McAfee pled guilty to 16 counts of making a false statement, 15 counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and three counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation. McAfee faces five years’ imprisonment on each of the 15 false statement charges, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years’ supervised release. He faces 20 years’ imprisonment on each of the mail fraud, wire fraud, and falsification charges, a fine of up to $250,000, and five years’ supervised release. McAfee admitted to a scheme in which he falsified records claiming to pay more money to his employees than he was actually paying under contracts with School District 189 and the East St. Louis Housing Authority, which allowed McAfee to fraudulently retain money due to his employees. He also admitted that, following a Department of Labor investigation that found that McAfee underpaid his employees for overtime, McAfee failed to pay back due wages but provided false records purporting to show that he had paid his employees the back due wages. As part of the plea agreement, McAfee must make restitution to his employees for wages that are owed.
“Employers who abuse federally-subsidized contracts can expect to be investigated and prosecuted.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “Falsifying records and cheating employees, especially those from financially disadvantaged areas such as East St. Louis, will not be tolerated.”
McAfee also pled guilty to a separate charge of making a false statement within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United States. This additional charge carries a sentence of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years’ supervised release. McAfee was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for potential violations of civil rights following an incident in which McAfee shot into a vehicle occupied by two men who had stopped at the BP Gas Station at Exit 6 in Washington Park. The men were placed in the Washington Park jail for almost 24 hours and then released without charges. McAfee explained to agents that he believed that he had observed a hand-to-hand drug transaction and that he ordered the driver of the vehicle to stop. McAfee also said that he feared for the safety of pedestrians in front of the vehicle so he fired into the vehicle in an effort to convince the driver to stop. McAfee failed to follow protocol and did not inform his chief that he had discharged his firearm and did not complete a report of the incident. When further questioned by agents, McAfee provided false statements, including claims that he had informed his chief of the shooting and that he had completed a firearms discharge report. The occupants of the vehicle denied any drug transaction, no illegal drugs were ever found on the occupants or in the vehicle, and no case was ever submitted for prosecution by McAfee. As part of the plea agreement, McAfee must pay restitution to the shooting victim for damage to his vehicle and tow and impound fees. As further part of this plea agreement, McAfee may never work as a police officer again.
“We entrust our sworn police officers to protect citizens and safeguard their rights.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “Officers must use deadly force only when appropriate and must tell the truth when their actions are investigated. This charge to which Mr. McAfee has pled guilty shows that we will hold all police officers, regardless of where they work, to the high standards that the public deserves.”
Sentencing has been set for December 9, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. before the Honorable William D. Stiehl.
The prosecution of this case follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General-Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin F. Burke.
Source:FBI PRESS RELEASE
DECATUR, AL Aug 25 2011 – Decatur police are investigating the shooting deaths of two Krystal employees.
An employee found one body inside the restaurant on 6th Avenue just before 5 a.m. Wednesday and called police. Officers responded to the scene and discovered a second body.
Police identified the victims as 50-year-old Jeffery Mark Graff of Huntsville and 23-year-old Jesse Jose Aguilar of Decatur.
Graff’s body was found outside the restaurant’s cooler. Aguilar’s body was found inside the cooler.
Sgt. John Crouch with Decatur Police said they have arrested Jordaan Creque. Creque is also an employee at the Decatur Krystal. He was charged with two counts of capital murder.
Police have a second person of interest in questioning. They are searching for a third person of interest.
Investigators said the victims were shot multiple times with a 9 mm handgun.
Investigators said the lobby of the restaurant closed around midnight, but the drive-thru is open 24 hours a day. The last sale was registered at 3 a.m. and the bodies were found at 5 a.m.
“We are saddened by the tragedy at our restaurant and we are assisting and cooperating with the local authorities as best possible,” said a representative from the Krystal Company. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn.Aug 25 2011 – Canisters of bull semen caused quite a scare on the on-ramp to Interstate 65 South Tuesday morning.
The canisters fell off a Greyhound bus just after 5 a.m. as the bus traveled around the curve of the ramp just south of downtown Nashville.
Fire and emergency crews were called to the scene amid reports of a foul odor.
When they discovered four unmarked canisters with steam and an unpleasant odor coming from them, they shut down the on-ramp and called HAZMAT crews.
Officials traced the containers to Greyhound after finding bus tickets on the ground. The bus did not know it lost its load and had continued on.
