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PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys

Chickasha Man Alleged to Possess 3,000 Images of Child Porn

July 31st, 2014

Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested a Chickasha man on complaints of possession of child pornography.

Investigators arrested Larry Francis Thompson, 59, and obtained a search warrant to search the suspect’s online storage, cell phone, and laptop. They allegedly discovered more than 3,000 images of child pornography.

Thompson, a registered sex offender, was booked into the Grady County Jail on complaints of possession of obscene materials, aggravated possession of child pornography, and violation of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

Possession of child pornography, a Level 1 sex offense, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison, and anyone convicted must register as a sex offender for 15 years. However, a second or subsequent sex crime conviction bumps a person to risk Level 3, which requires lifetime sex offender registration.

While possession of child pornography carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, aggravated possession of child pornography brings much steeper consequences:

“Any person who, with knowledge of its contents, possesses one hundred (100) or more separate materials depicting child pornography shall be, upon conviction, guilty of aggravated possession of child pornography. The violator shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for a term not exceeding life imprisonment and by a fine in an amount not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00). The violator, upon conviction, shall be required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offenders Registration Act.” (21 O.S. 1040.12a)

Violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act is a separate felony charge that can be applied to any offense which uses computer technology to facilitate breaking any state law. It is often charged in conjunction with internet sex crimes including online solicitation of minors and downloading child pornography. Using a computer system or network to violate any of the Oklahoma statutes is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These penalties are in addition to any levied for the underlying crime.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) works to recover missing children and to identify and rescue victims of child sexual exploitation. The organization analyzes images of child pornography to identify victims of sexual exploitation through its Child Victim Identification Program, and it has obtained more than 2.3 million reports of suspected child sexual abuse and exploitation through its CyberTipline.

Online activities can seem anonymous, but law enforcement agents, including ICAC task force agents, may be conducting undercover sting operations at any time. Groups such as the NCMEC are dedicated to preventing child exploitation and work diligently to identify and report suspected child sexual abuse. While technological advances have made it easier for some to access child pornography, those same advances allow law enforcement to track, identify, and prosecute those engaged in the sexual exploitation of children through downloading or distributing child pornography.

Youthful Offender in Pharmacy Shooting Faces New Charges

July 28th, 2014

In May 2009, two masked teenagers, one of them armed, stormed into Reliable Discount Pharmacy in an attempt to rob the place. The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, opened fire, killing one of the would-be robbers and sending his armed companion fleeing. When the smoke cleared, 16-year-old Antwun “Speedy” Parker lay dead. His cohort, 14-year-old Jevontai Ingram escaped.

As a result of the attempted pharmacy robbery, Jerome Ersland was convicted of murder for continuing to shoot the already-incapacitated Parker. Emanual Mitchell and Anthony Morrison, the two men who sent the teens in to rob the pharmacy, were convicted of felony murder. Jevontai Ingram, an eighth-grader when the crime occurred, was convicted as a youthful offender of felony murder.

Ingram spent about three years in custody before being released at the age of 18. Upon his release, Ingram told reporters that he looked forward to earning a high school diploma, playing college basketball, and becoming a probation officer in order to help people. He said he wanted to leave the state to get a fresh start.

Unfortunately, Ingram’s plans to start new with a clean slate have not panned out. Instead, he has continually been in trouble since his release in 2012, and he now faces a litany of serious charges.

Shortly after his release, Ingram’s mother accused him of vandalizing her car by stomping on the hood and roof and smashing the windshield and rear window. He was not charged in that incident, but by December 2013, he was accused of gun violence.

In that case, Ingram was allegedly involved in a shoot-out with another man, a gang member identified as “Nutso.” In the pending case, Ingram is charged with being in possession of a firearm after delinquent adjudication in violation of 21 O.S. 1283:

It shall be unlawful for any person convicted of any felony in any court of this state or of another state or of the United States to have in his or her possession or under his or her immediate control, or in any vehicle which the person is operating, or in which the person is riding as a passenger, or at the residence where the convicted person resides, any pistol, imitation or homemade pistol, altered air or toy pistol, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun or rifle, or any other dangerous or deadly firearm.

Now, Ingram is accused of more violence. Earlier this month, two women filed protective orders against Ingram, including a pregnant woman who says the man attacked her in late June. In that case, the woman accused Ingram of kicking in her door, holding her against the wall by her throat, and kneeing her in the stomach as she tried to call for help. The woman says that she was able to escape, but when she returned home, she discovered that her attacker had doused her clothes in bleach.

