Broward deputy charged with fourteen felony counts

August 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Crime, Featured, National News, Politics, Special Report, Top Stories, Videos

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The Broward County Sheriff has announced the arrest of a sheriff’s deputy on fourteen felony counts including sexual battery in a position of control or authority, armed kidnapping, stalking and battery.

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Jonathan Bleiweiss

Sheriff Al Lamberti says the deputy “betrayed his badge and abused his power.”

Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss has been with Broward County Sheriff’s Department since 2002.

The Sheriff says Bleiweiss was targeting undocumented immigrants while on patrol in uniform, armed, in his patrol car.

According to the Sheriff, Deputy Bleiweiss would search for his victims, pull them over, and sexually batter them.

Sheriff Lamberti says the investigation began when an employer of one of the victims came forward with the allegations. Fort Lauderdale PD was contacted by an attorney and then notified BSO’s Sex Crimes Unit when they realized the incidents happened in Oakland Park.

The Sheriff’s Office says there are several victims and believes there are more.

In one case an adult male victim was waiting outside an apartment complex in Oakland Park for a ride to work. That’s when Sheriff Lamberti says Deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss approached in a marked BSO patrol car and requested his identification.

The victim told BSO Sex Crimes detectives that Deputy Bleiweiss placed him against the patrol unit and during the pat down placed his hand inside the victim’s underwear and groped him.

Investigators said during that encounter Dep. Bleiweiss demanded the victim’s cell phone number and proceeded to call and send him text messages. Similar sexual encounters continued until June.

The Sheriff’s Office wants victims to come forward and are urged to call Detective Graciela Benito at (954) 321-4249.

Bleiweiss is remains in BSO custody. He is currently suspended without pay and being held without bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

China: pneumonic plague kills 2nd man

August 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Crime, Featured, National News, Politics, Top Stories, Vehicle Accidents

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BEIJING – A second man has died of pneumonic plague in northwest China, in an outbreak that prompted authorities to lock down a town where about a dozen people were infected with the highly contagious deadly lung disease, a state news agency said.

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The World Health Organization office in China said it was in close contact with Chinese health authorities and that measures taken so far to treat and quarantine sickened people were appropriate.

The man who died Sunday was identified only as 37-year-old Danzin from Ziketan, the stricken town in Qinghai province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Danzin was a neighbor of the first person who died, a 32-year-old herdsman whose name was not given. Another 10 people, mostly relatives of the first deceased man, were infected and undergoing isolated treatment in hospital, Xinhua said in a report late Sunday.

The town of 10,000 people has been sealed off and a team of experts was sent to the area, the local health bureau said Sunday, warning that anyone with a cough or fever who visited the town since mid-July should seek treatment at a hospital.

A food seller surnamed Han at the Crystal Alley Market in Ziketan said authorities have said homes and shops should be disinfected and residents should wear masks when they go out. He said 80 percent of shops in the town were closed and prices of disinfectants and some vegetables have tripled.

“People are so scared. There are few people on the streets,” Han said by telephone. “There are police guarding the quarantine center at the township hospital but not on the streets.”

The situation in Ziketan was stable, said an official surnamed Wang at the local disease control center, who added the measures taken were “scientific, orderly, effective and in accordance with the law.”

A woman who lives in Ziketan, who refused to give her name, said county officials distributed flyers and made TV and radio announcements on how to prevent infection. The woman contacted by phone said police checkpoints were set up in a 17-mile (28-kilometer) radius around Ziketan and residents were not allowed to leave.

Pneumonic plague is spread through the air and can be passed from person to person through coughing, according to the World Health Organization. It is caused by the same bacteria that occurs in bubonic plague — the Black Death that killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Bubonic plague is usually transmitted by flea bite and can be treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. Pneumonic plague is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, capable of killing humans within 24 hours of infection, according to the WHO.

People infected with pneumonic plague must be given antibiotics within 24 hours of first showing symptoms, while people who have had direct contact with those infected can protect themselves by taking antibiotics for seven days, according to the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The WHO’s spokeswoman in China, Vivian Tan, said China reported the first death and 11 other cases to the organization on Saturday.

“In cases like this, we encourage the authorities to identify cases, to investigate any suspicious symptoms among close contacts and to treat confirmed cases as soon as possible. So far, they have done exactly that, so at this point we don’t have any additional advice,” Tan said.

In 2004, eight villagers in Qinghai province died of plague, most of them infected after killing or eating wild marmots. Marmots are related to gophers and prairie dogs. They live in the grasslands of China’s northwest and Mongolia, where villagers often hunt them for meat.

Ronald Wright Arrested for fatal Lantana Rd Accident

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LANTANA, FL–Ronald A. Wright of Boynton Beach has been arrested in connection with Thursday’s deadly hit-and-run accident on Lantana Road.

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Charges include a deadly non-moving traffic violation with a suspended license and a fatal hit and run.

Wright is listed as a habitual offender. Previous arrests include several driving and drug-related charges.

7 people in custody for Pensacola murders

July 14, 2009 by  
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Masked suspects, some dressed as ninjas, stole a safe and other items during a deadly break-in at the sprawling Florida Panhandle home of a couple known for adopting children with special needs, authorities said Tuesday.