Authorities called Greyhound, who, after speaking with the driver the bus, determined the canisters to be filled with straws of frozen sperm packed in liquid nitrogen.
The load originated in Columbus, Ohio and was en route to a breeding facility in Laredo, Texas.
Canisters like they ones strewn across the interstate typically carry between 300 and 400 straws, each containing one-milliliter of sperm.
Depending on the bull the sperm came from, straws are worth between $18 and $50 each, according to experts. It’s possible the load that fell off the bus Tuesday morning was worth as much as $80,000.
Once the leaking canisters were deemed not harmful, they were moved to a grassy area next to the interstate.
A local company was called to assist in the cleanup. The scene was cleared around 9 a.m.
A Greyhound spokesperson said it’s not uncommon that the bus was carrying bull sperm.
In addition to transporting people, the also company transports cargo. The canisters were filled with liquid nitrogen and thus could only be transported by ground.
Greyhound said the sperm was stored in a separate compartment below the bus and not near the belongings of passengers.
Federal investigators said they gambled with stolen cash, grabbed during a deadly robbery earlier in the day of an armored car courier at the Calder Casino and Race Course in Miami Gardens, where the boyfriend, Reginald Mitchell, 26, worked.
Mitchell had experience escorting armored car guards through the Calder complex, investigators said.
He had asked, authorities said, for Sunday off.
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors released the details of how they believe Mitchell, his girlfriend Victoria Barkley, 26, and three others pulled off the heist of $345,000 in cash that ended with the death of the Brink’s courier, 26-year-old Alvaro Lopez Ramos.
The arrested: Mitchell, of Miami Gardens; Barkley, of Miami Gardens; Byron Kyler, 23, of Miami; Vladimir Louissant, 33, of Pembroke Pines; and Uri Ammar, 26, of Hollywood. All are charged with robbery and use of a gun during a robbery involving interstate commerce. The possible penalty: life in prison.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court said Kyler and Barkley both lent vehicles that were used in the heist. Mitchell drove to Calder. Ammar, also a Calder employee, called Mitchell when the Brink’s truck arrived. Louissant, the document said, fired the fatal shot and grabbed the money bag.
Ammar’s lawyer, William D. Matthewman, described his client as a former U.S. Marine and father of a 4-year-old daughter who administered first aid to the Brink’s guard after he was shot.
“He’s a really good young man, never been arrested, and these allegations are totally out of character,” Matthewman said.
Barkley’s father, Johnny Barkley Jr., described his daughter as a young woman with a spotless record. She had just received her bachelor’s degree at Miami-Dade College and hoped to go into law enforcement, he said.
“This girl is not that type of individual,” Barkley said. “I’m confident that there isn’t a possibility she had anything to do with any of that stuff.”
Louissant’s lawyer declined to comment.
Mitchell and Kyler’s families could not be reached.
Here is how the complaint and a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office describe what happened:
The heist began with a Sunday meeting of Kyler, Barkley, Louissant and Mitchell at Mitchell’s Miami Gardens home. They agreed to use Kyler’s truck. Mitchell gave Louissant a gun.
That afternoon, Kyler drove a Dodge pickup truck to the Walmart store at 19501 NW 27th Ave. The three others arrived in a gray Mazda. With Kyler inside the store, Mitchell and Louissant got into the truck, and Mitchell drove to Calder.
The Brink’s truck arrived at Calder about 5 p.m. Its driver stayed inside while Lopez Ramos was escorted by Ammar, a Calder employee, though the facility and back to the truck.
Mitchell would later claim to authorities that the plan included having Ammar call him when the Brink’s truck arrived and for Louissant to shoot Ammar in the leg so Ammar could sue Calder.
As Lopez Ramos walked to the truck, carrying a bag stuffed with about $345,000, Louissant approached, armed and wearing a black hoodie. Lopez Ramos pointed his gun at Louissant.
Louissant fired first, according to the criminal complaint, striking Lopez Ramos.
Lopez Ramos fired back, striking Louissant in the leg.
Louissant fired again. Lopez Ramos was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died from wounds to the torso and head.
