PORTLAND OR NOV 28 2010
A Somali-born teenager plotted “a spectacular show” of terrorism for months, saying he didn’t mind that children would die if he bombed a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents.
He never got the chance. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested Friday in downtown Portland after using a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van, prosecutors said. It turned out to be a dummy bomb put together by FBI agents. Authorities said Mohamud was acting alone.
The alleged plot followed a string of terrorist attack planning by U.S. citizens or residents, including a Times Square plot in which a Pakistan-born man pleaded guilty earlier this year to trying to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. Last month, another Pakistan-born Virginia resident was accused in a bomb plot to kill commuters.
In the Portland plot, Mohamud was not being directed by any foreign terrorist organization, according to a law-enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on a condition of anonymity.
The official said Mohamud was very committed to the plot and planned the details alone, including where to park the van to hurt the most people.
“I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave dead or injured.” Mohamud said, according to the affidavit.
“It’s in Oregon, and Oregon, like you know, nobody ever thinks about it,” the suspect told an agent in one discussion.
Thousands of people had gathered Friday on a cold, clear night for the annual event at Pioneer Courthouse Square, a plaza often referred to as “Portland’s living room” because of its popularity.
Just 10 minutes before Mohamud’s 5:40 p.m. arrest, the lighting ceremony began. Babies sat on shoulders, and children cheered at the first appearance of Santa Claus onstage.
The tree-lighting on the bricks of the plaza went off without a hitch just as the arrest was taking place.
Mohamud, who grew up in Beaverton, was a former student at Oregon State University. He had been enrolled in courses from late 2009 until Oct. 6 before withdrawing, said Oregon State University spokesman Todd Simmons.
The law-enforcement official who spoke to the AP on Saturday said agents began investigating Mohamud after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager. The official declined to provide any more detail about the relationship between Mohamud and that source.
The FBI monitored Mohamud’s e-mail and found that he was in contact with people overseas, asking how he could travel to Pakistan and join the fight for jihad, according to an FBI affidavit.
According to the law enforcement official, Mohamud e-mailed a friend living in Pakistan who had been a student in Oregon in 2007-2008 and been in Yemen as well.
For reasons that have not been explained, Mohamud tried to board a flight to Kodiak, Alaska, from Portland on June 14, wasn’t allowed to board and was interviewed by the FBI, the affidavit states. Mohamud told the FBI he had previously hoped to travel to Yemen, that he knew someone there, but had never obtained a ticket a visa.
On June 23, an undercover agent contacted Mohamud by e-mail, pretending to be affiliated with the “unindicted associate” Mohamud had sent e-mails to.
The FBI’s affidavit says the friend in Pakistan referred him to another associate, but gave him an invalid e-mail address that Mohamud tried repeatedly to use unsuccessfully. The official said FBI agents saw that as an opportunity and e-mailed Mohamud in response, claiming to be associates of his friend, the former student.
The affidavit said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out. But he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show … a spectacular show.”
Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday.
Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt. Mohamud sent bomb components to undercover FBI agents who he believed were assembling the explosive device, but the agents supplied the fake bomb that Mohamud tried to detonate twice via his phone, authorities said.
The FBI affidavit says the undercover agent first met Mohamud in person on July 30 and asked what he would do for the cause of jihad. The agent suggested that Mohamud might want to spread Islam to others, continue his studies to help the cause overseas, raise money, and become a martyr or put together an explosion but didn’t know how and needed training, the affidavit said.
The undercover agent said he could introduce him to an explosive expert and asked Mohamud to research potential targets.
At a second meeting on Aug. 19 at a Portland hotel, the agent brought a second undercover agent; Mohamud allegedly told them had selected the tree lighting at Portland’s Pioneer Square for the bombing.
Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.
They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.
Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991, and the U.S. has boosted aid to the country.
In August, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment naming 14 people accused of being a deadly pipeline routing money and fighters from the U.S. to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Mohamud’s native Somalia.
Officials have been working with Muslim community leaders across the United States, particularly in Somali diasporas in Minnesota, trying to combat the radicalization.
On Saturday, Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nation and an advocate for Somalis in Minnesota, said the Mohamud has a stepmother in Minneapolis. He condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.
