Surprise AZ Aug 29 2011 Wendy Klarkowski isn’t the most intimidating-looking officer on the force at the Surprise Police Department.
Standing 5 feet 3 inches and weighing 118 pounds, Klarkowski is dwarfed by some of the hulking officers in the department.
But she is built with grit and determination, supervisors say. Those qualities led the 49-year-old to be named the department’s Rookie of the Year, making her the oldest officer in Surprise to achieve the distinction
She took some detours on the way to her dream job. A decade ago, Klarkowski was so ill she could barely walk.
Klarkowski took an unusual career path compared with some police officers. She worked as an office manager for her church for more than 20 years, a lifelong dream to be an officer simmering in the back of her mind.
“Right out of high school, I met my husband, who at the time was a highway patrolman,” she said. “We got married and we decided to have a child. One of us had to have a normal life, so I was a stay-at-home mom.”
One day in 1997, when her son was 12 years old, Klarkowski started having chest pains and labored breathing. Fearing she was suffering a heart attack, she went to doctors.
“They couldn’t figure it out,” she said.
Her doctor referred her to specialists at the University of Arizona’s hospital in Tucson. She learned she had an autoimmune disease that was attacking her heart and lungs.
The treatment was nearly as bad as the disease, Klarkowski said. She had heart surgery, two years of chemotherapy and took medication that made her bones brittle. Doctors gave her special boots to keep the bones in her feet from breaking when she walked.
Recovery was a struggle, requiring rehabilitation exercises to rebuild her bones and years of effort to shed 35 pounds she gained because of her medication.
Missing the dream
In 2006, with her health problems mostly behind her, her husband, Bernie, retired and son, Tim, about to graduate from college, Klarkowski decided it was time to focus on her own ambitions.
She became a 911 operator for Surprise police. It nudged at the edges of her dream, but didn’t quite reach it.
She’d handle an emergency call and wish she could be on scene to help.
“I could do more than just sit here on the phone,” she thought. It seemed a part of her was missing.
Her husband and son pushed her to look into the department’s reserve-officer program. Many aspiring officers use the volunteer program to get a foot in the door.
Wendy doubted her abilities. After all, it was less than a decade since she was barely able to walk.
“There’s no way,” she thought. “These guys are like, 22, 23 . . . “
Tim convinced her to go for it. He told her she had as good a chance as any one of being an officer.
At age 46, after two years as a 911 operator she enrolled in Glendale Community College’s police-training program.
She got help from an unexpected mentor. Her son, Tim, had joined the Surprise Police Department a year earlier at age 22. He was pretty good at it, too. He was the department’s Rookie of the Year in 2008.
Tim helped her train by taking her to the gym, teaching her pushups and jogging with her on treadmills.
The training was far from easy. Klarkowski, who hadn’t been to a gym since high school, learned to scale a 6-foot wall, do 50 pushups and run a mile in less than 15 minutes.
“The first time I jumped over a wall, I was like, ‘I hope nothing breaks,’ ” she said.
She said that being a rookie officer from the Boomer generation has advantages.
Klarkowski isn’t easily rattled, for one thing. Viewing her job as a privilege and not a right helps keep things in perspective, something many young people don’t have, she said.
“I’m having fun,” she said.
Having raised a child also helps her in her job. She finds she’s particularly adept at helping parents who have called police for help with their teenage children.
“I can relate to them and tell them something that worked for me,” she said.
She said she often finds herself telling parents that, 10 years down the road, when the children are grown, “it will be worth everything you’re doing.”
Nancy Hecker, coordinator for a career-counseling program conducted by the AARP Foundation, said people who change careers later in life often face age discrimination, lack technological savvy and have physical limitations.
Making the switch successfully requires a “fire in your belly,” she said.
Department officials said Klarkowski was named Rookie of the Year based on her passionate approach to her work.
“Wendy’s the kind of officer where right out of the gates she’s already doing a great job, applying herself as much as she can, but still comes to you as a supervisor and asks, what can I do better?” said Sgt. Bert Anzini, her first supervisor.
“The person that she is, the character she has and her work ethic, it’s just phenomenal.”
