BP Clerk shot during robbery

January 16, 2009 by  
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LAKE PARK, FL — Detectives are searching for two suspects after they entered a BP gas station on Northlake Blvd and shot a store clerk.

According to detectives, the suspects pointed handguns at the clerk and demanded cash from the register.

Detectives say the clerk gave the suspects cash.

Detectives say one of the suspects began pulling the clerk toward the door when a struggle ensued. The clerk was then shot in the leg.

Both suspects then fled in a silver older model Buick with a hubcap missing from the left rear wheel.

The suspects are described as:

Suspect #1, B/M, approximately 5’8”, thin, wearing a black hooded jacket, armed with a black handgun.

Suspect #2, B/M, approximately 5’3”, thin, wearing a burgundy hooded jacket, armed with a silver handgun.

If anyone has information regarding this Armed Robbery/Shooting they are urged to contact Detective John Connor at 688-4711, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS or email to tips@cspbc.net.

Source: wptv.com

Missing pilot in custody in Florida

January 13, 2009 by  
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QUINCY, Fla. – Authorities in northern Florida say they have found an Indiana businessman believed to have tried to fake his own death in a plane crash.

Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jim Corder says 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker is alive and in custody in Gadsden County Tuesday night.

Authorities believe Schrenker let his plane crash in the Florida panhandle and apparently parachuted to safety.

Earlier Story
HARPERSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — With his personal and financial worlds crumbling around him, investment adviser Marcus Schrenker opted for a bailout.

In a feat reminiscent of a James Bond movie, the 38-year-old businessman and amateur daredevil pilot apparently tried to fake his death in a plane crash, secretly parachuting to the ground and speeding away on a motorcycle he had stashed away in the pine barrens of central Alabama.

Now the search is on for Schrenker, who is running not only from the law but from divorce, a state investigation of his businesses and angry investors who accuse him of stealing potentially millions in savings they entrusted to him.

“We’ve learned over time that he’s a pathological liar — you don’t believe a single word that comes out of his mouth,” said Charles Kinney, a 49-year-old airline pilot from Atlanta who alleges Schrenker pocketed at least $135,000 of his parents’ retirement fund.

The events of the past few days appear to be a last, desperate gambit by a man who had fallen from great heights and was about to hit bottom.

On Sunday — two days after burying his beloved stepfather and suffering a half-million-dollar loss in federal court the same day — Schrenker was flying his single-engine Piper Malibu to Florida from his Indiana home when he radioed from 2,000 feet that he was in trouble. He told the tower the windshield had imploded, and that his face was plastered with blood.

Then his radio went silent.

Military jets tried to intercept the plane and found the door open, the cockpit dark. The pilots followed until the aircraft crashed in a Florida Panhandle bayou surrounded by homes. There was no sign of Schrenker’s body. They now know they should never have expected to find one.

More than 220 miles to the north, at a convenience store in Childersburg, Ala., police picked up a man using Schrenker’s Indiana driver’s license and carrying a pair of what appeared to be pilot’s goggles. The man, who was wet from the knees down, told the officers he’d been in a canoe accident.

After officers gave him a lift to a nearby motel, Schrenker apparently made his way to a storage unit he’d rented just the day before his flight. He climbed aboard a red racing motorcycle with full saddlebags, and sped off into the countryside.

Now, a search that began in the air and continued across land and sea has been turned over to the U.S. Marshals.

“I believe he’s out of the U.S.,” Harpersville Police Chief David Latimer said Tuesday. “He’s already shown a mentality that’s interesting to police. He jumped out an airplane and left it to crash who knows where. He’s shown a total disregard for human life. I think he’d do anything to get away.”

At 38, Schrenker was at the head of an impressive slate of businesses. Through his Heritage Wealth Management Inc., Heritage Insurance Services Inc. and Icon Wealth Management, he was responsible for providing financial advice and managing portfolios worth millions.

And by outward appearances, he was doing quite well.

