Will Grigg

The Slow-Motion State Murder of Michael Whiteley

Facing the prospect of life in prison – and the plausible threat of execution – Idaho Falls resident Michael Whiteley had every conceivable reason to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree kidnapping, save one: He didn’t commit the crime.

“I have to plead not guilty, Your Honor,” Whiteley told Bonneville County District Judge Marvin Smith just minutes after being offered a plea bargain through which he would have avoided prison altogether. “I had originally intended to plead the other way, but now that I sit here and run it through my heart and my mind, I don’t feel, your honor, that it is right to lie.”

A few weeks earlier, Whiteley had been charged with first-degree kidnapping and rape, and heard a Bonneville County deputy prosecutor inform the judge that “although we are not seeking the death penalty in this case, kidnapping is also punishable by death – first-degree kidnapping.” Judge Smith himself had agreed that “This is potentially a death penalty case,” owing to the allegation that Whiteley had committed serious harm to the supposed victim – his ex-wife, known at the time as Silvia Canido.

Composite portrait of Silvia and Michael

In the lead-up to Michael’s May 1991 trial, the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office was disqualified from the case because of the misconduct of the assigned prosecutor, John Stositch. Deputy Idaho Attorney General Jack Haycock, who was given the case, offered Michael a deal in which he would plead guilty to one count of second-degree kidnapping, and the court would retain jurisdiction while he spent four months undergoing rehabilitation at the Cottonwood drug and alcohol treatment facility.

If Whiteley had been burdened with the guilty knowledge that he had committed the hideous crimes of which he stood accused, he would have eagerly accepted that deal. The most urgent priority for a guilty man in such circumstances, after all, is to avoid punishment – which he could have done by accepting the plea bargain. For a wrongfully accused man in the same situation, the most urgent task is to clear his name.

In a case that depended entirely on an assessment of the relative credibility of the accuser and the defendant, Whiteley’s choice to confront the charges, rather than avoid them on absurdly generous terms, should have been dispositive evidence of his innocence. Similarly compelling corroboration is offered by the fact that the Idaho AG’s office was willing to offer that deal: If Deputy AG Haycock sincerely believed that Whiteley had kidnapped and raped a woman, and that he had the evidence to prove those accusations, he acted with culpable irresponsibility in making that offer.

The only direct “evidence” against Whiteley consisted of the uncorroborated, and self-contradictory, story told by the accuser. Canido refused to submit to a medical examination, which means that no physical evidence of rape was ever produced.

Where is the evidence?

The report filed by Idaho Falls Police Officer who interviewed Canido following Whiteley’s January 16, 1991, arrest did not contain any mention of a rape accusation: “Don’t ask me,” the officer exclaimed when queried about that astonishing oversight during cross-examination. The officer also claimed to have seen a large bruise on Canido’s inner thigh, but did not photograph the alleged wound – and when asked about it by defense counsel Stevan Thompson could not recall which thigh displayed the alleged lesion.

At the time of Whiteley’s arrest, he was visiting Canido’s home after returning with her from a trip to southern Utah. He had just endured a severe beating at the hands of Raquel Gonzalez, Canido’s mother, who had attacked him with a baseball bat. When the police arrived, Whiteley was arrested for supposedly violating a protective order that Canido had obtained the previous November – and had asked to be rescinded shortly thereafter.

As a result of either simple incompetence or a very peculiar sense of humor, that protective order specified that it would expire on February 6, 1990 – nearly a year before Whiteley was arrested for violating it. Thus the arrest was invalid.

Once he had Whiteley in custody, the arresting officer – using the familiar tactics of his disreputable trade – tried to elicit Whiteley’s “cooperation” to “clear up” the matter, without telling him that he was trying to build a case to send him to prison. The officer parried Whiteley’s demand for an attorney by saying that it was “too early” to get one, and that if his hostage were cooperative, things would work out much better. He extracted Whiteley’s signature on a Miranda waiver form, and then produced what was called a “voluntary” statement from Whiteley.

Whiteley refused to sign that statement. So the officer forged the signature of his hostage – and then lied about the matter in a pre-trial hearing. Despite being caught in an act of deliberate perjury, and changing his insistent initial testimony after he was confronted with the original document, the officer’s version of events was accepted by Judge Smith, who commended him for his “demeanor” and “credibility.”

The officer who headed the Whiteley investigation was the now-notorious IFPD Sergeant Jared Fuhriman, who used the case to test many of the same tactics that he would later use to engineer the false confession, and wrongful murder conviction, of Christopher Tapp.

A bizarre relationship

Whiteley and Canido had met the previous August when the vivacious 33-year-old Bolivian immigrant answered his ad for help in cleaning a house. Whiteley had moved to Idaho Falls from Las Vegas amid the break-up of his marriage to his wife of 17 years, Dineen.

Canido claimed to have fled an abusive husband named Carlos Almanza, to whom she was still legally married. That fact didn’t prevent her from initiating a relationship with Whiteley, talking her way into accompanying him on a trip to visit his foster parents in Salmon, Idaho. Her overt displays of physical affection toward Whiteley made his hosts uncomfortable. At one point during the return trip to Idaho Falls, Candido – who was driving – reached over to kiss Whiteley, and while doing so caused a nearly fatal accident.

Although Canido appeared besotted with Whiteley (“Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo,  Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo, Te amo mucho!” she wrote in a birthday card shortly after the accident), her mother despised him and repeatedly threatened Canido with deportation and the loss of her children unless she broke off the relationship. Under pressure from both her mother and members of the local Mormon congregation she was attending, Canido filed several protective orders against Whiteley – which she violated by persistently calling him and driving past his home.

On October 20, 1990, Whiteley and Canido were married in Elko, Nevada by Justice of the Peace Jack B. Ames. Canido had filed for dissolution of her marriage from Carlos Almanza but was still legally married to him. When they returned to Idaho Falls, Michael and Silvia began attending the Idaho Falls Calvary Baptist Church. Given that he had just ended a long marriage, and she had committed what Idaho considered a felony by contracting a bigamous marriage, they were in need of spiritual advice, which Pastor Herb Stoneman was anxious to provide.

During the course of several conversations, Stoneman testified, Canido “told me … that she was under pressure from her mother and her [Mormon] Bishop to end her relationship with Mike Whiteley…. [She] told me that she was personally beginning to move away from her mother and the LDS Church which had been [dominating] her life…. [S]he was having difficulty handling the pressure from her mother and her Bishop.”

“Sundown Bail”

The marriage of Michael Whiteley and Silvia Canido lasted twenty-six days. Two days after the November 15 dissolution decree, Canido filed a complaint claiming that she was receiving harassing phone calls from Whiteley’s 14-year-old son, Jay.