Surprise Police Chief Mike Frazier said that in his three-decade career, he’s seen men in their 40s and 50s become officers.
But Klarkowski is the first woman he’s known to become an officer in middle age.
“For her, age doesn’t really matter,” Frazier said. “She’s just committed and has the drive that it takes. You have to think, if she was 100 years old, would she try to go for it?”
He praised her as highly motivated.
“There’s never any of this idleness, if you will,” he said. “She’s just always engaged in trying to do the work of the day.”
Klarkowski, wary of skeptics, is a bit self-conscious about saying she’s “living the dream.”
“For me, it’s the truth,” she said. “It’s a dream I’ve had for 30-something years. If I could go back and do it again, I would do it exactly the same way.”
Gastonia NC Aug 29 2011 A Gastonia man faces charges he assaulted a bar bouncer with a semi-automatic handgun on Saturday, according to arrest warrants.
Shawn Dale Roderick, 42, of 1953 Cloverdale Circle is accused of pointing the handgun at a bouncer at Whiskey Mill Bar and Grill in Bessemer City.
According to the warrant affidavit, Roderick got upset with someone at the bar and left saying that he was going to his car to get a gun.
Roderick is accused of getting the gun and pointing it at the bouncer. The bouncer stripped Roderick of the handgun and held him until police arrived, according to the affidavit.
Roderick was charged with assault by pointing a gun, two counts of drug possession and carrying a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol.
He was booked at the Gaston County Jail at 3:37 a.m. Saturday and held under a $10,000 secured bond.
Fairfax County police said the unknown attacker broke into the townhouse in the 7000 block of Brocton Court after midnight, went upstairs and took the girl from her bed. The girl’s parents and 1-year-old sibling were at home, police said. They said the parents did not realize that the girl had been abducted until she returned home about 4 a.m. and told them what had happened.
Officer Don Gotthardt, a police spokesman, described the abduction and assault as “horrific” and unlike any crime the neighborhood had seen before. He emphasized that neighbors should remain vigilant, keep their doors locked and report any suspicious activity to the police.
The 5-year-old was taken to a hospital for treatment of upper-body injuries that are not life-threatening, Gotthardt said. It was unclear Saturday whether she had been sexually assaulted, he said.
As of Saturday afternoon, detectives had not been able to interview the girl extensively because she was being treated at the hospital, Gotthardt said. The assailant was identified as a man, but Gotthardt said police were not able to immediately provide a description.
“We haven’t connected this to anything at this point. We’ve seen nothing else similar in this area,” Gotthardt said. “The frustrating thing is there is no further description of the suspect at this time.”
Police canvassed the neighborhood Saturday to ask residents if they had noticed anything unusual, and a canine team and crime scene technicians searched for evidence. Authorities also said they were investigating whether surveillance video from the nearby Brookfield Plaza shopping center would yield clues to the man’s identity.
Police said they think that after the child was taken from the home, she was assaulted at a “nearby location.” They said it was not clear where the man took the child or how she made it back home.
Neighbors described the area as a diverse community, with several immigrant families and little crime.
“It’s not the greatest neighborhood in the world, but, generally speaking, it’s very safe,” said Rob Reid, 52, who has lived on Brocton Court for three years.
A neighbor whose son often plays with the victim said she was shocked to hear of the abduction and assault.
“They play a lot in our front yard, and we were never worried about that,” she said. “It’s really surprising, because we’ve never heard of anything like that happening here.”
Salima Karim, 65, said break-ins are rare in the neighborhood, where she has lived for nine years.
“I feel very bad. Shame on the person who did this,” Karim said. Karim said she has often seen the girl and her mother walking together.
Police are asking the public for any information about possible suspicious activity in the area early Saturday morning.
The fight was reported about 1:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Jeremiah Bullfrog’s Live, 4115 S.W. Huntoon.
The woman who was stabbed was taken to a local hospital by American Medical Response ambulance.
Topeka police Lt. Richard Hundertfund said the woman’s condition was unknown.
A witness said the fight involved several females, and that a security officer wrestled a knife away from one of the women. The witness said one of the women suffered a cut to the back of her head from a high-heel shoe.
Topeka police and Shawnee County sheriff’s officers responded to the scene, as did the Topeka Fire Department and AMR ambulance.
