Ancestry.com Helps Family of Dead Boy Find Man Posing as Him

“A Pennsylvania man who assumed the identity of a baby who died in Texas in 1972 has been arrested on charges of Social Security fraud and aggravated identity theft after the baby’s aunt discovered the ruse on Ancestry.com.

Jon Vincent, 44, was arrested in Lansdale, near Philadelphia, on Monday, but had also lived near Pittsburgh and York, Pennsylvania since 2003 — after first obtaining a Social Security card in the name Nathan Laskoski in 1996, federal prosecutors said. Vincent remained jailed Wednesday, when a federal magistrate ordered him to appear for arraignment May 2.

The real Nathan Laskoski died in December 1972, two months after he was born near Dallas. Vincent stole the dead child’s identity after escaping from a Texas halfway house in March 1996, and used the dead baby’s identity to start another life, prosecutors said. The Texas conviction was for indecency with a child, though the precise sentence Vincent was serving wasn’t immediately clear, said Michele Mucellin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.

Vincent lived in also lived in Mississippi and Tennessee under his assumed name, holding jobs, getting drivers’ licenses and even getting married and divorced as Laskoski before the scheme unraveled late last year, according to online court records.

That’s when Laskoski’s aunt did a search on Ancestry.com, a genealogy website.

In researching her family tree, Nathan Laskoski’s name came up as a “green” leaf on the website, which led to public records suggesting he was alive. The aunt told Laskoski’s mother, who did more research and learned that someone had obtained a Social Security card under her son’s name in Texas, as well as finding public marriage and divorce records, Laskoski’s mother filed an identity theft complaint with the Social Security Administration.

An investigator from the SSA’s Office of Inspector General took it from there in January, court records show.

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Op-Ed: Doing “God’s Work” from the “Dark Side”

“Prosecutors like to say they are “doing God’s work” by representing the interests of victims. An ex-prosecutor I interviewed for my book, Making a Case for Innocence, used those words when I asked her why some prosecutors are willing to lie or hide evidence to get a conviction, and why some prosecutors seem more focused on winning cases than getting to the truth.

“At the end of the day, we want justice,” she said.

A vague answer, at best.

Still, it might explain the tunnel vision I see infecting some prosecutors: Too many of them seem so driven in their mission to “put the bad guys away,” that they become overconfident in their rightness and are tempted to bend the rules—all to ensure a “mission accomplished.”

I admit, it rubs me the wrong way when a government employee suggests that justice is only served by a conviction. Putting “bad guys” away is all well and fine, but some prosecutors seem to forget that not everyone sitting at the defendant’s table is a “bad guy.”

To a degree, it’s a problem of philosophy: Many prosecutors are in the business of pursuing guilt, so they see it everywhere. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And many police departments view themselves more as law enforcers than as society’s protectors, or as crime preventers.

Meanwhile, many criminal defense attorneys and investigators feel as strongly as prosecutors do that they are doing “God’s work.” By protecting the rights of people charged with crimes, they counterbalance the power of prosecutors and police, and thus, make our system fairer for all.

We don’t know the exact number of innocent people currently incarcerated, but we can estimate based on exoneration rates:”

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Miami Student Sentenced for Cyberstalking on Facebook and Instagram

“A Miami student was sentenced yesterday for cyberstalking on Facebook and Instagram.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Kassandra Cruz, 23, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Frederico A. Moreno to 22 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, a $100 special assessment, and $2,178.32 in restitution, stemming from her conviction on one count of cyberstalking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2261(A)(2)(B).

According to court documents, beginning in June 2015, victim “S.B.” received a “friend” request from Cruz on her Instagram and Facebook accounts. In an effort to gain “S.B.’s” friendship, Cruz created a false persona on her Instagram account wherein she portrayed herself as a male who was an active duty U.S. Marine. Under that ruse, “S.B.” accepted the friend request.

From late June 2015 until September 2015, Cruz, posing as Giovanni, “liked” and commented on pictures “S.B.” posted on both her Instagram and Facebook accounts. However, when “S.B.” noticed that Cruz had begun “following” and “liking” all of her friends pages and posts, she became suspicious and “blocked” and “unfollowed” Cruz from her social media accounts.

