Officer Charles Collins
United States Department of Homeland Security – Customs and Border Protection – Office of Field Operations
End of Watch: Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tour of Duty: 8 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Automobile accident
Date of Incident: Sunday, July 11, 2010
Incident Location: Alaska
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available
Officer Charles Collins was killed in an automobile accident in Alaska while traveling between the Port of Eagle and the Poker Creek point of entry. He was driving on the Taylor Highway when his vehicle left the roadway.
His department vehicle went down a 200-foot embankment and landed in a rain-swollen creek. A passerby who saw tracks down the embankment notified Alaska State Troopers, who started a massive search along with other state and federal agencies.
Officer Collins’ body was recovered on August 15th.
Officer Collins had served with the Office of Field Operations for eight years. He is survived by his wife and children.
HOUSTON TX Aug 24 2010 A man was shot at a bingo hall in northeast Harris County.
It happened last night on FM 1960 near Aldine Westfield. Deputies say the man walked up to the door and smashed the door with a hammer. A security guard fearing the safety of the customers and his own life shot at him.
“There was one shot, but it was so close because as the hammer was coming up and he hit the door it was like bam, bam,” said an eyewitness.
Deputies say the man was only grazed and treated at the scene. They say he also smashed the door of a liquor store in the same shopping center.
SALT LAKE CITY Utah Aug 24 2010 — An employee at a Salt Lake car dealership was stealing cars off the lot, selling them to his friends and family, then erasing any trace of their existence from the dealership’s computer system, police say.
Tony Thomas Taylor, 25, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail late last week for investigation of 18 counts of stolen property and 18 counts of theft by deception.
Taylor, who worked at MCS auto, 76 W. 2100 South, stole more than $100,000 worth of vehicles and was paid about $12,000 total for the 18 cars he sold, according to the Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division. He also stole the titles and paperwork of each vehicle, and then erased any record of them in the dealership’s system, a Salt Lake County Jail report states.
“It makes you just have a sick feeling. We’re not that big of a place. It’s a big hit for us,” dealership owner Mark Marine told the Deseret News. “What a nightmare. You feel stupid. You think you have a tight knit group …”
According to investigators, Taylor worked as a lot boy, not a salesman, and would take cars in for repair — even ones that didn’t need it, said MVED spokesman Charlie Roberts.
Over the past six months, investigators believe, Taylor stole at least 18 vehicles and titles and sold them to friends and family.
Marine said Taylor had worked for him for about five years.
BILOXI MS Aug 24 2010 — Security at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino called police after two men tried to obtain cash by using false identification and a fraudulent credit card, police investigator Steve Schlicht said.
The men had gone to separate teller windows at the casino and used the same credit card number in attempts to get $1,000 and $500, Schlicht said.
The cage manager was suspicious and called the credit-card company, Schlicht said, and found the account number did not exist.
Security called for police around 2:20 a.m. Saturday.
Police arrested Todd Alan Granstrom, 49, and Sherman Ray Wilson, 61, on charges of credit-card fraud. Police said both are from California.
The Harrison County jail docket shows both men refused to give an address when they were booked in.
Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain set bond for each at $50,000.
Wilson was released on bail Sunday.
Granstrom is held with no bond on a counterfeiting charge from a different agency.
Records show both men also face a misdemeanor charge of providing false information; Granstrom also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
Schlicht said police want to hear from anyone with information about the men or the allegations.
Contact the police department at 392-0641 or its criminal investigations division at 435-6112
Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says it happened twice last week; once on Wednesday and then again on Friday on Flint’s north side.
The charges against the men vary.
Four juveniles were also taken into custody and will be charged, according to Pickell.
Pickell said they were after metal worth upward of $2.40 a pound. “They were motivated by greed,” he said.
“This goes beyond desperate times. It’s not the unemployment rate that has them doing this,” Pickell said during a Monday news conference.
At least one of those arrested has done this before, Pickell said. One of the men in custody was arrested nearly a year ago and was on probation. “He was ordered to pay $280,000 restitution, and he’s back in the plant the following year, stealing more,” said Pickell.
This time around, the four younger men went inside the vacant plant formerly owned by General Motors. “They went in a hole and go up as high as they could, and they’d slide those copper bars down the fire hoses,” said Pickell.
