HOUSTON COUNTY COMMISSION Administrative Meeting October 19, 2017

Awards and Presentations
1. Proclamation – “Red Ribbon Week” – Mrs. Susan Trawick, Executive Director, Dothan Houston County Substance Abuse Partnership, Harli Pettus, Youth Council Member and Morgan Brazier, Youth Council Member
2. Proclamation – “Farm City Week” – Randy Davis, Committee Chairman, Laura Stakelum, Publicity Committee and Gloria Jeffcoat, Committee Member
3. Proclamation – “Wiregrass Best Robotics Day” – Mrs. Rachel Hudson, Lead Sponsor and Mrs. Sarah Swafford, Sponsor
Regular Agenda
1. Request to appoint Kelly Colbert to fill vacancy on the Dothan-Houston County Substance Abuse Partnership
2. Request to approve expenses from Capital Replacement Fund – Sean Curtis.
3. Request to approve personnel adjustment at Houston County Jail – Sheriff Donald Valenza
4. Request to approve all overtime reimbursement grants & agreements for 2017-2018 Budget Year – Bill Rafferty
5. Request for reassignment of the Employee Assistance Program – Sheri Garner, Personnel Director
6. Request to approve the Houston County/Dothan City Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Joint Bid Agreement– Bill Dempsey, Chief Administrative Officer
7. Request to approve final subdivision plat for Park Ridge Subdivision, Phase III – Road and Bridge Department
8. Request to sell the following items on GovDeals: office equipment and stove – Road and Bridge Department

WALTON COUNTY FIRE RESCUE KNOCKS DOWN RESIDENTIAL FIRE ALONGSIDE ARGYLE VOLUNTEERS

For Immediate Release

October 18, 2017

 

PONCE DE LEON, Fla– Firefighters respond to a residential fire on White Creek Road and discover a fully engulfed structure. Fortunately, no one was home at the time of the blaze and no injuries were reported.

Within minutes of the call at 8:33pm on October 16th Walton County Fire Rescue crews along with Argyle Volunteer Fire arrived at the home and discovered the fire encompassing about 80% of the structure. Despite the rural and remote location, crews were able to arrive and jump into action quickly, knocking down the heavy flames. No victims were located during a quick search of the home. The owner was not present at the time the fire started.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire. WCFR would like to extend our thanks to Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. who assisted at the scene.

Houston County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Donald J. Valenza
Press Release
On October 16, 2017, the Houston County Sheriff’s Office responded to a local hospital to a report of a Firearm Assault that occurred in the 1200 Block of State Line Rd. in Madrid.
Gary Ladon Godwin, a 40 year old black male of Slocomb, AL was arrested and charged with Assault 1st Degree.
Godwin was placed in the Houston County Jail with a bond of $5,000.00.

88-YEAR-OLD SCAMMED OUT OF THOUSANDS; WCSO SEARCHING FOR SCAM ARTIST

For Immediate Release

October 16, 2017

 

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla— An elderly Walton County woman is scammed out of $18,000 and now investigators are zeroing in on the suspect.

 

Between April and July of this year an 88-year-old Miramar Beach resident received several calls from someone claiming she won money and needed to send a deposit to collect her winning prize. On three separate occasions the victim sent money to a Herdley Doman, 28, of Lake View Terrace, California.

 

Doman used the scheme to defraud the victim out of several thousand dollars. During the course of the investigation Los Angeles Police Department made direct contact with Doman at the same address he had used to scam the victim – confirming his identity. Following LAPD’s visit, an investigator with Walton County Sheriff’s Office spoke with Doman who confirmed he had deposited the victim’s checks “because someone in Costa Rica told him to” and that “he needed help paying off his student loans.” Text correspondence was sent in the following days after the phone conversation, but Doman has yet to turn himself into the proper authorities.

 

Doman is currently wanted on six felony charges; including three counts of scheming to defraud less than $20,000 and three counts of grand theft less than $5,000.

 

Doman stands approximately 6 feet 1 inch tall, with black hair and brown eyes, weighing approximately 183 pounds. He could be located in the Los Angeles area or with relatives in Costa Rica. Anyone with information on Herdley Doman’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850)-892-8111.

