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Criminal Justice

Alabama Cops Jail 82 Year Old Grandmother for Unpaid $70 Trash Bill

Over the years, the Free Thought Project has reported on many asinine reasons police have used to arrest entirely innocent people who have harmed no one. Frequently, long grass on one’s own property or a burnt-out license plate light can get people killed in the land of the free as officers fail to use their discretion and instead react with brute force and callousness toward their fellow human.

Martha Menefield, an 82-year-old Black woman in Alabama—who’s never had a run-in with the law in her entire life—learned recently that police can and will arrest and kidnap you, even for the most ridiculous reasons. The two armed state agents who kidnapped Memefield used her unpaid $77 trash bill as their ridiculous reason to take her freedom last week.

“Don’t cry,” the officers told her as they kidnapped the elderly woman. “Don’t cry, Ms. Martha.”

Menefield told WIAT that she had no idea why officers pulled up at her house that day as she has never broken the law. When one of the two officers told her they were there to arrest her over her trash bill, Menefield laughed, thinking the officers were joking.

They were not joking.

“You’re not kidding?” Menefield asked the officers, quickly finding out that they were not. As murders, rapes, thefts, and assaults go unsolved at increasing rates, armed agents of the state were dispatched to the home of an 82-year-old woman to arrest her for a $77.80 trash bill that she thought she had already paid.

As Menefield told her story to WIAT, she teared up, describing how heavy the handcuffs were on her 82-year-old arms.

“They’re so heavy,” she said through tears.

Attempting to appeal to the humanity of the officers while they kidnapped her over a trash bill, Menefield asked the officers, “How would you feel if they came and arrested your grandmama”? They did not respond.

“I’m just happy my grandkids weren’t here to see that,” Menefield told the media outlet. “That would have upset them. I was so ashamed. And it’s been bothering me.”

After her arrest last week and the subsequent outrage at the Valley Police Department, instead of apologizing for Menefield’s arrest over a trash bill, the Valley chief took to Facebook to defend the madness.

“City of Valley Code Enforcement Officers issued Ms. Menefield a citation in August of 2022 for non-payment for trash services for the months of June, July, and August,” Chief Mike Reynolds’ statement said. “Prior to issuing the citation, Code Enforcement tried to call Ms. Menefield several times and attempted to contact her in person at her residence. When contact could not be made, a door hanger was left at her residence. The hanger contained information on the reason for the visit and a name and contact phone number for her to call. The citation advised Ms. Menefield that she was to appear in court on September 7, 2022, in reference to this case. A warrant for Failure to Pay-Trash was issued when she did not appear in court.”

But Menefield said she never received a notice and said that if she failed to pay, they should’ve simply suspended her service—not kidnapped her.

“This isn’t a criminal act,” Neketti Tucker, Menefield’s daughter said. “This is civil, if anything.”

We agree, the only criminal act here was the kidnapping and caging of an 82-year-old woman over forgetting or being unable to pay her trash bill.

“I was in a little cage-like thing at the police station,” Menefield said. “And I said ‘Y’all put me in this cage? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Indeed, they should.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Justice Denied: The Contrast of Ross Ulbricht and Sam Bankman-Fried

“How did this dude steal billions of dollars and is now speaking at a summit as a free man? Make it make sense.”- the internet.

This is the question that millions of people are asking after weeks have now passed since Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX scandal unfolded. Bankman-Fried is accused of treating FTX as a ‘personal fiefdom’ as he squandered billions in cash and digital assets of his former clients.

According to a Bloomberg News report, customer funds were seemingly used to buy real-estate while Bankman-Fried himself took a $1 billion loan out from Alameda Research, a trading firm founded by Sam Bankman-Fried. The firm was trading billions of dollars from FTX accounts and leveraging the exchange’s native token as collateral, according to reports.

Essentially, Bankman-Fried was taking assets from his customers, without their permission, and squandering them on risky trades. According to U.S. securities law, mixing customer funds with counterparties and trading them without explicit consent—is against the law.

Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz is one of the folks throwing his hands up and demanding to know why Bankman-Fried has not been arrested or even charged.

