Articles Posted in Murder

Two Staten Island men fought for their lives but their assailant finally won out when he shot each of the men, one in the head, the other in the leg and torso. The victims of the attack, Kenrick Gray, 34, and Noland (DJ) Whistleton, 41, both died of their injuries a short time later after police responded to an emergency 911 call that conveyed the shooting which occurred on Park Hill Avenue. The call came in at 6:17 p.m. Gray who was shot in the head was pronounced dead on arrival at Richmond University Medical Center and Whistleton suffered the same fate when his lifeless body arrived at Staten Island University Hospital shortly after the violence concluded.

Gray, of Stapleton, may well have had an inadvertent hand in the events that transpired which led to the attack that caused his death and that of Whistleton. A few years ago he won a settlement against the City of New York that totaled $132,500.00 from a federal civil rights lawsuit. The city shelled out $125,000.00 and police officer Michael Daragjati had to personally pay $7,500.00. Additionally, the police officer is in the midst of serving an almost 5 year prison sentence for violating Gray’s rights as well as a conviction for an unconnected case. He had numerous other civil-rights grievances lodged against him at the time of the settlement.

According to court documents, the police officer arrested Gray in early April 2011 because he protested about being stopped and frisked in a “rough” manner at the intersection of Laurel Avenue and Targee Street in Staten Island. The following day, an intercepted phone conversation caught the police officer, speaking to an associate saying that he had “fried another [n-word].” This condemning statement led to the settlement in tandem by the City and personally by the police officer.

Unfortunately, Gray was not tight-lipped about his monetary windfall.

As has been par for the course this year in the Metropolitan area, it was a snowy night when Darren “True Story” Brown, 27 of Mariner’s Harbor, confronted Gray and Whistleton. He apparently heard the story of Gray’s good fortune and decided that Gray was a prime target for a robbery. After approaching the two men and pulling his gun, the two victims’ began to fight with their attacker, trying to separate Brown’s firearm from his person. Brown suffered a gunshot wound but law enforcement believe that it may have been self-inflicted during the scuffle and in the end he remained the only one of the three men still breathing.

Although Gray was the victim of the robbery he was well-known in the neighborhood to be a small-time drug dealer. According to police records he had twenty-two drug related arrests.

Brown was arrested and indicted a few days later after being found hiding in the shower of his girlfriend’s home by the Staten Island Warrants Unit. It wasn’t known if he made off with any money that Gray might have been carrying during the fatal shootout.

He now faces a potential penalty of life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charges in the double homicide. He was also charged with attempted robbery. He pleaded not guilty to all charges through his attorney.

According to silive.com (Staten Island Live Online), Whistleton’s sister said that he and Gray were friends. Her brother just happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“My brother, he tried to save Kendrick, and that’s how he ended up getting shot,” as shown on the online news source. “Knowing my brother, knowing how he is, he wasn’t going to stand there.”

A source close to the investigation told the New York Post that Gray had spoken about using the money he made from the settlement to start a music business.

In a telephone interview, a female relative said “Word gets around about that type of thing… People knew he had a little money and he just wasn’t as quiet about it as he should have been… it’s just sad.”

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A gun was discharged in a Wesley Chapel, Florida Movie Theater shocking some patrons into the belief that the events of the mass murder that took place in Aurora Colorado in the summer of 2012 might be unfolding in their own neighborhood theater.

Kareen Lasky, who was in an adjacent theater when the gunfire rang out told the Tampa Bay Times that when the shooting occurred “The first thing I thought of was the theater out there in the West.”

Although this incident was not at all similar to the events that took place in Aurora, Colorado, a man was still shot and killed.

This specific event arose when a retired Tampa police captain shot a man in the chest after arguing with him about using his cell phone to send text messages inside a movie theater. The shooting took place at the Cobb Theater’s Grove 16 & Cine Bistro mid last month in Wesley Chapel, FL, a suburb about a thirty miles north of Tampa.

Chad Oulson was seated with his wife Nicole waiting for the matinee of the film “Lone Survivor” to begin when an altercation began with retired Police Captain Curtis Reeves, Jr. After words were exchanged, Reeves who also was also accompanied by his wife, got up to apparently complain to management about the texting, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office police report. The Oulsons’ were sitting in front of the seemingly agitated 6-foot-1, 270-pound, seventy-one year-old former police captain.
As the argument between the two couples escalated and was seemingly reaching its peak, Mr. Oulson reportedly threw popcorn at Reeves instigating a reaction where Reeves revealed his .380-semi-auto handgun and fired at Oulson hitting him in the chest. Mrs. Oulson was shot in the hand, apparently trying to block the bullet that was directed at her husband. According to a witness, after Reeves shot Oulson, he sat back down and placed the weapon in his lap.