2017 WIREGRASS TOYS FOR TOTS REGISTRATION

The Marine Corps League Wiregrass Detachment along with 15 organizations from Coffee, Dale, Geneva, Henry & Houston counties are partnering to organize registration for the 12th Annual Toys for Tots program in the Wiregrass. Last year, over 2600 children in our local communities received Christmas gifts from the Toys for Tots program.

 

If you have not already signed up your kids for a Christmas toys program and, if you are a resident of Coffee, Dale, Geneva, Henry, or Houston County with children between the ages of 0 – 12 years of age and would like to sign them up for this year’s Toys For Tots program, dial 2-1-1 (toll free) on your phone or 1-888-421-1266 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. only, Monday through Friday. A 2-1-1 Call Specialist will review the qualifications with you and let you know when and where to sign up your children. Interested families should call soon. Sign-up dates and times vary but registration will end Friday, November 17th. There will be no make-up dates after registration has completed.

 

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during the year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to children who may not have had the opportunity of receiving gifts.  The primary goal is to deliver, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to these children and to motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.

 

If you would like to donate to this year’s Toys for Tots program, be a drop off location for donated new toys, or for additional information, call Toys for Tots Coordinator Mike Walton at 334-618-5292.

WALTON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE WARNS CITIZENS OF PHONE SCAM INVOLVING DEPUTY IMPOSTOR

For Immediate Release

October 12, 2017

 

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— For the second time in less than a week Walton County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of an ongoing phone scam involving suspects claiming to be affiliated with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.

 

When residents in Walton County come home today they may have a voicemail for failure to appear at a jury summons. THIS CALL IS A SCAM.

 

Walton County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls from citizens who are reporting a recording on their phones claiming they have failed to appear for jury duty and have a warrant for their arrest. The scammer then goes on to say the warrant can be taken care of by paying a fine; they leave a phone number and ask you to call 850-859-4086 if you have any questions.

 

This number leads to a recording claiming to be the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. IT IS NOT the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. Our official non-emergency line is (850)-892-8111.

 

Walton County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to remember:

 

  • A law enforcement officer will never ask for cash in the event a family member has a warrant.
  • Do NOT wire transfer or purchase gift cards for anyone claiming to be a law enforcement officer or any other government representative.
  • Never give out or confirm personal financial or other sensitive information over the phone.
  • Verify, verify, verify.

 

If you have become a victim of this scam you are asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850)-892-8111.

Former DCF worker charged with two counts of falsifying records

For Immediate Release

October 9, 2017

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have arrested Doreece J. Hines, 31, of 1333 Sunset Blvd., Daytona Beach, on two counts of falsifying records.

 

Hines was employed as a child protective investigator for the Department of Children and Families. She has been terminated.

 

In April 2017, agents launched an investigation into allegations that Hines had falsified documents in the Florida Safe Families Network. Hines was assigned a case involving a child with bruises on the child’s body. The investigation revealed Hines documented she made a visit to the child’s home and spoke with a parent to determine if the child was in present danger. It was later found no visit to the child’s home or conversation took place. Hines entered incorrect information in her case notes and later tried to change those notes.

 

Hines also failed to follow protocol and notify law enforcement and the child protection team about her case.

 

She was booked into the Volusia County Jail. The Office of the State Attorney, 7th Circuit, will prosecute.

Watches and Warnings Cancelled

NEW INFORMATION ————— * CHANGES TO WATCHES AND WARNINGS: – All watches and warnings have been canceled * CURRENT WATCHES AND WARNINGS: – None * STORM INFORMATION: – About 230 miles north-northwest of PANAMA CITY – 33.1N 87.3W – Storm Intensity 35 mph – Movement North-northeast or 30 degrees at 24 mph SITUATION OVERVIEW —————— Nate has weakened to a tropical depression and all tropical storm warnings across the area have been cancelled. Breezy conditions are expected to continue this afternoon across the Florida Panhandle and Southeast Alabama before winds subside tonight.

