OCEAN PINES – An Ocean Pines man with a long string of run-ins with the police in the last year or so got in trouble again last week when he was arrested for malicious destruction of property.
On Dec. 17, Mitchell Harris Boyer, 18, of Ocean Pines, was arrested for malicious destruction of property under $500 after Ocean Pines Police identified him as the suspect in the breaking of a car window in the community. A citizen reported the window to his car was broken out and the Ocean Pines Police were able to identify Boyer as the suspect. He was taken before a District Court Commissioner and later released on his own recognizance.
Last week’s arrest was just the latest in a series of recent run-ins with the law for Boyer. On Nov. 23, Boyer was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property after throwing a chair through the window of his girlfriend’s bedroom, striking her with the chair, around 4 a.m.
Prior to that, Boyer was arrested and charged with a string of burglaries in Ocean Pines and was later sentenced to three years in jail with all but 27 days of sentence suspended.
Car Engulfed In Flames
OCEAN CITY – One man was injured this week when his car caught on fire and became engulfed in flames on Dorchester Street early Wednesday morning.
Around 4:25 a.m. on Wednesday, Ocean City firefighters responded to a reported vehicle fire on Dorchester Street in downtown Ocean City. Shortly after the time of the fire dispatch, an Ocean City Police officer arrived on scene and observed the engine compartment of the vehicle engulfed in flames. The male occupant of the vehicle was able to exit and was assisted to safety by the police officer. The male occupant was transported by EMS to Atlantic General Hospital where he was treated and released.
An investigation conducted by the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office revealed the fire started in the engine compartment and extended into the passenger compartment. The vehicle was not in motion at the time of the fire, although the engine was running with the male occupant sleeping inside the vehicle. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
School Bus Accident
WEST OCEAN CITY – A county school bus was rear-ended in West Ocean City early Tuesday morning resulting in minor damage but no injuries.
Shortly before 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to a reported accident involving a school bus at Route 50 and Keyser Point Rd. The investigation revealed a 2006 Acura sedan driven by a 17-year-old juvenile from Ocean City ran into the back of a 2007 Blue Bird school bus.
There were just three students on the bus at the time of the accident and no injuries were reported. The juvenile was charged with negligent driving.
Street Sign Thief Arrested
OCEAN PINES – An Ocean Pines man was arrested on theft charges last week after a routine traffic stop revealed he had three stolen Ocean Pines street signs in his vehicle.
On Dec. 17, Ocean Pines Police stopped a vehicle driven by Justin Michael Fiedler, 20, of Ocean Pines, for a traffic violation on Ocean Parkway. The officer noticed the street signs that were reported stolen in the back of the vehicle and Fiedler was arrested for theft under $500. He was taken before a court commissioner and released on personal recognizance.
Ditched Car Leads To Pot
WEST OCEAN CITY – A local woman was arrested on drunk driving and possession charges last week after Maryland State Police found her car in a ditch along Center Driver in West Ocean City.
On Dec. 22, a Maryland State Police trooper on routine patrol observed a vehicle in a ditch on Center Drive just east of Keyser Point Rd. in West Ocean City. The trooper soon located the vehicle’s driver, Courtney Lyn Socha, 18, of Berlin, and she was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
During a search incident to her arrest on DUI charges, officers located a wooden pink and white smoking device containing suspected marijuana in Socha’s jacket pocket and possession charges were tacked on. Socha was taken to a court commissioner and later released on her own recognizance.
Fireworks Found On Beach
BETHANY – Nearly 300 commercial fireworks including one large one weighing over eight pounds were discovered on the beach in Bethany last weekend.
Delaware State Police this week were investigating the discovery of 265 commercial fireworks on the beach in Bethany just south of the Indian River Inlet. The DSP’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit was called to a section of beach in the Delaware Seashore State Park last Sunday after state DNREC officials discovered unexploded commercial fireworks scattered in the area. The fireworks were considered volatile and dangerous and state officials warn if they are found they should be handled by professionals.
The discovery last week marked the second time in two weeks explosive fireworks were found on the beach in Bethany. Two weeks ago, 149 pieces of explosives were found and removed from the beach.
