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Category Archives: Victimless Crimes

Operators Join Forces With Law Enforcement, Driving Down ATM … – Vending Times

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm

NEW YORK CITY — By 2013, the Big Apple’s ATM operators were in crisis. According to industry sources, an estimated four to five automated teller machines fell victim to robberies once a week. That number would often jump to multiple robberies a day. As overall crime decreased to record lows in New York City, robberies of ATMs were incongruously soaring to new heights. Even for the city that never sleeps, this was a profoundly distressing pattern.

Jim Shrayef of Everything ATM (Brooklyn, NY) told Vending Times that the robberies took various forms. These included simply removing a freestanding ATM, using a handtruck, from a location during business hours, to well-coordinated efforts that saw machines yanked out of locations with a chain or rope. In several instances, the criminals attacked closed stores, breaking in with the specific purpose of robbing the ATM. Most disturbing, he said, were robberies of route personnel filling machines. Aside from the robberies, there was also a fair amount of vandalism taking place.

Shrayef operates equipment through Everything ATM, which also provides consulting services and support material to those entering the cash machine field. He found the stealing and crime situation particularly alarming. “These were not random attacks, and this was not stealing lunch money,” he said. “They were specialized criminals who saw ATMs as easy targets.”

Local police were initially less than responsive in the face of the crime wave, often only taking a report without a follow-up investigation. Sometimes suspicion would fall on the ATM operator or location owner. Part of the problem was the age-old view among law enforcement and the general public that ATM robberies, like those of vending machines, were so-called “victimless crimes.” As such, they were given low priority status.

The solution came when Shrayef began organizing independent operators to address the problem. Forming the Northeast Regional ATM Association, which unified ATM deployers from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The concept behind the new association was not only to create a means of sharing information, but also to offer a way to lobby locally.

A first step for the new association was to educate ATM operators in best practices when it came to safety and security. This begins with identifying suspicious behavior and obtaining details of a robbery. The regional organization, which works osely with the much larger National ATM Council, also began lobbying the New York Police Department, eventually landing meetings with community affairs officers

Calling All Cars

Shrayef recalled that the initial meetings with the New York Police Department were often less than pleasant. “We thought it was going to be just a formality,” he said. “And some of the operators made angry comments to the officers. However, our complaints worked their way up to Police Commissioner William Bratton, and he lent an ear. He actually sent people out to do some fact finding.”

Bratton’s investigation discovered what equipment owners and operators had long suspected: ATM robberies were not random. Neither were they “inside jobs” committed by operators or storeowners. They were the work of organized criminal gangs operating throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

“Commissioner Bratton took the time to hear what we had to say,” Shrayef said. “And he understood how dangerous it was. He understood how our industry is necessary to neighborhoods underserved by banks.” In many New York neighborhoods, an ATM that goes out of service at the local grocery store can prove disruptive for the storeowner and the community at large. The ATM crime spree represented a quality of life issue.

A police taskforce was formed that soon led to arrests. Robbery incidents of ATMs began to drop quickly once the NYPD took action and allocated resources to the problem. “After some arrests were made, it was clear these were gangs that had knowledge of the industry,” Shrayef explained. “The criminals also realized the police were on to them, and they were taking a major risk by robbing ATMs. Within a year, there was a marked drop from the height of 2013, and within two years a major improvement.”

Present incidents of ATM robberies, as Shrayef reported, have dropped dramatically from the 2013 highs of several a week to one or two a month throughout the city. “Some months have been completely robbery free,” he added.

While Bratton may have left office in 2016, his successor, Commissioner James O’Neill, has kept up the proactive approach that has seen ATM robberies drop to new low levels that reflect the city’s historic low crime rate. And all it took was a group of dedicated operators who wanted their voices heard.

TEAMWORK CONTINUES: George Sarantopoulos (l.), chairman of the National ATM Council, Jim Shrayef (second from l.), president of the Northeast Regional ATM Association, and Danny Frank (r.), NRATMA’s executive director, meet with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who succeeded Bill Bratton last year.

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New police chief appointed in Middletown – Middletown Transcript

Posted: at 6:43 pm

By Christopher Kersey

chris.kersey@doverpost.com

Michael Iglio is Middletowns newest police chief, capping almost 20 years in law enforcement.

In his new position, he plans to work on the drug problem, certify the department with national standards, and work with local communities about policing.

Middletown Mayor and Town Council on Monday, Aug. 7, appointed Iglio as police chief, replacing Daniel Yeager, who retired after a 40-year policing career.

Iglio, who was promoted from captain to chief, sat down for an interview on Aug. 11, which was his first official day as police chief and Yeagers last day.

Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Iglio began his career with the New Castle County Police and then joined Middletown Police Department on Oct. 1, 2007, which was the same time frame as when the department started.

Middletown has 34 police officers, up exponentially from the 20 when the department was re-started in 2007.

The department grew, he said, because of residential and commercial growth and annexation in both types of development.

Over the past couple years, calls for police assistance have been steady, but weve seen an increase in heroin use and overdoses, he said. Drugs are the biggest problem when it comes to crime in the town, he added.

Drug addiction fuels many different types of crime [like] property crime such as theft from motor vehicles, burglaries, persons-related crimes such as robberies, and, of course, you have your shoplifters, he said.

Enforcement alone wont solve the drug problem, he said, but hopefully the departments new angel program will help.

As announced by the previous police chief, the angel program allows people, who have a drug addiction and are taken into police custody for victimless crimes, to opt for a treatment program and the charge is eventually dropped.

So, we are hoping that aspect of the solution to this problem will also help in addition to the fact we carry Narcan, he said. Narcan is medication administered to victims of an overdose.