Police set up a crime scene and collected evidence.
Anyone with information about the altercation may call police detectives at (785) 368-9400 or Crime Stoppers at (785) 234-0007.
Chesterfield County VA Aug 29 2011 An Army captain from Fort Lee apparently shot dead four people, including his former wife, in a weekend killing rampage in Chesterfield County and suburban Philadelphia followed by a manhunt during which two Pennsylvania officers were injured.
The soldier later committed suicide, authorities said.
Leonard John Egland, 37, a logistics officer at the sprawling military base south of Richmond, is believed to have killed his former wife, her boyfriend and his young son at a house in Chesterfield as well as his former mother-in-law, Barbara Reuhl, 66, in Bucks County, Pa., police said Sunday.
The Virginia victims were not immediately identified.
Egland had been in the Army nearly 20 years had been deployed to Afghanistan and possibly Iraq, said Lt. Randy Horowitz of the Chesterfield Police Department.
The three people found dead by police in a house in the 13100 block of Stockleigh Drive had been shot with a handgun, said Horowitz. He declined to provide details about the weapon or the number of times the victims had been shot.
On a tip from authorities in Pennsylvania, Chesterfield police went to the house Sunday shortly before 1 a.m. to “check the welfare of anyone at the Stockleigh Drive address,” a written statement said. At the time, the Richmond area was reeling from Hurricane Irene.
“They had a crime scene up there that led back to our location,” said Horowitz, referring to Pennsylvania police.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Reuhl is believed to have been killed Saturday night.
Police discovered Egland’s body in Jamison, Pa., along with a rifle, pistol and ammunition, Sunday about 3:40 p.m., more than 10 hours after the second of Egland’s two armed encounters with officers. His body was turned over to the Bucks County coroner for final identification.
Also on Saturday night, police said, Egland flashed a handgun at a nurse or orderly at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quakertown, Pa., after leaving behind his daughter – who is believed to be about 6 and was with him on the frantic drive from Virginia – along with a note. The hospital worker then called police, providing a description of Egland and his vehicle.
Around midnight, the vehicle was stopped by state and local police in Doylestown Township, Pa., Egland allegedly fired shots from a semi-automatic rifle, hitting a Doylestown officer in the arm, police said. A shot shattered a windshield, spraying glass in the face of another officer.
Egland’s vehicle was seen again Sunday in Warwick Township, Pa. Officers took fire, but no one was hit, police said. At that point, police warned residents to stay in their homes and mobilized two SWAT teams. “I know just from the way the phones were ringing in the police station that it was causing a great deal of anxiety among our people, and for us as well,” said Mark Goldberg, Warwick Township police chief.
Police Chief Dwayne Wilkerson said two bouncers, the bar’s owner and some patrons were standing outside Bada Brew when a shot was fired.
The bouncer who was shot was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center for treatment, but the injury wasn’t serious, the chief said.
Wilkerson said three male Hispanics who were asked to leave the bar at around 10 p.m. Thursday are being sought for questioning. The men were asked to leave because they were all wearing red.
“The bar took that as some kind of gang colors,” Wilkerson said.
The men returned shortly before midnight wearing baseball jerseys, but they were refused entry to Bada Brew. The shot was fired at 12:09 a.m.
“Are these guys involved? Maybe,” Wilkerson said. “We’re certainly not going to rule it out.”
One of the men was described as heavy set with a shaved head. All three were in their mid- to late 20s.
Erie PA Aug 29 2011 A Cleveland woman blocked traffic and then urinated near the entrance to Presque Isle Downs & Casino after security officers threw her out, state police said.
Cindy L. Cykman, 44, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Security officers ejected Cykman from the casino at 7 p.m. Thursday, state police said. She walked approximately 150 yards from the casino’s entrance, toward Route 97, and then stepped into the median and urinated in full view of the traffic, police said.
Cykman was arrested by members of the state Gaming Enforcement Office. She was released to the custody of a relative.
Palm Beach Fla Aug 29 2011 More alligators than bad guys prowl Palm Beach County’s Mecca Farms.
