United States Department of the Interior – United States Park Police, U.S. Government
End of Watch: Friday, December 16, 2011
Age: Not available
Tour: 19 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Heart attack
Location: District of Columbia
Incident Date: 12/16/2011
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available
Sergeant Michael Boehm suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to a call involving a person who had jumped from the Key Bridge in Washington, DC. The person was found critically injured on the C&O Canal towpath underneath the bridge near 34th Street.
Sergeant Boehm collapsed moments after responding to the scene. He was immediately transported to Georgetown University Hospital where he passed away. The person who jumped from the bridge also died.
Sergeant Boehm had served with the United States Park Police for 19 years. He is survived by his wife and son.
Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:
Police Chief Teresa Chambers
United States Department of the Interior – United States Park Police
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 610-7500
Five people, including baby -children, were found shot to death in small Illinois town www.privateofficer.com
EMINGTON, Ill. Dec 17 2011 (AP) — Five people, including a baby and two children, were found shot to death Friday at a home in a small eastern Illinois farming town, authorities said, and police said they were not searching for a gunman.
While not specifically saying the shooter was among the dead, Livingston County Sheriff Martin Meredith said the community was “safe from any harm” and authorities “are not looking for anyone in this crime.”
County board member Bob Young, who lives in Emington, said the dead included a man, a woman, an infant, a first grader and a fourth grader. The family had moved to the town of about 100 people about 80 miles southwest of Chicago within the last six months and the two older children attend school in nearby Saunemin, Young said. The street where the family lived was closed by police, he said.
Meredith said first responders found the bodies after Livingston County dispatchers received a call Friday afternoon. Coroner Michael Burke will release the names of the victims once relatives are notified, the sheriff said.
Livingston County authorities and Illinois State Police crime scene technicians were still working the scene late Friday, Meredith said. He declined to release additional details about the shooting, saying more information would be released Saturday morning.
Ronald Groetsema lives near the home where the family was found and said he heard six to eight gunshots, then heard a second round of four to six shots a few minutes later. Groetsema’s 12-year-old son got off the school bus with the children who died, he said.
“They were happy because it was the last day of school before Christmas break,” Groetsema said.
Residents described Emington as a once strictly farming town that has gone through changes in the last 20 years as young families moved in. Young said the town has become more of a bedroom community from which people commute north to cities such as Joliet, about 45 miles away.
“We did have an awful disaster here,” said Emington Mayor Daniel Delaney, who’s been in office for 24 years. “You never would have thought it would happen in our town of 100 people or less. It’s very sad. There were helicopters flying over earlier. Right now it’s just very, very, very sad for us here.”
Delaney said the town is not prosperous and has received help from the state. “It’s always really had a hard time. Most of the people are retired or farmers who moved into town,” he said.
Young said Emington has a post office that’s been targeted for closure and just a handful of small businesses — a grain elevator, a dog groomer and a small beauty salon. The town, he said, had never experienced anything like Friday’s shootings.
“I’ve lived here all my life. I guess, 60, 70 years ago we had a bank robbery, was the other big thing, but otherwise, nothing like this,” he said.
Young said he did not know the family well.
“We’ve seen the kids playing at the playground and talk to them,” Young said. “We thought everything was fine.”
Accomack County VA Dec 17 2011 Sheriff’s officers have found five dead bodies in a home on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, authorities said on Friday.
The Accomack County Sheriff’s Office said deputies found the bodies when they responded to a call reporting an attempted suicide on Thursday afternoon, the office said in a statement.
“At the present time, the suspect seems to be among the deceased,” it said.
The bodies were found in the unincorporated hamlet of Gargatha. They have been taken to the medical examiner’s office in Norfolk, Virginia, and the investigation is continuing, it said.
Accomack is one of two Virginia counties on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay.
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FREDERICKBURG, VA Dec 17 2011- An 80-pound figure of Baby Jesus stolen from a Fredericksburg, Virginia nativity scene has been found, thanks to Facebook.
Police said the primary suspect in the case, a 25-year-old Spotsylvania woman, uploaded a picture of the stolen statue on her Facebook page.
Fredericksburg Police Department spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said police recovered the figure Thursday evening after someone saw the picture and called police.
Police said they found the Christ statue at the woman’s home.
Charges are pending against the woman and at least one other person, according to police.
The figure was discovered missing from a nativity scene outside the Central Park shopping center Tuesday night.The owner of the shopping center said he added 80 pounds of concrete to the figure to deter its theft. The same statue was stolen in 2005.
The Baby Jesus figure was returned to its place outside the shopping center on Friday afternoon.
Armed guards, off-duty police officer provided security for bootleg liquor business www.privateofficer.com
DAYTON OH Dec 17 2011 — Six people were arrested and an off-duty Perry Township Auxiliary officer was questioned after Dayton police and Liquor Control agents served a search warrant at the Blue Flame Adult Pool Hall and Game Room, 1938 N. Main St.
The pool hall does not have a liquor license and authorities have been investigating claims of liquor sales at the hall for several weeks, according to Dayton Police Vice Unit Sgt. Chris Fischer.
Members from the Dayton Police Vice Unit and Narcotics Unit and the state’s Liquor Control agents raided the bootleg joint around 12:30 a.m. Friday.
