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Author Topic: License To Shill: Highway Robbery  (Read 13280 times)
Conan71
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« Reply #45 on: March 31, 2016, 02:04:31 pm »

Wagoner County will likely have a new sheriff soon, accruing to breaking news from the Tulsa World:

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Wagoner County sheriff indicted by multicounty grand jury on three felony counts

Previous story: At least four Wagoner County Sheriff's Office employees appear before multicounty grand jury

WAGONER — A multicounty grand jury on Thursday indicted Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert and a sheriff's office captain on three felony counts and recommended his removal from office.

A multicounty grand jury that had been working since September indicted Colbert and Capt. Jeff Gragg, alleging in one count that they either conspired to receive a bribe or committed extortion through threats. The second count claims Colbert and Gragg received a bribe or in the alternative committed extortion through threats, while the third count states they committed extortion through threats.

The pair are accused of conspiring to bring two people by taking $10,000 in exchange for not pursuing drug charges in 2014. Gragg initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by Torell Wallace and a 17-year-old passenger.

"Gragg conducted a search of the vehicle in which he found $10,000 in cash, of which Wallace and the passenger both claimed ownership," a news release from Attorney General Scott Pruitt states. "Wallace and the passenger were arrested for possession of drug proceeds. After being taken to the Wagoner County Jail, Colbert and Gragg accepted a bribe from Wallace and the passenger when Wallace disclaimed any interest in the cash. They were then released and their records were deleted. The cash was placed in a Sheriff’s Drug Forfeiture account with the Wagoner County Treasurer’s Office."

The grand jury recommended Colbert's removal based on counts of extortion, willful neglect of duty and failure to produce and account for all public funds in his hands at a settlement required by law, according to the release.

Colbert and Gragg could face up to 25 years in prison each and be ordered to pay fines of up to $10,000.

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patric
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« Reply #46 on: April 01, 2016, 09:04:34 am »

Wagoner County will likely have a new sheriff soon, accruing to breaking news from the Tulsa World:



Gragg performed a traffic stop of a vehicle driven by Torell Wallace and a 17-year-old passenger. During the traffic stop, Gragg conducted a search of the vehicle in which he found $10,000 in cash, of which Wallace and the passenger both claimed ownership. Wallace and the passenger were arrested for possession of drug proceeds. After being taken to the Wagoner County Jail, Colbert and Gragg accepted a bribe from Wallace and the passenger when Wallace disclaimed any interest in the cash. They were then released and their records were deleted. The cash was placed in a Sheriff’s Drug Forfeiture account with the Wagoner County Treasurer’s Office.

So basically this is because he didnt offer the DA his cut?
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Conan71
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« Reply #47 on: April 01, 2016, 09:33:59 am »

So basically this is because he didnt offer the DA his cut?


Kind of sounds like someone got left out.  What I’m not understanding though is it does not appear from the story that the sheriff nor his deputy embezzled the money then used it for personal purposes, unless I read that wrong.  It sounds like the money went directly to the WC Treasurer’s office.

What CF had to say about confiscations like this is chilling.  I can think of times I’ve had large amounts of cash on hand to purchase a vehicle.  When my sole business was dealing in antique Harleys, having large sums of cash on me driving along an interstate was not an uncommon occurrence.  The idea that a cop can simply say: “That’s got to be drug money, so I’m seizing it and I’m arresting you” never ran across my mind.  At large antique motorcycle or auto swap meets, there’s easily hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash moving around at any given time.  That could be a target-rich environment for rogue cops.
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patric
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« Reply #48 on: April 01, 2016, 11:49:08 am »

Kind of sounds like someone got left out.  What I’m not understanding though is it does not appear from the story that the sheriff nor his deputy embezzled the money then used it for personal purposes, unless I read that wrong.  It sounds like the money went directly to the WC Treasurer’s office.