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Melanie and Byrd Billings were shot to death Thursday in their nine-bedroom home. Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan hugged their sobbing adult daughter, Ashley Markham, at a press conference Tuesday to announce that three more people had been arrested, bringing the total to seven.

“It is my honor today to tell you, Ashley, and your family, we have found them and they are in custody,” Morgan said.

Investigators had said previously that there were many motives for the crime, but prosecutor Bill Eddins said Tuesday that robbery was the main one. He would not say what was in the safe or what else might have been taken from the house.

Nine of the couple’s 17 children were home at the time and three saw the intruders but were not hurt.

Morgan said investigators were still looking for at least one more person in the case and at least one of the suspects in custody may have done work at the Billings home. He has previously said the suspects had no direct connection to the victims.

Several of the suspects were day laborers who knew each other through either a pressure washing business or a car detailing group, Morgan said.

The arrests started Sunday with 56-year-old Leonard Gonzalez Sr., who was originally charged with evidence tampering but will be charged with murder, authorities said. He is accused of driving a red van seen on surveillance video pulling away from the Billings home and then trying to paint over it.

His son, 35-year-old Leonard P. Gonzalez Jr., was also arrested Sunday along with day laborer Wayne Coldiron, 41. Both were due in court Tuesday to face murder charges.

Another day laborer, Gary Lamont Sumner, 31, was arrested on a murder charge in a nearby county Monday after he was pulled over in a traffic stop. Morgan said investigators have placed Sumner at the scene, though he would not provide details.

Three more people were arrested Tuesday — a juvenile whom police did not identify; Frederick Lee Thorton Jr., 19; and Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28, who was arrested in Alabama but lives in Florida.

The break-in was captured by an extensive video surveillance system the Billings used to keep tabs on their children.

Surveillance video showed three armed, masked men arriving in the red van, entering through the front of the house and then returning to the vehicle. Others dressed in what the sheriff called “ninja garb” went in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes.

“I think you’ll find this particularly chilling and here’s why: We have a team that enters at the rear of the home and another that enters at the front of the home,” Morgan said. “It leads me to believe this was a very well-planned and methodical operation.”

Morgan said, however, that there was no indication anyone had unlocked the door for the intruders, adding that people in the community felt comfortable leaving their doors unlocked.

The couple owned several local businesses, including a finance company and a used-car dealership. They lived in Beulah, a rural area west of Pensacola, near the Alabama state line, in a house set deep in the woods. They had 17 children in all — 13 of them adopted.

Tips from the public led police to the van on Saturday.

Breaking News Michael Jackson dies at age 50

LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital, a fire department official told the Los Angeles Times. Capt. Steve Ruda said Thursday that Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.

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L. Londell McMillan, a lawyer for Jackson, did not have any information. Messages left for other Jackson associates were not immediately returned.

The hospitalization was first reported by the Web site TMZ.

The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson’s rented home, was roped off Thursday with police tape.

News trucks were gathered, helicopters flew overhead, and orange cones were laid out to redirect traffic.

“We have no statements as far as transporting Michael Jackson,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Devin Gales said.

Suspected Child Killers; George David Kennedy & Roy Lee Smith

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George David Kennedy, 39, a registered sex offender, was convicted in March 2002 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and home invasion. Kennedy was sentenced to serve 2 to 15 years in prison, and was released on parole in July 2007 which is scheduled to end this July.

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George Kennedy

Kennedy is a friend of Nevaeh’s mother, although she denies that they are romantically involved.

Police took Kennedy into custody on parole violations on Sunday evening – the night Nevaeh went missing from the Charlotte Arms Apartments in Monroe, Michigan.

Since then, investigators have searched Kennedy’s residence and seized several pieces of evidence, including a pair of shorts and a towel with bloodstains, bloodstains on the wall and photos of a white girl who looked similar to Nevaeh.

Kennedy has been named a person of interest in this case, but police say at this time he is not a suspect and remains in custody on parole violations stemming from his relationship with Nevaeh’s mother. Part of the conditions of his release was he was to have no romantic relationships with anyone associated with a child or be around a child under 17 without another adult present.

Investigators also searched Kennedy’s 1993 GMC van and found human blood on a silver multi-purpose tool.

Today investigators said they do have another person of interest, the owner of the van driven by Kennedy.

smith_royRoy Lee Smith, 48, was taken into custody on Monday on possible parole violations. The Department of Corrections is investigating whether or not to charge him with violating his parole.

Smith was paroled in February, 2008, after serving 15 years in prison on a conviction of criminal sexual conduct, third degree and other charges, such as larceny and breaking and entering.

Jennifer Buchanan, 39, Nevaeh’s mother, said she met Roy Smith through George Kennedy. She said Smith had only been as far as the parking lot to pick Jennifer up when they would go driving around or go out to eat and that he had only met Nevaeh once.

As for Kennedy, Jennifer has said that Nevaeh knew him well enough that she would have gotten into a car with him.

Officials cautioned the public to not judge Kennedy so quickly and that there are a number of “persons of interest” in this case. They say they are not focusing on the persons of interest and are still looking for and following up on leads.

An additional 10 FBI agents were called in today to help re-interview residents and people who may have been visiting the Charlotte Arms Apartments on the day Nevaeh went missing.

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