropped the ammunition while riding on the escalator. Some of the ammo lodged in the escalator and detonated. No one was hurt.

Frefighters evacuated the store while firefighters searched for more ammunition that was dropped. The store reopened about an hour after it was evacuated.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s bomb squad was also called to the scene to provide assistance.

Appeared Here


Nutcase Palm Beach County Florida Deputy Sheriff Oscar Maturana Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Attacking Singing Man, Pulling Gun Outside Nightclub, Threatening To "Bust A Cap" In Security Guard And Customers, And Fleeing The Scene

December 23, 2008

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA — A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy pulled out a gun outside a local night club, pointed it at a security guard and other customers and threatened to “bust a cap” in them, an arrest report said.

Deputy Oscar Maturana was arrested shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday after he waved his gun, yelled threats and tried to flee the scene west of Lake Worth, with three other men, according to a Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit. He is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail, where a judge set bail at $100,000, jail records show.

Maturana was also placed on administrative leave while the agency’s internal affairs unit conducts its own investigation, said Col. Mike Gauger, director of law enforcement operations.

Maturana, 35, joined the Sheriff’s Office in January 2007, when he was hired and sent to the police academy for six months of training, his personnel file shows. A former truck driver, Maturana’s previous job was working security at a West Palm Beach strip club.

According to the report, Maturana and another man arrived at the La Isla Del Encanto night club on South Military Trail shortly before 3 a.m. Maturana identified himself to the guard as a deputy. The other man, identified only as Anthony, said he owned a nearby club.

The two had a few drinks, left and returned about 15 minutes later with two other men, witnesses said. Anthony and another man went inside and assaulted a man who was on stage singing. As the guard intervened, a fight broke out, which soon spread outside where Maturana was, the report said.

Witnesses said Maturana pulled out a gun and told the guard to back up or “I’ll bust a cap” in him, the report said.

The guard said Maturana “also began to point the gun at customers who were outside as well, telling them, ‘I’ll bust a cap” in all of them, the report said.

The four sped away, but deputies stopped them on Military Trail.

The security guard told deputies he “was in fear for his life.” Maturana faces one charge of aggravated assault with a firearm without intent to kill.

On his job application, Maturana listed work experience that showed him jumping from job to job during the last decade. He wrote that he was terminated in 2002 from a driver/sales job at a West Palm Beach beer distribution company, for “improper sales documentation” and had been disciplined by the same employer for “improper count of merchandise.”

Maturana also reported that from 2000 to 2005, he received seven traffic tickets.

A handwritten note on Maturana’s personnel file, signed “Col. G.,” reads: “Eric, see about moving this forward.”

Gauger said Monday he brought Maturana to the agency after they met through an acquaintance and Gauger realized Maturana spoke fluent Spanish. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw wanted to expand the agency’s minority representation, he said.

Gauger said he wrote the note to a recruiter early in the hiring process. Maturana still had to pass the interview and evaluation process.

“He was bilingual,” Gauger said. ‘He was not a personal friend of mine … I met him a couple of times through an acquaintance and he wanted to be a deputy Sheriff.”

“We have a very large Hispanic community and always look to add those who can represent minority communities,” he added. “Sometimes we make exceptions because they fit into categories that you are trying to make inroads with in your agency.”

Maturana lives in Palm Springs, where neighbors Monday described him as affable and responsible and said they were shocked by his arrest.

“I am just stumped,” said Cheryl Phillips, a neighbor of Maturana’s for about three years. “I’ve never known the guy to do anything wrong.”

Appeared Here


Nutcase Palm Beach County Florida Deputy Sheriff Oscar Maturana Arrested, Suspended, And Charged After Attacking Singing Man, Pulling Gun Outside Nightclub, Threatening To "Bust A Cap" In Security Guard And Customers, And Fleeing The Scene

December 23, 2008

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA — A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy pulled out a gun outside a local night club, pointed it at a security guard and other customers and threatened to “bust a cap” in them, an arrest report said.

Deputy Oscar Maturana was arrested shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday after he waved his gun, yelled threats and tried to flee the scene west of Lake Worth, with three other men, according to a Sheriff’s Office arrest affidavit. He is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail, where a judge set bail at $100,000, jail records show.

Maturana was also placed on administrative leave while the agency’s internal affairs unit conducts its own investigation, said Col. Mike Gauger, director of law enforcement operations.

Maturana, 35, joined the Sheriff’s Office in January 2007, when he was hired and sent to the police academy for six months of training, his personnel file shows. A former truck driver, Maturana’s previous job was working security at a West Palm Beach strip club.

According to the report, Maturana and another man arrived at the La Isla Del Encanto night club on South Military Trail shortly before 3 a.m. Maturana identified himself to the guard as a deputy. The other man, identified only as Anthony, said he owned a nearby club.

The two had a few drinks, left and returned about 15 minutes later with two other men, witnesses said. Anthony and another man went inside and assaulted a man who was on stage singing. As the guard intervened, a fight broke out, which soon spread outside where Maturana was, the report said.

Witnesses said Maturana pulled out a gun and told the guard to back up or “I’ll bust a cap” in him, the report said.

The guard said Maturana “also began to point the gun at customers who were outside as well, telling them, ‘I’ll bust a cap” in all of them, the report said.

The four sped away, but deputies stopped them on Military Trail.

The security guard told deputies he “was in fear for his life.” Maturana faces one charge of aggravated assault with a firearm without intent to kill.

On his job application, Maturana listed work experience that showed him jumping from job to job during the last decade. He wrote that he was terminated in 2002 from a driver/sales job at a West Palm Beach beer distribution company, for “improper sales documentation” and had been disciplined by the same employer for “improper count of merchandise.”

Maturana also reported that from 2000 to 2005, he received seven traffic tickets.

A handwritten note on Maturana’s personnel file, signed “Col. G.,” reads: “Eric, see about moving this forward.”

Gauger said Monday he brought Maturana to the agency after they met through an acquaintance and Gauger realized Maturana spoke fluent Spanish. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw wanted to expand the agency’s minority representation, he said.

Gauger said he wrote the note to a recruiter early in the hiring process. Maturana still had to pass the interview and evaluation process.

“He was bilingual,” Gauger said. ‘He was not a personal friend of mine … I met him a couple of times through an acquaintance and he wanted to be a deputy Sheriff.”

“We have a very large Hispanic community and always look to add those who can represent minority communities,” he added. “Sometimes we make exceptions because they fit into categories that you are trying to make inroads with in your agency.”

Maturana lives in Palm Springs, where neighbors Monday described him as affable and responsible and said they were shocked by his arrest.

“I am just stumped,” said Cheryl Phillips, a neighbor of Maturana’s for about three years. “I’ve never known the guy to do anything wrong.”

Appeared Here


Douglasville Georgia Police Officers To Receive "Training" After Bogus Arrest – Court Bailiff Attacked Woman With Head Scarf – Judge Keith Rollins Jailed Victim For 10 Days On Bogus Contempt Charge

December 23, 2008

DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA- The Douglasville Police Department said Monday its officers will undergo “sensitivity and cultural diversity training” after a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf at a courthouse was jailed.

Lisa Valentine has been shaken “to her core” by her arrest last week, her lawyer says.

“We never want this to happen again. It’s not our intent to embarrass anybody,” Police Chief Joe Whisenant said at a news conference.

The judge who had the woman jailed briefly for contempt of court will also take part in the training, Whisenant said.

The incident took place December 16 when Lisa Valentine, who also goes by her Muslim name, Miedah, accompanied her nephew to a hearing at Douglasville’s municipal courthouse. The scarf, called a hijab, covered her hair but not her face. It is part of her religious belief that her hair should be covered in public, as a form of modesty.

In an interview with CNN’s Rusty Dornin, Valentine said a bailiff told her she could not enter with her head scarf.

“I didn’t pose a threat to anybody,” Valentine said. “So I got really angry. I told her that was discrimination, and I said it was b.s. — and I used the full term of the word.”

She tried to leave, but the bailiff demanded that she appear before the judge, and pulled on her arm, Valentine said.

“I was right near the door. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And so she got in front of me,” Valentine said. “… She called for a guard or a police officer. He came and then he just was near me, and was like, ‘You’re going to do what you’re told to do.’

“And then he grabbed my arm, and of course instinctively I pulled it away. So he’s like grabbing me and bending my arm, like you see people who are resisting arrest, and trying to get really physical with me. … Then I said, ‘OK, OK,’ and I let them put the handcuffs on me.”

Valentine said she would have had no problem with allowing a female officer to check under her head scarf to make sure she did not pose any danger.

Valentine said that when she told the judge what had happened, he sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.

At the jail down the street, Valentine had to change into a jumpsuit. Her mug shot was taken — without her head scarf.

She was let out of jail later that day. Her attorney, M. Khurram Baig, said he does not know why she was released so quickly.

“It’s been devastating for her,” Baig said. “We’re talking about a major life-altering event for somebody to realize that everything they thought they knew about our justice system may not actually be the case. So she’s been shook to her core.”

Douglasville authorities describe the day’s events somewhat differently.

In a news release, police said Valentine repeatedly used the expletive, told the bailiff that the judge was “racist,” pointed her finger toward the officer, and “became loud enough that she attracted the attention of another officer.”

The news release said an officer did tell Valentine she could not leave, “and placed her hand on Mrs. Valentine’s wrist.”

“Mrs. Valentine resisted the officer’s efforts by stiffening her arm, but did not physically fight with the officer,” the release said.

When Judge Keith Rollins was told of the incident, the news release said, he ordered her jailed for 10 days.

The police department’s senior staff then investigated the incident and “determined that no fight took place” and “that Mrs. Valentine’s actions were primarily verbal and her resistance passive,” according to the release. The police chief told the judge of the department’s findings and the judge rescinded the contempt order, the release said.

“Mrs. Valentine was not arrested because of her head scarf or any action related to the scarf,” it said.

Valentine’s attorney said she has told him she did not call the judge racist.

When word of the incident spread, groups across the country weighed in on Valentine’s behalf, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Friday, about 50 people demonstrated outside the courthouse. Speakers called Valentine’s treatment a violation of the Constitution and called for Rollins to step down.

Valentine’s husband, Omar Hall, said the judge sent the message “that nobody of faith who wears a turban, a khimar, a yarmulke or a habit … can enter his court.”

Another woman, Halima Abdullah, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after a similar incident involving the same judge.

Rollins did not respond to calls from CNN on Monday and has not made a public statement.

