U.S. Attorney’s Office
Florida Feb 22 2013
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Field Office; and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, announce the arrests of 30 individuals engaged in a massive drug conspiracy that trafficked drugs from Arizona to Florida. The defendants were arrested earlier today and are expected to make their initial appearances today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Lee Brannon in West Palm Beach at 1:00 p.m.
Charged in the 12-count indictment are George Evans Bivins, Jr., a/k/a “Ziggy,” 30, of West Palm Beach; Antonio Markeith Beverly, a/k/a “Tony,” 29, of West Palm Beach; Daniel Emmanuel Torrez, 31, of Tucson, Arizona; Lavaris Reshard Bivins, a/k/a “Varis,” 22, of West Palm Beach; William Alvarenga, a/k/a “Chico,” 19, of Boynton Beach; Jessica Marie Arvizu, 30, of Tucson, Arizona; Michael Maxwell Barkley, a/k/a “Tater,” 38, of Lake Worth; Jerrick David Bartee, 30, of West Palm Beach; Kirk Douglas Bivins, a/k/a “Kirky,” 38, of Riviera Beach; Demetri Pernell Cobb, a/k/a “Meechi,” 23, of Lake Worth; Darren Duane Donnally, 39, of Palm Springs; Quatavious Carnell George, a/k/a “Jelly Boy,” 26, of Riviera Beach; Wellington Timothy Glinton, a/k/a “Timmy,” 20, of Lake Worth; Javaris Reshad Bartelmy, 24, of Boynton Beach; Ernest Andrew Holiday, a/k/a “Bam,” 30, of Riviera Beach; Jean Innocent, a/k/a “Barko,” 20, of Lake Worth; Demetrice Lemane Jones, 37, of Riviera Beach; Dominic Perry Lamare, 33, of Port St. Lucie; Patrick Jarrod Lowe, 24, of Lantana; Richard John Mercy, 30, of North Palm Beach; Frank Davis Moore, Jr., a/k/a “Bow Head,” “Bodeen,” 33, of Royal Palm Beach; Evens Pierre Louis, a/k/a “E-Bo,” 27, of Palm Springs; Theresa Lashai Razz, 28, of West Palm Beach; Lori Beth Mae Saccoman, 50, of West Palm Beach; Jeannot Saintelus, a/k/a “Jit,” 23, of Lake Worth; Calvin Leon Sirmans, Jr., a/k/a “CJ,” 28, of Lake Worth; Jamie Toby, 24, of Lake Worth; Monica Deloris Toby, 47, of Lantana; Eric Lanard Williams, a/k/a “Baby Boy,” 29, of Lantana; and David Lendell White, a/k/a “Popper,” 25, of Lake Worth.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “Today, the streets of Lake Worth and the surrounding areas are just a little safer, thanks to the concerted efforts of the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Thanks to their hard work, we have removed more than two dozen drug traffickers from our streets.”
“Through the combined efforts of local and federal law enforcement, this massive drug trafficking conspiracy is out of business,” said Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “Drugs and the violent gangs that profit from them have a devastating effect on our communities and we will continue to work with our partners to make South Florida a safer place.”
Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service stated, “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and all of our law enforcement partners in making our communities safer by working to eradicate narcotics from the U.S. mail stream.”
More specifically, the indictment, filed on February 7, 2013 and unsealed today, charges the defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base and/or cocaine hydrochloride, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and/or cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), and 846. If convicted, the defendants each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison up to a statutory maximum term of life in prison.
According to statements made in court, this conspiracy involved multiple kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride that were shipped from Tucson, Arizona to Palm Beach County for sale and distribution as both cocaine hydrochloride and cocaine base. Much of the cocaine was sold in and around the streets of Lake Worth, Florida.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rinku Tribuiani and Robert Waters.
An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
RALEIGH NC Dec 21 2012 — A prosecutor told a Raleigh judge Thursday that a group of teens charged with beating homeless man to death did it as a way to “earn their stars” with a gang.
Wake County prosecutor Katie Carter said the three 15-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy charged with murder should be kept in custody. Another 15 year old is charged as an accessory.
She said the teens charged with murder beat 37-year-old Regynald Jose Brown and used a rock to crush his skull.
Carter said the teens also robbed a 67-year-old homeless man on September 1 and took part in the gang rapes of two girls in June and November.
The rapes were just reported to authorities on December 7.
Carter said the teens came back to the area where they allegedly killed Brown days – or weeks – later to dispose of the body. They stuffed it in a trash can and attempted to bury it near the Capital Area Greenway along Walnut Creek – between Wilmington Street and Hammond Road near Interstate 40.
Carter said all the alleged attacks were a way for the teens to “earn their stars” with “State Money Flag,” a subset of the “Cutthroats” gang.
Carter told the judge she intends to bind all the cases against the teens into one and present them at a probable cause hearing in February in the hope they can be bound over to adult court.
State law bars prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in murder cases where the defendants are younger than 18.
COLUMBIA, SC July 1 2012- A multi-year federal investigation into a gang in South Carolina resulted in an indictment on 134 counts of racketeering.
U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas announced the indictment in Columbia on Wednesday.
Nettles said the investigation targeted the Bloods street gang. Federal prosecutors unsealed a 134-count racketeering indictment and announced that about 23 people were under arrest.
Some of the people were arrested Tuesday after the indictment charged members and associates of the United Blood Nation, also called the Bloods Street Gang. They are charged with various violations of federal law, including racketeering conspiracy, narcotics violations, firearms violations, interstate prostitution and sex trafficking.
Getting cooperation has been no easy feat for investigators. The indictment shows the rules are: no snitching.
“They also take steps in their organization to weed out people who would turn, who would rat on them,” said J.D. Rowell from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Investigators made the arrests on the streets of Columbia, after years of digging and researching the gang. They say the local members are behind robberies, sex trafficking, kidnapping and murders.
The indictment says the Bloods started in a New York prison in the 1970′s and the gang made its way south to Carolina.
Midlands law enforcement agencies stood together Wednesday saying they infiltrated the gang, and the problem is real.
“I’m asked every day in meetings, ‘Do we have gangs in Columbia?’ and I think here’s your absolute answer – yes!” said Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott.
Five of the defendants were already in custody. Nettles said fugitive teams are looking for nine more.
