Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas Sun’

Men In Uniform (Cont’d). Officer James Vernon Clayton, North Las Vegas Police Department, North Las Vegas, Nevada

Trigger warning. Briefly describes the crimes of a male police officer working for the North Las Vegas city government, who, while in uniform, harassed and attempted to sexually assault several women that he forced to pull over.

Officer James Vernon Clayton, North Las Vegas Police Department, North Las Vegas, Nevada.

From Tuesday’s Las Vegas Sun, Officer James Vernon Clayton, a three year veteran ex-cop formerly working for the North Las Vegas Police Department, repeatedly used the power of his badge and gun in order to pull women over, sexually harass the women he was holding captive, pull down his pants and show his dick off to them against their will, used threats of false arrest to grope at least one woman under the excuse of a pat search, and to try to extort sexual favors by threatening them with legal retaliation if they wouldn’t. He did this to at least five women that we know of, while on duty, in uniform, in his police cruiser, and heavily armed. So the boss cops with the North Las Vegas city government gave him a six month paid vacation; then the government prosecutor cut a deal with him so he could plead guilty to five misdemeanors — none of them sex offenses. The government prosecutors wanted this serial sexual predator to spend four months in jail; the government judge accepting this plea decided to give him three years’ probation instead, and told him to pay off the government to the tune of $5,000. The women he harassed, intimidated and coerced[1] will, of course, get nothing.

The government prosecutor had this to say, about the case:

From the onset of this case, what the state found most disturbing is here’s an individual charged with our public safety — we’ve blindly given him our trust to protect community, we’ve given him a badge, and he’s vitiated all of that, including blemishing his department, Chief Deputy District Attorney Stacy Kollins said.

— Quoted by Cara McCoy, Las Vegas Sun (2010-05-18): Ex-officer who sought sexual favors during traffic stops sentenced

Well, sure, except that you ought to speak only for yourself — I never gave Officer James Vernon Clayton a badge or my trust, and neither did much of anyone else outside of the North Las Vegas city government. But that said, perhaps what you ought to learn is that it’s foolish to blindly give your trust to men with guns and uniforms, and dangerous to create an environment in which they wield incredible power over ordinary citizens, with a reliable expectation that even if they get caught, they will never face any serious personal consequences for their violent and abusive actions. Until you figure that out, expect your blind trust to keep getting vitiated, over and over again, by men who use those weapons and that unaccountable power to stalk, harass, and assault the women who they force under their power.

What as at stake here has a lot to do with the individual crimes of three cops, and it’s good to know that the police department is taking that very seriously. But while excoriating these three cops for their personal wickedness, this kind of approach also marginalizes and dismisses any attempt at a serious discussion of the institutional context that made these crimes possible — the fact that each of these three men worked out of the same office on the same shift, the way that policing is organized, the internal culture of their own office and of the police department as a whole, and the way that the so-called criminal justice system gives cops immense power over, and minimal accountability towards, the people that they are professedly trying to protect. It strains belief to claim that when a rape gang is being run out of one shift at a single police station, there’s not something deeply and systematically wrong with that station. If it weren’t for the routine power of well-armed cops in uniform, it would have been much harder for Victor Gonzales, Anthony Munoz, or Raymond Ramos to force their victims into their custody or to credibly threaten them in order to extort sex. If it weren’t for the regime of State violence that late-night patrol officers exercise, as part and parcel of their legal duties, against women in prostitution, it would have been that much harder for Gonzales and Munoz to imagine that they could use their patrol as an opportunity to stalk young women, or to then try to make their victim complicit in the rape by forcing her to pretend that the rape was in fact consensual sex for money. And if it weren’t for the way in which they can all too often rely on buddies in the precinct or elsewhere in the force to back them up, no matter how egregiously violent they may be, it would have been much harder for any of them to believe that they were entitled to, or could get away with, sexually torturing women while on patrol, while in full uniform, using their coercive power as cops.

A serious effort to respond to these crimes doesn’t just require individual blame or personal accountability — although it certainly does require that. It also requires a demand for fundamental institutional and legal reform. If police serve a valuable social function, then they can serve it without paramilitary forms of organization, without special legal privileges to order peaceful people around and force innocent people into custody, and without government entitlements to use all kinds of violence without any accountability to their victims. What we have now is not civil policing, but rather a bunch of heavily armed, violently macho, institutionally privileged gangsters in blue.