The Douglasville police news release said that although Rollins prohibits head coverings in his courtroom, he “has also made an accommodation for those people who, for legitimate health, religious or other serious reasons, either cannot remove the headgear or, where doing so, would subject them to violating religious tenants or suffer extreme embarrassment or distress.”

“In such cases, the judge has heard cases involving those people outside the courtroom at another location,” the release said.

Rollins would have made that accommodation for the case of Valentine’s nephew, but the officer “did not affirmatively provide information on that policy,” according to the news release.

“It is also unclear how familiar this officer was with the alternative procedure,” the news release said.

When told Monday of the planned sensitivity training, Yusof Burke, Georgia executive director of CAIR, said it was “a responsible action” and that he was “glad to see they’ve had a change of heart.”

Asked whether CAIR considered it enough, he responded: “I think, from our standpoint. … We just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Baig, Valentine’s attorney, said he and his client needed to learn more specifics about the plan, and otherwise had no immediate response.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, said that when it comes to cases involving headwear, courts “generally weigh the government necessity vs. the interest in religious freedom.”

“Courts can say you have to take a head scarf off for a driver’s license photo because there is a public interest in making individuals clearly identifiable,” Toobin said. “The government interest in removing a head scarf to enter a courtroom, I think, is much thinner.”

Whisenant, Douglasville’s police chief, said the sensitivity and cultural diversity training will be “forthcoming very soon.”

“We’re taking all steps that we think are reasonable to make sure that this never happens again in our courtroom,” Whisenant said.

Appeared Here


Douglasville Georgia Police Officers To Receive "Training" After Bogus Arrest – Court Bailiff Attacked Woman With Head Scarf – Judge Keith Rollins Jailed Victim For 10 Days On Bogus Contempt Charge

December 22, 2008

DOUGLASVILLE, GEORGIA- The Douglasville Police Department said Monday its officers will undergo “sensitivity and cultural diversity training” after a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf at a courthouse was jailed.

Lisa Valentine has been shaken “to her core” by her arrest last week, her lawyer says.

“We never want this to happen again. It’s not our intent to embarrass anybody,” Police Chief Joe Whisenant said at a news conference.

The judge who had the woman jailed briefly for contempt of court will also take part in the training, Whisenant said.

The incident took place December 16 when Lisa Valentine, who also goes by her Muslim name, Miedah, accompanied her nephew to a hearing at Douglasville’s municipal courthouse. The scarf, called a hijab, covered her hair but not her face. It is part of her religious belief that her hair should be covered in public, as a form of modesty.

In an interview with CNN’s Rusty Dornin, Valentine said a bailiff told her she could not enter with her head scarf.

“I didn’t pose a threat to anybody,” Valentine said. “So I got really angry. I told her that was discrimination, and I said it was b.s. — and I used the full term of the word.”

She tried to leave, but the bailiff demanded that she appear before the judge, and pulled on her arm, Valentine said.

“I was right near the door. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And so she got in front of me,” Valentine said. “… She called for a guard or a police officer. He came and then he just was near me, and was like, ‘You’re going to do what you’re told to do.’

“And then he grabbed my arm, and of course instinctively I pulled it away. So he’s like grabbing me and bending my arm, like you see people who are resisting arrest, and trying to get really physical with me. … Then I said, ‘OK, OK,’ and I let them put the handcuffs on me.”

Valentine said she would have had no problem with allowing a female officer to check under her head scarf to make sure she did not pose any danger.

Valentine said that when she told the judge what had happened, he sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.

At the jail down the street, Valentine had to change into a jumpsuit. Her mug shot was taken — without her head scarf.

She was let out of jail later that day. Her attorney, M. Khurram Baig, said he does not know why she was released so quickly.

“It’s been devastating for her,” Baig said. “We’re talking about a major life-altering event for somebody to realize that everything they thought they knew about our justice system may not actually be the case. So she’s been shook to her core.”

Douglasville authorities describe the day’s events somewhat differently.

In a news release, police said Valentine repeatedly used the expletive, told the bailiff that the judge was “racist,” pointed her finger toward the officer, and “became loud enough that she attracted the attention of another officer.”

The news release said an officer did tell Valentine she could not leave, “and placed her hand on Mrs. Valentine’s wrist.”

“Mrs. Valentine resisted the officer’s efforts by stiffening her arm, but did not physically fight with the officer,” the release said.

When Judge Keith Rollins was told of the incident, the news release said, he ordered her jailed for 10 days.

The police department’s senior staff then investigated the incident and “determined that no fight took place” and “that Mrs. Valentine’s actions were primarily verbal and her resistance passive,” according to the release. The police chief told the judge of the department’s findings and the judge rescinded the contempt order, the release said.

“Mrs. Valentine was not arrested because of her head scarf or any action related to the scarf,” it said.

Valentine’s attorney said she has told him she did not call the judge racist.

When word of the incident spread, groups across the country weighed in on Valentine’s behalf, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.

On Friday, about 50 people demonstrated outside the courthouse. Speakers called Valentine’s treatment a violation of the Constitution and called for Rollins to step down.

Valentine’s husband, Omar Hall, said the judge sent the message “that nobody of faith who wears a turban, a khimar, a yarmulke or a habit … can enter his court.”

Another woman, Halima Abdullah, said she spent 24 hours in jail in November 2007 after a similar incident involving the same judge.

Rollins did not respond to calls from CNN on Monday and has not made a public statement.

The Douglasville police news release said that although Rollins prohibits head coverings in his courtroom, he “has also made an accommodation for those people who, for legitimate health, religious or other serious reasons, either cannot remove the headgear or, where doing so, would subject them to violating religious tenants or suffer extreme embarrassment or distress.”

“In such cases, the judge has heard cases involving those people outside the courtroom at another location,” the release said.

Rollins would have made that accommodation for the case of Valentine’s nephew, but the officer “did not affirmatively provide information on that policy,” according to the news release.

“It is also unclear how familiar this officer was with the alternative procedure,” the news release said.

When told Monday of the planned sensitivity training, Yusof Burke, Georgia executive director of CAIR, said it was “a responsible action” and that he was “glad to see they’ve had a change of heart.”

Asked whether CAIR considered it enough, he responded: “I think, from our standpoint. … We just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Baig, Valentine’s attorney, said he and his client needed to learn more specifics about the plan, and otherwise had no immediate response.

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst, said that when it comes to cases involving headwear, courts “generally weigh the government necessity vs. the interest in religious freedom.”

“Courts can say you have to take a head scarf off for a driver’s license photo because there is a public interest in making individuals clearly identifiable,” Toobin said. “The government interest in removing a head scarf to enter a courtroom, I think, is much thinner.”

Whisenant, Douglasville’s police chief, said the sensitivity and cultural diversity training will be “forthcoming very soon.”

“We’re taking all steps that we think are reasonable to make sure that this never happens again in our courtroom,” Whisenant said.

Appeared Here


UK Police Sent To Two Hour Course to Learn To Climb A 3 Foot Ladder

December 22, 2008

UK – Police officers have been sent on courses on how to climb 3ft up a ladder to install anti-speeding devices.

Forty-five Lancashire police employees have gone on the two-hour health and safety seminars to teach them how to hang smiley-face speed indicator signs (Spids) on posts by the roadside.

Workers had been erecting the portable signs for months without ladder training until health and safety bosses stepped in.

Staff were then banned from moving the signs between locations until they had special training – leaving devices, which cost up to £3,500, dormant across the county for four months.

A police statement, issued as part of a Freedom of Information request, says: “It would appear that, although working at less than one metre above ground level, staff should have been on a ladder training course.

“It is fair to say that risks associated with deployment of a Spid sign have not changed, but the risks associated with working at height were not fully appreciated initially.”

Questions are being raised about the policy by MPs and pressure groups.

Lancaster and Wyre MP Ben Wallace said: “It’s another example of the tail wagging the dog, of bureaucracy gone mad.

“It beggars belief that bureaucracy stands in the way of common sense, even when it concerns our police force.”

Electronic Spid signs flash up a sad face if motorists are speeding and a smiley face if they are within the limit.

Lancashire police said proper training courses had also been introduced because some of the signs had not been mounted correctly and could not detect all oncoming traffic.

Seminars include advice on what type of ladder should be used, how to carry devices safely and how to set up and maintain signs.

Police officers and civilian workers have also been warned they must wear high-visibility jackets and leggings and cone off the area when installing signs in bad weather – in case pedestrians bump into their ladder.

Eighty-two parish council volunteers and two private contractors have also gone on the courses, organised by the police, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue, which manages the ladder training.

Authorities say the course does not cost anything, apart from staff time. Nine courses have been held so far.

There are currently around 40 Spid signs in use in Lancashire, many owned by parish councils.

A Preston Council spokesman said all the signs it owned were believed to be currently in use.

Jo Abbott of motoring organisation RAC Foundation said drivers were keen to see the signs up and running.

She said: “I think they act as a good reminder to people who just slip over the speed limit.”

Appeared Here


UK Police Sent To Two Hour Course to Learn To Climb A 3 Foot Ladder

December 22, 2008

UK – Police officers have been sent on courses on how to climb 3ft up a ladder to install anti-speeding devices.

Forty-five Lancashire police employees have gone on the two-hour health and safety seminars to teach them how to hang smiley-face speed indicator signs (Spids) on posts by the roadside.

Workers had been erecting the portable signs for months without ladder training until health and safety bosses stepped in.

Staff were then banned from moving the signs between locations until they had special training – leaving devices, which cost up to £3,500, dormant across the county for four months.

A police statement, issued as part of a Freedom of Information request, says: “It would appear that, although working at less than one metre above ground level, staff should have been on a ladder training course.

“It is fair to say that risks associated with deployment of a Spid sign have not changed, but the risks associated with working at height were not fully appreciated initially.”

Questions are being raised about the policy by MPs and pressure groups.

Lancaster and Wyre MP Ben Wallace said: “It’s another example of the tail wagging the dog, of bureaucracy gone mad.

“It beggars belief that bureaucracy stands in the way of common sense, even when it concerns our police force.”

Electronic Spid signs flash up a sad face if motorists are speeding and a smiley face if they are within the limit.

Lancashire police said proper training courses had also been introduced because some of the signs had not been mounted correctly and could not detect all oncoming traffic.

Seminars include advice on what type of ladder should be used, how to carry devices safely and how to set up and maintain signs.

Police officers and civilian workers have also been warned they must wear high-visibility jackets and leggings and cone off the area when installing signs in bad weather – in case pedestrians bump into their ladder.