Middletown police dont have anyone in the schools right now, but the department will hopefully be involved next summer with the Youth Academy, a two-week leadership school, held in partnership with the Southern New Castle County Communities Coalition.

The Youth Academy focuses on life skills, including vocational, social and substance abuse issues, he said.

On another issue, the department is in the middle of accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), whose purpose is to improve law enforcement service by creating a national body of standards developed by law enforcement professionals.

Officials from CALEA will review departmental procedures and ride-a-long with police officials to ensure those national standards are adhered to.

For example, when involved in certain crimes, we have a written procedure that must be followed. They will come in and inspect those policies to make sure we are adhering to those policies, he said.

On a personal note, Iglio has a bachelors degree, two masters degrees and recently graduated from Northwestern University School of Public Safetys course in police staff and command.

His career started with New Castle County Police where he served almost 10 years. He started with Middletown police as a K-9 officer in 2007 and gradually moved up in rank.

I never expected to be in this [chief] position, but Im ecstatic that mayor and council chose me to lead this department and I will dedicate myself to ensuring the continued explementary service to the community, he said.

The Middletown Police Department was established on July 2, 2007, with the approval of mayor and council after previously paying New Castle County to patrol the town.

Town officials broke ground on a new 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art police station on March 25, 2008, which had its grand opening on Feb. 28, 2009. The police station is located at 130 Hampden Road, Middletown.

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Shipyard repays $9.2M to US government to settle overbilling – Sacramento Bee

Posted: at 6:42 pm


The Sun Herald
Shipyard repays $9.2M to US government to settle overbilling
Sacramento Bee
“Corruption, fraud and bribery are not victimless crimes,” Mike Wiest, special agent in charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Southeast Field Office, said in a statement. “Overcharging for work not done is not only criminal on its face
Whistleblower Receives $1.6m in HII SettlementThe Maritime Executive

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Beware at the pump: Black market fuel is making millions – Waco Tribune-Herald

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 2:41 am

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A black market for diesel and gasoline has rapidly spread around the nation, with organized crime gangs using fraudulent credit cards to syphon millions of dollars in fuel from gas stations into large tanks hidden inside pickup trucks and vans.

Stealing fuel can be less risky than selling drugs or other illegal endeavors, and criminals can make $1,000 or more a day re-selling the stolen fuel at construction sites and unscrupulous gas stations, or to truckers looking to cut costs, investigators and industry experts say.

Its pretty rampant, said Owen DeWitt, whose Texas-based company, Know Control, focuses solely on helping gas stations prevent fuel theft. He said the crime is worst along Interstate 10, from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Los Angeles area. California and Florida are the two worst; Texas is No. 3.

Black market diesel started becoming a big business when credit card skimmers became more prevalent around 2006, DeWitt said. Thieves install these devices at gas station pumps, where they record card information as unsuspecting customers fuel up. The information is later transferred to a magnetic strip on a counterfeit card. The problem has only grown as the devices become more sophisticated.

The black market has grown quickly in part because the thefts total a few hundred dollars at a time, and prosecutors were slow to prioritize them.

Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnams department takes the lead on prosecuting these crimes in Florida. He said they used to be considered a victimless crime, and yet they were making more money doing this than a lot of other criminal activities that had a lot higher sentences.

The U.S. Secret Service, which investigates financial crimes, is involved because the gangs use credit card skimmers. Agent Steve Scarince says Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are hot spots, together accounting for about 20 million gallons a year in stolen diesel.

The crews that weve investigated over the past couple of years the least profitable group is $5 million a year. And then there are groups that will gross $20 million plus, Scarince said. The gang-bangers in Los Angeles have been migrating to financial crimes instead of street crimes because its much more profitable and if you get caught, you get probation.

Agents in the Los Angeles area surveilled a group with seven pickup trucks and SUVs with hidden fuel tanks holding up to 300 gallons each. For 10 months, they observed drivers using credit card information stolen from about 900 people to fill up three times a day. They transferred the diesel into a 4,500-gallon industrial fuel tanker that made daily runs to sell the fuel to gas stations.

Agents estimated they stole close to $16,000 in fuel every day, with the potential to steal $7 million a year. Records indicated it was in operation for about five years before agents shut it down.

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What readers said this week – Longmont Times-Call

Posted: at 2:41 am

Here is a collection of comments on stories posted this week by the Times-Call on its Facebook page.

Boulder County fracking could arrive in 2019, company says

Rodney Smith: The more carbon left in the ground, the more that’s not in the atmosphere. These people know the days for drilling are numbered and now could be their last chance to make money. Water and air quality are irrelevant in this matter. The voters of Boulder County didn’t ask for this, did they? And yet here we are.

Morgan Neslund: If you say “not in my back yard,” then put your money where your mouth is. Stop heating your home and stop using anything related to oil and gas.

Chris Wilbur: All that effort towards saving the environment in Boulder County, and now this? May as well do away with the $25 exhaust test every car has to have. Kind of pointless if you’re just going to do the worst possible thing to the land you’re trying to protect. Just shows that when it comes to government on any level, money makes the decision, not the people.

Brewmented targets different markets of homebrewing in Longmont

Brian Toohey: Just what this towns needs! Another brewery. Don’t we have around 30ish now?

Robert Papale: We have 8.

Christopher Antonucci Goffredo: Yawn. Bring us marijuana technology.

Investigator: Longmont council member’s harassment complaint ‘not founded’

Kristen Elizabeth Linden: It was a waste of taxpayer dollars – (not a male by the way Carrie) too many people claim harassment and bullying for inappropriate reasons. and our culture of social justice warriors makes it way to easy to scream foul whenever someone is told (however aggressively) they are wrong.