Louissant grabbed the money bag, shoved the gun inside it and ran back to the truck, authorities said. Mitchell drove them to the nearby El Palacio Sports Hotel at Northwest 27th Avenue and County Line Road, where Barkley picked them up in the Mazda. They changed clothes, dropped off some cash at Mitchell’s home and took Louissant to Memorial Hospital West in Pembroke Pines.
Kyler called police to report his truck had been stolen.
From the hospital, Mitchell and Barkley went to an apartment in Sunrise, then
to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at U.S. 441 and Stirling Road, near Hollywood. Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said the pair got new Player’s Club cards that night and that there was no evidence they had been there before.
They played the slots for about an hour and a half, Bitner said.
Meanwhile, Louissant’s story at the hospital — that he was shot while playing basketball in Miami Gardens — fell apart under questioning by police. So did Kyler’s stolen truck report.
After their night of gambling, Barkley dropped Mitchell off near his home, and then deposited $1,000 into her bank account before her arrest, according to authorities.
Law enforcement grabbed Mitchell as he walked toward his door.
Sacramento CA Aug 25 2011
Two security guards were assaulted outside a Florin Road nightclub early Sunday morning, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
About 1:45 a.m., two unidentified suspects approached two armed security guards at The Cinch nightclub, located west of Power Inn Road, according to a Sheriff’s Department report.
One suspect used a stun gun to shock one of the guards, who tried to pull out his handgun but couldn’t get it out of the holster, the report states. Meanwhile, the other suspect was holding the other guard at gunpoint.
That suspect then fired several shots at the guard, but missed. The suspects then fled on foot.
The suspect with the stun gun was described as a Pacific Islander man about 27 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 180 pounds. The suspect with the firearm was described as a Pacific Islander man about 30 years old, 6 feet 1 inch tall and 210 pounds.
Raynham MA Aug 25 2011 — A man was arrested for allegedly shoplifting and beating down a Walmart security guard that attempted to stop him.
Initially identified over police radio as 26-year-old Joshua McElroy, 26, the man was arrested a short while later at 821 Orchard St. around 4:45 p.m.
Attempts to obtain information on the arrest from the Raynham Police Department were unsuccessful as of press time. The condition of the security guard who was attacked was not given.
Lorenzo and Cheryl Graves were found shot to death in front of their downstairs TV. The body of their four-year-old daughter, Oznola, was near her parents’ bed, where family members think she was hiding before she was stabbed to death.
On Wednesday, less than a day after police discovered the family slain in their south Charlotte apartment, police officers arrested three men in connection with the killings. One lived within shouting distance of the victims, in the same apartment complex.
Police say robbery was the motive in the killings, but people at the Quail Run apartments struggled to come to terms with the gruesome slayings.
“Someone that kills a child don’t have a heart,” said Janice Nicholson, a next-door neighbor who said the Graves brought food to her when she was sick this summer.
Lorenzo Tyrone White, 27, Joseph Louis Amous, 25, and Linny Marquise Barcliff, 20, were apprehended by police by Wednesday afternoon.
White is charged with three counts of murder, two counts of robbery, three counts of kidnapping and conspiracy. He’s being held without bond. Amous is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and was being held late Wednesday on $50,000 bond. Barcliff’s charges weren’t immediately available.
Family members said one of the men charged in the killings was a suspect in a break-in at the family’s apartment two months ago. Lorenzo Graves decided not to pursue charges against the alleged thief, and the charges were dropped, relatives said. Lorenzo Graves had given money to at least one of the men accused of killing his family.
Police announced they had White and Amous in custody shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday. Barcliff eluded searchers by moving between apartments via the rafters of a shared roof in the Quail Run complex, police said. At one point, he crashed through the ceiling into a woman’s bedroom and was eventually arrested.
Later Wednesday, relatives of the Graves gathered at the slain family’s apartment, where a memorial of stuffed animals, pink heart-shaped balloons and scented candles grew by the front door.
“To kill a baby…,” said the couple’s brother-in-law Philip Sarpong, shaking his head and wiping tears. “Terrible. I really want to ask them why.”
He said the girl may have recognized one of the suspects.
Lorenzo Graves had New Jersey roots and several other children. His Facebook page said he loved gospel music, fishing and “being me.” His wife’s profile said she enjoyed working and taking care of her family.
Lorenzo Graves’ mother, Mary Williams, said her son always did the cooking at family barbecues. He recently took his wife and daughter on a fishing trip.
