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Clerical Error Kept Man Free for 13 Years – Until Now? (Opinions Requested, Please.)

A NY Post article published today tells the story of a man who had been convicted of armed robbery, sentenced and, well, no one noticed that he wasn’t incarcerated – for 13 years – until his release date.  Much to Corrections surprise, this man was not and had not been in prison all of those years.  He hadn’t escaped, run away or gone underground.

Man sent to jail after clerical error kept him free for 13 years

convicted criminal who spent 13 years as a free man because of a clerical error now faces the same amount of time in jail — after authorities discovered their boneheaded mistake more than a ­decade later.

Missouri officials who stumbled upon the paperwork bungle — which showed felon Cornealious “Mike” Anderson as an inmate in state prison even though he never showed up there — want to undo the snafu by throwing the now-upstanding businessman behind bars for the next 13 years.

The case has left legal experts baffled and Anderson’sfamily and friends struggling to understand the sordid past of the armed robber, who by all accounts is a changed man.

“Even the victim himself went on record and said, ‘Idon’t think this guy should be in jail,’ ” said Anderson’s lawyer, Patrick Megaro.

Anderson, 37, is now a married father of four, owns his own contracting business, coaches football and is a devoted churchgoer, according to his lawyer and family.

But when he was just 22, Anderson and a friend robbed a Burger King night manager at gunpoint in St. Louis. No one was hurt in the 1999 holdup, but Anderson was sentenced to 13 years.

He spent 10 months in jail before his family managed to cobble together $25,000 to secure his release as he filed a series of unsuccessful appeals, the Riverfront Times reported.

After the last judicial rejection, the young man, out on bond, waited for law enforcement to take him to prison.

But they never came.

He began to build a life, learned the carpentry trade, and fell in love.

In a final 2004 effort to secure his freedom, Anderson hired yet more lawyers to appeal his conviction. Court documents at that time make clear that Anderson was not in prison, but authorities didn’t seem to notice.

The appeal went nowhere, but again no one showed up to take Anderson to prison.

It was only last summer — when his sentence “ended” — that correction officials went to release him and noticed he was never there. US Marshals descended on his quiet, suburban St. Louis home and finally locked him up.

“He’s been away from home for nine months. It seems longer,” his devastated wife, LaQonna, 30, told The Post.

The couple is raising four children ranging in age from 3 to 12.

“He is a changed man,” she said. “Everybody deserves second chances, I believe, and my husband is one of them. He’s completely turned his life around.”

More than 10,000 people have signed a Change.org petition, demanding Anderson’s release.

Please vote in our poll below and feel welcome to comment.

Gavel Bangers; April 2014

crime and punishment

* Jurors find that  police used excessive force but that the plaintiff wasn’t injured in the beating.  [The Florida Times-Union]

The trial began Tuesday and ended Thursday after three hours of deliberations, during which the jury answered two questions:

■ They agreed that Rhoden and Cole [defendants, two deputies] “intentionally committed acts that violated Mr. Fussell’s [plaintiff] federal constitutional right not to be subjected to excessive or unreasonable force during an arrest,” according to language in the jury instructions.

■ But when asked whether defendants’ “conduct caused Mr. Fussell’s injuries,” they said no.

Although the jurors were not privy to Mr. Fussell’s lengthy criminal record (dating back to 1970), they apparently didn’t like him.  At all.  In essence, via their decision, the jury tacitly stated, “You deserved the beating and probably more for crimes we don’t know about.  No money for you.”

 

 

angry dog

 

* The DEA wins this month’s most idiotic argument against marijuana legalization ever: it’s harmful to dogs. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

From Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration,

WASHINGTON — Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has a message for those considering legalizing marijuana: Please, think of Fido.

Testifying on the DEA budget during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Leonhart said she expected a number of things to happen after Washington and Colorado were allowed to go forward with the legalization of marijuana last year. What she didn’t anticipate was the impact on man’s best friend.

“There was just an article last week, and it was on pets. It was about the unanticipated or unexpected consequences of this, and how veterinarians now are seeing dogs come in, their pets come in, and being treated because they’ve been exposed to marijuana,” Leonhart said.

 

Backstory:  Leonhart was referring a recent USA Today story in which Colorado veterinarians expressed concern about the “increasing availability of marijuana appears to be driving an increase in pot-poisoned pets.”

Fact: According to a study by Colorado State veterinarian Tim Hackett,  two dogs have “died from eating large amounts of marijuana-infused butter” since 2000, when Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use.

This is the DEA’s head honcho’s  best anti-pot legalization argument.   Apparently even thinking about drugs kills brain cells.