David Bishton: Exemption is always handy: “Christensen said Rust told her Wednesday that Rust’s findings were based on the fact that local and state government elected officials are specifically exempt from Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.”

Ginny Russell Asked if she wanted to comment about the situation, Peck said: “Nope. Not for public comment.” But the public gets to foot the bill? Somebody isn’t getting my vote next time.

Sean Milano: Tempest in a teapot.

Steve Dike-Wilhelm: A $10,000 teapot.

A snake is on the loose in Longmont

Piper Hepburn: I was at Longmont Police Department recently when a guy came in to report what he called a 7-foot python crossing Third. Not sure if police responded. Sounded like he was nuts, but now I’m not so sure!

Jonathan Scupin: What a horribly written article. The idea that a snake is somehow dangerous needs to be squelched. You know what’s much more dangerous? The car that this poor snake was hiding in. Please calm down and try not to inject fear into your readers, Times-Call.

Chelsea Lynn Kendrick: Wow. Really? A ball python is dangerous to pets and children? My daughters had pet ball pythons at the age of 3 and 4! Pets and children are a bigger danger to that snake than the snake is to them. You people are aware a snake won’t try to kill something it knows it can’t eat, right? And it can’t eat anything much bigger around than it. … We even had a 12-foot long Burmese python that we let roam the house during the day my daughters loved her to death.

Janea Danielle Taylor: This article is ridiculous. I had a 6-foot ball python for a pet as a teenager. He slept in the same room as me for years and I’m still alive. Why is this even “news”?

Lauren Huffman:How am I supposed to function as a normal person knowing this?

James Buchanan; The only way I do snakes is belts, boots and wallets.

Jen Randall: If I find it, I’m keeping it. Poor baby is probably in need of love and a fat rat.

Longmont council gives preliminary approval to two November ballot tax proposals

Mickey Hayes: Are they going to increase sales tax on alcohol as well? And limit (reduce) the number of liquor stores/bars in Longmont as well to equal the number of dispensaries? Or is this an “alcohol is good, marijuana is bad, mmmkay” kind of deal? I think Longmont council members should have a meeting at a bar, have a couple of drinks, and discuss how more marijuana dispensaries will be negative to the community.

Russ Phipps: As more people move here there is more to collect taxes from. Why does the tax rate need upped again? There should be a sweet spot where it balances out. Maybe the council should pull up their panties and trim the fat.

Longmont RV, camper parking limits get initial City Council OK

Cheryl Bazor: Part of the problem is that people cannot afford to live in a actual home. Rent is way to expensive! I understand why people don’t want people parked all over town, but I have compassion for people who have nowhere else to live.

Kevin Kronfuss: It’s sad to think you pay your vehicle registration, fuel tax, and other taxes, but you only get 48 hours to park your legally licensed vehicle on your road. Some people hate to see other people having fun, so they call the cops for victimless crimes.

Fred Baxter: It’s not victimless when they are throwing trash on the street or emptying wastewater into the sewer. Please post your address so they can all park on your street.

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INHUMAN TRADE: Sex trafficking victims manipulated, controlled for profit – Fall River Herald News

Posted: at 2:41 am

Gerry Tuoti Wicked Local Newsbank Editor

EDITORS NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series will delve into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims tales of survival.

Often lured or forced into the commercial sex trade as young teens, women who manage to leave that life are confronted with a host of major obstacles.

Youve been taken out of school. You dont have a diploma, said Cheri Crider, who escaped from her sex traffickers 37 years ago and now works as the office manager at Amriah, a North Shore safe house for sex trafficking victims. They take your IDs away and you cant even prove youre an American citizen. How are you going to go to school? How are you going to get a job? How are you going to rent an apartment? You have no job experience, so you have nothing to put on a resume. You have no references, because youve been taken away from all your family support. Those are huge obstacles for girls getting out.

Victim advocates have tried in recent years to reshape the popular dialogue surrounding the commercial sex trade. Rejecting the thought that prostitution is a victimless crime, they say the overwhelming majority of sex workers are coerced or psychologically manipulated by a pimp or trafficker into selling their bodies.

Theres a lack of knowledge or desire for knowledge in society, said state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, the lawmaker behind the states 2011 human trafficking law. Its easier for people to think of them as delinquents and prostitutes rather than enslaved, trafficked, human beings.

So who are the victims of sex trafficking in Massachusetts? In some cases, they have been foreign nationals forced into performing sex acts at massage parlors that act as fronts for brothels. Multiple Asian massage parlors in Massachusetts have been busted in prostitution and sex trafficking investigations in recent years.

But the majority of the time, victims of sex trafficking turn out to be women and girls from the local community.

Part of what were trying to get people to understand is that this is actually much more of a homegrown problem involving 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds growing up in suburban or rural Massachusetts, in our cities, who are specifically targeted then brought in by someone posing as a boyfriend who turns out to be a trafficker, a pimp, said Attorney General Maura Healey. Victims of human trafficking are not Asian women solely. Get that out of peoples heads.

Millis resident Joli Sparkman said she was first drawn into the sex trade while a teenager with a rocky home life in Rochester, New York. The owner of a pizza parlor, she said, befriended her and began giving her free food and gifts. After a time, he began manipulating her to perform favors for him in return. He eventually coerced her into dancing for his friends. From there, things spiraled further out of control, and the teenager found herself coerced into posing for nude photographs, then eventually sleeping with men for money, which her trafficker kept.

I felt dead. I felt empty, she said. I just wanted to die.

Pimps and traffickers, experts say, often prey on young women, and sometimes boys, who have a vulnerability that can be exploited. They then begin a process of grooming the victim, isolating him or her from friends and families.