Jamal said he had spoken to two Somalis who knew Mohamud, and he was described as religious, quiet and innocent.
Jamal said Mohamud is from southern Somalia.
“Everybody’s afraid, really really afraid,” Jamal said of members of Oregon’s Somali communities and elsewhere. “They’re afraid of, first of all, the label. The allegation is very serious …
“But this is something that we are closely watching, and we advised (Somalis) not to be so much afraid of anything, as long as they’re on the right side of the law.”
WILKES-BARRE PA Nov 28 2010 – Police arrested a man early Saturday morning after he allegedly fired a gun at two occupied vehicles inside a downtown parking garage.
Two Legion Security guards said they saw Todd M. Derhammer fire shots from a handgun into vehicles shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday inside the Park & Lock Central parkade attached to the Intermodal Transportation Center.
Police said they arrested Todd M. Derhammer, 25, of Edwardsville, after he fired four to six shots from a .40-caliber handgun into vehicles occupied by Adam and Joseph Hasan and Holly Bienias shortly after 2 a.m. inside the Park & Lock Central parkade attached to the Intermodal Transportation Center.
Two Legion Security guards witnessed Derhammer fire the shots, police said, and much of the incident, including Derhammer firing the gun, was captured on closed-circuit video.
Derhammer “walked right into” a city police officer as he was attempting to flee the scene, police said, and was arrested. He was arraigned Saturday before District Judge Joseph Carmody, West Pittston, and is being held at Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 7 in Central Court.
According to police:
The Hasan brothers and Bienias were returning to their vehicle parked inside the Park & Lock Central from Rodano’s on Public Square. As they passed The Hardware Bar, 14 S. Main St., they saw a person they recognized from an altercation a few months earlier.
The Hasan brothers said they fought with Derhammer inside The Hardware Bar in April. Bouncers broke up the fight. Derhammer then returned to his car, they told police, produced a handgun, pointed it at Adam Hasan and pulled the trigger two or three times. They said they heard the hammer strike but the gun did not deploy, at which point Derhammer returned to his car, a red Volkswagen, and drove off. Joseph Hasan said he chased Derhammer and that Derhammer drove his car at him and ran over his foot as he drove off. They did not report the incident to police.
Saturday, police said Joseph Hasan confronted Derhammer, who was walking behind the group, in the South Main Street vehicle entrance to the Park & Lock. As they were arguing, another man joined in. The Hasan brothers identified that man as John Milunic. They said they had been in a fight with Milunic at The Hardware Bar Nov. 24.
The argument was broken up by Legion Security guards, police said, at which point the two parties went to their vehicles. As the Hasans and Bienias were getting in Bienias’ Jeep Grand Cherokee, Milunic pulled his vehicle, a blue four-door, behind the Jeep, blocking it in. The Hasans said they confronted Derhammer, who sat in the back seat and spat at them. A female passenger was sitting in the front seat, police said.
Joseph Hasan and Derhammer began fighting, with Hasan outside and Derhammer inside the vehicle, police said. Security guards broke up the fight and Milunic drove away, police said, but stopped a short distance later to drop off Derhammer at his blue Toyota Highlander. Joseph Hasan said he saw Derhammer looking for something in the back of his vehicle.
Bienias dropped Joseph off at his car and the two cars drove down towards the exit of the parkade, with Joseph Hasan’s vehicle in front, police said.
As they reached the last level of the structure near the ramp to the exit, they said they saw Derhammer standing in the Park & Lock portion of the parkade, pointing a gun at them. He fired four to six shots, none of which struck anyone, police said. The group then fled the parkade.
Two Legion Security guards, Stephen Uzialko and William Hontz II, said they saw Derhammer fire at the two vehicles as they were driving through the lot. One exited the vehicle, drew his gun on Derhammer and began advancing toward him, at which point Derhammer ran to his vehicle and drove off up through the parkade, police said. A few seconds later, Derhammer crashed his Toyota into one of the garage’s concrete supports a level above where the guards confronted him. Derhammer then continued on to the top floor, police said.
