NOTE: The following press release from the feds earlier this year is related to last week's arrests in Mendocino, but no announcements on the Mendocino arrests have yet to be issued.
KANSAS CITY, KAN, July 12, 2012 — 35 defendants are charged in a federal indictment unsealed here today alleging they worked for a drug trafficking organization that distributed $16.9 million worth of high-grade marijuana and cocaine in Johnson and Douglas Counties, First Assistant US Attorney Mike Warner said today. The 101-count indictment alleges that defendants Los Rovell Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan., and Chad Eugene Bauman, 33, Lawrence, made millions as the leaders of a drug trafficking organization that operated from 2005 to 2012. Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to order more than $16.9 million in cash and real estate that were proceeds of the crimes to be forfeited to the government. The indictment includes allegations that the defendants laundered the proceeds of their drug operations through unlawful financial transactions involving businesses, real estate and personal property in Lawrence, Topeka, Iola, Kan., Gladstone, Mo., and elsewhere. The indictment also identifies residences and commercial properties in Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City, Kan., and other locations where the traffickers stored or distributed drugs. The indictment also seeks additional penalties against traffickers who are accused of distributing drugs within the 1,000-ft. protected areas around playgrounds and schools including Lawrence High School, West Middle School, Haskell Indian Nations University, Holcomb Sports Complex, Olathe North High School and New York Elementary. The indictment grows out of a federal criminal complaint filed last month in US District Court in Kansas City, Kan. The indictment adds 10 defendants and 100 counts. In the initial complaint, prosecutors alleged the organization’s primary method for getting drugs to Kansas from California was by commercial carrier. Defendants named in the indictment are:
Los Rovell Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
Roosevelt Rico Dahda, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
Sadie Jolynn Brown, 25, Lawrence, Kan.
Justin Cherif Pickel, 32, San Lorenzo, Calif.
David James Essman, 35, Lawrence, Kan.
Amos Moses Hurst, 31, Eureka, Calif.
Phillip Villereal Alarcon, 43, Hayward, Calif.
Jeffery David Paviva, 39, Union City, Calif.
Mark Lee Romero, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
Samuel Villeareal, II, 32, Overland Park, Kan.
Peter Park, 41, Olathe, Kan.
Wayne Suhan Swift, 39, Hayward, Calif.
Charles Thomas Kreisler, 38, Kansas City, Mo.
James Michael Soderling, 42, Fort Bragg, Calif.
Simon Andrew Tyson, 27, Kansas City, Mo.
Trent Jordan Percival, 32, Overland Park, Kan.
Chad William Pollard, 34, Lenexa, Kan.
Jason Marcus Hansen, 38, Lenexa, Kan.
Daniel Mark Sieber, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
Justin Jerome Mercer, 35, Olathe, Kan.
Jacob Paul Forbes, 30, Lawrence, Kan.
Chad Eugene Bauman, 33, Lawrence, Kan.
Carey Lynn Willming, 36, Lawrence, Kan.
Michael Shane Witt, 37, Olathe, Kan.
Stephen Mallison Rector, 50, Kansas City, Kan.
Michael J. Berry, 27, Kansas City, Kan.
Adam Christiansen, 31, Lawrence, Kan.
Aaron G. Gunderson, 36, Topeka, Kan.
Nathan Wallace, 28, Topeka, Kan.
Ryan Kearns, 24, Lawrence, Kan.
Karl Havener, 25, Overland Park, Kan.
Damien J. Mick, 33, Shawnee, Kan.
Joshua Simpson, 28, Lenexa, Kan.
Sarah Soderling, 35, Ft. Bragg, Calif.
Elizabeth Dominique Watson, 44, Kansas City, Mo.
* * *
Criminal counts and potential penalties upon conviction include: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more 1,000 kilograms of marijuana: Not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $10 million. Conspiracy to commit money laundering: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise: Not less than 20 years and not more than life and a fine up to $2 million. Money laundering: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. Possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana: Not less than 5 years and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $5 million. Distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or playground: 10 years and a fine up to $500,000. Possession with intent to distribute marijuana: A maximum penalty of five years and a fine up to $250,000. Unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000. Maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than a year and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $500,000. Using a telephone in furtherance of drug trafficking: A maximum penalty of four years and a fine up to $250,000. Unlawful possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and not more than life, consecutive to other sentences. Unlawful possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances: Not less than a year and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000. Agencies involved in the investigation and the arrest of defendants include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Lawrence Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Internal Revenue Service, the US Postal Service, the Alameda County, Calif., Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Lenexa Police Department, the Overland Park Police Department, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Hayward, Calif., Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead is prosecuting. In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.