The kids we serve are, for the most part, the most vulnerable in our communities, said Lisa Goldblatt Grace, executive director of Boston-based My Life My Choice, which works with young women who have been victims of sex trafficking. While this could happen to any child the vast majority of the kids have already experienced abuse and neglect well before entering the commercial sex industry. Theyre often hungry for unconditional love and acceptance and belonging. An exploiter can prey on that desire.

Its very common for young trafficking victims to be lured in by a boyfriend, who isolates them, manipulates them and controls nearly every aspect of their lives to make them dependent on him.

Its a very complicated mixture of love and fear, Goldblatt Grace said. This person is usually incredibly violent. Its complicated by this person frequently saying they love them.

The women who have received services from My Life My Choice report, on average, that they began performing sex acts for money at age 14.

Many advocates say specialized services for male victims, a traditionally overlooked population, are also needed.

From a global cultural perspective, we perceive men to be perpetrators and women to be victims, said Steven Procopio, a social worker and consultant who runs trainings and educational programs about male victims of sex trafficking.

Male victims, he said, may be even more reluctant than female victims to come forward.

In some circumstances, theres too much shame and guilt from a sexism and homophobia dynamic, he said.

Amirah, one of four New England safe homes for trafficked women, is among the organizations that help female victims rebuild their lives. When women are referred to Amirah, they typically enter an initial 30-day residential program and are connected to mental, social, emotional, medical and vocational services. Following the initial 30-day program, most women stay at Amirah for two years.

Victims, Amirah Director Stephanie Clark said, often have deep emotional and psychological trauma. Most are also addicted to drugs, particularly heroin. In some cases, the women are addicted before entering the sex trade. In other cases, they begin using opioids while being trafficked as a way to cope with the emotional pain.

What we see in our population is a woman in her 20s or 30s who is trafficked for a period of time, then ran away, is picked up for drugs or is picked up for prostituting herself because she doesnt know how else to make money, Clark said. It takes, on average, seven times for a woman to break out of that cycle. They end up getting sucked back in due to huge challenges they face in finding a job, finding trustworthy relationships, and because of the abuse theyve suffered.

While there are more resources for victims than there used to be, advocates say even more are needed. Montigny has called for allocating money for a victim services trust fund. He has also sponsored bills intended to strengthen to 2011 state law. His new proposals, which were discussed at a July 18 hearing at the Statehouse, include new public awareness campaigns, as well as training to help law enforcement and medical staff recognize the signs of human trafficking. One bill would vacate trafficking victims convictions for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes committed as a result of being trafficked.

You cannot get these people back into productive lives if you do not give them a path from victim to survivor, he said, explaining that a criminal record often makes it hard for people to get housing, jobs or access to credit.

Crider, the office manager at Amirah, said she hopes to one day work as a mentor to young women trying to escape the sex trade. Shes encouraged that there are now resources available to help sexually exploited people rebuild their lives.

When I got out, there were no programs, she said. There were no safe houses. We didnt even have the term human trafficking. I lived with the lie of what they told me I was. I believed it was my choice. Thats the coercion they use. Thats the manipulation.

From sex worker to murder defendant

Sparkman traces her own journey into the commercial sex trade to her childhood in upstate New York. Born to a drug-addicted mother and an incarcerated father, Sparkman recalls a rough childhood that included being molested at daycare and going in and out of foster care.

In the mid-1980s, when she was around 14, she was living in Rochester, New York, and befriended an older man who owned a pizzeria. He started giving her free food, then small gifts and money. Gradually, she said, his true character emerged.

Then later on he would ask me for a favor. He took me to an Italian social club and asked me to dance for his friends, she recalled. He said, Ive been giving you all these things. You have to do this for me.

His demands progressed to posing for nude photos for his buddies, which the men threatened to share with her friends if she refused to do what they asked her to do. Eventually, they began driving her to hotels and forcing her to have sex with other men for money.

They saw a vulnerability factor, and they preyed on that. It really destroyed my soul and made me feel worthless and that things didnt matter, she said.

Sparkman eventually fled to Massachusetts, settling in Springfield. By age 23, she was married and had three children, but was trapped in an abusive, violent relationship. When her husband ended up behind bars, Sparkman found herself unable to pay for daycare and rent. As eviction notices piled up, she made a difficult decision.

I didnt know what I was going to do, so I went back to what I knew, she said.

First, she worked in a strip club, then as an escort, sleeping with men for money. By the time her pimp at the escort service took his cut, she said she was barely left with enough to cover her bills.

Her life soon spiraled further out of control, and before long, she found herself convicted of second-degree murder.

Sparkman, who was paroled in 2014, was working as an escort in Springfield in 1997, when prosecutors say she conspired with her pimp and his cousin to rob a third man, Sherwood Gray. Sparkman drove Gray to a preplanned location, where he was fatally shot by the cousin, who mistakenly thought Gray was reaching for a gun.

She and the gunman were convicted of second-degree murder, while her pimp, who she was also dating, was convicted of manslaughter.

A deep sense of shame, she said, led her to lie to police and refuse to cooperate with investigators. Sparkman insists her pimp deceived her into playing a part in the botched deadly robbery.

When police talked to me, I lied to them, she said. When the district attorney asked me what happened, I wouldnt tell them. I didnt want them to know what I was doing. I didnt want them to know about that night, and I didnt want them to know about my life. I didnt want them to know I was a prostitute. I was ashamed.

After serving nearly 18 years at MCI-Framingham, surviving multiple suicide attempts and going through years of intensive therapy, Sparkman says she has found a new purpose in life — to help others whove suffered from sexual exploitation.