Youth Fishing Day

The City of Dothan Department of Leisure Services and the Alabama Division of
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries are sponsoring its 20th Annual “Youth Fishing Day” on
Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at Eastgate Park. This free
event is for boys and girls ages 5-12 and provides participants the opportunity to learn
about fishing through a supervised hands-on experience. Each child must be
accompanied by an adult. The pond will be stocked with catfish and participants will
need to bring tackle (fishing pole or rod and reel), bait, and stringer.
Door prize drawings will be held at various times during the event. For more
information, please contact Dothan Leisure Services at 615-4743 or 615-3700.

Houston County Sanitation Columbus Day Holiday Schedule

Monday, October 9th:

Houston County Offices will be closed but our Sanitation Service will run as scheduled.
As always we appreciate all of your help keeping the Houston County Citizens informed.  Don’t forget we also have a Facebook page that we are keeping updated with Road and Bridge closures and any changes in Sanitation Service.  Hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Columbus Day.

Scheduled Water Main Installation

A Dothan Utilities’ contractor will be replacing water mains and customer services in the area of the 400 to 900 Block of S Appletree Street, 200 Block of East Cottonwood Road, 900 Block of Irwin Street and 300 Block of E Selma Street. The crews began mobilizing on October 4, 2017 with construction to begin a few days later. It is anticipated that the construction process will last approximately 5 months. The City of Dothan requests that everyone minimize traffic along this route. If you must travel within this area, please do so with caution as there will be equipment and personnel working in the streets and right of way.

AG MARSHALL ANNOUNCES MULTIPLE LAWSUITS TO ENFORCE STATE LAW BANNING ILLEGAL GAMBLING

 

(MONTGOMERY)—Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Wednesday the filing of multiple lawsuits against casinos in five counties that continue to operate illegal slot machines, as so-called “electronic bingo,” in defiance of state law.  The lawsuits call upon local circuit courts to prohibit the defendants from promoting, operating and transporting so-called “electronic bingo” machines and slot machines in those counties. The State also filed motions requesting that the circuit courts grant preliminary injunctions to cease unlawful gambling operations in these counties while the lawsuits are pending.

The civil lawsuits were filed in Greene, Houston, Lowndes, Macon and Morgan counties against the operating casinos, machine manufacturers and vendors, and the governmental authorities responsible for licensing and overseeing electronic bingo operations in those counties.
“It is the responsibility of the Attorney General to ensure that Alabama’s laws are enforced, including those laws that prohibit illegal gambling,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall.  “Through multiple rulings in recent years, the Alabama Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that electronic bingo and the use of slot machines are illegal in all Alabama counties.  Therefore, we have taken action to hold accountable those who defy the laws of our state.  These lawsuits represent a comprehensive legal approach developed by the Attorney General, with the assistance of the Office’s career experts, to finally put a stop to illegal gambling.”

Since assuming office in February, Attorney General Marshall has continued to assist other agencies and district attorneys in the enforcement of anti-gambling laws in Alabama.  The multi-county lawsuits filed today are the culmination of ongoing investigations into these casinos and gambling ventures around the state.   The civil complaints call for the closure of the casinos because the illegal gambling they offer presents legal nuisances in the state.

The State has pursued numerous cases over the past five years to bring clarity and enforcement to the anti-gambling laws of the state.  In each of these cases, the courts of the state have repeatedly determined that the game of bingo cannot be played on electronic devices, and slot machines are clearly illegal in the state.

The most significant cases include the following:

