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Archive for October, 2013

Dania model accused of knifing boyfriend after his dog eats her marijuana

Courtesy of: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/crime/fl-model-slashes-boyfriend-pot-20131021,0,4976151.story


A South Florida model allegedly slashed her boyfriend with a pink pocket knife after his dog wolfed down her marijuana stash, according to an arrest report.

Shadae Scott, 26, who told a judge she does modeling work, posed for a Broward Sheriff’s Office mugshot after she was arrested on Sunday evening and charged with one count of domestic battery.

Her boyfriend, Kevin Wiggins, suffered two small knife cuts in the face and head area and one gash across his hand.

Scott explained to deputies that her boyfriend kept walking into her knife as the two argued, according to an arrest report.

On Monday, Scott wore a nondesigner jail jumpsuit during a brief bond court appearance at which a bemused Broward Judge John “Jay” Hurley read out the BSO arrest report.

According to the arrest affidavit, deputies were called to Scott’s Dania Beach apartment shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday because of a domestic dispute.

Wiggins told deputies the couple got into a fight after his dog ate her marijuana. Wiggins said she kicked him out of the apartment but he couldn’t find his personal items. The model hid all his stuff, the boyfriend said.

He told deputies Scott then started stabbing at him after he asked where his computer was hidden.

Scott told a different story, according to the report.

She said the fight was over dinner plans. She said the argument turned physical after she tried to leave the apartment. but he stopped her from leaving. Scott said she then pulled out a pocket knife to protect herself.

“Scott added that during one of the many times during the argument, Wiggins walked into the knife and cut himself,’ wrote Sheriff’s Deputy Laughten Hall on the arrest report.

Hall noted seeing three “small lacerations” on Wiggin’s body, including a slash over his left ear.

Scott said little during her court appearance, only that she does some occasional modeling work and has lived in South Florida for four years. Scott’s modeling profile and photographs appear in several talent agency websites.

The couple have no children together. She has no criminal record in Florida, records show.

Hurley set Scott’s bond at $3,500, ordered the glamour girl to stay at least 500 feet away from her boyfriend at all times and prohibited her from possessing a knife. Scott was still listed as residing at the Paul Rein Detention Facility as of late Monday afternoon.

Wiggins could not be reached for comments.

It is unclear what happened to the pot-eating pooch.

Seattle Thrift Store Finds Pounds of Marijuana in Donation Bin

Courtesy of: http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/Seattle-thrift-store-marijuana-donation-bin-washington-news-228547871.html


SEATTLE — Despite the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington, Seattle police want to remind everyone that thrift stores can’t resell donated bags of pot.

The department released a lighthearted press release on Friday to remind the public of the rules after employees at a thrift store in North Seattle found a large bag of marijuana in the donation bin.

In the release, police say “Donating to thrift shops is a terrific way to give a second life to your well-loved Velcro sneakers, keyboards or flannel zebra jammies,” but they say tires, soiled mattresses, laptops and bags of weed are not welcome.

A thrift store employee called police Thursday afternoon to say he found a garbage bag containing 2.5 pounds of pot in the store’s donation bin.

Police confiscated the marijuana and put it into evidence for destructio



Police: Beach woman’s scheme could land her on dumbest criminals list

Courtesy of: http://wtkr.com/2013/10/17/police-beach-womans-scheme-could-land-her-on-dumbest-criminals-list/


Virginia Beach, Va. – It’s a not-so-elaborate scheme, that police say, could have landed a Virginia Beach woman on the list of dumbest criminals.

Ariel Sinclair is accused of stealing nearly $6,000 in cash from the Virginia State Lottery.

But, it’s how she did it that has police scratching their heads.

“If you’re providing your fingerprint to access this machine I have no idea how, in your mind, you’re thinking you’re going to get away with this,” said Adam Bernstein of the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Police say the 23-year-old worked as an assistant manager at the Rite Aid on Holland Road.

They say she used her own fingerprint to gain access to the store’s lottery machine and the cash inside, a blunder that pointed police in her direction.

“We work a lot of different cases some are much more difficult than others but this one, pretty easy, when the person’s providing their fingerprint in order to obtain the override,” said Bernstein.