At the time, Whiteley was out of town on a truck driving gig, so he wasn’t around when Canido, in the company of Idaho Falls Police Officer Rick Hansen, visited Jay, pulled a knife, and threatened to attack him. Despite witnessing a violent felony, Officer Hansen didn’t arrest the assailant. Instead, he blithely suggested that Whiteley and his mother could take up the matter with the prosecutor’s office.

Officer Hansen, Canido would later claim, exploited the leverage he gained by declining to file charges against her by manipulating her into having sex with him – which would constitute both kidnapping and rape.

That Hansen was less that zealous in protecting citizens from violent crime is documented in his own report. The fact that Canido became pregnant sometime in mid-November suggests that her claim to have had sex with him is plausible, but there was at least one other candidate – Keith McCabe, a younger man with whom she had already begun a relationship while she was still married to Whiteley.

The only evidence that Hansen extorted sex from Canido is the accusation she made in a September 1999 letter in which she also recanted her accusations against Whiteley – who by that time had been in prison for more than eight years. If her unsubstantiated accusations against Whiteley were sufficient to win a conviction – and, if the prosecution had sought it, the death penalty – wouldn’t the same be true of now-retired Idaho Falls Police Officer Rick Hansen?

Former prosecutor and ex-con Kimball Mason

When Whiteley returned to Idaho Falls in November 1990, he soon found himself in jail for violating protective orders filed on Canido’s behalf. He was also charged with aggravated assault after Canido – who had just threatened his son with a knife in the presence of a police officer – filed a criminal complaint claiming that she had been the victim in an identical alleged incident to which there were no witnesses.

Shortly before Christmas, he was summoned to the office of Bonneville County Prosecutor Kimball Mason (who would later serve a prison term for trafficking in stolen firearms) and presented with an ultimatum: He could avoid criminal prosecution only if he left Idaho forever.

This arrangement, which Kimball called “sundown bail,” was never the subject of a court order; it was an extra-judicial act of prosecutorial presumption. Nonetheless, after Whiteley was arrested in January, deputy prosecutor John Stosich lied during a bail hearing by describing it as a court order, trying to get Whiteley to admit to violating a previous court order in an effort to deny him bail.

When Whiteley’s defense attorney pointed out the deception to the judge, Stosich – displaying high-viscosity dishonesty remarkable even for a prosecutor – claimed that because he and his boss had deceived Whiteley into thinking “sundown bail” was granted by a judge he should be punished for violating a non-existent court order. Judge Smith was receptive to that argument. He also dismissed defense protests that Whiteley’s January 16, 1991, arrest was unlawful because the protective order had expired: What mattered in that case, Smith insisted, was that Officer Fuhriman believed that the order was valid, or at least that he claimed to.

Whiteley was strongly motivated to leave Idaho Falls, and he made arrangements to move back to Nevada. This included a job offer from a bail enforcement firm that had previously employed him. (This is why he was in possession of a pair of handcuffs and an inoperative stun gun, which played a prominent role in the prosecution’s narrative.) Knowing that it was risky to do so, he returned to Idaho Falls to begin preparations to move his children back to Nevada. This meant that he once again came in contact with Canido – who announced that she was pregnant and demanded that he take her to Salt Lake City for an abortion.

Three trips and a criminal charge

Canido’s initial story was that Whiteley was the child’s father, a claim that doesn’t match up with the timeline. Whiteley would later say that she confided to him that Officer Hansen had impregnated her. Acting in a way that defies rational explanation, Whiteley consented to take her to Utah.

The couple wound up making three trips in January 1991. The first two were made to procure the death of Canido’s unborn child; she balked the first time, then went through with the procedure on the second. By this time, Canido had convinced Whiteley to take her to Las Vegas in the hope of meeting people who could lend her money. That trip ended in Cedar City, Utah, because of inclement weather. Both of them were seen by several people, including a former high school principal who had known Whiteley several years earlier. Several other witnesses saw an unaccompanied Canido while Whiteley was getting gas or tending to other matters, was seen. None of them saw any evidence that she was his prisoner, or that she was desperate to escape a depraved rapist.

In the couple’s absence, Canido’s mother and several members of the Mormon ward she had attended contacted the police – which led to the arrest on January 16. At some point, while Whiteley was in custody for allegedly violating the expired civil protection order, Officer Fuhriman and the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office decided to charge him with rape and kidnapping.

While Whiteley was in jail, Canido made several attempts to contact him. On the morning following his arrest, Whiteley called Canido – unaware that deputy prosecutor Stositch was in her living room with a tape recorder, and was prompting her to ask questions intended to solicit self-incriminating responses.

All Whiteley heard on his end were repeated demands for an apology – which he was willing to give if Canido dropped the charges and left him alone. What he didn’t hear was Stosich whispering to her, “Ask him if he apologizes for the rape.”

By this time, Stosich and his boss had been notified that Whiteley was represented by a public defender, which meant that they were breaking the law by using Canido as an interrogator. Despite his habitual deference to the prosecution, Judge Smith ruled that Sotisch had recruited Canido as a “state agent” through his ventriloquist routine, and excluded the tape recording containing the fabricated pseudo-confession. He also disqualified the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office for its misconduct.

Without corroborating testimony from eyewitnesses, physical evidence from a rape kit, or a confession from Whiteley, the prosecution’s case rested entirely on Canido’s accusations – which she expanded and redefined with practically every sentence she uttered. At one point she startled the prosecutor, Idaho deputy Attorney General Haycock, by claiming that Whiteley had “forced” her to marry him, and had raped her several times between August and December of the previous year.

A verdict without deliberation

The jury was sent out on a Friday evening after being instructed by Judge Smith that reasonable doubt could be overcome if what he called “an inner feeling that directs your understanding” indicated the defendant’s guilt. That facially unreasonable jury instruction was tailored to fit the prejudices of a Mormon jury dealing with a non-Mormon defendant: In the Mormon faith, key truth claims are confirmed through an “inner feeling” that is described as the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Hungry, tired, and eager to dispose of the unpleasant business before it ruined their weekend, the jury “deliberated” for less than two hours before convicting Whiteley. When contacted later by private investigator Mel Daniels, several jurors explained that they weren’t fully persuaded by the prosecution’s case, but that they thought Whiteley looked “mean.”

“It didn’t help his cause any by looking so mean and staring at the jury,” complained Gwynn Miller, who was appointed as foreperson despite the fact that she attended the same Mormon ward as the supposed victim – a fact that was made known to Judge Smith during the trial. “I felt that we were all intimidated by him.”

