West OC Vending Machine Thief Sought

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WEST OCEAN CITY – Area police this week are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspect who broke into and burglarized vending machines at the Francis Scott Key Family Resort in West Ocean City early last Tuesday morning.

Around 3:45 p.m. last Tuesday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to the Francis Scott Key on Route 50 in West Ocean City for a reported trespassing and theft case. The investigation revealed an unidentified male suspect came on the property and stole from vending machines sometime before 7 a.m. that morning.

A still photograph of the suspect was captured from surveillance tapes and has been submitted to the public through various local media. Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s identity or location is urged to call the MSP Berlin barrack at 410-641-3101, or the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) at 410-352-3476

Sword Wielder Arrested

OCEAN CITY – A local man was arrested on weapons and disorderly conduct charges last weekend after flashing a sword while encountering a group beating another man on a downtown street.

Last Saturday, an OCPD officer was on bicycle patrol in the area of Somerset Street when he observed a fight in progress. As the officer approached the scene, he noticed a group of people surrounding a male subject, who was on the ground in a fetal position. The officer heard the group screaming at the man on the ground.

The OCPD officer then noticed another man, later identified as Andrew James Wendling, 37, of Berlin, wielding a large sword and walking at a fast pace toward the group. The officer noted in his report Wendling was holding the sword high over his head and was also swinging the sword in a malicious way at the group. Wendling was allegedly just a few feet from the large group standing over his friend on the ground when the officer approached.

When Wendling saw the officer, he tried to hide the sword behind a nearby apartment building. According to police reports, Wendling became very loud and uncooperative with the officers on the scene and would not listen to lawful commands. He was also using foul language, according to police reports on the incident.

Wendling was ultimately arrested and charged with wielding a deadly weapon with intent to injure, disorderly conduct and making a false statement to a police officer.

Really Wanted That Beer

OCEAN CITY – A Pennsylvania man was arrested on assault and resisting arrest charges last weekend after fighting with resort police after twice being told to throw away his open container of beer.

Shortly after 1 a.m. last Saturday, an OCPD officer on bicycle patrol in the area of 15th Street saw a man, later identified as Drewbett Hatfield, 19, of Harrisburg, Pa., walking on the Boardwalk with an open can of Coors Light beer. The officer approached Hatfield and told him he was not allowed by local ordinance to carry an open can of beer on the Boardwalk and instructed Hatfield to simply throw it in a trash receptacle just 30 feet away to avoid any more problems.

The officer watched as Hatfield reached his whole hand into the trash can and carefully placed the open beer in it. The officer then thanked Hatfield for complying and started to ride off when he saw the suspect reach back into the trash can and retrieve the beer he apparently placed carefully on top and start to drink out of it again. Hatfield saw the officer watching him and carefully placed the beer back in the trash receptacle.

The officer approached Hatfield again and asked him to sit on a Boardwalk bench to which he agreed. The officer then asked Hatfield for identification, but the suspect replied he did not have any identification on him. When asked what his name was, Hatfield allegedly told the officer his name was John J. Stump and his date of birth was 1886. The officer was confused by the date of birth and asked Hatfield again and the suspect replied his birth date was 8/18/86.

The officer ran a check on the name John J. Stump in Pennsylvania and found there was nobody by that name on file there. The officer then noticed what appeared to be a wallet in Hatfield’s pocket, and when the officer asked to see it in an attempt to get a real name, Hatfield stood up and attempted to flee.

At that point, Hatfield allegedly shoved the officer with two hands, causing him to stumble backward about two feet. The officer was able to grab Hatfield and a wrestling match broke out between the pair. The officer repeatedly told Hatfield to stop resisting, but the suspect continued to fight with the officer.

The officer was able to wrestle Hatfield to the ground, but Hatfield got back on his feet and fled again. The officer caught him and wrestled him to the ground a second time, but the suspect was able to break free again. The officer then caught Hatfield a third time and wrestled him to the ground again.

This time, the officer enlisted the help of a couple of bystanders, who assisted him in getting Hatfield to the ground and keeping him there. The officer attempted to use his radio to call for backup when he realized the radio had been ripped from the front of his shirt.

