According to court documents released Friday, former Wackenhut supervisor Robert Alvarado told police that he met with executives Rene J. Pedrayes and Eduardo Esquivel in late 2001 to complain that his staff was stretched too thin to properly guard county Metrorail stations.
“Pedrayes became extremely irate and demanded, while cursing, that all posts be covered even if Alvarado had to `ghost’ them,” slang used to describe billing shifts that were not filled, or only partially filled, an arrest warrant said.
When Alvarado fretted that county authorities would discover Wackenhut’s alleged scheme, “Pedrayes told him to shut up and not to worry because they had that covered.”
Pedrayes and Esquivel were charged Friday with racketeering, joining Alvarado and four other former employees arrested earlier this month. An eighth ex-employee, secretary Erika M. Reyan, also was charged Friday.
Alvarado told Miami-Dade police public corruption detectives that Esquivel, then a Miami general manager for Wackenhut, “instructed him” on how to juggle overstretched security guards and fraudulently pay them as though they had worked their entire shifts, the warrant said.
Pedrayes no longer works with Wackenhut, while Esquivel now holds Pedrayes’ former role as Wackenhut’s regional vice president, according to court documents.
Before Friday, the highest-ranking ex-Wackenhut employee arrested was Elijah Pendleton, the former project manager for the Metrorail contract.
Wackenhut, as a company, has not been charged, although Miami-Dade prosecutors have not ruled out further action.
“We remain confident that the facts will show that the company did nothing wrong and we will vigorously defend our reputation and the reputation of our management,” the company said in a statement Friday. “We have always maintained that if anyone is guilty of these allegations, then they have stolen from both Wackenhut and the county.”
Lawyers for Pedrayes and Esquivel said their clients passed polygraph tests.
Esquivel’s defense lawyer, Scott Srebnick, denied Alvarado’s claims.
“Eddy is 100 percent innocent, and the prosecutors did not let the truth get in the way of a good story,” he said.
Pedrayes’ lawyer, David O. Markus, called Alvarado “a rat looking to save his skin.” He said: “This is a witch hunt by the state.”
Miami-Dade prosecutors contend that the group stole at least $76,000, amounting to 3,500 hours of security work not performed between 2002 and 2005.
The total amount fraudulently billed to the county is likely much more, investigators said, because a 2008 county audit estimated overbilling at $3 million to $5 million.
Wackenhut has long insisted the audit was flawed.
To prove racketeering, prosecutors do not need to account for every penny of the alleged overbilling, but must prove a pattern of defrauding taxpayers.
Wackenhut has been under scrutiny since a series of lawsuits filed in 2005 by former employees alleged that the company could not cover its shifts, forcing supervisors and roving patrols to fill the gaps.
After the allegations surfaced, the county stopped doing business with the Palm Beach Gardens-based company, which began guarding Metrorail stations in 1989.
In February, Wackenhut and the county settled a contract dispute over the alleged overbilling. The company is now eligible for future county contracts after shelling out $3 million to Miami-Dade, plus an additional $4.5 million to one former employee who had sued the company.
But James T. Hohlfeld, 26, convicted of stealing a quarter-million dollars from a parked armored car in Davenport, was exposed to a different lifestyle when he would stay at his mother’s home on the weekends growing up.
It’s in his mother’s home — where there were no rules or boundaries, where his mother introduced him to marijuana when he was 11, where his mother suffered from alcoholism — where Hohlfeld learned to rebel against the strictness of his father’s upbringing, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court, Davenport, this week.
Hohlfeld was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison for his role in the March 19 heist. His co-defendant, Dylan C. Trones, was sentenced to 23 months in prison.
They are both jointly liable for paying restitution in the amount of $158,672.
The two men pleaded guilty to bank larceny charges on June 29.
The heist took approximately a minute to execute. The armored car employees did not immediately detect the loss, court records state.
Forfeiture orders were filed seeking $103,516 from five individuals who allegedly received money related to the theft, as well as a 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle, records state.
The armored car owned by Rochester Armored Car Service of Omaha arrived at the US Bank, 3624 N. Division St., about 6 a.m. March 19. The armored car employees were there to put money into the bank’s ATM, records state.