What Miller and the other jurors saw was not malice, but the righteous fury of an innocent man. Despite the fact that they were unconvinced of his guilt, the jury apparently believed a brief prison term would be a suitable punishment for his visible lack of docility. They were astonished when Smith, insisting that Whiteley was incorrigible, imposed the maximum sentence: 12-25 years for rape, and 25-to-life for kidnapping.

Judge Smith

Bear in mind that just three days earlier Smith had been willing to accept a plea bargain that would have kept Whiteley out of prison entirely. As is so often the case, Smith’s sentence reflected the “trial tax” inflicted by such functionaries on citizens who insist on defending themselves in court.

Five years after being sent to prison, Whiteley persuaded Seventh District Judge Brent Moss to convene a post-conviction hearing in which he and appellate counsel John Radin presented much of the evidence that had been neglected during the trial. This included Pastor Stoneman and other witnesses who had seen a happy, apparently loving couple during several incidents in which Canido was supposedly Whiteley’s hostage. Moss also accepted into evidence the translated transcription of a tape recorded October 1990 phone call in which Canido defiantly told her mother that she intended to marry Whiteley. The mother responded by accusing Whiteley of being a rapist and threated to arrange the seizure of Canido’s children and her deportation to Bolivia.

Called to testify at the post-conviction hearing, Canido was asked simply to repeat her original trial testimony. Rather than doing so, she invoked the Fifth Amendment seventy times. She did so at the explicit urging of her attorney, who was concerned about a potential perjury charge.

On January 7, 1997, Judge Moss issued an order setting aside Whiteley’s conviction and ordering a new trial. Asked about that development, Sergeant Jared Fuhriman paused from his effort to frame Christopher Tapp to express outrage that one of his previous victims would be given an opportunity for exoneration. Fuhriman was doubtless consoled – and relieved – by the Idaho Supreme Court ruling that overturned Judge Moss’s order.

The decision to grant a new trial, Moss explained in a letter to the Idaho State Judicial Council, was made necessary by “Ms. Canido’s evasiveness in answering questions during the post-conviction hearing. Although Ms. Canido did not recant her trial testimony I was left with the uneasy feeling that justice was not served by the original verdict and that a new trial was appropriate. I am still of that same opinion.”

Yes, she recanted

Moss wrote that letter nearly sixteen years ago. Since that time, new evidence has emerged verifying that Canido did recant her accusations in two letters she wrote in September 1999 – the same letters in which she accused former IFPD Officer Rick Hansen of abducting and raping her.

Canido today

Canido, who had committed bigamy by marrying Michael Whiteley in October 1990, married Keith McCabe after Whiteley was arrested. She remained married to McCabe until 2005 when she met a wealthy, elderly widower named John Commander, whom she married in 2006. That marriage was annulled within weeks after Commander’s adult children showed him that Canido was leeching him dry.

During a May 8, 2007, deposition in the annulment proceedings, Canido was asked about the September 1999 letters of recantation. She adamantly refused to answer any questions about those letters, or the Whiteley conviction – until just before the deposition ended at about five o’clock that evening.

“Did you sign them?” asked Commander’s attorney, Jeffrey W. Banks.

“The guy made me sign and I am not going to answer anymore,” Canido angrily replied, thereby authenticating the recantation letters even as she pretended that the long-imprisoned Whiteley had somehow “made” her sign them. A few months later, she fled back to Bolivia, where she remains.

Michael Whiteley is scheduled for a parole hearing on January 25. Even if he were granted parole – which will not happen unless he ratifies his wrongful conviction by acknowledging guilt – he cannot recover the decades that were stolen from him.

In 1991, the State of Idaho threatened to murder Whiteley unless he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit. Twenty-six years later, it is making good on that threat, albeit in sadistically incremental fashion.

 

You Can’t “Cheat” a Gang of Thieves

Shortly after announcing the commutation of former Army Private Manning’s 35-year prison term, Barack Obama quietly issued a pardon for 64 others – including Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.

Following a career in which he hit 521 home runs – tying for the number 20 spot on the all-time list with fellow Cooperstown titans Ted Williams and Frank Thomas – McCovey, like many other retired ballplayers, supplemented his income with sales of autographed memorabilia, and he was not fastidious in providing the state’s parasites with a portion of his honorably earned wealth.

Acting with the ruthless hostility toward honest commerce for which they are properly notorious, investigators with the IRS filed tax evasion charges against McCovey. In 1996, he and fellow Hall of Famer Duke Snider pleaded guilty before US District Judge Edward R. Korman in Brooklyn, and were sentenced to two years of probation. They were also hit with a $5,000 fine.

“It’s one of those things that [were] overlooked at the time and I do accept responsibility for it,” declared McCovey at his sentencing hearing. “The only thing I’d like to say is while I’ve always tried to do the right things, I have never willingly tried to cheat the government.”

While his earnestness is obvious and his civic-mindedness commendable, McCovey should not upbraid himself for neglecting to pay every cent demanded of him by government-licensed extortionists. Obama’s whimsical gesture now relieves the baseball immortal of a federal criminal conviction that should never have existed.

McCovey’s contrition, celebrity, and — to be blunt — ethnicity helped him find favor in the eyes of the Divine One. Obama did not extend similar leniency to other so-called tax cheats, such as actor Wesley Snipes or economist Irwin Schiff — the latter of whom died of cancer in prison at the age of 87. Blind, unable to walk, wracked with unremitting pain, deprived of medical treatment and the solace of his family, Schiff was kept shackled to a bed in what can only be described as deliberate torture worthy of the Soviet gulag.

That comparison is somewhat unfair: As former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has testified, the KGB guards at Lefortovo Prison who witnessed his torture eventually succumbed to the entreaties of conscience and interceded on his behalf. Prison guards employed in the American soyuz tend to be more dutiful statists than their Soviet antecedents.

Just as McCovey was rewarded for his penitence, Schiff was tortured to death for his defiance. Similar treatment was inflicted on the late George Hansen, a former Idaho Congressman who earned the undying enmity of the State’s revenue-extraction specialists by mounting a quixotic campaign on behalf of tax victims.

After he was convicted of spurious corruption charges in 1985, Hansen was subjected to a month-long ordeal of “Diesel Therapy” — a form of torture in which he was shackled for up to twenty hours a day and forced into stress positions and forced to inhale exhaust fumes. In prison he was forced to work — without protective equipment — in an environment saturated with toxic chemicals and denied medical care.

By taking the side of tax victims, Hansen had made himself a traitor to the political class.

Although his conviction was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court, Hansen, who had been a vigorous, energetic man, never recovered from his fifteen-month stint in prison.

