Former Tax Collector Caught Stealing $300,000 in Public Funds

Originally published on February 26, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A former tax collector has been federally charged with stealing over $300,000 in public funds. Since many of the checks that former Treasurer and Tax Collector, Melissa Arnold, received had been written out to her, Arnold simply deposited them into her personal account instead of the Township’s account. Although she has not yet been convicted, Arnold filed a plea bargain with the government and has agreed to pay back the full amount.

From 1995 to October 2009, Melissa Arnold was the Treasurer and Tax Collector for Spring Garden Township, York County. On October 16, 2009, Arnold appointed Township Manager Gregory Maust as deputy treasurer to take over her duties after police began investigating Arnold’s dubious banking patterns. On October 23, 2009, Pennsylvania State Police searched Arnold’s home and office seizing her bank account records, computers, credit cards, and monthly tax collection records after bank officials flagged her accounts due to suspicious activity.

Between January 4, 2008, and October 6, 2009, Arnold allegedly stole over $300,000 from citizen’s tax payments by altering the “for deposit only” stamp on Township checks. Since many of the checks had been written out to her, Arnold began depositing numerous checks into her personal account at Sovereign Bank instead of the Township’s account at Citizens Bank. Due to the increase in Township checks being deposited and withdrawn from Arnold’s personal account, bank officials at Sovereign Bank contacted the state police on October 7, 2009.

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Video Reveals Federal Agents Arresting Venezuelan Mayor for Conspiracy

Originally published on February 22, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Accused of conspiring to overthrow the Venezuelan government, the mayor of Caracas was arrested on Thursday when over a dozen intelligence agents stormed into his office without a warrant and fired warning shots into the air. Captured on surveillance footage, roughly a dozen agents of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service wearing bulletproof vests and brandishing assault rifles detained Mayor Antonio Ledezma and escorted him from his office while firing warning shots to scare off his staffers. Facing severe economic turmoil and increasing social unrest, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been targeting military and political opponents charging them with sedition without providing direct evidence against the dissidents.

Mayor of Caracas since 2008, Ledezma had been working in his office on Thursday when roughly a dozen heavily armed intelligence agents entered the room to arrest him. While taking Ledezma into custody, officers reportedly struck the mayor and his wife, Mitzy.

“They arrested him savagely,” the mayor’s wife recalled. “They hit him.”

According to witnesses, police fired warning shots into the air when Ledezma’s staffers attempted to intervene. Surveillance cameras recorded the federal agents approaching the mayor’s office and escorting him out of the building. The agents processed Ledezma at the intelligence agency’s headquarters before transporting him to a military prison outside Caracas where other significant political opponents are currently detained.

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State Treasurer Resigns and Pleads Guilty to Attempted Extortion

Originally published on February 21, 2015, at NationofChange.org

After abruptly resigning from office last month, former Pennsylvania State Treasurer Robert “Rob” McCord pleaded guilty this week to two counts of attempted extortion. While running for Governor of Pennsylvania in 2014, McCord attempted to extort campaign contributions from a law firm and a property management company by threatening economic retaliation if they refused to contribute substantial donations to his campaign. Presented with the evidence against him, McCord immediately announced his resignation and began cooperating with law enforcement officials.

Inducted into office on January 2, 2009, McCord served as Pennsylvania State Treasurer until his sudden resignation on January 30, 2015. While serving as Treasurer of Pennsylvania, McCord launched a failed campaign to run for Governor in 2014. During the campaign, McCord abused his position by attempting to extort contributions from firms by threatening to disrupt their financial dealings with the state.

In April and May 2014, McCord targeted the managing partner of a Philadelphia law firm and a Western Pennsylvania property management company for campaign contributions. Attempting to extort a $25,000 donation from a Philadelphia law firm, McCord threatened to financially harm the managing partner by interfering with the firm’s multiple state contracts. Court records do not reveal the name of the law firm or whether they acquiesced to McCord’s demands.

During the same time, McCord attempted to extort $100,000 in campaign contributions from a Western Pennsylvania property management company. Collecting state benefits approved in part by McCord, the property management company received messages from McCord threatening to cut off their funding if they refused to make sizeable donations to his campaign. He also informed the company that the contributions need not be written in the company’s name.

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Governor Apologizes to Indian Government for Brutal Police Assault

Originally published on February 19, 2015, at NationofChange.org

The Governor of Alabama formally apologized to the government of India after an officer from the Madison Police Department aggressively assaulted one of their citizens. Dash cam video from two patrol cars revealed the 57-year-old Indian man visiting American relatives had not been committing a crime when Officer Eric Parker slammed him to the ground leaving him partially paralyzed. As Officer Parker was charged with assault, online fundraising websites began accepting separate donations for Parker’s legal fund and the uninsured victim’s medical expenses.