He collected luxury automobiles, owned two airplanes and lived in a 10,000-square-foot house in an upscale neighborhood known as “Cocktail Cove,” where affluent boaters often socialize with cocktails in hand. In May 2000, he wowed onlookers by flying a special airplane at 270 mph, 10 feet above the water and under two bridges in Nassau, Bahamas.

“This stunt should not be attempted by any pilot that wishes to stay alive,” read the caption on a self-made video of the flight posted on YouTube.

He’d come a long way from his humble beginnings in northwest Indiana, where he and his two brothers were raised after their parents’ divorce by their mother and stepfather, a Vietnam veteran who worked at U.S. Steel Corp.

But officials now say Schrenker’s enterprise was ready to topple.

Authorities in Indiana have been investigating Schrenker’s businesses on allegations that he sold clients annuities and charged them exorbitant fees they weren’t aware they would face.

State Insurance Commissioner Jim Atterholt said Schrenker would close the investors out of one annuity and move them to another while charging them especially high “surrender charges” — in one case costing a retired couple $135,000 of their original $900,000 investment.

The tangled web of Schrenker’s financial affairs began to unravel more than two years ago.

The aviation buff had convinced dozens of active and retired Delta Air Lines pilots — including Kinney — to allow him to manage their retirement accounts. But some of the pilots stopped investing with him after a court case raised questions about his past.

In 2006, with Delta in federal bankruptcy proceedings, he convinced a group of pilots opposed to Delta’s move to terminate their pension plan to let him help.

“He had a way about him — you trusted the guy,” says David M. Smith, one of the retired pilots. “He was very credible. He talked a good story. So, we entrusted him with a task he never produced.”

Two days before the Sept. 1, 2006, hearing at which Schrenker was supposed to testify about an analysis he had done on the pension plan’s viability, he suddenly withdrew from the case.

“It happened very fast,” Smith recalled. “He literally was a no-show. He literally just disappeared. We were shocked at the whole thing.”

The retired pilots were unsuccessful in stopping Delta from terminating the pension plan, and the group accepted a small settlement from the airline.

Smith believes Schrenker may have been running from a past unknown to many of his clients at the time, a past that was disclosed just days earlier in a deposition of him by a Delta lawyer.

“They uncovered things that literally made your jaw open,” said Smith, adding that he and other pilots stopped letting Schrenker manage money for them after the deposition. “I believe he was scared to death that Delta was going to expose him.”

According to the 156-page deposition obtained by The Associated Press, a judge in a 2003 bankruptcy reported being “deeply concerned” that Schrenker was not disclosing thousands of dollars in monthly income to the court and not reporting the income on his tax returns.

“It is obvious to the court that the debtor has access to a significant cash flow that he is using for his personal benefit that has not been disclosed in this bankruptcy filing and in his personal tax returns,” one document reads.

Kinney said he and his parents had invested hundreds of thousands with Schrenker, but considered him more like a family friend than a financial consultant.

Schrenker, his wife and three children vacationed twice at Kinney’s parent’s lake house on northern Georgia’s Lake Lanier. But a few years ago, cracks began to surface in the relationship.

Kinney’s brother discovered $60,000 was inexplicably missing from his 85-year-old father-in-law’s investment with Schrenker. Schrenker told the family not to worry, that the money was still there in complex financial statements.

“It’s still the most disgusting thing I’ve been a part of — to know that someone let you hold their new baby on one side and was basically stealing you from on the other,” Kinney said.

In recent weeks, Schrenker’s life began to spin out of control. According to documents in a lawsuit filed in Indianapolis, Schrenker sent a frantic e-mail to plaintiffs on Dec. 16.

“I walked out on my job about 30 minutes ago,” it read. “My career is over … over one letter in a trade error. One letter!! … I’ve had so many people yelling at me today that I couldn’t figure out what was up or down. I still can’t figure it out.”

It’s unclear to what “error” he is referring. In another e-mail to a neighbor following his disappearance, Schrenker made reference to having “just made a 2 million dollar mistake.” But it appeared he was hoping to work things out.

“I’d rather lose everything than screw a person out of a dime,” he wrote to the plaintiffs in the Indianapolis case.