When police arrived, Reeves was arrested and later charged with second-degree murder. An off-duty Sumter County deputy who was inside the theater as the shooting went on detained the retired officer until other deputies arrived at the scene.

When neighbors were interviewed, each of them had only good things to say about the man that moved to the area about 10 years ago. “He must have just snapped,” said Joe D’Andrea, and went on to describe him as a friendly, “stand-up” guy… I would not think he was the type of guy to do something like that. Another neighbor, Bill Costas told CNN affiliate WFLA that the man described in the report sounds like “a completely different guy” from the one he knows. He continued by saying he was a “very nice guy, always smiling… very helpful. If I needed help with something, he was there to help. I’ve never seen him angry.”

But Pasco County Sherriff Chris Nocco was easy to find fault with the former police captain saying “To have a retired police officer… I don’t know what he was thinking at the time. I can tell you, anybody, over a cellphone, to take their life, it’s ridiculous.”

During his career, for his leadership capabilities, Reeves frequently established exceptional assessments and repeated letters of commendation. He was praised for his role in the training he commanded for other agencies regarding gun safety as well as other matters which were noted in his personnel file. He was applauded for his oversight of the tactical response team for the 1987 visit to Tampa by “then” Vice President George H.W. Bush and was regularly given praise for his abilities of problem solving and managing stressful situations. In one job performance review a supervisor stated that “Captain Reeves not only has the ability to act decisively when necessary but has the foresight to initiate the proper course of action to avoid conflict.”

Still, the Pasco County Sheriff stated clearly that: “It didn’t matter what he had done previously in his life. You don’t shoot someone over a texting incident.”

Early in Reeves career he was reprimanded for handling a city weapon without proper care. At the time, one of his supervisors also noted in an assessment that “Reeves has a tendency to be impatient in regards to legal matters and practices now in force… and may be abrupt with complainants in some areas of the city.”

However, that assessment was written over thirty-five years ago.

After appearing in Court for his primary hearing, he was ordered held without bail pending a bond hearing by Judge Lynn Tepper for the second-degree murder charge.

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The name they use sounds like they could be a secret government agency or espionage unit but in reality MS-13 is a ferocious, violent street gang with its roots established in Los Angeles via Central America which has been infiltrating many U.S. cities over the past three decades.

It was just a few months ago, in early September when one of their members, Adalberto Ariel Guzman, a/k/a Gringo was convicted for the 2010 murder of Vanessa Argueta, a 19-year-old mother along with her 2-year-old son Diego Torres in Central Islip, New York. Guzman, 21, bolted to El Salvador after the shooting but was arrested when he reentered the United States later that same year. A total of twenty-five members and acquaintances of the gang were charged in a 70-count indictment in March 2011 that led to his conviction. According to prosecutors, Guzman shot the woman for the sole reason that he believed she had shown disrespect toward the gang. The child was killed simply for being with his mother at the wrong place at the wrong time. Guzman was the last of three defendants in this particular case, the others being Heriberto Martinez, and Rene Mendez Mejia who were previously convicted for their role in the mob-style murders.

Last week, Carlos Ortega, a/k/a Silencio, a leader of the Sitios Locos Salvatruchas faction of MS-13 received a life sentence plus sixty years for all counts listed in an indictment against him including murder, conspiracy relating to racketeering, as well as assault with dangerous weapons, and related firearms and conspiracy charges. The sentence was handed down in the Central Islip federal courthouse following a six-week trial concluding with Ortega’s conviction, this past March 21.

MS-13, the known pseudonym for Mara Salvatrucha or MS for short, was founded in Los Angeles’s Pico-Union neighborhood in 1980 by immigrants from the Central American country of El Salvador. The word “Mara” refers to the Spanish word for gang and “Salvatrucha” is a term noted in Spanish slang as a Salvadoran army ant. Another rendition of the word Salvatrucha translates to Salvadoran peasant guerrilla which was a good part of who the gang’s early manpower consisted of.

The reference to the number 13 in MS-13 is credited to the gang “Los Emes” shortened in English to “The M’s” which is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet. The M’s were a similar gang that also originated in Los Angeles.

