National Roundup

Unsealed report alleges police mishandled drug investigation

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police mishandled an investigation into drug dealing by recruiters with the Alaska National Guard, a recently unsealed report claims.

A federal judge unsealed a redacted version of the confidential city-funded investigative report Tuesday after the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU argued the public should have access to allegations of wrongdoing by high-ranking public officials.

The report completed in March 2015 by retired Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. Rick Brown portrays a close relationship between some police personnel and National Guard leadership, and it alleges misconduct by former guard officials and Anchorage police leaders, the newspaper reported.

Police had launched an investigation into drug dealing involving National Guard members in 2010 after a recruiter had told officers he was selling drugs with the use of National Guard resources. The recruiter told police he served as “the main contact” into a Mexican drug ring operating in Anchorage and he transported drugs using military vehicles.

Days after learning of the drug allegations, police revealed key details of the investigation to the head of the Alaska National Guard, violating department policies, according to the report. The Alaska National Guard commander at the time was also a retired Anchorage police captain.

Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew asked the FBI in 2013 to investigate the commander for potentially interfering with the drug investigation. The independent report by Brown led to Mew’s discrete two-week suspension without pay in 2015.

The report claimed the police chief failed to launch an internal investigation into possible police misconduct related to the drug investigation by attempting to rely on the FBI.

The report also led to the firing of a police lieutenant, who later filed a lawsuit claiming retaliation and unlawful termination. The case went to trial this week in federal court in Anchorage.

A spokesman for current Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll declined to comment on details of the report, citing the federal civil trial.

“Today, APD is under new leadership, and I can say with certainty APD takes any allegations of misconduct seriously and any substantiated misconduct will not be tolerated,” Doll said in a statement through the spokesman.

Man charged in death linked to alleged opioid drug ring

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man accused of running a multimillion operation selling powerful opioids disguised as prescription drugs has been charged in an overdose death and other counts in a new indictment that comes as his co-defendants plead guilty in agreements with prosecutors.

A person identified as R.K. died in June 2016 after taking fentanyl that Aaron Michael Shamo, 28, sold pressed into pills to look like the less-powerful drug Oxycodone, federal prosecutors said in court documents filed Thursday.

Fentanyl has been blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses in the U.S., including the death of entertainer Prince.

Defense attorney Greg Skordas called the new charges “incredibly disappointing and unjustified,” saying Shamo has fully cooperated with authorities while jailed for over a year in the case. He said it’s unclear how prosecutors can establish that the death can be directly tied to Shamo.

The new charges come as prosecutors strike plea deals with others charged in the case, including a new agreement with Shamo’s alleged second-in-command. Drew Crandall, 32, faces at least 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to drug-distribution and money laundering charges. Crandall was arrested last year in Hawaii, where authorities say he planned to marry his girlfriend after a globe-trotting trip through Australia, New Zealand and other countries.

Crandall’s lawyer, Jim Bradshaw, declined to comment.

Shamo is accused of making the pills in his suburban basement and selling them on the dark web —  an area of the internet often used for illegal activity — to thousands of people all over the country, at one point raking in $2.8 million in less than a year. A trial is set for Jan. 22.

Authorities have said the 500,000-pill bust at Shamo’s home in 2016 was among the largest of its kind in the country, showing how a small operation can have an outsized impact.

Prosecutors have said the members of the drug ring met working at an eBay facility near Salt Lake City. They bought fentanyl and other drugs from China, used a pill press to make them look like prescription drugs and then shipped them out to customers through the U.S. mail disguised as coffee or other innocuous products, according to court documents.

Defense attorneys have called their clients “dumb kids,” and have said they are not hardened criminals.

New Mexico
Ruling: Injury compensation not tied to risky circumstances

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico court ruling says a worker is entitled to compensation for a trip-and-fall injury suffered at work even though the accident wasn’t linked to any particularly risky circumstances related to his job.

The state Court of Appeals’ ruling Tuesday overturns a workers’ compensation judge’s order denying compensation for an Intel contractor’s maintenance technician who broke his arm from tripping while walking on a level, unobstructed hallway to reach a work site in a long building.

The workers’ compensation judge ruled that David D. Griego’s accident didn’t arise out of his employment because his injury wasn’t reasonably related to any job-related risks.

However, the Court of Appeals said Griego’ injury did arise from his employment because he was at work when injured and doing something requested by his employer.

Judge rejects county ban on locking up preteens

CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago judge has ruled that a state law allowing children as young as 10 to be locked up prevails over a Cook County ordinance banning those younger than 13 from being sent to juvenile detention.

Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Toomin issued the ruling Wednesday in ordering two 12-year-old boys be confined. The Chicago Tribune reports the boys face armed robbery charges and have repeatedly damaged electronic monitoring devices to run away from home.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance last month, with members saying juvenile detention wasn’t appropriate for preteens.
Toomin wrote that the county’s ban provides no viable alternative to incarceration for children who pose a public threat.

Lawyers for both boys said they would appeal the ruling.