Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deputy Roger Holbrook Arrested for Attempting to Sell Oxycodone

Roger Lee Holbrook, 56, of Morehead, chief deputy sheriff of Rowan County, was indicted May 7 in Lexington for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, attempting to aid and abet the distribution of oxycodone and possession of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.

He is being held in the Carter County Detention Center without bond. His initial court appearance is set for today at 11 a.m. in Pikeville, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The indictment alleges Holbrook conspired with others to distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone beginning on an unknown date and continuing through on or about April 14, 2008 in Rowan County.

The indictment also alleges that on or about July 24 and Nov. 3, 2008 in Bath County, Holbrook attempted to aid and abet the distribution of a quantity of pills containing oxycodone.

Holbrook also is charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of the drug trafficking crime committed on July 24, 2008 in Bath County.

Holbrook was arrested at 10:15 a.m. May 15 at the Midland Frosty Freeze parking lot without incident by ATF agents (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and members of Kentucky State Police. Holbrook had been at the restaurant with Rowan County Sheriff Jack Carter.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the ATF and KSP. The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant United States Attorney Ron L. Walker Jr.

If convicted on the conspiracy and attempt charges, Holbrook faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

If convicted on the firearm charge, Holbrook would be subject to a mandatory five-year sentence that is consecutive to any other sentence imposed. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. sentencing guidelines and the federal statute governing sentences.

Holbrook retired from Morehead State in 1996 as coordinator of investigations and special program. He also had been acting director of safety and security. Holbrook has been with the sheriff’s office since 1996.

An indictment is an accusation only and does not represent guilt.


Officer Accused of Coercing Women into Sex Wants Closed Court Hearing

An attorney for a suspended Greece police officer accused of coercing two women into sex wants a closed-court hearing on attempts by prosecutors to introduce at trial other alleged “bad acts” committed by the officer.

Attorney Scott Green, who represents suspended officer Gary Pignato, filed a request Tuesday asking that a filing from the District Attorney’s Office be sealed. The filing from the DA’s Office, known as a Molineux filing, is a record that typically outlines other “bad acts” or crimes prosecutors allege were committed by a defendant.

Green also asked that County Court Judge Alex Renzi close a pre-trial hearing where the judge would determine whether the allegations could be allowed at trial.

In his motion, Green contends that there is a good chance the information could not be permitted at trial. He also argues that, if publicly released, the allegations in the Molineux filing would taint the local jury pool.

Pignato’s case “has received almost daily publicity and scrutiny from a number of media outlets,” Green wrote.

Pignato is accused in two separate incidents of coercing women into sex. In his filing, Green does not specify what other allegations are made by the DA’s Office in the Molineux filing but notes that he “believes that all but one of the alleged incidents … have not been made public.”

Attorney Christopher Thomas, who represents the Democrat and Chronicle, said the records should be public, as should the hearing.

"The press serves as the public's eyes and ears in the court, since most people cannot come to court to see what is happening there," Thomas said. "That's why openness is so important. This strong presumption of access includes the pre-trial phase, as in this case."

Thomas said he doubted the publicity would impinge on the likelihood of finding an impartial jury.

"The experience in Monroe County is that fair and impartial juries have been seated in cases which are far more notorious," Thomas said.

Sheriff Charles Morris Pleads Guilty to Fraud & Money Laundering

A Panhandle sheriff arrested on a Las Vegas gambling trip with $5,000 in his pocket and $30,000 in a hotel safe pleaded guilty to fraud, money laundering and other charges Tuesday.

Charles Morris avoided trial by pleading guilty to six counts of conspiracy, theft, fraud and money laundering.

The popular Okaloosa County Sheriff who headed the Florida Sheriff's Association and served on the state board that disciplined law officers for violations of ethics laws was suspended by Gov. Charlie Crist after his arrest.

Morris faces up to 85 years in federal prison and more than $1.5 million in fines.

"I apologize to you and to the court for being here today," Morris told U.S. District Judge Lacey Collier before pleading guilty to each of the six counts against him. Collier set Morris' sentencing for July 28.

Morris refused to answer questions from reporters following Tuesday's brief hearing.

Crist's spokesman, Sterling Ivey, said Morris would remain suspended until his formal sentencing. The governor appointed an interim sheriff after Morris' arrest.

Morris pleaded guilty to pocketing more than $114,000 since 2007 in an illegal employee bonus scheme. His former office manager, Teresa Adams, is also charged in the scheme.

Prosecutors say the pair deposited bonuses in employees' accounts and asked the employees to return a portion of the money to them in cash. They used some of it to finance several first-class Las Vegas gambling trips for themselves and an inner circle of sheriff's office associates.

Morris and Adams were arrested in Las Vegas in February.