A witness, who was on the balcony of a Provincial Towers apartment, told police he saw Derhammer throw an object onto the roof of the Provincial Towers businesses next to the garage. He then tried to drive off, police said, with his vehicle barely running due to damage sustained in the crash. After traveling a short distance, he parked the vehicle and fled on foot, police said, running “right into” a city police officer, who detained him and, after he was identified by security guards as the man who fired the gun, arrested him.
Police said they found a Springfield Arms .40-caliber handgun registered to Travis Avery and containing one round in the chamber and several in the magazine on the roof of the Provincial Towers businesses. Avery told police Derhammer was at his apartment earlier Saturday, and that Derhammer was the only person who could have taken the gun from the apartment.
Police said they found a bullet proof vest with Derhammer’s name written on the label in the rear of his vehicle. He submitted to a gunshot residue test, police said, and stated he had fired his shotgun Nov. 25 and had not showered, bathed or washed since.
Police subsequently discovered Derhammer had previously pleaded guilty to a violation of the Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and as a result of that plea was barred from possessing a weapon.
Derhammer was interviewed by Detective Ronald Foy of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department and stated that he did not have a weapon Saturday, that he was attacked and that the Hasan brothers fired at him, Foy said. Foy said Derhammer’s testimony was “in direct conflict with all of the other statements collected, in conflict with the evidence collected and in conflict with the video footage.”
Derhammer was charged with six counts of aggravated assault, two counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, six counts of simple assault, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, and one count each of persons not to possess firearms, firearms not to be carried without a license, theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief and possessing instruments of crime, unlawful possession of body armor.
City police said they are continuing investigation and expect to make at least one additional arrest in the case
Source:The Times Leader
Greeley Co. Nov 28 2010 An off-duty Colorado State Trooper risked his own life to save a 10-year-old boy that had fallen through thin-ice near the Greeley Family FunPlex in northern Colorado.
It happened Saturday afternoon. Trooper Dan Haley was with his family at the FunPlex when he noticed some children playing on thin ice. Brenndan Daviet, age 10, of Greeley, broke through the ice, and was submerged in the near freezing water.
When Trooper Haley ran toward the child, the ice broke under him. He was able to take hold of the young boy and attempted to get to the shore.
He was able to push the boy onto the ice, but was unable to get out of the water himself. When they got to the shore, the boy and the trooper were pulled from the water.
Both were transported to the Northern Colorado Medical Center, where they were released after being treated for hypothermia.
Trooper Dan Haley is a 3 year veteran of the Colorado State Patrol and is currently assigned to the Homeland Security Section.
Corvallis CA Nov 28 2010 A Corvallis man who was in the back of an armored truck when it rolled over Wednesday south of Monmouth has died of his injuries.
Joseph Michael Pablo Jr., 24, died Thursday. His body was released to McHenry Funeral Home in Corvallis. He had been in critical condition at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center following the wreck.
Pablo, who went by Michael, had been the rear passenger, or “jumper,” for the Loomis armored car, said his mother, Marti Morris of Corvallis. It is the jumper’s job to go from the back of the armored vehicle into the bank with the money and sign the paperwork. Pablo had worked for the company almost two years, she said.
The crash happened just before 8 a.m. Wednesday off Highway 99W about five miles south of Monmouth. The truck was headed south and veered off the right side of the road, hit a tree and rolled several times before coming to rest on its roof.
Oregon State Police cited the driver, James P. Russell, 22, from Carlton, for careless driving. The state office could not be reached Friday to learn if the charges would be amended in light of Pablo’s death.
His mother said that her son was proud to be an organ donor. She said she knows for sure his heart will be used for a transplant, and believes his lungs, liver, kidneys and eye tissue also will be made available.
“He picked Thanksgiving for a reason,” she said. “Michael was a special kid, and he was prepared.”
Pablo’s family includes a sister, Morgan Maldonado, in Portland; a sister, Stephanie Pablo, in Corvallis; and a brother, Andrew Morris, in Corvallis.
He graduated in 2005 from Titusville High School in Titusville, Fla.
Marti Morris said a service for extended family is planned Dec. 3 in Bellingham, Wash., and an open house memorial service is planned Dec. 11 in Corvallis.
“He had a lot of friends, and a lot of friends who counted on him. He was there when anybody asked him for anything,” his mother said. He was just 24, “but wise beyond his years, that’s for sure.”
