Category: Law

Protect and Serve at the highest level — emphasis on High!


Bags of heroin recovered from Lowry’s car

An FBI agent in the District fired for stealing heroin, collected as evidence, for his personal use has been charged with 64 criminal offenses and, through his attorney, said he would plead guilty and focus on avoiding a drug relapse.

The 33-year-old former agent, Matthew Lowry, had been part of a team targeting violent drug traffickers who cross between Maryland and the District. His misconduct compromised cases and forced the dismissal of charges against 28 defendants. It also exposed weaknesses in the handling of drug evidence in the FBI’s Washington field office…

The case represents a stunning turn for the Maryland resident, who graduated near the top of his class at the University of Maryland, earned a graduate degree while working full time for the FBI and tried to follow his father’s distinguished career in law enforcement. He was found six months ago, seemingly incoherent, on a lot near Southeast Washington’s Navy Yard with open bags of heroin in his agency car…

Friends had noticed Lowry’s erratic behavior, but knew that he had a new baby at home and was having trouble in his marriage. They took Lowry to a fellow agent’s apartment that night.

But the next day, agents were cleaning out the trash in the car when they found the drugs. Inside were evidence bags, full of heroin, that had been cut open…

The Washington Post obtained more than 600 pages of internal documents, memos and transcripts of interviews with Lowry’s fellow agents that detail how he managed to obtain the drugs and the personal events leading to his downfall.

In those documents, Lowry described how he took advantage of procedures that allowed a single agent to sign out drugs for lab analysis and did not track whether the packages reached their purported destination. As a result, Lowry was able to store drug evidence in his car, sometimes for as long as a year, with no questions asked. Lowry described how he forged signatures of agents on forms and evidence seals, repackaged drugs in bags and used store-bought laxatives to replaced heroin he had taken to avoid discrepancies in package weight…

Many of the 28 defendants whose cases were dismissed had already pleaded guilty and had been sent to prison, some for up to 10 years or more. Within two months, all of them had been freed and sent home with the convictions erased. Those charges had been filed based solely or substantially on drug evidence that Lowry stole from.

A scary example of unintended consequences – even from a drug addict.

Suspending kids for using marijuana leads to more – not less – pot use

Suspending kids from school for using marijuana is likely to lead to more — not less — pot use among their classmates, a new study finds.

Counseling was found to be a much more effective means of combating marijuana use. And while enforcement of anti-drug policies is a key factor in whether teens use marijuana, the way schools respond to policy violators matters greatly.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and in Australia, compared drug policies at schools in Washington state and Victoria, Australia, to determine how they impacted student marijuana use.

The results startled researchers: Students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year — and that was the case with the student body as a whole, not just those who were suspended

By contrast, the study found that students attending schools with policies of referring pot-using students to a school counselor were almost 50 percent less likely to use marijuana. Other ways of responding to policy violators — sending them to educational programs, referring them to a school counselor or nurse, expelling them or calling the police — were found to have no significant impact on marijuana use…

The researchers were initially most interested in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes, Catalano said. But after Washington legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in 2012, researchers decided to take a closer look at the data to determine how legalization might influence students in Washington versus their counterparts in Australia, where pot remains illegal…

Of course, the same applies to alcohol, cigarettes, unneeded stimulants – and watching reality TV.

NYC coppers edited Wikipedia pages trying to hide police brutality

A new report from Capital New York claims thousands of edits to Wikipedia articles related to police brutality can be traced to the NYPD headquarters.

“Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters’ network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo,” the report says. “Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia.”

The report claims the NYPD edits also applied to pages referencing the department’s stop-and-frisk policy and certain political leaders. The edits appear to have been occurring for the past 10 years.

“Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” the report claims. “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was also added to a page referencing Eric Garner’s death at one point.

All of the edits appear to be an attempt to minimize the controversy related to police killings and to improve the image of people connected to the police department.

