WATCH: California Candidate for Judge Tells Voters how to Beat their Speeding Tickets

2

A judicial candidate in California is telling voters how to beat their speeding tickets.

California civil rights attorney Shawn McMillan is using a unique tactic in his campaign for the judicial position he’s seeking: telling voters how to beat their speeding tickets.

McMillan, who is running for Office 36 of the San Diego County Superior Court, confesses he’s human and sometimes speeds.

“I’m sure that many of you, like me, sometimes speed,” McMillan says in a video posted to his campaign’s Facebook page.

“Well . . . frequently speed,” he then admits.

“And, sometimes,” he explains. “One of those guys on the motorcycle with a radar gun, hiding behind a car maybe, or a bush, tag you with the radar. They write you a ticket. And you’re sitting there saying ‘ah, shit.'”

McMillan then explains how, despite being ticketed, he has not been convicted for any speeding infractions recently.

And he wants to share why.

“Well, do this. This is what I do every time. I haven’t been convicted of a speeding violation in years,” he explains.

“Because I’ve been ticketed, but not convicted.”

“Why?”

He explains to viewers how he always shows up to the arraignment to enter a plea of not guilty.

Always, always, always go to your trial date.”

“What’s going to happen is you’re going to be called, eventually,” he explains.

“The cop is going to come in. He’s going to get up there, and he’s going to talk about how he calibrated his radar gun that morning and this and that. And the various things he does to lay the foundation for his testimony.”

This is where he spills the trick to beating the ticket, so you may want to get out a pen and your notepad.

“Then he’s going to come up with a single-page summary of the traffic survey for whatever speed it was that you got caught speeding at.”

“Now, in California, we have anti-speed trap laws. It’s not legal in California to use a device to measure the speed of a vehicle unless there’s a current traffic survey for the area where they’re using that speed-detecting device like radar or laser.”

“So,” McMillan explains. “This is the deal: The cop will come up. And he has to get evidence in against you to prove that there’s a current traffic survey. So, he’ll come up with this one-page summary.”

“And that’s when you stand up and say ‘objection, Your Honor — Lacks foundation, hearsay, improper authentication. ‘”

If all goes well, the judge then dismisses your case.

McMillan holds the case up to the camera, but it’s a little blurry to see.

It’s called the People v. Ellis (1995), which you can read about here.

“Here, in this case, the court held the mere one-page summary of the traffic survey was not sufficient,” McMillan says as he reads over the case.

He then explains the nuts and bolts of how and why the strategy works.

“Either the original survey and the engineer who conducted it. Or the engineer to come in in talk about the certified copy of the summary, is necessary,” McMillan points out.

“And since the cop didn’t do the survey and he can’t testify about the authentication of the survey, it’s absolutely excluded. And he can’t make his prima facie showing, which means you’re not guilty unless you went in and admitted that you violated the basic speed law.”

“But remember, criminal (or rather an infraction), you have the right not to testify…”

“You stand there; you keep your mouth shut until the cop stands up with his one-page summary that’s inadmissible against you. Then you object. Traffic ticket stricken. You are dismissed. You go on your merry way.”

The race for Office 36 of the San Diego County Superior Court consists of McMillan, who is entirely funding his own campaign and not affiliated with any political party, and Democrat Michelle Ialeggio.

The election ends March 3, 2020.

Any judge that gives the secrets to beating speeding tickets gets our vote.

DOJ to Investigate Mississippi Prisons after Imate Death Toll Rises to 15 Since December

The inmate death toll in the Mississippi penitentiary system has risen from five to 15 since we last reported on December 29.

The Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the Mississippi Department of Corrections to examine four state prisons following the deaths of at least 15 inmates since December.

The department’s civil rights division plans to focus its investigation on four prisons within the Mississippi State Penitentiary, including Parchman, the state’s oldest prison unit where a riot took place after an inmate was killed on December 29.

The all-male unit at Parchman include’s the state’s death row facility.

The Justice Department says it will also focus on the South Mississippi Correctional Institution, the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, which is run by a state-funded private contractor, and the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

Of the 15 deaths since December’s riot, officials say two of them were apparent suicides by hanging.

