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Crack vs. powder cocaine convictions see new law on sentencing (0)

Posted in Illegal Drugs July 29th, 2010 @ 8:55 am by Linda 

The U.S. Congress is planning to reduce sentencing differences between crack and powder cocaine convictions. For the last 24 years higher sentences were given for possession of crack when compared to powder cocaine convictions.

Under the current law possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine results in a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence. The same five-year prison sentence applies to a person convicted of trafficking 500 grams of powder cocaine. The new legislation would apply the five-year term for possession of 28 grams or an ounce of crack. This is about the average amount a dealer carries for sale.

As a result a person convicted of crack cocaine possession will get the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine.

The reason for changing the conviction law is the result of the disparity between sentencing for blacks and whites who possess the same amount of the drug whether in powder form or in crack form. Blacks make up 30 percent of crack users and account for more than 80 percent of those convicted of federal crack offenses. The legislation will reduce the ratio to about 18-1.

The Senate and House have passed the legislation it now goes to the President for signature.

Medical Marijuana businesses owners hit a bump in the road (0)

Posted in Medical Marijuana July 28th, 2010 @ 10:13 am by Linda 

According to the DEA, 18 percent of medical marijuana center owners have been convicted of felonies. In addition, more than half of the medical marijuana center owners in Colorado have criminal arrest or conviction records. These owners have been convicted of crimes such as dealing drugs, sexual assaults, burglaries and weapons charges.

Kevin Merrill, assistant special agent in charge for the Denver field division said, “This business seems to have an inappropriate number of people with criminal backgrounds involved as business owners.” This is a “Duh” moment to say the least.

He continues, “I would be hard-pressed to find any other business group where their members have so many criminal violations, arrests and convictions.”- Another “Duh” moment.

DEA statistics show while only 8 percent of Colorado’s adult population has been arrested for drug crimes, 28 percent of the medical marijuana center owners have drug histories. Statistics show that charges include 77 cases of assault, 22 burglaries, 34 cases of domestic violence, 11 rapes, 29 weapons charges and four arrests for murder, attempted murder and/or involvement in a homicide.

However, beginning August 1st when new rules take effect, these felons will be denied business licenses for their medical marijuana business. The rules prohibit anyone with a drug felony conviction or anyone with a felony sentence within the last five years from obtaining a medical marijuana center license in Colorado.

In addition, the licensing fees are high which may discourage business owners to apply for a license. As a result the state expects that the number of medical marijuana centers in the state to be reduced by 50 percent. Currently, 1,100 medical marijuana centers are operating in Colorado.

Sexual predators and cell phones (0)

Posted in Sex Offenders July 27th, 2010 @ 2:27 pm by Linda 

Criminal sexual predators are getting smarter these days. They no longer are using computers to communicate with kids. Instead they are using cell phones, primarily texting features to stalk our kids.
Recently, a seventeen year old girl found out that her “friend” was a thirty year old sexual predator communicating with her via her cell phone.

The girl and the predator texted a lot and seemed to have much in common. When she received naked pictures of the man, she was afraid to tell her parents. Eventually, he showed up at her school and this is when her parents stepped in. They signed up for My Mobile Watchdog. This is a surveillance program that monitors her phone. Of course the girl was angry however this may have saved her life.

In the two years since My Mobile Watchdog has been available, police have arrested 180 people who texted inappropriate messages to kids. The program tracks pictures, messages and tells parents if a phone number they haven’t approved is calling. All of this information is sent to the parents’ account.

My Mobile Watchdog is available in 12 jurisdictions across the country. Police use it for surveillance service and have arrested 315 predators. Ninety percent of the arrested predators did not have previous criminal records.
This service is affordable – $9.95 per month for up to five children per family.

The technology currently works with smart phones but the company is working with other cell carriers to make the service cheaper and more accessible.

Tough judge gives tough sentence to con man (0)

Posted in Criminal Courts July 20th, 2010 @ 11:29 am by Linda 

According to a recent article in the Star Tribune, U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum didn’t give Timothy Beliveau any slack. Beliveau was charged with a mortgage fraud scheme that fleeced unwitting investors and homeowners who were struggling to escape foreclosure.

