Archive for February, 2012

NASCAR Driver’s Car Helps Solve Cold Hit-and-Run Case

February 29, 2012

Kevin Conway (Getty Images)Most NASCAR sponsors measure their investment in on-car advertisements in dollars and cents. Here’s a story of one with far more value.

Most NASCAR sponsors measure their investment in on-car advertisements in dollars and cents. Here’s a story of one with far more value.

About four years ago, a young woman named Melissa Lech was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in suburban Chicago. Since then, her family had sought in vain for any clues about the identity of the driver.

Kevin Conway heard of Melissa’s story, and agreed to put her picture and information on the rear deck lid (what, in street cars, would be the trunk) of his Nationwide car for last September’s Chicagoland race. Still no word, until Sunday night.

According to ABC News, the following happened:

A stranger rang the doorbell of the home where Melissa’s sister, Michelle, lives with her husband. The man, who called himself  Dave,  sat down at the kitchen table and confessed. He told Michelle Lech his conscience had been troubled after seeing “the NASCAR thing.” He then described how he struck her sister on that August night in 2008, stopped to check that she was still alive, then got scared and drove away.

Michelle said the man neither apologized nor gave his last name, but her husband got the man’s license number. One call to the detective who had been handling the case later, and the man, 27-year-old David McCarthy, was in custody.

Melissa Lech’s family views the sponsorship on Conway’s car.

Conway was “thrilled” to learn that the advertisement had worked, and added, “I hope this brings an element of closure so [Melissa’s family] can begin the healing process.”

McCarthy is being held in lieu of a $1 million bail, and is charged with causing personal injury and leaving the scene of an accident.

Maricopa Co., Arizona ‘Tent City’ Jail Gets McDonald’s-Like Number ‘Served’ Sign

February 28, 2012

From, February 27, 2012

Inspired by McDonald’s, the sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County on Monday had a sign made that touts the fact that more than 400,000 inmates have been “served” by his controversial “Tent City” jail.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio stands in front of a sign touting Tent City. The sheriff’s department described Tent City, which is nearing its 19th year, as “the nation’s largest canvas incarceration compound”.

“Why would anyone call for an end to this program and the closure of Tent City?” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a statement announcing the sign. “Tent City makes room for inmates who otherwise might be released to the streets due to overcrowded jails. It’s one of the best things to have happened in the local criminal justice system.”
The sheriff’s department described Tent City, which is nearing its 19th year, as “the nation’s largest canvas incarceration compound”.

“Borrowing from the world’s most renowned fast food chain,” the department added, the sign will be updated monthly with the latest number of inmates “Served”.

More than 427,000 inmates have “served” their time in Tent City, which began in 1993 and is made up of Korean War Era tents.

Arpaio, renowned for his tough stand on illegal immigrants, had the sign built “to underscore that Tent City remains an excellent facility to safely and cost effectively house inmates,” the department stated. It’s such an efficient program, Arpaio points out, that it has been visited by four U.S. presidential candidates and a number of senators from several states.

More than 427,000 inmates have “served” their time in Tent City, which began in 1993 and is made up of Korean War tents, the department said.

Former Deputy Charged with Robbing Marion Co., North Carolina Restaurant

February 28, 2012

From The McDowell News by Richelle Bailey, February 27, 2012

The food is fast, but this robbery suspect wasn’t.

Authorities arrested a Burke County man for attempting to rob Hardee’s on N.C. 226 South early Monday morning. The perpetrator, they added, is a former law enforcement officer.

Detective Sgt. Rick Gutierrez of the Marion Police Department charged Allan Robert Wells Jr., 48, of Willow Run Drive in Morganton with attempted common law robbery. He was taken into custody in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

MMN wells

Allan Robert Wells Jr.

Gutierrez said Wells used to be a deputy with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office and an officer with Monroe Police Department.

The female manager at Hardee’s reported that, at approximately 3:30 a.m. Monday, a man approached her as she was getting ready to unlock the restaurant.

He was donning a mask, a hoodie and a backpack.

The man demanded that she open the door, reaching inside his backpack and telling the woman he had something for her, according to the detective.

When the manager refused to unlock the door, the would-be robber fled on foot. Marion Police Department patrol officers located him a short time later walking on Fairview Road, Gutierrez stated.