  • State v. Anchor Club, et al., CV-2011-900213 (Jefferson Co. Circuit Court) – the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the State because the devices were illegal slot machines
  • State v. Southern Star, CV-2012-900053 (Lowndes Co. Circuit Court, 2013) – the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the State as machines cannot play the game of bingo in Lowndes County
  • Ex parte State, 121 So. 3d 337 (Ala. 2013) – the Supreme Court ordered that the Macon County Circuit Court issue a search warrant for illegal gambling devices at VictoryLand because the machines did not appear to play bingo and were slot machines
  • State v. Greenetrack, Inc., 154 So. 3d 940 (Ala. 2014) – the Supreme Court ruled that games of bingo in Greene County must meet all Cornerstone requirements and a machine cannot play the entire game, ordered the trial court to issue a search warrant for gambling machines in Greene County
  • HEDA v. State, 168 So. 3d 4 (Ala. 2014) – the Supreme Court upheld the Houston County Circuit Court’s determination that machines do not play the game of bingo
  • State v. $223,405.86 et al., 203 So. 3d 816 (Ala. 2016) – the Supreme Court found that bingo cannot be played on machines in Macon County, contrary to the trial court’s ruling and ordered the condemnation of all seized devices and money from at VictoryLand
  • State v. $191,249.11 et al., CV-2014-900041 (Greene Co. Circuit Court, 2016) – the trial court held that the sized devices, records and currency from Frontier Bingo in Greene County were condemned and forfeited as illegal gambling devices
  • State v. Choctaw Entertainment Center, et al., CV-2013-903288 (Mobile Co. Circuit Court, 2017) – the trial court held that bingo could not be played on electronic devices in Mobile County
  • State v. 825 Electronic Gambling devices, et al., — So. 3d —- (Ala. 2016) – The Supreme Court held that machines could not be used to play bingo in Greene County and overturned the trial court’s erroneous ruling
  • State v. $1,077.00 et al., CV-2016-903396 (Jefferson Co. Circuit Court, 2017) – the trial court found that the games played at Bid City in Jefferson County were illegal slot machines and condemned them

Click links to download October 4, 2017 filings:

Greene County
Houston County
Lowndes County
Macon County
Morgan County

COMMUNITY RECYCLING EVENT TO BE HELD OCTOBER 14 On Saturday, October 14

WRC’s Assured Data Destruction, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and Discovery Recycling will offer residents the opportunity to have their unused outdated electronics (excluding glass-screen TVs), paper records and data storage materials shredded and recycled during a FREE Community Recycling Event. Drop off your items to be recycled or shredded at the Houston County Farm Center Parking Lot from 8:00-11:00 a.m. CRT computer monitors will be accepted for a fee.
“This event aims to raise public awareness of the need to securely destroy confidential material in order to prevent identify theft and fraud, as well as to encourage people to recycle more,” said Cynthia Green, Director of Development at Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center. WRC’s shred division–Assured Data Destruction is AAA NAID (National Association for Information Destruction) Certified, the highest certification available for the secure document destruction business. For additional information and for a list of accepted items during the Community Recycling Day, please contact Cynthia Green at Assured Data Destruction at 334.792.0022, Ext. 308, email cgreen@wrcjobs.com or visit www.myassureddatadestruction.com.
ACCEPTAPLE ELECTRONICS
➢ Cell Phones
➢ Telephones
➢ Computer Towers
➢ Laptops
➢ VCR’s
➢ CD/DVD Players
➢ Fax Machines
➢ Printers / Copiers
➢ Keyboards/Mice/Perpetual
➢ CRT (Computer Monitors)–$10 fee
NOT ACCEPTED ELECTRONICS
➢ Glass-Screen TVs
➢ Appliances
➢ Scanners
➢ Pagers
➢ More
➢ Batteries
➢ Paint
➢ Other
PAPER
➢ Bank Statements
➢ Forms (Medical, Insurance, Tax, Other)
➢ Receipts
➢ Personal Files
➢ Old Checkbooks
➢ Unwanted/Expired Credit cards
➢ Junk Mail
➢ File Folders
➢ Binders
➢ All Types of Envelopes
Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center, Inc., d/b/a Assured Data Destruction
795 Ross Clark Circle, Suite 1 | Dothan, Alabama 36303
T: 334.792.0022 | F: 334.712.7632 | www.myassureddatadestruction.com

Houston County Road Closures

Harden Road between Lonnie Road and Hwy 231 is closed for cross drain work and will remain closed for approximately 3 weeks.

McDaniel Road between Hwy 84 and S. Etheridge Road is closed for cross drain work and will remain closed for approximately 3 weeks.

