U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania (215) 861-8200
PHILADELPHIA PA Feb 2 2013—An indictment and three separate informations, unsealed today, charge nine elected judges along with three other individuals in a fraud conspiracy that involved a frequent and pervasive “ticket-fixing” at the Philadelphia Traffic Court. The defendants participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected, and business associates. The defendants include:
Michael J. Sullivan (sitting judge, traffic court)
Michael Lowry (sitting judge, traffic court)
Robert Mulgrew (former judge, traffic court)
Willie Singletary (former judge, traffic court)
Thomasine Tynes (former judge, traffic court)
Mark A. Bruno (Chester County Magisterial District)
H. Warren Hogeland (Bucks County Senior Magisterial District Judge)
Kenneth Miller (Delaware County Senior District Judge)
Fortunato N. Perri, Sr. (senior judge, traffic court)
William Hird (former Director of Records, traffic court)
Henry P. Alfano (local businessman)
Robert Moy (local businessman)
The 77-count indictment was announced by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and Acting Special Agent in Charge John Brosnan.
According to the indictment, Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians, and associates of the Democratic City Committee regularly contacted defendants seeking preferential treatment on specific tickets. Additionally, defendants were regularly contacted by family, friends, and associates seeking a “break” on tickets. These defendants accepted these requests and either gave the preferential treatment directly or communicated the request to another judge to whom the case was assigned.
Tickets were “fixed” by either being dismissed, finding the ticket holder “not guilty,” or finding the ticket holder guilty of a lesser offense. In many cases, the ticket holder did not even appear in traffic court, yet his/her ticket was “fixed.” As a result, these ticketholders paid lesser or no fines and costs and evaded the assessment of “points” on their driver’s records. This widespread “ticket-fixing” defrauded both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia of funds and allowed potentially unsafe drivers to remain on the roads.
The defendants allegedly used their personal assistants and courtroom staff to communicate requests to “fix tickets” to other judges. The indictment further alleges that the conspiracy also involved a cover-up that consisted of shredding paperwork, speaking in code, and trusting only certain individuals to carry out the fraud scheme.
Three judges—defendants Lowry, Mulgrew, and Tynes—are each charged with committing perjury before the federal grand jury. One judge—defendant Singletary—and defendant Hird are charged with lying to the FBI when they were approached and asked questions about ticket fixing at traffic court.
Defendant Henry P. Alfano regularly gave defendant Fortunato N. Perri, Sr. free auto repairs, free towing, free videos, and free seafood in exchange for fixing tickets. According to the indictment, Alfano would give Perri traffic citation numbers, the names of offenders, or the actual citations to arrange fixing the ticket. Perri conveyed the information to William Hird.
Hird, in turn, conveyed the request to the assigned judge. Court-authorized, intercepted telephone conversations reveal that Perri prioritized assisting Alfano and Alfano made sure to take care of Perri. Perri told Alfano, “When you call, I move, brother, believe me. I move everybody.” After multiple free repairs on his cars and family members’ cars, Perri allegedly told Alfano their relationship was “becoming like a one-way street. I like a two-way street.” To which Alfano responded, “If I need something, you’re going to do it.”
Defendant Hird, it is alleged, was extremely loyal to Perri given that Perri helped Hird move up the ladder to a high-level administrator at traffic court. Recorded conversations demonstrate that Hird acceded to Perri’s requests to fix certain tickets. Given Hird’s position at traffic court and access to the judges, Hird was allegedly able to facilitate requests for ticket fixing not only for Perri, but also for various Philadelphia ward leaders.
Defendant Michael J. Sullivan, in addition to requests from ward leaders, also assisted friends and customers of his bar, the Fireside Tavern. According to the indictment, Sullivan directed associates who wanted their tickets fixed to leave them at his tavern where they were placed in a box behind the bar. Defendant Sullivan would assure his associates that the ticket would be fixed. In one recorded call, Sullivan told a ticket holder, “I know you’re broke” and “It don’t matter which judge would be hearing the case, because you’re good,” meaning the fix was conveyed.
Defendant Willie Singletary and Thomasine Tynes allegedly“fixed tickets on behalf of defendant Robert Moy, who owned Number One Translations, a business located in Philadelphia. Moy, it is alleged, would guarantee paying customers favorable results on their traffic court citations based on his relationship with both Singletary and Tynes. According to the indictment, Moy even advertised in a local newspaper that he “tackles the traffic ticket and guarantees no points or fewer points.” Ticket holders took their citations to defendant Moy, paid Moy hundreds of dollars in cash, were instructed not to appear in traffic court, and ultimately were found not guilty by either Tynes or Singletary.
In addition to the conspiracy charging a longstanding and widespread practice of fixing tickets, the indictment specifically lists 50 separate citations as being fixed. These tickets involved driving at unsafe speeds, driving an unregistered vehicle, texting while driving, operating an ATV on the highway, running a red light, making a prohibited U-turn, careless driving, not using a child safety restraint, and towing a vehicle without a towing agreement, among others. Yet these ticket holders unjustly incurred no penalties for their vehicle code violations.
“Our judicial system requires that the finder of fact determine guilt or innocence impartially,” said Memeger. “Ignoring this basic rule of justice, the judges in this case allegedly routinely fixed traffic tickets by giving preferential treatment to people with whom they were politically and socially connected. In addition to depriving the city of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of funds rightfully owed by traffic violators, their allegedly corrupt conduct also undermined the confidence that law abiding citizens have in the Philadelphia Court System. Those who seek to game the system by refusing to follow the rules need to be held accountable by the rule of law they swore to uphold.”
“The citizens of Philadelphia expect and deserve public officials who perform their duties free of deceit, favoritism, bias, self-enrichment, concealment, and conflict of interest,” said Brosnan. “Everyone is entitled to the same treatment in traffic court, regardless of their personal relationships, regardless of political considerations, and regardless of the personal preferences of court officials.”
The moneys that would have been received from adjudicated citations would have been equally divided between the city of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and used to fund, for example, the city of Philadelphia’s general fund; the Philadelphia Parking Authority; the First Judicial District’s procurement department; the funds lost to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would have paid for Emergency Medical Services training; MCARE, which helps compensate people injured by medical malpractice; and the Access to Justice Fund, which provides money for legal aid for low income people and victims of domestic violence.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Denise Wolf and Anthony Wzorek.
MOBILE, Ala. Dec 24 2012 (AP) — Alabama’s oldest drug court reached a milestone this month with the graduation of its 100th class.
Fourteen people, offered a chance to trade prison for intensive drug treatment, walked to the front of the ceremonial courtroom at Mobile Government Plaza to pick up certificates. Their average age was 31. It took them an average of a little more than 13 months to get through the 12-month program. And they have been clean for an average of 304 days.
“You may think this is the end, but I’m going to promise you, it is not,” said Sam Baughn, the program’s coordinator.