That’s what we have for you this week. If you come across any particularly interesting head-scratching gavel bangers – please, send them in.

Have a productive week.

BNI Operatives:  Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

Identifying and Reporting Cyber Harassment

(We’re wrapped up in several serious cyber harassment cases at the moment and are sharing several tips on how to handle these type situations that cross over into criminality.  All too frequently we feel our hands are tied in trying to protect ourselves, our businesses and families from this type of harassment but in reality, the reporting protocol for these type incidents already exists.  Below is information on how to report cyber harassment.)

Cyber harassment refers to the malicious use of technology to willfully and deliberately harass or harm another individual or entity.  Cyber harassment can qualify as a federal crime.  Undoubtedly though, it is a scary experience for the victim. If you are in fear of imminent danger to your welfare or that of  others,  call 911 immediately to report the harassment.

Instructions  

1.  Determine whether you are the victim of cyber harassment. The lines between genuine cyber harassment and general nuisance are blurry, so it can be difficult to substantiate a claim of Internet harassment. If someone is threatening you with violence and you genuinely fear for your safety and well-being, you might meet the criteria of being a victim. It is important to note that hacking, cyber spying and cyber stalking are not forms of Internet harassment. The first two are not necessarily criminal activities, depending on the nature of the offender’s behavior, and the latter is a separate crime, which should be reported and addressed differently than cyber harassment, defined by the Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking Act.

2.  Do what you can to reduce or prevent further Internet harassment from occurring. This includes changing your email address, screen names and member names for instant messaging programs and social networking websites; applying private settings to your profiles and websites that currently are public; and ceasing all contact with the person who is harassing you. You must demonstrate that you have taken steps to stop the person from harassing you. If you communicate continuously with the individual who is harassing you, your chances of  being able to report and stop Internet harassment will drop significantly.

3.  Gather as much information as you can about the individual harassing you. This can prove to be quite difficult given the anonymous nature of the Internet, but technology allows law enforcement to track down anonymous harassers by using multiple methods. Develop a log that includes email addresses, screen names, and website and social networking profile URLs that belong to the person/people harassing you. Save and print emails and conversations, create “screen grabs” or screenshots of websites or profiles with threatening or malicious content, and keep track of the offender’s every attempt to contact you. A detailed log containing dates, times and places will help you immensely when you report cyber harassment. If possible, also try to locate and write down the offender’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.

4.  Contact your local law enforcement agency and ask to report cyber harassment. Use the police department’s non-emergency (administrative) telephone number or visit in person to make your report. Be prepared to provide information you have detailed in your log.   If you know the offender’s (even general) location, you can contact his local police department or file a report with both precincts. Be sure to get a copy of any police report you file.

5.  Contact your local FBI field office if your local police department is unable to or uninterested in pursuing your report. You can locate your local office using the FBI’s field office locator online, or ask you local police department for the information. Always attempt to make a report with your local police department before contacting the FBI, unless you have reason to believe the harassment is terroristic in nature,  (e.g., the offender is threatening to plant a bomb or commit a school shooting).

6.  Contact a cyber harassment watch group for more assistance. While your matter is under investigation, you can contact an organization such as WiredSafety for further assistance and general support. Note that this type organization is not a governmental or law enforcement agency and you should not rely on these private groups as an alternative to law enforcement authorities.

As always, stay safe.

Slip/Trip and Fall Intake; Info Gathering.

person falling

One of most common type incidents that a private detective is requested to investigate is a slip/trip and fall.  Below is primary information required after such an event.

1. CLIENT PEDIGREE (to include name, address, phone #, DOB, SSN,employment/scholastic and licensed driver info and emergency contacts)

2. WEATHER CONDITIONS

3. LIGHTING CONDITIONS

4. SURFACE DESCRIPTION (sidewalk, hallway, stairs…)

5. DEBRIS/DISREPAIR/CONSTRUCTION PRESENT

6. DESCRIPTION OF SURFACE (concrete, torn matting, tile…)

7. PRESENCE OF ANY WARNING SIGNS (e.g. wet floor cones, signs…)

8. DIRECTION OF TRAVEL OF PARTICIPANTS (northbound, descending steps…)

9. DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT (detailed, including, for exterior falls in snow and ice, how long the condition had existed)