End Game by John Taylor

Alabama Senator Lister Hill and Ohio Senator Harold Burton could not have imagined over 70 years ago that the legislation they carried, and the law that was enacted which bears their name would have made such sweeping changes and affect the lives of millions of Americans to this day. The Hill-Burton act was designed to only be a jumpstart mechanism to begin the community hospital revolution and end, which it almost did in 1973, but Congress extend the plan which later became Title XVI of the Public Health Service Act.

This is the bedrock on which Southeast Alabama General Hospital was built. A public hospital whose main purpose was to give top notch medical care to all the community regardless of their ability to pay. SAMC was that place, and as it grew so did the level of expert care and technology. The Wiregrass embraced their hospital, and a partnership was born.

Today SAMC barely resembles the original, but the internal changes are far more drastic. The Houston County Healthcare Authority led by former Dothan Mayor Chester Sowell set about a scheme that has had dire consequences. In May of 2016 the board hired Richard Sutton, a cutthroat CEO, whose reputation is well documented. Sutton claimed in an interview at the time, “I have no plans to make immediate changes”, not true making changes was the reason he was hired in the first place.

Rick “Cowboy” Sutton set about making cuts before the ink dried on that printed interview. Amazingly enough on of the first cuts was to eliminate about 500 copies a day of the local paper that did the interview and welcomed him to Dothan.

Sutton worked quietly at first taking ques from Sowell and the board, looking at small pockets of what seemed like waste here and there. After a few months a consulting team was brought in to help with the heavy lifting. Sutton was ready to give SAMC the fat bottom line Sowell and the board had been craving. Word soon spread that cuts were coming, rumors started circulating, jobs were on the line, heads would roll, and everyone held their breath.

True to form Cowboy Rick delivered, “an “optimization plan” that would realign and restructure the hospital was being developed with employee input that would streamline the hospital”. That’s what board chairman Sowell said when WTOT confronted him as he entered a special called meeting of the board at 6am one morning to have a lavish breakfast and discuss the plan. Within a month of that meeting nearly 200 long time SAMC employees were fired for no other reason than they had worked too hard, been there to long and made too much money. Employees were called in some while on their shift and terminated. They were then watched by security while they collected their belongings and escorted off the premises. Many were given severance packages that were contingent upon signing an agreement that releases the hospital, board members, and administrators from liability. Documents obtained by WTOT show that former employees had to agree not to speak in a derogatory manner about SAMC or speak to third parties about the arrangement, lest they forfeit their severance.

Sources tell WTOT that the records dept. has been dismantled and all patient medical records have been farmed out to the lowest bidder, so much for patient privacy, #databreach .

Still some of the most noticeable cuts have come in staffing, which has led to disturbing events with tragic outcomes. A patient on the BMU (Behavioral Medical Unit) committed suicide while in hospital care, another BMU patient that had attempted suicide on more than one occasion was transported to another facility, but there was no history of the prior acts relayed to the new caregiver. The patient did die at that facility by committing suicide, some say because the place they were sent was not made aware of the previous attempts.

People WTOT spoke with off the record but with knowledge of the internal strife, say concerns are rising among elected officials, complaints from former employees, former Doctors, and patients are being lodged in ever increasing numbers.

Many doctors were given ultimatums by The cowboy and Chester that they only see patients at SAMC. No longer would they be able to go from Flowers to SAMC and back again. This has caused a rift between medical providers and the hospital that has spilled over into patient care. Many doctors are having to move to other locations, reset appointments, delay seeing patients because of the restructuring. Some have just quit all together. One government official said, “ I used to never worry about SAMC they have always been such ab outstanding community partner, but now it’s like something every day, and it’s never good”.

So, what is all this about? There must be some reason, some strategy, what is the end game?

WTOT was told it may be the board want to sell, well that ain’t gonna happen. In order to sell they would need to meet a lot of criteria and get a vote from the county commission, not likely. They can lease the hospital, farm it out to a management company like Cowboy rick’s old friends Banner Health, check them out on youtube.com. but the real deal may be something not many have even thought of, it may be that more is not enough, it may be that Chester and his posse want it all. What if there is a way that SAMC could buy Flowers Hospital. Along with Medical Center Enterprise, that would give SAMC or whatever they plan to change their name to, one of the largest medical providers in the country. The hospital board already owns all the land around it, they have a “doc in the box” on every corner near it. Is that the end game? Is that what they are after? Only time will tell, but we, all of us, the community partners that support SAMC with our tax dollars with our patronage, and our hearts, deserve to know. We want answers, and we need to demand them. Please share this, God bless.