Besides operating in numerous cities in the United States, the gang has offshoots’ mostly in Central America but has also been known to operate in South America and Canada as well. They were originally fashioned to safeguard Salvadoran immigrants from rival Mexican gangs that were victimizing them and were made up of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans. They have been branded the most dangerous and violent gang in the United States, as well as one of the most organized. Over the years they have been considered to be the only street gang of their type that can be mirrored to a true organized crime enterprise.

The gang’s strongholds have generally been on the West Coast and in Southwest cities but over the past decade their influence has widened on the East Coast to New York including its suburb of Long Island, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida. Midway through the first decade of the twenty-first century it was believed that their membership had grown in excess of 50,000 members.

After catching the attention of federal law enforcement agencies, an initiative named Operation Community Shield was set up as a joint effort by the FBI and ICE. In 2005 during the first year of operation OCS was responsible for more than 600 arrests against suspected gang member throughout the United States including many from MS-13 and in 2005 began a campaign of cracking down on the growing street gang. Since then, thousands of gang members, many of them members of MS-13, have been rounded up, arrested and convicted of crimes relating to diverse varieties of street violence and murder.

But in the case against “Gringo” and “Silencio” it was investigations led by the FBI Long Island Gang Task Force, which was comprised of officers and agents of the Nassau County Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, along with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and Department of Probation as well as the Rockville Centre Police Department that led to the downfall of Adalberto Ariel Guzman who awaits sentencing in January for his conviction, for the two murders that was powerfully described as “brutal, cold-blooded executions.” by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco, and Carlos Ortega who’s conviction resulted in the life sentence plus 60 years for the “heinous acts of violence in the name of MS-13, cutting a swath of murder from Brentwood to Far Rockaway, all within the span of a few weeks,” as stated by U.S. Attorney Lynch.

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Greenwich Village is a mostly residential area of the west side of Lower Manhattan. The largest majority of people who live there are basically upper middle class families. Known in the latter part of the 19th century through the present, the “Village” has been labeled a haven for artists, as well as the bohemian capital of New York City. It is also credited as the birthplace of the Beat movement of the East Coast. The neighborhood is encompassed by Broadway to the east and the Hudson River to its furthest point west. To the south lies Houston Street and it travels north to 14th Street. The neighborhood essentially centers New York University and Washington Square Park.

Living among the wealthy residents who live in stylish apartment buildings or own their own renovated brownstones, there is a large gay community. This group is known to mostly frequent the bars and clubs of the west village.

While traveling through the Village it is not unusual to run across openly gay members of its population. Two men, or two women, walking together holding hands with each other is more the rule than its exception. Especially north of the Avenue of the Americas which is the unofficial line of demarcation separating the east and west village. Within the community’s whole there is the realm of gay men and lesbians and the bars they frequent as well as the domain of straight men and women who visit clubs that fit a heterosexual lifestyle.

It was on a corner of the Avenue of the Americas that Mark Carson, 32, heard the words “You want to die tonight?”

Carson was walking with a companion as he was being followed by Elliot Morales, who was repeatedly shouting anti-gay slurs at the two. After his final hateful proclamation, he allegedly shot Carson in the face with a silver revolver. Carson was found fatally wounded by police lying in the street and later died of his injuries after being taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

A short time later, Morales was picked up when a police officer spotted him a few blocks away from the crime scene. The officer heard the description of the perpetrator on his radio and made the arrest upon seeing Morales.

Approximately 15 minutes before the murder took place, the alleged killer was noticed urinating outside a fashionable restaurant a few blocks from the crime scene, according to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Kelly labeled the murder a hate crime. “There were no words that would aggravate the situation, and the victim did not know the perpetrator,” he said.

Before a commencement address that he delivered in White Plains, when speaking about the incident, he went on to say “It is clear that the victim here was killed only because and just because he was thought to be gay. There is no question about that.”

Police also questioned two unidentified individuals who had been seen with Morales moments before the shooting took place. The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said that the two men were questioned as witnesses to the murder and were not, considered suspects at this time. He also said that they were cooperating with the authorities.

According to state Department of Correction records it was found that Mr. Morales had been found guilty of a robbery and served more than 10 years in prison for his conviction of that crime. Until his arrest he had been staying with one of the two men who is now being questioned as a witness at his home in Far Rockaway, Queens. Police found another gun amongst Mr. Morales’s belongings at that location.

According to an undisclosed source, Mr. Morales’s sister, Edith Gutierrez, said she did not believe her brother could have committed a crime of such bias. She said that they have gay relatives and her brother had never shown any signs of homophobia. She also said that when she spoke with her brother in jail, “he said he doesn’t remember anything; he was under the influence, he was drinking.”

