Tag Archives: Theft

Las Vegas SWAT Team Commander Under Investigation For Financial Exploitation of Elderly Couple

Lt Tom Melton LVMPD SWAT Commander Elderly Exploitation

Last week, it was announced that Lieutenant Tom Melton had been placed on administrative leave (AKA paid vacation) as the result of a criminal investigation. Melton is the commander of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department‘s SWAT team. He’s also been one of the public faces of the LVMPD, oftentimes being interviewed by local media and frequently providing briefings at crime scenes.

Initially, Metro declined to give any details about what the nature of that investigation was. However, soon after his suspension was announced a search of public records indicated that he has ties to a woman already facing over 200 charges of defrauding elderly people placed under her care. Lt. Melton had been appointed as legal guardian and trustee for Jerome and Beverly Flaherty, an elderly couple, who have since died. April Parks, the woman previously charged, was awarded co-guardianship of the Flahertys with Melton.

In March, Parks was indicted on charges including perjury, racketeering, filing false records, theft and exploitation, as part of a for-profit professional guardianship service. Parks has been characterized as the “ringleader of a small group” that included her husband; Gary Neal Taylor, an attorney named Noel Palmer Simpson, and her office manager; Mark Simmons. All four have been accused of taking advantage of the guardianship system to exploit and defraud the people placed under their supervision.

After confirmation was received that Lt. Melton was in fact the focus of an investigation into exploitation of an elderly couple, his attorney denied that he was involved in the fraud. Instead, he maintains that he had only hired Parks to care for the couple, whom he describes as friends of Melton. No other details relating to the nature of the investigation into Lt. Melton’s involvement have been released by the LVMPD.

Of course, it very well could be that he had no involvement in the fraud Parks and her partners are accused of. However, the timing of the suspension could potentially indicate otherwise. The fact that the other people involved were indicted in March and Melton didn’t come under investigation until the end of July would seem to imply that there’s more to it. It’s also a bit contradictory that none of the family members of the hundreds of other victims Parks exploited appear to be under investigation.

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Denver Cop Who Recorded Himself Stealing Cash From Suspect Given Plea Deal For Probation

Information included in the following post was shared with the CopBlock Network anonymously, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.

In October of last year, CopBlock Network Contributor Asa J  posted about Officer Julian Archuleta of the Denver Police Department, who apparently forgot he was wearing a body camera and recorded himself stealing $1,200 from the car of a suspect. The car he had taken the money from was involved in a roll over accident during a high speed chase following an incident in which the owner and a passenger had fired shots at two police vehicles.

A detective that reviewed the video as part of the investigation later noticed that the video showed a $100 bill, but the money that had been turned in as evidence did not include any $100 dollar bills.

Via the Denver Post:

On Oct. 7, Archuleta, a patrol officer in northwest Denver, assisted in the investigation after two suspects in a vehicle fired shots in the direction of two police vehicles parked at a 7-Eleven store. A short pursuit ensued, investigators say, ending with the suspects’ vehicle rolling over near the intersection of East 50th Avenue and Washington Street.

The driver took off on foot and a passenger was left unconscious in the vehicle, police said.

Archuleta’s body camera recorded as he searched a suspect’s clothing and took pictures of the wrecked car, according to his arrest affidavit.

In the footage, Archuleta picked up a stack of cash with a $100 bill on top. He removed that bill, and the footage showed him shuffling papers and cash in his patrol car, the affidavit said.

A detective who later reviewed the body camera footage noticed the $100 bill and questioned why only $118 had been logged into evidence. Archuleta later produced $1,200 and told another detective that it must have fallen into his bag, the affidavit said.

The affidavit noted that Archuleta’s actions also violated Denver Police Department policy on handling evidence and/or personal property.

His excuse that it had somehow fallen into his “war bag” unbeknownst to him for some odd reason didn’t work. Archuleta was originally charged with a felony for tampering with physical evidence and two misdemeanors of first-degree official misconduct and theft. In addition, as a result of his evidence tampering and contamination of the scene, the two suspects were never prosecuted (way to have your Brothas’ backs).