Authorities seized liquor, beer and small amounts of marijuana that was taken off of a couple of patrons during the raid. Authorities also found a handgun that had been thrown into a vehicle by a patron of the pool hall.
Up to 22 people were in the pool hall at the time of the raid and all were served public nuisance citations, which orders them not to come back to the illegal liquor establishment, Fischer said. Among those inside were three armed security officers, one being the Perry Township Auxiliary Officer. The police officer’s Glock handgun was removed, disassembled and then returned to her after she was questioned, Fischer said.
It appears the auxiliary officer was being paid for her security services.
Source:Dayton Daily News
Prince George County MD Dec 17 2011
For several years, security officers employed by Pinkerton Government Security Services has manned and patrol Joint Base Andrews but in October the contract ended leaving the base to hire and a civilian police force.
“Though Congress had prohibited the use of security guard contracts by the Department of Defense since 1983, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 Congress allowed the services to temporarily use contracts,” said Mat Matecko, HQ AF Security Forces Plans and Programs at the Pentagon. “By law, the Air Force began phasing out contracts and converting to GS term employees in 2007, and must terminate all contracts this fiscal year. The Joint Base Andrews contract ended a few weeks ago.”
According to Matecko, the Air Force manages its security forces manning based on need in respect to the mission on a particular base. When a large number of security personnel deploy the base security mission doesn’t stop. That’s where the Air Force civilian police officers come in to place.
“The training consists of a 5-week, in-house course which covers Andrews-specific training by the 11th Security Forces Group. Upon completion, they go to the Veteran’s Administration Law Enforcement Training Center in Little Rock, Ark., for an additional 4-week of general police training,” said Matthew Snyder, 11 SFS supervisory police officer.
The Air Force civilian police must also meet other standards to include a compatibility test, medical screening and a physical readiness test.
“This change enhances our capabilities so we are getting police officers rather than security guards,” said Matecko.
New York NY Dec 17 2011
Transportation Security Administration officers allegedly allowed a rapper to keep pot they found in his luggage and let him off with just a note.
Freddie Gibbs tweeted a picture earlier this week of what appears to be a bag of marijuana next to a TSA note of inspection scribbled with “C’mon son.”
“The TSA found my weed and let me keep it,” Gibbs bragged on his Twitter account.
If Gibbs’ allegations are true, it’s the second incident of officers leaving a questionable note in passengers’ luggage.
In October, a TSA officer was fired after jotting “get your freak on girl” next to a sex toy she had in her bag.
Gibbs could be extremely lucky all he got was a note. Being caught with pot on an airplane can lead to trafficking charges — which are much more serious than possession counts.
A spokeswoman for the security agency said of the Gibbs incident, “TSA takes all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously and is investigating this claim. Should the claims be substantiated, TSA will take appropriate disciplinary steps and refer the alleged possession of an illegal substance to law enforcement.”
Shoplifter armed with brass knuckles and knife arrested in fight with security www.privateofficer.com
Gainesville Fla Dec 17 2011 Police arrested a suspected shoplifter who fought with store security employees and was apparently reaching for a set of brass knuckles outfitted with a spring-loaded knife when officers arrived.
Sabrina Wagner, 40, of 3205 NW 14th St., was arrested by the Gainesville Police Department around 6:30 p.m. Thursday on charges of armed robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
In an arrest report, Officer Jeremiah Kelly said Walmart security officers at the store off Waldo Road spotted Wagner taking two perfume bottles worth $42, putting one in a purse and the other inside her clothing.
Wagner was nearly out of the store when two male security officers confronted her, Kelly said. Wagner kept walking until the men corralled her in a corner of the entryway, according to the report, and then she began punching one of them in the chest with her fists.
Kelly said the incident was captured a store surveillance video, including the moments when the woman appeared to be trying to get to her weapon. Kelly also noted that both perfume bottles were found on Wagner.
Wagner’s criminal history includes four stints in state prison between 1993 and 2003 for robbery and theft. She was being held at the Alachua County jail on Friday.
Evergreen Park IL Dec 17 2011 Police arrested a man accused of hitting a Sam’s Club security guard who caught him stealing two bottles of alcohol.
According to reports, police arrested Alonzo Chavis, 21, of Chicago at about 5:22 p.m. at 9400 S. Western Ave.
Police said Chavis had placed two bottles of liquor in his pants and security saw him. As they were escorting him to the security office, “he took a swing at the security guard,” police said.
Chavis was ultimately charged with battery and retail theft. The total value of the items were $52.76.
Dothan AL Dec 17 2011 A Dothan woman faces a felony charge after police say she set up a robbery at Big Lots, where she worked.
Dothan Police Sgt. Rachel David said investigators arrested Bridgett Ann Pruitt, 27, of South Bell Street, and charged her with felony second-degree theft of property and misdemeanor filing a false police report.
According to a police statement, the charges stemmed from a Dothan police response to a reported armed robbery at Big Lots on Ross Clark Circle just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. The cashier reported a man armed with a pistol entered the store and demanded money from her at the register. The clerk put the money in a Big Lots bag and gave it to the gunman.
After further investigation and serving a search warrant at a Dothan residence, police arrested Pruitt, the cashier.
“They worked together to stage the robbery with the ultimate goal of theft from the business,” David said.