Most of the other deaths are thought to be gang-related killings, according to NPR.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections also reports 29 of its staff members have also been assaulted since December.

“The investigation will focus on whether the Mississippi Department of Corrections adequately protects prisoners from physical harm at the hands of other prisoners at the four prisons, as well as whether there is adequate suicide prevention, including adequate mental health care and appropriate use of isolation, at Parchman,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

After we reported on the story last month, the deaths from violence within the prison have garnered national attention, after hip-hop artist Mysonne and music mogul Jay-Z began advocating on behalf of the inmates inside the prisons, demanding improved conditions.

Jay-Z’s philanthropic group Team Roc, which is connected to his company Roc Nation, funded a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state demanding better conditions after an inmate attempted to hang himself on January 31.

A trooper was able to cut the inmate down.

Casey L. Austin, the attorney hired by Jay-Z, was inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary to interview inmates when she witnessed the incident.

“At approximately 2:00 p.m., I heard a Mississippi State Trooper tell the Unit 29 lobby Correctional Officer that he had just ‘cut one down,” Austin explained in the lawsuit.

“He then explained to Correctional Officer that he had cut down an inmate who had tried to hang himself in his cell.”

A 2013 class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of inmates at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility by the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and others charged that “the Mississippi Department of Corrections has operated the prison in a continuous state of crisis, neglect, and abuse for years, causing extreme and preventable suffering for thousands of prisoners in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.”

Mississippi has one of the highest rates of incarceration of any state in the county. Low pay and long hours for prison guards has resulted in many positions going unfilled.

Some guards have falsified their counts, rather than counting them as required, according to an August report ProPublica.

“The state has sharply cut its spending on prisons over the last few years,” the report says.

“Along the way, the number of guards at the three state-run prisons has plummeted, from 905 in July 2017 to 627 two years later, even as the number of inmates has remained the same. Vacancies abound, largely because the pay is so low.”

Mississippi Association of Gang Investigator Jimmy Anthony told lawmakers for the state this week that gangs such as the Vice Lords, City Royals, and Gangster Disciples are operating inside the prison and are actively engaged in narcotics trafficking and other criminal activity.

“It’s not popular to admit [that] you have a gang problem,” Anthony explained, according to Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

“Nobody wants to hear it. It scares people.”

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s use of the Civil Rights Division to investigate state law enforcement practices was not uncommon.

But it has been rare under President Trump.

But Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Governor Tate Reeves, says she welcomes the change.

“We are grateful that President Trump’s administration has taken a focused interest in criminal justice reform and that they care enough about Mississippi to engage on this critical issue,” she said. 

“As we continue our own investigations, we look forward to cooperating with them and working together to right this ship.”

Florida City Manager Threatens to Sue Independent Journalist over Investigation into Felony Crimes

A city manager in Florida is threatening to sue independent media for defaming his reputation.

Delray Beach City Manger George Gretsas took to Facebook on Thursday, threatening to sue True Homestead and myself after we published an article Wednesday that included records showing he may have been involved in a felony bid-rigging scheme called “split bidding” while serving as Homestead’s city manager in 2015.

True Homestead investigated Gretsas’ involvement after we received records from a confidential source.

On the surface, the records we received indicate Gretsas or his subordinates were likely involved in a felony bid-rigging arrangement during his tenure in Homestead, Florida.

Split-bidding is a fraud scheme where government contracts for goods or services are illegally split into two or more contracts, so the amount of the contracts falls below the limit requiring competitive bidding and/or supervisory review.

Gretsas, who has been criticized in the past by fellow politicians for similar behavior, replied with his personal account in the comments section of True Homestead’s Facebook page — putting us on notice.

BUT HIS THREATS HAVE US CONFUSED.

There’s only one problem: What we’re on notice for remains a mystery.

“Dear Mr. Keller and True Homestead

The purpose of this communication is to put you on notice that you have published defamatory material on your blog. I am hoping that by providing you with the facts that you will address this issue and apologize for making a mistake. If the material remains on your blog, then I can only assume that your publication of false information is intentional and done with malice.”