When I was inside, it was very hard for me, she said. I had never dealt with any of the stuff Im talking about now.

Surviving the circuit

When Crider was growing up in southern Maine, she lived in a family that struggled with alcoholism and violence. That background, she said, made her vulnerable to predators.

It started as the guy across the street who wanted to date me, she recalled. Before I was old enough to date him, he raped me, and that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy.

She was just 16. Once the baby was born, she recalled, the man used the child as leverage. With a combination of sweet talk and abuse, he convinced her to start dancing for money, then that gradually escalated into pornographic stage shows and prostitution.

I turned 18 on stage at an adult book store, she said. I believed the dream he sold me that we could have a house and a happy family and have lots of money and travel and do all these things you didnt get to do when you were growing up. It sounded good to me, coming from where I did, and I bought into the dream.

Crider said her trafficker worked with a Mafia-affiliated organization, and that following a dispute, she was essentially sold to the mob.

They moved me away from my family, she said. They do that to isolate you from rational voices. Before long, they moved me again. I started working on whats known as the circuit. It goes all over the country. I started in Maine to Boston, Boston to New York, New York to Chicago, all over the country.

A mob-connected biker gang then began trafficking her, she said.

Eventually, Crider said, she and her boyfriend became entangled in a conflict between the bikers and the Mafia, and she fled, essentially going into hiding.

Her advice to young victims of trafficking — Find an adult you can trust. Find someone who will defend you. Dont ever believe someone who wants to treat you disrespectfully loves you, no matter how confused you might be about what love is. Dont believe thats love.

NEXT: The third part of the series explores labor and commercial trafficking in Massachusetts, a practice advocates call modern-day slavery.

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Police program helps people with drug addiction – Middletown Transcript

Posted: August 10, 2017 at 6:39 am

Suspects won’t be charged if they complete treatment

By Christopher Kersey, chris.kersey@doverpost.com

Middletown police have started an angel program where people with a drug addiction who are taken into custody for misdemeanor offenses wont be charged if they complete a treatment program.

We realize with the epidemic we have here now, especially the heroin, were not going to solve the problem with arrests only, said Police Chief Daniel Yeager.

The departments new program, which started Wednesday, is modeled after the angel program at the Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts, where people with substance abuse problems can come to the police station and bring their drugs and paraphernalia. They are not arrested, charged or jailed by Gloucester police, but, instead, police take them to the hospital where they are paired with a volunteer or angel who guides them through the process of getting into a treatment program.

The Middletown polices program goes a step farther.

Lt. William Texter and Sgt. Scott Saunders did some research with the Gloucester police program, worked with the Delaware Attorney Generals Office, and modified the program to apply in Middletown.

With the Middletown police program, people [who commit] victimless crimes could also potentially go into this program in lieu of an arrest, Texter said.

For example, a victimless crime would be simple drug possession, he said. So, somebody who had a couple bags of heroin a misdemeanor could voluntarily enter into a treatment program as long as they meet conditions such as not having active warrants for other crimes, he said.

And if they successfully completed the program in lieu of being arrested, there would be no charges, he said.

The program is for victimless crimes, he said. The program doesnt apply to people arrested for felonies or driving under the influence.

Also, participants who dont complete the [treatment] program will be charged with the offense they committed prior to entering the program, Texter said.

The program is an opportunity for somebody who needs help, who may not have on their own sought it out, but maybe under another set of circumstances get some help, he said.

When the police officer brings the person with the drug addiction to the police station, a representative from Connections Community Support Programs comes to the station and assesses the individual, said Douglas Spruill, site director of the Harrington Withdrawal Management Center.

The person is taken to the Harrington Center for inpatient care for three to seven days. Then, he or she enters into an intensive outpatient program for 90 days and counseling afterwards.

After six months of treatment, the criminal charge will be dropped, Spruill said.

People suffering from addiction can also come to the Middletown police department, bring their drugs and paraphernalia and ask for help like the Massachusetts program. They will undergo the same program.

Thats always an option. What we are doing is extending it further[If its] a simple possession charge and they ask for help, we are going to give them help and hold off on the charges, Yeager said.

Middletown police decided to start the program because they are trying to give assistance to people addicted to substances, Yeager said.

A lot of our misdemeanor property crimes like thefts from yards and shoplifting is all to supply a drug habit. Not all of them, but a majority of it is to supply a drug habit, he said.

So, if we can stop you from using drugs, then youre not going to be stealing. So its going to increase the quality of life for everybody. Thats our main goal, he said.

The angel program isnt new to the First State. The Dover Police Department became the first in the state to establish the program where, like in Massachusetts, people with substance abuse issues can seek help at the Dover police station without getting charged.

Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, Dover police spokesman, said its possible for the officers on patrol to get someone into the program.

The New Castle County Police in collaboration with state Department of Justice and the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health–has a program called hero help, which provides addiction treatment to qualifying adults who contact police and ask for help.

The program is voluntary for adults who are addicted to heroin, opiates, illegal drugs or alcohol. Individuals interested in the program must be willing to be admitted to a drug rehabilitation center and agree to a review of their criminal history and to all program requirements.

Medical insurance isnt required.

For more information, contact the Hero Help administrator at 302-395-8050.

Other resources and phone numbers for those with substance abuse issues include the Heroin Alert Program at (302) 395-8062; Connections at 1-866-477-5345; Brandywine Counseling at (302) 656-2348; Gaudenzia Fresh Start at (302) 737-4100; Open Door at (302) 798-9555; and Kirkwood Recovery Center at (302) 691-0140.

