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Thursday, July 31, 2014

David Whitlock: The Trigger-Happy Constable

     On November 2, 2011, at 3:30 in the afternoon, Jefferson County Constable David Whitlock, while shopping in a Louisville, Kentucky Walmart where he worked off-duty as a retail security officer, received a call on his cellphone regarding a possible shoplifter. Constable Whitlock approached the suspect, Tammy Lee Jamian, aka Tammy Ortiz, as she sat in her car in the parking lot. When Whitlock reached the vehicle, the suspect started to drive away. Her car ran over Whitlock's foot so he shot her in the arm and hand.

     In Kentucky, constables were elected under the state constitution that gave them powers of arrest in the enforcement of traffic laws. They also served certain types of warrants. Whitlock, in 2000 and 2002, had been charged in a couple of theft cases. Other law enforcement officers had criticized him for carrying a gun without the proper firearms training. In Kentucky, constables were not required to undergo special law enforcement instruction. Whitlock claimed, however, to have taken 122 hours of deadly force classes. According to a Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy, Whitlock failed the shooting portion of the course and was sent home.

     In a newspaper interview following the Walmart shooting, Whitlock told the reporter he spent 20 to 25 hours a week writing citations for illegal parking in fire lanes and handicapped spots. He also patrolled Louisville making sure addresses were visible on buildings as required by law.

     Tammy Lee Jamian, who has an arrest record for burglary, theft, and prostitution, claimed she was not shoplifting in the store and that Constable Whitlock, when he confronted her in the parking lot, did not identify himself as a police officer. She drove off because she thought she was being mugged. Referring to Whitlock, Jamian's attorney told a reporter "This cowboy shot an unarmed woman for shoplifting. He didn't know if she was Bonnie from Bonnie and Clyde or Sister Teresa. He just shot her."

     On November 11, Louisville Councilman Rick Blackwell called for the state legislature to remove Whitlock as a Jefferson County Constable. According to the councilman, Whitlock violated three state laws: deputizing staff members, failing to file monthly reports to the county clerk, and using oscillating blue lights on his car.

     In October 2012, pursuant to his guilty plea to charges of wanton endangerment and second-degree assault, Whitlock agreed never to work in law enforcement again. After he completed a diversion program, the prosecutor dropped the charges against the former constable.

     In Louisville, on January 27, 2014, David Whitlock announced his plan to run for a seat on the Metro Council.

    

Criminal Justice Quote: Private Security

Although America inherited the historic English tradition of citizens individually and collectively protecting self and neighborhood, this concept slowly moved to the background in the nineteenth century with the formation of public police departments. But when crime rates were rising in America during the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, citizens and commerce tried once again to develop their own ways to feel safer and protect their assets. Institutions created internal security measures or hired outside personnel and consultants. Individuals, organizations, and business proprietors spent money on a wide variety of security products and services. [In the retail sector, reducing employee theft and shoplifting is called loss prevention.]

Henry Ruth and Kevin R. Reitz, The Challenge of Crime, 2003

Writing Quote: Creating Ghosts, Vampires and Werewolves

     Suppose you have a strong desire to use a ghost, vampire or werewolf as your central horror novel menace. Is it still possible to utilize such conventional monsters? Will editors buy yet another vampire novel when so many have already been written?

     The answer is yes: Editors are always receptive to novels and stories containing supernatural monsters, but they must be freshly presented; your stories must offer new insights and a fresh approach.

William F. Nolan, How to Write Horror Fiction, 1990

Writing Quote: The Idea is the Easy Part

Most anyone can have a great idea. A smaller group might get it onto paper in some form. A fair number of those will be able to revise parts of it until it is very good. Yet to take all the elements such as character and themes and place, and to think about voice, style and language, just doesn't happen in one fell swoop. Only a few writers can take what first comes out on the page and work it until every bit of it is right, until all of its parts become a beautiful whole. True talent--perhaps even genius--lies not in coming up with the idea but in being able to do the hard, dogged work that brings that idea to fruition.

Carole Burns, Off The Page, 2008


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tim Lambesis Sentenced in Murder-For-Hire Case

     In 2000, 19-year-old guitarist Tim Lambesis, a graduate of a San Diego area Christian high school, formed a heavy mental band called "As I Lay Dying" (the title of a William Faulkner novel). The group's sixth album came out in the fall of 2012 prior to a tour of Asia. The band was scheduled to kick-off a U.S. tour from Oklahoma City on May 30, 2013. Many of the band's songs included Christian themes of forgiveness and struggle.