As a result, Cruz threatened that “S.B.” would face repercussions at her job and with her family if she did not comply, and specifically threatened to expose “S.B.’s” past via social media. The threats to “S.B.” persisted from Cruz on social media and later via text messaging, and Cruz ultimately demanded on multiple occasions $100,000 in exchange for no further contact, adding that she “knew where “S.B.’s family lived and they should watch their backs because someone would be heading to…to deal with them.” In total, “S.B.” received over 900 unwanted calls and text messages since the beginning of 2016, and the extortionate and threatening messages continued until late April 2016. Ultimately, Cruz was arrested and taken into custody during a pre-arranged meeting in Miami.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jodi L. Anton and Francis Viamontes.

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Florida duo nabbed in multi-state debit card skimming operation

“Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, joined by Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker and Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office representatives, announced the arrests of two individuals for their role in an apparent multi-state debit card skimming scheme that bilked unsuspecting victims in Alabama and surrounding states of thousands of dollars.

On Dec. 21, Reiner Perez Rives, 34, and Eunises Llorca Meneses, 30, both of the Orlando, Florida area, were apprehended by deputies of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and investigators of the Attorney General’s Office.

Rives and Meneses face charges from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for trafficking in stolen identities, identity theft and an illegally obtained or an illegally possessed credit card.

Rives also awaits 15 counts of identity theft to be served by the Ozark Police Department. Additional charges may be filed in both jurisdictions and in surrounding states pending further review of recovered evidence and the identification of other victims.

On Dec. 13, the Ozark Police Department contacted investigators of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office seeking assistance in solving approximately eight identity theft cases that had occurred within two days.

Investigators traced five of the thefts to a local gas station where a skimming device wrapped in electrical tape was bundled with wires inside a gas pump. The two suspects were later identified after one of the victim’s debit cards was traced to an unauthorized purchase at a Bristol, Virginia, gas station.

A surveillance video of the suspect’s license plate revealed a rental car linked to Rives. Attorney General investigators, working with the Ozark Police Department, tracked Rives and Meneses to Texas.

The suspects were apprehended as they traveled back through Alabama by the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office which was alerted by the Attorney General’s Office.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office and agents of the Attorney General’s Office seized from the suspects $6,490 in cash, 39 stolen debit card numbers with PINs and an additional 315 gift cards with an undetermined amount of personal information. Rives and Meneses are currently being held in the Baldwin County jail.”

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Investigator’s Persistence Leads to Break in Abduction Case

“To crack Minnesota’s biggest cold case — the 1989 abduction of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling — authorities went back to the early days of the investigation.

They turned a renewed spotlight last year on a man who was questioned soon after Jacob’s disappearance but was never charged. That ultimately led to Saturday’s announcement that Jacob’s remains finally had been found.

“On these kinds of cases it’s really a tribute to law enforcement that they simply never give up. … This is what persistence will reveal,” Michael Campion, former superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and former commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, said Sunday.

The case has not lain dormant for those 27 years, said Tom Heffelfinger, former U.S. attorney for Minnesota. To the contrary, he said, it’s been a top priority for local and federal law enforcement the entire time.”

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Memphis Target store Security Nabs Women in Theft Act

“A suspected serial thief was arrested after a security guard caught her in the act.

Jessica Chalfant was shopping at the Target on the 5900 block of Poplar Avenue when the guard noticed her selecting two purses and other various merchandise, according to the arrest affidavit.

Police said she started concealing items inside the purses, including school supplies and a razor.

Chalfant then tried to exit the store without paying. After she passed the registers, she was detained by the guard who called Memphis police.

According to the arrest affidavit, she then gave a name to MPD, who after finding her ID in a purse, that was deemed to be fake.

Jessica Chalfant had four misdemeanor warrants and her bail was set at $20,000.”

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Houston Men Charged with Theft of 1000 pairs of Jeans from Mall

“Two Houston men have been charged in a scheme to steal more than $56,000 in jeans including more than 100 pairs of jeans in Southeast Texas.

Ramirez Nava Rodriguez, 41, and Jose Isabel Del Angel, 54, both of Houston, have been charged with felony charges of “Theft – Aggregate” according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by 12News from the Harris County District Court.

Del Angel, whose bond is set at $2000 was arrested on August 6, 2016 and it is unknown if Rodriquez has been arrested. Rodriguez bond will be set at $10,000 according to the affidavit.