“If you read your contract when you deposit your crypto or your dollars on his exchange, they’re your coins and you have title to them, and lending them to his family office was not part of the deal. So, you know, nobody who participated in that exchange signed a contract that Sam could take your coins and run a hedge fund with them. That’s fraud,” Novogratz said in an interview with CNBC recently.

“I had some young kids break into my apartment four years ago, they stole a couple of laptops, and within three days the NYPD had arrested them and they were in jail,” Novogratz said.

“Maybe I’m not a judge or a lawyer, but I read my contract and [Bankman-Fried] certainly did things with our coins that were illegal. And he’s running around the Bahamas, giving press conferences, going on TV.”

Instead of going to jail for fraud and theft of billions, as Novogratz points out, Bankman-Fried was invited to The New York Times’ DealBook Summit to be interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

The 29-year-old mega criminal will be appearing alongside Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, Reed Hastings, Netflix founder and CEO, Andy Jassy,’s president and CEO, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Though fact-checkers have come out in force to dispel claims that Bankman-Fried was laundering money back to the Democratic Party through Ukraine, the company he is keeping and the charges he is not facing have many folks scratching their heads in disbelief.

In comparison, in 2008, Bernie Madoff was charged and arrested within 24 hours of his fraud scheme being revealed. But Bankman-Fried remains free. If we compare Bankman-Fried’s case to Ross Ulbricht, who is serving two life sentences for building a website, the disparity becomes enraging.

Those who don’t follow his case closely often claim that Ulbricht was convicted for attempting to pay for the murder and torture of people who’d stolen from or threatened him. That is not true at all.

He was never convicted of hiring a hitman to murder anyone. Bogus charges were brought, but they were dropped. Despite the murder allegations being dropped because there was no evidence to support them, however, they still served to muddy the waters of his case, and helped prosecutors obtain the extremely cruel and unusual double life sentence for creating a website.

Before Bitcoin became the newest tech and investment craze, it was seen as the currency of the black market, which was used to buy and sell drugs on the infamous “dark web.” In fact, Ulbricht was one of the early adopters of Bitcoin and he created one of the first websites that popularized the cryptocurrency. It was called The Silk Road.

The Silk Road was an anonymous online marketplace that became a target for politicians and law enforcement because of the large volume of drugs that were being sold through the site. On the Silk Road, drug users and vendors were able to trade anonymously using Bitcoin, making it one of the first major commerce platforms to adopt the cryptocurrency.

This constant reinvention of the Silk Road brand and the myriad of spin-off marketplaces is reminiscent of the battle that took place between online file-sharing websites and the global record and film industries. Whenever the government took down a file-sharing site, ten more would spring up in its place, making it very difficult for authorities to keep up with the overgrowing connectivity that the internet provides.

Even though Ulbricht did nothing but create a website—just like the famous billionaires Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos—he was treated like El Chapo in court because his invention worked against the system, instead of for it.

One important point that was heavily overlooked by the media during the Ulbricht trial was the fact that the Silk Road actually made the world a safer place by undermining prohibition. Even though drugs are illegal, large numbers of people still use them on a regular basis and these people are often put in dangerous situations because of these prohibitions.

The Silk Road allowed people to purchase drugs from the comfort of their living rooms to avoid the risk of getting mugged in a dark alleyway. It also allowed them to read reviews of the products that their potential dealer was selling, saving them from tainted drugs and dirty batches that could put their lives at risk.

Ulbricht should have gotten the Nobel Prize for his visionary application of new and revolutionary technology, but instead, he was arrested in October 2013 and has been sitting in federal prison ever since, awaiting a break in his case, or the end of the drug war—and he will be there for the rest of his life if nothing changes.

Meanwhile, Bankman-Fried—who took billions from unwitting customers—is sitting on stage with billionaire elites, essentially being celebrated.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Cop Admits to Responding to Child Rape Case by Raping 14 Year Old Victim Himself

As frequent readers of the Free Thought Project know, police officers are arrested weekly in this country for sex crimes involving children. This is a massive problem but becomes even worse when victims of child sex abuse seek out help and run right into the arms of someone even worse than they are trying to report. For one girl in New Orleans, Louisiana, this is exactly what happened to her.

In 2020, the New Orleans Police department arrested one of its own officers for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old child. Rodney Vicknair, 55, was arrested and charged with sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile and malfeasance, for sexually assaulting the child while investigating a sexual assault that she reported. After fighting the case for two years and pleading not guilty, this month, Vicknair changed his tune.