Prosecutors say the lead defendant, David Jenkins, was arrested in the Los Angeles area. Jenkins is a Columbia area native, but was living in Huntington Beach, CA.
Investigators say all of the others accused in the indictment are either residents of the Columbia area, or from here.
Among those indicted on the racketeering count:
David Jenkins, a/k/a Arma G, a/k/a Dread
Titus Bowman, a/k/a TI
Torrean Sims, a/k/a Slim, a/k/a Arsonist
Andre Cummings, a/k/a Dre
Craig Alston, a/k/a CK
Darrell Alston, a/k/a Hell Rell
Nicholas Wright, a/k/a Tater Head
Stewart Stroman, a/k/a Stew
Brandon Hawkins, Sr., a/k/a Shotgun, a/k/a Gun
Steven Bradley, a/k/a Red Boy
Nathaniel Farmer, a/k/a Gucci
Davonte Lane, a/k/a Lil D,
Tashonda Parker, a/k/a Big Mama, a/k/a Big Mama Blood
Jarius Jones, a/k/a Buck
Bernard Breeland, Jr., a/k/a Bneezy
Calvin Hall, a/k/a Kebo
Kenneth Cottoy, a/k/a Fish, a/k/a Koppo, a/k/a Kapone
Edmond Levy, Jr., a/k/a Southside
Alex Anderson, a/k/a Black
Antwain Brisbon, a/k/a Tweeze, a/k/a Twan G
Shantane Simmons, a/k/a Shantane L. Craft
Odell Martin, Jr., a/k/a Teazy
Karish Brown, a/k/a TB
James London, a/k/a Prince, a/k/a Rockaroni
Michael Taylor, a/k/a Puncho
Shonta Harrison, a/k/a Ta
Tameka Smith, a/k/a Meka
Joshua Kitt, a/k/a Metro
Tyrone Lewis, a/k/a Ty Ty
Michael Long, a/k/a Killer
Frank Henderson III
Hassaan Brown a/k/a Hossy
Degregory Reaves a/k/a Junior
Damien Antonio Burgess
Daion Bowers and Rhonda Baker are charged with wire fraud. Tevin Ramsey and Darrell Alston are also charged in the indictment.
Arrests were made after serving search warrants at locations in Columbia and California. During the raids, investigators say they seized drugs, cash, guns and a bullet-proof vest.
“When you’re trying to prosecute organized crime, it takes time to see the pattern to see the big picture to see it’s not an isolated robbery or drug dealing activity,” Rowell.
This is the second big federal racketeering investigation to wrap up in South Carolina this summer. Last month, 19 people affiliated with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang were arrested in North and South Carolina as part of a 2-year investigation into gun and drug crimes.
SPRINGFIELD TN July 9 2012 — A group of young men stand on a street corner, across from the Bransford Youth Center, near a house suspected of being a gang hangout.
“Look to your left. That’s how it all starts,” says Springfield Alderman James Hubbard. “They start hanging on the corner. Usually by 13, they’re schooled by the returning ex-convicts.”
“Those boys right there? Eventually, they’re killing each other.”
If Springfield, a town of about 16,000 people 30 miles north of Nashville and 15 minutes from the Kentucky border, sounds like an unlikely place for gangs, it shouldn’t. In the past two months alone, three suspected gang members were arrested in the armed holdup of the Commerce Union Bank on South Main Street, a 26-year-old man was shot in the chest at the Stop One Market down the same street, and Rashaud Singletary, 20, was found dead with a bullet wound to the back of his head behind a home on J.L. Patterson Boulevard near the youth center.
Gang-related crimes statewide rose by nearly 25 percent in 2011, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. They have more than doubled since 2005, the first year gang crimes saw a significant spike. But the real story isn’t necessarily in places like Nashville or Memphis.
While larger cities unveil gang task forces, sweeping federal racketeering investigations and large-scale drug raids, the state’s small towns are becoming incubators of gang violence. Since 2005, cities with fewer than 50,000 residents saw gang crime more than triple.
“By and large, the average citizen, I don’t think, sees or knows what’s really going on. There’s a lot of people that are just in denial or unaware. If it doesn’t impact them directly, they wouldn’t know about it,” said Springfield police Chief David Thompson, who became chief here five months ago after working as an assistant city manager and police chief in Atlantic Beach, Fla. “We’ve reached a space now where you can’t ignore what’s happening.”
Police lack resources
Rural towns often have small and sometimes ill-equipped police departments, which can make the communities vulnerable and attractive to young criminals trying to dodge larger cities with more sophisticated gang units. Also, gangs find rural areas to be full of eager, new drug customers and devoid of competition from other gangs. For a while, at least.
The FBI’s annual National Gang Threat Assessment in 2011 was blunt in its appraisal of gangs’ interest in these untapped areas.
“Gang members are migrating from urban areas to suburban and rural communities to recruit new members, expand their drug distribution territories, form new alliances, and collaborate with rival gangs and criminal organizations for profit and influence,” the report said.
In Tennessee, gang incidents across the state rose about 110 percent from 2005 through 2011, according to the TBI. But remove the larger cities like Nashville and Memphis — areas often far more associated with gang violence — and the picture is far more troubling.
From 2005 to 2011, cities with fewer than 50,000 residents saw gang crimes rise 232 percent.
“Gangs gravitate to where business is good, typically illegal drugs, illegal weapons and prostitution,” said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the TBI. “Being in more rural areas, sometimes their criminal activity is less detectable from law enforcement and they aren’t competing with a different illegal gang across the street for business.”
Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen, whose department has grappled with gangs in recent years, said that big-city successes can become small-town problems.
“When Nashville cracks down on them, you know where they end up? They end up in Lebanon,” he said. “They were pushing people out of their public housing and into our public housing. We know that as a fact.”
Just identifying the problem can be difficult for small communities. Gang incidents probably are under-reported, authorities acknowledge. Before this year, for example, Springfield had reported to the TBI only two gang incidents from 2001 through 2011. Those same records show that 53 of 95 Tennessee counties reported zero gang incidents in 2011.
When Thompson came on as chief earlier this year, he said people in the community told him Springfield didn’t have a gang problem. “But the more I looked around, the more I was seeing things,” the chief said.