Beliveau used the proceeds of the money to pay for boats, mansions and diamonds. He admitted to tax evasion and money laundering charges. His lawyer claimed that the scheme was related to Beliveau’s ultimate failed effort to rescue his business.

Judge Rosenbaum didn’t take any of Beliveau’s politeness or excuses because he was a con man stealing from innocent people. In fact ,when Beliveau admitted he was responsible for everything, Jude Rosenbaum told him that he wasn’t responsible he was guilty.

Beliveau’s attorney asked the judge to let him serve his time in a South Dakota federal pen. The judge denied the request. Beliveau’s attorney asked the judge to give him one more month to get his affairs in order. The Judge denied the request. In fact the Judge told Beliveau to grow up and live a better life.

He sentenced Beliveau to seven years in prison starting immediately. Now that’s a great judge looking out for the folks.

Health care fraud dragnet catches 94 suspects (0)

Posted in Crime Prevention July 19th, 2010 @ 8:59 am by Linda 

Last week, Miami, Florida pulled in their dragnet to catch 94 suspects charged with Medicare fraud. This stepped up criminal enforcement also stopped other fraud in other cities plotting to fleece $251 million from Medicare.

The authorities used an orchestrated crackdown in five major U.S. cities that coincided with the nation’s first health care fraud summit in Miami. Miami is considered the nation’s capital of Medicare corruption. Other arrests include 36 suspects in Miami, Brooklyn, Baton Rouge, Houston and Detroit.

In Miami-Dade, 24 suspects were charged with submitting about $103 million in fraudulent bills for home health care, HIV therapy and medical equipment services. All but three were arrested. In Detroit, a doctor was accused of setting up clinics to treat HIV patients who either didn’t receive the therapy or didn’t need it.

In Brooklyn, NY undercover agents and wiretaps were used. Agents wire tapped a medical center, where eight people were charged with running a $72 million scheme. They were submitting bogus claims for physical therapy and occupational therapy for elderly Russian immigrants. In addition, the clinic owners paid patients for using their Medicare numbers. Hanging on the wall in Russian were signs showing a woman with a finger to her lips and two messages in Russian: “Don’t Gossip” and “Be on the lookout: In these days, the walls talk.”

The magnitude Medicare fraud in Florida is amazing. Florida mental health clinics submitted $421 million in bills to Medicare last year — about four times more than Texas and 635 times higher than Michigan. According to government records Florida is infested with health-care rackets that lead to fraud.

Skimmers hitting gas stations (0)

Posted in Identity Theft July 18th, 2010 @ 8:53 am by Linda 

Recently in Aurora, Colorado, the police have issued a crime alert to gas stations throughout the city. They have found a credit card skimming device inside a gas pump that captures your financial information. This device uses the magnetic strip on the back of your credit or debit cards every time you swipe your card to pay for gas. This is similar to ATM skimmers that these low-life criminals were using.

This is how it works. Once the skimmers get your credit or debit information, these criminals use card and PIN numbers to clone credit cards or make online purchases with your credit or debit card.

Somehow these criminals have found a generic gas pump key to gain access to the gas pump and installed the skimmers. The skimmers have access directly to the bank card reader.

Because the skimmer is hidden inside the pump it’s almost impossible to detect. While the ATM’s skimmers were obvious, you could see that a device was attached to the outside of the ATM machine.

The best way to stop this type of scam is for both the gas station owners and you to be very vigilant. Police are asking gas station owners to check inside their pumps for the devices and to watch for anyone within 50 yards of their business using a laptop. This is one way these criminals retrieve financial information, wirelessly. Police are also asking gas station owners to put surveillance video at their pumps.

You can help out as well by making sure that you review your gasoline bill monthly or even on line to make sure that you made the transactions on your bill.

Scammers using new technique to steal your money (0)

Posted in Scams July 14th, 2010 @ 3:32 pm by Linda 

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has issued an alert warning to consumers about scammers. These scammers are calling people and offering prize money from the BBB.