Eighty-two parish council volunteers and two private contractors have also gone on the courses, organised by the police, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Fire and Rescue, which manages the ladder training.

Authorities say the course does not cost anything, apart from staff time. Nine courses have been held so far.

There are currently around 40 Spid signs in use in Lancashire, many owned by parish councils.

A Preston Council spokesman said all the signs it owned were believed to be currently in use.

Jo Abbott of motoring organisation RAC Foundation said drivers were keen to see the signs up and running.

She said: “I think they act as a good reminder to people who just slip over the speed limit.”

Appeared Here


Homeless Prefer Jail To Cold Streets – Jobless Rate In Third-World-Like Detroit Michigan Tops 21 Percent

December 22, 2008

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - It’s a sign of tough times in the Detroit area where outreach experts say recently freed inmates are making a conscious decisions to get thrown back in jail.

The experts say that for some, the relative security of a warm building and three meals a day beats being homeless and hungry in the community.

Detroit has, by many measures, replaced New Orleans as America’s most beleaguered city.

The jobless rate has climbed past 21 percent, tens of thousands of homes and stores are abandoned and the ex-mayor is in jail for a text-messaging sex scandal. Even the pro football team is in tatters — the Lions are within two losses of an unprecedented 0-16 season.

Underlying it all is the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry, Detroit’s vital source of jobs and status for more than a century.

Appeared Here


Oregon Officials Turn Off Water Heaters At Women’s Prison To Save Money

December 22, 2008

OREGON – Inmates at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility learned Saturday morning that they weren’t immune from the crummy weather.

The prison is one of 180 large NW Natural customers who were given a choice: shift to the back-up fuel systems or pay higher rates during the current cold spell.

The prison, some universities and big manufacturing firms among others have “interruptible service contracts,” said NW Natural spokesman Cory Beck. Those customers pay lower rates because they agree to shift to an alternate fuel sources or pay higher rates under certain conditions, such as long periods of cold weather, Beck said.

The company notified customers a few days ago that it was imposing the requirement. It will be in effect until at least Monday, Beck said.

Until then, almost 1,500 Coffee Creek inmates won’t get hot showers or more than one hot meal a day, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jennifer Black. The Wilsonville prison started using it’s propane-fueled back-up system Saturday morning.

Appeared Here


Homeless Prefer Jail To Cold Streets – Jobless Rate In Third-World-Like Detroit Michigan Tops 21 Percent

December 22, 2008

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - It’s a sign of tough times in the Detroit area where outreach experts say recently freed inmates are making a conscious decisions to get thrown back in jail.

The experts say that for some, the relative security of a warm building and three meals a day beats being homeless and hungry in the community.

Detroit has, by many measures, replaced New Orleans as America’s most beleaguered city.

The jobless rate has climbed past 21 percent, tens of thousands of homes and stores are abandoned and the ex-mayor is in jail for a text-messaging sex scandal. Even the pro football team is in tatters — the Lions are within two losses of an unprecedented 0-16 season.

Underlying it all is the near-collapse of the U.S. auto industry, Detroit’s vital source of jobs and status for more than a century.

Appeared Here


Oregon Officials Turn Off Water Heaters At Women’s Prison To Save Money

December 22, 2008

OREGON – Inmates at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility learned Saturday morning that they weren’t immune from the crummy weather.

The prison is one of 180 large NW Natural customers who were given a choice: shift to the back-up fuel systems or pay higher rates during the current cold spell.

The prison, some universities and big manufacturing firms among others have “interruptible service contracts,” said NW Natural spokesman Cory Beck. Those customers pay lower rates because they agree to shift to an alternate fuel sources or pay higher rates under certain conditions, such as long periods of cold weather, Beck said.

The company notified customers a few days ago that it was imposing the requirement. It will be in effect until at least Monday, Beck said.

Until then, almost 1,500 Coffee Creek inmates won’t get hot showers or more than one hot meal a day, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jennifer Black. The Wilsonville prison started using it’s propane-fueled back-up system Saturday morning.

Appeared Here


St. Louis Missouri Taxpayers Screwed By Police – Badges Cost $2000 to $6,000 Each – And The Department Kept $6 Million That Wasn’t Theirs

December 22, 2008

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Five finely-crafted, gold-filled works of a world-class jeweler are ready to adorn the chests of new St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom and other top cops.

Price tag: $1,987 each — about 100 times the price of a patrolman’s badge.

That’s a bargain for the St. Louis police, who acknowledged last week that they had paid $5,900 apiece for two solid-gold badges for Isom’s predecessor Joe Mokwa when he became chief.

The latest badges were a nearly $10,000 line item in a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Board of Police Commissioners to approve December purchases.

That was just hours before the department admitted that it had wrongly kept up to $6 million seized in the arrest of suspects.

Neither issue — the badges or the cache — came up for public discussion. Board approval of the badges was a formality because the department’s supply division already had made the no-bid purchase a month ago, according to department records.

At a press conference called Saturday morning after the Post-Dispatch disclosed the purchase on STLtoday.com, Isom called the badge expenditures “outrageous.” He said there would be no more such spending.

“This is just one more practice of the department that I looked at and knew had to be changed,” Isom said. “There are historical pracitices in this department that are broken. The people of St. Louis are counting on me to fix them, and as I find them, I will.”

Isom said the badges had been ordered before a purchase order had been issued by the Police Board. A statement from the department said Isom had already “dealt with those responsible for purchase.”

Isom said he would try to find a way to recoup the cost of the new badges.

The badges were ready to be picked up Friday from the jeweler, Stange Co., of Maryland Heights.

Other departments spend far less on brass for their top brass.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jerry Lee’s badge cost $110. Kansas City Police Chief James Corwin’s cost $48.75.

“We get a lot of compliments on it,” said Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp. “No one has ever asked for an upgrade.”

Col. James F. Keathley may be superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol but he is the king of thrift. The patrol’s uniforms do not include badges. Insignias bearing Keathley’s troop and badge numbers cost $3.15 per collar.

Mark Campbell is the police chief of the richest city of at least 1,000 residents in the United States. That’s Belvedere, in California’s Marin County, where the per capita income is $114,000.

His badge cost $200 — about 2½ times what his officers’ badges cost.

“My badge is more ornate,” he explained.

Rank and file St. Louis officers wear badges bought for $19.75 apiece from a different supplier.

Badges for top-ranking St. Louis officers are Stange’s only law enforcement business.

Stange’s owner, Dave, who wouldn’t tell a reporter his last name, said Friday that his firm’s St. Louis police badges were a good deal, considering the artistry put into them. (Stange’s president is listed in a business directory as David Bouchein.)

“They are highly intricate and involved a lot of labor to make them,” Dave said. “A lot of labor.”

Stange is perhaps best-known for making insignias for clients ranging from Third World monarchs to a religious order in Jerusalem that traces its roots to the First Crusade.

The company says it was hired by the Crown Council of Ethiopia in 2000 to make the Order of Solomon, an 18-karat, gem-studded medal worn by just six people, including Queen Elizabeth II.

Stange’s relationship with the St. Louis police goes back 30 years. Dave said Stange used to make all the St. Louis police badges. But the department has more recently bought standard-issue badges from the lowest bidder.

“I would assume that in other big cities you’re going find higher level badges,” Dave said. He suggested calling the City of Angels.

It turns out that Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton wears a badge that costs $61, according to that department’s supplier.

Dave could not believe that.

“For $61, I’d hate to see what the quality is,” he said. “For a police chief’s badge?”

The St. Louis Police Department bought a chief badge, two assistant chief badges and two lieutenant colonel badges.

It needed them because St. Louis officers have been allowed to keep their badges when they retire, said Erica Van Ross, Police Department spokeswoman.

“It had been a long standing tradition, presumably as an honor to officers who are leaving the department after risking their lives day in and day out,” she said.
But she said Isom has now changed that policy so retiring officers can take home a replica, if they pay for it.

The police badges have been in the news before. In 1993, the department was criticized for buying a $2,100 chief’s badge.

Chris Goodson, who has been president of the Police Board for four years, said Saturday the current purchase resulted from the department’s supply division ignoring proper procedures. He said the board had no choice but to pay for the badges.

“The full board is extremely unhappy,” Goodson said. “We are aware of the poor economy and don’t want this sort of thing going on.”

Isom already wears a chief’s badge — Mokwa took just one of his $5,900 badges with him when the board forced him out in July. The $1,987 gold-filled badge is backup, in case the solid-gold one breaks, Van Ross said. She said Isom insisted that his second badge not be solid gold, and that he would be open to finding a less expensive vendor.

Assistant Chief Stephen Pollihan and Lt. Col. Roy Joachimstaler are retiring next month. Pollihan gets to take his badge home because he got his papers in before Isom’s order. Van Ross said she wasn’t clear about Joachimstaler.

So now the department has enough badges for a new assistant chief and lieutenant colonel — and a few backups.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Man Sentenced In Spartanburg South Carolina To 25 Years In Prison For Stealing Copper

December 22, 2008

SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA - A Spartanburg man was given a 25-year prison sentence Friday for his role in a copper theft ring.

Carl Parris, 39, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of accessory after the fact of a felony, 11 counts of petty larceny and two counts of malicious injury to real property.

Parris’ sentence is followed by five years probation. He must also pay $14,000 in restitution.
sponsor

Parris was part of a group that took or attempted to take copper coils, copper tubing and copper pipes from 15 downtown Spartanburg-area businesses and sold the property to scrap metal businesses between July 28, 2007, and April 27, 2008.

Investigators said that the crime spree caused significant damage to local businesses, a church and a building owned by Spartanburg School District 7.

“This sentence should send the message that copper theft is a serious crime with serious consequences,” Principal Deputy Solicitor Barry Barnette said.

Parris’ co-defendant Brenda McCoy, 35, has pleaded guilty and she is awaiting sentencing.

Charges are still pending against 27-year-old Jackie Anderson Jr.

Appeared Here


St. Louis Missouri Taxpayers Screwed By Police – Badges Cost $2000 to $6,000 Each – And The Department Kept $6 Million That Wasn’t Theirs

December 21, 2008

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Five finely-crafted, gold-filled works of a world-class jeweler are ready to adorn the chests of new St. Louis Police Chief Daniel Isom and other top cops.

Price tag: $1,987 each — about 100 times the price of a patrolman’s badge.