A week after being told gangs weren’t an issue there, his department responded to five shootings. At one crime scene, investigators found a burning bandana in the road — a not-too-subtle warning left by one gang to its rivals. One of Thompson’s officers, charged with doing a survey of gang graffiti in the neighborhood, returned to the department with 300 photos in a single day.
“How can you ignore or how can you not recognize the gang activity here?” he asked.
Ordeal in Columbia
Sometimes something terrible has to happen to get the community’s attention.
In Columbia, it happened in April 2009. It was a beautiful Sunday, right after church, when a bullet flew through Relland Stovall’s window and struck him in the head, killing him.
He had nothing to do with gangs — he was a school janitor, well known in the community for helping out senior citizens on his block. His death underscored the random ripple effect of gang violence. Far from being a target, Stovall was killed by a stray bullet from a Crips gang member meant for a rival.
Columbia City Manager Paul Boyer said that Stovall’s death was the city’s defining moment in its battle with gangs. He recalled leaving Stovall’s memorial service and feeling the resolve of a city that had been pushed too far.
“When we walked out of church that night, I knew we had the citizens,” he said. “That was a put-down-your-foot day. They’ve had enough.”
Today, the city has a vigorous neighborhood watch system with residents like Sherley Jones, a retired military man who once used his shotgun to chase a gang member from his front yard.
“He pulled a pistol out on me,” Jones said. “I came back outside with my shotgun and pistol and said, ‘Mine is bigger than yours, let’s see what happens.’ ”
Jones helped rally community support. Today, he sees police officers walking the beat, talking with residents and asking if they have any problems. Because of that, he says, the gang problem has improved. In 2010, there were 111 gang incidents in Columbia, and one year later there were just 26.
“What success we have, I don’t think we could have obtained by ourselves,” Boyer said. “The community, they just said, ‘No, we need your help, and we’re gonna help and we’re not putting up with it anymore.’ ”
Hubbard, one of six Springfield city aldermen, said his city as a whole has not demonstrated the same will to drive out gang activity.
He spread the blame evenly among elected officials, the affluent and the black community, who Hubbard says should be taking the lead.
“It would be eradicated faster if the black community could just give money, time and talent,” said Hubbard, who is black. “But, there’s hesitancy born of complacency, ignorance of the facts and some just don’t care.”
Lack of economic opportunities, unemployment and poverty also may play a part. According to the 2010 census, almost a quarter of the city’s population is under the poverty level. Nearly 20 percent are in the food stamp program.
“The drugs, the gangs, the poverty — all of those things come together,” said Chief Thompson. “It creates their own status system, their own family, if you will. There’s status involved in it, there’s protection involved in it, there’s a strong social bond.”
The police chief said any solution will require effort and sacrifice from the entire community on a variety of societal problems.
“It’s not just a crime issue, it’s a social issue,” he said. “It requires more than just putting people in jail for gang activity.”
Today, the city is home to multiple gangs, including the Bloods and Crips.
Latino gangs like MS-13 also have taken hold in Springfield. Another Latino gang known as Sur-13, or the Surenos, claims allegiance to the Mexican Mafia and left its mark on a wall across from the West 11th Avenue home Jesse R. Farmer has lived in for more than 50 years.
He didn’t much mind the graffiti, or “tag” as police call it. But as he tried to keep cool on his porch with friends on a recent afternoon, he admitted that some youth in Springfield frighten him.
“I hate it. You kids need to be in school,” said Farmer, 86. “But you can’t say nothing. They’ll pull out a big, old pistol. They’re liable to. They’re dangerous. It’s a shame.”
His friend James Petties, 75, agreed. He’s lived in the city for about 40 years, across town from Farmer, near the Carden Heights public housing development. He said he routinely sees gang members in the area and doesn’t always feel safe in his own home.
“You sit out on the porch and you see all this happening,” Petties said. “You don’t know if a bullet is gonna go off. You see something like that and you go in the house.”
The two lament the state of their city.
“This has been happening a long time,” Petties said.
“I’ve seen a guy come through here shooting,” Farmer replied, pointing down his street. “He could have killed anybody.”
Petties shook his head.
“They don’t care who they hurt. You know what they say: ‘The devil is busy.’ ”
‘Son’s been shot’
On May 6, the devil got started early.
It was just after midnight when Jan Singletary Pettis was awakened by the panicked call.
“Your son’s been shot. Rashaud’s been shot,” the voice on the line told her. “I jump out of bed, praying, ‘Please, Lord, let him be OK. Please, let him be OK.’ ”
She rushed to a home on John L. Patterson Boulevard where her son was being loaded into an ambulance. Blood poured from the gunshot wound in the back of his head.
Police are vague as to what exactly happened there that night, saying only that it started as a fight. Chief Thompson said there was “gang influence” involved, but declined to say what gang, who the gang members were or what the dispute was about. Police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man with the shooting. Pettis waited for a day at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with friends and family. As she sits on her porch describing that day, she stares calmly off into the distance.
“After a day, they ran several tests on him. They declared him clinically dead,” she said, the grief returning to her face. “It’s hard to deal with. It’s not something that’s going to pass in a year’s time. He’s my only child — my only baby.”
She knows her son wasn’t perfect, but she denies he was in a gang. He had been out of prison for only five weeks and five days after serving time for a shooting he was involved in. His death may have been retribution.
But the pain has been unbearable. She misses his million-dollar smile, the way he tried to act smooth around the ladies, his strength, his kind heart and his silly sense of humor. And she decided that she didn’t want others to feel the same pain she does.
“I hurt bad. Who would’ve thought my baby — my baby — would only be here 20 years?” she said. “We’ve got to stop this violence.”
Just six days after Pettis’ son was murdered in Springfield, she took to the streets with dozens of others. They started out at South Main Street and Central Avenue and marched through some of Springfield’s roughest areas and right by the home on John L. Patterson Boulevard where Singletary was killed.
As they marched, they chanted, “We want peace!”
A week later, residents gathered at First Baptist Church to discuss crime in the community.
Hubbard said the neighborhood’s response, albeit a small one, encouraged him.
“It gives me a sign of hope,” Hubbard said. “I have recharged my efforts.”
A month later, Michelle Talavera, 28, was shot dead 75 miles south of Springfield on a street in Columbia.
Deborah Flores never thought a gang-related shooting would take her daughter. The family moved to Middle Tennessee 13 years ago to escape the gangs in Dallas.