There were vehicles waiting, according to Pickell.
Last Wednesday, a security guard saw what was happening. Pickell said one of the men fired a number of shots at him.
Pickell says it happened again two days later when deputies were patrolling.
No one was injured, and all 11 were eventually arrested.
A General Motors spokesman released this statement: “The safety of our employees and visitors is our highest priority and we are working with the Sheriff’s Department to ensure that the Flint North site remains secure.”
Flint North is owned by Motors Liquidation Company, but GM has 480 employees at the site.
Operations at Flint North will end, as previously announced, by the end of the year
MEMPHIS, TN Aug 24 2010 – A Memphis Police officer bonded out of jail Saturday morning after being charged with felony counts of official misconduct and sexual battery.
Women who live near the scene of an alleged sexual battery at the hands of an on-duty officer were so fearful to share their reaction, they asked to remain anonymous.
“We’re depending on them to take care of us and take care of our children,” one woman said.
Friday, officer Michael Kearney was arrested. He is accused of offering to toss a traffic ticket in exchange for sex.
The affidavit of complaint revealed a 42-year-old woman reported Kearney on Sunday, August 1. She said Kearney pulled her over at Thomas and Weakley.
The affidavit said Kearney had the woman sit in the back of his squad car as he wrote a ticket for driving with a suspended license. He then allegedly made the proposal.
Officer Kearney is accused of telling the woman he would not write the ticket if she would have sex with him after his shift. He then proceeded to touched her private parts.
“To even hear about that, you wonder what is the world coming to,” a woman said. “Because if we’re not safe with the police, who are we safe with?”
Kearney has been with the force since 2008. His criminal record shows only one speeding violation in 1999. He has been relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Police confirmed the incident escalated after Kearney got off work, but they could not go into detail because the investigation is ongoing.
Kearney paid $10,000 to bond out Saturday. He will appear in General Sessions Court Monday morning by video arraignment.
There was no information on what initial violation prompted Kearney to pull over the woman.
GOLDSBORO NC Aug 24 2010 — A jury on Monday convicted a former Marine of first-degree murder in the death of a pregnant colleague who had accused him of rape, a charge that stalled the military career he treasured.
Cesar Laurean, 23, of Las Vegas, was found guilty of killing Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, of Vandalia, Ohio, in December 2007. The two were assigned to the same logistics unit at Camp Lejeune, the base in Jacksonville that is home to about 50,000 Marines.
The former Marine was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The victim’s mother, Mary Lauterbach, read a statement before the judge imposed the sentence. She told Laurean to look at his mother and see the pain in her face.
“I feel so sorry for your daughter. She will have to live with the shame that her father is in prison for murdering not one but two people,” Mary Lauterbach said.
Defense lawyer Dick McNeil told the court Laurean would appeal. The judge ordered the state’s appellate defender’s office to represent Laurean’s appeal.
Laurean also faced three other charges of robbing Lauterbach of her bank ATM card, and of theft and attempted fraud for allegedly trying to use it to withdraw cash. He was found not guilty of the robbery charge, but Laurean was convicted on the fraud and theft charges.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for three hours since Monday before convicting Laurean.
Laurean was eventually cleared of the rape accusation, and a Marine buddy testified Laurean told him the sex was consensual.
Prosecutors had argued Laurean wanted to get rid of the woman because their encounter threatened to destroy his military career. Even if the sex was consensual, Laurean could have been punished because it is against Marine Corps rules to have sex with a subordinate.
McNeil had argued prosecutors failed to prove Laurean swung the crowbar that fractured Lauterbach’s skull. Laurean’s wife, also a Marine, could have exploded when Lauterbach appeared at the couple’s home on the day she disappeared. Authorities described Christina Laurean as a cooperating witness and have not charged her with any crime.
Monroe La. Aug 24 2010 An alleged tasing incident at Glenwood Regional Medical Center in West Monroe back in December has three women on the opposite side of the law.
On Dec. 20, three women, Vana Samaniego, her daughter, Marinette Lebel and sister Marietta Mathews, were accused of trespassing in a third floor waiting room.
The trio were attending to Samaniego and Mathews’ ill mother, who passed away on Jan. 14. They claim they were unfairly treated by a security guard and want the charges against them dropped.
