Accused Granny scammer caught in “Pigeon Drop”

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. – Two people, including an elderly woman, have been charged with performing a so-called “Pigeon Drop” scam at a Fayette County grocery store.

Juan Alexander Jackson and Marie Mangham face one count each of felony theft by deception. Investigators said Jackson, 57, and Mangham, 74, carried out the scam in the parking lot of the Fayetteville ALDI.

Fayette County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Whitlow described the Pigeon Drop scam:

The Pigeon Drop scam occurs when a suspect approaches someone, usually an elderly person, in the parking lot and claims to have found a wallet or bag with a large sum of cash. The suspect offers to split the money with the victim if they can obtain cash from the victim’s bank account to “verify” the serial numbers and authenticate the found money as legitimate.

“Normally what we see is $100 on one side and a $100 on the other and a whole bunch of $1 bills in the middle so it looks like several thousand dollars,” Whitlow said.

When they get back to the parking lot to split up the cash, the scammers take off and money is gone.

One victim lost $25,000 in the scam.

Police nabbed the suspects Thursday while conducting surveillance in the area around ALDI. Whitlow said undercover detectives watched Jackson and Mangham approach an elderly woman in the parking lot.

“For us to catch these people is great. For us to actually see it in progress and witness the whole thing is amazing,” said Whitlow.

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Shoplifter has been arrested a whopping 108 times

South Euclid OH Feb 20 2015 He fought the law — again and again.

Nathaniel Ferguson, 49, had been arrested a whopping 108 times when he snatched a bunch of teeth-whiteners and bolted through the open doors of a CVS pharmacy in suburban Cleveland on Monday, police said.

“I don’t have anything on me,” the prolific shoplifter reportedly yelled at a drug store security guard who knows him well.

Ferguson had a getaway car waiting and roared down the road where he was stopped by a couple of old acquaintances from the South Euclid Police Department, authorities said. They asked for his ID as a matter of procedure.

He allegedly gave them the name of his brother.

“Probably the majority of his arrests are just like that,” South Euclid Sgt. Mike O’Connor told the Daily News.

Rarely if ever violent, the career criminal is the most dogged of petty thieves in Northeastern Ohio. His busts date back to at least 1984, and cops and grocery store security guards recognize him at a glance, authorities said.

“He’s an experienced criminal,” O’Connor said. “Experienced, but not necessarily successful.”

His take in the CVS heist was valued at $47.26 in dental products, cops said.

He had seven open warrants from the Cleveland suburbs, including three out of the South Euclid local court. His rap sheet includes 26 aliases — mostly just varied spellings of his real name, but occasionally more ambitious ruses, such as Bruce Hogan and Nathan Hope.

By the time of his 109th arrest, even police seemed impressed by the three-digit tally of run-ins for stealing and drug possession.

“Does anyone have a contact for Guinness Book of World Records?” cops asked in a Facebook post. “We think we might have one worth evaluating.”

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TSA seizes record 2,212 firearms in 2014

(CNN)When packing your carry-on luggage, don’t forget to remove your gun.

Unless you’ve got permission, not remembering could get you in trouble.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration seized a record 2,212 firearms from carry-on luggage in 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported Friday.

That’s more than the TSA has seized in any other year of its existence, and it’s a 22% increase from the 1,813 guns seized in 2013. (The agency actually hit a record 2,000 seizures on December 1, before the year was over.)

That’s an average of six guns per day.

Of those discovered, 83% were loaded.

The department’s employees “stand on the front lines protecting our nation from dangerous contraband and people, while ensuring the free flow of lawful trade and commerce — just two aspects of our mission,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a news release.

“This is critically important work, and our employees’ achievements are self-evident: in 2014, the TSA screened more than 650 million passengers, nearly 1.8 million each and every day,” Johnson said.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport security seized the most guns last year, with 120. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport came in second place with 109 gun seizures, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport came in third place with 78 gun seizures.

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport had 77 gun seizures, while Denver International Airport had 70.

Forgetting can be expensive and even criminal.

Passengers whose guns are spotted by TSA security during the screening process can be arrested by airport or local police and face criminal charges, and the TSA can impose civil penalties. Members of TSA Pre-check can be temporarily or permanently banned from the expedited screening program.

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3 face charges after handguns found in carry-ons

Two men from Chicago suburbs and a Florida man were arrested over the past week for trying to bring firearms onto airplanes at Midway and O’Hare airports, police said.

In the latest case, Leo M. Kurylo, 44, was charged with boarding aircraft with a weapon after he was arrested around 9:45 a.m. Saturday at Midway Airport, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs.

Kurylo, of 700 block of East North Broadway Street in Lombard, was going through screening at a security checkpoint at Midway when Transportation Security Administration officials discovered an unloaded .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol inside his carry-on bag, according to the statement.

Police were called to the airport, and Kurylo was taken into custody.

On Sunday, Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil set bail at $10,000 during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

The gun was spotted in a zippered pocket of Kurylo’s computer bag as he was on his way to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Las Vegas, according to a prosecutor.