After making his first appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court, he was charged with murder and weapons charges, according to the Wall Street Journal. Pending his next court appearance he is being held without bail as ordered by Judge Robert Stolz.

Morales, said nothing at his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court and his attorney chose not to comment on the case.

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Follow Up:
In an article posted here just under ten days ago, new evidence has been uncovered in the story of Derek Medina, the man who posted a shocking image of his murdered wife on his Facebook page.

A Surveillance video was released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, along with Medina’s dead wife’s diary. The video shows what might possibly have been the final seconds leading up to the alleged murder of Jennifer Alfonso, by the hand and the gun of her now imprisoned husband. After the shooting, Medina posted her photo on Facebook along with comments directly showing his involvement in the crime.

Although the video doesn’t display an uninterrupted observation of the entire alleged skirmish, Alfonso can be clearly seen in the kitchen at the onset of the filming. It does show Medina enter the room, arguing with Alfonso and then exit only to return evidently with a gun, although it is not within the line of sight of the rolling camera. He is then seen making his way into the kitchen when his head snaps back apparently when his wife Jennifer punches him. Moments after that an eruption of gunpowder can be seen flying out of the kitchen denoting the 6 to 8 shots that Medina fired at his wife based on his own confession. Next, he returns with his jacket and cell phone as he allegedly takes the picture that he posted on Facebook before putting on the jacket and placing his cell phone in his pocket as he exits their home. The video concludes presenting heavily armed police entering the townhouse through the front door; concluding the released footage of the video before they discovered Alfonso’s body which is never seen on camera but discovered slumped in the kitchen.

Medina contends that his wife grabbed a knife during the scuffle, but he was able to take it away from her and return it to a kitchen drawer. This suspected circumstance is not played out within the recording.

Since my first posting, Medina has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder although it has been reported that prosecutors will likely seek a first-degree murder indictment when the grand jury returns.

Medina and Alfonso had a shaky relationship. After getting married in 2010 and divorcing in 2012 they remarried a few months later during the scope of those couple of years.

A major irony in this case is the context that Medina was an author of numerous e-books, one of them titled “How I saved someone’s life and marriage and family problems thru communication” which is a story where the main character saves his marriage after getting divorced and remarried to the same person. He also maintains a Website named EmotionalWriter.com. He marketed himself in numerous videos that he posted on YouTube and his e-books could be found and purchased on amazon.com

According to CBS Miami, Alfonso’s father is quoted as saying in reference to Medina posting his dead daughter’s image “It’s like self-promoting what he’s always done you know. To put my daughter nationwide on Facebook that’s unbelievable, unbelievable,”
But Medina’s father had a different story to tell saying that his son was only trying to defend himself. “They are making my son into an animal. He was scared of her all his life, all the relationship, because he always reported to me that he would get beaten by her,” said Medina Sr. “She pushed him to the point of insanity”.

In another bizarre twist some of the entries unveiled in Alfonso’s journal/diary told of her hearing “weird noises” and macabre sounds in their house and had the feeling of “being watched” as well as writing that she “always believed in zombies” discussing her concerns over reports of cannibalism relating to designer synthetic drugs denoted as “bath salts”.

In a December 27, 2012 entry she wrote: “I no [sic] he loves me and I no [sic] I love him just wished we had better ways of showing it. When we love each other its [sic] GREAT. But when we hate each other we HATE each other,”
In a May 22, 2012, entry, obviously displaying aggressive feelings toward Medina she wrote: “After little situations that me and derek [sic] have been through I find myself uncontrolably jelouse [sic], like want to murder type of deal,” says the diary. “His eyes start wondering [sic], more than once, of course my blood boiled and I wanted to rip his eyes right out of the socket, disrespect.”

She finished that day’s notes when she penned: “I just wish everybody could be happy!!”
As more details emerge it’ll be interesting to see how this case plays out. I’ll keep you informed.

To read my first post on this topic, click here.

[sic]: added immediately after a quoted word or phrase (or a longer piece of text), indicates that the quotation has been transcribed exactly as found in the original source, complete with any erroneous spelling or other nonstandard presentation Source: Wikipedia.com

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In the twenty-first century, social media has become a large part of many people’s lives. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others give its subscribers the ability to follow friends and family as well as politicians and celebrities to see what they’re up to and virtually become a part of their daily lives. Facebook is by far the most popular of these services with a subscribership of over half a billion users.