Yet a full-time sheriff’s deputy stands guard over the remote county-owned property, adding an annual six-figure expense to a real estate mistake that already cost Palm Beach County taxpayers $100 million.
County taxpayers are spending about $116,000 a year for a sheriff’s deputy assigned specifically to the 1,919-acre former citrus grove once slated to house the Florida branch of The Scripps Research Institute.
Scripps never made it to Mecca, and now the property’s security cost is raising eyebrows at a time when the county faces a budget shortfall and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw contends he can’t afford to lose any patrol deputies.
County commissioners have called for exploring ways to reduce the security cost, such as hiring private security or scaling back to periodic patrols of the far-flung property.
“Mecca Farms is a mistake in the past that is going to keep on haunting us for quite a while,” County Commissioner Jess Santamaria said.
Mecca Farms was intended to become a “biotech village” anchored by Scripps, with room for spin-off businesses and new neighborhoods to spread across western farmland.
The county bought the land in 2004 for about $60 million and invested another $40 million in planning, permitting and initial construction. A water pipeline built to serve Scripps and the expected development cost another $51 million.
But instead of Mecca Farms becoming the hub of a new high-tech industry, environmental concerns in 2006 moved Scripps’ proposed research labs and headquarters to Jupiter. Now the county is stuck with about $6 million a year in debt payments and maintenance costs, including security, for the mostly unused farmland west of Palm Beach Gardens.
When construction crews left the site, security responsibilities fell to the county.
This year there have been no arrests made or citations issued at Mecca Farms, as off Thursday Aug. 25, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Sixteen warnings were issued by the deputy patrolling Mecca Farms.
Vandalism of construction equipment, illegal dumping and trespassing are among the past illegal activities at Mecca Farms that prompt the need for security, according to the county’s real estate management department.
Keeping a deputy on the property full time also is aimed at reducing the county’s legal liability risks posed by dangers on the property.
Deep drainage canals there are teaming with alligators, and wild hogs roam the property. There are leftover pipes and other remnants of Mecca Farms’ development past.
Trying to fence off the entire 1,919-acre property was considered too big a one-time expense. And fences wouldn’t aleviate the need for an on-site presence to help identify and prevent problems, according to county officials.
The deputy has an ATV to help access the vast property. Aside from chasing away trespassers and guarding against illegal dumping, the deputy can report problems with drainage canals or the water “re-pump station” at Mecca Farms. That’s the water-supply facility that pressurizes water moving north in the county’s western pipeline.
“We don’t like spending the money but we also recognize … the potential for bad stuff to happen out there,” said Ross Hering, county real estate director. “It’s just not one of the safest areas.”
The county pays the Sheriff’s Office $116,000 a year for Mecca Farms security, but that just moves the same tax dollars from one branch of county government to another.
The $116,000 from the county covers one deputy patrolling the property 40 hours a week and his vehicle.
The arrangement means that assigning a deputy to Mecca Farms doesn’t take away from road patrols elsewhere, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.
The county always expected to sell Mecca Farms to developers if the Scripps plan fizzled, but the collapse of South Florida real estate deflated its resale value.
As a result, the county is holding onto the land, hoping that property values rebound. In the meantime, the county is looking for an agricultural operation to lease the land and take over security.
“The whole concept of having to spend [money] to maintain Mecca Farms is just adding insult to injury, considering the whole Scripps location catastrophe,” County Commissioner Steven Abrams said. “I don’t know what there is out there even for criminals to do.
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC Aug 29 2011 – Authorities in New Hanover County have recovered the body of a man who reportedly jumped into the NE Cape Fear River early Saturday morning.
Melton Robinson Jr., 27, had been missing since Saturday morning when three men reported that he jumped into the river at the Castle Hayne Boat Ramp at Orange Street around 12:30 a.m. The incident happened at a time in which Hurricane Irene was narrowing down on the Cape Fear area and authorities had a difficult time getting a boat in the water immediately.
A group of emergency responders, including NC Wildlife, New Hanover County Fire and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office found the body before 4pm Sunday.
The death remains under investigation.
ELGIN, Ore. Aug 29 2011 — Richard “Dickie” Shafer was one of the first people to pop into City Hall, introduce himself to the new city administrator and offer to help out as needed. He was known for letting customers at his excavation business slide awhile if they couldn’t pay the bill.