“I feel that Glenwood should intervene, perhaps, and have the charges dropped,” Mathews said. “Because our job was taking turns caring for our mother in the hospital.”
Mathews said she requested a handout of the hospital’s waiting room procedures, but received nothing.
“I was told they didn’t have one and (also told) if they did have one, they couldn’t find it,” Mathews said. “I don’t know what else we should have done.”
Mathews said she and her family asked hospital personnel if there was any reason a person could not be in the waiting room and were told no.
Their defense attorney, Jesse Brown, said the stance the prosecution has taken is not law.
“We have absolutely no idea why (the security guard) did what he did,” Brown said. He said the family told him Samaniego was told to wake up by the guard. Brown said the guard only told her she could not sleep there, not that she had to leave.
“When he came back, which was only a few minutes later, he asked her why she was still there,” Brown said. “And then threatened to call the police.”
Brown requested a continuance Wednesday from the prosecution, who offered to lower the charges to resisting. The defendants feel their rights were violated. The trial will resume in October.
“They told me the only charge they will pursue is resisting arrest,” Brown said. “We’ve told the city attorney we need time to think about it. (The defendants) feel strongly that none of the charges should be brought against them.”
Prosecuting attorney Mike Ruddick said the reason the guard had for trying to get the defendants to leave was the space the women were taking up in the waiting room.
According to a police report, police were called to Glenwood by security personnel. The guard told police he ordered Samaniego to leave the third floor waiting room and go to the sixth floor several times. Samaniego’s mother was being treated on the sixth floor.
When police told Samaniego she had to go to the waiting room on the upper floor, she refused. When they told her she was under arrest, she refused to stand up to be handcuffed.
Police said her sister, Mathews, and daughter, Lebel, showed up as police were trying to escort Samaniego out. The report stated Mathews told the officers to let her sister go. When Mathews tried to pull the officers off of her sister, she was then placed under arrest and began to struggle with officers.
Police said Mathews started kicking at the officers, and Lebel tried to pull police off of her mother and aunt. The report stated Lebel punched at the officers, hitting one in the chest.
Mathews kept resisting and police said they had to shock her into submission with a Taser. When she continued to resist, the report stated police had to stun her again.
All three were booked into West Monroe Correctional Center and charged with resisting arrest. Mathews was also charged with interfering and battery on an officer, Lebel was charged with disturbing the peace, interfering and battery on an officer and Samaniego was charged with remaining after being forbidden.
Vallejo police became suspicious when they saw the guard’s vehicle driving on Tennessee Street at 12:57 a.m. with both the driver’s and passenger’s doors open, police Lt. Jim O’Connell said. The man was then pulled over by police.
Apparently, Janae Bell, 31, of Vallejo, had jumped into the security guard’s car near Harbor Way and forced the guard to drive, using a simulated handgun for intimidation, O’Connell said.
The security guard opened both doors in attempt to escape and/or attract police attention. Bell was arrested on suspicion of carjacking and kidnapping, and appeared to be in the midst of a “methamphetamine binge,” O’Connell said.
New Orleans La Aug 24 2010 police officers who lie while on the job or file a false police report can be immediately fired under new regulations that will go into effect next week.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced the changes, along with several other revisions to the rules governing officer behavior, at a news conference outlining his initial steps to remake the New Orleans Police Department.
“If you lie, you die,” Serpas said, noting that the previous policy would allow lesser reprimands for officers who were untruthful a couple times. “If you tell this police department a lie about anything, you will be terminated. That has never happened here before.”
In a week when the alleged wrongdoing five years ago of New Orleans police after Hurricane Katrina will be featured prominently in the news, both Serpas and Mayor Mitch Landrieu underscored that they are trying to make improvements that will restore citizen confidence in the officers they interact with every day. There are currently nine ongoing federal probes into the NOPD, many of them stemming from the post-Katrina period.
“In short order, we have made progress on the structure and the culture of the NOPD,” said Landrieu at a news conference also attended by Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and NOPD deputy chiefs Arlinda Westbrook and Marlon Defillo.
Serpas said even an internal change like the revision to what is known in the NOPD as the “truthfulness” policy will end up being felt by New Orleanians. “When that resonates through our community, it will be easier for our community to accept the word of a police officer,” he said.