10. ALCOHOL/DRUG INVOLVEMENT

11. WHERE WAS THE CLIENT GOING?

12. RATE OF WALK (normal gait, walking briskly… )

13. TYPE OF SHOES WORN

14. CONDITION OF SHOES (new, good, worn.. )

15. DOES THE CLIENT STILL HAVE THE FOOTWEAR?

16. OBSERVABLE INJURIES SUSTAINED (detailed)

17. MEDICAL ATTENTION RECEIVED AT SCENE

18. EMERGENCY/OFFICIAL VEHICLE AND PERSONNEL RESPONSE

19. STATEMENT(S) MADE AT SCENE

20. ADDITIONAL WITNESSES

21. DOES THE CLIENT KNOW OF ANY OTHER SIMILAR PRIOR INCIDENTS AT SAID LOCATION?

22. HAD THE CLIENT COMPLAINED TO MANAGEMENT OF EXISTING RELATED CONDITIONS?

23. DOES THE CLIENT KNOW OF ANYONE ELSE WHO MAY HAVE MADE SIMILAR PRIOR COMPLAINTS TO MANAGEMENT?

24. COPY OF CLIENT’S LEASE.

25. MANAGEMENT INFORMATION, IF KNOWN.

26. MUNICIPALITY INVOLVED?

Additional related searches you may opt to have your investigator conduct: real property search, weather check and prior incidents (lawsuits filed for similar situation v. the same property owner.    Rarely, in these situations, do our clients ask us to conduct a financial background check on their clients (to determine if there are active liens, judgments, bankruptcies.. .), preferring to question their own clients on this matter.  We do however have that capability and generally, that type of search, pending the case level, should include joint (spouse) information.

BNI Operatives: : Street smart; web savvy.

As always, stay safe.

College Romance or Victim of a Campus Predator?

college kids

As students and parents prepare for the new college semester in September, (no, it’s definitely not too early)  we find it necessary to give both groups a heads up regarding the relatively old (but newly reformatted) threat that has always existed for those taking their first steps into the real world of living away from home, on or near campus and for their parents, attempting to emotionally bridge viewing their children as very young but, nonetheless, adults. 

In the past several years, we’ve experienced a sharp rise in cases involving a very target-specific type of sexual and emotional abuser; one who focuses his attention on college students.  The campus predator

Unlike your garden variety slime of sexual offenders, the campus predator is not focused on seeking multiple sexual assault victims.  Instead, s/he  selects one from “the herd” of students whom he has studied and has decided that this “special one” has the resources to enable his lifestyle.   

Physically, he is older (mid to late 20s, early 30s), often poorly educated (but presents with a broad, if not in-depth- knowledge base), with a low/dependent income, emotionally stunted in adolescence, sexually promiscuous and with no tangible future plans other than to live through his potential victim’s resources. (In other words, generally, that of the family.) 

Personality-wise, the campus predator is a narcissist, supports delusions of grandeur and a sense of entitlement.  He strives to appear well-educated, uses his family (parents, siblings…) as props to give the appearance of a normal family life and disguises his true predatory goals as ambition. 

His actions are planned; a grooming process.  He often does things to “set up” a potential victim to determine his ability to manipulate her. Grooming behavior is designed  to try to get the potential victim interested in the predator and to gauge the potential victim’s responses to his  advances, which become increasingly sexual and sexually deviant nature.   Older, Grooming is part of a process that predators undertake to manipulate and then isolate his target.   This process can involve  threats, emotional abuse, coercive acts to determine the victim’s “loyalty” and will almost always involve alcohol and drugs – with or without the victim’s knowledge and or permission. The four F’s of a campus predator  are Friendship, Fantasy, Fear, Force. 

How to spot a campus predator: (for parents):

1. Your child is suddenly in a new relationship that appears to be advancing too quickly. (He’s generally more sexually sophisticated and this often gives the naive a sense of being in love.  Biochemically, a strong physical attraction does engage but it is one-sided.  The predator is, after all, usually incapable of a true relationship, given his halted emotional growth.)

2. He rapidly and methodically befriends your daughter’s friends.  (He is trying to control her information sources.)  He will then proceed to analyze each for weaknesses (drug use, sexual orientation, ego issues…) and systemically lop off those friends he cannot manipulate.  The weaker-willed friends he will draw into compromising situations. 

3. He tries to ingratiate himself to the parents.   He will try to learn everything he can about the potential victim’s family, appearing to be interested but actually looking for the “family secrets”.  If rejected by the parents/family, he initiates a divide and conquer effort; in essence pitting the child v. the parent (already engaged in a natural struggle for separation and formation of a separate new adult) and places himself in the positioning of being “the only one who understands” her. 

4. New perhaps to alcohol and drug intake, he will ensure that those dis-inhibitors gain entry into your child’s biological system.  While under the influence (and possibly even blanked from the young victim’s memory), he will have her engage in sexual activity that he records.  (Possibly future extortive efforts.) 

