Monthly Archives: March 2014

THE BIG EVENT AT THE CONROE YMCA!

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It was a day of family fun in the sun and pushing themselves to the limit in Conroe this morning for some young athletes…

The annual Tri-For-Fun triathlon was held at the YMCA in Conroe.

It kicked off early Sunday morning at 7 am. 

This was the largest turn out for the event which attracted more than 200 people this year including children who competed in the event for their age group. 

The ultimate goal is to raise money for kids who would not ordinarily be able to afford to go to the YMCA. 

The director of the event Rick Ornelas says, “I just hope it will build awareness of the YMCA it will build awareness of the partner’s campaign…instead of just sitting there playing video games.”

The average completion time for the young triathletes was about 20 minutes and every kid went home with a medal.

MAN CALLED A PIMP AND ACCUSED OF BEING A COP KILLER CLEARED OF THE CHARGES!

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Lee Sonier is cleared of murder charges

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Deputy Brewer shot and killed

A MAN INVESTIGATORS CALLED A PIMP WHO WAS ALSO LABELED A COP KILLER WALKS AWAY FREE TODAY.

TODAY A JURY FOUND 34 YEAR OLD LEE SONIER NOT GUILTY IN THE APRIL 2011 MURDER OF HARRIS COUNTY DEPUTY RONNIE EARL BREWER. 

A SPOKESPERSON FROM THE HARRIS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE SAYS PROSECUTORS ALWAYS KNEW THIS WOULD BE AN UPHILL CASE BECAUSE OF THE DEPUTY CONSTABLE’S PREDICAMENT. 

INVESTIGATORS  SAY DEPUTY BREWER WAS OFF DUTY AND IN HIS CAR WITH TWO PROSTITUTES AT THE TIME HE WAS SHOT AND KILLED.

INVESTIGATORS SAY SONIER HAD PLANS TO ROB BREWER WHO WAS WITH THE LADIES OF THE EVENING AT THE TIME.

THE ATTORNEY REPRESENTING SONIER SAYS HE COULD BE RELEASED MONDAY NIGHT IF HE DOESN’T RUN INTO OTHER LEGAL ISSUES RELATED TO PREVIOUS CHARGES OR HIS PROBATION.

FACTOR/FOX 26 EXCLUSIVE: HPD’S CRIME LAB HAS A NEW INTERNAL INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY!

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The Houston Police Department’s Crime Lab Division has had its share of troubles over the years with DNA processing.  It was a nightmare for local prosecutors..However, with millions recently pumped into the facility city leaders thought the problems were in the past.

But FOX 26 news has learned there is a new internal investigation underway at HPD’s Crime Lab.  It all came to light after an employee we’re not identifying abruptly resigned in mid-March.

That investigation examines whether  the employee – a criminalist for two years – did not follow procedures.  Our sources tell us it’s how the former worker handled evidence in criminal cases assigned to the division.

Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh is on the public safety committee at City Hall which monitors HPD.  Kubosh says, “yes it concerns me because I know that the district attorney’s office is going to be using whatever evidence from our crime lab to prosecute and we want to make sure that evidence is beyond reproach.”

We’ve also learned HPD has notified the Harris County District Attorney’s office about the former employee and the criminal cases or evidence he handled. A spokesperson says they’ve received a list of cases and they’re trying to determine how to proceed once the internal probe is completed.

FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico says he believes the crime lab worker’s actions have the potential to harm cases that are currently in the hands of the D.A.’s office.
Tritico says, “they have to notify defense attorneys and every defendant that’s been affected by this person’s work.”

A spokesperson for HPD confirms the internal probe but declined to go into any detail about how many cases if any could be affected by the former crime lab employee.  

We’ve obtained an internal memo written by HPD’s Crime Lab Director Irma Rios. 
It’s the notification of the former employee’s resignation from the crime lab.  In that memo Rios says quote – I would not recommend the worker be rehired.

Councilman Kubosh says this latest revelation involving the crime lab is disappointing at best.

He says, “I was unaware of anything like this happening but it does bring concern to me and it should bring concern to the citizens of Houston.”

Especially those whose guilt or innocence could be on the line and among the cases handled by the former crime lab worker.

SPRINGFEST IN OLD TOWN SPRING!

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There’s was a lot of partying going on in Old Town Spring today and it was for a good cause…

The 16th Annual Springfest was held in north Harris County this afternoon with food, drinks, and lots of live entertainment.