Kenneth Graves said his brother, who had a criminal record, was trying to turn his life around, singing in the choir at his church and severing ties with previous associates.
They had lived at the Quail Run apartments for less than a year, Nicholson said. Lorenzo Graves collected government disability and had a fledgling business selling hot dogs and cheese steaks from a trailer he kept parked in front of the apartment, she said.
Oznola, who went by “Ozzie,” could often be seen outside riding her bike or eating her favorite summertime treat, watermelon. The girl whose grandmother called her “Sweetie Pie” was supposed to begin Head Start pre-kindergarten classes this week.
Nicholson, the neighbor, said she last saw Lorenzo Graves early Monday. Graves was outside working on his car, something he often did when he couldn’t sleep.
On Tuesday, a concerned family member asked police to check on the Graves. The door was locked, so an apartment complex manager let officers in.
Police didn’t confirm the causes of death or say whether a suspect was on the loose shortly after the bodies were discovered. But that night, they began making arrests.
Investigators also refused to give more information about the nature of the robbery, or describe any connection between the Graves and the men who were arrested.
Lorenzo Tyrone White was convicted last year of felony possession of a weapon of mass destruction, court records show. He was given credit for being locked up for 88 days and placed on probation for three years. In 2004, White was convicted of felony possession with intent to sell cocaine and placed on probation for two years.
White also was charged last year with felony possession of a weapon of mass destruction, possession of a firearm by felon, possession with intent to sell cocaine, according to court records. Those charges were dismissed.
Joseph Louis Amous was charged in June with felony breaking and entering and larceny, according to court records. Those charges were dismissed. He was charged last year with misdemeanor possession of stolen goods. That charge is pending.
Barcliff was convicted last year of possession of marijuana.
King Funeral Home in Charlotte is handing the funeral arrangements, which were incomplete late Wednesday
Hippin’s trial began Wednesday in Reno County District Court, where registered nurse Melissa Pitzer testified that Hippin told her that she had gone to bed with the baby, but that the little girl spit up and soiled her clothes in the middle of the night.
She undressed the baby, leaving it in only a diaper, but felt that the baby was too cold. Karina was placed in a basinet in the bathroom, where Hippin admits that she placed the hair dryer about 18 inches from the girl’s feet and turned it on. But then she went back to bed and fell asleep.
For more than three hours, the baby lay in the bed with the hot blow dryer aimed straight at her. By the time Hippin woke up, the baby was dead.
Gruseome pictures were displayed for the jury as a coroner described the girl’s injuries. Hippin, meanwhile, sobbed uncontrollably.
One police officer even testified emotionally that the deceased baby still had a smile on her face when he saw her in the emergency room. The nurses told the jury that the infant’s skin literally peeled off the bone as they tried to work on her.
Ultimately, jurors will have to decide on their conscience. Neither side in this case disputes the facts of the case. Hippin is charged with 2nd degree murder, which is the unintentional, reckless killing of a human being. The defense, however, claims the death was completely accidental.
Defense Attorney David Harper would not say Wednesday whether he plans to allow Hippin to testify in her own defense. However, prosecutors are expected to call the girl’s father, Oscar Perez, to the stand on Thursday. Because he’s currently in jail on an unrelated crime, Perez could not be called to the stand on Wednesday.
ST. LOUIS MO Aug 25 2011 An alert security guard at the Riverbend high rise apartments at 4720 South Broadway helped minimize the damage of a Tuesday evening fire by quickly locating the blaze and starting an evacuation of the building, the fire department said.
No one was hurt in the 5:30 p.m. fire, which damaged a third-floor apartment in the building that overlooks the Mississippi River near Interstate 55. The blaze started in the bedroom of a unit, fire department Capt. Dan Sutter said. No one was in the apartment when the fire started. The cause is not yet known.
When the building’s fire alarm began to sound, the security guard used the building’s computerized system to locate the origin of the fire, called 911, then ran to the third floor, where he knocked on doors and helped residents safely evacuate.
During an initial gunfight, a female guard and at least one suspect were shot, prompting someone to call 911 or sound an alarm, said Pinole Police Chief John Hardester. A short time later, two of his officers arrived in cruisers and found one of the suspects on nearby Fitzgerald Drive.
One of the officers was soon shot in the shoulder, though it’s not clear yet who fired the shot. The other officer confronted the suspect on Fitzgerald Drive, who was down in the street and apparently wounded, said the officer’s attorney, Justin Buffington.