When confronted with the evidence, the cashier confessed to setting up the robbery, the statement said. Court records indicate police charged Pruitt with stealing $1,150.78.
David said police identified the second person and a police K-9 captured him Thursday morning. She said the man was taken to a local hospital after he was captured by the K-9. She said his identity and charges would be released later.
Records also indicate Pruitt was taken to the Houston County Jail and held on $15,000 bail.
David said Pruitt was charged with theft, not robbery, because of the nature of the offense.
“It is difficult to rob somebody who is willingly handing you money,” David said. “It’s already a pre-arranged theft. The robbery part of it is just what they staged to make it look legitimate.”
NEW ORLEANS LA Dec 17 2011 — The FBI arrested a Loyola University student who allegedly sent threatening emails to the campus police department.
Federal prosecutors say one of the emails from 21-year-old Evelyn A. Hubbard threatened to blow up a building where she was scheduled to take a test on the morning she sent it. Another email she allegedly sent on Nov. 17 threatened five unnamed professors and called for the building to be evacuated.
Prosecutors say Hubbard told agents she sent the emails as a joke.
Hubbard was arrested last Friday and freed on $10,000 bond after making her initial court appearance.
A Loyola spokeswoman said privacy rules prevent her from saying whether the school has disciplined Hubbard.
PATTERSON NJ DEC 17 2011 — A Newark elementary school physical education and art teacher has been arrested on child pornography charges, according to a report on NorthJersey.com.
Arnaldo Rodriguez, 30, of Paterson and a 17-year-old boy were charged with possessing and distributing child pornography, the report said.
Rodriguez, who is not married, teaches at the Newark Legacy Charter School on Lyons Avenue. He is being held on $75,000 bail.
NY history teacher arrested for having sexual relationship with 8th grade student www.privateofficer.com
NEW YORK NY Dec 17 2011— A history teacher received a lesson in criminal justice Thursday after being arrested for having a year and a half long sexual relationship with one of his own 8th grade students.
And it was his wife who dropped the dime on him.
Sex Ed was on the curriculum at the Susan B. Anthony school in Queens, except it was private lessons between a 13-year-old girl and her 44-year-old history teacher Charles Oross, officials said. Oross, a married father of 2 from East Islip, Long Island was charged with statutory rape Thursday morning of his 8th grade student.
The Special Commissioner of Schools started an investigation after an anonymous caller to the Crimestoppers hotline made the allegations and used the student’s first name.
Commissioner Richard Condon elaborated, “They both had access to the school, and would find an unoccupied classroom at 6 in the morning. In early 2009, they started engaging in sexual touching and oral sex. Within a few months it progressed to intercourse.”
The year and a half long relationship was on again and off again as the student said she “broke up” with her teacher saying she wanted to “hang out” with students her own age.
The morning encounters happened in the school and in the teacher’s car, according to interviews with the female student, who is now a 16-year-old high school student. The report stated Oross told her he had a vasectomy and did not use a condom.
Commissioner Condon elaborated, “The tipster told us he heard it from Wendy Oross, the teacher’s wife.”
Interviews uncovered the wife suspected Oross’ infidelity, and posed as him on Facebook to talk to the student. The girl confirmed she and Oross were lovers. The report on the statutory rape also revealed inappropriate Facebook and email messages from Oross to the girl.
Parents at the school were horrified by the charges.
Michael Batts, who was picking up his niece as he usually does at IS 238 said directly, “That is so disgusting. You expect your children to get an education. That is abuse!”
Oross taught for 8 years for city schools making $64,000. He was arraigned Thursday, and was taken out of the classroom a month ago. The Dept of Ed has begun proceedings to fire him.
VISALIA, Calif.Dec 17 2011 – Police say a California special education teacher had sex with a 16-year-old student.
Lianne Marie Trout was arrested Thursday by Visalia police and she was booked for investigation of sex with a minor. She’s in jail with bail set at $125,000.
The Visalia Unified School District says the 27-year-old teacher at Mount Whitney High School has resigned.
Investigators tell the Fresno Bee that Trout had sex with the teenager several times in the past month.
NEW YORK NY DEC 17 2011 — Prosecutors say a 23-year-old New York City police officer has been arrested on grand larceny and forgery charges as part of massive identity theft takedown earlier this year.
Officer Raymond Gumti who works at the Police Academy is accused of giving his mother’s credit card numbers and other identification to men accused of running a mass ID theft scheme. The arrest Thursday is related to an October takedown in which more than 100 people were arrested. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said at the time that five separate criminal enterprises operating out of Queens were dismantled. They were hit with hundreds of charges.
It wasn’t clear whether Gumti had a lawyer. There was no answer at his listed number.
SPOKANE, Wash.Dec 17 2011 – A shoplifter punched a security guard and then pulled a knife on him at the Northtown Mall Macy’s Thursday night.
According to Spokane Police, a man and woman pretended to shop in the store around 7:30 and then tried to leave with a number of items they didn’t pay for. When a loss prevention officer stopped them, the male suspect punched him in the face.
Another security officer got involved and tried to detain the woman. That’s when the man pulled a knife and threatened the two security guards.
The suspects escaped in a white Oldsmobile.
Macy’s has clear surveillance of the incident.
The man is white, about 40-years-old with long brown hair and glasses. He’s approximately six feet tall and was wearing a black pleather jacket and black jeans.