Within 30 seconds of the employees leaving the vehicle, two people in dark clothing approached the armored car. One got into the car, then left it. Both people then left the parking lot on foot one minute later, records state.
After leaving the bank, the armored car employees discovered they were missing a U.S. Postal Service mail tote with approximately $260,000 cash and $1,188 in postage stamps.
Hohlfeld, who said in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday that he’s re-evaluating his life, mentioned that he provided law enforcement an accounting of where his share of the stolen money had been spent or could be recovered. He also expressed remorse for his actions.
Stealing the money was “the biggest mistake” in his life, Hohlfeld said in the memorandum.
He added that he’s making an effort to live his life in a positive manner by working as an independent contractor for a flooring company and being active in church.
PORT ARTHUR, TEXAS Sept 26 2010 – A woman slipped through a 12-inch opening in the back of a cop car and stole the vehicle, leading police on a chase that reached speeds of 100 miles per hour.
And she did it all while handcuffed.
According to a news release from Port Arthur police, Candace Broussard, 28, of Beaumont, was arrested for trespassing on the Lamar State College – Port Arthur campus but she resisted officers as they attempted to place her in the back of a patrol unit, the release said.
The woman had been handcuffed behind her back but she was able to move her hands to the front of her body and open the security panel in the car that separates the front seat from the back seat. She then slid through the 12-inch opening into the drivers seat.
She took off on Procter Street, turned north on Woodward Avenue and then sped down U.S. 69 northbound, according to Maj. Raymond Clark with the police department. She also struck an occupied vehicle at Lakes Charles and Proctor but no one was hurt, according to the news release.
Officers were able to get ahead of her and lay down spike strips along the highway. She avoided the first set of strips, but then struck the second set and flattened the right tires on the cruiser – a Dodge Charger.
She pulled into the Conoco gas station near the intersection of U.S. 69 and FM 366 where she was rearrested and then transported to the Jefferson County Jail.
Clark said Broussard was initially arrested for being involved in a disturbance at the college and refusing to leave the campus. She now faces charges of escape from custody, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and evading detention in a motor vehicle.
According to Tom Neal, vice president for student services at the college, the woman walked into a classroom on campus where a class was in session. She refused to leave after being asked and campus security called for back up from the Port Arthur Police Department.
Clark added that the woman has a history of mental illness. He did not know if drugs or alcohol were involved in this incident.
Hempfield Township PA Sept 26 2010 Police in Mercer County made six arrests Friday in what appears to be a major theft ring.
The suspects are accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise from Wal-Mart. Police say the group was arrested after being caught in the act at a Hempfield Township Wal-Mart.
Reports say store security called police after seeing two vehicles circling the parking lot with their license plates covered up. After a chase and help from several other departments, authorities found between $25,000 and $30,000 in stolen goods inside the vehicles.
“Mainly video games, X-Box, Wii’s. Playstations, some clothing, some accessories to the Wii consoles. We have a couple TVs,” said Daniel McCloskey, Hempfield Township Police Department.
Police quickly realized they were dealing with something much bigger than just shoplifting.
“We have some suspicions to believe that this is taking place in different states actually,” said Nicholas Brevetta, assistant district attorney for Mercer County. “Some of those states including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.”
“A search warrant of the vehicles discovered a road atlas map that had five states,” McCloskey said. “In those five states, there were multiple cities highlighted. Each one of those cities included a Wal-Mart or several Wal-Marts in that city.”
Brandon Burgess, James Siebert, Forest Jennings, Jajuan Simmons, Barbara Wesley and Cara Curvin, all of Detroit, Mich., were arraigned on charges of criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property and being part of a corrupt organization.
The six are being held on at least $100,000 bond in the Mercer County Jail. A hearing is set for Oct. 4.
Riverside CA Sept 26 2010 On Saturday, Sept. 18 at 11:20 a.m., deputies from the Cabazon Station of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department responded to the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall regarding an attempt vehicle theft and burglary that just occurred.