Gretsas also graduated from law school, so he should be familiar with New York Times Co. v. Sullivan — the landmark freedom of the press case that protects the press and the public’s right to criticize public officials in the conduct of their duties.

In Sullivan, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects newspapers even when they print false statements, as long as the publications did not act with “actual malice.”

Fast forward past the legal reasoning.

Gretsas not only requested we delete the article under the threat of suing us for defamation if we did not, but he also demanded an apology after adamantly defending himself against something in which he claims he had no involvement.

Was Gretsas representing these other officials in a legal capacity with his cease and desist letter, too?

WHO HAD AUTHORITY TO APPROVE THE CONTRACTS?

“In addition, at the time that staff was processing these contracts, they cleared each of them with the City Attorney,” Gretsas explains before pointing out what he feels are inaccuracies in our story.

But Gretsas disavowing any knowledge or participation raises even bigger questions.

According to Gretsas, we just don’t understand the City of Homestead’s procurement code.

“False allegations about bid splitting indicate either a lack of understanding of Homestead’s procurement code or defamation of a public official as competitive bids are not required under Homestead’s code for professional services,” he wrote in his reply.

Based on his replies, it appears Gretsas may be the one struggling with reading comprehension.

“The $25,000 City Manager cap provision that you recklessly cite in your post applies to each specific project, not per vendor as you falsely assert,” Gretsas replied on Facebook.

But we never claimed that the provision applies per vendor.

Indeed, the word vendor was never used in the article.

We did, however, show that the same vendor was given four separate contracts “not to exceed” the $25,000 threshold that would require council review even if professional services are exempt from bidding.

We also provided a fifth contract conveniently given to the same vendor just two months before Delray Beach began looking at Gretsas to fill their manager’s position.

This last contract, in 2019, is what really raised flags about a possible quid pro quo or pay-to-play scenario.

We wonder, why the first four contracts to the same vendor were split up into four separate agreements?

In any case, Gretsas claims he had nothing to do with it. Therefore, most of Gretsas’ claims as to what are facts are not based on his personal knowledge, unless he lied.

If Gretsas was not involved, then more importantly what authority allowed others to enter into these contracts?

Importantly, it is the “City Manager cap provision” of Section 2-411(a) of the city code, NOT the “City Manager’s Secretary cap provision” that allows such spending and was cited by Gretsas.

WAS THERE A CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD THE CITY?

Did Gretsas have his underlings do it this way so his fingerprints would not be on the records, or did his underlings go rouge?

If Gretsas planned it this way, his response makes perfect sense.

However, if Gretsas’ underlings went rogue why is he defending their actions?

GRETSAS’S CRITIQUE CONVENIENTLY OMITS FACTS.

One minor factual inaccuracy that Gretsas demanded we correct lest we be sued pertained to his relationship with Homestead’s current city manager Catherine McCaffrey.

George Gretsas (left) Catherine “Cate” McCaffrey (right)

“Additionally, your statement that I ‘have a business’ with Homestead’s current City Manager is false. I do not have a business with her,” Gretas wrote.

Initially, we published that Gretsas currently has business with McCaffrey, which was an honest mistake because enterprisesflorida.com shows CADAGE LLC. is still active.

Another source confirmed that while Gretsas and McCaffrey had a business together for six years and two months, it is currently inactive.

But they did indeed have a business together.

And Gretsas conveniently never mentioned previously having a business with McCaffrey in his reply in which he denied currently having business with her, implying our mistake was defamatory.

Why is Gretsas now trying to distance himself from McCaffrey in this way?

We are curious as to what that business actually did, but that is for another investigation.

Regardless, it sure sounds like someone is about to get thrown under the True Homestead Truth Bus.

DOC JUSTICE RESPONDS.

Gretsas responded directly on True Homestead’s Facebook page, where Doc responded with some choice words aimed at the manager.

However, Gretsas also directly emailed Doc.

On Janury 30, 2019, Doc forwarded that email to the Mayor and council for both Homestead and Delray, asking on which city’s behalf was Gretsas acting when retaliating with such threats.

Neither City has responded.

To be fair, in the email Gretsas provided exhibits, though they were not provided with his comments to our Facebook page.