Collier said Tuesday that Morris' plea agreement included a provision for him cooperate with federal prosecutors and State Attorney Bill Eddins' office in their ongoing investigations of others in the department.

Among other things, an investigative audit of the department's finances found Morris bought himself 41 new cars during his 12 years in office. Morris frequently traded vehicles and spent more than $170,000 in public money buying GMC Envoys, Chevrolet Impalas and other cars.

Prosecutor Randall Hensel said the FBI unearthed the corruption in the department after an employee came forward and agreed to wear a wire.

Hensel said the $5,000 Morris had in his pocket when FBI agents arrested him in Las Vegas and the $30,000 in the safe were part of the illegal "kickback money," from the bonuses. Hensel said the money to pay the bonuses came from Department of Justice and Homeland Security grants.

Morris' arrest was one of several traumatic episodes for the Okaloose sheriff's office this year.

In April, two Okaloosa deputies were shot and killed by a National Guard soldier they were trying to arrest at a shooting range for domestic battery.

Former Deputy Mark Patrina Arrested for Molesting Children

A former Kern County Sheriff's Deputy faces numerous charges of child molestation.

According to court records, Mark Thomas Patrina, 76, faces six felony counts related to molesting children under the age of 14.

In January, the Bakersfield Police Department said they started a sexual abuse investigation. In April, they submitted the case to the district attorney, and a judge issued a warrant for Patrina's arrest.

The BPD said Patrina was aware of the investigation and that sometime during it, he moved to Aberdeen, Wash.

Patrina was arrested in Aberdeen and extradited back to Kern County.

The BPD said there were multiple victims over many years.

Patrina is due back in court May 26.

Detective Neal Ronald Jr Arrested for DUI

A Tucson police officer has been arrested on a charge of driving under the influence.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday that 38-year-old Detective Neal Ronald Jr. was pulled over Saturday because of an unspecified moving violation.

Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Mark Robinson says Ronald remains on active duty pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Ronald has been with Tucson police nearly 10 years.


DC Mother Says Her Son Was Shot Because He Was Playing With Toy Gun

An outraged D.C. mother says her son was shot by D.C. police officers because, in part, he was playing with a toy gun.

The incident occurred on the 1400 block of Shepherd Street Northwest at around 6 p.m. May 4.

The 12-year-old boy and his dog Boss walk the streets of their neighborhood, but not without fear according to the child's mother, LaShawn English.

"I still can't believe that this happened to my son," she said.

English says the family's dog got out without his leash so her son chased after him down an alley, carrying a plastic Airsoft toy gun that shoots small pellets.

The toys are plastic, but from some online photos, they look quite real. The family suspects someone called the police when they saw what appeared to be someone armed in the alley.

Neighbor Lorena Marshall says she saw the child comply when the officer with his own gun drawn, ordered the child to drop the gun.

"I can hear him say, 'Get down, get down, get down,'" said Marshall. "And then when he cuffed him and I came over here I said, Can't you see it? It's a toy.'"

Police say the dog then charged the officer who shot and wounded the animal. Marshall, however, disputes that account. "No, the dog did not charge. The dog came over in a crouching position," she said.

English says a bullet fragment ricocheted and struck her son in the head. "I was floored. I was stunned. I was shocked," she said.

English says her son was treated and released from the hospital, but police say no injuries were reported to the officer.

Sheriff Raymond Martin Arrested for Drug Trafficking

Sheriff Raymond M. Martin has been the law for nearly 20 years in a struggling southern Illinois county. But federal prosecutors say he's been breaking it lately by peddling pounds of pot, some seized by his own department, often in uniform and from his patrol vehicle.

Authorities on Monday led away a handcuffed Martin, 46, from his small Shawneetown office after his arrest on federal drug trafficking charges accusing him of supplying a dealer he threatened to kill when that man said he wanted out. The Gallatin County sheriff also allegedly pledged to use his authority to shut down rival drug traffickers.

"It's almost beyond belief," said Doug Maier, the sheriff in neighboring White County. Maier called Martin "a pretty low-key guy."

He continued, "Obviously, there was a different side that I've never observed."

Martin was jailed pending a Wednesday detention hearing on three counts of marijuana distribution and two counts of carrying a firearm, his service weapon, while trafficking drugs. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A woman who answered his home telephone refused to comment, and Martin's court-appointed public defender did not immediately return messages.

Martin's job status was unclear Tuesday. Calls to Gallatin County Chairman Randy Drone rang unanswered, while calls to the sheriff's department rolled over to a neighboring dispatch center, which regularly answers calls when no deputies are in Martin's office. No one would say the exact size of Martin's department, other than to say it's small.

Martin's popularity in the county surrounding Shawneetown — boasting little more than a courthouse, a couple of convenience stores and Rudy's barbecue restaurant — swept the Democrat to re-election four times since he took office in 1990.

