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By L.A. CARTER - THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Police violated rights of East Bay man facing prison if convicted on charges of attempted lewd acts with child
Police twice violated the Miranda rights of an East Bay cancer doctor arrested in a 2006 Petaluma sting that was part of Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" TV series, a Sonoma County judge ruled this week.
Dr. Maurice Wolin, 50, of Piedmont is charged with attempted lewd conduct with a child, a felony that could mean four years in prison if he is convicted. He also would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Wolin has fought the case at every step since his August 2006 arrest -- along with 28 others -- in a three-day sting Petaluma police and other agencies conducted with the TV show and computer decoys from the advocacy group Perverted Justice.
Prosecutors allege that Wolin, whose state medical license has been suspended indefinitely as a result of the charges, arranged online to meet someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl for sexual purposes.
Wolin acknowledges driving from the Bay Area to the Petaluma home police had staked out and rigged with cameras for the sting. But he contends he wasn't intending to have sex with the "girl," in fact an adult male decoy from the self-proclaimed vigilante group Perverted Justice.
In a three-page ruling filed Tuesday, Judge Arthur "Andy" Wick said law enforcement officers twice improperly interrogated Wolin after he invoked his Miranda rights by asking to speak with an attorney.
During the booking process, Wolin asked to have counsel present during questioning, according to Wick.
"The booking officer(s) should have advised (Petaluma Police) Detective (Steve) Nelson that defendant had invoked his right to counsel and detective Nelson should not have started the interrogation," Wick ruled.
Even if Wolin hadn't expressed his wishes clearly at that point, police again violated his rights during the subsequent questioning, Wick said.
"Once a suspect in custody has clearly asserted his Miranda right to counsel, all interrogation must cease," Wick wrote. "The officers may not 'try again' under any circumstances without defense counsel being present. Any further contact must be initiated by the suspect."
The Miranda requirement stems from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision to protect the individual's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Refinements in the rule are designed to prevent police from badgering a defendant into waiving his rights after he's already asked for a lawyer.
Although Wolin didn't re-initiate contact with police, Nelson "immediately proceeded to try to obtain a waiver . . ." Wick wrote. "This tactic was improper."
Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said the trial prosecutor will review the ruling in the upcoming days to determine if it will have any significant impact on the case. Blair Berk, Wolin's Los Angeles attorney, couldn't be reached to comment Wednesday.
The ruling didn't exclude other prosecution evidence against Wolin, including the sexually-charged chats and recordings showing Wolin arriving at the house, talking with a female decoy and being arrested after he apparently saw TV monitors and began to leave.
Wolin has vigorously challenged the accuracy and legitimacy of the chats, which occurred over a four-day period and were given to Petaluma Police by Perverted Justice.
In a motion filed this week, Berk asked Wick to order prosecutors to explain why they haven't turned over copies of the hard-drives from the computer the decoy used to chat with Wolin and from the out-of-state proxy server Perverted Justice says recorded the chats remotely.
According to court documents, the decoy, Perverted Justice founder Xavier Von Erck, recently told prosecutors the hard drive from the computer he used to chat with Wolin "experienced a complete failure" in February 2007 and cannot be copied.
Berk said she has heard no mention of the alleged computer crash, formally or informally from prosecutors or during Von Erck's extensive testimony during Wolin's preliminary hearing, in August and September 2006.
"The fact that this information is just now being revealed . . . is, to say the least, highly suspect," Berk argued.
During several days of online chats Von Erck and Wolin apparently exchanged sexually tinged messages and eventually Wolin agreed to come to the Petaluma house. Several times during the conversations, Wolin declined or expressed discomfort with meeting her, even saying once that they "can't do anything" if they did get together.
He was arrested when he started to leave the house.
Additional hearings in the case are scheduled for January with trial set to begin on Feb. 6. Wolin has been free on bail since shortly after his arrest.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
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By Andy Grimm - Post-Tribune staff writer
CHICAGO - An appeals court ruling will free a Michigan City man serving a five-year sentence for failing to register as a sex offender when he moved from Indiana to South Carolina.
_____ turned himself in to authorities in April 2007 after a friend was arrested for violating a federal sex offender registry law. _____ thought he was facing a 60-day sentence, as state law stipulated at the time, but found out federal law -- and an order from the U.S. Attorney General two months earlier -- had extended the sentence to up to 10 years in federal prison.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that _____ couldn't be prosecuted because although the Attorney General's order required sex offenders to register when they moved from one state to another, it didn't give notice to the offenders.