— GT 2007-12-21: Rapists on patrol

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  1. [1] Who chose not to speak out at the sentencing hearing, because they were afraid of retaliation from the would-be rapist who the judge then proceeded to turn loose.

Tonight, in News of the Obvious

Las Vegas correspondent Walter E. Gunther writes in to the Las Vegas Sun, Politicians mostly put their own needs first.

And in breaking news from NARAL Pro-Choice America, it turns out that government provision of healthcare means that women’s healthcare will be allocated through a political process, and when women’s reproductive healthcare is allocated through a political process, women’s reproductive healthcare ends up being subjected to the vicissitudes of political debate over abortion.

NARAL may not draw the conclusion from its report, but the editorial board here at News of the Obvious will: setting aside outright political prohibitions, which aren’t likely to pass in the near future, a broad expansion of political control over women’s healthcare is the single worst thing that could possibly happen towards undermining women’s access to abortion and reproductive medicine.

Las Vegas tax protestors arrested by government terrorist task force

You tell me when you spot the terrorism in this case.

Four members of an anti-government movement, known as the Sovereign Movement, have been arrested after a three-year investigation by the Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force on allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and possessing unregistered machine guns.

The four men were arrested Thursday in the Las Vegas area, said Greg Brower, U.S. Attorney for Nevada.

Samuel Davis, 54, of Council, Idaho; Shawn Rice, 46, of Seligman, Ariz.; Harold Call, 67, of Las Vegas; and Jan Lindsey, 66, of Henderson, were taken into custody, Brower said.

Davis and Rice are charged in a federal indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 30 counts of money laundering. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine on each count.

Call is charged in a federal indictment with two counts of possession and transfer of a machine gun and three counts of possession of an unregistered machine gun. If convicted, Call faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

Undercover agents working for the FBI infiltrated the anti-government group, which often met at a Denny’s restaurant at Fremont Street and Boulder Highway, and for $750 purchased parts from Call to turn guns into machine guns, the search warrants said.

Call in one phone conversation said he phoned the IRS to see whether his account had been credited. He said that after asking a woman IRS four times for his account balance, Call learned the IRS had not credited his account. In the phone call with the undercover FBI agent, Call said, Every time I talk to the IRS, I just want to go kill somebody.

In addition to the STEN machine gun, the task force seized a mill and other equipment that allowed Call to transform weapons into machine guns and he demonstrated an AR-15 rifle he had converted to allow for fully automatic firing.

Lindsey is charged in a federal indictment with one count of evasion of payment of tax and four counts of tax evasion. If convicted, Lindsey faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

The indictments were returned by a federal grand jury Tuesday and unsealed on Thursday. The defendants were to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leavitt on Friday.

From March 2008 through the date of the indictment, Davis and Rice allegedly laundered about $1.3 million for FBI undercover agents, court records show. Davis and Rice were told by the undercover agents that the monies were proceeds of a bank fraud scheme, specifically from the theft and forgery of stolen official bank checks.

Davis and Rice laundered the money through a nominee trust account controlled by Davis and through an account of a purported religious organization controlled by Rice. The men took about $74,000 and $22,000, respectively, in fees for their money laundering services before handing the rest of the funds to the undercover FBI agents.

Davis is allegedly a national leader of the anti-government movement, traveling nationwide to teach different theories and ideologies of the movement, court records said. Rice allegedly claims that he is a lawyer and Rabbi, and uses his law school education and businesses to promote his sovereign ideas and to gain credibility in the community.

Call allegedly possessed and transferred an auto sear or lightning link, a combination of firearm parts designed to convert a weapon from a single-shot manual one to automatic use, on Sept. 11, 2008, and Jan. 20, 2009, the court records said. Call allegedly possessed a STEN machine gun on Oct. 9, 2008, which was not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Lindsey is a retired FBI agent. He and Call are leaders of the Nevada Lawmen Group for Public Awareness, a group that is associated with the sovereign movement.

Lindsey allegedly failed to timely file or pay federal income tax for the years 1999 through 2006, and committed various acts designed to hide his income and assets from the IRS, including filing false tax returns, making false statements to the IRS, placing funds and property in the names of nominees, using fake negotiable instruments to attempt to pay his taxes and filing false documents with the IRS and Clark County.