On June 24, about 2 a.m., Talavera was shot on Woodland Street, outside a nightclub near Eighth Street. Police have released few details about her death and wouldn’t say whether she was targeted. But Chief Joseph Bishop said there was evidence of gang involvement.
Talavera leaves behind four children, Omar, 5; Jazmine, 7; Juan, 8; and Ramon, 10.
Flores wants to be strong for her grandchildren, but it hasn’t been easy. Especially with little Omar. She recalled the torture of telling him that his mother had died.
“You mean my mommy’s an angel?” he responded.
VISALIA, Calif. Jan 30 2012 - A Visalia teen is in jail- accused of shooting two people inside the Visalia Mall, Friday, in what police are calling an isolated incident between rival gangs.
Shoppers returned to the mall Saturday, along with several police officers and beefed-up security.
Two men were shot.
Police say the bullets may have been meant for 20-year-old Miguel Alcala, but that 21-year-old Steven Haynes was an innocent bystander.
Both are expected to be okay.
Shoppers returned to the mall Saturday but say the vibe inside isn’t the same.
“The tension in the mall right now. All the police, the canine. It kind of makes you nervous, it’s uneasy. You kind of want to do your thing and get out of there,” said Monica Joosten, a Visalia mother.
Joosten says as her kids were nervous than she was about shopping here.
“My kids were very reluctant to come, I guess yeah it still is scary. Especially if you have kids,” said Joosten.
Other shoppers were thinking along the same lines.
“Honestly, I was like I’ll never go back to the Visalia mall again, I’d rather do my shopping somewhere else,” said Marlene Pantoja, a Visalia resident.
Mall officials and police stress that Friday’s shooting wasn’t random.
They arrested 18-year-old Anthony Hansen of Visalia, a known gang member.
They say two rival gangs happened to cross paths inside the mall, sparking the gunfire.
Visalia police say they are still looking for several other people connected to this shooting.
Nashville TN Dec 15 2011 As Metro police investigated the murder of Jeremy Green, they took to the streets, interviewed witnesses and turned to a different source that is quickly becoming routine in gang investigations: Facebook.
As social media gain prominence in everyday life, police are finding it a useful tool for tracking criminal activity. Gang members often publish photos of themselves holding money, guns and drugs. But while criminals haven’t been shy about publishing their exploits for the Internet to see, authorities here and across the nation are seeing gangs in particular begin to use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to organize their activities and recruit new members.
“I think it’s the new reality. It’s the new reality for every person with the Internet and this different social media. I don’t think it’s going to be a flash,” said Lt. Gordon Howey, who heads Metro police’s gang unit. “I don’t ever see it going away. I think that with Facebook, Twitter, all this different social media, I think they’ll still continue to use it.”
The FBI warns in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment report that gang violence expanded over the past two years and that the increase in communication technology — smartphones and social media — is partly to blame. In New Jersey, the Bloods gang used MySpace to plot a murder. Gang members in Los Angeles used Twitter to threaten a man they believed had turned into a snitch. In Chattanooga, a March feud between gangs literally began on Facebook before it hit the streets.
Green was murdered Jan. 29 in what police suspect was a robbery. Police have arrested three suspected members of the 5 Deuce Hoover Crips, in part using information obtained from the Facebook page of Jose Hall, who is charged with first-degree murder. Hall’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
A detective wrote in a search warrant that Hall’s associates may have been using Facebook “in an effort to plot, coerce and/or fabricate any evidence or witnesses as it relates to this investigation.” They were particularly worried that it was being used to retaliate against Victor Johnson, who also was arrested in the murder but was thought by gang members to have been a snitch in the case.
In June, a shooting at Movies in the Park at Centennial Park was preceded by Twitter chatter promising violence.
“Someone will die tomorrow at MITP,” one message said. A teen was injured in the shooting.
And in May, federal authorities investigating the Gangsta Disciples in Nashville focused on the Facebook account of Anthony Daniels, according to a federal search warrant. The warrant accuses Daniels of using email and Facebook to “engage in racketeering and the trafficking of drugs.” Though the search warrant was in connection with a large-scale racketeering case, Daniels has not been charged in it.
Police and prosecutors have been attuned to social media sites for years. But gangs’ increasing reliance on social media and mobile cellphone technology is making their jobs harder, said Rob McGuire, a Davidson County assistant district attorney general who works with Metro’s gang unit.
“It’s a really interesting challenge. We’ve definitely noticed situations where a person has been charged, they’ll take down their Facebook page or will take down their My-Space page within 24 hours of the event,” he said.
“You’re really writing something in sand on the beach and all of the sudden the next wave comes by and it’s gone.”
McGuire said another challenge is that social media provide a natural recruiting tool for new gang members.
“Gangs are often interested in self-promotion, making themselves look big and tough and that they have influence and money,” he said. “That’s going to be attractive to new membership, that’s going to set their tone.”
Howey said that children, in particular, can be impressionable to such images and recommends that parents keep a close eye on what they are doing on the Internet.
“If they’ve got Facebook, email accounts, Twitter accounts, it might be a good idea to take a look at them to see who they’re communicating with,” he said.
DeKalb County GA Sept 3 2011 Officers have arrested three men with alleged ties to a low-level street gang that has been targeting local and state law enforcement officers.
The Ho Haters gang members, also known as 2100, have been targeting officers in a theft and robbery scheme, according to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office.
So far, their victims have been officers from Atlanta, the Conyers Police Department and Georgia State Patrol, the Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Adrion Bell said.
But it was unknown Friday if the men arrested were directly involved in the robberies; and officers did not provide any details on how the items were stolen from the officers.
Deputies arrested Mr. Tiunta Battle, 20, and Mr. Paul Cargile on Monday at 1903 Pinedale Place in Decatur, Sgt. Adrion Bell said.
A third man, Mr. Demario Middlebrooks, 23, was also arrested by the DeKalb Police Gang Unit during the execution of a related search warrant at 2111 Greenforest Drive in Decatur, Sgt. Bell said.
The scheme was uncovered when officers were tracking Mr. Battle for an armed robbery after a man accused him of robbing him at gunpoint of $66.
On Monday, they tracked him to a Decatur home where a woman told them Mr. Battle was hiding inside.
“Announcing their presence and tactically clearing the home, officers found Battle and Cargile hiding,” Sgt. Bell said.