That’s a bargain for the St. Louis police, who acknowledged last week that they had paid $5,900 apiece for two solid-gold badges for Isom’s predecessor Joe Mokwa when he became chief.

The latest badges were a nearly $10,000 line item in a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Board of Police Commissioners to approve December purchases.

That was just hours before the department admitted that it had wrongly kept up to $6 million seized in the arrest of suspects.

Neither issue — the badges or the cache — came up for public discussion. Board approval of the badges was a formality because the department’s supply division already had made the no-bid purchase a month ago, according to department records.

At a press conference called Saturday morning after the Post-Dispatch disclosed the purchase on STLtoday.com, Isom called the badge expenditures “outrageous.” He said there would be no more such spending.

“This is just one more practice of the department that I looked at and knew had to be changed,” Isom said. “There are historical pracitices in this department that are broken. The people of St. Louis are counting on me to fix them, and as I find them, I will.”

Isom said the badges had been ordered before a purchase order had been issued by the Police Board. A statement from the department said Isom had already “dealt with those responsible for purchase.”

Isom said he would try to find a way to recoup the cost of the new badges.

The badges were ready to be picked up Friday from the jeweler, Stange Co., of Maryland Heights.

Other departments spend far less on brass for their top brass.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jerry Lee’s badge cost $110. Kansas City Police Chief James Corwin’s cost $48.75.

“We get a lot of compliments on it,” said Kansas City police spokesman Darin Snapp. “No one has ever asked for an upgrade.”

Col. James F. Keathley may be superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol but he is the king of thrift. The patrol’s uniforms do not include badges. Insignias bearing Keathley’s troop and badge numbers cost $3.15 per collar.

Mark Campbell is the police chief of the richest city of at least 1,000 residents in the United States. That’s Belvedere, in California’s Marin County, where the per capita income is $114,000.

His badge cost $200 — about 2½ times what his officers’ badges cost.

“My badge is more ornate,” he explained.

Rank and file St. Louis officers wear badges bought for $19.75 apiece from a different supplier.

Badges for top-ranking St. Louis officers are Stange’s only law enforcement business.

Stange’s owner, Dave, who wouldn’t tell a reporter his last name, said Friday that his firm’s St. Louis police badges were a good deal, considering the artistry put into them. (Stange’s president is listed in a business directory as David Bouchein.)

“They are highly intricate and involved a lot of labor to make them,” Dave said. “A lot of labor.”

Stange is perhaps best-known for making insignias for clients ranging from Third World monarchs to a religious order in Jerusalem that traces its roots to the First Crusade.

The company says it was hired by the Crown Council of Ethiopia in 2000 to make the Order of Solomon, an 18-karat, gem-studded medal worn by just six people, including Queen Elizabeth II.

Stange’s relationship with the St. Louis police goes back 30 years. Dave said Stange used to make all the St. Louis police badges. But the department has more recently bought standard-issue badges from the lowest bidder.

“I would assume that in other big cities you’re going find higher level badges,” Dave said. He suggested calling the City of Angels.

It turns out that Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton wears a badge that costs $61, according to that department’s supplier.

Dave could not believe that.

“For $61, I’d hate to see what the quality is,” he said. “For a police chief’s badge?”

The St. Louis Police Department bought a chief badge, two assistant chief badges and two lieutenant colonel badges.

It needed them because St. Louis officers have been allowed to keep their badges when they retire, said Erica Van Ross, Police Department spokeswoman.

“It had been a long standing tradition, presumably as an honor to officers who are leaving the department after risking their lives day in and day out,” she said.
But she said Isom has now changed that policy so retiring officers can take home a replica, if they pay for it.

The police badges have been in the news before. In 1993, the department was criticized for buying a $2,100 chief’s badge.

Chris Goodson, who has been president of the Police Board for four years, said Saturday the current purchase resulted from the department’s supply division ignoring proper procedures. He said the board had no choice but to pay for the badges.

“The full board is extremely unhappy,” Goodson said. “We are aware of the poor economy and don’t want this sort of thing going on.”

Isom already wears a chief’s badge — Mokwa took just one of his $5,900 badges with him when the board forced him out in July. The $1,987 gold-filled badge is backup, in case the solid-gold one breaks, Van Ross said. She said Isom insisted that his second badge not be solid gold, and that he would be open to finding a less expensive vendor.

Assistant Chief Stephen Pollihan and Lt. Col. Roy Joachimstaler are retiring next month. Pollihan gets to take his badge home because he got his papers in before Isom’s order. Van Ross said she wasn’t clear about Joachimstaler.

So now the department has enough badges for a new assistant chief and lieutenant colonel — and a few backups.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Man Sentenced In Spartanburg South Carolina To 25 Years In Prison For Stealing Copper

December 21, 2008

SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA - A Spartanburg man was given a 25-year prison sentence Friday for his role in a copper theft ring.

Carl Parris, 39, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of accessory after the fact of a felony, 11 counts of petty larceny and two counts of malicious injury to real property.

Parris’ sentence is followed by five years probation. He must also pay $14,000 in restitution.
sponsor

Parris was part of a group that took or attempted to take copper coils, copper tubing and copper pipes from 15 downtown Spartanburg-area businesses and sold the property to scrap metal businesses between July 28, 2007, and April 27, 2008.

Investigators said that the crime spree caused significant damage to local businesses, a church and a building owned by Spartanburg School District 7.

“This sentence should send the message that copper theft is a serious crime with serious consequences,” Principal Deputy Solicitor Barry Barnette said.

Parris’ co-defendant Brenda McCoy, 35, has pleaded guilty and she is awaiting sentencing.

Charges are still pending against 27-year-old Jackie Anderson Jr.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Lawyer Charged By Yavapai County Arizona Sheriff’s Department With Giving His Client A Piece Of Candy

December 20, 2008

PRESCOTT, ARIZONA – A lawyer has been arrested after he reportedly ignored orders not to give his shackled client a piece of candy in court, a Yavapai County sheriff’s official said. Damon Rossi, 38, was arrested at his home on Thursday, a day after he asked two detention officers if he could feed his client a piece of candy, sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said on Friday. Rossi went ahead and gave the inmate the food despite being warned against it, reportedly asking the officers “what are you going to do, arrest me?”

Detention officers took no action at the time because they didn’t want to disrupt court, D’Evelyn said. They turned the matter over the sheriff’s criminal division and a decision was made to arrest the lawyer.

“The concern we have is that no contraband should be passed to an inmate,” D’Evelyn said. “That’s the rule. We don’t know what’s in it. If we allow attorneys to feed our inmates it would be a security issue – they get fed three squares a day and we don’t feed them in court.”

Rossi was arrested at his home in Prescott Valley about noon and booked into county jail on a felony count of providing contraband to an inmate. He was released on his own recognizance by early evening on Thursday.

A call to Rossi’s office on Friday wasn’t immediately returned.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Lawyer Charged By Yavapai County Arizona Sheriff’s Department With Giving His Client A Piece Of Candy

December 20, 2008

PRESCOTT, ARIZONA – A lawyer has been arrested after he reportedly ignored orders not to give his shackled client a piece of candy in court, a Yavapai County sheriff’s official said. Damon Rossi, 38, was arrested at his home on Thursday, a day after he asked two detention officers if he could feed his client a piece of candy, sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said on Friday. Rossi went ahead and gave the inmate the food despite being warned against it, reportedly asking the officers “what are you going to do, arrest me?”

Detention officers took no action at the time because they didn’t want to disrupt court, D’Evelyn said. They turned the matter over the sheriff’s criminal division and a decision was made to arrest the lawyer.

“The concern we have is that no contraband should be passed to an inmate,” D’Evelyn said. “That’s the rule. We don’t know what’s in it. If we allow attorneys to feed our inmates it would be a security issue – they get fed three squares a day and we don’t feed them in court.”

Rossi was arrested at his home in Prescott Valley about noon and booked into county jail on a felony count of providing contraband to an inmate. He was released on his own recognizance by early evening on Thursday.

A call to Rossi’s office on Friday wasn’t immediately returned.

Appeared Here


Out Tax Dollars At Work: Lawyer Charged By Yavapai County Arizona Sheriff’s Department With Giving His Client A Piece Of Candy

December 20, 2008

PRESCOTT, ARIZONA – A lawyer has been arrested after he reportedly ignored orders not to give his shackled client a piece of candy in court, a Yavapai County sheriff’s official said. Damon Rossi, 38, was arrested at his home on Thursday, a day after he asked two detention officers if he could feed his client a piece of candy, sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said on Friday. Rossi went ahead and gave the inmate the food despite being warned against it, reportedly asking the officers “what are you going to do, arrest me?”

Detention officers took no action at the time because they didn’t want to disrupt court, D’Evelyn said. They turned the matter over the sheriff’s criminal division and a decision was made to arrest the lawyer.

“The concern we have is that no contraband should be passed to an inmate,” D’Evelyn said. “That’s the rule. We don’t know what’s in it. If we allow attorneys to feed our inmates it would be a security issue – they get fed three squares a day and we don’t feed them in court.”

Rossi was arrested at his home in Prescott Valley about noon and booked into county jail on a felony count of providing contraband to an inmate. He was released on his own recognizance by early evening on Thursday.

A call to Rossi’s office on Friday wasn’t immediately returned.

Appeared Here


Our Tax Dollars At Work: St. Lucie County Florida Sheriff’s Department Jails 5 Schoolgirls For Food Fight

December 19, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA — Five teen girls were arrested following an alleged brawl in the St. Lucie West Centennial High School cafeteria that left “large amounts of food on the floor” and interrupted lunch hour, according to a recently released St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report.

When a deputy reached the Tuesday fight, he saw several girls “covered in food and liquid” on the ground, the report states.

“I also observed what appeared to be a wig in the hand of one of the females,” the report states. As the investigator arrived at the cafeteria, several hundred students reportedly were in a big circle yelling and screaming and several tables had been thrown to the side.

Deputies said the girls admitted to fighting in the cafeteria about something that happened earlier.

The girls face a disruption of a school function charge.

Appeared Here


Our Tax Dollars At Work: St. Lucie County Florida Sheriff’s Department Jails 5 Schoolgirls For Food Fight

December 19, 2008

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA — Five teen girls were arrested following an alleged brawl in the St. Lucie West Centennial High School cafeteria that left “large amounts of food on the floor” and interrupted lunch hour, according to a recently released St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report.

When a deputy reached the Tuesday fight, he saw several girls “covered in food and liquid” on the ground, the report states.