The investigator added that Wells had ditched the mask and backpack but was still identified as the culprit.

McDowell Co., North Carolina Grand Jury Indicts Suspected Drug Trafficker

February 28, 2012

From The McDowell News by Richelle Bailey, February 25, 2012

A man accused of possessing methamphetamine and an arsenal of weapons will face his charges in McDowell County Superior Court.

On Jan. 23, a grand jury returned 132 true bills of indictment. A grand jury meets behind closed doors to consider if enough evidence is present for a case to be heard in Superior Court.

The panel indicted 53-year-old Calvin Eugene Lavender of Bat Cave Road in Old Fort on six counts each of possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, sale and delivery of methamphetamine and maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance and one count of trafficking methamphetamine.

Lavender was wanted by authorities on multiple drug charges.

Trooper Andy Waycaster of the N.C. Highway Patrol stopped Lavender’s 1993 Nissan pickup truck just off the interstate in Old Fort on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Lt. Chris Taylor of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office said officers found a quantity of meth in the vehicle. That subsequently led authorities with the Sheriff’s Office, the Marion Police Department and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to search Lavender’s house, where they seized more than an ounce of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and 20 to 25 long guns and handguns, Taylor stated.

The lieutenant said Lavender’s arrest was the result of a year-long investigation.

The grand jury also indicted the following people on Jan. 23:

— David Wayne Anderson, 33, of Burnsville, four counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

— Kea Shawnta Avery, 22, of West High Street, Marion, one count each of larceny of chose in action, obtaining property by false pretense and forgery of endorsement.

— Jeremiah Nathan Bartlett, 27, of East Railroad Street, Marion, one count each of injury to real property, breaking and entering, larceny of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

— Amber Nicole Black, 20, of Muddy Creek Road, Nebo, one count each of felony larceny, breaking and entering, conspiracy and safecracking.

— Stephanie Denise Brown, 22, of North Main Street, Marion, one count each of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and possession of cocaine.

— Cody Randolph Bryant, 26, of Bethlehem Road, Old Fort, two counts of statutory rape.

— David Richard Cable, 34, of Wildlife Road, Nebo, one count of felony larceny.

— Terence Floyd Duncan, 27, of Park Avenue, Marion, two counts of interfering with an electronic monitoring device and one count of breaking into a coin- or currency-operated machine.

— Delores Ann Elliott, 47, of Fairview Road, Nebo, felony possession of methamphetamine.

— Kristen Michelle Gatch, 37, of Triple J Park, Marion, aiding and abetting larceny.

— Waylon Demanuel Hollifield, 28, of Creson Drive, Marion, one count each of first-degree trespassing, injury to real property, felony larceny, conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense, larceny of a motor vehicle, breaking and entering a motor vehicle, obtaining property by false pretense and interfering with a utility meter.

— Tina Huffman, 49, of Oak Hill Drive, Nebo, five counts of embezzlement.

— James Anthony Laughter, 35, of Candee Acres, Marion, one count each of assault on a female and habitual misdemeanor assault.

— William Kyle Lytle, 21, of Union Mills, one count each of possession of cocaine, simple possession of marijuana, breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, conspiracy, injury to real property and injury to personal property.

— Dustin Steve Martin, 20, of Yancey Road, Marion, one count each of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, conspiracy, injury to real property and injury to personal property.

— Scott Alexander McIntosh, 42, of Jacksonville, N.C., two counts of trafficking marijuana and one count each of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance.

— Ray Mills Morgan, 81, of Lilac Drive, Marion, 12 counts of taking indecent liberties with a child and one count of first-degree sex offense.

— Jennifer Rose Ollis, 32, of Airport Road, Marion, one count each of possession of methamphetamine, felony possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance.

— Gladys Amanda Parker, 24, of Oakdale Road, Old Fort, one count of larceny from a person.

— Robert Hezekiah Patton, 23, of Mace’s Park Drive, Marion, one count each of attempting to obtain property by false pretense and possession of stolen goods.

— Tasha Lee Patton, 27, of Muddy Creek Road, Marion, one count each of felony larceny, obtaining property by false pretense and misdemeanor larceny.

— Marcus Leonard Pendley, 22, of Ridge Road, Marion, one count each of first-degree burglary and felony possession of methamphetamine.