At street level, corrupt cops are more disgusting than corrupt politicians. Protect and serve is not supposed to mean “protect bad cops – and serve your political bosses”. Yet – in New York City, Chicago, Ferguson, Confederate states beholden to racism essential to their ideology – it feels like no honest cop is ever allowed to stay honest.

Cops with computers are apparently as willing to lie about history, cover-up their bigotry with lies, as any Texas school board.

Dumb crook of the day

Joey Patterson

An Idaho fugitive was caught Saturday after he made a post on Facebook inviting friends to join him at batting practice in Boise.

KTVB TV station in Boise says…that Caldwell police officers showed up at the softball field after seeing the post on social media and arrested 22-year-old Joey Patterson.

He was wanted on a felony warrant for violating his probation on a fraud case out of Twin Falls. Patterson was booked into Canyon County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

Caldwell Police Sgt. Joey Hoadley says police often use social media to track down a fugitive. Hoadley says “even fugitives can’t keep from updating their Facebook status, and it leads to some great arrests.”

Har!

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. You don’t become a petty crook because you’re extra smart.

Pic of the Day


Aluminum robocops

In the teeming capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, where drivers often flout traffic rules, five chunky, arm-waving robots equipped with cameras and lights have been set up to watch over the roads.

The solar-powered aluminium robots are huge, towering over the jammed streets of Kinshasa, as cars and motorcyles jostle for road room, their horns blasting.

Each hand on the odd-looking machines – built to withstand the year-round hot climate – is fitted with green and red lights that regulate the flow of traffic in the sprawling city of nine million.

The robots are also equipped with rotating chests and surveillance cameras that record the flow of traffic and send real-time images to the police station.

Don’t mess with these coppers!

Lone Wolf domestic terrorism on the rise

As the White House prepares to host a major summit examining the threat of violent extremism…a Southern Poverty Law Center study of domestic terrorism…finds that the vast majority of this violence is coming from “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups composed of no more than two people.

The report – Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism (download a PDF)– examines more than 60 domestic terror incidents. Almost three-quarters of the incidents were carried out, or planned, by a lone wolf, a single person acting without accomplices. Ninety percent of the incidents were the work of no more than two persons.

The study, which included violence from both the radical right and homegrown jihadists, also found that a domestic terrorist attack or foiled attack occurred, on average, every 34 days. It covered a period between April 1, 2009 and Feb. 1, 2015, and was based on records maintained by Indiana State University and the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, along with the SPLC’s own roster of apparent domestic terror incidents…

A timeline included with the report details a lengthy list of deadly attacks and plots across the country. They include a 2014 rampage in Nevada by a husband and wife with anti-government views that left two police officers and another man dead, a 2012 attack on a Wisconsin Sikh temple by a long-time neo-Nazi that killed six victims, and a 2010 attack that left an Internal Revenue Service manager dead after a man who had attended radical anti-tax group meetings crashed his single-engine plane into an IRS office in Austin, Texas.

RTFA – and please consider reading the report. The SPLC has been around forever and they are a great source for thoroughly documented reports on the nutballs who constitute a threat to us all.

Copper busted for using stolen license plate — ignored 500+ tickets

oliu

A police detective faces felony charges for using stolen license plates to avoid tolls on Florida’s Turnpike.

Sweetwater police detective Octavio Oliu surrendered Thursday, more than a year after he was suspended from the tiny, scandal-ridden department in Miami-Dade County…

Sweetwater Mayor Jose Diaz said 42-year-old Oliu had been on unpaid leave…

The investigation began in August 2013 when a highway patrol trooper stopped Oliu’s SUV. The trooper ran a computer check of the Michigan license plate and found it had been reported stolen.

Oliu is accused of racking up over 500 SunPass toll violations and red-light camera citations.

He’s charged with official misconduct and organized scheme to defraud.

What’s his claim for innocence? He was working undercover? He didn’t notice he had a Michigan plate on his car?

Har!

Alaska becomes 3rd state with legal weed

Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don’t expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

In the state’s largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors.