They also found evidence of the scheme targeting officers.
“While searching for other suspects, the investigators found a 12 gauge sawed off shotgun under a bed,” Sgt. Bell said. “A box of Winchester ammunition that is normally sold to law enforcement agencies was found on a nearby night stand and a pair of handcuffs was found in a closet.”
They contacted the GBI Gang task Force, who arrived with a search warrant to search the home for other equipment.
They found a Glock 45 caliber handgun that had been stolen during an Atlanta home invasion, Sgt. Bell said.
They also found a Smith and Wesson M&P 40 caliber pistol belonging to a Conyers Police Officer, pistol magazines, 45 caliber bullets and a can of law enforcement Oleoresin Capsicum spray, the sergeant said.
An informant then led officers to another address where more stolen police items were found, Sgt. Bell said.
The DeKalb County Police Gang Unit executed a search warrant at 2111 Greenforest Drive where they found items stolen from a Georgia State Patrolman including a law enforcement issued TASER and a bullet proof vest.
Officers charged Mr. Middlebrooks, Mr. Cargile and Mr. Battle with theft by receiving stolen property.
Mr. Battle was also charged with armed robbery.
“It is unknown whether the three were directly involved in the burglaries and armed robberies that produced the police officers’ guns and equipment, Sgt. Bell said. “The investigation is continuing.”
FAIRFIELD, Conn.Aug 23 2011 — Two Brooklyn men were arrested Friday and charged with attempted theft from Home Depot. Police say Vaja Asatiani, 31, and Ivane Avlakhashvili, 24, tried to steal nearly $1,900 worth of merchandise from the Fairfield store and are suspects in thefts from Home Deport outlets in New Jersey and Stratford.
Store security workers called police at about 4 p.m. Friday after seeing the two walking around Home Depot placing items into a box for a sink. They said Asatiani and Avlakhashvili had collected products worth $393 before security guards detained them.
When police arrived, they also found $1,500 in store merchandise that they believe Asatiani and Avlakhashvili had taken earlier in the day. They also found black plastic bags designed to walk security-tagged items through checkpoints without setting off alarms, as well as identification cards from Maryland and the Republic of Georgia and labels taken off items from Stratford’s Home Depot.
Police charged both men with three counts of larceny. Asatiani was also charged with 12 counts of forgery and possession of a shoplifting device. Asatiani’s bond was set at $75,000, and Avlakhashvili’s was set at $50,000. Both are due in court Sept. 6.
Hendersonville TN Aug 19 2011 Two women have been arrested for their involvment in an alleged shoplifting ring that targeted the Hendersonville Walmart.
On Aug. 15, Hendersonville police responded to a reported shoplifting at the store after a woman allegedly attempted to steal merchandise.
During the investigation, two co-conspirators of the woman were discovered in the Walmart parking lot with several bags of stolen merchandise from various retail stores in their vehicle. Contents of the bags included stolen merchandise valued at over $1,000, with tags from various retail stores still attached.
“What it looks like is – they’re an organized ring that will have some of the members go in to one store of a retail chain in a jurisdiction,” said HPD Detective David Harrell. “They’ll go in and steal the items, and then – from what we can tell – they have that same person or another member of the group go to another store franchise of the same retail chain in another jurisdiction, to do a return.”
Harrell said it also appears that the suspects use different combinations of people to steal merchandise and then make the returns for cash.
“We fully believe that there are other subjects involved who we are looking to identify and arrest for their crimes in Hendersonville,” Harrell said.
Further investigation has led police to believe this group of shoplifters has been active in Davidson, Sumner, Wilson, Williamson and Rutherford counties, as well as parts of Kentucky.
Condra Lynn Medford and Marilyn Ann Musser are both charged with theft of property of over $1,000, theft of property under $500 and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Medford is also charged with forgery and driving on a suspended driver’s license.
Medford, 39, of Cross Plains, Tenn., and Musser, 50, of Nashville, are both set to appear in Sumner County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. on Sept. 28. Medford’s bond was set at $5,000 and Musser’s was set at $2,500.
Warrants have been obtained for the arrest of Sherry Lynn Huff, 42, of Cross Plains, who is charged with theft of property of over $1,000 and theft of property under $500.
Chicago IL June 12 2011 An ongoing gang conflict that may have resulted in the deaths of five people on the West Side since noon Friday, according to a police source.
At least 10 other people were wounded during unrelated shootings in other areas of the city Friday night into early Saturday.
A police source said late Saturday morning that a gang conflict that started about two weeks ago at Lexington Streets and Pulaski Road is to blame for the five slayings. Details were not immediately available about the reported conflict.
About noon Friday, Aaron Brown was with several other young people on a corner in the 3600 block of West Ohio Street when someone shot him and killed him, according to a Harrison District police lieutenant.
advertisement Brown, 26, of the 3000 block of West Washington Street, was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital shortly after 12:30 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
At 9:25 p.m., Jovan Richardson, 23, was inside a vehicle at Jackson and Kilpatrick when a black vehicle approached alongside his and someone inside fired a handgun numerous times, striking him at least once in the head, police said. His vehicle then crashed into a tree.
Richardson, of the 3700 block of West Lexington Street, who police said was the only person in the vehicle, was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. hospital of Cook County where he was pronounced dead shortly before 10 p.m., a medical examiner spokesperson said.
Another West Side shooting at 9:25 p.m. involved a 19-year-old man named Jonathon Banks, of the 3800 block of West Arthington Street, according to police and the medical examiner’s office.
Someone shot Banks in the head at 1448 S. Trumbull Ave., and he was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Someone opened fire into a parked four-door Chevrolet about 1:45 a.m. in the 2000 block of West Polk Street, killing two, police said. Officers riding in a police wagon were already in the area when they heard the shots. They responded to the Polk Street address and found the two victims inside the car.
Nicole Robinson, 37, was pronounced dead at 2:14 a.m. at Mount Sinai Hospital. She and her still-unidentified companion, a man believed to be in his 30s, were dead on the scene, according to the medical examiner office.
No one is in custody for any of the five deaths as of 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Harrison Area detectives are investigating.
In other other areas of the city, 10 other people were wounded during shootings from Friday night into early Saturday. Belmont, Calumet and Wentworth Area detectives are investigating these shootings.