As a result of the incident, Ingram is charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, domestic abuse by strangulation, domestic abuse against a pregnant woman and malicious destruction of property.

Man Sentenced for Rape of Classmates at Tulsa Convention

July 24th, 2014

More than two years ago, we brought you the story of Brandon Brady, then a 19-year-old student with the High Plains Technology Center in Woodward. Brady had accompanied several special needs classmates on an overnight field trip to a Skills USA competition in Tulsa. While staying at the Doubletree Hotel for the convention, Brady raped each of his two roommates on consecutive days.

Brady was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on two counts of first degree rape, and there he remained for the next two years. Earlier this week, Brady waived his right to a trial and pleaded guilty to both charges. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for each count, and Tulsa County District Judge Kurt Glassco ordered that the two counts be served consecutively. Additionally, first degree rape in an 85 percent crime which requires that at least 85 percent of the sentence is served before the inmate obtains even the possibility of parole.

Initially, Brady was charged with first degree rape by force and fear, or in the alternative, first degree rape of a mentally incapacitated person. As disposed, the conviction shows Brady guilty of forcible rape.

Oklahoma rape laws define first degree rape in 18 O.S.§ 1114. Rape is non-consensual sexual penetration, and it is classified by its severity as either first degree rape or second degree rape. Second degree rape, also known as statutory rape, is typically marked by sex with a person who, although a willing participant in the act, is legally unable to consent to sex because of age, custodial status, or student status. First degree rape is the more serious offense, and it involves one or more of the following acts of non-consensual sex:

  • rape of a child under 14 by a person over 18
  • rape of a person who is incapable of giving legal consent due to mental illness or “unsoundness of mind”
  • rape accomplished by the intoxication of the victim
  • rape of a person who is “unconscious of the nature of the act”
  • use of force, violence, or threat of force or violence to accomplish a rape
  • rape by instrumentation resulting in bodily harm
  • rape by instrumentation committed against a child under 14

It is interesting in the Brady case that both he and his victims suffered some degree of mental incapacity. However, the sentencing judge noted that Brady himself had only mild learning disabilities, but his victims had “far greater mental incapacity — Down syndrome and severe mental retardation.” In determining what he believed to be an appropriate sentence, Judge Glassco said that the young man, now 22, exploited the mental disabilities of his roommates.

Intoxicated Man Arrested for Lewd Acts at OKC Apartment Complex

July 21st, 2014

An Oklahoma City man with a record of drunken run-ins with police was arrested over the weekend after allegedly harassing young girls at a local apartment complex.

Police were called to the Knight Lake Apartments near Rockwell and Wilshire early Friday evening in response to reports that an apparently drunk man was driving through the parking lot and making lewd and inappropriate sexual comments to children.

One girl told police that the man told her, “You look good today,” and said that she and her friends did not need to be afraid of him. Witnesses say the suspect made sexual suggestions to the girls about performing oral sex on him.

A resident of an apartment told police that the man, who sometimes babysat for her child, was asleep in her apartment, but that she wanted him removed because he “trashed the place.”

Police found Kevin Lloyd Balch, 42, asleep on a couch in the woman’s apartment. When officers tried to place him under arrest, he became combative, causing injury to one officer’s face and hands.

Balch is being held in the Oklahoma County Jail on complaints of assault and battery of a police officer, failure to comply with a lawful order of police, lewd or indecent acts or proposals to a child under 16, and public intoxication. As of this writing, Balch has not been formally charged.

If the allegations against Balch are true, it will not be the first time he has been charged with assault on a police officer, alcohol related crimes, or even a sex offense. His prior criminal history includes:

  • 2nd degree burglary, 1991, Oklahoma County
  • 1st degree burglary and sexual battery, 1991, Oklahoma County
  • Assault on a police officer, amended to resisting arrest and deferred; 1996, Tulsa County
  • DUI, eluding an officer, two counts of assault and battery of a police officer (dismissed with costs), driving under suspension, improper turn, and failure to yield; 2005, Tulsa County
  • DUI after prior conviction, 2010, Tulsa County

Lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child under 16 is a felony sex crime described in 21 O.S. § 1123 of the Oklahoma statutes. This section of law outlines a number of prohibited suggestions or actions involving minors, including looking upon a child under 16 in a “lewd or lascivious manner” and making any oral, written, or electronic suggestion to a child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. The penalties for lewd acts violations depend upon the age of the minor or minors involved. If a child is at least 12 years old but younger than 16, conviction brings a sentence of 3 to 20 years in prison. However, if the child is younger than 12, a conviction of lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child carries a minimum sentence of 20 years in the state penitentiary.

