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Maricopa County Attorney's Office Newsletter - Justice for All
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office • September 2013 Newsletter

From the Desk of Bill Montgomery

Do you know what your kids are doing online? The internet offers great opportunities to learn, explore and communicate – but it can also expose children to malicious threats and criminal predators. In this month’s issue of our Newsletter, we’ll tell you about ComputerCOP, a free internet monitoring software program provided by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office that helps parents keep track of how their kids are using the internet, who they are communicating with, and the types of content they are seeing.

We’re kicking off another season of the Friday Night Football Patrol this month. MCAO volunteers will visit ten local high school football games and offer students a chance to sign a pledge to stay off drugs and alcohol. Everyone who signs the pledge is eligible to win a $500 gift card.

We’re also launching the fall edition of our “My Message” teen video contest, where 13 to 18 year-old students can create a 25-second video public service announcement on one of five topics for a chance to win some great prizes.

Also in this issue, a story about one of our Deputy County Attorneys who teamed with an MCAO victim’s advocate to put a defendant who assaulted a police officer behind bars for ten years – plus updates on our Safe Kids Summer program and details on some of the latest high profile cases handled by our prosecutors.

Until next time,

Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney

  In This Issue

     

Safe Kids Summer Breaks Previous Records

A New “My Message” Video Contest is Starting

Attorney Jennifer Sheriff and Victim’s Advocate Erin Purce Receive Distinguished Service Awards

The MCAO is Bringing ComputerCOP to Maricopa County

Friday Night Football Patrol is back!

Upcoming Events Calendar

Justice Files


Friday Night Football Patrol 2013
Our job is to ensure the guilty do not escape justice and innocence does not suffer.

Safe Kids Summer Breaks Previous Records

  Kids at the MCAO Safe Kids Summer booth

“Stay Safe!” “Be Safe!” “Have a Safe Kids Summer!” Nearly 8,000 kids in Maricopa County heard these phrases this summer as they participated in the 2013 Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Safe Kids Summer program. More than 1,600 kids alone attended the MCAO/Radio Disney Safe Kids Summer Event at the Peoria Sports Complex. It was a record-breaking summer, with MCAO volunteers visiting 40 different pools and kid-friendly venues on behalf of the successful program, giving away prizes to “safe kids” and safety information to parents including newly updated child identification kits.

“Parents were pleasantly surprised to see our new Child ID Kits,” reported Emily Killeen of the MCAO Community Affairs Department. “The redesigned kits include the creation of a designated “scent article” to assist in situations where a search dog may need a scent to find a missing child.” The MCAO kit also gives parents the ability to collect DNA and store it right at home in the freezer.

Positive comments could be found at every one of the 40 sites this summer. Buckeye residents appreciated that the MCAO sponsored a public swim day at the Buckeye Recreation Center. “Mothers came up and thanked us while we were staffing the booth,” said Killeen.

From Buckeye to Mesa and dozens of other sites in between, children enjoyed playing the spinning wheel and child safety bean bag toss games. “Kids came back again and again just to spin the wheel and test their knowledge once more on a safety question even without the incentive to win another prize,” Killeen said.

Kids at the MCAO Safe Kids Summer booth  

Killeen also noted, “We have read statistics showing that in more than 85% of child victimization cases in the U.S.A., the child knows the perpetrator. So we focused lots of our questions on personal safety. We asked what they would do if someone they know, like a neighbor or friend’s parent, asked if they wanted to go get ice cream or look for a lost dog. Our Safe Kids Summer children learned they should always “check first” with a parent or guardian before going anywhere with anyone, even if the person is someone they know. While many children had to contemplate the “if someone you know were to ask you” component of the questions, we were pleased to hear most answer they would go ask a parent for permission first.”

Safe Kids Summer returns in May 2014. See everyone at the pool!

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A New “My Message” Video Contest is Starting

  My Message logo

It’s time for the fall edition of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office “My Message” video competition. Teens between the ages of 13 and 18 living in Maricopa County are encouraged to create a 25-second Public Service Announcement video convincing young people to avoid behavior that can have negative lifelong consequences.

My Message now includes opportunities for entrants to create videos on any of the following: Illegal Drug Use, Underage Drinking, Bullying, Truancy or Prescription Drug Abuse. Submissions will be accepted beginning October 11, 2013. The deadline for entering a video is November 11, 2013, with winners announced at a live presentation on December 12, 2013 at Tempe Marketplace.

All entries will be judged by members of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office along with a panel of celebrity judges. All videos will be evaluated on originality, creativity, effectiveness of the message, and production values.