But things were now out of his hands.

On Dec. 31, officers searched Schrenker’s home, seizing the Schrenkers’ passports, $6,036 in cash, the title to a Lexus and deposit slips for bank accounts in Michelle Schrenker’s name, as well as six computers and nine large plastic tubs filled with various financial and corporate documents.

In the supporting affidavit, investigators suggested Schrenker might have access to at least $665,000 in the offshore accounts of a client.

But it wasn’t just his finances that were in turmoil.

Just a day before, Michelle Schrenker had filed for divorce. She told the people searching the house that her husband had been having an affair and had moved into a condominium a week earlier.

Schrenker’s mother is just happy to know that he is alive. She hopes whoever finds him will treat him well and give him a chance to explain what he did and why.

“Sometimes we just all have too many problems,” Marcia Galoozis said at her home outside Gary, Ind. “And I don’t know what all his problems are, but sometimes we just don’t think straight, get our heads twisted on wrong.”

Hours after Schrenker vanished, neighbor Tom Britt received what he believes is an e-mail from Schrenker.

Despite the fact that no blood was found in the plane, Schrenker suggests in the note that the crash was truly an accident and blamed oxygen deprivation.

“Hypoxia can cause people to make terrible decisions and I simply put on my parachute and survival gear and bailed out,” the e-mail reads.

Britt says the message reads to him like a suicide note.

“I embarrassed my family for the last time,” Britt quoted Schrenker as saying. “By the time you read this I’ll be gone.”

Before the crash, Schrenker’s life was spiraling downward: His wife filed for divorce, and his financial management companies were under investigation.

How your travels are tracked

January 7, 2009 by  
Filed under National News, Special Report

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A rare peek at Homeland Security’s files on travelers

The oversize white envelope bore the blue logo of the Department of Homeland Security. Inside, I found 20 photocopies of the government’s records on my international travels. Every overseas trip I’ve taken since 2001 was noted.

I had requested the files after I had heard that the government tracks “passenger activity.” Starting in the mid-1990s, many airlines handed over passenger records. Since 2002, the government has mandated that the commercial airlines deliver this information routinely and electronically.

A passenger record typically includes the name of the person traveling, the name of the person who submitted the information while arranging the trip, and details about how the ticket was bought, according to documents published by the Department of Homeland Security. Records are made for citizens and non-citizens who cross our borders. An agent from U.S. Customs and Border Protection can generate a travel history for any traveler with a few keystrokes on a computer. Officials use the information to prevent terrorism, acts of organized crime, and other illegal activity.

I had been curious about what’s in my travel dossier, so I made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy.

My biggest surprise was that the Internet Protocol (I.P.) address of the computer used to buy my tickets via a Web agency was noted. On the first document image posted here, I’ve circled in red the I.P. address of the computer used to buy my pair of airline tickets.

(An I.P. address is assigned to every computer on the Internet. Each time that computer sends an e-mail—or is used to make a purchase via a Web browser — it has to reveal its I.P. address, which tells its geographic location.)

The rest of my file contained details about my ticketed itineraries, the amount I paid for tickets, and the airports I passed through overseas. My credit card number was not listed, nor were any hotels I’ve visited. In two cases, the basic identifying information about my traveling companion (whose ticket was part of the same purchase as mine) was included in the file. Perhaps that information was included by mistake.

Some sections of my documents were blacked out by an official. Presumably, this information contains material that is classified because it would reveal the inner workings of law enforcement.

Here’s the lowdown on the records.

The commercial airlines send these passenger records to Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Computers match the information with the databases of federal departments, such as Treasury, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. Computers uncover links between known and previously unidentified terrorists or terrorist suspects, as well as suspicious or irregular travel patterns. Some of this information comes from foreign governments and law enforcement agencies. The data is also crosschecked with American state and local law enforcement agencies, which are tracking persons who have warrants out for their arrest or who are under restraining orders. The data is used not only to fight terrorism but also to prevent and combat acts of organized crime and other illegal activity.