     In 2011, Lambesis and his wife Meggan separated. According to divorce papers, she accused him of becoming emotionally distant from her and the three children they adopted from Ethiopia. She complained that he had become obsessed with bodybuilding and touring. Meggan also accused her estranged husband of having a "string of women."

     In April 2013, the 32-year-old rock star, on two occasions, confided to a man who worked out at his gym that he wanted to have his wife killed. Lambesis told this man his wife made it difficut for him to visit his children. The man in the gym Lambesis reached out to reported Lambesis' homicidal wishes to the San Diego County Sheriff's Office. Shortly thereafter, Lambesis met with an undercover police officer posing as a hit man named "Red".

     In the recorded murder-for-hire meeting, the heavy metal rocker handed Red an envelope containing $1,000 in cash, a photograph of his wife, the security gate code to the Encinitas, California estate, and a list of dates in which Lambesis would have an alibi. According to court documents, the murder-for-hire mastermind also gave the undercover sheriff's department officer instructions on how to kill Meggan Lambesis.

    At two in the afternoon of Tuesday, May 7, 2013, San Diego sheriff's deputies arrested Lambesis as he shopped at a mall in Oceanside. The officers booked him into the Vista Jail on the charge of solicitation of murder.

     The day after his arrest, at his arraignment, Lambeis pleaded not guilty to the murder solicitation charge. The judge set his bail at $3 million. Forty-eight days later Lambesis posted his bond. The judge required him to wear a GPS device.

     The murder-for-hire suspect's attorney told reporters that his client had been set up by the man in the gym. If convicted as charged Lambesis faced up to nine years in prison. His fans and people who know the entertainer expressed shock over the murder-for-hire accusation.

     On September 16, 2013, the Superior Court Judge, after hearing preliminary hearing testimony from the undercover officer and other prosecution witnesses, bound the murder-for-hire case over for trial.

     In February 2014, Lambesis pleaded guilty in a Vista, California courtroom of soliciting an undercover officer to murder his wife. At his sentencing hearing on May 16, 2014, the former rock star's attorney said his client suffered brain damage as a result of using steroids. The deputy district attorney dismissed the claim. She called it a flimsy, illogical excuse for what in reality was a calculated plan to have a person murdered.

     The judge sentenced Lambesis to six years in prison.  

Criminal Justice Quote: The Diminishing Death Penalty

The death penalty in America currently affects a tiny percentage of all persons convicted of crime, and is used frequently in only one region of the country. In the peak year of 1999, a total of ninety-eight persons were executed in the United States. Seventy-four of the ninety-eight were put to death in southern states, half in Texas and Virginia alone. Even among all persons found guilty of murder, the numbers who reach execution make up less than one-half of 1 percent. In the big statistical picture of criminal punishment, the death penalty is barely visible.

Henry Ruth and Kevin R. Reitz, The Challenge of Crime, 2003

Writing Quote: What is Setting?

Many novelists avoid laying out the setting because they fear boring their readers, but the lack of vivid setting may in turn cause boredom. Without a strong sense of place, it's hard to achieve suspense and excitement--which depend on the reader's sensation of being right there, where the action takes place. When descriptions of places drag, the problem usually lies not in the setting, but in presenting the setting too slowly. Make your descriptions dynamic and quick; give bits of setting concurrently with character and action.

Josip Novakovich, Fiction Writer's Workshop, 1995

Writing Quote: Writing About Animals

I write about animals because I really like animals. I'm also interested in the animalistic side of human nature, and when and why humans cross over into doing very violent things. [When animals become gratuitously violent they are acting like humans. In other words, violent human behavior is more humanistic than animalistic.] Writing about animals is a way of getting at readers' emotions. People sometimes open up their emotions to animals more easily than they do other people. You see that with the way people get so obsessed with their pets. A big thing you see in New York is a person walking their dog with a diamond-stud collar, right past a homeless person. [Unlike people, dogs do not become paranoid schizophrenics.] That interests me as well. My stories are about people, but I use animals as vehicles to get at the people.

Carole Burns, Off the Page, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Football Coach Philip Foglietta and the Poly Prep Cover-Up

     The Poly Prep Country Day School is an elite, nursery to 12th grade private boy's academy located on two campuses in Brooklyn, New York. Poly Prep's middle and high school buildings are located in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn while the lower grades are on the Park Slope campus. As is often the case in schools where the sports program plays an important if not vital role in the institution, faculty member and renowned football coach Philip Foglietta enjoyed icon status during the years 1966 to 1991.