Morris said she didn’t know whether her son encouraged others to become organ donors, but that other family members are.
“We are wanting everybody to,” she said.
“He didn’t have property in the area and he didn’t have family (in the area either),” said Wells Sgt. Kent Berdeen Sunday morning. “We back-searched the hotel to see if he stayed there before, and, as far as the records say, he did not.”
Mass. sheriff under investigation found dead in Wells hotel roomDiPaola, 57, of 181 Kimball St., Malden, Mass., was found dead in Room 255 of Lafayette Resorts at 393 Mile Road at noon Saturday after apparently using his own service weapon to shoot himself in the head.
Berdeen said police found a 40 caliber semi automatic Glock pistol lying next to DiPaola’s body, which was only one of the two items the former sheriff carried with him to the hotel.
“He had no luggage,” Berdeen said, who added the only other piece of personal property police found at the hotel was a laptop computer. Berdeen said the computer has not yet been investigated by police and he doesn’t know if it was DiPaola’s personal or business computer.
DiPaola had driven his official police cruiser, an unmarked Dodge Charger, with radio and emergency lights installed, to Lafayette Resorts before checking into the hotel shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, Berdeen said.
Berdeen said police investigation shows DiPaola had most likely killed himself between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday. Berdeen said guests of the hotel were mostly away from the building at that time, and that police found no one who had heard a gunshot.
“Nobody heard anything,” Berdeen said.
DiPaola was found lying on his bed shortly after noon Saturday when he failed to vacate his room by check-out time and cleaning staff found the dead bolt of his door engaged.
Katheryn Kelly, the manager of the resort, opened the door with a pass key and observed DiPaola lying on the bed. Responding officers confirmed DiPaola’s identification by looking at his official identification card, police said. Kelly was unavailable for comment at 10:45 a.m.
A multiple page note was left in the hotel room, but the content of the note is not being released at this time. Berdeen said Saturday the note was addressed to his wife and children.
DiPaola left behind three children and his wife, Adeline.
DiPaola had announced his retirement Monday, Nov. 22, amid controversy following his statement that he was planning to exploit a loophole in the state pension system.
The Attorney General’s office had then initiated an investigation into allegations of improper use of campaign funds by DiPaola.
Berdeen said local police did not know if the investigation had led to his apparent suicide, and said the contents of the multiple page note left by DiPaola had not yet been perused by local police.
He said the materials have been sent to the state medical examiner’s office.
End of Watch: Friday, November 26, 2010
Tour of Duty: 19 years, 10 months
Badge Number: 6962
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Friday, November 26, 2010
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: At large
Officer Michael Flisk was shot and killed while processing the scene of a vehicle burglary inside an alley garage at 1:30 pm in the 8100 block of South Burnham Avenue.
Officer Flisk was shot in the head and died an hour later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The burglary victim, a retired Chicago Housing Authority and former Robbins police officer who was a US Army veteran, was also shot and later died at Advocate Christ Medical Center.
The suspect responsible for the shootings remains at large.
Officer Flisk had served with the Chicago Police Department for nearly 20 years and was assigned to the Evidence Technician Team – South Unit. He is survived by his wife, daughter and three sons. Three siblings are also members of the Chicago Police Department.
Agency Contact Information
Chicago Police Department
3510 S. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60653
Phone: (312) 746-6000
Please contact the Chicago Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.
End of Watch: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Tour of Duty: 9 years
Badge Number: 822
Cause of Death: Struck by vehicle
Date of Incident: Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Incident Location: Oklahoma
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available
Officer Patrick Sirois was struck and killed by a vehicle on U.S. 69 in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, while assisting at the scene of another accident.
Officer Sirois was traveling to Wagoner, Oklahoma, with his fiance for the Thanksgiving holiday when he witnessed the accident. He stopped his vehicle, put on a reflective vest, displayed his badge and firearm, and began to assist one of the drivers. As he spoke to the man on the shoulder he saw another car that about to collide with the vehicle. He pushed the driver out of harm’s way just as the vehicle was struck, pinning him between it and the guardrail.
He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The driver who struck him was cited for a traffic violation.