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Police program helps people with drug addiction – Middletown Transcript

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Focus on restitution, not incarceration, to better serve justice – LA Daily News

Posted: at 6:39 am

It is often noted that Americans live in a very litigious society. This criticism is typically leveled at frivolous tort cases and ambulance-chasing trial lawyers, but it extends equally to the legislators who write unnecessary laws and the government agents such as district attorneys, judges and police who enforce them.

The U.S. has the largest incarceration rate in the world, aided by the prevalence of victimless crimes (particularly nonviolent drug crimes) and a predilection for incarceration as primary option for punishment. But while there may be a strong drive to do something when someone is harmed by another, locking people up is oftentimes not in the interest of justice. Perhaps this is best illustrated in cases involving accidents, especially when those at fault are family members.

In one high-profile example, just last month an 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving after she crashed her car in Merced County, killing her 14-year-old sister, who was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The case received heightened attention because the accident was captured in a graphic livestreamed video recording on Instagram, which showed her fatally wounded sister lying in a grassy field.

Last year, a 53-year-old Arkansas man was charged with felony manslaughter for the death of his 4-year-old grandson, who was killed in an accident while mowing some brush on the family ranch. A tractor tire hit a hole in the ground and the boy fell off the tractor and was run over by the mower.

Then there are the instances where distracted or forgetful parents have been charged for the death of a child inadvertently left in a hot or even mildly warm vehicle.

I cannot imagine how those at fault in the cases above will be able to deal with what they have done. That torturous guilt is a greater punishment than any that could be inflicted by a judge and prosecutor.

A family is only doubly punished, however, when a second family member is taken from it, this time by the state, to waste away in prison. It is as much a punishment to the other victims the remaining children, who must grow up without a mother or father, or the spouse, who is now rendered a single parent who must support the rest of the family alone as it is to the one at fault. In an added cruel twist, the family is forced to support these efforts to further tear it apart through their taxes.

In such cases, society is not served by turning a private tragedy into a larger public burden. Sometimes a tragic accident is just an accident, and the consequences are punishment enough.

Even in cases that do not involve parties within the same family, victims should have more say on the punishment of perpetrators, and the focus should be more on restitution than incarceration.

Sentencing someone to prison may pad a district attorneys tough on crime bona fides, but it does little to compensate the victims. The criminal will rot in prison, on the taxpayers dime, and perhaps learn even more criminal, anti-social behaviors from his fellow prisoners, which he may then inflict on society if he gets out.

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But before government assumed a greater role in crime and punishment, and even still today in places like Japan or informal tribal arrangements, perpetrators and victims were encouraged to negotiate to agree upon an appropriate restitution to compensate the victims, or their families. If the criminal could not afford the restitution all at once, he could pay it off over time through his labor. In a stark contrast to the incarceration model, this also encourages him to develop skills and to once again become a productive member of society.

In cases of extreme violence, where the facts are clear and the criminal exhibits no remorse, incarceration and an eye for an eye approach may be appropriate. But we should recognize that, as in other areas, the politicization of crime and punishment has led those in government to lose sight of individual rights in the pursuit of a nebulous societal good, and to serve the interests of the government agents charged with enforcement, not necessarily the interests of victims. A system of true justice and compassion would recognize that sometimes accidents result in tragedy that no prison cell can remedy, and would focus on addressing the needs and wishes of the victims, not adding another notch on a DAs belt before the next election.

Adam B. Summers is a columnist with the Southern California News Group.

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Focus on restitution, not incarceration, to better serve justice – LA Daily News

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INHUMAN TRADE: Sex trafficking victims manipulated, controlled for profit – Wicked Local Hingham

Posted: at 6:39 am

Gerry Tuoti Wicked Local Newsbank Editor

EDITORS NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series will delve into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims tales of survival.

Often lured or forced into the commercial sex trade as young teens, women who manage to leave that life are confronted with a host of major obstacles.

Youve been taken out of school. You dont have a diploma, said Cheri Crider, who escaped from her sex traffickers 37 years ago and now works as the office manager at Amriah, a North Shore safe house for sex trafficking victims. They take your IDs away and you cant even prove youre an American citizen. How are you going to go to school? How are you going to get a job? How are you going to rent an apartment? You have no job experience, so you have nothing to put on a resume. You have no references, because youve been taken away from all your family support. Those are huge obstacles for girls getting out.

Victim advocates have tried in recent years to reshape the popular dialogue surrounding the commercial sex trade. Rejecting the thought that prostitution is a victimless crime, they say the overwhelming majority of sex workers are coerced or psychologically manipulated by a pimp or trafficker into selling their bodies.

Theres a lack of knowledge or desire for knowledge in society, said state Sen. Mark Montigny, D-New Bedford, the lawmaker behind the states 2011 human trafficking law. Its easier for people to think of them as delinquents and prostitutes rather than enslaved, trafficked, human beings.

So who are the victims of sex trafficking in Massachusetts? In some cases, they have been foreign nationals forced into performing sex acts at massage parlors that act as fronts for brothels. Multiple Asian massage parlors in Massachusetts have been busted in prostitution and sex trafficking investigations in recent years.

But the majority of the time, victims of sex trafficking turn out to be women and girls from the local community.

Part of what were trying to get people to understand is that this is actually much more of a homegrown problem involving 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds growing up in suburban or rural Massachusetts, in our cities, who are specifically targeted then brought in by someone posing as a boyfriend who turns out to be a trafficker, a pimp, said Attorney General Maura Healey. Victims of human trafficking are not Asian women solely. Get that out of peoples heads.