The woman is also white with dark brown hair and is between the ages of 35 and 40. She stood about 5 feet tall and was wearing a white jacket and shirt.
CHULA VISTA CA Dec 17 2011— A man and his wife were arrested Thursday night following an armed robbery at the Footaction USA store inside the Chula Vista Mall, which was packed with holiday shoppers.
The woman is suspected of being a getaway driver, said Chula Vista police Lt. Daniel Hardman.
Two men entered the store about 5 p.m. One displayed a handgun. They forced employees to the back of the store and demanded shoes and cash. The robbers became agitated, causing the employees “to be in considerable fear,” Hardman said.
The thieves tried to run out the back of the store, but could not get the door open. In the confusion, one employee was able to flee out the front and notify mall security, who called 911.
The robbers, carrying bags of stolen shoes, ran out the front door and through the mall. Police officers who responded saw two men running from the south parking lot onto Fifth Avenue and into a residential area.
One suspect was found on the roof of a nearby house. He refused to come down. Officers were able to get him to come off the roof about 15 minutes later. No one was in the home at the time, Hardman said.
Police officers, a Sheriff’s Department helicopter and three canines searched for the other suspect, but were unable to locate him. Detectives have identified him, Hardman said. All the stolen property was recovered.
The two men may be suspects in other recent armed robberies in Chula Vista and elsewhere in San Diego County, Hardman said.
The suspect being sought was described as black, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and 180 pounds. He was wearing all black, Hardman said.
Hardman identified the man arrested as Lukmond Muhammad, 24 and the woman as his wife, Patria Muhammad, 20.
SMITHFIELD, N.C. Dec 17 2011 — A Johnston County Sheriff’s deputy lost his job Wednesday after Smithfield Police charged him with shoplifting.
Smithfield Police cited Rodney Bentley, 51, of Kenly around 10 a.m. Wednesday for allegedly stealing a pair of shoes from Rack Room Shoes on Industrial Park Drive.
Police told WTSB Radio that Bentley attempted to leave the business with a pair of shoes when he was stopped by a store employee. Officers gave Bentley a criminal citation and was ordered to appear in District Court Jan. 30 on the misdemeanor charge.
Bentley had been a Johnston County Sheriff’s Office employee for 12 years.
The firing comes just one day after Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell announced five employees were out of work following an internal investigation.
The investigation centered around inappropriate texting on personal phones. The sheriff confirmed Detective David Hildreth voluntarily resigned Dec. 5. Jailors Doug Haddix, Kim Batts, Karen Massengill, and Cindy Brantley were terminated for alleged conduct unbecoming of a detention officer.
IRWINDALE, Calif. Dec 17 2011 (AP) — Three people were killed and two more injured Friday in a California office complex shooting, police said.
The suspected gunman was among the dead and is believed to have self-inflicted wounds, Baldwin Park police Capt. Michael Taylor said.
“As far as we know there was one shooting suspect, period,” Taylor said.
The shooting occurred around 1:30 p.m. Friday at Southern California Edison offices inside a larger office complex in Irwindale.
There was no immediate word on what prompted the gunfire. Authorities were not saying whether the gunman worked at SoCal Edison or might have been a former employee.
Multiple media reports said the gunman was an Edison employee and his two victims were believed to be company managers. Police said they could not confirm those reports.
One of the dead was discovered inside the building during a sweep, and police were continuing their search for more victims, said Taylor.
Another victim died en route to a hospital. The two wounded have unspecified injuries and their conditions are not known.
Taylor said police have not accounted for everyone in the building yet and were doing a sweep.
No gunfire was exchanged after officers arrived.
The building was quickly locked down and dozens of people were seen streaming out with their hands raised.
Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, said the company has about 200 employees at the facility.
Alexander says the complex is a secured facility and employees need a security card to swipe at the doors before they can be admitted into the building.
Alexander called the incident “an enormous tragedy”
The utility’s office is in a complex of buildings that also includes a business called California Lighting Sales.
Cindy Gutierrez, the controller for that company, said employees there didn’t hear any shots fired and didn’t realize anything was amiss until building management announced over the intercom that everyone should stay indoors.
“At that point we knew something was wrong, then five to 10 minutes later that’s when we hear the police,” she said, adding that she and her 20 colleagues have been locked in their office ever since.
“I’m fine, kind of nervous,” she said.
Two nearby schools were locked for about two hours after the shooting and no one on the campuses was hurt prior to release.
Irwindale is a small industrial city of about 1,400 residents in the San Gabriel Valley, 22 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
It is home to the popular Irwindale Speedway auto racetrack. It is also home to the annual Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire as well as sprawling rock and gravel quarries.
Southern California Edison is one of its largest companies, employing 2,100 people.
GRAND MARAIS MN Dec 17 2011 (Reuters) – A man found guilty of a sex crime left a Minnesota courthouse shortly after the verdict was read, returned with a handgun and shot a prosecutor and witness in a chaotic struggle, authorities said on Friday.
Authorities provided more details of the shooting that happened on Thursday afternoon in Grand Marais, Minnesota, a city of about 1,400 residents on the north shore of Lake Superior near Canada, about 110 miles northeast of Duluth.
“There were a lot of heroes who really averted something much much more serious,” Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk told a news conference.
A bailiff, the shooter’s mother, a sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper all struggled with the man to prevent more violence, Falk said.