However, nothing in the exhibits “proves” the allegations Gretsas made, nor was anything provided which we have not already published.

Indeed, the records he provided are exactly what make us believe that crimes were likely committed, and his email only further cements that belief.

RECORDS REQUEST FILED.

On January 26, 2019, Doc filed a request for public records with Homestead.

Not surprisingly, no records have yet been provided.

We published the article on January 29, 2019, and Gretsas responded with his threatening email the same day.

It is noted that in the email Gretsas corrects us on the fact that only $50,046.00 was spent, though the contracts were valued at $99,996.00.

But if Gretsas was not involved how would he know these amounts, and have it broken down by year, so fast?

Some discrepancies found reviewing these numbers include:

1) $10,425.00 was spent in 2014, but the contracts were not approved until 2015;

2) Gretsas specifically refers to and cites work on the temporary police station, and that the work of De Jesus was necessary and instrumental in getting approval for the Temporary Station, but neglects mention of the other three buildings giving the impression that maybe all the money was necessary for this one building and/ or that more than $25,000.00 was spent on one building; and

3) Gretsas failed to provide any records to support: the amount actually spent (how would Gretsas know all of this as he wasn’t involved); that he has no relationship with De Jesus (so he claims); and why Homestead still has provided True Homestead no records but he knows all of this (the City Clerk claims to process records request in the order in which they were submitted).

It seem Gretsas may have opened several cans of worms with his ill-tempered threats.

THE MAYOR GETS INVOLVED.

Homestead’s new Mayor, Steve Losner, posted to Facebook on February 1, stating he made inquiries to both the newly appointed city manager, Cate McCaffrey, as well as the city attorneys.

McCaffrey gave an incomplete response, according to Losner.

Whereas, the city attorneys provided the Mayor with no response.

ARE THE CITY ATTORNEYS INVOLVED TOO?

Homestead uses the law firm Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole and Beirman (WSH) to represent them as the City Attorney.

WSH attorney David Wolpin representing Homestead approved all five of the contracts given to Diversified Group Consulting.

Further, our sources indicate that it was this same attorney, David Wolpin, who cleared the hiring of Gretsas with Delray Beach.

Was Wolpin involved on both sides of these deals, for the contracts and the manager’s job, in Homestead and Delray?

Was Wolpin the attorney who referred De Jesus to the City, when Gretsas claimed city attorneys referred him?

Is Wolpin the attorney, or one of the attorneys, refusing to give requested information to Mayor Losner?

Is there a connection between any of the contracts in Homestead, and the manager’s job in Delray?

Something certainly smells fishy and looks conflicted.

Gretsas’ retaliatory letter, and the actions by others afterwards, raises more questions than it answers.

Gretsas’ attack on the fourth branch, i.e. the media, also demonstrates that he is likely very nervous at what we have uncovered so far.

How deep does this all go?

What other connections will be found?

Stay tuned as we plan to follow this story to its bitter end, and hopefully get answers to some of these valid questions.

Read the full story about Gretsas’ probable involvement in split-bidding below.

https://truehomestead.com/2020/01/29/records-reveal-florida-officials-involved-in-felony-bid-rigging-scheme/

Records Reveal Florida Officials Involved in Felony Bid-Rigging Scheme

Records obtained by True Homestead reveal a possible fraud scheme called “split purchasing.”

Split purchasing, also known as “split bidding,” is a fraud scheme where government contracts for goods or services are improperly split into two or more contracts, so the amount for each contract falls below the limit requiring competitive bidding and supervisory review.

Split purchasing is an illegal and fraudulent bid-rigging scheme that violates § 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

WHAT WE FOUND

While investigating financial records, we discovered four consulting contracts given to Neal De Jesus in 2015 by the City of Homestead for precisely $24,999 each.

De Jesus owns a business, Diversified Group Consulting, which provides fire safety consulting services.

Neal De Jesus

The contracts were split between Homestead’s New City HallNew Police DepartmentTemporary Police Department, and the Seminole Theatre — totaling $99,996 approved to be spent by the city without any real mechanism for accountability.

Four contracts “not to exceed $99,996” — just four dollars short of $100,000.