Millis resident Joli Sparkman said she was first drawn into the sex trade while a teenager with a rocky home life in Rochester, New York. The owner of a pizza parlor, she said, befriended her and began giving her free food and gifts. After a time, he began manipulating her to perform favors for him in return. He eventually coerced her into dancing for his friends. From there, things spiraled further out of control, and the teenager found herself coerced into posing for nude photographs, then eventually sleeping with men for money, which her trafficker kept.

I felt dead. I felt empty, she said. I just wanted to die.

Pimps and traffickers, experts say, often prey on young women, and sometimes boys, who have a vulnerability that can be exploited. They then begin a process of grooming the victim, isolating him or her from friends and families.

The kids we serve are, for the most part, the most vulnerable in our communities, said Lisa Goldblatt Grace, executive director of Boston-based My Life My Choice, which works with young women who have been victims of sex trafficking. While this could happen to any child the vast majority of the kids have already experienced abuse and neglect well before entering the commercial sex industry. Theyre often hungry for unconditional love and acceptance and belonging. An exploiter can prey on that desire.

Its very common for young trafficking victims to be lured in by a boyfriend, who isolates them, manipulates them and controls nearly every aspect of their lives to make them dependent on him.

Its a very complicated mixture of love and fear, Goldblatt Grace said. This person is usually incredibly violent. Its complicated by this person frequently saying they love them.

The women who have received services from My Life My Choice report, on average, that they began performing sex acts for money at age 14.

Many advocates say specialized services for male victims, a traditionally overlooked population, are also needed.

From a global cultural perspective, we perceive men to be perpetrators and women to be victims, said Steven Procopio, a social worker and consultant who runs trainings and educational programs about male victims of sex trafficking.

Male victims, he said, may be even more reluctant than female victims to come forward.

In some circumstances, theres too much shame and guilt from a sexism and homophobia dynamic, he said.

Amirah, one of four New England safe homes for trafficked women, is among the organizations that help female victims rebuild their lives. When women are referred to Amirah, they typically enter an initial 30-day residential program and are connected to mental, social, emotional, medical and vocational services. Following the initial 30-day program, most women stay at Amirah for two years.

Victims, Amirah Director Stephanie Clark said, often have deep emotional and psychological trauma. Most are also addicted to drugs, particularly heroin. In some cases, the women are addicted before entering the sex trade. In other cases, they begin using opioids while being trafficked as a way to cope with the emotional pain.

What we see in our population is a woman in her 20s or 30s who is trafficked for a period of time, then ran away, is picked up for drugs or is picked up for prostituting herself because she doesnt know how else to make money, Clark said. It takes, on average, seven times for a woman to break out of that cycle. They end up getting sucked back in due to huge challenges they face in finding a job, finding trustworthy relationships, and because of the abuse theyve suffered.

While there are more resources for victims than there used to be, advocates say even more are needed. Montigny has called for allocating money for a victim services trust fund. He has also sponsored bills intended to strengthen to 2011 state law. His new proposals, which were discussed at a July 18 hearing at the Statehouse, include new public awareness campaigns, as well as training to help law enforcement and medical staff recognize the signs of human trafficking. One bill would vacate trafficking victims convictions for nonviolent misdemeanor crimes committed as a result of being trafficked.

You cannot get these people back into productive lives if you do not give them a path from victim to survivor, he said, explaining that a criminal record often makes it hard for people to get housing, jobs or access to credit.

Crider, the office manager at Amirah, said she hopes to one day work as a mentor to young women trying to escape the sex trade. Shes encouraged that there are now resources available to help sexually exploited people rebuild their lives.

When I got out, there were no programs, she said. There were no safe houses. We didnt even have the term human trafficking. I lived with the lie of what they told me I was. I believed it was my choice. Thats the coercion they use. Thats the manipulation.

From sex worker to murder defendant

Sparkman traces her own journey into the commercial sex trade to her childhood in upstate New York. Born to a drug-addicted mother and an incarcerated father, Sparkman recalls a rough childhood that included being molested at daycare and going in and out of foster care.

In the mid-1980s, when she was around 14, she was living in Rochester, New York, and befriended an older man who owned a pizzeria. He started giving her free food, then small gifts and money. Gradually, she said, his true character emerged.

Then later on he would ask me for a favor. He took me to an Italian social club and asked me to dance for his friends, she recalled. He said, Ive been giving you all these things. You have to do this for me.

His demands progressed to posing for nude photos for his buddies, which the men threatened to share with her friends if she refused to do what they asked her to do. Eventually, they began driving her to hotels and forcing her to have sex with other men for money.

They saw a vulnerability factor, and they preyed on that. It really destroyed my soul and made me feel worthless and that things didnt matter, she said.

Sparkman eventually fled to Massachusetts, settling in Springfield. By age 23, she was married and had three children, but was trapped in an abusive, violent relationship. When her husband ended up behind bars, Sparkman found herself unable to pay for daycare and rent. As eviction notices piled up, she made a difficult decision.

I didnt know what I was going to do, so I went back to what I knew, she said.

First, she worked in a strip club, then as an escort, sleeping with men for money. By the time her pimp at the escort service took his cut, she said she was barely left with enough to cover her bills.

Her life soon spiraled further out of control, and before long, she found herself convicted of second-degree murder.

Sparkman, who was paroled in 2014, was working as an escort in Springfield in 1997, when prosecutors say she conspired with her pimp and his cousin to rob a third man, Sherwood Gray. Sparkman drove Gray to a preplanned location, where he was fatally shot by the cousin, who mistakenly thought Gray was reaching for a gun.

She and the gunman were convicted of second-degree murder, while her pimp, who she was also dating, was convicted of manslaughter.

A deep sense of shame, she said, led her to lie to police and refuse to cooperate with investigators. Sparkman insists her pimp deceived her into playing a part in the botched deadly robbery.