The origin of the fireworks remains uncertain. Delaware State Police are continuing the investigation this week. Anyone with information is urged to call the DSP’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit at (302) 739-1033.
Possession Charges Stick
OCEAN CITY – A Salisbury man faced possession of marijuana charges this week after spending the past 71 days in jail for the offense. Russell Leroy Jordan, 20, of Salisbury, pleaded guilty to the charges in District Court Monday morning.
On May 30, a police officer observed Jordan’s vehicle traveling westbound on Coastal Highway. Jordan reportedly used his left turn signal while turning right, prompting the officer to pull him over. The odor of burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle, coupled with marijuana wrapped in a cigar, led to the arrest. The marijuana was later revealed to be 1.1 grams. Jordan was sentenced to 71 days in the county jail with credit for time already served.
Jail Sentence Follows Domestic Dispute
OCEAN CITY – A local man was sentenced in District Court last week to 30 days in the county jail after being found guilty of second-degree assault.
Kelly Lee Alexander, 43, of Ocean City, was found guilty of second-degree assault last week despite his not guilty plea. Officer Shawn Beach testified that on Aug. 12, he responded to a Worcester Street residence after hearing reports of assault from neighboring paramedics.
When Beach arrived on the scene, paramedics from a nearby fire station informed him that they had observed an argument between Alexander and his wife, Donna. As the fight progressed, both Alexander and his wife were positioned at the top of the stairs. Paramedics witnessed the woman fall down the stairs and into the street, at which point she yelled for paramedics to pursue Alexander, claiming that he had pushed her down the stairs.
In an interview with Donna Alexander, Beach observed abrasions on both of her knees and a swollen wrist. She told both Beach and paramedics that Alexander had pushed her down the stairs and that he had also struck her the night before, injuring her hand. Beach was unable to locate Alexander, who had fled the scene, but subsequently filed charges against him.
In District Court Monday, Donna Alexander testified she had been heavily drinking at the time of the incident and that she was also on medication at the time. “I was drinking pretty much all day…I cannot recall anything, I really can’t,” she testified.
Alexander testified that he had not pushed his wife down the stairs, claiming that she fell. “I love my wife, I did not push my wife,” he said. When asked why he would flee the scene, leaving someone he loved behind after she had fallen down stairs and injured herself, Alexander responded that he knew his wife was drunk and angry and that she would try to place the blame on him
Alexander was sentenced to 30 days in the county jail for second-degree assault.
Probable Cause In Burglary Case
OCEAN CITY – Three individuals, all connected to the same case, appeared in District Court last week for a preliminary hearing.
Clyde Calvin Campbell, 18, Antonica I. Johnson, 18, and John Thomas Johnson, 21, all of Selbyville, Del., appeared in District Court to face charges of possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, third degree burglary and fourth degree burglary.
Officer Natalie Smolko testified that on Nov. 16, she responded to Ocean High Condominiums for a reported breaking and entering. Upon the officers’ arrival at the reported crime scene, the property owner informed officers that a family had arrived to the condo unit for vacation and found that the unit was already being occupied.
The property owner searched the unit and found various items including a prescription bottle with the name Antonica Johnson on it and a Tony Hawk video game. The property manager recorded the serial number on the game as well as the prescription number on the bottles and left the unit, deciding to wait for the individuals to return before calling the police.
The property manager later observed three individuals pull up in a Chevy Cavalier, enter the unit and leave. The property manager then called the police and gave a description of the vehicle.
Smolko testified that the vehicle was pulled over and Johnson, Campbell and Johnson were all found inside. Also found was marijuana, a beer can being used as a smoking device, and a Pepsi cup with marijuana floating in it. The prescription bottles and Tony Hawk game, matching what was previously found in the unit, were also found in the vehicle.
Smolko testified that Campbell told another officer that he cleans the units and had kept the key to the unit earlier that day. John Johnson reportedly told another officer that they were “just hanging out” in the unit. Marijuana was also found inside of the unit but the results had not yet returned from the drug lab.