Officer Sirois served as a civilian police officer with the Fort Hood Police Department and as a reserve officer with the Nolanville, Texas, Police Department. He had been recognized as Nolanville’s Officer of the Year in 2009. He is survived by his fiancee.
Agency Contact Information
United States Department of Defense – Fort Hood Police Department
Emergency Services Directorate
Fort Hood, TX 76544
Phone: (254) 287-2511
Please contact the United States Department of Defense – Fort Hood Police Department for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.
Dallas TX Nov 28 2010 Carlton Sparks thinks he’s being watched.
“The police frequently ride up and down my street,” said Sparks, 20. “And when I get pulled over by the cops, they basically already know who I am. I feel like I’m being monitored by the cops, definitely.”
Sparks, who is on probation for burglary, aggravated assault and deadly conduct, isn’t just paranoid. He really is being monitored – as are hundreds of other recently arrested offenders – through “virtual hook books” compiled and maintained by the Dallas Police Department.
Police have made at least 700 arrests since January through the program of using color-coded charts to track offenders at the street level.
“In Dallas, we have a huge ocean of arrestees and criminals,” said Officer Joe King, who pioneered the concept at the city’s southeast patrol station. “What we’ve done is taken a small piece of that ocean and set it aside and created a small pond so we can place small criminal groups under the microscope to better study and track.”
The concept has since spread to include electronic hook books for monitoring robbers and another tracking drug dealers. All seven Dallas patrol stations have adopted hook book programs, and the department’s auto theft unit will soon roll out one tracking auto thieves, chop shops and auto theft rings.
Numerous North Texas departments also have expressed an interest. Lancaster and Grand Prairie have implemented their own versions.
“It’s basic policing 101,” Lancaster Police Chief Keith Humphrey said. “Crime follows known criminals. … It’s a simple thing that I think police departments have gotten away from because they were focusing on call to call to call.”
In the Dallas narcotics hook books, hyperlinks on police computers take officers straight to police reports related to offenders. Another link goes directly to a state criminal database of phone numbers, addresses and related offenders. Another link goes to aerial photos of drug houses. Easy-to-follow organizational charts indicate connections between offenders.
Not surprisingly, King is finding that many of the southeast patrol area’s drug dealers are burglars, too.
“If you’ve got a couple of guys dealing drugs in an area and we find out they are … burglars, we’re going to pay special attention to them,” said King, who was recently named patrol officer of the year.
In Dallas, police regularly check every name in the hook books for arrest warrants. If an offender is wanted, officers actively hunt for the suspect.
The offenders’ names also have been placed on a state criminal watch list, allowing police to be notified when offenders are arrested or released. The watch lists generate an alert on in-car computers any time an officer encounters an offender.
“When you stop someone … you know you’re not dealing with Joe Citizen,” said Lt. Scott Hart, who oversees the program at the city’s northeast patrol.
The hook books are accessible throughout the department, although they don’t work yet on in-car computers. Instead, an interactive map is available to show where burglary offenders with active warrants were last seen.
“It really helps support the beat officer,” said Sgt. Louis Felini, supervisor of a plainclothes unit that targets burglars and robbers. “You’re putting a face out there to remember.”
The southeast patrol is tracking more than 400 burglary offenders.
They include David Graham, a convicted burglar known to police as “Diamond Dave.” Prison officials released him from a drug treatment program in July.
Recently, a tip led officers to Graham’s whereabouts as he slept inside an abandoned van in the junk-filled backyard of a squalid Pleasant Grove home. Police arrested him on a probation violation warrant for burglary and drug charges.
“I didn’t even know I had a warrant,” said the glassy-eyed Graham, who denied that he does drugs or steals anymore.
Or consider the case of Broderick Merritt.
Merritt received probation for attempted burglary and robbery in 2008. In October, prosecutors sought to revoke Merritt’s probation because he violated the terms, including failing to report to his probation officer and not paying fees.
His arrest warrant popped on to Officer Matthew Bacon’s radar during a routine check. Merritt had been wanted for two days when officers captured him; in the past, it could’ve taken months.
“You might not even have known that he had a warrant unless you ran across him,” said Bacon, who has made about 30 arrests using information gleaned from the hook books.