Sinclair has been charged with embezzlement. She was released from jail on a promise to return to court. A preliminary hearing is set for early November.

Man survives failed execution, Iran will try again ‘once medical staff confirm his health condition is good enough.’

courtesy http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/131017/iran-man-who-survived-hanging-may-not-be-spared

An Iranian man hung for drug possession has survived his sentence but may be hung again, a punishment international human rights group Amnesty International is attempting to halt.

Thirty-seven-year old Alireza M was hung for possessing crystal meth in the city of Bojnord last week, and was pronounced dead after 12 minutes. But he wasn’t: workers at the morgue discovered that he had survived the ordeal.

“We found him alive again, which made his two daughters very happy,” an unnamed family member said to Iranian state media, according to the BBC.

Unfortunately, Iranian judicial authorities have decided that he will be hung again, writes the Guardian, when he has made a recovery from the first attempt. Convicts must be in good health before they are hung under Iranian law.

Mohammad Erfan said “The sentence issued by the revolutionary court is the death penalty … in such circumstances it should be repeated once again,” according to the Guardian.

“The horrific prospect of this man facing a second hanging, after having gone through the whole ordeal already once, merely underlines the cruelty and inhumanity of the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, in a press release.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately halt Alireza M’s execution and issue a moratorium on all others,” he added.

The ultimate fate of Alireza M remains uncertain, but Iran is no stranger to execution. According to Amnesty International figures, Iran is one of the top five executioners in the world, joining the ranks of China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

Man stabbed wife to death over ‘taunts about his small penis and bed-wetting’

Courtesy of: http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/345290/Man-stabbed-wife-to-death-over-taunts-about-his-small-penis-and-bed-wetting


John Clinton killed his wife Paula by plunging a kitchen knife into her back four times.

The 52-year-old then tried to cut his own throat, following a row at their home in Aintree, Liverpool, a jury was told.

Mrs Clinton, 48, ran out onto Felstead Avenue to get help but died from multiple wounds to her body, hands and left eye before an ambulance arrived on November 28 last year.

Clinton has admitted manslaughter, but denies murdering his wife of 24 years.

He claims he “just lost it” after his wife had pushed him over the edge by “galling him” about his bed-wetting and small manhood.

Armed police were called to the family home where they found Clinton had slashed his wrists and neck in a “serious attempt” to kill himself.

Officers found blood all over the house, including on a set of papers marked “ending a marriage”.

Ian Unsworth QC, told Liverpool Crown Court: “It is apparent that the marriage was in some difficulties in the days leading up to her death and on the day itself.

“Paula was seeking advice as to divorce and the financial arrangements which would follow.

“According to things she said to others, the reason she sought a divorce arose largely out of the defendant’s drinking.”

“John Clinton claims he “just lost it” after his wife Paula had pushed him over the edge by “galling him” about his bed-wetting and small manhood.”

The court heard how Clinton often visited the Grapes pub in Thornton on his way home from work.

On the night Mrs Clinton died, he had drunk 10 pints at his local.

Earlier than day, the mum-of-two had been to visit the Citizens’ Advice Bureau over dividing the couple’s assets.

Clinton told police he stabbed her while holding his hand over her mouth.

He claims she had asked him who would look after him with his bed-wetting and small manhood.

But, he added he wasn’t trying to justify his actions.

Mr Unsworth said Clinton had threatened his wife with a knife a few weeks before her death

He said Clinton became “a bully and a dangerous one at that” after he had been drinking.

He added: “It is clear from what he has said that he does seek to justify his actions, at least in part, by painting a picture of his wife and her conduct which is not a true picture.”

The trial, which continues, will determine if Clinton is guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Woman fakes timestamps on FB messages to help acquit her boyfriend of child abuse; Prosecutors prove it and she now faces perjury and tampering charges

courtesy http://record-eagle.com/local/x1612860626/Mom-accused-of-perjury

woman compiuter

TRAVERSE CITY — A Traverse City woman is accused of using false social media postings in an attempt to exonerate a boyfriend who was on trial for abusing her teenage son.