The contracts were submitted on February 19, 2015, and received final review, less than a week later, on February 25, 2015.

The City of Homestead’s purchasing policy requires the manager to approve all contract agreements, and those over $25,000 require competitive bidding and council review to assure public funds are spent reasonably and efficiently.

The 2015 agreements should have been signed by then-City Manager George Gretsas.

George Gretsas

However, records obtained by True Homestead show signatures that aren’t Gretsas’.

When we attempted to determine who was approving the contracts for $24,999, we could only find the fingerprints of Cate McCaffrey, the assistant city manager at the time, and Ilene Fernandez, Gretsas’ secretary.

McCaffrey and Gretsas once had a business together called Cadage, L.L.C that operated for six years and two months.

Meanwhile, they appear to be utilizing their current government positions to fund De Jesus’ fire consulting firm for personal financial gain.

In a March 2019 contract proposal for another project, McCaffrey agreed to pay Diversified Group Consulting $195 an hour for up to 40 hours to provide consulting services for a “fire fountain” in Losner Park.

Bring out the flame throwers!

The value of that contract to consult on fire safety was $7,800.

WHY IT MATTERS

Gretsas, 51, was Homestead’s manager from November 2010, until January 2020, but was courting the city manager job in Delray at least by May 2019.

Further, Gretsas was selected for the Delray manager position on October 10, 2019, after De Jesus, the then-interim city manager, persuaded the Delray City Council to hire him.

De Jesus recommended Gretsas for the Delray city manager position after receiving over $100,000 in contracts from the City of Homestead, which has some people speculating about quid pro quo or a pay-for-play arrangement.

Additionally, De Jesus not only hired the recruiting firm Ralph Anderson, he personally knew the recruiter. And he supplied a short list of names to the recruiter in Delray’s search for a manager that appears to have been rigged from the start.

In Homestead, a special call meeting was held on October 10, 2019 approving assistant city manager Cate McCaffrey as the interim manager, effective January 4, 2020, upon Gretsas’ departure.

Cate McCaffrey

McCaffrey was named permanent city manager with a three-year contract on January 23, 2020, in a contentious 4-2 vote.

True Homestead continues investigating what appears to be a multi-jurisdictional split bidding scheme.

As we analyze records, we currently sit on a mountain of evidence containing numerous anomalies as well as previous patterns of similar behavior indicating probable felony crimes.

It cannot be over stated: “Always follow the money.”

In just the last few years, the City of Homestead has spent well over a million dollars in contracts falling just below the $25,000 threshold, circumventing mandated review and competitive bidding processes.

The volume of such contracts, alone, would cause concern among reasonable men, women, and watchdogs alike.

Yet, stacks of contracts with no competitive bidding is nothing new for Gretsas.

GRETSAS’ PAST

Going back as early as December 2009, then Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom came forward with a stack of documents she was withholding: Contracts Gretsas signed with 18 top aids while serving as the city manager in Fort Lauderdale.

Those contracts totaled in the millions of dollars. Mayor Jack Seiler, along with Rodstrom, stated they were disturbed by the potential liability posed by these contracts.

None of these contracts had been seen by the Commission, before execution according to the Fort Lauderdale Observer.

Whereas, Gretsas had the authority, unilaterally, to allow such contracts. 

Interestingly, some of these contracts were signed shortly before the 2009 City Commission election.

During his tenure as city manager in Fort Lauderdale Gretsas significantly increased the number of “loyal staff members” who received such contracts.

One such loyal staff member was Cate McCaffrey.

Previously, the majority of these positions were division chiefs who never reported to the manager.

Earlier, in April 2009, Seiler ordered Gretsas to move any votes about sole-source bids onto the regular agenda.

Gretsas had placed votes on sole-source bids on the consent agenda. Items on the consent agenda typically generate no discussion or debate and are voted on altogether.

Votes placed on the regular agenda are more likely to stir discussion.

“It sends the wrong impression to the public,” Seiler said, referring to the items placed on the consent agenda.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

So far, our investigation has not determined who signed the four contracts having the appearance of being an illegal split purchasing scheme.