FRED GARDNER WRITES: “It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana being legalized on the same day. Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lays with another man he should be stoned.” We've just been interpreting it wrong all these years.
A COMPTCHE READER reports Thursday morning: “Last night about 10pm a high speed car chase went through Comptche. We live a mile east of Comptche corners on Comptche Ukiah/Orr Springs Rd. My daughter's cabin is closer to the road and she heard a car go by WAY too fast screaming through the turns…then a cop car with sirens…within a minute another cop car with siren…then another cop car minus sirens. The Comptche Fire Department was not called out so it was not ambulance related. Heard anything? Stolen car chase? A grower escaping planning on NOT being arrested? Just as an aside there is massive nervousness in Comptche among growers about the midwest bust and all the links into local residents. There is an advantage to be good old fashioned folks who actually work at blue collar jobs (nursing & bookselling/writing). We don't get nervous every time we hear a siren.”
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED, COMPTCHE: The CHP said Thursday that one of their officers “was badly injured Wednesday night when he crashed into a tree on rural Comptche Ukiah Road as authorities pursued a suspect through western Mendocino County.” The officer, not named, was airlifted to Ukiah Valley Medical Center with an arm injury. The pursuit of Christopher Skaggs, 30, driving a BMW coupe, an unidentified female passenger, and a third person who remains a mystery as to gender and name, lasted an hour-and-ten-minutes, having commenced in Ukiah and ended in Navarro where Skaggs was tazed into submission. The pursuit began at 9:19pm when another CHP officer attempted to stop Skaggs' BMW for speeding and proceeding erratically southbound on Highway 101 north of Ukiah. Skaggs' red beemer, when it was first red-lighted on 101, according to CHP spokesman Krul, “appeared to slow and then took an exit at North State Street and led authorities on a chase reaching speeds between 55 mph and 75 mph on winding, hilly roads between Ukiah and Comptche, including Orr Springs Road, Flynn Creek Road, Appian Way, Masonite Road, Highway 128 and, ultimately, Wendling Soda Creek Road in Navarro.” The injured officer was driving on Comptche Ukiah Road in pursuit of Skaggs when he struck a tree west of Flynn Creek Road. Several CHP officers and Mendocino County sheriff's deputies were engaged in the wild pursuit before it ended at the west end of the Anderson Valley. Skaggs, who is on probation, finally pulled into a driveway on Wendling Soda Creek Road at Navarro where he “bailed out on foot.” He was soon caught on Wendling Soda Creek Road but, still struggling, was soon tasered into submission. Skaggs' female passenger was not arrested. A third, apparently more fleet-footed companion of Skaggs, also bailed out at some point during the hour-long chase and has not been caught. Skaggs was arrested for suspected felony evasion of a peace officer causing injury or death, resisting arrest, violation of probation and driving with a suspended license.
INTERESTING NEW WEBSITE at http://www.mendocinochc.org/blog/. Affiliated with the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, it contains, among other things, some interesting podcast interviews with men who are homeless.
A CITY RESIDENT writes of the drug/drink homeless in San Francisco: “This problem will continue to be the burden of those who work in the City and the tax paying citizenry of San Francisco so long as SFGov and the homeless pimps continue to endorse this behavior as part of promoting the ‘homeless lifestyle.’ Nothing will change because those who are in charge and those that support them would rather adopt a ‘best remedy to the homeless problem is to allow them freedom to do whatever they want, wherever they want’ attitude. That goes a long way to appease the white-guilted, self loathing, hand wringing Progressives so long as you keep them out of Pac Heights, Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights. Funny how SFGov enforces animal waste laws with such fervor but refuses to do ANYTHING about homeless taking steaming dumps in private doorways and public use areas. Want to know why? You can't fine the homeless because there's no money in it. Just like street crime. Can't keep the city coffers filled scooping human poop or chasing after a car thief when you can line up patrol cars along corridors where parents drop their kids off at school and rake in $500 a pop for a ‘California Stop’.”
HERE IN MENDOCINO COUNTY we have the rural version of the same problem which, of course, you do not see on the Westside of the County seat where many of the County's shot callers live. As in San Francisco, a full-time drunk or drug addict can get fed every day in Fort Bragg, Willits and Ukiah while pursuing his or her true avocation, which is to obliterate him or herself via mind-altering substances. I'm not saying shut down the local soup kitchens; what I'm saying is that this County's lavishly compensated judges and our well-padded Board of Supervisors should take specific local steps to get the chronics off the streets.
I SUGGEST a modern version of the old County Farm, a fenced-in, secure area where, for example, the people pictured below would be housed for periods ranging from three months to a year during which they would be compelled to work every day under supervision while they also received counseling aimed at cleaning them up.