What CF had to say about confiscations like this is chilling.  I can think of times I’ve had large amounts of cash on hand to purchase a vehicle.  When my sole business was dealing in antique Harleys, having large sums of cash on me driving along an interstate was not an uncommon occurrence.  The idea that a cop can simply say: “That’s got to be drug money, so I’m seizing it and I’m arresting you” never ran across my mind.  At large antique motorcycle or auto swap meets, there’s easily hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash moving around at any given time.  That could be a target-rich environment for rogue cops.

Farmers and ranchers seem to get hit a lot, those that dont use banks and come into town to buy a bull or a piece of equipment with cash, and dont have the means to fight to get their cash back when they are pulled over.


Gragg told him the only way he would be free that day was to disclaim ownership of the $10,000. It additionally alleges that once Wallace did so, Colbert told Wagoner County detention officers to stop Wallace’s booking process and delete his records from the system.
http://www.tulsaworld.com/communities/wagoner/news/local/wagoner-county-sheriff-indicted-by-multicounty-grand-jury-on-three/article_7e1e6332-8fd0-5c44-b676-171f640686b2.html
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Vashta Nerada
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« Reply #49 on: April 01, 2016, 07:01:31 pm »

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Thursday that the Fifteenth Multicounty Grand Jury returned an accusation of removal for Wagoner County Sheriff Robert Steven Colbert. Additionally, the grand jury indicted Colbert and Deputy Jeffrey T. Gragg on bribery and extortion charges.

Pressure from the police unions on the state AG "Blank Check" Pruitt to keep the forfeiture industry looking legitimate.




Deputy Gragg two days later opened a sheriff's drug forfeiture account in the Wagoner County treasurer's office and deposited the $10,000, according to the indictment.

Colbert was elected sheriff in 2008 after retiring from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, where he often participated in drug stops.

Sen. Kyle Loveless pushed for legislation requiring a criminal conviction before property could be forfeited. He later agreed to some exceptions in an effort to meet law enforcement concerns. His bill died anyway this year.



http://newsok.com/grand-jury-indicts-wagoner-county-sheriff-calls-for-his-removal/article/5488745
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #50 on: April 04, 2016, 08:49:43 am »

Kind of sounds like someone got left out.  What I’m not understanding though is it does not appear from the story that the sheriff nor his deputy embezzled the money then used it for personal purposes, unless I read that wrong.  It sounds like the money went directly to the WC Treasurer’s office.

What CF had to say about confiscations like this is chilling.  I can think of times I’ve had large amounts of cash on hand to purchase a vehicle.  When my sole business was dealing in antique Harleys, having large sums of cash on me driving along an interstate was not an uncommon occurrence.  The idea that a cop can simply say: “That’s got to be drug money, so I’m seizing it and I’m arresting you” never ran across my mind.  At large antique motorcycle or auto swap meets, there’s easily hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash moving around at any given time.  That could be a target-rich environment for rogue cops.



As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be....Graft/corruption without end.  Amen,...Amen...!

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Vashta Nerada
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« Reply #51 on: April 04, 2016, 07:12:27 pm »


As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be....Graft/corruption without end.  Amen,...Amen...!







http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/29/inside-the-push-to-make-it-harder-for-government-to-steal-property-cash-in-americas-heartland/

Apache, Okla., Chief of Police Stephen Mills had his Ford F-250 seized by law enforcement in 2010. He’s since come out as a vocal opponent of civil forfeiture.



After months of public promotion, Sen. Kyle Loveless,’ R-Oklahoma City, civil asset forfeiture reform package died Tuesday at the Capitol at the hands of the judiciary committee, which refused to hear the bill.
http://www.normantranscript.com/news/government/judiciary-committee-refuses-to-hear-sen-loveless-asset-seizure-reform/article_00bfd82e-5c0a-56f3-ada1-e72a2f3475eb.html



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AquaMan
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« Reply #52 on: April 05, 2016, 08:35:52 am »

Its certainly no secret why they are along 40. I bet there are plenty on 35 as well. These are high traffic arterials for drug smuggling. Of course the locals depend on that trade to fund their communities.