Every county in Alabama now has a drug court, which allows defendants to wipe away convictions by completing a regimen of treatment and supervision that demonstrates that they have beaten their addiction.
Back in 1993, when Mobile County launched the state’s first drug program, it was a novelty. There were only a handful of drug courts in the entire country.
“Drug treatment in a judicial forum was a very foreign concept,” said Edward Blount, a Mobile lawyer who serves as the program’s magistrate.
Former Mobile County District Judge Michael McMaken, one of the program’s founding fathers, recalled having to overcome a number of obstacles.
“This was a gamble, a big, big risk back in 1992, ’93,” he said. “The politicians took the biggest risk.”
McMaken said police hated the idea and the judges were skeptical. And there was no natural constituency for the state Legislature to cater to, he said.
“Drug defendants and drug users have a really poor lobby in Montgomery,” he said.
During its 20 years, Blount said, Mobile County’s drug court has graduated 1,399 people. He noted that it costs $42 per day to incarcerate an inmate in the overcrowded state prison versus just $12 a day per person to administer drug court. That comes to $58,758 per day for all 1,399 graduates, or $21,446,670 had all of them spent a year in state prison.
Using that raw math, the drug court has saved $15.3 million over one year’s incarceration.
To get in, a person must be charged with a nonviolent felony and be certified to have a drug addiction. The District Attorney’s Office also must sign off. The defendant pleads guilty and then enters the drug court program. If he or she completes it, the conviction goes away. If not, he or she is sentenced – usually to prison.
Blount said about 55 percent of participants in Mobile County’s drug court have successfully completed the program. And that rate has been steadily improving over the past decade. In the early years, it was 42 percent. In 2010, it was 70 percent. Last year, it climbed to 75 percent.
Blount attributed the improvement to a better understanding of the science of addiction and a fine-tuning of the treatment methods.
One of Thursday’s graduates, Megan Sheehy, credited the program with saving her life after she had hit rock-bottom. She said she used heroin and prescription drugs while living in Michigan and moved to Mobile, where her father lived.
Heroin is hard to come by in the Port City, Sheehy said, so she switched to methamphetamine. That led to problems with the law.
Sheehy, 27, said she stopped using drugs when she got pregnant but started up again when her son was about 3. She said she gave him up so she could get high.
Coming off of a previous drug possession conviction, she got arrested for burglary after an incident in which she said she got high and found the keys to someone’s house.
In drug court, she said, she had to attend group drug counseling sessions three days a week, in addition to thrice-weekly meetings at an outside group like Alcoholics Anonymous of Narcotics Anonymous.
“In the beginning, it was hard. It was stressful. But for me, I know I needed help,” she said. “My life was going so far down that it was like I wasn’t even living.”
Along with the counseling was a requirement that Sheehy call every day to see if she needed to take a drug test, which participants must pay for themselves. She estimated that she spent some $2,400 during the course of the program.
Failing a drug test results in a three-day stint in jail, which Sheehy said happened to her once. A second positive test brings a six-day trip to jail. After a third failure, Blount decides whether participants can remain in the program or return to regular court for sentencing on their original crime.
Graduation in hand, Sheehy said she is moving back to Michigan within a week to get back her son, who has been living with her brother.
“This program taught me that I can make decisions again,” she said.
Kendall Sanders, who graduated from the drug court program four months ago, said it took him a while to get serious even after he got accepted into the program.
“To start out with, I wasn’t very receptive to it,” he said. “I was working my own program until I got busted drinking alcohol.”
That came about six months into the drug court program. He said he already had been drinking, without detection, for about three months.
Sanders, 28, said he drank at a football game on a Sunday and got drunk enough that he registered alcohol in his system the next morning. At the time, he was nearly ready to drop to once-a-week group counseling.
The alcohol test forced Sanders to start over, which is the main reason it took him 14 months to complete the program.
Sanders said he had rationalized that alcohol was OK because it was better than the hard drugs he previously abused.
“I was ready for a change. I just didn’t realize how much I needed to change.”
JACKSON, Miss. Dec 24 2012 (AP) – The Mississippi Supreme Court has given Scotty B. Lyles until Jan. 31 to file a post-conviction petition challenging his life without parole sentence for buying $106 worth of liquor with a bad check.
Lyles had argued that his sentence was too harsh for such a minor crime. The state Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that Lyles’ 13 prior crimes justified him being judged a habitual offender and the life sentence.
In Oktibbeha County, he was convicted of false pretense for writing a bad check to buy liquor at a Starkville store in 2005.
In his request this past week to the Supreme Court, Lyles claimed his rights were violated when prosecutors were allowed to amend his indictment after trial to charge him as a habitual offender.
It was a victory for activists who had feared that using smartphones or video cameras to record police responding to demonstrations during this month’s NATO summit in Chicago could land protesters and bloggers behind bars for years. It’s also the most serious legal challenge to the measure — one of the strictest in the nation — and adds momentum to efforts by some state lawmakers to overhaul the legislation, whose constitutionality has been questioned.
The law, enacted in 1961, makes it a felony for someone to produce an audio recording of a conversation unless all parties agree. It sets a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison if a law enforcement officer is recorded.
In a separate decision late last month, the city of Chicago’s chief legal officer said police did not intend to enforce the law during the May 20-21 summit, but Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez had not given similar assurances. Tuesday’s temporary injunction put summit protesters in the clear.
“The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said in its opinion. “As applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees.”
The ruling stemmed from a 2010 lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to block Alvarez from prosecuting ACLU staff for recording police officers performing their duties in public places, one of the group’s long-standing monitoring missions.
“To make the rights of free expression … effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents — especially the police,” Harvey Grossman of the ACLU of Illinois said Tuesday in reaction to the ruling.
He noted that with new technology, it is easier than ever to record and disseminate images and audio recordings.
“Empowering individuals and organizations in this fashion will ensure additional transparency and oversight of police across the state,” Grossman said.
Alvarez’s office said it was preparing a statement, but had no immediate response to the ruling. The court described her position as “extreme.”
“She contends that openly recording what police officers say while performing their duties in traditional public fora — streets, sidewalks, plazas, and parks — is wholly unprotected by the First Amendment. This is an extraordinary argument,” the ruling read.
Protest organizers praised the court action.
“We have had this just ridiculously long fight with the city around the right to protest here,” said Joe Isobaker, of the Coalition Against NATO/G-8 War & Poverty Agenda. “And this just serves to confirm the correctness of our stance, which is that we have the right to speak out against war and greed and the other evils of our society.”
In the state capital, a Senate bill that would rewrite the law to formally include an exception for people recording police officers at work in public places is awaiting a vote in the House. An earlier bill failed in a House vote, but the measure has been revised to reflect some of the concerns of law enforcement officials.
One of its sponsors, Rep. Elaine Nekritz, said the right to record police was vital to guard against abuses.
“I think citizens have First Amendment rights to protect themselves against an overreaching government and this is one way they can do that,” she said.