One of the most popular elements of Facebook is the ability for people to post images that are shared with family and friends. Pictures of new born babies, weddings and other happy occasions saturate the Facebook pages of many of its participants. But in the case of Derek Medina, it led to his arrest.

Medina, 31 allegedly posted a picture of Jennifer Alfonso, 26, his lifeless wife on his Facebook page after fatally shooting her in their South Miami townhouse. He added a caption to the photo writing “RIP Jennifer Alfonso.” The graphic picture displays a woman collapsed on the kitchen floor, her legs twisted backward, lying on her back with blood on her cheek and left arm.

Following his posting of the image he wrote * “Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see me in the news” my wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me”
After completing the grisly Facebook session Medina changed his clothes and then informed unspecified relatives; confessing to the murder. Next, he turned himself in to the South Miami Police which handed the case over to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Medina showed up at the police station and told police that he killed his wife that morning after they were involved in a domestic squabble. When police arrived at the scene they found Ms. Alfonso inside the home located at the 5500 block of Southwest 67th Avenue in Miami dead on the floor with multiple gunshot wounds.

The arrest report stated that Medina was in his bedroom when he took a gun from his closet, faced Alfonso and pointed the gun at her. She then left the bedroom only to come back a short time later telling Medina that she was leaving him. At this point, she left the room and went downstairs into the kitchen as Medina followed her without the gun. According to Medina, she then began to punch him so he went back to the bedroom and retrieved the firearm. When he returned to the kitchen he alleged that Alfonso wielded a knife but he was able to wrestle it away from her. After the knife was taken away from her, she began punching him again and it was then that he began firing his gun at her.

At the time of the shooting Alfonso’s 10-year-old daughter was in the townhouse. Police made no comment as to whether or not she was a witness to crime but affirmed the child uninjured.

In Medina’s first court appearance Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Elena Verde denied him bail. When questioned whether he would be pursuing a private attorney, he originally said, “I am in the process of talking to someone,” but a short time after his statement decided to accept representation by a public defender.

Medina is charged with first-degree murder. His next court appearance was scheduled for three weeks from this appearance.
*Grammatical and spelling errors in Medina’s above quote were not corrected.

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Drs. Cynthia Cadet, 42 and Joseph Castronuovo, 72 maintain their innocence. The two doctors who are each charged with 13 offenses related to prescribing drugs while working at the pain clinics that were operated by the now infamous twin brothers, Chris and Jeff George, are willing to face trial and take their chances before a jury.

The two doctors have declined plea deals that were offered and are now looking at possible sentences of life in prison because their prescription-writing of Oxycodone led to nine deaths, federal officials assert.

Since August 2011, eleven other doctors that were indicted in the same arrests have either pleaded guilty to money laundering or mail fraud in federal court. Most of them received five-year sentences.

Cadet is accused of contributing to the deaths of seven patients that she allegedly prescribed drugs to at the George brother clinics located in three Palm Beach County cities as well as several Broward County cities. Castronuovo is linked to two deaths, according to prosecutors.

It was in August 2011 when thirty-two individuals including thirteen doctors were rounded up by the FBI and charged with the illegal distribution of various drugs through the operation of “pill mills” which operated in Broward and Palm Beach County as well as generating sales through the Internet.

At the time, the indictment alleged that Chris and Jeffrey George, operated, managed and financed the following four pain management clinics in Broward and Palm Beach Counties: Executive Pain, American Pain, Hallandale Pain and the East Coast Pain clinics. From 2008 to early 2010, the George’s clinics dispersed in the area of 20 million oxycodone pills and generated more than $40 million of income from the sales of the controlled substance.

In Oct, 2011 Jeff George pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the death by overdose of one of the clients who frequented his “pill mill” pain clinics. In January 2012 he was sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison. Three weeks later his brother Chris was given a 17 1/2-year sentence.

It was the testimony of Jeff that implicated all the other defendants associated with the case including arrests of his brother, mother, sister-in-law and a childhood friend. Cadet and Castronuovo were also named in his testimony.

Pleading leniency for his client, Jeff George’s attorney David Roth said to the Court; “In my 43 years of practicing law, I can’t remember any case where a defendant has cooperated knowing that as a result of his cooperation there was a high probability it would lead to the arrests of his mother and his brother. Mr. George, in street language, has come clean.”

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra wasn’t feeling Mr. Roth’s intriguing oratory and decided that his client deserved to spend a long time behind bars.