Charges were expected to be filed Monday against Daniel Schlienz, 42, for the shooting of Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell and potential witness Greg Thompson, and injuries to Deputy Gary Radloff, a court bailiff, Falk said.
The bizarre attack came after Schlienz told his lawyer John Lillie and mother he needed to take a break from a post trial meeting in a conference room. He retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and returned to confront Scannell in his office at the courthouse, Falk said.
As Schlienz neared the door of the Cook County Attorney’s office, Thompson opened it from the inside, Falk said. Thompson had been subpoenaed, but did not testify in the trial.
Schlienz shot Thompson, 53, in the leg and proceeded into the office to shoot Scannell, 45, Falk said. Schlienz returned to the hallway and shot Thompson again before resuming his attack on Scannell in the county attorney’s office, Falk said.
Scannell, who was shot twice in the abdomen and once in the groin, was listed in fair condition on Friday after surgery at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, hospital spokeswoman Beth Johnson said. Thompson was listed in good condition at the hospital, Johnson said.
Radloff was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. He had not been shot as initially reported by authorities on Thursday.
The shooting erupted as Judge Mark Munger was talking with jurors after they found Schlienz guilty of criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 16-year-old girl. Radloff, 70, cleared the judge and jurors from the courtroom and headed to Scannell’s office, Falk said.
Lillie said Friday he had assumed Schlienz was taking a break to clear his head and thought his client may have gotten into a fight when he heard a bang and muffled shouts.
After another bang, Lillie realized it was gunfire. He opened the conference room door and saw Schlienz heading into the county attorney’s office and Radloff leaving the courtroom, Lillie said.
“Mom and I are screaming at Dan. He goes into the county attorney’s office at the same time someone is screaming downstairs that ‘I’ve been shot, I’ve been hit, I’m hurt’,” Lillie said.
Lillie said he found a wounded man on the stairs and helped him out of the courthouse and found Scannell lying on the floor outside his office when he returned, propping up the prosecutor who was struggling to breath until a first responder arrived and began treating him.
Schlienz had been on conditional or pretrial release during the trial and was not taken into custody immediately after the verdict. He was being held in the county jail after the shooting pending charges, Falk said.
The Cook County Courthouse does not have metal detectors. It remained closed on Friday as the investigation continued.
Jail supervisor arrested for leaving his three children alone in a booze-laden hotel room www.privateofficer.com
Rio Arriba County NM Dec 17 2011 Jail supervisor Isaac Maestas resigned Sunday after being arrested for leaving his three children alone in a booze-laden hotel room at the Ohkay Casino while he took a trip to the casino bar.
Jail administrator Larry DeYapp said Maestas’ letter of resignation was on his desk Monday by the time he arrived at work in Tierra Amarilla. DeYapp said he knew about Maestas’ arrest only from the news and the letter of resignation did not mention the arrest.
Deputy Marvin Armijo charged Maestas with three third-degree felony counts of child abuse, court records state. Together, the charges are punishable by a jail sentence of up to nine years. Maestas could not be reached for comment.
Armijo alleges the following in a probable cause statement for Maestas’ arrest:
Armijo was on patrol around 12:26 a.m. Dec. 11 when he was sent to the Ohkay Casino on a report that children were left alone in a hotel room in which there was alcohol.
Dispatchers at the Española 911 Center received a call from a 9-year-old boy who said he was watching a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, according to dispatch logs. The log states the caller’s mother, Audrey Maestas, works as a detention officer with Santa Fe County. Dispatchers noted the 9-year-old thought dialing 911 would call his family.
Armijo found Marcus Maestas, 4, and Samuel Maestas, 2, asleep in bed. Antonio Rodriguez, 9, was holding a cell phone.
The deputy asked Rodriguez if he was OK. The 9-year-old said he was afraid because he was left in charge of his brothers. He said he did not know where he was or where his dad went.
Armijo looked around the room and found an empty pint of Crown Royal whisky on a stand near a television. Beer bottles were left on a bed and there were empty beer boxes next to the television stand. The deputy said the refrigerator was full of alcohol.
Casino security guards told the deputy they found Isaac Maestas in the bar. He told the guards he left the children in the room but was only gone about 30 minutes.
That story changed when Maestas spoke to Armijo. He allegedly told the deputy he was actually gone for about an hour. He said he left the 9-year-old in charge knowing it was wrong, but he “wasn’t thinking clearly.” Security footage from the casino corroborated the story that Maestas had been out of the room for about an hour.
Audrey Maestas was contacted at work and she took custody of the children. Isaac Maestas was arrested and booked into the Santa Fe County Jail because he worked at the Rio Arriba County Jail.
Isaac Maestas was held in a single cell in the jail’s medical ward, according to dispatch logs. The logs and an online inmate database state he was released at 10:12 a.m., after a stay of about five hours.
Rio Arriba County Magistrate Judge Joe Madrid set Isaac Maestas’s bond at $15,000 cash or surety. He was bonded out by Jerry Gonzales Bail Bonds, according to court records.
Madrid said he came into court on Sunday because the court was closed last week. Madrid cited a section of the rules of criminal procedure which requires judges to hold a probable cause determination within 48 hours of a suspect being placed in custody.