5. Given that he has no ability to plan a true future, he pushes the relationship to exclusivity and towards engagement/marriage in a matter of months.

6. If all else fails to “secure the deal”, he will attempt to impregnate his conquest, who, by now, is basically afraid or so committed to this dangerous relationship that this plan may be with her active planning, to ensure the parent’s capitulation.

How to spot a campus predator (for university managers and security):

1. He is generally an older male.  He usually attempts to make himself look younger (very clean-shaven, wearing youthful clothing, his speech includes the most current slang/colloquial usage…) 

2. Frequents college bars.

3. Is often noted buying drinks for college students.

4. Seems to be the “go-to” guy for college kids looking for adult entertainment and drugs.

5. Employ common sense.  If every weekend, an older non-student is hanging out at the college bars and there is considerable activity occurring around him (hard-drinking, many visits outside or to the rest rooms to sell/buy drugs – two ro three guys going to the men’s room together are not going there in an attempt to quietly discuss the first round NFL draft picks), observe and investigate. 

Finally for the most vulnerable, the actual young college students themselves:

1. Be it one friend or an entire sorority that has your back, don’t allow yourself to become separated on a consistent basis from them by an “outsider”.   Do not allow yourself to be isolated from family and friends.

2. Keep the lines of communication with your parents or other trusted older adults open.  They’ve experienced more than you have and often, the advice given  (and that’s all it is, you will eventually have to make your own decisions) is simply something you may not have thought of as it’s not part of your frame of reference.

3. If it’s true good to be true… you know the rest.  There is no rush to be married or have children at 18 or 22.  Stay focused on your life goals and achieving them in a reasonable time frame.  

We as a society need to work as a whole to ensure the safety of all of its members, particularly those that are perfect fodder for conscience-challenged predators.   If your child, friend, sibling… exhibits new, alarming behavior, check her new influences. The campus predator will usually stand out, red flags flapping like a wind-sock in a tornado.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

 

Daughter Costs Dad $80,000 on FaceBook; The Latest Post & Pay.

facebook post

There was a time when parents worried about their daughters posting naked pictures on Facebook.  Now the fear is that she’ll post family secrets.

Welcome to the Brave New Tech World where family meetings will require CLEs for the kiddies. In this case:  On breaking confidentiality agreements.

Case Background:

Patrick Snay, former  headmaster for Gulliver Preparatory School, did not have his contract renewed by the school in 2010.  Snay sued the school, allegeding age discrimination.  Probably to avert the expense of a protracted legal battle  and a possible jury trial and Snay, to avoid being locked in litigation for years, the school and Snay came to a settlement agreement for $80,000.

As is common in settlements of this kind, the agreement contained a confidentiality clause. For those learning the rules of the game at home,  a confidentiality clause means that neither Snay, nor the school, could talk about the settlement. Fairly simple, right?

What The Girl Did:

Apparently daughter Dana Snay didn’t  get the email.   Several days after the settlement agreement was signed, she posted this to her 1,200 Facebook friends, according to the Miami Herald:

“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Oh it sucks alright.

What The Court Did:

A Florida court immediately threw out the $80,000 settlement. Patrick Snay violated confidentiality when he told his daughter, and his daughter totally blew out the agreement on Facebook.

Why Confidentiality Clauses Are Included in Settlement Agreements:

A settlement agreement does not assign fault or liability to the parties involved in the cause of legal action that generates a law suit.  The Gulliver school did not admit to discriminating against  Patrick Snay and on his part, it was worth the $80,000 agreement to get on with his life.   By claiming that”Mama and Papa Snay won the case” that  is exactly the kind of simplistic viewpoint that confidentiality agreements are designed to avoid.   The daughter’s comments impart the suggestion that the school had in fact discriminated against Mr. Snay and hence, the money award.  Not the case.  Gulliver did not concede or admit to discrimination.

Facebook conversations are not private. Come on, now. We all know this and if there is an important family or business matter in the know by a select group of people privy to this information, they need to know or be instructed to zip it.

Perhaps Dana Snay will go on to law school.  She has a great story as to how lawyering become her vocation.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Read That Body (Language)

body language final

by Lina M. Maini

One of the most important tools in an investigator’s arsenal when questioning people is her  ability to quickly and accurately read the subject’s  body language.  Most people believe that they are exceptionally good at judging the physical stances and reactions of others.  Test yourself. If a subject’s feet are crossed at the ankle; significance?   A slightly tilted head and one that is overly tilted indicate two very different emotions.  What are they?  How does the investigator subliminally encourage the subject’s cooperation?