The event is put on every year to raise money for the preservation of historical landmarks in Old Town Spring.

There was a wine and beer tasting element added to this year’s event which pulled people from all over the area.

Springfest Chair Rhonda Blair says, “they’re loving it they’re loving it they like the fact they can have little wine they can have a little beer . Just the mood setting a very relaxed setting. They’re really complimenting us on this year’s event.”

A portion of the funds raised at the annual event go to the Spring Preservation League.

FAMILY COURT JUDGE RESIGNS UNDER CLOUD OF CONTROVERSY!

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Denise Pratt, Judge of the 311th Family District Court, announced her resignation today.  She released the following statement:

“The relentless attacks by my political opponents have become a distraction to the work of the Court, and to the Republican Party in Harris County.  I cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue.

“My goal has always been to serve the children and families of Harris County, but I won’t sacrifice my family’s well-being any longer to continue to serve as Judge.

“I am suspending my campaign as well.  The harassment by my opponents will continue as long as I remain on the bench.

“I have worked to elect Republican candidates for over two decades.  I have served as a Precinct Chairman, Election Judge and President of a local Republican Club.  I don’t want to see my Party, which I have worked to build, dragged down by the media circus that has surrounded this whole affair.

“I didn’t run for office for personal aggrandizement; I ran to make a difference.  While sitting on the bench I witnessed the family unit being torn apart, with children usually paying the biggest price.  I am proud of the work I did while I served.  I hope I made a difference in the lives of the families that appeared in the 311th Family District Court.”

THREE FAKE COPS ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY!

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Harris County Sheriff’s Office Robbery investigators have arrested and charged two of three suspects in the robbery and kidnapping of a 24 year-old man in west Harris County on March 12, 2014.

Investigators say that Michael Atkins (DOB 12/23/1992), Ronald Allen Baylis (DOB 03/29/1965) and Thomas Warnell (DOB 07/05/1988) posed as a female on Facebook and lured the complainant to a residence in the 6300 block of Glenhagen for the promise of drugs and sex.

When the complainant arrived, he was told to wait in the garage. The three suspects came out of the home and identified themselves as Harris County Sheriff’s deputies and a United States Marshal.

The suspects had no badges or identification of law enforcement personnel. The suspects told the complainant that if he paid them money he would be let go.

The suspects made the complainant enter his vehicle and all three suspects then drove him to his residence. While there he was forced to give them a laptop computer and cash. The suspects then took the complainant’s vehicle and left.

On March 19, 2014, suspect Atkins was involved in a minor vehicle accident while driving the complainant’s car that he’d stolen. He was taken into custody where he identified the other suspects as his accomplices in the robbery.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Warrants division arrested Ronald Baylis yesterday, March 27, 2014. Suspect Thomas Warnell is still at large.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office accepted the following charges on the defendants:

Michael Atkins: Robbery by Threats and Impersonating a Peace Officer and Felon in Possession.

Ronald Baylis: Robbery by Threats and Impersonating a Peace Officer.

Thomas Warnell: Robbery by Threats and Impersonating a Peace Officer.

The suspects mug shots photos are in the order as listed above.

Anyone with information about Thomas Warnell’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS or to submit a tip via the iWatchHarrisCounty phone app.

See something? Say something!

iWatchHarrisCounty is the HCSO’s free mobile phone app that allows the public to report suspicious persons and/or activity anonymously, anywhere, any time.

GUILTY PLEAS FOR THOSE IMPLICATED IN MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEME!

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Former Houston resident Walter Ryan Macapaz has been ordered to prison along with Houston businessman Tony David Maldonado and attorney and former mortgage loan officer Buffy Marie Lawrence for their roles in a scheme to defraud residential mortgage lenders of more than $22 million in loans, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz.

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Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed Macapaz, 36, a sentence of 108 months in federal prison, while Maldonado, 33, and Lawrence, 42, will serve respective sentences of 24 and 12 months. All three defendants will be required to serve a term of three years of supervised release following completion of their prison terms. In handing down the sentences, Judge Miller noted the seriousness of the offenses.

A fourth defendant, attorney and former title company escrow officer Lisa Carol Ross, 52, of Missouri City, also pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced to 13 months in prison on May 17, 2013.

All were indicted in 2011 for a scheme to defraud residential mortgage lenders. The conspirators used fraudulent documents to help borrowers qualify for mortgage loans to purchase condominium units in the Commerce Towers building located on Main Street in downtown Houston as well as residential homes in the Houston area. The documents had false and misleading information about the borrowers’ income, assets, liabilities, employment status, bank deposits, rental payments, intent to use properties as a primary residence and source of funds used to close the real estate transactions.