On Wednesday, Vicknair admitted to grooming and raping the girl while taking her to the hospital to have a rape kit done for a previous sexual assault she had just endured.

As we reported at the time, this officer had a history of discipline problems and he should have never had his job when the child’s sexual assault took place.

According to a scathing report from WDSU, Vicknair was disciplined four times in just six years, raising the question of whether or not he should have remained employed by the NOPD. Below are the infractions:

  • He received a five-day suspension in 2010 for acting unprofessionally and keeping inaccurate records. NOPD’s internal investigation found he used police resources to look up a woman’s personal information and then failed to record an unnecessary stop of the woman in his activity log.
  • Vicknair received a one-day suspension and driver training in July 2015 for violating policies related to a vehicle pursuit on March 28, 2014. The internal investigation found he drove 76 mph on Claiborne Avenue at 7 p.m., before driving against traffic for more than three blocks. The investigation did not determine whether Vicknair disregarded a supervisor’s order to end the chase.
  • He received a three-day suspension in August 2015 for violating policies related to another vehicle pursuit on Feb. 6, 2014. The internal investigation found he drove against traffic during a car chase that a supervisor determined should not have happened.
  • Vicknair received a letter of reprimand in August 2016 for acting unprofessionally when responding to the scene of a fatal overdose. The deceased man’s mother complained that Vicknair laughed at the scene. NOPD’s review of body-camera footage showed he told the overdose victim’s girlfriend, “I didn’t put the needle in his arm” and “I bet if I checked your name you would have warrants.”

According to WDSU, each time NOPD punished Vicknair, the superintendent warned in a letter to him that a similar infraction in the future could result in “more severe disciplinary action.” But this never happened and his latest “punishment” before he raped a 14-year-old girl, was a letter of reprimand.

Because the department lacked oversight, Vicknair was never demoted or had his job threatened which led to him sexually assaulting a child on duty.

In 2020, the victim contacted the NOPD to report a sexual assault and Vicknair was assigned to her case. Instead of helping the child, however, this monster allegedly began grooming her.

According to, Vicknair allegedly began sending text messages to the girl, going to her house during his personal time, and remarking how attractive she was and how she aroused him, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

After receiving an anonymous tip that Vicknair was sexually assaulting the child—who he was supposed to be helping—the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau conducted a preliminary investigation and found enough evidence to arrest him. Now, he’s admitted to it.

According to the Department of Justice, the maximum sentence for his crimes is life in prison. However, with the plea deal, he is looking at only 84 months in prison if the judge agrees.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Cop Shoots Unarmed Man in Head, Gets Slap on Wrist

In December 2017, community members began searching for answers after an unarmed man was shot and killed by a police officer in an unmarked car who claimed that he opened fire because he had his hand in his pocket. But their victim, 25-year-old Dennis Plowden Jr. was unarmed and was not a threat when cops opened fire on him just six seconds after they stopped the vehicle.

For years, Plowden’s family sought justice and this month, they found out that justice will not come. Disgraced officer Eric Ruch Jr.—who put a bullet in Plowden’s head that night—was sentenced to just 11 months in jail.

Ruch, 34, was charged in 2020 and convicted in September 2022 of voluntary manslaughter and a weapons charge. The voluntary manslaughter charge alone was supposed to come with a 20-year sentence. However, Ruch, according to the court, “demonstrated good behavior” since he murdered Plowden, so he will not have to spend years in prison for his crimes.

“Nothing he is going to do in prison is going to make him a better person,” Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara McDermott said.

“I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed,” Plowden’s widow, Tania Bond, said outside the courthouse, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Who wastes five years to come to court and hear 11 to 23 months? Did we value Dennis’ life or did we just throw something out there to feel like we shut the family up and feel like we satisfied?”

As we reported at the time, the incident started around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2017, when officers claimed they spotted a 2013 Hyundai that was wanted in connection with a homicide investigation.

The officers pulled over Plowden, who was driving the vehicle with a female passenger in the front seat. Ruch, a nine-year veteran of the Philadelphia police, proceeded to follow the car, claiming he was struck by it.