Riviera Beach police detective Lee Ann Schneider acquitted after “three years of hell” www.privateofficer.com
Palm Beach fla April 25 2012 It was more disbelief than rage running through Lee Ann Schneider’s mind last week as she listened to prosecutors detail the charges against her again.
Forgery. Official Misconduct. A whopping 152 charges in all.
Schneider, 44, a Riviera Beach police detective, said she knew the charges against her were untrue. Still, she had a jail bag packed beside her Friday as a jury came out with verdicts after four hours of deliberating her week-long trial.
Facing at least 20 years in prison if convicted, she started crying as soon as she heard the first “not guilty.” She was still sobbing when the clerk read the last acquittal.
“It was almost three years of hell, and finally, some vindication.”
Schneider said Monday, sitting in the West Palm Beach office of her attorneys, Tom Gano and Donnie Murrell.
In December 2009, Schneider became one of the central figures in a wave of arrests within the Riviera Beach Police Department.
Investigators accused Schneider of forging her supervisor Detective Sgt. Pat Galligan’s name on dozens of arrest affidavits and other paperwork so that Galligan could claim and justify his overtime. Schneider said she had signed Galligan’s name because he was her supervisor and asked her to do so, but there was nothing criminal or illegitimate about the hours claimed.
Her case quickly became one of the biggest targets of former State Attorney Michael McAuliffe’s public integrity unit, which he created to target public corruption.
By then, Schneider had been removed from the detective bureau and placed on administrative duty. She had been a detective for nearly five years in August 2009, when she had fallen asleep after working a late shift only to be awakened by the sound of FBI officials knocking on her door.
Federal officials at the same time were executing warrants at department headquarters and Galligan’s house. Galligan was never charged in the case but retired during the investigation.
In the years that followed her arrest, Schneider said the black and white world she lived in as a police officer showed her colors she never thought she would see.
“That process, getting arrested twice and being booked into jail, those were the most humiliating experiences of my life,” Schneider said.
Schneider, who wanted to be a cop ever since she was 15, said she had a disdain for criminal defense attorneys. But with her arrest imminent in 2009, Schneider found herself frantically searching for one.
She found Gano and Murrell, who said they believe prosecutors slammed Schneider with 96 charges so she would take a quick plea and give them information against other officers.
When she refused, they added charges and arrested her again, they said.
“What they did to her was just wrong,” Murrell said. “I honestly think that they didn’t think the case would go to trial.”
The case went to trial last week with Chief Assistant State Attorney Paul Zacks and fellow prosecutor Daniel Funk at the helm. Zacks on Monday said Gano and Murrell’s claims that they piled on charges hoping for a quick plea were speculation.
“We can never speculate on why a jury comes back with a particular outcome,” Zacks said. “All we can say is we respect their decision.”
“We do, too,” Gano said.
The criminal case is over, but
Schneider is awaiting the results of an internal affairs investigation.
Source: Palm Beach Post
Lakota ND April 12 2012 Court must decide if police are allowed to use drones to help make arrests
The tiny town of Lakota, N.D., is quickly becoming a key testing ground for the legality of the use of unmanned drones by law enforcement after one of its residents became the first American citizen to be arrested with the help of a Predator surveillance drone.
The bizarre case started when six cows wandered onto Rodney Brossart’s 3,000 acre farm. Brossart, an alleged anti-government “sovereignist,” believed he should have been able to keep the cows, so he and two family members chased police off his land with high powered rifles.
After a 16-hour standoff, the Grand Forks police department SWAT team, armed with a search warrant, used an agreement they’ve had with Homeland Security for about three years, and called in an unmanned aerial vehicle to pinpoint Brossart’s location on the ranch. The SWAT team stormed in and arrested Brossart on charges of terrorizing a sheriff, theft, criminal mischief, and other charges, according to documents.
Brossart says he “had no clue” they used a drone during the standoff until months after his arrest.
“We’re not laying over here playing dead on it,” says Brossart, who is scheduled to appear in court on April 30. He believes what the SWAT team did was “definitely” illegal.
“We’re dealing with it, we’ve got a couple different motions happening in court fighting [the drone use].”
Repeated calls to Brossart’s attorney were not returned. Douglas Manbeck, who is representing the state of North Dakota in the case, says the drone was used after warrants were already issued.
“The alleged crimes were already committed long before a drone was even thought of being used,” he says. “It was only used to help assure there weren’t weapons and to make [the arrest] safer for both the Brossarts and law enforcement.”
“I know it’s a touchy subject for anyone to feel that drones are in the air watching them, but I don’t think there was any misuse in this case,” he added.
While there’s no precedent for the use of unmanned drones by law enforcement, John Villasenor, an expert on information gathering and drone use with the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, says he’d be “floored” if the court throws the case out. Using a drone is no different than using a helicopter, he says.
“It may have been the first time a drone was used to make an arrest, but it’s certainly not going to be the last,” Villasenor says. “I would be very surprised if someone were able to successfully launch a legal challenge [in Brossart's case].”
Villasenor points to two Supreme Court cases–California v. Ciraolo in 1986 and Florida v. Riley in 1989– that allow law enforcement to use “public navigable airspace, in a physically nonintrusive manner” to gather evidence to make an arrest.
By summertime, there may be many more cases like Brossart’s–on May 14, the government must begin issuing permits for drone use by law enforcement.
Currently, about 300 law enforcement agencies and research institutions–including the Grand Forks SWAT team–have “temporary licenses” from the FAA to use drones. Currently, drones are most commonly used by Homeland Security along America’s borders.
Bill Macki, head of the Grand Forks SWAT team, says Brossart’s case was the first and only time they’ve used a drone to help make an arrest–they tried one other time (to search for an armed, suicidal individual), but gusty weather conditions made navigation impossible.
With a population of less than 70,000, it doesn’t make sense for the Grand Forks police department to own a helicopter, but the ability to call in a drone when necessary can provide a similar purpose.
“The terrain we were working with was very large and agricultural–several hundred acres of very flat farmland made it difficult to set up a perimeter to ensure people didn’t make it off the property,” he says. “I think drones are definitely a useful tool, their effectiveness in rural operations is exceptional, they keep tactical operations as safe as possible.”
Macki is confident his team is trained to legally use drones.
“We’ve had a relationship with Predator operations for three years, we’ve provided training for them and received training on the basic capabilities of the predator,” he says. “We’ve established a relationship with [Homeland Security]. Through that relationship, we’ve learned drones’ capabilities and when we can or cannot use a drone.”
OKLAHOMA CITY OK April 2 2012 – An Oklahoma City shoplifter sentenced to life in prison will get another chance.
The U.S. Supreme Court has vacated the penalty for Cecilia Rodriguez, who was convicted in 2009 of stealing from a local department store.
But the justices on the Supreme Court decided the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
“I’m still in a kind of shock. We’ve been trying to raise some money to get help,” said Geneva Gabriel, Rodriguez’s mother.
