Courtesy of: vhttp://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/06/ghostbuster-and-stormtrooper-outside-maine-comic-book-store-randomly-attacked/?test=latestnews
Maine police used their own special weapon – an electric stun gun – to help catch a man who they say randomly attacked a Stormtrooper and Ghostbuster outside a store on Free Comic Book Day.
Portland Police Lt. Gary Hutcheson said Adam Barnes, 31, was intoxicated when he was arrested outside Coast City Comics on Saturday.
Owen Wood, who was dressed up as the Stormtrooper — a popular Star Wars character – told the Portland Press Herald that at the time of the attack, people were stopping at the store with their children in superhero costumes.
Wood said when he was first grabbed from behind he thought it was a friend, until Barnes allegedly started choking him.
Hutcheson said Wood was thrown to the ground, while the person dressed as a Ghostbuster was punched. Barnes was arrested, jailed and charged with two counts of assault, a count of disorderly conduct and five counts of criminal threatening of police officers, the Portland Press Herald reports.
When police told Wood that Barnes was subdued, he said, “the force was with me.”
Courtesy of: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/nyregion/5-in-bronx-contend-police-distorted-marijuana-searches-to-create-misdemeanors.html?_r=0
One man was walking home with groceries. Another was on a break from his job at a meat market. A third was walking down the street listening to headphones
That is when the men say police officers confronted them, sometimes violently, searched their clothing and discovered small amounts of marijuana, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit that is expected to be filed on Thursday in United States District Court for the Southern District, in Manhattan.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five Bronx men, contends that New York City police officers routinely stop black and Latino men without cause and then charge them with low-level misdemeanors when their pockets are emptied and small amounts of marijuana are found.
In each of the cases, the amount of marijuana found on the men would have amounted to little more than noncriminal violations punishable by a fine of up to $100 for first-time offenders. But the lawsuit contends that the charging officers falsely claimed the marijuana was in public view, making it a low-level misdemeanor under Section 221.10 of the New York Penal Code, which allows for sentences of up to three months in jail.
Critics of the Police Department say the practice, which they call manufactured misdemeanors, is widespread. The arrests are often the outgrowth of the department’s stop-and-frisk program, which is being challenged in federal court for, among other things, disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic men.
The lawsuit names the city, the department and several officers and supervisors as defendants. It was filed by the Bronx Defenders, which represents low-income defendants, and the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady L.L.P. A similar lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society is pending in state court in Manhattan.
A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department declined to comment on Wednesday, saying the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
The Police Department charged more than 50,000 people with marijuana misdemeanors in 2011. More than 84 percent were black or Hispanic, a disparity that is even more pronounced in the Bronx.
In an effort to limit these arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has made decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana in open view one of his top goals this legislative session. The Legislature failed to act on a similar measure last year, despite support from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly.
Though state law calls for misdemeanor cases to be tried within 60 days, the time limits are seldom met, the lawsuit contends. People arrested in the Bronx have it even worse; a recent series of articles in The New York Times revealed a dysfunctional justice system plagued by long delays that often make it all but impossible for people charged with misdemeanors to ever reach trial. Two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Francisco Zapata and Danilo Melendez, were featured in one of the articles. They endured long delays and made frequent court appearances waiting for trial before the charges against them were finally dropped.
Courtesy of: http://news.msn.com/us/early-release-could-help-ill-prisoners-and-us-prisons-justice-department
Compassionate release programs allow prisoners to be freed on extraordinary grounds, including terminal illness and severe medical conditions.
WASHINGTON — Compassionate release programs at overcrowded U.S. federal prisons are poorly run and lack clear standards, resulting in some eligible inmates dying before they can be freed, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday.
Few prisoners are released early on compassionate grounds. An average of 24 gravely ill prisoners were freed each year from 2006 to 2011, but another 28 died in custody during that time while waiting for the Bureau of Prisons to make a decision on their cases, the department’s inspector general said in a report.
The report recommended 11 ways to improve the program, including taking a look at how much it costs to keep seriously ill prisoners in custody.
“We concluded that an effectively managed compassionate release program would result in cost savings … as well as assist the (bureau) in managing its continually growing inmate population,” the inspector general’s report said.
The way the program has been run “has likely resulted in potentially eligible inmates not being considered for release,” it added.