“The mildest guy in the world,” friend Bruce Lauricella recalled.
Then tragedy struck this rural town that sits at a crossroads in wheat and cattle country. A police officer, responding to a 911 domestic disturbance call by Shafer’s wife, shot and killed Shafer. Few people know exactly what happened early the morning of Aug. 1. Outside law enforcement agencies are investigating, and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.
But the incident has so angered residents that many are demanding the small police department be disbanded, even as other communities across the country struggle to maintain police forces amid budget cuts.
“It was murder,” said John Thibodeau, 78, who retired to Elgin from Reno, Nev. 27 years ago. “I absolutely think they need to go.”
Elgin sits at the base of the Blue Mountains in northeast Oregon. Modest homes line the streets. The downtown is a collection of restaurants and small businesses with posters in the windows advertising the “Annie Get Your Gun” production at the opera house in the old, brick City Hall, built in 1912.
Once a booming timber town, Elgin has one mill remaining. Many of the 1,700 residents work at the mill, in neighboring towns or in services that support a steady stream of tourists in RVs passing through each summer.
The police department has been a subject of controversy for months. Complaints include aggressive ordinance enforcement, response times and officer availability. Several residents also had voiced concerns about an officer who seemed nervous or uncomfortable and always had a hand on his gun.
Those concerns were heightened with the shooting involving Shafer and that officer, Eric Kilpatrick.
Dickie Shafer had been married several times before, but he and his wife, Gloria, were together more than a dozen years. They have an 11-year-old son who was home when the couple got into an argument.
Gloria Shafer called 911.
She told The Observer newspaper of nearby La Grande that her husband met Kilpatrick at the door, unarmed, and spoke to him for several minutes. He then asked to take his gun to his pickup. Kilpatrick agreed, she said, and watched as her husband emptied the magazine of his AR-15, an assault-style rifle.
Gloria Shafer contends the officer then “snapped,” ordering Shafer to drop the gun, tasering him and then shooting him in the chest.
Police Chief Kevin Lynch counters that the evidence indicates Shafer was pointing his weapon at the officer, and he’s confident his office will be cleared of wrongdoing.
Lynch said his department’s only previous contact with Shafer involved a property line dispute with a neighbor.
More than 400 people turned out for Shafer’s memorial service at the local rodeo grounds, the biggest turnout there in 20 years.
Mary Wise, Shafer’s mother-in-law, declined to talk about what happened early that morning. Her daughter and grandson are now living with her while they grieve.
“The police force here believes it is above the law and it needs to go,” she said.
Chief Lynch, who was on his honeymoon at the time of the shooting, took over the department five years ago and usually oversees a force of two full-time officers.
However, one recently resigned to work for the county and Kilpatrick is on leave following the shooting.
City officials have considered eliminating the force in the past to save money, but rejected the idea. This time, the issue is on hold pending an outside audit of the department.
“The shooting is a tragedy for everyone. It’s every officer’s worst nightmare,” Lynch said, but added that the city needs its own officers that know the people.
“When you have your own dedicated force, they know the thieves, they know the drunks. They know the dopers,” he said.
He also maintains that those speaking out loudest have had run-ins with police or are staunchly anti-government.
“They’re suspicious of anything government. A lot of them want to get rid of government, but that includes police, and I don’t think anyone really wants that,” he said. “Because, in the end, the guy with the most guns wins.”
Elgin is known for an independent streak: In 2008, the entire planning commission resigned rather than consent to new state ethics requirements for public officials.
Supporters of the police department argue that the city needs a force of its own, rather than contract with county sheriff’s deputies who might not respond as quickly.
“Being a police officer is not a popularity contest,” said Wendy Benjamin, a local resident who spoke up at a public meeting held after the shooting. “Common sense says the police force should remain in the community.”
Others want the department to stay, but with significant changes.
Lauricella, Shafer’s friend, took over the liquor, tobacco and gift shop his parents ran for 36 years and has had several attempted break-ins at the store. As a small business owner, he believes the city needs a police force, but one that is accountable and has appropriate oversight.