Of course, rather than facing any sort of real consequences for his actions, he was instead gifted with a plea deal that allowed him to cop to (you saw what I did there) misdemeanors with the felony being dropped. After entering his guilty plea on Monday, Officer Archuleta was only sentenced to 180 days of probation. He was also allowed to resign instead of being fired.

Obviously, it’ll be a long, hard six months before he can go out and get hired at another police department.

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Former Illinois Police Officer Charged With Stealing Over $65,000 From Elderly, Disabled Person

Steve Kneifel, a former officer with the La Grange (IL) Police Department, was charged with writing checks on the account of an unnamed elderly, disabled person with whom he had a legal relationship. The exact nature of the relationship was not disclosed in the indictment from a Cook County Grand Jury. Kneifel, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Wheeling, IL, is accused of stealing $65,836 from the victim’s checking account between 2013 and 2015.

Officer Kneifel took a leave of absence from the La Grange Police Department in November 2013. At the time of his indictment in December of 2015, Kneifel was still on leave and was in the process of applying for disability. He had been diagnosed with PTSD and reported having suicidal thoughts, which he attributed to a combination of experiences in Iraq and during his time working as a police officer.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

Steven C. Kneifel, 47, of 165 Shadowbend Drive, Wheeling pleaded not guilty Oct. 17 to the charges of official misconduct, financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability, forgery and theft, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The state’s attorney filed criminal charges against Kneifel following an investigation by the Illinois State Police. Kneifel is accused of committing official misconduct, along with the criminal charges filed, according to a statement from the village of La Grange.

The complaint shows the charges stemmed from a grand jury that met from about April 1, 2013 through March 1, 2015, and allege that Kneifel was in a position of trust or confidence with the victim and had a legal or fiduciary relationship with the victim.

The complaint states that Kneifel made or altered checks that drew on the victim’s bank accounts on a series of occasions, at various times and in various amounts that ranged from $100 to $13,000, from April 5, 2013 through Oct. 11, 2015. The complaint alleges that Kneifel withdrew a total of $65,836 from the victim’s accounts at three different banks.

The complaint also states that as a sworn police officer he “knowingly committed an act which he knew that he was forbidden by law to perform.”

Kneifel was an active police officer with the village from January 1997 until November 2013, when he took a leave of absence. Kneifel was on a leave of absence when the village was made aware of the allegations against him. Kneifel never returned to service as a police officer or any other position for the village, according to the village’s statement.

That’s a lot of money to steal and with the victim being a disabled, elderly person, and therefore in a very vulnerable position, this could be something where the police actually crack down on one of their own and Kneifel ends up with not one, but two sore wrists when all is said and done.

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Wife of Henderson Police Lieutenant Arrested For Forgery, Stealing From Las Vegas College, and Drug Charges

Apparently, while Lieutenant John DeVaney of the Henderson (Nevada) Police Department’s Corrections Division was out throwing drug addicts and thieves in a cage his wife was at home trying to see how she could stretch their meager budget of just under $220,000 to accommodate her own drug habit.

Seems like Heidi DeVaney came up with a solution for that problem back in April when she got a job with the College of Southern Nevada, a local community college and then started going the extra mile by stealing and forging checks in order to make ends meet with their limited income.

Unfortunately for her, it looks like someone forgot to tell the CSN police that her husband has one of those Magic Suits and they arrested her. She was fortunate in one respect, though. They took her to the Downtown Las Vegas jail and not the Henderson jail where her hubby works. Cuz that woulda been awkward for everyone.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The wife of a Henderson police lieutenant was arrested on forgery and theft charges Wednesday in her College of Southern Nevada office.

Spokeswoman K.C. Brekken said CSN police arrested Heidi B. DeVaney, 50, at the college’s campus on West Charleston Boulevard. DeVaney was being held Thursday at the Clark County Detention Center.

Her husband, John C. DeVaney, is a corrections lieutenant with the Henderson Police Department and in 2015 made total salary and benefits of $219,455, according to Transparent Nevada. A Henderson spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday.

