Equipment Vandalized

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OCEAN CITY – Two Salisbury men were arrested last weekend after witnesses reported to police they were damaging barrels and signs associated with the Route 50 Bridge closure.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 20, Officer Daniel Jacobs was dispatched to the 7-Eleven store on N. Division Street after a report of several disorderly subjects kicking construction barrels and detour signs set up to warn motorists of the Route 50 closure.

The suspects initially alluded police, but they were later found in the area of 3rd Street and Philadelphia Ave. Police were able to determine the vandalism occurred from 5th Street south to N. Division Street. In total, 61 traffic barrels and three detour signs were relocated and vehicles passing by damaged several of the barrels. A State Highway Administration employee estimated to police the equipment damage coupled with having to reset the traffic pattern and call in workers in the middle of a Sunday night totaled approximately $600 to $700.

Cory Brooks Greenhalgh, 23, of Salisbury, and Vincent Dominic Rascona, 21, of Salisbury, were each charged with malicious destruction of property over $500.

Cooking Wine Does Job

WEST OCEAN CITY – An empty bottle of cooking wine told the story on Jan. 14 when Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Katie Edgar responded to the Food Lion in West Ocean City for a disorderly subject.

Edgar located Jerry Groom, 52, of Seaford, passed out in the bathroom of the store. According to police reports, Groom had an empty bottle of cooking wine at his feet that he did not pay for. Groom had previously been asked several times to leave the store.

Edgar arrested Groom and charged him with trespassing and theft. Groom was held on a $1,000 bond at the Worcester County Jail.

Arson, Burglary Charges

BERLIN – Two juveniles were arrested last Wednesday after allegedly damaging a vacant home and attempting to set the abode ablaze.

On Jan. 16, Maryland State Police troopers from the Berlin barrack responded to Seahawk Road regarding a report of two juveniles in a vacant home. The juveniles were reported to have been running through a field and breaking windows in the vacant home. After locating the juveniles, an investigation revealed the juveniles had started a small fire in one of the bedrooms.

The juveniles, one of which was later released to his mother and the other held in the custody of the Department of Social Services, were charged with first-degree arson, malicious destruction of property above $500 and second degree burglary.

Stop Leads To Pot Bust

BERLIN – A routine speeding stop on Route 376 and Flower Street in Berlin resulted in a possession of marijuana charge on Sunday.

A Maryland State Police trooper stopped a white Chevrolet SUV for speeding and the vehicle also displayed an expired registration. A K-9 scan by the Worcester County Sheriffs Office resulted in a positive alert. A vehicle search revealed three grams of suspected marijuana on the front bench seat behind a console.

Ronald Charles Waugh Jr., 23, of Berlin, was arrested and later released on personal recognizance.

Citizen Helps Police

BERLIN – A citizens tip helped police remove a suspected drunk driver who was in possession of an illegal drug from the roads last Saturday.

On Jan. 19, Maryland State Police troopers received a citizens’ complaint for a possible drunk driver traveling eastbound on Route 50 toward Berlin. The citizen advised that the vehicle had stopped in the intersection of Routes 50 and 346. Upon arrival, troopers observed the vehicle stationary in the roadway intersection and the driver walking around the car talking on his cell phone.

Troopers spoke with the driver, Scott Vincent Sayre, 35, of Crisfield, and immediately detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage. Sayre submitted to field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI. A search incident to the arrest revealed suspected cocaine and a plastic straw with trace amounts of suspected cocaine. He was charged with possession of cocaine and paraphernalia.

Mixed Results In Inlet Drug Bust Trials

SNOW HILL – Three of the four people arrested at the Inlet parking lot in August with a significant amount of pot and loaded guns appeared in Circuit Court last week in separate trials with mixed results.

