A Modesto man was sentenced in federal court on Monday for assaulting a security guard in downtown Fresno, said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. Matthew Faron Blair, 33, was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison. Court documents say he assaulted the guard on Oct. 14, 2014 during a visit to the Social Security Administration office. After workers told Blaire his benefits had stopped but could be renewed with paperwork, he became agitated, according to court documents. As Blair was being escorted out of the office by a security guard, he physically assaulted the guard, causing head and mouth injuries that required medical treatment.
House of Representatives lawmakers want $25,000 each to hire private security right away to protect them in their home districts, an unusually quick, bipartisan response to the shooting of a Republican House leader and others at a baseball practice.
A House panel has approved providing an immediate $10 million for the rest of fiscal 2017, which runs through Sept. 30, for that purpose. Representatives could use the money to pay for an off-duty police officer or private security guard at town halls, fish fries, meet-and-greets or other public events in their districts. The legislation would also add $7.5 million for Capitol Police to bulk up threat assessment and security measures in Washington for fiscal year 2018 especially when lawmakers gather in groups and $5 million for members to invest in cameras, door buzzers, key cards and panic buttons in representatives district offices.
The Federal Election Commission is considering allowing lawmakers to use campaign funds to secure their residences, as well. Capitol Police provide security at lawmakers offices in Washington and at the Capitol building where Congress meets. They also shadow members of the House and Senate leadership teams, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was shot during the baseball practice earlier this month. Scalise was reported to be making good progress and remains hospitalized in fair condition. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, chairman of the subcommittee writing the security budget legislation, wants to provide more money in member s office accounts for personal protection next year as well, but the exact amount hasn t been determined yet.
His legislation assumes Congress existing budget will be enough to absorb increases for security by tapping unused funds members typically return to treasury at the end of each fiscal year.
We believe they need additional resources to meet their mission in his polarized political climate, he said. It still needs to pass through several more steps before final approval, notably support from the full House and Senate. The measure needs House and Senate approval, but signs for increased funding are positive. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has called for more money. I would support and I have suggested they need a bigger budget, she said of the Capitol Police. EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM
The top Democrat on Yoder s subcommittee, Tim Ryan of Ohio, said Yoder s bill was a good start.
Some members want security details to follow lawmakers wherever they go, Yoder said.
There are a number of members who have had very specific threats and after the Scalise tragedy are feeling legitimately scared that they will be next, he said. The cost for 24-hour personal security guards for all 535 lawmakers in Congress likely would be prohibitive, Yoder said, and could make them less accessible to voters.
It puts up barriers between the public and members of Congress, Yoder said. Lawmakers need to be responsive to the people they represent, he said, and a wall of security would complicate that … So we re trying to find a balance.
Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri is one of the members who would like to see heightened personal security for members who want it, at least when they re in their districts. He estimated it would cost about $45,000 to $50,000 a year to hire a personal security guard to protect a member in their home states during weekends and congressional breaks. Even before the shooting, Cleaver felt threatened at times. He s received death threats and racist screeds. A Missouri man firebombed his district office in 2014. More recently, an angry voter screamed at Cleaver at the airport.
I don t want to overstate the threats, he said, but we only talk about it after a tragedy, and if nothing is done now the next time it happens not if it happens again then people will say well it s probably time for us to do something. END OPTIONAL TRIM
Yoder s panel was in the process of writing a bill that included security funding for Congress when gunman James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Va. Witnesses said Hodgkinson asked whether the ballplayers were Republicans or Democrats before opening fire.
Members of Congress were badly shaken by the shooting, which wounded Scalise and four others, including two Capitol Police officers who were part of a private security detail traveling with Scalise in his role as a member of the House leadership team. After the shooting, people wrote menacing messages on Yoder s official Facebook page, saying it was too bad he wasn t at the practice too, the congressman said. For Yoder, heightened security concerns have been a factor in his own reluctance to hold a town hall in his suburban Kansas City district.
Town halls in some other Republican-held districts have become rowdy affairs over the past seven months as voters upset about President Donald Trump s victory in November mobilized at a grass roots level to pressure their representatives to resist Trump s agenda.
Yoder said he s been working with media groups and Trump resistance organizations in his district to find a safe venue for a town hall that will accommodate a productive dialogue instead of devolving into a circus
He prefers telephone town halls for now.
Members of Congress are being shot in broad daylight because of what they believe in. Of course we re going to be concerned, he said. We just want to find a safe, constructive format for both me and the constituents.
Guards accepted hundreds of dollars in bribes for smuggling contraband cellphones, cigarettes and drugs into the Jackson County Detention Center, according to federal charges unsealed Monday in the wake of an early morning raid at the jail. Two guards, a jail inmate and an alleged fixer on the outside were charged in two separate schemes. The cost of smuggling cellphones into the downtown Kansas City jail ranged from $100 to $500, according to court documents. Cigarettes: as much as $25 a pack. In the first scheme, one guard allegedly smuggled in a phone and offered to grant a detainee who was acting as a government informant the exclusive right to receive smuggled narcotics, cigarettes and phones on his floor. The guard s proposed fee was $2,500 a month, authorities allege.