_____ had presented seven arguments challenging his guilty verdict, including one that questioned the federal government's Constitutional power to impose sex offender laws on the states, but the court considered only the "ex post facto" argument in their ruling, said Bryan Truitt, _____'s attorney.
"There are other people in the 7th Circuit that have put their appeals on hold for this ruling and maybe 1,000 nationwide in the same situation as _____," Truitt said. "When they release all these people, the prison system is going to have to notify them of their duty to register."
_____ is serving his sentence at a federal prison in Arizona.
By KATE WARD - Northwest Arkansas Times
It's been nearly five months since former Fayetteville police Detective Jeremy Grammer was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for viewing and distributing child pornography.
- Notice it says "federal prison?" But then look below! He's in some special place, and not prison!
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the 32-year-old is currently being held in the Federal Medical Center: an all-male administrative facility in Lexington, Ky. His projected release date is set for Oct. 6, 2021, with no possibility for parole.
- So he's not in prison!
Administrative facilities are institutions with special missions, such as the detention of pretrial offenders; the treatment of inmates with serious or chronic medical problems; or the containment of extremely dangerous, violent or escape-prone inmates. They are capable of holding inmates in all security categories.
Grammer entered a negotiated plea of guilty to one count of distributing child pornography by computer across state and international lines on Feb. 14. Two additional charges of receiving child pornography transported by computer across state and international lines were dropped as part of a plea bargain.
"I'm not here to make an excuse for what I did," Grammer testified in a July 31 article published by the Northwest Arkansas Times. "I got sucked in and took something entirely too far. I was wrong."
Grammer's name surfaced during a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation of child pornography in Ohio.
Fayetteville police conducted an internal investigation, confirming him as a suspect. During a search of his home, investigators discovered computer images of nude girls younger than 12 in various sexual positions and sexual acts.
"He was a good officer, a well-liked officer. It was like someone stabbing you in the back when it happened," Fayetteville Chief of Police Greg Tabor said.
Grammer was terminated from the department on April 26, 2007.
According to case reports, the former detective admitted to federal agents that he had received and sent pornographic images of children from his personal computer to an individual in Ohio.
"We have a saying around here that you never say never about anything, and that really reinforced that," Tabor said.
Grammer was indicted in August and placed on house arrest. He was later transported to the Washington County Detention Center, where he was placed in solitary confinement for five months due to his status as a former police officer and the nature of his charges.
- How many non-police do you know of, who get house arrest? None! So once again, special treatment for one of the "Good Ole' Boys!"
Grammer's attorneys asked District Judge Larry Hendren for a five-year sentence so Grammer could return to his wife and two daughters. They argued that Grammer would face more danger than other inmates because of his status as a former police officer and convicted child pornographer. The defense further requested that Grammer be placed in a federal prison under an alias name.
- So? He should be treated just like anybody else!
"Sometimes very good people will do very bad things," defense attorney W.H. Taylor said during Grammer's July 31 sentencing. "I think that's what we have before us today. If you look at his life and you have a big white canvas, this is like a small black speck."
- Give me a F'ing break! You would never say this for Joe Public!!!! Boy, the corruption runs deep!!!!
Other reasons the defense requested a minimum sentence included Grammer's exemplary behavior in the past through his volunteer work with Special Olympics and the American Red Cross, as well as his performance at the Fayetteville Police Department.
- Who gives a rats a__ about his past. He committed a crime, and you are treating him all special!!! Equal justice... Yeah right!
He was hired in 1998. During his nine years there, he worked as a patrol officer, K-9 officer and detective. He was also awarded for exceptional duty in 2004 and 2005.
U.S. prosecuting attorney Kyra Jenner disputed Grammer's job status as a basis for determining his sentence, saying sex offenders come from all walks of life.
"There are 1,118 former police officers currently serving in federal prison," she said during the hearing. "Of those, 132 are there for sex offenses similar to those of Jeremy Grammer. They all receive the same level of protection."
- But my question is, why do you treat them any different? They should be treated as any John Doe who is guilty of the same crime, period!