The 65-point plan released by Serpas included many steps that had already been undertaken, such as his restructuring of the command staff in June and the implementation of an initiative with federal agencies and Orleans Parish DA’s office targeting illegal guns on the streets.
But a good portion of the plan is labeled as “in progress,” including numerous federal reviews of various NOPD departments. The involvement of federal experts in diagnosing any problems in the NOPD is not a surprise, as the U.S. Department of Justice, at Landrieu’s invitation, is currently conducting a wide-ranging “pattern and practices” investigation of the department, trying to determine where systemic changes are needed.
The NOPD has already asked various components of the Justice Department for specific help, according to Serpas’ document, including reviews of the homicide unit, as well as providing expert help with domestic violence and sexual assault investigations. Following news reports about the prevalence of sexual assault complaints that are not classified as crimes, the NOPD this month asked the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement to conduct an audit of the sex crimes division, according to the report.
Serpas said some of the changes are specifically targeted at violent crime, such as the creation of the “violent crime abatement team,” a group of detectives who will target people the NOPD and other agencies identify as the most dangerous criminals in the city. Another group of officers in the special operations division work with state parole and probation officers to monitor parolees who were convicted of gun crimes, making sure they comply with their conditions of release.
Community policing will also be expanded, particularly by the new breed of sergeants put into each district in June. The “community coordinating” sergeant will work with neighborhood groups to identify and help fix problems, Serpas said. In many cases, the problems the sergeants confront will not be crime, but quality-of-life issues, he said.
“When you can solve people’s problems, they believe in you and they call you more,” said Serpas, who returned to the NOPD this spring after stints at the Washington State Police and at the helm of the Nashville Police Department.
Some of the problems identified by Serpas include rebuilding internal oversight mechanisms established during the era of former Superintendent Richard Pennington in the late 1990s, such as an “early warning system” to identify officers with repeat complaints. The new head of the Public Integrity Bureau, Westbrook, a civilian, will be looking at overhauling that system and other training programs through the end of the year, he said.
Along with the changes to the truthfulness policy, the department will also change the report writing rules, allowing the firing of any officer who files a “false or inaccurate oral or written report.” At issue in three ongoing cases in federal court against NOPD officers is the accusation that police wrote false information in reports, which prosecutors assert was done to cover-up improper police actions.
Another change, which like the others announced by Serpas will be put into place Sept. 1, is the requirement that all officers report to a supervisor any misconduct they observe by any government employee. If they fail to do so, they can be subject to the same level of discipline as the person who committed the offense. Officers will also be required to cooperate with investigations and not withhold information.
Noting that this week marks the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Serpas made direct reference to some of the allegations against police after Katrina, especially the guilty pleas of five former officers in the Danziger Bridge case. Those officers have admitted to participating in a wide-ranging cover-up of a shooting near the bridge in which four people were seriously wounded and two men died.
These actions have overshadowed the great work that many officers performed during the storm, said Serpas.
“The self behavior of people’s admitted comments has ripped from the history books the tremendous bravery of so many men and women in this department,” he said. “Rightfully so, the insult committed on this community by so many officers is something we can never forget and will never forget.”
ATLANTA GA Aug 24 2010 – Authorities in Michigan’s Genesee County were jubilant when Atlanta police arrested a suspect in a spate of serial stabbings that left five people dead. They weren’t so thrilled about picking up the tab to get him back.
Extradition has long been a sore spot for sheriffs who contend state and federal authorities should pay more of the costs to return fugitives. Now economic troubles and budget deficits are forcing prosecutors and sheriffs to make tough decisions about who will face prosecution and who will remain free.
Returning the stabbing suspect, Elias Abuelazam, to Michigan to face multiple murder charges is expected to cost between $2,000 and $10,000 at a time when Genessee County has an $18 million budget deficit.
“We have to juggle with limited resources,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. “I have to do more with less, but so does just about everybody. We will do the job whether we get the extra help or not.”
Officials said there was no question it was worth the cost in the case of Abuelezam, who is suspected in a string of 18 attacks in Michigan, Ohio and Virginia. He is expected to be extradited this week after his Aug. 11 arrest at Atlanta’s airport.
But some authorities are now weighing the costs of extradition with the severity of the crime. Some lower-level offenders and suspects may not be extradited — which means they’re set free.