THE AUTHORITIES, of course, will say there's no money, but the weekly arrests of about 30 chronic public drunks and the same old crankers are apparently presumed to be cost-free. They aren't. Toted up, the expense of transportation, a couple of days in the County Jail, court appearances, and the rest of present catch and release program, the cost of futility is considerable. And cruel to the drunks who are now permitted to commit public suicide. And unfair to the public who've lost the safe use of public space.
THE TWEEKERS? They should be prosecuted to the max and incarcerated for much longer periods of time, and they, like the drunks, should be required to work every day on supervised public projects. If the tweeks were put away for a while maybe the tweek dealers would give it up, or at least scale back for lack of customers. As it stands, there's no meaningful sanctions against either end of the methamphetamine business. And they're everywhere, as are the drunks.
IT'S TERMINALLY CYNICAL of the County's judges to keep running these people through the system, and it's just dumb and irresponsible for the Supervisors to continue funding, and partially funding, failed rehab strategies via what's left of the Mental Health Department.
ROBERT H. (BOB) HEEB, 84, of Elverta, Calif., passed away peacefully on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012 at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. Born in Jersey City, NJ, to Robert and Siri Heeb on Dec. 30,1927, he lived most of his life in Fort Bragg. Bob was a passionate man who enjoyed his community and doing the right thing. After participating in the Korean War as a Staff Sergeant and as a paratrooper, he attended and graduated from Cornell Law School in 1956. He began his law practice in San Francisco that same year. He moved to Fort Bragg in 1958, where he worked as a lawyer and then as the Justice for Ten Mile Justice Court from 1973-1990. He also served on the Fort Bragg City Council for several terms. Bob retired in 1990 to what was to be a life of golf and enjoyment of his grandchildren, but his plans were interrupted by a major stroke (2000) that, in the end, was the reason he passed. In his spare time he enjoyed driving sports cars, playing golf, arguing how to save the world with his friends and family, and watching TV (especially whodunit shows). His sons Dorn Heeb (Rio Linda) and Noel Daniels (Cleone), Patrick Czarnowski (Nevada City), daughter-in-law Marty Heeb and grandchildren Justin, Riley and Gannon, survive Bob. Son Torrey J. Heeb preceded him in death. No services are planned.
THE COUNTY has reached a settlement with the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) regarding the $123,000 fine levied against the County by Chris Brown, the head of the AQMD. In announcing the fine back in January, Brown sent a letter to County CEO Carmel Angelo, telling her she had 30 days to address the violation or pay the fine, implying that the situation could be resolved without going outside the County. Except Brown immediately turned the case over to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for further action, meaning there was no way to avoid a huge public black eye for the County.
THE UPSHOT, as reported by Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal, (the County never issues a press release for these things; someone has to dig out the facts) is that the fine is reduced to $25,000 which is suspended for two years, which means it will go away if the County does not screw up another remodeling job in the meantime. The County also has to reimburse the AQMD for $8,957.50 in legal fees. One wonders what legal fees the AQMD had just for writing a letter? Unless the rumors are true that Brown, fearing for his job, hired an attorney to seek “whistleblower protection” from his bosses, the Supes, whom he had just stuck for a huge fine.
BROWN CLAIMED the County had not properly tested for asbestos and did not properly notify the AQMD before remodeling the old Mental Health offices, the future new home of County Planning and Building Services. The remodeling, begun last December, was one of several projects undertaken to comply with the Board of Supes decision to consolidate all County operations into County owned buildings. The County once had a workforce of over 1,500 employees, but with state cutbacks and other loss of revenue, the County workforce has fallen to around 1,000 employees. In one of those “duh!” moments, instead of paying rent on half-occupied privately owned leased space, the County realized it would be better to combine the workforce into half occupied County-owned buildings. Everyone thought this was a good idea except for the employees who would have to move and Supervisors Smith and Hamburg, who succeeded in delaying the move out of the Affinito building in Fort Bragg for over six months, while the County continued to pay $25,000 a month in rent to the Affinitos.
BUT OVER IN UKIAH, it was full speed ahead with the General Services Agency (GSA) plowing forward, with or without those pesky notifications to the AQMD and the required asbestos samples. Complaints first surfaced with Planning and Building employees complaining to AQMD that the construction next door to their present digs was exposing them to hazardous dust and who knows what. Chris Brown is said to have notified GSA that they, a County agency, had to notify him, another County agency, before they could continue to work and that they had to supply test results for asbestos. These requirements are typical of the duplicative and wasteful regs that private individuals have to deal with all the time, but at least Brown was applying the same standards to the County (even if it was his employer). But the whole thing should have been unnecessary because the building was thoroughly tested and inspected about 20 years ago when the former Community Hospital was transformed into the County Administration Center. (Yes, before Obama care there was a County owned hospital right there in Ukiah — and going back another generation or two, there was a “County farm” right next door to it where the indigent, elderly and infirm could reside, helping with farm chores if they were able, along with jail inmates with trustee status).