The officer then located the radio hanging over his left shoulder, but when he attempted to grab it to call for back-up, Hatfield grabbed the officer’s arm in an attempt to prevent him from doing so. The officer applied a forearm to Hatfield’s face and the suspect stopped trying to prevent him from calling for back-up, according to police reports. Throughout the altercation, the officer repeatedly yelled at Hatfield to stop what he was doing and stop resisting, but the suspect would not comply.

It wasn’t until Hatfield allegedly heard sirens and saw lights approaching that he said, “Okay, what do you want me to do?” Backup did arrive and Hatfield was taken into custody and charged with second-degree assault on an officer, resisting arrest and public consumption.

Counterfeiter Nabbed

OCEAN CITY – A Capitol Heights, Md. man was arrested for passing counterfeit $20 bills at a Boardwalk store last week.

Shortly before midnight last Thursday, an OCPD officer responded to the Candy Kitchen store on the Boardwalk for a reported counterfeit $20 bill. Upon arrival, the officer met with a store employee who advised the officer a suspect described as a heavy-set African-American male wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt had just come in the store and passed a counterfeit $20.

The store employee showed the bill to the officer, produced a special marker and explained the pen would leave a black or brown line on the bill if it was fake and a yellow line if it was real. He showed the officer the $20 bill with the black line allegedly passed by the suspect.

The officer called for assistance and broadcast a description of the suspect, but the initial search turned up nothing. The officer also gave dispatch the serial numbers on the phony bill and advised other merchants to be on the lookout. It wasn’t until about 3 p.m. the next day that a call went out for any officer in the area to respond to the Talbot Street area because detectives had a possible suspect in the counterfeit $20 incident in sight. Officers arrived and took the suspect, later identified as Eric Lyndell Searles, 36, of Capitol Heights, Md. into custody.

Police brought the employee from Candy Kitchen to the scene and he identified Searles as the man who had passed the phony $20 bill in his store the night before. Searles was arrested and charged with obtaining goods, money-forgery, and theft less than $100.

Heroin Bust in Berlin

BERLIN – Two Berlin men were arrested on heroin possession charges last week following a joint investigation by multiple local law enforcement agencies.

Last Thursday, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Enforcement Team conducted a joint investigation with the Ocean City Police Department’s Narcotics Unit resulting in a search and seizure warrant on a residence in Berlin. The warrant was served and, as a result, two individuals identified as William Joseph Moore and Eric Gerard Moore, both of Berlin, were arrested for possession of heroin and various other controlled dangerous substances.

The two suspects were charged with possession of controlled dangerous substances with intent to distribute and are being held on bond in the Worcester County Jail pending a court date. The Berlin Police Department and the Ocean Pines Police Department assisted in the service of the search and seizure warrant.

Two Alleged Armed Invaders Cleared

SNOW HILL – Two of the three men arrested in April in connection with an armed home invasion in Snow Hill had the charges against them put on the stet, or inactive, docket last week after separate hearings.

Timothy Lee Ayres, 39, of Snow Hill, appeared in Circuit Court last Wednesday to face a slew of charges including armed robbery, first- and second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit armed robbery along with other serious counts for his alleged part in a home invasion in Snow Hill in April, but had the charges against him placed on the stet, or inactive, docket.

Kevin Collins, 32, of Powellville, appeared for a motions hearing two days later on the same charges and walked out of the courtroom with the same result. The third suspect in the case, Dontay Lashone Washington, 27, of Pocomoke, who police believe wielded the gun in the home invasion, is scheduled to appear for trial on Sept. 4.

Around 5:15 a.m. on April 5, Maryland State Police troopers and investigators from the Worcester County Bureau of Investigations (WCBI) responded to a residence on Shockley Rd. in Snow Hill for a reported armed home invasion that had just taken place. Once on the scene, investigators interviewed several occupants of the residence, who said three suspects had entered the home illegally.

One of the suspects, later identified Washington, allegedly brandished a handgun, pointed it the head of one of the victims and demanded money. According to the police report, Washington told the victim he was going to kill him if he said or did anything he didn’t like. While at gunpoint, roughly $500 in cash was taken from the victim.