Of course, the BBB does not offer any type of prize money for anything. The scammer, who has been identified as James Manley calls and says that he is offering $150,000 prize money from a BBB raffle. But first, you need to give him your bank account information so he can deposit this wonderful prize money into your bank.

That is the first sign that this is a scam. Thankfully, some people have hung up on him and reported him to law enforcement.

James Manley isn’t the only one calling with this scam, Frank Carter is also using the same scam. It seems that these people are calling from a Jamaican number. Frank Carter has a different twist to his scam. He calls and says that you have won the BBB raffle but he needs $250 wired to him through Western Union so he can pay the taxes on the prize money – another scam.

If you get any type of calls like this asking for money from you or your bank account number, law enforcement suggests you get all the information from them and hang up and call the BBB, or US Postal Inspector or even your state’s Bureau of Investigation with the information.

Remember; never give out any personal information to anyone on the phone or through emails. If it sounds too good to be true – it is.

Will wrong software computer code exonerate Minnesota drunk drivers? (0)

Posted in Law Enforcement News July 9th, 2010 @ 11:26 am by Linda 

Law enforcement in Minnesota use Intoxilyzer 5000EN for roadside breath tests. Now defense lawyers for more than 2,000 accused drunk drivers say they were provided the wrong software computer code and need more time to review the information before an October trial to challenge the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer.

Defense lawyers say that they found discrepancies between the required software in the Intoxilyzer the defense leased from the state. In addition, the state admitted there was such a discrepancy in an Otter Tail County machine. As a result, defense lawyers are asking judges to throw out tests from the machine because it is inaccurate and untested.

One of the defense lawyers was provided a software code last month that didn’t match the code used in Minnesota machines that may make the Intoxilyzer results faulty. In addition, the question is if one Intoxilyzer has a defective code, how many more of the machines have the same code? The state said that of all the Intoxilyzers they have approximately 264, the remaining machines have the correct code. Defense laywers want to test at least a dozen machines – six from the Twin Cities and six from greater Minnesota – to ensure that all the machines are providing the correct code.

However, prosecutors claim that the machines are accurate but until this issue is resolved, law enforcement has turned to relying on blood and urine tests for suspected drunk drivers. In the meantime, all the DWI trials are on hold until tests can be done.

Gang members arrested in Twin Cities (0)

Posted in Gangs July 8th, 2010 @ 12:28 pm by Linda 

ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office) of Homeland Security announced that they arrested 18 men during a weeklong drug operation. They targeted gang members in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area.

Of the 18 men arrested, 15 of them are known gang members or associates of the Vatos Locos street gang. The other men are members or associates of the Sureno-13 gang. Some of the suspects were in the U.S. illegally and awaiting deportation. One of the men is in Hennepin County jail for attempted murder charge.

It seems that gangs like Vatos Locos are becoming more involved in illegal drugs and selling these drugs in Minnesota. The weeklong operation ended on July 2, with ICE working with police in Richfield, Bloomington and Minneapolis. This type of operation was part of a national initiative to target gangs.

New crime fighting tool helps police (0)

Posted in Law Enforcement News July 2nd, 2010 @ 11:18 am by Linda 

If you like technological gadgets, you’ll love this one. This crime-fighting tool helps police track down stolen cars in seconds.

In Colorado, the police and sheriff’s agencies in Adams County can run license plates on fourteen vehicles in about five seconds. Cameras are mounted on police cars. These cameras automatically scan license plates and provide vehicle information from each parked or moving car.

The system can scan up to 3,600 license plates per hour or 15 plates per second. Officers can drive 60 mph down the road and scan plates at the same time. The plate readers work either day or night. The information is checked instantly against databases and can identify stolen vehicles, drivers with active warrants and even sex offenders driving the car. In addition, the technology can be used to find children in Amber Alerts.

In one month, Commerce City, Thornton Police and the Adams County Sheriffs Department have made two felony arrests and recovered two stolen vehicles. Adams County plans to equip all their vehicles soon. A grant from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority paid for the first three.

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