There will be 20 semi-finalists chosen and these will be presented for the judges and the public to view at the December 12 event. Five finalists will receive a $500 gift card and the Grand Prize winner will take home an Apple MacBook Pro®. The five finalist entries will also be broadcast locally on cable networks geared toward teen audiences.

This is a great opportunity for budding filmmakers to showcase their tallents and send a positive message to their peers.

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Attorney Jennifer Sheriff and Victim’s Advocate Erin Purce Receive Distinguished Service Awards

  DCA Sheriff and Advocate Purce presented with Distinguished Service Awards by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery

January 17, 2012, was just another day for Phoenix Police Sergeant Leo Buffa when he answered a radio dispatch to respond to the 5800 block of West McDowell. An armed subject was selling illegal drugs and upon arriving, Sgt. Buffa was almost immediately involved in hand-to-hand combat with the suspect. Unable to request help on his police radio, Buffa continued to battle the suspect until he was able to place him in handcuffs and end the near deadly encounter.

A thorough investigation found the suspect was a convicted felon. He was arrested and booked on a number of charges including Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer.

The case was initially evaluated as eligible for a plea offer to a class 6 open felony, resulting in a one year maximum jail sentence. Sgt. Buffa objected and the case was reevaluated and reassigned to Criminal Trial Bureau B at the MCAO.

“A few weeks into the criminal justice process I was introduced to MCAO Victim Advocate Erin Purce,” noted Buffa in a recent letter of appreciation. “Not only did she answer all my questions but she accompanied me to each meeting and court appearance. Soon Deputy County Attorney Jennifer Sheriff was assigned to my case. Sheriff and Purce should be recognized for their hard work and professional commitment.”

“Their working knowledge of courtroom proceedings and ability to explain plea agreement options were instrumental in reaching a plea agreement that ultimately resulted in the judge sentencing the defendant to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison,” said Sgt. Buffa.

“It was a tough case and we had those results thanks in no small part to Jennifer’s hard work,” said Victim Advocate Erin Purce. “We all worked as a team and I’m grateful to her and Trial Bureau B Bureau Chief Gina Godbehere.”

Over the 16 months that followed the attack Buffa underwent two surgeries, three spinal tap epidurals, four MRIs, two nerve conduction studies and many other exams and procedures. In short, he was a victim trying to cope with physical injuries, emotional stress and frustrations common to crime victims who’ve been physically injured.

Sgt. Buffa also noted that “dozens of other investigators and victims have shared similar stories of Ms. Purce, specifically her tenacious drive and work ethic helping crime victims in their journey.”

Both DCA Sheriff and Advocate Purce were recently presented with Distinguished Service Awards in recognition of their efforts by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

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The MCAO is Bringing ComputerCOP to Maricopa County

Help for Parents Who Want to Monitor Home Computer Use

  Kids on Computer

The Internet offers a world of opportunities for your children to learn, explore and communicate with others. But it’s world that can also be dangerous. Online predators, cyber bullies and scam artists are just a few mouse clicks away from an unsuspecting child, and guarding against these threats is just as important as protecting children from similar dangers in the real world.

ComputerCOP Internet monitoring software provides parents and guardians with a simple, effective way to learn what their children are doing online and protect them against malicious threats and objectionable content. Available to Maricopa County residents for free from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, ComputerCOP instantly scans Windows PC or Macintosh computers for inappropriate websites, emails, text messages and images your child may have encountered while on the web.

ComputerCOP Disc  

ComputerCOP is fast and easy to use. Simply insert the ComputerCOP CD into a computer and it will scan the computer for content related to weapons, drugs, sex, pornography and other inappropriate content. The software can also display all images, graphics and videos stored on the computer. It can even capture e-mails and text messages containing specific keywords – or addresses of individuals you don’t want your child to communicate with.

You can obtain a free copy of ComputerCOP by calling the County Attorney’s Office at (602) 506-4311, or by visiting www.SafeKidsAZ.org/ComputerCOP/

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Friday Night Football Patrol is Back!!!

  Teens sign the Drug-Free Pledge

For a third year the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office “Friday Night Football Patrol” is back with a 10-game high school football season.

In partnership with 104.7 KISS FM and the Phoenix Army Recruiting Battalion, our volunteers will be visiting 10 high school football games this fall. Along with cool giveaways, teens can sign a pledge to stay away from drugs and alcohol and not abuse prescription drugs. Everyone who “takes the pledge” will be entered to win a $500 dollar gift card. So get your game on, sign the pledge and cheer your football team to victory!