Drunk Dialing Pizza Prank Leads to Criminal Charges

July 17th, 2014

Some people just don’t know when to quit.

A 29-year-old Kentucky man arrested for shoplifiting beer has been charged with additional crimes after pulling a prank at the police station where he was taken.

Police say Michael Harp and his friends were arrested for stealing beer from a convenience store–not once, but multiple times in the same day, shoplifting a total of $36 worth of beer and drinking it in public.

When Harp and his buddies were seen drinking the purloined beer in public, they were arrested on complaints of shoplifting and public intoxication.

It takes a special kind of nerve–or a special level of inebriation–to keep going into the same store to steal, and then to brazenly drink the stolen suds in public view, but according to police, Harp wasn’t finished with his shenanigans yet.

While at the station, Harp asked the arresting officer if he could use his cell phone to call a family member. Instead of using his phone to call a relative–or even better, a lawyer–Harp placed a call to the local Domino’s pizza and ordered the delivery of 5 pizzas, placing the order in the name of Captain Coy Wilson, the arresting officer.

When Domino’s called back to confirm the order, the person who answered the phone answered as “Captain Wilson.”

When the pizzas were delivered, another police officer paid $40 for the food before discovering that Capt. Wilson had not, in fact, ordered pizza for the department or the detainees.

The police department did not find Harp’s pizza prank as hilarious as the arrestee apparently found his drunken escapade. He has been charged with theft by deception and two felonies: identity theft and impersonating an officer.

Oh, Corbin Police Department–you have no sense of drunken humor.

Harp is denying that he is responsible for the pizza delivery prank, telling a local news station that the situation is all a misunderstanding:

I’m wrongfully accused on this here. They’ve charged me with two felonies over this pizza deal because I had my phone inside the holding cell. There was about 10 people who probably used the phone, so it’s hard to say. Like I said, I never heard anyone say a word about Domino’s pizzas. Any of it.”

Police reports do not reveal what became of the pizzas.

White Collar Crimes: Bankruptcy Fraud

July 14th, 2014

Times are tough. Small business owners find themselves taking on more and more debt in order to keep their companies afloat. Men and women who have built strong careers find themselves suddenly out of work due to corporate downsizing. Getting loans and accumulating debt may seem to be a temporary solution until things turn around, but often, the “temporary” situation lasts longer than expected or is complicated by emergency debt for medical expenses, car repairs, home repairs, or other unexpected and necessary expenses. In these cases, the total debt becomes too much to pay, and an already shaky financial situation becomes overwhelming.

In these cases, federal law provides relief through bankruptcy. Bankruptcy, while not anyone’s first choice for handling financial problems, does provide a controlled way to resolve debt by liquidating assets to pay the debt or by reorganizing and restructuring the debt in a way that allows the debtor to repay over three to five years.

Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies provide reorganization of debt. In general, Chapter 11 applies to businesses declaring bankruptcy, and Chapter 13 is for individuals. A business may be restructured, and an individuals debts are reorganized in such a way that all or part of the debt is repaid within a specified frame of time.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor’s assets are liquidated to pay the debt. There are certain assets which are generally exempt, but any assets that are not exempt may be sold to pay the debt.

Selling one’s possessions can be extremely difficult, and because of this, the most common type of bankruptcy fraud occurs when a person conceals his or her assets. If the lender does not know about the assets, after all, he or she cannot take them away. Concealment of assets may occur through transfer of property or making false statements on bankruptcy forms.

However, those attempting to salvage their assets by concealing them are only making matters worse for themselves. Bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

While concealment of assets is the most prevalent type of bankruptcy fraud, there are numerous other types of fraud and deception that are described as bankruptcy fraud under 18 U.S.C §152 and §157. These include filing false or incomplete forms, making multiple filings in different states or with different information, bribing court-appointed trustees, and “petition mills” which prey on those facing eviction.

Filing for bankruptcy can be a solution for those facing overwhelming debt; however, it is not an easy solution. Hiring an attorney for your bankruptcy filing is a good way to make sure you avoid the errors that can leave you facing criminal charges. If you do find yourself accused of bankruptcy fraud, contact a white collar defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Counselor Accused of Billing While Gambling, Vacationing

July 10th, 2014

A licensed professional counselor with Oklahoma Counseling Services is in serious legal trouble after allegedly falsely billing Medicaid for counseling sessions which never took place.

