Vending Machine Bandit Busted

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Vending Machine Bandit Busted

OCEAN CITY – A description of a suspect provided by witnesses last week led to the arrest of a suspect wanted in connection with a rash of vending machine break-ins in the downtown area.

Around 2 a.m. last Thursday, Ocean City Police responded to the Flamingo Motel at 30th Street in reference to a suspicious person who had just attempted to break into one of the motel’s vending machines. Witnesses told police the suspicious person who had tried to break into the vending machine had just left the area carrying a box. The officers then located a box containing cigarettes and a plastic bag.

Several witnesses provided police with a description of the suspicious male they had recently seen traveling through nearby parking lots. The officers eventually located the suspect, later identified as Denny Patrick Owens, 41, of Ocean City. Police were able to recover several items of evidence as well as a bucket containing a large amount of coins.

The investigation revealed several vending machines in the immediate area of the initial complaint had been broken into or tampered with. OCPD officers continued to investigate the incident throughout the night and by mid-morning discovered vending machines at several area hotels had been broken into. A surveillance video showing Owens breaking into a vending machine was recovered from one of the motels.

Owens was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property over $500 and malicious property less than $500, theft less than $500 and theft less than $100. He is being held at the Worcester County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

Third Time Not the Charm

WEST OCEAN CITY – A Pocomoke man was arrested on disorderly conduct and other charges last weekend after being told three times to stop walking down the middle of Route 611 while intoxicated.

Around 3:30 a.m. last Saturday, Maryland State Police troopers observed a man later identified as Maurice Lawrence Ruarke, 45, of Pocomoke, highly intoxicated and walking down the middle of Route 611 near Route 707 in West Ocean City with no shirt or shoes on. Ruarke was told numerous times throughout the evening to leave the roadway, go home and not return that evening, according to police reports.

The troopers were concerned Ruarke may be struck by a vehicle if he continued to walk down the middle of the roadway. Finally, after making contact with Ruarke for a third time, he was place under arrest for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful order. He was taken before a court commissioner and later released on his own recognizance.

Prize Scam Uncovered

OCEAN PINES – Ocean Pines police this week are investigating two separate instances of residents being notified of cash awards from a bogus sweepstakes company.

In the scam, residents being sent a written notification that they have won an unclaimed prize of $150,000. Included with the notification is a bogus check that is being given to the prize winner as an advance on their alleged winnings. The victim is then asked to call a long distance telephone number and give their financial information over the phone to claim their prize.

Ocean Pines police this week are warning the public the entire operation is a scam and the disclosure of the financial information allows the thief to empty the victims’ financial accounts. The Ocean Pines police are requesting that residents receiving such prize notifications contact them immediately for a follow-up investigation. Mail from the scam is currently postmarked as originating in Canada. 

Fatal Accident On Route 113

BERLIN – One person was killed and four were taken to area hospitals with serious injuries including an infant after an accident on Route 113 on Tuesday.

Around 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, state troopers from the Berlin barrack responded to a reported vehicle collision on Route 113 near Groton Rd. in the south end of Worcester County. The investigation revealed a 2004 Kia mini-van had collided with a 1996 Kenworth tractor trailer and came to rest in the median of the highway.

Witnesses said the mini-van was traveling westbound on Groton Rd. and the tractor trailer was heading northbound on Route 113. The investigation revealed the mini-van failed to yield the right-of-way and was struck by the truck as it entered the highway. The driver of the mini-van, identified as Mary Frances Shorter, 69, of Pocomoke, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four passengers in the mini-van, including Latricia Dickerson, 40; Michael Troy Corbin, 18; and a two-month-old infant, all of Pocomoke, were transported to  area hospitals with various injuries. Dickerson and Corbin were transported to PRMC in Salisbury, while the infant was transported to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for further treatment.

The driver of the truck, identified as Thomas Lee Fitchett, 74, of Sanford, Va., was also transported to PRMC for treatment. The investigation is ongoing.

Prostitute Sentenced

OCEAN CITY – One of two women arrested on prostitution charges last September after resort police discovered several listings on the Internet by the pair offering erotic services in Ocean City appeared in District Court last Friday and entered a guilty plea to one count of prostitution, resulting in a sentence of one year in jail, which was suspended, along with probation and a fine.

Jaclyn Marie Hallman, 23, of Laurel, Md., was in District Court last Friday facing prostitution charges after getting snared in a sting operation along with another woman by an undercover OCPD officer last September. Hallman pleaded guilty to one count of general prostitution and was sentenced to one year in jail, which was suspended. She was then placed on unsupervised probation for one year and fined $500, of which $300 was suspended.

As part of an ongoing investigation last September, OCPD detectives discovered a woman, later identified as Hallman, advertising erotic services in Ocean City on the Internet. On September 15, an OCPD undercover officer contacted Hallman via email to set up a meeting and the suspect told the officer she would be available the next day. She also informed the officer her rates were $350 per hour.