Rodriguez’s family learned she would spend life behind bars after she pleaded guilty to grand larceny, so it was a big relief to them Thursday after the sentence was vacated.
The Supreme Court ordered the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider the sentence in light of another case in which a man did not receive adequate legal representation during the plea-bargaining process.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to stealing two purses from a Dillard’s department store three years ago. Authorities said each purse was worth more than $250.
At the time, the Oklahoma County district judge called Rodriguez a “one-person crime wave.”
During the 2009 trial, the judge learned Rodriguez was convicted nearly 30 times for theft-related crimes.
Rodriguez’s attorney said her client is hopeful she will receive a lesser sentence
HONOLULU HI March 24 2012 – It got personal for a judge in Honolulu when he put a man in a chokehold for jumping onto his bench and breaking a flagpole bearing the state flag, authorities said.
District Judge Lono Lee knocked down Steven Michael Hauge and restrained him Monday after the man caused a ruckus in Lee’s courtroom, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/GFfNuA).
Hauge had been going from courtroom to courtroom in the Honolulu District Court building screaming, State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha said. “He was quite upset about something,” Tsuha said.
It was not clear why Hauge was in the building. Court records show a criminal record dating to 1977 with more than 50 convictions on charges including, burglary, fraud and assault.
Hauge was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of government operations and fourth-degree criminal property damage. Tsuha said Hauge allegedly broke the flag’s staff while swinging it.
Hauge couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday at Oahu Community Correctional Center, where he was being held on $1,500 bail.
Englewood NJMarch 22 2012 A former Englewood employee who stole more than $50,000 from the city Fire Department — money set aside to run a youth program and provide a scholarship to graduating high school students — has been ordered to pay restitution of $10 a month over three years for a total of $360.
If Englewood wants to collect the remaining $51,241.62 that Antoinette Galluzzo pleaded guilty to stealing, they will have to get a civil judgment and garnish her wages after she completes three years of probation and the $10-a-month payment plan. After pleading guilty, but two months before her sentencing, she cashed out what was left of her state pension.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli asked Superior Court Judge Eugene H. Austin on Friday for a hearing to reconsider the sentence. No hearing has been scheduled, the court said Monday.
The theft led to the cancellation of a summer camp last year that had been offered to children ages 12 to 16 and included trips to Newark Liberty International Airport to learn about airport firefighting and a tour of a New York City fireboat. An annual scholarship provided to help a Dwight Morrow High School graduating senior with college costs was also canceled.
Both programs are considered essential in a city where the public schools, despite repeated attempts at integration, primarily comprise black and Hispanic students, many of whom come from low- and middle-income families. And with municipal budget cutbacks over the past few years, residents are already being squeezed by increased pool membership and recreation fees. This year, funding for the library was cut by $268,000, setting off cries that essential programs for children would be cut.
Fire Chief Gerald Marion, a Dwight Morrow graduate, said he is trying to devise ways to bring back the scholarship as well as the summer camp.
“It’s a good program,” said Marion, who was deputy chief at the time of the theft. “We are going to find a way to bring that back. It’s just going to take a little time to figure it all out.”
Marion said donations dropped off after Galluzzo was charged. He said internal controls have since been instituted and the department is working to regain the public’s trust.
“There is absolutely no way that it is going to happen again,” he said.
Galluzzo, 49, of Saddle Brook, worked for the city for nearly 17 years before resigning Dec. 16 as the special secretary to the fire chief at the time, Robert Moran. On Dec. 28, she filed with the state to cash in her pension and was paid $12,439.27, the balance of her pension after deductions, including an outstanding loan, according to the state Department of the Treasury.
Galluzzo was suspended without pay in February 2011 and was charged in May with third-degree theft and third-degree forgery. She used her position to write checks to non-existent employees as well as checks for larger sums than needed, siphoning the funds between 2004 and 2011. She resigned after pleading guilty to the theft charge on Dec. 6 as part of an agreement that dismissed the forgery charge.
City Manager Timothy Dacey said the account was closed and the money now goes into the department’s account, which is controlled by the city.
Galluzzo was sentenced in Superior Court on Feb. 22, but there was confusion over what restitution she had to make to Englewood. The city was told by Molinelli’s office that she would have to pay only $10 a month for three years. But court officials and the Prosecutor’s Office told The Record she was sentenced to pay full restitution. It was not until Monday, when The Record received a video of the proceeding it requested on March 12, that what transpired in court came into focus.
Galluzzo did not comment in court, but her attorney, James Addis of Hackensack-based Galantucci and Patuto Counselors at Law, told the judge she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder three years ago, which may have contributed to her actions, and that she was sorry for what she did. Addis did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
“I know that Antoinette regrets it very much and apologizes to everyone involved,” Addis said on the video. Judge Austin said he saw no way that Galluzzo could pay the money back.
“I don’t know how Englewood is going to collect this,” Austin said at the sentencing. “I don’t know how you get something that doesn’t exist if someone is unemployed and she is barred from public employment based upon this plea, this conviction.”
After she was sentenced, Galluzzo posted a comment on Facebook at 8:43 p.m.
“People can try to keep knocking u down and hurting u all they want..But no one can keep me down,” she wrote. “So keep on knocking me down and u will keep on seeing me get up and stronger than the 1st time!! Life is GOOD..Shout out to Gallantucci [sic] and his wonderful Dream Team!! Love to u all!!”
At the sentencing Assistant Prosecutor Michael Pachioretti asked that Galluzzo make a large initial payment.
“If you break it down over a period of time that she may or may not be sentenced to probation, there’s going to be large payments anyway, judge,” Pachioretti said at sentencing. “We just ask for a good-faith amount upfront.”
Austin said the plea agreement did not mention such a payment and added that Galluzzo is unemployed. He asked Addis what happened to the money.
“Judge, to my knowledge there are no proceeds remaining from it,” said Addis. “I know that Antoinette is unemployed; she had to leave her home and move in with her brother and sister. I don’t think there is any money to be tapped into, judge.”
California mother sentenced to six years prison after baby dies from methamphetamine-tainted breast milk www.privateofficer.com
HUMBOLDT COUNTY, California March 22 2012
A Humboldt County, California mother whose 6-week-old baby son died after ingesting methamphetamine-tainted breast milk has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Maggie Jean Wortman denied that her drug use caused her son’s death, suggesting instead that someone else had killed her baby by staging a suffocation scene at the foot of the bed where she was sleeping, according to the Times-Standard in Eureka
Wortman pleaded guilty in February to voluntary manslaughter as part of a deal with prosecutors, who had said they’d otherwise pursue a murder charge, the newspaper reported.
An autopsy on Michael Acosta III found that the baby died of “methamphetamine toxicity” on Nov. 21, 2010. Prosecutors say Wortman should have known the dangers of breastfeeding her child after using the drug.