— Stacy Ann Pinkerton, 23, of Welborn Drive, Marion, one count of first-degree burglary.

— Robin Michelle Pyatt, 32, of Wayne Hyatt Drive, Marion, two counts of larceny by employee.

— Guy Truett Randolph, 39, of Sherwood Forest Drive, Nebo, one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia, felony possession of marijuana, felony possession of methamphetamine, fleeing to elude arrest, felony possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance.

— Lorenzo De La Cruz Reyes, 46, of Lytle Mountain Road, Marion, three counts of second-degree rape.

— Anthony Dean Riddle, 25, of Carolina Avenue Extension, Marion, one count each of larceny of a firearm, breaking and entering, injury to real property, possession of a firearm by a felon, felony larceny and injury to personal property.

— Derrick Lee Riddle, 22, of Carolina Avenue Extension, Marion, one count of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense.

— Richard T. Sanders, 22, of Old Glenwood Road, Marion, one count of malicious conduct by a prisoner.

— Roy Lee Sparks, 54, of Cemetery Road, Nebo, one count of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

— Mark A. Thacker, 32, of Jacksonville, N.C., two counts of trafficking marijuana and one count each of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a place to keep a controlled substance.

— Alexandros Nikolaos Tsilianos, 27, of Plumtree, one count each of littering less than 15 pounds, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of methamphetamine.

— Thomas Ray Tyo, 30, of Pleasant Hill Road, Marion, one count of a sex offender registry violation (failure to report change of address).

— Donald Wesley Weathers, 31, of Chesnee, S.C., four counts each of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering, three counts of attempted breaking and entering and one count of possession of stolen goods.

— Samuel Lee White, 32, of South Creek Road, Nebo, one count of embezzlement.

— Jesse Aaron Williams, 22, of Hitt Park, Marion, one count each of felony larceny and injury to personal property.

Federal Program Gives Taxpayer Funded Summer Jobs to Foreign Students

February 27, 2012
While young people in the United States are suffering record levels of unemployment, the State Department is already hiring foreign students for summer jobs that won’t be available when Americans start looking for summer work later this year.
The Summer Work Travel (SWT) program each year admits more than 100,000 students from around the world to work at American beaches, restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, factories, and other establishments.
The State Department calls SWT a “cultural exchange” intended to showcase the American way of life and win friends among future world leaders.
State Department-designated sponsoring agencies team with foreign partners to recruit students, help them obtain visas, and match them with employees.
Participants and their employers are exempt from Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment taxes, according to Jerry Kammer, a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“Unfortunately, as the program has boomed — from about 20,000 in 1996 to a peak of 153,000 in 2008 — it has denied a place in the workforce for many American young people, who are now suffering record levels of unemployment,” Kammer writes in the Baltimore Sun.
One parent who spoke with Kammer, Sarah Ann Smith, said her teenage son’s dishwashing schedule at a restaurant went from 24 hours a week before SWT workers arrived to zero hours after six foreigners began working there.
“It’s wrong to have a program that allows foreign kids to come in and take jobs that American kids need,” said Smith. “SWT is out of control.”
Fortunately, the State Department is now conducting a review of the SWT program.
“Much of our nation’s immigration policy — for both temporary visitors and permanent residents — is made with little concern for its impact on American society,” Kammer observes.
“Reevaluating SWT is a first step toward changing that.”

Somerset Borough, PA Officer Facing Bribery Charges

February 27, 2012

From CBS Pittsburgh, February 26, 2012

SOMERSET BOROUGH, PA – (KDKA) — State police in Somerset County say a police officer with Somerset Borough is facing bribery charges.

According to state police investigators, Officer Jason Michael Ponczek allegedly told a drug suspect he would let him go in exchange for $500.

(Photo Courtesy: Pennsylvania State Police)

(Photo Courtesy: Pennsylvania State Police)

A criminal complaint filed Saturday reports that Ponczek is accused of telling the suspect “he had bills to pay.”

Investigators say the suspect went to state police, who set up the transaction.

On Feb. 24, the suspect met with state police in Somerset and was contacted by Ponczek in their presence. During the conversation, the suspect asked Ponczek if they handed over the already agreed upon $500 if charges would not be filed.