Oxycodone is the number one form of prescription, and sometimes illegally obtained drugs that are attributed to cause death by overdose. Heroin and cocaine combined don’t come close to the amount of overdose deaths caused by Oxycodone. It is categorized as a Schedule II narcotic. These categories have a high probability of initiating drug abuse and addiction. It can be ingested through the nose by sorting, or liquefied and then injected, to achieve an instantaneous high.

South Florida has been distinguished as the pill mill capital of the world according to Florida’s current Attorney General Pam Bondi. Dan Gelber, a former prosecutor and now a member of the Florida Senate, representing the 35th District said that the state (Florida) is the “Sam’s Club of prescription drugs.” Authorities aren’t surprised to find drugs put together and originating from Florida turning up in packages up and down the east coast. Florida has been acknowledged as the illicit prescription drug capital of the country by local, state and federal law enforcement officials, especially for oxycodone and oxycontin.

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In an exceptionally uncommon action, authorities arrested a West Palm Beach former doctor for first-degree murder. His medical license had been revoked two years ago.

According to the Florida’s sun-sentinel.com, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said “it’s rare for a doctor to face first-degree murder or manslaughter charges for overprescribing drugs, but it’s becoming more common”. This doctor is being charged for the overdose deaths of two of his patients.

John Christensen, 61, was originally a chiropractor when he received his medical degree in 1995 from Universidad Federico Henriquez y Carvajal School of medicine in the Dominican Republic. The school was shut down in 1998 by officials of the D.R., who established that they uncovered “grave academic deficiencies.” A report filed in the U.S. connected it closely to another school that has also since been closed for being nothing more than a diploma mill.

Christensen claimed to have no knowledge and had heard nothing about the controversy that surrounded his old school; He said he passed all the requisite exams to get his license to practice medicine. “We took the same examinations that the United States medical students took,” he said during a deposition in civil suit that was filed against him in 2010.

That law suit was filed by George and Jacque Lauzerique, the parents of a 21-year-old Royal Palm Beach High School baseball sensation that died while he was sleeping at their Wellington home. Their son, Anthony Lauzerique died from a drug overdose.

Through testimony of the civil suit it was alleged that Christensen blatantly over-prescribed oxycodone, roxycodon, methadone and Xanax tablets to their son which led to his death..

Dr. Christensen settled that lawsuit. State records show his insurance company paid approximately $250,000, but the total amount of the settlement has remained undisclosed.

Although losing the civil suit, Christensen’s pain management clinics continued to thrive. Records show that in the first half of 2011, Medicaid in Florida paid for over 5,000 oxycodone pills per month that Christensen approved for his patients.

But in August 2011 Christensen’s clinics were raided. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) along with other law enforcement agents took boxes of patient data and computer records from his clinic in West Palm Beach. A Daytona Beach chiropractic clinic of which he was a partner was also searched.

The Department of Health suspended Christensen’s license after documents found in the raids showed abuse of over-prescribing certain controlled drugs. Authorities searched Christensen’s home in addition to his offices. Florida’s then-Surgeon General, Dr. Frank Farmer, said in a statement: “Clearly, this practitioner flagrantly disregarded his duties and responsibilities as a practicing physician in Florida, jeopardizing the health and welfare of his patients.” A complaint which was filed with the health department stated that he prescribed drugs for cash without even examining his patients.

The current two first-degree murder counts against Christensen were filed because of the overdose death of two of his patients. The drugs that were prescribed were oxycodone, methadone and anti-anxiety drugs. He’s additionally facing charges of conspiracy to traffic oxycodone, unlawful delivery of methadone and unlawful prescription of a controlled substance.

Although the charges against Christensen are in reference to two other patients that died, purportedly due to Christensen’s actions, Jacque Lauzerique said she was relieved to hear about the former doctor’s arrest even though the action was not specifically related to her son’s death. She said that she felt the charges are warranted. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Lauzerique. She went on to comment: “It would make your heart sink to think that somebody was doing that to anyone that you loved. You know, they just didn’t care. They were in it for the money. And it was sad.”

Last Friday a judge denied bail but his attorney suggested that his client should be presumed innocent. He is presently being held in the Palm Beach County Jail.

Similarly charged in the case is another defendant, Dr. Stewart Fox, 62, of Boynton Beach. Authorities say that he worked at Christensen’s West Palm Beach office. He faces allegations of conspiracy to traffic in oxycodone, unlawful delivery of methadone and unlawful prescription of a controlled substance. No murder charges of any variety have been associated with the second doctor.