The 27-year-old woman’s attorney argued during Monday’s sentencing that his client should be placed in a drug treatment program rather than go to prison.
But Judge Bruce Watson referred to a probation report that said Wortman has not fully taken responsibility for her son’s death.
“She … denies that her unconscionable negligence led to the deadly poisoning of her child,” the probation report states, according to the Times-Standard.
The case is reminiscent of the trial of Amy Prien, an Inland Empire woman who was initially convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in the 2002 death of her infant son by feeding him methamphetamine-tainted breast milk.
Prien allegedly used the drug for more than a decade, and friends testified they had used methamphetamine with her throughout her pregnancy and while she cared for son, Jacob.
But Prien told jurors during a second trial that she did not use drugs while she was pregnant.
Before a third trial could be held, Prien pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Sacramento CAMarch 14 2012 A driver who caused a fatal traffic collision when she was text messaging behind the wheel on the freeway last year was sentenced today to five years in state prison.
Sequoia Monay Jones, 22, received the term for the Oct. 24 crash that knocked Robert Wilson, 64, of North Highlands, off his motorcycle and led to his death on the northbound Capital City Freeway near El Camino Avenue.
“Much has been said in recent years about the dangers of text messaging while driving,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence G. Brown told Jones at her sentencing. “And yet it persists. This case serves as a tragic precautionary tale. The defendant engaged in reckless and senseless behavior.
“Now, as a result of the incidents, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, a brother-in-law and an uncle is dead.”
A quick search of Bee archives and stories on the internet showed that there have been other cases in the region and in the state where text messaging has been implicated in fatal traffic wrecks, including one in Roseville in 2005 in which Rocklin Police Officer Matthew Redding was killed.
Deputy District Attorney Tan Thinh said he is not aware of any others in Sacramento County.
Several family members of Wilson spoke in court at today’s sentencing in which they expressed anger at Jones, who has been in custody since the October crash. Besides pleading no contest Jan. 30 to causing the wreck that led to the death, Jones also admitted that she fled the scene rather than stop to provide aid for the man who was hit by another car after she knocked him off his motorcycle.
“I hope you never get another cell phone when you get your freedom back,” the victim’s son, Preston Wilson, told the court. “And I hope you’re smart enough to stay the heck away from cars. Because you, my friend, don’t deserve freedom, don’t deserve a vehicle. You don’t’ deserve a cell phone. In my opinion, you don’t deserve your life.”
Through her attorney, Donald Heller, Jones expressed remorse.
“I feel the anguish of the family,” Heller said. “What my client did was totally inexcusable.”
Cook County IL March 12 2012 A Cook County judge was free Saturday following her arrest for allegedly shoving a sheriff’s deputy and tossing a set of keys toward another at a security checkpoint in the Daley Center on Friday.
Judge Cynthia Brim — who presides in the county courthouse in Markham — approached deputies about 4:45 p.m. and, without identifying herself, asked if they had found any keys, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Frank Bilecki.
Deputies showed her three sets of keys that had been left at the checkpoint and Brim claimed a set and walked away, Bilecki said.
10 minutes later, the judge returned and, without explanation, tossed the keys toward one deputy and shoved another in the chest with both hands, according to Bilecki.
The deputies handcuffed Brim, placed her under arrest and took her to the detention area in the Daley Center, which is a Cook County Circuit Court complex. She was charged with misdemeanor battery and released on bail Friday evening, Bilecki said.
Brim’s arrest followed a Thursday incident in which she apparently went on an extended tirade while on the bench in a Markham courtroom.
Brim, a “floating judge” who fills in for other judges, was hearing traffic cases from South Holland when she began behaving erratically, according to sources.
Markham Acting Presiding Judge Brian Flaherty eventually asked Brim to leave the courtroom and she complied, sources said. Because it happened in traffic court, there was no recording or transcript made of what Brim said.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office later released a statement saying he was looking into the Thursday incident.
In May 2010, Brim was one of four judges Evans reassigned and paired with mentor judges because their judicial conduct had been questioned.
The move came after a Fox Chicago News/Better Government Association investigation showed some Cook County judges were leaving court earlier than they were supposed to.
Evans could not be reached Saturday to comment on Brim’s arrest.
In 2006, the last time Brim was up for retention, she was one of three judges out of 71 on the ballot that the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Council of Lawyers agreed should not be retained.
Volusia County Beach Patrol Officer pleads guilty to unlawful sex with a minor www.privateofficer.com
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.March 10 2012 – In a surprising turn of events, former Volusia County Beach Patrol Officer Robert Tameris pleaded no contest to two charges of unlawful sex with a minor.
A judge decided Tameris will spend 18 months in prison and will serve 4 years probation. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender.
“This plea happened because of the extensive investigation and prosecution by the State Attorneys Office in conjunction with FDLE and Volusia County authorities,” State Attorney RJ Larizza said in a news release.
In 2009, authorities said Tameris had sex with a teenager more than 20 times over a one-year period. The teenager was 16 years old at the time, and Tameris was 42 years old.
Tameris also allegedly videotaped the teenager on one occasion without her knowledge and sent an inappropriate image of himself to her via e-mail.
Investigators said the teenager came forward while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They investigated the claims against Tameris and two other beach patrol officers.
Florida law states that it’s a felony for anyone over 24 years old to have sex with a person who is 16 or 17 years old, whether or not the sex is consensual.
Chicago IL Feb 24 2012 Former Lombard police commissioner Ken Poris knew to pull over when he saw a vehicle’s flashing lights behind him while returning to his home in LaSalle County’s Lake Holiday subdivision.
But he quickly realized the person who’d pulled him over, taken his driver’s license back to his squad car and written him a speeding ticket wasn’t a police officer.
In fact, the man wearing a uniform, duty belt and badge was a homeowners association employee with little police training and no state certification. The security force has been pulling drivers over for years and also boarding boats on the development’s man-made lake. But nobody had ever challenged the practice until Poris, a former DuPage County prosecutor, was pulled over.
His case –– a type that lawyers rarely take up because they don’t pay — shines a light on what experts say can be a problem with the proliferating private security teams that now patrol large subdivisions, apartment complexes and even a Chicago neighborhood that taxes itself extra to pay for it.
“It’s a massive, ad hoc privatization of government services,” said Evan McKenzie, a University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor of political science and critic who has written two books on the topic. “That’s why you get these weird situations.
“It makes sense to (homeowners groups) from a property-management perspective,” he said. “But if you view it another way, the actions of any government are supposed to be limited by concepts of civil liberties. Civil liberties don’t always apply here.”
An Illinois appeals court in a strongly worded ruling last month found that Lake Holiday’s practice of stopping and detaining drivers for violating homeowners association rules was unlawful. The court also found that the association’s use of amber-colored flashing lights on its vehicles was unlawful and that the association could be held liable for Poris’ false imprisonment claim.
