The great Puget Sound Energy swindle … explained

conman

It’s not unusual for a business to get scammed, and it’s not extraordinary for a police officer to investigate and find, yup, they got scammed.

What isn’t typical is when a police officer rings up a confidence man and has a nice, straightforward chat about how the con works and ends with an apology from the swindler for an off-color comment he made to his vic and a wish that the officer “be safe and have a blessed day.”

Bremerton police were called Tuesday by a member of the family that owns the Mannette Mart and Deli, 2044 Wheaton Way, reporting that one of the family received a call from a person claiming to be an bill collector for Puget Sound Energy. The person said the store was in arrears $858 — which was not true — and in order to keep the power from being shut off they had to pay that day through a wire transfer service.

The family member paid $500 to before realizing they had been tricked. When the family member’s daughter called to demand the money back, the scammer said her voice was “sexy” and that “she should meet him in person so she could get her money back,” according to a police report.

When the police officer called, and identified himself and asked the confidence man if he was willing to answer a few questions, the man said, “Of course.”

Considering the person is a con artist, it’s hard to say if the answers he gave the officer were just more rubbish, but the glimpse it does give is plausible.

The thief said he works as part of a team that targets a particular area code, paying close attention to businesses, as they seem to pay more and more often. Although it may seem to a victim that the con artist has access to account information, no, the man said — and then laughed — it’s a matter of asking “subtle questions” which lead victims to unknowingly provide important information.

The man said he is in Jamaica and works with a small group, and the money they scam goes into a pot and is divided up. The scammers try to get at least $1,000 a vic, because if they get less than others “it causes problems.”

And although it sounded to the victim like they were speaking to multiple people, no, that’s just him disguising his voice. He said he lived in New York City for 19 years and is adept at “sounding professional.”

As he was wrapping up the Q and A, the officer mentioned that one of the people he spoke with was more upset at how the con man spoke to her.

The man “apologized and stated he was just having a little fun.”

The officer thanked the man and asked that he not call the victim back, and the con man agreed.

At the end of the conversation the man “told me to be safe and have a blessed day,” the officer wrote.

 

Top 10 frivolous lawsuits of 2014

bart_frivolous_lawsuit

To get people in the mood for Christmas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce compiled a list of the “most ridiculous” lawsuits of 2014.

“Ridiculous,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder in this case is a U.S. Chamber website that calls itself “Faces of Lawsuit of Abuse.”

This from the site:

“This list puts a light-hearted face on a serious problem: that as a country, we simply sue too much,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “In fact, the collective toll that abusive lawsuits take on our society and our economy is no laughing matter. Lawsuits should be a last resort, not a first option.”

This lecture on abusing government resources of course comes from an organization that spent about $92 million lobbying the government in 2014.

Here is the list.

Call me ridiculous, but at least one of the “ridiculous” lawsuits is a little sympathetic.

One woman, who apparently likes sprouts, was unhappy when her Jimmy Johns brand food product did not include sprouts as advertised. So she sued.

Sure, it was probably not a good idea. But who hasn’t been lied to, snubbed, or otherwise dismissed when trying to give money to a company? Who hasn’t wanted to summon the full force of our courts to send a message to our food product providers that we want sprouts, darn it!

Proposal would make Supreme Court race partisan

State Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, has signed onto a measure to make the race for state Supreme Court partisan, just like the Legislature and the governor’s office.

The main sponsor of the bill, prefiled Friday in advance of the Jan. 12 legislative session, is state Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who is on the conservative side of the Democrat-controlled state House. Appleton is on the liberal side.

However, the Seattle Times reports, the bill’s sponsors may be making a statement with the proposal. Instead of really wanting the Supreme Court race to be partisan, they are sort of slapping at the justices. Or maybe think of it as shooting rubber bands. Or maybe it’s closer to writing unflattering things about them on a lavatory wall.

The Court has ruled that the state is failing its primary duty to educate kids, putting the Legislature on the hook to figure out how to fix/pay for the education system. It has also found the Legislature in contempt. Apparently, the Legislature is quaking in its boots.

Here is the revealing text from the measure, to give you an idea of where the sponsors are coming from:

“The legislature finds that because the supreme court has decided to act like the legislature and has thus violated the separation of powers, the supreme court should be considered partisan like the legislature.”