Responding deputies were advised through a 911 call that mall security was chasing the suspect on foot through an open field towards the Morongo Casino. As deputies entered the Morongo Travel Center parking lot, the suspect entered a parked and occupied Toyota Camry which then drove out of the center at a very high rate of speed. Deputies gave chase and caught up with the suspect vehicle on the I-10 Freeway at Fields Road where a high-risk traffic stop was conducted and the three occupants were detained, according to a sheriff’s department news release.
It was learned that mall security was on patrol within the facility when they observed one of the suspects underneath a parked 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe attempting to compromise the rear door mechanism using various burglary tools. When mall security attempted to contact the suspect, he fled on foot with security giving chase and calling 911.
The three suspects were arrested for felony charges related to attempt vehicle theft and burglary. They were identified as Maurice Linton, 29, of Laughlin NV, Teresa Mitchell, 41, of Yucca Valley, and Katreal Hunter, 18, of Yucca Valley. All three subjects were transported and booked at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility on the listed charges.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Cabazon Sheriff’s Station at (951) 922-7100.
Boston MA Sept 26 2010 A Massachusetts State Police trooper and Army war hero was arrested after a chaotic scene unfolded early yesterday morning when he allegedly drove drunk and crashed his car on his Dorchester street, pointed a gun at an off-duty Boston police officer, and then ran into his house and fired his gun into a ceiling. He came outside and was wrestled to the ground by responding officers.
Timothy J. Walsh, 41, is an 18-year State Police veteran who has been on military leave for the past five years, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the State Police. Walsh has done multiple tours in Afghanistan and he received the Army Commendation Medal for valor in December 2009.
At about 1:30 a.m., police responded to a radio call to 32 South Munroe Terrace for a report of a person pointing a gun at a police officer, police said. When they arrived, the off-duty officer, who also lives on the street and whose name was not released, told the arriving officers that Walsh had fled into the house. Then officers heard the gunshot.
According to a Boston Police Department report obtained by the Globe, police surrounded the house, where Walsh lives on the first floor with a roommate. When Walsh exited, the officers ordered him to put his hands up and get on the ground. He refused, according to the report, and the officers wrestled him to the ground, placing him under arrest.
Police found a bullet hole in a living room ceiling.
Walsh’s roommate, who told police he was sleeping and woke when he heard the gunshot, was not injured.
A man who answered the door at 32 South Munroe declined to comment yesterday.
Walsh was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident, assault with a dangerous weapon, illegal discharge of a firearm, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
He is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Dorchester District Court. A hearing will be held Tuesday to determine if Walsh will be suspended from the State Police as the criminal case is processed, Procopio said.
According to witnesses cited in the report, Walsh struck three parked cars on his street and then fled onto Neponset Avenue. He returned a short time later and parked his battered car in his driveway, the report said.
By this time, neighbors had come outside to inspect the damage and they recognized Walsh’s car. The off-duty Boston officer, who said Walsh was slurring his words, told him to wait outside for police to respond. It was then that Walsh allegedly pointed the gun at the officer and went inside.
Walsh was briefly treated at Boston Medical Center yesterday for injuries he sustained in the crashes and while being arrested, according to the report.
Procopio said Walsh turned in his service weapon when he went on military leave and that the gun he fired was a personal weapon. Walsh has a license to carry firearms, he said.
Walsh did tours in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, said Richard R. Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, the troopers’ union, and he recently returned from one.
The Trooper Newspaper, the union’s official publication, listed Walsh as a staff sergeant in the Army. His photo is on the cover of the February issue, which reports on a December 2009 event at Florian Hall, where he received the Army Commendation Medal for valor.
According to the newspaper’s narrative of the ceremony, Walsh was serving in Balkh Province, Afghanistan, in May 2009, providing support for an 84-man commando task force when they came under heavy fire.
As the commandos appeared to be in grave danger from “overwhelming fire,’’ they headed north to take cover, but they were pinned down by heavy machine gunfire.
Walsh stood up, in the line of fire, and provided covering fire with his rifle and grenade launcher while the commandos moved out of danger.