The investigation of the two doctors has been ongoing since January 2011. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has commented that they have 35 overdose deaths under review linked to Christensen’s offices located in West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Port St. Lucie.

Just two days before the first-degree murder counts were charged against Christensen, former Delray Beach doctor, Barry Schultz, was detained on a manslaughter charge for the death of a 50-year old patient who overdosed on methadone.

In a related case, Joseph Wagner, a chiropractor that operated the Wagner Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic located in Volusia County was jailed last year after his conviction of health care fraud, conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs, and money laundering. He was partners in the venture with the then Dr. Christensen who was not charged in the case. Wagner was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in federal prison.

Although law enforcement has been tightening the noose on these abusers the problem needs to be further examined. Once known as the “pain clinic capital of the world”, according to Aronberg, Florida is currently attacking these crimes with stricter laws, better enforcement and a new database that monitors the prescriptions of many of the suspected drugs of choice.

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The leader of the notorious Yonkers Elm Street Wolves street gang was found guilty yesterday in White Plains Federal Court of the murder of a rival gang member as well as numerous federal crimes specifically racketeering, firearms offenses, and drug charges. The gang operated in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers.

In 2011, Steven Knowles was arrested on a 21 count indictment along with 47 other Elm Street Wolves gang members on charges dealing with firearms offenses as well as the distribution of large amounts of crack cocaine. At the time, he and fellow gang members Michael Andrews and Dexter Granger were also charged with the murder of Christopher Cokley, a member of a rival gang.

Since their arrests, many of the 47 gang members have accepted plea bargains or have been found guilty of similar charges.

In early 2011, Davon Young, aka “Burners”; Thomas Chambliss, aka “TC”; and Gregory Fuller, aka “Murder”, all members of the gang were found guilty of narcotics conspiracy, robbery, robbery conspiracy, firearms possession witness tampering offenses, and murder. They all suffered stiff sentences. Chambliss was sentenced to 45 years, Young to 65 years and Fuller to 100 years in prison.

After that conviction a statement was released by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, detailed as follows: “Today justice has been served. These defendants will serve substantial prison sentences as a result of their participation in a brutal murder and other serious crimes. These sentences send a clear message that drug dealing and gang violence will not be tolerated in Yonkers or in any other community this office serves.”

Yesterday’s conviction now holds Knowles accountable not only for Cokley’s murder but also for nearly a decade of dealing drugs in the community and the commission of unimaginable acts of violence in the Nodine Hill area.

Based on the evidence disclosed at the trial:

For more than a decade, from 2000 until his arrest, Knowles was a member of a street gang that was known as the Elm Street Wolves. As time passed, he became the leader of said criminal racketeering enterprise. During the time of his authority, he conspired to kill Christopher Cokley, a member of a rival gang that went by the name Strip Boyz. The murder was carried out on July 4, 2009. Previously, in October, 2007, he shared a role in the attempted murder of another member of the Strip Boyz; Tremaine Garrison, also known as “Triggermain”. Additionally, Mr. Knowles was a lead player in the more than decade-long conspiracy to distribute large amounts of crack cocaine on an ongoing basis in the Nodine Hill area of Southwest Yonkers, New York; specifically within the circumference of thoroughfares between Elm and Oak Streets. Other evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Knowles and his cohorts were in possession of a substantial arsenal of weapons such as hand guns, which they flaunted, and discharged in association with their racketeering and drug trafficking enterprise.

The jury’s decision was that Knowles was guilty of murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering, conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute more than 280 grams of crack cocaine as well as discharging firearms in continuance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence.

He was found not guilty on one of the counts of attempted murder and one of the counts of possession. He was also acquitted on one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and one of the counts of carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

In his latest statement United States Attorney Preet Bharara commented “This conviction is a continuation of the long-standing commitment by federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to rid Yonkers and other communities in the Southern District of New York of violent drug gangs. Law enforcement has pledged itself to this cause for several years now and has not stood down.”

Knowles sentencing will be held before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M Karas on May 29 of next year. He will face a compulsory sentence of life in prison.

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As reported in our previous blog post, the 25-plus year saga of convicted murderer William Van Poyck came to an end when his life was terminated last week by lethal injection enforced by a death warrant signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott in early May.

As of the end of May Scott had signed five death warrants this current year, including three in a recent period of less than four weeks. One of the three was Van Poyck’s.