When asked about it, Kurylo confirmed the gun belonged to him and said that when could not find his weapon, he reported it missing to Lombard police Feb. 7.

The prosecutor said Kurylo has a valid firearm owner’s identificaition card.

Kurylo’s attorney said he is an environmental engineer who graduated from Somonauk High School and has degrees from Northern Illinois University. He is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 20.

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New app tech helps police catch phone thieves

When a thief stole a smartphone recently in Western Branch, the tech-savvy victim knew what to do.

He had been shopping in December when he set down his phone, police said. Moments later, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was gone.

So the man activated an app installed on the phone called Track Viewer. The device covertly recorded images of a stranger using the phone.

Police distributed a photo of the stranger from the cellphone in early January and solicited tips from the public through Crime Line. Within two weeks, they made an arrest.

As smartphone technology advances, so does antitheft software, and a growing number of apps are giving users the ability to lock, erase and track phones with GPS. When a person reports a stolen phone to police, officers rely on victims for information about the digital trail of bread crumbs a thief may have left behind.

Often police are asking: Do you have an app for that?

“It does happen where the victims are helping us,” said Officer Kelly O’Sullivan, Chesapeake police spokeswoman.

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Bill would authorize ‘deadly force’ for Texas teachers

AUSTIN – A Texas lawmaker says it’s time to protect teachers who stand up to unruly students, but he’s filed a bill that would authorize deadly force.

“One of the concerns they have is the lack of discipline in their classroom,” said state Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton), who believes teachers already have enough to worry about.

He says unruly students don’t just endanger the learning environment, but teachers and other students as well, citing recent instances of teachers being physically assaulted in their own classroom.

“From time to time, they do attack our teachers, and if a teacher even raises up her hand to defend herself, or he raises his hand up and defends himself, he finds he could be either sued or lose their job,” Flynn said. “I want to be able to protect those teachers.”

Flynn is the author of House Bill 868, which states “an educator is justified in using force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator,” as well as “in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.”

“When a teacher told me to sit down and behave, we did it,” said Flynn. “We are living in a different age right now, and the teachers are reluctant to be able to do that because there is such an effort on the part of many to blame them.”

Some 80 Texas school districts have policies allowing either teachers or staff to carry firearms, but Flynn is emphatic guns have nothing to do with his bill. While it doesn’t mention them, it doesn’t exclude them either.

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Multiple States Mull Passage of Campus Concealed Carry Legislation

Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Wyoming, Indiana, Colorado, Montana and Nevada are considering passage of laws allowing college students or K-12 staff and teachers to carry concealed firearms on campus.

In Texas, Senate Bill 11 from Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell and House Bill 937 from Republican state Rep. Allen Fletcher would allow students, faculty, visitors and staff to carry their guns anywhere on campus, including classrooms, libraries and student unions, reports the Dallas Morning News.

Florida politicians are once again is also considering allowing concealed guns at state colleges and universities despite a similar bill being defeated recently, reports Wink News. The new bill, HB 4005, was prompted by a shooting on the campus of Florida State University last fall.

In Arkansas, if House Bill 1077 passes, universities will no longer have the right to opt out of a law allowing faculty to carry concealed weapons, reports the Arkansas Traveler.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Allen Jaggi has sponsored House Bill 114 that would repeal the state’s gun-free zones act, reports the Washington Free Beacon. Last week, the bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, so it will now go to the House floor.

Indiana is considering passage of HB 1143, which would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, and Montana has introduced Senate Bill 143, which would prohibit colleges from regulating or restricting the possession of firearms on university property.

In Colorado, Republican Rep. Patrick Neveille, who is a former student of Columbine High School who survived the 1999 attack, has introduced a bill allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry firearms in public schools, reports Neville’s bill is one of several introduced in the Colorado legislature. Most of the proposed legislation in Colorado is not expected to pass.

The Montana state Senate this week narrowly endorsed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns on college campuses, reports the Great Falls Tribune. Bill 143 would, with some exceptions, prohibit restrictions on firearms on state university property. School regents would still be able to regulate gun possession at campus events where alcohol is served or in dorms if a roommate objects to a gun being in his or her room.

The Nevada legislature is considering a bill that would allow firearms to be stored in a car on the grounds of any day care center or public, private or college campus as long as the vehicle is occupied, locked or if the gun is kept in a storage container, reports the Elko Daily Free Press. Similar legislation didn’t pass in 2013 but could face less opposition this time.

A study conducted by Campus Safety magazine last fall concluded that nearly three out of four campus protection professionals oppose college students being allowing to carry concealed guns on campus.

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State approves 1,000 for medical pot; drug access remains months away

The number of approved medical marijuana patients in Illinois has reached about 1,000, officials announced Wednesday.

While the number remains far below initial projections, it’s a noticeable increase from 650 one month ago.

“Some people may be waiting until the product is actually available,” Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

That earlier number was “terrifying” for medical marijuana business owners, said Mark Passerini, president of the Illinois Cannabis Industry Association, who had said it’s not a sustainable business unless more patients sign up.

