Saturday, August 15, 2009

Deputy Cornelius Flowers Charged with Theft

A Peach County sheriff’s deputy and a Fort Valley contractor are accused of selling stolen lawn tractors, authorities said.

Cornelius Flowers was charged with one count of theft by taking, three counts of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of theft by deception, said Craig Rotter, assistant special agent in charge of the GBI’s Perry office.

Flowers, 41, who headed the shared Peach County drug unit, has been under investigation for several months, Rotter said.

Darreyl Bryant, 43, a Fort Valley contractor, also was charged with one count of theft by taking, three counts of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of theft by deception, Rotter said.

Flowers allegedly helped Bryant sell stolen Kubota and John Deere lawn tractors, including a Kubota lawn tractor stolen March 23 from Walker Rhodes Tractor Co. in Perry. That lawn tractor was recovered in Taylor County, and the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Perry Police Department, which was investigating the theft. The agencies contacted the GBI for assistance.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said he was notified by the GBI about the investigation about four months ago.

“It was really hard to believe. I’ve known him (Flowers) all those years and he’s been a really good employee all those years,” Deese said.

After his arrest Aug. 4 by the GBI, Flowers was suspended without pay pending his expected termination, Deese said.

Flowers, who has worked for the sheriff’s office for 19 years, had no prior disciplinary action, the sheriff said. “He’s always been one of our best,” Deese said. “It just goes to show you that even good people make poor decisions.”

Flowers is free on a $62,500 bond, and Bryant is free on a $22,500 bond, Rotter said.

Anyone who may have purchased equipment from Flowers or Bryant is asked to contact the GBI at 987-4545.

Otherwise, should the GBI recover more stolen equipment, the person who has possession of it may be charged with theft by receiving stolen property, Rotter said.

Judge Will Decide if Drew Peterson's Murder Trial Should be Moved

A Will County judge says he'll decide Oct. 2 if Drew Peterson's murder trial should be moved because of pretrial publicity.

Judge Stephen White listened Friday to arguments from both sides. Peterson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Peterson's attorneys say much of the intense publicity surrounding the case has been negative and inflammatory and would prevent Peterson from getting to get a fair trial in Will County.

They also say Peterson may have arrested or ticketed potential jurors or their family members during his three decades as a police officer.

State's Attorney James Glasgow says a fair trial is possible, but if it became clear during jury questioning that it wasn't, he'd agree to a move.

Aaron James Joseph Accused of Pointing Weapon at Wife's Head

A Tacoma police officer accused of pointing a gun at his wife’s head and threatening to kill one of his colleagues pleaded not guilty Friday to two felonies.

Aaron James Joseph, 27, was allowed to remain free on the $15,000 bail he posted following his arrest Thursday by Puyallup police. Joseph is charged with second-degree assault and felony harassment.

The Tacoma Police Department put Joseph on paid administrative leave Aug. 5 after learning that he reportedly had committed an act of domestic violence against his wife and also had threatened a fellow officer, the department said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

The department launched an internal investigation and asked Puyallup police to investigate the case for possible criminal charges, according to the statement.

Joseph works as a night-shift patrol officer and has been on the force for nearly three years, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said.

Puyallup police Lt. Dave McDonald said Friday his department established probable cause to arrest Joseph and took him into custody Thursday without incident.

“We got to a point where we needed to arrest him for the safety of all involved,” McDonald said.

Joseph’s wife has accused her husband of pointing a gun at her and threatening to kill her on June 16 during “an argument surrounding her alleged infidelity,” Puyallup police said in a news release.

McDonald said Joseph later threatened to kill the Tacoma police officer he suspects was having an affair with his wife.

Joseph’s wife, Lindsey Joseph, sought a protection order against her husband on Tuesday.

In it, she accuses him of putting a gun to her head “for no more than 5 seconds” and of threatening to kill her and then himself.

Her husband allegedly told her, “It will be like Braim (sic). I will do you and then me,” she wrote in her petition. A Superior Court commissioner granted her a temporary protection order based on her statements.

Tacoma police chief David Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, then himself in 2003.

Joseph is expected to hire an attorney and return to court Sept. 1 for a pre-trial hearing.

Undercover Officer Charged with Street Racing

An undercover Durham Regional Police officer had his cover blown Wednesday by an unlikely suspect: the Ontario Provincial Police, who charged him with street racing and impounded his unmarked police car.

The incident was No. 3 in a curious summer string of embarrassing driving-related arrests involving GTA emergency personnel. In late June, a Toronto deputy fire chief was charged with street racing. In July, a Toronto paramedic and union leader was charged with stealing an ambulance.

The 34-year-old male Durham officer, a 10-year veteran of the force, was accused of driving 150 km/h or faster on Highway 115 in Peterborough County on Wednesday afternoon. The OPP would not release his name for fear the disclosure would compromise his work.

In addition to losing his police car, the officer's driver's licence was suspended for a week. He could face professional discipline, depending on the facts and outcome of the case, said Durham Insp. Bruce Townley. He said the incident was "extremely disappointing," given the force's focus on road safety.

Toronto deputy fire chief Daryl Fuglerud's driver's licence was suspended and his department SUV was impounded when he was charged for driving faster than 150 km/h on June 26. He said he was late for a funeral.

Glenn Fontaine, a paramedic and the ambulance unit chair of Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, was charged with theft and mischief after an ambulance with a union poster on it was abandoned with its lights flashing outside city hall early on June 22, the first day of the city workers' strike.