In a separate scheme, a guard and the inmate arranged with the alleged fixer to smuggle in contraband, prosecutors said. The guard was pregnant with the inmate s child at the time. Charges against the four the latest accusations stemming from a broader federal 2015 investigation into the jail were filed last week under seal. Charging documents were made public after the four were arrested. Those court filings were unsealed several hours after 200 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies arrived on buses outside the Jackson County Detention Center early Monday and searched the facility for more than four hours. Guard Andre Lamonte Dickerson, 26, of Kansas City, is accused in the first scheme.
Charged in the second scheme were guard Jalee Caprice Fuller, 29, of Independence, and inmate Carlos Laron Hughley, 32, allegedly the father of Fuller s recently born baby. Janikkia Lashay Carter, 36, is accused of being a go-between on the outside who arranged for the transfer of contraband into the facility. Hughley and Carter are from Kansas City. Along with the charges, federal prosecutors filed motions seeking to have all four defendants held in custody without bond. In the case of Dickerson and Fuller, prosecutors said that their alleged criminal activity jeopardized the safety of honest corrections officers and compromised inmate safety.
Both defendants took money in exchange for disregarding their duties as corrections officers, Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter wrote in a motion for detention. Both defendants acted in concert with others as they placed personal financial gain above their obligation to provide honest and faithful service as a corrections officer.
But when Fuller and Carter made their initial appearances Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Porter said the government was withdrawing its request for their pretrial detention. They were ordered released on personal recognizance. Dickerson and Hughley made their initial court hearings Monday afternoon, and prosecutors are still seeking to have them detained. Because Hughley is being held already on other charges, he would not qualify for bond in the new case. A hearing to determine if bond will be set in Dickerson s case was scheduled for Thursday.
A preliminary hearing for all four is set for Thursday. They face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, if convicted of the charge, which alleges the use of a telephone with the intent to facilitate unlawful activity. During the court appearances Monday, Porter said that authorities obtained a substantial number of recorded phone calls during the investigation. Arrangements to smuggle in cellphones were conducted over land lines inmates have permission to use at the jail, which are routinely monitored.
The arrests are the latest outgrowth of a two-year federal investigation that initially focused on guards use of excessive force on inmates. Five former guards were accused of brutalizing prisoners in those cases. Four are awaiting trial, and charges against the fifth former guard were dismissed after two trials ended in hung juries. Since then, the probe has expanded to other issues. Security concerns at the jail were heightened last summer after two women reported being raped inside the jail by male inmates who were able to roam free for hours in the middle of the night. Jackson County Executive Frank White and County Legislature officials have since hired three sets of consultants to evaluate all aspects of the facility and operations.
In a prepared statement, White said that one of the corrections officers charged in the smuggling case is no longer employed at the jail, and the other is on unpaid administrative leave, without specifying them by name.
We have dedicated and well-trained associates working hard inside the jail each and every day, but we must hold those who are breaking the rules accountable if we want to make forward progress, he said. We will not tolerate such reckless behavior. The latest investigation was conducted by an FBI agent on temporary assignment from the bureau s Los Angeles office and a Jackson County sheriff s investigator. Two informants, one inside the jail and one outside, helped with the stings. According to the complaint, the agent arrived in April primarily to investigate allegations of abuse and corruption by Jackson County correctional officers. According to the criminal complaint opened Monday, Fuller was pregnant with Hughley s child while she was a corrections officer and he was an inmate at the jail. They were both acquainted with Carter, who allegedly recently helped arrange to have a cellphone smuggled into the jail for $300.
Authorities said Fuller delivered it to an informant in a paper bag on May 23. The bag also contained Xanax pills, which Hughley allegedly took. According to Jackson County Circuit Court records, Hughley is being held in the jail on charges of domestic assault, armed criminal action, drug possession and resisting arrest. Last year, he was placed on probation in a drug distribution case, and prosecutors have filed a motion to have his probation revoked, according to court records.
Dickerson allegedly charged $500 to smuggle in a phone, phone charger and two packs of Newport cigarettes. According to authorities, he solicited a $2,500 monthly fee to give an inmate acting as an informant exclusive rights to receive contraband on the jail s fifth floor. This isn t the first time that guards have been accused of supplying drugs to detainees at the detention center. In a lawsuit filed last month, a former inmate said a guard failed to intervene while he was being raped by another male inmate. The victim said his attack was interrupted temporarily by the guard, who came to the pod door and slipped a bag of white powder to the attacker. According to an attorney for the alleged rape victim, the unnamed corrections officer was well known at the detention center as a drug mule who would routinely provide drugs and other outside contraband to prisoners.
Officials would not speculate on whether further charges will be filed as a result of Monday s search operation. Kansas City police officers, FBI agents and Jackson County sheriff s deputies arrived at the detention center shortly after 3 a.m. As the search wound down, Darrin Jones, FBI special agent in charge of the Kansas City office, told reporters on the sidewalk outside the jail that it was a coordinated operation, but declined to give further details other than it was pursuant to an ongoing investigation. Flanked by Sheriff Mike Sharp, Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker and Joe Piccinini, the head of the detention center, Jones said it was wrong to characterize the operation as a raid.
While this was no doubt a surprise to a great number of the occupants in this facility, Jones said, it was very carefully coordinated with jail staff and other agencies.
Sharp thanked the Missouri departments of correction and public safety for their help with the operation.