Thursday, October 30, 2008

Former Officer Rico Yarbrough Won't Serve More Prison Time

He has served about 16 months in the conspiracy case.

A former Tulsa police officer won't serve any more prison time for engaging in a criminal conspiracy, obstructing justice and giving unlawful notice of a search warrant while he worked for the Police Department.

As first reported Wednesday on, Rico Yarbrough was sentenced to time served after pleading guilty July 18 to the same charges on which he was convicted two years ago.

Yarbrough, 44, originally was sentenced in November 2006 to three years and eight months in prison. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that opinion on June 3, saying the trial judge should have let jurors hear more evidence about Yarbrough's character.

Yarbrough, who resigned from the police force in April 2006, began serving his sentence in mid-March 2007 and was released June 30.

U.S. District Judge James Payne, who was not the trial judge, said during Wednesday's hearing that Yarbrough already has served a punishment that was "sufficient but not greater" than called for under the law.

Payne ordered, however, that Yarbrough be under court supervision for three years.

Yarbrough apologized to the court Wednesday for his "poor decision-making."

Later, he said only that "I'm glad it's over."

His attorney, Rob Nigh, said the nearly 16 months that his client already has served were "more than enough."

Nigh said Yarbrough made "a very serious mistake and paid for it with a substantial part of his life."

He said Yarbrough took college courses while in custody and plans to pursue a career in heating and air conditioning.

U.S. Attorney David O'Meilia said Wednesday that his office is satisfied with the sentence. Both O'Meilia and Nigh said that under sentencing guidelines, Yarbrough would have faced only four more days in custody if Payne had imposed punishment at the bottom of the applicable range.

Even though Yarbrough pleaded guilty to the same charges that prompted a 44-month sentence in 2006, the sentencing span called for in his July plea agreement was 18 to 24 months.

That's because Yarbrough received credit for acceptance of responsibility this time and also received less punishment for obstruction of justice. O'Meilia and Nigh agreed that "good time" credit earned by Yarbrough while in custody reduced the 18-month level even further.

Last Thursday, Payne sentenced former Tulsa Police Department employee Deshon Stanley to five months in prison after she pleaded guilty in February 2007 to conspiring to leak confidential information about a witness to a prison inmate.

Stanley, 33, also pleaded guilty to six counts dealing with a tax-fraud scheme that her plea agreement says cost the Internal Revenue Service more than $137,000.

Stanley, who was fired in April 2006 from her civilian job as an office administrator in the Police Department Records Room, will begin her prison sentence by Jan. 15. She will be under court supervision for three years after her release and must pay more than $134,000 in penalties.

Officially, the cases of Stanley and Yarbrough were unrelated. However, it was revealed during Yarbrough's trial that the two had a mutual acquaintance — a Broken Arrow man named Kejuan Lavell Daniels, 35.

Daniels pleaded guilty in July to participating in a conspiracy from December 2002 until 2006 that involved 100 to 150 kilograms of cocaine. His sentencing is slated Jan. 14.

Daniels had been under investigation since 2004 for suspected cocaine-trafficking, according to the FBI. Prosecutors alleged that Yarbrough was in regular contact with Daniels and kept him informed about the progress of the investigation into Daniels' activities.

In July, Yarbrough admitted conspiring with Daniels to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation.

He also admitted that on Feb. 10, 2006, he called a third man to warn Daniels that a search warrant was about to be executed at Daniels' Broken Arrow home.

Sheriff Charles Williams Arrested for Assault

Hayneville Police Chief Kelvin Mitchell said that Sheriff Charles Williams was arrested on October 1st.

Mitchell says Williams got into a verbal argument with EMA Director Walter Hill and allegedly charged at him. That's when deputies who were there say they had to restrain Williams to prevent him from hurting Hill.

Williams is now out on bond. His court date is set for November 13th.

Chief Mitchell says the ABI is investigating this as well as other incidents involving the two men over a period of several months, and that he hopes to resolve the issues and move on.

Officer Jim Torbet Commits Suicide After Being Charged with Shoplifting

A senior police officer who had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting wine from Marks and Spencer was found dead today after apparently committing suicide.

Jim Torbet, 54, was suspended from duty by Sussex police along with Chief Inspector Sharon Rowe after the pair were stopped leaving the store in Shoreham, West Sussex, in September.

The two high-ranking officers were released on bail pending further investigation into the alleged theft of wine.

His body was discovered in the early hours of the morning at his detached home in Peacehaven, East Sussex.

A police spokeswoman said that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. Mr Torbet’s apparent suicide comes five years after his teenage daughter was murdered by her former boyfriend.

The headteacher of a school where Mr Torbet was the vice-chairman of governors condemned “procrastination” by those investigating his alleged shoplifting, which he claimed created an “intolerable situation for a very decent man”,

Mike Conn, principal of Bexhill High School, said that he would write to Martin Richards, chief constable of Sussex Police: “I would like to know why the allegation, which was relatively minor, took so long to investigate and secondly how it came into the public domain before he was even charged.

“Jim was a man of the utmost integrity and I don’t understand how in a country which prides itself on people being innocent until proven guilty, a man’s details were allowed to be released without him being charged.

“I am so incensed by this. The thought of him stealing a bottle of wine just doesn’t seem possible. If the police were going to charge him, why has it taken so long?

“This was a simple, straightforward shoplifting matter that is normally dealt with by way of a fixed penalty fine or in court relatively quickly.”