On the North Side, in the Rogers Park neighborhood, two men were walking in the 1700 block of West North Shore Avenue shortly after 7 p.m. Friday when they heard a noise. One man, 39, realized he’d been shot in the leg, according to a Rogers Park District police lieutenant.
They did not see the shooter and called for an ambulance, which took him to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, the lieutenant said.
A girl was shot while riding a bicycle near Hoyne Park, on the south side, at about 9:45 p.m., police said. An unidentified male on a bike fired shots into a crowd in the 3400 block of South Hamilton Avenue, hitting the 17-year-old girl, who was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. At last check, she was listed in “stable” condition.
Two boys, both aged 17, were shot during separate incidents about a half a mile apart on the south side late Friday and early Saturday. The first victim told police he was walking down the street in the 6600 block of South Drexel at 10:45 p.m. when he felt a sharp pain in his right knee, and found he was shot, police said. He was taken to the University of Chicago Hospitals where he was in good condition.
Two hours later, in the 6600 block of South Langley, the other 17-year-old was sitting on the front porch when two unknown gunmen approached on foot and fired shots in the his direction, officers said.
The boy was shot in the arm, leg and hand and was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where he was in “stable” condition.
A gas station at the intersection of South Michigan Avenue and East 47th Street, was the site of another south side shooting that wounded a man and a woman at about 10:45 p.m., said police News Affairs Officer Ronald Gaines.
A shooter opened fire into the crowd, striking a 45-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman. Gaines said the man was taken in good condition to the University of Chicago Hospitals while the woman was shot in the arm and was taken in good condition to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Gaines said.
Police are also investigating an attack that wounded two 16-year-old boys that occurred just before midnight in the 1300 block of West 79th Street. Someone confronted the teens and shot them, leaving both wounded in the legs, according to officers.
They were both taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where they were in “stable” condition.
At 2 a.m., someone shot a male in the head at South Paulina and West 52nd streets, leaving him in critical condition, according to Gaines. Gaines said the victim was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.
About 45 minutes later, Chicago Lawn District police officers responded to a call about a man who had been shot in the leg at 55th Street and South Lowe, police said.
Valencia CA. May 14 2011 Four Pacoima gang members were in custody Thursday afternoon after allegedly attempting to steal sunglasses from Macy’s in the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall in Valencia, officials said.
The department store’s security officers watched three men walk into the Macy’s and approach the sunglass section.
“They proceeded to steal high-dollar sunglasses from under the nose of employees,” said Lt. Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The three men were approached by security, and a fight ensued. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene at 2 p.m., Lewis said.
Security was able to detain one of the men. The other two got away, but were found soon after.
One of the men, who had a torn shirt from the scuffle, hid in the mall’s parking lot and was found there.
The third man, who bore hand marks from the fight with security, was found in a car driven by a fourth man, the getaway driver, Lewis said.
The car, a black Dodge Charger, was stopped near Interstate 5 and Lyons Avenue.
The men, aged 18 to 24, are all known gang members from Pacoima, Lewis said. They were being held Thursday afternoon at the Sheriff’s Station, Lewis said.
Gang shooting at Oklahoma Wal-Mart leaves 1 injured- police search for suspect www.privateofficer.com
Tulsa OK March 15 2011 Detectives have focused their search on one man in connection with the apparent gang-related shooting Thursday at a Walmart Supercenter in Tulsa, police said Friday.
More than 100 calls poured into Tulsa’s 911 center after a gunman fired shots at the Walmart at Admiral Boulevard and Memorial Drive just before 9 p.m. Thursday.
Kadrian Daniels, 18, was shot in the hip and was taken by ambulance to a hospital in serious condition, officials said.
An arrest warrant had been issued Tuesday for Daniels as a material witness in a homicide. Daniels, who has been identified by police as a gang member, is under guard at the hospital and will be arrested upon leaving the hospital, Officer Jason Willingham said.
He said the shooting resulted after two rival groups encountered each other at the store and a fight began.
“There is a gang element to this; however, it does not appear they went to the Walmart to engage in this gunfight,” Willingham said.
Police said three men got into a physical altercation with Daniels at the store before one of the men pulled out a gun.
Willingham confirmed that children were in the area when the shots were fired, but no one other than Daniels was hit by the gunfire.
Police have interviewed and released two of three men who had been sought for questioning in the shooting, Willingham said.
Police were continuing to search late Friday for Darris Wallace, 20, and Willingham said he is suspected to be the shooter. Wallace is described as black, 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 155 pounds.
Wallace was charged in November with unlawful possession of a controlled drug and possession of a firearm after a former felony conviction, court records show. He is due to be back in court in that case on Monday, records show.
Police and court records also show that Daniels was arrested in August during Operation Triple Beam, a multiagency sweep targeting repeat criminals.
Daniels had been charged with the homicide of Shawn Hatcher, whose body was found in the 200 block of East 44th Street North last July 25.
At that time, police said Daniels was affiliated with the 47 Green Team gang.
They also reported that Daniels was in possession of a .357-caliber handgun at the time of his arrest.
Daniels’ brother, Kenneth Daniels, and cousin Steven Daniels were both killed last summer as a result of a gang feud.
In December, charges connected to Hatcher’s killing against Daniels and a co- defendant were dismissed, and they were released from jail.
A prosecutor said a necessary witness was not located and was not available to testify at a preliminary hearing.
The shooting was gang-related, the prosecutor said, adding that charges could be refiled if the witness problems were resolved.
Although a lot of people were in the Walmart when the shooting occurred Thursday evening, people scattered quickly and took cover when they heard the shots, and police did not have many witnesses, Willingham said.
“We are still needing people to come forward if they were there and they have not talked to police,” he said.
Willingham said 107 calls were placed to Tulsa’s 911 center by people at the store. Authorities were reviewing recordings of those calls, and they were not released Friday.
Detectives also were reviewing surveillance video from the store. Police would not release them Friday, saying they are evidence in the ongoing investigation.
Ashley Hardie, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said the company will continue to cooperate with police in the investigation.
“We take this matter very seriously,” she said. “We also appreciate the quick response of Tulsa police, and we will continue to provide information about all that is relevant to the investigation.”
Hardie said the store has a third-party security company that provides 24-hour surveillance.