John Morganelli, the district attorney of Pennsylvania’s Northampton County, said detectives were once dispatched as far as California to pick up suspects in relatively minor crimes. He still extradites suspects in violent crimes, but he has drawn the line at lower-level misdemeanors such as probation violation or failure to pay fines.
“It doesn’t make sense to spend more tax dollars to collect tax dollars that are owed,” he said. “If it’s a misdemeanor charge, a case where no great public harm is involved, we just can’t go.”
The risk is undermining the justice system when the resources don’t exist to pursue all criminal offenders.
“County sheriffs are suffering immensely with extradition costs. And this isn’t something to be taken lightly,” said Aaron Kennard, the executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “If we don’t extradite them, they never pay for the crime. If we don’t go get them, we’re thumbing our nose at the judicial system.”
It’s hard to quantify how many state or county prisoners are extradited each year from one jurisdiction to another. Federal authorities and the sheriffs association do not track the data, and several departments only ventured a rough guess. But Kennard said even small sheriffs’ offices could extradite hundreds of people each year, while larger jurisdictions often ship thousands.
Each journey can be costly. Sheriff’s offices or prosecutors often send two or three deputies or detectives to pick up suspects. With airfare, lodging and board, shipping a suspect hundreds of miles can cost $4,000 to $5,000. Some jurisdictions hire contractors that charge a per-mile fee.
It’s typically up to prosecuting agencies to foot the tab to extradite prisoners, but in some cases their counterparts will chip in or offer other help because they are eager to unload suspects — and the daily costs of housing them.
Kennard said some sheriffs are asking their counterparts to ship the prisoner halfway to split costs. His organization is also trying to work out an arrangement with the U.S. Marshals Service to transport more county prisoners along with federal suspects.
Federal authorities have a national program that seeks to help counties ship some prisoners at a “minimal cost,” said Bill Sorukas, a chief inspector with the U.S. Marshals. In fiscal year 2009, the program moved 1,208 prisoners who weren’t in the federal system. That’s just a fraction of the 350,000 federal prisoners moved the same time span.
Sorukas said there’s only so much the system can do without more federal funding. Getting federal inmates to their court appearances remains the top priority.
Then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden introduced legislation in 2008 that would have devoted more federal funding to help regional and local task forces extradite fugitives. But the legislation stalled and has yet to gain widespread support from lawmakers.
In the meantime, many sheriffs scramble to find creative solutions.
Navarro County Sheriff Les Cotten, for one, shrugged off the decision by the Texas county’s lawmakers to slash his extradition budget from $75,000 to $5,000. That’s because he’s worked out an arrangement with a contractor to ship prisoners to his Texas county at a discount if he allows them to use his jail for other prisoners who stop along the way.
Prosecutors, too, are trying to rein in costs.
Derek Champagne, the district attorney in upstate New York’s Franklin County, said his office only extradites smaller-scale white collar suspects if they are caught in neighboring states.
“In any crimes we have victims, we absolutely spare no expense,” he said. “But if it’s welfare fraud or some sort of white collar crime and it’s not over $10,000 we will put ‘adjoining states only’ on the warrant. So if someone’s in Florida and it was a $5,000 fraud, we’re not spending $3,000 or $4,000 to get him.”
Every decision not to extradite is risky.
One example is the case of Maximiliano Silerio Esparza, an illegal immigrant who was captured by U.S. Border Patrol agents in 2002. Oregon officials had an old marijuana charge on Esparza but declined to extradite him. He was driven back to Mexico and released.
Seven months later, after he made his way back to Oregon, he raped two nuns and killed one of them as they walked and prayed on a bike path. He pleaded guilty in April 2003 and was sentenced to life without parole.
Ed Caleb, the district attorney of Oregon’s Klamath County who put Esparza away, said the debate over extraditions puts prosecutors in a bind.
“It’s a funny way of practicing law,” he said. “There’s some people that aren’t dangerous that you wish would go to another state, and you don’t extradite them back on the hopes that you don’t have to see them again.”
Morganelli, the Pennsylvania prosecutor, said he knows there’s a chance some suspects could one day commit a more serious offense.
“We do worry about it,” he said. “But we just don’t have the bucks, so we can’t go. I try to make sure we’re protecting the public the best we can. You just never know what can happen.”