Obviously, use your common sense but, generally, the below tips on body language are rooted in the many studies and practical experiences in the field in decoding innate physiological reactions that occur when someone is confronted.

1. Physical Closeness. Slowly Does It. 

  • Does the subject appear comfortable with your physical presence in his environment?  We’ve all heard about one’s “personal space”, the approximate 18″ perimeter around oneself which, when breached, can either alarm or relax a person.  (Bear in mind that personal space is culturally fluid; what may be considered close in one country is distant in another.)   If the  person entering the personal space is a “friendly”, the subject is relaxed and welcoming; a relative stranger or an adversary entering this space is perceived as a threat and  will make the subject uncomfortable.
  • Know your intent: If you are seeking the subject’s cooperation, gradually draw yourself closer and gage the reaction.  When this personal space is accessed by gradual degrees, the result can be a more trusting environment, encouraging the subject to share information.

2. Head Position

  • Overly titled head are a sign of sympathy, potentially even playful/flirtatious.  (Be careful when encountering a subject employing this type head position as they may be intentionally trying to disarm or distract the questioner.)
  • A lowered head indicate that the subject may have reason to hide something.  It could be evasion, shyness, fear, disbelief or, s/he may be thinking to oneself or trying to decide whether to cooperate.  (Gage the reaction and act appropriately by either gently backtracking from the current line of questioning that prompted this reaction or move almost imperceptibly closer to the subject with hands in the up and open position – indicating empathic and trustworthiness.)
  • A slightly tilted head in your direction means that the subject is confused or judging or challenging you. (In this case, maintain eye contact and shift slightly horizontally which the subject perceives as your backing down as you’ve moved further away when in fact you’re exactly the same distance away, just in a different spot.)

3. The Eyes Have It.

People who look:

  • to the sides often  are nervous, lying,distracted or trying to hide something emotional.
  • away from the speaker are indicating that they are uncomfortable or submissive.
  • at the speaker with a questioning look are unconvinced or distrustful.
  • at the speaker with dilated pupils, (unless the subject is under the influence) indicate that they are interested.

4. The Mirror Effect.  

  • If someone mimics your body language this is a very genuine sign that they are trying to establish rapport with you. If you change your position from time to time and they do likewise, they are mirroring you.  This is a very useful tool for the investigator as the subject is fully engaged, sympathetic or empathetic and more likely to release information as their natural reservation is diminished by the effort of trying to keep pace with your physical movements.

5.  Check the Arms. 

  • Closed arms indicate that the subject has closed themselves off to outside influence.
  • Folded arms with the feet positioned shoulder length apart indicates a position of toughness or authority.
  • Rubbing their hands together or otherwise touching their body is an effort to comfort themselves, indicating their uncomfortableness with the current situation.
  • Arms resting behind their neck or head means that they are open to what is being discussed.
  • Arms on hips indicate irritation or impatience.
  • If their hands are closed, they could be angry or nervous.

6. Nervous Gestures.

  • If someone brushes their hair back with their fingers, this may be preening, a common gesture if the person likes you, or their thoughts about something conflict with yours. If their eyebrows are raised during this gesture, they do not agree with you.
  • If the person wears glasses, and is constantly pushing them up onto their nose again, with a slight frown, this may indicate that they disagree with what you are saying. Look to make sure they push up their glasses with an intent, not casually adjusting them. Look for pushing on the rim with two fingers, or an extra motion of wiggling the side of their glasses. The distinguishing feature is whether they are looking directly at you while doing it.
  • Lowered eyebrows and squinted eyes illustrate an attempt at understanding what is being said or going on. It’s usually skeptical.

7.  Watch their feet

  • A fast tapping, shifting of weight, or movement of the foot will most often mean that the person is impatient, excited, nervous, scared, or intimidated.
  • The meaning of feet tapping can usually be discerned depending on the context; if you are currently talking and they are tapping their feet, that is an indication of a desire to leave (though usually this behavior manifests when the person is anxious to get somewhere specific, such as a meeting, rather than because of what you’re doing specifically).
  • Slow shuffling indicates boredom with the current situation.
  • If the person is sitting, feet crossed at the ankles means they’re generally at ease.
  • If while standing, a person seems to always keep their feet very close together, it probably means they are trying to be “proper” in some way. Sometimes feet together means that they are feeling more submissive or passive.
  • Some people may point their feet to the direction of where they want to go or sometimes their interest.

Again, many external or unknown factors can influence a subject’s cooperation but being able to gauge the meaning of the subject’s body language expertly and correctly is usually the difference between a successful interview and a frustrating and fruitless one.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

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