THE ONLY ASBESTOS in the building, as verified during the earlier remodel, was contained in the floor tiles, and in pipe and duct insulation. Asbestos is not a threat unless it is “friable,” which means it is loose and subject to going airborne where it can be breathed deeply into the lungs where it lodges, providing a constant source of irritation that can lead to cancer. But in stable form (like floor tiles or undisturbed pipe insulation) it poses no threat. And the County asbestos was not going to be disturbed during the remodeling, therefore, it was no threat to air quality or public health.
GSA PROMPTLY BLEW OFF the warnings from Brown and kept working. Brown is said to have made several attempts to get the attention of GSA, but to no avail. Brown's error, if any, was that he did not notify CEO Angelo, or any member of the Board of Supervisors (who sit as his governing board), prior to assessing the infamous $123,000 fine and firing it off to the EPA. But Brown is known to be jealously protective of AQMD's status as an independent agency chartered by the state to enforce air quality regs. And Brown quickly bristles at any challenge to his authority, whether real or imagined. Brown works well with others as long as everything goes his way, but he has been known to loudly threaten the people he regulates if they question his directives.
BROWN is also known to have clashed with the County bean counters over momentous issues like what color car he could drive. The County has a standard policy that all County owned vehicles are white, which requires the least air conditioning during the hot summers, thereby providing for maximum fuel efficiency. Increased fuel efficiency, which results in reduced Green House Gas emissions, should be important to an air quality guy. But Brown, feeling his oats as an independent agency, insisted on his right to have a blue car. Brown is also known to have felt slighted when the County Water Agency was largely gutted and the remaining duties were assigned to Planning and Building (which seems like a more logical fit than Air Quality). Further, Brown was rumored to have felt doubly slighted when Nash Gonzales departed as Planning Director and no one thought to consider Brown for the post. Brown, apparently feeling underappreciated and disrespected, determined to hit the County with a huge fine as a way of getting their attention. Mission accomplished, but at what cost?
WHAT STARTED as a minor turf war between GSA and AQMD escalated into a front page story that made it look like the County was acting irresponsibly and putting its own employees, contractors, and the public at risk. And instead of being resolved reasonably at the local level, Brown tossed it to the EPA, which probably squandered more than the original fine amount on their investigation, before walking away with a hand slap settlement. All because high level County employees could not figure out how to work together. And Brown has probably permanently damaged his reputation with his employers (the Supes) and the CEO.
WE LEARN from Justine Frederiksen of the Ukiah Daily Journal that Norm Hudson, the contractor hired by the owner of the long-neglected Palace Hotel, is offering tours every Friday (10am) of the ghostly old structure, less ghostly since Hudson commenced work on it for owner Eladia Laines. Moreover, Hudson told the reporter, a 70-pound Remington bronze sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking horse would be arriving at the hotel Friday, courtesy of the Frederic Remington Museum in Ogdensburg, NY. “Hudson said the museum is sending the sculpture to the hotel along with two more paintings to join one already displayed in the hotel's office at 275 N. State St.” How exactly the art figures in the restoration project was not revealed. The Ukiah City Council has been pressuring Laines to either make visible progress towards restoration of the Palace or the City will abate the property. Laines lives in Marin and has said she is trying to clear title to the structure but, as is evident from her hiring of Hudson, she does seem to be making a genuine effort at rehab while becoming sole owner.
SEVERAL COURT WATCHERS on the Coast have told us that they just don’t believe the Court’s financial numbers about how many cuts they’ve already made and how many more they have to make. One of them commented that there’s so much money in the court and judicial system (even before Proposition 30) that there’s got to be unaccounted for and misaccounted for money sitting around, not to mention money that’s “programmed” for unnecessary or postponable things. There’s at least as good a chance that the State court system has billions squirreled away somewhere as there was with the State Parks Department and either they can’t find it because they’re incompetent, or they don’t want to find it because they want to close down outlying courts by saying they can’t afford them. Maybe Governor Brown should find another retired Marine Corp general to take over Court Administration.
PRESERVE BENEFITS — Cut Gouging and Inequities. By Ralph Nader.