Anonymous Seahawk buys Kevlar vest for Mason Co. Sheriff’s dog

Dep Cotte & K9 Solo

A Kevlar vest for a Mason County Sheriff’s Office tracking dog was bought with money donated by an anonymous Seattle Seahawk, the office announced Thursday.

A 3-year-old German shepherd named Solo, who is regularly called to help track down dangerous suspects, will wear the “Storm Vest.” Solo’s handler is Deputy Justin Cotte.

The vest cost $2,300, and was donated by a group called “All K9s Go To Heaven.” The group solicits donations, then purchases and donates the equipment.

The office’s K-9 program is paid for by private donations, and the office would not be able to afford equipment like the vest, the statement said. The office has three dogs.

Police dogs often are first to encounter suspects, and often enough are injured and killed in the line of duty.

A Bremerton Police dog, Buddy, was shot and killed by a suspect in Lion’s Park in 2001.

The office also has an Education K9 Team, which includes a Great Dane named Jack who often sports toenails painted pink, meant to engage students in a discussion about bullying.

PDC to investigate allegation from prosecutor primary

The state election watchdog is going to investigate allegations of improper campaign spending during the summer’s contentious county prosecutor primary.

The spending in question was for $6,300 worth of advertisements which ran in the Kitsap Sun during the primary election. The money came from the union representing deputy prosecutors, which was supporting Prosecutor Russ Hauge’s unsuccessful reelection bid. A state Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman said Wednesday the investigative process can take about three months. If violations are found to have occurred, the commission has the authority to fine those responsible – be it individuals or the Deputy Prosecutors Guild itself – up to $10,000.

Here is an account of the complaint from July.

Hauge made it through the primary as the top voter-getter – with Republican Tina Robinson taking second – but then lost in the Nov. 4 general election to Robinson by 1 percent of the vote. She will take over the office at the beginning of the year.

Robinson and the two other primary candidates, Democrat Bob Scales and independent Bruce Danielson, signed the complaint.

Hauge and former Guild President Chad Enright told the Sun at the time of the complaint that there was no cooperation between Hauge and the Guild.

However, the complaint alleges in part that because the ads allegedly used material copy and pasted from Hauge’s campaign site and linked back to the campaign site, they amount to some level of coordination, which would then make the $6,300 spent count as a direct campaign contributions. If that were the case, it would be counted under state contribution limits and would exceed them.

Scales said Wednesday he was frustrated that the process took so long, and may take longer still. He said the spending, which he believes was improper, did help Hauge and diluted his own advertising campaign. He also said that a complaint from Hauge’s campaign about Scales’ signs prompted an immediate response from the PDC, but the complaint he is a party to has taken months.

“Everything is after the fact,” Scales said. “It takes so long to do anything, what is the point?”

Scales believes the investigation will find improper coordination and despite the time that has passed, a fine would serve as a deterrent to other campaigns.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the PDC, said when complaints are received they undergo a “triage” process, where they are evaluated to determine if some immediate action can be taken to settle the dispute. The complaint was handled the same as others, she said, and added the commission does not have additional employees to handle complaints during campaign season.

She said in this case, even if the material in the ad was replaced with other images, and the links were changed or removed, the underlying allegation of improper campaign spending would not have been resolved.

When it comes to murder, it’s all about who you know

 

cainandabel

Marc Chagall, Cain et Abel, 1960

For getting jobs, getting into college and getting murdered, it all depends on who you know. And despite what your parents told you about strangers, it isn’t strangers who pose you the most danger.

The four charged murders so far this year in Kitsap, and one as yet uncharged murder, shed a grim light on this fact. What may be unusual is how the deed is alledged to have been done.

For some, this might be unsurprising, especially those who work with victims of crime, and especially sexual assault victims, as sexual assaults by perfect strangers are rare when compared to the majority of these crimes. But for people who don’t spend their time slogging through the finer details of the human condition, they might be apt to think of murder as typically an impersonal, random act, something performed by an “other.”

But the truth is, when it comes to murder most foul, it usually isn’t strangers who pose the biggest threat.

Consider these facts about murder in Kitsap this year:

-Four of the suspected five murders so far this year are considered “domestic violence,” and the fifth suspect was a trusted neighbor.