The Regime might make a gesture of regal condescension toward someone like McCovey, but it cannot make concessions to those who present a moral challenge to the system of state terror that the IRS represents.

“More tax is collected by fear and intimidation than by the law,” admitted former IRS District Manager David Patnoe. “People are afraid of the IRS.”

“The language of war and the culture of conflict are the only means to prepare us for what is expected of us,” recalled former IRS revenue officer Richard Yancey in his invaluable memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector. “How else could they” — that is, the commissars whom Yancey and his fellow cadres in the agency dutifully served — “demand what was expected of us? You can’t take [the] life savings [of income tax victims], their car, their paycheck, the roof over their head and the heads of their children, without dehumanizing them, without casting yourself in a role that by necessity makes them the enemy.”

Among those Obama deemed worthy of presidential mercy was the impenitent terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera, who conspired to kill people and destroy property. In commuting Rivera’s fifty-year sentence, Obama accepted the claim — made on Rivera’s behalf by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and other ethnic collectivst lobbies — that he was a “political prisoner.”

That description is more suitable of Irwin Schiff, who was never seriously considered a candidate for a posthumous pardon. The Regime can forgive those who advocate mass murder on behalf of collectivist objectives, but the heresy of “tax resistance” can never be forgiven.

No “Blue Privilege” for Kenneth Drew: Repo Man Imprisoned Because Thief Killed Herself

Pleasant Grove, Utah resident Ashleigh Holloway Best killed herself in the early hours of May 17, 2016, when she lost control of the stolen 2002 Lincoln Navigator she was driving and plowed it into a tree. The man who was pursuing the thief, Kenneth Lee Drew, was the authorized representative of the vehicle’s lawful owner. On January 11, Drew was sentenced to prison because the thief foolishly killed herself.

If Drew had been a government-employed law enforcement officer, rather than a private repossession agent, he would likely have received a hazardous duty commendation following Best’s admittedly tragic death. After all, police officers in Utah and elsewhere routinely use lethal force in dealing with citizens who seek to avoid being physically “repossessed” by agents of the state that supposedly owns them. Most of those cases don’t involve people being pursued for actual crimes, such as automobile theft.

Like too many families, the Bests had been overwhelmed by financial reverses and had fallen behind in their car payments. They reportedly were helping care for ailing relatives and had only one family vehicle. The desperation that gave rise to Ashleigh’s self-destructive decision is as understandable as her actions were inexcusable.

By giving pursuit once Best fled with a car she no longer lawfully owned, Drew acted imprudently. It has never been proven that he deliberately forced Best off the road at the end of the chase, which would have been both criminally irresponsible and self-defeating. In addition to the fact that it is perverse to risk killing someone to recover a stolen car, ramming a vehicle one is seeking to repossess makes no economic sense. It’s likely that Drew’s regrettable decision was a product of frustration, rather than malice.

If he had called the police to report an auto theft, the outcome for Best might well have been identical – but the state operative whose actions led to the fatal crash would be protected by the pernicious legal fiction called “qualified immunity.” That privilege enjoyed by state-licensed plunderers is not extended to private property recovery agents, whose jobs are both unpleasant and frequently dangerous.

“There was [sic] lots of mistakes made that night,” insisted Brennan Best, Ashleigh’s widower, after Drew was sentenced. “I don’t think what was done [to Ashleigh] was done on purpose. But I do believe we all need to be accountable for our own actions.”

Drew made a mistake. Brennan and Ashleigh Best conspired to commit a crime – theft through fraud.

According to the investigative summary in Drew’s indictment, when he arrived at about midnight to reclaim the property for which the Bests were no longer making contractually required payments, Brennan interfered with the repossession and demanded an opportunity to make a new arrangement with the creditor. Drew agreed with that proposal and began processing the necessary forms. While the repo agent was thus preoccupied, Best covertly instructed his wife to take the automobile to a relative’s home.

At that point, Mr. Best became an accomplice in grand larceny: At that point, pending completion of a new payment plan, the automobile was the property of the creditor. If Best had been sincere in his offer to Drew, there was no need to abscond with the vehicle. (In fact, if the couple had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they could have avoided repossession of the Navigator.)

After Ashleigh climbed into the car and sped off, Brennan abetted the theft by “trying to place himself in front” of Drew’s tow truck “to prevent it from following the Navigator,” according to the police account. Ashleigh’s conduct suggests that her husband had instructed her to “drive it like you stole it” – which, in fact, was precisely what she had done.

If her excursion had been innocent, the guilty-minded driver would not have endangered the lives of others by careening through residential streets at speeds of up to seventy miles an hour. Drew acted with culpable recklessness as well – but Brennan Best is criminally liable in the death of his wife, whether or not state functionaries will admit as much.

Unlike police officers in similar situations, Drew – a private peace officer enforcing a legitimate property rights claim – was not offered “Garrity” protections, which would have meant that his initial statement to police could only be used for disciplinary action, rather than criminal prosecution. Nor was he allowed the luxury of reviewing video records of the incident prior to speaking with investigators, another perk extended to police in Utah and elsewhere.

Because of this, Drew’s grief-stricken, guilt-ridden disclosures were critically scrutinized by police eager to build a criminal case. If he had been a fellow member of the Punitive Priesthood, Drew’s equivocations and self-contradictions would have been seen as evidence of trauma, rather than proof of criminal intent.

“I’ve never seen a repo agent be this aggressive,” insisted Pleasant Grove Police Lt. Britt Smith shortly after Drew’s arrest. This is only true to the extent that Smith fails to perceive his costumed comrades as “repo agents” of a sort – because lethally aggressive tactics of the kind Drew allegedly used are quite commonplace.

Investigators claimed, but have not proved, that Drew forced Best off the road using a variation of a PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver. A PIT maneuver is to be used only in situations where deadly force is justified. Yet hyper-aggressive police in Utah employ that tactic frequently; one recent incident of that kind involved a driver suspected of driving while intoxicated. Another episode, interestingly, involved the recovery of a stolen car.

Almost six years to the day before the avoidable, largely self-inflicted death of Ashleigh Best, South Jordan Police Officer Jared Nichols used a PIT maneuver in an effort to trap an SUV driven by Wade Pennington in a cul-de-sac. Pennington, who was on probation and had a court hearing scheduled a few days later, was being pursued without cause by Officers Nichols and Brett Lopez. The official story was that they suspected him of theft, but their supervisor, Sgt. Allen Crist, found no evidence to support that suspicion.

Crist explicitly ordered Nichols not to pursue Pennington, but that order was ignored.