The compassionate release program allows prisoners to be freed on extraordinary grounds, including terminal illness and severe medical conditions. To gain release, a prisoner must initiate a request through the Bureau of Prisons and a judge must approve the release.
The report found that inmates at some prisons were eligible for release only if they had a life expectancy of six months or less. At other prisons, eligibility was set at 12 months or less.
NO NON-MEDICAL RELEASES
Although bureau rules provide for compassionate release on non-medical grounds, those requests were routinely rejected. None were approved in the six years examined by the inspector general’s report.
Prison agency officials are revising rules on compassionate release to include inmates with up to 18 months of life expectancy, the report said.
The Bureau of Prisons also lacks standards on how much time it should take to review requests, taking from five to 65 days. Appeals of denied requests can take up to five months.
It also does not have a procedure to tell inmates about the program. Only eight of 111 handbooks that prisons give to inmates had information about it, the report said.
Even though the prisons agency has told Congress it could save $3.2 million by expanding the release program, it has not studied medical cost benefits from freeing inmates. It also lacks a system to track all requests, it said.
Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the report as a “hard-hitting” response to the Bureau of Prisons’ contention that it needed more beds for a growing number of inmates.
“It’s really nice seeing the IG (inspector general’s) office taking a hard look at that premise and pushing back at it,” she said.
Federal prisons are at 130 percent of capacity, with 30 percent of inmates in for immigration violations, Fettig said.
Among inmates released on compassionate grounds, 3.5 percent were rearrested. The overall recidivism rate for federal prisoners has been estimated at up to 41 percent, the report said.
The inspector general recommended expanding the release program to include non-medical conditions and updating written criteria. It also called for setting time limits for the release process, informing inmates of the program and examining the savings from releasing ill prisoners.
The Bureau of Prisons said it agreed with nine of the 11 recommendations and partly accepted that it should assess the costs of health care for ill inmates and set time limits for processing requests.
Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/calif-woman-accused-tainting-oj-starbucks-195053203.html
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California woman faces attempted murder charges after police say she tried to sneak orange juice bottles spiked with a lethal amount of rubbing alcohol inside a Starbucks.
San Jose Police arrested Ramineh Behbehanian, 50, late Monday. A customer reported seeing the woman take two bottles of orange juice from her bag and place them in an open-air refrigerated display case at a Starbucks in San Jose around 3:45 p.m., Sgt. Jason Dwyer said Tuesday.
When the customer told a store manager what he saw, Behbehanian fled. A store employee followed Behbehanian to the parking lot and jotted down her license plate number as she drove off. Other employees called 911 after noticing the bottles had a toxic smell, Dwyer said.
Firefighters on the scene tested the contents and determined that the bottles contained a “lethal quantity” of isopropyl rubbing alcohol mixed with the juice, Dwyer said.
No one drank from the bottles, said Dwyer, who praised the customer’s quick actions.
“This person was heads-up enough and reported suspicious activity,” Dwyer said. “I think that person saved lives by doing that.”
Officers tracked down Behbehanian Monday night at her San Jose home located about five miles away from the store. She was placed into custody on suspicion of attempted murder and felony poisoning, Dwyer said.
Police are still looking for a motive.
“We don’t know if she has done this before or if she had plans to do this again,” Dwyer said. “We have no reason to believe that there are other coffee shops with similar dangers.”
Dwyer declined to say how much rubbing alcohol was actually in the bottles, but he said it was sufficient for police to charge Behbehanian with attempted murder.
The Starbucks store in San Jose was closed after Monday’s incident but reopened the next morning, Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson said Tuesday.
“We’re immensely grateful to the vigilant customer who immediately did the right thing by notifying our store partners who immediately pulled the juice from the shelves and quickly notified the authorities,” Hutson said.
As a precaution, Hutson said that the Starbucks store in San Jose pulled all of its remaining juices from the open-air refrigerator and destroyed them. Other Starbucks nearby were also alerted and told to check all their juice bottles to make sure none of its seals were broken.
Behbehanian could make her first appearance in court as soon as Thursday, authorities said.
A report adopted on Friday by the Texas Forensic Science Commission concludes that the potential reversal of thousands of drug convictions by the Court of Criminal Appeals was due to the incompetence of a Department of Public Safety crime lab employee. Members of the commission said it’s unclear whether every conviction connected to the employee’s work has been scientifically compromised.