Robert Lee Ziegel, 21, of Listie, Pa., failed to appear for his trial and had a bench warrant sworn out on him. Ray W. Foster, 25, of Hopewell, Pa. was found guilty of possession of marijuana and was placed on probation for nine months, while Stavros Joseph Bebedelis, 21, of Zephyr Hills, Fla., had the charges against him placed on the stet, or inactive, docket. Hollie Star Smith, 24, of Mount Pleasant, Pa., appeared in District Court in August and had the charges against her dropped.

The incident began on Aug. 18 when an OCPD officer walking on patrol at the Inlet parking lot observed the four suspects in a Chevy Cavalier with the front two doors of the vehicle standing open. The officer noticed Ziegel sitting in the front passenger seat with an open magazine on his lap with marijuana on it. As he approached the vehicle, the officer observed Ziegel quickly put the pot in a baggie and hand it to Smith in the back seat.

The officer placed Ziegel under arrest, and while searching his person found a marijuana grinder in his pants pocket and another Baggie of pot in his shirt pocket. At the time, Ziegel spontaneously stated, “All of the marijuana in the car is mine,” according to police reports.

The initial officer, with the help of assisting officers, searched the vehicle and found marijuana and paraphernalia all over the passenger compartment including marijuana and rolling papers in the center console, a loaded flare gun in the glove compartment, more marijuana in the back seat and throughout the vehicle, a hypodermic needle, a spoon with suspected heroin residue and other evidence.

When the officers searched the trunk of the vehicle, they found even more damaging evidence against the four suspects. Inside a blue satchel in the trunk was a loaded 9 mm handgun with nine rounds in the magazine, one knife, two large bricks of pot, several boxes of clear plastic baggies, two scales and various other amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Probation For Weapons

SNOW HILL – One of two men arrested last July after being found with several weapons in their vehicle after a fight was found guilty of disorderly conduct last week in Circuit Court and placed on probation for 18 months and fined $500.

Anthony Williams-Villega, 19, of Lancaster, Pa., was one of a larger group of men arrested in July for his part in a fight in downtown Ocean City. OCPD officers working plainclothes in the downtown area witnessed two groups of people yelling at each other at a house on 8th Street and St. Louis Ave. The officers observed one of the groups leave the area and walk north on St. Louis Ave. There were five men in the group and one of them was extremely agitated. He was still yelling and punching objects with his fists as he walked with the group.

As the group of men got into a car at 9th Street, the officers heard the agitated man state he was going to go back and “finish this.” The plainclothes officers, followed by uniformed officers, stopped the car immediately. All of the occupants were removed from the vehicle while police searched it.

The officers discovered several weapons in the area of the driver’s seat including an aluminum baseball bat, a triple-bladed, fist-held stabbing/slashing weapon and a curved fighting knife. The driver, Alvin Johnson, 18, of Lancaster, Pa., was arrested and charged with weapons violations. Johnson was placed on probation and fined $300 in District Court in August.

Police also discovered another baseball bat by the front passenger’s seat and that occupant, Williams-Villega, was also charged with a weapons violation. Last week, Williams-Villega was found guilty of disorderly conduct and was placed on probation for 18 months and fined $500.

Overt Drug Dealer Sentenced

SNOW HILL – An Ocean City man who last summer completed a drug transactio in front of an OCPD officer was sentenced this week in Circuit Court to two years in jail with one year suspended.

Peter Paul DeMarie III, 28, of Ocean City, pleaded guilty last week to an amended count of conspiracy to manufacture/distribute cocaine and was sentenced to two years in jail with one suspended.

On July 20, 2007, an OCPD officer on patrol in an unmarked car at the 7-Eleven on 139th Street observed a black KIA Sportage pull into the parking lot and park next to a Black Lexus. The KIA pulled into a spot between the police car and the Lexus. The officer observed the passenger in the KIA, later identified as Jeanette Frost, get out of the vehicle and approach the driver of the Lexus. The suspect exchanged something with the driver in a manner the officer recognized as a hand-to-hand drug transaction.

