Federal Probe Of Escambia Sheriff’s Department, County Jail

January 30, 2009

A federal investigation has been launched into the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and the Escambia County Jail.

sheriffsofficefront.jpgNew Sheriff David Morgan held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce that the U.S. Department of Justice was beginning the probe into his department.  Morgan received word of the probe on January 9, three days after he was sworn into office.

The letter says the DOJ “investigation will focus on use of excessive force by deputies of the ECSO”.

“The…investigation will focus on protection of inmates from harm, including providing adequate medical care, mental health care, protection from inmate violence, and sanitation conditions, as well as use of excessive forces against inmates.” the letter  from Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker said.

While the DOJ has not been specific about the target of its investigation, it is believed to center around the deaths of three inmates during the administration of previous Sheriff Ron McNesby:

  • Robert Boggon, 65, died at the jail in August of 2005. He was strapped into a restaint chair, and had been shocked by a stun gun. Records indicate that he had struggled with several deputies. The ECSO acted properly in its treatment of Boggon, according to a judge’s ruling.
  • Hosea Bell, 55, died after being arrested for public urination in December 2006.
  • Jerry Preyer, 45, died at the jail after being hit twice by a Taser stun gun in a struggle with detention staff. Preyer claimed he was Jesus. Deputies were cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.

The Department of Justice did not reveal who made the complaints that led to their investigation, and they did not reveal complete details about the complaints.

Officials from the DOJ are expected to set up at the Sheriff’s Department, where they will be provided with office space, phones and computers. Sheriff Morgan says he plans to fully cooperate with the investigation, which may not begin for several weeks.

Century Movie Night: Watch Wall-E, Iron Man Tonight, Help Relay For Life

January 30, 2009

Friday night, the Town of Century and the Century Library Relay for Life team will hold a Cinema Night with Wall-E and Iron Man.

The first move, Wall-E, will begin at 6:00. The second movie, Iron Man, will begin at 7:45. There is a suggested donation of $2 per person for one movie or $3 per person to see both movies.. Cinema Night will be held at the Century Ag Building at Highway 4 and Industrial Boulevard.

All proceeds go toward Relay for Life. For more information, contact Angel or Denise at 256-3208. The Relay for Life team plans to hold more movie nights in the near future.

Wall-E (rated G) follows the story of a robot named WALL-E who is designed to clean up a polluted Earth far in the future. He eventually falls in love with another robot named EVE, and follows her into outer space on an adventure.

Iron Man (rated PG-13) follows wealthy industrialist Tony Stark as he is forced to build an armored suit after a life-threatening incident, and he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil.

Overturned Dump Truck Slows Traffic For Hours; Driver Critically Injured

January 30, 2009

An overturned dump truck delayed southbound traffic on Highway 29 in McDavid for hours Thursday and left the truck driver in critical condition.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Cynthia D. Kinney, 42, of Cantonment was eastbound on Highway 164 about 10:10 Thursday morning when she  “disregarded” the stop sign while attempting to make a right turn onto southbound Highway 29. The truck overturned onto the driver’s side. Kinney suffered critical injuries and was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital by LifeFlight.

The truck’s load of dirt was spilled across the  southbound lanes of Highway 29. The southbound traffic was diverted to the northbound side of Highway 29 for several hours.. The roadway was reopened  just before 1:00 Thursday afternoon.

The FHP says charges are pending in the accident.

There were no other vehicles involved in the crash, and no other injuries.

Experts From Across The Southeast Attend Annual Farm Day In Walnut Hill

January 30, 2009

The 2009 Farm Day was held Thursday at the Walnut Hill Community Center.

The day-long event featured a variety of expert speakers from the University of Florida, Auburn University, Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia.

Topics discussed included “nematode and disease control in soybeans”, “soybean Insect Control”, “weed Control in soybeans”, “soybean management practices”, “corn management strategies” and “high yielding wheat and minimizing inputs while maximizing yields”.

There were also industry booths, product demonstrations and a free lunch for attendees.

The event was sponsored by the University of Florida IFAS Extension and the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.

Molino’s Travis Fryman, Former MLB Player, To Speak At Olive Baptist

January 30, 2009

fryman.jpgMolino resident Travis Fryman, former third baseman for the Cleveland Indians, will be the guest speaker in both morning services on Sunday at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola.

Fryman is speaking on the church’s “Bring a Friend Day”, where church members are encouraged to bring a friend that day to hear his evangelistic message.

Sunday night, Olive will gather in Passmore Hall to watch the Super Bowl after the evening service. Light refreshments will be available to enjoy as church members and guests kick back in the newly renovated building and watch some football on a larger-than-life screen.