“We also partner closely with law enforcement agencies in every community we serve to constantly review safety measures to make sure were are providing a safe shopping environment for all of our customers and our associates,” she said.
Anyone with information about Wallace’s whereabouts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS or tulsaworld.com/crimestoppers
San Diego CA Feb 23 2011 On Thursday, five illegal aliens pleaded guilty to conspiracy, grand theft and burglary in a shoplifting scheme that targeted San Diego-area Ross clothing stores.
According to prosecutors, the thieves struck the same stores several times a week for two years, netting them approximately $150,000 a year in stolen goods.
Mexican nationals William Cruz Pena, 26, Maria Delaluz Oros, 45, Benita Rubio, 47, and Heriberto Tolentino, 42, will serve two-year prison terms, while Diana Palazios, 37, will be sentenced to a year in the county jail.
They were arrested on January 5, during a traffic stop in Encinitas. They were caught with $6,000 worth of clothes and accessories they had just stolen. Police Sgt. Tom Poulin said, they “could barely sit in the backseat of their cars.”
The illegal aliens always worked quickly as they stuffed merchandise into their clothing, filled stolen purses with other stolen goods and cut off anti-theft tags before walking out of the stores.
They stole during the week, and sold the merchandise on the weekends at a swap meet in Oceanside
PORTLAND OR Feb 18 2011 — Safeway officials say they have proof that a local couple stole more than $5 million in merchandise from stores in the Portland Metro area over the past several years.
Police arrested Richard Lavern Remington, 52, and Angela Rose Evans, 32, on Tuesday and the couple was arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court Wednesday.
The probable cause affidavit showed that Safeway began formally tracking the pair last November after suspicions surfaced they had been shoplifting.
Evans told police that the couple stole mostly common items like shampoos, razors, Rogaine, teeth whiteners, conditioners to batteries, DVDs and CDs, according to the affidavit, which also said that Remington stole DVDs on 22 different dates since November.
The court documents said that store surveillance cameras showed Remington involved in 103 thefts between Nov. 19 and Jan. 14, and that Evans was present in more than half of those incidents.
Investigators said the couple would go to several Safeway stores a day and shoplift. They actually used a shopping list for the thefts provided by a a suspect still being sought.
Safeway security officer Trent Drucker estimates that Remington stole $400,000 a year in merchandise over several years, totaling $5 million over the span of thefts.
On Nov. 19, Safeway security officials placed a tracking device on a van driven by the couple. Whenever the van was driven to a Safeway, surveillance videos were carefully scrutinized.
In the weeks following, Safeway officials created a spreadsheet of locations and thefts, which they presented to Portland police. The couple was arrested outside a Safeway store in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.
Both suspects remained in jail after their arraignment. Their next court appearance was scheduled for Feb. 25.
Remington had an outstanding felony parole violation. He was accused of organized retail theft and multiple first-degree theft charges.
Evans was also accused of organized retail theft and multiple counts of first-degree theft.
PEABODY MA Dec 4 2010 — A group of shoplifters who were so sophisticated they had both a list of area malls and a list of the times that area police departments changed shifts were arrested Thursday evening after swiping at least $15,000 worth of merchandise from stores in the Northshore Mall, police said.
And they hit the mall at exactly the time Peabody police were changing shifts, at 4 p.m., police say.
The group of five people, all hailing from the New York City and Philadelphia areas, are also suspected of being involved in another shoplifting spree at the Natick Mall this week.
Among the stores hit during Thursday’s incident were Express, Gap, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, H&M and Aeropostale.
The arrests come as the busiest shopping season of the year is well under way. Peabody police have been working closely with mall store security officers in anticipation of groups of professional shoplifters.
Arrested and charged with larceny, receiving stolen property and possession of burglarious tools were David Zamora, 28, of Queens, N.Y.; Steeven Espitia, 22, of East Elmhurst, N.Y.; Diana Diaz, 27, of New York; and Marcelino Vasquez, 27, and David Marquez, 38, both of Philadelphia.
Peabody District Court prosecutor Matthew Hemond, who asked for $50,000 cash bail on four of the suspects and asked that the fifth, Espitia, be held in custody without bail until police could confirm whether he’s wanted on warrants in New York, described what happened.
Hemond told a judge that Peabody police got a call from a security officer from Gap corporate security about a ring of suspects they were following around the mall. The security officers had been tipped by their counterparts at the Natick Mall to be on the lookout for the crew, four men and a woman.
The ring, which used shopping bags lined with foil to thwart security detectors at the door, swept whole tables and racks clean of merchandise, police said.
Two would wait outside each store as lookouts while two others went in and stole items, police said. A fifth person was at the wheel of a waiting minivan, where the group would unload the so-called “booster bags” before returning to the mall.
As police arrived, they learned that the minivan had picked up one suspect and was being driven onto Route 128 from the mall parking lot.
Detective Ralph Scopa stopped the minivan just as it was about to get onto the highway.
Inside, the van was filled with merchandise, much of it with sensor or ink tags still attached.
The items in the van totaled at least $15,000, Hemond said.
But it was the other thing they found in the van that was more surprising — a notebook with a list of malls and police departments in the area and the times those departments changed from the day to the evening shift, something police say indicates a fairly sophisticated operation.
Next to the Northshore Mall was listed “3:55-4:15 p.m.” Marquez and Vasquez were arrested in the van, which had New York plates.
A second vehicle believed to be involved was spotted behind Shaw’s supermarket, just south of the mall. That car, a Mercury Sable with New York plates, was eventually stopped on Route 128.
Police found more merchandise in the car and were still in the process of taking an inventory yesterday. Diaz, Zamora and Espitia were in that car.
Some of the merchandise found in the vehicles had come from stores in Natick, Hemond told the judge.
Hemond said police are still questioning the identities of some of the suspects, who may be using various aliases.
“We really don’t know who these people are,” Hemond said.
Lawyers for the men challenged the strength of the case and suggested that the two cars were not connected.
Lawyer Arthur Carakatsane, representing Espitia and Vasquez, questioned the identification of the suspects.
Another lawyer, Ken Shea, said confusion over the Spanish tradition of using both parents’ surnames may be behind the multiple identifications.
The lawyers asked for lower bail, noting that the items from the van had already been returned to the stores.