The officer, a 10-year veteran who is in his 30s, saw that a semiautomatic pistol was on the ground near the suspect, Buffington said. He said the officer, whom he declined to name, repeatedly shouted orders, including, “Do not touch that gun.”
“Then he tried to get up and tried to reach for the gun, despite numerous commands not to,” Buffington said. “At that point he (the officer) feared for his life. The officer had every reason to believe (the suspect) was going to use the gun to shoot the officer and try to escape.
“He reached for it,” Buffington said of the suspect, “and that’s when the shots were fired.”
The suspect was fatally wounded. His name has not been released.
The other suspect was driven to nearby Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo by his girlfriend, who had been waiting in a car nearby, according to Buffington and law enforcement sources. He is expected to survive.
His girlfriend was questioned by police later in the day but had not been arrested. Neither she nor the wounded suspect has been identified.
Also expected to survive are the wounded police officer, who joined the Pinole force two years ago out of the Air Force, and the armored-car guard, who was also not identified. Both underwent surgery.
The wounded officer did not fire his weapon during the incident, Hardester said.
One witness, 30-year-old Darius Johnson of Richmond, said was driving into the shopping center parking lot when he saw one of the suspects on Fitzgerald Drive. He said the man had a yellow “bank bag” in his hands, and fell after Johnson heard the sound of gunfire.
According to law enforcement sources, investigators believe the two suspects are brothers who were also involved in a May 25 Brinks armored car robbery outside a Mechanics Bank in Richmond, near the Hilltop Mall.
In that case, a witness took down a license plate from a fleeing vehicle, leading police to the car’s owner and ultimately to several suspects, the sources said.
But charges were filed against just one man, Marquell Dillard, who is now in jail and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree robbery.
In Wednesday’s case, prosecutors will have to decide whether to charge the suspect who survived with murder in connection with the death of his alleged accomplice, under the state’s felony murder rule.
The rule specifies that any participant in a dangerous felony that ends in a killing is as guilty of murder as the one who pulled the trigger.
Oklahoma City OK Aug 25 2011 Two women are accused of stealing up to $300,000 of goods from a shopping mall in a crime spree spanning over six months, which they blamed on an addiction to ‘money and clothes’.
Velita P. Downey, 43, and Chris E. Pasley, 26, both from Oklahoma City, were arrested after multiple complaints following a string of shoplifting reports at Quail Springs Mall.
Downey blamed the store’s lack of security for being able to steal so many goods and admitted doing it for the last 30 years.
She said: ‘That’s the store letting us get all that stuff. They didn’t do their job. I’ve been boosting stuff since I was 15.
‘You know how some people are addicted to drugs and alcohol? I’m addicted to money and clothes.’
The pair were arrested on Friday and Pasley is still being held at the Oklahoma County jail.
‘That’s the store letting us get all that stuff. They didn’t do their job. I’ve been boosting stuff since I was 15′They admitted to police that on Friday alone they stole $3,000 of clothes, shoes and bedding from J.C. Penney, according to NewsOk.
Police tracked them down to an Oklahoma City apartment complex after someone wrote down the tag number of the car.
When police found the women in their apartments, they found merchandise including clothes, shoes and comforter sets, some of which still had plastic security tags attached.
Downey and Pasley told police they sold items to neighbours and even took orders on what they planned to steal, according to KOCO.com.
Downey said she demonstrated to officers how she removed security tags from items with a cigarette lighter and a pair of scissors, saying: ‘The stores need better security. I could go work for them and catch lots more shoplifters.’
Leander L. Garrett, 26, of 9 Tideview Path, was taken into custody shortly after fleeing the mall on foot and leading police on a chase across Route 53 and into the woods behind the McDonald’s restaurant.
According to Hanover Police Lt. Gregory Nihan, officer David Lucas, who patrols the Hanover Mall and the surrounding property, received a call from mall security at approximately 5 p.m. Mall security was on the phone with an associate from Kay Jewelers who said she thought Garrett was using false identification to open a line of credit at the store.
“This was the third day in a row that (Garrett) had gone in and bought an expensive watch,” Nihan said. “The bells were going off for the store clerk, who notified mall security.”
Nihan said Lucas asked mall security to keep an eye on Garrett as he made his way through the mall and then outside into the parking area.