A survey mailed out to city residents after the shooting showed that many people merely want a return to simpler times — before big-city law enforcement strategies. Longtime locals bemoan what they consider a loss of Elgin’s small-town sensibilities.
Arnie Krause, who was born and raised in Elgin, knew few of the people who spoke at public meetings about disbanding the police department.
“It’s the same thing here as a lot of areas, I guess,” he said, leaning on one crutch in front of Cooter’s, the auto salvage and repair shop he bought in 1968. “People left big areas because they didn’t like it. They came here and change it to what they didn’t like.”
Krause speaks fondly of Shafer, a talented welder and longtime friend who knew where every pipe and line in town was buried.
“The city is going to miss him the most,” Krause said. “That’s like shooting the goose that laid the golden egg.”
Johnston County NC Aug 29 2011 A former substitute teacher for Johnston County schools faces multiple charges of sexually assaulting a child.
Johnston sheriff’s deputies arrested Robert Dennis Learn, 64, on Aug. 19. He was charged with five counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, three counts of attempted first-degree sex offense and one count of statutory rape, sheriff’s spokeswoman Tammy Amaon said.
Learn, of 58 Santa Gertrudis Court, is alleged to have committed the crimes over four years since 2007, Amaon said.
The victim’s parents reported the allegations to sheriff’s investigators July 31, Amaon said.
The victim, who was 11 when the incidents began, was an acquaintance of Learn’s family, Amaon said. Three of the incidents are alleged to have occurred either while the victim was in Learn’s home or in his car when he was driving the victim to his house to spend the night with his daughter, Amaon said.
Johnston County Schools Public Information Officer Terri Sessoms said Learn worked for the system as a substitute teacher from October 2006 to October 2010 at Cleveland and West Johnston high schools, and at Archer Lodge and Clayton middle schools.
Sessoms said she had no information that any complaints were made about Learn during his employment with the school system.
Aamon said the alleged incidents were not connected to Learn’s teaching position with the school system.
Learn was confined in the Johnston County jail with bond set at $850,000.
According to investigators, the officer was at his second job working as a security guard at a jewelry store.
He was walking a customer out when he saw a car pull into the parking lot and two men attempting to break into another car.
The officer confronted the men, who got into their car and backed up, hitting the officer’s leg, officials said.
The officer pulled out his gun and fired shots at the men as they fled the scene, investigators said.
Police said they believed a vehicle matching the suspect’s getaway car was the same one found submerged in water at Westheimer Road and Hidalgo.
The officer’s condition was not released.
While delivering a package to a vacant house, the postal worker told police, he was approached by a man who wanted to accept the package. The postal worker asked the man for his identification, but he did not have any.
Police said the man jumped into the postal worker’s delivery truck and began to fight over the package. The struggle caused the postal worker’s vehicle to veer off the road and hit a home’s front porch in the 3100 block, police said. Officers did not say whether the man got away with the package.
PISGAH, Ala. Aug 29 2011— A deputy’s wife was shot in the face while she was attempting a burglary.
April Wheeler Brewster was taken to the hospital by a friend after she was shot Tuesday.
An investigation revealed that the shooting took place outside a home in Pisgah that Brewster had attempted to rob prior to the shooting. Initial reports said that she was shot while driving.
Police declined to name the shooter, but a man has come forward claiming he fired the shot, according to WAFF. Billy Kirby told reporters that items were stolen from his home, including jewelry and knives.
Investigators said Brewster is the wife of Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy, but no evidence linking the deputy to the incident has come forward.
MOBILE, Alabama Aug 29 2011 — In April and May, according to criminal allegations made in federal court here, a retired state trooper in Louisiana accepted packages of money sent by undercover federal agents in Gulf Shores to pay off gambling debts.
Those payoffs, sent by agents from the Department of Homeland Security to Warren Ayo Jr., formed the basis of an indictment against a man who had been under suspicion for at least 7 years. The indictment charged Ayo with 6 criminal counts related to illegal gambling.
A federal judge in Mobile ruled this month, however, that the agents overstepped their jurisdiction: Ayo was in Louisiana the entire time and had no dealings with bettors from southwest Alabama other than an undercover agent.