While visiting his son’s family in Madison, Alabama, 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel was taking a morning walk when an unidentified person called 911 reporting a “skinny black guy” suspiciously peering into garages on February 6. Responding to the call, Officer Eric Parker and his partner pulled up alongside Patel and confronted him on the sidewalk. Patel, who does not speak English, struggled to communicate with the police officers while failing to answer their questions or comply with their orders.

“He’s saying, ‘No English,’” one of the officers informed his partner as they continued to interrogate Patel.

When Patel attempted to walk away from the officers, Officer Parker restrained him by pulling Patel’s arms behind his back. As Patel jerked away, Parker aggressively slammed his face into the ground. Dash cam video from Parker’s patrol car and another patrol car recorded the incident, which resulted in Patel’s bloodied nose and a severe neck injury leaving him partially paralyzed.

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LAPD Shoot 15-Year-Old in Back for Standing Near Friend Holding Toy Gun

Originally published on February 15, 2015, at NationofChange.org

LAPD officers shot a 15-year-old student on Tuesday morning because his friend was playing with a replica gun as they were walking to school. Although the police claim the officers issued multiple warnings to drop the gun, nearby residents do not recall hearing any warnings before the shooting.

Around 7:45am on Tuesday, 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson and a small group of friends were walking to school dressed in their uniforms and khaki pants. As they entered an alley, one of Jamar’s friends pulled out a BB gun. Following up an investigation in the area, LAPD Criminal Gang Homicide Group officers noticed the replica gun mistaking it for a real firearm.

According to a police statement, the officers ordered Jamar’s friend to drop the weapon multiple times before opening fire. But nearby residents who heard the gunshots reportedly did not hear the officers issue any warnings. A moment before a bullet entered his upper back, Jamar heard someone yelling, “Freeze!”

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Video Reveals Police Gunning Down Man for Throwing Rocks

Originally published on February 14, 2015, at NationofChange.org

A witness recorded three police officers chasing and gunning down a mentally disturbed man for throwing rocks at them on Tuesday. Although the Pasco Police Department claims the man struck two of the officers with rocks and withstood the effects of a Taser, an eyewitness and the video do not corroborate their account of the incident.

Around 5pm on Tuesday, Pasco police officers Adrian Alaniz, Ryan Flanagan, and Adam Wright responded to a 911 call concerning a man allegedly throwing rocks at cars and trucks. The officers approached Antonio Zambrano-Montes in the Fiesta Foods parking lot and ordered him to put down the rocks and surrender. According to a police statement, Zambrano-Montes threw rocks of various sizes at them pelting two of the officers with rocks. After a Taser failed to have any effect on him, the officers fired their service weapons to take down Zambrano-Montes.

But Pasco resident Benjamin Patrick, who witnessed the incident, asserts that he saw Zambrano-Montes struggling with an officer when two other officers drove up to help. Zambrano-Montes began yelling at the police when he picked up two rocks or dirt clods. Patrick recalled Zambrano-Montes throwing one at the cops but missing. Then an officer fired his Taser, but Patrick does not believe both darts connected with Zambrano-Montes.

As Zambrano-Montes pulled the ineffective dart from his arm, the officers fired five shots at him. According to Patrick, the officers hit Zambrano-Montes in the first volley of bullets. As Zambrano-Montes fled across the busy intersection, the officers chased after him. When he turned around to confront the officers, they fired at least eight more times shooting Zambrano-Montes to death.

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NYPD Cop Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Innocent Man

Originally published on February 12, 2015, at NationofChange.org

An NYPD officer pleaded not guilty on Wednesday after a grand jury indicted him on charges involving the shooting of an unarmed innocent man. Charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and two counts of official misconduct, Officer Peter Liang claims his gun accidentally discharged when he opened the door to a dimly lit stairwell. But according to prosecutors, Liang’s failure to follow training or administer first aid resulted in the death of an innocent man.

On November 20, NYPD officers Peter Liang and Shaun Landau were conducting vertical patrols on the eighth floor of the Louis H. Pink housing project in Brooklyn. Although Deputy Inspector Miguel Iglesias had ordered them not to conduct vertical patrols inside the building, Liang reportedly opened the door accessing the stairwell with the same hand holding his Glock .9mm pistol. Instead of opening the door with his right hand which held his flashlight, Liang claims that he accidentally fired a shot that ricocheted off the wall and into Akai Gurley’s chest.

“They didn’t identify themselves,” recalled Gurley’s girlfriend, Melissa Butler. “No nothing. They didn’t give no explanation. They just pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.”

Standing on the floor below them, Gurley staggered down to the fifth floor where he collapsed. Melissa Butler ran to an apartment to ask for help and called 911. As the operator instructed Butler to administer first aid until the paramedics arrived, Liang and Landau remained upstairs texting their union rep instead of calling in the shooting.

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