A criminal complaint accuses him of distributing more than two pounds of marijuana between April 27 and May 11. But an affidavit by Glenn Rountree, an investigator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, suggests Martin's dealings were many times that total.

In a blow-by-blow account painting a picture of a good cop gone bad, Rountree wrote that Martin hatched a marijuana-dealing scheme in November with the drug dealer who later got cold feet.

At that time, Martin handed the dealer, unidentified in court papers, two pounds of pot and asked if the man could "get rid of that" for the sheriff, who promised he'd use his power to protect him if he ever got caught selling. If the dealer didn't comply, Rountree wrote, Martin said he could "make up" a crime against him.

From then until early last month, Martin brought 1- or 2-pound amounts of marijuana on average once every couple of weeks to a rural, secluded meeting spot, Rountree wrote. But the sheriff twice brought 10 pounds and brought 20 pounds another time, according to the affidavit.

The meetings between the two were arranged by cell phone, with the dealer using vague code words Martin supplied to confuse possible eavesdroppers, including investigators, Rountree wrote.

The dealer grew unsettled over time and wanted out, but Martin would have none of that, Rountree wrote. At least twice, the sheriff pulled his service revolver and insisted emphatically to the dealer that making him "disappear" would be "that easy," according to the affidavit.

Rountree suggested the twitchy dealer went to investigators April 9. Over the next several weeks, authorities taped the dealer's conversations with Martin and tracked the sheriff's county-issued Ford Expedition.

At least once, Rountree alleged, the sheriff gave the informant marijuana seeds, saying he could pare his debt to the sheriff by growing pot plants for him.

And the sheriff dispensed advice, cautioning the man that it'd be "silly" for the dealer to get drunk or use pills and "mess it up" because "we got a good thing going."

"(You) won't even have to work and stuff," Rountree said Martin once told the snitch.

Such profit could be particularly attractive in Gallatin County, where the population has slowly eroded in recent decades as many of the region's coal mines closed. Its 9 percent unemployment rate is typical in the region. The median household income, according to 2000 Census Bureau figures, is $26,118.

Martin's county salary was not immediately available, but he received his $6,500 annual stipend from the state this month.

The area received statewide attention in 2005, when a story by the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald noted that the tiny county with little violent crime was getting more homeland security funding per person — more than $300,000 — than any other in Illinois.

The article noted Martin spent "most days battling a thriving methamphetamine trade."

Allegations that Martin himself was dabbling in drugs left locals rattled, in many cases leaving them publicly reticent Tuesday. Still, many there remained in Martin's camp.

"I thought the world of that boy," said Roberta Tarrence, a 78-year-old widow with a quilting business near the county courthouse. "I've known him all of his life, and I know he was a good sheriff."

Judge Brian Kedik Pleads Guilty to DWI

The would-be town judge faces probable jail time.

Brian Kedik, who was elected to Edinburgh Town Judge last year but never took office, pleaded guilty Monday to felony driving while intoxicated, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said.

State Park Police arrested Kedik, 33, on Nov. 11 on the Avenue of the Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park. He had been driving a 2001 Cadillac 43 mph in a 25 mph zone, and was charged with speeding, driving with a suspended license and DWI for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, Murphy said.

Kedik faced a felony because he was charged with a prior misdemeanor last year in Fulton County, Murphy said. Sentencing is set for July 16.

A judge is expected to impose a sentence of five days in the Saratoga County jail, five years of probationary supervision, fines and surcharges totaling $1,295, Murphy said.

Kedik was convicted of larceny last month in Schenectady County for stealing $12,000 from his former mother-in-law.

He was elected to Edinburgh Town Judge in November, but declined the position and was never sworn in after the Nov. 11 arrest. The post was left vacant.

Texas Man Dies After Being Tasered

An unidentified man died Sunday night after police officers used a Taser to subdue him during a struggle. According to reports, the now deceased individual was “tazed” by La Marque police after refusing to cooperate and resisting the officers’ attempts to take him into custody.

La marquee police responded to a call about a man rolling around in a ditch in 2600 block of Main. On arrival police found the apparently intoxicated man made an attempt to take him into custody. Officers struggled with the man in an attempt to make the arrest. During the struggle one officer used a Taser on the man.

An ambulance was called by the officers to evaluate what was at the time called a non-life-threatening injury the man sustained during the struggle.

While in route to Southeast Memorial Hospital the man’s heart stopped. The ambulance was then re-routed to Mainland Center Hospital in Texas City where the man was pronounced dead.

The series of events leading up to the man’s death are being investigated by Galveston County officials and the district attorney’s office. It is not yet clear if the use of the Taser played an integral role in the man’s death.
Picture and More Information: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=6818024