Christine Paige Borrowdale, 39, faces an 86th District Court warrant for perjury and tampering with evidence during the June trial of Andre Anthony LeBlanc, 39, her boyfriend. She testified she had printouts that showed her son, 16, was engaged in a Facebook conversation at the time LeBlanc was accused of abusing him.

Prosecutors quickly called into question Borrowdale’s testimony and evidence.

“Basically, people didn’t believe her,” said Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg said. “She was confronted later with the fact the dates were changed on the computer. When we went back and looked at computer we found she changed the time setting. That evidence was brought into the trial.”

LeBlanc was found guilty and sentenced to five days in the county jail. Borrowdale’s alleged deception could land her a 15-year prison sentence.

The case began in March when LeBlanc was charged with fourth-degree child abuse and malicious destruction of property. The victim was kicked out of Borrowdale’s home and returned to pick up some belonging when LeBlanc pinned him to the ground during a physical confrontation.

Court documents state Borrowdale made a printout on June 11 that was used by the defense to call her son’s testimony into question. A forensic examination showed the computer’s time zone was switched on the same day. Court documents state “if the time zone is switched on a computer, the times displayed for ‘texts’ or ‘posts’ in a Facebook conversation will be adjusted equally.”

Moeggenberg said Borrowdale stood by her story after being confronted on the stand.

“During her sworn testimony, (the) defendant was questioned regarding these records: ‘Did you alter these records in any way?’ and defendant responded ‘No,’” court documents state.

Moeggenberg said perjury cases are not common because it’s difficult to prove, but in this case the evidence is strong.

“This case was more egregious than most because the mom sided with her boyfriend rather than her son,” she said. “The courtroom is where we speak the truth. We want to show how important it is.”


Woman Thrown Face-First into Concrete Slab Sues Cops

Courtesy of: http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/woman-thrown-face-first-concrete-slab-sues-cops-013358328–abc-news-topstories.html


A ChicDUIinjuryago woman is suing a police officer and the town of Skokie, Ill., claiming she was seriously injured when a cop used excessive force when he threw her face first into a jail cell’s concrete bench following a drunk driving arrest.

Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, that she required reconstructive surgery to “replace the bones that had been shattered” after being pushed into the cell on March 10.

Video, released Wednesday by Feuerstein’s attorney, clearly shows the incident. The four and half minute video initially shows Feuerstein being searched by a female officer. She then briefly leaves the cell, before being shoved back in by a guard identified as Officer Michael Hart.

The video shows Feuerstein’s face slamming against a concrete slab running the length of the cell, before she immediately crumples into a ball. It is unclear from the video whether she lost consciousness. Police officers quickly entered the cell to administer first aid as a pool of blood appears on the floor below her.

Feuerstein claims the officer then filed a false report claiming she resisted police to explain being thrown into the cell.

“The video speaks for itself,” Feuerstein’s lawyer Torreya Hamilton told reporters Wednesday. “She does nothing to justify what this male police officer does.”

Feuerstein does not deny the drunk driving charges and pleaded guilty. Her lawyer has not specified the damages sought in the suit.

“The Village of Skokie expresses deep concern for Ms. Cassandra Feuerstein’s injuries that occurred at the Skokie Police Station earlier this year,” the town’s spokeswoman Ann Tennes said in a statement. “Officer Michael Hart has been on station duty and has no contact with the public. Both the Village of Skokie and the Cook County State’s Attorney have ongoing investigations pending that began when the incident occurred… The Village of Skokie is committed to reaching a full resolution in this matter.”

Woman ordered not to drive waved at officer while driving by

Courtesy of : http://www.wmur.com/news/nh-news/police-woman-ordered-not-to-drive-waved-at-officer-while-driving-by/-/9857858/22338342/-/s79r17z/-/index.html

yellow car

SALEM, N.H. —Bail was withheld this week from a Salem woman accused of driving after she had been ordered not to following two DWI arrests in the past six month.

“Hours after she was released on bail for the DWI charge following the accident, she was a passenger in another vehicle,” said Deputy Chief Shawn Patten. “However, she had an open container of alcohol and was arrested and taken into custody for that charge, as well.”

Police said that on Aug. 28, they received reports from motorists of a woman in a yellow convertible passed out behind the wheel on Route 28. Salem police said they identified the woman as Plum, and she was again arrested and charged with DWI.