In a detailed search warrant unsealed Friday, authorities said Lindsey underwent and passed a background investigation in 2000 for his work conducting FBI background checks, but in 2005 he revealed he had not filed his income taxes. The FBI’s Security Division determined he was a security risk and did not grant him clearances.

The search warrant said Lindsey owes the IRS $333,397.78 for unpaid taxes from 1999 to 2002.

On May 7, 2008, Lindsey filed a false tax form for 2000 saying his wife earned $13,638.33 from Azurix and $7,249.77 from Enron, when IRS wage records show she earned $169,109 and $174,142, respectively, from the two companies.

Unsealed search warrant affidavits allege that Rice, Davis, Lindsey and Call are heavily involved in the Sovereign Movement, an extreme anti-government organization whose members attempt to disrupt and overthrow government and other forms of authority by using paper terrorist tactics [N.B.: paper terrorism is a melodramatic phrase for using a flurry of fraudulent legal filings in order to harass an intended target], intimidation, harassment and violence, court records said.

Members of the group believe they do not have to pay taxes and believe the federal government deceived Americans into obtaining Social Security cards, drivers’ licenses, car registrations and wedding licenses, among other official records. The group believes that if these contracts are revoked, persons are sovereign citizens.

Members of this group also believe that U.S. currency is invalid. They widely use fictitious financial instruments, such as fake money orders, personal checks and sight drafts, and participate in redemption schemes where the false financial documents are used to pay creditors.

The FBI-led Nevada Joint Terrorism Task Force includes the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Henderson Police Department, IRS Criminal Investigation, Metro Police, the Nevada Department of Public Safety and the North Las Vegas Police Department in addition to other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Nevada, Council, Idaho, and Flagstaff and Seligman, Ariz.

Mary Manning, Las Vegas Sun (2009-03-06): Anti-government group members arrested for money laundering

The Federalis would like you to know that the charges have nothing to do with persecuting the targets for their political beliefs. Yeah, I’ll bet. Which is exatly why an anti-terrorism task force spent three years using federal anti-terrorism laws to infiltrate activist groups, in order to produce a bunch of money laundering, tax evasion, and firearms possession charges, all of which have exactly nothing whatever to do with even a single threat of a terrorist attack. And I’m also sure that the timing of these arrests also had absolutely nothing at all to do with the fact that your deadline for filing your federal income tax return is coming up in just over a month. And if you believe that, I’ve got some mortgage securities that you may be interested in buying.

The Metro Police Beat

  • A couple of months ago, just before New Years’, [a Las Vegas Metro SWAT team rolled out to Emmanuel Dozier and Belinda Saavedra’s house in Seven Hills, at 9:30 at night (about four or fve hours after dark, around here, during the winter) in order to serve a search warrant. The cops blasted open the gate with a shotgun. They claim they announced themselves but nobody other than the police says that they heard anything other than a lot of noise. Saavedra has a three month old baby and a 13 year old daughter who were in the front of the house when this hard-to-see gang of armed strangers opened fire late at night and started forcing their way in. Saavedra called 911 as soon as she heard the gunfire; the recording of the call is now available online. Dozier got a handgun that he keeps for self-defense and fired back at the gang of strangers, apparently wounding three cops. After a stand-off, once the 911 dispatcher convinced Dozier that the men outside were in fact cops, he dropped the phone, went outside, and surrendered himself with his hands up. Here’s how he looked when he got to the police station:

    This is his mug shot from the police; he has a huge bruise and a lot of swelling around his right eye.

    Then they searched the house. They found no cocaine anywhere. Dozier is being charged with attempted murder and possession of marijuana — even though an inventory of items seized doesn’t include the marijuana or paraphenalia the police claimed to have found with their search warrant. Apparently the search warrant was to gather evidence to bust Dozier on charges of being a low-level cocaine dealer. The cops claim an undercover had already made a few purchases from Dozier; allegedly they had a business relationship with him, but they couldn’t be bothered to meet up with him one more time in order to be able to make an arrest that didn’t involve storming his house late at night while children were present. They told the media that Dozier had no above-the-table job; actually, he had a regular job at the time as a sheet-metal worker. They have not made any claims that Belinda Saavedra committed any crimes whatsoever at any point, either related to the drugs or related to the shooting; but the did make sure to force her down and rough her up after she had surrendered (since she wouldn’t calm down or shut her mouth while they shot at her house, hollered at her, took away her baby and called her a dumbass for her trouble).