At a commission meeting on Friday, the members discussed whether their findings regarding a DPS crime lab worker who replaced the results of one test with another mean that all of the drug samples that passed through his hands are now compromised. They also found that interviews with colleagues supported the conclusion that the employee “struggled with corrections and an overall understanding of the chemistry, especially in difficult cases.”
The Court of Criminal Appeals has reversed more than 10 convictions due to the mistakes of the DPS Houston crime lab worker, Jonathan Salvador, who left the department last year. In the reversal of the conviction of Junius Sereal, from Galveston County, the judges wrote that all of the cases Salvador touched could be jeopardized.
“While there is evidence remaining that is available to retest in this case, that evidence was in the custody of the lab technician in question,” according to the judicial opinion. “This Court believes his actions are not reliable therefore custody was compromised, resulting in a due process violation.”
“This one analyst handled thousands of cases in the Houston area, and due to the breadth of the opinion, they may all be jeopardized,” the Texas District and County Attorneys Association wrote in a letter to its members.
But Sarah Kerrigan, a member of the commission and the chairwoman of the forensic science department at Sam Houston State University, said “there aren’t systematic issues we’re aware of with property control,” and that in some of the cases, there may be other drug evidence left that was uncorrupted by Salvador.
Jeff Blackburn, a lawyer with the Innocence Project of Texas, told the commission that the court is applying the same opinion to all of the cases involving Salvador simply as a practical matter. The Court of Criminal Appeals, he said, cannot possibly look at every single case connected to Salvador’s testing along with their normal work and so they are indicating that they will always rule in favor of the defendant in these cases. “I think it’s the numbers and judicial economy,” he said.
Part of the problem, Blackburn added, is that Texas has no centralized public defender system, so each county handles the problematic convictions differently. “We have to go piecemeal,” he said, “but we’re doing the best with what we’ve got.”
Salvador, who could not be reached for comment, was suspended from his duties as a forensic scientist with DPS in February 2012, when the department discovered the falsification of results in a controlled substance test. Salvador had worked on 4,900 drug cases in 30 counties since he took the job in 2006, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said, adding that a Harris County grand jury chose not to indict Salvador.
After the discovery, Vinger said, “the department implemented more stringent quality control measures to help prevent similar issues in the future.”
In its report, the commission found that other workers in the lab described Salvador as quick to correct his mistakes when they were pointed out. His work, they found, was “’right on the edge of acceptability,” but his supervisors “made good faith efforts to help Salvador improve” because his “attitude was always so positive.”
“Salvador’s easygoing and collegial demeanor contributed to management’s reluctance to more aggressively discipline or dismiss him” before the incident where he replaced the results of one test with another, which the commission called “professional misconduct.”
Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/26/mom-convinced-son-had-cancer-to-get-donations-police-say/?test=latestnews
Police say a New Jersey mother falsely claimed her son had cancer in a months-long scheme to collect donations from her friends.
MyFoxPhilly.com reports that 35-year-old Susan Stillwaggon faces charges of theft by deception, forgery and child endangerment for her role in the alleged scheme.
Police tell the station Stillwaggon had convinced her son he was sick. More than $1,000 was collected as part of the alleged hoax, which began six months ago, the station reported.
The Courier Post reports that investigators began looking into the mother’s story after receiving an anonymous tip. Numerous fundraising events were held in the son’s name, according to the report.
Stillwaggon’s mother tells MyFoxPhilly.com her daughter is sick and is currently hospitalized.
Courtesy of: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/25/17908443-hot-wings-10000-worth-of-chicken-and-other-meat-stolen-police-say?lite=
An employee of a meat and poultry company has been arrested, accused of stealing $10,000 worth of chicken wings and other meat from the company.
The larceny happened at County Distributors in South Windsor, Conn., in February 2012, according to police.
The owner of the business reviewed surveillance footage from his warehouse and noted that an employee, identified as Boris Delisser, 43, of Bloomfield, Conn., had taken products from the warehouse and loaded them into a vehicle, all while there was no sales transaction, according to police.
When police investigated, they found that Delisser had done this on several occasions and the total loss is estimated in excess of $10,000 worth of chicken wings and meat, according to police.
Police obtained a warrant charging Delisser with larceny in the first degree, which was served on Tuesday.
He was released on a $10,000 surety bond and is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on May 2.