Police claimed that Plowden then went on to plow the Hyundai into two other parked cars before he “got out of the car and tried to run away.” A report from WPVI-TV claimed that when Plowden exited the car, he had “his hand in his pocket.”

While other officers who were in uniform arrived at the scene, Ruch “gave repeated commands for the man to show his hands” and then opened fire when he claimed Plowden did not comply. Ruch struck Plowden in the head, and he was pronounced dead several hours later at a hospital. Clearly illustrating that Plowden had his hands up was the fact that Ruch’s bullet went through Plowden’s hand before it struck Plowden in the head.

It would later be determined that Plowden had committed no crime before running from police that night.

“Investigators have determined that while the vehicle may have been connected to that December 21 homicide, Plowden himself was not,” WPVI-TV noted, confirming that Plowden was not armed at the time of the incident.

Police claimed that the female passenger in the vehicle “suffered minor injuries.”

Plowden left behind a wife, a six-month-old son, and two stepdaughters.

Plowden’s grandmother, Stacy McCoy, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Dennis was her second grandson who had been murdered. His brother Darryl was shot and killed in August 2016 at the age of 20. His homicide is still unsolved.

“He was unarmed,” McCoy said. “They shot him like a god damned dog.”

“They could have stun-gunned him. They didn’t have to do a kill shot. They murdered my grandson like all the other black kids out here,” McCoy said.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.

Former Detective Arrested For Kidnapping Young Black Girls, Forcing Them Into Sex Slavery

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced myriad charges against former Kansas City Police Department detective Roger Golubski and three other men—Cecil Brooks, LeMark Roberson and Richard Robinson. The group of men is alleged to have been kidnapping young Black girls and holding them in involuntary sex servitude.

The disturbing crimes are alleged to have taken place from 1996 to 1998 at a location in Kansas City. The four men held multiple young women as sex slaves at several units within Delevan Apartments, according to the DoJ.

“One of those units was a ‘relaxed’ area, where young girls used alcohol and drugs with the defendants, and another was ‘working house,’ where some girls were compelled to perform sexual services for adult men who visited Delevan,” the indictment says.

According to the indictment, Brooks, Roberson, and Robinson “provided drugs to the girls in the ‘working house,’ who were addicts.” They also allegedly “beat and threatened to beat girls who did not agree to provide sexual services in exchange for shelter, drugs, or clothes.”

Golubski used his badge to provide cover for the human trafficking operation and eventually became involved in the operation. Once he fully submersed himself in the criminal operation, Golubski allegedly had an affinity for young Black girls, according to authorities.

“At Delevan, Defendant ROGER GOLUBSKI primarily chose young Black girls, ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old, to submit to sex and to provide sexual services to him,” the indictment says.

According to the DoJ:

Brooks, Roberson and Robinson are also charged in a substantive count with holding a young woman, identified as Person 1, in a condition of involuntary servitude; and Brooks, Roberson and Golubski are charged in a substantive count with holding another young woman, Person 2, in a condition of involuntary servitude.

According to the indictment, from 1996 through 1998, Brooks provided a location at Delevan Apartments in Kansas City, where young women were held and where Brooks, Roberson and Robinson used physical beatings, sexual assaults and threats to compel young women to provide sexual services to men. Then detective Golubski is alleged to have accepted money from Brooks; provided protection from law enforcement for the criminal activity, including sex trafficking; and forcibly raped the young woman identified as Person 2.

The first count of the indictment charges all four men with conspiring to hold young women, including Person 1 and Person 2, in a condition of involuntary servitude; the second count charges Brooks, Roberson, and Robinson with holding Person 1 in involuntary servitude and forcing her to provide sexual services to Roberson; and the third count charges Brooks, Roberson and Golubski with holding Person 2 in involuntary servitude and forcing her to provide sexual services to adult men, including Brooks, Roberson and Golubski.

Suggesting that Golubski has lived a life as a sex criminal is the fact that prior to this indictment, he was indicted in September for using his badge to carry out sexual assaults.

Golubski was previously charged, in a separate indictment with civil rights violations for allegedly acting under color of law to commit aggravated sexual assaults, according to the DoJ.

The alleged child-raping cop and his fellow cronies face life in prison if convicted.

This article was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is republished with permission.


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