The only real question(s) left to ponder is if this scheme was intricately orchestrated or not, and if so was someone at the top pulling strings or was it done independently?

Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, stay tuned as we continue digging to get to the root of the issues.

WATCH: Prisoners Shoot Videos to Expose Fires, Deaths, Gang-Affiliated Prison Guards with Disregard for Inmates Lives

Five Mississippi inmates have been killed across the state since December 29, the MDOC confirmed in a news release.

But inmates with inside knowledge say the official number is incorrect and is closer to 15 in just the past few months.

Several inmates from different facilities have stated that prison staff involved in the Gangster Disciples and People’s Nation are giving inmates the keys to cells to kill other inmates, according to prominent activist Carol Leonard of the Prison Reform Movement.

Leonard says she has spoken with several inmates are reporting similar stories.

In the past week, several inmates have used cell phones to make desperate cries on Facebook, attempting to notify loved ones outside of the prison system that their lives are no longer safe because of correctional officers with gangster ties.

Inmates from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility submitted tips that two guards, Rashida Parker and another named Redmond, have since been arrested for allowing inmates to access the cells of other inmates before killing them.

One tipster with apparent inside knowledge states the Mississippi Department of Corrections is willing to hire gang-affiliated correctional staff, which has resulted in officers providing Lord Nation affiliated inmates with store-bought kitchen knives.

Leonard confirmed many prisoners from Parchman, Wilkinson and EMCF are reporting similar circumstances.

In one video published Sunday, an inmate records with his cellphone and narrates that prison guard Captain King stood by an inmate’s cell with his shotgun and watched him die.

The inmate says Captain King never made any attempt to intervene to save the inmate’s life, who had been fighting another inmate for 45-minutes. 

“Captain King stood at that door for 45-minutes watching this guy fight for his life — holding his shotgun,” the disgruntled inmate says. 

“What do you need a shot gun for? For a man that’s dying?” he asks rhetorically.

“This man was getting ready to go home in a few months. Now they’re closing the door and the body is still in there. They’re leaving. Captain King still has the shotgun in his hand. He (sic) don’t care.”

One video recorded by inmates at the Wilkinson County Correctional of a Vice Lord gang member setting a fire inside a close-quarters area of the prison surfaced on Facebook last week.

That’s when another video was recorded for over 50-minutes that shows smoke filling the room as Damirras Pulliam went live on Facebook, fearing he would die during the incident.

Pulliam stated several times; the guards told him he might die.

After the string of deaths on MDOC’s watch, instead of dealing with the gang problem among its staff members, prison officials have brought in cell phone jammers, hired private security to assist with operating the prisons, and placed inmates on lockdown.

While prison staff members have attempted to keep murders inside the prison from leaking to the press, media-savvy inmates have taken it upon themselves to inform the public the killings and riots were started by prison staff who belong to gangs.

However, it would seem the inmates are not quite as media savvy as prison officials who have kept the media focused this week on two inmates who escaped just after the murders and riots took place.

Prison staff found Dillion Williams, 27, and David May, 42, missing during an emergency inmate count around 1:45 a.m. on January 4.

May is serving a life sentence for aggravated assault. 

Williams is serving 40 years for burglary and aggravated assault.

MDOC did not explicitly say what prompted the emergency headcount.

On January 5, the Facebook page Mississippi Hot Topics posted a video showing an officer sleeping at her desk while on-duty.

No Discipline for Texas Cop Caught on Camera Kicking his own K9

2

A Texas police department says it is currently investigating one of its own after surveillance video posted to Facebook this week shows one of its officers kicking his own K-9 after an arrest.

The Amarillo Police Department issued a statement to the public saying they are investigating Amarillo Police Department K-9 handler Corporal Cody Lavery on two fronts after he was seen kicking his K-9 “Koss.”

The department stated they have removed the dog from Lavery’s home and care and currently have him Kenneled with the department’s K-9 supervisor while the investigations are pending.

So far, Corporal Lavery has received no discipline.

The incident occurred on December 30 just after midnight before a member of the public took the initiative to post the video to social media.

Corporal Lavery can be seen in the video releasing “Koss” on a suspect who stole a vehicle after its owner left it running.