Attorneys of the defendants argued that there was little proof revealing whose marijuana it was and whether the defendants were in the unit with intent to commit a crime. Despite arguments from defense attorneys, Judge Daniel Mumford found probable cause to forward the case to Circuit Court.
Auto Theft Charges Dropped
SNOW HILL – A Pasadena man arrested last summer on motor vehicle theft and other drug and traffic charges after resort police alerted on a malfunctioning brake light was not prosecuted on the major charges last week in Circuit Court but was found guilty of the lesser driving without a license charge and fined $300.
On June 24, an OCPD officer noticed a red passenger vehicle traveling south on Coastal Highway at 45th Street with its rear brake light not functioning. The officer followed the vehicle for a few blocks until it turned onto to 41st Street and again the brake light did not work.
The officer initiated a routine traffic stop, and as he approached the vehicle, the officer noticed a number “1” on the tag number had been altered to look like a number “7.” The officer made contact with the driver, later identified as Dustin William Charles Booze, 18, of Pasadena, Md. Booze told the officer he did not have his driver’s license on him, but a name and date of birth check with OCPD communications revealed Booze had a learner’s permit that was suspended.
The officer then asked Booze and his passenger, later identified as Brandon Christopher Rose, to exit the vehicle. Booze was arrested for driving without a license. A search of the vehicle incident to the arrest revealed a “blunt,” or a hollowed out cigar containing marijuana, on the center console.
When the officer questioned Booze and Rose about the marijuana, Rose told him, “that’s my blunt in the ashtray,” and he was arrested for possession of marijuana. Meanwhile, another OCPD officer arrived on the scene to assist and ran a registration search on the vehicle. The search revealed the vehicle had been stolen in Anne Arundel County.
At that point, the two suspects, Booze and Rose, were separated for questioning. Throughout the investigation, it was clear both had knowledge the vehicle was stolen or possibly stolen, according to police reports. Booze was charged with motor vehicle theft and theft over $500 as well as several traffic-related offenses.
Last week in Circuit Court, Booze was cleared of all the charges with the exception of the driving without a license charge, for which he was fined $300.
Four New Officers Join OCPD
OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department graduated four new officers from the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy’s Class 59 on December 18 at Wor-Wic Community College.
Michael Kelly, Joseph Zurla, James Runkles and Joseph Centofranchi were formally recognized as certified police officers of the OCPD after completing 24 weeks of intense training. This year’s class was made up of 19 trainees from various law enforcement agencies on the Eastern Shore.
Zurla was chosen among the class of 19 officer candidates to be the class speaker during the ceremony on Dec. 18. During his speech, In his speech, Zurla touched on the rigorous training, long study hours and immense respect he shared with his fellow classmates. He also recognized his classmates for their hard work, dedication and passion to be part of a profession that continuously works to make their community a safe place.
Zurla’s being chosen as the speaker for his class at the graduation was just one of many feathers in the caps of the newest members of the OCPD. Runkles, for example, received special recognition for his performance and leadership as Class 59’s “Class Leader,” as well as having the third highest academic average in the class with a 96-percent grade point average.
Along with his outstanding leadership and high grade point average, Runkles received a firearms proficiency award for a 99-percent average during firearms qualifications. Kelly was also honored with a “Top Gun” award for firearms proficiency, scoring 100-percent during all firearms training and qualifications.
Also in attendance at last Tuesday’s graduation at Wor-Wic Community College were several current members of the Ocean City Police Department, including Chief Bernadette DiPino, who praised the accomplishments of the newest members of her department and welcomed them to the resort’s police force.
“It’s an honor to welcome these four officers to our department,” she said. “Not only do they have great potential as police officers, but they have demonstrated that they are great leaders, intelligent young men and very dedicated individuals. I am thrilled to have them as members of the Ocean City Police Department.”
Ocean City’s full-time police officers attend the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy in Salisbury, Maryland. The officers receive 878 hours of training in a six month period. Once the academy is completed, the officer is considered a police officer trainee and will then be partnered with a Field Training Officer for a structured training program.
The Field Training Officer will make sure that the officer is capable of handling his day-to-day duties with efficiency and professionalism. All police officer trainees officers remain on probation for a period of one year after police academy graduation.