About 14,000 people have registered to begin the patient application process for medical cannabis since the state began accepting applications last fall. Of those, about 2,100 have submitted at least part of the application.

To qualify, patients must have one of about three dozen specified medical conditions, and they must fill out a written application with a doctor’s recommendation and fingerprints to pass a criminal background check.

The most commonly cited conditions initially included cancer, severe fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, officials said.

Most of the licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana in Illinois were just issued Monday after an extensive application and vetting process. Business owners said it will take time to prepare their sites and about four months to grow the first crop.

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Medical marijuana shop gets state’s OK to open in Oak Park

State officials have awarded a business license to a medical marijuana dispensary planned for the corner of North and Harlem avenues in Oak Park.

Future Transactions Holdings, LLC won the sole license to operate a marijuana dispensary in Oak Park, River Forest, Berwyn, Cicero and Riverside. It will be one of the state’s 60 dispensaries under the four-year pilot program.

The dispensary’s tentative name is “District 36,” named after the Illinois State Police district it’s located within.

Its owner is Chicagoan Brad Zerman. He’s also the CEO of Sky Processing, an ATM processing service company located at 3360 N. Elston Ave. in Chicago, which already processes cash for marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

After talking to some of his clients at a trade show in Colorado and some of his Chicago-area friends, Zerman decided to apply for three licenses within Illinois. One application was in Highland Park, one was in Evanston and one was in Oak Park. In total, after hiring consultants, the three applications cost him about $200,000.

“There are just so many components to this, there was no room for error,” said Zerman. “The state could just go to the next applicant because it was so competitive.”

When applying for the licenses, Zerman said he chose municipalities that were “forward-thinking” and would not impose additional zoning regulations that would force his business into a manufacturing zone, like Morton Grove or Niles.

“According to Oak Park’s zoning department all we have to do is apply for a village business license,” said Zerman. “And the state is imposing such a high bar for security that it made sense to open the business in a commercial area with high traffic that’s well lit and regularly patrolled by police.”

Paul Stephanides, Oak Park’s village attorney, said the dispensary would most likely be regulated within the village the same way pharmacies currently are.

In a statement Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s General Counsel Jason Barclay said his office conducted a comprehensive review of the process ex-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration used to recommend applicants for the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.

Barclay said Quinn’s administration imposed arbitrary scoring cutoffs that were not authorized in the state law and that agencies conducted character and fitness reviews, which they suggested came at the wrong stage of the process. He also said some applicants were disqualified without clear procedures.

“These actions may result in some additional minimal delay in a limited number of districts and for that, we apologize to the patient community,” Barclay said.

The state estimates that it will take at least six months for most of Illinois’ marijuana growing centers to get their operations up and running now that they’ve been approved.

For now, medical marijuana in Illinois is a pilot program with a four-year life span. If the state doesn’t renew the medical marijuana law, Zerman and other marijuana businesses in Illinois may lose their investment. But he’s not worried, for now.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” said Zerman. “Yes, it is a risk, but given where the state is going, and provided it does a good job overseeing these businesses, I don’t see why they wouldn’t renew the law.”

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DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees

Recent revelations about a proposed federal law enforcement program might have some friends and families drawing lots to decide who drives to the next gun show.

Criminals rarely obtain guns from gun shows. A Department of Justice survey of state and federal inmates, found that only 0.7 percent of those polled had acquired a firearm that they possessed at the time of their offense from a gun show. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop at least one federal official from suggesting that the sophisticated tools of the modern surveillance state be turned on unsuspecting gun show attendees.

Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that, in 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration contemplated using License Plate Readers (LPRs) to track vehicle traffic from gun shows. A highly redacted email from an unknown DEA official suggests the program was past infancy, and stated, “DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

ACLU correctly points out the danger of such technology in an article on their website, explaining, “An automatic license plate reader cannot distinguish between people transporting illegal guns and those transporting legal guns, or no guns at all; it only documents the presence of any car driving to the event. Mere attendance at a gun show, it appeared, would have been enough to have one’s presence noted in a DEA database.”

The proposed program is even more disturbing when placed into the larger context of the Justice Department’s ongoing general license plate tracking program. A January 26 article from the Wall Street Journal explains the broad contours of DOJ LPR surveillance. The piece states, “The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists.” The authors go on to explain the wide availability of the collected data, writing, “Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations… putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.” They further note that this national database “allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle.”

According to a January 27 Wall Street Journal article focusing specifically on the gun show surveillance proposal, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told the paper, “The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched.” Further, the article stated that DOJ officials were quick to deny any BATFE involvement in the LPR scheme. However, as has been made clear by the events of the last two years, public statements by federal officials regarding the scope of federal surveillance activities should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

DEA’s proposed indiscriminate gun show surveillance places an unacceptable burden on the privacy of law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights and even smacks of firearm registration. Further, such tactics infringe upon rights protected by the First Amendment. Gun shows are far more than just shopping opportunities for gun buyers. They are also community gatherings that often serve as venues for political expression and organizing. As such, they are subject to the First Amendment’s rights of freedom of association and to peaceably assemble and should be free from government activity that could chill free and open participation.

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