Armijo’s charging document cites a section of the children’s code that defines child abuse, not the criminal code, which states that someone committing child abuse is guilty of a felony. Chief Deputy District Attorney Dorie Biagianti Smith did not return a call seeking comment on what this means about the validity of the charging document.
With Maestas’s resignation, the Rio Arriba County Jail now has four job openings, according to DeYapp, who added the Center is still running sufficiently despite the unfilled positions. DeYapp called Maestas an exceptional employee who set a tone of professionalism and dedication the rest of his staff followed.
“He got a lot of respect from the other officers and he made a mistake if (the allegations) are true,” DeYapp said.
County Commission Chairman Felipe Martinez said he was unaware of Maestas’s resignation but commented on the former employee’s alleged crimes.
“As a parent I can tell you that is totally inappropriate and immensely negligent,” Martinez said.
SAN FRANCISCO CA Dec 17 2011 — A clerical error landed Kathleen Casey on the streets.
Out of work two years, her unemployment benefits exhausted, in danger of losing her apartment, Casey applied for a job in the pharmacy of a Boston drugstore. She was offered $11 an hour. All she had to do was pass a background check.
It turned up a 14-count criminal indictment. Kathleen Casey had been charged with larceny in a scam against an elderly man and woman that involved forged checks and fake credit cards.
There was one technicality: The company that ran the background check, First Advantage, had the wrong woman. The rap sheet belonged to Kathleen A. Casey, who lived in another town nearby and was 18 years younger.
Kathleen Ann Casey, would-be pharmacy technician, was clean.
“It knocked my legs out from under me,” she says.
The business of background checks is booming. Employers spend at least $2 billion a year to look into the pasts of their prospective employees. They want to make sure they’re not hiring a thief, or worse.
But it is a system weakened by the conversion to digital files and compromised by the welter of private companies that profit by amassing public records and selling them to employers. These flaws have devastating consequences.
It is a system in which the most sensitive information from people’s pasts is bought and sold as a commodity.
A system in which computers scrape the public files of court systems around the country to retrieve personal data. But a system in which what they retrieve isn’t checked for errors that would be obvious to human eyes.
A system that can damage reputations and, in a time of precious few job opportunities, rob honest workers of a chance at a new start. And a system that can leave the Kathleen Caseys of the world — the innocent ones — living in a car.
Those are the results of an investigation by The Associated Press that included a review of thousands of pages of court filings and interviews with dozens of court officials, data providers, lawyers, victims and regulators.
It’s an entirely new frontier,” says Leonard Bennett, a Virginia lawyer who has represented hundreds of plaintiffs alleging they were the victims of inaccurate background checks. “They’re making it up as they go along.”
Two decades ago, if a county wanted to update someone’s criminal record, a clerk had to put a piece of paper in a file. And if you wanted to read about someone’s criminal past, you had to walk into a courthouse and thumb through it. Today, half the courts in the United States put criminal records on their public websites.
Digitization was supposed to make criminal records easier to access and easier to update. To protect privacy, laws were passed requiring courts to redact some information, such as birth dates and Social Security numbers, before they put records online. But digitization perpetuates errors.
“There’s very little human judgment,” says Sharon Dietrich, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, a law firm focused on poorer clients. Dietrich represents victims of inaccurate background checks. “They don’t seem to have much incentive to get it right.”
Dietrich says her firm fields about twice as many complaints about inaccurate background checks as it did five years ago.
The mix-ups can start with a mistake entered into the logs of a law enforcement agency or a court file. The biggest culprits, though, are companies that compile databases using public information.
In some instances, their automated formulas misinterpret the information provided them. Other times, as Casey discovered, records wind up assigned to the wrong people with a common name.
Another common problem: When a government agency erases a criminal conviction after a designated period of good behavior, many of the commercial databases don’t perform the updates required to purge offenses that have been wiped out from public record.
It hasn’t helped that dozens of databases are now run by mom-and-pop businesses with limited resources to monitor the accuracy of the records.
The industry of providing background checks has been growing to meet the rising demand for the service. In the 1990s, about half of employers said they checked backgrounds. In the decade since Sept. 11, that figure has grown to more than 90 percent, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
To take advantage of the growing number of businesses willing to pay for background checks, hundreds of companies have dispatched computer programs to scour the Internet for free court data.
But those data do not always tell the full story.
Gina Marie Haynes had just moved from Philadelphia to Texas with her boyfriend in August 2010 and lined up a job managing apartments. A background check found fraud charges, and Haynes lost the offer.
A year earlier, she had bought a Saab, and the day she drove it off the lot, smoke started pouring from the hood. The dealer charged $291.48 for repairs. When Haynes refused to pay, the dealer filed fraud charges.
Haynes relented and paid after six months. Anyone looking at Haynes’ physical file at the courthouse in Montgomery County, Pa., would have seen that the fraud charge had been removed. But it was still listed in the limited information on the court’s website.
The website has since been updated, but Haynes, 40, has no idea how many companies downloaded the outdated data. She has spent hours calling background check companies to see whether she is in their databases. Getting the information removed and corrected from so many different databases can be a daunting mission. Even if it’s right in one place, it can be wrong in another database unknown to an individual until a prospective employer requests information from it. By then, the damage is done.
“I want my life back,” Haynes says.
Haynes has since found work, but she says that is only because her latest employer didn’t run a background check.