Nihan said the mall has an extensive camera system for both inside and outside the building.
“Officer Lucas followed him in the police cruiser,” Nihan said.
Garrett ran into the former Circuit City parking area and hid behind a parked plow truck, Nihan said.
“When the police cruiser approached, he ran across Route 53 and into the woods.”
Nihan said Garrett threw a Kay Jewelers bag into the woods as he ran.
Detective Jon Abban and Officer Steve Moar also joined in the pursuit and spotted Garrett climbing the fence by U-Haul Storage.
At that point, Nihan said, Garrett hopped into a car being driven by Clyde L. Matta, 26, of 30 Tyler St., Brockton.
“He was basically the wheel man,” Nihan said of Matta.
Officer David Tyrie, along with Hanover Police Chief Walter Sweeney, who Nihan said happened to be in the area and “jumped into the fray with the boys,” assisted in the apprehension of Garrett and Matta.
“They were arrested and taken back to the station,” Nihan said.
He said Garrett was charged with conspiracy, resisting arrest, larceny over $250, using another person’s identification, uttering, and the false use of a credit card.
Matta was charged with conspiracy, receiving stolen property over $250, using the identification of another, false use of a credit card and uttering.
“These are serious felony charges,” Nihan said.
Garrett was in Hingham District Court for a hearing on Aug. 12 and is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 16. No court information was available for Matta.
U.S. officials said Tuesday that 33-year-old Ninderjit Singh was taken into custody Friday after a traffic stop near his home in San Jacinto.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation said Singh, an Indian national, is awaiting extradition to Canada where he is a legal resident.
He is suspected in the 1999 shooting death of 18-year-old Poonam Randhawa in Vancouver. Authorities said her body was found on a street near her school, where she was last seen in a vehicle with Singh.
The case was featured on “America’s Most Wanted” in 2000 and generated some leads, but Singh eluded capture until last week.
MANCHESTER NH Aug 25 2011 – A local martial arts instructor was arrested Tuesday on charges he sexually assaulted a former student, city police said.
Police said Richard Watts, 46, 185 Laurel St., whom police said owns and operates American International Training Center on Armory Street, sexually assaulted a former student numerous times over a period of several years starting in 2001, when the student was under the age of 13.
The assaults would happen at Watts’s residence, police said.
KAUFMAN, Texas Aug 25 2011- James Michael Murphy, 37, was arrested Tuesday in the culmination of an investigation into an alleged improper relationship between an educator and a student.
Murphy, who resigned on Tuesday, was a agricultural instructor at a Kaufman Independent School District school.
He was charged with an improper relationship between and educator and student and sexual assault of a child. Both charges are Second Degree Felonies.
The alleged offenses are thought to have taken place with a female student from March to May 2011.
Kaufman County investigators received a complaint on August 22 from Child Protective Services regarding the incident.
The case remains under investigation. Murphy was released from the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center on a $50,000 bond.
Fresno CA Aug 25 2011 Federal authorities on Tuesday arrested more than a dozen people who they say were part of an elaborate scheme based out of a Fresno DMV office to issue commercial driver’s licenses to people who didn’t pass the required tests.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says at least 40 fake licenses were issued – and likely more. The result was unqualified drivers on the state’s highways behind the wheel of semi trucks – some hauling hazardous materials – as well as cement trucks and other large commercial vehicles.
“From a homeland security perspective, this is a threat not only to public safety, but national security,” said Mike Prado, a supervisory special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
When licenses are issued to people who haven’t passed the required tests, it raises doubts for a motorist who is sharing the road with a tractor-trailer or other large truck, he said.
“Anybody who drives on the road should be concerned about this,” Prado said.
Benjamin Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, echoed Prado: “Such schemes can put dangerous drivers on the road and endanger the public.”
The operation allegedly centered on Fresno resident Alfonso Casarez, a 49-year-old former employee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles West Olive Avenue office.
According to a 34-count federal grand jury indictment, Casarez electronically altered DMV records to show that applicants for “Class C” or “Class A” commercial driver’s licenses had passed required written and behind-the-wheel tests when in reality they hadn’t taken the tests.
Instead, they had paid Casarez to alter DMV records.
The indictment says Casarez’s position as a Senior Motor Vehicle Technician allowed him “to electronically access and manipulate all vehicle registration and driver license records in the state of California.”