Several analogies come to mind: highwaymen from feudal times, Jesse James' comment about why he robbed banks, and of course the Watergate character Deep Throat, "follow the money".

And of course, "the more things change, the more they stay the same".
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RecycleMichael
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« Reply #53 on: April 05, 2016, 09:52:01 am »

I always speculated that highway drug stops were just covering intelligence from some snitch. Now the perp thinks he was stopped because of a taillight and snitch gets to live.
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cannon_fodder
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« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2016, 12:28:38 pm »

Its certainly no secret why they are along 40. I bet there are plenty on 35 as well. These are high traffic arterials for drug smuggling....

Other than I-40, I-44, I-244, I-35, US 69, the Indian Nations, and highways 54, 56, 64, 69, 81, 83, 169, 287, and 412... there aren't any highways in Oklahoma known for drug smuggling that I know of. But we also suspect private an 149 private airports, rail, and river ports.

https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs2/2286/overview.htm

When everything is known to be arterials for drug smuggling, it is meaningless.  Every major highway coming from Mexico is a "known drug trafficking route." And every road branching out from those. While obviously there is truth to it, on a deeper level its utter nonsense. 
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patric
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« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2016, 01:31:30 pm »

I always speculated that highway drug stops were just covering intelligence from some snitch. Now the perp thinks he was stopped because of a taillight and snitch gets to live.

Today its more illegal wiretaping, since Homeland Security apparently hands out Stingrays and DRT boxes to police departments like throwing candy in a parade.  Part of the licensing agreement is they are never allowed to talk about it -- to judges, lawyers, media, anyone, or they revoke the license and remotely "brick" the fake cell site device.
"You should think of some reason to stop this car on this highway around this time, but you didnt hear that from us."

"Broken taillight" is just "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" for "I cant tell you how I know this,"  yet I still get a kick when I see on TV some naive crime reporter not connecting the dots when all these million-dollar drug busts seem to start with that pesky broken taillight.

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cannon_fodder
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« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2016, 02:19:35 pm »

Broken Taillight, failure to turn into the near lane, "erratic driving," swerving onto the shoulder - whatever excuse they want to use is fine. Pretextual stops have been ruled legal. Meaning it is OK for them to pull you over as long as they can voice a semi-reasonable explanation even if the true intention of pulling you over is something illegal ("black guys always have drugs"). 

And yep. The cell phone tracking is well documented. Which is probably illegal, but isn't my main point. My main point is that the police and district attorneys are told to lie about it to the defense and to judges. And they do.  I will say it again: the federal government told police and district attorney offices to lie about the source of their data so defendants cannot use it to obtain a fair trial, and police and district attorneys comply with that request.

Prosecutors are required by law to disclose the information, and when asked about it they assert that they do. And I believe prosecutors are many times more likely to do so than police. Then again, prosecutors work as closely with police as anyone... and rarely if ever manage to "crack" corruption probes. I don't know if TPD uses such devices, and the people I know at the Tulsa County District Attorney office are good people - but the temptation to get the job done and the need to work tomorrow with law enforcement sure would make it hard to cross them.

Quote
“I am astounded at the extent to which police have been so aggressively using this technology, how long they’ve been using it and the extent to which they have gone to create ruses to shield that use,” Stephen Mercer, the chief of forensics for Maryland’s public defenders, said.

Prosecutors said they, too, are sometimes left in the dark. "When our prosecutors are made aware that a detective used a cell-site stimulator, it is disclosed; however we rely upon the Police Department to provide us with that information," said Tammy Brown, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore's State's Attorney. "We are currently working with the Police Department to improve upon the process to better obtain this information in order to comply with the law.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/08/23/baltimore-police-stingray-cell-surveillance/31994181/

Here's an idea. When you use wiretaps to obtain an arrest, you tell the DA in your probably cause affidavit "we used a wiretap/cell phone grabber to obtain our probably cause."  Which is, you know, required by the US Constitution.