FDLE arrests Jackson County man for child pornography

Cottondale, Fla. – Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Broward R. Carnley, 41, of 2443 Sapp Road #2 in Cottondale, Florida, for 10 counts of possession of child pornography.

 

FDLE agents acted upon cyber tips received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the investigation determined that Carnley downloaded multiple child pornography images to his telephone.

 

Carnley was booked into the Jackson County Jail. Additional charges are pending a full forensic review of the items seized. The case will be prosecuted by the Office of the State Attorney, 14th Judicial Circuit.

What’s in a name? by John Taylor

The name Southeast Alabama Medical Center or SAMC has for many years been associated with the finest medical care that could be found in this region, actions lately bring that into question. WTOT was the first to tell you of the nearly 200 experienced long term employees that were “optimized” out of a job. Many of those positions have since been filled by new hires at lower salaries.

Since that time SAMC has been on a cost cutting frenzy, the morgue, care for county prisoners, even making plans to outsource patient medical record keeping to the lowest bidder.

Things began to really change when a new CEO, Richard Sutton came on board. Sutton previously worked for Banner Health, a non-profit organization that specializes in restructuring, and “optimizing” hospitals. Banner’s cost cutting plans are well known to many in the medical field. Sutton said in May of 2016 he had no immediate plans to make changes at SAMC, but less than a year consultants were hired to go on a cost cutting binge to find some $30 million in savings, many of those are now being implemented.

Sutton’s years at Banner Health were profitable for both the company and Sutton who was paid a salary equivalent to over $300.00 dollars per hour, plus millions in bonuses for his “optimization” of facilities under his management. A search on youtube reveals that there are those that feel Banner health and Sutton were simply out to rake in as much cash as they could for themselves. Millions in off-shore accounts, high salaries, extravagant travel expenses, and huge bonuses have been alleged by former vendors, employees, and patients at the facilities run by Richard Sutton and Banner Health.

So, what about SAMC, well it continues to “restructure since the optimization”, according to many sources. Doctors are leaving in droves after they were told they could only see patients at SAMC. Some have moved out to their own offices , some have moved exclusively to Flowers Hospital, and some have just quit and moved on. A letter from my cardiologist just last week told me that I would not be able to see my doctor until Jan. 2018 for my 6 month ICD device check that had been scheduled for October due to changes at SAMC.

This week we discovered that SAMC will no longer furnish life saving supplies to Paramedics and rescue squads in Houston county, see rickeystokesnews.com. The most disturbing news so far has been a report from a source inside the hospital that told WTOT that an incident in the BMU (behavior medical unit) caused a surprise inspection by a state inspector. According to people with knowledge of the events, patient treatment and conditions were found to be so sub-standard that a full scale audit was initiated at SAMC Tuesday.

There are also reports that a move is on to change the name that so many have been proud of for so long. SAMC may soon be a thing of the past just like the dedicated, loyal employees that worked there, the cooperative spirit that existed between the emergency first responders and the hospital. The partnership of county and city government with SAMC has been strained if not changed, and the people of this area that have always felt safe and cared for are beginning to change their minds as well.

So, what’s in a name? Maybe not as much as it used to be.

 

ROBBERY SUSPECT IN CUSTODY AFTER BATTERING WOMAN AND STEALING TABLET

Officers responded to the area of S 18th Street in reference to a Robbery.  A female advised that a man she knew as “Zuke” had driven up behind her while she was walking down the road.  The suspect got out of the vehicle and jumped on the victim, striking her in the head multiple times.  He then took her computer tablet from the victim’s purse and fled the area.  Officers observed the suspect’s vehicle in the area and conducted a traffic stop.  48 year old Andy Williams of DeFuniak Springs was identified as the driver.  Williams was detained and transported to the Police Department where he voluntarily spoke with Officers and a Detective concerning the incident.  Williams denied assaulting the victim and advised the tablet was a gift.  A search warrant was obtained for the suspect’s residence and the tablet was located.  Williams was arrested and transported to the Walton County Jail where he was booked on charges of Robbery, Battery, and Theft.  He is currently being held on a $10,000 bond.  The victim sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene.