“I am trusting God to give us a great day of harvest. Bring your friends to church this weekend,” Olive Pastor Ted Traylor wrote on his blog.

Sunday morning services at Olive Baptist are at 9:30 and 11:00. Evening services are at 6:00. The church is located at the corner of Olive Road and Davis Highway in Pensacola, near West Florida Hospital.

Fryman was a starting third baseman with the Detroit Tigers from 1990 to 1997. He was trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1997 and was traded two weeks later to the Cleveland Indians. He played for the Indians from 1998 to 2002.

He made a total of five trips to the annual All Star Game and won a Gold Glove Award with a 60-game errorless streak.

Gulf Power Crews Headed To Restore Power After Ice Storm

January 30, 2009

Gulf Power employees from our area will leave Pensacola on Thursday morning to help with restoration efforts in the wake of widespread damages from the ice storm that passed through the Midwest earlier this week.

Thousands of Entergy-Arkansas customers have lost power because of the heavy ice on lines and poles. The storm caused outages to more than 1 million people from Texas to Kentucky.

The restoration team of 46 Gulf Power employees from throughout Northwest Florida includes line crews and support personnel. They are headed to north Arkansas and expect to be on assignment for about two weeks.

“We are always more than willing to help other utilities in need,” said Sandy Sims, Gulf Power Company Public Affairs manager. “We’ve been recognized nationally as experts in getting the power back on quickly.”

More County Tax Liens Filed Against Backers Of Century Electric Car Plant

January 29, 2009

Two tax liens totaling $11,302.92 have been filed against the Pensacola hotel owners that want to open an electric assembly plant in Century for delinquent tourist development taxes, one of several tax liens filed against their companies in the past year. Those liens total over $82,000.

A $5,548.28 lien was filed this month in Escambia County Circuit Court against LHS Pensacola 4, Inc. and Howard Johnson. And another $5,754.64 lien was filed against LHS Pensacola, Inc. and the Ramada Inn. Both liens were for unpaid tourist development taxes. The LHS Pensacola companies are owned by brothers Jay and Nash Patel, who own a total of six motels in Pensacola and Gulf Shores.

In November, the Patels sought the assistance of Escambia County to apply for a $2.5 million state grant for their LHS EV, Inc. to construct an electric vehicle assembly plant in Century. The Patels and LHS EV have promised hundreds — even up to 1100 — jobs will eventually come with the plant.

taxlien.jpgAttempts to reach the Patels for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon. They have repeatedly  declined to speak to local media since their plan was original presented to the Escambia County Commission back on October 16.

A few days after the state grant application was filed with the assistance of Escambia County in late November, it was revealed that the Patels’ motel company, LHS Pensacola, Inc., owed the Florida Department of Revenue $65,747.83 in unpaid sales and use taxes on four different Florida properties. There were four pending liens on the properties that were for  $21,127.28; $20,339.76; $16,794.21 and $7,486.58.

County court records still showed the state tax liens to be outstanding as of January 28.

Those were not the only tax liens filed against the companies in 2008. Last May, Escambia County filed a $2,001.86 tax warrant against the Ramada Inn and LHS Pensacola for failing to pay county tourist development taxes. That tax lien was satisfied by the company in July. Another $1,548.63 lien for unpaid tourist taxes by LHS for their Days Inn was filed in May by Escambia County and satisfied in July. Another $2,185.15 tourist tax lien was filed by Escambia County against LHS and their Howard Johnson in May and also satisfied in July.

Tax liens on file with the Escambia Clerk of the Court are not limited to the Patel hotels. The Internal Revenue Service filed a federal tax lien of $39,168 against the spokesman for the electric car company. Escambia County Clerk of Courts records show the IRS filed the $39,168 federal lien against Arthur Rocker on August 25 of this year. The lien was filed by the IRS Wage and Investment Area. County court records still indicate that the lien is outstanding.

A search of the Escambia County Clerk of the Courts records also shows that Beach Community Bank filed foreclosure against two Rocker owned properties in the Norwood Subdivision in May. Those properties were foreclosed upon and sold by the clerk of the court at public auction. They were repurchased by Beach Community Bank.

Rocker is the man that asked the Escambia County Commission for $2.5 million cash on November 12 on behalf of LHS EV, Inc. to build the electric car plant in Century. He later told the commission that he really just wanted assistance filing for a state grant, which lead to the county’s assistance with filing for the  $2.5 million grant from the state.

The Patel’s $2.5 million grant application with the state is still pending. The state is expected to announce their decision on the grant within the next month.

Read the tax liens by clicking here  and here (pdf).