Macapaz and Lawrence have admitted they knowingly arranged for borrowers to submit the false documents to mortgage lenders in order to obtain loans, while Maldonado has admitted he knowingly created some of the false documentation.

Previously released on bond, Macapaz was taken into custody following the sentencing today where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  Maldonado and Lawrence were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI, IRS-CI, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – Office of Inspector General and Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney John Lewis is prosecuting the case.

THE FBI TOOK HIM DOWN JUST AS HE WAS PREPARING TO ROB AN ARMORED CAR THURSDAY!

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Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, has been arrested and charged by criminal complaint alleging attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material, specifically Composition 4 (C4), announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the FBI. 

Talbot, formerly of Batavia, N.Y., and now a resident of Katy, was arrested yesterday following an eight-month undercover investigation by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). He is expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy today at 10:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m., at which time the U.S. expects to request his detention pending further criminal proceedings.

According to the complaint, filed late yesterday, Talbot espoused his desire to recruit five to six other like-minded individuals to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers. Talbot allegedly created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement” (AIM). The complaint alleges he described that page as:

“a Pre-Constitutionalist Community that offers those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”

The criminal complaint further alleges Talbot made several postings on the page between Jan. 30, 2014, and Feb. 9, 2014, seeking people interested in “walking away from your life…to stop the regime.”

On March 15, 2014, Talbot allegedly posted again to the page:

“In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more.  We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states.  They will call us many names and spin things around on media.  Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.  I will try to find someone to take over this community page, but most of the guys who are admins are part of my unit.  I will have a website up in 2 months…The funding is unlimited since the banking cartel will be forced to fund our movements.”

The complaint alleges that on March 20, 2014, Talbot conducted surveillance of multiple financial institutions in the Northwest Houston area, monitoring the movements of people entering and exiting the banks. Talbot also allegedly followed an armored car, watching how personnel exited the vehicle and whether the carrier was picking up or dropping off bags.

On March 22, 2014, Talbot sent $500 as a down payment for the explosive devices he had requested, according to the complaint.

Two days later, Talbot allegedly claimed to have quit his job and was preparing for an upcoming armored car robbery. On March 27, 2014, Talbot and others met at a storage facility in Houston with the intent to conduct an armor car robbery that morning, according to allegations. Talbot allegedly provided detailed maps of the target financial institution as well as escape routes in order to quickly evade law enforcement. The complaint further alleges he placed two explosive devices made of C4 into his black backpack and allegedly stated he would place the explosive device on the vehicle. He further instructed the group how to block the armor car with their vehicle to prevent it from leaving the location and provided a “manifesto” which was read to the group. “We must rebel. There is no other option no. Blood and bullets are the only two things that will change this world, short of divine action.”

While en route to conduct the armored car robbery, Talbot was arrested and taken into custody by the FBI Houston Division Special Weapons and Tactics team.

If convicted, he faces up to a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine for the attempted robbery as well as another 10 years imprisonment and $100,000 fine for each of the remaining charges.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s JTTF, which includes personnel from the FBI, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Secret Service, Houston and Houston Metro Police Departments and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and Jim McAlister are prosecuting.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

DO YOU RECOGNIZE ANY OF THE SUSPECTS WANTED IN THE GAME ROOM SHOOTING?

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Houston police have released surveillance photos of an incident in which a security guard was shot during a robbery at 10950 Bissonnet #B-125 about 12:30 a.m. on Thursday (March 27).

The victim, Rueben Portillo, 53, was shot once in the head and transported to Ben Taub General Hospital in critical condition.

The five suspects fled the scene and currently remain at large.

HPD Homicide Division Sergeant A. Versluis and Officer J. Horn reported:

The suspects, described only as three Hispanic males and two Hispanic females, entered the Lucky Star Game Room and began playing the electronic slot machines.  Without warning, one of the males attacked Mr. Portillo, a security guard.  As the two struggled over the Mr. Portillo’s weapon, a second male suspect joined in the attack.  During the struggle, Mr. Portillo was shot.  The male suspects then robbed the individuals inside the game room before all five suspects fled in a silver two-door Honda Accord and red Nissan Sentra with tinted windows and a rear spoiler.  

Anyone with information on the whereabouts or identities of any of these suspects is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.