Clinical psychologist Richard Back testified to conducting a mental evaluation on Grammer after his arrest.
He performed a series of clinical tests and interviewed the defendant and several family members. He said the tests revealed Grammer as a normal, well-rounded, heterosexual man with no pedophile-like tendencies.
- Yeah right, you expect me to believe that? Then why was he downloading and uploading child porn?
Back identified job-related stress and sleep deprivation as possible factors related to Grammer's actions. He further described Grammer's initial interest in viewing child pornography as research for his job as a detective.
- Excuses, excuses, excuses!!! I have stress and sleep deprivation on a daily basis, and I am not downloading or uploading child porn. That is a load of BS!
Fayetteville police Capt. Mike Reynolds, who served as Grammer's supervisor at the department, testified Grammer was not assigned to the department's special investigations division, which investigates child pornography. He also said investigators are not permitted to conduct their own investigations without permission from a supervisor, nor are they allowed to conduct such research outside the department.
Jenner said no notes documenting such research were ever discovered at Grammer's residence. Additionally, she said Grammer never reported the images of child abuse when he discovered them. Instead, he forwarded them to someone in Ohio.
- Research my a__!!
"I feel devastated," Grammer said prior to learning his sentence. "More importantly, it's devastated my friends and family. I've lost trust with everyone I've ever had. I don't know if I'll ever be able to make it right, but I'll spend the rest of my life trying to get their trust back."
- Well, you are a "good ole' boy," so you will be out and off the registry in no time, unlike everyone else!
Before making his ruling, Hendren heard testimony from about 10 of Grammer's close friends and family members, who expressed shock and disbelief at the allegations against the former detective.
After his release he will remain under supervision for the rest of his life. He was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with minors except for his children, to have no Internet connection in his home and no Internet access without permission from the federal probation office.
- I'll believe it when I see it, if I ever do.
Grammer also has to register as a sex offender, can't have a gun and must enter counseling and sex offender treatment.
"It must be said that the violation of children is a heinous and despicable crime," Hendren said just before giving Grammer his sentence.
"I question whether there would be that much of it if there were not a market. (Grammer) should have, and I think he did, know better. We all err, but there's a difference between erring and committing a crime."
Looks like they changed their minds
JACKSON (WLBT) - A Louisiana man convicted of raping a Mississippi State student in 1991 will get to spend the Christmas holidays at home.
The Department of Corrections says Governor Haley Barbour issued an executive order to give the convicted felon a temporary pass.
_____ was convicted of rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and burglary of an occupied dwelling December 15, 1991.
Just four days ago, he was released and now sits at home in Sicily Island, Louisiana. This is just a 90-day temporary pass issued from the governor.
No one from the governor's office returned our calls Tuesday night or Wednesday. But the Associated Press is reporting the Louisiana attorney general was unaware Bolin was released. And only found out, because _____ registered as a sex offender with his local sheriff's office.
The Louisiana Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell has contacted Jim Hood asking him to issue a letter to Governor Barbour to get _____ returned to prison.
Caldwell is also looking into a possible suit against Mississippi.
I don't usually report this kind of story, but this is an exception, due to the nature of the crime. If he is indeed guilty, then he deserves to be in prison until he dies. Right now, it's only allegations, but time will tell. I just hope they did not find the first sex offender around, and use them as a scapegoat for this horrific crime.
By Carla Jones
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - A man is facing charges after police say he killed a woman, then burned her house down to cover it up.
25-year-old Leo Kaczmar III was arrested in Jacksonville Wednesday.
Kaczmar is a registered sex offender. He was booked into the Duval County jail for Failure of a Sex Offender to Update Address.
- So is he not being booked on arson and murder as well?
And now Clay County Sheriff's Detectives say they've connected Kaczmar to an arson at a home on Dothan Road in Green Cove Springs last week.
- I wonder why they are not saying what evidence they found to link him to the arson?
Investigators say Kaczmar killed 49-year-old Maria Ruiz and set her home on fire December 13th.
Ruiz had been staying with family at the home for several months.
Kaczmar is being held on Clay County warrants for Homicide and Arson.
- What about the warrants for not registering? Something sounds fishy with this story, IMO.
Kaczmar has a criminal history in Clay County that also includes arrests for Attempted Burglary, Felony Theft and Dealing in Stolen Property.