Officials said she was released on bail and ordered not to drive.

But police said Plum was behind the wheel again on Sept. 30 when she passed some road work being done on Bluff Street Extension.

“The suspect, while out on bail and two DWI arrests for a second offense, drove by a Salem officer on a detail in her yellow convertible and waved to him as she went by,” Patten said. “That officer was the original arresting officer from the March DWI case.”

Police said that officer knew Plum wasn’t supposed to be driving and warrants were issued for her arrest on driving after suspension.

On Monday, Plum was back in court.

“We just felt that she was a danger to the community and to herself, so our prosecuting attorney argued in front of a judge in Salem that she needed to be held without bail until trial,” Patten said. “We just feel at this point that she’s not getting the point. She’s not taking it seriously.”

Man stages his own kidnapping in order to party with friends. Worth it?

courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/rogelio-andaverde-faked-kidnapping-party_n_4063040.html


A pillar of any good relationship is communication. Last week, Rogelio Andaverde let it be known that he’d rather be kidnapped at gunpoint than tell his wife he wanted to go out partying.

The 34-year-old Edinburg, Texas man allegedly staged his own kidnapping last Tuesday. At about 10:30 p.m. he had his buddies — wearing masks and toting guns — break into his home while his wife was there and take him at gunpoint, police tell the San Antonio Express-News.

The frantic woman called authorities, who fanned out across the neighborhood to look for Andaverde, Fox News reports. Police grew suspicious when they couldn’t find any leads, and even more-so when Andaverde turned up.

He reportedly told his wife that his kidnappers showed mercy and set him free. But later he allegedly confessed that he lied about the kidnapping so he could go out on the town with his buddies. He also reportedly said he was afraid of his wife.

“We have people file false reports all the time, and we put them in jail for it,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Guadalupe Treviño told The Monitor. “But I’ve never had someone do it just to get out of the house.”

Andaverde was charged with making a false report, and deputies are looking for his friends — the bogus kidnappers — for questioning.

Mugged by a Mug Shot Online

courtesy http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/business/mugged-by-a-mug-shot-online.html


In March last year, a college freshman named Maxwell Birnbaum was riding in a van filled with friends from Austin, Tex., to a spring-break rental house in Gulf Shores, Ala. As they neared their destination, the police pulled the van over, citing a faulty taillight. When an officer asked if he could search the vehicle, the driver — a fraternity brother of Mr. Birnbaum’s who quickly regretted his decision — said yes.

Six Ecstasy pills were found in Mr. Birnbaum’s knapsack, and he was handcuffed and placed under arrest. Mr. Birnbaum later agreed to enter a multiyear, pretrial diversion program that has involved counseling and drug tests, as well as visits to Alabama every six months to update a judge on his progress.

But once he is done, Mr. Birnbaum’s record will be clean. Which means that by the time he graduates from the University of Texas at Austin, he can start his working life without taint.

At least in the eyes of the law. In the eyes of anyone who searches for Mr. Birnbaum online, the taint could last a very long time. That’s because the mug shot from his arrest is posted on a handful of for-profit Web sites, with names like Mugshots, BustedMugshots and JustMugshots. These companies routinely show up high in Google searches; a week ago, the top four results for “Maxwell Birnbaum” were mug-shot sites.

The ostensible point of these sites is to give the public a quick way to glean the unsavory history of a neighbor, a potential date or anyone else. That sounds civic-minded, until you consider one way most of these sites make money: by charging a fee to remove the image. That fee can be anywhere from $30 to $400, or even higher. Pay up, in other words, and the picture is deleted, at least from the site that was paid.

To Mr. Birnbaum, and millions of other Americans now captured on one or more of these sites, this sounds like extortion. Mug shots are merely artifacts of an arrest, not proof of a conviction, and many people whose images are now on display were never found guilty, or the charges against them were dropped. But these pictures can cause serious reputational damage, as Mr. Birnbaum learned in his sophomore year, when he applied to be an intern for a state representative in Austin. Mr. Birnbaum heard about the job through a friend.