The suspects fled the scene prior to the arrival of the police, but one of the suspects, Collins, was identified by the victims and was taken into custody a short time later at his residence in Powellville. Collins’ vehicle, a 2001 Ford Explorer Sportrac, which was allegedly used during the commission of the crime, was seized as evidence.

Meanwhile, Washington and a third suspect, later identified Ayres, were still on the run and considered armed and dangerous in early police reports on the incident. A short time later, with the assistance of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office and MSP troopers from the Salisbury barrack, Washington and Ayres were located in a motel in Salisbury.

Both were placed under arrest and held at the Wicomico County Detention Center on $150,000 bonds. Collins was charged with armed robbery, robbery, two counts each of first- and second-degree assault, theft, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and false imprisonment. Washington and Ayres were each charged with armed robbery, three counts of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

Appeal Results In Lower Sentence

SNOW HILL – A Bethany Beach man convicted on disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana and resisting arrest charges stemming from an incident at the mid-town bar last December successfully appealed his case in Worcester County Circuit Court last week and got a reduction in his sentence.

Anthony Magarelli, 23, of Bethany Beach, pleaded not guilty to the charges in District Court in Ocean City earlier this year, but was found guilty and sentenced to 30 days in jail for the resisting arrest charge, fined $250 for the disorderly conduct charge and fined another $300 for the possession of marijuana charge. However, Magarelli appealed the convictions in Worcester County Circuit Court last week and was able to get the resisting arrest and possession charges dropped.

He was found guilty on the disorderly conduct charge, however, and was fined $500, although he was successful in getting his jail time dropped. An OCPD officer was assisting with crowd control outside a mid-town bar on December 26 when he allegedly saw Magarelli being escorted out of the establishment. Magarelli was reportedly yelling and resisting security, and at one point grabbed the arm of one of the security guards and attempted to push him.

The officer stepped in to assist, taking a hold of Magarelli and informing him that he was a police officer as he attempted to escort Magarelli away from the scene. The officer said in his report Magarelli remained tense and would not come with him. As a result, Magarelli was placed under arrest for disorderly conduct.

After being reluctantly led to the police car, Magarelli reportedly began pushing and kicking himself away from the car, continuing to be un-cooperative with the officer. Magarelli also allegedly issued a slew of profanities and insults at the officers including, “you are all hillbillies, you are puppets of the man.”

A search of Magarelli incident to the arrest revealed a small baggie or marijuana. At the District Court level, Magarelli admitted he was wrong to yell at the police officer, but maintained there was no reason for the arrest in the first place. Magarelli maintained he did nothing wrong and was willfully leaving the establishment and was confused by the security guard’s actions. Magarelli also denied attempting to hit the security guard or the police officer, adding the officer had forced his face against the hood of the police car.

Despite Magarelli’s testimony, a District Court judge found him guilty on all counts. However, Magarelli appealed the verdicts and was able to successfully reduce the sentences against him.

Public Consumption Yields Pot Charges

OCEAN CITY – A Pennsylvania man faced possession of marijuana charges in District Court this week, stemming from drinking alcohol on a public street.

According to police reports, on June 21, Officer Sydney Findley was on uniform bicycle patrol in the area of 7th Street when he observed Francis Schiazza, 18, of Marcus Hook, Pa., stepping onto the street holding a Miller Lite can. Schiazza was seen drinking from the can, prompting the officer to approach. Schiazza attempted to hide the beer and was eventually placed under arrest for public consumption. Matters got worse for Schiazza however when a small bag of marijuana was found in his rear pants pocket.

Schiazza pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana this week, noting that he was in town for Senior Week during the time of his arrest. Schiazza was sentenced to probation before judgment with one year of unsupervised probation and $357.50 in court fines.

‘Stupidity’ Results In Court Fine

OCEAN CITY – Cody N. Griffie, 18, of New Oxford, Pa., appeared in District Court this week, pleading guilty to theft less than $100.

On July 10, a man claiming a white T-shirt had been stolen from his store flagged officers down in the area of Worcester Street. The victim told police that he had since gotten the shirt back, but wished to press charges. Shortly after, Griffie was identified and placed under arrest for the theft.