Hard data on errors in background checks are not public. Most leading background check companies contacted by the AP would not disclose how many of their records need to be corrected each year.
A recent class-action settlement with one major database company, HireRight Solutions Inc., provides a glimpse at the magnitude of the problems.
The settlement, which received tentative approval from a federal judge in Virginia last month, requires HireRight to pay $28.4 million to settle allegations that it didn’t properly notify people about background checks and didn’t properly respond to complaints about inaccurate files. After covering attorney fees of up to $9.4 million, the fund will be dispersed among nearly 700,000 people for alleged violations that occurred from 2004 to 2010. Individual payments will range from $15 to $20,000.
In an effort to prevent bad information from being spread, some courts are trying to block the computer programs that background check companies deploy to scrape data off court websites. The programs not only can misrepresent the official court record but can also hog network resources, bringing websites to a halt.
Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico have installed security software to block automated programs from getting to their courts’ sites. New Mexico’s site was once slowed so much by automated data-mining programs that it took minutes for anyone else to complete a basic search. Since New Mexico blocked the data miners, it now takes seconds.
In the digital age, some states have seen an opportunity to cash in by selling their data to companies. Arizona charges $3,000 per year for a bundle of discs containing all its criminal files. The data includes personal identifiers that aren’t on the website, including driver’s license numbers and partial Social Security numbers.
Other states, exasperated by mounting errors in the data, have stopped offering wholesale subscriptions to their records.
North Carolina, a pioneer in marketing electronic criminal records, made $4 million selling the data last year. But officials discovered that some background check companies were refusing to fix errors pointed out by the state or to update stale information.
State officials say some companies paid $5,105 for the database but refused to pay a mandatory $370 monthly fee for daily updates to the files — or they would pay the fee but fail to run the update. The updates provided critical fixes, such as correcting misspelled names or deleting expunged cases.
North Carolina, which has been among the most aggressive in ferreting out errors in its customers’ files, stopped selling its criminal records in bulk. It has moved to a system of selling records one at a time. By switching to a more methodical approach, North Carolina hopes to eliminate the sloppy record-keeping practices that has emerged as more companies have been allowed to vacuum up massive amounts of data in a single sweep.
Virginia ended its subscription program. To get full court files now, you have to go to the courthouse in person. You can get abstracts online, but they lack Social Security numbers and birth dates, and are basically useless for a serious search.
North Carolina told the AP that taxpayers have been “absorbing the expense and ill will generated by the members of the commercial data industry who continue to provide bad information while falsely attributing it to our courts’ records.”
North Carolina identified some companies misusing the records, but other culprits have gone undetected because the data was resold multiple times.
Some of the biggest data providers were accused of perpetuating errors. North Carolina revoke the licenses of CoreLogic SafeRent, Thomson West, CourtTrax and five others for repeatedly disseminating bad information or failing to download updates.
Thomson West says it was punished for two instances of failing to delete outdated criminal records in a timely manner. Such instances are “extremely rare” and led to improvements in Thomson West’s computer systems, the company said.
CoreLogic says its accuracy standards meet the law, and it seemed to blame North Carolina, saying that the state’s actions “directly contributed to the conditions which resulted in the alleged contract violations,” but it would not elaborate. CourtTrax did not respond to requests for comment.
Other background check companies say the errors aren’t always their fault.
LexisNexis, a major provider of background checks and criminal data, said in a statement that any errors in its records “stem from inaccuracies in original source material — typically public records such as courthouse documents.”
But other problems have arisen with the shift to digital criminal records. Even technical glitches can cause mistakes.
Companies that run background checks sometimes blame weather. Ann Lane says her investigations firm, Carolina Investigative Research, in North Carolina, has endured hurricanes and ice storms that knocked out power to her computers and took them out of sync with court computers.
While computers are offline, critical updates to files can be missed. That can cause one person’s records to fall into another person’s file, Lane says. She says glitches show up in her database at least once a year.
Lane says she double-checks the physical court filings, a step she says many other companies do not take. She calls her competitors’ actions shortsighted.
“A lot of these database companies think it’s ‘ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching,’” she says.
Data providers defend their accuracy. LexisNexis does more than 12 million background checks a year. It is one of the world’s biggest data providers, with more than 22 billion public records on its own computers.
It says fewer than 1 percent of its background checks are disputed. That still amounts to 120,000 people — more than the population of Topeka, Kan.
But there are problems with those assertions. People rarely know when they are victims of data errors. Employers are required by law to tell job applicants when they’ve been rejected because of negative information in a background check. But many do not.
Even the vaunted FBI criminal records database has problems. The FBI database has information on sentencings and other case results for only half its arrest records. Many people in the database have been cleared of charges. The Justice Department says the records are incomplete because states are inconsistent in reporting the conclusions of their cases. The FBI restricts access to its records, locking out the commercial database providers that regularly buy information from state and county government agencies.
Data providers are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and required by federal law to have “reasonable procedures” to keep accurate records. Few cases are filed against them, though, mostly because building a case is difficult.
A series of breaches in the mid-2000s put the spotlight on data providers’ accuracy and security. The fallout was supposed to put the industry on a path to reform, and many companies tightened security. But the latest problems show that some accuracy practices are broken.