Ponczek allegedly confirmed he would hold up his end of the deal and would not file charges.

Around 6 p.m. the suspect returned to their residence with troopers. About an hour later, the suspect was once again contacted by Ponczek, who asked to meet at a bank across the street from the residence.

Troopers gave the suspect $500 in recorded state funds. Then, the suspect walked across the street to meet Ponczek in a marked Somerset Borough cruiser.

The suspect leaned in the passenger-side window of the vehicle, handed the $500 over and walked back to their residence.

Ponczek left the scene and returned to the Somerset Borough Building and was taken into custody.

Ponczek is facing charges of bribery in official and political matters and official oppression.

Former Columbus, Georgia Officer Says He Robbed Bank to Get Treatment for ‘Severe Health Problems’ in Federal Prison

February 27, 2012

From by Jim Mustian, February 24, 2012

Former Columbus police officer Edward Pascucci had been jobless for more than a year and was facing homelessness last summer when he decided to rob a local bank. Making off with stacks of cash, however, never was his intention.

Pascucci told a federal judge on Thursday he’d run out of options, was facing “severe health problems” and opted to avail himself of the services offered by the federal penal system rather than live on the street.

“I didn’t want to be homeless,” said Pascucci, addressing U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land in a clear and confident voice. “I should not have manipulated the justice system, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get help.”

Land did not impose a fine in the case, citing Pascucci’s inability to pay one.

Shackled and dressed in a yellow jumpsuit with the word “federal” emblazoned on it, Pascucci apologized to the employees of the Citizens Trust Bank, to his former colleagues in the Columbus Police Department and to the “community at large.”

“I had no funds whatsoever left to live on,” said Pascucci, who according to personnel records graduated magna cum laude from State University of New York Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s in business/public management. “I did this foolish thing hoping I’d get some kind of care.”

Public defender Victor Arturo Arana told Land his client never intended to hurt anyone. Pascucci carried an unloaded revolver into the bank that the teller never saw, he said.

“I don’t think he ever intended to pull it out,” Arana said.

Pascucci, who also served in the Marines, Army and Army Reserve before becoming a police officer in 1989, pleaded guilty in October to one count of bank robbery. He walked into the Macon Road bank about 11 a.m. on Aug. 3 carrying an unloaded .357-caliber handgun. He presented a note to the teller that read, “This is a stick up, hand over the money,” according to court documents.

The teller gave him $1,040, prosecutors said, and Pascucci walked out of the bank. A security guard stopped him on the premises and held him until police arrived.

Once in custody, Pascucci told the FBI he attempted the heist because he was having prolonged money troubles. He indicated in a financial affidavit that the only income he’d received in the past year was a $3,000 gift from his father.

The plea agreement also says Pasccuci admitted to having thoughts of suicide.

Pascucci told authorities he removed the bullets from the gun before entering the bank. Officials later recovered those bullets during a search of Pascucci’s white Geo Metro.

Pascucci, 54, served as a police officer for nearly 15 years, but had a troubled employment history that prompted a psychologist in 2002 to recommend he no longer serve on the force. He transferred to animal control that year, records show, but resigned in March 2006 in lieu of an appeal for unprofessional conduct.

Support U.S. Armed Forces Organization Hosting Events to Help Soldiers, Looking for Volunteers

February 26, 2012

Support U.S. Armed Forces is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to support the troops by providing morale, welfare, and encouragement to our men and women in uniform. Serving in the Armed Forces is often seen as both courageous and brave, garnering much respect by all. However, it is no secret, while battling for our freedom on foreign soil, troops are often battling anxiety over how their families are doing back home. By supporting our military and their families, we hope to reduce our soldiers’ burden so that they may protect the freedoms that we continue to enjoy.

We want to shower our military and their families with the support that they need and deserve to keep them encouraged for the next mission. As you know, a lot of the military personnel have been at War for over 10 years now, and some have made three or more tours of duty in a foreign country. They have left their families for periods of up to 15 months at a time, often leaving a very large burden on the families to carry on without them. Feeling alone, coupled with financial strain, can take a toll on both the families and the active duty soldier serving us many miles away.

Welcome Home Packages

We delivered over 2000 Welcome Home Packages to Fort Bragg and Norfolk Naval Station in January. Here is one of the testimonies we received from a battalion commander of the 82nd Airborne that shows how your support is making a difference.