Walsh then noticed one of his teammates dragging a severely wounded commando with a gunshot wound. He stood up again, putting himself in the line of fire, and provided covering fire so that the commando could be moved out of danger.
Behind cover, but still taking fire, the soldiers were pinned down and decided they needed to retreat. Walsh stood up a third time and yelled to his men to fire their weapons and escape “the kill zone,’’ according to the narrative.
“His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the United States Army,’’ the narative read.
Brown said in a phone interview that Walsh has union representation and support.
“He’s a war hero,’’ Brown said. “I wish him the best with everything he’s dealing with, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the Boston Police Department for the whole situation.’’
Walsh was last assigned to Troop D, which covers Southeastern Massachusetts, Procopio said.
DECATUR, GA Sept 26 2010– Drugs you find in your medicine cabinet are killing more Georgians that drugs you find on the street. More and more people are dying every day from overdoses of prescription drugs. It has become such a big problem that police agencies throughout Metro Atlanta are holding prescription drug take backs as part of a nationwide initiative.
On Saturday, the DEA is kicking off the first ever prescription drug take-back event.
Contrary to popular perception, prescription drugs are a much bigger scourge than illegal drugs. In Georgia last year, 670 autopsies determined that drug overdoses were the cause of death. Of those, 73 percent were caused by overdoses of prescription drugs.
“Those drug overdose deaths right now account for almost one of every four autopsy examinations that we conduct,” said Dr. Kris Sperry, the GBI’s Chief Medical Examiner. “It’s a massive problem.”
What is more striking, according to the GBI, is that deaths from illegal drug overdoses in Georgia are actually going down. In 2008, 95 deaths were caused by illegal drug overdoses. That number dropped to 86 deaths in 2009.
Prescription drugs alone kept overdose fatalities at an all time high. In 2008, 496 deaths were attributed to prescription drug overdoses. That number rose to 508 deaths in 2009.
Dr. Sperry said the top prescriptions being abused are pain killers and anti-anxiety drugs. “Many of them have chronic pain problems, knee injuries, back injuries, surgeries and need medication for pain,” he said.
The GBI said the top four drugs that caused those deaths are Alprazolam, or Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, Methadone, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone. The last three are all pain killers.
“The difference between taking one or two pills to treat the pain and taking a couple of other extra pills when your pain is too much is the difference between life and death,” Dr. Sperry said.
The GBI broke down the age range of deaths from prescription drugs in 2009:
Age 15 and under: 4 deaths
Age 15-24: 45 deaths
Age 25-34: 125 deaths
Age 35-44: 182 deaths
Age 45-54: 221 deaths
Age 64 and older: 13 deaths
A breakdown by race and sex for 2009 prescription deaths is as follows:
CONROE, Texas Sept 26 2010 —A former sergeant with the Conroe Police Department was sentenced Friday to 87 months in federal prison without parole on bank robbery charges.
Michael E. Tindall was convicted in March of 2010 for the 2008 robbery of the First Bank of Conroe.
On August 11, 2008, Tindall walked into the lobby of the bank, where he’d worked a second job as a security guard for years, wearing an opaque motorcycle helmet.
He jumped on the counter and demanded money, eventually taking about $28,000 from the tellers.
Tindall, 49, received the maximum sentence for his crime. His time in prison will be followed by a three-year term of supervised release, and he was ordered to pay restitution to the First Bank of Conroe.
The judge said she decided on the maximum sentence not only because of the facts surrounding the robbery, but also its impact on the lives of the bank employees.
Two of the tellers who were present during the holdup addressed the court Friday morning, saying the fact that the robbery was committed by a former coworker and friend left them feeling fearful and distrustful.
“Our communities depend upon our law enforcement officers to honor their oath to enforce the law and protect our citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno. “When an officer violates that oath by robbing a bank as Tindall, he not only violated the public order, he violated the public’s trust and the security of the employees that regarded him as a protector. Through the considerable efforts of the Conroe Police Department, the FBI and the trial team, Tindall has been held accountable and justice is served.”
Tindall has been in federal custody since his conviction and will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals until he’s transferred to prison, prosecutors said.