While other officers are busy handcuffing the car thief suspect, video shows Corporal Lavery kicking his police K-9 as he walks to his patrol car.

An Amarillo police spokesperson stated an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation would determine if Lavery violated department policy or procedure.

Corporal Lavery’s chain of command may determine disciplinary actions if the investigation finds he committed policy violations when he abused his own police dog.

A Criminal Investigation Division detective will also review the video to decide if the case will be referred to prosecutors for interfering with a police service animal.

Under Texas Penal Code 38.151, a person commits a Class C misdemeanor offense if the person recklessly, taunts, torments, or strikes a police service animal.

A department spokesperson stated “Koss” is scheduled to be seen by a veterinarian to check for injuries.

Corporal Lavery will continue reporting to duty without a K-9 parter as the department continues to investigate.

Corporal Lavery and Koss have previously been in several news stories.

In 2017, Koss returned to work after being shot while searching in a crawl space for Billy Joe Elmore, who was wanted for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot.

In 2018, the Amarillo Police Department gifted “bravery” awards to Corporal Lavery and Koss for their efforts apprehending Elmore.

Together, Corporal Lavery and Koss have seized over $7 million in illegal drugs over the past four years, according to the department.

Local Activist Exposes Florida Politicians using Logo Laws to Intimidate Political Rivals

2

Activist James Eric McDonough exposes tactics used by Homestead, Florida incumbent politicians to intimidate political rivals.

Florida man James Eric McDonough was unhappy with the way his local election for 2019 was shaping up, so he decided to take matters into his own hands and influence the election himself. 

McDonough, dubbed “Doc Justice” by his many supporters, used the Facebook page he created in 2015 to document his personal battle with the City of Homestead to achieve his goal.

It first began in 2012 after he asked his neighbor, a local police officer, to slow down on the street where his kids were playing. 

Before the election on November 5, 2019, McDonough’s page True Homestead had roughly 5,500 followers.

Now, it has amassed over 21,000 followers in two short months.

And McDonough ultimately accomplished his goal: he managed to sway the local election in Homestead with the help of his camera and social media.

“Beyond friends and supporters, the two most powerful tools I found are a cellphone and a Facebook page.”

McDonough and True Homestead covered the election closely — even using the Facebook page to moderate and host local debates to showcase the ideas of challengers.

“I wanted to influence the election by giving all the candidates an equal chance to be heard regardless of funding,” McDonough, who has a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry, explained.

“Citizens have unlimited power if they choose to wield it and have the passion, dedication, and perseverance it takes to get things moving,” he added.

During the process of hosting debates and covering election events on Facebook, McDonough discovered city officials using an obscure statute, threatening to prosecute any candidate who uses the Homestead city logo without express written consent from the city with a second-degree misdemeanor.

At a 2019 Homestead City Council Meeting, then-Mayor Stephen Shelley brought forth the issue of illegal use of the city logo.

City attorney Matthew Pearl responded, claiming there was an obscure statute making it a second-degree misdemeanor to use the city logo without express written approval from the city.

At the same meeting, as if it were scripted, Councilman John Burgess and Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough spoke against all illegal use of the city logo.

The issue was supposedly resolved after the city council determined no one would be prosecuted for past misuse of the logo.

Instead, they decided each candidate would be required to sign a form and that any future use, including careless use, would be prosecuted, which can be seen in the video below.

However, one incumbent councilman believed the law did not apply to him — even though he specifically acknowledged it less than a week earlier. 

On August 26, 2019, councilman Larry Roth signed the form acknowledging that the use of the logo without the city’s express written consent was a second-degree misdemeanor.

Then, a week later, on September 2, 2019, a flyer soliciting donations for Hurricane Dorian relief was published on Roth’s campaign Facebook page.

The flyer contained Roth’s picture and included the city logo printed near the bottom of the page.

The next day, on September 3, 2019, then city council candidate Bobby Rea, Roth’s opponent, observed the logo on the flyer and emailed Mayor Shelley, asking questions about the use of the logo for the hurricane relief drive. 

Instructions on the flyer stated donors could drop off tax-deductible donations to Roth’s company, The Keyes Company.