“Thanks so much for your generous donation to our redeploying Soldiers. It’s great to return, but it is so much sweeter when you are met with gratitude and appreciation. The Soldiers you affect through your donation will certainly remember it and I’m sure every box will make an impact.Just a quick note to say your actions are appreciated.

2012_02 Verizon_Delivery_Picture

LTC Craig A. Whitten, Battalion Commander, 264th CSSB, 82nd Sus Bde
We would like to thank Verizon for providing Volunteers to deliver Welcome Home Packages and to encourage our heroes.

Upcoming Event:  Support U.S. Armed Forces Inaugural Clay Shoot

Plans are currently underway for our next fundraiser, our Inaugural Sporting Clay Classic.  The fundraiser will be held on Thursday, April 12th at Deep River Sporting Clays in Sanford, NC.  Sponsorships and shooting slots (both individual and team) are currently available.  The day will be begin with shooter registration and warm-ups followed by a great lunch provided by Unforgettable Food Affairs.  We will then hold the competition rounds and the day will end with an awards ceremony based on the Lewis Scoring System.  Based on this scoring system, no matter how much (or little) you shoot, you will have an equal opportunity to win.  With the registration fee each participant will also receive ammunition for the event and a Cabelas Gear Bag.  The participants will have a fun and exciting day while supporting our servicemen and women and their families.  For more information and to register, visit our event Facebook page at or contact our Development Director, Donna Murray, at 919-554-6252 or

Would you like to Volunteer?

We are looking for volunteers in the Raleigh, NC area with skills in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and other related disciplines to assist on fundraising and special event committees throughout the year.  Volunteers will work with Support U.S. Armed Forces Staff and other volunteers in all aspects of fundraising, event planning, and event execution.

Our organization also welcomes Supporter Organized Fundraising Events.  There is always a way you can be involved.  Maybe you have a special craft you make and sell, consider hosting a community-wide yard sale, help your child set up a lemonade stand, or hold a bake sale or raffle at your office.  The possibilities are endless when you put your imagination to the task.  No matter how large or small the event, every dollar raised helps us carry out our mission.  If you are interested in serving on a Fundraising or Special Events Committee or holding a Supporter Organized Event, please visit our volunteer webpage and fill out the volunteer form.  Or you can contact our Development Director, Donna Murray, at 919-554-6252 or
With the end to the Iraq War and normal troop rotations, we have over 15,000 military personnel returning in the next 6 months, so please consider donating to encourage our military and their families at

Arrest Made in Robbery of U.S. Supreme Court Justice

February 21, 2012

By staff, February 20, 2012

A man suspected of mugging U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Caribbean country of Saint Kitts and Nevis earlier this month has been arrested, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Vedel Browne, 28, turned himself in over the weekend.

He is believed to have been masked and wielding a machete when he stole $1,200 from Breyer, his wife and guests at their home.

Browne, a painter and gardener, was charged with the robbery, which took place on the island of Nevis, where Breyer and his wife have a home. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Justice Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Arizona Sheriff Admits His Homosexuality, Quits Romney Campaign as a Result

February 19, 2012

Information from, February 18, 2012

A sheriff has stepped down as Arizona co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign amid allegations of misconduct made by a man with whom he previously had a homosexual relationship.

At a press conference Saturday outside his office in Florence, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu called the man’s allegations, published Thursday in a Phoenix New Times story, “completely false.”

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu speaks at a news conference on Saturday in Florence, Ariz. Babeu was forced to confirm he is homosexual amid allegations of misconduct made by a man with whom he previously had a relationship.

He said the only information mentioned in the article that’s true is “I’m gay”, The Arizona Republic reported.

Babeu, who is also running for Congress in Arizona’s new 4th Congressional District, quit his position as Romney’s Arizona co-chairman but vowed to stay in the congressional campaign.

“Sheriff Babeu has stepped down from his volunteer position with the campaign so he can focus on the allegations against him,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams told The Arizona Republic in a statement. “We support his decision.”

Babeu, who was elected in 2008 as the first Republican sheriff of Pinal County, has gained national media attention for speaking out against illegal immigration and the unsecured U.S. border with Mexico.