“I’m going to take him out,” Nichols said just a few minutes before trapping Pennington. He and Lopez went “gun-up” to make a felony stop, despite the fact that their target was not suspected of a felony.

After Nichols t-boned Pennington’s SUV, Lopez emerged with a drawn gun and screamed at the driver to “get on the ground – stay where I can see you.” At roughly the same time, Nichols unloaded on Pennington at point-blank range. Immediately after shooting the victim, Nichols snarled, “Freeze, Wade! I’m going to shoot you. Get down on the f***ing ground!”

Pennington was murdered – no other word is adequate – because he was trying to comply with Lopez’s demands. The officer who murdered him spat out two contradictory commands after firing the deadly shots.

The last words Pennington heard were a sadistic taunt hurled at him by Lopez: “You’re dead, mother****r!”

Nichols and Lopez were cleared by their department within 72 hours. Despite having the opportunity to refresh their memories by watching dashcam video of the chase and subsequent killing, the officers told stories that were self-contradictory and contradicted each other.

Lopez was eventually fired for violating the department’s high-speed chase policy but never faced criminal prosecution. As a matter of equity, the same punishment would have been appropriate for Kenneth Drew, who violated his company’s policy by pursuing a vehicle he had been sent to repossess. The only other morally suitable option would have been for Lopez and Nichols to serve the same sentence imposed on Drew.

Officer Nichols not only avoided prosecution, he was promoted. The murder of Wade Pennington exhibited eerie similarities to the 2007 execution of parolee Darren Neil Greuber, who like Pennington had filed an appeal challenging his conviction. The officer who carried out that extra-judicial execution was Jared Nichols. West Jordan Police Sergeant Michael S. Leary, who cleared the officers who killed Greuber, played exactly the same role in exonerating Nichols and Lopez in the killing of Wade Pennington.

As someone not invested with Blue Privilege and buoyed by the financial support of a police union, Drew was maneuvered into pleading guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors asked for a suspended prison sentence.

Utah Fourth District Judge Robert Lunnen, a callow, vindictive jurist who had been on the bench for less than a month, discarded that plea agreement, imposing a sentence of one to fifteen years in prison. The obscenely severe sentence, I suspect, reflects the hostility of tax-fattened functionaries toward those who challenge the State’s monopoly on “justice.”

 

 

The Routine Lawlessness of America’s Law Enforcers

Enforcers of drug prohibition can be perversely ingenious in devising methods to subvert due process guarantees. One tactic widely employed by police officers looking for a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment is to intimidate a subject into giving the officers permission to invade the rights of others – such as residents of an apartment building, or passengers in an automobile. That ruse has been rebuffed in two recent state Supreme Court rulings.

Police officers in Berlin, Connecticut who conducted a warrantless search of an apartment complex using a drug-detecting dog violated the Fourth Amendment, acknowledged a December 22nd ruling from that state’s highest appellate court.

In May 2012, acting on an anonymous tip, police obtained permission from the owners and managers of an apartment complex to carry out what was called a “canine examination of the common areas of the building.” A drug-detecting dog named Zeusz was deployed in the hallway of each floor of the complex, and allowed to sniff at the bottom of each door. Zeusz displayed what is called a “passive alert” at unit 204, which prompted the officers to obtain a search warrant. This led to the discovery of several marijuana plants.

The Fourth Amendment’s definition of a reasonable search refers to a particular description of “the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”; this language was designed to forbid the kind of general warrants that were commonly used by British military and customs officials in the years immediately prior to the colonial rebellion. By getting the owners of the apartment complex to authorize a warrantless search – waiving the rights of dozens of people to be secure in their individual domiciles — the Berlin Police behaved less like their British forebears than their antecedents in Communist East Germany

The trial court threw out the evidence seized in that search as the product of a Fourth Amendment violation. The State of Connecticut appealed the case to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the trial court’s decision. The ruling cited a long string of federal judicial precedents – including a recent ruling in a very similar case from Florida – describing the use of warrantless “canine sniffs” as a violation of common law property rights and the un-enumerated right to personal privacy.

Given that dozens or scores of SWAT raids occur, on average, every day in the American Soyuz, it’s clear that Americans cannot look upon their homes as a refuge from government abuse. They are at even greater risk when exercising their freedom of movement, given the predatory conduct of opportunistic police agencies empowered to seize cash and other property in the name of drug prohibition.

Gerald Cleverly was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by his friend Chris Jones when El Dorado, Kansas Police officer Brent Michael Buckley stopped them for not wearing seat belts. Buckley would later admit that he had executed a pretext stop for the purpose of arranging a “consensual” search of the vehicle and its occupants. Both Jones and Cleverly submitted to a pat-down search – which they were not legally required to do – and nothing was found.

Buckley issued the citation, and then – employing a deceptive tactic taught by police training programs such as Desert Snow – he told the motorist that although he was free to go, the officer wanted to ask “a few more questions” and requested permission to search the truck.

The purpose of what Desert Snow operatives call the “Roadside Conversation” tactic is to elicit potentially incriminating details from drivers who are ignorant of the fact that they have no legal responsibility to tell the officer anything. This also extends the traffic stop beyond its constitutionally permissible limit, allowing the officer to devise an “articulable suspicion” of criminal activity that will supposedly justify a “drug sweep” by a conveniently available K-9 handler. This charade inevitably ends with the dog “alerting” on something “suspicious,” which provides an excuse for a hands-on search of the vehicle.

This script was followed by El Dorado PD officers Buckley and Sam Huming, with the minor adaptation that a K-9 unit wasn’t necessary.

A search of the interior of Jones’s vehicle turned up no evidence of contraband. Since the driver had “consented” on behalf of his passenger, Cleverly was ordered out of the car and subjected to a second pat-down search. He was told that he was not free to leave and forbidden to use his cell phone, which means that he was in police custody, despite the officers’ subsequent claims to the contrary. A search of a cigarette package found a small amount of methamphetamine.

Cleverly was arrested and later found guilty of drug possession and sentenced to eighteen months of probation. The court dismissed a motion to suppress the drug evidence on the grounds that it was produced through a consensual search. The Kansas Supreme Court has now reversed Cleverly’s conviction.

The rights protected by the Fourth Amendment and its state equivalent, wrote the court’s majority, belong to the individual and are “not merely inconvenient technicalities designed to irritate government agents.” Furthermore, “A driver of a vehicle subjected to a traffic stop does not have the authority, as a matter of law, to waive the Fourth Amendment rights of passengers in the stopped vehicle.”