“The assistant to this state rep called my friend back and said, ‘We’d like to hire him, but we Google every potential employee, and the first thing that came up when we searched for Maxwell was a mug shot for a drug arrest,’ ” Mr. Birnbaum said. “I know what I did was wrong, and I understand the punishment,” he continued. “But these Web sites are punishing me, and because I don’t have the money it would take to get my photo off them all, there is nothing I can do about it.”

It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. In this case, the time was early 2011, when mug-shot Web sites started popping up to turn the most embarrassing photograph of anyone’s life into cash. The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them.

But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argues that any restriction on booking photographs raises First Amendment issues and impinges on editors’ right to determine what is newsworthy. That right was recently exercised by newspapers and Web sites around the world when the public got its first look at Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard gunman, through a booking photograph from a 2010 arrest.

“What we have is a situation where people are doing controversial things with public records,” says Mark Caramanica, a director at the committee, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Va. “But should we shut down the entire database because there are presumably bad actors out there?”

Mug shots have been online for years, but they appear to have become the basis for businesses in 2010, thanks to Craig Robert Wiggen, who served three years in federal prison for a scheme to lift credit card numbers from diners at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Tallahassee, Fla. He was looking for another line of work, according to news articles, and started Florida.arrests.org.

The idea soon spread, and today there are more than 80 mug-shot sites. They Hoover up most of their images from sheriffs’ Web sites, where rules and policies about whose mug shot is posted and for how long can vary, from state to state and from county to county.

The sites are designed for easy ogling. Some feature a running scroll of the famous (Lindsay Lohan), the infamous (James E. Holmes, accused in the Aurora, Colo., mass shooting) and the obscure but colorful (a man with an American flag painted on his face and bald head).

The owners of these sites can be hard to find, or at least to reach on the phone. An exception is Arthur D’Antonio III, 25, founder of JustMugshots, which is based in Nevada (though he declined to be more specific). Mr. D’Antonio was eager to combat any suggestion that there was something illicit or unethical about the mug-shot posting business in general and his Web site in particular.

“No one should have to go to the courthouse to find out if their kid’s baseball coach has been arrested, or if the person they’re going on a date with tonight has been arrested,” he said. “Our goal is to make that information available online, without having to jump through any hoops.”

A few years ago, one of Mr. D’Antonio’s friends turned up on a mug-shot Web site, and Mr. D’Antonio, who has been earning good money writing software code since he was 12, spotted a business opportunity. JustMugshots began in 2012 and now has five employees, two of whom spend all their time dredging up images from 300 sources. The site has nearly 16.8 million such photos, according to Mr. D’Antonio. He would not discuss revenue or profit, except to say, “We’re seeing some growth.”

JustMugshots has a “courtesy removal service,” allowing people who have been exonerated, or never charged, or even those who can demonstrate that they have turned around their lives, to get their image taken down free. Mr. D’Antonio declined to say how many people had been granted mercy deletions.

The opposite case — a person who is guilty of a terrible crime and has the money to remove his or her face from the Web site — presents another sort of quandary. If the point of JustMugshots is to inform the public, why should the rich and convicted get a pass?

“That’s where it gets tricky,” Mr. D’Antonio said. “We review paid orders and we have refunded paid orders, if, after doing some research, it becomes clear that there is a reason to do so.”

He would not say how many times JustMugshots has returned money of a customer deemed too awful to delete. Nor did he seem uncomfortable being the arbiter of who is shadowed by a mug shot and who is not. He also passed on the opportunity to be photographed for this article. Better to keep a low profile, he said.

Having his face online could create problems.

JUSTMUGSHOTS is one of several sites named in a class-action lawsuit filed last year by Scott A. Ciolek, a lawyer in Toledo, Ohio. Mr. Ciolek argues that the sites violate Ohio’s right-of-publicity statute, which gives state residents some control over the commercial use of their name and likeness. He also says the sites violate the state’s extortion law.

“You can’t threaten to embarrass someone unless they pay you money,” he said, “even if they did exactly what you are threatening to embarrass them about.”

Lance C. Winchester, a lawyer in Austin who represents BustedMugshots and MugshotsOnline, both named in the lawsuit, says Mr. Ciolek’s lawsuit is a stinker because the United States Supreme Court has ruled time and again that mug shots are public records.

