Friday, September 30, 2011

18 Individuals Face Drug Charges

An indictment charging eighteen defendants with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana has been unsealed, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced yesterday. Ms. McQuade was joined in the announcement by Andrew G. Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robert Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Chief Ralph Godbee, Detroit Police Department.

This indictment charges eighteen defendants with conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana in Detroit over the past eleven years. All eighteen are alleged to be members of a national drug trafficking organization.

The eighteen defendants named in this indictment are:

  • Shaun Devon Askew, a/k/a “Dot,” 28, of Detroit;
  • Terrell Raynard Clark, 23, of Detroit
  • Anthony Bernarde Edwards, a/k/a “Ant” and “Mick,” 40, of Southfield;
  • Erika Royce Flowers, a/k/a “E,” 29, of Detroit;
  • Thebera Shlanda Flowers, 47, of Detroit;
  • Geoffrey Lamar Hightower, a/k/a “Chief,” 40, of Wayne;
  • Carl Lee Jones, a/k/a “Pookie,” 30, of Farmington Hills;
  • John Lighting, III, a/k/a “J-Rock,” 29, of Detroit;
  • Malcolm Martines Long, a/k/a “Black,” 38, of Macomb Township;
  • Terrence Lynn Pritchett, a/k/a “Cowboy” and “C-Bo,” 40, of Detroit;
  • Johnny Richards, Jr., 43, of Roseville;
  • Isaac Johnson Sheppard, 30, of Detroit;
  • Daryl Keith Sewell, a/k/a “D-Nice,” 43, of Arizona;
  • Kendrah Smartt, a/k/a “Old Girl,” 46, of Colorado;
  • Dennis Cornelius Tate, a/k/a “Deezy” and “Terrence,” 36, of Belleville;
  • Jaami Townsend, a/k/a “Jam,” 33, of Plymouth;
  • Clarence Williamson, Jr., a/k/a “Dawg” and “Junior,” 48, of Southfield; and
  • Denise Darrine Williamson, a/k/a “Neecey,” 42, of Detroit;.

Mr. Sheppard is in custody in Detroit, while Ms. Smartt is in custody in Nebraska.

“We need to find new ways to address gun, drug, and violent crimes,” Ms. McQuade said. “Our law enforcement agencies are working together to use our resources in strategic ways.”

“The FBI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners, particularly through our Violent Gang Task Force, and working with prosecutors to aggressively investigate drug dealing organizations,” Mr. Arena explained.

Mr. Corso added, “The arrests that stemmed from this investigation are strong examples of the positive results that can be achieved when state, local and federal law enforcement agencies work together to fight drug trafficking. The DEA will continue to work with our partners to make our community safer by focusing on dismantling violent drug organizations.”

The most serious charge in the indictment, conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of powder cocaine and more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, carries a penalty of 10 years to life imprisonment.

An indictment is a charging document and not evidence of guilt. Each and every defendant is presumed to be innocent. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Portelli.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Double Rainbow Over the Southfield Freeway

Double Rainbow Over the Warrendale Neighborhood
One of my neighbors was lucky enough to photograph a double rainbow as it hung over the Southfield Freeway in the Warrendale neighborhood. While I don't think this photo will garner 30 million views, like a certain viral video, I still think it's cool.

It's cool enough indeed to be the Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week.

And, if anyone asks, the Southfield Freeway was designated the "Unicorn Expressway" as a result of this phenomena.

Breaking News: Southfield Freeway to Re-Open 15 Days Early

State Representative Harvey Santana and the Michigan Department of Transportation announced today the Southfield Freeway (M-39) will re-open fully during the early morning hours of Monday, October 3. This is 15 days earlier than was originally planned.

I congratulate everyone who played a role in making sure that these badly needed repairs were completed ahead of schedule.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

WACO Meeting This Thursday

The Warren Avenue Community Organization, which represents that portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is east of the Southfield Freeway, will hold its next general membership meeting on Thursday, September 29. This meeting will be from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the NFL/YET Boys & Girls Club (16500 Tireman St.).

Their guest speaker will be Ms. Mellisa Damaschke from the Sierra Club. She will discuss ways in which residents can go green with things as saving energy, using rain barrels, and so on.