LOCAL MAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON AFTER FIRING A SHOTGUN AT HIS NEIGHBOR

For Immediate Release

 

September 21, 2017

 

Bruce, Fla— James Farrell Davis, Jr., 58, of Bruce has been sentenced to life in prison after shooting his neighbor over an altercation over dogs he claimed were missing from his home.

 

On May 21, 2014 Davis approached a female neighbor and accused her of taking his dogs that were missing. A male resident of the home heard a commotion and walked outside to find Davis pointing a shotgun at the female victim. Davis turned the gun on the male victim and threatened to kill him.

 

When the male resident retreated to his house to protect the three children inside, Davis followed him to the doorway and attempted to enter the home while pointing the shotgun at the victim. The two began to struggle when the gun went off, firing a round into the male resident’s abdomen. The victim quickly grabbed a hammer and smashed Davis over the head until he could rid him of his shotgun.

 

Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on scene to find Davis wounded on the front porch armed with a handgun. Deputies quickly secured the gun and detained the shooter. Walton County Fire Rescue paramedics treated the victim and the shooter at the scene before transporting them to a local hospital. Davis was later booked into the Walton County Jail where he awaited trial.

 

On Tuesday, Walton County Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells sentenced James Farrell Davis, Jr. to life in prison for attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, burglary with a firearm and shooting into a building.

HOME INVASION ROBBERY SUSPECTS IDENTIFIED, TWO IN CUSTODY

For Immediate Release

September 20, 2017

Paxton, Fla— Three suspects have been identified and two men are behind bars following an investigation into a home invasion robbery in Paxton.

On June 27th, around 10:00 PM, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at a home on Richerson Road regarding a home invasion robbery with a firearm. The victim told deputies around 9:30PM three masked men armed with handguns kicked in the front door of the home where she worked as a home Healthcare Nurse.

The victim was then struck in the face with the handgun, made to strip, and her hands zip tied together. The suspects disassembled the victim’s phone and ransacked the house searching for valuables before fleeing the scene.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office Investigators were able to identify three suspects including Vance Gary Gettis, 29, of Paxton, Florida and Anthony Antron Wilkins, 35, of Florala, Alabama.

“These investigators refused to give up on this case,” says Sheriff Michael Adkinson, “and because of their hard work and dedication, three dangerous men have been identified.”

Anthony Wilkins has been arrested on outstanding warrants for his involvement in the robbery home invasion with a firearm and was transported and booked into the Walton County Jail where he is being held on a $50,000 bond. Vance Gettis is currently incarcerated in Covington County on unrelated charges and his extradition is pending. This is still an ongoing investigation and a third arrest is expected.

HEADLAND’S HARVEST DAY SET FOR OCTOBER 14th

 

 

Headland is gearing up for its 46th Annual Harvest Day Festival, Saturday, October 14, 9am-3pm. With more than 100 vendors and participants, you’ll love spending the day under the canopy of oaks in Headland’s beautiful downtown square. The event features arts and crafts vendors, an antique & collector car show, children’s games and rides, a variety of musicians and performers entertaining throughout the day and delicious food from non-profits and food trucks.

Harvest Day is sponsored by HNB First Bank, the PRcompanies, Golden Peanut & Tree Nut, Headland Lions Club, Southeast Gas, Center for Vein Restoration, Headland Ace Hardware, Headland Family Medicine, Headland Plumbing & Electric, and Wiregrass Construction.

For more information, contact the Headland Area Chamber of Commerce, 334.693.3303, headlandALchamber@gmail.com.  Vendor information and forms are also available at www.headlandal.com.