“This program has been enormously effective in reaching teens and getting them committed to making the right choice when it comes to illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription drug abuse,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “We look forward to building on the established success of the program by joining forces with U.S. Army and taking the Patrol to a new set of high school football games this season,” he added.

“The Phoenix Army Recruiting Battalion is excited about the opportunity to team up with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and 104.7 KISS FM for the Friday Night Football Patrol,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer McAfee, commander of the Phoenix Army Recruiting Battalion. “The Army strongly supports this program to help students make the right decision about drugs and understand the damaging ramifications they can have on their future.”

The season began August 30 as Cesar Chavez played Mountain Ridge in Glendale. At every game, teens who sign the pledge receive free giveaways and become eligible to win a $500 gift card. 104.7 KISS FM will be at each game with an on-site DJ, music and live call-ins. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office volunteers will provide information to parents on how to help kids avoid substance abuse.

For more information about the Friday Night Football Patrol and the full season schedule, visit www.SafeTeensAZ.org/events/friday-night-football-patrol/.

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Upcoming Events Calendar

Friday Night Football Patrol
Thursday, September 12
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Campo Verde High School
3870 South Quartz Street
Gilbert, AZ 85297
Teen Health Rally
Friday, September 13
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Desert Ridge Marketplace
21001 North Tatum Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Teen Health Rally
Saturday, September 14
7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Tempe Marketplace
2000 East Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281
Friday Night Football Patrol
Friday, September 20
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fountain Hills High School
16000 East Palisades Boulevard
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Friday Night Football Patrol
Friday, September 27
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Desert Vista High School
16440 South 32nd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85048
Friday Night Football Patrol
Friday, October 4
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Pinnacle High School
3535 East Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Friday Night Football Patrol
Friday, October 11
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Boulder Creek High School
40404 North Gavilan Peak Parkway
Anthem, AZ 85086
Shred-A-Thon/Rx Take-Back
Saturday, October 12
1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Moon Valley Country Club
151 West Moon Valley Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85023

Events are subject to change. Check MaricopaCountyAttorney.org to stay up to date with our events.

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Justice Files

“Rock Burglar” Robert Neese Sentenced to 22.75 Years

Robert Neese

A serial burglar who evaded apprehension for more than a decade has been sentenced to 22.75 years in prison by the Honorable Pamela Svoboda. Robert James Neese became known as the “rock burglar” for his favored method of breaking into houses by smashing a window or door with a rock. He was convicted of multiple counts of Burglary in April, 2013 for a string of break-ins dating as far back as 1999. He also pled guilty to similar charges in a separate case in May, 2013.

“This sentence should dispel any doubts about the commitment of this office to hold criminals accountable regardless of how long it may take,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I commend our law enforcement partners for their diligent efforts and cooperation in bringing this defendant to justice,” he added.
» View Full Story «

 
Michael Turley Sentenced for Terrorism Hoax

Michael Turley

Michael David Turley will spend two weeks in jail and two years on supervised probation for devising a dangerous hoax that prompted an emergency response to a suspected terrorist incident. As part of his ruse, Turley had his 16 year-old nephew dress in middle eastern-style apparel and brandish a fake grenade launcher in front of rush hour traffic. Turley also created and posted a video of the event on the Internet in which he can be heard saying he wanted to see how long it would take law enforcement to respond. Turley’s sentence, imposed by the Honorable Jeanne Garcia, also requires him to perform 200 hours of community service and pay all costs associated with the investigation into his actions.

“This defendant foolishly placed a young man’s life in danger and caused a needless deployment of our critical public safety resources,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “If this idiotic stunt proved anything, it was that local law enforcement is prepared to respond to potential threats, and my office is prepared to prosecute criminal hoaxes,” he added.
» View Full Story «

 
Stanley Torgerson to Serve Three Years in Prison for Fraudulent Car Selling Scheme

Stanley Torgerson

A Valley businessman who sold vehicles for customers but pocketed the money for himself will go to prison for 3.25 years followed by seven years of supervised probation. Stanley Dean Torgerson was accused of bilking more than 50 people across the country out of sale proceeds from cars he had agreed to sell on their behalf through his Gilbert-based business, International Classic Auctions. In June, 2013, Torgerson waived his right to a trial and agreed to plead guilty to three counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and one count of Theft. Under the terms of the sentence handed down by the Honorable Margaret R. Mahoney, Torgerson is also required to pay up to $1.5 million in restitution to his victims.

“By trading on the trust of others, this Defendant caused significant and real financial harm to multiple victims in and beyond Maricopa County,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This sentence secures restitution for the victims while requiring a period of incarceration that should serve as notice that we take these crimes seriously,” he added.
» View Full Story «

 
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