Both vehicle left the area soon after and the officer put out a broadcast of the suspect vehicles. A short time later, the KIA was pulled over, and during an interview with the officer, Frost reached in her purse and produced a small bag of powder cocaine. A passenger in the car, Kurt Muenster, was questioned and found to be in possession of a prescription bottle with marijuana in it. Also in the car were Frost’s twin sister and her infant.

Frost and Muenster were arrested on possession charges. DeMarie was identified as the driver of the Lexus and later arrested on possession with intent to distribute charges. Last week, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture/distribute and was sentenced to two years in jail with one suspended.

Alleged Shooter Gets Stet

SNOW HILL – A Berlin man facing serious charges including first-degree assault and reckless endangerment after he allegedly brandished a gun during a fight in August had the charges against him placed on the stet, or inactive, docket last week in Circuit Court.

On Aug. 11, 2007, Berlin Police officers responded to Decatur Farms in the area of Schooner Lane for a report of shots fired. The investigation revealed Joseph Milo, DeAndre Gordon and a juvenile male were involved in an altercation in the area when Gordon, a former football and wrestling standout at Stephen Decatur High School, allegedly brandished a firearm at Milo and later fired a shot.

Gordon, 18, of Berlin, was arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. This week in Circuit Court, Gordon had the charges against him placed on the stet docket.

Local Man Found Not Guilty Of Assault

OCEAN CITY – A local man was found not guilty of second-degree assault in District Court last week, due to insufficient evidence and cloudy testimony surrounding the incident.

Norman Edward Pitts, 41, of Ocean City, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault in District Court last Monday morning, claiming that the assault on the alleged victim, his roommate, was the result of a mutual fight.

On Dec. 13, 2007, around 1 a.m., Officer Edward Newcomb was in the area of Worcester Street and Baltimore Ave. when he spotted Pitts. After stopping to talk with Pitts about a reported disturbance in the area, Newcomb let Pitts go. Further down the street Newcomb stopped Pitts’ roommate, who he was familiar with from similar cases, and noticed she had dried blood around her mouth. After claiming everything was fine, she was let go.

Around 3 a.m., Newcomb was called to a stopped bus after a bus driver had called over a reported assault. When Newcomb arrived he found a female, Pitts roommate, with abrasions on her chin and shoulder. Pitts was later arrested for her assault.

Pitts’s roommate testified this week that she did not remember the night, later changing her story after having her memory refreshed by the prosecution. “He hit me in my face, he busted my lip,” she said, admitting that she was highly intoxicated and that she had hit Pitts first.

Pitts testified that a variety of arguments occurred that night between his roommate and himself, resulting in two instances of her attacking him and hitting him repeatedly, causing him to push her back.

“What I’ve got here is a couple of drunks who like to fight one another,” said Judge Daniel Mumford.

After being presented with what was deemed insufficient evidence, Judge Mumford found Pitts not guilty. “You all stay away from each other or something bad is going to happen,” Judge Mumford warned.

Possession Charges Stick

OCEAN CITY – Mark Joseph Miller, 30, of Brooklyn, Md., appeared in District Court this week to plead guilty to a possession of marijuana charge that resulted from an incident last summer.

On Aug. 18, OCPD Officer Frank Soscia was on plain-clothes patrol in an unmarked police car in the area of Sparrow Lane when he passed two males and a female. As Soscia passed them, the odor of burnt marijuana caused him to stop and question the three individuals. Miller admitted to taking two hits off of the joint of marijuana. After searching the vehicle next to Miller, Soscia found a container of marijuana, which was later revealed to be 34.5 grams of marijuana.

Miller’s attorney explained that the 34.5 grams of marijuana found in the vehicle was not Miller’s, but that he was guilty of smoking the joint. Miller was found guilty and sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation with a $357.50 fine. “You ought not to smoke dope because you’re not very good at it,” said Judge Daniel Mumford during sentencing.