    Meanwhile, the D.A. has taken steps to take away her children and charged her with abuse and neglect — even though, remember, she is not accused of any independent crimes whatsoever. The explanation is that she is being charged with abuse and neglect because she doesn’t have a job outside the house. There’s no sign that being a stay-at-home mother (while her boyfriend holds down a job as a sheet metal worker and her mother works two jobs in order to help support her grandchildren) has caused either kid any hurt or want. But the prosecutor does inform us, in the complaint, that the 13 year old was traumatized when cops started a gunfight at her house. I wouldn’t be surprised, but whose fault is that?

    The cops refuse to answer any questions about the reasons for staging a late-night SWAT raid in this case or about the discrepancies between their public statements about the suspects and the documented facts that emerged later. Dana Gentry reports that Police refuse to answer but a Metro spokesman did tell me extreme measures are necessary to guard against some liberal judge throwing out the case. Metro are liars and child abusers who routinely use maximal force in situations where they could easily have gotten anything they needed to get by other means. They also spend tremendous amounts of time, and tremendous amounts of money that taxpayers are forced to turn over to them against our will, prosecuting people who — even if everything alleged against them is true — are doing nothing more than selling a valued product to a willing customer, and who never should have been threatened or hassled by the police in the first place.

  • Las Vegas Metro made a road stop at about 4 in the morning on February 6. They suspected that the driver was drunk. He got out of the car and ran away on foot. Cops sent a helicopter to look for him and concluded (based on heat in the yard) that he was hiding out in a backyard in a nearby neighborhood. He wasn’t — turns out he was hiding in a different part of the neighborhood — but the family’s dog, a pit-bull named Coco, was. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except that the cops decided that catching a DUI suspect was so incredibly urgent, and respecting other people’s private property being, after all, no concern at all to Las Vegas Metro’s important work, they would send a gang of seven cops, first to barge into the next-door neighbor’s yard without asking, and then, again without asking anyone’s permission, to jump the wall into the backyard where they thought the suspect would be. The family dog came out and confronted this gang of strangers barging into her territory; she didn’t actually attack anybody, but, after all, she was only surrounded by seven fully-grown, professionally-trained, and heavily-armed police officers; her continued existence clearly posed a threat, so they shot the dog dead. The cops took responsibility by issuing an Oops, our bad to the bereaved family — along with a self-serving claim that the cops just had to shoot the dog in self-defense. (No, they didn’t. Self-defense is no longer an excuse when you put yourself in danger by invading somebody else’s private property.) Then, public servants that they are, they left Jose Fernandez and Yurisel de la Torre by themselves to cover the $200+ bill for cremating their dead dog.

    Metro are home invaders and dog killers who routinely exercise contempt for private property, instigate violent confrontations in order to deal with trivial crimes, shoot first and ask questions later, and then excuse their use of maximal force as the necessary means to completely unnecessary ends.

  • While we’re here, I should also mention that the Nevada Crime Technology Advisory Board, representing Las Vegas Metro, the FBI, and several other law enforcement outfits from around Nevada, wants a new law passed that will allow police in Nevada to unilaterally seize the balances on prepaid debit cards without any kind of warrant — because, while they don’t have any evidence to present in any particular case, they reckon that somebody, somewhere using one of these things might turn out to be a bad guy selling drugs to willing customers — which is apparently enough of a reason to give these lying, child-abusing, dog-killing, home-invading, itchy-trigger-fingered irresponsible thugs a unilateral right to seize private citizens’ money, by arbitrary fiat, with no need for any kind of prior judicial review.

There’s a cliché around here, about how longtime locals compare the way things are now — for better or worse — with the way things used to be, back when the mob ran Vegas. The problem with this is that the mob never stopped running Vegas. The only thing that’s changed is the name of the families, and the color of the tailored suits.

Leave South Hills Church alone

Here’s my February 10 letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Sun, which apparently will remain unpublished (by them). It’s in response to their recent story on a political tussle between the South Hills Church and some folks living by it in Green Valley, over a series of big-ass crosses that South Hills Church was planning to put up on their own property:

Editor, Las Vegas Sun:

I was saddened to read (Neighbors at odds with church over huge crosses, 2/4/2009) the Clark County government, at the behest of busybody neighbors, has forced South Hills Church to scrap plans to build three large crosses on the their own property.