Mayor Shelley replied to Rea the same day, stating the city was not involved in any action related to fundraising for Hurricane Dorian. 

Shelley acknowledged the city was aware of Roth’s flyer using the city logo and had contacted the creator requesting for it to be removed. 

Obviously, Roth did not have express written consent. 

A few days later, the first flyer on Roth’s campaign page was replaced with a nearly identical flyer, but without the city’s logo. 





However, on top of knowingly committing an apparent misdemeanor, there’s an even bigger issue, a felony, according to another Florida state statute that prohibits using the emblem of an organization to endorse or sponsor any solicitation or charitable donation when that organization has not given written consent to use its name.

Not only was there no written approval to use the logo, but the use of the logo also misled the public into believing the City of Homestead was involved in soliciting charitable donations for Hurricane Dorian relief — when, in fact, it was not.

On September 25, 2019, before the city council meeting, McDonough emailed Mayor Shelley, the entire city council, the city manager, the city PIO, several city attorneys, and the police chief. 

The email inquired about Roth’s use of the logo, asking if the city was going to push for prosecution, or if it had only planned to go after opposition candidates. 

So far, no one has responded. 

McDonough spoke at the September city council meeting about the unlawful use of the logo.

Homestead police officer Charles Becker interrupted mid-speech, claiming McDonough was crazy while Mayor Shelley refused to enforce the decorum policy.



During the manager’s report section of the meeting, City Manager George Grestas insulted McDonough for speaking out against Roth’s illegal use of the city logo and supported Becker’s comments defaming McDonough.




But, now, after all the threats of prosecution were made, not only has the city failed to take appropriate action, the city, along with the police force, attack the messenger.

Instead of enforcing the decorum policy, they insult McDonough for exercising his First Amendment right to address grievances with government representatives, which is just one more example of corrupt Homestead politicians circling the wagons around their inner-circle and covering up corruption.

Does the silence and retaliation of Mayor Shelly and City Manager Grestas, along with Councilpersons John Burgess and Patricia Fairclough make them complicit and/or accessories after-the-fact?

If so, McDonough says he believes it’s up to citizens to hold corrupt officials to account.

“I would love to see others have the conviction of courage in their beliefs to push their ideas to improve their local communities; all politics is local; and those who dare to believe make a difference everyday.”

Watch video of McDonough going back and addressing the city council even after the continued abuse.

Car Jacking Victim Reunited with Dog Thief Wanted to Keep

An Ohio man has been reunited with his dog that was stolen by an armed thief who carjacked him then decided to keep his dog Franz for himself. 

Cleveland police found Mike Reed’s 5-year-old miniature schnauzer after crooks got away with wallet, cellphone and car. 

Reed didn’t care about any of that. 

He just wanted his dog back.

After nearly a week, he finally got his wish. 

“I almost wanna cry because I never thought I’d see my little guy again,” Reed told Cleveland 19 on Monday.

“He’s everything to me. He waits at the door for me to get home for work. He’s waking me up in the morning to go outside.”

It happened on November 19 outside of Cleveland Beverage and Deli when armed thieves carjacked Reed at gunpoint and drove away with his dog still inside. 

“I was so worried,” Reed recalled. 

“I was having nightmares that he was stuck, wrapped up in that towel in the dumpster at the liquor store. Just terrible.”

After being robbed, police found Reed’s car within a couple of hours and arrested one suspect, who later admitted he had the dog. 

“This is my baby,” Reed said. 

“This is like my child. 

Detectives said good police work led to the recovery of Franz. 

Police used the GPS inside of the vehicle to track the stolen car and eventually arrested the man driving.

During questioning, the man admitted he intended to keep the dog for himself, but he eventually showed them where he was hiding Franz. 

Reed says he’s thankful and credits police for returning his dog home safely. 

“They kept up the hard work, and East Cleveland working together with Cleveland together they made this happen. They really did and I’m so grateful for them,” he said. 

Now Reed says he plans on having a microchip implanted in Franz, so something like this never happens again.

Welcome to True Homestead

“I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively … For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don’t lie to yourself and use the wrong words.”

~Hunter. S. Thompson