     In 1966, Coach Foglietta's first year at Poly Prep, a male student accused him of sexual molestation. A school administrator informed the boy's parents that an internal investigation revealed the accusation to be false. Moreover, if this student continued to make slanderous claims of this nature, the boy would face "severe consequences." The administration's handling of this case not only silenced the accuser, it became the school's future modus operandi in such matters.

     After 25 years as Poly Prep's most successful football coach, Foglietta unexpectedly retired in 1991. In honor of his legendary coaching career and important contributions to the institution the school hosted a gala celebration held at the Manhattan Athletic Club. Members of the Poly Prep community, and the public at large, were not told of the real reason behind the coach's "retirement." He had been forced to quit as a result of accusations of "sexual misconduct."

     Following Coach Foglietta's death in 1998, Poly Prep established a memorial fund and solicited donations in his name. Four years later, in a letter to all alumni, the Poly Prep administration revealed that for years Coach Foglietta had been suspected of sexually abusing his students. According to this 2002 letter, administrators had "recently received credible allegations that sexual abuse had occurred at Poly Prep more than 20 years ago by a faculty member/coach who is now deceased." Everyone familiar with the school knew that coach was Philip Foglietta. The author of this revealing letter promised a thorough internal investigation of the accusations. (If the school actually conducted such an inquiry, no report of it surfaced. Moreover there was no indication that these "credible" accusations were ever passed onto the police.)

     In 2004, a Poly Prep alumnus named John Paggioli, alleging that as a student he had been sexually molested by Coach Foglietta, filed a lawsuit against the school. A year later, a judge, citing New York State's statute of limitations on such claims, dismissed the action. (In New York, a sexual abuse claimant must file suit within five years of his or her eighteenth birthday.)

     On October 26, 2009, twelve Poly Prep alumni, claiming sexual abuse by Coach Philip Foglietta, filed a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) suit against the school in the Brooklyn District Federal Court. The plaintiffs alleged a 40-year criminal conspiracy to quash and cover-up student complains of sexual abuse allegedly committed by Poly Prep's greatest football coach.

     According to court documents, current and former Poly Prep headmasters knew that Coach Foglietta had sexually abused "dozens if not hundreds of boys." The plaintiffs alleged "Poly Prep administrators had...knowledge of Foglietta's sexual abuse of numerous boys at or near the school, but condoned and facilitated Foglietta's criminal behavior because he was a highly successful football coach and instrumental in raising substantial revenue for the school."

     In filing a RICO action, a technique the FBI used to cripple the Mafia, the Poly Prep plaintiffs were using this federal law as a way around the statute of limitations. These lawyers were asking the court to consider a sexual abuse defendant's repeated misrepresentations and deceitful conduct as a legal justification to override the application of the statute of limitations. These attorneys were attempting to create a legal exception to the doctrine that bars legal relief in older cases.  

     On August 28, 2012, in a 40-page decision, Judge Frederic Block of the Brooklyn District Federal Court, allowed two of the twelve plaintiffs to go forward with their RICO claims against current and former Poly Prep administrators. If these plaintiffs prevailed under the RICO statute, other institutions like universities and churches could be faced with a flood of sexual abuse lawsuits previously blocked by statutes of limitations. For this reason future sexual abuse plaintiffs and their potential defendants were closely following the the Poly Prep RICO suit.

     On December 26, 2012, the school settled the landmark lawsuit out of court. As a result, there would be no legal precedent for other victims in old cases. In February 2014, the school issued a formal apology to all of the students sexually abused by the iconic coach and serial child molester. 

Shawn Ryan Thomas: The Would-Be Rapist Killer

     On June 12, 2014, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Officers arrested 29-year-old Shawn Ryan Thomas on charges of premeditated attempted homicide, attempted sexual assault, and ten counts of possession of child pornography. According to a confidential informant, Thomas planned to lure two parents and a juvenile female to a vacant house in Orlando under the charade of producing a television show. Investigators believed that Thomas intended to murder the parents with a knife then rape and kill the girl. He also planned to film the rape for a DVD he could sell.

     Police officers reported that Thomas lured a father, grandfather and child to a vacant house on June 7, 2014 but the family became suspicious and left.

     At the time of his arrest, Thomas possessed a bag containing a knife, sexual lubricant, a camera and tripod, and plastic sheets. The judge denied Thomas bail.