“I also observed what appeared to be a wig in the hand of one of the females,” the report states. As the investigator arrived at the cafeteria, several hundred students reportedly were in a big circle yelling and screaming and several tables had been thrown to the side.

Deputies said the girls admitted to fighting in the cafeteria about something that happened earlier.

The girls face a disruption of a school function charge.

Appeared Here


Four Tampa Florida Police Detectives Join The Unemployment Lines – Caught At Home While On The Clock

December 19, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — Three veteran Tampa police detectives have resigned and a fourth detective has been fired after an internal affairs investigation showed they were working less than a 40-hour work week.

The police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducted a 22-week investigation into the detectives.

According to tampabays10.com, the detectives were tracked by their colleagues with GPS devices secretly installed on their cars and found them to be at their homes when they were supposed to be working. A summary report of the investigation by Maj. George McNamara indicates indicate that time cards, leave slips and other records also were used.

“The Tampa Police Department holds its officers to a high standard and takes this violation of trust very seriously,” the public information office said in a released statement today. “These four detectives are not representative of the 996 men and women who have taken an oath to put their lives on the line to serve the citizens of Tampa.”

According to the release, hit-and-run Detective David Rochelle left work early 80 out of the 88 days of the investigation. Economic crimes Detective Vincent Bush left early 89 days out of 91 days of the investigation. Sex crimes Detective Donna Noblitt left work early 48 out of 61 days. Hit-and-run Detective Theresa Dennis left work early 68 out of 71 days.

Investigators were not able to verify that Rochelle worked a total of 154.4 hours during the months of April and May, according to McNamara’s Nov. 24 memo. They could not verify that Bush worked 84 hours. Both were found to be at their homes when they were supposed to be working.

Noblitt was tracked to an off-duty job and at her house after leaving her TPD job early. Investigators could not account for her for a total of 71.4 hours, though the memo indicates the review did not find she was paid for the same hours in her city and off-duty work.

None of the three showed up for Internal Affairs interviews. Each submitted retirement requests before the interviews were scheduled.

Dennis did show for her interview and admitted to leaving work early a couple of days a week, and sometimes more frequently, according to the memo. That means she may have missed more than the 122.8 hours in which investigators could not account for her.

The memo indicates that the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office found that there was not enough evidence to reach the standard of proof needed to bring criminal charges against the officers.

Appeared Here


Four Tampa Florida Police Detectives Join The Unemployment Lines – Caught At Home While On The Clock

December 19, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — Three veteran Tampa police detectives have resigned and a fourth detective has been fired after an internal affairs investigation showed they were working less than a 40-hour work week.

The police department’s Internal Affairs Bureau conducted a 22-week investigation into the detectives.

According to tampabays10.com, the detectives were tracked by their colleagues with GPS devices secretly installed on their cars and found them to be at their homes when they were supposed to be working. A summary report of the investigation by Maj. George McNamara indicates indicate that time cards, leave slips and other records also were used.

“The Tampa Police Department holds its officers to a high standard and takes this violation of trust very seriously,” the public information office said in a released statement today. “These four detectives are not representative of the 996 men and women who have taken an oath to put their lives on the line to serve the citizens of Tampa.”

According to the release, hit-and-run Detective David Rochelle left work early 80 out of the 88 days of the investigation. Economic crimes Detective Vincent Bush left early 89 days out of 91 days of the investigation. Sex crimes Detective Donna Noblitt left work early 48 out of 61 days. Hit-and-run Detective Theresa Dennis left work early 68 out of 71 days.

Investigators were not able to verify that Rochelle worked a total of 154.4 hours during the months of April and May, according to McNamara’s Nov. 24 memo. They could not verify that Bush worked 84 hours. Both were found to be at their homes when they were supposed to be working.

Noblitt was tracked to an off-duty job and at her house after leaving her TPD job early. Investigators could not account for her for a total of 71.4 hours, though the memo indicates the review did not find she was paid for the same hours in her city and off-duty work.

None of the three showed up for Internal Affairs interviews. Each submitted retirement requests before the interviews were scheduled.

Dennis did show for her interview and admitted to leaving work early a couple of days a week, and sometimes more frequently, according to the memo. That means she may have missed more than the 122.8 hours in which investigators could not account for her.

The memo indicates that the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office found that there was not enough evidence to reach the standard of proof needed to bring criminal charges against the officers.

Appeared Here


St. Lucie County Florida Judge Robert Belanger Gives Child Molesting Teacher/Coach A Special Plea Deal Which Puts Him Back On The Street

December 19, 2008

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA — A St. Lucie County schoolteacher and coach charged with molesting two female students accepted a plea deal Friday that gets him out of jail but forces him to give up teaching.

Charles Edward Johnson Sr., a Fort Pierce Westwood High School math teacher and baseball coach who had been charged with two felony counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and a single count of misdemeanor battery, pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor battery.

Immediately after accepting the plea, Circuit Judge Robert Belanger sentenced Johnson to a year of probation for each of the former molestation charges and, on the third battery count, the 142 days Johnson already has served in jail plus 223 days of probation. The terms are to be consecutive, meaning Johnson will be on probation for two years and 223 days.

Belanger also ordered Johnson to relinquish his teaching certificate by Jan. 1, a stipulation of the plea agreement that was most important to the victims and their families, said Assistant State Attorney Linda C. Craft.

Giving up teaching “is going to be very hard for him,” said Charles Johnson Jr., the defendant’s son and a former all-star Major League Baseball player. “He’s been teaching more than 30 years. This isn’t the way he wanted his teaching career to end.”

The elder Johnson had been the head baseball coach at Westwood for 24 years, first from 1979 to 1994 then from 2002 to last spring.

Defense attorney Richard Kibbey said his client maintains his innocence but agreed to resolve the case because of “an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Kibbey said after the hearing that he didn’t want to risk a trial because “sometimes innocent people get convicted,” adding that his client had only “innocent contact” with the girls who accused him of molestation.

Johnson, he said, “was always known as a teacher who interacted with students. But it’s gotten to the point that classrooms are a no-contact zone.”

Craft countered that Johnson “crossed every line you can cross. His actions were inappropriate and, in my opinion, criminal.”

A 15-year-old student at Westwood told a school resource deputy May 8 that Johnson touched her private parts May 5, according to a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report.

The girl said Johnson told her, “Don’t tell your momma; I’m only playin’,” according to the report. Two days later, the girl said, Johnson grabbed her breasts from behind and lifted her off the ground.

The other girl, described in reports as being between 12 and 16, told authorities Johnson touched one of her breasts in an April 29 incident and previously pinched her breast, according to arrest records.

The mother of one of the victims testified that her daughter “can get through this. It’ll be all right; it’ll be OK.”

Appeared Here


St. Lucie County Florida Judge Robert Belanger Gives Child Molesting Teacher/Coach A Special Plea Deal Which Puts Him Back On The Street

December 19, 2008

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA — A St. Lucie County schoolteacher and coach charged with molesting two female students accepted a plea deal Friday that gets him out of jail but forces him to give up teaching.

Charles Edward Johnson Sr., a Fort Pierce Westwood High School math teacher and baseball coach who had been charged with two felony counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and a single count of misdemeanor battery, pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor battery.

Immediately after accepting the plea, Circuit Judge Robert Belanger sentenced Johnson to a year of probation for each of the former molestation charges and, on the third battery count, the 142 days Johnson already has served in jail plus 223 days of probation. The terms are to be consecutive, meaning Johnson will be on probation for two years and 223 days.

Belanger also ordered Johnson to relinquish his teaching certificate by Jan. 1, a stipulation of the plea agreement that was most important to the victims and their families, said Assistant State Attorney Linda C. Craft.

Giving up teaching “is going to be very hard for him,” said Charles Johnson Jr., the defendant’s son and a former all-star Major League Baseball player. “He’s been teaching more than 30 years. This isn’t the way he wanted his teaching career to end.”

The elder Johnson had been the head baseball coach at Westwood for 24 years, first from 1979 to 1994 then from 2002 to last spring.

Defense attorney Richard Kibbey said his client maintains his innocence but agreed to resolve the case because of “an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Kibbey said after the hearing that he didn’t want to risk a trial because “sometimes innocent people get convicted,” adding that his client had only “innocent contact” with the girls who accused him of molestation.

Johnson, he said, “was always known as a teacher who interacted with students. But it’s gotten to the point that classrooms are a no-contact zone.”

Craft countered that Johnson “crossed every line you can cross. His actions were inappropriate and, in my opinion, criminal.”

A 15-year-old student at Westwood told a school resource deputy May 8 that Johnson touched her private parts May 5, according to a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report.

The girl said Johnson told her, “Don’t tell your momma; I’m only playin’,” according to the report. Two days later, the girl said, Johnson grabbed her breasts from behind and lifted her off the ground.

The other girl, described in reports as being between 12 and 16, told authorities Johnson touched one of her breasts in an April 29 incident and previously pinched her breast, according to arrest records.

The mother of one of the victims testified that her daughter “can get through this. It’ll be all right; it’ll be OK.”

Appeared Here


Galveston Texas Police Go To Wrong Address Looking For 3 White Women, Attack A 12 Year Old Black Girl And Her Father, And Falsely Charge Them With Resisting Arrest – City Doesn’t Have A Problem With The Officers Actions…

December 19, 2008

GALVESTON, TEXAS – It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”

Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.

We’ve got calls in to the officers’ lawyer; we’ll let you know if we hear something.

Update: This is from the officers’ lawyer, William Helfand:

Both the daughter and the father were arrested for assaulting a peace officer. “The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off.”

Also, “The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” Helfand says. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”

Appeared Here


Houston Texas Judge’s Drunk Daughter Sues Truck Driver She Rear-Ended – Killed Her Boyfriend And Received Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

December 19, 2008

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Convicted last year of intoxication manslaughter for the death of her boyfriend, the 21-year-old daughter of a state district judge is suing the truck driver she ran into during a drunken driving crash.

Elizabeth Shelton, the daughter of juvenile judge Pat Shelton, is accusing truck driver Lance Bennett of negligence in the Oct. 23, 2007, wreck that killed her boyfriend Matthew McNiece.

Shelton had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal limit, two tests showed. She was sentenced to eight years’ probation and had to serve four months in jail.

Shelton, her family and the family of the boyfriend who was killed are suing for $20,000 for the destruction of the Lexus SUV she was driving and an undetermined amount for mental anguish, pain and suffering.

Bennett was driving the box truck that Shelton rear-ended on the Southwest Freeway near Kirby around 2 a.m.