The industry says it polices itself and believes the approach is working. Mike Cool, a vice president with Acxiom Corp., a data wholesaler, praised an accreditation system developed by an industry group, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Fear of litigation keeps the number of errors in check, he says.
“The system works well if everyone stays compliant,” Cool says.
But when the system breaks down, it does so spectacularly.
Dennis Teague was disappointed when he was rejected for a job at the Wisconsin state fair. He was horrified to learn why: A background check showed a 13-page rap sheet loaded with gun and drug crimes and lengthy prison lockups. But it wasn’t his record. A cousin had apparently given Teague’s name as his own during an arrest.
What galled Teague was that the police knew the cousin’s true identity. It was even written on the background check. Yet below Teague’s name, there was an unmistakable message, in bold letters: “Convicted Felon.”
Teague sued Wisconsin’s Department of Justice, which furnished the data and prepared the report. He blamed a faulty algorithm that the state uses to match people to crimes in its electronic database of criminal records. The state says it was appropriate to include the cousin’s record, because that kind of information is useful to employers the same way it is useful to law enforcement.
Teague argued that the computers should have been programmed to keep the records separate.
“I feel powerless,” he says. “I feel like I have the worst luck ever. It’s basically like I’m being punished for living right.”
One of Teague’s lawyers, Jeff Myer of Legal Action of Wisconsin, an advocacy law firm for poorer clients, says the state is protecting the sale of its lucrative databases.
“It’s a big moneymaker, and that’s what it’s all about,” Myer says. “The convenience of online information is so seductive that the record-keepers have stopped thinking about its inaccuracy. As valuable as I find public information that’s available over the Internet, I don’t think people have a full appreciation of the dark side.”
In court papers, Wisconsin defended its inclusion of Teague’s name in its database because his cousin has used it as an alias.
“We’ve already refuted Mr. Teague’s claims in our court documents,” said Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin’s Department of Justice. “We’re not going to quibble with him in the press.”
A Wisconsin state judge plans to issue his decision in Teague’s case by March 11.
The number of people pulling physical court files for background checks is shrinking as more courts put information online. With fewer people to control quality, accuracy suffers.
Some states are pushing ahead with electronic records programs anyway. Arizona says it hasn’t had problems with companies failing to implement updates.
Others are more cautious. New Mexico had considered selling its data in bulk but decided against it because officials felt they didn’t have an effective way to enforce updates.
Meanwhile, the victims of data inaccuracies try to build careers with flawed reputations.
Kathleen Casey scraped by on temporary work until she settled her lawsuit against First Advantage, the background check company. It corrected her record. But the bad data has come up in background checks conducted by other companies.
She has found work, but she says the experience has left her scarred.
“It’s like Jurassic Park. They come at you from all angles, and God knows what’s going to jump out of a tree at you or attack you from the front or from the side,” she says. “This could rear its ugly head again — and what am I going to do then?”
CINCINNATI OH Dec 17 2011 - The Toys R Us near the Kenwood Towne Center is closed after an armored car employee was robbed inside the store Friday afternoon.
A security guard employed by Garda Security Company entered the secure cash room of the Sycamore Plaza store at 7800 Montgomery Road around 12:40 p.m. As the security guard exited the room, the unknown male suspect shoved a handgun in the man’s face, ordered him to his knees, grabbed the blue Garda cash bag and walked out of the front door of the store, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect was last seen crossing the parking lot and heading toward I-71.
The suspect is described as:
- African American
- About 6’0″ tall
- Between 180-200 pounds
- Last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, Timberland style work boots and sunglasses
The other Garda security guard stayed in the armored truck and did not observe the suspect leaving the store, according to the sheriff’s office.
The suspect got away with tens of thousands of dollars in cash as well as numerous checks. Investigators are still working to determine how much was money was stolen.
Police have blocked off the entire area and closed the store while they investigate. The store was full of customers at the time of the robbery. Some said they were unaware that anything had happened. Customers were finally allowed to leave the store approximately 45 minutes after the robbery. Customers were also allowed to make their purchases.
There is a still heavy police presence in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (513)825-1500 or Crime Stoppers at (513)352-3040
Former Treasurer Kilpatrick Volunteer Fire Department Charged With Embezzlement www.privateofficer.com
DEKALB COUNTY AL Dec 17 2011 A former treasurer for a North Alabama fire department has been arrested for embezzling department funds.
Sheriff Jimmy Harris says in November, Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson got a tipthat there had been misuse of a charge account by members of the Kilpatrick Volunteer Fire Department. Chief Edmondson was contacted because he serves as a board member for the fire department.
Chief Edmondson contacted Deputy State Fire Marshal Ray Cumby to assist with the investigation. They say they uncovered information indicating that the improper activity extended much further than initially reported.
The sheriff said to date the investigation has revealed that mishandling of Fire Department funds has been ongoing since 2008.
He said Vickie Lynese McSpadden, 39, of Fort Payne, the wife of the fire chief, who served as the treasurer for the Kilpatrick Fire Department, has been misappropriating fire department funds for personal use.
He said they believe McSpadden stole “several thousand dollars.”
McSpadden was arrested on December 15 and charged with one count of Theft of Property 1st Degree. She has since bonded out of jail on $15,000.
This investigation is ongoing, and all information obtained will be presented to the grand jury for potential additional charges.
The fire chief has also resigned.