When asked why he stole the $20 T-shirt this week in District Court, Griffie replied, “stupidity,” pleading guilty to the charge. Griffie was found guilty and given a fine of $557.50.

Boardwalk Burglary Case Moves Forward

OCEAN CITY – Earlier this week, a local man faced a preliminary hearing for his part in a Boardwalk burglary, a case that will move to the Circuit Court level after probable cause was found to forward the case on to Snow Hill.

Gregory N. Roberson, 18, of West Ocean City, faces several charges for his alleged role in the burglary of Boardwalk Joe’s last month, including second-degree burglary, theft more than $500 in value and malicious destruction of property.

Detective Todd Speigel testified that on July 7, at 7:44 a.m., officers responded to Boardwalk Joe’s for a reported burglary. Officers observed forced entry through a window to the kitchen and reported a stolen safe, containing $400, four tickets to an Orioles baseball game, a deposit bag and various other items.

Speigel was contacted and informed by the owner of the establishment that Robertson, a former disgruntled employee, was likely involved in the theft. Detective Speigel testified that later that day, a citizen found a deposit bag in West Ocean City and returned the bag to Taylor Bank, where it was identified as the bag stolen from Boardwalk Joe’s. Detective Spiegel noted that the bag was found in front of Robertson’s residence.

Robertson was eventually brought in for questioning, at which point he told Detective Speigel that he and another man, later identified as Richard L. Huffman, discussed breaking in to Boardwalk Joe’s. Robertson reportedly told Speigel he stood as a lookout for Huffman while he entered the establishment through the window. “I didn’t want to get involved, but I know I am involved,” Robertson reportedly told Detective Speigel.

Robertson’s attorney argued the validity of the burglary charges, pointing out there was no evidence that Robertson entered the establishment.

Judge Mumford found probable cause to forward the case to Circuit Court.

Case to Remain In District Court

OCEAN CITY – Bradley Charles Ruzicka, 19, of Baldwin, Md., faced a variety of charges this week in a preliminary hearing in District Court, after he allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment last month.

Officer Aaron Morgan testified that on July 13, at approximately 1:43 a.m., he responded to a 73rd Street residence for a reported malicious destruction of property. Upon arrival, the victim informed him that her ex-boyfriend, Ruzicka, had punched through her window. She also later told Officer Morgan that Ruzicka came into the residence, uninvited, and stole a 30-pack of beer.

Ruzicka’s attorney painted a different picture however, implying that the victim had since recanted her story. Ruzicka’s attorney also pointed out that the door Ruzicka entered was not locked, adding there was no forced entry.

Ruzicka faces charges of malicious destruction of property, stalking, harassment, first, third and fourth degree burglary and theft less than $500. Judge Mumford dismissed the first and third degree burglary charges. The remaining charges will tried in District Court at a later date.

Drunk-Driving Enforcement Campaign Underway

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Police Department will be joining thousands of law enforcement and highway safety agencies across the country by taking part in the Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest crackdown campaign against impaired driving.

During the campaign, which will be enforced from Aug. 15 until Sept. 1, 2008, Ocean City officers will be out in force conducting saturation patrols and using undercover officers to get more drunk drivers off the road.

The national Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest impaired driving crackdown campaign is a prevention program organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  The focal point for the campaign is the combination of high-visibility enforcement and a heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity. 

Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous crimes in the United States.  According to the campaign’s website, in 2006, more than 13,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. 

“In Ocean City, we see far too many people who have been driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette A. DiPino.  “Driving drunk is simply not worth the risks that people take.  Not only do violators risk injuring or killing themselves, but also injuring or killing someone else.” 

DiPino urged Ocean City residents and visitors who have been drinking to use alternative means of transportation. 

“We are actually quite lucky to live in Ocean City,” she said.  “We live in a city that offers numerous options for a safe ride home, including the Ocean City buses and several taxicab companies.”

DiPino also recommends that people designate a driver before going out in Ocean City. 

“Many establishments offer free non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers,” she said.  “By choosing to be a designated driver, you are choosing to not only ensure the safety of yourself, but the safety of your friends.”

The effort of Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest is supported by $11 million in paid-national advertising to help put everyone on notice that driving under the influence will not be tolerated, now more then ever. 

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