When interviewed by CBS news, Scott stated that “I go through them and when people have exhausted their appeals and when they’re finished with their clemency process, then I continue to move the process along.” CBS also reported that this practice displays that Scott has been signing death warrants at a “stepped up pace” and mentions that he’s signing death warrants at a speed that’s been “rarely seen in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.” He is also considering a bill that would “speed up death penalty executions by creating tighter timeframes for appeals and post-conviction motions,” according to cbslocal.com.

Van Poyck was convicted in the murder of prison guard Fred Griffis in 1987. He fervently declared that he was not the one that fired the gun that killed the prison guard until the very end. His final words before lethal injection ended his life were “Set me free”.

Van Poyck’s case gained notoriety outside the state of Florida mainly because he wrote books and authored several blogs by writing letters to his sister which she posted on the Internet on his behalf. Two of his books won awards, one of them “A Checkered Past” won first-place in the memoir category of the 2004 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. His first book, The Third Pillar of Wisdom, was an award-winning autobiography. He also published short stories that won honors, including the PEN American Center’s “Fielding Dawson Special Citation for Outstanding Achievement” in 2004 for his literary achievements.

Once an execution takes place there are usually two sides that are affected by the finality of the act; the victim’s friends and family and the convicted killer’s connections as well.

Van Poyck’s sister Lisa, 59, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, was his strongest supporter. She said her brother didn’t kill the Glades Correctional Institution prison guard. She admits that her brother masterminded the plot to attack the two guards who were in the van in an effort to free his best friend, but sustains that he had no part in the actual shooting. She maintained that “Billy didn’t want anyone to get hurt or anyone to get shot,”
A day after the Governor signed the death warrant for her brother’s first-degree murder conviction; she initiated an appeal to spare her Brother William’s life. In petitions displayed on Facebook as well as her brother’s Death Row Diary Website, she pressed anyone that could get involved to assist her in staying the execution which was at the time slated for June 12. She said she became “hysterical” once she was advised that Governor Scott had signed her brother’s death warrant. However she implied that she was still optimistic that lawyers that were still operating to stop his execution would be successful in winning him a new trial where different jurors would be able to be convinced that he didn’t fire the shot and go along with a life sentence rather than execution.

“I’ve always had a vision of my brother walking out of there a free man. I believe miracles can happen.” she said.

She attributed her brother’s quandary on incompetent attorneys that handled her Brother’s defense as well as heartless, blood-thirsty jurors as well as the Florida law that holds each person involved in the crime responsible for the murder whether they actually were the killer or not.

Recently during an interview, his sister said “He didn’t kill anyone. He deserves to be released. He’s served enough time in prison for trying to break someone out of a prison transport van.” She went on to submit that “He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis’ life”.

Her Brother however is taking the news of his imminent death calmly, his sister said. He has been placed on death watch and now is allowed to make phone calls to family and friends. When she spoke with him last week, she said he encouraged her to be strong and not dwell on the inevitable.

“Lisa, I’ve been preparing for this for a long time,” she said that he told her. “I’m totally at peace with God.”

Among a mass of protesters’, outside the building where her brother was just executed she was quoted as saying “He’s finally free from those prison walls”.

To view his blog posted and updated by his sister Lisa, click here

On the other side of the issue, members of Griffis’ family were planning a get-together for quiet reflection about their loved one’s life.

The family has said in interviews that they were exasperated that news stories fixated on Van Poyck who is the convicted killer. News stories concentrated on issues dealing with his appeals, the 25-year old crime, as well as his writings and blog posts, but not much had been reported in the news about Griffis who was a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran.

The victim’s cousin, Norman Traylor said “It’s been a very traumatic experience”.

His brother Roland said “When he was murdered, it basically ripped a hole in the family’s heart that’s never really healed”. He further stated that Fred was always looking out for others after he was released on a medical discharge when his first tour in Vietnam was completed, but he re-enlisted for two more tours because he thought he could help his country further.

In the final seconds of his life he was resolute not to permit a killer to escape custody.

In conclusion, Ronald said: “I knew that even at the end, he was still my brother; he was still Freddy, that’s who he was. He protected others.”

Steve Turner, one of the corrections officers involved in the attack on that fateful day along with Griffis, spoke of his feeling after the execution concluded.

“Justice has prevailed,” he said. “They can close the book.”

To read our previous blog posts detailing with Van Poyck’s story, click the below links:
Jun 20th, 2013: Florida Man Executed After 25 Years on Death Row
May 8th, 2013: Judge Appoints Three Lawyers in Last Minute Death Penalty Appeal

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