A LaSalle County judge had previously ruled in favor of the homeowners association.
“I think they went overboard, and I think that they decided they could do pretty much what they wanted to,” said Poris about the homeowners association. “I was told by some other people that nobody’s ever beaten Lake Holiday.
“Lake Holiday told me from day one –– they told me this was going to be a fight, and I would have to surrender,” said Poris, who handled his own case with help from several other attorneys.
The appellate court found nothing wrong with the subdivision’s speed limits, but with how they were being enforced. Poris said he wouldn’t have complained if a sheriff’s deputy had pulled him over or if the subdivision used automated speed cameras and sent tickets in the mail.
Private security guards, like any member of the public, generally only have authority to detain someone who violated state laws until sworn police officers arrive –– the so-called citizen’s arrest made famous by the “The Andy Griffith Show.”
This includes store security officers holding an alleged shoplifter until police arrive.
Bruce Lyon, an attorney for Lake Holiday, said there is a “high likelihood” that the association will ask the state Supreme Court to hear an appeal. He declined to comment further, saying the case was pending.
In oral arguments, Lyon told a panel of judges that the case involved a contract rather than a police-powers issue. He also argued that security hadn’t detained Poris.
“Mr. Poris chose to live here –– he chose to live by the rules and regulations of Lake Holiday,” he said. “The majority of the residents like the rules.”
“Under (Poris’) argument, enforcement would be impossible,” Lyon said. “If you went and put graffiti all over a clubhouse of Lake Holiday, (we) can’t enforce it because then you’d be exercising police powers.”
The appeals panel disagreed.
The last three decades have seen the rise of subdivisions and other residential developments with infrastructure, like privately owned streets, that are patrolled by security contractors.
Private security sometimes also patrols public roads, such as in a section of Chicago’s Marquette Park community where residents tax themselves extra for the service. Two squad cars marked “Marquette Park Security” patrol a roughly one-square-mile section of the neighborhood.
No one really knows if, or how often, private security forces are pulling people over, though experts don’t believe it’s unusual. In Will County, sheriff’s police said they have spoken with private security guards in a Plainfield subdivision about their practices.
Records show the LaSalle County sheriff had previously told the Lake Holiday homeowners association to stop using white flashing lights on its squad cars, which are also equipped with audio and video recorders. Sometime after that, the association switched to amber lights.
In Marquette Park, leaders of the special taxing district, which is administered by the nonprofit Lithuanian Human Services Council of the USA, say their officers don’t do traffic stops unless assisting Chicago police.
But the group didn’t respond to a 3-week-old public-records request for enforcement data, saying it still was awaiting clearance from Chicago officials.
The district spends about $340,000 annually paying a Lynwood security company to patrol an area that stretches south from 67th to 75th streets and from Kedzie Avenue east to Bell Avenue, according to city records.
“It does seem to be that the area is a little safer,” said executive director Juozas Polikaitis. The district, which he says has a total budget of about $430,000, also plans to install 13 outdoor security cameras by May 1 that will be monitored by private security.
Polikaitis said most of the work done by the company, Illinois Homeland Security Services Inc., involves breaking up groups of teens or young men loitering on street corners. The service logs between 700 and 1,100 total “incidents” per month, he said.
He said about half of the firm’s employees are armed, off-duty police officers and that they monitor police radio traffic to assist Chicago police officers in the patrol area.
Commissioner Jonas Miglinas, who owns a TV-repair shop in the neighborhood, said residents appreciate the extra security.
“Most people seem to think it is working,” he said. “The vast majority of the people we talk to actually like having two numbers to call if something goes wrong.”
Out in Lake Holiday, Poris said he has paid a social price for fighting his $50 ticket, including a loss of referrals to his law practice and glares at public events.
“It’s been very lonely the past three years,” Poris said, driving his pickup through the subdivision, saying several residents had confronted him for bringing the case.
“Nobody understands what I’m really fighting about,” he said. “They all think I don’t want to pay a $50 ticket and I’m causing all this problem.
“That’s where this type of stuff perpetuates itself, because no attorney is going to take the case,” Poris said.
Kansas Supreme Court reverses security guard’s conviction for aggravated assault www.privateofficer.com
Kansas Feb 20 2012 The Kansas Supreme Court today reversed a conviction of reckless aggravated battery in a case where a Kansas City, Kan., bank security guard shot a customer that the guard mistakenly thought was about to rob the bank.
The court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled the evidence did not support reckless conduct because the guard testified he intended to shoot the victim at the time, based on his belief that the victim was armed and dangerous.
Dissenting was Justice Marla J. Luckert, who was joined by Justice Eric S. Rosen.
The security guard shot a 60-year-old man who walked into a Kansas City, Kan., bank on June 26, 2006, intending to cash a check, according to court documents. The man was wearing a black stocking cap and sunglasses. He walked with a cane because he had arthritis and an injured knee. He rode an escalator up to the second floor of the building, where the bank was located.
The security guard noticed him as he reached the top of the escalator, focusing on the stocking cap and sunglasses. The security guard thought the object in the man’s hand was a pistol, then later thought it was a shotgun, according to court documents.
The security guard, according to court documents, jumped out of his chair, drew his pistol and ordered the man to drop his gun.
The man with the cane testified in court that he thought the guard saw something else, did not think he was talking to him, and that he wanted to clear out of the way of whatever was going on. As he got off the elevator he used his cane, putting his weight on it, and turned to look at the guard. The guard testified that he thought the man was trying to bring a gun to bear on him, and fired the shot at “center mass,” according to court documents.
The bullet struck the man with the cane beneath his armpit and lodged in the back of his rib cage, and also punctured his lungs, causing them to collapse. The man fell down the escalator, according to court documents, then the escalator carried him back up to the second floor and “chewed into the side of his body,” the court documents stated.
The charge filed against the security guard was reckless aggravated battery. The guard’s attorneys argued for dismissal because it was an intentional shooting.
The Court of Appeals decision in 2009 had affirmed this case in part and dismissed in part.
The security guard argued in his appeal that the trial evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the state failed to show that he acted recklessly in intentionally shooting the victim.
Today the Supreme Court opinion stated it reversed the conviction of the security guard, “concluding the evidence established that [he] intentionally shot a gun at the center mass of the victim; thus, he intended the conduct of shooting and the result of causing injury. We reject the State’s argument that this intent was mitigated because [the defendant] mistook the facts and acted under the mistaken and unreasonable belief that he needed to defend himself or others; these facts do not change the intentional nature of [his] action to shoot and disable the victim.”
The Supreme Court concluded that the security guard acted intentionally, and so the charge of being reckless could not apply.
Justice Luckert’s dissenting opinion stated that “other evidence suggests that [the guard] was not paying attention to what was happening around him and reacted hurriedly without assessing the situation. From this evidence a reasonable jury could conclude [the guard] did not intentionally cause great bodily harm to [the bank customer]. Rather, the jury could conclude that the [guard's] conduct in firing the gun was as reckless as his assessment of the situation. Yet, the majority accepts [the guard's] self-serving statement as unassailable.”