Also involved in the scheme were Casarez’s sister, Rosemary Fierros, 46, of Madera, who allegedly passed information and money for the licenses from Victor Vasquez to her brother. Vasquez, a 34-year-old Madera resident, is charged with being one of the “primary recruiters” for people seeking the fraudulent licenses.
Angel Ociris Gutierrez, 26, of Salinas; Alcides Urias, 33, of Calexico; Dimas Dominguez Martinez, 38, of Madera; Jesus Dominguez Martinez, 39, of Madera; Luis Alberto Moreno Delgado, 31, of Riverdale; Armando Treyes Andrade, 48, of Chowchilla; Armando Solorio Heredia, 32, of Riverdale; Jose Manuel Garcia, 43, of Kerman; and Armando Maravilla, 39, of Madera, allegedly acted as recruiters of potential recipients and worked with Vasquez to get the fraudulent licenses issued.
Cassandra Casarez Fierros, 19, of Madera, also was charged in the indictment, and also faces a charge of making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent.
In a second indictment, Casarez is charged along with Manjit Singh, 46, of India, and Yadwinder Singh, 46, of Fresno, with 15 counts of criminal conspiracy, unlawful production of identification documents and unlawful transfer of identification documents.
The second indictment is similar to the first. Manjit Singh allegedly passed the recipients’ information and money to Casarez to get the licenses issued, and Yadwinder Singh acted as a recruiter.
Most of the defendants appeared Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Fresno, where they all entered not guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis Beck. Urias was arrested later on Tuesday.
According to authorities, Manjit Singh is in India. An effort is under way to take him into custody.
The investigation – which is continuing and will likely lead to more arrests – was a joint effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Office of Homeland Security Investigations and the California Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations office.
Nashville TN Aug 25 2011 Federal agents are in the process of raiding the offices of the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began executing search warrant this morning on guitar factories and corporate headquarters in Nashville and Memphis, according to Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the Fish and Wildlife.
Chavez said the raid included both the corporate headquarters on Park Plus Boulevard and a factory on Elm Hill Pike.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported tourists arriving to a Gibson Guitar factory in downtown Memphis this morning to find the doors locked and agents inside.
No arrests have been made, he said.
Chavez said the raid stems from a Texas case, but declined to offer more details.
“We can’t get into specifics right now,” Chavez said. “This is an ongoing investigation.”
Gibson officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Gibson was also raided in 2009 for possible violations of the Lacey Act, which bans the importation of endangered plants and wildlife.
Federal officials seized ebony and other woods they said were prohibited under the act.
Gibson has said in the past it was “fully cooperating” with the investigation.
Anchorage AK Aug 25 2011 A North Slope security guard shot and killed a polar bear earlier this month after the bear resisted efforts to drive it away from employee housing at BP’s Endicott oil field.
The death appears to have been accidental, according to BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart, who said the guard thought he’d fired a bean bag round at the female bear but BP later discovered it was a “cracker shell” that mortally wounded her.
The polar bear death is the first time in 35 years of working on the North Slope that a bear has been killed by a security guard working for BP, Rinehart said.
“We dearly wish it had not happened,” Rinehart said, “but it’s not a trend or a population impact. We have worked safely and carefully around polar bears under strict guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the incident, but spokesman Bruce Woods said he couldn’t talk about the case because it is under investigation.
“We are taking it very seriously,” Woods said.
Polar bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and more than 187,000 square miles of the Arctic coast, including the North Slope, has been designated as critical habitat for the bears. Oil companies operating in the bears’ environment must meet certain requirements aimed at disrupting the bears as little as possible in order to get federal permits.
Here’s the story according to Rinehart:
Late in the evening of Aug. 3, a security guard, employed by Purcell Security, saw what turned out to be a female polar bear walking down the Endicott causeway and headed for an employee housing area. The guard flashed his vehicle lights at the bear, honked his horn and sounded his siren but the bear would not leave the area and instead approached the vehicle and began to act aggressively.
The guard pulled out his 12-guage shotgun and fired what he thought was a bean bag round at the bear. The less-lethal ammunition is designed to hit the bear in the hind quarters and drive it away.
The bear did run off at that point and BP reported the incident to the Fish and Wildlife Service, as required.