Merritt then spent about two weeks in jail before prosecutors agreed that he should continue on probation.
At the southeast patrol, the average burglary offender monitored in the hook book spends about 21 days in jail, with many spending far less. But police count every day in jail as a small victory, because that’s one day when offenders can’t commit new crimes.
“There’s nothing we can really do about it,” Bacon said. “We can only do our job.”
STOCKTON CA Nov 28 2010 – A Ripon man has been charged with embezzling $148,860, which prosecutors say he spent on strippers at Stockton’s Déjà Vu Showgirls.
Orlando Calderon Flores, 27, was a longtime employee of Garda Cash Logistics, an armored car company based in Modesto. Flores serviced ATMs, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said.
Taylor said company officials learned that Flores was taking money from a Chase Bank cash machine on Stockton’s Pacific Avenue between Aug. 1, 2009, and July 13. His employer confronted and terminated him on Aug. 25, Taylor said.
Flores faces a single count of felony grand theft, according to a criminal complaint on file at San Joaquin County Superior Court.
Taylor said he believes that Flores spend all of the money – $20 at a time, amounting to $28,000 a month – at the strip club.
“This is not the first time we’ve seen this in males with access to large amounts of currency,” Taylor said. “Sometimes it’s gambling. Sometimes it’s this.”
A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit claims Maxine White of Redford Township and James Flanders III of Oak Park were fired after taking polygraph tests about the June 11, 2009, incident near the Hamtramck-Detroit border. The suit says Flanders passed, and White’s results were inconclusive.
Motorists grabbed some of the money. About $160,000 remains missing.
The Michigan State Police declined comment to The Detroit News, but lawyers involved in the case say there have been no evidence of wrong doing.
SUN LAKES AZ Nov 28 2010 – Detectives are investigating the kidnapping and strong-armed robbery of two Sun Lakes residents early Thursday morning, in which the suspects posed as cops.
The victims, siblings Robert Boulton and Cheri Boulton, were driving home from a jewelry expo when they were pulled over by what they thought was a police vehicle near Riggs Rd and Sun Lakes Blvd.
The vehicle was white and had a red and blue light in the front.
A suspect, dressed in black and a baseball cap with the lettering “POLICE” on it, got out of the driver’s seat.
The victims were taken out of their van, handcuffed and bound with duct tape, separated and dropped off near Tempe Marketplace, authorities say. The suspects then fled in the victims’ van.
Boulton was able to catch the eye of a mall security guard who called authorities.
“During the investigation, it was determined that the van had a Lo Jack system. It was activated, therefore sending out a signal to all law enforcement,” says Det. Aaron Douglas.
Later in the morning, an Avondale Police officer got a hit.
The officer’s Lo Jack alert system led the officer to an Avondale residence. Avondale and Phoenix Police officers made contact and detained a group of suspects after some of them fled on foot.
Officers noticed the van was parked in the garage.
The subjects were turned over to Maricopa County Sheriff’s detectives and five of them were booked into jail. They are facing charges of kidnapping, strong-armed robbery, aggravated assault, theft of means of transportation, impersonation of a law enforcement officer, and trafficking in stolen property.
More charges are possible.
Sentenced to prison, Alabama state employees collect millions from pension funds www.privateofficer.com
Birmingham AL. Nov 28 2010 Former two-year college Chancellor Roy Johnson begins serving a 6½-year prison sentence for bribery, conspiracy and other federal corruption charges next month, but he’ll still be getting paid by the state.
Johnson and the state of Alabama contributed to his pension as he worked about 20 years in state education. He’s now drawing $132,000 a year from the Alabama teacher retirement system, a state retirement official said.
Johnson isn’t the only former public official or employee in Alabama in line to collect a government pension after being charged, convicted, or having pleaded guilty to public corruption charges.
Twenty former public employees who either committed crimes or are charged with crimes while on the job are due to receive more than $1 million a year in pension payments before taxes or other deductions, according to records provided by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, the General Retirement System of Jefferson County and federal court.
In at least two cases, the federal government has garnished up to a quarter of the pension amounts following sentences resulting from probes into the state’s two-year college system and Jefferson County’s sewer system. The federal government also is asking for garnishment of one other pension.