The case is online at http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2012/20120217/99487.pdf.
COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC Feb 14 2012 - A hog farm in Columbus County was ordered to pay $1.5 million in fines, restitution and community service payments for violations to the federal Clean Water Act. The president of the farm will also serve time in prison.
Freedman Farms, Inc. allowed hog waste to enter into a stream that leads into the Waccamaw River.
The court sentenced William B. Freedman, president of the farms, to six months in prison plus six months of home confinement.
The farm will have to pay a half million dollar criminal fine, plus $925,000 in restitution. A judge plans to hold a status conference in thirty days to further examine the restitution process.
The farm will also have to pay a $75,000 community service payment to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network.
The company will also have to start a comprehensive environmental compliance program.
“William Freedman and Freedman Farms will be held accountable for polluting waterways and wetlands in Columbus County and the Waccamaw River watershed,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice in an emailed news release. “Owners and operators of concentrated animal feeding operations must comply with the nation’s Clean Water Act for the protection of America’s streams, wetlands, and rivers.”
The incident dates back to December 2007. Waste from roughly 4,800 hogs was meant for two lagoons for treatment and disposal. However, the waste ended up being discharged from Freedman Farms to Browder’s Branch.
Wisconsin Court of Appeals throws out confession of man who confessed to armored car robbery www.privateofficer.com
St. Croix County WI Feb 9 2012 The state Court of Appeals has thrown out a man’s confession to an armed robbery because it occurred after he had asked for a lawyer and invoked his right to remain silent during a police interrogation.
Five years after a 2003 armed robbery of an armored car in St. Croix County, investigators linked a gun used in the crime to Zachary Wiegand. He was picked up and questioned for over an hour about possible welfare fraud before a different officer, who worked with Wiegand’s father, also a police officer, took over the interview.
Though Wiegand, 35, had agreed to talk about the welfare fraud after police read him his Miranda rights, when the conversation turned to the gun, he said he wanted a lawyer. The second officer kept telling him he was only trying to help Wiegand out. Wiegand ultimately made incriminating statements, police then searched his home and car, and he was charged in 2009 with armed robbery and arson (because a minivan used in the robbery was found burning near the crime scene).
After the trial court denied Wiegand’s motion to suppress his subsequent inculpatory statements, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He then appealed.
“This is a straightforward case,” the appellate court found.
During the course of a custodial interrogation, (an officer) asked Wiegand a question meant to elicit an incriminating response. Wiegand responded, “I don’t want to say anything more.” We discern no ambiguity in the meaning of that statement. This is particularly so given that
the statement was immediately followed with a mention of “lawyer.”
The ruling sends the case back, but Wiegand’s admissions, and the evidence obtained from a search warrant based on his confession, must all be suppressed.
Supreme Court rules police must obtain search warrant before using GPS tracking devices www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC Jan 24 2012 The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that police must obtain a search warrant before using a GPS device to track criminal suspects. But the justices left for another day larger questions about how technology has altered a person’s expectation of privacy.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the government needed a valid warrant before attaching a GPS device to the Jeep used by D.C. drug kingpin Antoine Jones, who was convicted in part because police tracked his movements on public roads for 28 days.
“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search’ ” under the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, Scalia wrote.
All justices agreed with the outcome of the case, which affirmed a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that said evidence of Jones’ s frequent trips to a stash house where drugs and nearly $1 million in cash were found must be thrown out.
The police had obtained a warrant for GPS surveillance of Jones, but it expired before they attached the device to his car.
But there was a significant split on the court about whether Monday’s decision went far enough.
Scalia’s majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, said the electronic surveillance, if achieved without having to physically trespass on Jones’s property, would be “an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.”
But Roberts added: “The present case does not require us to answer that question.”
It was that question — society’s expectation of privacy in a modern world — that had animated the court’s consideration of the case. In an intense hour-long oral argument last November, the Big Brother of George Orwell’s novel “1984” was referenced six times.
The justices pondered a world in which satellites can zero in on an individual’s house, cameras can record the faces at a crowded intersection and individuals can instantly announce their every movement to the world on Facebook. They wondered about the government placing tracking devices in overcoats or on license plates.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the decision also should have settled some of those questions instead of deciding a case about a “21st-century surveillance technique” by using “18th-century tort law.”
“The court’s reasoning largely disregards what is really important (the use of a GPS for the purpose of long-term tracking) and instead attaches great significance to something that most would view as relatively minor (attaching to the bottom of a car a small, light object that does not interfere in any way with the car’s operation),” Alito wrote.
Alito’s point was that it was the lengthy GPS surveillance of Jones itself that violated the Fourth Amendment and that “the use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.”
“For such offenses,” he wrote, “society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not — and indeed, in the main, simply could not — secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period.”
The key to the court’s more narrow decision on the case seemed to be Sotomayor. She praised Alito’s “incisively” written concurrence but indicated it might not have gone far enough.
“People reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the court of carrying out mundane tasks,” Sotomayor wrote. Perhaps people come to see a “diminution of privacy” as inevitable, Sotomayor said.
“I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year.”
But, she said, “resolution of these difficult questions” is unnecessary because she agreed with the majority that the government’s “physical intrusion on Jones’ Jeep” supplies a narrower avenue to decide the case.
The case is United States v. Jones.
Hillsborough County circuit judge has thrown out attempted murder charges against security guard www.privateofficer.com
TAMPA Fla Dec 20 2011
A Hillsborough County circuit judge has thrown out a charge of second-degree attempted murder against a Brandon man who shot a patron this year at a West Tampa strip club.
Judge Ashley B. Moody ruled Friday that Carlos A. Catalan-Flores, a security guard at the club, is immune from prosecution under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The law lets a person defend himself with deadly force if he believes his life is at stake.
According to court records, Catalan-Flores was working at Flash Dancers, 4202 W. Cayuga St., on May 21. When the club closed at 3 a.m., Catalan-Flores told Uriel Pena-Gutierrez and his friends they could not take their beers with them.
Pena-Guiterrez threw away the beer he was carrying but left with two full bottles of beer in his pants pockets. Catalan-Flores forced Pena-Gutierrez and his friends to pour out their beers in the club parking lot.
A short time later, Catalan-Flores found Pena-Giuterrez and his friend still sitting in the club parking lot drinking. He began to confiscate the beers, sparking an argument with Pena-Gutierrez. During the argument, Catalan-Flores was facing the group with his back to the club wall.
Pena-Gutierrez cursed at the security guard, then took a beer bottle from his pocket and threw it at Catalan-Flores, court records say. The bottle shattered nearby.
Catalan-Flores testified he feared if he was hit with a bottle, the group might take his gun and kill him. He also carried a baton and pepper spray but believed his gun was the only way to keep the group from injuring or killing him.