The detective met Hallman at the appointed time in a resort hotel lobby and after a brief discussion, the pair went up to a room rented by the OCPD. Hallman was arrested and charged with prostitution. She later told police she had done it at least 10 times before in Ocean City, earning $350 each time.

As part of the same sting operation, resort police arrested another working woman in Ocean City just days before Hallman was busted. On Sep. 8 of last year, the OCPD undercover detective contacted a woman advertising prostitution on the Internet websites. The suspect, later identified as Theresa Maria Amoroso, 31, or Narberth, Pa. told the detective she would meet him at a pre-arranged location in Ocean City on Sept. 12.

Amoroso told the detective her services would cost him $300 for one hour or $500 for two hours. At the pre-arranged time, the detective met Amoroso in the lobby of a local hotel, and after a few minutes, the two went upstairs to a room rented by the OCPD.

Once inside, Amoroso was arrested and charged with prostitution. Amoroso later told investigators she had been to Ocean City three separate times over the course of the summer and each time made at least $5,000. Earlier this year, Amoroso was found guilty of one count of prostitution and was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended, and placed on probation for three years and fined $500.

While the cases against Amoroso and Hallman have been dispensed with, another woman arrested in July for soliciting sex in Ocean City has not yet had her day in court. OCPD officer arrested an Easton woman in July on prostitution charges after arranging a meeting with an undercover OCPD detective who discovered the services she was offering on the Internet.

On July 23, Ocean City Police arrested Jennifer Watson Ambrose, 35, of Easton, on charges of soliciting for prostitution after detectives discovered advertisements for her services on an Internet website.

An OCPD detective contacted Ambrose through her website, and after corresponding over the phone and by email, the suspect agreed to meet the detective at a pre-arranged time and location in the area of 21st Street and Baltimore Ave. Upon meeting with the detective, Ambrose was arrested and immediately charged with soliciting for prostitution, a misdemeanor with a possible fine of $500 and/or a year in jail. Her court date is set for October 27.

Probation For Money Eater

OCEAN CITY – A Frankford, Del. man arrested on theft and drug charges in May after he allegedly swallowed a $100 bill he swiped from another patron in a mid-town bar pleaded guilty this week in District Court to one count of malicious destruction or property and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and was placed on probation for a year and fined $250 for each offense.

Stephen P. Janson, 21, of Frankford, appeared in District Court on Tuesday for face numerous charges stemming from a bizarre incident back in May during which he took a $100 bill from a bar patron and swallowed it before fleeing the scene. Janson pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property and possession of paraphernalia and received probation before judgment. He was also fined $250 for each offense.

Around 2 a.m. on May 21, OCPD officers on routine patrol in the 28th Street area observed a man later identified as Stephen P. Janson, 21, of Frankford, run out the front door of Mother’s Cantina and abruptly turn right through a pedestrian walkway in the shopping center. Janson was followed by at least two other men, who motioned to police for assistance before continuing to chase the man.

Believing a fight was about to occur, the officers drove behind the shopping center where they encountered the two men chasing Janson. The two men pointed the officers in the direction of the Dunes Manor hotel and the officers then observed Janson running across Baltimore Ave. toward the beach.

The officers went in the direction and encountered another man, who told them he observed the suspect heading toward the beach. Janson was ultimately found hiding underneath the hotel in a parking area. In the meantime, another officer who remained at the scene at Mother’s told the first officer Janson was the suspect in a theft of a $100 bill from a female patron in the bar.

The officer chasing Janson found him crouched behind a pole in the parking area and ordered him at gunpoint to get on the ground. When Janson refused to comply with the order, the officer threatened to use pepper spray, after which Janson complied. When the officer questioned Janson about the theft, he denied any involvement and told police his accuser did not belong in the bar because she was “only 16 or 17 years old.” He could not explain, however, why he ran from the bar and resisted arrest.

Meanwhile, the other officer brought the two female witnesses to the scene and they identified Janson as the thief. They told police Janson took a $100 bill belonging to them from the bar and when they questioned him about it, he put it in his mouth and swallowed it.

A search of Janson turned up no $100 bill and it is uncertain if it turned up later. During the search, police discovered a small amount of marijuana and a glass smoking device on Janson’s person and possession charges were tacked on. He was ultimately charged with theft and malicious destruction of property for taking and then swallowing the $100 bill, along with marijuana and paraphernalia possession charges.

Incidentally, police checked the identification of the two female victims and determined they were indeed at least 21 years old and therefore allowed to be in the bar.

Probation In DWI, Drug Bust

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man arrested on suspected drunk driving and drug charges last spring pleaded guilty this week possession of CDS- not marijuana and was granted probation before judgment and fined $500.

Around 3:30 a.m. on May 14, an OCPD officer on routine patrol around 17th Street observed a vehicle make an illegal U-turn on Philadelphia Ave. and pulled behind the vehicle to affect a traffic stop. The vehicle accelerated, however, forcing the officer to activate his lights and siren. The vehicle eventually turned onto 28th Street and stopped.