“I understand people think there is a dilemma presented by a Web site where you can pay to have a mug shot removed,” he said. “I understand that people don’t like to have their mug shots posted online. But it can’t be extortion as a matter of law because republishing something that has already been published is not extortion.”

Like JustMugshots, the Web sites operated by Mr. Winchester’s clients also say they will take down an image, at no charge, for qualified supplicants. But many who qualify for this pass to get off the site free don’t use it, largely because they don’t believe that the offer is real. One of them is Dr. Janese Trimaldi, 40, a physician who recently completed her residency in Tampa, Fla.

On a terrifying evening in July 2011, she says, she locked herself in her bedroom to hide from a drunken, belligerent boyfriend. He went into the kitchen, retrieved a steak knife and jimmied open the door.

“He was more than 6 feet tall, and weighed 250 pounds,” she said by phone in Tampa. “I’m 5 feet and at the time I weighed about 100 pounds. So when he got in, he lifted me by my arms, the way you lift a child, and threw me six feet backward.”

The screams and commotion caused a neighbor to call the police. The boyfriend — whom Dr. Trimaldi did not want named for fear that he would stalk her — contended that a bleeding scratch on his chest had been inflicted by Dr. Trimaldi with the knife. (It was from one of her fingernails, she says.) She was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery domestic violence.

The state dropped the charges, according to a document signed by Mark A. Ober, the state attorney in Hillsborough County, Fla. A few months later, her booking photograph turned up on a Florida mug-shot Web site and with it another mug shot from a 1996 arrest on an accusation of possession of marijuana and steroids. The authorities had raided her apartment on suspicion that a different boyfriend — this one a bodybuilder — was illegally selling the steroids. Records show that she was quickly released, and a certificate of disposition from the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida shows that she was not prosecuted for either charge.

She paid $30 to have the images taken down, but they soon appeared on other sites, one of which wanted $400 to pull the picture.

“I’ve read accounts of people paying and not having the photos removed,” she said. “Or they pay and appear on other sites. The whole thing is a racket.”

Now studying for her medical boards and $200,000 in student loan debt, she is gearing up for a job search and worries that two photographs could wreck years of hard work to practice medicine.

“If I wasn’t a level-headed, positive person,” she wrote in an e-mail to Mr. Ciolek, the lawyer in Toledo, “I would have seriously considered ending my own life.”

Legislators have heard dozens of stories like Dr. Trimaldi’s and scrambled for remedies. Jennifer Williamson, an Oregon state representative from Portland, helped to draft her state’s bill, and she is the first to acknowledge that it is far from ideal.

“All approaches have significant shortcomings,” she said, referring to laws in other states. “I don’t know what the perfect tool is, but I’m sure we’ll be back at the drawing board soon.”

The trick is balancing the desire to guard individual reputations with the news media’s right to publish. Journalists put booking photographs in the same category as records of house sales, school safety records and restaurant health inspections — public information that they would like complete latitude to publish, even if the motives of some publishers appear loathsome.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press favors unfettered access to the images, no matter how obscure the arrestee and no matter the ultimate disposition of the case. Even laws that force sites to delete images of the exonerated, the committee maintains, are a step in the wrong direction.

“It’s an effort to deny history,” says Mr. Caramanica, the committee director. “I think it’s better if journalists and the public, not the government, are the arbiters of what the public gets to see.”

People eager to vanish from mug-shot sites can try a mug-shot removal service, a mini-industry that has sprung up in the last two years and is nearly as opaque as the one it is intended to counter. “I’m not going to go into what we do,” said Tyronne Jacques, founder of RemoveSlander.com (Motto: “Bailout of the Internet for good!”). “Whatever works.”

Removal services aren’t cheap — RemoveMyMug.com charges $899 for its “multiple mug shot package” — and owners of large reputation-management companies, which work with people trying to burnish their online image, contend that they are a waste of money.

“Their business model is to find someone willing to pay to take down their image, which marks them as a target who is willing to pay more,” says Mike Zammuto, president of the reputation company Brand.com.