This is awkward. A woman who lives in Mexico and works in San Diego called the cops on herself when she apparently unknowingly transported 30 pounds of marijuana across the border.
According to a report by NBC New York, the unnamed 33-year-old drove her car to work Friday morning, arrived early and was sitting in her car in a parking lot around 4 a.m. when two unidentified men approached her car and began removing packages from underneath it.
The driver surprised the men, who got in their car and drove off. She called the police, who discovered 30 pounds of pot divided into six packages attached by heavy-duty magnets to the undercarriage of the vehicle.
Who put the drugs there—the woman said it wasn’t her—remains a mystery. Police tell NBC New York that no arrests have been made.
Officials want to remind people who regularly cross the border to check their car—as some people become targets by drug cartels as unwitting mules in the narcotics business.
Regular border travelers may be a boon to drug smugglers. Last year, CNN reported a similar story of a
regular commuter from his home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to the University of Texas at El Paso.
Even though the man, who goes under a fake name to protect his identity, said he was targeted and ferried drugs without his knowledge, he was sentenced to six months in prison.
Courtesy of: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/04/23/samurai-sword-wielding-mormon-bishop-comes-to-aid-woman-being-attacked/?intcmp=trending
A Samurai sword-wielding Mormon bishop helped a neighbor woman escape a Tuesday morning attack by a man who had been stalking her.
Kent Hendrix woke up Tuesday to his teenage son pounding on his bedroom door and telling him somebody was being mugged in front of their house. The 47-year-old father of six rushed out the door and grabbed the weapon closest to him — a 29-inch high carbon steel Samurai sword.
Hendrix, a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said it was the first time in 30 years of practicing martial arts that he’s used the sword. He didn’t swing it at the man, only showing him he had it.
He came upon what he describes as a melee between a woman and a man. His son stayed inside to call 911 while he approached the man along with other neighbors who came to help. The martial arts instructor didn’t hesitate in drawing the sword and yelling at him to get on the ground.
‘He was staring down 29 inches of razor’
- Kent Hendrix
“His eyes got as big as saucers and he kind of gasped and jumped back,” Hendrix said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “As he was coming through the fence, this is where I drew down on him and told him to get down on the ground,” Hendrix told Fox13Now.com. He continued, “he was staring down 29 inches of razor.”
The man ran down the street with the barefoot Hendrix and others in pursuit. Hendrix said he couldn’t catch the man before he fled in his car, but he picked up ChapStick that the man dropped and memorized his license plate.
“I yelled at him, `I’ve got your DNA and I’ve got your license plate: You are so done,”‘ Hendrix said.
The suspect, 37-year-old Grant Eggersten, turned himself in to police an hour later, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. He was booked on charges of robbery, attempted burglary, trespassing and violation of a stalking injunction.
Hendrix, a pharmaceutical statistician, was one of several neighbors who came to the woman’s aid after she began yelling for help, Hoyal said.
The incident began just after 7 a.m. when the 35-year-old woman came out of her front door, Hoyal said. Eggersten was hiding behind her carport and attacked her, knocking her to the ground, Hoyal said.
He took her keys and tried to open the door into her house, Hoyal said. That’s when the woman ran down the street calling for help.
The woman did the right thing by fighting back and calling for help, Hoyal said. She suffered minor injuries.
Hendrix, a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said it was the first time in 30 years of practicing martial arts that he’s used the sword. He didn’t swing it at the man, only showing him he had it.
He said he’s proud of his 14-year-old son for alerting him and quickly calling 911. He said the family is still abuzz about the events.
“That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day,” Hendrix said. “Our neighborhood is a pretty quiet place.”
A fourth-degree black belt in the Kishindo form of martial arts, Hendrix owns a collection of swords and weapons that he trains with, said his wife, Suzanne Hendrix. He has trained with the sword he used Tuesday for 20 years and keeps it by his bed.
“Some people have bats they go to,” said Hendrix. “I have my sword.”
A pack of cigarettes.
That’s all it took to lure Michael Wayne Reed out of his east side home early this morning during a standoff with Des Moines police that stretched over 31 hours.
Police on scene of the standoff wanted an end to the ordeal but they were reluctant to risk officer safety by going into the house, Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw told the Des Moines Register today.
Reed had fired on officers at the scene early in the standoff and had threatened he would shoot anyone who tried to enter the house, located in the 3100 block of Wright Street, officials said.
At about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, more than 24 hours after the standoff began, Reed asked for a pack of cigarettes. That’s when commanders on scene began to hatch a plan to lure the 53-year-old out of the house, Bradshaw said.
“We knew that nicotine addiction would work against him,” Bradshaw told The Register. “And it did. He took the bait and came out.”
Commanders approved the plan’s execution shortly before midnight. SWAT team members dressed in all black crept to the base of the porch while snipers stayed trained on the house.
Waiting until nightfall was key to the operation, Des Moines police Sgt. Jason Halifax said. Hours earlier, officers had shot out two street lights closest to the house, where Reed lives with his mother.
Reed stepped onto the porch to retrieve the cigarettes and was disabled by a stun gun. He was taken into custody at 12:11 a.m. today. He was taken to Broadlawns Medical Center for evaluation, as is procedure with all suspects who are shot with a stun gun. After he was released from the hospital this morning, he was transported to the Polk County Jail.
Reed was charged with two counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon. He also had a warrant for first-degree harassment and remains in the Polk County Jail with no bond.
No shots were fired during the arrest.
“This is as good as it gets in these situations,” Bradshaw said. “The officers weren’t injured, neighbors weren’t injured, he wasn’t injured. It played out exactly according to plan.”
In 2008, the Register reported Reed spent tens of thousands of dollars on props, costumes and plastic surgery while acting as an Elvis impersonator. Reed goes by the stage name Micky King.
Halifax said officials did not want the standoff to stretch long into Monday.
“Later today we’re going to have kids going to school. We’re going to have people going to work,” Halifax said early Monday morning. “We chose to do it this evening because the darkness is on our side in the incident… and with the negotiations we were comfortable coaxing him out.”
The standoff began around 5 p.m. Saturday when an officer responded to a report of what police call a half domestic – a domestic situation where one party has already left – and a property dispute. A neighbor of Reed’s told The Register that Reed’s girlfriend had recently broken up with him and Reed was trying to retrieve some of his belongings from her.
Des Moines police have responded to 246 domestic trips in the past seven days and 74 of those were either half-domestics or property disputes. “They are very, very common,” Halifax said.
The officer talked to Reed on the home’s back porch, with Reed remaining inside the house. That officer was still sitting in his car completing a report when someone called dispatch to report Reed may be suicidal and possibly armed.
More officers responded, and Reed allegedly fired at least one shot at officers and the stand-off began. Reed later told investigators an officer had fired at him first. Des Moines police disputed that claim.
As the hours passed, and as Reed became increasingly agitated, officers on scene struggled to end the ongoing incident without any injuries or deaths, officials said.
“You want to make them uncomfortable so they don’t want to continue the stand-off posture,” Halifax said.
They considered options like cutting off power or water, but the only way to cut either off to the individual house would have involved officers and technicians getting too close to the house. A wider shutdown could have affect blocks, Halifax said.
Monday morning, less than eight hours after the situation ended, police remained at the home but the east side neighborhood began to return to normal.
Four police cars, a mobile command center and a crime scene unit van still occupied most of the block in front of the house and yellow crime scene tape stretched across the front yard. The barricades blocking the street had been moved to the side and neighbors who evacuated the area started to return to their homes.
Adam Kehrwald was returning to his house on the corner of Wright and Tiffin streets just before 8 a.m.
He said he was home with his wife and son when they heard a series of shots.
“That’s when we knew something was up,” he said. “We took cover in the basement.”
The family left during the voluntary evacuation but Kehrwald, 34, said he didn’t expect the ordeal to last so long.
“I certainly didn’t,” he said. “But I’m glad it’s over and nobody was hurt.”
The neighborhood is normally quiet, Halifax said. A nearby bar draws a typical variety of calls but trips to the surrounding houses are rare.
“It’s a typical east side neighborhood,” Halifax said. “It’s pretty quiet.”
The only call to Reed’s home in the past six months was Saturday’s property dispute.
Halifax said a shotgun was confiscated from the house but investigators were searching for possible additional weapons.
The house was stacked to the ceiling with items, leaving just narrow paths through rooms, so it was a slow process, he said.
Bradshaw was on scene Sunday evening, around the time Reed requested cigarettes, she said.
“I’m really pleased with the outcome,” she said. “This was a really dangerous situation. An individual had already fired a shotgun and was threatening officers. These are the most volatile situations a police department can face.”