Chief U.S. District Judge William Steele ruled, as a result, that 2 counts alleging acceptance of proceeds for unlawful Internet gambling belong in the federal court in New Orleans.
“We always felt that the charges shouldn’t be brought here at all,” said defense attorney Josh Briskman, who pushed to get the charges dismissed or transferred.
Steele also transferred the other charges — 2 counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to carry on an unlawful gambling enterprise and 2 counts of using a phone for an unlawful gambling activity — because it would be more convenient to keep all of the charges together.
Ayo was on radar for years
It is unclear how Mobile-based agents got involved in the investigation. A representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Mobile did not respond to questions seeking comment, and a Department of Homeland Security official said he could not comment on ongoing investigations.
What is clear from court records, though, is that Ayo has been on the radar of law enforcement officers since at least 2004. That year, the Louisiana State Police opened an investigation into allegations that Ayo was running an illegal gambling business from his St. Bernard Parish home and his office.
Investigators searched Ayo’s home in Meraux and his office in 2005 and found computer hard drives containing files used to track bets, according to a Homeland Security affidavit. That document alleges that Ayo had no regular job after his retirement from the state police in 2005, listing his occupation as a “consultant.” Investigators tracked bank deposits of “significant amounts of cash.”
State police arrested Ayo in June 2005. But an official with the court in Jefferson Parish said the prosecutor declined the case. A spokeswoman for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office did not immediately provide an explanation.
The Ayo investigation led to a federal indictment against 10 other people on gambling-related charges in April of last year. Six have pleaded guilty. The investigation focused on a gambling website called tinytuna.com that Louisiana investigators alleged Ayo collected bets for.
About 15 days after the arrest of 6 of the suspects, according to the affidavit filed in Mobile, Ayo registered a new online gambling website in Costa Rica on April 22 of last year.
Briskman contends his client is innocent because gambling is legal in Costa Rica, where the website was based.
“He’s a good guy,” he said. “Even what is alleged is not unlawful. … It’s our strong opinion that Warren did nothing wrong.”
‘Another Bama guy’
The affidavit lays out the following sequence:
A Pennsylvania gambler who owed a significant amount of money to Ayo pretended to be in Gulf Shores for an insurance conference and offered to send a $2,000 payment. Homeland Security agents sent the money via FedEx in April. The gambler also told Ayo that he knew a Gulf Shores man in the insurance industry who was interested in betting on NBA playoff games. After the Pennsylvania man vouched for his acquaintance, Ayo called “Rob” on April 15 to set up the bet, not realizing that the man actually was an undercover Homeland Security investigator in Mobile.
Ayo explained how the system worked. The bettor would get an account number and password and could then place bets online or by calling a telephone number. Ayo gave “Rob” his phone number but told him not to discuss business on the line; Ayo would call back on one of a number of changing cell phones.
Ayo said he would send the bettor’s winnings via 2-day FedEx delivery. He said the bettor, likewise, should pay off debts using FedEx only and never use anything else — particularly not UPS.
Ayo then asked for a password, which the undercover agent said was “Roll Tide.”
Ayo laughed, and said, “Another Bama guy.”
The agent placed bets on 3 games and won $90. He placed 6 other bets, racking up $500 in losses. The agent then sent a FedEx package to Ayo in May.
GOLDSBORO, N.C. Aug 29 2011
Part of the roof at the Berkeley Mall in Goldsboro collapsed Saturday. No one was injured.
Ed Cianfarra, chief building inspector for the city, said straight line winds are likely to blame. He said the wall is about 50 yards across. About 10 feet of the brick and concrete wall extends above the roof line. About four or five feet of that broke, which combined with the weight of water sitting on the roof, caused the collapse.
Paul Angerer, security supervisor at the mall, said he was just feet from the entrance to Belk, which is where some of the worst damage is visible, at the time of the collapse.
“I was sitting here on the bench at the stage filling out my log sheet. I heard some noises, got up and headed toward Belk where the noise was coming from,” he said.
As Angerer approached, he saw the collapse.
“Like slow motion it just kept folding back,” he said.
Few other people were around, aside from some store and restaurant employees. Mall management decided Friday to close the mall Saturday due to the approaching wind and rain from Hurricane Irene.