-But what do you think when you hear domestic violence and murder? A woman being killed by a male intimate partner? In fact, three of the five victims were men, two were suspected of being killed by the female in an intimate relationship, the third is suspect of being killed by his adult daughter. Again, not surprising for many who work in the muck. We often hear how women are seen as sex objects by society, but not much about how men are seen as violence objects. As such, men are more likely than women to be victims of violence. This is not to minimize the violence suffered by women.

-That also isn’t to say men haven’t been accused of killing females, but not intimate partners. In those cases, the males are suspected of killing young girls. One an infant daughter by her father, one a 6-year-old girl by the neighbor boy.

-Although guns may be the easiest way to kill a person, not a single charged or suspected murder in Kitsap in 2014 was committed with a firearm. There were shootings, in fact the year wasn’t more than an hour old before a guy at a hotel party in Bremerton got shot. Good luck, bad marksmanship, quick responses from medics or easy access to helicopters to get the wounded out of Kitsap might take credit for the fact nobody has been murdered with a gun. * Yet. Knock on wood.

-In fact, when it comes to weapons, just a single case is alleged to involve a conventional weapon, and it was a knife, and that one hasn’t been charged.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Montgomery said the cases so far this year don’t jibe with what many might assume makes up a murder, but the fact that the suspects had a relationship with the deceased is not that out of the ordinary.

“Every case has its own facts,” she said, but conceded the murder cases this year are a little strange. “We scratch our heads a little.”

“The lay person might think of murder as when a person is shot with a gun, or stabbed, and it is a stranger who is the suspect,” she said. But it doesn’t take a gun or a knife to kill somebody, and often enough, the suspect is a person who was in a position of trust, and that can shake our assumptions about those we are close to and who we see as the “other.” Murder is rare, but it doesn’t look far for its victims.

“That is something we don’t want to see as possible,” Montgomery said.

None of the murder cases from this year have made it to trial. Here they are:

Shelly Margaret Arndt, 45, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson for the Feb. 23 death of Darcy Edward Veeder Jr. of Bremerton. Arndt, who has a previous arson conviction for setting a fire in 2011 in a home while Veeder slept, is scheduled to go to trial April 20. She had a second arson charge tacked onto the case from another fire she allegedly set in 2011, but that charge was dismissed last week.

Renee Roberta Nash, 59, is charged with second-degree murder for neglecting her elderly father, Harlan Haynes, 97, who was found in their squalid South Kitsap home March 12. An autopsy found Haynes died of malnutrition and dehydration, and had depended on his daughter for his care. Reports say Nash did not report Haynes’ death for two days. Nash is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 8.

Hector Francisco Saavedra Ruiz, 21, of Kingston, is charged with second-degree murder for the July 16 death of his infant daughter, Natalie. Doctors suspected the child had died from being shaken, and had a broken bone that was healing. Saavedra had taken the child to show her to coworkers, and was said to have smoked meth prior to taking the baby. His trial is also scheduled for Dec. 8.

Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta, 17, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape of a child for the death of 6-year-old Jenise Wright, who was reported missing Aug. 3. The two were neighbors in the same East Bremerton mobile home park. Jenise was found to have died of blunt force trauma, and Gaeta’s DNA was found on an article of clothing belonging to the girl. He is expected to plead not guilty to the charges Oct. 31.

Alan Charpentier, 54, died from knife wounds after fleeing his East Bremerton house Aug. 31 in what his family believes was a murder-suicide attempt. As neighbors gave him aid, Charpentier identified his estranged wife, 55, as his attacker. An autopsy found he had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray before being stabbed, according to court documents. After the attack, the woman is believed to have spread fuel around their house and started a fire, leaving her with burns and smoke inhalation injuries. After having her condition upgraded last week, this week a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the woman was back in the Intensive Care Unit.

 *There is one fatal shooting by police currently under review.

They called him Lee: The glorious life and strange death of Leon Shaw

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1961-2014

The life of Leon Shaw, who died Sept. 14, was larger than most, and if there is a pantheon of glorious Kitsap residents, he deserves honorable mention. Maybe he isn’t in the category of Chief Seattle or Delilah, but maybe the pantheon needs to make some room. From mentoring a bull, to telling the future, to mastering ping pong, to wowing women so often his own sister lost track the number of marriages he had, Lee lived a full life to the fullest. And let us not overlook that sweet mustache. If he was your friend, he would give you the shirt off his back, and not just because he looked good without a shirt.