When the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed the driver, later identified as David Dawson Broadwater, 22, of Ocean City, exhibiting signs of intoxication. When questioned, Broadwater told the officer he had one beer before he left work. Broadwater was then asked to perform several field sobriety tests, which he failed. He was taken into custody and administered a blood-alcohol level test which came up at .06, which is below the legal limit for DUI in Maryland.

However, a search of Broadwater during processing revealed half of an oxycodone pill and a plastic baggie with cocaine residue on it. Broadwater was charged with possession of CDS, possession of paraphernalia, driving while impaired by alcohol and driving while impaired by drugs and other traffic violations.

In District Court on Monday, Broadwater pleaded guilty to possession of CDS and was placed on probation for a year and fined $500 plus court costs. The remaining charges against him were not prosecuted.

Some Charges Dropped

Against Sex Abuse Suspect

SNOW HILL – A Selbyville man arrested in August for numerous child sex abuse and assault charges stemming from an alleged long pattern of abuse on an 11-year-old girl in both Ocean City and Ocean Pines appeared in District Court on Monday for a preliminary hearing and had some of the charges against him dismissed, but he remains in custody and is still in a world of trouble on several other serious charges.

In August, Ocean Pines Police charged Maxie Hancock, 52, of Selbyville, with numerous sex offenses and other serious charges as a result of investigation into a long pattern of alleged abuse on a then 11-year-old girl dating back to September 2003. The victim in the incident was an 11-year-old female whose care was entrusted to Hancock as a result of a relationship he had with an adult female in Ocean Pines.

Ocean Pines police charged Hancock with second-degree rape, first- and second-degree assault, child abuse, sex abuse on a minor, perverted practice, two counts of second-degree sex offense and one count of third-degree sex offense. Ocean City Police then charged Hancock with almost the exact same set of charges for offenses that allegedly occurred in the resort during the same time period from September 2003 to March 2004.

Hancock appeared in District Court on Monday for a bail review and was ordered held on a $35,000 bond. His trial date has now been set for Oct. 29 in District Court in Snow Hill. During the proceedings on Monday, some of the charges against Hancock were dismissed including the second-degree rape and first-degree assault charges from Ocean Pines, and the first-, second-, and third-degree sex offense charges from Ocean City.

However, he still faces multiple charges in both cases, which are listed separately but will be tried at the same time. Among the charges Hancock still faces from Ocean Pines are second-degree assault, second-degree child abuse, child molestation, sex abuse of a minor, and perverted practice. Among the charges he faces from the Ocean City investigation are second-degree rape, second-degree assault, sex abuse of a minor, child abuse and perverted practice.

Boardwalk Burglary Case

Headed To Circuit Court

OCEAN CITY – A local man arrested in July for his alleged role in a Boardwalk burglary had his case forwarded to Circuit Court this week.

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

On July 7, OCPD 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.

The owner of the establishment informed police Robertson, a former disgruntled employee, was likely involved in the theft. A citizen later that day 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. The bag was found in front of Robertson’s residence.

Robertson was eventually brought in for questioning, at which point he told detectives that he and another man, later identified as Richard L. Huffman, discussed breaking in to Boardwalk Joe’s. Robertson reportedly told detectives he stood as a lookout for Huffman while he entered the establishment through the window. At a preliminary hearing in August, Robertson’s attorney argued the validity of the burglary charges, pointing out there was no evidence that Robertson entered the establishment.

County 911 Dispatchers Honored

SNOW HILL – An entire Worcester County 911 Center shift was honored by the state last week for their teamwork in coordinating the resources that led to the capture and arrest of three suspects in March 2008 at the Warren Mansion outside Snow Hill.

Each September, the Maryland State Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), which oversees 911 systems across the state, recognizes for their excellence those dispatchers who go above and beyond the call of duty. An entire Worcester County 911 Center shift was honored by the ENSB for their efforts in coordinating a multi-agency response that led to the capture and arrest of three suspects last March.

In her letter of recommendation to the ENSB, Worcester County Communications Center Supervisor Kristin Haslam wrote “they are to be commended because they functioned proficiently as a well coordinated team. The call was upgraded and changed rapidly as it progressed. They were able to keep ahead of the game, responded to all agencies and correctly logged all information.”

The county’s 911 shift staff effectively pooled multiple agencies including the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police and MSP Aviation to resolve the incident. ENSB executive director Gordon Deans and Training Coordinator Howard Redman last week presented Worcester County D-Shift Supervisor Tammy Ewing and Communications Clerk Corey Dukes with a plaque recognizing their outstanding efforts involving the capture. Amy Davey and Rita Vaeth, two Worcester County Communications Clerks on the D-Shift who assisted in the incident, were not able to attend, but were also recognized for their efforts.

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