Congress is still talking about a “Grand Bargain” that “balances” far more spending cuts than tax increases. That is another way of saying that you – the consumer of Medicare and Medicaid services, the recipient of Social Security, and the average taxpayer will take the brunt of the spending cuts, while the wealthy get their income taxes restored, not raised, to their pre-Bush modest levels.
Don’t buy it!
There are two ways to cut Medicare and Medicaid. The right wingers want to cut benefits. Consumers want to cut vendor fraud, the overcharging and the immense over-diagnosis, over-treatment and erroneous or unnecessary procedures and prescriptions documented so often by, among others, the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Harvard School of Public Health.
Don’t think this is small stuff. The waste and fraud amount to hundreds of billions of dollars a year! Americans pay the highest prices for drugs in the world even though most of them were developed in the US significantly based on government research, development and with tax credit subsidies for Big Pharma. Even Mr. Obama’s 2013 budget recognizes savings from excessive drug industry pricing.
The nation’s leading expert, Harvard’s Malcolm Sparrow, has estimated that computerized billing fraud and abuse is anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the nation’s health bill. This adds up to $270 billion to $650 billion a year. A big slice of that fraud is taken out of Medicare and Medicaid.
A single-payer, full Medicare for all system – formerly supported by President Obama, Hillary Clinton and many members of Congress, before Mr. Obama took it off the table in 2009 – would cut present administrative costs in half. Canada’s system, which allows patients to freely choose their doctor and hospital, covers everyone for half of the $9000 per capita that Americans will pay this year. Our system leaves 50 million people uncovered of whom 45,000 will die this year alone due to lack of coverage, according to a peer-reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers.
Longer range savings come from reducing medical malpractice, hospital-induced infections and plain errors that annually cost 200,000 lives, and more injuries and sicknesses. Some hospitals are proving these savings can come quickly with common sense solutions: better sanitation, strict checklists and stronger internal peer reviews.
The trilogy of healthcare fraud, waste and abuse requires public discussion, along with the vastly greater returns from better funded policing of the healthcare system. Yet pundits and columnists ignore reaping savings from the bloated healthcare industry and assume the cuts must overwhelmingly come out of people’s hides – namely benefits.
As economist Dean Baker has written, we don’t need to cut Social Security benefits (already solid for the next 25 years) whether in money or later age eligibility.
Congress could also simply raise the social security tax on incomes above $115,000, increase the minimum wage, inflation adjusted, to that of 1968! And adopt other long-overdue improvements such as disability enforcement efficiencies. The initiatives will move the trust fund to sustainability for the next 75 years.
The deep bias of public dialogue here, whether in such reborn deficit-reduction commissions as Simpson-Bowles or in the general media is revealed in the use of the word “entitlements.” It is only used to apply to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which involve recycling peoples’ tax dollars. It is not used to describe the massive corporate entitlements shoveled out daily to business welfarists in the form of subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, tax loopholes, debt revocations, loan guarantees, discounted insurance and other aid to dependent corporations. Why? Power produces privileges.
When 30 large companies, such as Verizon and General Electric, make a total of $160 billion in US profits from 2008-2010 according to the Citizens for Tax Justice and pay NO ($0) federal income taxes there is a substantial loss of revenue to the US Treasury. Two thirds of corporations pay no income tax on their profits under the Swiss cheese tax code.
Moreover, the corporate welfare they receive in various modes, including free research, development, and inflated government contracts (a disguised subsidy) is hardly a recycling of their taxes.
Just taxing corporations at the rate paid in the prosperous 1960s would bring in hundreds of billions of dollars yearly. Another great revenue producer is a tiny Wall Street speculation sales tax, a far tinier rate than what you pay in sales taxes.
What about taxing capital gains and dividends the same as ordinary income? That was the case under Ronald Reagan. Then there is the bloated military budget, so full of redundancies, waste, boondoggle weapons programs such as the F-22, endless weapons cost over-runs, contracting fraud and boomeranging Empire expenditures as to boggle the minds. Even retired high military officers condemn giving the Pentagon such blank checks.
Anyone who has been in the armed services has seen the runaway expenditures, especially those that hugely outsourced contracts inflict on American taxpayers.
It is hard to remember when the last thorough Congressional investigation of the Pentagon budget occurred. Why, Congress can’t even get the Department of Defense to provide accountings so as to be auditable by the Congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Defense budget is half of the entire US government’s operating expenditures and it is not even auditable!
So enough already of the twisted, evasive talk of the Grand Bargain on your backs. The Grand Bargain should be both Parties paying close attention to corporate welfare, corporate tax escapes, and corporate crime, fraud and abuse before unraveling the most meager social safety net in the western world. (Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. (Courtesy, CounterPunch.org).)