Bennett’s attorney, John Havins, said the lawsuit, filed in October, was the last chance to make a claim before the statute of limitations ran out.

He noted that Shelton named 16 defendants, including insurance companies and banks. “They’re just throwing everything against the wall to see if anything sticks,” Havins said.

During Shelton’s trial, an expert for the defense testified there was evidence that Bennett swerved into Shelton’s lane. An expert for the prosecution, however, said there wasn’t evidence that Bennett got in her way.

Testimony also showed that the company Bennett was working for let the insurance on the truck lapse.

“The injuries and property damage sustained by (Shelton and her family) were not the result of intentional acts, but were accidental and caused by the negligence of the uninsured/underinsured driver,” Shelton’s attorney Mark Sandoval wrote in the lawsuit.

Appeared Here


St. Lucie County Florida Judge Robert Belanger Gives Child Molesting Teacher/Coach A Special Plea Deal Which Puts Him Back On The Street

December 19, 2008

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FLORIDA — A St. Lucie County schoolteacher and coach charged with molesting two female students accepted a plea deal Friday that gets him out of jail but forces him to give up teaching.

Charles Edward Johnson Sr., a Fort Pierce Westwood High School math teacher and baseball coach who had been charged with two felony counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and a single count of misdemeanor battery, pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor battery.

Immediately after accepting the plea, Circuit Judge Robert Belanger sentenced Johnson to a year of probation for each of the former molestation charges and, on the third battery count, the 142 days Johnson already has served in jail plus 223 days of probation. The terms are to be consecutive, meaning Johnson will be on probation for two years and 223 days.

Belanger also ordered Johnson to relinquish his teaching certificate by Jan. 1, a stipulation of the plea agreement that was most important to the victims and their families, said Assistant State Attorney Linda C. Craft.

Giving up teaching “is going to be very hard for him,” said Charles Johnson Jr., the defendant’s son and a former all-star Major League Baseball player. “He’s been teaching more than 30 years. This isn’t the way he wanted his teaching career to end.”

The elder Johnson had been the head baseball coach at Westwood for 24 years, first from 1979 to 1994 then from 2002 to last spring.

Defense attorney Richard Kibbey said his client maintains his innocence but agreed to resolve the case because of “an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Kibbey said after the hearing that he didn’t want to risk a trial because “sometimes innocent people get convicted,” adding that his client had only “innocent contact” with the girls who accused him of molestation.

Johnson, he said, “was always known as a teacher who interacted with students. But it’s gotten to the point that classrooms are a no-contact zone.”

Craft countered that Johnson “crossed every line you can cross. His actions were inappropriate and, in my opinion, criminal.”

A 15-year-old student at Westwood told a school resource deputy May 8 that Johnson touched her private parts May 5, according to a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office report.

The girl said Johnson told her, “Don’t tell your momma; I’m only playin’,” according to the report. Two days later, the girl said, Johnson grabbed her breasts from behind and lifted her off the ground.

The other girl, described in reports as being between 12 and 16, told authorities Johnson touched one of her breasts in an April 29 incident and previously pinched her breast, according to arrest records.

The mother of one of the victims testified that her daughter “can get through this. It’ll be all right; it’ll be OK.”

Appeared Here


Galveston Texas Police Go To Wrong Address Looking For 3 White Women, Attack A 12 Year Old Black Girl And Her Father, And Falsely Charge Them With Resisting Arrest – City Doesn’t Have A Problem With The Officers Actions…

December 19, 2008

GALVESTON, TEXAS – It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”

Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.

We’ve got calls in to the officers’ lawyer; we’ll let you know if we hear something.

Update: This is from the officers’ lawyer, William Helfand:

Both the daughter and the father were arrested for assaulting a peace officer. “The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off.”

Also, “The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” Helfand says. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”

Appeared Here


Houston Texas Judge’s Drunk Daughter Sues Truck Driver She Rear-Ended – Killed Her Boyfriend And Received Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

December 19, 2008

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Convicted last year of intoxication manslaughter for the death of her boyfriend, the 21-year-old daughter of a state district judge is suing the truck driver she ran into during a drunken driving crash.

Elizabeth Shelton, the daughter of juvenile judge Pat Shelton, is accusing truck driver Lance Bennett of negligence in the Oct. 23, 2007, wreck that killed her boyfriend Matthew McNiece.

Shelton had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal limit, two tests showed. She was sentenced to eight years’ probation and had to serve four months in jail.

Shelton, her family and the family of the boyfriend who was killed are suing for $20,000 for the destruction of the Lexus SUV she was driving and an undetermined amount for mental anguish, pain and suffering.

Bennett was driving the box truck that Shelton rear-ended on the Southwest Freeway near Kirby around 2 a.m.

Bennett’s attorney, John Havins, said the lawsuit, filed in October, was the last chance to make a claim before the statute of limitations ran out.

He noted that Shelton named 16 defendants, including insurance companies and banks. “They’re just throwing everything against the wall to see if anything sticks,” Havins said.

During Shelton’s trial, an expert for the defense testified there was evidence that Bennett swerved into Shelton’s lane. An expert for the prosecution, however, said there wasn’t evidence that Bennett got in her way.

Testimony also showed that the company Bennett was working for let the insurance on the truck lapse.

“The injuries and property damage sustained by (Shelton and her family) were not the result of intentional acts, but were accidental and caused by the negligence of the uninsured/underinsured driver,” Shelton’s attorney Mark Sandoval wrote in the lawsuit.

Appeared Here


Man Who Was Protecting Himself From Bad New York City Police Officers Found NOT Guilty Of Bogus Murder And Attempted Murder Charges

December 18, 2008

NEW YORK, NEW YORK ― A man who claimed he feared for his life in a traffic stop that ended with the shooting death of a police officer and the wounding of another was acquitted Wednesday of aggravated murder and attempted murder.

After 10 hours of deliberations, Brooklyn jurors convicted Robert Ellis only on three counts of weapons possession. He now faces five to fifteen years in prison — far less than the life in prison without parole that he could have received for murder.

Two others were accused in the case but had yet to hear whether they would be convicted. Ellis, Dexter Bostic and Lee Woods were each tried before separate juries because the men made statements implicating each other.

Prosecutors had argued the three acted as a team to shoot the officers because they were caught with a stolen SUV and with illegal weapons in the vehicle. They said Bostic shot and killed Officer Russel Timoshenko while Ellis simultaneously shot now-Detective Herman Yan, and Woods was the driver.

But attorneys for Ellis and Woods each claimed their client was the driver and therefore could not have fired at the officers.

Timoshenko, 23, was hit twice in the face. Yan was shot in the chest as he approached the other side of the SUV. His bullet-resistant vest saved his life.

“I am stunned and disappointed by the verdict,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “My prayers are with the Timoshenko family as they contend with this ordeal.” Prosecutors said they could not comment while the other two cases are ongoing.

“We’re very grateful that the jury carefully reviewed the evidence in this case,” defense lawyer Danielle Eaddy said after the verdict was read. “We’ve said from the beginning that the forensic evidence in this case supported Mr. Ellis’ contention that he was a driver and not a shooter.”

The July 2007 killing after a routine Brooklyn traffic stop sparked a manhunt that spanned several states and didn’t end until two of the men were captured in the Pocono Mountains.

Ellis and Bostic, 34-year-old roommates, were driven to Pennsylvania and planned to hide in the woods and live off peanut butter and crackers, prosecutors said. They were captured after about four days in a patch of trees near Interstate 80. Woods, 29 at the time, did not go with them. Three guns were found in the SUV.

Ellis took the stand in his own defense, saying he was scared for his life because he lived near where Sean Bell was shot on his wedding day. Bell was unarmed when the 23-year-old died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a seedy strip club. At a non-jury trial, a judge acquitted three of the shooters in that case of state charges that included manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment.

Ellis testified he worried he’d be shot by the officers if he said the wrong thing. His defense attorney Danielle Eaddy claimed Woods was the shooter and law enforcers bent on blaming her client refused to take evidence into account.

But prosecutors said Ellis wouldn’t have skipped town had he been the driver. Woods stayed at his girlfriend’s house after the shooting and was taken in for questioning before the other two were found.

Jurors watched surveillance tape from the shooting and heard Yan’s 911 call. Yan testified, showing his scars from surgery to the jury. Timoshenko’s mother also testified briefly in the case. Tatyana Timoshenko told jurors: “I had only just one son.”

The jury hearing Woods’ case was still deliberating Wednesday, while attorneys in the Bostic trial had yet to finish closing arguments. If convicted on all charges, both men could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Appeared Here


Shenango Massachusetts Police Piss Away Tax Dollars Responding To Emergency Call About Upside Down Flag At Man’s Home

December 18, 2008

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA  — As a veteran of the siege of Khe Sanh in Vietnam, Dennis Shacklock remembers watching men die for their country. As a 61-year-old Shenango Township resident who pays attention to national affairs, Shacklock’s become a disgruntled American.

“We’re on the brink of collapse,” Shacklock said Wednesday, sitting at his dining room table with his wife Kathleen and neighbor Tom Hunt.

With the economy showing no sign of improvement and wary of the election of Barack Obama as president, Shacklock decided to showcase his feelings by flying the American flag upside down in front of his home on state Route 318.

He did it immediately after the election and again this week as bad news about the economy built.
Monday evening, Southwest Mercer County Regional police knocked on his door.

“They wanted to know if everything was OK,” Shacklock said. “The one officer said ‘Do you know you’ve got your flag …’

“I told them it was my flag.”

Police were dispatched to check on Shacklock’s home after someone reported the upside-down flag to 911, Southwest police detective Capt. Doug Long said.

One of the policemen at the scene is a veteran and told Shacklock the way he was flying the flag was disrespectful to veterans, Shacklock said.

“He mentioned how people gave blood for that flag,” Shacklock said.

He explained to the police that as a Vietnam veteran he knew that, but that it was his flag to fly, he said.
“I kept telling them it’s my flag,” he said.

The American flag should only be flown upside down “as a signal of dire distress” according to the U.S. Flag Code.

That’s the condition the country’s in, Shacklock said.

“I think our country’s in distress with the administration we’re going to get,” Shacklock said of president-elect Barack Obama.

He didn’t mean to disrespect the flag or to offend anyone, he said.

“Some of the people that bled for it, I knew,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be disrespectful for these guys.”
But flying the flag upside down is nothing compared to what Vietnam protesters did to the flag or the way he was treated when he came home, he said.