There will also be a presentation on how to look up home owners with abandoned homes.

Everyone interested in improving the neighborhood is invited to attend. Guests are asked to enter at the East Entrance. Please feel free to bring a friend or neighbor.

Also, attendees are asked to please bring a can or non perishable item to this meeting. WACO is starting their holiday food boxes for November.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Movie Mania is Cool but Trash is Irritating

In my walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood today, I discuss how irritating all of those piles of trash have become as well as the coolness of Movie Mania.

Yeah, that's right. I said it. Movie Mania is cool. Who needs Netflix when this place is around?

As an added bonus, I hearby proclaim Movie Mania (18251 W. Warren Ave.) to be my Featured Business of the Week.

Police Community Relations Meeting to be Held Next Monday

The next meeting of the Northwestern District community relations organizations will be on Monday, September 26 at 7 p.m. This meeting will happen at the Bushnell Congregational Church, (15000 Southfield Fwy.), which is approximately three miles north of the Warrendale neighborhood at the southeast corner of Grand River and Southfield Fwy. service drive.

This meeting will include a presentation by a representative from Mayor Dave Bing’s office on the new strategies to curb crime in the city of Detroit as well as the revamping of police responsibilities.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Graffiti, Roadkill, and Restaurants

In today's walk through Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood, I talk about graffiti on the Southfield Freeway, roadkill, and a restaurant on Ford Rd., which has no connection to either graffiti or roadkill. Enjoy!

New Traffic Detours for the Southfield Freeway

Construction Continues on the Southfield Freeway
From Friday, September 23 at 9 p.m. until Monday, September 26 at 5 a.m., the Southfield Freeway (M-39) will be closed in both directions between Ford Rd. (M-153) and Grand River Ave. (M-5). In addition, the eastbound and westbound I-96 ramps to northbound Southfield Fwy., and the Grand River entrance ramp to southbound Southfield Fwy. will be closed.

The Michigan Department of Transportation suggests a northbound detour by taking westbound Ford Rd. to northbound Telegraph Rd (US-24) to eastbound I-696 to Southfield Rd. 

The suggested southbound detour is to take southbound M-10 to westbound Eight Mile Rd. (M-102) to southbound Telegraph Rd. to eastbound Ford Rd. to the Southfield Freeway.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Detroit Man Convicted Following Federal Trial for Multiple Carjacking Offenses

Tyree Dawon Washington, age 22 of Detroit, was convicted in federal district court yesterday on three counts of carjacking, three counts involving the use of a firearm during a crime of violence, and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. She was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation. At least one of these three carjackings happened in the Warrendale area.

The jury trial, which began on September 13, 2011, was presided over by the Hon. Denise Page Hood.

Evidence presented at trial established that between March 12, 2011 and March 14, 2011, Mr. Washington, a previously convicted felon, while in the company of two other men, committed three separate carjackings. The first occurred in the evening hours of March 12 in Detroit during which the victim, a 21-year-old man, was shot twice in a failed attempt to take his car. He survived his injuries when his girlfriend sped from the scene and took him to an area hospital.

The second offense occurred on March 14 at 3:30 p.m. in Dearborn. A man and his wife, while accompanied by their 14-year-old son, were on their way to visit the boy’s maternal grandmother at an assisted living complex. As they exited their car, the family was ambushed by Mr. Washington and a second individual who robbed them at gunpoint. The woman’s purse and a 2009 Dodge Charger were taken.

The third carjacking occurred in Eastpointe, when a young woman who had been shopping at a beauty supply store at 8 Mile and Gratiot, was robbed and carjacked by Washington. During that offense, Mr. Washington threatened to kill both the woman and her 5-year-old child.

In all of the offenses, Washington and his co-defendants were armed with .45 caliber handguns. They had hoped to steal the custom wheels on the vehicles and sell them on the street.

The jury returned a guilty verdict as to all eight counts. Mr. Washington is in custody awaiting his sentence on January 5, 2012. He faces a minimum sentence of 60 years in prison.

“This case demonstrates the impact federal prosecution can have on fighting violent crime,” Ms. McQuade said. “We are hopeful that these convictions will deter others from committing armed violent crimes in our community.”