But a few days later, the bear returned, swimming off to the west and ending up on a shallow island area near the four-mile long causeway and 30-acre gravel drilling pad.
BP workers could see the bear through binoculars and continued to monitor it. But sometime between the night of Sunday, Aug. 14 and Monday morning, Aug. 15, they realized the bear was dead.
Fish and wildlife officers and BP security took a boat out to the island and examined the bear. That’s when they discovered she had been shot with a cracker shell that had penetrated her side. A field necropsy indicated she died from internal injuries.
The bear carcass was towed into deep water and disposed of so as not to attract other bears.
Rinehart said he didn’t know why the security guard didn’t realize the mistake at the time.
The guard has since been reassigned to a post off the Slope, Rinehart said.
Purcell Security officials did not return a call seeking comment for this story.
The cracker shell is designed to be fired in front of a bear. It explodes and makes a noise that is intended to startle the bear and scare it away, he said. It’s not supposed to hit the bear.
The measures used to drive bears away from people and work sites are called “hazing” and guards are trained in hazing protocols. Rinehart said the Purcell guard has more than five years experience on the North Slope, had received the training and annual refresher courses and was current on all certifications.
“The guard as near as we know it intended to use a bean bag and thought he had and the bear took off,” Rinehart said.
Still, the oil company has changed its policies regarding how polar bear hazing is conducted.
Rinehart said all ammunition will now be clearly marked by its type, with specific packaging colors and labels.
A “back-up bear hazer” also will be required to be on hand and verify that the correct ammunition for the level of hazing is about to be used, he said.
“We want to make completely sure that whatever guard is involved in a hazing incident knows exactly what type of hazing round is being used if it comes to that,” Rinehart said.
The killing of the bear is highly unusual, especially given the number of bears that roam the oil field territory, he said.
The only other fatal incident was in 2002, also at Endicott, and security guards reported a bear that appeared to be starving, Rinehart said. Fish and Wildlife officers came out and euthanized the bear.
From 2005 through 2010, BP has recorded 541 polar bear observations, although that could include the same bear being observed more than once.
Bear hazing has occurred in 159 of those observations, he said.
Now, BP is working with the Fish and Wildlife Service on the investigation as well as continuing an in-house inquiry “to make sure we’ve got as full a picture as we can and to do everything we can to make sure this does not happen again,” he said.
PINOLE, Calif.Aug 25 2011 (AP) — Authorities say an attempted robbery at a Northern California bank has left a suspect dead and several others, including a police officer, wounded.
The incident took place Wednesday morning outside a Wells Fargo Bank branch at a Pinole shopping plaza near Interstate 80.
Police say two men approached a Loomis armored truck shortly after 9 a.m. and confronted the truck guard, prompting a shootout.
Pinole Police Chief John Hardester told the Contra Costa Times that one suspect was killed and another was wounded.
A police officer who chased the second suspect was shot in the shoulder, and the truck guard also was shot. Both are expected to survive.
Hardester says the second suspect escaped, but was arrested when he showed up at a hospital for treatment.
FORT WORTH TX Aug 25 2011 — A Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a suspected bank robber during a chase that ended Tuesday morning in a grassy field near Lake Arlington, according to police. The robbery occurred about 9 a.m. at the Woodhaven National Bank, 6750 Bridge St.
Sgt. Pedro Criado, a police spokesman, said an officer working off-duty security at the bank had gone into the bank’s kitchen to cut up a peach when he heard a commotion and discovered a robbery in progress.
Criado said the suspect had pointed a gun at a teller, demanded money, and was running out the door with an undisclosed amount of money when the off-duty officer spotted him and gave chase.
Criado said the suspect jumped into a vehicle, which police have since learned had been stolen from Arlington. A woman was waiting inside the car. The off-duty officer followed in his personal vehicle, alerting dispatchers to send patrol officers to the area.
A chased ensued and the suspect drove into a field just south of Big Fork Road near Lake Arlington, where his car became stuck in a ditch, police said.
The suspect ran, with police in pursuit. He pulled out a weapon and fired at officers, authorities said.
An officer returned fire and hit the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
At some point during the chase, he apparently dropped off the female passenger. Police continued to search for her Tuesday afternoon.
Criado said police are trying to determine whether the suspect may also be responsible for the robbery of a Chase Bank at 6040 Ramey Avenue last Thursday