Officials use the information to help decide if a passenger needs to have additional screening. Case in point: After overseas trips, I’ve stood in lines at U.S. border checkpoints and had my passport swiped and my electronic file examined. A few times, something in my record has prompted officers to pull me over to a side room, where I have been asked additional questions. Sometimes I’ve had to clarify a missing middle initial. Other times, I have been referred to a secondary examination. (I’ve blogged about this before.)

When did this electronic data collection start? In 1999, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (then known as the U.S. Customs Service) began receiving passenger identification information electronically from certain air carriers on a voluntary basis, though some paper records were shared prior to that. A mandatory, automated program began about 6 years ago. Congress funds this Automated Targeting System’s Passenger Screening Program to the tune of about $30 million a year.

How safe is your information? Regulations prohibit officials from sharing the records of any traveler — or the government’s risk assessment of any traveler — with airlines or private companies. A record is kept for 15 years—unless it is linked to an investigation, in which case it can be kept indefinitely. Agency computers do not encrypt the data, but officials insist that other measures — both physical and electronic — safeguard our records.

I wonder if the government’s data collecting is relevant and necessary to accomplish the agency’s purpose in protecting our borders. The volume of data collected, and the rate at which the records is growing and being shared with officials nationwide, suggests that the potential for misuse could soar out of hand. Others may wonder if the efforts are effective. For instance, I asked security expert Bruce Schneier Schneider about the Feds’ efforts to track passenger activity, and he responded by e-mail:

“I think it’s a waste of time. There’s this myth that we can pick terrorists out of the crowd if we only knew more information.”

On the other hand, some people may find it reassuring that the government is using technology to keep our borders safe.

Oh, one more thing: Are your records worth seeing? Maybe not, unless you’ve been experiencing a problem crossing our nation’s borders. For one thing, the records are a bit dull. In my file, for instance, officials had blacked out the (presumably) most fascinating parts, which were about how officials assessed my risk profile. What’s more, the records are mainly limited to information that airline and passport control officials have collected, so you probably won’t be surprised by anything you read in them. Lastly, there may be a cost. While there was no charge to me when I requested my records, you might charged a fee of up to $50 if there is difficulty in obtaining your records. Of course, there’s a cost to taxpayers and to our nation’s security resources whenever a request is filed, too.

However, if you are being detained at the border or if you suspect a problem with your records, then by all means request a copy. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is required by law to make your records available to you, with some exceptions. Your request must be made in writing on paper and be signed by you. Ask to see the “information relating to me in the Automated Targeting System.” Say that your request is “made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552).” Add that you wish to have a copy of your records made and mailed to you without first inspecting them. Your letter should, obviously, give reasonably sufficient detail to enable an official to find your record. So supply your passport number and mailing address. Put a date on your letter and make a copy for your own records. On your envelope, you should conspicuously print the words “FOIA Request.” It should be addressed to “Freedom of Information Act Request,” U.S. Customs Service, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20229. Be patient. I had wait for up to a year to receive a copy of my records. Then if you believe there’s an error in your record, ask for a correction by writing a letter to the Customer Satisfaction Unit, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Room 5.5C, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229

Is the TSA violating your privacy with its new body scanning machines?

Truck explodes after crashing into 2 poles

January 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Latest Top Stories, Local News, Vehicle Accidents, Videos

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A Ford Explorer hit 2 power poles and slammed into the base of a sign.
The accident happened just after midnight. Witnesses say the driver looked intoxicated and left the scene of the accident. No other vehicle was involved. FPL was called out to shut off power until the poles could be replaced.

wpbnews1st.com
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Former officer, teen arrested after Ga. standoff

January 5, 2009 by  
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MADISON, Ga. – A 13-hour hostage standoff at a Georgia motel ended peacefully Monday when a former South Carolina police officer and a teenage girl surrendered, freeing his estranged wife and infant son.

FBI spokesman Steve Lazarus said 25-year-old David Dietz surrendered around 9:15 a.m. at the Red Roof Inn off Interstate 20 about 60 miles east of Atlanta. Jamie Lynn Burgess, 17, was also taken into custody at the time.