Ms. McQuade praised the work of the Violent Crime Task Force and officers of the Detroit Police Department who are also members of the task force. She also praised the work of the Eastpointe Police Department who’s initial efforts in the March 14 investigation provided critical evidence in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John O’Brien, Jeanine Brunson, and Justin Letts prosecuted the case for the United States.

Rouge Park Meeting Tomorrow Evening

The next Friends of Rouge Park meeting will be held tomorrow evening, Wednesday, September 21 from 6 - 7 p.m. The group will meet at the Don Bosco Center, which is located at 9357 Westwood (at W. Chicago).

Former Detroit Public Schools Official Sentenced for Accepting Bribes

A former Detroit Public Schools official who accepted kickbacks for authorizing payments to a vendor who submitted $3.32 million in fraudulent invoices was sentenced yesterday to 60 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution to the Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced. She was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez of  the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Stephen A. Hill, age 60 of Detroit and a former executive director of the DPS Risk Management Department, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman. Judge Borman also ordered that Mr. Hill pay DPS $3.32 million in restitution.

Sherry Washington, who was convicted as charged of program fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy after a two-week jury trial in June.

Mr. Hill testified that he awarded the DPS wellness plan to a firm with no competitive bidding and with no written contract. He also testified that Sherry Washington proposed the cash kickback to him and later delivered bags of cash to him in private locations, including the parking structure of the Detroit Athletic Club.

Following an investigation by the IRS and FBI, an indictment charging nine people was returned. One defendant, DPS employee Christina Polk-Osumah, died of natural causes after indictment. All of the other seven defendants in the case were convicted as well; six pleaded guilty and local art gallery owner Sherry Washington was convicted after a jury trial and will be sentenced October 20, 2011. Co-defendant Gwendolyn Washington will be sentenced on October 5, 2011.

Other defendants sentenced in this case include:

  • Marilyn White received a sentence of 21 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $3.322 million;
  • Valerie Polk received a sentence of 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $347,746;
  • Thomas Taylor received a sentence of one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $440,928;
  • Sally Jo Bond received a sentence of 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $3.322 million; and
  • Duane Polk received a sentence of 27 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution to DPS in the amount of $788,674.
Ms. McQuade said in a prepared statement, “We are committed to rooting out public corruption wherever it occurs, but a breach of trust in our schools is particularly offensive. These defendants stole funds intended to benefit school children.”

Mr. Hill pleaded guilty on May 2 to one count of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit program fraud. The offenses arose from Hill’s involvement in a scheme to honor fraudulent million dollar invoices submitted by a group called Associates for Learning for implementation of a wellness plan for DPS employees. He accepted a 5% percent cash kickback for approving wire transfer payments upon receipt of the fraudulent invoices.

Featured Place to Live: 7285 Stahelin Ave.

I posted about the Coolest Basement Ever last July. It was my Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for that week. Since then, however, I have learned that the house with the Coolest Basement Ever is currently for sale at a very reasonable price.

This 3 bedroom bungalow has a 2.5 car garage and is in move-in condition. Built in 1952, this home has 1,230 square feet of living space. This is not a short sale nor is it a foreclosure.

This home is available for only $12,500. It is offered by Real Estate One-Southgate. More information about it is available here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tip of the Week: Shopping Can Help the Detroit College Promise

Your shopping trips to Meijer will help the Detroit College Promise raise funds for scholarships.
Simply sign up online by filling out the short enrollment form on the links below. Meijer will send you a M-1 Rewards Card. You can use this card when you check out, and Meijer will designate a portion to us.
Their organization code is #132628. This is important because you will need it when signing up for your rewards card.  Click here to sign up today! Click here for any questions you have about the program. Note: this program only works with a Meijer credit card, cash, or a debit card.

More information about the Meijer Community Rewards Program are available here. You can sign up for it here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I am someone who has gotten paid to come up with words to describe an event, a location, or an idea. However, I do not believe I will ever be able to explain fully the horror and tragedy of almost 3,000 innocent people being murdered on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday in America.

Today, we take a moment to remember those precious lives lost and the ways in which we have all changed over the past decade.