After hearing from both the prosecutor and defense lawyers, Judge Matthew Nestor set bail at $20,000 for Zamora; at $10,000 for Vasquez, Espitia and Marquez; and at $5,000 for Diaz.
Moments after the hearing, someone posted Vasquez’s bail, in cash, in the clerk’s office and was overheard asking about where to post bail for the others over the weekend.
All five are due back in court on Jan. 3.
Source: The Salem News
Antione Lamont Lawrence, 37, was convicted of leading the crime ring which broke into hundreds of commercial office buildings, stealing checks, credit cards and personal information and then using the stolen personal information to create false IDs. The thieves then cashed the stolen checks and shopped with the stolen credit cards, according to a memo from prosecutors.
Earlier this year, Lawrence pleaded guilty and admitted taking part in a conspiracy that netted between $400,000 and $1 million from more than 50 victims. On Monday a judge sentenced him to 97 months in prison and ordered him to pay $688,623.72 in restitution.
The investigation – which was started by a deputy in the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and grew to include agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Secret Service – resulted in more than a dozen arrests and the seizure of firearms, stolen prescription drugs, marijuana, valuable jewelry, luxury cars and high-end electronics and computer equipment.
Thieves hit office buildings in Portland area
The thieves targeted office buildings along Kruse Way in Lake Oswego as well as several in downtown Portland, including the Medical Dental Building on SW 11th Avenue, the Mayer Building at 1130 SW Morrison and the building at 610 SW Broadway. They also snuck into buildings in Tigard, Beaverton and Tualatin.
“They targeted buildings with several floors, and specifically targeted offices of doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and insurance companies because those offices were more likely to have corporate credit cards, petty cash and prescription drugs such as Oxycontin,” prosecutors explained.
Outside of Portland, the group operated in more than 40 cities around the country including the Washington cities of Bellevue, Seattle, Tacoma, Auburn, Camas and Mercer Island.
According to prosecutors, “every member if the team had a role” and it was Lawrence’s role “to break into office buildings to ‘get business’ or ‘work,’ which meant stealing business checks and credit cards.”
Thieves plotted crimes at Portland strip clubs
The group would plan their jobs in Portland, often at strip clubs such as Club 205, according to prosecutors.
Lawrence and a co-conspirator would travel to cities where they “would watch office buildings during the week, identify the presence and activities of any security guards, identify the location of the maintenance office, and monitor any specific patterns of the tenants, such as what time they would come and go from the building.”
Once they found a job, “they summoned the others,” prosecutors said.
The team would often strike in Friday nights and they would try to find the maintenance office where they could get a master key for the building. If they were successful, according to court documents, they would take the key to a place like Home Depot and make a copy so they could come and go, almost at will.
Once inside, they would move methodically from office suite to office suite, opening desk drawers and rummaging through files, prosecutors said.
“Sometimes they posted a lookout outside the building, and they would communicate with the lookout and with each other by two-way radios, or with pre-paid cellular telephones, also known as ‘drop phones,” prosecutors said.
The team if thieves was apparently so good at moving in and out of office buildings without being discovered that several cleaning crews were blamed and fired.
Lawrence and his team would often travel to Las Vegas or local casinos such as Chinook Winds and Spirit Mountain where they could withdraw up to $5,000 in cash per transaction on stolen credit cards and cards they had obtained using stolen IDs.
Thieves used stolen credit cards for luxury items
They would also use the stolen credit cards to purchase gift cards at places like Nordstrom, use the cards to purchase merchandise, and then return the merchandise for cash.
Prosecutors said that team members particularly enjoyed purchasing Rolex watches and designer suits. Sometimes they would use one stolen identity to pay down the stolen credit cards of someone else that they had maxed out by purchasing items.
In addition to credit cards, the team would steal business checks that they would then cash for amounts often up to $50,000.
According to prosecutors, given his role as leader of the team, Lawrence would get 80% of the proceeds of a job with the rest being split by the other members of the team. By the time the group was caught and arrested, more than a dozen people had been indicted and convicted of either state or federal charges.
Lawyer says Lawrence not the ring leader
While Lawrence’s lawyer, Laurie Shertz, declined to make herself or her client available for an interview, in court papers she described him as someone raised by a single mother who made some bad choices and has been working to get his life back together.
“Mr. Lawrence did engage in the conduct” he’s accused of, she wrote, but “he disagrees with the notion that he was a leader or organizer… Many people were committing similar crimes at the same time, and sometimes they assisted one another, most often they did not.”
Shertz wrote that Lawrence has struggled with alcohol and hoped to get into counseling while in prison.
“This is a man with a problem, clearly, and one that can be addressed through programming and counseling, both while he is incarcerated and when he is eventually released after his incarceration,” she wrote.
Shertz said that Lawrence was able to get two jobs while awaiting sentencing, but neither had worked out.
“Both of the jobs he was able to secure were working in a call center,” she explained. “Both call centers closed their doors, barring the employees, and leaving neither forwarding addresses nor wages for the hours worked.”
Shertz said her client regrets what he’s done but is hopeful.
“Ninety seven months is a significant sentence.” she wrote. “Even with good time, Mr. Lawrence will be in his early forties when he is released. He hopes he will be able to sustain his relationship with his long-term partner and love of his life and begin anew upon his release.”
“One of Mr. Lawrence’s great regrets is that he will miss his own son’s growth from adolescence to manhood: his past repeated before his eyes,” she added.
Lawyer: Lawrence already trying to reform
“People change. It is Mr. Lawrence’s great desire to do so and he appears to have started down the road of reformation. He has attended alcohol classes intermittently while on release and has made diligent efforts to search for a job. With support classes and job training, he will be able to re-enter society as a contributing member and someone his son can be proud of.”
The suspects are believed to be part of a large, well-organized ring of professional shoplifters that retail chains first identified in 2008, Detective Debra Haverkost said. She said the group is suspected of stealing more than $100,000 in valuable merchandise from retail drug and grocery stores and reselling it to small businesses or street merchants.
Regional law enforcement agencies, including Vista sheriff’s deputies, had been watching the ring and had identified the four suspects, Haverkost said. Officers followed the suspects from their home in the San Fernando Valley to a CVS store on Oceanside Boulevard.
She said the suspects were captured outside of the store with about $500 in stolen beauty products, Haverkost said. They were booked into the Vista jail on charges including burglary and conspiracy, she said.