Mr Torbet joined Sussex police in 1980 and received five commendations before he and CI Rowe, district commander of Worthing, West Sussex, were stopped at the seaside M&S store late last month.

Security guards reportedly stopped the pair after they were caught on CCTV allegedly attempting to shoplift bottles of wine from the shop, in Shoreham’s Holmbush Centre.

Mr Torbet’s death was announced to colleagues by Chief Constable Richards, who described him as a “popular and valued member of our team”.

“Jim had given many years of loyal and dedicated service to Sussex Police, and in recent years has served as Detective Chief Inspector in the Professional Standards Department,” he added.

A tribute to the DCI posted on the website of a local newspaper read: “You were never too stuck up to have a laugh with us at the bottom of the ladder. Gone but never forgotten — a top bloke.”

In 2003 Mr Torbet’s 19-year-old daughter Rae was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Dellwyn James, after the forklift truck driver lay in wait for her at her flat in Bexhill, East Sussex.

Mr Torbet broke down in tears as he saw James jailed for life at Lewes Crown Court later that year and outside court expressed his wish that James would be “third time lucky” with any further suicide bid.

Ms Rowe, 44, is a trained English teacher who joined the police in 1986 and twelve years later became the first woman to reach the rank of inspector in Brighton and Hove.

Tribal Officer Daniel Kettell Charged with Sexually Abusing Girl


A Mission man has been arrested on a charge he sexually abused a girl this summer when he was a tribal police officer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

Thirty-three-year-old Daniel Kettell was indicted on one count of abusive sexual contact, which carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison.

According to the indictment, the abuse happened July 5 in Todd County and involved a juvenile female who was not capable of giving her consent.

Kettell is scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday in federal court in Pierre.

Trial Begins for Suspended Corning Officer Accused of Lying

The trial of a suspended Corning Police Officer accused of lying under oath boils down to one issue: which officer touched the drugs first.

Opening statements were given on Wednesday. Thirty three year-old Jason Dininny is accused of lying while testifying during a marijuana possession trial last year in Corning City Court.

Dininny’s attorney Raymond Schlather says his client picked up the drugs during the bust. But another officer claims he picked up the marijuana and handed it to Dininny. Schlather says Dininny is a model citizen and officer.

“No person of his reputation and his background and his experience, no such person would risk all of that for a marijuana violation,” says Schlather.

“He's not accused of making a mistake, he's accused of lying,” says Steuben County District Attorney John Tunney.

No marijuana is missing. Dininny is charged with perjury and offering a false written statement. If found guilty, he faces up to seven years in state prison.

The defense says more than twenty witnesses will be called. He says the trial will wrap up by the end of next week.

Former Deputy Sheriff Arrested in Drug Bust


A former Hidalgo County Sheriff's Deputy and 10 others are behind bars this morning, accused of running a major drug operation.

A warehouse on Griffin Parkway in Mission is one of 10 Valley properties seized by the government. They also seized properties in Palmview, McAllen, Hidalgo, Donna, Progreso, and Brownsville. Authorities also found $22 million in drug money and more than 200 kilos of cocaine and eight tons of pot.

They traced it all right back to the Valley. Jerry Robinette, an ICE representative, says, "The drugs were being smuggled through the southern border, our Texas-Mexico border, and then transported through South Texas into Atlanta."

Forty-one people have been indicted in connection with this case.

Ex-Chief Jose Luis Vela Accused of Sexual Assault


A former Alton police officer who has accused ex-chief Jose Luis Vela of sexual assault said it took nearly a year for him to come forward because he was embarrassed.

The officer told jurors that on Aug. 26, 2006 he woke up in Vela's bed to find the chief performing oral sex on him.

"I grabbed my clothes and started leaving," said the officer, who is identified by the pseudonym "Frank" in court filings. "I went outside and I threw up."

Frank's testimony came this morning on the first day of Vela's trial on sexual assault charges. It is The Monitor's policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.

Prosecutors allege the former Alton officer accepted several drinks from the ex-chief on the night of the alleged assault and had not agreed to any sexual activity.

"He's a police officer - a man who fell victim to another man," Hidalgo County Assistant District Attorney Hope Palacios said. "He was ashamed. He was fearful. He was disgusted."

Vela's defense, however, argued that the sexual encounter between the two men occurred in the midst of a consensual relationship.

During this morning's proceedings, attorney Luis Singleterry suggested that Vela and Frank had had at least four prior sexual encounters before the August 2006 incident.

Frank denied those allegations and said that he has had a hard time talking about Vela's advances ever since.

Soon after the purported encounter, Vela fired him, Frank said. But the chief offered the patrol officer his job back days later.

At the time, Vela ordered him to keep quiet, threatened his future career and suggested he could receive a promotion if he kept quiet, Frank told jurors.

But he said he was subject to several other advances from his boss during the nearly year and a half afterward that he continued to work at the department.

In one instance, Vela called him over to his house while he was on duty, the officer said.

"As soon as I opened the door Mr. Vela was naked and tried to give me a hug," he said. "That's when I pushed him back, told him my stomach hurt and told him I had to ho home."

Vela, 44, of Alton, also faces two other indictments stemming from allegations that he sexually assaulted at least one other officer with a beer bottle and stole a gun from his department's evidence locker. Those cases have not yet gone before a jury.

Frank and three other current and former Alton Police Department employees filed a civil lawsuit against Vela and the City of Alton earlier this year, claiming that the city had not adequately responded to their complaints about the chief's alleged sexual assaults.

Vela has since been dropped from that suit.

Testimony in his criminal trial is expected to resume this afternoon.