This article tells how its done:

Step 1: Without the probable cause needed for a warrant, obtain permission to seek "limited data" from the cell phone company
Step 2: Use that "limited data" to hack into cell phone transmissions and gather whatever information you want, including call and text intercepts
Step 3: Come up with some other reason to arrest the person
Step 4: Lie to the Court, the defense attorney, and the public

The only City that has been investigated in this regard is Baltimore, and they used it to arrest more than 2000 people. Usually illegally:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/03/maryland-stingray-appeals-court-opinion

This has been going on for years:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/03/police-hid-use-of-cell-phone-tracking-device-from-judge-because-of-nda/

But don't worry citizen, we are violating your Constitutional rights to keep you safe. Big Brother has your back. Right comrade?
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2016, 02:51:18 pm »

Like I said....as it was in the beginning....


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“When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal.”    - Garrison Keillor

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Vashta Nerada
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« Reply #58 on: April 11, 2016, 06:53:13 pm »

Kind of sounds like someone got left out.



The indictment against the officers alleges Gragg opened a Sheriff's Drug Forfeiture Account on Dec. 15, 2014, and deposited the $10,000 there, but that Gragg did not deliver a forfeiture affidavit for the money to the District Attorney's Office until Dec. 3, 2015, two days after he testified before the grand jury,

Colbert agreed to be suspended with pay as of Thursday during a court appearance on the jury's accusation for removal, which accuses him of extortion, willful neglect of duty and mismanagement of public funds.

Chief Deputy Shannon Clark, the county's spokesman, said after the meeting that the department hopes a resolution will be reached soon.


http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/state/wagoner-county-holds-off-on-appointing-acting-sheriff-during-bob/article_8fc9dae3-a9a0-5a4e-8d2c-812581169ada.html

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« Reply #59 on: April 25, 2016, 03:48:49 pm »

Always nice when Oklahoma makes international news for our fine acts of righteousness:

Muskogee County to refund $50,000 raised for Asian orphans, students that was seized in traffic stop

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/muskogee-county-to-refund-raised-for-asian-orphans-students-that/article_81e97275-db64-5fc5-8568-bf0d680bb2e3.html

Quote
MUSKOGEE — The Muskogee County District Attorney on Monday said he dismissed criminal charges and a civil asset forfeiture case in which law enforcement seized $53,000 from a man during a Feb. 27 traffic stop.

Eh Wah, who lives in Dallas and is originally from Myanmar, told authorities the money was for a Thai orphanage and a nonprofit Christian school in Myanmar. Law enforcement seized the money and indicated it would not be returned. On Monday, Muskogee County officials said the money would be given back.

A Washington Post story reported on the issue ahead of a press release issued by the man’s attorneys Monday.

District Attorney Orvil Loge told the Tulsa World he has dismissed a felony drug-related charge and efforts to keep cash belonging to Eh Wah, the tour manager for Burmese Christian rock band The Klo & Kweh Music Team. Money also will be refunded to the band, its bassist, an Omaha-Nebraska-based church and an orphanage. Loge said his office will mail a check for the full balance of what was seized to Eh Wah's attorneys, and that he made his decision Monday afternoon based on information that came to light in media reports.

"I looked at the case today and spoke with the officers, and we agreed that now that we've filed the case, our burden of proof had been elevated," Loge said of the felony matter. "We thought we would not be able to meet our burden of proof, so we had to act. And that's what I did this afternoon."

Eh Wah was pulled over on U.S. 69 for having a broken brake light about 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27. A probable cause affidavit in the felony case against Eh Wah, 40, states a deputy's K-9 dog had a positive alert on Eh Wah's vehicle, which prompted deputies to search the car, where they found $53,234 in cash. The affidavit does not state the deputy found any drugs or other contraband, but that the money was seized "due to the inconsistent stories and Wah (being) unable to confirm the money was his."

