Archive for March, 2011

Be careful when donating to Japan relief…
March 15, 2011

That’s the word from the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Unfortunately whenever a tragedy strikes the scam artists are not far behind. Here’s the statement from the AG…

Consumer Alert: Beware of Charitable Scams During Japan Relief Effort

 
In wake of the earthquake and resulting tsunami that has caused widespread disaster in Japan and some areas of the United States, the Office of the Attorney General is cautioning generous Texans to carefully vet relief organizations before making any charitable contributions.

By doing a little research, well-meaning Texans can ensure their dollars actually help the recovery effort and aid victims – rather than funding fraudulent scams set up to capitalize on a tragedy.

Texans who are solicited for charitable contributions to relief efforts by telephone, text message, e-mail, mail, social networking sites or otherwise should consider the following:

• Ensure the relief organization is legitimate. Ask for credentials, including the soliciting entity’s exact name and telephone number, particularly if the purported relief organization is not well known.
• Call the charity directly and confirm that the solicitor is actually working for that organization.
• Watch for questionable charities using names that closely resemble the names of well-known charities.
• Find out how the donation will be used.
• Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion and short on descriptions about how charitable contributions will aid the recovery effort.
• Don’t succumb to high-pressure tactics and demands for an immediate decision. A legitimate charity welcomes background checks on their operations.
• Never give a credit card or bank account number to an unknown solicitor.
• Never give cash and never agree to give money to a courier. Write a check to the charity directly – not the soliciting individual – and get a receipt.

For information about specific relief operations currently underway, Texans should contact the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). AIP is a national charity watchdog service that assists donors with identifying reliable charitable organizations. Texans should visit their Web site at http://www.charitywatch.org.

Texans who wish to file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General regarding suspicious e-mail charity solicitations may call the Consumer Complaint Hotline at (800) 252-8011 or file a complaint online at http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

 

Watch Out For The Lightining Bolt…
March 10, 2011

My tens of readers know that I regularly search federal court filings for interesting stories. Normally mail theft is not a charge that sends the hairs on the back of my neck into a frazzle, but in the case I came across it is who the mail belonged to that piqued my interest. According to court documents, Andre Moore is accused of stealing mail sent to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. NUNS! I don’t care what your belief system is, this is just begging for “bad juju” to be brought down on your head. According to investigators, Moore worked for the sisters. Part of Moore’s duties was to pick up the mail. According to the federal court affidavit, Moore opened several letters sent to the Sisters and took “cash and gift cards.” Here is a copy of the filing. sisters

Youngest Mexican Police Chief a No Call, No Show–Update.
March 7, 2011

 

UPDATE—Associated Press reporting that Valles Garcia now seeking asylum in the US because of death threats. Here’s the latest article…

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A young woman who received death threats

after recently becoming police chief of a violence-plagued Mexican

town is in the U.S and seeking asylum, Mexican and U.S. officials

said Tuesday.

Marisol Valles Garcia, 20, made international headlines when she

accepted the top law enforcement job in Praxedis G. Guerrero, a

township near the Texas border that has been overcome by drug

violence. Her predecessor was kidnapped, murdered and decapitated

in July 2009.

Garcia is now in the U.S. and will be allowed to present her

case to an immigration judge, according to a statement from U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The town is in the Mexican

state of Chihuahua, where ombudsman Gustavo de la Rosa confirmed

that Garcia was in the U.S. and said she has initiated a formal

asylum petition.

Neither ICE nor De la Rosa would say where Garcia was staying,

citing privacy and security concerns.

Drug violence has transformed the township of about 8,500 people

from a string of quiet farming communities into a lawless no man’s

land only about a mile from the Texas border. Two rival gangs — the

Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels — are battling over control of its

single highway, a lucrative drug-trafficking route along the Texas

border.

Residents have said Garcia had received death threats, and the

ombudsman said there may have been at least one attempt to kidnap

her. Local officials said they had given her a leave of absence

from March 2 through March 7 to travel to the U.S. to tend to

personal matters, but she never returned.

Garcia was officially fired Monday for apparently abandoning her

post. Police will answer to the mayor until a new chief is

appointed, the city government’s statement said.

Garcia was still a criminology student when she accepted the job

in October to oversee 12 police officers. At the time, she said she

wanted them to go door-to-door looking for criminals and teaching

values to the families.

Since I’ve covered so many stories on the drug violence in Mexico I have been following the story of the 20-year-old woman who took over as Police Chief in the town of Praxedis G. Guerrero. Many couldn’t decide if this was a brave or foolish move. Nonetheless, Marisol Valles Garcia took a job no one wanted and did it, she says, out of civic duty. The position had been vacant since 2009 when the last police chief was murdered. Now, word is coming out of Mexico that Valles Garcia has abandoned her post because of death threats. Can’t say I blame her… Here’s the article from the Associated Press.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A 20-year-old woman who made international

headlines when she accepted the job as police chief in a violent

Mexican border town was fired Monday for apparently abandoning her

post after receiving death threats.

Marisol Valles Garcia was given permission to travel to the

United States last week for personal matters but failed to return

to Praxedis G. Guerrero as agreed, according to a statement from

the city.

“In the absence of (Valles Garcia’s) presence on the

agreed-upon day and since there was no notification of a need to

extend the period of her absence, the mayor has decided to remove

her from office,” the statement read.

Local news media have reported that Valles Garcia was seeking

asylum in the United States, but there has been no confirmation of

that and her precise whereabouts were not clear Monday.

On Friday, Chihuahua state Human Rights Commission official

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson said Valles Garcia’s relatives and

friends told him she had received telephone threats against her

life the previous weekend.

A local official accompanied the 20-year-old police chief this

week to the international bridge connecting El Porvenir to Fort

Hancock, Texas, he said.

De la Rosa Hickerson and city officials tried to contact Valles

Garcia by cell phone amid increasing speculation that she was

seeking refuge, but were unable to reach her.

Valles Garcia was named police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero in

October. The town had been without a police chief since her

predecessor was shot to death in July 2009.

Drug violence has transformed the township of about 8,500 people

from a string of quiet farming communities into a lawless no man’s

land.

Two rival gangs — the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels — are

battling over control of its single highway, a lucrative

drug-trafficking route along the Texas border.