Telephone Misuse Results In Guilty Sentence

OCEAN CITY – A Seaford, Del. man was found guilty of telephone misuse last week in District Court after repeatedly calling his ex-girlfriend’s place of employment last fall.

Nathaniel Lee Purnell Jr., 30, pleaded guilty to the charges last week in District Court, apologizing for his actions and citing his heartbreak as the cause.

On Oct. 10, 2007, Ocean City Police were dispatched to the Radio Shack on 114th Street in response to reports of harassment. Upon arrival, police a Radio Shack employee and ex-girlfriend of Purnell. She informed police that Purnell had been repeatedly calling the store in an effort to harass her and her fellow employees. She told police that Purnell had already text messaged her threatening messages 35 times that day. She and other employees also told police that Purnell called the store six times in five minutes, totaling over 25 phone calls. Officers answered the phone at one point to speak to Purnell, but he declined to stop calling.

Police became involved on two more occasions on Nov. 23 when they were again dispatched to the Radio Shack. Purnell was calling the store repeatedly again, calling over 35 times that evening. Purnell was eventually arrested and charged with telephone misuse.

In District Court last week, the victim spoke before sentencing, explaining to the court that she was forced to change jobs and was in the process of moving in an effort to avoid Purnell. She pleaded for a strict sentence for Purnell, citing her children’s fear for his retaliation.

Purnell apologized to the court, explaining that he was upset over the break-up, admitting that he handled the situation poorly.

Purnell was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in jail with all 18 months suspended. Purnell was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation.

Not Guilty Of Assault, Guilty Of Disorderly Conduct

OCEAN CITY – A local man was found not guilty of second-degree assault but guilty of disorderly conduct last week in District Court after pleading not guilty to both charges.

Ocean City Police Officer Shannon Sumner testified that on Oct. 10, 2007 she arrived at the area behind Coins, on 28th Street, when she witnessed Christopher Cain Canale, 26, of Ocean City, engaged in a fight with another individual. Sumner broke up the two suspects, asking them to disperse. Sumner testified that Canale would not calm down and remained agitated. Canale was then arrested for second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.

Canale testified on his own behalf, explaining that prior to Sumner’s arrival, the other suspect had attacked him, hitting him in the leg and neck with a tire iron. Canale claimed that he was defending himself. Canale apologized for his behavior toward police, explaining that he felt they didn’t believe his claims of self-defense, which caused him to become angry.

Canale was found not guilty of second-degree assault but was found guilty of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to $557.50 in fines.

Disorderly Conduct Charges Stick

OCEAN CITY – Benjamin T. Denson, 21, of Salisbury, was found guilty of disorderly conduct last week in District Court, despite a not guilty plea.

Ocean City Police Officer Shawn Lindsey testified that on Oct. 7, 2007, he was outside of Seacrets nightclub when he observed a white male being escorted out by security. As the male was being placed in a cab, he yelled an expletive at Denson, a black male, who was walking by. The officer attempted to address the situation and question the white male, but was hindered by Denson, who became belligerent as he attempted to fight the white male. After asking Denson to step back 20 times, Lindsey attempted to arrest Denson, who then refused to put his hands behind his back. Denson was eventually subdued and was charged with disorderly conduct.

Denson testified that he was sorry for his behavior, but noted that the word used by the white male was highly offensive and had set him off.

Judge Daniel Mumford found Denson guilty, explaining that Denson only made the situation worse by hindering police efforts.

“The best way to handle jerks is to ignore them and walk away,” Judge Mumford advised. Denson was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and $357.50 in fines.

Pot Bust

BERLIN – An Ocean City man and a juvenile from Selbyville were charged with possession CDS-marijuana on Monday.

Maryland State Police troopers stopped a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer for driving an unsafe vehicle. The trooper immediately detected a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. A probable cause search of the vehicle revealed trace amounts of the drug on the driver’s eat and passenger floor.

Arrested were Matthew Joseph Montalbano of Ocean City and the juvenile.

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