The bellowing blowhard busybody brigade complains these crosses — built on land the church owns, with money freely given to the church for that purpose — would encroach upon the views from their yards. Sad as that may be, the view from your yard stops being your own private property once you start looking over another’s land.

South Hills Church’s plans to build symbols of their own faith on their own property are their own business; they’re not interfering with anybody else’s property and they’re not forcing anyone to look. Yet they get harassed in the name of politically-enforced aesthetic correctness. Neighbors and county government have no more business butting in to tell them how tall or short to make accessory structures on their own land, than they have call to make the church change the logo on their own sign, or the color they painted their walls, just to better please the neighbors’ aesthetic sensibilities.

Of course, we are informed government zoning laws require shorter crosses. No doubt; that’s exactly why government zoning is a ridiculous and petty tyranny. Such laws should be immediately and completely abolished.

Leave South Hills Church alone. What goes up on their own property is their own business.

Sincerely,
Charles W. Johnson
Southern Nevada Alliance of the Libertarian Left

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How local government in Las Vegas and Clark County deals with the worst joblessness crisis in a generation

  1. By trying to force working folks out of their jobs driving ice cream trucks, since it is far more important that a handful of bellyaching neighborhood grouches can avoid hearing Turkey in the Straw for 30 seconds around 8:00pm, than that working folks actually be left alone to make an honest living, using a few fittings to trick out a truck they may already own, by providing a cold treat to willing customers and a little bit of happiness to neighborhood children in the midst of a sweltering summer. (The Las Vegas Sun, apparently with a straight face, describes briefly hearing an ice cream truck pass by is akin to aural torture. If so, it may be the only form of torture that you can avoid by turning up your damned hi-fi for a minute or two.)

  2. By forcing working folks out of jobs driving taxis, by artificially limiting the number of taxicabs that can legally operate in Las Vegas, thus limiting the legal cab market to only 16 companies, cartelized into a controlled oligarchy protected from outside competition — notably from any possibility outside competition by independent cabbies, who might otherwise be able to set themselves up in one of the largest and most lucrative tourist markets in the world, with nothing more than a car they already own. As a result of all this, anyone who does manage to get work as a taxicab driver is forced to work at somewhere around minimum wage for one of the 16 government-approved taxicab companies; while lots of people who could otherwise make a living driving a taxi are forced out of work because, thanks to the arbitrary fiat of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, based on sheer guesswork about how many cabs Las Vegas needs, the only legal way to drive a taxi in Vegas is to rent yourself out to one of these big taxi companies — and the Authority, again based on absolutely nothing other than pure guesswork, tourist-industry gossip, and impressionistic first-hand observations about how many cabs Vegas needs, won’t even let those companies hire on any new cabs this year.

  3. And finally, rather than just getting the hell out of the way and let working folks make an honest living with resources the already own, by shutting them down at every turn, running them out of business for the benefit of neighborhood power games or established insider companies, and then, to crown all, by sticking their hands into working folks’ increasingly empty pockets, and grabbing out a million dollars while they still can, to hand over to the tax-funded Las VegasConvention and Visitors Authority, in order to run a bunch of ads on behalf of big casinos to beg other big businesses to send their executives on more trips out to Vegas, apparently on the theory that those poor ol’ casinos just can’t be expected to pay for their own damned advertising.

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On Blaming the Victim, Part II

From Frances Vanderploeg, Las Vegas Sun (2008-12-04): Henderson students discuss controversial issues during event

Part of the problem may be attendance, some students said. Schools are trying out different policies to encourage students to be in class and on time, such as forcing parents to sign in a student who was late the morning before.

They’re trying to fix the attendance policy, but they’re going about it the wrong way, Josh Rivera of Canyon Springs High School said.

The requirement to have parents sign in late students, for example, encouraged students to just skip the entire period, because the penalties were less harsh that way.

For the students with chronic truancies, however, students thought it was about time their peers answered up.

Shouldn’t there be harsher punishment because they’re wasting our time and money? Nick Rattigan of Green Valley High School said. They’re wasting the teachers’ time.

Actually, seeing as how the students are being made to go to class against their will, and the government schools seem unable to give them any reason to go other than the threat of harsher punishment, it seems to me like it would be more to the point to complain about the teachers wasting the students’ time than vice versa.

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