Monday, January 05, 2009

Former Trooper Jesus Larrazolo Arraigned on Drug Possession

A former state trooper made a brief appearance in federal court Tuesday morning where he was formally arraigned on a drug possession charge.

Jesus Rafael Larrazolo, 35, entered a plea of not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Felix Recio on a charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

According to a federal indictment, the violation involved five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine.

Larrazolo was remanded back to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. He waved briefly to his family as he was escorted out of the courtroom.

Larrazolo's pre-trial date for further judicial considerations in the case has been set for Feb. 3. Jury selection is scheduled for Feb. 5.

While employed as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, Larrazolo was arrested on Nov. 21 in the parking lot of Best Buy in Brownsville as he was loading his car with cocaine, Brownsville police said, adding that he had just received the cocaine from another man, who fled the scene. Police said they do not know who the other individual is.

Brownsville police were conducting unrelated surveillance when they saw Larrazolo with suspicious suitcases that carried the cocaine, according to police.

As of Tuesday, Recio still had not ruled on a motion that could lead to the release of Larrazolo from jail on $500,000 bond. Larrazolo's attorney, Noe Garza, filed a motion requesting the judge to accept property owned by Larrazolo's aunt and uncle as collateral for the former trooper's release. The land is valued at $454,842.

Larrazolo's relatives, Jorge Emilio Larrazolo Rubio and Concepcion Elisa Martinez Isla, said they would not pledge their property if they believed their nephew was a flight risk, according to court documents.

Although pre-trial services during a Nov. 26 detention hearing recommended Jesus Rafael Larrazolo's bond be set at $100,000, Recio declined the recommendation and set the $500,000 bond.

During that hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lancaster asked that the former trooper be held without bond because of fears he would flee to Mexico.

FBI authorities earlier said that Jesus Rafael Larrazolo's family ties in Mexico are powerful and wealthy enough that he would be in a position to safely hide from authorities.

Another Cleveland City Officer Arrested

There have been two more arrests in an ongoing series of investigations at the Cleveland Police Department.

A former police officer was arrested Monday on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Dennis Hughes, 33, had already been arrested last month in connection with a shooting investigation and drug investigation. He resigned his position at that time.

Also arrested on Monday was Cleveland Police Officer Nathan Thomas, 37.

Thomas was arrested in connection with the shooting and drug investigation, which has so far resulted in the arrests of three city police officers and a Cleveland physician.

A fourth Cleveland police officer, Chris Mason, remains on leave as a result of an injury to his hand when he was shot by Hughes.

Arrested Monday, shortly before 1 a.m., Hughes was leaving the home of Cleveland Officer Nathan Thomas with a 16-year-old girl in his vehicle, according to court records.

Court records state the girl's mother contacted the Cleveland Police Department Sunday afternoon and reported her daughter missing.

The woman told officers she thought her daughter was with Hughes.

According to reports, a Bradley County Deputy located Hughes early Monday morning, leaving Thomas' home with the girl.

The deputy initiated a traffic stop at the intersection of Lauderdale Highway and Mouse Creek Road and alerted police he had located the missing teen-ager.

According to court documents, several empty beer containers and various prescription medication belonging to Hughes were found in the vehicle.

Reports state the girl was under the influence of alcohol and was charged with consumption of alcohol by someone younger than 21.

Hughes was also arrested Dec. 18 and charged with aggravated perjury, filing a false report and two counts of aggravated assault by reckless endangerment as a result of an investigation into the shooting Nov. 30.

That incident was first reported as an accidental shooting.

According to initial reports, Mason and Officer Jonathan Hammons -- who were on duty -- were at the home of Hughes, who was off duty, shortly before midnight on Nov. 30.

An internal investigation into that incident by the Cleveland Police Department continues.

Both, Hammons and Thomas were suspended without pay pending the outcome of the investigation, after the investigation into the shooting resulted in a prescription belonging to Thomas being found in Hughes' vehicle.

Thomas was booked into the Bradley County Jail Monday and was charged with prescription fraud, possession of Schedule II and III narcotics for resale and simple possession of a Schedule V narcotic.

Thomas has been under investigation by the 10th Judicial Drug Task Force and is accused of selling prescription medications he has received by prescription from Dr. James W. Sego. Sego was arrested Dec. 18 and charged with felony counts of illegally selling prescription painkillers and other drugs.

According to reports, Sego prescribed Thomas more than 6,000 oxycodones and 1,100 hydrocodones within one year's time.

According to the search warrant served by the Drug Task Force, when agents searched Thomas' home in December they found "a large cardboard box with extremely large amounts of various drugs, samples, etc. (too numerous to list individually)," weapons, syringes and cell phones. The search warrant also indicated agents found, "one white plastic snorting device (ink pen) with yellow residue" in the master bedroom in a decorative drawer near the top of the dresser, along with several other items, such as "one prescription box w/1 glass vial inside labeled DEPO-Testosterone."

Thomas was released on a $10,000 bond Monday.

Judge Joe Enos Stopped for Speeding, but Didn't Recieve Ticket

Duncan, Oklahoma

A Stephens County District Judge is in hot water following a traffic stop in Duncan. An officer who pulled Judge Joe Enos over for speeding Thursday morning says the judge called him a derogatory name after getting out of his car and arguing with the officer about whether he was speeding. Enos is responding to the allegations, but the Duncan City Attorney is telling the police department not to discuss the incident or release any information about the stop - including dash-cam video recording the encounter. However, late on Friday afternoon, an open records request was approved.

Judge Enos was on his way to the Duncan Simmons Center at about 5 a.m., when an officer says he witnessed the judge driving a little too fast. He followed him into the parking lot until the judge stopped. "It appears that the intent of the stop was to advise the judge that he was exceeding the speed limit," said Duncan City Attorney James Frieda.

After he stopped, the judge did something that police are constantly warning people not to do - he exited his vehicle and began walking toward the officer. The audio on the dash-cam recording reveals that the officer tried to stop him. The officer was unaware who the driver was, and tells the judge he should have stayed in his car. The officer asks for the man's license and insurance - that's when he realizes who the driver is. "Judge Enos," said the officer.

Enos tells the officer that he was driving 35 miles per hour, but the officer says he clocked him at 37 miles per hour, in a 30. "Are going to write me a ticket?" asked Enos. "No, I'm not going to write you a ticket," said Officer Alvarez. At that point, the judge walks away. However, according to the officer, Enos turned and called the officer a derogatory name. "The police officer there, I would assume, has full control of the situation, has the authority to make the stop, has the authority to detain the individual, the authority to issue a citation, and chose not to do that," said Frieda.

The judge did not wish to talk in person, instead he released the following statement:

"When Officer Alvarez stopped me early Thursday morning, while I thought I was travelling 35 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone, Officer Alvarez was apparently correct that I had travelled out of the 35-mile-per-hour zone into a 30-mile-per-hour zone. Officer Alvarez was very professional at all times. I regret that the officer took offense to what he thought he might have heard. I said nothing derogatory, offensive or confrontational to Officer Alvarez. I will have no other comment on this matter."

The city attorney says he doesn't know whether Enos' statement is true or not. "The officer who gave the interview indicated there was a derogatory statement made," said Frieda. "Whether, in fact, that occurred, I can't tell you that, because I don't know."

Frieda says that since there was no citation issued, there will be no official action taken by the City of Duncan. We asked the city attorney for a copy of the officer's incident report on the traffic stop, but we were told there isn't one - only a confidential report that will not be released to the public.