Now, he’s taken down the U.S. flag and put up a white flag that symbolizes surrender.

Hunt, his neighbor, turned his flag upside down once he heard of Shacklock’s run-in with the law and kept it that way throughout Tuesday.

“I made my statement in support of Denny,” Hunt said.

By Wednesday, Hunt had switched his flag back to normal to appease his wife.

There’s nothing actually illegal about flying the flag upside down, although a Web site devoted to flag etiquette recommends against it. An April report to Congress by a think tank characterized the Flag Code as “merely declaratory and advisory” and not punishable by law.

The country’s present condition has spurred others across the nation to put up the distress signal.
In Plainfield, Ill., a woman attracted national attention by flying the flag upside-down to protest the $700 billion government bailout of Wall Street. A Manitowoc, Wis., man made the news this year by flying an upside-down flag in June to protest the general state of the country.

Appeared Here


Man Who Was Protecting Himself From Bad New York City Police Officers Found NOT Guilty Of Bogus Murder And Attempted Murder Charges

December 18, 2008

NEW YORK, NEW YORK ― A man who claimed he feared for his life in a traffic stop that ended with the shooting death of a police officer and the wounding of another was acquitted Wednesday of aggravated murder and attempted murder.

After 10 hours of deliberations, Brooklyn jurors convicted Robert Ellis only on three counts of weapons possession. He now faces five to fifteen years in prison — far less than the life in prison without parole that he could have received for murder.

Two others were accused in the case but had yet to hear whether they would be convicted. Ellis, Dexter Bostic and Lee Woods were each tried before separate juries because the men made statements implicating each other.

Prosecutors had argued the three acted as a team to shoot the officers because they were caught with a stolen SUV and with illegal weapons in the vehicle. They said Bostic shot and killed Officer Russel Timoshenko while Ellis simultaneously shot now-Detective Herman Yan, and Woods was the driver.

But attorneys for Ellis and Woods each claimed their client was the driver and therefore could not have fired at the officers.

Timoshenko, 23, was hit twice in the face. Yan was shot in the chest as he approached the other side of the SUV. His bullet-resistant vest saved his life.

“I am stunned and disappointed by the verdict,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “My prayers are with the Timoshenko family as they contend with this ordeal.” Prosecutors said they could not comment while the other two cases are ongoing.

“We’re very grateful that the jury carefully reviewed the evidence in this case,” defense lawyer Danielle Eaddy said after the verdict was read. “We’ve said from the beginning that the forensic evidence in this case supported Mr. Ellis’ contention that he was a driver and not a shooter.”

The July 2007 killing after a routine Brooklyn traffic stop sparked a manhunt that spanned several states and didn’t end until two of the men were captured in the Pocono Mountains.

Ellis and Bostic, 34-year-old roommates, were driven to Pennsylvania and planned to hide in the woods and live off peanut butter and crackers, prosecutors said. They were captured after about four days in a patch of trees near Interstate 80. Woods, 29 at the time, did not go with them. Three guns were found in the SUV.

Ellis took the stand in his own defense, saying he was scared for his life because he lived near where Sean Bell was shot on his wedding day. Bell was unarmed when the 23-year-old died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a seedy strip club. At a non-jury trial, a judge acquitted three of the shooters in that case of state charges that included manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment.

Ellis testified he worried he’d be shot by the officers if he said the wrong thing. His defense attorney Danielle Eaddy claimed Woods was the shooter and law enforcers bent on blaming her client refused to take evidence into account.

But prosecutors said Ellis wouldn’t have skipped town had he been the driver. Woods stayed at his girlfriend’s house after the shooting and was taken in for questioning before the other two were found.

Jurors watched surveillance tape from the shooting and heard Yan’s 911 call. Yan testified, showing his scars from surgery to the jury. Timoshenko’s mother also testified briefly in the case. Tatyana Timoshenko told jurors: “I had only just one son.”

The jury hearing Woods’ case was still deliberating Wednesday, while attorneys in the Bostic trial had yet to finish closing arguments. If convicted on all charges, both men could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Appeared Here


Shenango Massachusetts Police Piss Away Tax Dollars Responding To Emergency Call About Upside Down Flag At Man’s Home

December 18, 2008

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP, PENNSYLVANIA  — As a veteran of the siege of Khe Sanh in Vietnam, Dennis Shacklock remembers watching men die for their country. As a 61-year-old Shenango Township resident who pays attention to national affairs, Shacklock’s become a disgruntled American.

“We’re on the brink of collapse,” Shacklock said Wednesday, sitting at his dining room table with his wife Kathleen and neighbor Tom Hunt.

With the economy showing no sign of improvement and wary of the election of Barack Obama as president, Shacklock decided to showcase his feelings by flying the American flag upside down in front of his home on state Route 318.

He did it immediately after the election and again this week as bad news about the economy built.
Monday evening, Southwest Mercer County Regional police knocked on his door.

“They wanted to know if everything was OK,” Shacklock said. “The one officer said ‘Do you know you’ve got your flag …’

“I told them it was my flag.”

Police were dispatched to check on Shacklock’s home after someone reported the upside-down flag to 911, Southwest police detective Capt. Doug Long said.

One of the policemen at the scene is a veteran and told Shacklock the way he was flying the flag was disrespectful to veterans, Shacklock said.

“He mentioned how people gave blood for that flag,” Shacklock said.

He explained to the police that as a Vietnam veteran he knew that, but that it was his flag to fly, he said.
“I kept telling them it’s my flag,” he said.

The American flag should only be flown upside down “as a signal of dire distress” according to the U.S. Flag Code.

That’s the condition the country’s in, Shacklock said.

“I think our country’s in distress with the administration we’re going to get,” Shacklock said of president-elect Barack Obama.

He didn’t mean to disrespect the flag or to offend anyone, he said.

“Some of the people that bled for it, I knew,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be disrespectful for these guys.”
But flying the flag upside down is nothing compared to what Vietnam protesters did to the flag or the way he was treated when he came home, he said.

Now, he’s taken down the U.S. flag and put up a white flag that symbolizes surrender.

Hunt, his neighbor, turned his flag upside down once he heard of Shacklock’s run-in with the law and kept it that way throughout Tuesday.

“I made my statement in support of Denny,” Hunt said.

By Wednesday, Hunt had switched his flag back to normal to appease his wife.

There’s nothing actually illegal about flying the flag upside down, although a Web site devoted to flag etiquette recommends against it. An April report to Congress by a think tank characterized the Flag Code as “merely declaratory and advisory” and not punishable by law.

The country’s present condition has spurred others across the nation to put up the distress signal.
In Plainfield, Ill., a woman attracted national attention by flying the flag upside-down to protest the $700 billion government bailout of Wall Street. A Manitowoc, Wis., man made the news this year by flying an upside-down flag in June to protest the general state of the country.

Appeared Here


Martinez California Highway Patrol Office Loses Assault Rifle And Ammo To Thief Who Cut Fence And Broke Into Patrol Cars

December 17, 2008

MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA – A thief cut through a fence at the California Highway Patrol’s Martinez office early Tuesday, broke into numerous cruisers, and made off with a semiautomatic rifle and ammunition, authorities said.
More Bay Area News

The theft was discovered about 12:30 a.m. in the locked parking lot of the Highway Patrol office at 5001 Blum St., said CHP Officer Tom Maguire. The culprit cut through the fence, broke into several Ford Crown Victoria cruisers, and stole the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and ammunition, Maguire said.

No arrests have been made.

Appeared Here


Martinez California Highway Patrol Office Loses Assault Rifle And Ammo To Thief Who Cut Fence And Broke Into Patrol Cars

December 17, 2008

MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA – A thief cut through a fence at the California Highway Patrol’s Martinez office early Tuesday, broke into numerous cruisers, and made off with a semiautomatic rifle and ammunition, authorities said.
More Bay Area News

The theft was discovered about 12:30 a.m. in the locked parking lot of the Highway Patrol office at 5001 Blum St., said CHP Officer Tom Maguire. The culprit cut through the fence, broke into several Ford Crown Victoria cruisers, and stole the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and ammunition, Maguire said.

No arrests have been made.

Appeared Here


Worst Florida Lawyer Ever – Byron T. Christopher – Judge Orders New Trial After Man’s Murder Conviction

December 17, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — For two days, a Hillsborough judge watched a young lawyer struggle through a murder defense and lose.

Then, as a deadline loomed, Circuit Judge William Fuente waited for customary defense motions to overturn the Dec. 4 conviction or request a new trial.

No motions came.

Finally on Monday, Fuente took the rare step of initiating his own order of a new trial for defendant David Rolon, saying defense attorney Byron T. Christopher “did not render effective assistance” and didn’t adequately prepare for trial.

“The defendant, through no fault of his own, did not receive a fair and impartial trial,” Fuente wrote in a four-page order.

Rolon, 41, stood accused of fatally shooting his Sulphur Springs neighbor during a March dispute over a parking space. He faced 25 years to life in prison.

Delores S. McCain, an alternate juror at Rolon’s trial, said the entire courtroom saw that he was getting poor representation.

“Everyone on the jury agreed,” she said. “We were saying, ‘I hope this guy wasn’t getting paid much.’ “

Veteran lawyers who reviewed the judge’s order at the St. Petersburg Times’ request said they had never seen anything like it.

“It’s nothing short of scathing in its message,” said Rick Terrana, who has practiced law for 20 years. “It takes an awful lot to get a result like you have in this case.”

Typically, a motion for a new trial begins with an attorney.

But the law also allows a judge to act on his own without receiving a motion from either of the opposing sides in granting a new trial if he decides a defendant wasn’t tried fairly.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees defendants competent legal assistance. Judge Fuente would have had to decide that Christopher’s actions were “so egregious” that Rolon didn’t get that, said Terrana.

Defendant Rolon declined to be interviewed from jail.

Christopher, 30, privately retained as Rolon’s attorney, didn’t return calls for comments. Numerous other attempts by the Times to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Florida Bar Association lists Christopher as a member of its Young Lawyer’s Division. Public records show he began work as an assistant Hillsborough state attorney in April 2005, the same month he was admitted to the Florida Bar. Five months later, Christopher no longer worked for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. It was unclear Tuesday why he left.

McCain, the juror, said she was surprised Rolon took the stand in his defense. He suffered from a speech impediment, she said. His attorney’s questions seemed to confuse Rolon, she said.

“Sometimes he didn’t know what the defense attorney was trying to get him to say,” McCain said. “I think they usually practice those things. … It was sad. I think the guy’s guilty, but he didn’t get a good defense.”