Brekken said Heidi DeVaney was hired April 4 as a “temporary classified employee” in the role of an administrative assistant II at the community college. Her annual base salary was $31,090, and her last day of employment was Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

Officials said Heidi DeVaney’s arrest report was not available Thursday. Jail records show her charges include burglary, petit larceny and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

You know the old saying about Bad Apples not falling far from the tree.

Of course, I’ll guarantee you right now that she’ll still qualify for the Policeman’s Discount and unlike other people that commit crimes to support a drug habit, we’ll be told how tragic the situation is how much she needs help. Then she’ll get a very small slap on the wrist, at worst.

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Madison Capitol Police Officer Stole Painting From Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion

Earlier this week, Travis Sackett a former Capitol Police officer, pled guilty to stealing and then selling a painting from the Governor’s Mansion in Wisconsin. The painting, “Gold Fantasy Box” by Aaron Bohrod, was stolen in 2011, but wasn’t discovered missing until January of this year, when an audit of artwork at the mansion revealed its absence. The painting was then located on sale in Connecticut, through internet searches.

Via the Wisconsin State Journal:

Sackett was a Capitol Police officer from March 2, 2009, to Feb. 5, 2011, according to the complaint. He was assigned to the Dignitary Protection Unit at the governor’s residence, working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

Though the complaint quotes a state employee, Joan Sample, estimating the artwork to be worth “$100,000 or greater,” the art dealer who bought the stolen painting paid “about $2,000” for it and had it for sale for $3,000. The dealer, Donald Barese, of Don Barese Fine Art and Antiques in Hamden, Connecticut, said he would “probably give it an insurance value of $5,000.” An art exhibit catalog describes it as 12 inches by 16 inches.

Gold Fantasy Box Aaron Bohrod

“Gold Fantasy Box” by Aaron Bohrod

Sample, who works for the state Department of Administration, told Capitol Police Det. Christopher Litzkow she was hired to audit and catalog state-owned property at the governor’s residence in Maple Bluff. All of the artwork was accounted for except a piece by Bohrod, a former UW-Madson artist-in-residence, Monona resident and renowned painter who died in 1992. The painting in its gold and velvet frame was missing from the security room of the residence, according to the complaint.

Sample went to the Internet to search for the missing painting and found it for sale by Barese’s business.

“When the detective asked if it was possible I had a receipt I said, ‘Of course, I’ve got 22 years worth of records in the basement,’” Barese said. He had his canceled check for $1,800, dated March 2, 2011. He said the man who sold it to him described buying the painting at an estate sale for $400.

“He was a good talker,” Barese recalled.

Meanwhile, since his time “protecting” the Governor’s Mansion, Sackett seems to have embarked on a pretty busy career of thievery. In addition to the felony theft charge related to the painting, he also pled guilty to forgery, misuse of someone else’s identity, identity theft, and misdemeanor bail jumping. Those charges are from a separate incident where he tried to turn in a fake document showing that he had completed restitution for a theft case in 2012.

And then there’s this (Via NBC15.com):

Madison Police say a citizen hit a suspected thief with a flashlight and pinned him down until officers arrived.

A 31-year-old Madison man heard his car alarm blaring shortly after 3:00 Thursday morning. He lives in the 4800 block of Valor Way.

There had been a rash of car break-ins in his neighborhood, so he took a flashlight and went out to investigate. He told his wife to call police.

He could see a suspect inside of his neighbor’s car. The man was rummaging through a purse.

When the suspect came out, the homeowner questioned him. The suspect said he lived at the residence and had just moved in yesterday. The man knew that was a lie, because he knows his neighbors well.

The man says the suspect lunged at him. He thought the stranger could be armed, so he swung the flashlight in defense and hit the criminal in the face. He then held the suspect down until police arrived.

30-year-old Travis Sackett was taken to a hospital with facial injuries, and was cited for attempted theft and disorderly conduct.

Apparently, he wasn’t such a good talker that day.

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