The two had been holed up in a second floor room with the infant, Allim David Dietz, and Dietz’s estranged wife, 29-year-old Eva Arce-Perez. Two shots were fired at law enforcement agents from the room Sunday night.

The next morning, Dietz stepped onto the walkway outside the motel room holding the baby in his arms as he surrendered. Burgess exited the room with her hands in the air.

Burgess helped Dietz in the kidnapping, West Columbia, S.C., Police Major Jackie Brothers said.

“It’s our understanding they arrived together, they waited together and when the family and friends arrived home, she actively participated in the abduction,” Brothers said.

Police said Burgess and Dietz were acquaintances but wouldn’t elaborate on their relationship.

Burgess was set to return to South Carolina Monday night, where she would be charged with kidnapping, carjacking and assault with intent to kill, Brothers said. She won’t face federal charges because she’s a minor, Lazarus said.

Dietz, who wore a black uniform emblazoned with the word “police” during the abduction, was being held in federal custody in Macon and would face federal charges of kidnapping in South Carolina and federal charges of assaulting a federal officer in Georgia since shots were fired at FBI agents, Lazarus said. He said they hoped to bring Dietz before a federal magistrate on Tuesday.

He also faces state charges including kidnapping, assault with intent to kill and carjacking in South Carolina and five counts of aggravated assault in Georgia, authorities said.

Police said Arce-Perez and the baby were abducted from their home in Columbia, S.C., Saturday evening. A missing child alert was issued, and authorities learned Dietz might be headed toward Atlanta.

The standoff started Sunday night after Georgia State Patrol officers spotted the car mentioned in the alert in the motel parking lot.

It wasn’t the former police officer‘s first run-in with the law. South Carolina police reports showed authorities were called twice last year to domestic disturbances between Dietz and Arce-Perez.

Police in West Columbia were called to the home where Arce-Perez lived in December after the woman claimed Dietz threatened her.

“She stated that he called her wanting to see the baby even if he had to kick the door in,” West Columbia chief Dennis Tyndall said.

An incident report filed in May by the Richland County, S.C. Sheriff’s Department says Dietz was arrested for criminal domestic violence after he tried to force then-pregnant Arce-Perez to leave her apartment with him and pointed a gun at her brother, threatening to shoot if he tried to intervene. A judge dismissed charges in that case when Arce-Perez didn’t show up for a hearing, said department spokesman Chris Cowan.

Columbia police spokesman Brick Lewis said Dietz was hired by the department in June 2006 but resigned in October 2006 without giving a reason and on good terms.

Dietz also worked as a probation officer until August 2007, said Pete O’Boyle, a spokesman for the state’s probation department.

Sarasota woman cuts infant, boyfriend with knife

January 5, 2009 by  
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SARASOTA, FL. – A Sarasota mother has been arrested for slashing her boyfriend and infant with a knife over the weekend.

According to a report from the Sarasota Police Department, officers were dispatched to a home in the 1600 block of Oak Street Saturday evening after a man called about a loud noise coming from the home.

The man made contact with a woman, Stacie Carr, at the home, who said she needed help. He then called police. A few minutes later, William Geeslin came out the residence screaming that Carr

had cut him and a baby with a knife

When officers arrived, Carr said Geeslin had the baby and pointed to a side door entrance, where he was holding the child. Geeslin told the officer that Carr cut him and the baby in the master bedroom. He also said that Carr pushed him down the stairs.

A butcher knife was recovered at the scene.

When paramedics arrived to help the baby, Geeslin refused and backed himself into a corner. Officers pinned one of his arms and snatched the child away. Geeslin was arrested for resisting an officer. He also was charged with battery for spitting blood in the face of an EMT. While in the emergency room at the hospital, he intentionally squeezing a nurse’s hand and causing damage to it, and was charged with battery.

Officers believe that Carr was the person who cut the child and Geeslin. She was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and domestic aggravated battery. Geeslin was additionally charged with felony child neglect.

The child was released to his grandmother by DCF.

Source: http://www.mysuncoast.com

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