According to court records, Annie G. King, 41, of Pryor, has been charged with three counts of Medicaid fraud in violation of Title 56 Sections 185, 243, and 1005.1 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

Investigators say that King billed Medicaid for family counseling sessions with at least three mothers and their children who said that no such sessions took place. King is accused of fabricating progress notes for the families to lend credence to her claims that she was counseling them. However, according to the investigation, not only did these sessions never take place, the counselor was allegedly gambling at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, taking sick leave, and on vacation during certain “sessions” for which she billed Medicaid.

An affidavit in the case claims that King was gambling during business hours at least 26 times, and that her play card was in use at the casino during 18 of the sessions for which she billed Medicaid. She is alleged to have fraudulently received more than $14,000 from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which provides Medicaid reimbursements, between 2009 and 2011.

Welfare fraud and Medicaid fraud take a number of different forms. Welfare fraud can include making false claims or omissions that allow a person to receive benefits to which he or she is not entitled. It can also include misuse of food stamps, including buying or selling food stamps or re-selling products obtained with food stamps.

Medicaid fraud may involve a patient making false claims in order to fraudulently obtain health care benefits, but it frequently is perpetrated by the health care providers themselves. In these instances, the medical professional or mental health professional will bill the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for services not rendered, equipment not provided, or procedures not performed.

Billing for services not rendered is perhaps the most frequent type of Medicaid fraud, but there are other types as well:

  • Double billing,  in which the provider bills both the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and a private insurer for equipment or services
  • Inflated billing by providing a patient with generic medications or less-expensive medical equipment, but billing Medicaid for the more expensive counterpart
  • Billing for unnecessary procedures or diagnostic tests which have no legitimate medical purpose
  • Upcoding, in which the provider inflates the extent of provided services
  • Unbundling, in which the provider breaks a medical procedure into its separate parts, billing for each rather than for the comprehensive procedure
  • Accepting kickbacks
  • Providing false cost reports for expense reimbursement

Medicaid fraud is considered a white collar crime. Penalties include not only years in prison and heavy fines, but also the destruction of one’s professional reputation. Anyone accused of fraud should quickly obtain legal representation to minimize the impact of a fraud allegation.

DNA in Tulsa Serial Rapes Leads to Coma Patient – UPDATE

July 7th, 2014

UPDATE: Suspect Desmond Campbell, described in this blog, has died of his injuries, according to news reports.

For the month of June, Tulsa women felt under siege, in fear of a serial rapist believed to be the perpetrator of at least 8 sexual assaults within a few miles of each other. The physical descriptions of the attacker varied widely–from a Hispanic or light-skinned black man in his 20′s to a white man in his 40′s. However, DNA evidence collected at one of the scenes helped authorities locate a suspect in an unlikely place: lying in a coma at a local hospital.

While police will not comment publicly on whether DNA was the evidence that connected the suspect to the rapes, a search warrant indicates that DNA was collected from one victim and from two crime scenes from attacks on June 20, June 27, and June 29.

A Tulsa World report says that the OSBI ran the evidence against DNA samples collected by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and found a possible hit in Desmond La’Don Campbell. Campbell is a former prison inmate who was just released from prison in April after serving time for attempted robbery, attempted armed robbery, and attempted kidnapping.

Tulsa police were afraid they would have trouble locating Campbell, who had committed crimes in Oklahoma City, listed a hometown of Lawton, and did not live at the address on his driver’s license. However, the suspect was only an internet search away.

A news story telling of a single-vehicle crash in the early hours of June 29–shortly after the eighth attack–identified Campbell as the victim of the wreck. The suspect survived, but remained in a coma since the accident.

Police now believe that one of the assaults, which occurred on June 6, was not related to the other seven, and Campbell is not a suspect in that rape. The other seven incidents, however, contain enough similarities that Campbell is believed to be the perpetrator of each.

Campbell remains in a coma, and since the accident late last month, there have been no similar rapes in Tulsa. As of this writing, he has not been charged; however, it is expected that the Tulsa County District Attorney will file charges soon. Police have said that they are in continued contact with the hospital about Campbell’s condition.

First degree rape, which includes forcible rape and rape perpetrated through violence or the threat of violence, is a felony sex crime that carries a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of life in prison. Oklahoma law, by statute, allows the death penalty for first degree rape, but such a sentence has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in all but aggravated homicide cases.

Learn more about Oklahoma rape laws.

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PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES Oklahoma Criminal Defense Attorneys