Birmingham lawyer Bart Slawson said the state Legislature or County Commission should attempt to get the pension obligations canceled for people who committed crimes for personal gain working for two-year colleges or Jefferson County.
Slawson represents a group that won an environmental lawsuit to force Jefferson County to fix its leaky sewer system. The work resulting from lawsuit settlement became the central focus of the county sewer corruption scandal.
“They don’t deserve them (the pensions) and they should be disgorged as unjust enrichment,” he said.
Among the long-standing ideals for pensions is that you provide your employer with loyal and valuable service, “not committing illegal acts to damage your employer, and that’s exactly what these guys did,” Slawson said.
Don Yancey RSA’s director of benefits, said if an employee works at an institution and makes contributions, they can get their pension once they meet eligibility requirements. “A criminal conviction does not do anything to eliminate a person’s eligibility for a pension if they’ve earned a pension,” Yancey said. “It doesn’t matter whether that offense was related to your job.”
Under the RSA’s teacher retirement plan, employees like those convicted in the two-year college scandal contribute 5 percent of their pay to their pensions. The amount that the state contributes each year varies but is currently equivalent to currently 12.5 percent of the person’s salary, he said.
Under the Jefferson County system, each member contributes 6 percent of his or her compensation, according to the system’s attorney, Beth Beaube. The county matches that contribution.
Eight former two-year college employees who were either convicted or pleaded guilty in the federal investigation get pensions ranging from $11,005 to $1,032, or about $440,000 a year combined, from the state retirement system.
Johnson gets the most, $11,005 a month, and will continue getting it while in prison. Former state Rep. Sue Schmitz draws the smallest pension, $1,032 a month.
Five people who committed crimes in the Jefferson County sewer scandal collect pensions ranging from $3,805 to $2,174, for a total of about $240,000 a year, from the county’s retirement system. Two other former county employees who pleaded guilty in the sewer scandal — Harry T. Chandler and Donald R. Ellis — will be eligible for pensions when they turn 60, according to county pension system records.
Chandler, Jefferson County’s former assistant director of environmental services, will get $5,140 a month. Ellis, the environmental department’s former senior civil engineer, will get $2,526 a month.
Two officials covered by the Jefferson County retirement system and convicted in the sewer scandal elected to get a refund of their own retirement contributions when they left the county’s employment, the records show. They will not be get a county pension.
Former Jefferson County Commissioner Larry Langford got a refund of $21,076 and former employee Ronald K. Wilson collected a refund of $29,322, according to the retirement system. Langford is now serving a 15-year prison term on public corruption charges. Wilson was sentenced to 13 months in prison.
Courts and prosecutors do have a way to take part of the pensions of people convicted of crimes.
A court order is required to allow the government to take part of a person’s pension to pay toward court-ordered fines and restitution. The Consumer Credit Protection Act limits the garnishment of wages to 25 percent of a pension, except in certain circumstances including child support
In one case in the two-year college probe, former state Rep. Sue Schmitz had her retirement credit taken away for her work with a state program for troubled youths after her conviction, Yancey said. She had been convicted of charges relating to a no-show job with that program.
Schmitz kept her retirement credit for her career as a public school teacher, Yancey said.
Federal prosecutors have garnished up to 25 percent of the monthly pensions of a few of the convicted officials pension to repay court ordered fines, or restitution.
Those who have had wages garnished in the two-year college or sewer scandals include:
Jack Swann, former head of the Jefferson County sewer department, who had his $6,928 gross monthly pension garnished at a rate of 25 percent by federal prosecutors.
Robert Nix, former deputy director of the Alabama Fire College, has a garnishment of $928 a month off his $4,394 a month pension, also about 25 percent.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also has asked to garnish the $2,198 a month pension of former Jefferson County Commissioner Chris McNair. The garnishment has not been finalized, said McNair’s attorney Doug Jones.
Federal prosecutors have not sought to garnish the pension of Johnson, who has been ordered to pay $18.2 million in forfeiture and give up his house in Opelika.
Peggy Sanford, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorneys Office, said it’s premature to comment on what steps may be necessary to collect forfeiture in the Johnson case.