Princess Matthews, a mother of four who lives in Toledo, tried the budget approach to remove mug shots from a handful of sites. During a tumultuous period in her life, she was arrested on charges of assault, drug possession and theft, among other crimes. All but one of the charges — for attempted petty theft — were expunged or classified as criminal mischiefshe says. Now out of an abusive relationship, she is starting a nonprofit group called Project No More Pain, to combat domestic violence.

Yet her mug shots linger. A few months ago, she made a deal with a local lawyer: he would try to have her mug shots deleted, and she would pay him $100 and clean two apartments that he wanted to rent. She was assisted during that afternoon of scrubbing by her daughter, who attends a middle school where online mug-shot browsing had caught on. Her daughter was taunted when her mother’s image surfaced.

“Her grades dropped; she was miserable,” Ms. Matthews recalled. “She was getting into fights. When I tried talking to her about it, she wasn’t communicating.”

But the deal with the lawyer didn’t work.

“He was able to get a few of the photos removed from one site, related to charges that were expunged,” she said, “but they wanted $300 apiece to remove the other shots. And that was just one site. I don’t have that kind of money.”

AS painful as they are for arrestees, mug shots seem to attract big online crowds. Google’s results are supposed to reflect both relevance and popularity, and mug-shot sites appear to rank exceptionally well without resorting to trickery, according to Doug Pierce, founder of Cogney, a search engine optimization company based in Hong Kong. At the request of The New York Times, Mr. Pierce studied a number of the largest mug-shot sites and found that they were beloved by Google’s algorithm in part because viewers who open them tend to stick around.

“When others search your name, that link to Mugshots.com is way more attention-grabbing than your LinkedIn profile,” Mr. Pierce said. “Once they click, they stare in disbelief, and look around a bit, which means they stay on the page, rather than returning immediately to the search results. Google takes that as a sign that the site is relevant, and that boosts it even more.”

What’s curious is that Google doesn’t penalize these sites for obtaining their images and text from other places, a sin in the company’s guidelines. The idea is that Web sites should be rewarded for coming up with original material and receive demerits for copying.

If it acted, Google could do what no legislator could — demote mug-shot sites and thus reduce, if not eliminate, their power to stigmatize.

Initially, a Google spokesman named Jason Freidenfelds fielded questions on this topic with a statement that amounted to an empathetic shrug. He wrote that the company felt for those affected by mug-shot sites but added that “with very narrow exceptions, we take down as little as possible from search.”

Two days later, he wrote with an update: “Our team has been working for the past few months on an improvement to our algorithms to address this overall issue in a consistent way. We hope to have it out in the coming weeks.”

Mr. Freidenfelds said that when he sent the first statement, he was unaware of this effort. He added that the sites do, in fact, run afoul of a Google guideline, though he declined to say which one. Nor would he detail the algorithmic changes the company was considering — because doing so, he explained, could spur mug-shot sites to start devising countermeasures.

As it happens, Google’s team worked faster than Mr. Freidenfelds expected, introducing that algorithm change sometime on Thursday. The effects were immediate: on Friday, two mug shots of Janese Trimaldi, which had appeared prominently in an image search, were no longer on the first page. For owners of these sites, this is very bad news.

And, it turns out, these owners face another looming problem: getting paid.

Asked two weeks ago about its policies on mug-shot sites, officials at MasterCard spent a few days examining the issue, and came back with an answer.

“We looked at the activity and found it repugnant,” said Noah Hanft, general counsel with the company. MasterCard executives contacted the merchant bank that handles all of its largest mug-shot site accounts and urged it to drop them as customers. “They are in the process of terminating them,” Mr. Hanft said.

PayPal came back with a similar response after being contacted for this article.

“When mug-shot removal services were brought to our attention and we made a careful review,” said John Pluhowski, a spokesman for PayPal, “we decided to discontinue support for mug-shot removal payments.”

American Express and Discover were contacted on Monday and, two days later, both companies said they were severing relationships with mug-shot sites. A representative of Visa wrote to say it was asking merchant banks to investigate business practices of the sites “to ensure they are both legal and in compliance with Visa operating regulations.”

On Friday, Mr. D’Antonio of JustMugshots was coping with a drop in Web traffic and, at the same time, determining which financial services companies would do business with him. “We’re still trying to wrap our heads around this,” he said.