Manufacturers, Suppliers Warned By Alabama Governor That Bingo Machines May Be Illegal

January 29, 2009

Alabama Governor Bob Riley sent letters Wednesday to nine gambling machine manufacturing and supplier companies known to do business in the state. Riley is specifically targeting electronic bingo machines like are found at the Poarch Creek Indian’s Wind Creek Casino in Atmore.

However, the electronic bingo games offered by the Poarch Creek Indians at the Wind Creek Casino as well as gambling halls in Wetumpka and Montgomery,  are regulated by the federal government, not the State of Alabama.  In his release, Riley did not name what gambling operations he was targeting. Hundreds of electronic bingo machines are also located at establishments in several Alabama counties where bingo games are legal.

Riley sent the letters to manufacturers of gambling machines found in Alabama gambling halls warning them they risk prosecution if found to be in violation of state law against gambling and, specifically, slot machines.

The warnings come after an initial investigation of gambling halls by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling, which is led by former Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber.

“As a result of preliminary investigations conducted by the Task Force, it has been discovered that several manufacturers and/or providers of gambling devices appear to be engaged in unlawful gambling activity in Alabama. We understand that at least one provider has already begun the process of removing its gambling devices from establishments in Alabama. The purpose of this letter is to put your company on clear notice of the law and our intent to enforce it,” Governor Riley writes in the letter that was sent to nine manufacturers or providers of gambling machines.

“I am deeply concerned that many manufacturers, providers, and business operators may have a mistaken impression about the legality of certain activities. It is out of this concern that I provide you this notice of the law and a fair opportunity to withdraw from any business activity in Alabama which could be determined to constitute unlawful gambling activity or use of illegal gambling devices. So that there is no misunderstanding, I fully intend to carry out my constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws of Alabama,” the Governor’s letter states.

“I think it only fair that Governor Riley put the manufacturers on notice of the very liberal interpretations of ’gambling devices’ by Alabama’s appellate courts. It appears to me, based on what the Task Force has observed in the field, that these operators, distributors, and manufacturers have some potential exposure,” said Barber.

The Governor created the Task Force on Illegal Gambling in December to promote and support the uniform enforcement of Alabama’s anti-gambling laws.

Click here to read a copy of Ala. Gov. Bob Riley’s letter (pdf).

The following is a list of recipients of the Governor’s letter:

Mr. Jerome Caldwell, CEO
Gateway Gaming
Piedmont, South Carolina

Mr. Chris Canard, CEO
Hest Technology
Haltom City, Texas

Mr. Gene Chayevsky, CEO
Cadillac Jack, Inc.
Duluth, Georgia

Mr. Mike Duran, CEO
American Gaming Systems
Canoga Park, California

Mr. Jack Gardner, President
Select Electronic Devices
Greenville, South Carolina

Mr. Michael Fletcher, CEO
Nova Gaming, LLC
Greenville, South Carolina

Mr. Richard Haddrill, CEO
Bally Technologies
Las Vegas, Nevada

Mr. Thomas J. Matthews, CEO
International Game Technology
Reno, Nevada

Mr. Anthony Sanfilippo, CEO
Multimedia Games
Austin, Texas

Another Phony Cop Strikes

January 29, 2009

Another phony cop has struck again in Escambia County, this time violently assaulting a female victim.

This time, a woman in the area of Brent Lane and I-110 was assaulted by a man impersonating a law enforcement officer about midnight Tuesday.

The woman described the suspect as a white male, about six feet tall, with dark hair and blue eyes. The victim said he had a New England type accent. He was driving a white Crown Victoria with a spotlight and leather seats. The suspect was wearing some type of uniform with no name tag and a belt, according to reports.

“The description given by the victim closely matches that of the suspect from a week ago that stopped a teenager on Beulah Road,” according to Sgt. Ted Roy, spokesman for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department.

If you are stopped by someone not wearing an appropriate law enforcement uniform in an unmarked car, you should ask for a marked unit to be called to the scene, Roy said.

“Call 911,” he said, and request that a marked unit be dispatched to your location. You should also ask to see a commission card that is carried by all Escambia County deputies.

“When in doubt, request a commission card be shown to you,” Rou said. Every deputy carries a commission card with the agency name, deputy’s name and expiration date along with a photo.”

If you have further information about this phony cop, call the Sheriff’s Office at 436-9630 or Crime Stoppers at 433-7867.

Winter Has Returned

January 29, 2009

Winter has returned to North Escambia, and it will actually feel a bit more like the end of January.

It will be sunny, breezy and colder today, with a high near 60 and north winds 10 to 15 mph. Tonight’s temperature will fall to 32.

Friday and Saturday will be sunny. Highs will be around 58 and lows will be in upper 20’s Friday night and around the freezing mark Saturday night.

A slight 20 percent chance of rain creeps back into the forecast by Super Bowl Sunday.

« Previous PageNext Page »