When police talked to me, I lied to them, she said. When the district attorney asked me what happened, I wouldnt tell them. I didnt want them to know what I was doing. I didnt want them to know about that night, and I didnt want them to know about my life. I didnt want them to know I was a prostitute. I was ashamed.

After serving nearly 18 years at MCI-Framingham, surviving multiple suicide attempts and going through years of intensive therapy, Sparkman says she has found a new purpose in life — to help others whove suffered from sexual exploitation.

When I was inside, it was very hard for me, she said. I had never dealt with any of the stuff Im talking about now.

Surviving the circuit

When Crider was growing up in southern Maine, she lived in a family that struggled with alcoholism and violence. That background, she said, made her vulnerable to predators.

It started as the guy across the street who wanted to date me, she recalled. Before I was old enough to date him, he raped me, and that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy.

She was just 16. Once the baby was born, she recalled, the man used the child as leverage. With a combination of sweet talk and abuse, he convinced her to start dancing for money, then that gradually escalated into pornographic stage shows and prostitution.

I turned 18 on stage at an adult book store, she said. I believed the dream he sold me that we could have a house and a happy family and have lots of money and travel and do all these things you didnt get to do when you were growing up. It sounded good to me, coming from where I did, and I bought into the dream.

Crider said her trafficker worked with a Mafia-affiliated organization, and that following a dispute, she was essentially sold to the mob.

They moved me away from my family, she said. They do that to isolate you from rational voices. Before long, they moved me again. I started working on whats known as the circuit. It goes all over the country. I started in Maine to Boston, Boston to New York, New York to Chicago, all over the country.

A mob-connected biker gang then began trafficking her, she said.

Eventually, Crider said, she and her boyfriend became entangled in a conflict between the bikers and the Mafia, and she fled, essentially going into hiding.

Her advice to young victims of trafficking — Find an adult you can trust. Find someone who will defend you. Dont ever believe someone who wants to treat you disrespectfully loves you, no matter how confused you might be about what love is. Dont believe thats love.

NEXT: The third part of the series explores labor and commercial trafficking in Massachusetts, a practice advocates call modern-day slavery.

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INHUMAN TRADE: Sex trafficking victims manipulated, controlled for profit – Wicked Local Hingham

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Focus on restitution, not incarceration, to better serve justice – OCRegister

Posted: August 9, 2017 at 5:40 am

It is often noted that Americans live in a very litigious society. This criticism is typically leveled at frivolous tort cases and ambulance-chasing trial lawyers, but it extends equally to the legislators who write unnecessary laws and the government agents such as district attorneys, judges and police who enforce them.

The U.S. has the largest incarceration rate in the world, aided by the prevalence of victimless crimes (particularly nonviolent drug crimes) and a predilection for incarceration as primary option for punishment. But while there may be a strong drive to do something when someone is harmed by another, locking people up is oftentimes not in the interest of justice. Perhaps this is best illustrated in cases involving accidents, especially when those at fault are family members.

In one high-profile example, just last month an 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving after she crashed her car in Merced County, killing her 14-year-old sister, who was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. The case received heightened attention because the accident was captured in a graphic livestreamed video recording on Instagram, which showed her fatally wounded sister lying in a grassy field.

Last year, a 53-year-old Arkansas man was charged with felony manslaughter for the death of his 4-year-old grandson, who was killed in an accident while mowing some brush on the family ranch. A tractor tire hit a hole in the ground and the boy fell off the tractor and was run over by the mower.

Then there are the instances where distracted or forgetful parents have been charged for the death of a child inadvertently left in a hot or even mildly warm vehicle.

I cannot imagine how those at fault in the cases above will be able to deal with what they have done. That torturous guilt is a greater punishment than any that could be inflicted by a judge and prosecutor.

A family is only doubly punished, however, when a second family member is taken from it, this time by the state, to waste away in prison. It is as much a punishment to the other victims the remaining children, who must grow up without a mother or father, or the spouse, who is now rendered a single parent who must support the rest of the family alone as it is to the one at fault. In an added cruel twist, the family is forced to support these efforts to further tear it apart through their taxes.

In such cases, society is not served by turning a private tragedy into a larger public burden. Sometimes a tragic accident is just an accident, and the consequences are punishment enough.

Even in cases that do not involve parties within the same family, victims should have more say on the punishment of perpetrators, and the focus should be more on restitution than incarceration.

Sentencing someone to prison may pad a district attorneys tough on crime bona fides, but it does little to compensate the victims. The criminal will rot in prison, on the taxpayers dime, and perhaps learn even more criminal, anti-social behaviors from his fellow prisoners, which he may then inflict on society if he gets out.

But before government assumed a greater role in crime and punishment, and even still today in places like Japan or informal tribal arrangements, perpetrators and victims were encouraged to negotiate to agree upon an appropriate restitution to compensate the victims, or their families. If the criminal could not afford the restitution all at once, he could pay it off over time through his labor. In a stark contrast to the incarceration model, this also encourages him to develop skills and to once again become a productive member of society.

In cases of extreme violence, where the facts are clear and the criminal exhibits no remorse, incarceration and an eye for an eye approach may be appropriate. But we should recognize that, as in other areas, the politicization of crime and punishment has led those in government to lose sight of individual rights in the pursuit of a nebulous societal good, and to serve the interests of the government agents charged with enforcement, not necessarily the interests of victims. A system of true justice and compassion would recognize that sometimes accidents result in tragedy that no prison cell can remedy, and would focus on addressing the needs and wishes of the victims, not adding another notch on a DAs belt before the next election.

Adam B. Summers is a columnist with the Southern California News Group.

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