Judge Fuente’s order noted that the attorney did not adequately prepare his client to testify. The judge wrote that Christopher said in open court that he had discussed Rolon’s testimony with him for “less than five minutes.”

“The unprepared defendant obviously did not know what questions his counsel would ask him,” Fuente wrote, “and he made unsolicited prejudicial statements during direct and cross examination.”

Bob Fraser, an attorney for 32 years, said what Fuente pointed out “are some fairly serious deficiencies in any defense case.”

“It’s the sort of thing that could follow (Christopher) throughout his career,” Fraser said. “You’re only as good as your last trial.”

Norman Cannella Sr. couldn’t recall seeing a similar order in his 36 years as an attorney. But he said he trusts Fuente’s judgment.

“I know Judge Fuente extremely well, and I know he’s a very fair and thoughtful person,” Cannella said. “I’m sure he must have labored over this for quite some time and finally decided he had to do what he did.”

State prosecutors have a legal right to appeal Fuente’s order. Pam Bondi, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, said the agency will review its options.

Rhianna Short, whose 28-year-old boyfriend Mario Robinson died in the Sulphur Springs shooting, witnessed the scuffle and testified at trial.

She’ll do it again if necessary, she said. “It’s very hard, but I have to do it,” said Short, 22.

McCain, who once served as a juror in another case, said Christopher seemed to be constantly fumbling with his yellow note pad while attempting to defend Rolon.

“As much as I want to see this guy go to jail and pay for what he did because it was a brutal, brutal thing he did,” she said, “I have to say the defense attorney was unprepared. He seemed lost.”

She lauded Fuente for doing his best to ensure a fair trial.

“The judge was fantastic — very, very fair. He gave this guy every break in the world. I would have thrown him out of courtroom because he was an idiot,” McCain said. “The judge was almost teaching him how to be a defense attorney.”

Appeared Here


Washington DC Seeks Crowd Beating Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies For Obama Inauguration – This Might Not End Well…

December 17, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles County officials have agreed to send 112 sheriff’s deputies to Washington, D.C., to help police the presidential inauguration, far fewer than the number requested.

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department initially asked for 500 Los Angeles deputies to help control what are expected to be record crowds at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.

Although Washington police would have reimbursed costs, the county Board of Supervisors balked at the number and at a meeting Tuesday whittled the request down to two platoons of 56 deputies each.

Appeared Here


Blind, Stupid, Negro Appointed Negro New York Governor’s Answer To Balancing State Budget? Impose High Fine-Like Taxes On Everything, Reduce Aid To Education And Healthcare

December 17, 2008

NEW YORK – Gov. Paterson’s proposed $121 billion budget hits New Yorkers in their iPods – and nickels-and-dimes them in lots of other places, too.

Trying to close a $15.4 billion budget gap, Paterson called for 88 new fees and a host of other taxes, including an “iPod tax” that taxes the sale of downloaded music and other “digitally delivered entertainment services.”

“We’re going to have to take some extreme measures,” Paterson said Tuesday after unveiling the slash-and-burn budget.

The proposal, which needs legislative approval, did not include broad-based income tax increases, but relied on smaller ones to raise $4.1 billion from cash-strapped New Yorkers.

Movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages would be taxed under Paterson’s proposal. It also extends sales taxes to cable and satellite TV services and removes the tax exemption for clothes costing less than $110.

“The governor is nickel-and-diming working class families,” said Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, an advocacy group.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long warned that reinstating the sales tax on clothing and shoes will drive people to New Jersey, where they will also gas up their cars and pick up their wine, spirits and soda because the prices are less due to lower taxes. “You’re sending notice to the people of New York that we really don’t want you here,” Long said. “The governor proposed flat spending, but why not actually cut the budget before raising taxes and fees?”

Paterson’s 2009-10 budget proposal represents only a 1% increase in total spending from this year’s budget – the smallest increase in a dozen years. It also calls for:

* A 3.3%, or $698 million, reduction in school aid.
* $3.5 billion in health care savings, including reductions in payments to hospitals and nursing homes.
* Video slot machines at Belmont Park, more multistate lottery games and expanded hours for the state’s Quick Draw lottery game.
* Layoffs for 521 state workers and the elimination of seven state agencies.

“This is where we are,” Paterson told reporters. “Maybe we should have thought about this when we were depending on what we thought was inexhaustive collections of taxes from Wall Street – and now those taxes have fallen off a cliff.”

Paterson aides say the budget represents a net gain for New York City, but Mayor Bloomberg wasn’t buying it. He said it could cost the city more than $1 billion, including a $600 million reduction in school aid.

“I don’t know that 100% of it is going to go the classroom, but a large percentage of any reduction we get from the state will go to the classroom,” Bloomberg said. “That will mean larger class sizes and fewer services.”

Education and health care advocates also blasted Paterson’s budget and urged state lawmakers to increase income taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to offset the cuts.

“We will be fighting this tooth and nail. We think it is irresponsible to make this level of cuts and not ask the wealthiest New Yorkers to help ease the pain,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who supports a so-called millionaire tax, has said he’d “rather have a broad-based tax than nickel-and-dime” people.

Still, Silver (D-Manhattan) Tuesday indicated major cuts are in store. “Everything the governor has proposed is on the table,” he said.

Republican lawmakers expressed concern with the tax and fee increases.

“Instead of raising taxes, we need to be reducing them,” said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R-Schenectady).

Paterson did not rule out income tax increases but said spending reductions are the priority. He also defended the fee and sales tax increases, saying they would be less harmful to the state’s economy.

“If you start taxing at times when [revenues are] receding, you’ll drive job creators out of the state,” Paterson said.

Appeared Here


Worst Florida Lawyer Ever – Byron T. Christopher – Judge Orders New Trial After Man’s Murder Conviction

December 17, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — For two days, a Hillsborough judge watched a young lawyer struggle through a murder defense and lose.

Then, as a deadline loomed, Circuit Judge William Fuente waited for customary defense motions to overturn the Dec. 4 conviction or request a new trial.

No motions came.

Finally on Monday, Fuente took the rare step of initiating his own order of a new trial for defendant David Rolon, saying defense attorney Byron T. Christopher “did not render effective assistance” and didn’t adequately prepare for trial.

“The defendant, through no fault of his own, did not receive a fair and impartial trial,” Fuente wrote in a four-page order.

Rolon, 41, stood accused of fatally shooting his Sulphur Springs neighbor during a March dispute over a parking space. He faced 25 years to life in prison.

Delores S. McCain, an alternate juror at Rolon’s trial, said the entire courtroom saw that he was getting poor representation.

“Everyone on the jury agreed,” she said. “We were saying, ‘I hope this guy wasn’t getting paid much.’ “

Veteran lawyers who reviewed the judge’s order at the St. Petersburg Times’ request said they had never seen anything like it.

“It’s nothing short of scathing in its message,” said Rick Terrana, who has practiced law for 20 years. “It takes an awful lot to get a result like you have in this case.”

Typically, a motion for a new trial begins with an attorney.

But the law also allows a judge to act on his own without receiving a motion from either of the opposing sides in granting a new trial if he decides a defendant wasn’t tried fairly.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees defendants competent legal assistance. Judge Fuente would have had to decide that Christopher’s actions were “so egregious” that Rolon didn’t get that, said Terrana.

Defendant Rolon declined to be interviewed from jail.

Christopher, 30, privately retained as Rolon’s attorney, didn’t return calls for comments. Numerous other attempts by the Times to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Florida Bar Association lists Christopher as a member of its Young Lawyer’s Division. Public records show he began work as an assistant Hillsborough state attorney in April 2005, the same month he was admitted to the Florida Bar. Five months later, Christopher no longer worked for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. It was unclear Tuesday why he left.

McCain, the juror, said she was surprised Rolon took the stand in his defense. He suffered from a speech impediment, she said. His attorney’s questions seemed to confuse Rolon, she said.

“Sometimes he didn’t know what the defense attorney was trying to get him to say,” McCain said. “I think they usually practice those things. … It was sad. I think the guy’s guilty, but he didn’t get a good defense.”

Judge Fuente’s order noted that the attorney did not adequately prepare his client to testify. The judge wrote that Christopher said in open court that he had discussed Rolon’s testimony with him for “less than five minutes.”

“The unprepared defendant obviously did not know what questions his counsel would ask him,” Fuente wrote, “and he made unsolicited prejudicial statements during direct and cross examination.”

Bob Fraser, an attorney for 32 years, said what Fuente pointed out “are some fairly serious deficiencies in any defense case.”

“It’s the sort of thing that could follow (Christopher) throughout his career,” Fraser said. “You’re only as good as your last trial.”

Norman Cannella Sr. couldn’t recall seeing a similar order in his 36 years as an attorney. But he said he trusts Fuente’s judgment.

“I know Judge Fuente extremely well, and I know he’s a very fair and thoughtful person,” Cannella said. “I’m sure he must have labored over this for quite some time and finally decided he had to do what he did.”

State prosecutors have a legal right to appeal Fuente’s order. Pam Bondi, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, said the agency will review its options.

Rhianna Short, whose 28-year-old boyfriend Mario Robinson died in the Sulphur Springs shooting, witnessed the scuffle and testified at trial.

She’ll do it again if necessary, she said. “It’s very hard, but I have to do it,” said Short, 22.

McCain, who once served as a juror in another case, said Christopher seemed to be constantly fumbling with his yellow note pad while attempting to defend Rolon.

“As much as I want to see this guy go to jail and pay for what he did because it was a brutal, brutal thing he did,” she said, “I have to say the defense attorney was unprepared. He seemed lost.”

She lauded Fuente for doing his best to ensure a fair trial.

“The judge was fantastic — very, very fair. He gave this guy every break in the world. I would have thrown him out of courtroom because he was an idiot,” McCain said. “The judge was almost teaching him how to be a defense attorney.”

Appeared Here


Washington DC Seeks Crowd Beating Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies For Obama Inauguration – This Might Not End Well…

December 17, 2008

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles County officials have agreed to send 112 sheriff’s deputies to Washington, D.C., to help police the presidential inauguration, far fewer than the number requested.

Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department initially asked for 500 Los Angeles deputies to help control what are expected to be record crowds at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.

Although Washington police would have reimbursed costs, the county Board of Supervisors balked at the number and at a meeting Tuesday whittled the request down to two platoons of 56 deputies each.

Appeared Here


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers