Archive for August, 2010

Police: California Doctor Gets Stuck in Chimney, Dies

August 31, 2010

From The Associated Press via YAHOO! News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – A doctor involved in an “on-again, off-again” relationship apparently tried to force her way into her boyfriend’s home by sliding down the chimney, police said Tuesday. Her decomposing body was found there three days later.

Kotarac AP – FILE – In this 2007 photo, shows Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac. who involved in an ‘on-again, off-again’ relationship, …

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, 49, first tried to get into the house with a shovel, then climbed a ladder to the roof last Wednesday night, removed the chimney cap and slid feet first down the flue, Bakersfield police Sgt. Mary DeGeare said.

While she was trying to break in, the man she was pursuing escaped unnoticed from another exit “to avoid a confrontation,” authorities said.

DeGeare said the two were in an “on-again, off-again” relationship.

The man’s identity was not revealed by police, but the man who resides in the home is William Moodie, 58.

“She made an unbelievable error in judgment and nobody understands why, and unfortunately she’s passed away,” Moodie told The Associated Press. “She had her issues — she had her demons — but I never lost my respect for her.”

Reached by telephone, Moodie did not dispute the police’s characterization of his relationship with Kotarac. He would not comment on the circumstances that led to her death, saying it was more important to focus on the good she did in life.

Moodie, who runs an engineering consulting firm, said Kotarac was a superb internist who often provided service and medication free of charge to her patients.

Kotarac apparently died in the chimney, but her body was not discovered until a house-sitter noticed a stench and fluids coming from the fireplace Saturday, according to a police statement. The house-sitter and her son investigated with a flashlight and found Kotarac dead, wedged about two feet above the top of the interior fireplace opening.

Firefighters spent five hours late Saturday dismantling the chimney and flue from outside the home to extract Kotarac’s body, DeGeare said.

Officials said Kotarac’s office staff reported her missing two days prior when she failed to show for work. Her car and belongings remained near the man’s house.

A cause of death has not been determined, and an autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday. Foul play is not suspected, though investigators have been looking into the incident as suspicious.

Cell Phone Theft Victim Helps Deputies Recover Property

August 31, 2010

From The Associated Press

Aug 31, 2010

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) – A man who bought a cell phone online, only to find it was the same one that was stolen from his car, tipped off California sheriff’s deputies, who arrested a man they believe broke into dozens of vehices.

Deputies arrested 28-year-old Neil Hefner and recovered 163 cell phones, along with computers, wallets, gift cards and rare coins. He was booked for investigation of burglary.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. John Benedict says one victim was looking for a new phone on Craigslist, found one that looked like his old one and bought it.

When it arrived, many of his phone numbers were still programmed into it so he called deputies. Benedict says the seller’s return address was on the package.

Thieves Steal Forklifts, Then Steal ATMs In SC

August 31, 2010


August 31, 2010

POWDERSVILLE, S.C. — You have to have the right tools to steal automated teller machines.

 South Carolina sheriff’s deputies said thieves stole two tractors with forklifts from a construction site and then stole ATMs from two nearby banks in Anderson County.

 Thieves took the ATMs in Powdersville sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday.

 Deputies have not identified any suspects because the tractors blocked the surveillance video.

 Sheriff’s spokesman Chad McBride said deputies think more than one person was involved because of the multiple locations.

 Officials said the thieves stole the tractors from the new Powdersville High School and drove them to Peoples National Bank and Pinnacle Bank. They left a tractor in each bank parking lot.

 No word on how much money was taken.

Davidson College Students Snagged in Under-Age Drinking Raids

August 31, 2010

Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

by David Boraks

DAVIDSON, NC – Davidson police raided two off-campus parties in the past week and issued nearly 40 citations for under-age drinking, all to Davidson College students.

The police chief says more citations are likely as the town, campus police and state alcohol enforcement agents work together to enforce the state’s drinking age of 21.

Last week’s flurry of under-age drinking citations came as Davidson students returned to campus after summer break and are part of stepped-up enforcement by authorities, including town police and the state Alcohol Law Enforcement Division.

“We are committed to investigating and enforcing against under-age alcohol access,” Davidson Police Chief Jeanne Miller said Tuesday.

As police investigate the cases, she said, they’ll also be targeting providers – those over 21 who are providing alcohol to under-age drinkers in town. In one of cases last week, a man was charged with providing alcohol to under-age drinkers.

The first incident came on Tuesday, Aug. 24, when police received a call about loud noise at a home in the 200 block of North Thompson Street, near campus. When they arrived, they saw a large number of young people drinking.

After investigating, police issued 11 citations to students who ranged in age from 17 to 20 years old. In addition, Benjamin Williams, 22, was charged with providing alcohol to under-age people at the party.

Then on Saturday, Aug. 28, officer John Miller was on bike patrol in the Delburg/Watson street area when he heard a loud party at an apartment building at 442 Watson St. He investigated and discovered that some of those who were drinking were under age 21.

Three Davidson police officers and two state alcohol enforcement officers eventually issued a total of 27 citations for under-age drinking, all or nearly all to Davidson College students, according to a Davidson officer involved in the raid.

Richard Griffin, the special agent in charge for the Charlotte district of the state Alcohol Law Enforcement Division (ALE) said officers want to send a signal as the new college school year begins that they’ll be out investigating noise and under-age drinking complaints.

“Our main concern is safety,” he said. With the school year begun, students should know that “Hey, if you’re having a party and there’s under-age drinking, Davidson police or ALE may be there.

“That’s just to prevent problems down the road,” he said, such as drunken driving accidents, alcohol related injuries or even alcohol poisoning.

Besides the parties, Davidson police also issued several other under-age drinking citations over the past week in unrelated incidents. Two were on Griffith Street, while one involved a 17-year-old resident who was on the Davidson College campus.

Penalties for under-age drinking vary. Those ages 19 or 20 get a citation (like a traffic ticket) that carries a fine of at least $25 plus court costs. State officials say the penalties can be as high $200 and in some cases loss of a driver’s license. Those under 19 must appear in court and could face harsher penalties, according to Davidson police.

State officials say those caught providing alcohol to anyone under age 21 can face a $250 fine, $100 court costs, and a sentence of community service.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Looking For Driver in Student Hit and Run

August 31, 2010

NewsChannel 36 WCNC – Charlotte, NC

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are looking for the driver of a tan Mazda Millenia that they believe hit a 7-year-old student Monday afternoon and kept driving.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools say the Tuckaseegee Elementary School student was crossing Little Rock Road with a parent, got ahead of that parent and was hit by a car just after 3 p.m.

There wasn’t a crossing guard at that intersection.

The child’s injuries weren’t life-threatening.

Police ask you to contact them if you know anything about the hit and run.

Mexican Army Clashes With Drug Gangs in Eastern Mexico: Seven Dead

August 30, 2010

From AFP

Mon Aug 30, 2010

VERACRUZ, Mexico (AFP) – At least seven people have been killed in clashes between Mexican soldiers and likely drug gangs not far from where 72 migrants were massacred last week, the military said Monday.

The clashes began Sunday night in the city of Panuco, bordering northeastern Tamaulipas state which has seen a recent eruption of violence, including explosives attacks and the murder of a mayor in recent days.

Six suspects and one soldier were killed and five soldiers were wounded, the statement said.

The soldiers were attacked with fragmentation grenades and guns when they arrived at an alleged safe house used by drug gangs following a tip-off, the statement said.

The shootout lasted through the night, and skirmishes were also reported elsewhere in the city, which is in Veracruz state.

Six people were detained, as well as several weapons including 11 AK-47s, the army said.

Blame for the massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants last week fell on the ruthless Zetas drug gang set up by former elite soldiers.

Veracruz governor Fidel Herrera said it was “a rumor for now” that the Zetas were implicated in the Panuco clashes.

Tamaulipas and the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon have become a growing battleground between the powerful Gulf cartel and its former ally, the Zetas.

Mexico Says Drug Lord ‘The Barbie’ Captured

August 30, 2010

From The Associated Press via YAHOO! News

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s attorney general says authorities have captured long-sought drug kingpin Edgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “the Barbie.”

Army clashes with drug gangs in eastern Mexico: seven dead AFP/File – A Federal Police officer takes notes along a road next to one of the fourteen corpses found around Acapulco, …

The Texas-born Valdez Villareal is allged to be leading one of the two factions battling for control of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

Mexico Drug War Slideshow:Mexico Drug War

The 37-year-old has been indicted in the United States on charges he distributed thousands of kilos of concaine in the eastern U.S. between 2004 and 2006.

U.S. authorities have offered a $2 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s federal police agency has fired nearly 10 percent of its force this year for failing checks designed to detect possible corruption, a major obstacle in the country’s battle against increasingly brutal drug gangs.

Mexico’s approximately 35,000 federal police are required to undergo periodic lie detector, psychological and drug examinations, and the government routinely investigates their finances and personal life.

Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas said 3,200 officers have been dismissed this year for failing to meet the agency’s standards. He did not give more details.

The fired agents are barred from taking jobs in any other security force — a recurring problem that Mexican governments have vowed to solve for many years. Another 1,020 federal police are facing unspecified disciplinary measures.

Police corruption at all levels is widespread in Mexico. Police are often found to have been involved in cartel attacks, including the assassination two weeks ago of a mayor who had disciplined municipal officers in his northern town. Investigators say local officers aligned with the Zetas drug gang killed the mayor in retaliation.

Scandals have also ensnared the federal police. Two years ago, a corruption probe known as “Operation Clean House” toppled the former anti-drug czar, Noe Ramirez, and other high-ranking police accused of protecting the Beltran Leyva gang.

President Felipe Calderon, who has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police to fight drug traffickers in their strongholds, has pointed to the regular police tests and crackdowns such as “Clean House” as evidence that his government is aggressively fighting corruption.

Drug violence has surged since Calderon intensified the crackdown on traffickers upon taking office in late 2006, claiming more than 28,000 lives.

In the latest violence, a 12-hour battle between troops and gunmen left killed seven people in the eastern town of Panuco.

The gunmen opened fire and launched grenades at a government electricity station as they tried to escape the soldiers, causing a power outage in a large part of town, said Salvador Mikel Rivera, attorney general in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where Panuco is located.

The battle started Sunday night when gunmen in six cars ignored orders to stop from soldiers at a checkpoint, Rivera said. Soldiers, along with state and local police, started a chase that ended at two houses where the gunmen tried to hide, he said. The shootout at the houses lasted until Monday morning.

One soldier and six gunmen were killed.

Panuco is just south of the northern border state of Tamaulipas, where marines discovered the bodies of 72 Central and South American migrants believed to have been gunned down by the Zetas drug gang after refusing to smuggle drugs, in what may be the deadliest cartel massacre to date.

The lone survivor, an 18-year-old Ecuadorean, returned to his home country over the weekend after declining a humanitarian visa that would have let him stay in Mexico, the Foreign Relations Department announced Monday.

The dead migrants were discovered at a ranch about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the U.S. border in Tamaulipas.

Violence has surged in northeastern Mexico this year since the Zetas broke ranks with their former employer, the Gulf cartel.

On Sunday, gunmen killed the mayor of Hidalgo, a town near where the migrants were slain. Two weeks earlier, the mayor of another northeastern town, Santiago, was assassinated, allegedly by police tied to the Zetas.

In June, cartel gunmen assassinated the leading candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre Cantu, less than a week before state and local elections.

The government offered a 15 million peso ($1.15 million) reward Monday for information leading to the capture of his killers.

Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, the border city of Ciudad Juarez is cancelling its traditional Sept. 15 celebration of Mexico’s Independence from Spain, Mayor Jose Reyes announced Monday.

Reyes said authorities had not received any specific threat surrounding the event but decided it would be too dangerous for large crowds to gather in the city, which has become one of the world’s most dangerous amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

As in other Mexico cities, residents in Ciudad Juarez gather each year at the main plaza to hear the mayor give the “grito,” or shout of independence, at 11 p.m. Reyes said the city would instead launch fireworks at different points in the city so people could celebrate from their own backyards.

The cancellation was especially a blow this year because Mexico is celebrating its bicentennial independence anniversary.

Associated Press writers Miguel Angel Hernandez in Veracruz and Olivia Torres in Ciudad Juarez contributed to this story.

Trash Police On The Street in Cleveland, Ohio

August 30, 2010


by Nicolas Loris

Nicolas   Loris

Remember Audi’s absurd “Green Police” Super Bowl commercial where green cops arrest citizens for using plastic bags, plastic water bottles and sort through the community’s trash cans to ensure they’re recycling? Well, the absurdity is about to hit the streets of Cleveland. reports,

“It would be a stretch to say that Big Brother will hang out in Clevelanders’ trash cans, but the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling—and fine them $100 if they don’t. The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.”

The high-tech collection system is an expansion of a 15,000-resident pilot program that commenced in 2007. Proponents of the program argue that not only is the $2.5 million program good for the environment, but because the city will collect revenue from the fines and from recycled goods, the trash police will eventually raise revenue.

The article mentions that the city pays $30 per ton to place garbage in a landfill but would receive $26 per ton for recycling goods. We know that the city will pass the costs onto the consumer, but the article makes no mention of whether residents will reap any savings benefits.

Much more problematic is the intrusion onto individual liberties. Like much of the “Green Police” commercial—and the environmentalist movement as a whole—the goal is to change human behavior. But a recent Rasmussen survey “shows that only 17% of adults believe most Americans would be willing to make major cutbacks in their lifestyle in order to help save the environment. Most (65%) say that’s not the case.”

Skeptics of catastrophic temperature increases compare belief in global warming to a religion, saying that alarmists base their views on faith much more than concrete science. This could have significant consequences if Congress enacts cap-and-trade legislation or other policies that aim to increase Americans’ energy bills. The goal, of course, is to force consumers to use less energy.

We should allow for choice and respect the choices of others. If someone chooses not to drink bottled water because they believe it is bad for the environment, so be it. (Interestingly, the environmentalist push that tap water is unsafe led to the rise of bottled water.) Those who choose to drink tap water should respect the preference of those who enjoy bottled. Conflicts will certainly arise among people with different preferences, but to advocate that one is morally right and one is morally wrong is objectionable.

Van-Mounted Body Scanners Coming To a Street Near You?

August 30, 2010

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010


By Daniel Tencer

US law enforcement agencies are among the customers of a Massachusetts-based company that is selling full-body scanners to be mounted inside vans and used on streets, says a report from Forbes.

vanmountedbodyscanner Van mounted body scanners coming to a street near you?

American Science & Engineering, based in Billerica, Mass., told Forbes blogger Andy Greenberg that it has sold more than 500 “Z Backscatter Vans,” mobile x-ray scanning units that can be used to detect bombs, contraband and smuggled people inside nearby cars.

The company says its largest customer by far is the US military, which has purchased the machines to search for car bombs and other threats in war zones. But AS&E’s vice president of marketing, Joe Reiss, said US law enforcement agencies have also bought the machines “to search for vehicle-based bombs in the US,” Greenberg reports.

AS&E has not revealed the names of its US law enforcement customers, or how many of the machines they bought. But Reiss describes the van-mounted scanning system as “the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever.”

News of the mobile scanners has alarmed civil libertarians who worry the technology could be used to violate people’s privacy without legal justification.

“If they are in fact being used on public streets, that would be a major violation of the Constitution,” writes Jay Stanley of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty program. “In fact, it’s hard to believe that any counsel at any government agency would sign off on allowing these vans to be used in that way.”

“The use of this technology constitutes a search, and under the Fourth Amendment, a search can only be carried out with a warrant. There are exceptions to that, but none of them would apply if this technology is being used on public streets,” Stanley writes.

He notes that the courts have created exemptions to the Fourth Amendment protection from undue search and seizure, and law enforcement officers are generally allowed to search cars. But Stanley notes that they have that ability only when probable cause is present — something that would not be the case if body scanners were examining numerous people on public streets.

Stanley speculates that some of the machines bought for domestic use are headed for Customs and Border Protection, where they could be legally used to scan cars crossing into the United States.

AS&E’s Reiss says his company’s machines are not as intrusive as the body scanners being used in airports. He told Forbes‘ Greenberg that the machines can’t reproduce images of people’s faces and bodies as clearly as airport machines.

“From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be,” he said.

The body scanners currently being expanded to most major US airports have caused some controversy among privacy advocates. While the Department of Homeland Security initially claimed the machines would not have the ability to store nude images of passengers, the Electronic Privacy Information Center discovered earlier this year that the machines being installed at airports have a setting that allows them to store and transmit the images.

There have been several high-profile cases of screening technology being abused. In one heavily-publicized incident, a TSA worker in Miami who was scanned as part of a training session allegedly assaulted a co-worker who had mocked the size of his genitals.

Recently, the parents of a 12-year-old girl were outraged when she was taken aside for a full-body scan at a Florida airport without her guardian’s consent.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a lawsuit against the DHS asking for the program to be suspended “pending an independent review.”

While AS&E has not disclosed which US agencies have bought the van-mounted machines for domestic use, the ACLU’s Jay Stanley warns law enforcement agencies not to get carried away with their new technology.

“Unless they have probable cause to search a specific vehicle, government agencies had better not be roaming US streets conducting backscatter X-ray scans of vehicles and their occupants (much less pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) without their knowledge or consent,” he writes. “The Constitution may have taken a battering in recent years, but on this point it remains clear.”

With earlier reporting from Raw Story

Arrest Made in Denver, NC Murder

August 30, 2010

Aug 29, 2010

From The WCCB Fox 18 Charlotte Newsdesk

DENVER, N.C.–Shots were fired at a Denver restaurant and bar leaving one person dead.

  Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies charged Jason Eastridge with the murder of Richard Miles.  Witnesses say an argument led to the shooting in the Midtown Sundries parking lot.  Miles later died at the hospital.