Placing Alaska in the same category as Washington state and Colorado with legal marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the Alaska state constitution.

When they voted 53-47 percent last November to legalize marijuana use by adults in private places, they left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out.

That has left confusion on many matters.

There’s a surprise, eh?

That’s left different communities across the state to adopt different standards of what smoking in public means to them. In Anchorage, officials tried and failed in December to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. But Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. He even warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park.

But far to the north, in North Pole, smoking outdoors on private property will be OK as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance, officials there said…

In some respects, the confusion continues a four-decade reality for Alaskans and their relationship with marijuana.

Alaska has been burdened sufficiently with conservatives, religious nutballs and rightwing libertarians to have had any number of changes over the last four decades about what to do over getting a little mellow, being a drunk, how and where to have sex. This is just part of the whole package.

Fortunately, the Leftish flavor of libertarianism plus progressive Dems and Independents seems to be prevailing this week.

Who can sort out your online world after you shuffle off this mortal coil?

image

Facebook…has finally decided how to handle the photos and friend requests of its deceased users. In Facebook’s settings, people can now appoint a friend or family member to be in charge of their legacy. The person gets to make one last public post, download all their loved one’s Facebook photos, and respond to friend requests.

The decision was applauded by estate planners—especially because it gets around the issue of needing a password to get into people’s accounts. Yet it doesn’t solve all the problems around online information after death.

For example, what happens if a user dies, and family members want to see private messages to get clues about whether it was a suicide? Using their password to get into the account, which is banned by Facebook’s terms of service, would violate federal privacy laws, says James Lamm, a principal at a Minnesota firm in charge of estate planning. Appointing a legacy account handler on Facebook also isn’t legally binding and doesn’t transfer any of the intellectual property on videos or poetry the person may have posted, he said.

For attorneys such as Lamm…the infrastructure of the digital world has created countless barriers for clients seeking to access bank accounts, find answers surrounding a death, or simply collect all the memories they can about the person they lost. Passwords, terms of service, encryption, and cloud storage all complicate the search for information required after a death.

Inconsistency – therefore uncertaincy – remains through the breadth of online providers. The article goes on to note a few and makes suggestions. My own unqualified advice is to sort out reponsibility, administrative rights, by assigning someone the rights to your intellectual property just as you would with real property.

It’s a new world; so, a new set of questions has to be answered. As usual in our society, the questions become pointed when dealing with something of value.

Mississippi Bill puts Jesus at the wheel — without qualifying drivers license

A few years ago, someone created a Facebook event page for “Jesus, Take the Wheel” Day. It encouraged Christian drivers to remove their hands for a total of five minutes on the highway on a particular day and let Jesus control the car.

That turned out to be a joke (thankfully), but Mississippi legislators may soon pass a very real bill that lets people get behind the wheel of a vehicle they have no business driving… as long as it’s church-owned:

House members on Thursday [Feb. 5] passed a bill exempting mid-sized church buses from the state’s commercial driver’s license requirements, prompting one lawmaker to call it the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.”

The bill, HB 132, would help congregations lacking a CDL-certified driver transport up to 30 passengers in a church-owned vehicle…

Current law requires CDL-certified drivers for any vehicle transporting more than 16 passengers, including the driver. The bill would amend that law to exempt church buses designed to carry 30 passengers or less.

It’s a ridiculous and potentially-harmful exemption. Keep in mind that obtaining a CDL license isn’t that hard. You simply have to pass a written test, a driving test, and a physical exam…

If state officials care so little about the safety of passengers in these church-owned vehicles — and the people who have to be on the road with these drivers — they may as well just pass a bill allowing Jesus to take the wheel.

An automatic parallel with the stupidity of allowing religious/philosophical exemptions from vaccination. Just as safety amd the public good is the mandate for public health regulations the same is true for regulations affecting travel on public highways.

There really is no need to debate every portion of the Constitution that bothers superstitious people who think the safety of their holy butts is guaranteed by some wraith in the clouds.