FLORIDA WOMAN FOUND GUILTY IN GAS STATION DEBIT CARD SKIMMING OPERATION THAT INVOLVED MULTIPLE STATES

 

Montgomery, Alabama- Eunises Llorca-Menses (30), of Naples, Florida, was found guilty by a federal jury Friday for her part in a scheme to use skimming devices on gas pumps to steal credit and debit card numbers, announced A. Clark Morris, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Steven T. Marshall, Attorney General for the State of Alabama. The guilty verdict follows a multi-agency investigation that was initiated by the Ozark Police Department, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the United States Secret Service, and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

On February 15, 2017, Llorca Menses and her co-defendant Reiner Perez-Rives (34), of Houston, Texas, were charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Perez-Rives pled guilty in July to conspiracy and identity theft charges.

As part of the scheme, Llorca-Menses and Perez-Rives, would rent vehicles and travel between Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia. During their travels, they would visit several gas stations and install a skimming device inside gas pumps. Through the skimming device, they collected gas station customers’ credit/debit card information and used that information to activate or reactivate credit, debit, or gift cards, and make unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals at gas stations and purchases at several places around the Southeast.

Law enforcement was able to uncover this scheme following multiple reports from victims concerning the unauthorized use of their debit cards. Working with financial institutions, the Ozark Police Department, along with state and federal partners, discovered that many of the victims had used their cards at the same gas station in Ozark, Alabama. At this station, they found a skimming device with Bluetooth capability installed on a gas pump. The Bluetooth technology allowed the defendants to collect a gas customer’s credit/debit information while sitting up to thirty-feet away from the gas pump.

At the time of their arrest on December 21, 2016, Llorca-Meneses and Peres-Rives were found to be in possession of thirty-nine credit/debit cards that had been re-encoded with stolen credit/debit card numbers, along with an additional 317 gift cards. A Wal-Mart gift card that contained the stolen account information from a victim’s Capital One credit card and a key used to gain access to the inside of a gas pump was found in Llorca-Meneses’ purse. Law enforcement also found a homemade device with connectors that matched the connections on the skimming device found in the gas pump in Ozark in their luggage.

Llorca-Menses and Perez-Rives each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and payment of restitution to their victims. Their sentencings will take place within the next few months.

“It is incredibly difficult for the average person to determine if a gas pump has a skimmer,” stated Acting U.S Attorney Morris. “This is because many are placed inside the gas pump with no visible evidence of tampering. While the crooks may be getting smarter, law enforcement continues to work hard to stay a step ahead. This conviction shows that our office will continue to work with our partners to identify criminals that seek to victimize our citizens.”

“This conviction should send a strong message to debit card skimmers seeking to target unsuspecting Alabamians: you will be caught and brought to justice,” said Attorney General Marshall. “Special thanks to agents of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Secret Service, the Ozark Police Department and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for their teamwork in quickly uncovering this multi-state electronic crime spree and capturing the criminals, and to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama for this successful prosecution.”

“I would like to thank all law enforcement partners who brought these criminals to justice,” stated Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker. “This is a win for all our communities as well as the men and women who stand up for justice every day. Teamwork is essential to the very being of a law enforcement professional. The Ozark Police Department was happy to do our part and will continue the fight against crime and disorder.”

Resident Agent in Charge Clayton Slay, with the United States Secret Service Montgomery Resident Office, stated, “the Secret Service has established an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes with local and state law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Through this effort, Mrs. Llorca-Menses was successfully prosecuted and found guilty by a jury of her peers.” RAC Slay also stated that he “would like to personally thank the Ozark Police Department, Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office for their work and assistance in this case.”

To avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud, customers should pay inside the store or use pumps that are visible to store employees and video surveillance cameras. Criminals commonly target pumps that allow them to install skimming devices undetected. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent all types of fraudulent charges from taking place. This is why early detection is so important. Citizens are encouraged to monitor their bank and credit card accounts frequently and immediately report any unusual activity to their financial institution.

This case was a joint investigation involving the Ozark Police Department, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the United States Secret Service, and the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Denise O. Simpson and Assistant United States Attorney Steven Lee prosecuted this case.