Judicial rulings of this kind, while welcome, have little practical impact on the conduct of police and the prosecutors who eagerly exploit routine police lawlessness. In her June, 2011 UC-Davis Law Review essay “The Police Gamesmanship Dilemma in Criminal Procedure,” Professor Mary D. Fan of the University of Washington School of Law points out that police departments are adept at finding ways to “slide around the rules” and can always develop “tactics that undermine the purpose of rules” established by the judiciary.

It is for this reason that most of the criminal misconduct that occurs on America’s thoroughfares is committed by people engaged in what Fan calls the “competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime” – where “crime” is described as violations of government edicts that have nothing to do with the protection of persons and property.

 

 

“Build the Wall” With Slave Labor, Urges Massachusetts Sheriff

“Liberty, if I understand it at all, is a general principle, and the clear right of the subjects within the realm, or of none,” declared British statesman Edmund Burke in an April 3, 1777 message to the Sheriffs of Bristol. “Partial freedom seems to me a most invidious mode of slavery. But, unfortunately, it is the kind of slavery the most easily admitted in times of civil discord: for parties are but too apt to forget their own future safety in their desire of sacrificing their enemies.”

The tyrannical measures that had provoked the American rebellion, wrote Burke, threatened liberty throughout Britain’s dominions. Once imposed in a time of crisis, he explained, they “may be advanced further and further at pleasure, on the same argument of mere expediency.”

Thomas Hodgson is a sheriff of Bristol — in this case, Bristol County, Massachusetts — and a very different kind of “public servant” from those to whom Burke sent his message. Indeed, he seems to embody the preference for authoritarian expediency that Burke condemned, as demonstrated by his suggestion that the federal government should conscript prison labor to build Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

“I can think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall,” insisted Hodgson during the swearing-in ceremony for his fourth term. “Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in their communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release, can be very powerful.”

Hodgson used his inaugural speech to announce an initiative he calls Project N.I.C.E. – National Inmates’ Community Endeavors – through which prison convicts and inmates of county jails would provide what he calls “volunteer” labor for disaster relief and other government public works projects.

“We need to turn this country around and put law and order back in place,” insisted Hodgson. “That’s why today, I am making a formal offer to President-elect Trump that inmates from Bristol County and others from across the nation through Project N.I.C.E. will help build the wall.”

Hodgson’s call for a nation-wide levee en masse of prison labor assumes a steady supply of convicts – and the State excels at making innocent people into criminal offenders.

Contrary to what Trump and his most eager acolytes would have us believe, there is no paucity of “law and order” in American society. The level of violent crime remains at or near an historic low, even as the prison population continues to expand.

Analyzing the available data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, New York Daily News reporter David J. Krajicek contrasted national crime statistics from 2014 – the last year for which they are available – and 1987. His survey found that the overall crime rate at that point in Reagan’s presidency was 612 instances of violence for every 100,000 people; in 2014; it was 365 per 100,000, a 40 percent decline. There were roughly 320,000 fewer violent crimes in 2014 than in 1987; one notable comparison is offered by the fact that there were 20,096 murder cases in 1987, and 14,249 in 2014.

Adjusted for our larger population, there was a fifty percent decline in robbery during the same period, and an overall 48 percent decline in property crime generally.

Similar trends are seen in the number of on-duty police officer deaths: During the Reagan era, the average annual rate of officer fatalities was 189, compared to 135 during the Obama presidency.  Last year, there were 140 on-duty fatalities, a little more than half of which (77) were homicides.

With the decline in crimes against both property and person, the State has turned to prohibition as a way of feeding its carceral apparatus. In 2015, arrests for marijuana possession outnumbered arrests for all violent crimes. This may be seen as either the final throes of a dying institution – or the beginning of its revival, under anti-marijuana obscurantist Jeff Sessions.

The population from which Hodgson would collect his slave labor force would be – overwhelmingly, if not exclusively — non-violent offenders. Most of those conscripted from county jails would be hapless, economically marginal people incarcerated for petty violations of useless municipal ordinances, including those whose “offense” consisted of such things as failing to manicure their yards to the satisfaction of code enforcement officers.

Indeed, the reason such statutes were enacted to begin with was to provide a steady stream of fine-generated revenue, and a self-sustaining supply of inmate labor. This is documented in Douglas A. Blackmon’s book Slavery by Another Name. Blackmon’s research led him to conclude that municipal ordinances in the post-Emancipation South were designed and enforced with the purpose of producing large pools of inmate labor to be leased to large corporate interests. Other versions of this analysis had been advanced earlier in criminologist Thorsten Sellin’s study Slavery and the Penal System, and David Oshinsky’s book Worse Than Slavery.

Blackmon’s account begins with the story of 22-year-old Green Cottenham, who was arrested for “vagrancy” by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama. “Vagrancy” was the stickiest of catch-all charges used to round up anyone unable “to prove at a given moment that he or she [was] employed.”

At the time and place of Cottenham’s arrest, the charge was most frequently used to justify the arrest of young black men, many of whom were itinerant workers seeking gainful employment. Cottenham was quickly convicted following a burlesque of a trial and sentenced to thirty days of hard labor.

In a fashion instantly familiar to most people incarcerated today, Cottenham was unable to pay an array of “fees” that accompanied his spurious incarceration. So the thirty-day sentence was quickly expanded to a full year. Immediately thereafter, Cottenham was “leased” — or, as his parents, both of whom former slaves, would put it, sold — to the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.

One of thousands of black men vended by sheriffs across Alabama, Cottenham was dispatched to work in Slope No. 12, a coal shaft that formed part of the Pratt Mines near Birmingham.

“Imprisoned in what was then the most advanced city of the South, guarded by whipping bosses employed by the most iconic example of the modern corporation emerging in the gilded North, [Cottenham and his co-workers] were slaves in all but name,” observes Blackmon.

Thousands perished from disease, overwork, and accidents, their mortal remains interred in shallow graves not far from where they expired. All of this is seen as an indictment of a barbarous past we have supposedly transcended. But the system described by Blackmon — opportunistic law enforcement feeding non-violent offenders into a penal system hard-welded to government-favored corporations – still exists.

Like Communist China, the American Soyuz has a Laogai (“reform through labor) prison manufacturing system. Working through Unicor, a public-private partnership created during the Great Depression to create “factories with fences,” corporations employ prisoners to manufacture products from designer jeans to computer circuit boards.

The entities that profit from the American Laogai would be eager to participate in Donald Trump’s border wall project, which would be among the largest corporatist undertakings since the New Deal. Law and Order Leninists would be thrilled by the spectacle envisioned by Sheriff Hodgson – until they learn, in the most unpleasant way imaginable, how easily the State can turn harmless people into slaves.