Loge said Eh Wah agreed to a search of the vehicle after telling the deputies he did not have contraband or associated proceeds inside. He added that what the deputies found "wasn't consistent with normal carrying of cash transactions."

Attorneys from the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based nonprofit libertarian-leaning law firm, say Eh Wah had a hard time communicating with deputies because he speaks imperfect English. The Institute for Justice's website states the cash came from ticket sales, offerings and donations made during the band's tour in such places as Illinois, New York and Texas.

Institute for Justice senior attorney Matt Miller told the Tulsa World that deputies questioned his client for about an hour on the side of the road before taking him in for a nearly five-hour interrogation. Miller said Eh Wah received a warning for the tail light and questioned why the department would release someone they suspected of committing drug offenses.

The District Attorney's Office filed a notice of seizure and forfeiture March 11, which Eh Wah, the Klo & Kweh Music Team, the Omaha, Nebraska-based Karen Christian Revival Church Inc., the Hsa Thoo Lei Orphanage and bassist Saw Win Ston challenged formally on Friday. Eh Wah was charged April 5 with acquiring drug proceeds, which Miller claimed was a way for prosecutors to get leverage in the forfeiture case.

Eh Wah appeared in Muskogee County for his criminal case on Monday and had been told to return in July before Loge dismissed his case Monday afternoon. In a phone interview with the Tulsa World on Monday morning, Wah said the situation was "the most unpleasant, terrifying experience you can imagine."

"I was shocked and scared the first time I learned I had a warrant on me," Eh Wah said. "My parents, they were terrified. We never thought any time in our lives we'd see something like this. We didn't do anything that would be close to this kind of thing, the drug thing. ... You wake up in the morning, and it's the first thing in your mind."

Miller said his client explained to the deputies that he was with a Christian rock band from Myanmar and had accompanied the band on its U.S. tour, which reached 19 churches by that point. He said Eh Wah put the deputies in touch with the band's leader, who confirmed the money was raised lawfully.

"There were no drugs in the car. There was no drug paraphernalia. He had a perfectly legitimate reason to be in possession of all that cash," Miller said.

Eh Wah said in court documents that he owns $2,000 of the seized cash but that he had all of it in his possession for safekeeping during the band's tour. But Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said Monday that Eh Wah's explanation had "some inconsistencies" that led his deputies to believe the cash was possibly related to drug proceeds.

Pearson said the Sheriff's Office isn't trying to deprive citizens of their civil rights or their cash from charity proceeds but asserted he needs to keep the community safe. He didn't comment on specifics about Eh Wah's case, however, deferring such requests to the district attorney.

"You've got (U.S.) 69 running north and south all the way to Galveston, then you've got I-40 going east and west," he said. "Muskogee County is a major transfer point. We get a lot of drugs. It's just a major thoroughfare. ... I think we did our due diligence to investigate this case in particular."

But Miller said Muskogee County's drug issues have nothing to do with Eh Wah, whom he described as "the straightest, narrowest guy you would ever hope to meet" because he does not drink or smoke and has only received one parking ticket in his life.

Miller said the use of civil asset forfeiture in this case amounted to "policing for profit," citing Oklahoma's related laws that allow law enforcement to use seized funds without proper oversight from a legislative body of elected officials.

Oklahoma State Sen. Kyle Loveless last year introduced a bill to reform the state's civil asset forfeiture laws, which ultimately died in committee. The Institute for Justice's report on the issue assigned Oklahoma a D-minus grade in part because authorities only need to meet the preponderance of evidence standard in order to seize assets from citizens.

When asked about the use of civil asset forfeiture laws in Eh Wah's case, Loge maintained the justice system served Eh Wah properly.

"Civil forfeiture laws are designed to take criminal proceeds off the streets, and they're also designed to protect those that legitimately make money," he said. "We had probable cause to act as we did, and in the world of justice things come to light. In this case, it did. Mr. Wah was without his money for almost two months. And that's a lot of money. Ultimately he's getting his money back, and the justice system worked."

Damn...how guilty does Muskogee County sound?
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