Puddles of water were found throughout parts of the mall Saturday.
ATLANTA GA Aug 29 2011 — The family of a woman who police said may have been gunned down by a former NBA player is speaking out.
Jullian Jones, 22, was killed last weekend in a drive-by shooting along Macon Drive in Atlanta.
“We didn’t only lose a mother, a friend, or a daughter, or a fiancé, we lost a loved one who was really special to us in our hearts,” June Woods, Jones’ mother, said.
The day of her burial, family members took comfort in the fact that police have named a suspect in the shooting.
That suspect is Georgia native and former NBA basketball player Javaris Crittenton, who is wanted on charges of murder.
Investigators believe he intended to shoot another person who was walking with Jones, in retaliation for a robbery earlier this year.
“If you’re a star player like that, you have enough money to, even if he was robbed, even if that was the case, he had enough money to replace it. You can never put a price on her life,” Harel Butler, Jones’ fiancé, said.
The bullet, instead, hit Jones. Atlanta police said they are working with the FBI to bring Crittenton into custody from Los Angeles where he’s been since the shooting.
“By you coming by here just shooting at an innocent person, you wasted your life. You’ve torn up two families. You tore up your family and my family, and that wasn’t right,” Woods said.
Even though police believe they are closer to an arrest, Butler said it does nothing to ease the pain.
“I don’t know what to say sometimes when my kids ask me when their momma is coming home. Watching them cry. Saying how much they miss her. That’s all that’s running through my mind,” he said.
ATLANTA GA Aug 29 2011 — A grand jury has indicted a U.S. Post Office worker on charges of taking more than 100 gift cards worth $1,375 from the mail.
Prosecutors said in court filings Friday that Helen E. Hampton, who was then a U.S. Postal Service worker, took 133 Kohl’s gift cards valued at $10 each from the mail. They say she also took a $25 Sally Beauty Supply coupon and two Victoria’s Secret coupons valued at $10 each.
Authorities say she then tried to destroy the gift cards and coupons and cover up her involvement in the scheme.
An attorney for Hampton could not immediately be identified.
MISSOURI CITY, Texas, Aug. 29 2011 — An off-duty police officer in Texas is recovering after being hit by a car carrying two alleged burglars who got away despite his shooting at them, police say.
The unidentified Missouri City police officer was working a side job as security for a jewelry store Saturday when the incident occurred, Houston’s KTRK-TV reported.
“As he was escorting a customer outside, he saw two black males in a silver four-door sedan pull into a parking lot, get out and immediately begin peering inside a Tahoe that was parked next to it,” police representative Kese Smith said.
Investigating officers said they believe the wounded cop thought the two were going to break into the sport utility vehicle.
The off-duty officer then approached the two suspected thieves, who jumped in their car and sped away, hitting the officer in the leg.
“The officer, at that point in time, fearing for his safety, discharged his duty weapon several times, striking the vehicle,” Smith said.
Witnesses said the driver also hit and damaged a parked car while making the getaway.
The officer suffered a minor injury and is expected to recover.
Investigators were unsure if the two suspected burglars were injured by the gunfire, as the car, which was hit by several bullets, had yet to be located.
EL CENTRO CA Aug 29 2011 Suspect brandishes knife at Imperial Valley Mall security guard
No one was arrested Friday when a man brandished a nickel-plated pocket knife at an Imperial Valley Mall security guard over a suspected theft, an El Centro Police Department log entry read.
The security guard, identified as Salvador Rocha, was not hurt during the confrontation that was reported at 9:15 p.m. about a minute after it occurred, the entry reported. Rocha, 27, followed a Latino male suspect who walked out the southeast exit of the mall to a red 1998 Ford Mustang a moment before the suspect pulled out the knife and challenged him, the entry read.
Police obtained a California license plate number and traced the vehicle to a Bush Court home in Calexico. A resident at the scene told officers they’ve been renting the property for two months and knew nothing about anyone who drove the vehicle.
The suspect brandishing the pocket knife was described as standing about 6 feet tall and wearing a red polo shirt with a white undershirt and denim jeans. The suspect sat in the passenger seat that was driven by a young woman who headed toward Danenberg Road, the entry reported.