On Sunday there will be a memorial for this son of South Kitsap. Lee’s family and friends will gather at 3 p.m. at the Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay Street. The service is open to the public.

Lee was born at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton and was raised in Port Orchard. If he would have graduated from South Kitsap High School, he would have been class of 1979. He loved the song “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and used to practice John Travolta’s disco moves. He has a son, who is said to be a spitting image of his father, which is a blessing to the world.

His ability to tell the future came in sudden waves, said his sister Barb.

On one occasion he was riding in a car with their mother and had a vision of him getting dropped off and his mother continuing on and dying in a wreck. His face blanched and then he refused to get out of the car. He might have saved her life.

“Too bad he didn’t visualize his own death before, so he could have prevented it,” Barb said.

Lee’s death, or what is known of it, bizarre and untimely as it is, boggles the mind, and seems so unfair in light of his amazing life. Here is what we know: He met a woman online. They went on a date and had a few drinks, nothing wrong with that. They went to the house of a friend of Lee’s, a tattoo artist. The friend began tattooing the date’s chest. OK.

Well, then Lee’s date becomes “intimate” with his friend. Safe to assume this prompted a “What the hell?” moment from Lee. Reports say a conflict ensued, and that the date hit Lee, and Lee hit her back. They leave. Next thing anyone knows, Lee is dead, likely from being run over. The woman is behind the wheel of Lee’s truck, and has driven over an embankment and is seriously injured. OK then.

This all happened in Gig Harbor, where Lee had been staying with a friend, so it is the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office investigating. A spokesman for the department said Friday investigators are waiting on the results of blood tests.

For a press account, here is the Tacoma News Tribune’s version of events.

Lee’s obituary reads like a piece of folklore, the kind of obituary that should get its own genre. It is definitely the greatest obit I have ever read, and I’ve read a few. The photo, too, is epic. It shows a mountain of a man on the high seas, astraddle a gunwale, what might be a can o’beer in his hand, naked save for well-fitting dungarees presumably because he just gave a friend the shirt off his back. His bronze pecs glisten in the sun, the wind lifts back his wavy mane. He gives an easy smile, along with the peace sign. Damn. All the women wanted to date him, the men would have wanted to date him too if they had any sense.

Here is the obit, in its entirety. It is too well-written, too poetic, to try to summarize like a press release, or to just provide a link. Savor it.

Leon Robert Shaw

June 10, 1961 to Sept. 14, 2014

He was a guy that loved to make you laugh. He had a presence about him when he walked into a room. He stood nearly 6’4” and was handsomely well-built. You’d want this guy for a friend. He had a sweetness that grabbed at your heart strings. He was a very hard worker, he could master just about anything he tried in short order. His word was his bond. You knew you could count on him.

Though he never won any trophies for pool or Ping-Pong, he was one of the best. He liked being athletic to keep his muscles tone. At 10 years old, he had a lawn mowing route in the area of the Forest Park grocers. In South Kitsap High, he was the only boy in the soprano singing section. Then his voice went to bass and he grew four inches in three months.

He ran away from home at 15 and got a job at the golf course on Long Lake Road. He came back to finish his youth. He found work in construction.

He loved his dad teaching him to ride a motorbike, which he taught his sister Barb when she was 15. He loved to go fast and take risks. He had visions, and could predict the future at times, he believed this was due to him being 1/4 Nez Percé Indian. He loved nature and going camping. He was a dead shot with a rifle. All the farm animals loved him. He raised a bull that he could do anything with, while the neighbors sat on an old panel van in the field, as the bull thrashed his horns on the van. That same bull caught our chicken thieves. He had chickens jump on his arm at the snap of his fingers. And when he ran away, our Doberman was so sad he just slept on his dirty clothes.

At age 11, he built a two-story tree house 50 feet up an old maple. He and his brother hoisted up a queen size mattress. Our dad, Leon Sr., gave us a ferry rope to tie up and swing from.