Inside the Tiny, Uncluttered Mind of a Cop

A retired member of the exalted Brotherhood of State-Sanctified Coercion recently rebuked a heretic:

I take umbrage with your article for Lew Rockwell. While certainly I agree with your premise that one should not give to police charities and thereby expect special privileges, you cubby-hole police officers with your example in Idaho.  How utterly disgusting that you berate this officer and his wife for exercising their Constitutional Right to file bankruptcy!  You DO NOT KNOW their circumstances—they may have had extreme medical expenses with themselves or one of their children.

I, Sir, served four years in the incomparable Marine Corps, six years in the active reserve and 20+ years as a police officer in two+ major metropolitan arenas, and, I became disabled while ‘on-duty’.  Contrary to your woeful disrespect for the police and your efforts to transport those ideas to the public, I would like you to know that we do not hate the public, we do not sit in donut shops and often, as you are well aware, we give our lives (Dallas, George, California, New York, Pennsylvania, et al) for the safety of our community just as a soldier in Iraq.  Are you going to write to the wives, mothers, fathers and children of these police officers who gave their ultimate gift of life and berate their husbands, sons and fathers for being a member of the thin blue line? Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.

 We care about people’s lives, we care about the safety of the citizens of our nation and we love our country; and Sir, we don’t become, by and large, police officers and deputy sheriffs to bully the public and to make life miserable just because we are able.  Police die early deaths from suicide, cancer, strokes and heart attacks because of the stress of being a law enforcement officer.  The mean life expectancy of a retired law enforcement officer is 18 months. Because I was serving the citizens of my community, I am 100% permanently and totally disabled and suffer a lifetime of various levels of pain; and here, I have a miscreant (you) with disgusting disrespect narrative condemning the police and one in particular for filing bankruptcy.  You Sir, are disgusting human and miscreant.  The next time someone breaks into your home or assaults you, call your friends and whine to them, I am sure they will reimburse your losses and they will become a posse and hunt for the scum who violated you and your home/family, and don’t use the facilities that were there to protect you and catch the culprits who violated your home and/or body.

May your wife have 10 more children—all different nationalities.  I don’t, generally forget a face or missive, but in your case I’ll make an acceptation. 

With disdain and contempt,

Seán Mac an Airchinnigh

Retired Deputy Sheriff and Police Officer

Proud to be an American, God Bless the USA!!
The impenitent blasphemer replied:

I’m not surprised by the reminder that reading comprehension isn’t among the skills tested through POST certification. Law enforcement is an occupation that selects for people who tend to communicate through non-verbal means, after all.

Nowhere in my essay did I suggest that people donate to police charities in the hope of receiving “special privileges”; my point is that the people who administer those funds are protected by the legal fiction called “qualified immunity,” which gives them an unearned sense of privilege and makes them untrustworthy. This is abundantly demonstrated by the pervasive pilferage from FOP coffers. The recent case in Idaho is merely one of hundreds that have happened nation-wide. You would be wise to call for a forensic audit of your own union kitty; alas, your note suggests that you are a stranger in the house of wisdom.

Mark and Sara Furniss aren’t liable to criticism for seeking to discharge their debts through bankruptcy. If you had paid attention to the details — or had them explained to you by someone who can understand them — you would have noticed that they tried to use bankruptcy to consummate their embezzlement by listing their victims at the FOP as “creditors” and then heading north to Alaska to escape apprehension. This is attempted bankruptcy fraud.

Were I to credit official claims regarding the abilities of law enforcement officers, I would express disappointed surprise at your inability to recognize the elements of that offense. Since I’ve studied law enforcement for more than a quarter-century, your performance is precisely what I expected.

Why aren’t you incandescent with rage over crimes committed by police, against police — and the public at large — when they steal from funds supposedly dedicated to providing for wounded officers, and the families of officers who have died on-duty? I am mortally disgusted by such behavior, and that reaction ripens into rage when I see how “blue privilege” continues to protect such offenders, who are routinely given lenient sentences and sometimes allowed to keep their subsidized pensions. It’s odd that this is apparent to a purported miscreant like myself, while being ignored by an upstanding paragon of civic righteousness such as yourself.

You are doubtless aware….

No, strike that; going on the evidence [above] I would be unwise to entertain a generous estimate of your awareness.

A long line of judicial precedents documents that police officers have no enforceable duty to protect any individual citizen from criminal violence. This is even true when one is literally being hacked to death just a few feet away while apprehending an armed psychopath who had eluded the police. Take a second and Google “Joe Lozito” for the details of that case. Lozito subdued a knife-wielding serial killer while a member of your bold fraternity of badge-wearing badasses cowered behind a subway door just a few feet away. While Lozito was recuperating in the hospital, the cowardly officer was being feted as a “hero” — and the city dismissed Lozito’s legal claim by invoking the well-settled doctrine that the police have no particularized duty to protect the public.

Slogans about the selfless service of law enforcement don’t find traction among people who have studied the issue to any depth.

Since police and rapists are the only violent predators who expect their victims to submit without resistance, it is appropriate that the coda of your puerile note obliquely expresses the hope that my wife will become the victim of serial rape. I am constrained to point out, however, that the word “acceptation” is not a synonym for the word you must have intended to use, which is “exception.”

Have a nice Christmas, if possible.

Will Grigg

 

Want Crime to Go Down? Abolish the Local Police

Bunker Hill, Indiana, is a village of 900 people. It has not been consumed by the maelstrom of criminal violence that – we are told – would descend on any community even briefly deprived of the divine protection offered by a police department. The village obviously didn’t need the department it had until December 12, when the Town Marshal and his four reserve deputies walked off the job to protest decisions by the town board.

“We have had issues with the town board, and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” former Marshal Michael Thomison explained. Most of his complaints had to do with proposed budget cut-backs, and a refusal on the part of the council to purchase body armor for all five members of the department.

“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor,” grouses Thomison. “I told them we have to provide this…. They were just not receptive to having a police department.”

It’s just no fun to play dress-up and swagger around the village unless the kids get the full costume and all of the accessories. The historical resonance of the village’s name notwithstanding, Thomison and his buddies were not under siege by heavily armed adversaries, nor was there any realistic expectation that they ever would be.

Crime is practically non-existent in Bunker Hill – the most recent report lists one violent and ten property crimes – and the village is fifteen minutes away from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in the county seat of Peru (a deranged cartographer was apparently responsible for assigning city and county names). It’s therefore reasonable to consider the police department as an unnecessary expense, and a potential source of avoidable trouble. That latter consideration, ironically, was underscored by the disgruntled officers themselves, who have accused town councilors of asking them to conduct unlawful background checks on each other.  The municipal officials stoutly deny ever making such requests.