The pair are suspected of stealing 980 pairs of men’s and women’s Levis jeans, valued at $56,722, from JC Penny stores in the Harris County and surrounding area including the Central Mall location in Port Arthur..

The thefts took place from December 2012 through July 2016 with the two most recent thefts taking place at Central Mall.

The affidavit alleges that Rodriguez stole the bulk of the jeans and Del Angel helped sell them at a Houston flea market.

Police believe that Rodriguez was the leader of a group of “professional boosters” who were committing the thefts.

The document alleges that on July 2, 2016 Rodriguez stole 64 pairs of jeans valued at $3918 and on July 30, 2016, he stole 44 pairs valued at $2552 from the JC Penny store in Central Mall.

Rodriquez was observed surveillance video using the “matador” method to commit the thefts using a shirt to hide several pairs of jeans at a time from store associates the affidavit said.

He would take the jeans out the camera’s range, use a tool to remove the “electronic Article Surveillance tag” and then put the jeans into a large JC Penny bag he had concealed in his pants pocket.

He would then take the stolen jeans to his car and repeat the process several times during one trip.

An investigator from JC Penny worked with Houston Police to track and capture the suspects.

The store’s investigator and an undercover Houston Police officer each purchased stolen jeans from Del Angel at separate times at Sunny Flea Market in the 8700 block of Airline Drive in Houston.”

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Nashville pastor, associate accused of getting grant money for non-existent program

“A Nashville area pastor and his associate have been indicted after TBI agents said they secured state grant money for an addiction treatment program that didn’t exist.
Clinton Lewis, 48, of Hermitage and Aundre Trice, 38, of Antioch are charged with four counts of theft each, according to a news release from TBI.
Agents said between 2011 and 2015, Lewis, a Mt. Hopewell Baptist Church pastor since 2002, and Trice received more than $60,000 in grant money from the Tennessee Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for an addiction recovery program.
TBI said the clients listed in the program never received any treatment. Some clients listed were even in jail, prison or had died. The counselors listed in the program weren’t aware it was in operation, agents said,

Lewis and Trice were booked into Davidson County Jail Friday on $10,000 bonds each.”

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Shoplifting suspects with infant lead Henrico County Va. police on chase

“Police said two shoplifting suspects had an infant in their car while they led officers on a chase that ended in a five-car accident in Henrico County Sunday afternoon.

Henrico police Lt. C.J. Maurice said officers were dispatched for a shoplifting call at the Target in the 9000 block of Staples Mill Road at 4:15 p.m

As officers were about to arrive at the store, they spotted the suspects’ gray car fleeing the parking lot.

Maurice said officers tried to pull over the vehicle, but he said the driver kept going and a brief pursuit began.

Officials said the pursuit ended when the suspect’s car slammed into four other vehicles — while trying to drive in between cars stopped at a traffic light — at the intersection of Staples Mill Road and Hungary Road.

Police said the two suspects were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries. Additionally, five other people in other vehicles were treated for minor injuries. Three of them were transported to area hospitals.

Maurice said the male driver and a female passenger have charges pending for shoplifting. Additionally, the male driver will be charged with eluding police.

Authorities said 32-year-old Jeremy Dodge was charged with grand larceny, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, felony child neglect and felony eluding police.

Twenty-six-year-old Victikia Coker was charged with grand larceny, conspiracy to commit grand larceny and felony child neglect.

Police were seen recovering items from the suspects’ car.”

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Heritage High School PTO treasurer charged with embezzlement

“A Hoagland woman who served as the treasurer for the Heritage Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (P.T.O.) was arrested Thursday morning following a four month long investigation into allegations she had been stealing money from the PTO according to state police.

An investigation was initiated, at the request of the Heritage High School PTO, by Indiana State Police Detective Clint Hetrick and Allen County Police Detective Doug Keller in November 2015 following an audit after a large amount of money was discovered to have been missing from the elementary PTO.

Hetrick and Keller’s investigation revealed that between January 2013 and November 2014, 36 year old Genevieve M. Meyer had used the elementary PTO’s credit card and had withdrawn money, which totaled came to excess of $18,000 in theft. As a result of their investigation, the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office charged Genevieve M. Meyer with two counts of theft.

Meyer was arrested without incident at her home and incarcerated in the Allen County Jail.”

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