Survivors include BFF, Keith Hoppe (53); his only child, son Jared Burbee (32); mom, Mildred White (76); half sister, Connie DeBoard (60); half sister, Faythe Neese (56); brother, David Shaw (52); sister, Barb Cress (51); stepbrother, Mark McCormick; stepbrother, Robbie Griffin; stepsister, Tracy Griffin.

May he rest in peace and fly with the eagles.

Obit published in the Kitsap Sun on Sept. 19, 2014

The neighbor from Hell

A nearly naked Bremerton woman, high on drugs and apparently banging on a random neighbor’s door and making threats on Monday left a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy struggling with his words.

“I am not sure I can use words to define how heavily intoxicated she appeared,” the deputy wrote in a report.

Law enforcement was called to a residence in South Kitsap evening when a neighbor reported the woman, 34, was pounding on her door, threatening her.

The neighbor told the deputy it was actually the second time this happened. The first was in June.

The deputy interviewed other people in the suspect’s apartment, and noted they were all similarly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, though the neighbor said the woman was on cocaine.

A man at the residence told the deputy that he lost his shoe, and that his name was Ninja.

Another deputy attempted to interview the suspect, but noted in a report, “She was unable to answer any questions and nothing she said made any sense.”

The suspect was charged Tuesday with indecent exposure.

Is there more or less mayhem in Kitsap when the Seahawks are playing?

Two things about Kitsap: our people are notably unselfconscious about going into public wearing sweatpants and pajama bottoms and we love the Seahawks.

Not sure if the two are related, but yesterday, as the Hawks prepped for the opening day game against the Green Bay Packers, which the Seahawks won handily, I got to thinking.

With so many eyeballs on the game, at home and at taverns, are we better behaved or worse behaved while the Hawks are on?

I called the good people down at CenCom, who were more than happy to indulge my curiosity, and collected the number of calls to 911, as well as the number of incidents during the game.

Then they pulled up numbers from the same time of day from a week ago, and a year ago, plus the numbers of 911 calls in the three-hour period following the game.

The result? Meh.

Without more context, it’s hard to draw strong conclusions. Weak ones? Yeah, I got some weak ones!

It looks like during the game, the amount of mayhem in Kitsap went up, relative to one week ago and one year ago. In the hours following the game, Kitsap was much more calm than during the same period a week ago, but about the same a year ago.

What does this mean? I have no idea.

Take a look for your self:

09/04/14 from 5:30 – 8:30 PM, we had a total of 95 calls and 100 events.

08/28/14 from 5:30 – 8:30 PM, we had a total of 78 calls and 94 events.

09/05/13 from 5:30 – 8:30 PM, we had a total of 56 calls and 55 events.

The three hours following a game:

09/04/14 from 8:30 – 11:59 PM, we had a total of 56 calls and 99 events.

08/28/14 from 8:30 – 11:59 PM, we had a total of 100 calls and 136 events.

09/05/13 from 8:30 – 11:59 PM, we had a total of 56 calls and 82 events.

Bremerton drug dealer cowboys all sentenced

Back from vacation, a couple of court cases wound down, and thought I would fill in the blanks in the record:

A 21-year-old man who was part of a crew which robbed two pot dealers earlier this year at gunpoint, threatening to kill them and in one case making them strip to their underwear, was sentenced to 22 years in prison Aug. 22.

Julian Lee Young was the last of the group of four to be sentenced for the robberies in Bremerton in February and May.

Young pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, received the longest sentence, 258 months.

Christopher R. Jamerson, 19, was sentenced to 75 months in prison. He has previous convictions for theft and burglary and was convicted of first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

His sister, Briana Maria Jamerson, 23, convicted of second-degree trafficking in stolen property for selling a video game counsel stolen in one of the robberies, received a sentence of two months.

Joanna Kimly Say,18, convicted of second-degree robbery for acting as the driver in one of the robberies, was sentenced to six months in jail.

The robberies took place May 6 at a house on the 1500 block of 10th Street and Feb. 1 at a house on the 1500 block of Bloomington Avenue. The victims were targeted because they were believed to be marijuana dealers, according to Bremerton police.

During the May robbery, three ounces of marijuana and $300 cash were stolen. During the February hold up, one suspect struck a victim in the head with a pistol. An unknown amount of marijuana and $400 were stolen.

Documents say the four are from Renton, but have ties to Bremerton.

Here is the brief that ran last week.