What is the purpose of inflicting a police department on a minuscule settlement where crimes against persons and property are practically unknown? The obvious answer is that while such towns might be welcome havens from private criminal violence, there can be no sanctuary from revenue collection – and this is the core function of government law enforcement agencies, as Sheriff Eddie Soileau of Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish has recently reminded us.

Soileau’s office is dealing with budget cuts, layoffs, and a Justice Department civil rights investigation, and is thus determined to pare operations down to the basics. To that end, he asked for, and received, an advisory opinion from the state’s Attorney General regarding the following question: Can he legally operate “without having law enforcement duties,” and simply carrying out the role of a tax collector?

The Louisiana State Constitution, replied the Attorney General’s office, specifies that he is to be “the collector of state and parish ad valorem taxes and such other taxes and license fees as provided by law.” Where law enforcement is concerned, the sheriff’s duties are a matter of discretion. He is required to “keep the peace and make arrests,” but is not required to appoint a specific number of deputies to carry out that function. “Should a sheriff choose not to appoint deputies to assist in his law enforcement role, we could cite no statute that would forbid such a choice,” concluded the AG’s opinion.

Odd as this might seem to people who were suckled on resilient myths about sheriffs and police officers as valiant defenders of the public and protectors of private property, Sheriff Soileau’s arrangement actually restores his office to its primordial purpose.

Following the Norman conquest of England, the existing kinship-based system for defense of property and settlement of disputes was supplanted by a feudal order enforced through royal appointees called shire-reeves or shire-riffs – antecedents of the modern sheriff. Their duty was to maintain the “king’s peace” by collecting taxes and preventing private efforts at restitution for injuries. It was impermissible for subjects to settle disputes among themselves, since this would deprive the royal treasury of the fees imposed through the embryonic state’s “justice” system.

This is the disreputable origin of the venerable office of the local sheriff, the only lawman whose occupation is even remotely compatible with the American constitutional tradition. A spare handful of contemporary sheriffs, at most, see their role as protecting property rights, rather than serving the privileged elite that preys on the public, and they can expect to be harassed and driven from office.

Everything the State says is a lie, everything it claims to own it has stolen, and every act undertaken to enforce the State’s edicts is a crime. The disappearance of a law enforcement agency enhances the personal security of those residing in any community where such a blessed development occurs.

Snouts in the Trough, Hooves in the Till: Why You Shouldn’t Donate to Police Charities

The median annual household income in Idaho is roughly $49,000. Mark Furniss, 46, was making almost $20,000 a year in excess of that figure when he resigned from his job as a Boise Police Officer on October 20, the same day he and his wife Sara filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. At the time, Sara was employed as a “safe schools assistant” in the recently created West Ada School District.

Together, Mark and Sara Furniss easily cleared $100,000 a year in salary and benefits, which is more than enough for their family of four to enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle in Boise. Yet Mark and Sara allegedly used their positions as president and office manager, respectively, with Treasure Valley Lodge #11 of the Fraternal Order of Police to embezzle $73,000 over a five-year period.

The couple’s pilferage from the FOP’s accounts was noticed no later than February, which is when he was confronted by the organization’s president over his use of a union credit card to buy tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and make more than $500 in personal purchases at a department store. A forensic audit was conducted, which quickly discovered that Mrs. Furniss had been systematically overpaying herself (she drew a salary from the FOP), misusing a lodge credit card, and had caused hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees. She later disclosed to investigators that she had set up an automatic withdrawal from an FOP account to pay the family’s cable television bill.

Detective Gary Marang of the Nampa Police Department, which has investigated the matter to avoid a conflict of interest, recalled in an affidavit that the couple also used FOP funds to make a $2,700 down payment on a travel trailer. They most likely intended to make use of that trailer to flee the jurisdiction: After filing for bankruptcy on October 20 (listing the FOP as among the “creditors” who would be stiffed by them), Mr. and Mrs. Furniss reportedly planned to head north to Alaska in search of a “fresh start.”

Like countless others, the Mark and Sara fell hard in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. Their financial disclosure form lists a total of $572,992 in assets, including a Meridian home valued at $230,000. Their estimated liabilities are $384,095, which includes “more than a dozen credit cards and five charge accounts,” observes the Idaho Statesman. They had also purchased two expensive late-model SUVs. Despite the fact that they both drew very generous tax-subsidized salaries, they listed their monthly income at $869, with $5,742 in monthly expenses. Perhaps the most shocking line item in the form was the disclosure that the total value of the family’s checking accounts was $864.

In the two weeks prior to the couple’s November 25 arrest, their FOP chapter had collected more than $73,000 through a GoFundMe account to raise money for three officers – two humans and a “K9 officer” – who were wounded in a shootout with a fugitive. It would have been useful for the public to know that the people in charge of the lodge’s finances had embezzled nearly an identical amount.

Mark and Sara have two very young children, a fact that will be taken into account when they are given the customary Blue Privilege discount at sentencing time. Former Richfield, Ohio police officer Michael Simmons benefited from official leniency when his own longstanding embezzlement from the local FOP was discovered.

Simmons has confessed to stealing more than $26,000 the FOP’s “Shop with a Cop” program, which is used to buy Christmas gifts for poor children.

One might expect to see exemplary punishment imposed on someone who committed a Dickensian offense of that kind. One would be wrong to do so, when the offender is a member of the state’s enforcement caste.

As was the case with Mark and Sara Furniss, Simmons squandered  money raised for charitable purposes on personal expenses and luxuries, including electronics, clothing, tools, and tickets to sporting events. Rather than being sent to prison for felony theft, the 42-year-old Simmons was given an 18-month suspended jail sentence, two years of probation, and 500 hours of community service. He will also be required to pay back only $15,000 of the money he stole, so full restitution – which is the only legitimate punishment for a crime against property – will not be required.

According to Richfield, Ohio Police Chief Keith Morgan, one reason Simmons won’t be required to pay back the full amount is because “the program’s lax bookkeeping made it difficult to pin down exactly how much was stolen and how much went to legitimate purchases,” reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

Simmons’s attorney, Mark Guidetti, says that the judge’s very generous terms will allow Simmons to move on with his life and get another job. Now that he is tagged with a fourth-degree felony, it’s likely that he won’t find another gig involving a gun, badge, and qualified immunity.

It is possible, of course, that his record could be expunged two years from now, which would allow him to follow the “Gypsy Cop” ratline and find employment in another jurisdiction. Notwithstanding his dismal employment history, he might even be hired by another department in Ohio. Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice, actually failed upward into a job with a larger department after his performance review with the department afflicting the tiny town of Independence, Ohio described him as someone unsuitable for a career in law enforcement.

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