When Pena-Gutierrez prepared to lob a second beer at Catalan-Flores, the guard fired six shots at him. Pena-Gutierrez was hit by bullets as he ran.
Catalan-Flores approached Pena-Guiterrez where he lay wounded, then called 911. Pena-Guiterrez survived his injuries.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Dec 15 2011 - A former employee of the Department of Public Works in Virginia Beach was sentenced to life in prison plus 57 years for his involvement in a 2009 armed robbery.
40-year-old Bernard Russell Langley was charged with armed robbery, wearing a mask in public, conspiracy, three counts of abduction and four counts of use of a firearm.
According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, on October 6, 2009, a man, his sick seven-year-old son and another adult were inside their home when Langley and two other men forced their way inside. The masked gunmen made the adults go upstairs, where they used duct tape to bind the victims’ wrists and ankles. The victims’ eyes were also taped shut.
The suspects tore the home apart looking for money and pistol whipped the adults repeatedly. The Commonwealth’s Attorney says the boy was eventually taken upstairs and taped up.
Langley and his cohorts left with the victim’s checkbook and $700 in rent money.
Langley, who was employed by the Department of Public Works at the time, went to work that day and took a break around the time of the armed robbery.
Using cell phone records, police were able to determine that Langley placed a call a few blocks away from the scene after the crime.
Police were also able to recover DNA evidence implicating Langley in the robbery.
MANASSAS VA Nov 1 2011 – A Prince William County judge today found an illegal immigrant from Bolivia guilty of six charges including felony murder stemming from a drunken driving wreck that killed a nun from the Richmond area and seriously injured two others.
Sentencing for Carlos Martinelly Montano, whose case stirred the national immigration debate and led to an investigation at the Department of Homeland Security, was set for Feb. 3.
Sister Denise Mosier was killed in the head-on collision in August 2010 as she and two colleagues from Richmond headed to a monastery in Prince William.
He faces a sentence of up to 40 years for felony murder and a maximum term of 30 years on five other felonies to which he had pleaded guilty earlier today. He had pleaded not guilty to the felony murder charge.
Martinelly showed no emotion after the verdict by Prince William Circuit Judge Lon E. Farris, who deliberated only 10 minutes.
After the verdict, Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert said that he would ask for a sentence above the guidelines, given the seriousness of the offenses.
Ebert said Martinelly, who was in the process of being deported at the time of the wreck, “thumbed his nose at the law” despite many opportunities to change his ways.
Martinelly pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, two counts of maiming as a result of driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended or revoked license and a third DUI offense within five years.
Farris denied a motion to dismiss the felony murder charge. He said the third-offense DWI charge against Martinelly when he had been ordered not to drive was among the factors warranting his trial on the felony murder accusation.
Sister Charlotte Lange, who along with Sister Connie Ruth Lupton was seriously injured in the wreck, testified for 20 minutes today, vividly recalling the moments before the accident and the minutes afterward before she lost consciousness.
Lange, the driver of the vehicle, told the court she was able to use the cell phone of a witness who came to the car to call the Prince William monastery to which the three Benedictine sisters were headed to report there had been a terrible accident.
During a break in the proceeding, Lange was asked if this was the first time she had seen the accused, who sat less than 10 feet from her in the courtroom as she testified.
“I did not look at him,” she said.
The sisters described the permanent, extensive injuries they suffered. Lupton told the court that “a bone from a corpse” was grafted onto one of her legs, which remains shorter than the other.
Also testifying was Cecilia Dwyer, the mother superior of St. Benedict’s Monastery in Bristow. When asked about the conditions of the nuns who were injured, she said, “Those of us who know them well know they are struggling.”
Ebert said he would ask for the stern sentence despite statements from the sisters and their order expressing their forgiveness for Martinelly, whose family joined in a circle in the parking lot after the trial, where they could be heard crying.
“I appreciate their feelings and their teaching and profession. They’re forgiving people,” Ebert said of the nuns. But, he added, that he also believed they would want to see the law carried out.
The crash led Prince William County to file suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to get information about illegal immigrants it had reported under a 2007 ordinance.
The wreck also resulted in an investigation by Homeland Security and a decision by the state to refuse federal work permit cards as proof of lawful residence. Martinelly had used that document to get a driver’s license while scheduled for deportation.
Source:richmond daily news
Hughie Elbert Stover was found guilty by a jury in U.S. District Court in Beckley, W.Va., of obstructing a federal criminal investigation, and lying to federal investigators. Mr. Stover, who had been security chief of the Upper Big Branch mine since 1999, faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison but remains free pending a Feb. 29 sentencing.
The case marks a victory for the government which has undertaken a broad criminal probe into the blast, the worst U.S. mining accident in four decades. No other mine personnel or Massey officials have been charged but the criminal investigation is continuing.
“Today’s verdict sends a clear message that when a person obstructs an investigation—especially an investigation as important as this one—there will be consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
The obstruction charge was for ordering a security guard to dispose of thousands of security-related documents earlier this year, several months after Mr. Stover was interviewed by investigators about the accident.
Mr. Stover testified Tuesday in his own defense that the records disposal was an innocent oversight, the “stupidest mistake” he had made in his life.
He was charged with lying to federal investigators about notifying mine personnel when government inspectors arrived on the property, which is itself a violation of federal law. He testified that he hadn’t lied to investigators about announcing government inspectors because he understood notification to involve using the telephone, a practice he prohibited.
Mr. Stover’s attorney, William D. Wilmoth of Steptoe & Johnson, declined to say Wednesday whether he would appeal. “We are all obviously disappointed with the verdict,” he said, but noted that “the debate was vigorous” among the jury, which deliberated for about six hours.
Mr. Wilmoth had argued that the government engaged in a “rush to judgment” against his client while the people who were directly responsible for the mine accident have yet to be charged. “Elbert Stover is the head security guard. Now we hope that our government will go after the real villain or villains,” he said Wednesday.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Ellis drew a link between Mr. Stover’s trial and potential future cases, according to the Associated Press. “There’s too much at stake here,” he said, adding that the jury should “send a message that this investigation ought to be allowed to go forward.”
Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources Inc. acquired Massey in June. Alpha officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The Advocate reports Smith has been ordered to resign by Friday following his convictions by a federal jury in Baton Rouge.
Smith was 1 of several Louisiana officials charged in an FBI sting operation. Former Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis and former City Councilman Johnny L. Johnson Sr. had pleaded guilty to related charges.
Former St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace is scheduled for trial in January on charges stemming from the FBI probe.
Prosecutors say Smith sold two Port Allen police badges to an undercover operative posing as a corrupt businessman and seeking contracts for a fictional garbage-can cleaning business.
Smith also allegedly fixed traffic tickets for money and accepted meals, money and a hotel room as payment for using confidential law-enforcement databases to run background checks.
Smith said after the verdict that he will obey U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson’s order to resign.